Archive for the ‘British politics’ Category

Gordon Brown and labour in trouble

February 20, 2007

Hi Grit

Hard on the heels of the “cash for honours” crisis, and the forthcoming change of Prime Minister as Tony Blair steps down this year, his expected replacement Gordon Brown and the labour party as a whole find themselves in deep trouble with the electorate.

A current poll of voters shows that, if there were a choice between labour led by Brown and conservatives led by David Cameron, at this moment in time only 29% would choose Brown against 42% for Cameron, a massive 13% gap which has not been seen since 1992. Even in terms of the party of choice, rather than the leaders, labour lags behind the conservatives by 31% to 40%.

If this is representative of the national opinion, it is a severe blow for Brown, who was expected to potentially call a snap general election possibly as early as september this year. Economic factors do not look good for the future and it is thought that he would have liked to have been granted a full 5 year term by the electorate soon after taking office. This option appears to be slipping away from him. There will be some worried people in the halls of government today.

However, it is probably too early to get over-excited as the poll only questioned a cross section of 1,000 voters, although the signs are encouraging for those who have become disillusioned with the policies and the antics of the labour party over recent years. It appears that the british public may be considering this change as a result of issues such as road pricing schemes, the disolving of human rights, big brother policies such as CCTV and the proposed introduction of ID cards with biometric data. In addition, I believe that the arrogance that Tony Blair has displayed over recent years, and his almost dictatorial attitude towards his government and the public, has lost labour a lot of friends, and justifiably so.

Maybe we can now look forward to the prospect of some sensible policies, but I won’t be holding my breath.

the Brit

Conspiracy

February 19, 2007

Hi Grit

Sometimes I have this theory that the whole world is built on conspiracy because it seems that throughout the ages almost any major event, particularly a disaster or catastrophe, generates a plethora of conspiracy theories aimed at questioning the official versions of events.

Last night (18th February), I watched a programme on the BBC, which was about the conspiracy theories surrounding the events of 9/11. Whilst there might appear to be justification for some of the theories outlined, others to me were so bizarre as to be incomprehensible. To suggest that the twin towers fell as a result of demolition when there is clear visual evidence of planes flying into them, is sheer idiocy. Then, they add to this the (so-called) fact that the government destroyed a nearby building because it contained a CIA office which held evidence of this tragedy being a US government plot. Others were theorising that the passengers of flight 93 were abducted by government agents and that the plane did not crash. Yet more tried to suggest that the plot was known six months earlier, because a film was produced which had a similar story-line, only as is the case with films, that had a happier ending. I am actually surprised that no-one bought Tom Clancy into one of these mad theories, because in one of his books a passenger plane is flown into the White House, killing the President.

Of course, the US is not alone in this pursuit of conspiracy theories. Here in the UK, despite it being ten years ago, the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of the late Princess Diana still continue to flourish. These range from those who suggest that it was a government backed plot to kill the princess in order to avoid her marriage to a Middle-East family, which they felt might tarnish the Royal lineage, to those who believe that the Royal Family themselves were behind the accident.

Of course, conspiracies are not solely restricted to tragedies. One only has to look at the pro-global warming proponents conspiracy theories about denialists, or the “alien” theories surrounding crop circles, to see that whenever there is a major phenomena, the word “conspiracy” is one of the first to follow official explanations.

One has to wonder about the reasons and conditions that lead peoples minds to turn so readily towards conspiracy as an explanation. Whilst it is true that, particularly in politics on both sides of the Atlantic, there have been many political cover-ups and total lies, which make believing anything that comes out of a politician’s mouth difficult to believe, the vast majority of these are proven to be lies within months, if not sooner.

Perhaps it is the enormity and shock of these events that lead people to automatically question their occurance. In the two cases mentioned above, the events themselves were beyond the perception and belief of the ordinary member of the public. Such is the depth of the disbelief that it defies all reason and logic. Similarly, there is a lack of belief in a system or society structure that allows such events to occur and it affects the trust we have in that society. Thus, in order to fill the void of understanding and comprehension, perhaps we all look to ourselves to provide an explanation that is equally enormous and outrageous in its foundation.

Personally, I have my own conspiracy theory. I believe that there is a conspiracy between the conspiracy theorists to stop both lies and truth being believed.

the Brit

UK Human rights and Freedom extinguished

February 18, 2007

Hi Grit

The government in the UK, if re-elected at the next election, will be taking the final steps to abolish human rights, freedom and privacy for the individual UK citizen, all in the name of protecting us against terrorism.

If the labour government have their way, all adults over the age of 16 will, by 2009, be required to place their fingerprints on a central computer. The suggested law may even extend to “iris” prints. These moves are in addition to the requirement to provide photographs for driving licences; requirement to provide details for the census and annual local government property occupancy register (for council tax purposes); and the multitude of close-circuit television cameras that adorn our towns, streets, villages and roads. An extra measure of identity that is also being considered is to place our medical records in the same “identikit” of us.

