Monday, October 31, 2005

Blunkett's NIMBYISM*

Hopefully, Wansdworth Council will have ignored David Blunkett's protest letter as he is not a Wandsworth resident. As David is not the local constituency MP, he should not be supporting a campaign by "local residents" anyway.

David is not always guilty of nimbyism!

*Not In My Back Yard

Citizenship questions

Those new citizenship questions in full:

  • Who is the greatest Prime Minister ever?

  • How long was Britain involved in the slave trade?

  • How evil was the British Empire?

  • Will you always vote Labour?

  • How did Britain oppress your country of origin?

  • Do you know the way to the benefits office?

  • Welcome to Britain!
  • Too tough and not too tough?

    Life is becoming 'tougher' for unemployed single parents. They will now have to attend a compulsory job interview every quarter or they risk losing 20% of their income support.

    Why don't they risk losing it all?

    Meanwhile, no such interviews are apparently required for claiming tax credits making them an easy target for organised crime.

    "The department have evidence that tax credits have been targeted by organised criminals, particularly where they can make claims over the internet without providing identity" - National Audit Office.

    Why is the Inland Revenue's current policy to pay out tax credits and ask questions later? "More than 80% of investigations into possible fraud or error were carried out after an award had been made because "information on some risks was not available at (the pre-award) stage"".

    All necessary information should be available before any award is made.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    Fast cop, slow cop

    Would Meredydd Hughes, expected to become Britain's most senior traffic policeman this week, only have two speeding convictions if his policy of using hidden, mobile speed cameras been in force for longer?

    It's more likely he would be banned!

    Ban drunken yobs

    If British Transport Police are already unable to prevent "drunken yobs" terrorising train passengers, how can they be expected to enforce a ban on alcohol consumption?

    Friday, October 28, 2005

    Taking A Stand Award

    Would Tony Martin have been eligible for a £1,000 reward "for ordinary people [who] have made real improvements in areas across the country by taking a stand against anti-social and nuisance behaviour"?

    Why does a Government department need to reward "ordinary people" for it's policy failures in reducing "anti-social and nuisance behaviour"?

    Spam txt

    If Government is prepared the to text the UK population to get it's "message across directly to the public", how do you opt out of it?

    'Helpful' messages from New Labour will never be welcome.

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Birmingham Riots (3)

    BlackBritain suggests that the Birmingham riots have an economic element that peace marches will not resolve.

    "[Councillor Aziz] said the situation is possibly stemming from the fierce competition between African-Caribbean and Asian hair and cosmetic shops in the area. [] Asian owners [are] tempting more buyers with their cheaper prices, there is an impression amongst the community that Black shop owners deliberately conjured up the rape claim to put the public off buying from the Asian-run shops."

    Dubious Liberal Democrat Donation

    The Times reports that the businessman who gave the Liberal Democrats £2.4m has been a wanted man in the US for the last seven years?

    When will the BBC cover this story?

    What a lot o' water

    Why weren't 'travellers' expected to pay for their own water supply in Somerset?

    Maybe the tap wasn't faulty, the 'travellers' just didn't turn it off when they had finished.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005


    Grampian Police are helping to fund a £75,000 portable football pitch to "keep [youngsters] engaged and encourage socially acceptable behaviour".

    A full-time "Streetfootball" development officer (I couldn't make this up!) is also being funded by Robert Gordon University!

    Why are Grampian Police unable to police properly without resorting to stupid taxpayer funded gimmicks? Are Grampian children so poor that they are unable to buy a football to play amongst themselves?

    Shame and sorrow?

    Is there the same sense of "shame and sorrow" in the Lozells area of Birmingham following the racist murder of Isiah Young-Sam as there was in Huyton, Liverpool, following the racist murder of Anthony Walker?

    Unfortunately, Isiah's murder seems to be an opportunity for urban regeneration rather than a moment for reflection.

    A march and meeting are being organised to discuss the underlying causes of the tensions in the Birmingham area and find "ways in which we can move together against the neglect and deprivation that all sections of the community face"

    Scotland can see clearly now

    Will English taxpayers be subsidising free eye tests for everyone in Scotland from 2007 yet still be expected to pay for their own eye tests?

    If Scotland can afford free eye tests, is the Barnett formula a 'little' too generous!?!

