Thursday, September 29, 2005

Labour sleaze

A former Labour MP is clearly not as keen on tax and spend as her "labour through and through" heritage would imply. Ex-Reading East MP Jane Griffiths has been arrested for not paying her £29,000 tax bill.

Only true socialists have tax bills greater than the average UK salary.

Jail tariffs

Whilst welcoming the 40 year minimum tariff for Ian Huntley, has the high profile of the case increased the tariff more than it otherwise would have been?

The murderer of barmaid Janet Fleming received a minimum tariff of 'only' 17 years in comparison.

Educational lottery

The Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College Academy in Lewisham is to allocate a quarter of all places by lottery to break "social segregation". Despite educational experts welcoming this attempt to "break the strangle-hold of the better-off on the most over-subscribed schools", the experiment can only end in failure.

In a couple of years, the better off will have fled with their children to better schools in other areas and any house price premium for living within the school catchment area will have disappeared.

Whilst broadening access is a noble intention, the Comprehensive experiment should demonstrate it's inevitable result. Poor attitudes and behaviour triumph, destroying the very essence of what made the school so popular and over-subscribed in the first place.

Academic selection is the only "fair" way to allocate places at an over-subscribed school. That certain schools should ever be over-subscribed indicates that other local schools are failing despite ministerial action. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Labour, old responses

"We have got to listen to the people and respond wisely and sensibly", Tony Blair, May 2005 - by removing hecklers.

Who were the Police really protecting when they prevented the 82 year old heckler from re-entering the conference using anti-terrorism legislation?

Were Conservatives heavy handed when Michael Howard was heckled and secretly filmed by the BBC for their programme "The history of heckling"?

Fast food ban

How many years do we need to wait before nutritional experts restrict fast food only to those over eighteen?

Should parents be banned from serving their children pizzas, burgers and chips in the evenings? Who would police it?

Ironically, the BBC also reports 100 new jobs created at a Walkers factory, presumably not supplying their snacks to schools!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

IRA arms beyond reach?

How long would "IRA Disarmament" remain if the UDA and UVF started to attack them in the future?

£26m can buy a lot of kit if you have the right contacts.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Artistic Freedom of Expression

Are there any boundaries to artistic freedom of expression? Tate Britain now seems think there are. It has removed an "exhibit" as it may offend Muslims because it features a bisected Koran.

Why didn't Tate Britain consider the feelings of Christians and Jews as the exhibit also included a severed Bible and Talmud?

PS If you enjoy Black British Art, you may enjoy this course at the Tate "Consider[ing] the importance of issues of sexuality within the black art movements of the 1980s and the feminist and gay challenge posed by Lubaina Himid, Sutapa Biswas and Isaac Julien"

Pensioning pensioners

A retired social worker has been jailed for seven days for refusing to pay above inflation increases in her council tax over recent years.

As a former public sector employee, would she rather have worked to 65 and reduced her future council tax bills or still retire at 60 and expect other people to fund her retirement?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"Out of Office"

Snafu will be on holiday for the next two weeks so new postings will be very light!!

Racial Ghettos

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), effectively admits that immigrant integration has failed in the UK according to a report in The Sunday Times. "The fact is we are a society which, almost without noticing it, is becoming more divided by race and religion. We are becoming more unequal by ethnicity."

Such comments suggest that whilst politicians have embraced the benefits of immigration over many decades, many ordinary people have not been so keen to follow their lead. How else can you explain "fully-fledged ghettos — literal black holes"?

Why does Trevor Phillips not consider a restriction on further immigration to the UK as one means of preventing more ghettos in the future?

Friday, September 16, 2005

"Not me, Gov."

Pension credits totalling £280m were overpaid between October 2003 and September 2004 due to fraud and error. This should be totally unacceptable, yet the government's pension service has set itself a target of reducing fraud and error by just 20%. Why?

The Government cannot blame the pension credit scheme for being "exceedingly challenging" when it designed the scheme itself!

Money, money, money.

How can winning a racial discrimination case ever justify £1.6m in compensation?

Are white males discriminated against because they could never win this amount of money!?!

Taking Liberties

Why is Liberty more concerned about the risk of torture to seven Algerian men if they are deported back to Algeria rather than the risk to British lives if they remain in the UK?

