30 May 2009

And you wonder why

I remember this article from a week ago, saying that most people felt that cancer advice was constantly changing, and a load of scientists saying that simply wasn't true - it was single studies that keep proposing new ideas that confuse people

Is it any wonder? This is currently the Indie's top story - If that's a respectable paper, god knows how the tabloids will handle it

This is of course the problem - and the scientists questioned in the article were missing the point (or the BBC were performing yet another exercise in futility) - the media loves a new headline about cancer, I remember a few years ago when I read a story about trees causing cancer, and a month or so later read that trees were now good for you...it is dozy

Now it's not the scientists fault for researching and publishing their findings, but the media for reporting it all as actual conclusive proof - it's not, and it's hardly surprising people are highly sceptical of new cancer warnings in such an environment

But the scientists seem to misunderstand, as they say: their advice hasn't changed for over a decade - eat healthy, don't get fat and don't smoke - I don't think people ignore this advice as barmy, but most reports they will read will be in the Sunday health supplement and offer all sorts of weird opinions

It probably really doesn't matter, but I'm just pointing out this is really a non-story

29 May 2009

Whatever happened to 'will of the people'

The BBC reports that seven million people, in the UK alone, engage in illegal downloading

Now that's impressive - it also proves that it's impossible to prosecute downloaders, only the individuals who actually post the content

Personally I think this situation can only be solved by adapting with the Internet, not putting up silly barriers like they're trying to in Australia - music companies and the like are only after as much money as they can get and their time was always going to come

Now I'm not sure how they've worked out how much it's all worth, and whether they count sharing TV shows as 'illegal' (bit of a grey area) - but certainly it's music and films

The point I would make is that this is the maximum potential figure, just because say, an album, has received 1 million downloads, does not mean it would be bought by a million people if they had to pay for it, nor does it mean all of them haven't bought a copy of it as well

People conveniently forget that a lot of stuff downloaded is actually downloaded because of availability - in this age of instant worldwide information, when a film/DVD/TV show is released or aired in (principally) the US, the information is all over the net as soon as it's out, but the product will not be released for months or even longer in many countries - those people know it's out and they want to know the goss - that doesn't mean they won't buy it/watch it legally when it does air in their market - in fact many downloaders feel obliged to do this as fans - they want to support the product and many go out and buy the DVD when it is released so as to ensure their favourite show continues (e.g. Futurama and SG-1, which are now solely distributed on DVD now)

We live in a worldwide market now and it's not right to serve one market first, part of the reason why you see now that the biggest films and TV shows are distributed around the world a lot more quickly than in the 90s, where places like Australia got blockbuster films years after the US and Europe, that's the reason why the later Harry Potter books were released worldwide simultaneously - the industry has already had to adapt to some extent

So who knows what the figure is, I'm sure there's some good I.T reporters out there who know, but don't simply believe that the full potential of what is downloaded is actually lost from the economy

Seeing as politics is always 30 years behind contemporary culture, I wonder if when we finally get a voice our generation will even give a hoot about protecting the media moguls

Reason #2674

Terry Waite says he might be an independent

One thing I picked up was that maybe the party system really does keep decent, fair-minded people out of the two main parties because they can't agree to the whipping system? I don't wish to tar everyone of them with the same brush but there are a lot of members who are just lobby fodder in it for the party job, and the big names are ambitious career politicians who place personal gain first - doesn't leave a lot of people with integrity...funny how most seem to be in the Lib Dems, who have no chance of gaining power

So you want the best candidates - stick to people who refuse to be told what to think, and you will only find that in independent candidates (and possibly the Lib Dems)

Juy Team launch election broadcast

Finally Jury Team have aired their election broadcast, unfortunately their website has now collapsed - I hope that's a good sign, or it's a pretty bad website - either way they got some extra attention

Any why not? I thought it was an excellent broadcast - one thing that should speak to people right now is an advert with a load of normal people running for election - normally these broadcast are about politicians trying to convince you of something, or saying 'we will do this for you' or 'we at Labour/Conservative HQ love puppies!' - people are even more turned off from that right now and in fact the present expenses crisis had probably produced the perfect situation for Jury Team, who were launched before this all kicked off

I think that advert should speak to people, and with the current climate maybe people aren't as cynical about the minor parties right now

It does again show half the problem with politics is unfair exposure - the big three have a massive advantage to promote their parties through political events, if Jury Team were actually in peoples' faces I think they'd be welcomed

*Also, what on Earth was Paul Judge doing on Question Time tonight? I'm sure he could get a seat pretty easily, but he just so happens to get a question in out of the hundred or so people with hands up? It was very surreal watching someone who should be on the panel be in the audience (actually I've always wanted a politician to get an awkward question in from the audience)

27 May 2009

There are other choices

I feel I must be partisan for a second

I have already blogged about how I hate the attention the BNP get and the fear they supposedly inspire - if they didn't get such attention I doubt anyone would even contemplate voting for them - it's ridiculous

Take the English Democrats, nobody pays attention to them because they're just another little party, but if they were racist they'd be a hit!

