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Month: July 2013

The problem of dealing with online abuse…the twitter ‘report abuse’ idea.

I agree with Owen Jones. It might not be as catchy as I agree with Nick but in the context of this blog is it far more applicable. Do I agree with everything he has to say? No, no I don’t. No-one agrees with everything another person has to say, so what exactly am I agreeing with here? Well Owen’s piece in the Independent’s Voices section entitled Trolls, Caroline Criado-Perez, and how to tackle the dark side of Twitter.

He makes some extremely salient points but the one I want to talk about is the difference between trolling and disagreement, ‘It’s also important to make a distinction between passionate disagreement and trolling,’ he says. This is the reason why I think the twitter report abuse button/idea is more than a problematic one. I have had conversations with people where they think I am being abusive whereas I would just say I was disagreeing with their Point of View. I know of many people who see disagreements as abuse. If you don’t think the same as them then you must be being abusive. That is how a not insignificant number of people think.

So how do we deal with genuine abuse of the sort Caroline Criado-Perez has receive in recent days following her appearance on television over having a woman appear on a banknote? That is the old $64,000 question. Firstly of course we have the law, and people who are threatening someone whether it be over twitter or face to face are indeed breaking the law and should face the consequences of their actions. I think everyone knows that abuse is abuse whether it is anonymous on the internet or publicly in the street. Ignorance is not any sort of defence.

Secondly though it is education. Now this situation has caused the old ‘misogyny’ word to appear left, right and centre. I won’t be tackling this one because internet abuse can be sent to men too, by men and then misogyny obviously doesn’t play in as a factor. It isn’t funny or cool to abuse anyone and it is never harmless. The best way to tackle this type of behaviour is to get people to see it from the victims PoV. Would they be so blaze if this abuse was being sent to them, or their parents or their little brothers or sisters? I suspect they wouldn’t. This is an issue society has failed to tackle and the whole ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated’ thing is kinda old-fashioned to some people and that makes me sad.

Thirdly the actual practicalities behind the proposed report abuse button on twitter. Who is going to pay for the extra staff who are going to monitor all the reports of abuse? Who gets the final say on what is abuse or isn’t? Tweeting someone that you are going to rape them is a pretty slam dunk case and should be passed on to local law enforcement authorities. What about a sinister tweet saying they shouldn’t go down dark alleys late at night? Threatening but do these get passed on as well? How about when someone reports abuse when there was no abuse? Do those people get their accounts suspended for wasting twitter’s time? Do twitter pass on every abuse report and then people who claimed abuse get arrested for wasting police time?

As with many of these things the practicalities of what seem like a good idea need to be thought through carefully. As the Yorkshire Gob puts it (her words – not mine) ‘A report abuse button which is easy to click on is easy to click on for EVERYBODY, not just those who are genuinely being abused. So the EDL will probably click on it for the English Disco Lovers. And homophobes will click on it on the accounts of gay people. And TERFs will click on it on the accounts of transfolk.‘ and she is right. The report abuse button would be open to abuse itself. How easy would it be to go to all the people’s tweeter feeds you don’t like and click on a button to report them and hopefully get their account suspended for a bit just to piss them off? You can set up a fake tweeter account in an instant so it wouldn’t even put your proper account at risk.

Sometimes good ideas just don’t work in the real world (or in this case the online world). This lady received some vile abuse and one person has already been arrested this morning and hopefully more will follow. This type of abuse is not just morally wrong but is legally wrong too and the people who deal out sickening abuse should face the consequences. However just throwing up a ‘report abuse’ button might create far more problems than it solves and the real abuse may well just get swallowed up in all the noise as people use this tool to troll even more.

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Why I’m genuinely excited about Pompey for the first time in years…

It has been a forlorn few years for Portsmouth fans. From riding high in the Premier League, winning the FA Cup, playing in European competition including just failing to beat Italian AC Milan to years of several different owners, administration, a drop down the divisions as swift as the short-shift I get when approaching a member of the opposite sex. I think it is fair to say that it has been a bad few years for the grand old club and for the fans who have been with them through thick and thin.

However here we are. At this time next week they will start their 2013/2014 campaign with a spring in their step. The club has finally been taken over by the Portsmouth Supporters Trust. It has been a long and very hard road, one that if I’m being totally honest I didn’t think was possible. Happily I was wrong, oh so very wrong and they pulled it off. The merry-go-round of shall we call them ‘interesting’ characters that have been involved with owning – or wanting to own – the club has ended and people are in charge who I firmly believe have the clubs best interests at heart.