Not satisfied with us already being the most watched nation in the EU, these latest moves will actually increase the gap between us and other countries, turning us into one of the most monitored nations in the world. Some may argue that these moves are positive, but are they? Let us consider the evidence.

1) COST:

Naturally, there is the cost of the citizen ID rules. The government suggest that this will amount to just over £5.4 billion ($10.8 billion). However, independent sources put the figure at £19.3 billion ($38.6 billion). This represents over £300 ($600) per annum, per citizen. In addition to this, it is compulsory for people to give this information at one of 69 centres through the UK, at their own cost. In some cases this means travelling up to 100 miles, irrespective of age, financial situation or infirmity. A round trip of this nature, taken in work time will cost the worst affected another £100 at least. Of course, this does not take into account the annual running costs of the scheme.

2) PRIVACY

A basic human right is that of privacy. The ability to live our lives without fear or favour, and to keep parts of our lives free from the prying eyes of others. From 2009, if these plans go ahead, this will no longer be possible. Some will argue that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, but that is not the point. Do I really want my health, age, medical condition, financial status and life history potentially exposed to every form of media and individual nationally and internationally? Our data protection act suggests that such information should be secure but, in view of the fact that the government has incorporated rules to allow certain organisations, commercial as well as government and non-government organisations to access the data, this guarantee no longer holds true.

3) DISCRIMINATION

Such a system will also lead to discrimination, both intentional and by devious means. Employers will be tempted to access medical and financial information about potential employees, therefore leading to unfair bias against certain applicants. This is particularly the case in medical issues. For example, take the case of a person who may in the past have had cancer. Although possibly totally cured, when such a person is set against an applicant who has not past health problems, which is the less than totally honest employer going to chose?

Medical, legal and financial practitioners will be able to access medical records, providing a situation where they can discriminate against those they do not want to assist.   

4) MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE:

No computer or other registration system is infalible and the identity system will be no exception. With personal and biometric information on around fifty million people on file, the incidences of misinterpretation, incorrect identification and transpostion of information will rise. As a result this is bound to lead to an increase in the incidence of miscarriages of Justice. Add to this the fact that none of the biometric identity measures are 100% accurate and it can be seen that this will compound the issue. A small example of this might occur with twins for example. Especially in cases of identical twins wrong identification is even more likely.

5) THE CONCEPT OF INNOCENCE

The United Kingdom laws have always been founded upon the rule of “innocent until proven guilty.” It is bad enough that in recent decades tax and other laws have led to a reverse of this process in such areas. Now, with the introduction of of these measures, such a foundation has been totally eroded. The onus on the citizen will now be to prove their innocence in all cases.

Does this mean that in future one has to keep a daily diary of life events to ensure that one cannot get into a situation where lack of evidence to suggest otherwise leads to automatic guilt? I work from home and, during the day, this means that there is no-one to provide an alibi for my whereabouts, especially if I am not on the computer. If I take two hours off for a bath and rest, will I in future have to log this and provide photographic evidence? 

6) IDENTITY THEFT

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes of the past decade. It is also one of the least obvious to the victim, unless it has been committed for financial purposes. How can we be sure that our identity will not be stolen or duplicated for other criminal purposes? What is more important is, if such an event does occur, how will we know until a crime, using our identity has been committed?

7) PROTECTION AGAINST CRIME AND TERRORISM

The assumption that identity laws will offer protection against crime and terrorism is flawed in so many ways as to make it laughable. It only works if one starts from the premise that every hardened criminal and committed terrorist is going to abide by these laws. Naturally, Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists, and underworld criminals are going to assist the law by coming forward voluntarily to offer their biometric identity to the authorities. I think not! Such an assumption is, at best, insane.

There are those who argue that it is easier to catch someone who does not possess an identity card. How does that work? There are 60 million people in the UK and it is certain that there are not enough law enforcement agencies or officers to check each indicvidual. Add to this the fact that there is unencumbered travel in the EU through 25 countries and a determined criminal or terrorist has more than adequate escape routes. These are in addition to the many illegal ways of escaping from the country. Furthermore, why should such persons worry about being apprehended when there is always the route of identity theft to cover their tracks?

Although there may be rules and laws in place to address breaches of the protections in place, these are an “after the event” remedy, by which time the damage is done. Once the security of information has been broken, one cannot recapture the privacy, irrespective of how much money has been recovered in damages.

The hypothesis that these measures are a protection against crime and terrorism, as has been clearly demonstrated, is totally wrong. They will have little to no effect in these areas. 