Anyway, having looked at them a bit I can't say I disagree with them in any way - and I think they express pretty widely held fears

They support an English Parliament, tighter controls on illegal immigration and action in the EU - all things a right-wing nationalist should love

The things they say make perfect sense - but as usual people don't pay attention because they don't expect them to win, it's part of the British peoples' conditioning towards the major two parties

But regardless, there is very little between the 'legitimate' issues of the BNP and the English Democrats (the BNP are an English party, despite the name) - the only real difference is you can probably trust that they aren't full of closet racists

So if you like the stuff the BNP spout then I'd say you have an alternative in the English Dems,

I can't see why you would choose them over the Democrats, unless you actually were racist, in which case we haven't got much hope I guess

I will never vote Labour or Tory, and I intend to vote for Jury Team assuming I actually agree with the candidate, but I would also consider the English Democrats, who I think have an excellent platform that should appeal to (English) people and that their only obstacle is the usual barrier that everyone not in the major party faces

26 May 2009

Fixed Terms are evil!!1!!1!

Lot of news about Cameron's new proposals today, the Mail were unpredictably gushing

I don't need to explain my view on Cameron - he's an opportunist jumping on the reform bandwagon, but we will get little real reform from him - as the old saying goes: 'turkeys don't vote for Christmas'

I instead wish to debate the finer points of reform, as Paul Waugh points out, the Tories are a bit lukewarm on the idea - saying fixed terms are worth looking at, but also saying that it would mean we couldn't get rid of Gordon Brown or campaign that he didn't have a mandate

Now, I'm going to ignore the fact that as fixed terms should be four years, Gordo would already be facing an election

But Cameron is also missing a major point - does he really think we could just 'swap' Prime Ministers with a fixed term system? We can now because the rules are non-existent and it's all very 'House of Commons' - picking a suitable minister from the ranks is ridiculously outdated, as shown by the public contempt for the situation we are now in

So a change would surely be accompanied by the tightening up of the rules - if you are elected for a fixed term you are obliged to serve that - obviously we can exempt health matters and such, but Blair simply walked, seemingly for the hell of it, after promising a full third term - that is an unacceptable situation

Can you imagine Barack Obama deciding he would quit one year in, then spending a year 'on tour', as it were? - No, because he can't - only in exceptional circumstances

Also note that this implies all Cameron would do, or even contemplate doing, is changing the process from being 'there must be an election within five years', to 'there must be an election at xxxx date' - he doesn't seem to consider the party reselecting a Prime Minister for itself mid-term, you look deep enough and you can see just how shallow Cameron's plans are, the House of Commons remains largely untouched, all that is removed is the present government's advantage of timing - it is a piecemeal offering

Instead, if a Prime Minister does decide to resign, it should trigger an election - while I used America as my example, we are not America, we do not have an elected head of state/government - but as Blair's resignation shows, we effectively have such a situation in the public mind, it's all very confusing and British

But there is no need for us to stick rigidly to four years - the American situation is very different, the fact is we can take a far more realistic approach - what Blair did is uncommon, it's happened twice in thirty years, or once in nearly twenty years, and you can't expect many Prime Ministers would simply quit before they even got halfway - evidence in most countries shows that they tend to know the rules and intend to serve the full term, the only reason Blair and Labour did it was because they could

They could bizarrely rip-off the electorate and change leader after two years simply because the system allows them to - if we changed the situation then 1) it wouldn't have happened in the first place and 2) we would've got our election

You see how Cameron spins? The situation barely changes in Parliament, but he gets his 'reform' to win over the public

There is an argument that being able to call an election at different times is better for government, it prevents lame ducks as it were - but in reality would it be any different? Brown is a lame duck and is clinging on to the very last minute - when was the last time we didn't use the conventional four (or longer) years? It was 1974 if you're interested, and that fact has to be weighed against the fact that most countries accept the system and we'd be removing a massive advantage that is given to the incumbent government

Like I say, a fixed term isn't perfect - but it's better than a government manipulating us, and I would love to see an example in modern British history where it has proved beneficial to the public to allow the government to set the date at their own convenience? Tie that in with the fact that if a government is defeated over a major bill (i.e. a supply bill), an election can be called - likewise if the governing party really feel the need to stab their leader, who is the de facto head of state, in the back, we should get an election - see how often it would happen then....

That, to me would be a better system than even the Americans have

Beware the Status Quo

Another article for me to argue with

This time Dominic Lawson is saying the public are too hard on MPs, and that expressions of Rousseau-esque popular will can lead to fascism, see Hitler's speeches against the ineffective politicians of Weimar Germany for evidence

He also points out that celebrity independent politicians offer little - there is no guarantee they will be any better - after all 'power corrupts', right?

So what should we do? Sit back down and shut up? - Most of the broadsheets tend to advocate this approach: fix the expenses and tighten up the rules a little, then our MPs can get back to work as usual

Only 'usual' was never right - it's not surprising that political classes like Lawson (how could he be anything else?) want to maintain the status quo, because they're the ones who benefit

He is right that we can't expect an independent to be squeaky-clean, although history has shown the safer the seat, the more corrupt the politician - but he is missing the point (deliberately) that we need more voices in parliament - our debating chamber needs to be a debating chamber, an area in which ironically the Lords puts the Commons to shame

I have heard very few voices against independent MPs, and they are almost solely from the right or hard-left - they argue that it would be too hard to pass laws, parliament would be too argumentative and the MPs would eventually cut deals

This is code for: 'bills can't be rubber stamped by parliament' and this is a very good thing, at present we elect a solid majority based on a system that is heavily weighted towards the two main parties, that majority then have absolute power for 4-5 years, which in reality is in the hands of only a few people at the top, who aren't elected and represent the interests of their donors first and foremost

That majority do whatever they feel like, only fighting one battle every 4-5 years - that is not democracy, when the Tories and the Lib Dems oppose Labour there is nothing they can do - it makes you wonder why they are in the legislature at all