With over 10,000 Season Tickets already sold for this season and word today that the opening fixture will be a sell-out is extremely encouraging news. The fans who were a bit like me and fed up of the previous regimes and giving them money are flocking back. The club never leaves you and even if you stop loving them you don’t ever stop caring. Now that care is once again turning back into love. I have followed the transfer moves in the club far more than I have in years despite the fact the club are in the bottom tier of the league.

However it isn’t just the on-field product that a large proportion of Pompey fans care about. They want to see the club at the heart of the community. They want answers to questions and for the first time in my lifetime as a fan I feel as though the communication between the club and the fans is a very healthy one. The playing budget was slightly increased in the past week and some fans were worried about whether or not we could afford it but Chief Executive Mark Catlin came out in the local newspaper and explained the situation fully. It has allayed many fans fears. This is what we want and happily the club seem to be very much on the right path now.

Sadly due to geography I’m unable to be a Season Ticket holder. If I still lived even say in the SW Trains region I would probably have returned this season. However I’m not totally down with four hours each way on the trains for each home match and also I have other football commitments regarding radio commentary. Hopefully when Pompey come to Roots Hall on New Years Day I’ll be behind the microphone calling that game but if Pompey could draw Southend away in one of the cup competitions I wouldn’t exactly be complaining.

Back to Pompey and even looking at the manager – Guy Whittingham is a guy I like and respect and can fully get behind as manager and leader of my club. No offence to any other manager since possibly Alan Ball but whilst some have done great things for the club, I never felt they truly loved the club. The Corporal I feel does. He signed a player from non-league Burnham Town the other day and said that he reminded him of himself when he first came to Pompey. Suddenly Ryan Bird is a player I’m rooting for hard and hoping he can move from non-league goalscoring dynamo to league two star.

Pompey are the betting favourites for the League Two title and whilst I think that maybe optimistic considering we have a small squad and an average playing budget, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. Whatever happens there is a lot of optimism both on and off the playing field at Fratton Park and I would like to put on record my thanks to all the people behind and involved with the Portsmouth Supporters Trust for making me love my club once again. The 2013/2014 season could be a lot of fun but even if we don’t win promotion we know that everyone involved is moving in the same direction and it is the first time we can say that for many a year.

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Porn, Porn everywhere (but soon) not a link to click

Various newspaper reports state that today David Cameron is going to make a keynote speech with regards to pornography and it will mean that people will have to actively opt-in to porn if they want to watch. The Prime Minister believes this will clean up the internet and protect children. At what point do we call David Cameron ‘Helen Lovejoy’ or ‘Maude Flanders’?

“We are taking action to help clean up the internet. One click to protect your home and keep your children safe.” the Prime Minister will state. However I have a small problem with this. What if a family has opted in to watch porn and a child still has access to it? What will the PM do then? He hasn’t protected children of those who watch porn, all he has done is make it more culturally unacceptable to watch pornography.

People equate pornography to being a pervert. That isn’t the case. Lots of different people watch porn. I know pensioners who watch porn. I know men and women who watch porn. I know young people who love porn and I know middle aged people who enjoy porn. I know single people who watch porn. I know couples who watch porn. I know straight people who watch porn. I know of gay people who watch porn. I know of bisexual people who watch porn. Basically porn is pretty mainstream and despite its social taboo a large percentage of people indulge in pornography. I would say more adults enjoy porn of a semi-regular basis than voted for the Conservative Party at the last General Election.

The issue I have is clearly what happens to those who opt-in? Is this data kept and who has access to this data? Will police use this data to profile people who live locally to a sexual crime and these people all suddenly become suspects? Will this data be public? Will angry mobs start circling the houses of those who watch porn? There are some (I feel) legitimate questions here.

The government has many important things to do. Censoring the internet is not one of them. Parents have a role in how they bring up their offspring and the government of the day should not overstep these boundaries. If a parent doesn’t actively stop their kids watching pornography then that is up to the parents. It isn’t the role of government to bring up kids.

As for online filters…this very blog is (or has been) blocked by TalkTalk for an age because of pornographic content. There is no pornographic content on this blog but TalkTalk says there is. I have heard of newspaper websites such as The Guardian being blocked over pornography. At what point does the government think enough censorship is enough? At what point do we say that kids welfare is actually the primary aim of parents and not the government?

