Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Shit...... Fan....... Popcorn.

Hidden amongst the current political chaos was the news that inflation has just hit 2.9 percent.

The fall of the pound increasing the cost of imports has been a major factor in the rise.

It all feels like being in a Seventies movie, with inept political figures galore and a looming financial crisis.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Mrs May Mortally Wonded

After the election Theresa May could possibly hang on for a few months, but I believe she is mortally wounded. Too much to carry on as PM.

She went to the polls to secure a larger majority, in an effort to secure her Brexit position and silence the chancers with their court cases and the Lords with their overtly remain agenda. An increased majority would have enabled her to stick two finger up at the meddlers and do things her way.

I can understand her frustration, but she failed to understand the mood of the people: fed up of austerity, fed up of the increasing gap between rich an poor, fed up of the shrinking opportunities available to those at the lower end of the social ladder.

When Jeremy Corbyn offered them the moon on a stick, they jumped for it. No matter what the price, they wanted it NEEDED it and they wanted it now. They wanted an easier life, the life they saw their parents and Grandparents have. Free further education, no more debts, all it needed to happen was to turn the screws on the rich a bit more. they couldn't wouldn't pay for it themselves. Syphon a little more cash from the job providers and all will be well.

Where the direction of UK politics lies after this is anyone's guess. Now the youth of the country have woken up to the power of the vote, it looks like the leaning of UK politics will be more leftwards. We are all a bit lefty when we're young: we want everything, want it now and the easier we can get it, the better. Hang the consequences and as long as someone else picks up the tab who cares?

Of course as we grow older, we understand the importance of work, of paying one's own way. We understand there is no free lunch and that the things the older people have, they have earned. We fear for our children and ant to protect them in the future. Make sure they have a better life and opportunities that we had.

The 2017 Spring election will be remembered as a turning point, the time that people embraced short-term

Friday, 9 June 2017

How the Problem of Polarised Politics caused Election Chaos

Well, the election results are in and it's quite clear Theresa May threw away a substantial majority and ended up with a hung Parliament.

When she called the election, it was hers to lose and lose she did, in spectacular fashion.

There are several aeras where she went wrong. First calling the election in the first place, u-turning after saying that she wouldn't call an election. Had the Conservatives laid the groundwork and said beforehand that having an election around the time the Brexit negotiations came to a head would cause problems, and then called it, there would be less of an issue. Issuing a surprise election in an effort to catch Labour on the hop didn't work. All Labour had to do was promise the Earth in return and substantial numbers of voters would sway their way.

The Tories failed to take the Labour policies to task and ask just where the money was coming from. Another mistake from the May team. They had a chance to demolish the Labour manifesto, but instead chose to keep spouting "strong and stable government" with no substance. Chancellor Phillip Hammond was significantly absent from the election, it was his team's job to go through the Labour manifesto and tear it to shreads. Instead Labour got away scott free and were able to promise the Earth with impunity. I just wonder if the mass exodus SpAds from number 10 and number 11 Downing street mortally wounded the Tories in this area. Or manybe it's a good thing for the future that these useless advisors get replaced for people able to plan a bit more.

The third mistake of team May was to alienate the pensioners. Failing to guarantee the triple lock on pensions, or to explain in detail what would replace it. Failing to be clear on tax rises

Being vague and leaving the electorate to trust the Tories is not a viable plan. People do not trust politicians.

If the Tories knew in advance they were calling an election, then they should have had the time to plan and present a fully costed and detailed manifesto. Instead we got wooly words and the famous "clarification" on the dementia tax. With a fully costed and planned manifesto and campaign, there wouldn't have had to be such a clarification, the details would be in black and white.

In the end the Tory manifesto tended to be all stick and no carrot, which lost them the voters that really wanted to vote for "better the devil you know" Theresa as opposed to "Silly Man" Corbyn. Arrogantly pushing voters away like that is not the way to win elections.

So, too many holes, too vague, no planning, no chancellor, u-turns, clarifications all added to the Tory demise. There was a sense that Theresa waas weak and washy, not strong and stable. It's almost as if they had arrogantly convinced themselves they could win the election without putting the effort in. It lost them a 20 point lead in the polls as the people punished them for yet another trip to the polls they thought was not necessary. 

Ironically there was also no counter to the Labour chant that the Tories benefitted the well-off and did nothing for the ordinary person. Back in the days of Cameron and the Eton elite, the Tories had no defence, but they could have countered it easily this time round but failed to. They could have quite easily pointed to the private education of the Labour front benches, but didn't.

As for ploarisation, it seems this election was an election of polar opposites. Young against old, rich against poor, haves against have-nots, Brexiteers against Remainers. I don't think in my lifetime I've ever seen an election so divided not on party lines, but on other lines.

The younth vote surged for Labour, thanks to social media and kids not remembering the catastrophy Blair and Brown's Labour party left us when they promised us everything we ever wanted.

The Pension vote, normally staunch Conservative, crumbled thanks to the badly thought out Tory policies on triple lock and social care funding.

Labour promised the Moon on a stick to everyone without the Tories pointing out that it will be those self-same people paying for said sticky Moon.

The Tories instead of having a backbone and a sense of convition, went into the election sleepwalking, without a clue. It doesn't bode well for the Brexit negotiations.

This is the worst of all results, with the Tories significantly weaked and a Marxist leadership in the Labour party emboldened by their gains.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Diane Abbott, Home Secreatary

Is a phrase we all need to be fearful of.

Not only can she not do numbers, or find her own way off a stage, but it seems she can't read.

I mean, as Shadow Home Sectratary, then you'd think someone would explain what the job of shadow home secretary entains and maybe, just maybe what reports she needs to read. If she's only up to the Peter and Jane books reading-wise,  then someone would brief her on the salient points of the Harris report.

But no, we have yet another car crash interview.

It's clear she's not fit for the post. Cabinet posts, even shadow ones are not for bluffers and piss-takers. They are serious positions and the person in-post should be on top of their bloody game.

It speaks volumes about the calibre of Jeremy Corbyn that he would employ such an incompetent into a senior post.

Maybe she's suddenly been afflicted with Altzheimers? Maybe that explains why she's suddenly been caught too ill to debate with Amber Rudd on Home Office Affairs. Despite looking as hale and healthy as someone her size can be.

I suppose it could be worse, she could be in charge of the nations health...

Friday, 26 May 2017

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Rock, Meet Hard Place......

Well, all the party manifestos are out into the public domain, so time will be taken to read them and eventually come up with the party I would most likely vote for.

The first thing that strikes me is that the tax take is due to rise, whichever party you vote for.

Labour: 1p on income tax to piss more money onto the raging money-bonfire that is the NHS.

Tory: When you get old we'll claw back your hard-earned assets bar the last £100,000.

As for fiscal prudence (remember Gordon Brown... anyone?) that's all gone out of the window.

Labour want to nationalise everything so their union chums can hold the country to ransom again, but won't say how they fonud the multi-billillion pound buy-up. Except we all know they will have to borrow sqillions to do it all. Money our Grandchildren will be paying back. The borrowing rates will be interesting given the foundations of sand created by quantative easing (or increasing the money supply as it was called in the 70's). Cue rampant inflation.

The Tories want to be a bit more circumspect. They make noises that they won't piss money away, but in the end over the past 5 years the national debt has gone up despite cuts in spending. The problem being the institutional overspending and inefficiency in government spending. Without correcting the holes, the money bucket will never be full, no matter how much you pour into it.

On education, Labour want to scrap tuition fees. High on my priority list with a daughter in university...

