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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Job Seekers Allowance

The whole JSA system needs looking into.
My situation is that because I was a student and then a low-paid worker, i am not eligible for the JSA i claimed for.
So i have been paid nothing at all.
I might be eligible for another type, which is means tested and involves another type of form which i need to go to the job centre to get, and it will then be assessed. I can't help feeling i'm being penalised for being a student and a low paid worker. This may be someone else's fault, though that's not very important.
Changes need to be made.
There are far too many forms to fill in for a start.
The needs of the claimant need to be put to the fore.
Considering i am well educated an entited to benefits (as is my girlfriend) and we have been unable to claim anything, i struggle to see how benefit fraud ever happens at all

Monday, 23 November 2009

The economy

Cameron could be trying to promise all things to all people, which is my bet.
He's trying to say that he's come up with an idea that will confound all pre-existing economic thought. Just like that.
There are two ways to play this:
1) Reduce the debt with a long-term view, simular to what Thatcher did in the 80s.
2) Grow our way out of the debt, like Gordy is proposing.
I'd imagine the main parties' approach to this problem will go down party lines.

I'd much prefer this debate to be in Parliament rather than at the CBI.

Inspired by:
Nick Robinson - Spot The Difference
Hopi Sen - We see the hat, but where’s the rabbit?


According to G.K. Galbraith, "politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable".
Personally, I think we (Labour) are unpalatable for various reasons. The Tories are/would be disastrous.
End of

Wigan repay fans tickets

"Wigan's players are to personally refund Latics fans who bought tickets at the DW Stadium for the 9-1 hammering at Tottenham on Sunday."

Fair enough really, they were awful. Edman had a shocker, poor lad

council bureaucracy

I'm not fan of bureaucracy of any kind. Can't stand it. I don't like filling in forms or people not being able to think without the due process.
However, there are important performance reasons in favour of bureaucracy that i accept even if i don't like them.
When I saw the headline "Needless bureaucracy is costing councils in England £4.5bn a year" i assumed it was the TaxPayers Alliance or some simular mentalist group. But it's not.
One of their criticisms, which I don't think is a good one, is that there are more staff. That's not necessarily a bad thing to have staff, and it kinda helps out delivering the service. Also, some of these workers are very poorly paid so helping them do their jobs is to be welcomed.
"Complying with centrally-imposed "data burdens", such as performance indicators, was wasting £400m a year"
a necessary evil to prevent 'postcode lotteries'.
In all, it would be nice if bureaucracy was cut coz i don't like it

Cameron and an 'emergency budget '

"Mr Cameron told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show it would be "about getting the deficit under control".

"But it should also be a budget that goes for growth that gets this economy moving again"
Which rather mirror's what Gordy is trying to do.
Cameron has focused more on tax cuts for business which i am cautiously interested in so far as they create or sustain jobs.

There really don't seem to be any differences of substance from what little Cameron says, rather the idea that one party will do the same thing, just better.

I wonder, given Cameron and Osborne's backgrounds, how much of the budget will be who's work. If that makes sense. Not having a go on this one, just wondering how much input Osborne will have given that he knows nothing about economics and Cameron used to be an advisor at the Treasury


Spurs were good, Wigan were awful.
So, so, so awful. The amount of time and space Lennon was given was nothing short of criminal.
Lennon's still my tip to play wide right for England, he's coming on nicely into a very good player. If only we could play against Erik Edman in the World Cup we'd be sorted.
Well done to Defoe, i've always been a fan of as good a poacher as he is


Was going on about education with Julian Ware-Lane here:
"A competitive education system is a problem when schools have control over admissions - schools then have the power to dump worse pupils on other schools e.g. Academy schools exclude and expel far more 'touble' pupils. The local state school then has to deal with these pupils. Then the Gov comes along saying 'look how wonderful our new Academy schools are and how awful the local state school is'. To say nothing of the vast differences in resources.

I agree with Billy about sending lots of people to University being wrong. We've focused too much on degrees so that we have people doing degrees who have no interest in being there but are pressured into it. Now, as with nurses we have too much emphasis being put on having a degree, as if that was the be all and end all in life, which is really isn't.
I think there needs to be a reasonably radical reform of edcation, but one where the minister then leaves it in place for 4 years without interfering"

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Cathy Ashton: 10 things to know

Only one really matters though:
– A full-size Dalek stands in the corner of her sitting room. It was a present from her husband

EU President

It's fair to say that "Mr Van Rompuy was widely tipped, but Baroness Ashton was not"

Good to see a British woman get one of the jobs, cool.
I'd prefer it if she'd been elected though, both of them in fact

Unaccountable power

Sounds like a heavy metal song.
But it's worrying if true.
The "changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson -- or his successor in the next government) the power to make "secondary legislation" (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).

What that means is that an unelected official would have the power to do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright"

Don't like that very much, fair play to Tom Watson MP for making it more widely known

Numbers of MPs

I'm yet to hear a good arguement as to why we need less MPs, here a good arguement that we don't need less.
If people are to be properly represented and our parliament work effectively, it needs reform.
I'd like more power to Select Committees, salaries for their members, less formal occasions, power given to Parliament over government etc.

But cutting the number of MPs won't help make it more representative

Facts, David Cameron, and poverty

What have all these things got in common?
"The verdict

Cameron's claim on poverty just doesn't wash - the number of people in general, and particularly children and pensioners, in poverty have reduced since Labour came to power, although progress seems to have stalled in recent years.

There's also a different definition of "severe" poverty favoured by the Tories, which suggests things have got worse under Labour - but there are so many uncertainties about these figures they merit a separate FactCheck entirely (which we've done, here: FactCheck - more in severe poverty?).

Inequality has got slightly worse under Labour, particularly in recent years, much of it made up of increased riches for the very richest, and a poorer deal for the very poorest.

This increase in inequality is nothing like that which happened under Margaret Thatcher, though it's debatable how much this ice this cuts in the 21st century.

It's worth noting too that Labour's tax and benefit reforms have been redistributive (Robin Hood-like). Had they kept the same system they inherited, there would be far more people in poverty today. "

Factcheck is such a great resource, there really needs to be much more use made of it.

Britain in and or out of the EU

There are some in Britian, maybe lots, who want to leave the EU.
I don't.
There's a good piece on what might happen here, but it's all very speculative. What would happen? No-one knows.
If we stayed in the common market, we'd just loose influence.
If we left that too, we'd be alongside the other non-EU European powerhouses like Norway (although it is "required to adopt much EU legislation due to its participation in the European Economic Area (EEA), through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)"), Switzerland, Iceland etc.
So, we stay. Changes we want to see, we make from the heart.

On another small point, if David Cameron is the champion of the poor, why is he desperate to get out of European worker-protection legislation?

Clause 4

I was having a chat down the pub with a mate last night. We got onto talking about Labour history in general and Clause 4 in particular.
My mate reckons that changing Clause 4 ripped the heart out of Labour, while I've never much cared about it. For me public ownership has not been too important, perhaps in part because I was born and grew up under Thatcher, then had it drummed into me how terrible public ownership was and how great privatisation is.
There are some things i'd like to see nationalised - public transport for example.
But it's always been a pragmatic thing rather than an ideological commitment.
So there we go, i never realised the strength of feeling surrouding it

Football crazy

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has been in charge for 11 months, making him the 51st longest serving manager out of the 92 clubs.
That is madness, that only one third of the managers have made it into their second season. Andy Scott of Brentford is at 32, having completed 1 season in charge.
Good to see Steve Tilson at number 5.