In conclusion therefore, one has to observe that these new laws will have limited impact upon detering any major crime and terrorism attempts. What they will do is to damage the human rights of the innocent citizen.

the Brit

Polish invasion of England complete

February 16, 2007

Help, I need an exit boat! You will recall from past posts Grit that England is experiencing high levels of immigration, particularly from the former eastern European states. It appears from an article in one of today’s newspapers, that it has now become a total takeover. A local council in the Midlands has been surrendered to the Polish people and no doubt other areas of the country will quickly follow.

You may wonder what is causing me such concern. The answer can be found here. The council in question has put up local diversion signs – in Polish. Despite the fact that it is rumoured that the local Polish population is only 6%, there is obviously something the council officers know that we don’t. Similarly, although officers at central government state the signs are illegal, is this just a ploy to lull us into a false sense of security?

I will be watching developments.

the Brit

PS: Jeśli otóż Polski słowa ukazywać się w mój poczty, you will know that I have have been captured.

MP travel expenses

February 14, 2007

Hi Grit

All of the debate about travel costs, its effects on Global Warming and the need to conserve energy is generated by politicians. However, today figures have been published that show just how two-faced these people can be, especially in the UK. You need to bear in mind that there are around 634 MP’s and that the travel expenses are in addition to their salary and other expenses.

The current report reveals that the cost of MP’s travel for 2005-06 was a staggering £4.5 million ($9 Million). Of this £2 million was spent on car travel, £1.5 million on trains and £1 million on Flights. This equates to over £7,000 per MP, or £136 per week, and these figures are rising. However, as can be seen from the report, some MP’s are claiming as much as £44,000 per year, an incredible £850 per week!

There are a number of issues here. Firstly, these same MP’s are telling us to cut down on our road travelling, whilst at the same time failing to take their own advice. On the one hand the government is saying that the congestion on the roads is reaching a gridlock position, yet at the same time over 44% of their own travel is adding to the problem. The difference is that we, as lowly citizens, will not be able to reclaim any “rush hour” mileage cost imposed upon us, whilst the MP will be reimbursed. Every £1 an employee spends on mileage costs them £1.30 of gross income.

Secondly, they keep saying that we need to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce energy consumption, at the same time as they are increasing their own (or perhaps we should all walk so that they can travel in luxury!). Our tax authorities penalise us for the type of vehicle that we drive. For example, the tax levels on a 4×4 (SUV) are far more stingent than a small saloon. For an MP this is not a problem as they reclaim all of their expenses direct from the government.

Thirdly, there are no budget constraints on MP spending. They do not have to answer to anyone regarding the level of their expenditure. Any family is aware that they have to budget their expenditure to match their disposable income, or they will suffer the problems of escalating debt. Similarly, every employee knows that their expenses will not be sanctioned by their employer if it is considered to be unreasonable, and that continual extravagance will be rewarded with unemployment. A corporation is aware that cost control is vital to attracting business growth. An Mp’s attitude is directly opposite to all of these, safe in the knowledge that Joe public will be made to pay for their representative’s extravagance through the tax system, either directly or by stealth.

Standing alone, the MP’s travel expenses are bad enough, but when you add to this their other annual expenses, which on average work out at £110,000 ($220,000) each, and their salary of between £57,000 and £150,000 depending upon their position, it all adds up to an enormous public cost. What is worrying is that this represents just a small fraction of the cost of our government and civil service. In my view the time for “accountability of government” is NOW!

the Brit 

   

Pay as you go driving

February 12, 2007

Hi Grit

It seems at last that the UK public are actually trying to get their voices heard over government laws that are, to say the least, crazy and unacceptable. The regulation causing the problem is their intention to charge £1.34 per mile for drivers to use their vehicles during the “rush hour.” As the average distance for rush hour drivers in the affected areas is around 10 miles a day return, this could cost over £60 ($120) per week. No one but a fool (which obviously includes our government ministers) could suggest that this would work.

However, a petition drawn up against this measure has already attracted well over a million signatures. Mind you, so far this does not faze the transport minister who said recently “of course we will listen to people. But parliamentary democracy doesn’t just involved the expression of views.” Well, that is news to me! I thought democracy was all about expression of views.

Let’s hope the petition numbers continues to grow.

the Brit

Kylie, hotpants, Shilpa and culture

February 10, 2007

Hi Grit

Don’t you think it amazing the way that modern celebrities are breaking down the culture structure of our society. Only a few years ago in the UK popstars, film actors and other celebs were percieved to be not worthy of the attention of the establishment. Now they cannot seem to get enough of them.

First we have Kylie’s stage costumes, including the famous gold hot pants, being exhibited in the very staid Victoria and Albert Museum. before they go on a nationwide tour. The exhibition was opened by Kylie herself with all the pomp and ceremony that such an occasion usually attracts at the V&A. One writer even suggested that the gathered important people even bowed when introduced to the star.