The Tories want to bring back Grammar Schools. Despite failing my 11-plus I do see a place for Grammar Schools and streaming the most able. I've only ever seen Comprehensive schools supporting the least able. I see nothing wrong with skimming off the top 20 or 30% into Grammars, supplying special schools for those less able and having schools catering for the vast majority. We need high flyers and we need schools able to cater for those that can't learn.

So despite being an over-50 adult with a natural proclivity to vote Tory, do I vote Labour? I mean, at least they'll push the debt downstream...

I haven't mentioned the other parties. Liberals, UKIP and Greens. Despite all the airtime they get, they are pretty irrelevant in this election. Sorry UKIP!

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Thatcherite legacy is not only the Tories Fault.

It really annoys me that Labour push themselves as the saviour of the NHS amongst other untruths.
That everything is Maggie's fault. Poor saps, they've never got over that woman and now there's another Tory female PM with a huge popularity rating.

Yes the Tories (but under John Major) introduced targets and with it an overburden of administrators to monitor adherence or not to the targets, but Labour did far more damage.

LABOUR'S Tony Blair was one of the most damaging Prime Ministers when it comes to the NHS. Saddling health trusts with expensive PFI deals that they are paying through the nose for, "reforming" GP contracts that just put up GP's salaries without any increase in cover and also allowing GPs to introduce expensive and impersonal out-of-hours services.

He also introduced no-win-no-fee legal access. In itself a great idea, ordinary people have access to legal redress and not worry about the expense. But the actual legacy is one of Ambulance chasers or Agressive lawyers suing everyone for the slightest thing.

Anna Racoon has started a crusade to enlighten people about the huge burgen that litigation has emburdened the NHS with. Out of a budget of £95Bn, £56Bn will be set aside for litigation. A wholly unsustainable situation where more is spend defending the NHS and settling lawsuits than is actually spent on medicine.

One of the big issues is the payments on these lawsuits is based on the victims of NHS procedures is based on the victim receiving further treatment privately, when the actual truth is they continue to receive treatment from the NHS that caused the issue in the first place.

In effect they bank the money and carry on getting free treatment. There is no mechanism to force people to use the money to get private treatment: the NHS doesn't have a mechanism for excluding people from treatment after suing them. There is also no mechanism to charge the person for treatment by the NHS, thereby getting that money back as the NHS treats them. there's no mechanism to get that money back if the victim dies: it becomes part of their estate. When in truth if they die, treatment ends and the reason for the money being provided ends. There is no clause to repatriate the money back to the NHS on their demise. The money is treated like a windfall for the family.

This dovetails into my previous blogs about the NHS spending millions on expensive cancer drugs, just to extend life expectancy by months, where that money can transform the lives of other patients for decades.

Tere needs to be more oversight of WHERE NHS money is being spent and most certainly SHOVELLING MORE MONEY AT THE NHS IS NOT THE SOLUTION.

Targets are not the solution. More targets means employing more staff to measure them: staff that are not employed in the business of care.

There needs to be an intelligent debate about the NHS budget, whether where it is going is delivering the best care for the country.

The media will dumb it down into a Labour/Tory public/private debate, when it really needs to be a more adult and detailed affair. As the people paying the bills, at the end of the day the media owe us a more accourate account of what is going on.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Human Interfaces

The Brexit thing between May and juncker takes me back to my I.T. days. Back when I worked in Interactive Voice Systems, I did a lot of research into human-machine interaction. I could write reams on how or why unsuccessful IVR systems are unsuccessful.

But the Brexit issues boil down to the same problems. Lack of undertstanding or empathy.

When writing the software for IVR systems, you need to understand the needs of the other party, the customer dialling into the system.

You also need to communicate your needs clearly, so they understand what is required of them to make the negotiation between them and the machine work properly.

You need to also undertsand the nuances of language both whilst communicating your needs and also during their interaction with you. It's so frustrating to talk to someone and for them to not acknowledge with some sort of response. We instantly become unsure as to whether our message has been heard.

In an IVR system, the simple addition of a "Thank you" prompt after each input signals that the machine has heard something. If that input doesn't match the system's requirements then should prompt there has been an error and ask for input again. In essence, the negotiation between the two becomes as natural as normal conversation, because the machine is programmed to respond with an approximation of human interaction.

The Brexit debacle between the UK and the EU is similar. Two poeple talking at each other without an particular empathy towards to other's position.

Theresa may is a leader, she doesn't need to enter into details, she will talk of the big picture, making big descisions and it's for junior ministers in government to action those ideas and take care of the details.

Junker despite his position, is no leader. He appropriates the concensus of others and aproximates leadership, but he doesn't have the ability to make big unilateral decisions. He's a beareaucrat, he loves the detail.

So, the two of them are talking at odds because they are talking about different aspects of the same issue, not because they disagree. Either they have failed to understand each other's different perspective, or the language and interpretation was a bit dodgy, or they just want to set out each other's position. They are talking at each other and not talking to each other. It is not a conversation, it is rhetoric, and for the medai to protray it as anything else is wrong. May is not in a different galaxy, nor is Juncker bombastic.

Either way, the media have now jumped on the bandwagon and portrayed it as a massive rift between the two sides, when actually there isn''t one.

It's going to be like this for the most part through the Brexit negotiations. Until two underlings of equal status and at the same level sit on each side of the negotiating table and start to work on the minutiae of the deals, only then will we get any sense of what actually the Brexit deal entails.

So, ignore anything coming out of the media for the next 18 months. They will play up the minutest difference in position, make mountains out of minute molehills, just to make headlines.

It ain't over until it's over.

Public Service.

I've touched on this before, the waste and the sense of entitlement in public services. One of the best examples of this was the case of  Katrina Percy. She was the boss of Southern Health, under fire for various reasons, but mainly a number of deaths during her tenure.

Under fire from the media and others she resigned from her £250,000 a year job and moved to a new consultancy job.....paying £250,000 a year. The consultancy job apparently didn't exist before she moved into it, the assumption being she was moved to get away from the media spotlight, but got to keep her salary. So it appears the Southern Health Trust decided to magic £250,000 a year from the wages pot to stop bad publicity. But not employ extra front-line staff. Quite a skewed sense of priorities there.

In the end after media scrutiny of her second job, she left Southern Health, but not without getting a £190,000 payoff.

I've previously mentioned my dislike of public servants being paid such high wages. But it also shows that the public service managers see the money not as taxpayer's money to be spent wisely and with care, but an entitlement than can be spent and used as they see fit, whether that gives the best benefit for the public or as with six figure salaries, not.

I dislike public bodies being run wholly on the private business model. Sure, running a public service in the most efficient way, making the money go further like you would in a company is a good model to follow. Even making a profit is a good thing as long as it is ploughed back into service itself.

However, management structure and six figure salaries, these are not in the public interest.

The board structure in most public services doesn't have the checks and balances a private company does. A private company has shareholders, who can overrule pay awards if they see fit. They can veto the appointment of board members too. Where is the same brake on excess in public services? Who has the power to sack board members if they underperform or curb pay excesses?

The case of  Sharon Shoosmith (salary a slightly less obscene £130,000 a year) who successfully sued Haringay council after they sacked her when Ed Balls, the then Children's secretary got involved, shows that even when these high paid higher-ups in public service lose the confidence of their board and/or the government, they can't be removed painlessly.

But these are not isolated examples. If you can get the information, look at the salaries at the top of council departments, Police, charities, health trusts and the like. There will be a lot of six figure salaries.

Unlike the private sector they get all the reward for nothing like the risk in the same position in the private sector.

