Archive for June, 2011
I am no expert. I don’t proclaim to be an expert. I am just some guy typing away at his computer and watching the news. However I sit here and type and look at the striking public sector workers and think they have totally misread the situation and in doing so have scored quite a spectacular own goal.
The public hate bankers. We all know this. However the attitude of many in the public sector believing that bankers can alone pay back the deficit is one of sheer delusion. Let me play out this scenario that happens up and down the country each day. A family have a mum and dad both in employment and two kids of school age. A parent loses their job for whatever reason. Now do the family look at the parent and think that they alone can go out and get another job to keep up the level of pay and until that happens stick their head in the sand and keep up the same lifestyle or does it effect everyone?
The other parent might try to get more hours in their employment. Parents and kids will go without some luxuries. Everyone’s belts are tightened and the whole family feels the pinch if there is less money available to spend.
Now to put this into a big picture and the bankers are the parent that have lost their job. They’ve helped to create a mess. Can they and they alone fix everything or does it effect everyone? Will the whole nation have to work hard to get the government out of it’s black hole (I don’t know why people use that analogy as nothing can escape a black hole but still…)
The whole ‘we are all in it together’ is not just some bullshit mantra from the middle classes as they watch the working classes die off and eat duck eggs with caviar. It is just reality. It isn’t fair but if people don’t realise that life is unfair then they are morons. Morons.
So the situation is clear. Bankers quite simply cannot solely safe the day. They weren’t even solely to blame. They have just been scapegoated by the people of this country and unfairly branded. The bankers of the UK did not do much wrong from all accounts and the whole crisis can be laid at the feet of people and companies around the world. The banks were unregulated. That was not the bankers fault. That was the governments of the world who allowed the banks to get so over-inflated that at some point the bubble would have to burst.
The bankers were playing by the rules. They just played a very bad game and the effect has been significant. They will however be part of the solution and having a strong financial centre is important to the economy. It is so important at the moment that I could probably and maybe should upgrade the word important to vital in the previous sentence.
The problem is the banks alone cannot fix all the problems of the global economy. Other sectors will have get get involved and that includes the public sector. Just because they are doing jobs that are there for the well-being of the state doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t take any of the hits that the rest of us are facing.
In a perfect world workers in the public sector would get great pension schemes – as would those of us in the private sector. People say that you can earn more in the private sector – and that is true – but what is also true is that public sector jobs are generally safer. Working for a small private company is always daunting not knowing how the business is going but when you work in the public sector then your job traditionally is more secure. Obviously in the current climate public sector staff are seeing more job losses than normal but that is just the job market equalising out.
Whilst I clearly feel some sympathy that their conditions are being changed I don’t think that just because they work in the public sector means that they should be immune. Why should people in the private sector have to pay more just to pay for people in the public sector?
To end this blurb with a nicely packaged little bow. I don’t think public sector workers are above private sector workers. The mess wasn’t caused by private sector workers either so why should only the private sector be forced to pay for the economic crisis? We all are going to have to stick our hands in our back pockets to help pay for this and I don’t see why one sector of workers believe that they are above the rest of us.
#No If’s, No But’s, No Public Sector Cuts…
Yeah folks. If we don’t cut the ever inflated public sector then a few years down the road we’ll be completely screwed. If you want to as screwed as Greece then carry on. If you want to be grown up and mature then suck it up and get on with it. A few good years and things can get going again and when that happens I am sure the government can – and will – look at ways to offset the bad times with some good times. That I am sure of.
So I suspect you have all seen this. A stepmother has jumped in and decided to call out the future wife of her stepson for her manners. This e-mail has gone viral so you have seen it in other places. For me what gets my goat about this is mainly the fact a stepmother has got involved at all. It has nothing to do with her but she feels like sticking her beak in anyways.
Some of these points might be more valid than most but honestly things like not writing a hand written note to say thank you for staying. What kind of world do you think we live in Mrs Bourne?
I would also strongly contend that it is the height of bad manners to e-mail a girl that you hardly knew to tell them all about just how awful they were. The fact that a) it wasn’t hand written obviously shows a lack of class and b) just doing it in the first place shows that you are a numpty of the first degree.
