Archive for the ‘Gordon Brown’ Category

Islamic schooling in the UK

February 21, 2007

Hi Grit

Your mention of Islamic matters reminded me of what is going on in education over here. There is an organisation here called the “Muslim Council,” whose task it is to see to the needs of their people who have immigrated to this country or were born here. Of itself, I have no objection to such an organisation. However, I do get very irate when organisations of this nature try to destroy our heritage and culture.

The latest example of this is the report that this council has just put together a report, which apparently they are going to present to the government. This report outlines ways in which they feel that “un-islamic” activity and behaviour should be eliminated from school teaching and other activities. I personally find such action insulting, primarily because if the roles were reversed and we were living in their country, we would not be expected, or even allowed to deign to interfere with their religious and cultural traditions. Whatever happened to the concept of “respecting your hosts?” To me this is taking human rights and political correctness just a dozen steps too far. If people want to live in our country they could at least extend us the curtesy of treating our home with respect.

Of course what angers me even more is that, knowing our present government, there will be more than a few who will be prepared to listen to this outlandish idea. After all, they have already stopped the singing of Hymns in school assemblies, in case this offends our immigrant friends. Are we next going to see schools being built facing in the direction of Mecca?

the Brit

Iraq! we’re pulling out.

February 21, 2007

Our esteemed leader, the Right Honorable Tony Blair has been making promises to our soldiers in Iraq, and their families at home, which at the moment he hasn’t a clue whether he can deliver. But it does give him good press for the first time in a number of months. He has promised to cut our forces in Iraq by at least a third in the next few months, and possibly by half before the end of the year.

Nice words for the soldiers and relatives, but are they realistic promises? He provides a rider that says “if conditions permit,” but of course the media do not pick up on this so readily. In my opinion it is to early to even consider such promises. Irrespective of what Blair says, it is obvious that the situation in Iraq is far from settled and a withdrawal at this stage does not seem politically or militarily sound. The environment over there is still fragile and taking away the trained troop will leave a fledgling government lacking in strength and support needed to be able to fully carry out their democratic reforms. He claims that Basra is safer than Bagdad. Whether that is the case or not, does he not realise that once the insurgents hear about it, rather than taking on the might of the US forces in the capital, they could do just as much damage by attacking less well supported areas.

Whilst I appreciate that the proposed withdrawal is comforting for many, the worst case scenario is that we pull out, violence flares up again and we are forced to return. Or perhaps that is Tony Blair’s intention, namely to use this news to make himself popular again and leave the mess cleaning to Gordon Brown (did I say cleaning?). If this is the case, this reported withdrawal is not a pleasant publicity stunt.

Anyway, what has happened to this special relationship we have with the US? Are we now saying that it no longer important to maintain unity with the multi-national force?

the brit 

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

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 

   

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 

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

Taxation – the heart attack creator of the 21st Century

January 23, 2007

Hey Grit

You expect me to advise on the complexities of the US tax regulations when, according to a survey 66% of Americans haven’t a clue what they mean and, according to the American Bar Association,  a large number of the IRS employees don’t have a clue either. Covering over 2,300 sheets of paper, it is a wonder that any of you owe the IRS anything after paying the professionals to compute your liability.

However, we do not seem to fare much better in the UK. Here we have Income Tax, National Insurance Tax, Value Added Tax, Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Stamp duty, Self employment Tax, Council Tax, Road Tax and Excise duties. (I am sure I have forgotten some!).

Our Finance (Tax) act is 517 pages. The Income Tax Act has more than 826 sections,  and on top of that there is about 18-20 other acts.

Why the heck do people want to immigrate to here?

the Brit

Jade Goody and racism – a puppet of Channel 4?

January 22, 2007

Hi Grit

I promise you this will be my last post on the Jade Goody saga. However, over the last day or so I have been given cause to wonder whether this whole episode has been manipulated. Let us take a step back from all the media hysteria and look at it from a business viewpoint for a moment, and see how the participants might have gained from it.

ENDEMOL – PRODUCTION COMPANY

It is rumoured that the company, an organisation that specialises in TV reality and games shows, may be seeking a new owner. Prior to the incident that led to all of the media hype, the ratings for the show were not that brilliant. Viewer ratings were languishing at the high 2 million plus mark. Subsequent to the incident these ratings rose to nearly 6 million. So you have a show which is considered to be one of the most high profile in your portfolio, but ratings have been slipping over the past few series. What do you do? Add some controversy! Not only does that more than double your ratings but, by fortune or design (As Gordon Brown is visiting the nation of the victim at the time), puts it squarely into the political as well as the public arena.  Suddenly, the show becomes a world-wide phenomena, carried on every conceivable media there is. How much does that add to your corporations sales value?

