Monday, August 31, 2009

Britblog Roundup 237: The 'sorry it's late but I was on holiday' edition

Yes, I know it’s late, but I came back from my holiday to write this so be grateful. Still, it was a pleasant welcome back from Tatiana Deliagina who wrote not once but TWICE to us britbloggers to inform us that not only had we won either £75 million or £750,000 in the Toyota awards; presumably that’s an award for having a blog which wants to be faster and more expensive than it is whilst desperately trying not to be run of the mill – but that we’ve also won £1million in the British Telecom awards. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited. I’ll leave it to the Chameleon to decide how the wonga gets split.

Now, onto the main item on the programme which is of course you lovely people. And haven’t you been busy! Much busier than that crowd on Blackheath who appear to be having a rather relaxed time what with ice cream vans (fuelled by the breath of kittens, I hope) and a woman inexplicably standing on one leg whilst wearing a dress made from a pair of curtains. Random Blowes meanwhile (you need some shoes for those feet) explains why Barclays is being targeted and the Bristling Badger – an old hand at these things – explains a little of the history of climate protesting.

Moving on slightly from camping to the weather and Diamond Geezer talks weather. And armpits. And voices an opinion which clinging to has gotten me through most of my career, that ‘...some people will believe anything if it looks pretty enough.’ Even maps?

Changing lines at White City, Amused Cynicism talks BBC and market allocation:

But that’s not important. The important question is: do these proposals make sense? Redwood is concerned that the BBC, by virtue of being popular, is unfair competition to private sector news websites. To a certain extent, that’s a valid concern. But the economy doesn’t exist to make private sector entrepreneurs rich, it exists to make things people need and want. And people clearly do want the BBC — according to Alexa the BBC have the number 2 and number 4 news websites worldwide, and by far the most popular UK-based one.

Whilst The Adam Smith blog is less helpful with suggestions.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that the person who can find a way to make news websites profitable and stop the fear in the newspaper industry will find themselves clothed in finest ermine and pissing on a golden loo. I’d rather they just actually researched what they wrote. And of course it’s local journalism which is hit the hardest and presumably the reason why so much of it comes from the wires. Perhaps The enemies of Reason has the answer?

Sticking with the BBC and with what I regard is their finest production, we’re over to the Royal Albert Hall for the Proms and On An Overgrown Path looks into the cost of each concert:
In an April 2009 article (source 1) Roger Wright explained that 'of the £8.8m budget for the [Proms] festival, approximately £6m comes from BBC subsidy'. In 2009 there are 95 ticketed Prom concerts, of which 19 are for chamber music. Dividing the BBC subsidy by the number of concerts gives an average subsidy of £63,158 per concert. That word average is important; 20% of the concerts are for small forces so the subsidy for the larger performances will be considerably higher, and probably in excess of £75,000 per concert.

Quite pricey, I guess, but give me a couple of hours a night of good quality music any day over some tacky, shrill soap opera featuring 25 bottles of fake tan and some bloke called Gary. Newspapers and TV might publish what they think people want but personally I’d rather have a turgid news story than some article on a peroxide nutter I’ve never heard of. Sadly, I appear to be in a minority.

Now, on to Dan Hannan. Nice bloke. Good ties. And a politician who wants debate and wants people to get involved with how their lives are run. Mark Reckons that this is a good thing, something which caused a fair amount of debate on his blog. Mr Eugenides also picks up on the 'mock outrage' people on the left of politics have had over such a simple statement. Not that it’s the first time it’s been said in recent years but then Hannan is rather a figure of hate for authoritarians at the moment. I bet he’s loving it.

Providing a lovely link from daily politics to the ever popular subject of feminism, in a sort of elevenses ‘lovely slice of cake’ way, Feminazerylooks at Sharia Law vs the Daily Mail. Meanwhile, Stroppybird over at Liberal Conspiracy has an excellent piece on Fay Weldon’s witterings. Heresy Corner looks at a post by Melissa McEwan who has written a comment which I think insults most women; essentially that anyone who argues with a feminist is a misogynist. That includes me, then, although it’s certainly not the first time I’ve been called that. As it happens, ladies, I’ve often found the best defence against a man blathering on about nonsense is to kick him in the bollocks. If you don’t fancy him, that is. If you do then you don’t need me to tell you how to keep him quiet.

In other news, Stuart Syvret doesn’t like the Jersey Evening Post, Liberal England with the truth about the Blue Peter dog and Random Acts of Reality on the Ambulance vs the Fire Brigade.

And just to be different, I’ll end with a welcome.