Parents should know what their children are doing online in their own home. Parents can set up filters and block out content already. If a parent doesn’t want their child to be watching porn they can stop it. It doesn’t need wholesale changes to the internet to do this. So why is the PM desperate to push this through? Maybe because he is pandering to ‘Middle England’ and the Daily Mail in an attempt to show he can get big laws through that go against the EU. Maybe he actually thinks internet censorship is a good thing. Either way he’s wrong.

As long as what adults do isn’t against the law then why should they be censored? If this is truly about children then far more important to keep these sites and videos away by using already set up parental filters. Also educating young people about sex and violence and how to deal with feelings and urges is something that we as a nation generally fail at. Sex is a taboo and until we as a nation embrace it and teach young people frankly and openly about it all then we are fighting a losing battle.

Education is what is needed, not draconian measures that aim to record all those who choose to watch porn. There are distinct difference between all porn (which is legal) and already illegal child porn and rape porn. Lumping them all under one umbrella first of all isn’t right and secondly does nothing to actually help. Young people need better education. Education, Education, Education Tony Blair used to bang on about and in this instance that motto rings true. People, young people, will always find a way to watch porn but the more ‘dirty’ you make it then the more young people will strive to enjoy it as it’ll be ‘wrong’ and if I know one thing about young people is the more you tell them something is bad without any further education on the subject then the more they’ll attempt to do it.

The Prime Minister has got this all wrong and I hope the Lib Dems as a party step up and fight this although my faith in the leadership is at this point lacking but I still can hope. I can still have that…right?

Oh and lastly. Internet pornography bad but Page 3 is a ‘consumer choice’? That really doesn’t make any sense…

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Neil makes homemade burgers. Were they a success? Lets review the evidence…

Last week I was sitting at this very PC talking to the only person from my first secondary school that I still speak to on a regular basis. We were doing one of the things we always do – discuss food. She was having Steak that night. I sure as hell wasn’t. I had some mince that I had to use and said I’d pop over the shop and get a jar of curry or chilli and make a simple curry or chilli. She said I should make burgers. I deliberated on this and then thought about it a bit after looking up burger recipes. I thought I could actually do this.

I had no eggs but she assured me that wasn’t a problem. Good I thought as I hate eggs and the smell makes me gag. I had onions, bread and thought I could empty the remains of a Jack Daniels Sauce bottle in. Ok I thought. I’m going to do this. So I went to the kitchen and the first problem was I didn’t have a mixing bowl so how on Earth was I going to mix the ingredients? So I opened the cupboard and lo and behold I had a mixing bowl. I don’t ever remember buying a mixing bowl but there it was. I suspect this is down to a former housemate who when I moved out of that place went shopping with me and told me all the things I needed to buy and just put them in the trolley. I assume this is where I got the mixing bowl.

So hurray. A mixing bowl. So I dumped in the mince and the onions and then my very roughly chopped breadcrumbs/large bits of bread before emptying the JD sauce bottle and seasoned with salt and ground black pepper. Then I mixed it all up. So far so good. I separated the mixture into five patties and put them in the fridge to chill. Now we get a problem. I was going to grill my burgers on the George Foreman but guess who had cleaned the grill but left the bits in the sink with a tap dripping? Yes that’s right. Me. Now I could of course wipe dry the grill bits but I didn’t. I made a late decision to shallow fry the burgers. This would be problematic.

So I shallow fry the burgers and put them in bread (I had no burger buns and cba to go and get any) and tucked into my burgers. They tasted ok but the insides of the burgers weren’t cooked properly and were pink. I thought to myself that it was fine and carried on but then Googled it and homemade burger patties that aren’t cooked properly can result in what they call ‘Hamburger disease’ or as scientists call it Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7. It is pretty bad. So I spent two to three days waiting for the food poisoning but happily it never came. I ate the rest of the burgers having grilled them thoroughly and they were cooked through fine.

As for the overall meal. Meh they were edible burgers but most certainly not anything to write home about. Too much onion and needed more seasoning and maybe some herbs. Would I try it again? Sure but next time I would actually plan it. The biggest moral of the story is I haven’t died and therefore no-one should feel any guilt over my potential death for suggesting I should make burgers…

Here is the photographic evidence:

Making Home Made Burgers 1
Mixing bowl of ingredients
Making Home Made Burgers 2
Mixture mixed up into a giant pattie
Making Home Made Burgers 3
Five home made burger patties
Making Home Made Burgers 4
Burgers in Pan
Making Home Made Burgers 5
Cooked(ish) burgers in pan
Making Home Made Burgers 6
Burgers on Bread
Making Home Made Burgers 7
Burgers in Bread

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The ‘casual sexism’ of Andy Murray’s win stopping 77 years of hurt.