    Piggy Bank Ban

    Halifax and NatWest banks are to ban piggy banks in promotional material as they may offend some muslims. Does the ban offend anyone?

    Is the BBC unable to confirm the ban or are they ashamed to report it?

    Courtesy of Rottweiler Puppy

    Smoking Question

    Will Scottish MPs abstain from voting on the Health Improvement and Protection Bill that will only be effective in England?

    Should Welsh MPs vote on a bill that gives the Welsh assembly the power to totally ban smoking in enclosed public spaces in Wales from April 2007?

    As long as the Welsh Assembly is given these powers, they will be unconcerned whether England has a full or partial smoking ban!

    Drunk on Art

    Good work if you can get it! A woman spent three hours on a beam in Cardiff getting drunk using 48 bottles of lager.

    Who grants the Chapter Arts Centre £750,000 for this kind of drivel?

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Foreign National Prisoners

    The numbers of foreign nationals in British prisons has increased by 75% over the past five years according to Charles Clarke, Home Secretary and by 150% over the past ten years according to the Prison Reform Trust.

    "They come from 168 countries, but over half are from just six countries (Jamaica, Irish Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and India). A quarter are Jamaicans, by far, the largest single group."

    If the Home Secretary is considering releasing prisoners early due to prison overcrowding, why will foreign national prisoners need to be tagged when they should be deported even earlier?

    F*****g Police

    Why are the Police not pursuing Tony Blair for saying "f*****g Welsh"? A Scotland football fan was fined £250 for hurling racial abuse at a Welsh footballer.

    Apologising to a Welsh couple for his outburst last month, for which he has no recollection, Tony Blair says "He is particularly proud that it was this government which gives Wales the opportunity of its own National Assembly and devolved administration"

    Is Tony ashamed that "it was this government which [has not given England] the opportunity of its own National Assembly and devolved administration"?

    Derisible reporting

    Why would Labour, a party famed for it's spin, ever introduce a new Police recording system that shows an increase in crime!?!

    Naturally, the BBC headline supports the Justice Minister's "more complicated presentational challenge".

    Birmingham Riots (2)

    When West Midlands Police find the Pirate radio station responsible for broadcasting the rape claim that led to the Birmingham riots, will they be charged with "incitment to racial hatred"?

    Unless the radio station has a sign outside saying "Pirate Radio station here", could the Police find it? The Cuddles Massage Parlour had a shopfront display to help Police find it!

    Birmingham Riots

    Will the murder of Isiah Young-Sam be given the same prominence as the murder of Anthony Walker by the BBC?

    There was a "racial element to the crime that makes it different", "In addition, there was a planning and premeditation in the murder".

    "Three cars pulled up with between 10 and 11 men inside." and "The men got out of the cars armed with knives and attacked Isiah and his friends." The attackers also tried to disguise themselves.

    Why is the BBC unable to say that Isiah Young-Sam was killed in a racist attack?

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Out of Office

    As Snafu will be away for the next couple of days, new postings will be minimal!

    The Great Escape

    Would the Office for National Statistics deliberately time the release of a report showing the highest levels of immigration since 1991 and the highest levels of British emigration ever to coincide with the Tory leadership election?

    The Pub Philosopher thinks they would!

    Saving taxpayers' money

    Staff at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its agencies are staging a one-day strike over "unfair" pay gaps averaging £2,010. The pay gaps should be reduced; by equalising pay downwards.

    If Cefas (whoever they are!) are able to recruit administrative officers with a starting salary of £11,474, why should the RPA (whoever they are!) need to offer £15,221 to recruit at the same level?

    PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka should be praised for highlighting this anomaly as it will reduce the future public sector pension liability!

    Spam comments

    The amount of spam comments that this blog is receiving continues to escalate. Regretfully, I have no option but to reactivate the word verification feature on blogger comments.

    I hope you don't find it too onerous!

    Praise Ruth

    Every so often Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, makes a change for the better for which she deserves praise.

    From 2007, school league tables will be based on the top five GCSE passes for candidates but two of the five must be actual GCSE qualifications at grade C or above in English and maths.

    Their inclusion will force schools to focus additional time and resources on these core skills.

    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Forget 'Old biddies'?

    It's good to know that keyworkers such as Corporate Equalities Manager Julie Thomson and acting Head of Equalities Alan McKenzie can look forward to retiring at 60 with good pensions.