To properly represent the people the legislature needs to be effective - that is a fairly widely believed political truth, you can argue the finer points but its function is to check government - I think anyone would agree that it currently doesn't

However in this country we have a bizarre attachment to the idea of a 'strong government' - by which they mean handing absolute authority to the cabinet, and it has been like only since Churchill really - if you actually look at the 'golden age' of the British Empire, which Tories love, our parliament was much more flexible, with members crossing the floor willy-nilly and frequent minorities in power

We are of course fearful of becoming like Italy or Israel, with their weak politics - but we ignore the several countries (like Germany, New Zealand) that operate fine with a 'weaker' system - in truth stability probably comes from the population and somehow I think Britain is closer to German stability than Israeli instability

Of course in the old days politics relied on patronage more than the people, and you can hardly say politicians have ever been whiter than white - but that doesn't really matter, Parliament functioned better because it was working as it should (more or less), now it has been taken over by the professional party system - even though we have a more democratic and fair process, Parliament itself has become worse

I'm not sure if the article really refers to me, but I feel as though I am being attacked for supporting reform, which I have supported since I was a teenager - I am not baying for every politicians' blood or wanting protest votes - I simply want a fair Parliament, I don't want to have to put with a situation where the only way you can beat those who are caught cheating is to vote for a celebrity and where I have to have a government elected by default - it's wrong, and it's been wrong for a long time

The expenses saga is not really the issue - it has merely exposed the reality of politics and given people the best chance of actually changing the system, but people like Dominic Lawson try to twist the situation into saying the BNP will benefit and that oppression by the majority is worse than by the minority - true that, but that is just his opinion, and this is mine: I don't fear the BNP one jot, and all Dom wants to do is preserve the minority (ie. Labour and the Tories)

The irony of course is that independents weaken the power of the oppressors even more, but then we would be too weak - so we should just keep it the way it is - eh, Dom?

*I do agree that 'celebrity' independents are pointless, you are just swapping one elite for another, helping no real people
**Anyone who doesn't see the flaw in comparing the fledging German state that Hitler exploited to Britain should be shot - a very sensationalist bit of spin there

24 May 2009

A day off?

Apparently it's a long weekend

I didn't know this, and thinking we only had two in August, I looked it up - on what has to be the first government website I've ever found helpful (seriously, do they deliberately set out to tell you nothing?)

Lo and behold, I was wrong - but what I did notice that in rather brazen fashion it declares that we (ie. England and Wales) get eight days, Scotland get nine, and Northern Ireland ten

Now this I already knew, but seeing it on the government's own website, willingly admitting that the Scots and Irish get better treatment than the other 55 million of us just really set me off

I mean, if you were the one setting up that website (not that you, as a lackey, have any power of course) wouldn't you just think that it's a bit unfair to give certain citizens of the same bloody country an extra day off?

Why has this never received more attention than a few petitions and facebook groups? Why don't the government address a frankly glaring inequality? (stop laughing)

My mind does wonder if it's because public holidays count as eight of your statutory 28 days leave (and another thing - when did 'holiday' become 'annual leave'? - I thought somebody had left for a year off or something when I first heard that) - maybe all it would do is restrict holiday times - but it is well-known we get a raw deal, with the lowest amount of public holidays in the western world - and it's not even the whole country!!

What a jip - I think they should have Question Time in Edinburgh near St. Andrew's day and have a question asking, "should shops open on this bank holiday" or something - and then the English viewers go "what bank holiday...? Oi Maureen, is it a bloody bank holiday? It's November!"

Then we'd have some fun

21 May 2009

Pay Me For Talking

I saw this little piece by Christina Patterson this morning, and to sum it up: what utter guff it is

She is of course talking about the imminent death of the 'fourth estate' - how the newspapers are in terminal decline thanks to the internet, what with it's up-to-date and (crucially) free, information

She bemoans the people who decided to give away the news-stories for free on the net as lacking any sort of business sense

Well, personally I think she's a little naive - firstly, it's not bad business sense, it's far better than simply printing a paper and not offering any online content, or the ludicrous idea that people would pay to read an opinionated rag when they can read everything else for free, surely you should be trying to rake it in with advertising?

Yes, it's true that paper sales are down - but here is the important point: they would be down anyway! Why do you think people want to buy a paper that's full of yesterday's news when they could read it before they even go bed the night before on the net, or watch a news channel? Papers do not provide news to people anymore, they barely ever reveal anything in the morning release - we already know what has happened, and as a result all a paper is nowadays is a collection of opinions on the stories, anything 'exclusive' will be around non-stories (ie. the tremendous rise of 'celebrity' news that dominates our most popular papers) - the era where one gets their news for the day from the papers in the morning and the six o clock news in the evening is long gone, and I'm afraid the newspapers have to keep up

What Christina wants is for her content to not be read by those not willing to pay for it, and I'm afraid she sounds like an outdated protectionist, akin to the music companies determined to keep profits for themselves in an era when someone off myspace can have more fans than 90% of their clients

The system is simply unworkable - I think she wants to set up a system where the press only provide their online news to paying customers - the idea is frankly ludicrous, I barely need to explain why, but for one: news sites are not just run by newspapers! There are plenty of free news sources out there - the BBC is a slightly odd example as it's public-funded, but nonetheless a valid one, as it's the most used news website in the world - you don't need to go to the Indie, Sun or Telegraph, you can go direct to Reuters if you want