In the next breath we learn that Shilpa, of Big Brother fame, has been asked to appear on “Question Time.” Question time is a BBC debate programme that deals with political and social issues of the times. It usually consists of a panel of people from both sides of the political divide together with business interests.

How times have changed

the Brit

Drink and sex abuse in UK politics

February 9, 2007

Hi Grit

Want to know why are politics in the UK are in such a shambles? The following story that I found gives some insight into this situation. It involves the case of Fiona Jones, once heralded as one of “Blairs Babes”, a term that was given to the 100 women MP’s that came into parliament with him in 1997.

Twelve days Fiona was found dead by her 17 year old son. She was surrounded by empty Vodka bottles. It is obvious from this scenario that she was an alcholic, but how did she get into this position. “Parliament taught her to drink,” accuses her husband. It transpires that the Houses of Parliament offers cut-price drink to all members and that heavy drinking sessions are not uncommon. With it being a very close environment there is a culture of “you have to do this to become one of us.” 

The other contributory factor to Fiona’s demise was sexual harassment. From the reports it seems that the lady was continuously subjected to bullying sexual attacks and innuendo by her chauvenistic colleagues.

Surprisingly, only one MP (an ex-MP at that) mentioned Fiona’s death. The article itself seems to brush away the importance of the issues of drink and sex, blaming Fiona’s demise on other issues.

This story is not only tragic, for which our sympathies are extended to Fiona’s family, the root causes of it are indefensible.

Tony Blair and his government publicly depore the menace of drink, often quoting how much work time is lost as a result, and the health and safety issues surrounding it. The same government has introduced laws and cracks down hard on sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace. Why have these issues not been addressed in their own (private) club?

If we were found drunk in the workplace, the minimum expected of us would be to seek treatment. At worse we would be sacked for being unsafe to perform our task. If we were found guilty of sexual harassment in the workplace we would be fined, sacked or even imprisoned and our employers would be accountable as well. Why are the same rules not applied here.

Our government is responsible for making decisions that affect the health and safety of its citizens and, in many cases those of other nations. They are supposed to make sensible, sober decisions regarding matters of local, national and international importance. How can they be trusted to do that if these sorts of incidences are occuring?

No doubt this is the tip of a dangerous ice-berg. The government’s treatment of this lady is deplorable. The governments failure to maintain the same rules and regulations that they apply to its citizens and their employees is unforgivable and, in my view, a criminal dereliction of its duties.

the Brit

Tony Blair at home

February 9, 2007

Hi Grit

For those who don’t know a lot about Blair and his official home, here is a site that lets you take a tour around it. It will walk you through all of the rooms where important decisions are made and you can click on items of special interest to learn more. Unfortunately it does not allow you into his private accommodation.

Other interesting fact from this site include some interesting quotes from previous PM’s, dating back to the 1740’s, which our friend Tony might do well to refer to. For example:-

William Pitt the elder (1766-1788) “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.”

Henry Addington (1801-04) “In youth, the absence of pleasure is pain, in old age the absence of pain is pleasure.”

Sir Robert Peel (1841-46) “There seem to me to be very few facts, at least ascertainable facts, in politics.”

Marquis of Salisbury (1886-92). “English policy is to float lazily downstream, occasionally putting out a diplomatic boathook to avoid collisions.”

Arthur James Balfour (1902-1905) “I am more or less happy when being praised, not very comfortable when being abused, but I have moments of uneasiness when being explained.”

Andrew Bonar Law (1922-3) “If I am a great man, then a good many great men of history are frauds.”

Clement Richard Atlee (1945-51) “Often the experts make the worst possible ministers in their own fields. In this country we prefer rule by amateur.”

Sir Alec Douglas Hume (1963-64) “There are two problems in my life. The political ones are insoluble and the economic ones are incomprehensible.”

Interesting!

the Brit

A little more EU help?

February 7, 2007

Hi Brit,

I just read this, Criminal code raises fear over EU powers, and, from my outside perspective, it sounds pretty bad.  If I understand it correctly, this gives unelected officials the ability to write criminal laws that trump laws in individual member nations of the European Union.  Scary.

the Grit

Global Warming 2007

February 4, 2007

Hi Grit

I believe our first post on the issue of Global Warming was getting on for three months ago. Since then I have participated a few times and read with interest all of the comments from both sides of the divide, along with studying all of the literature that people who have commented have posted have directed us towards. I hasten to add here that I am not a scientist, so there are aspects that I would not understand. However, I consider myself an intelligent person capable of assimilating sufficient data and making a reasoned judgement. Therefore, I feel that I have a reasonable understanding of the issues so far made available. A rider to this of course is that, in view of the enormous amount of data on the subject, both for and against, it is impossible for any one individual, scientists included, to be able to assimilate it all and I would be no exception to that rule.