My blood people. My blood. You have endangered that blood by trying to make it boil. All afternoon and evening last night and now this morning. I need a hot tub to relax in (well ok I just want a hot tub and think that this would be the perfect excuse) but what has got my blood boiling you ask? The faux sexism regarding Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon yesterday.

You see it has been 77 years since a British man has held aloft the Wimbledon Men’s Singles trophy. The thing is though instead of enjoying that triumph people are looking for every way to attack and use this victory to make their point. Twitter was full of ‘Don’t you remember Virginia Wade’ such quotes yesterday as she was the last woman to hold aloft the Wimbledon Women’s Singles trophy to have hailed from the British Isles and she did so in 1977, which as basic mathematicians will tell you is more recent than 1936.

Now that is a fine point but if we are looking at all British victories at Wimbledon in the main events (singles and doubles for both men and women as well as mixed) then of course it was only last year when Jonathan Marray held aloft a Wimbledon trophy having won the Men’s Doubles. In 2007 Andy’s own brother lifted the Mixed Doubles trophy and if you really want to be pedantic and say that they had help from non-British partners then go back to 1987 when Jo Durie and Jeremy Bates were British winners of the Mixed Doubles at SW19.

Stephen Tall today blogged about the headline in The Times today which was ‘Murray ends 77-year wait for British win’ and exclaims As if it would have killed the headline writer to say 36 years (accurate) instead of 77 (inaccurate). Well Stephen as you well know 36 is not accurate. It cannot be accurate. The only accurate responses are either one year or 77. At no point does the headline writer refer to singles play so it either has to be one (the last British winner of any sort) or 77 (the last Men’s winner) you can’t just decide that singles play was intimated because it fits your point.

See this is the type of thing I have seen for the majority of the past 24 hours. People manipulate things to fit their own agenda or point. Facts get thrown out of the window and accuracy that people are pleading for is something they have missed entirely. Now if anyone – whether face to face or in the media – says that Andy Murray’s win ended 77 of singles hurt at Wimbledon for British players then that would be inaccurate and sexist. If they say that Andy Murray’s win ended British hurt at Wimbledon then either they mean the Men’s singles or instead of being sexist they just don’t know about Jonathan Marray, Jamie Murray, Jo Durie, Jeremy Bates, Virginia Wade etc.

The thing is folks I have yet to see any commentator, yet to see any media outlet, yet to speak to anyone – let me repeat that – anyone – who has said that Andy Murray’s win ended 77 of singles hurt at Wimbledon for British players. Not one. They have either just said hurt at Wimbledon or hurt in the Men’s singles at Wimbledon. So either they are correct or they don’t care about all other events about from the Men’s singles including Men’s doubles and male participants in the Mixed doubles.

However why let facts get in the way of faux outrage. This is why sexism kills me. People will see sexism in everything. I know people who think holding a door open for a woman is sexist. I know of people who don’t. I know of people who thought it was sexist that the Men’s marathon awards ceremony at the Olympics was during the Closing Ceremony. They thought women should have just as much right to the final awards ceremony as men. So do these people think that the Women’s Wimbledon Final should be played on the same day as the Men? Should they be played at the same time and given equal billing? If they are played on the same day and the Women’s final is first then is it sexist and demeaning and making the Men out to be more important? At Wimbledon women are asked to play back-to-back days (Monday/Tuesday of the second week) whereas men aren’t. Some say that is sexist.

I could go on and on but if you are to plead sexism – and we all depressingly know that there is more than enough sexism to go around – but if you are to see sexism then actually find something sexist to be mad at. Don’t manipulate a story to fit your agenda. As for Stephen’s take on would it kill the headline writer to say 36 years which would’ve been accurate. If Stephen can point out in the headline where it says ‘singles’ then I’ll grant him that it is casual sexism. However he won’t be able to so it cannot be sexist. Either it is ignoring all men and women who have won Wimbledon trophies since 1936 or it is talking about the Men’s Singles. It cannot be anything else.

Who cares about facts anyway. Outrage people. Outrage!

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A Labour councillor wants ‘fairness’ but can’t understand what exactly is fair.

