subtitle

...a blog by Richard Flowers

Friday, August 31, 2007

Day 2433: Face to Facebook

Friday:


Access to the Wibby Wobbly Web at work, is it a problem? Or is it a Human Right?

The TUC says that employees SHOULD have access, in particular to networking sites like In-Your-Facebook and FloorSpace.

UNSURPRISINGLY, employers reply by saying "it's a flamin' liberty!"

Mr Peter Mooney said:

"Why should employers pay for the privilege of allowing their employees to access Facebook, MySpace or Bebo from work computers whether in an employee's lunch-time or not?"


This is OBVIOUSLY WRONG – anyone who has READ the books will know that it is REMUS who is MOONEY and PETER is actually WORMTAIL!

"The lunch break may not be a paid break but there is still a cost" Mr Wormtail continues. "As we all know, lunch-time spreads into work time, so where do you draw the line?"

Because work time NEVER spreads into lunch-time and NO ONE ever does a working lunch, do they!

The employer here seems to have the PROBLEM that they think that allowing their workers any second of personal time during the working day is an INTRINSIC WRONG. This is the sort of psychosis that leads to timing people's trips to the toilet.

But surely the question should not be are you getting every second of breathing time from your employees but are they doing the work you need of them?

As a LIBERAL, I should like to think that companies work BETTER when employers and employees are working TOGETHER. Treating your workforce as SERFS leads to disaffection and poor productivity.

Suppose Hermione DOES spend half the day on Facebook: if she exceeds her target by fifty percent in the other half of the day, are you REALLY being ripped off? Draco, on the other fluffy foot, never even TOUCHES the Internet, but he's so BORED that can only bring himself to make ninety percent of his target – is he REALLY the better employee?

And is glancing at a web page now and then REALLY any different to taking a five-minute fag break every hour?

Well, there IS a BIT of a cost attached – using the office Internet does mean that someone is paying for your pipeline.

The question is how badly does it clog up the business use of the connection to the Internet which, after all, is what the company is paying for?

It is like the man who was ARRESTED for hitching a free ride on somebody else's wireless Internet connection.

People argue that he's doing no more than reading a book from the light coming out of their window – he's only using their leftovers. But that is not entirely true. Unlike light from a lightbulb, your use of bandwidth is limited and if someone else uses a little then you can't. In small increments, it genuinely makes no difference to you – but if lots of people did it, you would see the difference. If EVERYONE went freeloading their Internet, then no one would pay for it and there would BE no connections.

(The moral philosopher Mr Kant – Immanuel not Brian – called this his "Formula of Universal Law" to judge if something was morrally wrong: basically, if EVERYONE did it, would you be BUGGERED?)

Still, arresting him was a BIT HARSH!

But then again, the employer needs to make a judgement about how much excess bandwidth they want to pay for, how much of it might be used "on the sly" by the workforce and whether the rewards of a happy, motivated staff are worth the cost.

So how NAUGHTY you think it is to use the company Internet depends on your attitude to taking biros from the office stationery cupboard, or making personal phone calls.

In fact, since the Internet access is probably un-metered and the phone use is charged by the second, you may be better off to let people chat by e-mail than go back to doing what they USED to do to waste your time: gossiping on the phone!


This is a story that affects my Daddy Richard personally, because recently the place where he works doing counting changed their Internet policy. Instead of letting people use it they have decided not to. Instead, when you try to look at a web page like MY DIARY a message pops up and says: "this URL is blocked because it is TOO MUCH FUN – contact the IT department with a VALID BUSINESS REASON and we might let you look at it".

This results in considerably less joy in the workplace.

Daddy is ACTUALLY luckier than most, since he was able to persuade his bosses that there were "VALID BUSINESS REASONS" to be able to read the BBC news and the Wikipedia. So at least he can still do the IMPORTANT work of researching my diary.