Because let's face it, what do the newspapers offer now? As I said, they don't have the exclusives anymore, and if they do, an online outlet can easily pick up the story, as they have done with MPs expenses - I'd love to know how she would justify stopping someone like the BBC not covering a story broken by the Telegraph.... I digress, my point was that newspapers really have little to offer now - all they have left is opinion, which is exactly what she is peddling - why should I pay for that? I can go all over the net and find opinions, the Indie and all the rest have the benefit of a brand, but opinion is opinion and it means bugger all in reality, I only peruse the newspapers' sites to have a look at how they are manipulating people on any given day, and to have a good rant - I don't need to, and wouldn't pay for the privilege when I have the BBC, Guido and Reuters, to name but a few, available to me for the actual story

No, this is merely another case of what I call 'deer-trapped-in-headlights' protectionism - look at any industry through the past centuries and see how they fight tooth and nail to prevent their own destruction as new technology makes them redundant - it's human instinct to protect your livelihood, but it's also counter-productive and never wins out in the long run

Information will become free, and I don't see anything wrong with breaking people like Murdoch's grip on it - they are at the end of the day only out to serve their own interests and line their own pockets, they have (or had) a monopoly on it

She does make one valid point however - the issue of investigative journalism (which I note, does not seem to be part of her job as a 'cultural commentator') - who will pay people to investigate dodgy dealings? And how can you trust a blogger? These are valid concerns that have been raised occasionally - but as we've seen, the people on the net can do a pretty good job at investigation, all Dizzy does is send off FOI requests and finds great stories - that is actual journalists' work, all done for free, and money can be made with advertising revenue. There are countless examples of information being exposed first on the net (see: Drudge) and at the end of the day that can be used by sites to make money, and no doubt a system of regulation will be built, just as happened around the two centuries we've had of print dominance - and to use a rather cheap and lazy argument: while we have the convenience of the powerful BBC to investigate (scoff if you wish) there remains some authority in the media

She also worries for prose - well, casting aside her obvious snobbery (she's covers 'culture' after all) she is being quite rude to a lot of bloggers out there - many write superbly, and I myself tend not to 'vomit out vitriol' too often (noticed a mistake?), it is simply a case of separating the wheat from the chaff - and let's not forget the ridiculous spelling and grammar issues in those well-respected names, the Mail and the Sun, oh and Gruniad anyone? She is in a very privileged position being paid to comment on her arty topics, but that doesn't mean others can't do it - part of the threat from the internet is that it shows 'real' people can provide just as much insight as those who've been fortunate enough to get their name in lights, as it were - why do you think people in the 'blogosphere' are popular? It's just sheer arrogance to assume those in the papers are really any better

People have always found a way to make money out of information, and I'm sure it will continue, just in a new form that we are only just coming to realise - the newspaper, however, is a dying form, much like typewriters and VCRs once were, and it will take some business nous to properly tap into the new system, but people will, and if an old media outlet does adapt then it will do fine, but there will be casualties, and Christina Patterson is simply a fearful Luddite

*Note: I am aware the FT has an online subscription service - but that is a specialist publication with a dedicated readership and an actual product to sell, there is nothing of that sort in the other papers

20 May 2009

You can't have an election...because you'll vote Tory

Seriously, is this not a new low?

An election would cause chaos? Then he said it was because a Conservative government would ruin us all - so 1. He's admitting he's lost and 2. He's telling us we're not allowed a democratic voice

That's sickening, that really is

19 May 2009

Money always attracts honest people

Another bloody one - more broadsheet journos calling for MPs to be paid more, this time it's Danny Finkelstein

I might have to start a link list

18 May 2009

Cameron heads into an open goal

You've got to admit - 'Call me Dave' is now running rings around Brown

Cameron has now jumped on the 'call an election' bandwagon, although he has asked Gordon to call one in the past few weeks, this is a big call, and based mostly on the expenses scandals

This will go down ridiculously well with voters, the vast majority are now thoroughly fed up with politics, and Cameron now sounds like the golden boy

It remains to be seen if the Tories will suffer from the expenses themselves, but it seems likely to be negligible (at least at Westminster)

Of course, Brown has now had his hand forced - he will now face massive pressure to call an election, but will never give in before next summer because when he actually calls it Cameron will get the credit - so nothing has really changed except Brown now needs an even bigger miracle in the next 12 months

It was only a matter of time before Brown had his pants pulled down in front of the whole audience - that's what partly annoys me about Brown, not only he is a useless PM, but he's utterly crap at politics - he has no grace, nothing that endears him to people - he just looks like a giant rock in the middle of the road - he wanted to be PM, he is, and now he refuses to face the electorate, and he's never been seen to be doing anything else but clinging on

In my opinion, Gordon - here's what you should of done: Assuming you had cancelled the snap election, you should have then announced an election after a four year term - keeping it like the convention Blair had set up and keeping people happy - indefinitely refusing people their election until the very last minute was never likely to be a popular move was it?

Now I know I despise politics and all the games Cameron is playing - I do, and I agree totally with Cleggy:
"I think we need much, much bigger change in this country than the superficial point-scoring by David Cameron."

