Saturday, 30 May 2009

Will The Cowboys Ride Off Into The Sunset?

Last year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders brought in a new voluntary code of practice for garages, aimed at guaranteeing minimum standards of service and protection for customers.

A report today suggests that, to date, only 15 per cent of the UK's estimated 35,000 garages have signed up to this code.

The code requires that all approved garages follow certain rules, including:
  • when they provide a quote or estimate for work, they must offer a breakdown of costs, in writing, including the charges for labour and parts
  • where it becomes clear that further work is needed, the garage must get the permission of the customer before carrying it out
  • garages must not take upfront deposits

Garages on the approved list are subject to a range of sanctions and even termination of membership if they fail to maintain standards.

The watchdog Consumer Focus now warns that unless a greater number agree to abide by the code, it will push for industry-wide laws.

Of course, many garages which have not signed up insist they provide a good service.

Like hell they do!

Being an engineer from way back, I know how long it should take to do these jobs and in the case of non-standard parts, how much the materials are going to cost.

Twenty years ago I had occasion to have a bit of plate welded into the floor pan of an old van. For this job I estimated that it was going to take a fivers worth of material and two hours work. Including overheads, seventy quid would more than cover it.

I went to this particular body shop on the recommendation of a friend, so I didn’t bother to get a quote. It was only a one man band and the workshop was more or less a load of corrugated sheets bolted together.

Three days and £200 later I picked the van up. I didn’t bother to complain because:
a. I didn’t ask for a quote and b. I knew that a bigger firm would have charged me more!

Not everyone in the motor trade is a rip-off merchant though. The guy who used to do the regular maintenance on my car, who had a more salubrious workshop with all the pukka garage equipment, often used to charge me, for a straight forward job of supply and fit, less than I could buy the part for, myself.

To rid the world of the cowboy repairmen, the government should adopt this code and turn it into law.

Who knows, they may even be able to scrap the new scrappage scheme!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Has The Cuckoo Given Us The Bird?

Today‘s story is a sad one. The cuckoo has joined the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) "red list" of the UK's most threatened bird species.

The number of cuckoos has fallen by 37% in the last fifteen years and conservationists can’t put their finger on why this should have happened.

Andy Clements, director of the BTO, said: "A gap all of us will notice is the lack of the cuckoo's familiar song. Their decline is emblematic of downward trends in many long-distance migrants from Africa."

I too have noticed that my ’local’ cuckoo hasn’t returned in the last couple of years, although nothing has changed around here in that time (unless repainting the kitchen counts).

Cuckoos are known to lay their eggs in the nest of the dunnock, which are also in decline, although hereabouts they seem to be on the increase. As I write this, Mrs Dunnock is feeding her babies beneath my garden table.

Obviously something must have changed between North Africa and Essex, something that has upset the balance of nature. If the cause can be pinpointed then something may be able to be done by conservationists to redress the problem.

Until then, if our local cuckoo is reading this, come home, we miss you!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Here's One Party That You'd Want To Poop

Watching the party election broadcast by the British National Party (BNP) on TV yesterday evening I said to the Duchess “ Someone’s going to send in a complaint about this.”
“Why’s that?” she replied.
“Well,” I said, “they are using the war dead to promote their policies!”

It transpired that there was a complaint and quite a high profile one at that.
Nicholas Soames MP, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill complained about the use of his grandfather’s image being used in the broadcast.

BNP deputy chairman Simon Darby said: "It is extremely relevant to what is happening today."

BNP party chairman Nick Griffin is adopting part of Winnies's "blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech to promote its manifesto for the European Parliament.

Mr Soames said he had tried to get the Electoral Commission to ban the appropriation of his grandfather's image.
"They should not take my grandfather's name in vain. He would have been appalled by their views and the way they claim to represent the wartime generation. It's nonsense. Were it possible to take action, we would. We find it offensive and disgusting." he said.

Mr Darby said there was a substantial amount of Churchillian rhetoric in the broadcast.
"It is very relevant to what is happening today," he said. "I am extremely upset at what is happening to the country. What was the point of fighting the Second World War if this is where we are going to end up?"

This is a bit of a ’U’ turn on the BNP’s behalf.

In ‘The Rune’ magazine published in 1995, edited by a certain Nick Griffin, an article praising the exploits of Hitler’s SS during the Second World War.

The article contained sentences like, "The tales of Waffen SS courage and sacrifices are almost limitless." and "In an unbiased assessment of war crimes, however, the Waffen SS were undoubtedly no worse than the troops of other nations, countless Allied war crimes are simply not publicised."