In some cases such as the Rotherham sexual abuse case exposes the lack of real leadership and the ability to actually earn the salaries they get at the top of all of the different agencies all at once.. And at the top of all of these public bodies are people claiming six figure salaries. With very little by way of consequence when they bugger things up.

The abject waste of public funds supplying senior managers in public service with these massive salaries is wrong. All future governments should be working to reduce this excess and introduce checks and balances to ensure those at the top are actually earning the money the public pay them.  And have mechanisms to remove them if they are grossly negligent, incompetent or inefficient.


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Brexit: delusion on both sides.

As more comes out regarding the meeting between Theresa May and Jean Claude Junker last week, the more it seems that both sides are poles apart regarding Brexit.

May being dismissive of detail and wanting a more pragmatic approach to the negotiations, with Juncker taking the typical bureaucrat line and emphasising the detail and procedure. Exactly what you'd expect him to.

After all his type love to bind up negotiations in the minutiae of transactions. It's what they do, what keeps them in a lifetime of employment. Why would you complete negotiations in two years when you can continue to haggle and work on the finest of fine details for a decade instead? After all, it reduces the chances of you losing your employment if you drag things out like that. You only need to complete less than half a dozen negotiations at most to cover your working life.

It's not like they do a good job either. The migrant crisis showed that. They get bound up in the minutiae that much that they miss some really important things. Like what the procedure is when a million refugees turn up on your border. Do you (a) reinforce the border and supply funds to enable the countries on the border to hold and process the refugees (and immediately deport the non-genuine cases) or do you (b) refuse to plan for such an emergency, go wibble and ignore the fact that the border countries, unable to cope don't hold the refugees at the border and allow them unfettered access through Europe's open borders to travel across Europe without any checks. Yep, it's b.

It's also interesting that the talk from the EU side even before negotiations begin is of money. We are a huge contributor to the EU's coffers and without us the gap in EU finances would be huge. Not only that, Germany are staring at supplying the lion's share of money to fill the gap. No wonder Mrs Merkel took on board Junker's briefing and decided to chip in.

It looks like the EU are setting out their stall. They are happy for the UK to leave, but they are not happy for the UK's money to leave as well. It's all about the money. They are also ready to bind the negotiations up for years discussing minute details.

Of course they threw in the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK in an effort to look PC and protecting human rights, just like Merkel's statement on refugees. Then chucked in the spanner of the status of Northern Ireland to the debate.

So the EU want us to carry on paying for projects we have no control over, they want us to give full rights to EU citizens including benefits, with no way of claiming the money back off their respective home countries and they also want to muddy the water on the Irish situation. Do they want yet another land grab and subsume Northern Ireland into the EU, almost like Russia's annexation of Crimea? Do they want to grab Gibraltar as a payment for keeping the Irish border open?

The UK might find it's not as simple as they think to make agreements with the EU. It's looking more likely we'll leave the EU without a deal, which is what I already knew and voted for in the referendum.

What's sure is that we ain't seen nothing yet and for sure we don't need weak government on our side of the table.

The thing that gets me is if the EU is such a wonderful club to be in, why punish someone for leaving? Wouldn't leaving itself be punishment enough if it's so bad outside?


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Labour Party: the one-message party.

Now we have an election looming, I see that the same old mantras are being pushed by them.

1. The NHS is doomed under the Tories. Vote Labour, get a better NHS.

Not that it ever was better under the previous Labour government, the government that saddled the NHS with expensive Private Partnership deals. Words are not the same as deeds.

2. Labour is the party of the people.

Well, not for a long time. You see in the Labour heartlands, seats are so safe that MPs stay in power for a long time and let's say, get used to the trappings of Parliamentary privilege. The long-term Labour MPs are no better than Tories. Dining at expensive restaurants, being taxied here and there, getting houses funded by the taxpayer... Nice when you can get it, especially when the wages of us poor saps out in the real world are tanking.

The same goes for the bosses at the top of the Unions: free penthouse apartments, funded by the Union members, the same posh restaurants as the Tory and Labour MPs. It makes you sick that they would abuse their privilege this way.

Don't forget that Labour, despite being "The Party of the People" has been in bed with big business for a long time. Just look at how under the previous Labour mob the supply of income for workers transferred from companies to the taxpayer. Yes, I'm talking about in-work benefits, especially tax credits.

It's a great idea when you put it as a way of topping up already poor wages. Not bad, people on low wages with kids get their wages topped up by the government. This would be fine, if corporation tax was raised to pay for it, so that the companies that pay sub-standard wages in effect get fined for doing it. Instead it's paid for by you and me, the ordinary taxpayer. In effect robbing Peter to pay Paul. Those that qualify for tax credits are better off, but the rest of the taxpaying community who don't qualify are effectively worse off because our taxes are higher to pay for it.

The same goes for zero hours contracts and the minimum wage. First off, I can't understand why people on the minimum/living wage should pay tax. And I especially can't understand why someone on the minimum wage should then have their wages topped back up by tax credits. In effect they pay tax, only to have the government give it back to them.

The downside is that the administration of that process needs paying for. So instead of taking them directly out of taxation, a system which is already administered, they pay tax, administered by one team and then apply for a rebate with another team of people and then given that money back. Crazy.

The other downside is the gap between benefits and wages is huge. Getting a tax-free salary equates more closely to benefits, reduces the gap and makes working a better option.

To me it smacks of a Tony Blair job creation scheme, paying people to shuffle paper around. Usually farmed out to somewhere like Wales or the North-East.

The inequality of zero hours contracts needs to be abolished as well. People should not be subject to informal hours arrangements. Again the government i.e. the taxpayer is paying to allow companies to get away with not having regular contracts. If companies want irregular employees on tap but exclusive to them and not able to work anywhere else, then they should pay a retainer to that employee when not employed, effectively paying the benefit the employee would get directly to them instead of the government.

So, what do I want Labour to start doing?

Well, stop banging on about the NHS. It's as boring as the "Safe, Stable Government" mantra chanted by the Tories.

Labour need to stop criticising and start inspiring.

Lift the poor (those on minimum wage) out of taxation, outlaw zero hours contracts, raise corporation tax on large businesses to pay for that and in-work benefits (and actually say that's what it's for, rather than just clobbering business), look to professionalise the social care sector, with a long-term plan to bring it into the NHS.

Legislation could be introduced to link the biggest rise in corporation tax to those companies that use zero hours contracts, or large numbers of minimum wage earners.

Legislation to curb the abuse of union funds needs to be introduced. Again, the marketing of the plan is key: It's helping the members to stop abuse, not bashing union bosses for the sake of it. Union bosses should pay for their accommodation out of their six-figure salaries, just like every other union member.  Highlighting the issue will put a spotlight on the abuse and should get the support of every union member.

Free local councils to start building houses. Forcing them to just build social housing will not generate new houses as it's just a cost to them. Allow them to build a small percentage for private sale so that they can make a profit, but with the caveat that any money raised has to be ringfenced and ploughed back into the housing fund.

Put a cap on public sector wages. Create legislation to cap the top wage to a certain number of times the lowest wage. It's obscene that the taxpayer should be paying large six-figure salaries to council members no matter how high up they are. Public service is a vocation. If you're so good at your job then go and find your way in the private sector. I find that many in the top jobs in public service are not of the standard to justify the huge salaries, they've just appointed themselves the salaries and justified it on the basis of that's what is needed to attract people from the private sector, when no-one from the private sector is actually employed.

I would apply the same cap on salaries for charities, especially those that receive government funding. There should be no members of charities earning over £200,000 salaries. Even £100,000 seems excessive when it can supply a very good standard of living. Charity donations should not be paying for a lavish upper-class lifestyle.