Media reforms

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has attacked the way the media operates.
"regulations designed in the pre-internet era should be replaced with a new "light-touch" approach. "
Light-tough, like what they called for in the financial sector. Worked well there.
Like the one that lets Fox get away with lies in America, rather than being impartial.
There may be a connection there.
Hunt is also calling for rules restricting ownership to be relaxed. Interesting, as one James Murdoch called for the same thing. So that he can grab more power and influence.
Local news is important, maybe there could be some government subsidy

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Changing the structure of cricket

Boring, maybe.
Exciting, very.
4 (maybe regional) Divisions of 5, thereby including Scotland and Ireland.
The top team in each goes into a randomly drawn semi-final, then final.
Less games, more practice.
One week is first class, the next limited overs.
Each day is 120 overs with the ball change at 100 to encourage better old-ball bowling. Less cricket should encourage fast bowling, but this probably needs to be mirrored at international level. No point having a kid build up pace for Essex then getting run into the ground player back-to-back tests

SPIN The Sun, council tax and their support for the Tories

Huge council tax rises, apparently. Labour's fault, apparently.
"COUNCIL tax raised a staggering £21.3billion last year - and has DOUBLED under Labour in the past decade."
But 7 of the councils listed are Tory controlled.
Spin and politics - never pretty.
But they work. Remember what happened to the recent spin-friendly Prime Ministers? Thatcher and Blair.
Party leader who refused to have anything to do with spin - Michael Foot.
Prime Ministers not media-friendly - Gordon Brown, John Major.

Mandelson on Today

I thought Mandelson got taken apart on Today this morning, sadly.
He was refusing to answer the simple questions and waffling on and on.
We're in trouble if that's the best we've got. By that I don't mean Mandelson, rather what he was saying.
Labour's policy platform is better than the Tories by a LONG way, especially for someone like me who is out of work, but he did a terrible job of selling it.
In part his problem was that he was trying to get out of the truth, and Evan Davies did a good job of pinning him down


Bloody Queen made me half an hour late for work today coz of all those silly road blocks and blokes with big hats.
Honestly, who does she think she is?


No reason other than this is an excellent snap.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Monday, 16 November 2009

more on tackling the BNP 2

"I think the link between alienation and the BNP, to me, comes from the Mail, Express, Telegraph and Murdochs grubby paws.
BNP and non-BNP people that i've talked to believe that the British are strangers in our own land, that we're down trodden and at the back of every queue due to political correctness, liberal elite etc. etc. you know the lines.
They see the BNP as cutting through this, and so are drawn to them. The BNP do have other policies, which tend to be populist and non-liberal. Some say they are far left, some say far right so it's probably fair to say that they're somewhere at that end of the doughnut.
Lots of people sympathetic to the BNP were carping about how Griffin wasn't allowed to talk about their wider policies on Question Time."

run up to the election

Apparently Labour are putting an election into place including Mandy and Ali Campbell.

One thing that struck me is "Labour sources are aware that Brown may have a mastery of policy details, but the policy-light George Bush could still defeat his policy-heavy opponent Al Gore through a folksy lightness of touch."
That relates to a book i read called The Political Brain by Drew Western and could make the difference in the campaign for the exact reason outlined above.
Let's hope they learn the right lessons.

Gordy's future

Apparently, there are plots afoot.
My source down the pub (not to be confused with my sauce down the pub) tells me the following:
Gordy won't go of his own accord.
It would probably take the whole cabinet to take him down, or at least a significant lot of them.
There is no left candidate because Cruddas won't stand.
The options will probably be Miliband and Johnson.

I'd probably go with Johnson of those two whenever it comes, though it seems age will be Johnson's problem if it's after the election so could be someone else.

After 12 years, where are our heavyweights to pick from? That's a problem, Blair and Brown seem to be surrounded with so many of 'their people' that there is no real spread to choose from

What a game!

Lyon 5 -5 Marseille

more on tackling the BNP

By me, from liberal conspiracy:
"My own views on this come (in part) from a conversation I had in a pub in south Essex with some mate's mates who were BNP supporters. At the time I was pretty unpleasant to them, in a down the pub in Essex sort of a way.

I think it was good to talk like that, and we were each pretty clear where we all stood. It's an area where the BNP came 1st, 2nd or 3rd in each council election that set of elections.

Some of their supporters are racist, but some feel abandoned by politics and politicians. One said that Labour used to be the party of the working man but now no-one was. So to some extent their is a link with Labour supporters. But Labour don't have a monopoly on the working class, and the BNP is a problem for all.

But the BNP is a legal political party so we have to accept that and engage with their supporters' concerns or they will feel that "the liberal elite" is not listening to them, reinforcing why they support the BNP in the first place"

Tackling the BNP

From Liberal Conspiracy
My response:
"In my opinion, this post and the comments to go along with it are a disaster.
I very much disagree with much written in the post, and then the childish-ness and blaming each other of the first two comments is depressing.

Firstly, the BNP is probably a racist party.
So are all the people who support them racist?
I think the author (Sunny) does a terrible job of attempting to tackle the BNP problem by just damning everyone as a racist. We live in a democracy, the BNP have such a profile because they have support from many people. The author is typical of those who stick their heads in the sand and refuse to listen to the concerns of voters.
I'm from south Essex originally, where there is a great deal of support for the BNP from people of middle and lower classes. Sticking your head in the sand and slating people as racists rather than listening to what they have to say is bad for everyone, except the BNP.
The BNP thrives on the idea that Britian is being taken over by foreign-loving liberals who don't listen to/care about the "British" people. This post, to me, reinforces that view"

Original post
David Blackburn writes for the Spectator’s CoffeeHouse blog that the BNP is, No longer a racist party, but a party of racists, in response to the news that BNP membership looks to vote overwhelmingly in favour of allowing non-whites to join the party.
David is highly confused. This is because he says:

The Spectator has maintained that the party’s domestic policies are inspired by racial supremacist ideology and that its economic policies are like Dagenham – that is, three stops beyond Barking.

Yes, I’ll agree with that. The party’s domestic policies are indeed inspired by a racial supremacist ideology. Which is why people should avoid following those policies right? Except, he does on to say centrist parties “must engage with (and I mean engage with, not shout down)” BNP policies. What a muddle. ‘Engage’ is a mealy-mouthed word that usually means ‘follow’.

Earlier this year Tim Montgomerie at ConHome said:

but I do think part of any anti-BNP strategy means addressing popular concerns about immigration, access to housing and championing people’s patriotic instincts… while ALWAYS attacking their racism.

I don’t know how people can take this man so seriously. If a party’s policies are driven by racism then it’s pretty idiotic to say we should slam their policies but take their “concerns” seriously anyway, as if that isn’t what the BNP want. They’ll just turn around later and say, quite rightly, that the other parties are hypocritical for slamming them while doing what they advocate anyway.

This goes to the heart of right-wing stupidity and hypocrisy over immigration and the BNP. Last week this govt announced some even more tightening up of immigration from non-EU countries. The Tories inevitably attacked them for not going far enough. But immigration from non-EU countries make up a small fraction of our immigration – most of it comes from the EU. Any problems that people face in housing, public services, increased labour competition and changing areas people face will be from other European countries not India, Pakistan etc.

And so the Labour Party has essentially moved to the Conservative Party position, which is the same as the BNP Party position, that they want to restrict non-whites coming into the UK as much as possible. That small proportion must be vastly more threatening than the Eastern Europeans because even the Tories are not planning to stop EU-immigration.