In 1996, Nick Griffin picketed Coventry Cathedral where he handed out leaflets that referred to the "mass murder" by RAF pilots during the Allied bombing of Dresden.

With North Korea flexing its military muscle, do we need a man like this leading our country?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I Will Survive

The following quote comes from today’s BBC News website.

Almost two thirds of over 50s fear they may have to work longer than planned as their savings and pensions have been hit by the recession, a study claims.
The joint report by the Help the Aged and Age Concern charity found that 60% of 943 respondents said they may need to delay their retirement.

This, and reports like it, suggests that once people retire, they have to go dustbin raking to survive. The truth of the matter is that they just don’t want to make adjustments to their lifestyle, or to put it another way, they want to live in the style that they have become accustomed to.

This is not the voice of cynical youth speaking. The duchess and I have been retired for a couple of years now and we have never really gone without.

Without the backing of a private pension or personal savings we manage very comfortably, entirely on state pension. This may have a lot to do with never wanting to go on holidays or not hankering after a 42 inch LCD TV, but we do more than just survive.

It’s a mindset thing before you retire, don’t expect too much and you wont be disappointed!

So to all of the materialists approaching retirement age, retire gracefully, tighten your belts just one notch and free up your jobs for the young!

Monday, 25 May 2009

There is a happy land, far, far away, somewhere

As it’s Bank Holiday Monday today, here’s just a quick thought.

The government is urging graduates to consider a spell working abroad, whether in internships or volunteering, to avoid the worst of the recession.

Are the government going to let everybody know exactly where abroad this recession free Utopia is, so that we can all move there?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Pen Really Is Mightier Than The sword

The man who, in effect brought one of the world’s oldest parliamentary systems to its knees by arranging for leaked MPs' expenses details to be given to the Daily Telegraph has been named.

John Wick, a former SAS man, acted as a broker, passing the details from an anonymous source to the newspaper, a working demonstration of the pen being mightier than the sword.

On paper, most of these MPs have done nothing wrong, it’s the system that is wrong.

My local MP in Essex, for example, is as far as I know, squeaky clean compared to most of the others, his claims are within the spirit of what the expenses were intended for, but what he is allowed still appears to be wrong.

He lives in Surrey, around a 45 minute train journey from London or a 45 minute drive by car to his constituency.
He claims for a flat in his constituency, which is a 25 minute train journey from London and he also claims for a flat near Westminster.

It would appear to me that the average working man would find these travelling times to and from work every day a bit of a doddle, so why can’t MPs who live within striking distance of London commute like everyone else has to?

Hopefully, when the dust has cleared and the expenses have been overhauled, we will get right honourable ladies and gentlemen sitting in Parliament who are there because they want to represent us and not what they can get out of it.

Mr Wick, we salute you!

Friday, 22 May 2009

It's Good News Day

After a couple of weeks of government sleaze stories it’s nice to read good news for a change.

After a ‘U’ turn by the government, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that Gurkhas who retired before 1997 can settle in the UK with their immediate families.

What I found strange was Ms Smith saying that she was "proud to offer this country's welcome to all who have served in the brigade of Gurkhas". Why was she proud yesterday, but didn’t give a toss when this was discussed a few weeks ago?

I don’t know if this decision was prompted by people power or by government spin, trying to catch a few votes!

Whatever the reason, justice has prevailed.

In another story, the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), who have been running the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme since 1988, have found that the number of dormice fell by 9% between 2002 and 2008, compared with 31% from 1992 to 2002.

PTES said there was "reason to be optimistic" that conservation efforts were proving effective.

Jim Jones of the PTES, said: "While the slowdown in the decline is very encouraging, the species is still in decline, so conservation and monitoring efforts remain a priority if dormice are not to disappear from the British countryside."

There have been 16 successful reintroductions of more than 600 dormice in the past 16 years.

One small step for conservation, one giant leap for dormice!

And finally, two years ago to this very day, everyone thought that the 140 year old tea clipper, ‘Cutty Sark’ had gone forever when fire ravaged through the ship’s three decks at it’s berth in Greenwich, south east London.

With much dedication, skill and millions of pounds it is announced that this national treasure will be reopened to the public next year.

When the restoration is complete, the ship will have more than 90% of her original features, which is an achievement worth applauding.

I, for one, will be pleased to see this Phoenix arise from the ashes!