But without further ado…here is the e-mail Mrs Bounce sent in full to the woman that is going to be marrying her stepson…
It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.
If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.
Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:
When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.
You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.
I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.)
If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.
There are many things all journalists know but one thing is more important than all the others – when your name moves from the by-line to the title then something has gone awry. The story should never be about you and if a story is about you then nine times out of ten it’s not going to be a positive one – journalists rarely write a story on how good another journalist is.
So we get to the shenanigans of yesterday and the award winning journalist Johann Hari. There was a twitter storm as it came out that he had been using quotes from an interviewee but these quotes were not from interviews that he had done with them. They had either been quotes they had used in other interviews or had written themselves. This is of course pretty bad form. Twitter lapped it up like it does any shitstorm because in general people on twitter like to mock others undoings.
The journalist has responded on his own blog this morning in a blog posted entitled My response to yesterday’s allegations which is worth a read. For me though it just didn’t ring true. I know what he means about someone saying something but when you scribble it down it doesn’t scan right. However that is part of journalism and you need to find a way around it.
For example if Maria Sharapova was interviewed about her match with Laura Robson and had said ‘she played well, she become good player’ it clearly doesn’t scan in print. However you could make it scan very easily and not mis-quote anyone by re-writing it as thus ‘she played well, she [has] become [a] good player’. It is a well known way in journalism to not mis-quote someone but still get their point across and making it scan well. This is certainly something that many journalists do when interviewing or getting quotes from a non-native English speaker.
The apology for me is a bit meh. He should have apologised and whilst he is accurate that it is neither plagiarism nor is it churnalism it was still extremely poor etiquette. He seems more focused on defending himself from those allegations than he does apologising for his poor judgement. Hopefully he has learned his lesson that there are ways to make a quote scan well in print and still not mis-quote anyone. He is clearly a fine writer and journalist and hopefully this incident doesn’t detract from that. We all make mistakes in life and writing from deadbeat hacks like myself to established and world-renowned journalists. He does need to make a stronger apology for me but whether he does or he doesn’t I don’t expect him to be fired.
If he gets his head down and continues to put together well thought out and thought provoking articles then this incident will be forgotten by the masses. Some folk won’t of course as they never forget a mistake and these are the people that in general have never made a mistake in their lives because they are perfect. I wish I was perfect however I am not.
Hopefully the next time we read about Johann Hari it’ll be because his name is in the by-line and not in the title.
…I’m happy for new laws to be brought in where abouts being a complete pleb is a crime of some sort. These thoughts are prompted by stories such as this one I read earlier today in everyone’s favourite chip paper rag the Daily Mail. Sick joker facing jail for shouting ‘bang, bang’ and making gun gesture at policeman blinded by Raoul Moat. is the title and reading the piece you just have to think that sheer stupidity and disrespect deserves to be punished – and punished hard.
Now I don’t want to see her go to jail. That serves little purpose apart from scaring her straight. Will 12 weeks inside ensure that she doesn’t do it again? It might and that is all good. However another way of treating absolute Grade A morons is by making them do charity/unpaid work – and not just 80 hours that people get three months to do. Find out what job she has – if she has one – in this instance she doesn’t then make her work 40 hour weeks of unpaid work for six months unless she gets paid employment – then she has to do unpaid work on her days off. Also for cases like these make them have an alcohol ban.
Six weeks inside might scare her straight but six months of long hard unpaid work that will do something good for the community may have both a longer lasting effect and do something good for the local community. Everywhere things need to be done and with council budgets getting slashed then lets get an army of petty crooks working for free and not just some half-hearted effort. The debate about weekly bin collections could be sorted quickly and easily – bin collections to be done by people serving community sentences. Simple. The amounts of parks that need cleaning up, rivers with trolleys in, overgrown plants that need pruning, community areas not tidy.
Whilst I’m not advocating Chain Gangs (although in a way I’m not totally against them) there are clearly better ways to teach people a lesson than lock them up for a bit. Public humiliation I suspect works far better than a few weeks away inside where no-one can see them. The whole prison size issue can be sorted pretty easily but there are too many people that think prison works for everyone and quite frankly it doesn’t.