I do not intend this post to become embroiled in detailed scientific argument, as that will produce just a series of scientific counter arguments from both sides. It is my intention to comment on the structure and management of the analysis and the way the global warming issue is being handled.

1.) IPCC REPORT
With the IPCC report being published this month (February 2007) and it being one of a series being produced this year, many are claiming that this puts beyond doubt all of the global warming issues, particularly with regard to this being a “man-made” phenomena. However, whilst I accept that global warming exists, there are several factors that I would take issue with, both in terms of the report itself and the general reaction.

My first point of concern here is the secret nature of parts of the process building up to the report issue. In letters to Governments and Organisations in December and October 2006, although having made these letters public, they have deleted text within them, which appears to be access to the draft report. This raises two issues. Firstly, as the report is intended to benefit all of mankind, why is there a need for withholding any information? Secondly, does one presuppose that, by virtue of some deletions there could be changes of significance that the IPCC would rather the public did not see? In my view, transparency in this above all issues facing mankind is of paramount importance. Anything less is unacceptable.

Terminology
(Un)Certainty – In a document issued in July 2005, the IPCC issued guidance notes regarding the ways the lead authors should address uncertainty. It could be construed that some of these guidance are of a leading nature as it is asking that all issues to be consistent with the approach determined in the document. Another issue related to this document, which I will come to later is Table 4 – Likelihood Scale (on page 4.)

Consensus – My understanding of the term consensus is that it is the agreement of the majority, after having mitigated the objections of the opposing views. I read somewhere that, in this report it was to be a consensus of 300. I believe this needs more clarification. Bearing in mind that the report was produced by over 2,500 scientists, plus 800 contributing authors, plus 450 lead authors, I have difficulty in equating the consensus of 300 with these figures and feel they need further explanation.

Confidence – The levels of confidence are divided into five sectors, as can be seen on page 3 (table 3) of the summary report. On the other hand, the likelihood scale is divided by seven. In my view, this inequality between the two scales is confusing. Surely, it would have been more rational to have equal divisions on the two scales.

2.) The Response
In a number of areas, the immediate response to the report has not been rational. The hype concentrated on the term moved from “likely” to “very likely.” As you say Grit, the latter term relates to 90% probability. However, this also does not accurately reflect the findings of the report.

On the summary for policymakers, page 3, there is a chart of human influence on trends. The chart lists seven areas of influence under three references. The term “very likely” only appears in two instances. In media and other responses, there is no reference to other aspects of this table. Whilst I do not blame the scientists for this, it does appear that the “powers that be” are guilty of misrepresentation in this instance. Again, this raises suspicions in the minds of the public and questions as to the agenda for the report.

Is it thought that the public is not intelligent enough to understand the full information or was the hype deliberately directed by politicians?

3.) Remedies
It is disappointing to learn that a detailed study on remedies will not be available from the IPCC until later in the year. If, as has been reported, we only have ten years to address this problem, I fail to see any conceivable reason why the research on remedies was not designed to produce results in the same timescale as this current report. Six months or more has been lost. The argument that the scale of the problem has only just been defined does not wash as this report follows on from one that was issued six years ago.

Of the remedies that are being put into action, there are some issues as well. Firstly, there is serious concern regarding the consequences on remedies and cooperation between agencies. The case of Basel in Switzerland as I reported earlier is a classic example. Looking to achieve global warming saving measures, people began drilling into the earth’s surface starting a chain tremor reaction that they cannot possibly control, potentially unleashing more harm than good. How many more projects are being mishandled in this way?

In addition, there is the problem that has been raised regarding the potential danger from energy saving light. Has anyone evaluated the potential future harm of following this route, if not, why not?

Only a few weeks I posed the question how do we know that remedies can be controlled. The above are two obvious examples of that not being the case.

Another contentious issue is nuclear energy. Scientists say that this will go a long way to addressing the global warming issue, and I agree that this is one of the most efficient ways of producing energy. However, it is almost impossible to use this option within a volatile world, where there are countries such as Iran and North Korea who could not be guaranteed to utilise this method for peaceful purposes. Similarly, accidents happen as we saw in Russia, and that can be equally damaging.

In the UK, the go ahead has been given to build two huge wind farms off the coast. All of the reporting on this has concentrated on the benefits, which is admirable. Nevertheless, little has been written about the downside of such action. The effect on the bird life needs to be identified, an area where naturalists have raised concerns. But what about the effect on tides and wave patterns?

Finally, in this section, I would like to ask why existing remedies, which require little cost, are not being used. For example, with the airline issue there is a “greener” fuel available, but is currently only being used in military aircraft. The emission levels are significantly lower than normal aircraft fuel and there is, as I understand it, no cost differential. I have heard that the argument against it is safety, which I find incredible. Are we saying that the lives of the military are of less value than other citizens? If not, take the step and change the fuel.

