Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blogger cons the Sun into writing fake story?

Today the Sun published a story titled "Cheating husband caught on Google Street View"

Only problem is that the blogger, Idiot Forever, is alleging that he punked them and made it all up.

Or perhaps he's just punked the Internet into thinking he punked the Sun?

SHOCK NEWS: British Prisons Full of Thieves!

Hell. Handcart. Truly shocking!
Mr. Straw: For the year to date 2008-09 the following unaudited balances are available for the value of property lost or stolen within HM Prison Service, where the majority of cases arise, totalling £190,396. This comprises:

  • Losses of stores: 863 instances; £98,357;
  • Loss of personal property for which compensation was paid to prisoners, staff or third parties: 1,598 instances; £92,038.
I mean really! Who would have thought it!?
From Hansard via Croydonian

4 hours and 35 minutes to save the world!

Sam Coates over at Red Box has rather interesting post about the schedule for the G20 where Gordon Brown will save the world. Apparently its going to last 4 hours and 35 minutes.
  • Leaders' breakfast 8.30am - 9.45am
  • Morning session including finance ministers and central bankers 9.50am- 1.25pm
  • Lunch 1.25pm - 2.30pm
  • Afternoon session including finance ministers and central bankers 2.30pm to 3.30pm
  • Closing press conferences, 3.30 onwards
Not bad for £20 million and crappy website with a giant tit logo huh?

Should the MP for Winchester declare an interest?

See in Hansard.

If you're wondering what he's talking about it's "the provision of stoma and incontinence appliances". I make no comment given Mr Oaten's personal past. Really... I don't!
Hat Tip: Croydonian who didn't have the cojones to post it

Derek Draper: Second hand before he's new?

Possibly one of the funniest thing I've seen all day. Derek Draper's new book is launched on Thursday and you can already buy a second-hand copy at knocked down price on Amazon.
Second hand before its even new. That's very spechul!
Hat Tip: Donal Blaney

How Brown plans to screw the Armed Forces for billions

It should come as no surprise that Gordon Brown would screw the Armed Forces over by cutting their funding but few realise that he is about to do it again to the tune of literally billions of pounds. At a time when we have troops in theatre in two conflicts; there a multitude of equipment issues; and we have to have charities like Help for Heroes to subsidise the Government shortfall, it has come to light that the Treasury will be robbing even more from the coffers.

In January 2008, OFCOM announced that the Government, via the Ministry of Defence, could sell off its 75% holdings in spectrum radio frequencies to the private market.
Government, its agencies and other public organisations including the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be able to share, trade or release their considerable radio spectrum holdings under new plans announced by Ofcom.

Ofcom expects the arrangements to free up some of the most valuable spectrum for new wireless services for the benefit of citizens and consumers. This will enable the key public users such as the MoD to trade their spectrum holdings and acquire new spectrum in the market.

Public bodies use around half of the radio spectrum below 15 GHz – the most sought after and congested frequencies. An independent study published in 2005 estimated that the spectrum held by the public sector could have a market value of between £3bn and over £20bn.
That's a lot of money and is on a par with the amount of money the Treasury gained from the sell off of licenses for the 3G mobile networks in the late 1990s. However, how much of this estimated £3bn to £20bn will the MoD see?

In a recent memo from the MoD to the Defence Select Committee the MoD confirmed that it was only going to be allowed to keep £500 million in receipts from the sell-off.

The memo states that the level of receipt is "commercially sensitive" which suggests two possibilities.

Either, we are going to see another gold debacle where Brown allows something valuable to be sold off at the bottom of market, thus screwing over the funding of the Armed Forces at a time when they really need it.

Or, the MoD has been told by the Treasury that it can soin for the money and its only getting 16% of the minimum £3bn whilst the Treasury takes the other £2.75bn for itself (presumably to plug its black holes). Thus screwing over the funding of the Armed Forces at a time when they really need it.

Of course, if the market decides its worth a figure like the top-end estimates of £20bn that represents even more money the Armed Forces lose in the deal. Thus screwing over the funding of the Armed Forces at a time when they really need it.

The recurring theme here is simple isn't it? Brown and his Government are planning on shafting the Armed Forces out of potential billions in funding. The Military Covenant is ignored once more.

UPDATE: This issue has also been raised in Parliament, although sadly via an Early Day Motion (parliamentary graffiti) so no bugger has really paid attention.

Relax, take a pill, and wait for it to pass

In my previous post I noted that John Healey had an expenses/allowance claim to the valur of £137K. It was noted in the commented that this was not particular fair to single out because of the breakdown of those costs. Not only that it was noted by an MP friend who called me last night as well.

As I said to that MP last night, I actually only put the figure in because I assumed someone in the comments might make the connection between the post topic and the specific minister's own salary/perks etc. I was not making a judgment on him in particular rather a judgment on the timing of the press release in comparison to the other stories in the news.

I have to admit, having spoken to this MP at some length I do share sympathy with some of them. Of course there are some bad eggs that are taking the piss or couldn't give a toss about spurious claims (bad joke I know), and the result is a tendency to distrust the whole lot of them - a plague on all your houses basically.

There is, sadly, no obvious solution to the allowances issue. There will always be something that someone might have claimed for that other find wrong. Or there may be genuine mistakes where something in the middle of receipt is claimed for when it wasn't meant to be.

It seems to me that this will pass when something better to talk about comes along - Chaos Day tomorrow for example. No doubt there will be other MP's that have put a claim in to cover the cost of something silly that get 'exposed', but it will subside again. To those concerned about the devaluing of politicians though - including the MP who called last night - I'd say this.

Remember 1992 to 1995? Constant sex sleaze, dodgy deals etc? The Tories were the target of all manner of scandal, some of it was serious, much of it wasn't, it was the era of sleaze whipped up by a media sick of the government and useful aggressive spinning from Labour. I'm not sure how much spinning from the Tories is going on this time around but the point is that the "you're all the bloody same" tag ain't new.

The tag disappeared for a while during the good times, and has been dusted off now the bad times have come. Soon it will be put back in the cupboard again. Its a bit like the Premier League, politicians languished in third place on the most hated generalised group for some time beneath journalists and estate agents and right now they're having their moment and pushing for the title.

Don't worry though, just like Liverpool they won't win it, and soon no one will care to much about your allowance and expenses claim. This is all about the dying days of a Government. The 'damage' to politics has always been there anyway.

Monday, March 30, 2009

If we're going down we're taking others with us?

You have to laugh when the snouts in the trough, porn-loving politicians and spouses have their back against the wall. Like a cornered rat they strike out and spin whatever might be a worthy diversion, say for example taking the other pigs in local government down with them?

And 'lo, it came to pass, at almost the same time that this years MP's expenses are published, the Department for Communties and Local Government pumps out a press release to announce 'tough' new measures for transparency in local Government pay, pensions and perks.