Why didn't they seek asylum in France?

Digital switch-over

The Culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, has announced assistance for those on income support and job seekers allowance towards the cost of the digital television switch-over by 2012.

If they "are exactly the people that the State has a duty to protect", why does she expect them to pay as much for their TV licence as those in work? Will the licence fee be increased to provide the subsidy or will there be cuts in "quality" programming?

Subsidising the equipment cost is another dis-incentive to work whilst penalising those already in work.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Potentially stupid

Why does the Equal Opportunities Commission only consider that part timers ever work below their potential? A three year(!) research project found that 80% of part-timers said they were not being tested at work.

How many full-time employees are not tested at work either?

Thankfully, people working below their potential are offset by people such as John Prescott working way beyond theirs!

Happy punching

Metropolitan Police definition of a punch - "A police-approved technique to stun a struggling suspect with a hard blow to a cluster of nerves in the neck and face".

No doubt the BBC believe Yorkshire farmer Mark Faulkner deserved it as he was at a "Pro-hunt demonstration...

The visible hand

The Intellectual Activist has an excellent article on the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Robert Tracinski suggests that 40 years of welfare dependency in the United States has resigned many poorer people to a life on welfare and Government reliance. Why did so many people wait for federal assistance to arrive rather than use their own initiative to escape the area?

Has welfare in the United States replaced Adam Smith's invisible hand with the visible hand of Federal assistance? Is it doing the same thing in the UK?

Triumph of Political Correctness

The new statue unveiled in Trafalgar Square today is a celebration of political correctness.

The sculptor, Marc Quinn, says the disabled "are the most under-represented in the history of art".

Alison Lapper has overcome severe disability to raise a child. However, this does not merit a statue being unveiled to honour her.

Hard working singletons

Gordon Brown may need to adjust his "hard working families" rhetoric following new research showing that the largest group living in poverty are 3.9m singletons!

Why has no political party courted their votes?

PS The charity spokesman has a cracking name, Jonathan Welfare!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Flat and tyred

For any budding eco-terrorists, BBC Radio 4 ran a training session this evening. They highlighted a group of French 'greens' who punish Parisian SUV(Chelsea tractor) owners by deflating the tyres on their vehicles. It's not a crime in France as no permanent damage is done to the vehicle.

Any London 4*4 owners who are inconvenienced should contact the BBC for an apology.

Street Protest

No doubt the threat of arrest for anyone obstructing the highway has had no impact on the scale of the fuel protest today.

The Police aren't always so conscientious about keeping the highways clear. Why not?

Fuel protests are futile

The BBC is no doubt revelling in it's "Public Service Broadcaster" role by spreading the "Don't Panic" message to petrol and diesel users across the UK. They certainly failed yesterday though as many petrol stations were bled dry! As the threat of disruption to fuel supplies apparently recedes, would they have widespread support?

British democracy only allows taxpayers to change the burden of taxation by voting in a low tax Government. Having snubbed that option in 2005, support for fuel protests should be limited, higher taxes were not unexpected.

Concerns over new sources of revenue if fuel duty were reduced are misplaced. Gordon Brown has already shown he is not averse to increased borrowing. Railway passengers could also start paying more than 50% towards the cost of their journeys rather than relying on car drivers to subsidise them to such an extent.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bowled Over

England win the Ashes, so what? They are always in the 'Final', they just haven't been good enough to win for the last eighteen years!

Will the English cricket team be made 'Sirs' to celebrate "the greatest sporting achievement since 1966". They are already going to meet lifelong rugby cricket fan Tony Blair.

"By bringing the Ashes back after so long you have given cricket a huge boost and lit up the whole summer." - Tony Blair

CBBC is bad for you

Will the BBC reduce the amount of childrens programmes it broadcasts in response to a study showing that those who watch the most television as children are the likeliest to be obese adults?

"The International Journal of Obesity study found the 41% who were overweight or obese by the age of 26 were those who had watched most TV".

Two up, two down

Is it just a BBC Business oversight that they are yet to report that Britain has dropped two places in the World Bank league table of the best places in the world to do business thanks to Gordon Brown?

The Times has reports it.