I do love it when councillors open up blog posts talking about my love life. It is kinda sweet isn’t it? Well that is exactly what Labour Cllr. Ware-Lane did today on his blog post Giving into greed? I’d prefer fairness which was his response to my letter to the Echo regarding the tax cut for the higher rate of tax payers that occurred. I knew he would respond in kind and still miss the point. This is why I at times dislike politics and politicians because they are so stuck in their ideological ways that they won’t actually see the big picture.

I say this primarily because of the following line from Cllr. Ware-Lane’s blog:

For me it is “from each according to their ability”. If this means that some millionaires’ loyalty to the UK is bounded by their unwillingness to pay their share then to them I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Yep those people who were putting in large sums of money to the public purse. Yeah we don’t want them. I’m sure he can walk around his Milton ward speaking to residents and telling them that it doesn’t matter that Children’s Centres are closing and Libraries are under threat etc… because the money that could keep these things open would be bad money and we don’t want that.

You see my whole point was simple. Yes those with broader shoulders should bear the largest loud. We agree. However I also know that money into the public purse is kinda the point of tax. So why have a tax system that brings in less revenue when instead we could have a tax system that brings in the highest revenue possible from those paying the highest tax rate? Myself and the councillor in question have debated this before and we just don’t agree. He prefers less money for public services as long as the rich get taxed harsher. For me this is a dumb position and not what I’d expect of a Labour councillor and a man who wants to be my MP.

One further line I want to highlight:

Are Liberal Democrats now abandoning the pretence of doing what is right in favour of what generates the most income?

First of all I don’t speak for all Liberal Democrats. I’m but a mere member of the party. This though perfectly demonstrates why I think Labour are a shambles at the moment and why despite my upbringing I am a Lib Dem and not a Labour member. The ‘pretence’ of doing the right thing. The right thing is finding the right balance that generates the highest income possible. That is simple and straightforward. Whatever that number is then I’m all for it. I’d prefer more millionaires to pay in less if overall it leads to more revenue being generated. The ‘right thing’ isn’t just to flog the rich for being rich.

Until Cllr. Ware-Lane (or anyone else for that matter) can find a way to stop people from relocating from the UK to Monaco, Switzerland or any other country with a more preferable tax situation than the UK then people are free to leave the country and not pay tax here.

Personally I’m all for public services. At least we now know that Cllr. Ware-Lane is not unless the money comes from people he deems to be the right people. He prefers less money for public services as long as the richest people individually pay more even though as a group they in fact pay less.

As for ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ oh pur-lease. ‘Oh so you don’t want to pay our 50p tax rate well sod you – we didn’t want your money anyway. We’ll have to cut public services for example close a children’s centre but at least we know that ideologically we didn’t want your money anyway.’ I’m sure people on the bread line and those who rely on public services would stand up and applaud such a stance. Oh wait. No they wouldn’t.

To sum up, Cllr. Ware-Lane has showed me exactly why I at this point in time I think Labour are the least grown up of all the three main political parties in Westminster (and lets be honest – considering the way the Tories deal with issues such as Europe that is saying something). We all have our ideologies. That is what makes us but ideology doesn’t always work well in the real world and at some point we have to be realistic instead of Utopian. The 50p tax rate was not working in terms of getting the richest to share the largest load because many of them just left the country and therefore paid in nothing. This left those in the 50p tax rate sharing the load but they couldn’t share the load as well as all the people that were sharing the load when the tax rate was at 40p.

He wants fairness. He wants those who earn the most to pay the most. We all want that but the problem is these people have a choice – just like we all do – however of course it is easier for richer people to up sticks and move. I’ll end with this analogy that he might understand (or he might not – his whole concept of basic economics seems pretty out there) but 6,000 people holding up larger weights cannot hold up as much weights as 16,000 holding up smaller weights. Fairness is about seeing the amount of money these people can put into the system as a group and not seeing them as individuals. That is the mistake he (and others) make and that is why I get so disillusioned when people go on about how the tax cut from 50p to 45p is a reason why there is less money for the public purse.

That quite simply is not true.

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Caroline Criado-Perez petition on female representation on bank notes…

I just received the following e-mail:

Neil —

In April the Bank of England announced that they would be removing the last remaining female from English banknotes — the social reformer Elizabeth Fry who appears on the £5 note — meaning that, other than the Queen, there will be no women featuring.