But after years of being able to read the Liberal Democrat news on the Blogregator and the Doctor Who news on Owlpost Gallifrey, the deafening silence is driving him a bit peculiar. Or "more peculiar", to be completely accurate.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day 2432: Mr Balloon faces The Tribe

Wednesday:


Ooh, Mr Balloon is on the telly. Whatever can HE be doing there? What’s that you say, Mr Stripy? ANOTHER relaunch? Isn’t that two in two weeks? WHAT a ridiculous repeat offender he is!

This was like that new BBC Two show where Mr Balloon goes into the wilderness and faces a week of trials from a TRIBE of PYGMIES from the Newsnight Show. He tries to bribe them with SHINY BEADS and they stick him with pins coated in POISON FROG JUICE.

I just have enough time to tell you about his six IMPOSSIBLE POLICY POSITIONS before breakfast…


1
Immigration: too many people coming to Britain at the start of the Labour’s decade in office (Mr Balloon blames asylum seekers); too many people at the end of the Labour’s decade in office (Mr Balloon blames economic migrants). Would he send those people back? Er, no.

2
Iraq: he voted with the government on the invasion, was that right? Well, we have to learn the lessons of the mistakes that were made. Would he pull the troops out now? Setting a date would be quite wrong and just encourage them! So… still supporting the government’s exact position then. What lessons HAVE you learned from Iraq, Mr Balloon? (As no one asked.)

3
Human Rights: he wants to abolish the Human Rights Act because it means we “cannot deport people” (he means Mr Lawrence’s murderer) and we cannot control prisoners (or is that because the Prison Officers Association is on strike because they get too little money to guard too MANY prisoners?). So… WHICH Human Rights in the European Declaration of Human Rights do you want to drop, Mr Balloon? ? (As no one asked.)

ALSO, the snag is: derogating from the ECHR disqualifies us from membership of the European Union (as none of the interviewers pointed out). You DID know that didn’t you, Mr Balloon?

4
Europe: he wants to stay in (though see above). BUT he wants to be able to vary domestic social policy in order to gain short-term economic advantage. So… you don’t believe in the free market, then, Mr Balloon? (As no one asked.)

5
Tax: abolition of Inheritance Tax will only benefit the richest six percent of the population. How is this “sharing the proceeds of growth”? Are you only going to share them with those who are rich already? “Er

ALSO: doesn’t this flatly contradict your paean to the American Dream, that the very poorest can make it to the top? Not if the Balloon’s of this world start with an inherited leg up, they can’t – a legacy up, you might say. No?

6
Green Taxes: Mr Michael Crick had him at this point, if he’d but had the wit to spot it. Two “yes/no” questions. Question One: will you raise taxes on flying? “YES.” Question Two: will you stop airports expanding? “NO… air travel has got to grow… and blah and blah and very much more blah.

So… if you are NOT trying to cut flying (with its high carbon emissions) then what ARE your green taxes for, Mr Balloon? (As no one asked.)

Overall, though, the format played to Mr Balloon’s STRENGTHS: having four “nasty” BBC journalists GANGING UP on him allow him to play “Poor Brave Bullied Dave”. But actually the advantage is with him, as with each of them GAGGING to take over the questioning from the others they ruined each other’s chances of follow up. Instead of meshing into a concerted inquiry, with them all following their own pre-prepared agenda they took none of the opportunities to pick his answers apart, letting him hopscotch all over the place.

He is a PAST MASTER of the non-answer answer. For example, he was asked: “Mr Vague, Auntie Maude, Mr Oily Letwin, all your front bench are MOONLIGHTING in lucrative second (and third and fourth) jobs… why have you appointed this bunch of DILETTANTES?” His response: “I’ve appointed these people because THESE are the people I’ve appointed!” And THAT told them!