The day after the BNP-QT debate a radio presenter on 5 Live asked a Tory MP if he would stop companies from hiring American bankers or Indian software consultants if firms here needed to employ them. Of course not, he replied. And what about if a football club wanted to employ a football player from Brazil? No? The Tories are not against that you see, but they are against cleaners from Nigeria because apparently they’re destroying our culture.

A sensible discussion on immigration would involve pointing out that EU immigration is responsible for the biggest shifts in our population, and that stopping the darkies from coming here wouldn’t have any impact. They should then respond by strengthening rights for workers in the lowest paid jobs so they’re not easily fired and replaced by cheaper Eastern EU workers.

It would also involve saying that globalisation inevitably means increased population mobility, and that if people felt threatened that a sense of community was breaking down: then efforts could be made to develop a more positive sense of national identity that accepts Britain as more racially and culturally diverse than the vision the Daily Mail has.

To drive home this agenda: it’s worth pointing out that even though the Green Party gets much more support and votes than the BNP – you’ll hardly ever see an editorial in a right-wing magazine or website saying we should take the Green Party’s ideas or policies seriously because so many people support them.

No – they’re too busy denying global warming. And yet they want to listen to the concerns of a smaller and obviously racist party.

And so we get two parties saying they hate the BNP while carrying out policies advocated by the BNP, cheered on by a bunch of people who want them to do exactly that.

No surprise then to find that most of the commenters on that Spectator thread are quite annoyed that the BNP is being criticised. After all, why the hypocrisy Speccie writers? You lot helped lay the bed for the BNP. Now you have to lie with their supporters

Outstanding defending

A superb goal-line clearance from this puddle.
Given Southend's present lack of defenders, I say 'Tilson, sign the puddle up'!


Once again, the Guardian is keeping up with the important social and political issues of our time. This time they've got What should I wear to a protest march?

Very important stuff that

Saturday, 14 November 2009


Just finished watching the England game.
the main difference was that Brazil kept the ball, we gave it away. England tend to rely too much on physical effort rather than technical quality. Capello waited far too long before making subs. Jenas was rubbish and I would have liked to have seen Huddlestone earlier as he might have been able to pass the bass.
It was pointless putting Ashley Young on with 4 minutes left. He should have come on far earlier.
Milner had a good game working hard but he was the only one i'd say played well.
Wes Brown had a very poor game, Bent got no service and Rooney didn't make enough happen.
This is an example of why i'd like to see some players try their hands abroad where the leagues are more technical and slower than in England. I think that would suit someone like Huddlestone and England are really held back by the players not going abroad

And Southend lost 1-0. Not bad considering we only have 3 defenders, one of whom is on loan and was sent off after half an hour.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Cameron's article in the Guardian

In an effort to feel better about life, I read some comments on Cameron's article in the Guardian.
Some great ones, but this says it all:

'Selfishness and individualism' are not consequences of statism but of neo-liberal ideology which takes as its starting assumption and aim the enthronement of selfishness and individualism as cardinal values, and has these as its effects.

Inequality has increased because New Labour embraced neo-liberalism - that was what the 'new' in New Labour meant - and it won't be rectified by the party that never abandoned it. The only period in which the UK became more equal was during the social democratic post-war consensus of, say, 1945-1976.

Localism was diminished because the Tories did not like the choices that some local areas made - 'loony left councils' - and in the process swathes of municipal authorities which had done an excellent job (not least in reducing inequality) were eviscerated. This kind of civic pride and responsibility cannot be replaced by allowing a few local crackpots to run amok but only by the re-instatement of social democracy."

also good:

So Call-Me-Dave, you're going to dump that old neoliberal, wealth-as-a-meritocracy thing, are you?

Get rid of student loans and bring back student grants? Cut the tax on the poor and raise it on the rich?

Regenerate vast areas outside the south of England, where traditional heavy industries were never replaced?

Raise the minimum wage and pour special resources into education in socially deprived areas?

No? You're not?

You're going to persist with the loans for banks, bonuses for bankers, deregulated financial services (because that's the goose that really lays the golden egg, innit Dave?) and just rely on the wealth to 'trickle down' somehow?

This local responsibility thing sounds good, though. So when you starve the local authorities of funds to service their communities, it'll be their responsibility. Damned clever that.

I look forward to another 8 to 12 years of the same old crap with a different-coloured rosette."

MOD bonuses

"Spot the difference:

The Guardian – “Families of war dead criticise bonuses totalling £47m”
The Times – “Families of servicemen condemn £47m bonuses for MoD staff”
The Telegraph – ” Civil servants deserve £47m in bonuses because they face the same risks as frontline troops in Afghanistan, the Home Secretary said”
BBC News – “Bonuses worth over £47m paid this year to Ministry of Defence civil servants have been criticised”
Daily Mail – “Penpushers at the MoD pocket £300million in bonuses”"

"Can I explain.

“Pen pushers”, as in the IT, Finance, HR staff that keep the army running, lost their annual pay rise 3 years ago, so save money for the front line.

They now get no pay rise. They only get an annual performance bonus (of about £500) which is based on their ability to hit performance targets.

Of course, in Mail world, this is fat cat, champagne swigging pen pushers, taking away money for hitting “PC and race relations quotas ” (well that probably applies to HR staff) and taking away money from “our boys” helicopter fund"

Possible Premiership Changes

The sorts of Premier League reforms being discussed just go to show how little many care for nothing but their own back pockets.
I would HATE to see promotion and relegation removed from football, and I can see it just making the rich richer and the poor poorer, driving a greater dividing line between those with plenty and those with nothing.
If there was going to be a British league including representatives from all the countries WITH promotion and relegation, that’s fine.
But why should the ambitions of the likes of Southend and hundreds of other teams with millions of fans have our ambitions capped?
A two-tier Premier League would bring immense rewards to whoever is lucky enough to survive that one last season, with whoever just misses out on promotion destined to forever languish just below the cut-off line.
If Rangers and Celtic want to join the English leagues they probably should be able to, we have Welsh clubs for example. But it should be at Conference level at best, or lower. I can’t just stick Southend in the Premiership so they shouldn't be able to either. A new club, AFC Wimbledon or FC United, have to start at the very bottom. These two should too.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Select Committees

Man, I love select committees. They make me horny. I loves them.
I'd agree with John Major (don't see that very often) that Select Committees should have a FAR greater role in scrutinising government.
"if there are to be fewer jobs as ministers and their bag-carriers, MPs need some alternative career ladder to climb. So he suggests extra salaries for chairs and vice-chairs of select committees - even paying the most senior select committee chair, the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, the same salary as a cabinet minister.

In return, they would take a bigger role in scrutinising bills, before they're formally put to Parliament. And to make sure there's plenty to scrutinise, he thinks governments should switch from publishing a year's legislative programme, in the annual Queen's Speech, to publishing a four or five-year programme, when they take office.

It might not defuse real political controversy but it could smooth out bad drafting and forestall unexpected consequences to new laws. "

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM, greater roles for select committees, ghhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaa.
They're a much better way of making policy than the opposition party calling the government useless twats, which is what oppositions do most of the time.

electoral reform

Everyone loves a bit of that, don't they? No.
It's one of things most people outside proper politics geeks (e.g. me) hate. It bores them shitless. Fair enough.
Ben Bradshaw has stuck his head about the parapet to criticise Gordy for a 'missed opportunity'.
I'd like to see more done on this, but at the end of the day people don't really care about it, so nothing much happens.

"Brown was quite explicit in his conference speech.