The minister quoted in the press release, the Rt Hon John Healey - £137K in expenses - is quoted saying how necessary transparency is in the current economic climate to stop taxpayer funded salaries and perks 'spiralling'. Oh yes he really did say that I swear.

It kind of makes me want to go up to one of them and squeeze their cheeks and say 'ahhh bless, are the nasty public being nasty to you so you thought you'd take some others down with you?'.

The only transparency going on really is the transparent spin attempt to start sounding tough on perks at local Government level in the hope that people will stop looking at Westminster politicians and their masturbating spouses.

DCSF staff says it sucks working for Ed Balls

There is rather interesting staff survey from the Department of Children Schools and Families depositied in the Commons Library. Question 76 asked whether, compared to last year, services have improved for "children, young people and learners".

The response of the good folks of the Civil Service was that 37% thought things had improved. Meanwhile 55% refused to agree or disagree - commonly called "taking the fifth". There were 8% of young wonks willing to say things had got worse though.

In other news, over half of the department staff say they have no sense of belonging in the department. At the same time, 19% of staff think that the career progression system is fair to everyone (presumably that was the people who got promoted), the rest think it sucks.

How they love building websites

I wonder how much the dedicated website for the G20 London Summit cost the taxpayer and how many people are actually bothering to read it?

Fugly ain't it? I particularly like the way logo makes the earth look like a large mammory gland with a shining nipple.

The cost of processing expenses.. and then some

If the expenses fiddles of MPs, along with other personal fiddling, was not bad enough I am currently mildy flabberghasted at the cost to the taxpayer of simply processing all the dodgy porno claim forms. According to Nick Harvey MP, representing the House of Commons Commission,
The direct staff cost of processing hon. Members' claims is forecast to be some £1.2 million for 2008-09.
It gets better though, Nick Harvey also went on to say,
This does not include IT or accommodation costs which cannot be disaggregated to this level.
Accommodation costs? There are expenses claims made during the processing of expenses because people need to stay in hotels? WTF?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Porno on the taxpayer?

Why would anyone be so stupid as to put an expenses claim in for wanking subscription porno channels when you're married to the Home Secretary?

Have these people never heard of the Internet where they can get oodles of porn for free? I guess if the allegations are true then Jacqui Smith is going to find it ever more difficult. I look forward to the euphemisms that might get used in the House.

As an aside, is it just me or is sex sleaze making a comeback?

A little bit of anti-English sentiment

A motion mostly signed by Northern Irish MPs about the beautiful game.
That this House notes the controversy surrounding attempts to have a British football team entered for the Olympics in 2012; also notes Government support for such a venture; and expresses the wish that the Government will use whatever influence it has to ensure that television broadcasters, particularly national BBC and ITV, concentrate on delivering live coverage to national audiences of competitive games in World Cup and European Championship qualifying competitions involving international teams from across the UK rather than meaningless friendly games involving England.
Whilst I agree that meaningless friendlies are annoying, isn't there a BBC Scotland, a BBC Wales and a BBC Northern Ireland for those other games that you just know they're really talking about?

As much as I might relish the opportunity to see Scotland have their arses handed to them on a plate by the Dutch, or see Wales beaten by Finland, or watch Northern Ireland beat Poland I don't really want to if England are playing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Two Questions

Having read this in the Times about the Royal family and equal opportunities I have two questions.
  1. If the Monarch was a Catholic, and the Prime Minister wanted to execute prerogative powers to put HM Armed Forces into action but the Vatican morally and ethically opposed said action, ergo the Crown did too, what would be the implications for where (a) British sovereignty lies and (b) the Monarchy itself?
  2. Is it not rather quaint that in a discussion about ending discrimination against women and Catholics in the Monarchy, that the Catholic church is in no doubt the bar on it is discriminatory whilst simultaneously it bars women from becoming priests or the Pope in its own body? Isn't that kind of irony squared?
Note for the smartarses: Yes I know there are really three questions there. Sue me.

Friday, March 27, 2009

No credit, no hat tip from C4 News

Well I guess I should be flattered having two things nicked in a week. It seems Channel 4 News last night "broke" my exclusive from yesterday morning. No mention of me emailing them my story yesterday morning though - yet.

C'est la vie!

Update: Well I did get an apology saying "Sorry, was going to" but then that position changed to "oh we got the original email to and it wasn't from your site".

Climate Change department fails on energy efficiency

The following is the official energy efficiency certificate for the Department of Energy and Climate Change's office (which used to be a DEFRA office - you have to admit, the department responsible for lower emissions is doing really well huh?

How to rip off a brand logo in a sneaky way

Spotted in a market in Spain, the logo did make me chuckle.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: UK Parliamentary network joins virus bot-net

Oh dear, it appears that the Parliamentary IT network has joined the other millions of computers around the world infected by the Conficker worm. The latest variant of the worm will activate and download its payload on April 1st and no one is quite sure whether it will be merely an April Fools Day gag or something that will cause havoc.

The following email was sent out last night to all users of the PICT - that's the network that PGP is not compatible with apparently.
To: All users connecting directly to the Parliamentary Network

The Parliamentary Network has been affected by a virus known as conficker. This virus affects users by slowing down the Network and by locking out some accounts. We are continuining [sic] to work with our third party partners to manage its removal and we need to act swiftly to clean computers that are infected.

We are scanning the Network and if we identify any equipment which we believe is infected with the virus then we will contact you to ensure that the device is either removed from the Network or cleaned and loaded with the correct software to prevent this infection reoccurring.

You can help us to contain this problem and prevent new infection by adhering to the following advice:

  • We are unable to clean PCs and portable computers which are either not switched on or which are not authorised devices. We therefore ask that if you are running a PC or portable computer not authorised to be on the Network that you take it off immediately.
  • An additional characteristic of this virus is that for some types of files it can skip direct to the Network from a USB memory stick or other portable storage device (e.g. mp3 players) without hitting the virus checker software. We ask that for the time being you do not use memory sticks or any other portable storage devices on the Parliamentary Network.
  • If you do identify a problem with the equipment you are running, please contact the PICT Service Desk on 020 7219 2001 when it reopens on Wednesday 25 March from 8am.
  • If you are connecting using one of our remote access services, from a Constituency Office for example, a separate communication will be sent to you.
Director of Parliamentary ICT.
Another day, another IT security fail? More on the hype of whether this virus is damp squib or the beginning of Armageddon can be read here, here and here. Of course, even if it does nothing it remains worrying that Parliament can be so easily compromised in the first place. Go Windows!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Art of Queuing - or why we'll never be good Europeans

It is a well known fact that we British people love to queue. Not because of some strange Soviet-esque nostalgia for the breadlines, just that it is perfectly fair and civilised t wait ones turn patiently. Queues are spontaneous too, and need little management as I discovered to my amusement on Sunday morning.