4.) The Carbon Footprint
Much is being made of the need to reduce the global footprint. However, there seems to be a great deal of double standards in this area. The media, the UK BBC organisation being a case in point, are saying that their contribution is by publishing the issues and that, in some way, this seems to exempt them from responding to the carbon footprint limitations. At the same time, the IPCC, governments and other NGO’s are spending millions of dollars transporting thousands of people to conferences and meetings all over the globe. Yet, these organisations are asking us, airlines, and other sectors to reduce our carbon footprint. Surely, one should lead by example. Whatever happened to the ability to achieve video and Internet conferencing?

There is a lot of pressure being placed upon airlines to cut their carbon footprint, yet unless I have missed it, no one has answered the question of why, in the 24 hours post 9/11 when most air travel was grounded, there was an increase in earth warming for that day. Has anyone analysed what effect reducing the carbon footprint, particularly in air travel, will have in this respect? In other words, has the downside of the equation been quantified?

In my view, one of the largest and most expensive carbon footprints is laid by governments nationally and globally. Yet, we see no clear picture of measures that these people are taking steps to address this. In the UK, politicians are asking us to reduce our carbon footprint, and even putting pressure on the Royal family to do so. All well and good, but what do we see the politicians doing? The answer is very little. Do not ask me to do something unless you are prepared to match it and lead by example Mr Government.

5.) Political
I have to admit that I was amazed at the token gestures made by some governments by calling for an hour without lights. This seems to me to have been counter-productive. Did anyone monitor the results of these actions? As I have said, I am no scientist, but from what little I know the resultant surge from it, with all electrical compliances being switched on again more than counteracts the benefits of the gesture in the first place. Has there been a study made of this and is it a responsible response? Surely, such theatricals should have been left until the position was well known by the public and they could have been advised about the cost.

In respect of the above, the political response is similar in many ways to the media reaction. It is uncontrolled, irrational and without serious thought as to how to present the issue in a way that will generate the right response. The political response between nations is also not harmonious, which does little to engender confidence.

6.) The media Circus
Unfortunately, the media circus has continued, even on the latest event. I watched a news programme in the UK, which was designed purely to entertain the public, rather than get the message across. In this programme, they spend the time passing a copy of the report through screens to reporters in different countries, such as Europe, Australia, India and the US. No attempt is made to explain the message properly.

In addition to the previously mentioned carbon footprint of this situation, I noticed also another problem. The report they were passing was a fake. They were wads of blank paper with just the title cover printed. It was obvious from the reporter’s comments that none of them had read any of the documents and it was just a publicity stunt to show how clever the network was.

Can this be the right approach to what is meant to be a serious matter? I seriously doubt it.

7.) The Cost
Another issue that really annoys me is cost, and here I am talking about the financial side. Every aspect of the global warming issue in terms of conservation and remedies always seems to be followed by additional cost to the individual. What happens to the resultant savings from change? Who gets those?

Leaving aside the dangers of energy efficient light bulbs discussed earlier, one of the main reasons their use is limited is the cost. In the UK, they are over 6 times the price of current bulbs. If politicians and scientists are serious about this issue, then use some of the billions of waste to reduce the cost of remedies to a competitive level. It is a short-term commitment. Then demand will grow and the effective change desired will be achieved with far more speed and fluency. Another example is public transport service. Raising prices and cutting services on what is considered a “greener” method of transport does not seem to me to be an approach that will increase its usage.

Every time someone mentions global warming, it seems to result in the public having to put their hands in their pockets. Is it any wonder that this meets with resistance?

8.) Kyoto Agreement
There have been arguments about the effectiveness of the Kyoto agreement, mainly centring on those countries that have not signed up to it. However, there are countries within the agreement that have not met their targets, such as Canada. Before the world goes off trying to find another agreement, we need to know how effective this one has been, and that information has not been publicly forthcoming.

How many countries met the targets set? What effect has it had on carbon emissions? How much worse would it have been were the agreement not in place? Surely, we are entitled to this information in the public arena. If it has not been effective, even with those countries that signed up, then it is the wrong answer or structure and we need to look for another resolution.

The other matter here is the developing countries, which has still not been properly addressed in my view. All this documentation seems to be indicating that the only way they can help is to deprive themselves of the advances in technology that the developed world has. Is this going to be acceptable to them? I cannot see this being the case. Therefore any agreement needs to take their situation into account, without placing an untenable burden on the developed world. 

9.) Nation, NGO Bashing and fairness
Why is it that every time there is an issue of global importance there is an automatic nation, NGO or business witch-hunt? This posturing does nothing to confirm the validity of the situation, in fact the opposite. The French attack on the US is a prime example. It is almost as if it is just a fight amongst politicians to see who can be top dog, rather than a serious issues that requires global accord. Besides, there are other countries that have taken the same stance as the US, so singling out the big boy on the block is not only unfair, it smacks of this will get me the biggest headline. Countries antagonising each other will lead only to one conclusion, namely that nothing constructive will be done.

