Monday, 10 August 2009

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Having, through a mix of laziness, business & the 'we're all going on a summer holiday' feeling not blogged here for almost a month, I was kicked back into action by the report on Sky this morning that over the last year someone in Britain has been spied on by the 'powers that be' every minute.

That's right, every minute of last year someone has had their phone calls, their email, their text messages or their personal data 'snooped' on.

These surveillance powers were originally claimed by the government to be necessary to prevent terrorism. A laudable objective - saving lives & preventing another 07/07 has got to be good - right? Most of us would agree with that?

However, these powers were subsequently 'opened up' for the use of Local Authorities and a whole raft of of other groups - basically Uncle Tom Cobley and All - with the result that my local Council used surveillance powers meant to prevent terrorism, for checking where a 3 year old school place applicant lived and to spy on people shell fishing . Cambrideshire Council used these same powers to check up on paperboys' & girls' paperwork. It appears that Councils generally have been abusing these powers and are continuing to do so.

Back in February 2008, the BBC had this to say - and it looks as though things have only got worse. A worrying point, Google any of these links and the majority appear to be 2008 or earlier. Have these abuses become so commonplace that they're not even considered newsworthy now?

British people now live in the most spied upon state in the world (by its own government) according to an article & survey in The Register. Chris Huhne commented on TV this morning that the current government need to realise that 1984 was meant as a warning - not a blueprint.

So, under Gordon Brown we now have a surveillance state that Joseph Stalin could only dream about. Official snoopers that Erich Honecker and his East German Stasi would have given their eyeteeth for.

Peaceful protest appears to be no longer allowed with 145 complaints about police behaviour during the recent G20 protests and with at least one death under investigation.

Where did we go so badly wrong? Britain 2009 seems to be a million miles away from the country that Harry Patch and his friends fought for. How can we restore it?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Getting to grips with anti-social behaviour

While this Govt of None of the Talents (GONTS) continues to ruin the country, it's nice to see that local jobsworths on the Councils are continuing to do their best for the crime statistics by targeting OAPs for 'crimes' of anti-social behaviour.

Well, it's so much easier to threaten & harass OAPs rather than tackle thugs who might respond in a personal & anti-social way isn't it?

And they still get another box ticked, another crime solved.

Councils - don't you just love 'em?

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Double glazing sales calls on your mobile?

You may have already heard about this but, early next week apparently, 15 million UK mobiles will be on a directory which will mean that anyone with time & £1 to spare will be able to contact the owners of those numbers. It’s easy to unsubscribe but, again apparently, it must be done before the beginning of next week to make sure that you are ex directory. If you, like me, have an ex-directory, number witheld landline & subscribe to TPS (ah, bliss, no more double glazing sales calls as I start serving up dinner) you may want to suggest it to your friends and family who have UK mobiles or they could be swamped by unsolicited messages and calls. Removal is recommended by the BBC - see link HERE

To remove your number click on the link below, you'll need your mobile phone with you to do this as they text you a code
2, Click on ‘Ex Directory’ at top right hand side of page, from there it’s straight forward (apparently).

Alternatively, you can text 'E' to 118800 from your mobile, they send you an SMS......... Funnily enough, I've sent them an 'E' today from both my UK mobile phones - have I had an SMS back? No, I haven't. So I've already drafted my email to the Information Commissioner's Office I'll hang fire until lunchtime tomorrow & then send it if I haven't had a response.

I emailed about this to some of my friends - one of them came back with the comment that by contacting the company in any way you were merely validating your mobile number & what happens if later on, they sell their whole database, complete with your validated number? His suggestion was just never to answer a call where the number is not already in your phone book. So, two different suggestions for dealing with mobile calls you may not want - the choice is yours.

UPDATE 17/07

I had tried emailing the Information Commissioner to complain but a) you have to fill in a long form & b) you have to have contacted the original company first & failed to get any result. Typical bureaucratic toothless talking shop it would appear - no wonder the govt are so light hearted about the continual losing of data - there seems to be no real punishment for flouting all the data/information protection laws.