    They are responsible for trying to ban words such as 'girls', 'elderly', pet', 'love', 'ladies', 'duck', 'flower', 'dear' or 'sweetheart' in Hull.

    What do they do for the rest of the year?

    English nationalist movement

    Would the BBC ever report such a glowing account of English nationalism?

    Gradually the Welsh people realised that when it came to a conflict with their bigger English neighbour, they had no control over their destiny

    "It was born out of frustration," Alyn Ffred Jones added. "The frustration that they simply had been unable to do anything about what was happening to them."

    What would Vince Cable think!?!

    Will Wales be apologising to England for sending prisoners to English jails as Welsh jails are too overcrowded?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Welsh apologists

    Liverpool Council has apologised to Welsh nationalists for flooding a north Wales valley in 1965 to supply it's water. Why? Should Liverpudlians have been denied a reliable water supply?

    Owen Roberts, a historian at Aberystwyth University, even wants Liverpool Council to apologise for flooding Llanwddyn in north Powys in the 1880s!

    Maybe Manchester should apologise to someone for flooding Wythborn in the Lake District to secure it's water supply in 1879.

    Government 'negotiations'

    What concessions did the Government obtain from the trade unions when it accepted that existing public sector workers can continue to retire at 60?

    The Government should be ashamed that they caved in to union demands for nothing. Increasing the retirment age for new staff is not a significant concession. How can the Government now demand that the retirement age for private sector employees possibly be raised to 67?

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    'Big Beast' poached

    Excellent news for the Conservative Party. "Big Beast" Ken Clarke has been knocked out of the Conservative leadership contest.

    With the Conservative 'right' candidates, David Davis and Liam Fox, beating the Conservative 'left' candidates by ten votes in total, does the future promise clear blue water between Labour and the Conservatives?

    It would be a travesty if the Conservative 'left' won!

    Anything but Grammar schools

    Ruth Kelly is keen to develop the abilities of the most gifted children.

    "Gifted and talented" pupils would be identified based upon "the results of [] tests taken [] at the age of 11". These tests could be called the '11+' and would be academic selection. In future, could they attend "tailored" classes at special schools called "Anything but Grammar schools" where children are not "embarrassed" by their ability?

    The Unions and the hard-left will hate this!

    Why does Ruth Kelly expect University students to pay tuition fees only for their lecturers to teach gifted children at school rather than them!?!

    DoT ty

    Why did Alistair Darling, the (Scottish) Transport secretary, want to devolve responsibility for the rail network north of the border to the Scottish Executive? Was the Department of Transport (DoT) failing to do it's job properly?

    If Scottish Transport Minister Nicol Stephen considers the £325m funding "a good deal for Scotland", was it a bad deal for England?

    Not spending a lotto

    Hopefully, National Lottery fund distributors will ignore MPs' calls to speed up the process for spending £2.4bn of lottery grants on good causes

    Rushing to spend so much money can only lead to poor value for money and an increased risk of fraud.

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Poor teaching acceptable - Minister

    If mainstream teaching and discipline were acceptable, would the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, really need to spend £120m on providing catch-up lessons in English and Maths?

    Identifying and fixing the problems that lead to children falling behind in the first place would be a far better use of resources. How often are teachers sacked for being unable to teach?

    Speeding fines

    Brake, the Road Safety group, wants speeding fines to be doubled as insurance companies no longer penalise drivers caught speeding with increased insurance premiums according to The Times.

    If market led insurance premiums do not increase with three, six or even nine points, it suggests that insurance companies take the view drivers have been "unlucky" getting caught and do not represent an increased danger to themselves or others.

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Shooting from the hip

    How does anyone "mislay" an automatic pistol in their local Sainsburys?

    Why did he have his weapon out in the Men's toilet?

    Beanz meanz strikez

    The 800 Heinz beans workers striking for an inflation busting pay deal over the next two years should remember that they are not public sector workers, despite their TGWU representation.

    Heinz operates in a competitive market. Halting production can only encourage Heinz to consider moving production facilites and jobs elsewhere. By encouraging staff to strike, the TGWU is betraying the staff they claim to represent.

    Saturday, October 15, 2005

    Asylum chaos

    A Zimbabwean "asylum seeker" whose claim was "fraudulent" and whose dealings with the UK authorities "deliberately dishonest" has been allowed to remain in the UK. The Times highlights all the lies the asylum seeker made to remain in the UK.

