Archive for April, 2018

Blogpost 22: 6/4/18

April 6, 2018

19/3/18    Boris on Skripal
Boris Johnson claims that he accepted a £160,000 donation, from a Russian oligarch’s wife, because he wanted to let Russians know he wants to be friends .
This sounds at odds with his first, snap reaction to the Skirpal poisoning.
The Tory love of other people’s money and their willingness to sell arms for killing Yemeni, makes me wonder how they’d respond, if Putin had offered a large enough donation for Boris Johnson to arrange the “hit” on Skripal.

20/3/18    Brexit means Remain
Now that May has made it clear that Brexit means Remain (without a vote), The Parliamentary Labour Party can relax.
It’s obvious there will be a big swing to Labour and away from Tories, in the next General Election.
The fear was that many Labour Brexit voters would abstain from voting but, now that May has overturned the Referendum decision, most will be persuaded to return to the fold to help save the #NHS.

20/3/18   political donation limits
Your Editorial suggests that donations to political parties should be capped.
I’d like it to go one step further and suggest that donations to Party Headquarters be banned completely.
I’d like a cap applied to every Parliamentary candidate, instead, regardless of Political Party.
Why should we make it easy for large organisations and rich people to buy our MP’s?
I’m guessing that Tories have been given about £20k per M.P., which, if that was the cap, would make Boris Johnson’s £160k, for a game of tennis, illegal, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
If each candidate wanted to allocate some of their cap to Party advertising, it would go some way towards levelling the field for independent candidates.
Instead of Labour being alleged to be in the hands of Union barons, Unions could actively sponsor individual candidates and be totally transparent on the issue.
In the claim of the Tory bus election fraud, it was difficult to pin down an individual in terms of responsibility. Under this personal cap, it would be the candidate who is responsible and the Electoral Commission would have no excuse not to prosecute.

22/3/18   passports and blind tenders
Why do Government contracts, such as the new British passport, have to be decided by a blind tender?
We’ve been told that it is, inexplicably, a requirement of EU legislation.
Even if we weren’t officially leaving the EU, I’d have thought that, for security reasons, it’d be wiser to limit tenders to UK firms.
This is presumably the view shared by the French, who are alleged to have allowed only French firms to tender for their passport contract, despite their entrenched EU membership.
And why a blind tender, which basically requires companies to guess what their opponents are offering?
Better that there be a Dutch auction with the lowest blind tender, merely used as a starting point.

22/3/18    data abuse
The abuse of data, collected from Facebook, by Cambridge Analytica, underlines the reason, so many object to a national DNA database.
There’s no doubt that such a database would be very useful for medical purposes, such as organ, or stem cell matching.
It could also be useful for re-uniting lost families, or tracing criminals.
But, as the Facebook abuse has proven, politicians and big business would be only to eager to use the information to our disadvantage.
It’s a pity we can’t trust our politicians, or anyone seeking power over us..

24/3/18   blind tender isn’t blind to contractor
A major problem with blind tenders is that the blind refers to those tendering, not to those handling the contracts.
While I have every confidence in the Civil Servants involved, I have none in a Tory politician in charge of the procedure, nor in one hired as an advisor to one of the tenderers.
That the difference in tenders was less than 1% suggests that a following open bid would have been more favourable and removed any suspicion of political involvement

25/3/18    multi-tier insurance schemes in a privatised NHS
I’m saddened to see a Sunday Mirror editorial calling for us “to at least consider a French-style insurance system”.
OK, those with comfortable life styles find their NHS works for them, whilst comforted that the less well off get a good basic service.
So we’re invited to divide the Nation by wealth. The “haves and have-nots” philosophy.
Once you accept that philosophy, it can easily lead to a U.S.A. system, where cost of medication are ramped up, because the Insurance companies will pay. Then the Insurance companies protect themselves with policy restrictions and suddenly you have a multi-tier system.
A system, where mid-range salary earners are bankrupted, because their insurance won’t foot the bill.
You have low-paid, who are given free emergency treatment but no after care and prescriptions for medications, which they can’t afford.
Protestations, that it hasn’t happened in France (yet), don’t hold up well here, when we have the local A&E asking that we don’t attend, because there’s already a 12 hour wait for attention.
Under this Gov’t, we already have a tacit two-tier system, because those with private medical insurance have easy access to what were previously NHS beds and NHS nurses.
Look at NHS dentistry and who qualifies for treatment. If you have to pay £56 for a tooth extraction, you’d have to pay £1,000’s for an uncomplicated birth