Having said that, as Daddy Alex first noticed, Mr Balloon REALLY cannot cope with female ladies of the opposite gender. Faced with a very senior economist and self-confessed single mother, he leans forward ready to pat her knee and you can all but see the words “don’t you worry your pretty little head about that, my dear,” forming in the atrium of his Etonian brain. At the last POSSIBLE second he recognises the glint in her eye of “patronise me and I’ll shove your silver spoon so far up that you’ll think you’re being born again!” Which leaves him dribbling something about the government bunging people two tenners as a bribe to stay married not because it would work but because it “sends a message”.

The Newsnight Show’s Tribe of interviewers allowed Mr Balloon to pull the wool over their eyes – or rather, given the quality of his answers – to pull the THIN FLANNEL over their eyes. But he could not disguise the fact that his bold new policy direction is… EXACTLY the same as Mr Something of the Night’s “new policy direction” Mr Iain Drunken Swerve’s “new policy direction” and Mr Vague’s “new policy direction”.

Construct a popular phrase or saying out of the following words, not necessarily in this order: “Strategy” “Vote” “Core”.

Personally, I think we’d have been better informed if they’d allowed Sir Mr the Merciless to cross-examine him. I do not think Sir M would have let him off the FROG JUICE POISONED hook so easily!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 2431: Two bans or NOT two bans?

Tuesday:


The Grauniad newspaper, if I may call it that, reports two bans today: a Conservatory Ban and a Liberal Democrat Ban.

Of course, what the Grauniad calls a "ban" may not be the same as what you or I might call a ban. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

This is ironic because their headline "Lib Dem plan to ban petrol-driven cars" appears over a story that ACTUALLY says the Liberal Democrats want all cars to run on non-carbon-emitting technology by the year 2040, giving people a mere THIRD-OF-A-CENTURY to phase out the use of petrol and diesel engines and replace them with hydrogen fuel cells or efficient electric engines.

In fact, the Liberal Democrat target is to persuade Europe to go for zero carbon emissions that would only apply to NEW CARS from 2040.

This plan is "banning" petrol cars is THE SAME WAY that diesel cars were "banned" in 2006 – oh, you didn't notice that? That is because diesel cars were NOT "banned", but from 2006 all new diesel engines had to comply with the European Union's EuroIV emissions standard.

And this is only ONE SMALL PART of a much larger set of proposals that would see the whole of Great Britain move towards becoming Carbon Neutral by 2050!

The Liberal Democrat plan is one of SUPPORTING people though the necessary changes, NOT IMPOSING change upon them.

Introducing proper carbon pricing schemes; nurturing innovation and technological solutions; and encouraging changes in behaviour like improving energy efficiency and local green power generation – the Liberal Democrats want to show people the way forwards, bring them along with us, and demonstrate that we can get through this together.

The United Kingdom may only make a small contribution to global warming though our emissions, but we can lead by example and offer help to other countries, especially in the developing world.

Banning things is usually a BAD IDEA; the Liberal Democrats have a BETTER ANSWER.



Bearing this in mind, you cannot NECESSARILY believe it when the Grauniad is also saying: "Balloon hints at ban on violent video games".

Banning "violent computer games" (merely the latest incarnation of "banning video nasties", "banning loud music" and "banning those disgusting pamphlets from France") is an OLD FASHIONED Conservatory "Dog Whistle". It says to the CORE VOTE: "Ugh, how horrid!"

This line has been trotted out time and again, claimed as the solution to all the ills of the world and every analysis shows that it makes not one jot of difference.

If anything, there may be a case for saying that video gaming actually REDUCES people's aggression – if the evidence of increased levels of happiness hormone SEROTONIN in gamers is true. And if people are so addicted to EverQuest that they cannot even remember to EAT then they are hardly likely to be out on the streets shooting holes in each other!

But is this ALL that there is to Mr Balloon's announcement today?

Let's see what he SAYS:

Condemning "knee-jerk" responses, Mr Balloon said:

"Yes, tough laws, strong action on the police, but also action to strengthen our society. And that includes, I think, video games and things like that where we do need to think of the context in which people are growing up."
No, nothing "knee-jerk" at all about blaming computer games, there.

