Archive for August, 2018

Blogpost 27: 18/8/18

August 20, 2018

Letters sent to the Daily Mirror

18/8/18 “Your Vouchers” Report
Your article about visitor attractions suggests an additional solution to the problem of deserted town centres.
If prices of such attractions are soaring, it means demand is outstripping supply i.e. families need more such diversions and Local Councils could provide them.
Some councils already promote Xmas markets and such, to attract shoppers. Why not go further?
Places, like York, already have tourist attractions and have adopted multiple park and ride schemes but they could go further by taking over empty shopping arcades and either adapting them, or replacing them with various rides, water features, picnic areas. Essentially, checking out other towns and visitor attractions, elsewhere. Some larger park’n’ride car parks could be built alongside out of town theatres and music stadiums with free travel between them and the town centres. In fact adjacent towns could share such sites.
Staff, needed to look after toddlers, keep areas clean and other services, would boost local employment.

17/8/18 Blame Brexit
How can Philippa Whitford MP claim that Brexit will mean the sell-off of the NHS to the Yanks?
As a member of the medical profession, she must surely have noticed that most of it has already been sold off.
The process of privatisation was speeded up under the Cameron and Clegg coalition.
When Hunt was put in charge, he put the peddle to the metal, destroyed the moral of medical staff, who hadn’t escaped into politics, and threw out contracts as if he couldn’t get rid of them fast enough.
What %age of the NHS will still be in public hands by the time that some sort of BRINO deal has been done?
Why does she want to deflect blame from May, from Hunt and the Tory need to kick the peasants?

14/8/18 Should have been famous
A reader’s letter named another woman, who deserved a special mention in History.
This caused me to think on two Male lecturer’s at college, who should possibly be recorded as making noteworthy contributions.
The first, whom I knew as “Pop” Daley, told us that he invented the thermionic valve version of the flip-flop circuit, on which all digital computer memory was based. The second lecturer, whose name I disremember, told us designed and patented the present car door lock.
Previously car doors used a lock handle similar to those used on room doors, in houses.
He claimed he renewed his patent three times, before being forced to let it lapse and let the car manufacturers pick it up for free.
Maybe my lecturers were fantasists but who did invent the flip flop circuit and the modern car door handle? What other discoveries, inventions and designs went unrecorded, because they became the intellectual property of Industrialists?

14/8/18 Postal taxes
Your editorial calls for a tax on Companies such as Amazon.
Why not not tax the parcels sent out by businesses?
Making the tax relate to volume would also reduce the large boxes with excessive packing, which has to be re-cycled.
As an extension, could we have a tax on advertising leaflets, which seem to have increased in number, since privatisation of the Post Office. Mine go straight into the ugly great wheelie bin sitting in front of my house (ruining its aspect)

2/8/18 Help lines
I know that the Action Fraud line number, which you published, is intended to be easy to remember but there are so many easy to remember help-line numbers that no average person could possibly hope to recall them all.
That’s why so many people resort to dialling 999, when they’re distressed, and will continue to do so.
It’s no good the Home Office putting out stories about people dialling 999 because they have the wrong topping on their pizza. The stupid and feckless will always be with us.
Equally, it’s pointless local police forces putting out messages, on social media, asking people not to call their undermanned help desks “unless it’s a real emergency”. Who defines what is an emergency, when people are told to chase after burglars themselves?
We need a national registry, with call centre operatives able to act as a front line help desk; directing pleas from the Public to suitable responders. Such a scheme would save time in a real emergency and direct others as needed:- Water leaks, gas leaks, suicides, suspicious packages, UXB’s, lost children, council offices etc.

2/8/18 second euref
Is there really any point in having a second referendum on Theresa May’s Brexit deal?
From what I’m seeing on Twitter, most remainers will reject it, as falling short of their demands, whilst most leave voters will reject it as Brexit In Name Only (BRINO).
The only people, who might vote for it are the befuddled, who are bored with the lies and counter-lies that they are being bombarded with.