4/4/18  Zionists or Semites

From what I’ve seen on Main Stream and on Social Media, Corbyn has made multiple statements regarding removing anti-Semitism from the party.
The recent meeting with the Jewdas organisation has upset both Johnathan Arkush (head of the “Board of Deputies of British Jews”) and the Right Wing of The Labour Party, because the Jews in Jewdas oppose the actions of Israel against the Palestinians, whilst the Jews, whom Arkush represents, support Israel’s actions.
In short, Jewdas is anti-Zionist, whereas Arkash is Zionist.
This, I assume, is why they want Ken Livingstone condemned for saying Hitler was a Zionist, when he was clearly an anti-Semite, who hated Jews.
It’s presumably why the millionaire lord, Alan Sugar, recently posted a picture of Corbyn seated next to Hitler in a State car .
Sugar’s demand, for a more positive statement from Corbyn, presumably means he wants him to side with the Israeli Security forces against Hamas.
Corbyn’s problem is that he sides with the innocent Palestinians, robbed of their homes by Israel and used as a shield by their version of the IRA.

6/4/18  Tory definition
A reader asked that the Government wake up to the rising murder rate amongst our children.
Of course, this plea will be ignored, apart from some token gesture prior to the next General Election.
A common fault amongst Labour voters is that they think that Tories are like them but less intelligent, or less aware of what is happening. The truth that they’re neither.
The real difference is that they are selfish.
They are the Pharisee in Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan and don’t care about other people’s problems; although they are happy to exploit those who do.
They are the Silent Majority, who voted for this Government and they justify their selfishness by professing a belief in “self-help “, ” the pioneer spirit”, “rugged individualism”, “the wealth-makers ” and similiar self lauding themes, whilst despising “the feckless poor ” and “lazy scroungers”.
The only way that they can be made to care, is by shaking their belief that they are special, or too important to ever need help, themselves.
Their belief that they’re immune to the vagaries of fate, because they are too rich, or talented needs to be attacked, by reminding them that Medical Insurance can be withdrawn, company pensions can be raided, share holdings can plummet in value, tax avoidance schemes can go belly-up, public subsidies for stately homes, or political patronage for sinecures on quangoes can be withdrawn.
That being an M.P., with an exorbitant salary, is a privilege, not a God-given right, and can be withdrawn.

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Blogpost 21 : 19/3/18

April 6, 2018

3/3/18
Maplins, Toys-R-Us and, next up, Carpet-Right.
Why are firms going bust?
Politicians blame Brexit and I blame Tory Austerity measures. Both have affected the Economy.
Brexit has weakened the pound, affecting the cost of goods in the shops, but that will end eventually.
The effects of austerity could lead to a recession and long term damage.

5/3/18    tax or asset stripping
Tory Lord Willets, another PPE (Oxon), known mainly for pushing for PFI’s in the NHS, has spotted some unguarded cash and wants the Taxman to grab it.
Government has devastated the life chances of the younger generation with Student loans, large mortgages and rip-off rents.
They’ve enabled the seizure of parental assets for those, who need a care home.
Now Lord Willets claims their parents have too much spare cash, which he wants.
Presumably, it’s the pensions of the better-off baby-boomers that he’s spotted.
On what grounds will he grab it? Age? Maybe another bedroom tax for the home-owning “empty-nesters”, who haven’t needed a care home?
John Lennon had it right in his assessment of “The Taxman”
“Now my advice for those who die, Declare the pennies on your eyes, Cause I’m the taxman”

10/3/18   golf cheats
I’d like to thank Jason Beattie for his “both golf cheats”.
My initial reaction, to those words, was dismissive.
This was quickly followed by a realisation that this perfectly summed up both Trump and Kim
A golf cheat is someone, who can lie to himself and be completely oblivious to the fact that everyone, who knows him, knows he’s cheating. And when he meets another cheat, he can recognise a kindred spirit, yet still feel morally superior, because he knows the other one cheats, whilst he, hisself, merely adjusts the rules to his advantage.

10/3/18 meanstesting
Brian Reade was partly correct about the Referendum debaters offering few facts to voters.
The debates in the mainstream media were by politicians, who invariably prefer insults and emotionally loaded half-truths.
On Social media,it was different.
Apart from those, who derived their opinions from reading headlines, there were a number of voices on both sides, who actually offered reasoned arguments, personal experiences and sources of supporting data.
The only problem on social media was the proliferation of “fact checkers” and “hard facts” troll sites, funded by “independent” organisations with “charitable trust” status, who were obviously interested in moulding public opinion.