I landed at Malaga airport you see at the same time as about three other flights from the UK. They had only two "passport control" people working. I put that in quotes simple because they were controlling nothing, looking at nothing, and just waving people through as long as they had a maroon book in their hand.

Incidentally, as a slight digression, when I left Luton Airport there was no border control at all. I walked airside with no check for a passport or bordering card. The only thing I had to do was go through the scanner. This made me chuckle given that there was talk of "e-borders" and a need to protect the nation, clearly they were all in bed.

Anyhow, back to the queues at Malaga. I would say that around 99% of the people getting off the buses was British, and the results, in this tiny little hall, was a snaking queue that seemed to follow invisible barriers. Occasionally a break would occur in the queue where someone would just walk through, tuts arose, and then you heard the person speak in what was clearly Spanish.

Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not actually complaining or making a stereotype that the Spanish are rude. Far from it, they're very polite and friendly people, they just don't pathologically queue like we do. They go about their lives differently because they're different. The joy of Western diversity huh?

This then reminded me however of our other problem in Britain. We love to follow rules, and if a rule exists we fear the social embarrassment of breaking it. So many of the rules we get from the EU are ones that cause consternation in the press, and yet don't often get commented upon in the rest of the EU.

Is this because the rest of the EU nations are happy with the rules though? Or is it more likely, as experience suggests, that the rest of the EU nations, not being such anally retentive rule followers like ourselves, simply legislate the necessary the rules but make it clearly, tacitly of course, that no one is going to be punished if they break them?

We already see at the highest levels, France and Germany have regularly broken the rules on national budgets, they've been told they have to pay a fine, and what happens? Zilch. They flick the bird and carry on anyway. The EU huffs a bit, and then everyone stops and goes back to normal. You can bet any pressure we come under from the EU on budgets will see us eventually keel over to them.

Now, I myself am actually signed up to "Better Off Out" as I don't see why we should pay so much into the coffers and get so much little back in return. I also don't accept that to leave the EU would destroy trade and jobs because, in its most simple terms, the idea that someone like Volkswagen, BMW or Mercedes-Benz will stop selling us cars is absurd.

However, is it not fair to say that the reason we have such big problems with EU when it comes to certain things is not really because everything the EU does is bad - I can actually see for example a sane reason to have a supra-national strategy on the environment rather than national on - but more because we're just not "European" and never will be?

Culturally we're just too different to most of the EU nations, especially the early members. The Mediterranean culture is far more relaxed and less rigid than ours, look at the art of the queue to get the point. They don't have the relationship with the EU that we do because they just cherry-pick the bits they like and ignore the bits they don't.

And when I say they ignore whilst we follow, I mean we and they do it at a cultural level that transcends the petty ideological difference of politics. Take for example how the Daily Mail reacts to an EU law that is clearly a silly one. They rant about it being insane and rail against the injustice against sovereignty, but I no point do they advocate we should just ignore it.

Instead we have a "look what they're making us do and we can't do anything about it we must obey". A few years ago I made this point to the leader of UKIP Nigel Farage over a smoke in Charing Cross station (those were the days). He largely, if I recall correctly, agreed with me that yes, other countries did just implement Eu regulations and then not bother enforcing them.

However, he also said that you if went into a British boardroom and suggested that "you know what, we could just ignore these rules, its not like they can invade us to force us to follow them" the reaction would be one of absolute fear. That stems, I think, from a British attitude that laws are "that which can not be otherwise". Its almost as if we have started to consider laws of man the same as laws of nature, something other nations culturally don't.

Again I come back to the queue at Malaga airport. Only a group of Brits would create on their own a perfectly winding queue like an amusement park without having barriers to guide them first. The person behind me said, it makes us civilised. Actually I'm afraid it doesn't. What it actually makes us is bloody stupid and it perfectly exemplifies why we just don't seem to be able to get with the EU programme and probably never will.

Our culturally instinctive sense of following rules, like queueing, means that all we can ever hope to do whilst members of the Eu is moan about it and then do what we're told anyway. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that queuing is a bad thing, just that if you understand why we do it you can also understand why we'll never really be "good Europeans".

No doubt some tit will say this post is xenophobic and is saying other countries are instinctive rule breakers. Far from it, they just have a different attitude to what rules ought to be followed and what rules they know they really just have to go through the motions on. It's not a bad thing, its just the way it is.

Hannan tells Brown he is the "devalued Prime Minister"

Others will have already posted this no doubt, but I'm enjoying the wonderful relaxation of Spain so that's my excuse for being late. Dan Hannan MEP gave Gordon Brown a bit of a monstering yesterday in the European Parliament noting that Brown was "pathologically incapable" of ever saying sorry.
Incidentally, whilst on European matter, Spain may still have a left wing Government, but it appears,at least in this region, no one gets their beneifts when unemployed unless they do some work for the Council. What's more we can still smoke in the bars, which is nice.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Recession: A day in the life of the recently employed?

Brown is the tenth biggest loser in the world says Foreign Policy

There is quite an amusing take on the month over at the American journal Foreign Policy, which takes a look at the month and asks, "[w]ho's the most screwed? Which of these figures who have chosen a well-worn path to the limelight, has done the most damage to their own reputations and the lives of those around them?"

It has then ranked them and our Glorious Leader Gordon comes in at number 10 of the biggest losers in the world. My favourite part is just after they explain why you have to feel sorry for him because he followed Blair who was clearly better, where it notes,
Still, Gordon did accept the job of PM, did screw it up to a fare-thee-well and now is on the verge of blowing his last big moment on the public stage as he prepares to host a G20 Summit that is very likely to realize somewhere between zero and few of his grand ambitions for it.
Gentle yet quite cutting at the same time. Number One for anyone wondering was Jospeh Fritzel.
Hat Tip:Croydonian

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spot the Difference

Last Thursday I posted the following:
According to the Ministry of Defence, between 2007 and 2009 it spent £85 million on using private charter flights to transport armed forces personnel to and from operations.

Question: What's wrong with a Hercules?
Yesterday, the News of the World 'Snitch' column closed with the following:

I believe the phrase "thieving lazy hack bastards" springs to mind.

Plus ├ža change

At the tale end of last week it was widely report that the Labour Chief Whip, Nick Brown was unhappy with his lazy Labour colleagues. He told a press gallery lunch that "It is not unreasonable for the electorate and taxpayers to expect their MPs to be attending debates in the House of Commons or to vote when they get there" and announced his intention to crack the proverbial whip.

Thus I found it highly amusing to see that the one time leadership candidate of the Left, John McDonnell tabled an early day motion stating,
That this House notes press reports that the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend is planning to bring forward rules for Labour hon. Members on how many times they must vote in a Parliamentary Session; and therefore urges that in future procedures are put in place to ensure that abstentions are able to be recorded in any vote in the House.
You have to love the style of that one surely? Essentially, McDonnell is calling for the ability of all those lazy MPs to pick up a phone and say they abstain on vote X, Y or Z, and this have it recorded that they did vote by not voting, and so they can all remain lazy bastards.