So I emailed Working Lunch instead. They have had the 118800 boss on the program again - a different boss this time - and he explained how the new singing, dancing 118800 site would be all things to all men (and women). He also said that they were working their way through the 1,000s of opt out requests they've had. See the interview HERE

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Armed Forces Day 2009

Today is Armed Forces Day. Today is the day we honour our Armed Forces. Today there'll be parades - and bands - and celebrations. Today we'll hang out the flags - already the Union Jack & St George's Cross flags are fluttering from one of my upstairs windows. Today we'll wear our badges - I still have a Union Jack badge that the Sun sold back during the Falklands war to show support for our troops - and I'll be wearing it today.

Tomorrow the widows & widowers, orphans & bereaved parents of our Armed Forces will continue to cope with their loss. Service personnel who have returned home minus limbs, blind or horribly scarred will still be like that. Those who have returned with their minds torn & confused will waken to another day of bewilderment.

Today, while we celebrate, let's also remember tomorrow's people.

Iraq Inquiry

With the promised Iraq Inquiry finally going to take place, you may like to watch this YouTube video HERE

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Today's the Day

Today's the day we have to decide - to vote or not? If we choose not to vote, are there any consequences? If we do vote, which Party should we vote for?

If we don't vote, we can hardly complain when the Same Old Party gets in & continues to run things in the Same Old Way - which didn't work before & will certainly not work now, with the country almost bankrupt.

I can't/won't tell you who to vote for - that's your decision - but perhaps before each of us votes, we'll take a moment to think about the sort of life we want and the sort of life we want for our children & grandchildren & vote for the Party we think can best provide that. Even if that means voting for a Party that isn't the one the family always supports and has voted for for generations.

Best of luck with your decision - and I hope we all make the right one.

E-mail to Gordon

Over on Sky, there's an email that's purportedly going to be sent to Gordon from his not-so-very-loyal MPs begging him to stand down.

Unfortunately they waste time & words buttering him up.......

A much simpler & shorter one could be :

Dear Gordon,

We have supported you as our unelected PM for two years now. During this time you have made a complete dog's dinner of it. Sadily you are just not up to the job. According to opinion polls you are the most unpopular British PM of all time. You have completely ruined the British economy, firstly by selling off all our gold at a bargain basement price, secondly by borrowing, borrowing & more borrowing during the good years instead of saving for a rainy day, by not regulating the financial services properly & by not letting your appointed Ministers get on with their jobs without constantly micro managing over their shoulder. Now that the rainy day is here, you've mortgaged our childrens' & our childrens' childrens' futures to bail out greedy & incompetent bankers while hardworking British families are losing their jobs, their houses & their families. 'No more repossessions' has a fine ring to it but the banks & building societies are just ignoring you & throwing families onto the street. Thanks to you and your cronies (let's not forget McBride & Smeargate), Labour's standing at the polls has never been lower & today we are likely to get completely swamped in both the Local & EU Elections. A lot of that is due to the expenses scandals & we have to admit almost all our MPs have been caught out. However, you have also been complicit in this - how about claiming expenses for your flat when you also had a Grace & Favour residence in Downing Street?

For the good of the country, for the good of the Party you must stand down immediately. If you refuse to go quietly, we will get the Opposition to call for a vote of No Confidence & we will vote with the Opposition. It's your choice Gordon, but either way you are going. You have untill 12 noon to consider your actions. After that the No Confidence vote will be requested.

Your Backbenchers

Monday, 25 May 2009

Nadine Dorries - whatever happened to the right of free speech??

It appears that Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire has had her blog closed down at the behest of lawyers working on behalf of the Barclay brothers, owners of the Daily Telegraph.

The millionaire Barclay brothers who own their own island, Brecqhou, part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, C.I., made the news recently over their actions in Sark HERE

Ms. Dorries, who was herself the target of some Telegraph finger pointing, had been complaining that the way the Telegraph is 'dripping' their disclosures is 'torture' for MPs & subsequently she queried the motives of the Barclay brothers on her blog. At which point, apparently, lawyers leapt into action, contacted her ISP & had her blog closed down & removed from public perusal.