Okay, they lost a £3 million sponsorship contract, but with an extra 2 million plus people attracted and a significant proportion of those voting, thus bringing addition income from mobile and landline calls, they probably made double that in the course of the last week in terms of phone call revenue.

CHANNEL 4 – THE BROADCASTING MEDIA

With the globalisation of TV media, Channel 4, a terrestrial based media company, is paying catch-up with the four main competitors, which are BBC1, ITV and Channel Five. How does it steal a march on them in the ratings, and thus advertising war? Introduce controversy. The result is that viewers switch channels to find out what all the fuss is about? What does that say to advertisers? This is the place they want to be promoting their products.

THE PARTICIPANTS

Jane Goody – before coming into the show Jane Goody was worth in excess of £8 million. Some of her products have been withdrawn from retail shelves as a result of her actions, and other fees have been forfeited. But has she really lost? Firstly, she has been quick to apologise without making any attempt to defend her actions, which will help to restore some of her credibility. Secondly, the Indian government have invited her to experience the Indian culture first hand and, thirdly, her fame has been spread far and wide across the globe. Whether you love them or hate them, celebrities make news and, as a result, attract income from it.

SHILPA SHETTY – THE VICTIM

I don’t condone what happened to Shilpa, far from it. However, prior to this incident Shilpa was relatively unknown outside of the Bollywood environment. As a result of this incident, she has achieved an extended international fame. If those who work for her are clever enough, they could capitalise on this situation.

DANIELLE LLOYD – ONE OF THE GANG

Out of all those concerned, Danielle is the one who is likely to suffer the most. Having lost three contracts and her boyfriend, it will take some work for her to recover from this situation, although it is not impossible.

All of this makes one pose the question, was this a hoped for result when the producers picked the celebrities? It makes you wonder.

the Brit

Jade Goody headline news

January 20, 2007

Hi Grit

Despite her eviction from the Big Brother house last night, and her subsequent comment that she was “disguested” with her behaviour in the racism/bullying incident, Jade Goody continues to hog a fair proportion of the newspaper headlines this morning, as journalists and others try to analyse what went on.

Some are suggesting that the production company engineered the incident, with more than sixty percent saying that they should have stepped in to stop it. The Telegraph carries no less than four articles associated with the show, including one that suggests the row was fired by class hatred rather than racism. The Sun carries six articles about the subject, including a story about an invitation to India for Goody. The story has even appeared in the Financial Times. Of course, the story featured on every news show last night and, as mentioned earlier, Gordon Brown is in on the act again, hinting that the Indian lady should win.

It has certainly cost Jade Goody a lot of her previously gained affection from the public, and loss of income for her and Danielle, one of the other housemates, but on the other side of the coin she has achieved international recognition.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Jade can do to recover from this situation.

the Brit

Jade Goody and Big Brother shock

January 19, 2007

Hi Grit

The racism problems with the TV big brother programme here are continuing to gain pace. Yesterday the shows sponsors withdrew their £3 million sponsorship deal from the programme and demanded immediate removing of all their branding and are claiming for the return of some funds already paid. Similarly, 150 stores removed Jane Goody’s (the main protaginist of the racist incident) perfume from their shelves and Danielle, another contestant who joined in the alleged bullying, was sacked from a lucrative £100,000 modelling contract. It could destroy their careers.

In the news overnight it was revealed that the normal crowds allowed in for eviction nights (Fridays), will not be present tonight as fears for the safety of Jade have been expressed. Finally, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, on a visit to India, has indicated that a vote for Shilpa Shetty, the Indian victim in all this, would send a message about how the british public feel about these issues. The show producers have also decided to give all the proceeds from this weeks eviction votes to charity, following a request from an Indian MP in the UK.

Whilst there have been attempts by the housemates involved to defuse the controversy, which suggest messages are getting through to them somehow, it does seem as if the row is set to continue for a while.

the brit.

Blair – Fact or fiction?

January 9, 2007

Hey Grit

Over here in the UK a new drama is being screened. Set in 2010, it portrays the life of Tony Blalindsay.jpgir after he leaves the office of Prime Minister. The drama shows him trying to scuttle Gordon Brown’s attempt to become PM and, in revenge, Brown agrees Blair can be extradited to the Haque to face war crime charges for his part in the Iraq war.

Strange how the media can use artistic licence to manipulate world events, isn’t it?

the Brit

Ps: The photo is an actor

Your future looks grim…

January 7, 2007

Hi Brit,

I’m sad to say your future looks grim, Brown outlines ‘patriotic vision’.  In this interview Brown describes his vision of your Government as:

“Instead he described the state as being ‘the servant state’ prepared to listen to the people. ”

Which, I must admit, sounds all warm and fuzzy, until you get to wondering just who the servants are going to be?  After all, “the state” is often thought of as the citizens of the country, and, since most politicians are egomaniacs, Brown may well consider “the people” to be the people in charge.  Watch your back.

the Grit