BBC battles domestic violence

The BBC has become a founding member of the "Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence". The BBC should focus on making and broadcasting television programmes rather than creating schemes that other agencies and charities already focus on.

Why does the BBC feel it necessary to illustrate the scheme with a white male physically abusing his Afro-Caribbean partner? Are they stereotyping white males?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Belfast Riots

Will there be a £150m, seven year inquiry to discover who fired the first shot during the weekend rioting in Belfast?

BNP outsourcing

It appears that even the British National Party (BNP) recognise the benefits of cheap foreign labour. Their newspaper, The Voice of Freedom, is printed in Slovakia! Why aren't the BNP supporting British printing jobs!?!

How can Police be allowed to sieze the entire September printrun if they are not even sure an offence has been committed? The Police are liasing with the Crown Prosecution Service "to ascertain whether any offences have been committed by the possession and intended distribution of this publication".

Where are the BBC and Guardian journalists to defend the "Freedom of Speech" of BNP journalists!?!

Warning - Low flying Minister

As people fly from Manchester Airport today, they would do well to avoid Home Office minister Andy Burnham (Never heard of him either!) who will be lurking at the airport explaining why people should have national identity cards instead of passports.

Why does Mr. Burnham want the cards to carry a Union flag as a "proud statement" of British identity? Will the European Union approve?

Will the Cross of St. George be allowed?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Welsh Race

The Welsh "race" is official. At Glasgow Sheriff Court, Sheriff John Baird convicted Kevin Bonar, a Scot, of racially aggravated breach of the peace and fined him £250 for shouting abuse at Craig Bellamy, a Welsh international football player.

"There is no doubt being Welsh is part of a racial group" - Sheriff John Baird.

Is "English scum" still allowed?

To encourage the others

Why should teaching unions be fearful that plans to expose under-performing teachers will be bad for the morale of teachers!?!

It should only be bad for the morale of under-performing teachers.

Just another day

Tony Blair's 'Holocaust Memorial Day' may now be replaced by the more inclusive 'National Genocide Memorial Day' according to The Times. Muslims consider it "offensive" as the day suggests that "Western lives have more value than non-western lives". It could therefore fuel extremists' sense of alienation as it ignores the mass murder of Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia.

Rather than tackling extremism, proposals to rename days can only appease and encourage further extremism.

How does the Home Office manage to spend £500,000 each year on the Holocaust Memorial Day? What does the nation get for it's money?

Friday, September 09, 2005

47%? Have an A*

GCSE Business Studies students only had to earn 47% in one particularly difficult exam to achieve an A* grade from the AQA examination board according to the BBC.

"All [Examination] boards adjust the marks needed in an effort to maintain the standard of their exams year-on-year". Maintaining standards can only be interpreted as an admission that year-on-year improvements in GCSE results are totally artificial. Whilst the number of A* to C grades in 2005 were up 2% on 2004, they could just as easily have been down 2% if the exam boards had to "adjust the marks needed in an effort to maintain the standard" downwards!

Benefits of Outsourcing

Why did the BBC feel unable to add Tony Blair's comments on the benefits of outsourcing to their report on Indian outsourcing on Thursday?

Is it too controversial for the 'Dear Leader'?

Preventing spam comments

Off topic:
Can someone please advise me how to change the comments on my blog so that a random code has to be entered before a comment can be submitted?

The number of spam comments has increased recently and it's becoming a chore to delete them all!

Chartered Institute of Housing England

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has "quick links" for CIH Scotland, CIH Cymru (Wales), CIH Northern Ireland and even CIH Asian [sic] Pacific.

England does not merit a link.

Vaccine madness

Having no doubt ensured that his immediate family will be protected from Avian flu, it's good to see that Gordon Brown considers £70m should be spent on vaccines for use in Africa rather than buy Avian Flu vaccines to protect the rest of the UK population!

Cold Turkey (2)

"By welcoming Turkey we will demonstrate that Western and Islamic cultures can thrive together as partners in the modern world - the alternative is too terrible to contemplate" - Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary.

Is Jack Straw implying that if Turkey does not join the European Union, there is a threat of more Islamic extremism throughout Europe? The recent London terrorist bombings were apparently linked to British involvement in Iraq rather than a reaction to anti-Muslim feeling in the UK.