I say 'appears' & 'apparently' because, with her blog closed down, Ms. Dorries is unable to communicate exactly what has happened.

As a taxpayer & member of the public, my feelings towards the tender sensibilities of MPs fearful of exposure via the Telegraph, is to repeat their favourite mantra of 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' back at them.

However, also as a member of the public, I am very concerned that the words of an elected representative of the British people can be censored in this way by 'big business' - or by anybody, come to that.

Luckily, as I understand it, she can quote freely from her blog in Parliament, under Parliamentary privilege. That decision is up to her.

I may or may not agree with what Nadine Dorries has to say but I 100% support her right to say it. Isn't that what free speech is all about? Isn't that what democracy is all about?

Or has free speech & democracy become as dead as a dodo in Britain 2009? And if so, who is to blame?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Victory for Joanna & the Gurkhas

Congratulations to Joanna Lumley for her work on behalf of the Gurkhas & for winning a stunning victory. She has been a brilliant tactician & has out-manoeuvred the Government & its Ministers at every turn. Now all we need is for her to get involved in politics as an MP & to fight for electoral reform in the same way that she has fought for the Gurkhas.

Monday, 18 May 2009

There are some honest MPs out there....

Not my own MP, but an MP around my area, Annette Brooke (Lib Dem) does realise how appalled the general public is over the scandal of MPs expenses & has spoken out strongly in the local paper saying that MPs should not be above the law. She also talks about her own expenses in the same article.

Annette's stance is a welcome change from the attitudes of many at Westminster & proves that there are honest MPs about.

Mr Speaker shows himself up

I have just sent the following letter to my MP, Robert Syms, expressing my opinion of the Speaker & his recent performance in Parliament:

'I have just watched Speaker Martin on TV. Never mind his apologies - they are far too little & far too late. He fully demonstrated his incompetence by having to ask the Clerks for advice. He is so arrogant & out of touch that he never thought he could be brought to book. He may not be responsible for how the MPs filled in their expense forms, however, he has certainly creamed off his own expenses as much as he could & has tried at every turn to block transparency of MPs' expenses - using taxpayers' money to go to Court to prevent it. He is despicable & needs to be sacked - NOW'.

He should not be allowed to remain in his position any longer. He has brought the position of Speaker, usually a respected & honourable one (e.g Betty Boothroyd) - into disrepute. He has in fact brought the whole House of Commons into disrepute through his incompetence & his obdurate attitude. He should not be allowed to resign at his own convenience - he should be sacked - immediately.

I notice Gordon Brown was, as ever doing his McAvity role & remained away from any involvement in the proceedings.

David Cameron calls for a General Election - ASAP

I've just been listening to David Cameron launching his EU Election Campaign. I was pleased, though very surprised, to hear him calling for a General Election as soon as possible after June 4th.

In many ways he is following the wishes of at least some of the electorate (there are currently at least two petitions asking the Queen to dissolve Parliament), rather than being proactive. However, it shows that at least he is listening & reacting to the voters.

It is now up to all the Partys to show how receptive they are to voters' wishes to ensure that never again can there be a repeat of the thievery, cheating, venality & tax evasion that has been revealed in the pages of The Telegraph.

Human Rights for our Troops

I was very pleased to hear today that the High Court has decided that British servicemen & women do have the protection of the Human Rights Act when they are on active service. As I understand it, this judgment would mean that the MoD has a legal duty to supply proper equipment.

Surely Britain must be the only so-called democracy that sends its troops out to fight with sub-standard or non-existant equipment? Has the MoD no shame? Has the Government - who funds the MoD - no shame? Of course, none of them are going to be at risk of being killed or injured.

Millions (or is it trillions) of pounds available for banks & their directors who have behaved disgracefully. No money available, however, to provide necessary equipment for our troops.