Of course it is - it's cynical and manipulative, and I won't be voting Tory - but that doesn't mean I can't respect Cameron's playing of the game, if you're going to do something wrong you may as well do it right

*But no, you're nowhere near Disraeli's brilliance yet, Dave

16 May 2009

Don't fear the BNP

That title sounds like I'm going to promote them, I'm not

But I am getting a little bit fed up of politicians (mostly Labour) telling us to be careful of giving the BNP a voice

By this they basically mean a) If you don't vote Labour/Tory/LD then they might get in b) If you don't vote, they might get in

This is complete bullshit of course - I have written extensively on the flaws of our electoral system, can you honestly see a way through to Westminster for a bunch of fringe racists? How many parties have failed to even win one seat? The Greens, UKIP, even the Lib Dems can barely overturn a 'big two' seat, it is nonsense to try to scare people that if they don't vote Labour the BNP will win

As Guido points out, UKIP are on 19%, the BNP are only on 4% - this is completely predictable to anyone using rational thought process, UKIP made massive ground last time, and with our general pre-disposition to Euroskepticism it's hardly surprising they're the party of choice

Now while it's true (ex-)Labour areas are unlikely to opt for the Tories in another guise, and some will venture into the far-right socialists' arms, it seems unlikely people will go out en masse to vote for the racists, remember our whole system is built to keep the major parties in power, and if a local area really faces an obvious threat from them, it's easy enough to mobilise an electorate on the local level - I find it far more believable that the Lib Dems, who tend to have thousands of votes in Labour safe seats anyway, will take the seats

As for saying 'if you don't vote, they'll take it through your apathy' - again, manipulation, knowing people would never vote Tory instead, they're trying to serve their own cause - in reality people are probably going to descend on polling day to wipe Labour off the face of the Earth, and one would hope people like the Lib Dems know a thing or two about winning seats

Truth be told, if people did come out to vote BNP in large numbers, then so be it - that's democracy, and in Europe it may happen - but so what if we send one or two racist lunatics to Brussels? Most other countries do it, we use a PR system in Europe and if people vote for them they may well get a seat or two, I see nothing wrong with that (in principle), we currently have one of them on the London Assembly - has the capital fallen apart yet?

Labour believe in banning people who say nasty things, I don't - they can say what they want and people can vote how they want, no matter if I agree or not, but Labour seem to make out it would be a criminal offence for them to be elected - they have no respect for people's opinions, if most of the population were racist then we would be a racist country, fortunately we're not, but that element will always be there if we remain a free country

And I don't think you can argue that they are misrepresented when they are branded by every single politician and news outlet as racist - it's pretty clear people know what they're getting, some people are idiots, but unfortunately people being idiots is what keeps our parties in power, so it's a bit late to change the game now

If the British public actually choose them, that's their choice - but I think
1) the vast majority of people aren't so stupid as to vote for them (especially when they have UKIP first)
2) the vast majority of people are still stupid enough to still vote Tory
3) The system is heavily against small parties, whatever Labour say (see: six million Lib Dem voters)

But what really disgusts me is that the main parties are just trying to keep themselves in parliament to serve their own interests - this is something I've always regarded about our political parties

So when they mouth off and say 'ooo if you don't vote for us, you'll get the BNP', ignore them! They are disrespecting our democratic process and the smaller valid parties like UKIP, Greens, Jury Team and Libertas - all they are doing is trying to make sure they remain in power and that other people don't get in - go and support a party or an independent in your area and you might actually win, don't be fooled into thinking it will mean the 'scary' BNP take over the country

If anything, this shows how unrepresentative our electoral system is - it's wrong to try and vote tactically, voting to keep one party out rather than the one you want in - it should wake people up to the fact that in reality their voices aren't heard, and that's why nobody votes any more, and defending that system helps no-one

So go out and vote for whoever you want

15 May 2009

The flaws in Parliament

A brilliant and eloquent article by Daneil Finkelstein on what is wrong with Parliament

Add to that a deeply flawed electoral system and you really can see how bad our political system is

14 May 2009

Feminism is against my beliefs...do I have to obey Hattie?

Why do I do it? Why do I even look at the Fail? All it results in is me arguing against a poorly argued article with ridiculous bias for no reason

But I can't help myself - naturally I expect nothing less than a sensationalised article utilising flawed logic, but bad arguing pisses me off

(and talking of bad arguing, Labour using PMQs to support the Equalities bill and attack the Equal opportunities bill, calling it an attack on equality, was disgusting)

I have my own beefs with the BAAF, because believe it or not I've actually been involved with them as a reference, and I oppose their ridiculous 'same race' policy, although the case I was in was actually a white couple adopting a black child...so go figure on that one...

And I do actually think this is one time where a bit of PC wouldn't be out of place - a public body calling anything 'retarded' is a tad out of order, especially one that insists on using such strong rules on sexual and racial equality - some of us may use 'retarded' in everyday speech, and I don't object to it, but it's really an insult these days and has no place in such a publication

So that's that cleared up, now onto the Mail's reporting - one particular thing stuck out, the segment with 'it's against our Christian beliefs' inserted

I ask: SO? All you had to do is sign the form that assured you were happy with the equalities rules, you didn't even have to invite the gays round for drinks

This is of course the same paper that will wail on muslims the second they say something in British culture is against their beliefs, but if it's the other minority: Chrisitians, oh no, they must be respected

My arse they must be, a lot of things are against religious beliefs - presumably Judaism is against their beliefs too, should Jews be allowed to adopt?

We live in a secular democracy - that means our laws are based on secular, logical ideas, not one minorities' fairy-tale book, and it means they have been approved by a democratically elected government (however much I disagree with them) - the people have spoken as it were

Nobody is asking these people to 'promote' homosexuals (if they actually are, I will happily apologise) - presumably it's just one of those silly check box 'I agree to xxx policy' things, it doesn't impact on you!