    Why does Shadow Home Secretary David Davis think the court decision was right? He is merely being opportunistic.

    As the UK does the border Zimbabwe, his claim should have been rejected on the grounds that he should have claimed asylum in a country that neighbours Zimbabwe. What's wrong with the "people's republic" of South Africa?

    Scots "ignorant"

    In a shocking survey, Scots have been found to be ignorant about the battle of Trafalgar.

  • 83% of Scots do not know where the Battle of Trafalgar took place.

  • 45% of Scots did not know Nelson's ship was called HMS Victory.

  • 15% did not know Nelson's fleet was made of wood.

  • 3% thought it was fought between Scotland and England. Who do they think won!?!

  • I fear that the survey, if carried out in England, would have similar results. What is being taught in history classes at schools across the UK?

    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Scottish Travel Expenses

    Why hasn't BBC Scotland political correspondent Glenn Campbell given the expense claims of Liberal Democrat MSP Keith Raffan the same amount of scrutiny as the expense claims of Conservative MSP David McLetchie?

    Keith Raffan has had £6,000 deducted from his pension until irregularities in his expenses are explained. His mileage claim was also double that of any other MSP!

    Dutch to ban the Burka? (2)

    Things are going from bad to worse for Dutch Burka wearers!

    Utrecht city council is to reduce the unemployment benefit paid to two Muslim women as they refuse to attend "job interviews because no one would employ them because of their burkas". To qualify for the benefit, they must do everything they can to find work.

    Don't Panic

    Following the discovery of the deadly form of Avian Flu in Turkey, the Government has asked the public not to panic. This would be more plausible if senior Labour politicians and John Prescott were not already priority cases for the vaccination.

    Why has the Government only bought enough vaccinations for 25% of the population? What about the other 75%?

    Welsh Luxury

    First Minister Rhodri Morgan is concerned about the "disgrace and humiliation" if the spending priorities of the £13.8bn Welsh Assembly budget cannot be agreed by early December.

    "What are they going to say in the House of Commons when we are asking for more legislative powers if we've had to sub-contract the process of setting the budget because the politicians can't make a fist of it?"

    It is a luxury denied to the English.

    Lose the fat

    The Times reports that a woman hit by a Mancunian driver was reprimanded by Greater Manchester Police for using the word "fat" to describe the driver's body shape. Would "obese" have been better?

    Thankfully, such stupidity has not yet reached The Times. Mick Hume writes about "the minor problem of fat men misbehaving at football matches"!

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    English unemployment

    It is not possible to be an unemployed Englishman.

    Nationality options for claiming unemployment benefit are Scottish, Welsh or British!

    Dutch to ban the Burka?

    The Times reports that the Netherlands are expecting to ban the Burka in public places such as "in shops, public buildings, cinemas, train and bus stations and airports, as well as on trains and buses" as they are claimed to be a "threat to security".

    Iroincally, Home Office Minister Paul Goggins was recently asked to give an example of an offence under the proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill. Publishing posters suggesting that Burkas could be used to conceal weapons was his response!

    Economic shock

    Gordon Brown says "we have got lower deficits and lower debt ratios than Japan, America, France and Germany". Things must be bad!

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    First state funded Hindu school

    The Government has announced a £9.8m grant to Harrow Council to fund the UK's first state-funded Hindu school as Hindu "parents are becoming increasingly concerned about their children losing touch with their culture and religion". If MPs are concerned about promoting integration, the school should not be state-funded.

    How will the school promote a multi-cultural agenda when it's core values are Vedic culture and philosophy?

    Compensation claim

    Should Germany claim compensation for 'damage' caused to their Prisoner of War camp, Stalag Luft III, by aircrew when they tunnelled their way to freedom as immortalised in the film "The Great Escape"?

    News that the UK Government is willing to pay compensation for the casualties and damage caused in Iraq when two British undercover soldiers were freed suggests Germany has a strong case!

    Benefits of electoral fraud

    When is electoral fraud acceptable? When it increases the size of the electoral roll!

    The Government does not want to introduce individual voter registration as it would "lead to a fall in the number of registered voters". When would reducing fraud ever increase voter registrations?

    Requiring a National Insurance number to register, as used in Northern Ireland, is an excellent method for reducing fraud. However, it will not reduce it entirely. There are still 72m National Insurance numbers in existence whilst the UK population is just 60m!