Oh, and apparently, the MoD will be appealing against the judgement in the House of Lords!

So while criminals - terrorists, murderers, drug addicts, rapists & child molesters - can claim the protection of the HRA, the MoD want to deny this same protection to our troops. Fair? Just?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Payback Time

Of the three main Party Leaders David Cameron has, in my opinion, responded the swiftest to the concerns of the electorate. While Nick Clegg has tried to respond, he has been hampered by the fact that his MPs seem to want to argue the toss and therefore his proposals/orders haven't had the same 'grab appeal'.

As for Gordon, he's still wondering what his MPs have done wrong & hasn't yet realised that the majority of voters are white-hot with anger. He has taken some action, in suspending Elliot Morley - the MP claiming for a non-existant mortgage - but even that took until lunchtime, by which time Tory Andrew MacKay was dust. He and his MP partner, Julie Kirkbride had claimed expenses in a manner not dissimilar to Labour Ministers Balls & Cooper.

Meanwhile, MPs seem to be banding together against the Speaker. He has not filled the role of Speaker well. He has spent taxpayers' money trying to keep MPs' expenses secret. Why? Has he something to hide?

Confused? I know I am

Like most people, I suspect, I have been following the errors & omissions of our Elected Representatives with bated breath since the Telegraph first started covering MPs' Expenses last week. Newspapers, radio, TV & blogs, all being constantly updated as yet another example of MPs' creative accounting is exposed - usually each one worse than the last.

There have been so many disclosures & exposures that I'm actually getting confused as to which MP has been involved in which particular piece of troughery.

Maybe I've led a sheltered existence but I continue to be shocked by the sheer venality, greed, mean-mindedness & avarice of our MPs. Men & women who earn 3 or 4 times the salary that I ever achieved (and I considered myself as well-paid at the time) are claiming for packets of Hob Nobs & Mars bars, in addition to bath plugs, pornography, expensive repairs to their partner's house, non-existent mortgages & Council Tax that they never paid. Not to mention Capital Gains Tax avoided by 'flipping' between main & second (or third, fourth, fifth or sixth) homes.

Didn't their parents ever teach them about lying, cheating & thievery versus ordinary decent law abiding behaviour?

Workers in the private sector taking such liberties with their employer's money would pretty soon find themselves jobless and probably with a criminal record to boot. Why should MPs be treated differently? Sauce for the goose is still sauce for the gander.

For MPs the mantra appears to be 'it's not against the rules' even when some of their actions very obviously are.

These are the people who feel it's quite justifiable to snoop into every aspect of our personal lives. Strangely enough, they're very unhappy when we treat them as they treat us.

Complaints have already been lodged with Mr Plod & the Inland Revenue - I do hope these are pursued, without the whitewash provided for Cash for Honours & illegal donations.

Gone to Soldiers Every One

It was very moving yesterday to watch the people of Wootton Bassett standing in the rain to pay their respects to our latest four fallen soldiers as their bodies were taken through the town.

Whether or not one supports the Invasion of Iraq & the 'peacekeeping' in Afghanistan, it is impossible not to be saddened by the thought of all these young lives sacrificed, of parents left bereft, of widows & orphans.

The death of the Gurkha soldier, a young man with two small children, who had served in the British Army for - was it 12 or 13 years - emphasises - if there ever was any doubt, just how much we owe to & rely on the Gurkhas. It is poignant that a Gurkha has died fighting for Britain at a time when there is so much controversy over whether or not ex-service Gurkhas should be allowed to settle here.

From casual conversations I have had, it appears that the ordinary electorate would be quite happy to have them here, it is only the Government which remains obdurate.

Finally, wasn't it sad & disgraceful that with four dead soldiers returning, the Government couldn't be bothered to send a representative to pay their respects at RAF Lyneham?

Thank you to the people of Wootton Bassett.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Your Maj

Over the weekend I've been reading the articles in The Telegaph and other newspapers & on blogs - all on the same subject - how when the economic picture here in the UK is grim with many of us losing jobs, homes & families our MPs have continued to feather their own nests at our expense.