What really bugs me is that the Mail will happily tell the brown skinned people in dresses that their religion is a private matter, but if it Christians - "they must be respected!!1!1!"

Oh and then there's the stock comment about Christians being 'marginalised' - right, so you get positive press in one of the largest newspapers, have a benchful of Bishops in the Lords, have a disproportianely high amount of Christians in the Commons, get your own state-funded faith schools...need I go on?

The hypocrisy of both the Mail and Christian groups is stunning, but sadly, not unexpected - I remember the last time Ruth Kelly angered me was when the surprisingly high amount of Catholic Labour MPs nearly derailed the abortion laws thanks to their beliefs - did a society, with what, a 7% Catholic population, really want their representatives to change a law based on their own personal beliefs? If you want to vote based on religion then you should stand on a religious ticket (as Ann Widdecombe did)

13 May 2009

Stop, don't do it, it's a trick...you're all bloody sheep!!

Cameron has jumped on this quick, in what has been a reasonably well-received move, he has been decisive and apologetic

Brown has been trumped and looks like a lemon as he reacted with all the speed of a teenager in the morning, (but without the looks), this is, in my humble opinion, a big victory for Cameron

It's all about image, of course, and while Tory MPs are being dragged through the mud, 'Dave' has kept his nose mostly clean and looked far more authoritative than the old Golem

Maybe this will wash with the public, all the majority of Tory voters need is to not be too disgusted to vote Tory and they will waltz to power

And here in lies the problem - this is a con - us political types know exactly what is going on, as Nick Robinson rightly points out:

None of this, of course, will be enough to silence those who complain that politicians only said and agreed to change after being caught with their hands in the till.

Precisely, the Tories shouldn't be winning anything based on this - all the big parties should be losing

This is why I have no worries over Labour - this is just another nail in the coffin, a Labour member that's been caught out will be ousted, but unfortunately the Tories are mostly going to be let off the hook - unless they really get hung out and lose the whip it's unlikely typical Tory heartlands will rebel against their MPs in their desire to restore a Tory government and support Dave

So these people we think of as crooks will return, having paid back their loot, people who had pianos tuned, swimming pools cleaned and chandeliers...re-shinied...with public money, will come back to represent constituents once more

I don't support the 'plague on all your houses' line, but each MP must be scrutinised at an election - it isn't enough to allow that MP back because you want a Tory government - they will, on the whole, not be punished by their party, and they will certainly not face prosecution

The only trial they get is that one every four or five years, and people really don't take it seriously enough - it is one of the fundamental flaws within our democracy - where you, in reality, vote for a party and a leader, but elect an MP who you probably don't know the name of

I know I'm a shameless advocate of independents, but if you really need any proof take a look at Dan1979's post on Norman Tebbit telling people to vote for a minor party

Cameron is basically bullying him - admittedly it's hardly surprising within a party, they are what they are - but as you can see, having two major parties with such a stranglehold on our government is incredibly stifling to independent voices - and logically it should raise the question of why we have over 600 'representatives' when they have virtually no voice

One final thing, this clip of Lord Foulkes (now widely known as 'that fat wanker') attacking an admittedly over-paid, BBC newsreader on salaries

I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty, it's all over the blogs - but I will say that he is fundamentally wrong, he claims the BBC and the media undermine democracy, not the 'hard-working' MPs - if he knew anything about politics he'd know about checks and balances, the media, as much as we love to hate them, are the only check we have left on those MPs

If it weren't for the likes of the BBC and the Telegraph who would've told us the truth? They have an agenda, sure - but it shows up those that are thieving bastards for the good of us all

11 May 2009

How will I pay for my chef?

Bruce Anderson thinks some MPs cannot afford to live on their salary

Right...the upper classes really don't understand do they?

Give us our label back

I found this piece by Jon Gaunt from the Sun, while having a look at reaction to Jackboots' list of undesirables

Now while it's not exactly an interesting piece (it's in the Sun), I have picked up on "Gaunty"'s use of the term 'Liberal elite'

Now I'm well aware that in the US 'liberal' means communist and will apply to anyone who doesn't believe in killing all foreigners, but in Britain surely we know better than to call Labour 'liberal' - particularly when we still have a Liberal party

Now as far as I'm concerned, Liberal means to support liberty (the clue is in the name) - that's individual liberty, and generally supports freedom of speech and conscience, amongst a whole host of things with freedom written in front of them

Now against individual liberty is collectivism - the rights of the many and so on - that is the core tenet of communism, or socialism, which Labour traditionally advocate

So what exactly is liberal about Labour?

Well the truth is, bugger all - to be liberal is to allow individual choice and a true liberal would never support the equalities bill (ie. affirmative action), political correctness, bans on drug use or I.D Cards

I would call myself a liberal, because I believe in freedom fundamentally - Labour are the antithesis of that, so I really hate it when they are referred to as liberal (or a liberal elite)

Of course, we know what the right are doing - branding anyone who isn't right-wing as a softie Liberal who wants to molly-coddle you through the power of the state, which is actually socialist, and is more opposed to liberalism than conservatism

It annoys me because if you regard yourself as a liberal you are then regarded by others as a Labour-type

So what am I supposed to call myself? I'm not conservative in many ways, so I'm left with libertarian, which is the extreme end of it, and I'm not really an anarchist