Caroline Criado-Perez believes that having an all-male line-up on English banknotes sends out a damaging and untrue message that no woman has done anything important enough to appear.

That’s why she started a petition calling on the Bank of England to reverse their decision and ensure a female is on a banknote. Click here to join her.

Since Caroline launched her petition over 30,000 people have signed it — and yesterday she received a response from the new Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, that they would be reviewing the decision.

This is a fantastic achievement for everyone who has signed Caroline’s petition and shows that their message is getting through — but they need to keep the pressure up.

Tomorrow Caroline will deliver her petition to the Bank of England — will you add your name before then?

Thanks for being part of this,

Brie and the team

Interesting. I agree that the bank notes should not be all male but here is one line that riled me enough to actually write a short post on the subject:

Caroline Criado-Perez believes that having an all-male line-up on English banknotes sends out a damaging and untrue message that no woman has done anything important enough to appear.

Holy shit. No. No. No. No. No. It doesn’t send out a damaging and untrue message about this – and do you know why – because no-one actually looks at who is on the bank note. I suspect I’m pretty typical in how I deal with bank notes. I get them out of the hole in the wall and stuff them in my wallet. I then exchange the bank notes for food or other supplies. At no point do I look at the bank notes and say ‘oh look at whose on the £5/10/20/50 note’ – no-one does that. No-one.

I agree with the sentiment but seriously it doesn’t really send out too much of a message because no-one notices. I won’t say nobody cares because clearly 30,000 people at least do but if you asked 1,000 random people to name who the woman on the £5 note is today then if more than 5% can name her then I would be stunned. Stunned.

It isn’t a huge issue. It is an issue but not a huge one but yet again people are starting to foam at the mouth. I wish people would foam at the mouth for things on equality that actually mattered…

For the record should you wish to sign the petition then you can do so here.

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My letter to the Echo Re: ‘Tax cuts for millionaires’

I actually got so annoyed over the use of the tax cuts for millionaires being a reason for less money being available for investment that I got off my fat arse on the sofa and plonked my fat arse on my PC chair and wrote a letter to the editor on it. Yes millionaires are getting a tax cut. That it obvious but a tax cut for them doesn’t automatically equate to less money being in the public purse. It really bugs me that people can’t get their heads around that basic principle of economics. If more people pay less then it can raise more than fewer people paying more.

Do I support a tax cut for millionaires? Well that depends. I think the main purpose of the higher tax rate is to raise the most people possible and if 45p is the magic number then good times. Tax isn’t there for ideological reasons. It is there to raise as much revenue for the public purse as possible.

So anyway I think it is fair to say that it got edited a fair bit so here is the full version below:

I am bored about this ‘tax cut for millionaires’ propaganda that Labour are pushing. I expect it in Westminster but when Labour Councillors such as Cllr. Gilbert and Cllr. Ware-Lane start throwing it around I feel as though someone needs to actually point out some of the basic mathematics.

You see paying tax at a higher level doesn’t necessarily equate to more tax revenue for the Treasury to spend on public services. In fact in this instance it firmly does not.

The fact of the matter is millionaires – due to the fact they are millionaires – can choose where to live far easier than most of us. If they decide that paying 50p tax is too much then instead of just paying it and moaning they relocate and leave the country meaning they pay no tax to HMRC instead.

Figures published at the time show that 6,000 people paid the tax rate when it was at 50p raising a total of £6.7bn in tax revenue. In the previous tax year when the rate was set at 40p we saw 16,000 people paying tax raising £13.7bn in tax revenue. Therefore the higher tax band raised £7bn less when it was set at 50p compared to when it was at 40p.

It isn’t rocket science. It is common sense and pretty basic economics but yet Labour pedal this lazy (but I grant you – rather effective) spiel. So the question these Labour councillors have to reconcile with is what the primary goal of the higher tax band is.

For me it is to get the balance right so that the most revenue as possible is raised. Seemingly for Cllr. Gilbert and Cllr. Ware-Lane it is to get tax rich people for being rich – even if it means less money for public services. It is an ideological thing.

Also another thing that galls me is that the Labour government kept the 40p higher tax rate for all but a few days of their 13 year dominance of the House of Commons. They raised it to 50p days before the 2010 General Election in what only can be described as a cynical ploy to gain votes and put the next government if it wasn’t them in a position where financially they had to cut the higher tax rate knowing politically it would be hard to justify.