No wonder Gorbals Mick - Mr Speaker to give him his official title - has worked so hard & spent so much of OUR money trying to prevent MPs expenses coming into the public domain.

Let's be honest, MPs stuffing themselves at the trough is not just a Labour problem, it's a problem across all Partys. However, at least David Cameron says he will 'investigate' & 'take action'. We haven't yet heard what Nick Clegg will do - Lib Dems expenses & troughers are scheduled for tomorrow in The Telegraph, as far as I know.

Gordon Brown meanwhile just claims 'it's the System' - presumably his Moral Compass has never told him that ripping off the taxpayer is wrong? I think we should each send him a small donation towards getting his Moral Compass repaired as obviously it's very badly damaged. Only a small donation mind, as he'll probably claim the rest on expenses!

Where do we go from here? I hear that certain public minded citizens have reported MPs to the Benefit Fraud Hotline, Mr Plod at The Met & HMRC. It all takes time - remember how 'Cash for Honours' dragged on & no one ever paid any penalty? Remember how David Abrahams' various donations, although judged to be illegal, were never even returned?

And how, despite 56,509 (and still counting) requests for him to resign, Gordon Brown is still claiming to be 'the right man for the job' and clinging on to his position by his bitten fingernails?

However, one of the powers still available to the Queen is to dissolve Parliament, which means there would have to be a General Election.

Accordingly, I have set up a petition asking the Queen to do that very thing - dissolve Parliament. It's HERE

Please sign if you are fed up being ripped off. Even if all the same candidates stand again, we can just not vote for the ones who have been stuffing themselves at the trough.

Joanna Lumley 1 HMG 0

I've been really busy over the last few days, mainly reading about how our MPs have been fleecing us, the taxpayers. However, I had to comment on Joanna Lumley's audacious ambush of Phil Woolas the Immigration Minister on live TV. I don't think he knew what had hit him - which, presumably, was the intention.

I think, unfortunately, Ms Lumley has found that her comment 'I know I can trust my Prime Minister' has proven not to be the case.

Despite this, it looks as though Joanna & her campaign on behalf of the Gurkhas has gained so much publicity & so much public support that she will win through eventually. What a brave, determined & gutsy woman.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Jacqui Smith's at it again

I see the Daily Mail are running a story that Second Home Secretary & Minister for Porn, Jacqui Smith pays full Council Tax on her Reddich house, base for her & her family (h/t to Blogger Old Holborn). Apparently this means it is designated as her first/main home - despite claiming all those second home expenses for it & claiming that her sister's spare bedroom is her main home.

So all her carefully crafted 'economies with the truth' will now, hopefully come back to bite her.

This shows up her very patronising comments re the Censorship Index - 'shared values' etc - for the complete & utter hypocrisy they are.

Just can't keep her snout out of the trough can she? And can't seem to remember which set of lies she's told either.

We're counting, Gordon

Just checked the latest figures for the two petitions about Gordon's future, one asking him to stay, t'other telling him to go. The count for him to stay is 51 - (and I think some of the names are still dodgy), to go is 53,700+. Looks like the gap is widening Gordon!

In case you haven't voted yet but would like to, here's the links:



Sunday, 3 May 2009

A message from the Electorate?

I've just been checking the numbers on the two No 10 Petitions about Gordon Brown's Premiership.

One petition calls for him to resign immediately - the current count is 46,936 votes.

The other petition calls for him to continue to lead the nation - the current count is 33 votes.

Perhaps just the slightest little hint there of voters' perceptions of Gordon Brown as PM?

Hurrah for Joanna Lumley

Somewhat belatedly, I'd like to say a very loud 'Hurrah' for Joanna Lumley and her fight on behalf of the Gurkhas. As I understand it, she feels a sense of personal responsibility towards them because her father was a Gurkha officer. 'Personal responsibility' - now that's a novel phrase in Britain 2009. More often what you hear is 'It's my right, innit', usually in connection with expecting something for nothing.