That’s all for this week. Next week Charlie’s hosting so send your nominations to the normal address: britblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Until then, pip pip and keep blogging!



Friday, August 28, 2009

The NHS: why we should debate

The latest figures for inpatients and outpatients waiting times have been published today by the Department of Health:

Inpatient Waiting times
• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over the 26 weeks standard for inpatient admission at the end of July 2009 was 25 (compared to the total of 590,000).

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over 13 weeks at the end of July 2009 was 43,000, a decrease of 1,900 (4.3%) from June 2009, but a rise of 3,500 (8.9%) from July 2008.

Outpatient Waiting times

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over the 13 weeks standard for a first outpatient appointment following GP referral at the end of July 2009 was 62 (compared to the total of 1,032,000).

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over 8 weeks at the end of July 2009 was 62,000, an increase of 8,500 (15.8%) from June 2009, and a rise of 26,900 (76.7%) from July 2008.

For me, it's not so much the increases or decreases and percentages which gets me (although an increase of almost 16% for those waiting for an outpatients appointment is rather hefty) but the actual targets themselves.

And the reason I am raising it is not because I want to berate it or praise it, because I'm not a doctor and I don't know if waiting half a year for an operation is normal in the rest of the developed world. It goes back to the debate Dan Hannan took so much stick for getting involved in. Why can't we have a proper discussion about this without the loony left and badly read hacks starting to hurl 'he wants to privatise the NHS' around with the same hiss as they would call someone a paedophile?

Would privatising the NHS be so bad? Would it mean we had better health cover and shorter waiting times? Or not?

I fear the reason we can't is the same reason we don't discuss a proper overhaul of our benefits system, immigration policy and membership of the EU: because those in power don't want to highlight what a complete and utter fuck up they've made of running the country for the last 70 years, because they don't know that much about it and can't be bothered to find out or even admit to themselves they don't know everything and because the public are considered too ignorant to understand what they're talking about and we'll probably pick the wrong answer.

So we'll stick with the same, for better or worse.

The smoking gun

A snippet from the press association which will have the killjoys and controllers at the Department of Health dropping from strokes and heart attacks:

Another soldier described the stress of driving an armoured vehicle 29 hours through the blistering hot Afghan desert.

Mark Freeman, 21, credited smoking with surviving his ordeal in Helmand Province. The convoy averages 4.3mph and can stretch to more than 100 machines.

He joined the army in 2005 and steers a vehicle guarding supply trucks for military outposts - and said he smoked to relieve the stress.

"The most I have driven was about 29 hours. We took quite a lot of indirect fire going through," he added.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the Americans were going to let their troops smoke:
American troops are not to be banned from smoking in war zones, the US Defence Department says...Mr Morrell said the Pentagon would examine the recent study to see what else could be done to move towards banning tobacco in the military.

He said: "Obviously it is not our preference to have a force that is using tobacco products."

Surely if people pass their fitness tests and don't use illegal drugs which could impair their judgement - that's the current position so I'll go along with that regardless of personal opinion - then it doesn't matter if they smoke?

The government are having a wee bit of a struggle over soldiers at the moment. They don't like them asking for a decent amount of compensation or wanting to live in decent accommodation but they love the feeling that the British public have for their armed forces and revelling in the opportunities to get down and cuddly with the troops. But they do smoke and drink a lot and swear and go to strip clubs which is not in the 'NuLabour guide to very dull and sanctimonious living'. So what to do?

Well, as it's this government what they'll do is still try to make it as difficult and expensive as possible to smoke because they don't like it and they're the boss. Until you get a chance to vote, of course.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

An English Country Garden

With thanks to Godfrey Bloom MEP for shoving this in my direction:

It's all very youtube orientated here at the moment. That's because I'm very busy and important and need a valium just to listen to the news these days.

Seriously - I heard some Lib Dem moron and a chap from The Times on the news last night where the gist of what they were saying was that people shouldn't be able to debate.

It's rather like the hideous reaction to Dan Hannan's comments on the NHS. It was met with cries of horror that anyone could criticise the bloated slush fund that is our health care system, carefully circumnavigating those huge tables which show Britain as somewhere behind Slovakia and a region in the far north of Iceland in terms of patient choice and survival rates. Never mind that with such a large amount of our money being spent on it we should regularly debate it, attacking the NHS appears to be the political equivalent of telling your best friend you want to shag his mother.

My GP, a nice chap and not particularly given to bouts of what I like to call 'being an interesting bloke' said that when he was at school learning history Communism was something he couldn't get his head around. Then he joined the NHS and it all became clear.