11/3/18   Telford
The brutality visited on young girls in Telford is as repulsive as the lack of effective action that has been taken, since previous cases were exposed.
The attacks on retired (?) Russian spies are a major cause of concern, obviously, but are they more valuable to us than our children.
There will be condemnations by the score from politicians but there will be no Cobra style meetings for child abuse criminal gangs.
There needs to be a special nationwide unit, with FBI style powers, to investigate and destroy all criminal gangs exploiting our children for sex, slavery and drug trafficing but that won’t happen.
All that will happen is that new directives and threats will be sent out to already underfunded care-workers, police, teachers and medical staff
I despair of the sort of people who claim to represent us but ignore our concerns, unless it risks harm to their careers and their own pet concerns.
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The brutality visited on young girls in Telford is as repulsive as the lack of effective action that has been taken since previous cases were exposed.
There needs to be a special nation-wide unit, with FBI-style powers, to investigate and destroy all criminal gangs exploiting our children for sex, slavery and drug trafficking.
Sending new directives to already underfunded care workers, police, teachers and medical staff is not an adequate response to this scandal.

15/3/18    Copper coins
People often can’t be bothered picking up a copper coin, which is lying on the ground.
If they do, they often find that it’s corroded beyond use, because a scratch has exposed the iron core and it has rusted away.
Copper coins are a pain, with little use for most shoppers, but every one of them, lost to general circulation, is a bonus to the Exchequer, so why does Hammond want to get rid of them?

19/3/18      the homeless and the hopeless
The Tory Minister for homelessness, Ms Wheeler, has threatened to quit, if she fails to halve rough sleeping by 2020.
Quit what?
Politics?
The statement is meaningless in terms of how long Ministers stay in post.
There could be a cabinet re-shuffle Tomorrow, or, better, there could be a General Election called.
Any promise by a Minister is merely a tactic to avoid an adequate response.

Blogpost 20 : 26/2/18

April 6, 2018

27/2/18   oap care
Damian Green is reported to have called for a tax of about £7 per week, to pay for OAP care, but who would look after it?
A private company, which he might well have shares in?
Or, would the Treasury do what they did with that portion of National Insurance, which was intended for this purpose?
I’d rather the Treasury had control of such monies but in a separate inviolable account, which politicians couldn’t dip into.

I’d also question why Damian Green wants just those who are over 40 to pay this tax. Why not take it out, as a nominal sum, from the total tax intake?
His suggestion would hit poor and rich alike but not equally.
For some, this extra tax would come at a point in their life, when they are more likely to find themselves unemployed, within their next decade.
I never know whether Tory Ministers, who propose such schemes, are totally out of touch with the realities of life for workers, or whether they are merely just cynical in their exploitation of the workforce.

27/2/18     carbon free
Liverpool and other Northern cities have agreed to become Carbon free in their energy needs.
A praiseworthy aim in keeping with the current political concensus.
It does go some way towards off-setting increased Carbon emissions from other sources such as the industrialisation in developing Nations. Carbon emissions are increasing from many sources, including there being more Humans breathing it out.
The underlying problem is that it makes the assumption Global Warming is entirely man-made and can therefore be controlled by switching to alternative energy sources. This isn’t just false, it could be dangerous, as it encourages political complacency.
It is more than just flora and fauna from warmer climes displacing our familiar ones, there’s also a problem of rising Sea levels.
London has the Thames barrier but threats of a storm surge, combined with a Spring high tide are cause for alert warnings to be sent out. A small sea-level rise could see that barrier being side-stepped and London inundated. Yet still we built Crossrail and rely on other underground facilities.
Why does there seem to be no forward planning for this and other sites around our coast?
Don’t politicians really believe in Global Warming?
Do they just see it as a good cover for reducing reliance on fossil fuels?

1/3/18    retailers closing
My wife has just told me that she’s going to a particular supermarket to buy an item she’s seen advertised but she may want me to order it on-line if it’s not in stock.
I think this may be a clue as to part of the reason why large retailer chains are closing down.
Indeed some retailers, such as one I’ve come across, selling mobile phones, seem to rely on customers accepting the “we don’t have it in stock but if you can call back Wednesday, we’ll order it up”.
The main advantage that High Street shops have is the ability to inspect goods and ask questions.
Most have thrown that away, to save on stock holding and staff wages.

Their future has not been helped by Councils ramping up car parking charges, whilst having to cut back on public transport services.

Too many people in Head Offices (as with Council bosses) think that their job is to direct the Public’s behaviour, instead of catering for it.
A lesson, which Aldi and Lidl seem to have taken more notice of.
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The main advantage high street shops have is enabling customers to inspect goods and ask uestions. But many businesses have thrown that away to save on stock holding and staff wages. The situation has not been helped by councils ramping up parking charges.
Too many people in head offices, along with council bosses, think it’s their job to direct the public’s behaviour, instead of catering for it — a lesson which Aldi and Lidl seem to have taken more notice of.