I just thought it was time to throw in some maths into the mix to see if lazy propaganda actually stands up to it. In my opinion it is clear that it does not. Hopefully the two Labour councillors I’ve mentioned have learned something from this.

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Is carrying on a mobile phone conversation at a checkout rude or not?

Sometimes Twitter really is great and most of those times are when I get to see a story that I would never have seen otherwise. Today that story was entitled Hang up or I won’t serve you: Sainsbury’s worker gives shopper ‘lecture on checkout etiquette’ and was in the London Evening Standard.

A young woman called Jo Clarke was talking on her mobile phone when she got to the checkout and the checkout assistant informed her that she wouldn’t be carrying on putting her items through the till until she got off her phone. Miss Clarke has since slammed the ‘rude’ assistant and has informed Sainsbury’s that she will be shopping in Waitrose from now on.

Sainsbury’s are busy falling over themselves to apologise profusely but they should read the comments on the article – the vast majority are in support of the checkout assistant and you can count me among them. I have never worked on a till at a supermarket but have worked on a till in other shops and agree that someone talking on their phone is extremely rude. Whilst I won’t say that I wouldn’t put through their items if they were on the phone I would do what most Brits do and that is curse under my breath about lack of manners.

When shopping I often have an iPod in and I ensure I either take one earphone out how I can communicate with the person on the till if needs be or turn the iPod off for a minute or so. It is just basic common decency.

I hope that Sainsbury’s don’t discipline the checkout assistant involved and I dislike the way they are fawning over themselves to apologise. By carrying on with your conversation on the phone Ms Clarke was showing that she had no concept of manners and was in fact being rude herself and not vice versa. I would like more checkout staff to do this and quickly we could eradicate people using phones when at a checkout.

Whilst I’m on this subject can people please learn how to queue properly? In my local shop the amount of times I see people pick up a paper and go directly to a till even if there is a queue is ridiculous. We are British so we should know how to queue and yet I see it all the time. Even if someone is being served at a till I will see people go stand right behind them even if people are queuing up in the designated queuing area. I mean come on people…

Basic checkout etiquette is simple and when I see people failing to adhere to it is really bugs me. Ms Clarke clearly thought she was in the right and is now getting pilloried by the general public she was hoping to get sympathy from. I do hope that the checkout assistant gets a job at Waitrose and is there the next time she shops because that would be truly magic.

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Wendy Davis and her Herculean filibuster (now that would be a good title for a book…)

Over the weekend I was in one of those scary positions for any person who is attached to the modern way of living. Yes you guessed it. I was internetless. You see as much as I love my sister her world does not include the internet so when I go to visit I am cut off not only because of her lack of access to the information superhighway but she also lives somewhere which isn’t covered by 3G. Disaster.

So on Saturday morning with both a lack of internet and a lack of Sky television (seriously I am addicted to all the mod cons) and my sister having left to go and pick up her husband from work. I sat down at the kitchen table and actually read the newspaper. She had bought i. So I was flicking through and then I came across a story I had missed from the previous week. The story of Texan Democrat Senator Wendy Davis speaking for just over 11 hours to ensure a vote on a bill on abortion could not happen and therefore collapsing the bill. Here is a link to the online version of the story I read on Saturday.

This story focuses not on her efforts but more about the possibilities of a potential run at the White House. That might be a few steps away yet but this 50 year-old has essentially come from nowhere in terms of a national profile to become a very realistic prospect to run for the Governor’s office in Texas next year. Now to outsiders we see Texas as a proper Republican stronghold but the reality is that the top position in Texas had been more blue than red although no Democrat has lived in the Governor’s mansion since 1995. It should be noted however that between 1874 and 1979 no Republican was voted into the top job in Texas.

The reason why I decided to blog about this though is that it shows that someone with principles can do what they believe is right and it can have an effect. The bill will pass after Rick Perry called for an emergency 30-day session and the likelihood of the Democrats being able to filibuster their way through that is pretty darn low but the seeds have been sown. Her performance aided by a tweet of support from the President has put her on the fast track to national attention.

There will be those who say her performance was undemocratic and used a technicality to stop the vote from happening and in a way I can see that. However she played within the rules as currently written and her performance was out of this world. It showed passion and tenacity. It also showed that even when the odds are heavily stacked against you that you can come through. Whilst she won the battle she will in all likelihood lose the war but in doing she has given herself a chance to win other battles and other wars which can influence the lives of people within her state and you never know across the whole of the USA.

For now though she is the darling of the Democrats – and quite rightly so.

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