November 2008

Sarah Thornton's witchhunt.

Archived Stop Press article

Sarah ThorntonSarah Thornton

Sara Thornton Chief Constable Thames Valley Police is allegedly a contender for Sir Ian Blair's job as head of the Met. Thames Valley police have conducted an 18-month-long witchhunt monitored at senior levels in Whitehall against a reporter on the Milton Keynes Citizen. The case was was thrown out when a judge ruled that police surveillance and search operations were a violation of human rights.

Miss Murrer was arrested three times, held overnight in cells and strip-searched as part of an operation by Thames Valley constabulary - likened by her lawyers to the actions of the secret police in an authoritarian state.

Judge Edward Southwell ruled there was nothing in the information allegedly leaked to Sally Murrer, a part-time reporter on the Milton Keynes Citizen, by Mark Kearney, a former detective sergeant, which touched on national security or serious crime and, therefore, the intrusive investigation by Thames Valley Police was unjustified

Safe in their hands?


It is good to know that the authorities are 'on the ball' and protecting us. A student who appeared on University Challenge sporting a mohican haircut and RAF-style jacket was spoken to by police after complaints from viewers. The world is in financial meltdown, Mumbai is under siege yet it's reassuring to know that we're safe in the hands of our police and government who have the time to crack down on the minutiae of public disorder.

The ID scheme is being started for foreign nationals and soon for students who wish to apply for a loan. If there is any doubt about the validity of the card it can be flicked to check for a distinctive sound.

Democracy is closed for the duration

This is not a pipe.Magritte. This is not a pipe.
Our parliament spent 700 hours discussing foxhunting and seven hours debating whether to go to war in Iraq. 45 seconds per line was given to the 'analysis' of the Lisbon Treaty Constitution and, during a six hour debate on the Climate Change Bill only two MPs questioned the need for the bill to cut emissions by 80%. The fact that 40% of our electricity generating capacity is likely to shut down within a few years was barely mentioned.

The most important economic changes for many decades have been given no time for debate and no vote.

It's called democracy.

George Osborne has now secured the emergency House of Commons debate he had demanded. Speaker Michael Martin said it was an important enough issue to prompt a three-hour debate on Wednesday.

EU flush with your money

Archived Stop Press article

regional competitivenessregional competitiveness

Open Europe has provide a list of of '100 examples of EU fraud and waste'. Here are just two:

A public toilet in Hull has been co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The European Commission's website describes it as, "award winning".

A Danish businessman received 100,000 euros to build a ski-slope on an island with neither high hills nor regular snowfall. He said: "I never thought they would back something so crazy".The run was open one day last winter.

Guerrilla Gardening

Archived Stop Press article

guerrilla sunflowersguerrilla sunflowers

Fed up with a government that spends billions of your money and leaves neglected,ugly areas bereft of life and plants? Join a Guerrilla Gardening. group near you and transform a part of your environment.

The birds and the bees.

Chinese recyclerChinese recycler

Europe talks of the environment and waste management but manages to either dump considerable amounts of waste in the seas or export it to poor countries where we see pictures of grubby children in dirty, dusty settings surrounded by waste electronic goods, setting fire to components and touching and breathing in toxins. There are innumerable EU directives detailing what should happen to waste and countries are fined for improper disposal, hence some formerly sensible methods of disposal have been replaced by allegedly environmentally pure methods. This is well meaning but counter-productive.

Predictions predictions

Can you remember?

Pedal powerPedal power

I have a relative who frequently begins conversation with "can you remember". This is heart sink time as they have a poor memory and frequently transpose events between family members and screw up on the dates as well. Never mind, can you remember when oil was $150 dollars a barrel? It was not so long ago, but now some days it is not even half that. Then the media was ecstatic and filled its time and the pages of newspapers with articles on how the world as we know it was to end because of the high price of oil. It was as if the proposed new 'Routemaster' bus for London would have a set of pedals under each seat as the only affordable means of propulsion. Well I fear we all make predictions and most of us make spectacularly wrong ones.

But now on to Nouriel Roubini. He is the man of the moment as far as the press is concerned they have named him Dr Gloom and portray him as a cross between a joke figure and a serious prophet. A Professor of Economics at New York University Roubini is very much an American. Born in Turkey into an Iranian Jewish family he has lived in Israel, Italy and now the US. His specialism is collapsing economies but while he is the man of the moment for the press the IMF see his work in an altogether different light; or did.

Rebuilding our economy

But what type of economy do we want?

Sign of the times-again Sign of the times-again
And following on from the title and sub-title of this post, do the voters and taxpayers of the UK get a choice here? For at the moment it looks as if the great and the good, or if you prefer our politicians, are to form a world coalition with scant reference to their electorates to lead us out of a mess which just happened to start on their watch but for which, mysteriously, they are not responsible. Needless to say Gordon Brown is very keen on this.

In 1996 during a tour of America I saw numerous bumper stickers saying: "It's the economy, stupid". This was a key phrase from Bill Clinton's 1992 US presidential campaign that has stayed with us and not just stuck on the back of a pick-up truck. But then, from the dawn of democracy the health of the economy and so the 'feel good factor' has been vital to get the voters on side.

Now it's 2008 and voters in the UK are worried and the economy, if it too had feelings, would have turned from feeling good to feeling bloated with the effects of all that debt. As the current economic downturn is not the first to hit the UK, I'm suggesting that everyone over 30 years old normally resident in the UK knows what to expect next. But just in case anyone needs reminding, then the fear of unemployment heads up the list, as from this catastrophe the loss of the family home and even divorce may follow.

Dumbed down government

3 A star rated3 A star rated
Councillor Liz Santry, Haringey Cabinet member for Children and Young People, issued a statement claiming the council had acted correctly. It said:

"The Council moved swiftly after the death of Baby P to check our child protection procedures, and strengthen them where necessary."

70% of a social worker's time is evidently spent on paperwork. No doubt this will now increase.

Armistice day.


King and Country by Steve McQueen says it all.