After all, how dare anyone suggest that MPs, especially Labour MPs, do what they're paid to do and attend and vote on debates? I mean, they've got more important things to do than vote, like getting their legover in their office with the mistress/hooker and recording it in pictures for the world to see at a later date.

Expensive chairs and office furniture at the MoD?

When Channel 4's Dispatches ran a programme about how the Government squandered millions, nay billions, on lots of seemingly frivilous things it included a revelation about how the MoD spent serious amounts of money on some of the most expensive chairs you could possibly buy for an office. I don't recall the exact figure but it was stupidly large given it was only spending on chairs.

Clearly, this has led to some MPs asking questions again, not just about chairs but furniture in general, and the MoD has revealed in response the amount it has has pent on furniture since 2002, excluding PFI/PPP projects where the furniture is supplied by the industrial partner and forms a part of the overall project costs. Essentially the figures are the spend on furniture for barracks, family accommodation and office furniture in the Ministry.

However, I'm not sure the proportion of the figure which is on family accommodation can be that high given that the National Audit Office issued a damning report just last week noting that a third of all military families were living in sub-standard accommodation, and the MoD was spending some £38 million a year maintaining empty properties.

Anyhow, the total figure of spending of furniture by the MoD since 2002 was £158.2 million. Now obviously I have bugger all evidence to back this up, but given the NAO report, along with the report by Dispatches about the flash expensive chairs in the offices of the MoD, my gut tells me most of this spending was probably on yet more plush furniture rather than which they could have spent at MFI.*
* Just think if they had used MFI, they might not have gone bust.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blogging from the pool.....

Blogging will be light over the next week although not totally non-existent. I am about to get on a plane and pop off to the south of Spain in the next few minutes.

Should anyone wish to rent the villa out - which you may recognise as its been advertised on this and other blog for the past few weeks, then do visit the owner's website. When you fill out the form let them know you came from here.

Back soon!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Housekeeping and general etiquette

I hate having to do posts like this, and to be honest I should really have a page that outlines these things but I can't be arsed. Basically, you can say what you like in the comments as I have made clear before, but I've decided on an exception.

If you spam link your blog, and you do it in ALL CAPS constantly, and if you do it in threads where your post has bugger all to do with the topic posts then your comment is going to be rejected.

I have no problem with people linking to their blogposts in the comments along the lines of "I wrote about this too here Dizzy and you're absolutely [right/wrong]". What I do get annoyed about is PEOPLE SHOUTING ABOUT THEIR LATEST POST ON NU-LIEBOUR in a thread about something completely different.

You now have three links in one post and you won't get anymore in the comments if you don't stop. Might I suggest making the font colour on your site green?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Can we send Ronaldo to America?

The Daily Mail reports a memo to AIG staff about how to look after their security in the wake of the bonus scandal state side.

I'm thinking, if people wearing AIG logos are in such danger can we send Christiano Ronald to the US? Actually, sod that, how about the entire Manchester United squad?

Bikers set up secondary protest site against Tories after legal website takedown?

For those that don't know, there has been quite a long standing campaign going on against the Tory Council in Westminster about parking charges for motorbikes. The No To Bike Parking Fees has been having protests outside CCHQ and is planning one in Victoria Street at the end of the month outside Labour HQ.

What I didn't know until just now is that the campaign used to have a forum but after legal threats from Westminister Council it was forced to closed - more info here.

Thanks to the joys that is the Interweb they have moved to America and set up a site at torytax.com.

Supermarket Binge?

Via the brilliant Failblog

The Special Olympics and Obama

So last night Barack Obama did one of those "oh shit" moments on live TV it seems. Whilst on the Jay Leno show and describing how bad is ten-pin bowling is he said,
"It’s like—it was like the Special Olympics, or something."
Upon reading this I was reminded of the image below which has been around for many years on forums, bulletin boards and IRC. It is usually used in argument by someone not engaged in the argument itself as a kind of "STOP ALREADY! YOUR ARGUMENT IS BORING ME!" moment.

It is of coruse not funny really and pretty insulting, but given the President of the USA brougth the subject up I thought I would mention that he's by no means the first to mock the Special Olympics.

Note: If you think that image is in anyway shocking you've not been Goatse'd or Tubgirl'd on a forum. Whan that happens it takes things to a whole new level of wrong.

UPDATE: Fair point in the comments from Carlos: "A note to all readers...do not feel any need to further investigate goatse or tubgirl. At all. Forget that you ever heard the words. ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE AT WORK.....NSFW"

Government consults with non-existent businesses

Who better to provide the proof that their completely out of touch with reality thjat the Government itself? The Department of Energy and Climate Change is holding a Consultation on the Draft Order to Implement the Carbon Reduction Commitment which began on March 12th.

And who is on the list of those they plan to consult? Well, Wrekin Construction Limited for a start, a company that went into administration on March 10th, two days before they launched the consultation.

Now you might say I'm being unfair, after all it's two days. Well how about the fact that Woolworths, that finally shut the doors on their last stores at the beginning of January? They're on the list too.

Should anyone want to go through the original list and look to see if any more of the companies the Goevrnment is consulting don't exist anymore you can read itonline here too (just in case the DECC changes the document).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ask the G20 if Gordon is bonkers?

The last post was about the new Labour spash page that is harvestin email addresses and also lets you post questions for the G20. The fun has begun.

Enjoy! Go here and add a message. Ignore the bit about the email address, seems they don't require it.

Update: Seems they have deleted the link for the above screenshot already. Boring! This one is still working at the moment.

UPDATE II: That one went too. Boo!

UPDATE III: If you ask a sensible question they don't delete it. Conclusion, don't insult the Glorious Leader!

UPDATE IV: A quality question that has, of course, been deleted by the website administrators.

Any other do email them and I will try to collage them tomorrow.

Hat Tip: Eagle-eyed Darryl Beckford

Labour uses G20 for email address harvesting?

Interesting, the Labour has a new spash screen on their website

Some important questions need to be asked now.
  1. Why is the Labour Party using the G20 when Gordon Brown is there in his capacity as the Prime Minister of Her Majesty's Government not as Leader of the Labour Party?
  2. Where is the opt-out for the email address?
  3. Does anyone seriously believe that the questions submitted are going to be answered?
  4. Is it more fair to say that this is an email address harvesting tool for the Labour Party?
Talk about transparent!

UPDATE: It appears that you don't actually have to give your email address as a requirement. Good to see they tell you that huh? Still you can have fun with the this.

EPIC FAIL: Slow down on roundabouts?

That'll teach him for going round the corner to fast! Wonder if they called the fire brigade to help?

Sent by email, taken this morning in London.

Funky Monkeys

This is a neat little "A-Team" style viral video that is mildly amusing. At least I thought it was funny anyway.

