February 2009

Gary McKinnon and Modern Liberty


Extradition for some. British computer hacker Gary McKinnon has lost his attempt to be tried for computer offences in the UK and now faces the imminent prospect of extradition to the US. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced it would not prosecute McKinnon, leaving the way open for his extradition and so his 7 year ordeal continues. Will he be extradited to the USA?

There is no question of this being in contravention of his Human Rights! Is there really no problem sending him to a prison in America? The USA has been guilty of torture and rendition in which we have colluded. The USA executes people but we have an agreement that this will not be imposed in extradition cases. Gary could face 60 years in a really tough American prison and he will get limited, if any, legal aid and the USA legal costs are prohibitive. But that's fine. He'll probably just have a really, really, bad time with violent criminals for 60 years or so. At least he won't be mistreated like Abu Qatada in a Jordanian jail. Really!!

Support the Myners?

Blood on the carpet, soon

Some weird ritual? Some weird ritual?
Gordon Brown, or big clunking fist as he was known in the good old days, seems keen to pick a fight to prevent Sir Fred Goodwin getting his full pension. The suggestion is that this matter could go to law to be resolved. In Brown versus Goodwin it could be Brown wins, or loses and then there is an appeal. Or it could be that common sense prevails and Brown admits defeat now and drops the case. It's probably this latter option that sensible civil servants will be hoping that Brown adopts.

As suggested in another post Brown is so unpopular that it would not be beyond belief that the man in the pub, or outside it having a fag, would support Goodwin. Not for any other reason than spite; Brown has that effect on people! But in a court of law things are done differently, only the evidence matters. And the evidence shows that on behalf of Brown, Lord Myners (see right), agreed to the Goodwin pension. There are always two parties to a contract, it is a joint responsibility and it is binding. Only a fool would think otherwise. So how does Brown and his team think they can win? It's doubtful whether Brown's old neighbours, the Blair's, each with legal training, would have got into this mess. So, should the headlines read 'Brown wins case', there will not be universal celebrations.

The flip side to this is Brown loses the case.

King and country

Bad debt and bad news' management

Mervyn King Mervyn King
What is now more correctly called the financial crisis started out as the credit crisis. But back in the mid part of 2007 we were all feeling our way. As per usual it was the politicians who rose to the occasion first in so far as they saw an opportunity, not least Gordon Brown and his spinners. The crisis was seen as a chance for Brown to show himself to the voters at his best. That did not work out as planned the Brown 'bounce' came and went. Never mind Brown had blazed a trail for others to follow. Sir John McFall, yes another Scot, and the Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee was not shy to follow his Leader.

McFall seems genuine enough, at first, but it soon becomes clear he is also enjoying himself; a man with a mission. This could be dangerous. McFall left school very young, you could in those days; there was no attempt to keep people in school so as to fiddle the unemployment statistics. He also left without any qualifications. Then he 'got going' and, full credit to himself, obtained a Bachelor's degree and then an Open University MBA. So he lifted himself out of obscurity and onto something better. There are suggestions that this is harder to do these days; perhaps a Parliamentary Committee should look into this?

Save our stamps

Postman-Pat waves bye byePostman-Pat waves bye bye

While still having to fund universal provision of the postal service, governments will no longer have the subsidy for this service that business-originated and parcel post previously provided. None of the media or unions mention that post office privatisation has been signed up to and agreed in the EU and all our parties have signed up to this.

Couldn't the Tories take advantage of furore over Royal Mail part privatisation to help Gordon Brown lose a vote in the Commons and help bring him down? No. because all of our major parties want privatisation. Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, said privatisation had "ruined" Britain's railways, had led to utilities ripping off the public and should not be extended to the postal service; but Unite still donates millions to Labour's coffers. It must be mentioned that the rail unions were pretty intransigent towards British Rail but now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction and everyone can see that privatisation and globalisation haven't exactly helped the British population.

Nothing works

professionals or bean counters?

too fat to adopttoo fat to adopt

We are broke and are seem to be led by incompetents. Education, legal, civil service, police, social work every 'profession' is politicised. Even a cynic like me hadn't realised things had got quite so bad but here is sixteen year old Joe Iles' shocking comment:

The core biology science curriculum now calls for very little knowledge of the biology that we had studied in the years preceding GCSE, but seems to be a governmental attempt to raise awareness of current social issues. For example, section A of the core biology exam concentrates on contraception, drugs, alcohol, smoking, obesity, anorexia and the MMR vaccines, whilst section B tackles broader issues such as global warming, GM crops, creationism vs Darwinism and alternative energy sources.