There is now a stronger case than ever that MPs should be elected with the support of more than half their voters – as they would be under the alternative voting system. And so I can announce today that in Labour's next manifesto there will be a commitment for a referendum to be held early in the next parliament. It will be for the people to decide whether they want to move to the alternative vote.

That sounds pretty unambiguous. Cast-iron, you might even say. Brown can't change his mind now without being accused of performing an extraordinary U-turn.

I don't want to make a big deal of this, because I'm all in favour of ministers behaving like intelligent grown-ups and saying what they think, but it's still worth noting that there's a split here."
There's a disagrement about a minor thing no-one really cares about, hardly a "split".
And hardly surprising ministers are reluctant to speak out as when they do it's a "split".
But that's another story, so i've buried it at the bottom.

"Interestingly, though, the government is considering including a "paving bill" for a referendum in the Queen's speech. This would commit the government to holding a referendum on electoral reform at some point in the future (but not on the day of the general election). If such a bill were to become law, a future Tory government would either have to hold a referendum or repeal the legislation."
That'd be good.

Nationalised rail service

National Express East Coast franchise nationalised.
Good, now PLEASE run it well so everyone can see that nationalisation is best. Especially for natural monopolies like rail.
Ta very much,
Bearded Socialist

please don't fuck it up so i look silly

MPs' backgrounds

"Those who make it their business to look at parliament's composition from a broad, non-partisan perspective are worried about what the 2010 intake will say about social mobility. Dr Lee Elliott Major, research director of the Sutton Trust, which campaigns to increase opportunity for non-privileged children, said: "Our big fear is that the golden generation who managed to be socially mobile in the post-war period are going to turn out to be a blip, and in terms of the domination of a lot of public life, things are now moving in the opposite direction.""

I'm from a decent background, probably lower middle class. I was lucky in that I went to a very good state school. But even I feel that politics is largely ruled by people from a class above me and they ignore me for being poor, uneducated and unorthodox.
I have no problem with where people come from: Bevan and Foot are my heros (to some extent). Bevan was from a poor mining community, Foot was born and bred in the lap of luxury and his family had Prime Ministers round for tea.
But there is a serious problem with representation in politics. If even I feel unrepresented (middle class, good school, masters degree) then what must most others feel like?


"who is affected most by these trends? Confounding early predictions of a 'white collar recession', the statistics show that it is the same people who were hit by previous recessions who are most exposed this time round – the 14.3 million low-paid, low-skilled workers"
There's a surprise.

My solutions:
Keep people in work.
Support the low paid through the direct taxation system to save on admin and the costs of admin.
Government subsidised internships.
Even the smallest bit of compassion in the benefits system.
More equality of income and wealth.

Possible solutions from the article:
"As well as measures to improve responsible lending, more low-cost, out-of-court remedies, like the Debt Relief Orders are also needed to support those people in unsustainable debt or for whom repossession is the only remaining option.

Safety nets are vital, but work is nearly always the best route to maintaining economic independence for any household. This is particularly true for low earners, who are more dependent on their earned income than other groups due to their lack of savings and their lack of eligibility for many means-tested benefits. Expanding the eligibility criteria for working tax credit to include training as well as paid employment,would make it easier for people to access training while in work thereby insulating them against the risk of redundancy.

For those people who do lose their jobs, the focus must be on maintaining their proximity to the labour market and it is this measure that should be used to evaluate the effectiveness of government schemes such as the Future Jobs Fund and the Work for Your Benefit pilots. Enhancing the existing 'light touch' skills assessment that takes place at 13 weeks after someone has lost their job, and defining 'sustainable' employment as 12 months rather than 13 weeks could also make a real difference to low earners who find themselves out of work."

Childcare vouchers

If Gordy's right and "this relief is badly targeted, with one third of the benefit going to higher rate taxpayers, and wants to divert money to fund nursery places for two-year-olds"
Then he's taking the right course of action.
He should be appluaded for doing the right thing rather than 'playing politics' with the issue.
Is he? No.

Prison game

Very odd

I am great

"Bearded Socialist re: Comment 29,

To you sir, I doff my bowler hat.
You truely are a comrade with a sense of humour"
"28. Bearded Socialist

she’s a wind-up merchant. Part of her success is that she riles the likes of us, so we can have a little pop back at her for winding us up. She certainly does that well, she makes steam come out of my ears.
As long as it’s light hearted and not too serious, there’s little wrong with it. It’s not serious, but shouldn’t be taken as serious.
11:24 am, November 11, 2009
29. Bearded Socialist

Having looked up on google what a Lada is, i think it only right she’s put on bendy buses to get there"

In response to
"22. Bearded Socialist

I’ll admit that her possible influence worries me.
But anyone that mental worries me, she should be getting the treatment she needs rather than more people agreeing with her, they only encourage her

23. Kojak

Bearded Socialist re: Comment 22,

Said like a true socialist.
Do you have a particular Gulag in mind where she can recieve treatment until she agrees with you?"

Cameron's poverty rhetoric

To some extent, Labour has failed since 97.
My party has not made this country more equal by all measures. That should be Labour's bread and butter, even if it suffered the howling moans of the right-wing press and their hatred for the poor.
But this little piece picks apart Cameron's criticisms, and his solutions.
Criticisms - over the top, based more on words than facts.
Solutions - no big government i.e. none.
What cures poverty and makes people more equal? Redistribution.
When Cameron comes out as a proper Robing Hood, maybe i'll believe him. In the mean time, he's as shallow and empty as usual.

Employment figures

I'm stuck in the 16-24 group that are suffering the worst, and i'm on the dole too so I feel it.
But we've got to the stage where a smaller-than-expected rise in jobless is good news, so let's enjoy it while we can.
Oh, that's it.
Oh well, joy over.
Gissa job

Should Lords be allowed to speak in the Commons?

"It emerged today (at morning lobby) that Gordon Brown has exchanged letters with the Speaker over the idea of letting ministers from the Lords answer questions in the House of Commons.

The case in favour is that this will make peers such as Lord Myners or Lord Davies more answerable to the public.

The case against - put by Ken Clarke yesterday - is that it could erode the legitimacy of the House of Commons. Over a decade or two, he argued, prime ministers could pick ever more of their cabinet from outside the chamber; and that would be bad for democracy

I think they need to find a way to face each other. If Lords csn't speak in the commons, maybe MPs in the Lords. Or somewhere else.
I'm not too keen on Lords being ministers for this reason, it needs sorting

Cameron's poverty nonsense

"Yesterday Kate Green, chair of of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, said:

“We welcome the fact that Conservatives are taking seriously the scandal of four million children in poverty in the fourth richest country in the world. But their proposals miss the point that without real income redistribution to close the inequality gap we will never reach that goal.”"

income redistribution, sounds like a job for BIG GOVERNMENT!

Spelling mistakes

Just goes to show how easy it is to make a spelling mistake

Winter Haiku

I wake, reluctant
too cold to get out of bed
But i need to pee

Beard-related amusement.

Eager to check my standings in the google ratings, i put Bearded Socialist into google. Then I wondered what would come up if I put bearded social into google. On that caught my eye was this beauty: Social psychology of beards

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Gordy and a Tobin Tax

"A study by the Austrian government showed that a 0.05% tax imposed on UK financial trades would raise about £100bn a year. That spells a near end to the debt problem caused by the banks and/or cash for climate change action in poor countries. Now, Brown says, the risks fall on the taxpayer, the rewards on the banks; but a new system must insure against future risk and yield a fair levy to society."
That'd be lovely.
"But that remarkable £100bn is the sum the Treasury would reap even if a transaction tax were to lead to a highly unlikely two-thirds drop in UK transactions"
that's a pretty conservative estimate, so a 0.05% tax WITHOUT a drop would probably wipe out our deficit. And there's also the possibility that some people might be willing to pay for a decent service.

