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Davids, Davids, Everywhere 17 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives.
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It seems that if you don’t know what someone’s called, it’s a good bet to call them David, especially if they’re Tories. Does being called David make you more likely to be a Tory, unless you’re the son of communist academic and surname’s Milliband? I’m a David. The party leader is a David. The Shadow Home Secretary is a David, almost twice (Davis is almost there). He has a near namesake, David Davies MP, which really confuses the tabloids (especially as Davies talks often about law and order issues). It turns out that in total there are 17 David Conservative MP’s, if my count is correct. And now Nobel Prize winning David Trimble has joined the Conservative David benches, giving a good weight to the party in general but particularly its efforts in Northern Ireland. It’s not often Nobel Prize winners join.

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Media Intrusion Splut William And Kate, Not “Class” 17 April 2007

Posted by David in BBC, Comment, Media, Royals.
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I really cannot believe the media. It was painfully obvious to everyone that their constant barrage of intrusion caused the break up of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who was forced to live in the glare of a media which photographed and published her every move – from going shopping to sitting on a bus – while they speculated about possible engagement (Woolworths even ordered the commemorative plates to sell). Talk about external pressure on a relationship. Everything she did, and everything her family did (including her Mother chewing gum), was being analysed and judged for suitability as future British Queen by a media that views everything but itself as irredeemably flawed. In the end, poor old Kate Middleton seemed to be dating the press more than she was Prince William.

Meanwhile, every night out Prince William had with his new Army friends was shown as him neglecting Kate (who was probably watching Friends or doing her hair anyway). God knows what they’d have said if Kate had been photographed out with her friends instead of William…

When the situation started to scarily resemble that of a young Diana – Kate being badgered down the road Starbucks coffee in hand by dozens of happy snapping paparazzi – the end was near. When the media even began to suggest it was very much like it had been with Diana, there was really no escape from it.

As was initially suggested, William and Kate were I firmly believe rightfully told by both their families they had to decide; marry and commit to the life (and get the security protection), or flee it. The painful balancing act couldn’t go on, it just wasn’t fair on either of them (especially Kate). By ending it, they have let Kate free. She has escaped from a terrible life time sentence, at least for now (no one has said they’d never get back together in a few years, older and ready to settle down).

But what I really cannot believe is that, clearly to blame, the media have gone looking for another cause of the split. And what’s the best they can do? Class. Pathetic!

The story that the Queen disapproved of Kate’s Mother Carole Middleton – because she used the word “toilet” instead of “loo” and “pardon” instead of “what” – is frankly outrageous. The Queen would firstly never express disapproval of anyone, she is too graceful and discreet to do any such thing. She has met some of the most horrible people in the World – such as “Lixard of Oz” Paul Keating (who as Australian PM told her he wanted to abolish her and grabbed her under his arm in a public meeting) – and remained graceful and polite. She has read Queen’s speeches in the 50s, 60s and 70s resembling the Communist Manifesto and not shown emotion. She even opened the Edinburgh Hollyrood Parliament without laughing. So I doubt she cared less about having someone chew gum or use the word “toilet”.

And secondly, the Queen mixes and has always mixed with a very wide variety of people across the entire Commonwealth, and has more enjoyment with what these (which Royal observers would see as being in a lower class) than she does with Royal observers like Nicholas Witchall, who Prince Charles described as awful. The Queen particularly likes people with horses, and there are few interests with a more mixed socially bunch of people than the horse World. If anyone it’s the Royal observers who disliked the Middleton’s “class”, not the Queen.

The Telegraph is strangely very interested in the “class story”, which I find odd for them. According to their Which Class Are You?survey I “probably have a coat of arms” (I have a coat and two arms, does that count?) and am just 50 points short of being Duke of Devonshire (because I don’t have any children to send to school, and have a PlayStation and not a dressing up box – a dressing up box is a bit odd for a Duke isn’t it?).

Scottish Conservatives On The Roll 16 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scotland, Scottish politics, SNP, UKIP.
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Suddenly, and unexpectantly, the Scottish Conservatives are on the roll. Their campaign so far has been nothing short of a miracle. Anabelle Goldie, who for ages seemed boring and dull, turns out to be a quad bike riding, ten pin bowling, former naughty school girl who ouzes charisma, trouncing the other party leaders in debates and interviews. The pledge not to go into coalition has proved highly popular, and the lib dem yellow paint-chart – emphasising a Lib Dem vote is a vote for Labour government – is very innovative (and true).