But seriously, this IS part of something bigger.

Following on from several particularly nasty crimes with guns, people are – as usual – crying out that "something must be done" and Mr Balloon is trying to provide them with an answer.

He does actually say that the problem is broader than just ONE-DIMENSIONAL solutions offered by the government, and claims to be offering a "mini-manifesto" on crime.

This OUGHT to be deserving of some serious analysis and NOT just be reduced to a headline that makes the Conservatories look like they are heading back to the authoritarian Eighties.

Except that this IS Mr Balloon and he's only looking for an excuse to bang on about his "Broken Britain" soundbite again. He's not offering real answers, only looking for an excuse to get on a bandwagon. Which is not terribly tasteful, under the circumstances.

The Government DOES make far too much of just passing yet ANOTHER law as though this will solve things, but in making suggestions of gun amnesties and community schemes, the Home Secretary Ms Jacqui Spliff is being far from one-dimensional.

The "solutions" that Mr Balloon wants to offer – stronger "traditional families", stricter licensing laws, longer prison sentences – are both impractical and nostalgic. You cannot bribe people to stay married (certainly not with a tenner a week) and nor can you cut the early release scheme without the prisons bursting at the seams. But you CAN hearken back to the ILLUSORY golden age of Conservatory Patrician politics when the Old Etonians knew what was best for the rest of us hoi polloi.

Ultimately, what is WRONG with Mr Balloon is that he is offering solutions to the WRONG PROBLEM.

When he says:

"Above all we must fight back against the attitude that treats rising crime as inevitable,"
…he is verging on the HILARIOUS.

Crime is at the BOTTOM of a FIFTEEN-YEAR-LONG DECLINE. The people with the attitude that "rising crime is inevitable" are – ironically – Mr Balloon and his Conservatory chums.

There are a LOT of stories of gun crime in the news at the moment – but how much of that is BECAUSE gun crime is in the news at the moment? Certainly, horrible shootings of innocent eleven-year-olds would ALWAYS make the headlines, but would ALL the reported incidents of shots being fired be given this prominence if it wasn't a HOT TOPIC?

FEAR of crime vastly eclipses actual incidence of crime. And Mr Balloon is only FUELLING that FEAR – and for entirely selfish reasons too!

A headline that reduces this backwards, right-wing, inward looking failure of policy and imagination to "Conservatories want to ban computer games" is as SILLY as one that describes forward looking Liberal Democrat policies on climate change as "Let's Ban Cars".

Banning things is what the Labour does.

Perhaps the Grauniad has forgotten that, right or wrong, the opposition parties do things differently.

Day 2430: All Time High

Monday:


When the BBC news headlines promised a "RECORD HIGH" from Afghan opium production, my Daddies fell about laughing. I do not understand why!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 2329: A Time for Prayer

Sunday:


Dearly beloved, let us prey on the children, er, I mean pray for the children…

Mr Black Peter, the Prince of Wales, has opened a right old can of worms with his suggestion that the compulsory hum-a-long hour of "collective worship" in schools – usually interpreted as mandatory Church of England waffles for breakfast – should be updated to something more multi-cultural and multi-faith.

As I am a MILITANT ATHEIST BABY ELEPHANT you can hardly be surprised that my immediate sympathies lie with the secularists who say: "why should we have a compulsory act of faith AT ALL?"

Given that the whole point of schools is to crack open young people's brains and pour knowledge in, this makes them especially impressionable and open to receiving ideas as "TRUE" because they are told so by an authority figure. Ideas that we are told when we are young are often very difficult to unlearn. It is not for nothing that the JESUITS used to say "give us the child until he is six and we will give you the man". But if religion is TRULY about faith and commitment, then it should not need to BRAINWASH people from a young age – it should be open to letting people make their own minds up.