DISCLAIMER: Pressing play will earn me, quite literally, pennies. Click if you want, don't if you don't.

Question of the Day

According to the Ministry of Defence, between 2007 and 2009 it spent £85 million on using private charter flights to transport armed forces personnel to and from operations.

Question: What's wrong with a Hercules?

Brown confirms his support for "rewards for failure"

My general disgust at the way Ministers who fail and get fired are given severance pay is not exactly unknown, especially in these days where we keep hearing about how we must not give "rewards for failure". However, it has come to light that the Prime Minister only believes there should be no "rewards for failure" and that payouts should be clawed back by Government when it is private individuals rather than Government ones.

Yesterday in Parliament, the old fashioned lefty Labour MP, Gordon prentice, asked the Prime Minister
"if he will make it his policy to reclaim redundancy payments made to Ministers leaving the Government if they are subsequently appointed to a ministerial position in the same Parliament."
Quite reasonable really, why should someone get a whopping great payout for cocking up when they get demoted, and then be allowed to keep it when they are given a job in Government once again? Gordon Brown's response was effectively "No" as he said,

Severance pay is payable in accordance with section 4 of the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991.
The problem here is that the Act he refers to was written during the last Tory administration when the "ministerial comeback", and especially "Cabinet comeback" was a highly uncommon thing.

That practice, where if you got demoted, or, for example, resigned, was one that used to mean your high office political career was pretty much finished, then came 1997 and it all changed.

responding as he has, Gordon Brown has essentially made clear that he thinks that generous taxpayer funded redundancy to ministers when they are fired is perfectly acceptable, and he really doesn't think they should have to give it back if he decides he wants to use them again and give them a second chance.

David Lammy - idiot extraordinaire

If you read just one piece of commentary today then I suggest Matthew Norman's* piece in the Independent which essentially argues that David Lammy, the Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property is a dribbling retard of epic proportions.
* Not exactly a rabid right-winger either

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MPs talk to birds and encourage them to "have a bunk up"?

Last week, I introduced a competition called EDM Signature Whores® which would attempt to catalogue the worst offenders in Parliament who happily sign pointless motions that never get debated but which all cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.

As I mentioned in that post, and in previous posts, EDMs are "parliamentary graffiti", a term echoed by John Redwood. Most of the time they get used by some desperate MP who wants publicity, so, he or she, tables an EDM about their local football team that no one gives a crap about, and then the local paper runs a report praising the MP for talking about them in Parliament. Everyone's a winner!

So I decided, as is common practice these days, to check out what utterly pointless EDMs have been tabled recently and the waste of space MPs have provided entertainment once more. The Islington South Labour MP, Emily Thornberry you see has tabled a motion to say "hello" to a couple of birds and wish them well in their sexual reproductive bed.
That this House welcomes the arrival of two peregrine falcons to the Palace of Westminster; notes that peregrine falcons are a protected species; further notes that peregrines breed in late March and April and congratulates the Palace authorities and Natural England on providing a nesting box for the pair; and wishes these two new residents all the best in their new home and hopes there will soon be a clutch of eggs.
They're bloody birds! Sure they're protected, but they have bugger all idea that you have "wished them well". Nor do they need Parlimentary blessing to get their proverbial leg over.

Seriously, that's a few hundred pounds spent on printing and administration so Thornberry, along with her Parlimentary colleagues that signed it, can make themselves feel all fluffy inside and flash their animal loving credentials.

To think there is the deepest recession for 50 years, the economy is in the largest peacetime deficit ever, unemployment has topped 2 million and this bunch of idiots are wasting taxpayers money, and Parliamentary time, talking about whether two birds are going to have a shag? They'll be encouraging tree hugging next.

God give me strength! Please excuse me whilst I go and smash things up for a while.

Gordon Brown's medical records hacked?

There was a rather interesting article in the Sunday Mail three weeks ago North of the border. It would seem the Scottish equivalent of the NHS mess that is Connecting for Health, was targetted by hackers and all they went for was the records of senior politicians and celebrities.

Apparently, the system that was hacked contained information on current medication and any adverse reactions to prescribed medicines. Putting aside the potentially damaging discolsure it would be if it was found that Gordon Brown was being prescribed something like valium, this sort of information could also be used in an assasination attempt, which makes the breach pretty bloody serious.

Strange that it has not been picked up as a story elsewhere in the national press. D-Notice perhaps? I'm sure that Connecting for Health won't be subject to these sort of security risks though, it will be a perfect system delivered on time and in budget and just be spiffingly secure.

Update: Pro-Nurse covered it as did El Reg at the time, but apart from that I can't find anything else on it, which seems odd. I might just be crap at searching though.

Will this impact later chances in life?

From a little perusal of Hansard I have spotted this,
Mr. Alan Campbell: The Government intend to introduce a new statutory duty on schools to record all incidents of bullying between pupils. We are planning to launch a full public consultation in May on draft regulations, and will be consulting on making it compulsory for incidents of bullying to be recorded by type, as related to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc.
Will this just so happen to be included on your ID cards, E-borders, Contactpoint databases to be used in future to decide which children need re-education? Or perhaps even to help decide which parents to target who might be committing thought crimes of the highest order and need a visit to the Ministry of Love?

Yes, I am in a cynical mood today aren't I?

Minister for Higher Edumacashun he says....

Note: Yes I make typos too, it's still funny though.

I can't undestand a bloody work you're saying!

Over the past couple of weeks, Michael Penning MP has been writing letters to different departments asking them how much they had spent on "voice coaching" in the last 12 months. Presumbaly this is because either (a) he can't understand a bloody word some of his fellow politicians say and thinks they need some, or (b) he thinks that some of them have changed the way they speak and is wondering if they've been helped along a bit at the public expense.

Either way, the vast majority, and in this respect I mean pretty much all of the department have responded with the same answer of "none". Well I say all of them, there is one department that's given one of those kind of non-answers that just makes you think "well that's 'yes but we're going to avoid telling you'" type answer. When The Cabinet Office was if it has provided "voice coaching" to any employees, Tom Watson said,
"Voice coaching" is not a category recognised in Cabinet Office management information systems.
Call me cynical if you must, but that answer smells suspiciously like one that is deliberately opaque. One's thing is for sure, if Gordon Brown is having lessons they should ask for their money back or have a special course on saying the "solution" properly.

Who said sexism couldn't have positive benefits?

Microsoft takes the fight to Iran

Sod Gordon Brown and his "strong words" to Iran about nuclear energy and weapons. The real people making a difference and stopping them get to far are Microsoft if this picture of their nuclear system is anything to go by.

Who'd have thougth that Microsoft Windows could play such a cruicial role in the fight against nuclear proliferation in Iran huh?
Image via UPI.com

Blogging to be light.....

Have just been working overnight. There may be sporadic posts later on.