By these measures, Labour can say it is cleaning up the inequalities in employment and making the working environment more equitable for the lower paid. Lowering the wage gap for organisations that take from the public purse will give the feeling to the lower paid that they are not being exploited

Taking the lowest paid out of taxation will provide a boost in living standards and will equalise the gap between benefits and work.

Making companies pay for in-work benefits will shift payment for work away from the taxpayer and back onto business.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Should Exotic Cancer Treatments be Provided by the NHS?

An interesting report came out today, regarding the National Cancer Fund.


It seems the initial aim was a laudible one, to provide expensive cancer treatments for patients with terminal cancer in an effeort to prolong their life. But in some cases the drugs actually shortened  their life, the exact opposite of the desired outcome.


But, it seems the outcomes didn't justify the cost. It's now been branded a waste of money. Like most knee-jerk reactions to public opinion.


This is what I've banged on about before: there needs to be a grown up debate on what the NHS is for and especially where the limits lie with respect to treatment. The NHS was initially designed to be a safety net, treating those that couldn't afford private doctor's bills.


As medical advancements have arrived, it's been assumed that the NHS will offer those as well, to the point it offers very expensive, world-class treatments courtesy of the tax payer. Can the NHS afford such expensive treatments, or should there be limits. Should people that want world-class medical care take out medical insurance instead of demanding the NHS provide it?


Take the case of the cancer drugs above. If the people are being used as Guinea Pigs for new cancer treatments, shouldn't the drug companies be funding the supply of the drugs out of their own pocket? Sure the NHS can supply the doctors and share the information gleaned from treatment, but why should the NHS actually be paying quite heavy costs for the supply of the drugs.


The fact that the outcomes in some cases were negative shows that these are not sure-fire treatments, that the drugs involved were administered without any clear benefit. In that case it's not treatment, it's a trial and the drug companies should be paying or supplying the drugs for free.


There also needs to be a debate about treatment for terminal patients. Should we be spending tens of thousands of pounds on exotic drugs to prolong the life of someone that is never going to recover? If it was a cure, then the cost may be justified, due to the reduced cost of ongoing treatment. But the money shouldn't be going into vastly expensive trials. Shouldn't that money be going into treatments with a more definate outcome and a long-term benefit, for instance hip and knee operations?


It seems to me a bit selfish for someone that already knows they are are terminally ill to demand from the NHS hideously expensive drugs on the off chance that they may (or more likely will not) extend their life by a few months at most, at the expense of providing a long-term (deceades-long) benefit to people that have other, cheaper treatments like hip and knee operations.


If you want that sort of top-class service, then buy medical insurance.


Of course I'm going to be whinged at by those that see this as a two-tier health service: the people able to afford health insurance will get better treatment, those that can't get bargain basement treatment on the NHS. But expecting the NHS to supply top-class service for the whole population is wrong too. Where does it stop? At what percentage of government expenditure do we say enough is enough?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Election Fever.

Well, 24 Hours ago Theresa May called a snap general election.

I can see why. There are many factions that see the PM as illegitimate. Because she wasn't voted into office, there's always that sneer that "she can't do that, she's not been elected to do it", despite her not changing the Tory direction by much and of course running with Brexit, something the people commanded Parliament to do through the referendum.

If the majority vote for the Tories again, it's a mandate to carry on with their style of Brexit. Not that there's any other flavour, other than giving in to every demand from the EU.

A mandate for the Tories will shut up the Lords. Those unelected bastards in the upper house that want to scupper the will of the people. Virtually every one of them a bag of vested corporate interests. If I had my way it would be illegal to be a director of any company and/or be paid by any company as an "advisor".

Finally of course, it'll shut up the stunted Scottish windbag Sturgeon (well here's hoping, she does like the sound of her own voice a bit too much unfortunately). Fingers crossed the Scottish coastal towns and cities will tell The Jimmy Krankie lookalike exactly what they think of getting their fishing rights back, only to give them away to Brussels again. (All I can say is thank feck Corbyn isn't the Labour leader in Scotland). Basically Sturgeon is a one-trick pony. Independence, independence, that's all she wants. Not that she has bugger all clue what she'd do with it if she got it anyway. She certainly has no idea of the cost to Scotland, that's for sure. But hey, I'm sure once the Barnett formula is abolished (the only thing keeping the miserable windbag in office and able to shout the odds) she'll love having to actually make her way in the world on her own. She's like the petulant daughter that you're about to kick out, just to make her realise the cost of living.

Of course this is a terrible blow for the Labour party. they are so disorganised and dysfunctional that they don't have a cat in hell's chance of winning. Hard core lefty support may surprise some people, but I think unfortunately that the majority of the Labour vote will go to the Liberals.

Despite what the Tories may think, I don't see Labour heartlands voting Tory. people there would rather slit their wrists than tick a Tory box on a voting form. Despite heavy pro-Brexit voting during the referendum, I believe that people won't think about that in the general election and will vote Liberal as a protest against wishy-washy London-centric Labour leadership.

If the election had been called just after the referendum, then the Liberals and Labour would have been in real trouble as the majority of the voting would have gone to UKIP. Months of division, skullduggery and loss of focus within UKIP means they won't pick up a fraction of the votes they got at the last election.

But UKIP's reason for existing (getting out of the EU) is an almost done deal. The only way I can see UKIP keeping votes is to stir up uncertainty about the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.  If UKIP can convince voters to vote for them and get them in a position so they can keep the Tories honest and keep Brexit on track, then they may succeed.

But despite the Liberals being anti-Brexit and against the majority of the people, I see them making gains unfortunately. I'm not sure how that will play out in the cut and thrust of Brexit. I mean, a re-invigorated pro-EU anti-democratic Liberal party might just grab enough headlines to fuck things up. Who knows?

That may be the downside of this election for Theresa May.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

What Has Sweden Done to Deserve This?

What has Sweden ever done to deserve a terror attack of their very own, a number of people being killed yesterday in a truck attack?

Well, despite allowing in thousands of Islamic migrants that is.

Unless it's because of the 900 or so troops deployed to Afghanistan as part of task force 47 and the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mazar I Sharif.

But maybe allowing thousands of migrants into your country that may feel some affiliation to those people they see as oppressed by you may not have been the smartest move.

That's despite you "only" being part of a rebuilding force.

That's despite whatever you think that Islam is a "just" religion and not also a political ideology.

In fact if you start to look at the less publicised countries involved in Afghanistan as part of ISAF, then a pattern emerges. Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Finland, and to a lesser extent Luxembourg, Romania, the list goes on.

Look at this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Security_Assistance_Force and look at the list of participating nations.

Now tell me there isn't a very strong link. Maybe someone in Afghanistan holds a grudge. Someone with the ability and money to organise and finance a large number of people. As the only major source of revenue in Afghanistan at that time was Opium, then I'd hazard a guess that's where the source of the grievance lies.

Whatever.

It's all down to lone wolves and religion.

Maybe looking at the countries that haven't had their own Islamic terror attack may shed some light on the issue. Where were't they and what weren't they involved in?


Saturday, 25 March 2017

Westminster Terror Attack.

The thing about the Westminster so-called terror attack isn't that one guy off the radar actually actioned a simple plan (hire a car, buy some knives and run amok in Westminster.

It's the fact that there have been a large number of other plots that have been disrupted. We're never told how many individual plots have been stopped so we can't gauge the level of threat. I have the suspicion that if the public had better knowledge of the true number of plots being investigated and stopped, they would be calling for better protection and more positive action against those under suspicion.

As bad as the attack in Westminster is, in the great scheme of things a man with a car and a knife isn't the worst that can happen.