But then again, being forced to attend a STULTIFYINGLY DULL religious practice every morning in school is surely one of the surest ways of ensuring that a generation of children have grown up disdainful of organised religion. Getting your education from your religion is often a short route to ignorance and a closed mind, but getting a religious education from religious education LESSONS is DEFINITELY the best way to proof your mind against any interest in, well, a religious education.

In the same way, schools should be barred from teaching the Bard and concentrate on classes in "Casualty" and "Coronation Street". This should soon ensure that this television mush is soon as loathed as Shakespeare is now, and we should get the most literate and erudite children in the world.

Day 2428: A Timely Reminder

Saturday:


I am only A MONTH LATE with this story of SWIFT (calls for) ACTION from Mr Frown!


What with all of the SCANDALS about TELEVISION this year (from phoney phone-ins to bogus Blue Peter viewers) you would think that no one had ever distrusted a TV Quiz before.

Time then, for my Daddies to dust off their DVD of the 1994 movie "Quiz Show", which tells the story of all of the SCANDALS about TELEVISION in the year 1957. A mere half a century ago.

Concentrating on the most famous Quiz, the show "Twenty-One", and how it was rigged by its producer giving the questions and answers to popular contestants in advance. Popular contestants meant high ratings meant good publicity for the show's sponsors – in the case of "Twenty-One", the energy drink makers Geritol. When they were found out, the contestants were ruined, the producer spent a decade in the wilderness (literally – he had to go to Canada to find work), and the Quiz Shows were cancelled. The network and the sponsor were NEVER IMPLICATED. Directed and produced by Mr Robert Redford, it is basically "All the President's Men" except that this time Nixon GETS AWAY WITH IT.

IRONICALLY, the movie itself was questioned because although it CLAIMED to be a TRUE STORY it altered some of the facts in order to make a more DRAMATIC presentation of the story. So in the REAL WORLD, Mrs the Queen NEVER stormed off the set of "Twenty-One".

Monday, August 27, 2007

Day 2427: And the Sky Full of Stars

Friday:


I have been using the new GOOGLE SKY (just like the ordinary sky, except your BRAIN-WAVES are automatically recorded for Google’s marketing department) to try and spot the Starship Voyager 2!

Here is the view of SPACE above my flat!


Watch the Skies!
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(Strictly speaking, it is the view at six o’clock in the evening.)

If you look up there you can see the bright blue star of VEGA in the constellation of LYRA. Well somewhere between there and the constellation of HERCULES, that is where you will find Voyager 2, hurtling ahead of us into the galactic night.

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 on the 20th August 1977, shortly followed by the slightly backwards launch of Voyager 1 (on the 5th September). In spit of this numerical inexactitude, these two plucky little robots have been the most marvellous success, with their grand tour of the outer plants of the Solar System.

After all this time, AMAZINGLY, they are still working, and have been given a NEW MISSION: to seek out the limits of the Solar System.

Voyager 1, despite her late start, has overtaken her sister ship and is now, at about fifteen BILLION kilometres away (about 0.16% of a LIGHT YEAR), is the most distant human-made object EVER.

As you probably know, the galaxy is filled with very thin DUST of hydrogen and helium and other little bits of debris. Our Solar System sits in a sort of BUBBLE in this dust cloud, created by the pressure of the SOLAR WINDS: charged particles and magnetic fields that come blasting off the sun at millions of miles an hour.

Somewhere out there, between eighty and a hundred times as far from the Sun as the Earth, there is a boundary called the “Termination Shock” where the mixing of the solar winds with the galactic dust slows the winds down to below the speed of sound (even though there ISN’T any sound because you are in SPACE where only Star Destroyers are loud enough to be heard!) Beyond this is a TURBULENT region where the galactic dust mixes with the faltering particles from the Sun, before finally – maybe as far away again – you reach the HELIOPAUSE, the limit of the Sun’s influence, beyond which is truly INTERSTELLAR SPACE.