Since the Tories got in, swathes of nurses, doctors, polices, firemen and other public servants have been forced out of their jobs, or had their wages eroded. They’ve privatised many services, which invariably means de-skilled roles and cut wages. Benefits to those, now unemployed, have been slashed in crass “hammer to crack a nut” policies.
The Tories have cut spending but have starved the economy of cash.
People on low wages, or reduced benefits, still have to eat and keep warm but they don’t need the latest fashions in clothes, or toys, or electronic gadgets.
A tired carpet, sofa, or bed can be made to last a bit longer.
More businesses selling such goods are going to go bust, as are their suppliers.
More people will lose employment. Tax revenue will be reduced and call for benefits will rise.
Greedy Tory donors running businesses like Carillion don’t help, nor do those preying on the feckless, such as Wonga.
McDonnel is right. The Government needs to pump cash into the Economy to end this downward spiral.
So what if nurses, get a chance for a cup of tea, or a chat with patients?
So what if firemen are just lounging around, waiting for a firebell, bored and ready for a bit of action?
So what if a copper doesn’t arrest anyone, when that just means there’s no-one getting mugged, or knifed?
Austerity hasn’t been about the Nation paying its way (HS2, anyone?); it’s been about stomping on the plebs and waving burning £20 notes in their faces.

4/3/18    Brexit negotiations
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Bargain Hunt, it’s that the good negotiator says nothing and leaves the weak negotiator to break the silence by making concessions.
Theresa May obviously doesn’t watch the program

4/3/18    Carillion
An independent report to establish how Ministers failed to see the culpability of Carillion Management is pointless.
No such report would be allowed to find evidence of corruption, collusion, or incompetence.
Presumably the banks never thought to mention their doubts to Government, when they allowed funds to be transferred to the Carillion account.
The person appointed to write the report have to devise some sort of fudge like a misplaced memo, or some Civil Service scapegoat.
Whatever the case the money and the jobs wouldn’t come back and the same Minister would assign new contracts with the same level of diligence, as before.

Blogpost 19 : 26/2/18

April 6, 2018

Letters to Daily Mirror

Posted

30/1/18   Single Market
Jeremy Corbyn wants to pay to stay in the Single Market, to protect jobs.
This would avoid vulnerable businesses facing the EU’s punitive taxes on imports but it would also encourage lazy management of less vulnerable businesses.
It would be cheaper and, in the long run, more productive, to leave The Single Market and have Companies apply for subsidies to pay the EU surcharges, whilst they looked for markets outside The EU.
Hopefully, these subsidies would eventually end, as other Markets opened.

13/2/18  NHS alternatives
Now that Jeremy Hunt is entering the final stages of selling off the NHS, we’re being asked to have an “adult” conversation about financing it.
I’ve come across two alternatives to our Aneurin Bevan model.
The first is a revival of Thatcher’s voucher system, or Personal Health Plan.
Under this we’d each be allocated a fixed lifetime, or yearly, sum, which we could spend on treatment.
Once you’d had your allocation, you’d have to fund further cover yourself.
Tough, if you have no such resources.
The more favoured option is a two tier system, such as they have in the USA and some EU countries, such as France.
Although much of our NHS is being bought by American Health Care companies, it is being touted that we would probably emulate France.
The US system is despised, because those, who can’t afford the cheapest tier of health insurance, can only receive the barest of emergency aid, before being kicked out.
Even those on a reasonable level of health insurance can find themselves being bankrupted, because hospital costs are ridiculously high.
Prices are encouraged to rise, precisely because they are covered by insurance.
The likes of the French system are held up as the preferred model, whereby the State funds 2/3 the costs and voters pay 1/3.
Those who are deemed too poor to pay any contribution have all the cost paid.
I don’t know if there is a cap on this but, more worrying, is who decides the level at which The State picks up the tab.
The present disgraceful benefit assessments by ATOS don’t inspire confidence.
I’m hoping that Labour regains office and is allowed to rescue our NHS but in case it doesn’t, it’d be a help if The Mirror journalists amassed the facts and figures necessary to fight this “adult” conversation.

20/2/18   Brexit?
It is understandable as to why those, who want to remain in the EU, are mounting their campaign to overturn Brexit, as Theresa May’s deadlne closes in.
It is understandable why Soros, Branson and Blair are splashing out money on polls and opinion pieces in Newspapers to protect their Interests.
What is not understandable is why May seems to be calling advance and then taking two steps back at every point of Brexit negotiations.
Despite being told, before the Referendum, that it meant leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, it seems apparent that we’ll be staying.
The only difference will be that we’ll have no say on how our contributions are wasted.