If these people are on benefits and commit crimes then I don’t think I’m wrong to think that they have to work for their benefits. There are people on benefits through no fault of their own and I’m far less harsh on them but benefits + petty crime surely has to equal work for their benefits..surely?
David Cameron has this quite pie-in-the-sky concept of The Big Society. Well I think The Big Society can start with getting petty criminals working for the state for free as punishment as well as teaching them a lesson it will treat them some humility. I’m also perfectly happy for judges to give young people especially who are getting into petty and more serious crime the offer to military service instead of prison. That too for me has more than some credence.
Lastly alcohol. Alcohol is not a human right. So many crimes are due to drunkenness and people acting like complete numpties. Commit a crime and alcohol is involved then give them an alcohol ban. That will teach them a lesson. If they can’t drink for x amount of time they’ll realise that is wasn’t worth it. If you want to drink and then act like an idiot then be prepared to pay the consequences. A night in the drunk tank in a local police station won’t stop most people from getting drunk the next weekend. Not being able to drink for six months might well make them wonder whether getting drunk in public is really worth it. People who get arrested for drunken behavior should be ordered to seek treatment at alcohol rehab centers, and not be thrown in jail.
Get drunk and walk home quietly causing no-one any problems then who cares. Get drunk and punch a car window in or start a fight then there is a huge problem. Alcohol is not an excuse for bad behaviour and the sooner we as a country face up to that fact then the sooner we can sort out a lot of the lesser crimes and make this country a better and safer place for all.
No government has yet to tackle anti-social behaviour with anything that will either work or isn’t a laughing stock. Things people who commit public order offences/partake in anti-social behaviour generally like:
If you take those two things away for committing those crimes then I would bet a huge stash of cash that the reoffending rates would collapse.
Seems simple to me but what do I know?
PS: Armegeddon has reached the Essex Rivera. Boy it’s canning – absolutely canning it down outside.
People scoffed at me when I was excited that Boom Boom Afridi was joining Hampshire for the defence of their T20 crown. People said he was yet another big name that Hampshire didn’t need. Whilst we won last year with a plethora of home grown stars whenever you get the chance to add arguably the best T20 player in the world to your side then you have to look at it.
Hampshire did and by teaming him up with Imran Tahir then suddenly the side have a dynamite spinning pair and that means the groundsman will prepare turning pitches and that also plays into the hands of Danny Briggs. So three spinners plus the wicket to wicket medium pace of Dimi and the fiery Dominic Cork and that bowling attack looks extremely formidable.
On the batting side of the ledger we saw Boom Boom open last night against Sussex to good effect. I am still unsure if I want him opening or the very successful Lumb/Adams combination but if Boom Boom goes boom as it were then we are all but guaranteed to get away to a fast start and if he doesn’t then you have Adams ready to come in at three at give it a welly. Then you have the classy Classy, the skillful McKensie and the power and class of Ervine and Pothas before you get to Dimi. That is again a first-rate batting attack.
There is a reason that Hampshire top the southern group and have only lost one T20 game all year – and that is quite simply they have quality in every area of the game. You also have to remember that Michael Carberry is still out and he is an extremely gifted player to come in down the order but as it stands I have no idea where he could slot in should he be fit for the Quarter-Finals and hopefully Finals Day itself.
So all in all I really do think Hampshire are the class of the field and from I have seen Sussex and Somerset are close behind – probably with the nod to Somerset with all their power although Sussex’s death bowling is insanely good. Yet again the southern group is where the cream of the crop lies and I would not be shocked if come Finals Day there were three or even four southern teams represented.
We have all had a moan about how much car parking costs these days. When a friend and I pop into town for all you can eat Chinese as we do for lunch every so often we park in a residential area because it’s free and walk ten minutes into town. The cost of parking your car even for a few minutes is obscene and people wonder why folks are being driven to out of town shopping centres where parking in generally free and why in town shops have been suffering all over the country for a fair while now.