There are worse things in the Islamic Terrorist's arsenal that can cause more damage: a Mumbai-style co-ordinated attack by several well-armed assailants travelling up the Thames by boat into the heart of London dropping off at multiple points would be devastating, especially if the drop-off points coincided with areas of high concentrations of the public. Attacks at the O2, Excel, the Barbican, train/tube stations and tourist attractions like the London Eye and Westminster would cause untold carnage.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Just Sat Here Waiting....

For some crisis or other to yet again delay the triggering of article 50.

The 29th seems quite close to the end of the Month, it looks very easy for it to be pushed past the end of the month.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Definition of the Word Negotiation...

A lot of political sheninnigans is going on in Westminster at the moment in order to finally get article 50 presented to the EU and Brexit under way.

It seems to me that the Lords and all the other supposedly clever people including the woman that had the Government wasting thousands of taxpayer's pounds defending their right to invoke article 50 just don't understand the definition of the word "Negotiation".

The definition is "discussion or consultation aimed at reaching an agreement". That is a discussion between two parties aimed at reaching an agreement.

The outcome of the negotiations cannot be known beforehand because that's the whole point of the negotiation: to reach an amicable agreement AT THE END OF the negotiation.

Positions cannot be agreed beforehand because items on the agenda of the negotiations are parlayed (good Piratical term) and used in the negotiations as bargaining tools.

One never allows the other side to know your strategy or at what point you would settle, otherwise there is no point negotiating. If the other side knew your strategy beforehand, it severely weakens your ability to get the best outcome from the negotiations. If you both walked to the table and both agreed terms without negotiation, how would you know you got the best deal?

You always go into negotiations with the outlook of using your strategy to get the best outcome. There are points where you may get a better deal than you would have settled for, there are other where the terms are worse than your ideal. The point is to barter and exchange until you come to an agreement that is fair to both parties under the prevailing circumstances. You plan for the worst, and use all your cunning and guile to get the best outcome.

It's like buying and selling a car. The seller asks for a sum, say £5000. You, the buyer offers £2000. Bit of a low blow, but you always start low with the aim of keeping the eventual price at the end of the negotiations as low as possible. The seller then replies with a revised request of £4000, you offer £3000 and eventually you'll most likely end up at £3500, all thing being fair. But what if you offered three grand instead of two? Would the seller counter with £4500 instead of three grand? Would you end up at £4000 instead of £2500? How would you know if £3500 or £4000 was the best offer you could have got, because you never offered a cheeky two grand bid? What if the seller knew you had £4000 in your pocket, or you knew he was desperate for cash and would sell at a lower price just to get the money? See, negotiations can be very negatively affected by knowing strategy beforehand, but also boosted if you do things right and don't give away any advantage you may have.

So for the House of Lords to force the Government to guarantee certain things before the negotiations weakens our negotiating strategy.

For some posh bird to try and force the Government to put the outcome of the negotiations before Parliament for a vote is ludicrous: by definition the outcome of the negotiations are the best available. It's take it or leave it, as the Government has quite rightly said. There is no going back to the table and re-negotiating as those blind to the definition of the word would like. We will have used all our bargaining power, all our bargaining chips, all our best efforts in getting the best deal.

By definition the EU will have also have got the best deal for themselves, they won't want to re-negotiate either. At the end the goal posts cannot be changed.

To go back would weaken our position and end up with a worse situation than the one previously put before Parliament. There is no telling the EU it is unacceptable; they won't care. Stamp your feet as much as you want THEY. DON'T. CARE.

Now can all you supposedly clever bastards just fuck off, stop trying to fuck this country up and lets just get the negotiations started without interference, eh?

I just wonder if they've ever paid the full asking price for a car without trying to get a bit knocked off the price. I severely doubt it because I know rich bastards don't get rich and stay rich by paying full price for stuff.

Which means they're trying to nobble the Brexit negotiations with the intent of denying this country the best outcome and they are beyond contempt.

UPDATE:

Yup, the Lords have proved yet again that they are a bunch of drivelling duffers with not an ounce of common sense amongst them and added an amendment that they want a "substantive" debate and meaningful vote on the Brexit negotiations. Whatever that means. When there can be none. It's take it or leave it guys... Accept the outcome of the negotiations or reject it and head for WTO rules.
Now most people would consider what they are doing as sabotaging the exit negotiations and forcing us down the worst of paths. I can't comment.



Friday, 3 March 2017

The very Ancient and Outmoded Labour Party (Part 2).

I was thinking and I think I've hit what it is about Labour that upsets me. It has failed to be aspirational. Sure, it aspires to be in power, but what after that? Nothing. Maybe it moves the deckchairs around a bit, but nothing truly inspirational. It's fiddling at the margins.

When I say aspirational, I mean for the working class it purports to respresent. What plans does it have to make the lot of the working class better?

A popular policy would be to outlaw zero hours contracts. The heinous things trap people by demanding exclusivity, but not rociprocating by providing a decent working week, every week.

In my mind, exclusivity means the company should pay the worker even though they are not working, because the company they are contracted to is preventing them from working for someone else.

If the company states you cannot work for anyone else, then they should be forced to pay a retainer to the employee. Of course minimum wage legislation means that the employee should be paid minimum wage even if they are not being used.

This is a very similar concept to the IR35 legislation that affected IT contractors.

Ok, a zero hours contract is a step up from employing people as self-emplyed contractors (e.g the so-called "Gig Economy") so the employer pays national insurance etc. but the exclusivity clause means that the employee should be paid for the time they are unable to work for anyone elase.

There should also be legislation aginst penalising people that cannot work at a certain time because they are working for someone else.

The legislation should make the agreement fair and equitable to both parties. At the moment the advantage is all towards the employer.

Another area Labour can help working people is social care. Wages in the social care sector are generally the lowest possible. A vast number of people are working for minimum wage despite having the qualifications and responsibility of administering medication and attending to the social welfare of their clients.

A move to professionalise the social care sector, maybe with union representation is sorely needed, it needs to be brought up to the same status as nursing. Having someone having access to and able to give medication including controlled drugs after a basic one day training course, or worse filling in a questionaire in my mind is just wrong. The discrepancy between social care and the medical profession is massive..

Workers in the care sector need to demonstrate a knowledge of social care and safety legislation. The basic care certificate introduced by CQC goes some way towards this, but more is needed.
More professionalism should improve wages for a sector with some of the poorest. That's what I mean by Labour being aspirational: introducing policies and legislation to improve the conditions of the poorest workers, the ones that are really being exploited.

Of course improved wages in the care sector then increases costs, but as I've previously mentioned, improved professional status will make it easier for the NHS then to take on social care and integrate it with the rest of the NHS, allowing patients in hospitals to be moved out of hospital wards.

A penny or two on income tax or national insurance to pay for the integration of social care budgets into the NHS budget wouldn't be baulked at by the majority of people. It would be a winning policy for Labour.

Friday, 24 February 2017

The very Ancient and Outmoded Labour Party.

It's a pity UKIP didn't win the Stoke by-election, with a defeat 2-0 the Labour party might have taken the hint and sacked their leader, Leicester FC-style.

Instead, with a score draw, the Tories can claim a historic result and Labour can carry on deluding themselves that things are fine and dandy, although the claim that Corbyn hasn't lost a by-election will have to be quietyly shelved. Not that it was much of a claim, the incumbent party almost never wins seats when in power.

The fact that the Labour party is really only relevant to students who have never lived a life, champagne socialists in London and militant socialists in Liverpool who have never grown up really, really upsets me. More than it should I know, but I still understand what the Labour party stood for way back when.