Hitler's Walk

How can just two complainants lead to a Parish Council being obliged to remove signs marking a park known as "Hitler's Walk"?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

£48,000 Gypsy film

Hopefully David Davies AM will be successful in his application for a £48,000 grant to make a "Settled communities" film following an identical award for a school film project on gypsy 'traditions'.

How will the Heritage Lottery Fund ensure the film's content is neutral and does not politicize the classroom?

Not stupid

MPs will be shocked to discover that the British public aren't as stupid as they thought they were.

Despite fee-charging ATMs making up 40% of the total ATM network, only 5% of total transactions and 3% of all cash withdrawals used them. This confounds recent Treasury Select Committee controversy that fee-charging ATMs duped the public into using them by offering "free" balance inquiries yet charged for cash withdrawals.

Maybe the public can recognise fee-charging ATMs and only use them when their need for cash is greater than the fee!

Multicultural Wembley

The BBC asks whether mutli-culturalism is working by focusing on Wembley, where immigrants are now in the majority. They describe it as a "diversity to die for".

However, Police community support officer Bhupen Buch, born in Tanzania, is very off message, "Most of the problems are created by asylum seekers. They spend our tax money on drinking beer. They must go. They must all go!".

Abdul Ghafoor, 40 says that "Many [white, English people] have moved from here, so maybe they do not like to mix". It would appear they are not the only ones, Bhupen describes how he has to break up fights between Tamils and other Sri Lankans, as well as Hindus and Muslims. Do Police classify such fights as racist?

Why aren't "white, English" Liberal Democrat and Labour luvvies moving to Wembley to enjoy the ethnic diversity?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tax strike

It's ironic that whilst council staff have the right to strike for higher pay, taxpayers do not have a similar right to "strike" when council tax is increased.

No one ever represents the taxpayer.

Nearly burnt at the stake

Three teenagers who admitted tying a 13-year-old boy to a tree, setting the tree on fire and videotaping the attack have escaped criminal charges because they were previously of "good character". Will their experience of the authorities embolden or chastise them?

A Crown Prosecution spokeswoman said, "We decided not to prosecute because the victim was unable to identify any of the suspects when he was shown photographs". Was that because Kyle, the victim, could only see the gang videoing him through the eyeholes in the mask he was made to wear?

Housing crisis

Have the 1.1m immigrants who have arrived in Britain in the decade to 2001 contributed to the current housing crisis?

The BBC evidence suggests economic migrants are better for the economy than those seeking asylum or refugee status. Should economic migration be encouraged at the expense of those seeking asylum?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Selling the family silver

No doubt the £250m development potential of the 13 acre Chelsea Barracks site played no part in the Ministry of Defence decision to sell it and relocate 300 troops to Woolwich Station in south east London.

Can taxpayers look forward to a tax refund or will the £250m be "invested" in incapacity benefit and railway subsidies?

Partners in class

Why does Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, think parents should be treated as partners in education rather than as consumers? Is it unreasonable to expect the state to provide a good standard of general education by itself?

People don't go to Tescos and help fill the shelves before buying their food!

Jailhouse skunk

How can class A drugs be so readily available in prison that previously "clean" prisoners are heroin addicts by the time they leave?

"I hadn't tried it before I was inside - I had always looked down on it - but I tried it. [] I was a regular user by the time I left prison"

Falling drugs prices, down 50% in a year, suggests oversupply in the drugs market despite Police efforts.

Going for a gong

Unelected Quangos of the great and good will now replace unelected civil servants to help decide who should be honoured in the New Year and Birthday Honours list.

How were they selected for the committees?

Don't lose your right to vote - or you'll be fined!

Having been threatened with a £1,000 fine last year for not completing my electoral roll form in time, the Government appears to be missing out on a considerable revenue stream.

The Electoral Commission believes about 8% (3.7m) of people eligible to vote were not on the electoral register in 2000. That's a lot of fines!

How can critics blame a fall in the number of registered voters in Northern Ireland on using National Insurance numbers to check eligibility? Maybe some of those registered voters were fraudulent in the first place.

Monday, September 05, 2005


One in five schools is struggling to find a head teacher this year. Why?