Well a The Rambles of Neil Monnery investigation has resulted in the aforementioned website gaining a copy of the accounts for car parking costs/profits in the town. You can download the Excel file here to have a look in greater detail yourself.
As you can see from the spreadsheet should you have downloaded it the income raised through car parking charges has from from £1.317million in 2000 to £3.194million in 2009. This growth has been nearly fully subsidised by a rise in car parking income and not by a reduction in costs. Whilst 2009 was the lowest in terms of costs it was only £313,000 cheaper than in 2000. The huge fall in outlay in costs can be seen between 2008 and 2009 where clearly there was a conscious effort to reduce outlay with over £500,000 saved on this front.
Another clear revenue stream has been the increase of on street car parking charges. From 2000-2007 there was a small increase year on year in the income generated from these charges but in 2008 it rose by just under £200,000 and then in 2009 it more than doubled to a gross income of £1.334million. The costs too have increase mainly to add all the new areas that have to be patrolled for those who aren’t paying car parking charges and of course there is a cost to create these new car parking areas as well. The profits in on street car parking for Southend Council rose from £207,000 to £635,000 from 2000 through to 2009. It will be interesting to see how the accounts stack up over the next couple of years now that the expansion of pay and display has reached near saturation point.
It is the on street boom in car parking charges that has led to the rise in profits generated for the Council. The off-street profits have been relatively stable although the Council saw a significant dip in 2009 from £4.5million in 2008 to £3.8million in 2009. This is either because of the rise in off street parking or the fact that less people are now driving their cars into the town centre or other car parks where you have to pay and display. The reasons the profits soared still on the off street part of the business is the dramatic slashing of costs – from a decade high number of £2.25million in 2002 through to 2008 where there was a cost of £1.990m to the Council only to see that cost get reduced by over a million in 2009 where the costs for off street car park management was a paltry £981k.
This shows that the whole department has been heavily bloated for some time that you can reduce your costs by over a half and still increase your profits if not your turn over. One thing is pretty clear from these accounts is that Southend Council (I suspect like most other Council’s) see the motorist as an easy target to engineer profits. To make over three million a year just through car parking shows that the days when you could park for free anywhere or even a nominal amount have long gone. The motorists are taxed heavily on fuel, they have to get taxed on just having a car and now they are getting screwed over heavily if they want to actually go anywhere and park their car. It makes me glad that I don’t drive…
It is with sadness that I can now confirm that the man pulled from a capsized dinghy off Chalkwell was 78 year-old local Lib Dem activist Michael Woolcott.
Mr Woolcott died in hospital having failed to regain conciousness after being dragged from the sea by a passing jogger. The 78 year-old had been active on the local political scene for quite some time and had stood in numerous council elections as well as canvassing for other council candidates and parliamentary candidates.
As someone new to the local Lib Dem scene I personally did not know him but e-mail I have received today show him to have been a man of extremely good character and one that will be missed. If any local Lib Dems to the Southend area want to share their thoughts on Michael then please leave a comment or e-mail me using the e-mail link at the top of the right-hand column.
People tell me that I am just anti-Labour. This is not strictly accurate. If Labour want to propose a bill – or an amendment to a bill – that is good then I will verbally back it with a blog. This has happened as Labour co-operative MP for Waltamstow Stella Creasy has proposed a bill that would see an end to legal loan sharking aka pay day loans. Whilst I’m a free market guy I think it is very clear that these loans prey on the vunerable.
I was brought up on a council estate and I know of people who took out such loans and all it does it move the problem to further back in the calendar and makes the problem even worse. Yes there are those who could use these payday wisely and how they are meant to be used but without any stats and purely using my conjecture this is either a minority or a slight majority. Most people ignore the warnings that this is a short-term cashflow fixer and use it even though there is little hope for them to pay it back before the insane APR kicks in.
There will be a vote next Tuesday on adding a new clause entitled “High Cost Credit Lending” to the Finance Bill that will make charging insane APR illegal and make the whole process much more regulated and will stop companies making such insane profits from each loan. This is something that I fully endorse and implore all MPs to vote for. I know people should be allowed to make their own mistakes in life but I truly believe that the desperate to not think about the long-term consequences and we need to stop these people being preyed upon by these companies.