9/8/18 Russian Roulette
The report that a Spanish jet accidentally fired an air-to-air missile in the Baltic region is very worrying, considering all the brinkmanship by Russia, in that region and elsewhere. The present hostile relations with Russia makes it unlikely that any political fail-safes are in place, should another more serious accident occur.

6/8/18 Friends of Israel
How can the Labour Party accept the description of Anti-Semitism being promoted by Tom Watson, or anyone else having membership, or benefitting from financial support from the Friends of Israel group?
They would immediately demand the expulsion of anyone, in the party, who has criticised the actions of the Israeli Government, even if they only offered sympathy for those Israelis protesting their own Governments actions.

3/8/18 Amazon
Although it is wrong that Amazon pays unreasonably low taxes, can we blame them, when it is the nature of businesses to gouge as much profit as they can, for their shareholders.
It’s like blaming a dog for biting visitors, when it’s up to the owner of the dog to keep it under control.
Similarly, it’s up to our Government to see that Amazon pays a fair level of tax.
Government lays down the Laws to regulate public life and create order.
This Government seems to be failing on all points, with no sense of what is fair, or reasonable, for anybody.

31/7/18 ID cards
A long time ago, when family doctors, teachers and other professionals may have been acquainted with the same family, for two, or, three generations, it was easy to obtain a safe verification of a person’s identity from them.
Even the local bobby, or Bank Manager, when we had stable communities, could be asked to countersign passport applications and such.
That is no longer the case.
Identification is by no means certain, which is why identity theft, by criminals (and by the police) is so easy. We have numerous illegal and legal immigrants and visitors, whose identities can not be verified.
So what do we do?
The think tank Resolution, (another of those self appointed charities/organisation/quangoes) has offered its solution, i.e. to force ID cards on us.
I don’t know why these people have such easy access to the Media, or politicians, but we are expected to treat their pronouncements, as if authorative, with no-one asking them to justify either themselves, or their pronouncements.
Why would ID cards solve the situation? Who verifies these ID cards? Why are they to be deemed trustworthy?
The average person wouldn’t be able tell if an ID card was fake, or not. It’s doubtful officials could, unless they had immediate access to High tech devices for checking forgeries.
Who would manufacture them? The French Company producing our post-Brexit passports?
Is it beyond the wit of Russian, or French spies to manufacture such fake ID’s.
Who would use them? The only experience I have of them, is via films such as” the Great Escape”, where failure to produce ID meant you got shot.
I have a driving licence, which has sat, unseen, in my wallet since I got it. I’d hate to think that a consequence of having my pocket picked, might be my being arrested, or shot, just because some suit thought it’s had had a good idea.
published version

ID cards pointless
– The Policy Exchange think tank says all UK citizens need ID cards to
stop illegal immigration, prevent another Windrush scandal and curb
identity fraud (Mirror, July 30), but who veri?es these cards?
The average person wouldn’t be able tell if one was fake or not, and it’s
doubtful officials could, unless they had immediate access to hi-tech
devices for checking forgeries.
Also, is it beyond the wit of enemy spies to make fakes?

28/7/18 Hospital Appointments
Brian Reade’s reference to missed hospital appointments costing £160 prompts the question why did the NHS introduce appointment systems?
I suspect it was part of the privatisation process.
Employers don’t like to see employee’s sitting around idle, with patients turning up as and when they please.
This uncontrolled glut and famine approach means that they have to employ sufficient staff to cope with the peak periods; meaning that nurses and GP’s would have periods, when they could clear up any mess, complete any paperwork and, God forbid, have a rest between periods of stress.
The appointment system increases the level of stress on patients and medical personnel but to whose benefit?
It’s cost-cutting. You sack staff to save the cost of their wages. Each £160 represents the cost of a fraction of the saving that has been made on one nurse etc.
I don’t want to be seen by some underpaid, overstressed GP, filling out forms to be compiled into Government statistics, or a nurse working unpaid overtime
Let’s de-privatise and go back to a system of surgery and outpatient hours with patients triaged by an intelligent receptionist. It’s not as if patients actually get seen at their appointed times. I’ve arrived 20 mins early, then waited a further 40mins for a 5min. consultation at a location, with a 1 hour journey either end of it and a large hospital car park charge to pay.
An appointments system is not for my benefit.