It stood up for the working man, it persuaded and didn't need thuggery to press it's point, because it was RELEVANT to the working man.

The working man could see the point of paying a small payment into a scheme so that we could have free health cover.

The working man could see that paying a small sub to a Union to protect him from overbearing employers.

But where is the relevance of the Labour party these days? Union leaders are seen hob-nobbing in posh restaurants with fat-cats, their leader really wants to do away with the Monarchy and wants a republic, he wants to do away with nuclear weapons, the very things that have kept the Russians from swallowing up the greater part of Europe. His policies are those of the trendy ultra-left, the sort of people who are miles away from the labourers, miners, steel workers, engineers and other blue-collar workers that made it.

They bicker and whinge about nit-picky irrelevances, like rights for every minority group going, including those that would deny them those very rights if they ever got in power.

Where is the working man or woman in all if this leftist irrelevance??

Nowhere. The left refuses to discuss substantive issues and place themselves in an electable position. For instance on the NHS they brook no discussion on how the NHS works, they would rather just shovel more and more cash into the black hole and naively hope more service comes out the other end.

The same mantra is pushed by the left regarding local services provided by councils.

Forget the fat cat bosses at the top earning six-figure salaries, forget the waste and the corruption, forget the lack of vocational nursing places, stopping working class girls getting a decent earning job.

Labour is now a party run largely by ultra-left socialist nutjobs that have absolutely no connection or empathy with the working man and would probably call working people fascists for daring even to earn money.

It just makes me sad that Labour is where it is, irrelevant to most of the people it originally set out to champion.

It makes me even sadder that the people Labour have cast aside still vote for them.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Zombie Blair Ressurected

The Unlawful-War-Fighting Monster Tony Blair might delude himself into thinking his resurrection is more Jesus-like, but in my mind ever time the stinking, lying weasel pops his nose into politics, he will be forever a zombie. Decrepit, deiscredited and universally disliked.

This time he's once again proving his dislike of democracy by becoming a figurehead for the anti-democratic push to ignore the Brexit referendum result and stay in the EU.

I've already blogged on why I voted to leave and my reasons for doing so.

But I'll reiterate: I like many of my peers voted to leave completely  That's end free movement, leave the EU, the ECC, EMCA, the ECJ and virtually every other political edifice with the name "European" in front of it.

That's the baseline. We are out and we make our own way in the world.

Now from that baseline, IF Teresa May can negotiate better terms at no extra cost to us, then fine, crack on. And yes, I'm aware that we have obligations post-Brexit, but they will reduce over time and then thankfully the EU gets none of our money. Ever again.

Of course Tony Blair is pulling out the old line that us leave voters didn't know what we were voting for. I'd counter that voters were very clear about what they wanted: THEY WANTED TO BE FREE FROM EUROPEAN INTERFERENCE and whatever consequences arised out of that were a price worth paying and they were happy to pay.

Of course Blair I'm sure will spout his "better off in, better to have influence in Europe" line. But, already we're seeing by voting to leave we are showing leadership and influence in Europe. The thing is, if the system is broke, then you are better off out of it. And we will show that (as long as politicians don't sabotage the leaving process).

It's a pity that Blair didn't lose an election as PM, instead he let Gordon Brown take the fall. Had he been defeated in the polls he might be a bit more humble. He should really wind his neck in and shut the fuck up.

Sorry Tony, the chance for you to be European president went a long time ago.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The "Gig" Economy

About 18 years ago, I was working as a self-employed I.T. Contractor, writing Interactive Voice Applications for large institutions. I wrote the Telephone Banking Application for HSBC. When I say I wrote it, I made it work. I picked it up with a few weeks to the deadline for it to be working and HSBC desperate for it to work properly.  I managed it and made the application work.

As a self-employed contractor, I received no benefits from the client. But I did work at their premises and for the duration of the contract I was contracted to work for them exclusively. Independent contractors at the time were earning huge payments and working more efficiently than the large I.T. programming business. The clients also liked that independents were cheaper than the big boys and usually worked smarter. After all, you can't make a living on your own if you're a poor programmer (nearly all of my contracts were from word of mouth recommendations), but it's easy to be a bad programmer if you're working as an employee of a large company supplying I.T. services.

But the thing is, the payment we received, was paid to our own company. We decided on how much was taken as salary, how much was left in the bank account to cover the lean times, how much expenses we paid ourselves and what we bought for the company (claimable against VAT) and importantly how much we paid ourselves in dividends, at the corporate tax level of 20% at the time. You see, the government didn't like us, because we were smart and didn't give half of it away to them in tax.

Then when Labour came into power, under the influence of large I.T. service companies, a new tax code called IR35 was brought in that stated if you worked the same as an employee of a company even if you were self employed, then the company was liable to pay employers national insurance amongst other things and the contractor's payment was classed as a salary and taxed at that rate. The contract market tried to evolve after that, but it became harder to work as an independent on the client's premises and the big companies started to take over the market.

Fast forward 16 years and we come to the so-called "Gig" economy where individual self-employed contractors are employed on an exclusive basis by a firm to provide services. Sounds familiar. It seems IR35 has been forgotten, because one of the hardest things to get round was the exclusivity clause in it. We had to write the right of substitution into our contracts, so that we had the option of providing another contractor in our place if ever we couldn't show up. In essence, working like a larger business rather than a one man band. A risky strategy, but one that got round the exclusivity clause. Not so risky if you could team up with another contractor, like I did.

So the likes of Uber and other firms requiring the exclusive attention of a self-employed contractor fall foul of IR35 and I've been waiting for the Government to catch up and start to impose an already existing law onto companies using this model. Uber fell first, then a cycle courier won her case and now a plumber has also won his right to be classed as an employee. You see as the government said way back in the 90's you can't have your cake and eat it: if it walks like an employee, wears the uniform like an employee and is subject to rules like an employee, then it's an employee. With all the rights an employee gets. In the 90's we were earning huge sums, but this time contractors are lucky to reach minimum wage apparently. So the big firm, in not paying properly is falling foul of that law as well.

About time too. IR35 killed the independent contractor market thanks to big businesses. It looks like this time it's big businesses that are suffering.

Payback's a bitch.

It's just a shame it's not I.T. companies suffering.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Fucked NHS and lack of Cohesion.

Much noise in the press over the past week about how the NHS is on it's knees and close to collapse.

Of course the standard model is to demend more money is thrown at the NHS to help it cope. We all know that's only part of the answer. The general concensus is that all thet happens to the money is it gets swallowed up and quite often does no good at all and produces nothing in the way of betterment.

What needs to happen quite frankly is for the medical profession to start working as professionals and to work in a cohesive way, from GPS at the front end, hospitals providing specialist treatment and at the back end improvements in post-operative and social cafe outside of hospitals.

GP surgeries have long been criticised for the length of time taken to get appointments. In some cases it's been up to a month before you can get to see a GP. Great if you plan to be ill in a month, but bugger all use if you have an illness right now that needs non-specialist care.

Many GP practices in fairness have recognised this and gone to a new model: you can only book appointments on the day. So for instance you book an appointment at 8:30 when the surgery opens and get an appointment for that morning. Hopefully by the time you've battled through the continual busy tone and the hordes of callers you get a an appointment for that morning. The same then applies for an afternoon slot if you fail to win the morning lottery: you phone up at 12:30 and hopefully beat the hordes to get a slot. This then gets repeated ad nauseum possibly for a number of days until you're lucky enough to get through to the appointments person.