After this little round up of the brighter side of life, I can truly say, dear reader, ‘Have a nice day’!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Review Of Today's Oldspapers

With the dearth of decent news stories in the last few days, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as NEWS. Almost every news story is just a recycled OLDS story.

Michael Martin, first Commons Speaker to be forced out of office for 300 years, that’s obviously been done before, as has the House of Lords suspending two Labour peers for misconduct, the first such move for more than 350 years.

Test pilot, Timothy Peake is to become an astronaut. Scores of people have done this job since Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin first orbited the Earth in 1961.

Gordon Brown has defended the Chancellors decision to rise the top rate of income tax. Which PM has never done this?

‘Chihuahua invents the world’s smallest microprocessor’ or ‘UK Border Agency arrest three Martians’, now they would be news stories worth reading!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

England's Green And Pleasant Allotment

I’m a meat eater myself but I have nothing against veggies, vegans and miscellaneous tree-huggers or anyone else that wants to eat healthily. Each to his own I say.

Now here’s the ‘but’!

A study by the University of Reading suggests that if everyone adhered to the government’s promotion of ‘five-a-day’, (fruit and veg that is, not Woodbines), and eat less red meat, it would change the face of Britain forever.

The UK would need 100,000 hectares (386 square miles) of polytunnels to meet the demand for fruit alone.

Demand for red meat would drop by 20% and dairy products by 40%.
This would mean 1.5m fewer head of livestock, leaving the upland hills, favoured by walkers and tourists, un-grazed.
Land would become covered in scrub and gorse, and if left alone would become inaccessible to visitors.

Professor Bruce Traill of Reading University, said: "Undoubtedly the UK government has a duty to promote the health of the population and within this research project we have been looking at the most effective ways of doing that, whether by fiscal measures, social marketing, or by trying to enhance the nutritional qualities of the foods that people eat.
There is potential in all of these approaches, if they are targeted effectively. But we do also have to consider the potential unintended consequences of policies.
For rural communities, such as the dairying industry of South-West England and upland areas of the UK these could be far-reaching and need to be taken into account."

The report also says that increased production of fruit and vegetables in the East and South East of England would be unlikely to bring more employment.
Because of the scope for machinery to be used for many of the required horticultural operations leading to a minimal need for labour, farmers would probably rely on casual workers.

All of these crops need to be irrigated so there would be a heavy demand on the water supply.

So to sum up. The government want you to live healthier and longer, they can’t afford to pay old age pensions now, so what happens when we are turned into a nation of herbivores and everyone adds a couple of extra years to their lifespan?

Will the government be content knowing that they have had to sacrifice this green and pleasant land to achieve it?

Of course it will, after all, the Department of Health’s statistics will look good, wont they?

I‘m off to have my breakfast now, I’ll have a couple of extra rashers please, Ma!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Babes And Sucklings

Cast your minds back to last February. Do you remember the headlines that went something like ‘Dad at 13’.

Alfie Patten, aged thirteen claimed that he had fathered the child of Chantelle Stedman, aged fifteen.

At the risk of sounding like Jeremy Kyle, a DNA test has proved that Alfie is not the father.

Alfie is said to be ‘gutted’ at not being Maisie Roxanne‘s dad.

Why? Because he has lost the kudos of being ‘a bit of a lad’ with his mates or is because he was hoping for a council flat along with benefits from the DWP?

Just be thankful for your fifteen minutes of fame son, and get on with your homework!

The real father? You’ll all be relieved to learn that he is a man of more mature years, Tyler Barker, aged fifteen!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Making Sure That The Coast Is Clear

Great Britain has a great naval tradition stretching back to Alfred the Great. The navy has defended the country in times of need, smashing the Spanish Armada and Napoleon’s Frenchies. It is the home of the world’s greatest naval hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Britannia once ruled the waves.

Now, the Commons defence committee has warned that Britain is vulnerable to terrorist attack from the sea because no single body is responsible for protecting its 7000 miles of coastline. Just nine Royal Navy ships, six warships, two patrol vessels and a support tanker patrol the British shoreline.

The defence committee suggests developing a "deterrent capability" to ward off sea-borne attacks.

The Ministry of Defence has parried with an insistence that ‘clear procedures are in place’.

The defence committee’s statement said: "We are concerned at the level of action being taken to address threats to aspects of national infrastructure such as ports.
What assets are available for maritime security tend to be reactive forces."

The statement continued: "There is a strong case for developing a deterrent capability in relation to threats to civilian maritime targets.
We are not satisfied that an intelligence-led approach is sufficient."