28/7/18 RCN CEO
You report that Ms Janet Davies, the CEO of the RCN, as claiming she acte in “good faith”, when telling members that all staff would receive a 3% pay raise.
It’s not often that you get someone, in a highly paid role, admitting that they weren’t up to carrying out one of their prime functions.

Blogpost 26: 27/7/18

August 20, 2018

Letters sent to the Daily Mirror

27/7/18 Evie-Beth Taylor
I’m getting more than a little tired of the meaningless responses from Hospital Trust spokespersons in cases such as Evie-Beth Taylor.
The parents and their G.P could tell immediately that her Chicken pox symptoms were serious, so a fuller response from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust needs to be demanded by someone such as her M.P.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be told who made the decision to turn her away but we should be offered a full explanation from that person. Was that person sufficiently qualified to make such a decision?
Were there Trust criteria being implemented by a non-medical person. If so, what were the criteria? Would the same criteria have been used, if the patient had some clout e.g. a TV presenter, or Local Councillor?

27/7/18 Spellings
How about an article on commonly misspelt words, or incorrectly used words.
Words missed by spell-checkers such as:
practice (noun) for practise (verb),
dependent (adjective) for dependant (noun),
or the one used in your report on Justice Mann _ affect (verb) for effect (noun)

26/7/18 fireproof labels
Your report that accident investigators have difficulty identifying domestic appliances causing fires shouldn’t be so surprising.
Before we joined the EU, our Laws required all electrical appliances to have metal casings and metal plates with their details stamped into them, just as cars still do. As many consumer goods, manufactured in the EU, are plastic, metal plates are impractical and are either paper stick-ons, or are moulded into the inflammable plastic bodies, as required under EU Law.

24/7/18 United Utilities
I suggest that the reason that United Utilities is losing so much water is because most of our water and sewage infrastructure was built by The Victorians
It was realised in the 70’s that much of the old brick built sewers were crumbling, as sink holes began to appear.
This was the excuse Maggie used to privatise water.
The water companies were to be allowed to increase water rates at 4% above the rate of inflation for several years ( and, later on, for several more years) to pay for new pipes and sewers.
They adopted the policy of replace/repair, as it became necessary.
A few spare reservoirs were sold off for re-development but no new pipes were laid for all the new housing, they just increased the water pressure, sent out threatening letters to households about their need to pay for water pipes connecting their properties to the mains supply and counted their cash, with fingers crossed.
If it wasn’t for this hot spell, it wouldn’t have been mentioned by anyone and when the rains come, it’ll be forgotten, again, until the next time.

23/7/18 Hosepipe ban fines?
When the hosepipe ban comes in, in the rainy North-West, and people are being fined £1,000, who will profit?
If the money is paid to United Utilities, then that’s an incentive to ignore leak losses, whether the money goes to shareholders, or to pay their own fines.
If it goes to the Treasury, that’s an incentive for a Government dedicated to austerity and squeezing every penny it can, out of Public Services, such as maintaining water supplies.
The only people who’ll notice any difference will be gardners.

22/7/18 EU referenda (CC Guardian & Express)
What would be the point of a second eferendum on the EU?
The last two years, it has been made abundantly clear that the majority of MP’s want to remain in the EU.
May’s attempt with the Chequers compromise appealed to no-one, least of all the EU.
It’s obvious that it must be an all-in, or all-out version, as in the previous vote.
It’s also obvious that MP’s won’t accept a vote to leave and, once again, the vote will be deemed merely “advisory”.
It’s time our “Sovereign Parliament” stopped pretending that this is a Democracy and delivered us back into the EU, which is where we are eventually destined to end up.