Australian Government bans Wikileaks

The Asutralian Government's Internet filtering to stop its citizens looking at things it does not liek has apparently added Wikileaks to its banned website blacklist.

The hilarious thing is that Wikileaks contained the leak that it had been banned stating "The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship." Oh yes, and if you link to Wikileaks from Australia you can be fined $11,000. Nice!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kevin Maguire and friends' short memory on the Union Flag

Tim Montgomerie on ConservativeHome has noted probably the stupidest thing ever said by "Kevin Maguire & friends" on his Mirror blog where the following was written,
"its worth noting that the podium he used was decorated with a Union Jack and clouds logo that looked like something from the far-right BNP's website."
Putting aside the idiotic suggestion that using the Union flag - not Jack - makes you look like the BNP, does "Maguire & friends" not remember only last year when Labour had a website banner that looked like this?

"Maguire & friends" attempt to juxtapose the use of the Union Flag by the Tories with the BNP is not only weak, it's deliberately myopic about the party the blog supports.

Update: Someone in the Conservative Home comments has also found this picture of Gordon becoming Labour leader.

You can bet "Maguire & Friends" will ignore that one too.

The extremists of the EPP and their new fascist members

I see, with the news that the Tories plan to leave the European Peoples Party group in the European Parliament the usual rubbish about how they will now have to sign up to be in a group with neo-nazi extremists and fascists is doing the round.

Whilst I like Paul Waugh's Evening Standard blog, which I linked to earlier today, even he has pushed this line when commenting on Manual Barroso's comments yesterday noting that from the comments by Barroso,
The implication is clear: 'why is Cameron linking up with fringe parties, some members of which have strange views on climate change, homosexuality and race?'
This line of argument is not only written by Paul Waugh I should add, but it has made a number of people understandable angry, not least of all Dan Hannan MEP over at the Telegraph, who has taken the time out to list some of the thing EPP members have said on the issue of homosexuality and race. For example, EPP members Forza Italia had this campaign poster in their General Election.

That essentially says "Daddy and Papa? This isn't the family we want!". Likewise we have the German CDU, who ran a campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2000, which the slogan "Kinder statt Inder" - "Children instead of Indians". It is quite clear that the parties that the Tories are leaving behind are anything but moderate, but we don't hear anything from Labour on that.

More bizarrely as Hannan points out, is that ten years ago, when Paul Waugh was working at the Independent, there was a story that the Tories were in secret talks with the successor party to Mussolini's fascists Alleanza Nazionale. That story has perpetuated for a number of years now, yet as Hannan pointed out last week, those extremists are now joining the EPP.

So we now have a situation where the meme that the Tories are to join up with the lunatics fringes in the European Parliament by leaving the moderate EPP, when the reality is that the moderate EPP is not only already full of parties that hold what are considered extreme views, but even have the very extremists that the Tories have been in "secret talks" with for the last ten years joining.

Will any of this ever come to light in the mainstream media that revels in saying the Tories are going into bed with fascists? Of course it won't, to admit that they're actually leaving a grouping of fascists and homophobes wouldn't exactly suit the domestic narrative about the Tories and the EU that the Labour spinners want.

UPDATE: Note that Derek Draper's LabourLost is also peddling the line that the Tories are leaving a grouping that is not full up with racists and homophobes. It's all so easy to do.

Fighting hate with hate and a claw hammer?

I've just read the most bizarre story over on the BBC. Apparently there was a protest against a BNP meeting in Greater Manchester over the weekend where the anti-BNP protesters decided to smash a claw hammer over the head of a 48 year-old BNP member. Now, whatever one thinks of the white power socialist BNP, is smashing one of them over the head with a claw hammer really a productive way of tackling them? What's more, is smashing to pieces their vehicles with hammers the best way of dealing with them?

Unfortunately this sort of thing just doesn't compute for me. The extreme Left is very quick to bang on about the evils of racism or other forms of discrimination and is very supportive of the concept of a "hate crime"; and yet here we have the very same people displaying serious amounts of hate towards someone simply because of their thoughts, and the hate is so much that they're willing to commit attempted murder to stop them?

Ask yourself this question. Which is worse, a marginal political party with bugger all hope of really gaining power and which has policies to benefit only one specific ethnic group; or marginal political parties with bugger all hope of really gaining power that have such hatred they're willing to smash the heads in of another party with a CLAW HAMMER in the name of tackling hatred?

Is the Ambassador to North Korea on crack?

Yesterday evening, Paul Waugh's Evening Standard blog noted the rather worrying blog post by Britain's Ambassador to North Korea, Peter Hughes, on the elections in North Korea which he went to observe. The worrying thing in the diplomats post was and is the way he is gushing for praise for the Stalinist state that has millions of its people starving.

In the post, the diplomat pushes out the rather idiotic and what we call in the business "complete bollocks" line that there was 99% turn-out and wonderfully all the candidates were returned with 100% approval. He's goes on to say how wonderful it is to watch the children marching in uniform, singing songs and chanting slogans as they "walk gaily hand in hand".

I'm going to be blunt now and I hope you don't mind, but is Peter Hughes on crack? Opium perhaps? Whatever he's been taking I wouldn't mind some. Anything that can make a supposedly serious mind write such complete crap that marvels in the wonderful spectacle of a secret state having its politically indoctrinated children march through the street must be some "seriously good shit" as they say in the crack house.

Peter Hughes will be praising the tractor statistics next and pushing the DPRK's hilarious propaganda next. Should anyone want to know what that propaganda looks like I suggest bookmarking Croydonian's rather amusing DPRK Watch posts which catalogue the hilarity of the place.

So much for Labour Gods of teh Interweb

There has been much said about John Prescott's Go Fourth website and blog, along with Derek Draper's LabourList over the past couple of weeks. Much of it for the former has been complimentary whilst for the latter its been mockery.

However, one of the things that has often been said for both is that Labour is starting to pull its proverbial thumb out of its arse and get with teh interweb thingy. Some of their little campaigns have been funny, whilst others have been dire.

Over the weekend, and as Guido pointed out last night, they created a little site that allows their supporters to create fake Tory logo with satirical and witty banners to upload. The only problem of course is that anyone else can upload images too, which resulted in this going up.

Whoops! Of course more whoops is the fact that the new Messiahs of centre-left web campaigning in the UK didn't think to buy a proper bandwidth package to cope with all the transfers of stupidly large png files that their rather nifty competition idea generates, so this morning, torylogo.com looks like this.

Yes, Labour may be getting down wiv da kids and blogging and vlogging, but they're still not thinking about performance requirements resulting in epic IT fails.

Par for the course really. Still, I'm sure E-borders, ID cards, ContactPoint and Connecting for Health will all be superb successes. Maybe one day though we'll see the likes of Draper's site or Prescott's site being honest and saying "we're crap at IT, sorry".