Anyway, enjoy the video thing. I'm off to listen to my mother talk about how she can't find a GP within a 10 mile radius to register with now that hers has retired.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Sound of (rave) Music

Can't see this happening at Gare du Midi, though. Too many MEPs and Commission workers would start filling out health and safety forms.

Now they're snooping on lightbulbs.

Fuck Off. Please, just fuck off.

It's a lightbulb. You spend millions of pounds of my money jetting around the world, moving from one unnecessary parliament to another using an awful lot of bloody 'carbon footprint' (mine's more of a shoeprint) and you begrudge me reading a book without getting a headache?

Not to mention the nightmare of trying to change an energy saving lightbulb.

When are we going to do something about these people? And what will you do when some grey suited lightbulb transactine executive comes to your local hardwear store? This blog does not condone, and never would condone breaking the law. But it is very keen on the idea of common sense and the moral highground.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Brit Blog roundup


Particularly liking the do it yourself free sheet.

Next week I will be hosting, from my holidays no less. That's dedication for you.

UK taxpayer 'feels like a pelican'

Every way they turn, they've got an enormous bill.

The latest one comes via everyone's favourite antidemocratic instutition: the EU.

Britain's net contribution to the EU – the amount we contribute minus the amount we receive in terms of grants and rebates – is going to increase by more than £2 billion next year. Having sworn that he would "not negotiate [the UK's rebate] away", Mr Blair proceeded to precisely that. His action was endorsed by the then chancellor, Gordon Brown.

I was there at that meeting in 2005 when Tony Blair sat grinning at the front of the chamber in Brussels.

Godfrey Bloom MEP sat at the front in a deer stalker with pipe: Sherlock Holmes searching for the win for Britain in the whole deal.

As he says; why should British tax payers fund new sewers in Budapest and a new underground system in Warsaw? Everyone would benefit if we engaged in free international trade. It's not a new concept, Ricardo's Theory of Comparative Advantage has been around for a while and yet the excuse that people use for wanting us to remain in the EU: some notion of collective power and trade - has stopped that happening.

This government lied about the referendum, used their inability to believe a word they say as an excuse in court and cost you billions of pounds for an organisation you've repeatedly said you're not happy with.

The Irish Referendum on the Lisbon Consitution is in October. After Libertas who knows what Declan Ganley is doing but bet your bottom dollar (literally: your tax money will be used to fund the YES campaign in Ireland for the second time) that the people who think you're too stupid to know what's best for your future will be campaigning for a YES vote this time round. It's the only acceptable answer to them, you see.

I know that Nigel Farage will be campaigning for a NO, trying to let the Irish people know that these 'promised' they've had aren't worth the paper they're written on so nothing's changed since they first voted NO.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Sort of. After a lovely holiday during which time I did not want to get too frustrated with all these tedious news stories, I am now back and ready to get back on with the job.

I think it must have been hearing David Miliband on the Today programme this morning (he was sort of right about that terrorism comment: think the Madrid bombers and that socialist government which was then elected and also let's also think 'debate') which encouraged me to get back on with the job of getting really pissed off with very stupid people.

However, rather like warming up before going for a run, I'm going to get cross gently and will ease back in gently with this vignette:

Friday, August 07, 2009


I am off on an adventure for a week and so I won't be able to update my lovely blog and probably won't really have time to watch the stupid politicians on the news.

Speaking of stupid politicians, how is that dickhead Rasmussen now Sec Gen of NATO when he's a euro fanatic left wing prick?

I will leave you with this:

Pip pip and see you on my return



Wednesday, August 05, 2009

PTSD or bad job?

I can't imagine that news of the MoD press officer who claims he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will go down that well in Helmand Province.

civil servant has broken ranks to reveal how he was forced to lie about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
John Salisbury-Baker, 62, was working in the Ministry of Defence when he says he was ordered to deliberately mislead bereaved families and the public.
He claims he was instructed to issue official statements through the media which were 'heavily spun' and clearly at odds with the reality.

But it does bring around the timely opportunity to see how much a civilian employment tribunal places on the disorder compared to the department being sued.

Whilst the judges deliberate over Marine McWilliam and Cpl Duncan who has their compensation increased considerably from the original beancounter decision due to the complexity of their injuries, John Salisbury-Baker doesn't have the posibility of a compensation limit.