"Brown needed a public reckoning, a time to say: "The world has changed and so have I. Like other leaders and most economists in the boom years I got things wrong. I should have regulated more, not less. Our new industrial policy acknowledges that I relied too much on the financial sector. When the facts change, I change my mind. As everyone should, I learn from experience, and now I see what must be done. Not only was the whole economy unbalanced by the dominance of finance, but the rewards were too unfairly shared in the boom years; we must ensure the pain of these hard times is born by the broadest shoulders.""

Mark Hughes on a bunker

Not a golfing reference, but akin to politics and a mentality of 'they're out to get me'.
Wayne Bridge had a shocker, but Hughes has learnt from Fergy and most top managers in that if anything goes wrong, it's someone else's fault.
Manchester derby - shocking defending from Micah Richards allows Owen to score. Hughes blames the ref for allowing too much time.
Maybe it's just that managers defend their players in public and only criticise them in private, maybe. Richards has since been dropped.
But ref's get it bad, partly because most in football just blames someone else for their own errors

Cameron setting out welfare plans

This is laugh a minute stuff.
DC "claims the Tories are now "best-placed to fight poverty in our country"."
"says the welfare system tells young girls that having children before finding work and a loving relationship is a way to getting a home and money."

""Our alternative to big government is the big society, but we understand that the big society is not just going to spring to life on its own: we need strong and concerted government action to make it happen. We need to use the state to remake society.""
Big government has failed, we need bigger government to sort it out. What else is "strong and concerted government action"?
Unless he meant "strong and concerted government INaction". THAT'S small government for you.
Personally, I fead he's still tripping after those wild days at uni.

Wasn't he praising the NHS and minimum wage not long ago?
Those are both big government things, and have done as much as anything in the history of this country to help the poorest

Can he do nothing right?

I used this article as a citation, but some of it is class:
"Is there anything he now does that won't land him in trouble somewhere? If Brown were to save a one-eyed puppy from drowning in a Trafalgar Square fountain, he would be accused of canopaedophilia, vote-grabbing, media manipulation and cynically privileging the partially-sighted over the blind. If the PM found a cure for cancer tomorrow, someone would complain that he was putting scores of oncologists and charity workers out of business.

The handwriting mini-scandal bears out the famous words of Cardinal Richelieu, "Give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, and I will find something in them which will hang him" – although the Cardinal would not in his wildest dreams have imagined that a succession of undotted vowels would be the hanging offence. It also shows what has been lost by the abandonment of letter-writing"

It was also quite funny that the bloke from the Sun on the BBC interview attacked Gordy for getting the soldier's name wrong, then spent the whole interview calling Phil Woolas 'Andy'

The Gordy letter thing

I think it's all in pretty bad taste.
The mother is hurt that her sone died, fair enough. I'd be pretty hurt too.
She blames Brown for a lack of equipment. Fair enought, that's her right.
I don't like the criticisms for his handwriting, or the TYPE OF PEN he used.
Her quote: her describing the letter as a "hastily scrawled insult" is a bit off. He's the first Prime Minister ever to write personally to the families of the dead, then to attack him for that is not on. It just doesn't sit right with me.
Attacking him for the type of pen is daft, apparently his eyesight is so bad he can't see anything thinner, and it's just about the most stupid trivial thing i've ever heard.
I think she's been used by the Sun to attack Gordy.
I think the letter isn't too bad, i've seen bits of if with the 'offending' bits circled and I could read it.
This is a horrible issues to get involved in, but plenty are using it as a stick to beat him with, that and not bowing his head at the right angle at the Cenotaph.
If that's being thrown at him, i'll defend him.
But it does go to show that he may not be a Prime Minister for our age. He's a micro, not macro man. He's not media-friendly like Blair or Cameron. He's not a great "people person" as in he find it difficult to get a simple message across e.g. an apology or an idea.
But he's a substance over style kinda guy, and i'd rather have him than Cameron any day. Partly due to the party each is in, but partly because I prefer dour, serious people of substance to the PR man Cameron.

19th Century Liberals and poverty

Apparently, 19th century liberals did more to reduce poverty than Labour ever did. Really?
Well, no. But makes a good right-wing attack on Labour, if you're abit shabby about the detail, which they obviously are.
Lloyd George had a huge role in reducing poverty in his time through things like National Insurance, and he was a liberal.
But liberalism is not so easy to box, 19th C liberalism also lead to the workhouse, back in those days some Tories were at least paternalistic one-nationers, while the liberals were the 'leave them be' lot.

About the only true or sensible part of the article is:
"If either party were serious about reducing poverty they would reintroduce that very sensible Classical Liberal principle, one of the few Liberal principles that the Lib Dems still believe in – that the poor shouldn’t pay tax at all. They could raise the income tax and National Insurance threshold to £10,000 and abolish council tax, while taking benefits away from the well-off."

"compassionate conservatism"

Compassionate conservatism is the biggest idea in British politics, apparently.
I'd call it the biggest con anyone's tried to put forward, ever.
I'm biased, of course, but for me compassion is totally missing from conservatism, that's why i'm a lefty.
Nominated for Joke Of The Day

John Major on how to improve government

Some ideas:

a] Cutting the number of MPs to as few as 500 from today’s 646 (this goes much further than David Cameron’s proposal to cut to about 580 MPs)
Don't see the justification for this. I disagree with it, but it would be nice to have a debate based on a reason for doing it.

b] Not letting peer-ministers stay in the House of Lords if they turn out to be a bit useless. (Major singled just three of them for praise: Lord Darzai, Lord Davies and Lord Adonis - not Lord Myners, interestingly). But they could keep their title, he proposed.
If they're useless, get rid of them. No problem with that.

c] Letting Lords and MPs speak in both chambers. This could cut the cost of the ministerial payroll by up to a third, he argued.
Yes please. It's a big problem that Secretaries of state etc. are confined to one house, especially if their shadow is in the other e.g. Mandelson. I'd also like to see a far greater role for Select Committees as they tend to get more to the point rather than waffling on about how crap their opponent is.

d] Stop reshuffling so often. Under Major it became an almost annual event “like Christmas or Easter” which happened for the sake of it. Ministers would do a better job if they were allowed to stay in one department for longer.
Yes, too bloomin right. Maybe more power to the ministers to allow them to do jobs rather than policy being handed down from on high. Not sure how that would play in the current media age.

e] Major also made interesting points about who becomes an MP (not as many former businessmen, farmers or officer - and lots of career politicians).
Fair point.

f] He warned that after a certain period of time, the “gene pool” of talent diminishes because the talented ones have already been through the ministerial sausage machine. That certainly seems true of this government.
Fair. May relate to D

Councils and charges

The piece i'm refering to is written by a Labour councillor, so should be taken with the right amount of salt.
But the point is valid:
Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government Caroline Spelman has been attacking the Labour government for forcing councils to charge more for services. Isn't that the same Tory party who have been going on about how wonderful Barnet council is, that's the one where they charge for services. Not only that, it's not just a 2 tier approach, it's a sliding scale: want a service good and quick? Pay more and you get it.
That to me is wrong because quality and speed of service should not come down to ability to pay, it should be on the basis of need.


Videos of some of the worst dives of all time.

Media Impartiality

May or may not be true.
If true, very worrying
"a Tory government would abolish Ofcom and allow greater freedom for News Corporation to campaign on issues in the same style as Fox News.