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Number Crunching (3)

    Total Income Tax receipts 2003/4 £114bn

    Total Benefits and Welfare Payments 2003/4 £109bn.

    Wasting Police time

    Why are the Police bothering to arrest 10 Turkish Kurds for people smuggling when they will have the legal right of abode when Turkey joins the EU in a couple of years!?!

    Will the Police trace the 200,000 Turkish Kurds who have been smuggled into the UK by the gang? When the Governement declared that up to 500,000 illegal immigrants were living in the UK, did they expect 40% of them to be Turkish Kurds?

    Fraud and error

    Why has it taken eight years for Labour to realise that the array of disability benefits are "crackers" and the housing benefits system is a "nightmare"? Haven't they noticed the further complexity Gordon Brown adds on budget day each year!?!

    Responding to the £3bn annual cost of benefit fraud and error, costing the taxpayer a penny on income tax, James Plaskitt, Anti-Fraud Minister says that "Estimated error accounts for around 2% of all benefits paid". How does he know? The DWP was unable to find supporting documents for 106 out of 800 incapacity benefit cases checked by the National Audit Office suggesting an error rate of 13%

    The BBC claims that overall benefit spending is just £109bn. However, this excludes Gordon's latest method of wealth redistribution, tax credits, administered independently by the Inland Revenue.

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Battered wives' syndrome

    A woman whose verbally abusive husband 'impaled' himself on an 8 1/2" knife she was holding has been given a three-year community rehabilitation order for his manslaughter. If the roles had been reversed, would feminists have accepted the sentence?

    "Battered wives' syndrome" suggests that to some extent the husband deserved his fate. Is this the message courts want to give? Why was a court so willing to accept the defendant's testimony when the husband was clearly unable to defend himself?.

    Blunkett condemns daytime television

    In an outspoken attack, Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett has suggested that going to work cures stress and depression much more effectively than daytime TV.

    How could BBC daytime favourites such as 'Bargain hunt', 'Cash in the Attic' and 'Mirror, Signal, Manouevre' depress anyone?

    Kashmiri Earthquake

    Following the Asian Tsunami, Muslim cleric Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi suggested that it was "punishment from Allah". "People must ask themselves why this earthquake occurred in this area and not in others. Whoever examines these areas discovers that they are tourism areas . . . where the forbidden acts are widespread, as well as alcohol consumption, drug use and acts of abominations."

    Hopefully, he doesn't consider the Kashmiri earthquake to be "punishment from Allah" but another catastrophic natural disaster leaving many thousands of people dead or homeless.

    Sunday, October 09, 2005

    Britblog Roundup # 34

    The latest Britblog roundup is over at Tim Worstall's excellent site here.

    Thank you for including the Oncemore post, Labour Forever, Tim!

    Saturday, October 08, 2005

    White Pupil's Achievement Programme

    A scheme designed to reduce the persistent under-achievement of white pupils is achieving good results, the government says. Thirty schools with a high proportion of white pupils were involved in a pilot scheme which began in November 2003.

    "We have [] recruited white teachers who are good role models to pupils," says one headteacher. The school has given initiatives a very high priority - reaching out to white parents has reaped rewards. "We have a strong Saturday school - and white children are now a large part of it".

    Schools Minister Andrew Adonis agrees, "White pupils are closing the attainment gap and our strategies are delivering year-on-year improvement".

    Racist? Not at all!!

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    Sick Bay

    A Government scheme, Pathways to work, is to be expanded to help people on incapacity benefit back to work. No doubt many additional advisors will need to be recruited to assist them.

    It would be far simpler and cheaper for the taxpayer if incapacity benefit was reduced, immediately increasing the relative benefits of working. Why should those on incapacity benefit receive more than unemployment benefit? What incentive is there to find work when incapacity benefit increases the longer someone claims it?

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    Jailhouse vote (2)

    In April, I highlighted the case of John Hirst, a prisoner serving a "discretionary life sentence" for manslaughter who felt his human rights had been breached by being denied the vote. Unfortunately, the European Court of Human Rights has agreed with him and Liberal Democrats, his rights have been infringed and he should be allowed the vote!

    Watch out out for prisoner driving courses, young offender activity weekends and luxurious prisons in future manifesto commitments. Are any prisons in marginal constituencies?