Truth is, there's actually a strong liberal element in the Conservative ranks, Thatcherism at its core is ruthlessly liberal (economically), Churchill was a lifelong liberal, even if both were socially conservative, these huge Conservative figures were all for freedom, civil, political, economic and aren't that far removed from the arch-liberal; Gladstone

The Tories are still often in agreement with the Lib Dems, particularly on civil liberties, the Tories still like to advocate law and order, but a belief in the small state remains at the core of many conservatives - to be honest the line between the Tories and the Lib Dems is pretty shallow, except perhaps for their positions on the EU

I don't really mind that the Tories have absorbed a lot of liberalism over time, that's two hundred years of liberalisation for you, I don't advocate the Tories returning to protectionism or anything of the sort, but to call Labour the 'liberal elite' is way off the track, you can't redefine such a fundamental term to simplify the argument, and it's derogatory to those of us who want our civil LIBERties restored

It's a slur on the true liberals who have given this country so much


Oh dear oh dear, Margaret Moran just doesn't get it does she?

The Luton MP moved her 'second home' to Southampton because her partner works there

Not only is having your second home in the wrong constituency (note: by a good eighty miles) grossly offensive, but the fact that she feels that this home she shares with her husband should be a burden on the taxpayer

I would like to ask why she doesn't just keep her second home in Luton, which she does need to work in the Luton office, and finance the third home herself, which is personal, not a work expense in anyone's mind, love - I bet all those people who have to work away from home would love a house funded for their family to be with them

Answer: As Iain Dale points out, she only moved the house days before she needed some dry rot fixed in her Southampton home

The prosecution rests, your honour

Dale also points out that both she and her husband are on the electoral roll in Luton, no doubt for voting reasons - what a crock

09 May 2009

MPs are alright...right

I noticed a particularly wretched defence of MPs in the Times today

I highlight this as another example of the broadsheets yet again jumping to the defence of MPs, I ranted about it at length a month ago so won't repeat myself

As far as I'm concerned it shouldn't matter that the system is corrupt, a politician should have integrity (ha..ha) and a sense of right and wrong, they really don't sacrifice that much for us and don't let sympathetic journalists fool you otherwise

Can you really defend Keith Vaz's second London home 12 miles away from his million-pound other one? Full details here

*NB, I don't believe *all* MPs are up to it, extreme cases like Vaz, McNulty and Smith are certainly the minority, but I wouldn't be surprised by anything up to 20% were this bad - and there are probably only a similar amount that are really conscientious about it, and they put everyone else in the House to shame, so I fail to see how most MPs can be defended

06 May 2009


Sigh, PMQs becomes even more farcical each week

The basic gist of it is:

Labour ask a plethora of questions stating how well development is supported in their constituency and how bad the Tories would be

The PM then replies with how a Labour government (almost always the pre-2005 Blair years, however) saved the world and how evil the Tories are

The Tories and Lib Dems then get a minority of questions in, which the PM dodges, without the amount of grace that Blair had in his little finger

Now I think it is right to question the Tory policies, because they don't have any - however I do not think it's right to attack the opposition benches for their policies when you are in government - it is your job to serve the country as leader, not your party, PMQs is for questioning government, and Brown repeatedly fails in that task - I'm afraid blaming the Tories for every problem no longer washes after 12 years

It is also a bit rich of Gordo to slam the opposition for a lack of policies when he has none himself, this year is a complete waste of time, as Cameron rightly said - and Labour MPs have admitted there is so little legislation to work on it's no wonder they are fighting amongst themselves - that's the real crime

Personally I think Cameron should've stuck on the legislation issue, it's criminal really, and may work with the public, even if Brown enjoys rattling off a tractor list in response it seriously undermines his claim that the Tories would do nothing - how can we support a government who are openly not planning to do anything until the election?

Now I've been a bit soft on the Tories lately, but I think this week is the right time to put them under the spotlight

My main beef is of course that they don't bother with policies and almost expect a default victory, despite their words to the contrary - it's not a reason to vote Labour, but it's still a sorry state of affairs

Now Cameron has this week come out with a big attack on Brown's leadership - evidently he felt the time was right because he gave him a right dressing down, which we all want to do

So that's a win, right?

Well, possibly - we may all want to kick Gordon Brown's trembling corpse, but the Labour responses do have some merit, hypocritical though they are

It has opened the possibility that the media may choose to put their spotlight on what the Tories will do - now, of course most of the media are anti-Labour but they are a fickle bunch, give them a slow week and you never know

This may come back to bite Cameron in the arse, especially if we don't have an election soon, and I don't think this attack is really justified for a local and European election - but it will be hilarious if Labour get an absolute drubbing

So c'mon Cameron, stop being a coward and put your money where your mouth is - announce a policy, risk a backlash, but actually us a reason to vote

Why not fight on civil liberties? All we have is this mooted marriage tax idea (I oppose) and a general whiff of Euroskepticism


From BBC lead article in 'politics'

Says it all really

I know who else is 'least wanted'

In a rather strange, totalitarian move that I'm sure is to calm the people that they are protected from really dangerous octogenarians like Fred Phelps, the government has published a list of 'undesirables'

Now, if you've read any of my blogs I don't need to tell you my views on banning people for what they say, it's basically thought-crime

And for once I agree with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) - they say people should be allowed free speech and should only be detained for committing an actual crime - very true, but hang on

Remember Geert? That same freedom loving council felt that he was an 'open and relentless preacher of hate' and supported his ban, as did Lord Ahmed