Congratulations to MPs of all Parties for voting against the government's draconian proposals.

Ms Lumley takes her campaign to Parliament next week, where she has been asked to put her case to the House of Commons Home Affairs committee. I hope she is successful, the Gurkhas have served Britain well for many years and are much more deserving of British residency than many of the people the government appears to welcome with open arms.

One more time - hurrah for Joanna Lumley & hurrah for personal responsibility!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Happy St George's Day?

In most countries there is a carnival atmosphere on the day of their patron saint. Here, in the UK, it isn't a Bank Holiday which means that the British, apart from the 2.03 million unemployed as at January 2009 (probably considerably more by now), the 1.39 people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in February 2009 see stats here and Benefits Claiments, will be working their normal hours.

I've listed the unemployed, Jobseekers & Benefit Claimants separately because although you or I might reasonably consider that they would be the same people this is not necessarily so under Labour's creative accounting - they 'massage' the figures a lot more than Maggie Thatcher ever managed.

Oh, and the pensioners will be having a holiday too, I'd almost forgotten about them. The pensioners who can afford to retire that is, after Gordon has raided their Pension Funds & refused, despite the Labour Manifestos of 1997, 2002 and 2005, to restore the pensions link that Maggie destroyed. The government say poverty level is an income of £165 per week. The basic State Pension is £95.25 per week. How many people do you know of 60+ who are still working? A rather high percentage I think.

So, as we take stock of ourselves and our country on this special day, what do we see? - a government that has run the country into the ground & that is mired in scandal. How incompetent does a Chancellor or PM have to be to bring a country to it's knees financially? A country that actually had money 'saved' by the Torys in our 'bank acount' for the proverbial rainy day, in 1997 when Labour took over. Now, 12 years later we have widespread unemployment, horrific house repossession rates and debt that equals - what is it? - 84% of GDP. The legacy of a 'prudent' Chancellor? I think not! Of course, according to Gordon, all these problems started in America - I hadn't realised America had set up the FSA? I hadn't realised America had allowed such slack supervision by the FSA (working as a branch of H.M. government) that we had the scandal of Equitable Life? .....and Northern Rock ...... and RBS ......and HBOS.

A government that promised us an EU Referendum, then said that as it was now called the Lisbon Treaty, we didn't need to vote - they'd decide what we wanted.

We have MPs - no, we have Cabinet Ministers - whose trotters are so deep into the trough that they claim 88p for a bath plug from the electorate on expenses - oh yes, and their porn films. And a PM who says that MPs expenses must be reformed and that he will remove the Second Home Allowance and instead provide an Attendance Allowance - which may allow MPs to claim even more than they've previously claimed on their Second Home Allowance........ A PM, incidentally, who has had the finger of suspicion pointed at him over one of his flats & his Second Home Allowance.

We have a police force that has been politicized, a private company, ACPO that decides police policy & one branch of the force that has received 145 complaints over their handling of G20 policing - including the death of one man.

We have had better St George's Days in the past & I hope we will have better St George's Days again in the future. Use your vote - if you sit home on election day how can you complain about the government we have? If all else fails, vote for the Party that you dislike least. And, in the meantime, you might like to join in the the Libertarian Party 'Taking the shirt off your back campaign'

Happy St George's Day to you all.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Budget - Fiscal Competency?

I'm no great fan of David Cameron's but I think he hit the nail on the head today when he said that this government could no longer claim to have any financial skills. As ever, Darling was shoved out front to perform like a tame monkey while behind him Gordon the Great Gurner sat & gurned & pulled the strings. It must be galling to have to admit to your errors of judgement in the very public view of the House of Commons. It must be even more galling to have to admit to the fatal errors of your boss and pass them off as yours. Yet another day when, as the country fell about his ears, Gordon sat & muttered his mantra 'It wasnae me, it wasnae me - a big boy did it & ran away'.