19/7/18 Sir Cliff
The report on Sir Cliff Richard mentions Stuart Hall.
I’d completely forgotten about him, mainly because this is the first mention of his name since his conviction; whereas it doesn’t seem as if a month has gone by without Sir Cliff Richard getting his name in print, particularly in connection with the investigation and the distress he was suffering, throughout his legal action.

10/7/18 Boris is a member of the nasty party
You published a litany of the thoughts expressed by Boris Johnson with his comments about picaninnies, Hillsborough, Libya etc.
It’s worth bearing in mind that he doesn’t say these things in a vacuum.
He must feel comfortable saying such things to his chums, such as David Cameron.
In this sense he provides a valuable insight into the private conversations of Senior figures in the Conservative party and helps clarify why Windrush citizens were deported without a second thought, under May’s watch.

2/7/18 Striking out
Labour has said that it wishes to enable young people to be able to leave home and start life on their own.
Having experienced the associated difficulties (long, long ago), the hardest route was using flat hunting agencies and the easiest route was signing into the YMCA.
The YMCA and YWCA provide the basic needs of young singles, needing to locate in a new place, at a price that allows youngsters to build up the savings necessary for finding their own home, without rushing into bad decisions.
Rather than just building affordable homes, which, for most, will be further down the road in their thoughts, I’d like to see a Labour Government copy the YMCA example.
Sites, near to Universities etc. but independent of them, would be my favourite.

1/7/18 Brum Brexit
Does Birmingham City Council know something that we don’t?
Why would it buy four signs (@ £18,500 each) that give speeds in Km/hr?
Are we staying in the EU, after all?

1/7/18 royal politics
The mantra, about Royals not being involved in politics, surely only relates to showing preference for one political party over another.
Prince Harry’s private comment on Brexit is in accord with the official views of both main parties and Prince Williams wish to bring peace to Palestine is in accord with the public preferences of all politicians, even those, who believe it can be achieved with bombs.
Any statement about cutting benefits or raising taxes would be a problem, though.

Blogpost 25: 30/6/18

August 20, 2018

Letters sent to the Daily Mirror

30/6/18 Making Law
I know that Parliament is, as its name implies, a talking shop but wouldn’t it be nice if Members earned their high salaries by talking to a purpose?
The Law to ban cold calling on pension pots is just one of many pieces of useful legislation which regularly fail to be enacted because “The House” runs out of time.
Apart from implying deplorably bad time management, it’s obvious, to viewers of the Parliament Channel, that most of their debates are pointless.
Prime Minister’s Questions consist of barbed attacks and self-congratulations, with only the latter receiving answers.
Of course, that’s only one hour per week and it serves to keep MP’s amused but many hours are wasted on debates, which serve no real purpose, with both main parties knowing the eventual outcome of the vote.
The voting procedure, itself, is outdated, tedious, an unnecessary waste of time and should be replaced by something relevant to the digital age.
Why does the opposition have to oppose?
This isn’t the Oxford Union, where contenders may “play” Devil’s advocate.
It is a place for making Law, to enable the Nation to function effectively and if MP’s have nothing positive to contribute, they should remain quiet and assist the passage of such Law.

25/6/18 Heathrow?
Can anyone tell me why a third runway at Heathrow is a National issue?
Why is it needed? Who wants it?
If it’s for Londoners, shouldn’t it be their decision and their expense?
Wiganers don’t need it.
We have Manchester and Liverpool
published version

Can anyone tell me why a third runway at Heathrow is a national issue?
Why is it needed? If it’s for Londoners, shouldn’t it be at their expense?
We in Wigan don’t need it — we have Manchester and Liverpool.