For the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme places PTSD in its most serious form; usually reserved for those who can't even make it out of bed - at a maximum tariff of 8 or £48, 875 up from £28,750. And one of Mr Salisbury-Baker's own colleagues in London has regularly told journalists that PTSD is a bit of a myth in the Armed Forces and cases in the military are less frequent than on civvy street. Really? I suspect that's not so true but more to do with the classifications of PTSD and the decision many soldiers take of not declaring any such concerns.

One can, I suppose, feel sorry for him. There will be a judicial review on the use of snatch landrovers but unlike those he was apparently traumatised in talking about, he had a clear choice in his job. He applied for it and accepted it. He chose to continue doing it rather than get a new job or raise concerns. And yet he didn't. And so unlike troops who get sent where they are told and put their lives on the line: who don't get to go home to a comfy bed and have to eat out of 24 hour ration packs, still paying tax even when on ops, whilst hearing that the politicians who sent them there are happily spending our money, he had a choice.

The result? If he gets a large payout (let's not forget the poor, wee typist who sprained her wrist) not only is it a huge insult to all those who suffer from PTSD and who have been awarded paltry sums (often it's not even recognised in the top 3 injuries) under the AFCS but it takes much needed money away from the MoD who already suffer at the hands of a Treasury who clearly dislike the Armed Forces.

I for one will be watching closely to see the value placed on the wellbeing of a civilian who merely had to talk about soldiers and the value placed on those guys on the front line who, day after day, demonstrate why we should be so proud of them.

By all means, let's celebrate Armed Forces Day and allow the Nation to express their thanks. But can we also honour the Military Covenant and stop taking advantage of the stranglehold the MoD has over service personnel.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The last turkey in the shop?

This story has been all over the news this morning and I for one don't agree with this statement by Helen Penn of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre:
We can completely understand why young people want to post these images to each other...

Maybe I'm an old cynic or have an outdated idea of romance but I really would rather be sent a picture of a kitten than some chap's contorted face during the vinegar strokes. Or, indeed, the last turkey in the shop.

Monday, August 03, 2009

word up, peeps

It's the Britblog Roundup which this week is being hosted by the edible Jackart.

Not as edible as Mr Eugenides, though. Sorry.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Another day, another report

This time the Foreign Affairs select committee have ruled that UK troops in Afghan have too many different objectvies:

The military mission in Afghanistan has failed to deliver on its promises - as troops have too many tasks, MPs say.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee says "mission creep" had brought too many responsibilities, including fighting the drugs trade.

Well, when it comes to the drugs trade one could point out that if we legalised and controlled the things then we wouldn't be assisting the enemies of our troops. But that is far too sensible and idea and would upset people who read the Daily Mail so we'll just all crash on through regardless of fact or evidence.

I was told by someone who fought in one of the earlier OP HERRICKs that the British had told the Afghans that they would buy up the poppy harvest. However, he told me that as that was am agricultural subsidy it came under the control of the Common Agricultural Policy.

How true this is I don't know but it's something I've been trying to find out. Certainly, it sounds like the sort of nonsense which spurts from the arse end of the EU.

Listening to Radio 4 this morning I heard Kim Howells MP talking about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I paraphrase one of his points, for I was trying to decide what to wear at the time, but it essentially was that because the public don't like the wars then we might have to look at why we were there and, in the case of Afghan, if we still should be.

Now, mistake me if I'm wrong but the last time I checked most people in this country weren't Generals. Or, indeed, Field Marshalls. Trusting politicans is always tricky these days and trusting this government on anything military is particularly hard even without the news of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme which some of us have been lamenting and trying to change for a while. And as for the Iraq Inquiry, more on that later. What concerns me is that we elect MPs to make decisions for us - yes, it's a pity that most of them decide to outsource it to the EU but that's the fault of the individuals rather than the set up - and then they spend their time either completely ignoring public opinion and breaking manifesto commitments or passing the buck on their responsibility which is to make decisions.

Voters do decide who gets the position of MPs but should MPs decide what to do based on what they think will make them more popular? Shouldn't they be guided by principle and take all the evidence to reach what they feel is the right decision? And then be honest about it? Politics run by PR and the readers of tabloid newspapers is no basis for a system of government. Supreme exective power derives from a mandate from the masses, not some farcial aquatic ceremony. Or Rebekah Wade.

A quick dash through the Iraq inquiry, for it's something I've written about before. (Indeed I've written thousands of words on the damned thing).

18 months? Why? Let's have the cabinet minutes and cross reference them with the minutes from the UN Security Council and find out if the reason we went to war was either

1) Someone can't read
2) Someone didn't want to read

and in either case, sack them.

Also has the added bonus of saving money.