Final Frontier
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Voyager 1 has already crossed the Termination Shock and Voyager 2 is coming up on it fast. And soon, even if it may be another thirty years, Voyager will cross the Heliopause and become (assuming those German Physicists don’t get a working faster-than-light machine going in the meantime) the Earth’s first INTERSTELLAR SPACE CRAFT.

Hooray!

Except that that will make us FAIR GAME for the DALEKS!

Day 2426: American President Rouses Veterans: “Let’s finish what we started… in Vietnam!”

Thursday:


Is anyone else getting just a bit BORED with gung-ho right-wingers from America bad-mouthing our British Troops in Basra? Accusing our forces of having “failed” and of “running away”… it not very POLITE to the one country that was DUMB enough to stick with as you got yourselves into this mess, now is it? And it is DOUBLE IMPOLITE when we are only doing, in handing control back to the Iraqi people, what you said the plan was SUPPOSED to be!

If you do not WANT us as your allies, just say so! I am sure that our troops will be happy to come home the moment that you do.


Meanwhile, the Monkey-in-Chief has, for the first time, acknowledged that Iraq is HIS Vietnam. He is making arrangements to be the first Commander-in-Chief to serve out his term AWOL as I type.

In fact, the American Monkey’s position is that the US pulled out of Vietnam TOO SOON. Like the movie version, “Apocalypse Now”, isn’t ten years long ALREADY! This presumably comes from the same Pentagon school of analysis that used GAME THEORY to “prove” that they had WON the Vietnam War in 1965… so the Viet Minh were just CHEATING to carry on like that!

Actually, I suspect that by “too soon” what the Monkey-in-Chief means is that the US Army was stupid not to wait until there was a DEMOCRAT in the White House. Because OBVIOUSLY this is just the Monkey’s latest excuse for not facing the FACTS and pulling out right away. HE wants to leave that particular HUMILIATION to Ms Hillary-Billary. (Other US Presidents are available… just not from the Replutocrats.)

And likewise, all those American Generals blaming the British are ALSO – in the TASTEFUL American Jargon – covering their ASSES. They know that the SURGE has not really succeeded, or rather it has only succeeded in DISPLACING the violence in Iraq, not ending it.

So, a HUGE part of the US Army has decamped to Baghdad: do the militias and insurrectionists and jihadis throw themselves at this army? Or do they slink off to the north and the south and step up new campaigns of terror there? Or do they quietly bide their time waiting to give the occupiers a REALLY spectacular send off?

The answer is OBVIOUS: they do ALL THREE!

But America’s generals, like their Monkey-in-Chief, now seem more interested in saving FACE than saving LIVES. So they look to pass the buck to the British and refuse to admit that this is their FAILURE and their FAULT.

We were WRONG to invade the Middle East, wrong to do it on a FALSE prospectus, wrong to do it without the support of the United Nations and a clear mandate and a clear plan. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, we have made – in Mr Jack Man O’Straw’s phrase – a TOTAL Jack Man O’Straw of the aftermath!


Oh, and a small historical/geographical note for the Monkey-in-Chief: the Killing Fields, the horrible murderous campaign of Mr Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, took place in CAMBODIA not in VIETNAM. This is what we who support the United Nations call “A DIFFERENT COUNTRY”!

(I know it would be SIMPLISTIC to suggest that there is no connection AT ALL between the communist regimes in two neighbouring countries, but you cannot overlook the fact that it was the Vietnamese invasion in 1979 that actually put an END to the Khmer Rouge reign of terror.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Day 2425: Daddy on the Radio

Wednesday:


This morning, just as we were settling down on my sofa to watch the PG Wodehouse Playhouse, half-a-dozen strange men wearing FEDORAS and TRENCH COATS burst in, bundled Daddy Alex into a SACK, retuned my digital telly to Channel Radio Five Live and DISAPPEARED!

Before I could UNFLABBER my GHAST, Mr Simon Mayonnaise was on the radio announcing that Daddy Alex was to be his next guest!

