November 2007

Loadsamoney - little sense

Snatch Land RoverSnatch Land RoverThere has been a lot of fuss about the lack of priority given by Tony Blair, Des Browne and Gordon Brown to the armed forces. The 5 ex-defence chiefs have come out in unison to attack the MOD's poor military funding. There have,of course, been massive problems:lack of helicopters, the use of poorly armoured 'snatch' vehicles, lack of body armour...... There is also the wholesale privatisation of our forces, not just in areas such as catering but in training and even personal record management. Young men used to join the army and come out with a trade; the variety of skills learned which would be useful in civilian life is now limited. However, it is not so much about the money, the problem is in the way it is spent. In order, it would seem, to ensure our compliance with a future European Army. And also the 'spenders' are people who seem not to know what they are doing.

President Blair?

Super, President BlairSuper, President BlairWhilst the country and the British press are agog over New Labour sleaze allegations, the EU referendum debate has seemingly disappeared. However, just when you thought that Tony Blair was quietly ensconced in his Grosvenor Square offices, rented at £550,000 per annum with a ten year lease, in order to be the Middle East envoy for the quartet; we find that Go4it Gordon Brown has signed the final treaty allowing one person to hold the post of European Commission President and EU president. And yes, our Tony is a contender. Just when we thought we'd got rid of him, he may arise like the phoenix. The fact that the EU books have not been signed off for the thirteenth year, the fact that the whistleblower and EU accountant Marta Andreasen was sacked, the fact that the entire Commission had to resign in 1999 because of corruption and mismanagement and the Eurostat scandal caused mere ripples in our press compared to New Labour funding scams. Sleaze and spin, EU style, is a whole new ball game yet it is not nearly as much fun as our home grown one because of diplomatic immunity and really clever obfuscation.

Money money money

Your chance to help

ten bob OK?ten bob OK?
I assume you know that Gordon Brown has written a book on Courage? I mention this because it would, in the present climate, take real courage to be a political party fundraiser. Over time all political parties seem to come off worse on this subject, a sort of - where there's muck there's more muck scenario. Hence the need to keep the party Leader and the money a great distance apart at all times. So I say pity the poor fundraiser who must know the score when they take on the job. As, at the first sign of trouble they are supposed to fall on their sword and protect Number One, a sort of flanking manoeuvre to draw off the press corps; remember Lord Levy? So, damned if you don't get the money in, and damned if you do as well.

The EU's Military Ambitions and the UK

Charles de GaulleCharles de GaulleIt is a tradition that a nation, such as the UK, reserves the right to defend itself. So to do this it has armed forces and may, or may not, form alliances with other nations. If we look at recent trends, we see that since the formation of the United Nations at the end of the Second World War, the membership of the United Nations has more than doubled. It now recognises and admits almost 200 nations. This, according to Niall Ferguson of Harvard, is in direct contrast to the situation prior to the First World War, then 83% of the world's population lived in 13 confederations or major groupings. Now, I'm suggesting that a large number of small and independent nations is likely to give more, not less, stability to a region.

What shall we do?

Goodbye Belgium?

An unstoppable force ?An unstoppable force ?

What shall we do with the drunken sailor? is the opening line of perhaps the most well known sea shanty of all. What shall we do with an unwanted country? is not a long-lost verse of this shanty recently found by a ferreting musicologist-cum-folksong fanatic, but is my question to you; and the country in question is Belgium. These things have a sort of connection, in so far as the music for the shanty was written down in 1825, the Belgian Revolution establishing that country, using bits of Holland and France, was in 1830, and the words for the shanty were first heard in 1891. Some of us are dreamers, and so it could just be that, to keep their spirits up during the revolution, someone did hum the music.Then again, by the mid 1890s perhaps the whole song was popular in the coastal taverns of Belgium - could be.

Children in real need

Archived Stop Press article

  Hi, and get real! Hi, and get real!

As we all know trying to name a pet can be risky, for example when the BBC programme Blue Peter had a few problems choosing a name for a cat. However, the travails of the producers of this programme are not on the same scale as those of British teacher, Gillian Gibbons, who is now in jail in the Sudan. Her crime is all tied up with a teddy bear, this came to the school with a pupil. And as part of a lesson the pupils had to choose a name for the toy, they chose Muhammad. It is said that after a while there were objections, and now Gibbons could face a jail term or 40 lashes for insulting the prophet. While I admire her desire to 'help', you do wonder if anything can be done to help people with that mindset.

The truth will out

Archived Stop Press article

Soviet Gulag Soviet GulagThe next debate at the Oxford Union is between Frances Bill of the New Rationalist Party and Vladbiew Zablic author of a new book on the Gulag called 'White Fear'. The subject is: 'The Gulag - not many died.' And, much as you would expect, there are not many tickets left.

The battle for Ladywood

Birmingham City CouncilBirmingham City Council Claire Short the ex-Labour, now Independent, MP for Ladywood, Birmingham is to stand down at the next election and the fight is now on for her successor in one of the safest Parliamentary seats in the city. The Labour constituency association has already banned all men from standing and now says it wants a black or Asian woman to stand. Evidently the party executive has expressed such a preference. The preferred candidate is one Yvonne Mosquito a Labour councillor. She has still to pay her election expenses of £600 for the May elections so is not too popular at present. But then, care with other people's money seems to be a problem for Councillor Mosquito.


NO2IDNO2IDCrikey! What larks. Did an official at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs send out the data on 15 million child benefit claimants on unencrypted CDs as a joke? I think I would prefer this scenario. To think it was done in good faith means that the politicians have put in place bureaucrats who are on the same wavelength but haven't a clue about the real world. I heard an official say that there had been no 'Health and Safety assessment' done before the discs were sent. Words fail me.

Saving the planet?

Archived Stop Press article

Spanish factory trawler Spanish factory trawler Breaking news: fisheries minister Jonathan Shaw has said that the dumping of thousands of tons of dead fish back into the sea because of EU fishing quotas is "immoral". An estimated 880,000 tonnes of dead fish or 'discards' are thrown back into the North Sea every year in order to comply with the Common Fisheries Policy quotas. Where has he been the last few years? It has always been immoral. In some waters off Scotland discards account for about 90% of some fish catches. Mr Shaw said: " The crisis of throwing fish back is immoral, we don't want that to continue so we have to find a balanced range of measures to ensure that the fishing industry is sustainable and we have the conservation measures in place." Does he mean continuing to allowing huge factory trawlers in vast numbers to hoover up every fish and crustacean in sight? His solution is ...increase the cod quotas! Leave the EU say I, save the oysters.

'O Oysters,' said the Carpenter,
'You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none --
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.
Lewis Carroll. Through the Looking-Glass