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw warned in a lecture to Progress last month:

"David Cameron says he wants to abolish or dismember Ofcom. What a co-incidence! The Tories have also said they would lift the legal requirement on broadcasters to be politically impartial. Impartiality is one of things the public value most about British broadcasting and the reason TV and radio news are more trusted than newspapers. But of course if broadcasters were no longer required to be impartial, that would pave the way for a UK version of Fox News.""

Separated at birth

Is it just me, or were David Moyes and Malcolm Tucker separated at birth?
Hair colour, and the face that one is fictional, aside. The anger seems inherent in both.

Politicians' hair

The Guardian is on the ball with the important stories, including this excellent piece of investigative journalism into how Nick Clegg has a haircut like Simon Cowell.
Really fucking worthwhile, well done lads. Keep up the good work. Idiot

Monday, 9 November 2009

David Cameron

David Cameron walked past me on my way to work this morning, and I didn't slap him. Well done me

Tony Benn and the Tories

The other day I called him Tony Bandwagon Benn.
"Tony Benn doesn’t hate the Tories anymore".

"There are issues I find myself in agreement with some of the Tories on, particularly on civil liberties,” said Benn. “All this security state stuff is very, very worrying. Libertarians like David Davis, a right-wing Conservative, resigned over the government’s 42-day detention law and I went to speak for him.” He said he also agreed with the Conservatives over the Lisbon treaty.

Steady on, mate. Socialists shouldn’t find themselves in agreement with the Tories on anything. Ever. We might share the Tories’ opposition to given aspects of New Labour authoritarianism, but that is a different thing entirely from being in agreement with them. The difference is one of nuance, perhaps, but nevertheless vital to grasp."

You don’t jettison your underlying ideas, but you do have to sharpen up your arguments. So while I do still want to see the bourgeoisie swinging from the nearest lamppost, it has finally dawned on me that this is something of a long-term strategic perspective.

But at the same time, this means that I have a different ideology to that of the Tories. And that I want to be divided from them, as they will want to be divided from me.

That is why Benn is wrong to privilege issues over ideologies in seeking out alliances. I fear that his newfound tendency to elision brings him to the brink of final political collapse."

To me, Benn will never recover from opposing Foot. Now he's jumping into bed with Tories.
I applaud David Davies for being a libertarian who resigned over the 42 days detention. And what happens to him? Backbenches.
I may oppose authoritarianism, but I don't support the Tories

Peter Mandelson

Mandelson - good or bad?
I'm not a huge fan. He's well thought of amoungst journalists, "political and government circles".
But not widely amoungst the voters.
If he becomes our leader, we're fucked.
Very good piece on the differences between inside and outside the bubble


Problem: too much borrowing.
Solution? Too much borrowing
Well kinda. The government can get away with borrowing lots, especially at the moment.
Is it a good idea?
Not great, but it'll have to do.

Jeremy Clarkson can fuck off

It amazes me how those on the right who are always banging on about how great Britain is are always doing it down.
Clarkson has extended this to every other part of the world too.
"After describing Britain as “mosque-drenched” and denouncing Albanians for taking university places and stealing wheelbarrows" he went on to slagging off everywhere else too:
" “You can’t go to France because you need to complete 17 forms in triplicate every time you want to build a greenhouse, and you can’t go to Switzerland because you will be reported to your neighbours by the police and subsequently shot in the head if you don’t sweep your lawn properly, and you can’t go to Italy because you’ll soon tire of waking up in the morning to find a horse’s head in your bed because you forgot to give a man called Don a bundle of used notes for “organising” a plumber.

“You can’t go to Australia because it’s full of things that will eat you, you can’t go to New Zealand because they don’t accept anyone who is more than 40 and you can’t go to Monte Carlo because they don’t accept anyone who has less than 40 mill. And you can’t go to Spain because you’re not called Del and you weren’t involved in the Walthamstow blag. And you can’t go to Germany … because you just can’t.

Do we have to go on? Oh alright then:

“The Caribbean sounds tempting, but there is no work, which means that one day, whether you like it or not, you’ll end up like all the other expats, with a nose like a burst beetroot, wondering if it’s okay to have a small sharpener at 10 in the morning. And, as I keep explaining to my daughter, we can’t go to America because if you catch a cold over there, the health system is designed in such a way that you end up without a house. Or dead.

“Canada’s full of people pretending to be French, South Africa’s too risky, Russia’s worse and everywhere else is too full of snow, too full of flies or too full of people who want to cut your head off on the internet.”"

Fuck off Clarkson

Immigration debate

"Immigration is down, more people are being repatriated if their claims are illegitimate and the points-based system for working visas is taking effect."

How to solve immigration problems?
"social development at home and economic development abroad."
Yeah, i'd probably go with that. Houses for British people, which all too few politicians are willing to do, that'd be a start.

"In the UK, the far right, elements of the media and a few among the less-far right play on the fear of people in low-income areas that jobs are being lost to immigrants. Try as we might, sounding authoritative on immigration is not going to win this fight and dispel that fallacy, even if it is based on malice and xenophobia. Instead, we have to continue to work to make these areas less deprived: improve employment, increase community and hunker down on social policy initiatives. We will have to fight against inactive ... councils to reintegrate people into society, where they have been left on the cold of the doorstep for too long."

"Abroad, simply speaking, we need to work hard to make life better for people so that fewer feel the need to travel thousands of miles to make a new, safer and better life for themselves. The Department for International Development is seen as detached from the lives of everyday folk in this country, but that is simply not true. A prosperous world is better for all of us and increasing the quality of life abroad will do more to stop outflows of people from deprived countries than an increase in border controls ever could. DfID is a world leader in its field and, if we can tie its work in to the answer on immigration (as well as international business and the environment), its relevance can be highlighted."
Yeah, i'd have some of that.

The kind of people who want to stop ‘Islamification’ of Britain

Never let the facts get in the way of a good scare story eh?
Either about immigrants or those who are worried about it.
Sure, the quote cited are nasty xenophobic wankers, but not everyone who is worried about immigration is.
The point is that we need to make the case for how great immigration is, and has been for our country.
How many people would rather have Lee Barnard over Christiano Ronaldo in their team? Not many, i'd bet.
So we need to make, again and again, how good immigration can be. Who'd rather have Steve McLaren than Fabio Capello? Mentals, that's who.

Are MPs' interns being exploited?

Are interns exploited?
It's not just MP's interns!
I'm doing an internship because otherwise I'd be doing nothing, so it's good from that point of view.
a recruitment agency thinks I could get £10/hour. Right now i'd take minimum wage for a job.
Another agency has offered me an interview to be a recruitment consultant on £20k per year plus bonuses of nearly another £15k. But i wouldn't get it coz i don't want it.
Maybe that's me being greedy, because I don't want that job and i'm not really in a position to refuse.
But my point is that in the face of this i'm actually working on £2/day travel expenses.
Are interns exploited? Yes

US Healthcare

Mark Mardell's post about the US healthcare reforms just go to show how much of a genius Bevan was for getting the doctors onside and proving that the scares surrounding healthcare are nowhere near as bad as the right claim.
Again, Bevan = class

Darren Ferguson leaves Peterborough

"Peterborough United have parted company with manager Darren Ferguson"
He's had great success in the short time he's been there, now he's out. Madness

Quantitive Easing

"The more money they create, the more the Bank of England's policy makers must wish they had better things to spend it on than government debt"