The Commons defence committee are absolutely correct. The British armed forces were formed to protect the people of Britain, not to fight the enemy of every other nation.

Perhaps Captain Mainwaring and a troop of Sea Scouts could do a better job of it!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Boom Time In The Marshes Of Kent

Some good new for a change, well good if you’re like me.

Being a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), imagine my delight when I read this morning that a rare bird is attempting to breed at a reserve in my home county of Kent for the first time in more than 100 years.

It is the first time the booming mating call of the bittern has been recorded at the Dungeness RSPB reserve.

The Dungeness reserve, opened in 1905, making it the RSPB’s oldest, has been improving and expanding the reedbeds since 2002 thanks to a EU grant of £160,000, and it finally looks like it’s going to be payback time for their dedicated work.

Bob Gomes, site manager at RSPB Dungeness, said it was very satisfying to have a bittern, one of the UK's most threatened birds, staying to breed.
He said, "We've been working flat out to create suitable reedbeds on site. In recent years, we were rewarded by more bitterns wintering here, but they always left for Europe to breed."

For the uninitiated, the bittern, a heron like bird, is around 30” (75cm) tall and is specially protected.

The only downside of this story is, when these little Dungeness chicks reach adulthood they will each be designated a ‘Man of Kent’ and not a ‘Kentish Man’, like yours truly!

Friday, 15 May 2009

No News Is Good News

Today I have the choice of commenting on MPs expenses, Katie and Peter's break up, or nothing.

No contest!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Band Ban Banned

Another piece of useless legislation looks set to bite the dust.

Because of the Governments failure to control gun crime back in 2003, it did the next best thing, smother the public’s rights. The Licensing Law 2003, introduced in 2005, has made it nigh on impossible to promote regulated entertainment in pubs and clubs.

It’s even worse in London where as an addition, a promoter has to submit ‘Form 696’ in which the Metropolitan Police not only want to know details of the promoter and premises, but the target audience as well. The deal breaker must be the section where the promoter has to fill in the real name, stage name, date of birth, contact telephone number and address of each and every performer. Quite a Herculean task if a Russian symphony orchestra is about to perform at the local working mans club!

The Culture Media and Sport select committee have expressed "concern at the linkage of live music and public order issues" and music should not automatically be treated as a "disruptive activity, which will inevitably lead to nuisance and disorder."

The chairman of the committee, John Whittingdale MP said, "We were particularly concerned to hear of the way the Act may be hampering live music performances especially by young musicians, who often get their first break though performing live at small venues such as pubs."

On Form 696, the committee said it imposes "unreasonable conditions on events" and "goes beyond the Act". It has recommended that the form should be scrapped.

The Licensing Law 2003 and Form 696 were introduced in an attempt to reduce gun crime in pubs and clubs with entertainment.

I don’t know about bands, but I have seen a few pub comedians that needed shooting!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

They Couldn't Organise A P!$$ Up In A Brewery

This could be an interesting one.
Plans to build what could be the world's largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, in the Thames Estuary are to go ahead.

The plans include 341 turbines being built on a 90 square mile site 12 miles from the Kent and Essex coasts.

OK so far?

Meanwhile, a few short miles up the estuary, DP World, a Bahraini enterprise is just about to commence building what will be the largest container port in the UK, and one of the biggest in the world. When it is completed hundreds of gigantic container ships will be going in and out every year, presumably passing through the London Array.


Well planned lads!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Art Imitates Life

I caught part of the TV police drama ‘The Bill’ a couple of weeks ago. The plot involved a policeman prowling the corridors of a secondary school. It contained scenes of him sitting in his in-school office, a room set up specially for the police somewhere within the school.

“It’s no wonder we don’t usually watch this,” said I to the wife, “when they have farfetched storylines like this one!”

All I can say is, sorry ITV, I got that one wrong!

A survey has suggested that almost half of secondary schools in England have a dedicated police officer. There are more than 5,000 schools in Safer School Partnerships with the police, including 20% of primary schools. They are placed there to ‘tackle bad behaviour, cut truancy and build a relationship between youngsters and the police.’

When I was at secondary school, over fifty years ago, the ultimate deterrent was either the cane or a home visit from the ‘school board man’.

Parents were the ones that taught their progeny right from wrong, the police were there to prevent crime.

Now it seems that the overworked police force (via the council tax payer) has been saddled with both jobs!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Expenses At Your Expense

MP’s expenses! I won’t go into the background because more column inches devoted to this story are being added to the newspapers by the minute.