    Labour Forever

    I have a new post up at Oncemore.

    "I have not had a Damascian conversion, I have simply read an excellent article on "Make my vote count" by Paul Davies. Effectively, it's conclusion is that without embracing electoral reform, the Conservative Party runs the risk of never forming a Government with a good working majority again.

    At the Labour Party Conference, Tony Blair was able to boast about Labour's third electoral victory whilst John Prescott described Labour's 66 seat majority as a luxury. He is right, it is a luxury. If the electoral system was fairer, Labour would have formed a minority Government." The article continues here.

    Educational subsidies

    Why should parents who send their children to private schools expect a tax rebate for opting out of the state sector? People without children do not receive rebates for saving Government money!

    However, the Assisted Places Scheme (APS) should be reintroduced as it gave bright children from poorer backgrounds (Core Labour supporters?) an "escape route", an opportunity for a first class education often denied in the state sector. Why is Labour so keen to reduce social mobility? Labour should have widened access to the APS, not scrapped it.

    Only people on higher incomes can now ensure a good education for their children, Labour MPs perhaps!?!

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Thank EU

    The European Union has created a website detailing the differences in mobile phone roaming costs across Europe. Whilst "The Commission aims to give the consumer the knowledge to make an informed choice, to enhance competition in the industry and to encourage fairer and clearer pricing", only people using their mobile phones frequently whilst abroad could gain. The inconvenience of changing providers is too great for light users.

    Why does the EU think that frequent users are unable to find the best option for themselves?

    If the EU really wants to reduce costs abroad, they should re-introduce duty free on internal European flights. That would save far more than just a few pennies on some calls from abroad.

    Second time lucky

    Sussex Police have written to Walter Wolfgang, the 82 year old Jack Straw heckler, apologising for quoting anti-terror legislation when preventing his re-entry to the Labour conference last week.

    Why were the Police not trained in the proper application of such draconian legislation? If Walter had disagreed with the Police interpretation, would he have been arrested?

    Parting shots

    If a Sinn Fein MP has no regrets for the 1984 Brighton bombing as it was "part of a war", does he also consider the 1988 shooting of three terror suspects in Gibraltar by the SAS to be "part of a war"?

    Educational disgrace

    Education ministers should be ashamed. 20% of 11-year-old pupils, particularly boys, fail to reach the basic skills level in English by the time they leave primary school. This is despite "English [being] one of the best taught subjects in primary and secondary schools". No wonder social mobility is declining when reading and writing are such important life skills.

    Should ministers consider requiring children to repeat academic years if their standards of literacy and numeracy are not good enough to move up a year with the rest of the class? Secondary schools should not be expected to provide remedial lessons for failures in a child's primary education.

    Weather or not?

    The weather forecast is apparently too complicated for the British population to understand, despite being a national obsession.

    The Met. Office is to start using simpler terms to explain the weather such as ""patchy rain" rather than "showery outbreaks" and "warm for most", rather than "chilly in isolated areas".

    Why can't they make forecasts "clearer and more relevant" simply by saying "take an umbrella" or "wrap up well" as appropriate?

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    Thinking inside the box

    Why are MPs getting in a flap about Barclaycard raising it's interest rates by 2%?

    It is a private company operating in a highly competitive market and it's operational decisions have nothing to do with MPs. If high levels of consumer debt and the potential level for bad debts concern Barclaycard's senior management team, they should be allowed to increase the cost of debt.

    Rate tarts will move their borrowing elsewhere, only high risk borrowers will remain. As 73% of people pay their credit card balances in full each month, the interest rate increase will not affect most people anyway.

    MPs would be better advised to spend their time worrying about limiting council tax increases, something their electorates are unable to avoid.

    English Inquisition

    Can Wakefield Prison really get much worse? Not only are there just "pockets of good practice" in a sea of bad practice, but some Prison Wardens even wear their country's national symbol. Charity tie-pins with the Cross of St. George bought in support of a cancer charity have caused the Chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers, concern as they could be "misinterpreted" as a racist symbol.

    Why is English nationalism uniquely "racist"? Are Welsh prison wardens banned from wearing daffodils on St. Davids Day or displaying the Welsh dragon in prisons across the Principality?

    NHS costs reimbursed?