I was thinking about this the other day, as you do.
I was wondering what would happen if the bank put the same amount of money into the bank accounts of British citizens rather than into the high-up financial markets. The financiers wouldn't make so much money, but the money would make it to the front line where it's needed. Not all of it would be spent, but the money that wasn't could be stuck in the bank and it would still help those most in need.
Having experienced unemployment (i'm still on the dole) i would much prefer the money was put into the pockets of those people whose jobs are ended or hanging by a thread rather than being handled by the rich and powerful.
It may be radical, but it may be a good idea.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

American healthcare

The Yanks have done something decent and voted for Obama's healthcare bill.
The arguements they are having sound exactly like the ones we had over here about the NHS in the 40s with Bevan. It's some honour to be compared to Bevan, and Obama's got a long way to go to justify that, but this is a start.
I just caught the end of a report on the news after MOTD and the stuff the opponents were coming up with is just stupid, but is the same as Bevan had to deal with.
So go on the Yanks, do something right and look after your sick

Unlucky Man United

Just watched MOTD and Man U were very unlucky. Drogba fouled Wes Brown and was clearly off-side. I really don't know how he got away with being off-side like that. The off-side rule needs changing back, all this 'interfering with play' rubbish has got to go. If the bloke's off side, it's almost impossible for them not to be interfering. Drogba was right in the middle of the goal

Public Schools

Full rant on this later, but for the meantime I'll just point out what's wrong with the headline "Why public schools are likely to rule in 2010"
They Do rule. Every thing and every one.
And not 'rule' as in good, 'rule' as in control and run.

Thick of It funny quotes

Best insult

"The only thing John Duggan is doing here is depriving a village somewhere of a twat." – Nicola.

General Election Possibilities

As ever, there is talk about all the possible combinations relating to the election.

" The polling evidence suggests that the anti-Government vote will split so many ways, to the benefit of the Greens, UKIP and the repugnant BNP, that the Tories will not win sufficient seats in the North.

And there's another reason for the Tory concerns. They're still not ruling out the possibility of Brown stepping aside, or being forced out of office by Lord Mandelson, and an interim leader leading Labour into the election.

The tearoom talk, evidently, is of Alan Johnson, the Hull MP, becoming Prime Minister and running the country until polling day – while Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, runs the election campaign."

The bit about anti-Government vote is interesting. It shows how much the Tories still have to make up in order to get a vote for them rather than a vote against Labour.

I still have a feeling Gordy might get forced out just before the election, though I think the election date should be fixed.

David Cameron, Clare Short, Tony Benn

Q) What have these three got in common?
A) They're all fans of David Cameron.

Short is in favour of his commitment on International Development, Benn thinks he's a wonderful libertarian.

Short is certainly passionate about International Development, so it's good to see her ignore party dividing lines and say what she feels. Can't help think she's been suckered though.

And Tony Bandwagon Benn is after another platform for himself, disregarding reality and everyone else as usual.
The Tories have an interesting relationship with liberty, being as they have libertarians and authoritarians with, generally, louder voices than those in Labour who share the same split.

"Clare Short has been along to give a little pep talk to Team Cameron on overseas aid policy:

The Conservatives have committed to keeping up the budget and keeping up the commitment on poverty and keeping a separate department, so I am pleased about that.

Now, wait for it. Tony Benn, who almost destroyed the Labour party in the early ‘80s, has taken a liking to Our Dave:

There are issues I find myself in agreement with some of the Tories on, particularly on civil liberties.

With loyalty to colleagues not being one Benn's priorities in life, and having succeeded in making the most horrendous political misjudgements down the years, he proceeds :

Some of the new Labour people might be tempted to support Cameron as the best way of having influence within the new power structure if there was a hung parliament. Some new Labour people might be sympathetic to some of the things Cameron did."

Tony Blair

I was down the pub on Thursday, and the subject came to politics.
I found myself giving a left-wing defence of Tony Blair, who to be honest I don't think was all that bad.
I was talking about unprecidented levels of public spending on health and education, rising tax levels, minimum wage, and his being elected on the manifesto of 1983.
I talked about how under Blair the moderate wing of the Labour party held power within the party for the first time, though I forgot about people trying to ditch Clause 4 since the 30s.
The girl I was talking to/ranting at agreed that the substance of my arguement was good and valid, but ended with 'but I think he's a bellend'.
Strike one for informed democracy and enlightenment eh?
Nevermind the substance of what he did in 10 years as head of the country, you think he's a bellend so that's all that matters. Honestly

Right to life

There's a story going around at the mo about some poor wee baby who's life is in the hands of a court.
A post on Pickled Politics concerns the rights and wrongs of it.
Personally I support the mother in this, and I don’t like the attempt to corner the emotion employede by Ms Ismail. She is deliberately emotive and provocative when that is not what’s needed.
"hould Baby RB be allowed to live a life of the best possible quality for as long as possible, or should he die too soon, simply because a hospital is not prepared to provide him with the support he requires?"

If the baby is unable to survive, then nature should be allowed to take it’s course. This life is only fleeting.
I cannot make a proper rational arguement about this, but this is what I feel. That may go against my call for the author to be objective, but so be it.
I have experienced this situation (life or death depending on the flick of a switch)

The EU

Some mentalist has been ranting on about her views on the EU. She claims it's a loss of democratic sovereignty etc. etc. usual rubbish.
So surely she'd support a referendum on leaving the EU. But no, she opposes it becaise she does NOT "believe that a referendum on leaving the EU altogether would be won by the "no" vote:"
So democracy for those who agree, surpression for those who don't. Simple!
Good old Tories

Arsenal's midfield

I'm really enjoying the prem this season. It's competitive and so far there seem to be contenders for every slot.
Finding three teams worse than Hull and Portsmouth may prove hard, but i can see Pompey improving throughout the season.
But my main topic is Arsenal. I do like watching them, they are class. For the sake of balance I wish they could defend as that would make them truely great, but no-one can really defend this season.
But I like what they did yesterday with Fabregas and Ramsey in the middle as I think those two have the potential to be like Xavi and Iniesta for Barcelona. While i'm a 442 man they are doing very well with 433, and it's nice to see a proper 433 rather than a 451.
But as no-one seems to defend this year, it makes for a very exciting league

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Jonathon Trott

There will be lots written about Trott soon, and rumours abound about his ancestry.
"his English, actually" Interesting, that makes him eligible to play for England through birth, without residency.

and a wee giggle from the same article:
"So the Australians think they are suffering in India? They should take a journey through the England injury list for the 2002-03 tour of Australia in Wisden. Not only did England arrive with injured players - Darren Gough (knee), Michael Vaughan (knee), Simon Jones (rib), Marcus Trescothick (shoulder) and Andrew Flintoff (double hernia); they had squad players injure themselves on tour - Simon Jones (cruciate ligaments), John Crawley (hip and torn muscle), Alec Stewart (hand), Ashley Giles (left wrist), Steve Harmison (sore shins) and Andy Caddick (back). They also managed to find injuries for the replacement players - Chris Silverwood (ankle ligaments), Craig White (rib strain), Alex Tudor (temple) and Jeremy Snape (thumb in a warm-up game) .And they lost the Test series 1-4 and the one-day series 3-7. There, that should have cheered a few of you "

England in South Africa

SA are the best side in the world, "England have won five of their last six 50-over contests against the Proteas"
I wouldn't have bet on that.
I'm pretty certain it won't last

Is cricket losing its soul?

"Is the game being destroyed by a thoughtlessly punishing calendar, greedy officials, multiple formats and an increasingly mercenary spirit?"