I just want to point out life at the other end of the spectrum.
I’m chairman of a Local Access Forum (LAF). LAFs were set up early in the decade by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, under the umbrella of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to oversee the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, making sure that highway authorities, National Parks etc apply it correctly.

The only expenses that I am allowed are for travelling to and fro meetings or on-site inspections. No second home in Mayfair, not even a Kit Kat or a buckshee bag of compost.

When I put my claim in I always put the distance I have travelled down correct to the nearest inch, never adding a mile here or a few hundred yards there, and then multiply it by the 40p, yes four zero pence, per mile I’m allowed for the use of my car. I then have to fight tooth and nail to get it! A little while ago I submitted a form for reimbursement of two years worth of expenses, around £80. It took over four months to get it paid.

I’m not against MPs receiving expenses, but to abuse a system that is already generous to them certainly doesn’t make them look like the trustworthy candidates that canvassed your vote at the last election.

The question that should never have been asked is, do MPs seek election to represent their constituents, or are they only in it for the money?

I don’t think that the jury will be out long on this one!

Saturday, 9 May 2009


Since my post yesterday, a soldier from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, another from 173 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment, Royal Military Police and one from 2nd Battalion The Rifles have been killed in Afghanistan.

This brings the total of operational fatalities to 157.
May they rest in peace.

Isn’t there one MP that is brave enough to force a vote on the withdrawal of British troops from this conflict? There must be one man, or woman in the House, with as much guts as these soldiers!

All I can say is, if you see Mr Brown, tell him I want a word with him!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Unidentified Enemy

A soldier from the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion in the Royal Regiment of Scotland has been killed in southern Afghanistan, bringing the total number of UK troops killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 154.

This is a drop in the ocean compared with something like the Battle of the Somme, but it is still 154 deaths too many!

Why are they there? They are there to satisfy the paranoia of an American madman and his egocentric British sidekick, neither of whom are now in power.

According to Bush, the purpose of the invasion was to capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al Queda, and remove the Taliban regime which provided support and safe harbour to al Qaeda.
Bush’s policy was, that it would not distinguish between al Queda and nations that harboured them. Blair nodded in agreement.

Where does that leave Britain? Allegedly, there are al Queda cells working within this country, and who knows, given the track record of local authorities, Osama himself could well be living in a council house in Islington and drawing state benefits!

This is a war that can never be won, ask the Russians.

Mr Brown, bring our troops home, NOW!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Paper (No Make That Electronic) Tiger

Rupert Murdoch’s company, News Corporation, is planning to charge a fee for access to their newspaper websites.

This means that you will have to pay to read the dailies such as the Times and the Sun and Sunday newspapers, the News of the World and the Sunday Times online.

This is prompted by soaring online subscription revenues at the Wall Street Journal and the fact that News Corp’s quarterly operating profits crashed by 47% to a meagre $755,000,000.
Ah bless, you can’t even get a decent meal for that nowadays, can you?

Has he contemplated the fact that there is a recession, and one of the first things to go is forking out for a newspaper every day?

Does Mr Murdoch and his team think that electronic newspapers share brand loyalty with the printed version?

Wake up Rupert, mate. This is the 21st century. If you start charging, readers will simply click on to the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Star and then, bang goes the advertising revenue from your websites!

Don’t forget, nearly every television company in the world have sites with news pages, some, even, with videos of the stories, and they don't charge to view them.

Remember what the Duke of Wellington said, “Publish and be damned”!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Flogging A Willing Horse

According to a report by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, to bring public debt under control in the next ten years, the Government will have to raise the state pension age to 70, or raise the basic rate of Income Tax by 15p in the pound, or cut government spending by 10%, sending education, the NHS etc to the wall!

Why didn’t the Government put this money into their piggy bank instead of committing British troops, and billions of pounds, on the invasion of Iraq, and spending money like a sailor on shore leave, bailing out greedy banks?

I’ve heard of people working past retirement age to pay off their own debts, but this is the first time that I’ve ever heard of anyone doing it to pay for someone else’s mismanagement of money!

Daft I call it!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Parent power

The Government are outlining plans today for a shake up in education whereby parents in England could get the power to force councils to improve the quality of their local schools.

Parents would be able to demand action at a school in their area, even if their children were not pupils. From what I understand, this would by-pass an OFSTED inspectors enquiry and Government intervention.

It would give parents of primary school pupils the right to complain about a secondary school that their children may be attending in the future. The local authority would have to take these complaints on-board and make every possible effort to raise the school standards. This includes replacing the head teacher, if the authority deems it necessary.