But the SNP are still far ahead, with Labour making the error of portraying their former Scottish deputy general secretary as an ordinary member of the public. It’s almost as if certain elements in Labour want them to lose, perhaps to derail Brown? They also continue to rely only on negative campaigning and scares of life in an independent Scotland that is inevitable if the SNP win, leaving voters feeling insulted. If they have such low opinion of Scotland’s prospects, they’re hardly the inspired optimists needed, but rather failed has beens believing in an inescapable dependency culture on a national scale.

The SNP, of course, aren’t what’s needed either. They certainly aren’t inspired or optimistic, basing their figures on magic growth, EU cash now heading East and fast depleting North Sea Oil (“It’s Scotland’s oil” they may say, but most of it’s nearer the Shetland Islands actually, time for SINP?). Their campaign is merely a glossy, GQ style sales pitch of Alex Salmond. Slogan: “It’s Time”. Time for what? As yet, we don’t know.

And bubbling under, as with all elections using proportional systems, is a plethora of small parties. There’s UKIP, the “Stop the Growth” Greens, the Scottish Socialists, and the Labour supporting Lib Dems.

So who’ll win? Who knows.

Is the World Doomed? 15 April 2007

Posted by David in World.
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The BBC is running a story about nuclear power, and its spread across the World. Personally, I’m against nuclear power for three reasons. Not safety, which I hope is no longer a concern, but because (1) I wouldn’t want it built next to me and so it’s hypocritical to put it elsewhere, (2) the costs are very disputed and I never sign blank cheques, and (3) what do we do with the waste for the next X many years and at what cost?

But my concern, as the article demonstrates, is the now seemingly terminal waning of Anglosphere power. The British era ended, we know that, but now too is the American era. “The present system is a fraud. A few countries can’t continue to tell the rest of us what to do,” says Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian Foreign Minister.

The article was spurred by the lifting of ineffective American sanctions on nuclear material – the welcoming of India to the nuclear club. But where will it end. Sanctions are now ineffective as we are unable and unwilling to enforce them – having a Navy now similar to that of Belgium – yet by not enforcing them we are appeasing ever more powerful forces who’s values and wants directly oppose our own (i.e. Iran). The situation is fast matching in many ways the analysis of Niall Ferguson.

I think now would be a good time to state that I opposed the Iraq war. Not in a Not In My Name/Stop The War lefty pacifist sense, but in a tactical and military sense – I didn’t think it a priority because Saddam wasn’t an immediate threat (probably could have been bought off anyway) and it was done with a bad strategy (now evident). But now is not the time to turn and run, isolationism now would be the worst possible option.

With the spread of nuclear knowledge the World is doomed, unless we make it “un-doomed”.

EU Mobile Phone Charges 13 April 2007

Posted by David in EU, Europe, European Union.
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EU plans to set price limits for mobile phone charges are still moving forwards, after a committee of the European Parliament supported the move. I posted on the topic recently under the headline Get Off My Mobile Phone You Market Rigging Nutters (15.03.07) – one of my more energetic of titles I admit – but this is actually something far more important than the price of phone calls.

The very basis of this argument is the question whether the state intervene and “rig” prices? The answer is of course, no. Phone companies, as private bodies, should be free to offer whatever rates for whatever services they wish. We, as free individuals, should be free to negotiate and choose as we see fit. You don’t even have to use a phone if you don’t want to.

Despite the nice headlines of “international calls getting cheaper”, by fixing cross-border prices the phone companies will recoup their losses elsewhere – in higher domestic charges, less freebies, poorer quality service, less investment and more expensive phones (California limited the price of electricity – the investment stopped, they had black outs costing them billions).

Our choice will also have been limited. If I want a phone package with dearer calls internationally, but cheaper domestic ones, and the company wants to offer it, what right does the EU have to stop it? We should all be free to charge and pay what we like. Anyone in favour of intervention needs to be asked how they would like the EU to dictate what they charge for their labour/goods/services?

But to the EU, this is – as Mark Mardell on the BBC explained – an attempt to win over the public with headlines. It will be another thing for their dodgy self-congratulatory list of “nice things the EU has done for you”. Reading BBC Have Your Say, it may have worked: “Oh dear- the EU and its parliament may be doing something useful for the UK after all. What will all those Europe-bashing HYS contributors have to say now?” writes Simongw, while Jabba DeHutt writes “Yes. I am a regular Euro traveller and quite frankly the charges are extortionate. British mobile phone providers should be ashamed of themselves. The sooner we embrace Europe totally the better off we will all be…”

They’ve not thought it through.