21/6/18 Hands of Gods and World Cup
In the Australia v Denmark penalty decision, some pundits argued that the move was not intentional, because the defender was merely raising his arms to jump.
It helps, when jumping but is it necessary?
There was a time when defenders stood with their arms widespread and claimed blocks were accidental ball-to-hand.
When referees began ignoring these claims, defenders quickly found it possible to keep their arms close to their bodies.
If players have to jump with hands below shoulder height, there’d be less fingers in eyes and less “Hands of God” as well.

20/6/18 World Cup commentary
I’ve been enjoying the World Cup games, to an extent, but I don’t have a huge screen TV and I rely on the commentary to tell me which miniscule figure lies writhing in agony, or whatever.
Is it beyond the wit of the producers to hire a sound man to provide two microphones; one for the commentator and one for the crowd noise (the atmosphere) .
He could then mix them at suitable levels, for those who actually listen to the commentator.
If they are going to let the crowd drown the commentator, why bother with him?11/6/18 water wasted opportunity
Two weeks of Summer Sun and we’re seeing pictures of drying out reservoirs. Three weeks and there’ll be mutterings of hosepipe bans.
This was supposed to be averted with the privatisation of water but seems to have been made worse.
Instead of more capacity, spare reservoirs were sold off for landfill and housing.
Even now, the privatised water companies seem to be complacently missing an opportunity
The picture of sunbaked Thirlmere suggests that the soil exposed could be harvested for sale, as topsoil, and the reservoir deepened to store more of next Winter’s rains.

11/6/18 importing US policing
The report that graduates will be trained up to be detectives, in just 12 weeks, seems, on the face of it, a reasonable idea but I foresee problems.
I suspect this is part of the scheme to de-skill public services, prior to contracting them out to the likes of G4S.
Past performance by these people, at the Olympics etc., suggests that recruits will have Mickey Mouse degrees, or maybe unverified degrees. They may not even be Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checked, let alone profiled for suitability.
Policing could end up at a worse standard than the carers, seen in some privatised care homes.
Will they be allowed guns, as in the USA (terrifying)?
I can imagine a lot of bright, ambitious young cops being thoroughly frustrated by such an intake.

8/6/18 let voters choose party candidates
There’s a battle going on, inside Labour, over re-selection and which faction’s candidates gets a nomination.
The same may apply to the Tories.
In fact, there’s an additional problem over Brexit, with voters, loyal to a particular party, finding their MP opposing them on that issue.
For greater voter power, I’d like to see parties offer 2 to 4 candidates for each Parliamentary seat.
The party with the most aggregate votes would win the seat and the most popular of their candidates getting the job.
Every candidate could claim to be entitled to the presumption that they were chosen on merit, not just on party affiliation, and could justify opposing the party whip on their own manifesto promises.

8/6/18 TV football
So! Amazon has joined the Premier league rip-off.
If you want to watch premier league matches, you now have three scalpers wanting signed pay-to-view contracts.
Usually bundled with broadcasts, which you wouldn’t watch for free, they don’t even show all your team’s games.
Would it be too much to ask for some entrepreneur to do a deal allowing us suckers to sign up to all our favourite teams matches, alone.
As an LFC fan, I can subscribe to LFCTVgo and see U-23 matches but not premiership matches and then on a poorly streamed service.
I can’t physically get to home matches, without difficulty, and away matches are almost impossible.
There’s a worldwide audience, even for lower league teams, so there’s a profit to be had and kudos points for any politician, who’d back the notion.

8/6/18 re: town forums
This picture shows benches made from re-cycled plastic.
They have been installed all along the New Brighton sea wall and are vitually maintenance-free.
Essentially they are 6ft long 3″x2″ beams, which could also be used to make outdoor picnic tables or garden wall panels.
It occurs to me that if High Streets are to be re-purposed, as meeting places, then such street furniture would be a welcome addition, wherever a town has large open areas.