UPDATE: They appear to have paid their bill as of 8.45am.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Admit it... you've thought about doing this

Via Flickr

Idiot Politician of the Day: Glenis Willmott MEP

Its the time of day once more when a political award must be given out, this time to the politician that is the biggest idiot of the day. The award could be given out because they wore a silly hat, or in the case of today's winner, Labour MEP Glenis Willmott its because she has decided to take a stand and call for something to be introduced that already exists.

Glenis you see, has called for a "red button" on games consoles saying a "red button fitted to consoles, computers and other gaming devices would offer parents the chance to control access or even disable games with inappropriate content."

Glenis, you really should spend your expenses on more research staff then you won't face being told you're an idiot. Had you taken a moment to use Google - a neat little thing called a "search engine" in case you didn't know - you would have learned that such things already exist on gaming consoles.

The X-Box 360 and Live have specific family settings which have two functions,
When playing offline, they can be set to grant or restrict access to games based on the ESRB rating. When playing online, they can be used to restrict access to content and contacts based on the parent's choice.
Or how about Playstatioon 3 and its Parental Control system designed to stop the kids getting too much fun out of Kill Zone 2? Congratulations Glenis, thanks for supporting a complete waste of money being spent on something that already exists. Truly special!
Note: Glenis was submitted for the award via email.

Scotland to outlaw perverts from looking at consensual perverts

The Register is reporting on the moves in Scotland which mirror recent law changes in England on what the state defines as "extreme pornography". Basically, like the appalingly bad law introducesd in England it will be illegal to own images of people engaging in consensual perversions if it is apparent harm might be there.

So, a loony guy who gets kicks out of having his scrotum stepped on by a woman in stillettos is out - trust me, these people are out there, I've been online a long time. Likewise, if a group of people have consensual sex but do so by photographing it and playing out a rape fantasy it will be illegal to own them - unless it was you doing it.

Like with alcohol this is yet more puritanicalism that infringes on the rights of the individual to be a colossal pervert in the comfort of his or her own home and look at pornography produced by other colossal perverts for their delight.

Additionally, in Scotland, they have also extended their law so that images of people committing sexual acts with an "animal carcass" are illegal. As the Register points out, they don't really define what an animal carcass is, so technically that might include a 100% beef burger, or perhaps a rolled up steak - apologies if you now need to bleach your mind.

Earlier post on the subject in England here.

UPDATE: It has suddenly occured to me that if one owned the infamous clip of Rebecca Loos incident aiding a pig with its reproductive duties would that constitue extreme porn if the viewer enjoyed it?

How Gordon Brown plundered the National Lottery

Remember when the National Lottery started it weas all about making money for good causes? Well, as we all known Gordon Brown's economic incompetence has led to massive hikes in borrowing, but not only that, he's totally plundered the National Lottery's money in order to fund his spedning blackholes.

Croydonian, having found the information in Hansard has helpfully created a pie chart to show just how much Gordon brown has taken from good causes to cover his own balance sheet issues.

Take a look at the light blue section of the pie. That is the amount of money in the Lottery funds that was used for "Health and Education" in 1997 compared with now.

I do love the way the Government likes to call charities and good causes the "third sector" and acts like it really cares about it whilst simultaneously screwing them over when slicing up the money from us proles who deseprately dream of the millionaire life.
Hat Tip: Croydonian

Objectivity/DB - has the Government bought it?

The follow screen shot comes from a video presentation of an application called Objectivity/DB that can analyse "more than 100 million phone calls made by over 1 million individuals to find the relationships between them, up to five degrees of separation - in mere seconds - and on a standard laptop".

Bet the Government have bought it for its "e-border" system and whatever else it might want to snoop on us with.

Quote of the Day

"There is no point acting FAST if you have a stroke round here when you’ll be dead before you get to the centrally based specialised trauma centre." - NHS nurse in Greenwich

Source Simon Emmett canvassing.

The freedom to get trashed should not be removed

Now that the weekend is over, and a number of stipidly cheap, yet good quality wine has been consumed from the booze cruise supply, I thought it would be appropriate to pass comment on the 'minimum prices for alcohol' story.

Since it was floated over the weekend there has been some hefty rowing back by yhe Government which is covered in the press today. The row back is welcome to be fair because the proposal is nothing but price control. Go that way and what next? Maximum prices for goods too and comeback of the Bay City Rollers?

However, the language that has been used in the dismissals is even more worrying because it reveals the attitude that the Government to us, the overtaxed, already pushed to the wire, proles. James Purnell told the BBC, "we want to focus on the irresponsible minority rather than I think punish everyone equally.'

Punish? What are we now, naughty schoolchildren? He didn't stop there either, he said that didn't want to 'punish the majority for the sins of the minority'. Sins? Did I read that right? It is now a 'sin' if you get absolutely rat-arsed and so you should be 'punished'? How is it that in the 21st Century we have puritans running the country?

My body is my own and if I want to subject it to copious amounts of alcohol, or drugs, or whatever, that is my choice. Over the weekend I hear that Cameron apologised for being in a cosy economic consensus for a number of years, he should also note that on this issue he's in a cosy anti-freedom consensus too.

The Tories, whilst not supporting the minimum price proposal, wants to have targeted tax increases on drinks aimed at young people. Has no one realised that the young people will just drink something else instead? As for the Liberal Democrats they are just as bad if not worse.

The whole political class is determined to remove the freedom to get trollied and its made clear if you try to get wasted you will be punished. How did the puritans take control of the asylums?

Note: sent from phone, typos to be corrected later.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Alan and Hatty - Will and Grace

I've just read a rather amsuing post on LabourList titled "Yesterday was the day the Tories said goodbye to the women’s vote" by someone called Seema Malhotra (pictured) who it has to be said is quite a hotty, although I am of course in a relationship and I'm probably far to sexist for her given she's the Director of the Fabian Womens' Network.

Anyhow, the reason I found it an amusing post was not just because of the shrill and hysterically way it was written - she is a woman of course so what should one expect? - but also because of the rather quaint thought that anyone really gives a crap about questions to the Leader of the House about the forthcoming Business of the House.

True, people like me, and possibly you because you read my blog, may have an interest it, but apart from that the post is a classic case of thinking that all the women in the country are glued to the news or BBC Parliament to see what Harriet Harman and Alan Duncan say to each.

Admittedly it is a bit like watching Will and Grace sometimes, a marvellous TV show might I add, although the UK equivalent with James Dreyfuss and Kathy Burke is funnier because it is smuttier - on a point or order if Alan Duncan is reading this it would be hilarious if you could be a tad more queeny in the Commons. Would you do it for me sweetie?