I certainly think there is too much played, which means the standard is lower than it could be. For example, fielding in English County Championship Division 2 is poor, which means batsmen make more runs than they should, and bowlers are not properly rewarded. The solution is simply less cricket.
At Test level the era of the out-and-out fast bowler and all-rounder seem to be over. This is in part thanks to the huge amounts of cricket played, especially back to back Tests which end careers on their own. I would like to see lots less cricket played, or at least the same amount played over a longer time.

"Consider October for proof of how the game's officialdom is reducing it to a crashing bore. The month began with the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy. Three days after the final in South Africa, there was the Challenger Trophy in India and the lucre- and entertainment-fuelled Twenty20 Champions League.

Now look at how the calendar has treated players from Australia: prior to the ongoing seven-match, one-day series against India, they have played in the super-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), the Wisden Trophy, the World Twenty20, the Ashes, two Natwest Series, the Champions Trophy, and the Champions League.

The upshot: five Australian players have been struck down by injury in India in the past 10 days or so. This is excluding fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who played three matches despite a nagging ankle injury. "

too much cricket = lower quality, lots of injuries.

My ideal series would be 1 20/20, 3 ODIs, and 3/4/5 Tests. But this tour would include warm-up games and rest times between matches. If that means only one tour per winter, that's fine.
The quality of overseas players in County cricket says it all, gone are the established internationals, now there are a mixed bag of decent first class players.

All Time Fantasy Band

No more than one person per band.
Mine is:

Drums - Danny Carey (Tool)
Bass - Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
Guitars - James Hetfield (Metallica) and André Olbrich (Blind Guardian)
Vocals - Blaze Bayley (Blaze Bayley, Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden)
Free role - Christofer Johnsson (Therion)

What a line-up.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

An English XI

I was reading this article about non-English players playing cricket for England.
People kept going on about how they couldn't field a team born in england alone. Here's mine:

1) Cook*
2) Key
3) Bell
4) Bopara
5) Collingwood
6) Davies (keeper)
7) Broad
8) Swann
9) Anderson
10) Sidebottom
11) Onion

That leaves Denly and Rachid etc. as reserves. Could also argue that there are plenty of fine young batsmen out there who could come in ahead of Key or Bopara, or Bell.
Sure, having Pietersen and Trott is nice, but it's not the end of the world. Andy Caddick was born in New Zealand and moved over here to play for England. He did his time as an over-seas player, qualified and played 62 Tests for England. Why the fuss over Pietersen (who is more qualified through his mother), but not over Caddick?
Trott is different because he has no English parents, but if those are the rules why not?
I think the real problem is the lack of world-class English players, Flintoff and Pietersen aside

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Life on the dole...Signing On

Since loosing my job i've been thinking of doing a sort of mini-series of pieces about living on the dole. Here is the first.
The dole, or Job Seekers Allowance, exists to get people off it as soon as possible. It's there to tide people over ever so quickly before they're back into work. Fair enough, it's important that people work.
But at the moment dole consists of pennies the state hands down with gritted teeth, and the state is very eager to take them back at the slightest opportunity.
I felt like i was signing a paper saying 'i am worthless and stupid' on it. i have to go through X, Y, and Z motions towards getting a job, which i may not have a choice about accepting.
Now this is all a very delicate and complex area, and the other side is that it should not be too easy to sit around on benefits all day. i'll have a better idea of what's going on when i've been on the dole longer, but hopefully that won't happen.
It sticks in my throat when compared to the help for the richest, that the poorest get squeezed and screwed, while the rich get their bonuses and pay.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Job. Ish

Got myself an internship with the Social Market Foundation.
I'd prefer something paid, but a Think Tank is pretty tasty.

Gordy and the X Factor

One of the top stories on the Guardian today is about Gordon Brown saying he prefers X Factor to Strictly Come Dancing.
I don't care. Even slightly.
He should have more important things to do than go on about what he watches on TV.
I suppose this is an attempt to make him seem more 'human' by doing an interview with GQ, but he always comes across to me as trying to jump on the nearest bandwagon.
Rather than trying to be exciting, he should do boring well

Monday, 2 November 2009

Nadine Dorries

I'm no fan of Dorries.
I can't find the link, but she's just given her daughter a nice comfy job in her office. I would have thought 'Guido Fawkes' would have been interested in that story.
But he's not. Funny that

When in doubt, tax stuff

Compass want a windfall tax on banks.
Sure, let's have some of that. They have money, let's take it off them! wooo

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Dennis Potter

Dennis Potter? Never heard of him. Until I was introduced to this little clip about how he'd like to deal with Murdoch. And good on him.
He's right about how Murdoch's power is perverting the media and the political process.
If only he really had shot him

Michael Foot is amazing

Michael Foot is amazing. Legend. Top.
I'm not the only one who says so.
A legend.
Many people I know praise for Foot for having the courage of his convictions.
That may be easier due to his lack of success, but it's real praise in the age of Cameron and Blair and their ilk.

Devicisve, certainly. As those who hold opinins in politics will naturally devide people.
But i'm a huge fan for his being an academic, and for holding true to what he believed to be right

Professor Nutt and drugs policy

Labour list agrees with me that Nutt "was sacked by Alan Johnson for the mortal crime of telling the truth and doing his job."

"The important point here is that Professor Nutt's statements weren’t personal opinions but were based on scientific evidence" agreed.

"It also casts aspersions on the role of scientists in informing public policy if evidence-based approaches are jettisoned in favour of spurious morality judgements."

"Who will dare to give unorthodox evidence to ministers given the precedent set of job security depending on giving the ‘right’ advice?"

"before the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 there were 5,000 heroin users compared to the current 300,000 (so much for the success of prohibition)."

"All these points seem to be lost in the current debate; anyone who so much as suggests that we need a rethink on drugs policy is characterised as an advocate for handing out crack-pipes to school children and forcibly injecting heroin into the eyes of pensioners."

Aside from my opinion on drugs, i fully support using scientific evidence rather than engaging in political scare-mongering. I don't like everyone trying to be tougher than each other on Home Office issues

Alistair Darling to unveil plans to break up Lloyds and TSB

Darling is following up his pledge to break up the major state-funded banks.
"Alistair Darling is expected to confirm over the next few days that assets belonging to the two banks, which are majority-owned by the taxpayer, will be sold off to boost competition. Ministers say the move will fulfil Gordon Brown's promise to taxpayers that they would get "payback" for the multibillion-pound bailout of the sector last year."

Good work. The issue of 'too big to fail' is very serious, as shown by the state of the finances at the moment.

Lord Ashcroft

I'm not a big fan of him.
His tax status is shrouded in mystery, but i'm not sure it really should be public knowledge, but then he's bank-rolling the party that will probably form the next government. So it probably should be transparent.
In the way that some criticise Labour for being funded by Union, the Tories' funding by Lord Ashcroft is more worrying. At least the Unions are transparent.

The article above slags him off, rightly. But going on about the poverty in Belize and his power and influence there didn't really grab me. Apparently he owns everything through some very shadowy businesses practices. Which I suppose is important in light of his support for, and bankrolling of, the Tories.
I don't like having a (soon to be) governing party so dependent on the monies of one man. He shouldn't have so much power

In the Loop

I was bought In The Loop as a leaving present from work.
My only criticism is that it's too like the office, i don't like the cringe-worthy humiliation humour that's all the rage for the last few years.
The bits in the film i didn't like were Tucker getting out played. Malcolm Tucker is the man, and no-one else should upstage him or take the piss and get away with it.
Otherwise, class. I laughed out loud. a lot