Of course if you work, this new scheme is completely unacceptable, because even if you get an appointment, because it's on the same day there is no way of letting your employer know in advance that you have an appointment and will not be in. Taking time off without permission even for a doctors appointment in quite a few businesses is a disciplinary offence.

It's also unacceptable if you are in pain, or feel you need urgent assistance.

So, for employed people it's not an improvement, because you still can't access GP services. Which then means that to get access to a doctor, you're going to have to access a 24hr medical service, i.e. Accident and Emergency.

In the febrile brain of some top-level NHS manager, I suppose that access to the 111 telephone service fills the gap. It basically avoids the GP's surgery and gives you instant access to medical advice. But not being face-to-face with a doctor, but instead talking over the phone to a non-medical person working from a script, means there will be mistakes. People with conditions that need urgent attention will be missed and those that don't need A&E will be sent there. It just depends on how the patient answers the questions on the NHS script rather than on proper medical experience.

Without some modification of GP and other services at the front end the pressure on A&E will just continue to climb.

I've seen it first hand: Ambulance crews queuing up because they can't hand over to A&E staff, the A&E ward full so patients have to queue for hours in corridors. And grown up children throwing a tantrum in the waiting area because their hangover isn't being attended to.

Of course at the other end of the hospital process beds don't get cleared quick enough. I've been in hospital sat on a bed for hours waiting to be seen by a doctor to be declared fit enough to leave. That's an issue of management that needs to be improved. Having to wait most of the day for doctor bloggs to come and sign you off is a waste of a bed. To be honest it always smacks of an ego trip, in that dr bloggs and only dr bloggs can sign patient X off. Tough shit he's on a late shift today and can't sign the patient off until the early evening. Just doing a shift handover to say patient x can be signed off in the morning if he passes fit by another doctor would be a simple change that eases the problem.

Of course those people which have no immediate carer pose the biggest problem due to the lack of social care. In our modern society of fractured families and an ageing population, the problem can only get worse.
Where patients cannot be discharged because they are not well enough to look after themselves, the lack of investment in the care sector is by far the most troublesome issue currently.

First I have to declare an interest. My wife is a carer and looks after people with learning disabilities.

The challenge facing the care sector is the larger numbers of people living longer lives. Not only the elderly able-bodied, but those with learning disabilities, those with longer term health issues and those with terminal illnesses. Medicinal science has worked wonders prolonging the lives of people with a number of health issues. Drug companies have developed medicines such as statins and others that prolong the lives of people with cardiac problems, diabetics are able to take advantage of a range of drugs to help them live longer... So it goes on.

In the last couple of decades the care sector has changed in a huge way. Issues with care had led to organisations like the Care Quality Commission that have pushed for a more professional service, raising standards of professionalism of staff. But the funding has not followed the improvements. Many, many staff are paid no more than the minimum wage, a fact covered by staff doing considerably long shifts to disguise the poor pay. The carers working day is typically 12 hours. When staff shortages or illness strike, that working day can easily extend to 18 or 24 hours. No overtime rates either, standard hourly rate is the norm during overtime, at weekends and bank holidays. People being paid minimum wage are tasked with giving out medication on the basis in some instances of no more than filling out a questionnaire.

If there was a prime candidate for some sort of union or professional representation, it would be the care sector. Of course that would increase wages and therefore costs, but it would be the start of a push for better funding and I doubt unions would be castigated for raising standards and wages for the people who are looking after our sick and disabled.

Care at the moment is provided by a hodgepodge of small independent private enterprises. Costs are high despite low wages, standards are variable and provision is always on a knife edge.
One of the issues with funding of care is the disconnect from the greater NHS in an administrative and budgetary sense. Care budgets are decided by local authorities. What needs to happen is that care provision needs to be taken in hand by the NHS and funded by the NHS budget, so that the benefits of more professional care, better wages, proper investment and closer integration with the rest of the NHS bear fruit and that caring as a profession shakes of it's somewhat seedy and "cheap" aura..

Until the back-end provision starts to improve, there will always be a pressure on hospitals as they fail to discharge patients that no longer need the intensive, specialist medical care of a hospital ward.

The provision of diagnosis, treatment, recuperation and if necessary ongoing care in the community needs to be provided with holistic outlook. It should all be funded from a single pot and managed as a single entity. You can't run GP surgeries and Care Provision independent from the bit in the middle, the hospital care.


Monday, 30 January 2017

Fake News, Fake Journalists.

The Trump Presidency has become a watershed for the BBC.

First they called Brexit wrong and despite biased reporting in an attempt to preserve the elite status quo, the voting public, those people forced by the risk of prosecution to bankroll the BBC voted to leave the EU.

The apoplexy at that decision and the almost immediate hyping of horror stories (the election program hadn't ended before BBC reporters were gloriously slavering over the news that the pound had started to drop (down to pre-Brexit hype levels, but don't let that get in the way of a good story). Almost in a told you so, naughty children kind of way.

Well, the BBC begin to surpass themselves to express the apoplexy at the population again making themselves heard and installing their President in the Whitehouse.

The first was the over-hype of the pointless women's marches around the World, just as over-hyped as the pointless protests after Brexit. Not only that but the drooling commentary over the lack of attendees at Trump's inauguration echoed the slide of the pound on the morning of Brexit.

Then we got the cringeworthy effort of Larua Kuenssberg to ridicule both our Prime Minister and the American President at their joint press conference. An effort so full of bias and bile that all attempts to hide behind "Balanced reporting" seem to have been put aside. No such calling out of Hillary Clinton about how she could not only live with serial womaniser but actively vilify the women he cheated on her with.

Not only Laura; the BBC has released a full pack of "journalist" attack dogs on the Trump presidency and anything else that smacks of their new hate-word "Populism" (AKA: Democracy).

In truth the BBC has the knife out for anything and anyone that fails to agree with their skewed view of the world. Farage, Trump, Brexit, all are considered a joke by the BBC, they are dismissive of the majority view of the population, inventing the term "Populism" on their output to decry and ridicule anything that doesn't fit their globalist, anti-democratic agenda.

The number of so-called journalists that the BBC have put forward to sing the party song and trash Trump has been beyond the pale. I think the only person giving him a fair-ish crack of the whip is Andrew Neil. Someone who remembers what balanced and unbiased reporting is all about. I'm surprised the BBC still employ him. He must have some info on the top brass. I've long expected him to be cast out and to pop up on some online TV channel promoting proper reporting.

All the other coverage is bias, bile and bilge. It's not News.It's an attack on America, American ddemocracy and the American public. It's like watching the BTN Network on V for Vendetta. It's like the BBC attempting to out-Sky Sky, or out-do Fox News. News is drama, truth is the reporter's own viewpoint.

It is fake news, issued by fake reporters who are nothing more than media mouthpieces put in front of the camera or microphone to promote propaganda.

They're not even covering it up any more, or holding back with their victims. They are so sure of their position that it scares me. Just what is going on? They're not even hiding it any more.

When is the Trump Ban not a Ban?

When It's a temporary hiatus, that's when.

Much is being said in the News about the Trump "Ban", but it is nothing of the sort, It is a 90 or 120 day halt to immigration from "countries of concern". Those countries not being selected by Trump, but by the State Department many months ago. Trump is acting on information that has not been sufficiently acted upon previously. i.e. having enhanced vetting of people from areas considered as high risk.

The indefinite ban on people from Syria acknowledges the issues that accepting people from an ISIS hotbed contains. The fact that there is no way to easily confirm who is a friend of the US, happy to accept safe haven there or who is an agent of terror. The fact that the majority of refugees are men of fighting age and not women or children (where's the equality in that, by the way?) tends to suggest that ISIS is exporting their fighters as refugees or at the very least hiding their fighters amongst a lot of young male refugees where it's hard to tell the difference.