Anyhow, I digress, Seema Malhotra's argument, if one can call it that, is that the whole affair in the Commons was nothing more than rampant sexism of the highest order. This is because Alan Duncan took the piss out of Harriet Harman and her comments about her love for stilettos in the Daily Mirror. Malhotra argues that,
Politics should be about principles and about debate. Not a debate about women’s attire that would be more appropriate for the sort of debate Parliament might have expected 200 years ago. If there is such disrespect for women politicians on the side of the Tories, how can women ever expect that they will be defenders of their needs and rights in Parliament.
Actually politics should be about principles and debate and bloody real life which means, when Alan Duncan follows his alleged sexism with a self-depracrating joke along the lines of "I may be gay girlfriend but I'm not a tranny!" should be fully understood to be (a) funny and (b) devoid of discriminatory malice.

Crucially what we have going on here is that Duncan is exploiting, quite rightly, the absurdity of what leftie equality campaigners like Malhotra argue. He is deliberately choosing stereotypical subject areas about gay men that if a straight guy said would have resulted in a post titled "Yesterday was the day the Tories said goodbye to the gay vote".

The fact is, it is a general truism that women love shoes and fashion. I know my other half does as do many others of my female friends. Likewise it is a sterotypical trusim that all gay men must ergo love shoes and fashion too. Thus Alan Duncan finds himself in the rather lucky position of being able to do a bit of what the Left would call "postmodern irony" if they were saying what he had said.

However, because he's a Tory, a party that in my experience has an awful lot of gay men in it might I add, he must therefore be being a rampant women hating bastard who is probably in favour of locking the wenches in the kitchen and ensuring that they darn his socks from here to eternity.

It is of course complete bollocks. That does not however stop the crazy people who are intolerant of intolerance and lack any semblance of a sense of humopur getting on their high horse to morally chastise and push the predominant orthodoxy that anyone on the Right who makes a joke is really a secret hate mongerer. How they love to hate what they see as hate.

I sincerely hope that Alan Duncan continues to speak and gently rip the piss out of Harriet Harman in the Commons each week. It is a pleasure to watch, listen to, or read because it is so clear that the two of them actually bloody love it. As for losing the womens vote, highly unlikely, the vast majority have much better common sense antennas. It's only the "women in comfortable shoes" that don't.

Alan? You keep at it boyfriend!

DISCLAIMER: All remarks in this post that could be intepreted as sexist or homophobic are not. Its called sarcasm and humour and exists purely to annoy people like Seema Malhotra because I can.

UPDATE: Image changed after commenters pointed out that the one being used from Luke Akehurt's blog is incorrect.

Sorry Iain, but you're wrong about Miliband

Sadly my friend Iain Dale is wrong to declare that Ed Miliband is innocent. Let me clarify however. It's true to say that there is, as yet, no evidence, that his position in charge of Energy policy has been compromised by his relationship with his girlfriend who also happens to be a lawyer representing the German nuclear energy firm E.on that happens to want business in the UK.

However, to say that to question the potential conflict of interest is based on a school of thought that all "politicians are on the make or easy to influence in a malign way" is not right either. There is clearly a conflict of interest between Ed Miliband's position and power over nuclear policy and his personal life.

That's a matter of fact, it is reality, it is unquestionable. It does not mean that a decision he may or may not take has been influenced by her, it just means that it could be influenced by her and as such he should formally remove himself from being involved in that decision.

Having said this, the whole nuclear power policy and conflicts of interests in Government is not new news. What's more, given that we are so often told, like on the recent announcement about Cabinet minutes and Freedom of Information, that Cabinet take "collective responsibility" for decisions, there are wider issues with nulcear policy now surely?

After all, we now have four members of the Cabinet (one attending) compromised by conflicts of personal interest on the subject of nuclear policy, including the Prime Minister. The Energy Secretary alone would be bad enough, but we also know that Gordon Brown's own brother Andrew is head of corporate communications at French energy giant EDF with special strategic interest on nuclear. EDF, like E.on, would love to provide us with nuclear plants.

Then we have Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls. Cooper, (Housing minister, also with responsibility for planning, sustainable development and climate change) and Balls, (Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families) have a personal conflict of interest on nuclear energy too.

Cooper's father is the former Chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, and is now a non-executive director of the Government quango known as the Nuclear Decommissiong Authority - a quango that needs nuclear power plants to be built in order to give them something to decommission and justify their funding (off-balance sheet natch!).

Let's not try to gloss over things here Iain and say that we should place blind trust that these personal relationships - not business relationships - are not and should not be of a concern unless one is uber-cynical. It doesn't matter whether they're influenced or not by these conflicts. The fact is, it doesn't look right, and it forms part of a vicious circle that perpetuates the school of thought you have argued against.

If one takes the starting assumption that all politicians are corrupt, and then one sees a situation that makes the nose twitch because there is the perception of a possible smell, then the starting assumption is affirmed and we go back to the beginning.

One of the most profound and absolutely correct things Blair ever said was his observation that politicians needed to be seen as "whiter than white". Yes, it didn't happen that way for him, but it didn't make his words any less true then than now. All of them are innocent until proven guilty - unlike so many of us proles these days - but in their roles of State they shouldn't be allowing themselves to be seen to be guilty by personal association, otherwise questions will always be asked.

Think of this counterfactual, if the Tories were in power and Ken Clarke was put in charge of reviewing the smoking ban with a remit to potentially reform it, would his links to British American Tobacco not be seen and questioned, quite rightly, as a conflict of interest? I say that as a smoker and a supporter of Forest too.

The bottom line is that members of the very highest offices in Government do have serious conflicts of interests in relation to nuclear power at a time when nuclear power expansion is on the agenda once more. Whatever ones opinion on nuclear power, for or against, it cannot surely be right to have a situtation where so many within the Brownite clique are so heavily linked by close personal relationships to the nuclear industry.... can it?

E-borders: Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut

According to the Telegraph this morning the Government is planning yet another database to track not only all our international travel, but the reasons for travel and our credit card details too. Putting aside the fact that the Government can't be trusted with our data, this is being done in the name of fighting crime. According to the UK Borders Agency,
"The e-Borders scheme has already screened over 82m passengers travelling to Britain, leading to more than 2,900 arrests, for crimes including murder, drug dealing and sex offences. e-borders helps the police catch criminals attempt to escape justice."
That represents a whopping 0.003% of the tracked journeys leading to an arrest. The economy of scale between the cost and implmentation of such a system compared to its results is going to be, frankly, idiotic. No doubt it will be paid for by even more profligate borrowing and economic maladministration.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why Net Admins suck!

* This is a joke don't get upset.

Every boys dream....

The MoD is flogging off a Harrier (engine not included) here.

Have to love the "Add to Cart", "Wish List" and "Compare" buttons.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

State-owned RBS screening customers for political affiliation?

Fraser Nelson hits the jackpot with a recording of the state-owned bank RBS asking unbelivable questions of new customers.
More at the CoffeeHouse. The most amusing part is the explanation that they ask it because if you're a member of a political party you are probably more likely to be committing fraud. Oh the irony!