    A grandmother is taking the Department of Health to Europe's Court of Justice today to recoup the £4,000 cost of the treatment as the NHS wait in the UK was unacceptable.

    Initially, this seems a good idea. If the NHS is unable to provide your treatment as required, you should be able to recoup the cost. It is "fair" as you have paid your taxes over the years and the NHS was unable to help when you really needed it. Any other organisation would be 'punished' for failing to deliver a good service by losing revenue, why should the NHS be exempt? Could it even improve NHS service delivery?

    However, just where do you draw the line? How long is an acceptable wait? What treatments should be excluded? If people have private medical treatment in the UK, should they also be reimbursed? Should private medical insurance in the UK be tax deductible?

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    Organization of the Islamic Conference

    As Turkey seeks to join the EU "Christian club", will it renounce it's membership of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) or press for Christian countries to be allowed to join? Anything else apparently risks a "clash of civilisations"!

    The Malaysian Prime Minister wants the OIC to become a common market like the European Union once was!

    Furrowed brows

    If Welsh farmers are threatening to prevent the Army from training on their land in protest at the Government's fox hunting ban, will they also start refusing Government and EU subsidies for their produce?


    The City of Liverpool is advertising for an African drumming and Steel pan tutor paying £17.37 per hour. Whoever said council tax was too high?

    Courtesy of A Tangled Web

    Cooking on gas

    Children are to be taught the "life skill" of cooking as parents cannot apparently be trusted to prepare their own children for adulthood.

    Which lessons do Ministers believe should be dropped in order to accommodate these life skills? Sex education?

    Supporting losers

    Gordon Brown's solutions to domestic problems have always been to shower them with taxpayer's money and hope the problem disappears without the need for substantial reform. He must believe this really works as he has given £5,000 "of his own money" to keep a failing football team going just a little longer whilst calling on local entrepreneurs to follow his lead!

    Why should high profile supporters be expected to subsidise the football team and a few thousand supporters if they are not prepared to pay higher ticket prices themselves? Raith Rovers needs new management, players and tactics if they are to start winning matches. Gordon's short term funding solution does not help to achieve this.

    Would John Prescott be happy if the stadium was demolished and replaced with flats to reduce the social housing crisis in Kirkcaldy!?!

    Sunday, October 02, 2005

    Flying Pigs

    Novelty pig calendars and toys have been banned by bosses at Dudley Council after a Muslim worker said they were offended by pig-shaped stress relievers.

    If Councillor Mahbubur Rahman recognises the importance of "tolerance and acceptance", why is the complainant unable to tolerate and accept the beliefs of others?

    Courtesy of Wonko.

    Turkish delight?

    When will the European political elite reflect the majority view in their respective countries and reject Turkish membership of the EU? Not one European country has a majority of people in favour of Turkey's membership.

    Why would it suddenly become more popular in the future? Does Turkey's bid really represent "an opportunity for a major relaunch of the entire European project" as Italy's Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini believes it does?

    Only Austria currently represents the majority view, preferring Turkey to be a special EU partner rather than a full member.

    PS Even the Conservative Party favours Turkish membership!

    Update Bugger! Austria has fallen into line with other European countries and is now following a policy only 10% of it's population agree with! Roll on EU democracy...

    Saturday, October 01, 2005

    Lotto rapist costs

    Charles Clarke is to look into the "broader issues" around the rapist who won £7m on the lottery yet receives protection costing £10,000 per month funded by the taxpayer.

    Those "broader issues" should be:
    Why is a rapist with a life sentence released early? How does the taxpayer achieve value for money when a year in prison costs 'only' £35,000? Who is he being protected from? Should the Sun newspaper be charged for the additional security costs following the disclosure of the rapist's location? Why does a rapist qualify for protection when other more deserving cases are overlooked?

    He should not consider whether the rapist should fund his own protection. It is a typical socialist response. He has too much money, he does not deserve it and it should be confiscated.

    How much money should a lottery winner be allowed to keep before the state pays for his protection? £1m? £500,000? £100,000? If he earns £30,000 per month in interest, he presumably also pays the Government £12,000 per month in tax on that interest. Should he stop paying this tax if the Government withdraws it's protection?

    North East Conservative MEP Martin Callanan calls on the Home Office to withdraw Hoare's protection "This is totally appalling. Someone who is so wealthy should have no need for state protection". Should the Queen also pay for her own protection on the same basis?