Are potential head teachers realising that the increased responsibilities and work load are greater than the higher pay offered? If schools were able to set pay levels locally, the vacancies could be filled.

Why are the researchers not as concerned about the under-representation of men (30%) in primary school leadership roles as they are with "[the] slight improvement in the ethnic balance at assistant head level."?

Boo hoo

English and Welsh fans are in trouble for booing each other's national anthems at the World Cup qualifier in Cardiff on Saturday.

If England had a proper national anthem rather than "God Save the Queen", the staid British national anthem, they would have something decent to sing about beyond a 1-0 victory!

The veneer of law and order

Should people really be shocked by how quickly law and order has collapsed in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina?

It has reduced people to the first rung of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, they need food, water and shelter. Only when these most basic of needs have been met will safety and security become important again.

Katrina has peeled away the veneer of law and order in New Orleans.

Roundheads at loggerheads

Home Office attempts to ban the sale and manufacture of replica guns could have at least one unintended consequence. Civil War re-enactments would need to use broomsticks or table legs rather than muskets unless they are exempted from the legislation.

Why does the Home Office think banning replica guns will reduce crime when so many criminals continue to use real guns?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Remember the dead

Senior Bishops planning the national memorial service at St. Paul's Cathedral for the victims of the July 7th bombings want to invite the families of the suicide bombers to the service as an act of reconciliation.

"We have to look forward, not back, forward to a society in which Muslims and Christians live together amicably in an integrated community" - Jack Nicholls, Bishop of Sheffield.

Does the Church want to invite the families as a genuine act of reconciliation or because they are Muslim? If the suicide bombers had been Christian, would the Church still want to invite them?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Racial abuse

Maybe whites are not the only people guilty of racism. Laban Tall highlights how the BBC struggled to report the racial abuse directed at British tourists trapped in the New Orleans Superdome here.

"The Britons were targeted by others in the shelter". Why were they targeted? "There was a lot of heat from the people in there, people shouting racial abuse about us being white".

Cold Turkey

Turkey may scrap it's 42 year old ambition to join the European Union says Abdullah Gul, the Turkish Foreign Minister, if Turkey is offered anything less than full EU membership according to a report in The Times today.

Let's hope Turkey does walk away. I am yet to be convinced of the benefits of Turkish EU membership. Proving that the European Union is not a "Christian club" is not sufficient justification.

Whilst Angela Merkel, the German opposition leader, is a fierce opponent of Turkish accession, why are there no leading politicians against Turkish membership in the UK? Are they worried about further alienating British Muslims?

Respecting families

"The importance of the family is that it's in the family that we have to come to terms with the idea of give and take and respect for other people" - Tony Blair.

Will Labour start dismantling a welfare state that penalises married families raising children whilst rewarding unmarried couples?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Long term inequality

"Despite 60 years of the welfare state" social, economic and geographical inequalities are still firmly entrenched according to a report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. If the welfare state has achieved nothing, maybe it should be dismantled or has it even increased inequality by rewarding economic failure?

One million households in the UK have no access to a car despite having children whilst 10% of wealthier people in certain areas have more than one car each! No doubt the researchers would prefer the wealthier individuals to be taxed more so that the 'needier' families can each be given a car. However, if families cannot afford a car, how can they afford children without relying on welfare?

What the researchers fail to understand is that you will always have pockets of poverty and wealth within any country or region. No amount of wealth redistribution will ever overcome such inequalities. I am yet to meet a single person whose aspirations are to live on a council estate. However, many people want to leave them though, some work hard and do achieve their goal. David Davis happily describes his humble background on a council estate but I bet he left as soon as he could. Others who rely on the welfare state for their income will never move. Market pressures force people on lower incomes to live in cheaper and less desirable areas, otherwise house prices would be higher!

Are the researchers doing their bit to reduce inequality by living in poor areas or are they 'victims' of the system living in middle class areas offering the benefits of ready access to good schooling and healthcare whilst crime rates are low? Few Liberal Democrat or Labour 'luvvies' ever do.

The country will never "become more equal" whilst there are opportunities to excel that some people take and others ignore.

New Orleans Aid

I hope the British Government has offered assistance to the US Government in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Is there an assumption that America is too large to require any?