Other sectors are also being bashed, in my view sometimes unfairly. Business is always a favourite. Whilst I accept that, in some cases their response is not good on some issues, they are generally responsive to consumer demands. In the case of global warming, it is fair to say that in many cases business is being far more positive in their actions than politicians are. For example, the supermarket industry in the UK is taking active reduction measures, whereas politicians are looking at costly offset programmes, which in the end are second best options.

Similarly, I object to some of the rhetoric and language that is used by the various lobbies on global warming, from both sides of the divide. To call someone a denialist or sceptics because they do not accept ones argument is as bad as calling someone an “eco-nut” for proposing the argument in the first place. Serious issues demand serious discussion and conversation and this requires patience. At present, the stance taken by some scientists and many politicians on the issue of global warming is too dictatorial, dismissive and impatient. All it does is make both sides more entrenched in their views, which is counter-productive.

The problem with a divide of this nature is that both sides lose. Both sides spend so much time attacking the other that they do not a) fully understand the argument of the other and b) do not gain from the potential valid points within the others cases, validity that could be of significance to their own studies.

I do not consider myself a denialist or a sceptic on this issue. However, I am also not going to be sat down and told this is the problem and anyone who disagrees is wrong. I need to understand the full facts supporting the issue, including analysis of assumptions; explanations of provable facts and honest acceptance and discussion on those that cannot be proven. I want risk assessment on all aspects of the issue, including remedies and I want acknowledgement of and discussion regarding opposing views.

As I said previously, one of the things that infuriate me about the current IPCC/Political situation is the piecemeal approach. In my years as a business consultant any report that I produced did not only identify and make conclusions about the problem, it was also required to provide recommendations that had been expertly evaluated. If it did not I was failing in my task. Governments and the scientific world have taken six years to prepare this report. I fail to see why, at the same time, and for publication at the same date, the remedial data could not have been produced.

the Brit

Political corruption does not affect voters

February 3, 2007

Hi Grit

This latest comment from Tony Blair has to be shows just how contemptuous politicians are of their voters. In a speech to the Labour party’s National Policy Forum he will tell them that the voter will not pay any attention to the “cash for honours” or any other political scandal for that matter.

Obviously we, the voters, have no morals and do not expect our politicans to be trustworthy. Despite that, we of course will be dumb enough to believe that these corrupt people will make decisions that are in our interests. The contempt with which the current crop of politicians hold the public beggars belief.

Over the past decade or so politicians have introduced stringent corporate governance laws and regulations onto commercial enterprises to stop corruption and ensure transparancy, as well as introducing extensive big brother tactics to monitor the behaviour of citizens. In my opinion it is high time that these were made applicable to the politicians themselves.

the Brit

Blair to become the next Nixon

February 1, 2007

Hi Grit

The “Cash for honours” saga is continuing to gather momentum. Last week Blair was secretly iblair-1a.JPGnterviewed by the police for the second time over the scandal. One Scottish party leader suggested that, instead of his friendship with George Bush, perhaps the British public should be looking more towards his likeness to Richard Nixon. From the response by Blair, it was easy to see that this current development has him rattled and the bookmakers, who don’t often back a loser, lowered the odds of him being charged from 12/1 to 7/1. Perhaps the picture from earlier was not so far off the mark

As he approaches retirement, the man has now achieved a record that no other previous PM can compete with. Tony Blair is the first Prime Minister to be interviewed by the police. As simply a mere citizen, it would seem to me that the honorable thing to do at this stage is to step down. However, that does have its down side.

Waiting in the wings to take over the job is George Brown, a Scotsman. Bearing in mind that a vote in Scotland yesterday showed that 74% of Scottish people thought that being part of the Union (UK) was a mistake, I have visions of us English people being cast adrift in a Dunkirk type flotilla of small vessels as Scotland takes over the entire country.

the Brit 

Europe sucks up to Iran?

January 31, 2007

Hi Brit,

I may need a bit of translation here, Europe Resists U.S. Push to Curb Iran Ties.  OK, did y’all miss the part where Iran is run by insane religious fanatics who want to conquer the Middle East, develop nuclear weapons and long range missiles, slaughter the Jews, crush Western civilization, and all that? A little help?

the Grit

Child and Juvenile abuse in UK prisons

January 30, 2007

Hi Grit

I make no apology for returning to this issue. You may have gathered from previous posts that we, in the UK, have a serious problem with prisons at the moment. Much has been made of the overcrowding issue. However, as always, the media fail to highlight important issues in the small print.