Captured Sailors Home, But The Damage Is Done 11 April 2007

Posted by David in Iran, Media, World.
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The 15 captured British sailors are now safely home, thank goodness, but the amount of damage done by the recent events cannot be simply put. My problems with the “ordeal” go back to the very beginning of it.

Why did they allow themselves to be taken prisoner? Now they themselves were out-gunned, but the Royal Navy – with its assorted helicopters, launches, Royal Marines and firepower – was nearby and had enough guns to blow the tiny Iranian boat out of the water. Now presumably the Royal Navy aren’t there on a cruise, so surely defending the patrols is their purpose? Why didn’t the sailors call for back up? Indeed, why didn’t the Navy spot the Iranians to start with?

Then patrols aren’t allowed to open fire unless attacked first, but would the Iranians dare open fire on British forces undertaking a UN mandate in Iraqi waters, a clear act of war? It’s not a good idea. The British could have just sailed away. Orwhat if the British sailors had re-boarded the Indian ship they had been inspecting, as a defensive position. Would Iran open fire on British forces with a UN mandate on an Indian ship in Iraqi waters? Hardly likely.

But when they were captured, they didn’t really need to play along quite so much. Yes, do what it takes to get released, don’t annoy the Iranians, but don’t look like you’re having fun – pulling silly faces to the camera, playing table tennis, laughing and joking. It was clearly propaganda, so they didn’t need to lay it on so thick. They needed to look worried, scared, bored, upset. When they got told they were going home and met the President, they should shake his hand when he went to shake theirs, but they didn’t need to lay praise and thanks on him. He is the man who ordered their capture, and sends bombs to kill their fellow British servicemenin Iraq, did they forget?

Now they return and sell their stories – a great insult to the forces and those who have died – but who will the World believe? The words now of fear and suffering under evil Iranian captors don’t match the images on television. The World thinks Iran could have forced them to look and say they are happy, but Britain too could have forced them to say they were terrified and badly treat. Most of the World will believe Iran.

This isn’t helped by the stories either. The worst part of the ordeal from the endless stream of stories seems to have been being kept isolated, and “good cop, bad cop” types of mind games, seemingly no worse than those used in police stations across Britain (and deliberately softer than those used by the USA to terror suspects). It’s certainly less than what some civilian hostages have been through.

It would be far better if the story just went away – but it won’t. Iran is now making a film, probably one of those a docu-drama thing, showing what happened.

Life On Mars Or Life On Meacher? 11 April 2007

Posted by David in BBC, Labour.
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Last night BBC1’s 1973-fest Life On Mars came to a surreal and strange but in keeping conclusion, where the answer to whether Sam Tyler was “mad, in a coma or back in time” was revealed as any or all of the above. Personally I think it was all a dream while he was in a coma, he recovered, and now he’s died and gone back to it (the dream). But if you’ll be missing your weekly dose of 1973 nostalgia and total surreal strangeness, there’s always Life On Meacher.

The 68 year old left wing disaster area, far worse to watch than any accident, has had an article in The Times and claims to be modern with his blog and glossy leadership campaign website (but curiously lacks a photo on Wikipedia). He calls for equality, spewing out statistics on executives of FTSE 100 companies and the poverty linelike a mildly angered volcano. He wrote in his book, Socialism with a Human Face, that “too many people have second homes or too large homes for their needs.” It’s all very, well, 1973.

Because where was Michael Meacher in 1973? Well, in the opposition backbenches to be precise, but by 1975 he was the Under-Secretary for Health and Social Security for the governments of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan, until their disastrous socialist experiment ended in 1979 election of Margaret Hilda Thatcher.

His period in office saw Britain begging money from the International Monetary Fund, levels of inflation peaking at 24%, and unemployment only kept down by huge state created artificial jobs in low level industry. There was the brain drain, as anyone who could leave, did so. So he has a good record…

Reading his campaign materials, it’s like another World. Are they mad, in a coma, or have they gone back in time?

Sarah’s Law Gets Rejected 11 April 2007

Posted by David in Law & Order.
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So the government has decided against Sarah’s Law, after a flurry of opposition from the liberal left wing. A limited trial, announced earlier, seems to have either been abandoned or a false story. “It will drive paedophiles underground,” they cry. But surely, aren’t they underground already? That’s the whole point of Sarah’s Law, to remove them from “underground” and expose them.