20/2/18  Oxfam
The debate over the Oxfam abuses has been very strongly fought by both sides.
I can understand the strength of feeling over the abuse, in our name, of the people needing help but I was surprised by the strength of the campaign for Oxfam to continue to be funded out of taxes.
Why do we have to hand over funds to foreign dignitaries and other such third party organisations?
We have armed forces, starved of funds, who could provide aid, first hand.
My preference is for us to use these trained and fully equipped personnel, who know how to behave?

22/2/18  Gun Law
The Americans have always gone for firepower over strategy, which is why so many innocent people have died in the Middle East and why they haven’t won any major armed conflicts since WWII (Haiti, Panama,Grenada and Dominican Republic invasions were very one-sided ).
They cling to this use of weaponry to implement policy, instead of trying to negotiate solutions.
None more so than the simplistic President Trump.
His go-to solution for gun deaths is more guns.
Arming eight teachers isn’t even an attempt at a viable solution.
American schools are much better equipped than ours with much bigger campuses. By the time one of these armed teachers had responded and located an attacker, there could be scores dead.
These guardians would presumably be wielding handguns against semi-automatics, which doesn’t inspire confidence. In the worst scenario, there are about 100,000 public schools in the USA, meaning that there’d be nearly a million armed teachers. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that one of them could “lose” it and make a mockery of this approach.
If Hollywood has taught us anything, it is that if you disarm the gunmen, less people die.

23/2/18        TV Licence
The reason given for an increase in the TV licence is that people are switching to streaming services.
These users are likely to be the upcoming generations, so it is also likely that BBC funding will continue to fall, as my generation dies off and the licence charge rises further.
The Government needs to consider direct funding, if politicians wish to keep close control of its News broadcasting.
As a side thought, it’d be interesting to see austerity applied to BBC salaries.

24/2/18     rich on means testing
Brian Reade calls for better-off pensioners to forego free prescriptions.
Apart from endorsing Austerity measures, it’s likely to see off OAP’s who just fail the cut-off line, as in Trumps USA.
I have never liked means-testing, re-calling how nastily it was applied in my Mum’s recollections of her early days.
However; there is a form of means testing, which won’t harm anyone.
Put extra taxes on Restaurants.
This would only affect those with so much extra cash that they can afford to pay for the over-priced, poorly-cooked food , of which he complains

24/2/18   TV  pap

I was interested in Fiona’s piece on the seventies, in regards to TV programmes.
I frequently watch Talking TV pictures, as an escape from the pap shown on the rest of the Freeview channels.
As a Baby Boomer I’m not as easily offended by such things as actors blacking up but I was a little surprised, however, to notice a quick cameo of Al Jolson in Cliff Richards film “A Wonderful life”.
I then mused on the First Talking Picture, where “Jolson Speaks/Sings”.
Undoubtedly racist but there was no intentional racism.
Back then it was akin to boys taking girls parts on the stage of the Globe theatre.

26/2/18   obesity epidemic
The warnings of an obesity epidemic centre on trying to get us to change our lifestyles, by for instance turning Vegan.
Yet we have the announcement of a new veggie burger from the USA.
It’ll still have a bun and lashings of dressing but it won’t stop you getting fat.
Obesity will continue to be a problem as stress creates a Nation of people turning to food for comfort.
Dr. Miriam Stoppard points out the dangers of fat cells in our body.
They produce chemicals such as Oestrogen, growth hormone, Insulin and others which affect how the body works.
The general medical advice is eat less and exercise more.
The problem is that by the time this advice is given, people are too fat and possibly too old to exercise effectively.
There are other hormones, that fat cells produce, not mentioned by Dr. Stoppard, which make us hungrier, if we try to eat less.
We have a catch 22 situation:
We need to exercise and eat less, to avoid diabetes, cancer, strokes , heart attacks i.e. dying, or we need to cut away the fat with tummy tucks and/or liposuction, as described by Lisa Riley.
The catch is which comes first.
Our body works against us, if we try to change our lifestyle and we get yo-yo dieting with even more stress on the body.
If we go for the surgery first, it’s expensive and offends our puritan ethic. It also rewards the feckless, who may ignore the need for life-style changes and find the fat piling on elsewhere on the body.
As politicians will never address reducing the need for comfort food, or those, such as McDonalds, who provide it, politicians and the BMA might consider investing in liposuction for the masses; or equipping crematoria to cope with larger coffins.