It's not a racist order either, as many in the media have reported, because it doesn't discriminate against race. By it's definition a ban on people from a country is not a ban on race, nor is a ban on one particular religious group racist.

The ethics of such a ban is for others to argue about, but when one is at war (as we all are with ISIS) but morals tend to be flexible and is something where the UK cannot claim to be squeaky clean on. For instance the firebombing of German civilians in cities by the RAF, or the death of innocent civilians caused by the invasion of Iraq, which was at best based on flaky intelligence or at worst just a political publicity stunt.

But it's not like temporary halts on immigration haven't been implemented by the US government before. Other administrations have had temporary bans on accepting people from countries deemed a security risk.

Many News stories have quoted Emma Lazarus' poem on the base of the Statue Of Liberty.. "Give me your tired, your poor..."etc. as a way of stating America's change of heart regarding immigrants. But in the times that poem was written, all the people arriving in America did so to better themselves, to strive for a better life than they could have at home, to make the most of the opportunities afforded by their new home.

Today it is a different story. Yes, there are many arriving in the USA that do genuinely want to take advantage of the same opportunities and freedoms granted to it's citizens. 

But there is a significant number of people arriving in the USA, just as there are in Europe and other free countries around the world, that intent harm, destruction and chaos. 

Those are the reasons for the temporary halt, to take stock and work harder to identify those that mean harm. Those that present a clear and present danger to the USA and the freedoms it holds dear.

However, I will say against it, in it's implementation, Trump's executive order was immature, not understanding the chaos that was caused at airports as immigration officers had to abide by an ill-thought-out order. An easier option would have been to specify implementation on new flights into the USA and to allow those in the air to land an be processed. Unless (and we will probably never know the answer to this) there was an immediate threat to the US identified by the intelligence agencies.

I will also say I'm appalled at the amount of negative publicity given to Trump's order by the mainstream media. It's almost as if they're being paid to push the agenda. What is it with the very forceful pro-immigration sentiment in the media today? So much so they're clouded to the very obvious failings in their own arguments. Should we really take in millions of unvetted refugees? Would the reporters forcing the pro-immigration agenda be happy if (for instance) an unvetted refugee who turned out to be an ISIS member killed a member of their family? Are they happy undermining the security of their own country? If the answer is yes, then why? 

It always amuses me when you get people on news reports getting emotional about the "refugees" in Calais trying to get to the UK, saying the UK must do something to help, we should take in those poor people. But those "poor people" are again young men of fighting age, who just happen to be in France, a very safe country. They are France's problem, not ours. We have no obligation to accept economic migrants (or fake refugees) at all. We do have UN obligations to accept real refugees which the UK and we do abide by our obligations by taking families and children from camps in Jordan, close to Syria where it's easier to confirm the true identity of the refugee and their true status). Families who are in genuine need and who will be thankful for our help and grateful for the sanctuary we give them.

They will not be some angry young Ethiopian who has had to survive the crossing of two continents having been promised streets of gold by people smugglers only to illegally arrive in the UK. An angry young man made even angrier by being exploited by the dark economy. Unable to work because he has no legal status in the UK, denied that pot of gold he was promised in exchange for his life savings. A young man who needs to be saved by making it plain that there is no pot of gold here before he makes the perilous journey, who needs to be encouraged to stay at home and increase the prosperity of his homeland. A homeland free from religious zealots forcing the slaughter of milions in the name of Jihad. A homeland that can trade freely on the world market and is not hampered by huge tariffs on any goods he makes when shipped to the western world and especially the EU. A homeland that educates it's people out of poverty and religious exploitation. A homeland that has the opportunities of prosperity and freedom, free from corruption he would otherwise seek out in the West. 

The real inequality, the real racism the Western Media should be reporting is not the Trump "Ban", nor the plight of refugees in Calais, but the corruption, religious exploitation and inequalities of world trade and global corporate politics that provide the push factor for refugees in the first place..

Monday, 23 January 2017

Trident Tragedy Storm in Teacup

A lot is being made of teh Trident misfire as a way to Bash Teresa May.

The key issue is why the information about the misfire wasn't given out before the debate on Trident oin the commons.

From what I can make of it, the misfire happened just before the debate. Given that such information relates to National Security and our Nuclear deterrent, the information is classified.

It takes weeks for various committees and such to debate the information and eventually declassify it such that the PM can release it to the defence select committee, let along the comkmons at large.

I suspect that the timing is such that the information was still classified at the time of the debate and the PM couldn't release it even if she wanted to.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

I Give Trump 3 Months

Before an assassination attempt, successful or otherwise.

He's running a narrative that is the very opposite to the one the intelligence agencies are trying to push.

"The Russians hacked the election!" is being shouted by the CIA and others, yet "It didn't impact the election result!" they say.

Now excuse me for being a bit dumb, but IF the election was hacked, IF it didn't cause a problem, why is it such a big deal?

Now, is this a ploy to piss off the half of the US population that didn't vote for Trump? Is this a ploy to de-legitemise him?

As far as I can tell, the Russian hacking amounted to breaking into the Democrat's poorly secured computers and passing the information to Wikileaks. Hardly the crime of the century or an attempt to destabilise a country. In fact its almost the sort of thing that journalists should be doing, if they were true journalists. The exposure of yet more high-level emails on unsecured servers just shows how poor the Democrats view net security.

I thought it was a felony in the US to have top security documents on unsecured servers or to export them from high security servers to low security ones.

I remember my time working for big finance companies. Cyber security was taken extremely seriously.
The data centres were like Fort Knox, with x-ray scans of baggage and metal detectors for the human traffic, lest you secrete a memory stick on your person.

Emails were only sent internally and to vetted addresses whose network was confirmed as secure as the home network in advance. Emails transferred between networks were always encrypted by a secondary encryption system.

Now that's just a financial company. For feck's sake, this is government traffic we're talking about in the US. Something that should NEVER be on servers less secure than the source.

Anyway, I'll stop digressing. The CIA "briefings" for me are pretty strange. Either they affected the election result and are actionable, or they didn't and aren't. A handful of Russian teenagers hacking into Democrat email servers is not a reason to go to war. The intelligence agencies are not chumps and they don't like being made to look fools. Okay, this time they sort of did it to themselves, but still...

Obviously there's a bit of disagreement between Trump and the intelligence agencies. If I were him, I'd watch out. If just one anti-Trump person is incensed enough to take a pot shot then the intelligence agencies have the smokescreen they need to cover any attempt to get rid of Trump and impose a replacement. Better look into who the vice-president is a bit closer  then....

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Brexit plan in less than 15 seconds.


1. Prepare for the end game of being completely out and trading under WTO rules.

2. Spend 2 years negotiating better access and terms at no extra cost to us and with Referendum promises intact..

3. If regotiations fail to deliver 2. fall back to option1.

That. Is. It.

I still can't understand all the endless hours of TV coverage, with numerous talking heads espousing opinions.

All the clamour for a plan from the government. The plan is: plan for the worst, negotiate a better option.

That's what negotiations are all about. it's the same as trading: you negotiate to buy at a low price, without revealing to the seller how high you are willing to buy, how much you are willing to spend. You then negotiate to sell without revealing how low you would sell at. It's something you don't reveal in advance. Ever.

It's called maximising profit, leverage, commercial advantage.

Something those MPs in Parliament baying to be told the plan have no clue about.

Hence the apallingly poor deals we've had on PPI, Defence, Health, and virtually any other contract the government have negotiated.