This is all well and good, but to me it seems like the Government has run up the white flag on education.

If the Government has washed its hands of the most basic element of a civilised society, education, then it has washed its hands of the country.

Do you want the country to be governed by a rabble that has turned its back on the future?
No? Nor do I!

Monday, 4 May 2009

The Pandemic That ’Flu Out Of the Window

Some pandemic this is turning out to be. After the World Health Organisation (WHO) put the fear of God up the whole of Earth’s population just a few short days ago, we are now seeing headlines saying “Swine ’flu in decline in Mexico” and “UK swine ’flu is being contained”.

Scientists have said that it is a mild strain of the ’flu virus, at the time of writing, after Mexico has adjusted its figures, only seventeen people worldwide are known to have died after contracting it. Compare this with the quarter to half a million deaths across the world each year from your common or garden ’flu and it starts paling into insignificance!

Because of an almost daily morning smog at the seat of the outbreak, Mexico City, there are over half a million respiratory cases reported, anyway.

I know that the WHO has to look after the interests of the world’s wellbeing, but wasn’t this a knee jerk reaction on their part?

I only hope that I don’t have to eat my words!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Flight Of Fancy

They’ve upped the ante on yesterdays Home Office taxi story. Now the Government are looking to rent a private jet for a couple of years, for the use of Foreign Secretary, David Milliband.

Ministerial code dictates that scheduled flights should be used, unless deemed impractical. So, apparently, all scheduled flights must be impractical, (and less glamorous?) if he has to have a private jet to take him everywhere.

In 2008, Mr Milliband made more than twenty state trips, Why? Are other countries interested in what he has got to say? Have they even ever heard of him? Possibly the answer to these questions is a resounding NO!

I dare say he could do his job just as well as they did in the ‘old days’, by telephone, but then again, he wouldn’t get a free, all expenses paid holiday every fortnight, would he!

Saturday, 2 May 2009


Here’s a story that has managed to keep a low profile this week. The Home Office has spent almost £2,000,000 on taxis and hire cars in the past year.

The bill for taxis was £1,045,671, (excluding tips, I’m assuming), and hire cars cost £917,908.

They are costing the taxpayer thirty three times more for riding in style than they did when Labour came to power in 1997!

So who’s burning all of this rubber? I have a friend who works for the UK Borders Agency, he doesn’t get afforded the luxury of a taxi, even though he has to work awkward hours. Another friend works for Customs and Revenue, he has to use his own means of transport.

My guess is that no non-executive workers who are employed by the Home Office get a free ride in a cab, so who does?

Does Jacqui Smith’s husband call a buckshee cab to pick up his tacky videos? Does the top brass hail a taxi outside of their Whitehall office on Friday afternoon to take them to their weekend retreats down in Cornwall?

We are in a recession so shouldn’t they be leading by example? Surely there is a tube/bus/train that could take them to their destinations!

As Norman Tebbit once said, “Get on your bike!”

Friday, 1 May 2009

Even The Blind Can See

Former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, may be blind, but he can see the Labour Government’s future.

He has told the Guardian newspaper, "Labour has lost its political antennae and needs to get them back. We have no underlying domestic social policy. There is a void at present."
"We have got to get back to old-fashioned politics that's in touch with people we seek to represent and avoid self-inflicted wounds."

So, Mr Brown has left us up the creek without a paddle? Well, no, actually. The poor guy is just the scapegoat.

Tony Blair has to take the blame for all of this. Wasn’t he the one who hoisted the New Labour flag up the mast, back in 1997? He was the one who turned his back on the day to day running of Great Britain. In the ten years of his premiership, what great social reforms did he bring to the country? What was his equivalent to Aneurin Bevan’s National Health Service?

On being elected, he had his eye on the main chance. He wasn’t concerned with being the PM of a tiny island stuck out in the Atlantic Ocean, he wanted to be seen as a world leader. To make himself look powerful, he wooed, no, make that sucked up to, George W Bush, and sent British troops on an unlawful invasion of a country that was no threat to the UK, or the world for that matter!

What he really wanted to be, and still does by all accounts, was the first President of the United States of Europe. In his pursuit of self interest, he let the UK and the Parliamentary Labour Party run itself into the ground, now poor old Gordon is picking up the tab!

Sorry Mr Brown, but you have passed the point of no return. Go to the country now!

As a footnote to this, 10,000 people have signed a petition on the Downing Street website calling for the Prime Minister to resign. That says it all!