Ally this with positive discrimination for pupils with poor exam results in universities and soon our brain surgeons, civil engineers, microbiologists and so on will be incapable of finding the cerebellum or doing an equation.

The CPS charges pensioners who slap hooligans with scraps of paper. The police come out in force for a man photographing his happy child reading on a roof. Hate crime is the new target and thousands are prosecuted yearly.

Václav Klaus - hero of our time

the statue of euro!the statue of euro!

Václav Klaus, rotating President of the European Union and President of the Czech Republic has delivered another 'stonking' speech. It was to do with debate, democracy and freedom so, naturally, some of the MEPs booed and walked out, as they do not believe in such concepts.

We are spun the 'fact' that a large portion of our trade and millions of jobs rely on our continued membership of the EU, yet hardly any of our papers can be bothered to report an important and elegant speech by the President of the EU which criticises the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU project and which is received with shock and/or derision by many of our EU politicians. See Bruno Waterfield.

Speech of the President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus in the European Parliament

Mr. Chairman, Members of European Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hedge legislation

More control is better?

The Dublin marchThe Dublin march
For a while Binyam Mohamed, and probably for more than a while, dominates the news. By contrast the decision of the EU to tighten regulation on Hedge Funds is not so well reported, see The Times HERE. Mohamed was held in Guantánamo Bay for over four years and at the speed justice moves it may be at least that again before the true facts behind this case are revealed. Again by contrast, if the EU have got their position on Hedge Funds wrong, then it could take years to shake off the ill effects of these measures.

Bash a banker is a very popular sport at the moment, it is a team game and, rather like games at school compulsory, our politicians would like us all to participate; obviously they would, for while we are putting the boot into a banker we are not kicking them. But who is a banker? In the real of world of finance there are huge differences between the people you might meet behind the counter at your local bank and Hedge Fund managers. But in the pell-mell rush to be seen doing something, anything, then these finer points can be missed.

It's now well established that the restrictions placed on banks were the reason Hedge Funds were set up, so yes it was done to get around the rules but there was a benefit to the UK.

Shami Chakrabarti gets it wrong

Abu QatadaAbu Qatada

Shami Chakrabarti has got it really wrong this time. Shami Chakrabarti the director of 'Liberty' is a highly intelligent, principled women who speaks clearly and elegantly. I agree with much of what she says but there are areas where she gets it utterly, totally wrong.

NuLabour has enacted reams of legislation, ostensibly to fight terrorism. However misguided and inept the legislation this was the original aim. However, we now have the worst of all worlds. We have draconian laws which affect every aspect of our civil liberties and we have also appeased militant, political and hard-line Islam.

EU President Václav Klaus - total respect

President KlausPresident Klaus
Václav Klaus is the only leading European politician to talk sense. Here is the speech he gave in Paris. Note that he uses neither eurospeak nor runes.

Europe, Environmentalism and the Current Economic Crisis: A Contrarian View

I would like, first of all, to express my sincere thanks for giving me the opportunity to be here in your beautiful city this morning and to be able to address this distinguished audience. To say that is not just a usual declaration of courtesy or politeness belonging to such occasions. It is different. In the last almost twenty years after the fall of communism, I have made hundreds of speeches and lectures almost all over the world. Not many of them here. If I am not wrong, my last speech in Paris was in July 2003 a few blocks away, in the Automobile Club at Place de la Concorde.

My wife says that it is because I don’t speak French. Maybe it’s true but it may also be because I am choosing wrong topics or that my views are politically incorrect. This is certainly true when I speak about Europe and the European Union, and especially when I criticize the currently dominant European ideology I call Europeism.

100 ways to cut council tax

Cllr Harry Phibbs Cllr Harry Phibbs

It really should be possible to cut Council Tax without cutting services - something we all need in such difficult economic times. In a piece which first appeared on ConservativeHome, journalist Harry Phibbs, a councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham, comes up with the following taken from here. You'll either like it or loathe it but it is interesting.

100 ways to make savings.

1. Freeze recruitment.

2. Scrap political advisers.

3. Cut the number of press officers. One rule would be to make sure you have no more than the number of local newspaper reporters. An alternative idea would be to get rid of the press office altogether. Why not just put journalists through to the Leader's secretary who gives them the number for the relevant councillor?

4. Scrap the council newspaper. Unless, as in the case of my Council, you make it self financing through real, private sector, advertising.

5. Cut the number of Scrutiny Coordinators. One full time person to organise all the scrutiny meetings should be enough.

6. Cut the number of coordinators for assorted other committees and panels.

7. Place more children for adoption.