So I implore you all to contact your local MP to ask them about their plans for this vote and urge them to vote for this amendment to the bill. Here is an example of an e-mail that you might want to send.
I have been guilty of being rather unkind to Ed Miliband. This is mainly because he’s pretty shocking at his job and that his brother was pretty darn perfect for the job and he stabbed him in the back. However despite claims that I’m anti-Labour it is on record that I was a fan of Tony Blair on many issues, however one I didn’t like was Labour’s stance on civil liberties and seemingly Ed Miliband is following this trend.
In PMQs today Ed Miliband decided to attack the government on their idea that people arrested for questioning on rape allegations but not charged should not have their DNA stored. So completely innocent people tarred with the brush of rape should have their DNA kept on file. This is just typical of recent Labour (and with due respect) Ed Miliband of jumping on a thorny subject and not looking at the real issues.
Yes there is a school of thought of if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn’t care if your personal data is held on file. However I wonder how Ed Miliband or other senior Labour MPs would feel if they were arrested under suspicion of rape but then released when it came to light that it was a case of mistaken identity. Would they happily let the police keep their personal identifiable data on file or would they believe that their civil liberties had been violated? Has Ed Miliband gone to the police and offered them his DNA in case it could help with their future enquiries? If he has he really should have had it publicised more.
Look I live in an innocent until proven guilty world. I think that no-one’s DNA should be kept unless they have been found guilty of a crime. Those who are acquited of any crime should have their DNA destroyed. It is either that or everyone should have their DNA taken from them at birth and that is not something I advocate one jot. That is the only fair way in my opinion otherwise some completely innocent people have their DNA on file whilst other completely innocent people don’t.
Even Labourites on twitter during PMQs couldn’t believe Ed Miliband’s stance (apart from the usual suspects who’d support Labour/Ed M if he said we should shoot anyone over 65 to keep pension costs down or that we should eat babies). Rape is as usual the most emotive charge around and any way that will help catch rapists should be encouraged but at what point does this infringe on our civil liberties?
For me I’m very much a DNA database should only be for those found guilty of a crime type person. What I don’t get is why Ed Miliband/Labour have isolated rape to discuss on this front. So only those arrested on rape charges (even in a case of mistaken identity) should have their DNA kept forever and ever just on the off chance they might be a rapist in future? Surely those arrested on charges of stalking might be just as likely be become a rapist? What about murder?
The problems with Labour/Ed Miliband’s stance just goes on and on and the jist of it is that it is ill-thought out and reeks of bandwagon jumping and using the emotive issue of rape to justify an illiberal policy. I do despair. I really do.
So unless you have been living under a rock (or aren’t north American/have interest in north American news) then you’ll know all about the ‘kissing couple’ photo from the Vancouver Riots last week. When the hometown Vancouver Canucks lost Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins violence erupted downtown in the Canadian city. Petrol Bombs, Riot Police, it was the standard thing however the following photo emerged that a couple had other things on their mind whilst the city burned…
Picture courtesy Getty Images/Yahoo
However the man involved has ended his silence and not is all that is seems…
Speaking on NBC’s Today programme 29 year-old Australian Scott Jones claims that he was just comforting his girlfriend after the police had battered her over the head. Yes it seems as though one of the best photographs I’ve seen in a long while is due in part to an over-zealous riot policeman.
The report over on Yahoo News also has a video of the incident and shows that their account is accurate and that his girlfriend was hit by a policeman and fell to the ground. He lay on top of her to protect her and two officers stood over them until they decided to leave them alone. It is clear that the photo was not staged despite mounting conspiracy theories claiming otherwise.
It is just a lucky thing that this story ended up far better than the Ian Tomlinson one but one day riot police are going to start understanding that they can’t just hit people. PC Simon Harwood may find that out when he gets his day in court but the whole role of riot police needs to be looked at. People will die unless the police find new tactics to deal with these types of problems.