The point made by Banardo’s is fair: “Sex offenders can be very dangerous people. Their dangerousness is reduced by the police and the probation service keeping them under rigorous supervision. We at Barnado’s would say make that supervision more rigorous by using satellite tracking and giving them lie detector tests. If they flee supervision then they will be very dangerous indeed and that’s what we can’t allow.”

But Banardo’s feel Sarah’s Law will put children at risk, by encouraging paedophiles to flee supervision. I can’t see how though. They will still be required to undertake the same level of supervision, just parents will know who to be careful of, particularly lone single parents who are often befriended by child abusers.

Michele Elliot, of Kidscape however, supported Sarah’s Law and described the now abandoned test as a “massive breakthrough” for parents.

I personally fully support Sarah’s Law, providing it is brought in gradually in a careful and controlled manner. Normal criminals, after paying their dues to society, have the right to return to society and rebuild their lives anonymously. But paedophiles are not normal criminals. They’re not shop lifters or petty crooks, but people with a clearly perverted mind, a perversion that is of great danger to children. Parents should have the right to know if someone with this perversion lives or works near them. If the paedophile is worried about being an out cast, they should have thought of that first.

The main fears are vigilantism, which will have to be dealt with as any criminal matter is, and paedophiles “going underground”, which would again need dealing with (perhaps by greater supervision and tracking). The strangest fear expressed is that “we will all live in fear,” presumably from people who feel safer not knowing. I myself feel safer knowing. A genuine concern is who would be on the register, which would need looking at, but in principle people should be able know the truth. If you don’t, don’t look.

A Perfect Mess? 6 April 2007

Posted by David in Comment.
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A Perfect Mess:The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – how crammed closets, cluttered offices and on the fly planning make the world a better placeby Eric Abrahamson, Professor of Management of Colombia Business School and David H Freedman, a technology journalist, explores the value of disorder in our personal, professional and political lives.”

It’s already been reviewed by James Morris, and it’s got me interested because – I’m fairly certain – it’s right.

Here’s the thing. Individual and small group efforts, working with limited resources and constrained by time, doing things on the fly, achieve huge things – example, just about everything successful in the private sector, let’s say YouTube. Making do, getting along, experimenting. But giant state started projects with 5 year plans, implementation committess, blank cheques and armies of workers, flop – example, just about everything in the public sector, let’s say the Millennium Dome or 2012 Olympics. 

I must also point out that over-planning is also to be found in the private sector, and ‘planning on the fly’ can be found in the public sector, usually at non-management levels such as nurses on wards etc.

Now there’s a place for planning and order, we need both, but the difference is in the reason behind it. Is it really necessary? Or is it just planning for planning’s sake? Planning for plannings sake, exemplified by the filofax holding, dictophone dictating, cheap suit wearing twit, and also by the report obsessed official using management speak (a favourite of New Labour), simply complicates the situation.

Do we need a national action plan for getting rid of MRSA, or should we just hire some decent cleaners and sack the bad ones (and isolate the infected)? Do we need to “think out of the box” and do “blue sky thinking” or would common sense be better?

I think we plan and organise too much.

Swathes Of Politicians Could Face Arrest For Breaking Electoral Law 4 April 2007

Posted by David in Funny.
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Swathes of politicians could face arrest for breaking an electoral law dating back to 1766.

An election pack issued by Bournemouth Borough Council stated that “lunatics and idiots” were disqualified from standing. Quite a few current politicians fit both these descriptions. They also disqualified what they called the “deaf and dumb”.

Matt Pitcher, electoral services officer, said it was a mistake and that the terms were taken directly from election law dating back to 1766. “Of course such language is certainly not acceptable today,” he added.

The Bicycling Chameleon understands “deaf and dumb” to be totally and utterly offensive and wrong, but notes that “lunatics and idiots” is a good description of most politicians.

“The terminology used as part of our election pack to candidates was unfortunately taken directly from a piece of election law which dates from 1766 but is still current today.”

The Crown Prosecution Service tells The Bicycling Chameleon this evening that there are sadly no plans to charge those politicians breaking the lunatics and idiots law. “Evidence would be hard to prove in court.” Really?

“Bournemouth council treats all people fairly whatever their sexual orientation, age, religious belief, disability, gender or race and the council apologises unreservedly for any offence which may have been caused.”

“The information pack has been amended.” Good.

Shame it’s late for April Fools really.