They seem to have changed their tune now that it is Muslim preachers of hate in the government's sights - what exactly is the difference? I am happy to let both in, and was really looking forward to the Phelps getting their heads kicked in when they came over (just the adults)

I don't really need to say how hypocritical their stance is

Of course calling a bunch of hateful men with wacky names a threat always goes down well with Sun readers, not so much white Dutchmen - so well done to the Government for being consistently fascist there

Also - Jackboots says it 'should be a privilege' to come to Britain

Hang on...don't all EU citizens have a 'right' to come here? So we have a government who on one hand espouse greater integration with 26 other countries, and on the other 'protect' those national borders from people they don't like

So which is it? You can't support a superstate like the EU and sign treaties on the sly, and then ramp up national security against our fellow EU citizens, at least not from an ideological point of view (bear in mind we aren't talking convicted criminals here)

A sorry state of affairs, and I wonder if the "Law and Order" Tories will decrease these thoroughly totalitarian laws

One should of course remember that these policies against 'hate speech', while not wildly popular with average citizens, are used in pretty much every western country and are not exceptional to us, they are politically acceptable

Thanks to this government, Britain has lost it's long held reputation as a land of freedom - a land where communists, fascists, liberals and traitors used to be able to come and write and speak freely when they could not back in their own homeland...I wonder if Oswald Mosley would be allowed to speak now like he did seventy years ago

Of course, there is one country that stands against it...yup, the US - dammit, I want Bush back

04 May 2009

They have no shame

Seriously, give me strength

Denis MacShane blames the Tories for allowing the BNP to grow...by being xenophobic...

Umm right - now I'm not going to throw mud here and say it's Labour's fault for promoting political correctness, 'positive' discrimination and multiculturalism - but the Tories being racist (ok, xenophobic doesn't sound as good) is what has allowed a racist party to rise?

That makes sense - I mean those racists wouldn't just vote for the Tories then would they?

If anything the BNP are rising because the Tories haven't been xenophobic enough - the rise of the far right is because the old right has been very feeble to Blairism

But somehow MacShane believes the Tories have made the BNP acceptable...there's one of my beefs with Labour again - it's always the Tories fault, never their own

The evidence suggests that the BNP will benefit mostly in deprived Labour areas - such as Stoke, due to perceived failings of their party, who have let them down for twelve years, and of course, their unwillingness to trust the Tories - so in that way it could be the Tories fault, but that's being a tad obtruse

To suggest somehow that being anti-EU is factitious and smearing the opposition (people as well as party) as xenophobic is just...urgh....sickening and is politics at its worst

I have decided we need a new position in parliament - called The Whipper - when a politician says something completely ridiculous/petty/false/unhelpful for party political gain the Whipper is to firmly slap them round the face, preferably in the style of the old Tango ads

That'll soon teach them...

We the undersigned, request a Youtube video

Remember this? - yeah, the No.10 website, for some strange reason, made a Youtube clip based on the popular call for Jeremy Clarkson to be PM

It was a pretty stupid thing to do, but regardless, they did this in response to over 50,000 people joining the Facebook group

Now guess what has just under 50,000 votes? Yes, that's right - that petition, and while those other top petitions have remained static it's shot up an extra 20,000 since hitting the top

My question is - will No.10 react with the same apparent humour that they showed last time?

I await my video clip

A Quiet weekend for once

Well it seems little has gone on over the weekend, the main stories are Labour's troubles, with chipmunk woman Blears having a pop at Brown

Now I normally can't stand the woman, but at least she's being principled here...well sort of - one is at first inclined to think she is defending her seat, but then you see that would require a rather large swing and it's unlikely Salford (and Eccles now) will be sending a Lib Dem

No, for once I see a little common sense out of someone in the Cabinet - she's being realistic, whether or not it's to improve her own prospects I leave open to question, for she is a certainly ambitious, but when you compare her to the Cabinet members who are rallying around Brown, she comes across with integrity

Blears may not even be attacking Brown, as naive as that sounds - she says she is trying to get Labour activists out there rather than using the internet and such, the problem is it is very hard to separate such comments from criticising the Dear Leader

Everybody knows nobody wants him, which is why we all jump on any little thing that happens - and to think that Hazel wasn't aware of the consequences of criticising any aspect of Brown's government would be naive, she's a very clever little spinner and somehow I doubt would accidentally have put her foot in it

I think she is trying to restore her party, and has realised propping up Gordo is pointless and has tried to give supporters something to vote for - much of her article was well put, things people want to hear, and I think it may just be trying to fix the roof over Labour's head a little before Gordon falls through it within the next thirteen months - so I say well done to her, for showing at least a little integrity (as much as I'm willing to give a front bencher)

That's a lot more than I can say for the cowards who prop up Brown - why do respected people like Johnson and Straw back him up? These guys are the more intelligent members of the Cabinet, and they must surely know the gig is up - Clarke and Blunkett know it, and they're coming out of this a lot better for it

I have never understood the party loyalty thing, and I never will - Prezza in particular has always confused me, and I think he's just misguided, I think he actually truly believes it is better for his party to prop up Brown than cut off his head - what does it achieve? It hits me as simple tribalism, the idea of never showing weakness to the enemy and propping up the failed leader rather than face defeat is somehow better than good government - it isn't, it's weak-minded, undemocratic and bad for everybody

I'm afraid I'll never understand it, and that's why I could never support Labour, I think common sense would tell Labour to quit now and fix themselves before Brown adds a few more years in opposition - but they don't seem to listen to reason