Page 40-41 of the official report on the state of UK prisons, published today, inform us that there are 2,643 children under the age of 18 in our prisons and young offenders centres. As if that isn’t bad enough, on page 41 the report continues to report that over the past five years there has been concerns raised about the high level of use of force used in these establishments against these children. Despite that, it continues, 27% of boys and 11% of girls have been subjected to pain-compliance force, many for refusing to be subjected to strip-searches. That is nearly 1,000 cases. How the hell can a government and country, which says that it will take all measures necessary to ensure child protection, not have stopped this problem?

Further on in the report, page 64, in the section dealing with immigration, it was also revealed that, in the last twelve months 2,000 children, and many of these younger that teenagers, had been detained in detention centres, around 20% of whom had spent more than 28 days there. Is it any wonder that that the affect of sudden arrest and detention increased their fears and anxieties?

My response to this? Stop keep wasting our money telling the public that it is a problem and nothing has been done about it in the past five years. Do something about it NOW!

On page 5 the report tells us that there have been significant key improvements, yet on page 7 it says that positive assessments (good reports) on prisons have fallen from 85 to 62%.

For us as citizens and as a nation, the reports on the Children situation and treatment in prisons is a disgrace. It will be interesting to see how many of the national papers pick up on this story and are prepared to condemn the government for their part in it.

the Brit

Tony Blair and the real reality

January 30, 2007

Hi Grit

Over here we have today a real “reality” programme playing out and this time it stars the PM Tony Blair. You will remember the “cash for honours” scandal of a few weeks ago. Well last week an aide of Blair’s from Downing Street was arrested for alledgedly deleting e-mails from the computer system. Today Lord Levy, Blair’s fundraise was arrested, this time for conspiracy and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The noose is getting tighter and, unless he is very lucky, Tony Blair could find himself in a very different position from the one he holds now. The long arm of the law does not recognise the offenders position in life (hopefully!).

the Brit

This is crazy.

January 30, 2007

Hi Brit,

London Prison Changes Direction of Toilets in Respect to Islamic Law

There are several things we can learn from this story.

1.  You Brits are crazy.

2.  Muslims and Islamic Law are crazy.

3.  Muslims in the US, like our typical citizens, don’t know enough about geography to find Mecca on a map, let alone know which direction it’s in while in the can.

4.  If these people are really that faithful to a religion, then why are they in prison?

the Grit

The Church, descrimination and double standards

January 30, 2007

Hi Grit

Far be it from me to interfere in the workings of the church, but is appears from a recent news item that the Church in the UK is complaining loudly because the government is banning it from being descriminatory. The issue has been raised over the fact that the Church have been told that their adoption agencies will no longer be able to deny same sex partners from adopting children.

What I find interesting in this article is the response from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor when he says they are not being descriminatory, just wont allow children from their agencies to be adopted by non hetrosexual partners. To me it is obvious that the church is discriminatory, and not only in this instance. 

He also says that the government is creating a “different kind of morality.” Now I thought that equality was part of the moral fibre of the bible, but perhaps I got that wrong.

The other aspect of this issue that I find unusual is the double standards in operation. It seems to now be acceptable for non-hetrosexual people to become members of the clergy, where they can be involved with the instruction and development of a childs life, but they are not allowed to do this in a family environment. How about the sector of the churches that discriminate against married clergy, whilst advocating marriage as the right way of family life, or its position on female clergy in the past? Then of course there is the Churches position on divorce where, although it is frowned upon, they will turn a blind eye to remarrying in the Church, especially if Royalty is involved.

The term “put your own house in order” springs to mind.

the Brit

New product idea.

January 29, 2007

Hi Brit,

I’ve got an idea for a new product that could be a best seller in Britain, lead underwear.  Why would you need that, you’re probably asking?  Read this, X-ray cameras on lampposts plan, and I expect you’ll know.  I’m assuming that the English tradition of modesty is not dead, so, considering these cameras can see through your clothes, my unique unmentionables will fly off the shelves.  As an added benefit, the extra weight of the extra heavy garments will give the wearer a good workout during their regular daily activities.

the Grit

Blair adding to prison crowding?

January 28, 2007

Hi Grit

Unfortunately, I do not think that Tony Blair will be thinking much about space or any other travel at the moment. Keeping his freedom may be more to the forefront of his mind right now.

You remember the cash for honours situation we talked about a few weeks back? Well, the police investigations have continued. As part of these they hacked into the Number 10 computer e-mail systems (Is that allowed?). There they found incriminating evidence that implicanted the Prime Minister’s office, and hand written notes from Blair himself. All this leads them to believe that he knew about the issue and condoned it at the very least.

The police are saying that, at the very least he may be called upon to give evidence in the criminal cases that develop. At present his future does not look that secure unless you count a prison cell in that vein.

the Brit