It turns out that that CHARMING CHAP Mr the Don Liberali has taken over the Liberal Democrats Press Office… or as he calls it the Press GANG Office… and "volunteered" my Daddy for a "hit" on Mr Mayonnaise's afternoon radio show.

Wednesday is Politics Day for Mr Mayonnaise and normally he gets a collection of ODDBALL backbenchers to come in and discuss the week's political news. But since all the MPs are on their hols at the moment (except Mr Balloon, who is too junior to count) Mr Mayonnaise decided to get some IMPORTANT people instead.

So he invited My Daddy Alex as a TOP LIB-DEM BLOGGER; an automatic typing machine from the Labour's old Millbank Headquarters; and the man who runs the ConservatoryHomeCounties Campaign for the Compulsory Worship of Thatchianity, Mr Tim Montgomeryshire (MP Mr Lembit, Liberal Democrat).

Mr the Don tipped Daddy Alex off that they would be talking about hospitals and health, crime and anti-social behaviour, the EU Constitution and anything else that Mr Balloon faxed over before they went on air. As it happened, the discussion focused mainly on Mr Balloon's new policy of "Anarchy in the UK", and by "mainly" I mean entirely and by "Anarchy in the UK" Mr Balloon meant "Ugh, kids and/or foreigners today!"

You might have thought that this was a bit of a STICKY WICKET for a Liberal Democrat, but you would be WRONG! Daddy was EASILY knocking them for six, because he sounded both passionate and different to the other two!

Mr Montgomeryshire (Liberal Democrat majority: 7,173)'s position was that there WAS a crisis, the streets of England were running with uncontrollable gangs of hoodies and it is all the government's fault because they aren't doing enough! The automated typing machine said that there WASN'T a crisis because the government WAS doing enough.

Daddy Alex said they were BOTH WRONG – because the government simply CANNOT SOLVE CRIME EVERYWHERE. It doesn't have the ability – no matter what Mr Frown, with all his efforts to grab more and more draconian powers, might think. Different local communities need different solutions: working with community projects to turn around the lives gang members in one area, improving neighbour communication in another, getting a bobby back on the beat in a third and so on.

"My dad comes from Wigan," offered the automatic typing machine.

(Your dad comes from Wigan and he named you Karen? What a SWINE!)

Later, Daddy told me what he WISHED he'd said was: "the government doesn't have the power to solve local crime – but it DOES have the power to stop the police doing so."

What he DID say was that the police need to be allowed to do their job – making a new thing ILLEGAL every twenty-four hours only keeps them home learning what today's new laws are!

"New laws may catch headlines, but they don't catch criminals!" said Daddy.

(He thinks that this is CHEESY but I think that it is GOOD!)

But equally, talking about a CRISIS across the country is silly and scaremongering. The good people of Mr Balloon's constituency in Witney would be INSULTED. Their streets are NOT awash with anarchists!

(They WERE awash with floodwater, but Mr Balloon was in Rwanda at the time – perhaps that is why Mr Balloon is worried about made-up disasters and it is Sir Mr the Merciless who is taking action on flood defences. More on this story later!)


Then Mr Mayonnaise took an e-mail from a listener asking what he should do about gangs of youths throwing stones at him. "Go on, Daddy Alex, solve HIS problem!" said Mr Mayonnaise, a bit meanly (since it was the OTHER TWO who were saying they could sit in London and solve crime anywhere in the country).

But Daddy kept his head and answered saying that, obviously, if there are people throwing stones, the listener needed his local police to come and stop them. And the police need to be freed from the Labour's bureaucracy so that they have the time to do so.

The second half of the show focussed on the sad story of Mrs Lawrence and the young man who murdered her husband.

Mr James and Mr Jonny have already written movingly and Liberally on this subject, and said much of what Daddy said on the radio.

Beginning by prefacing his remarks with the statement that IF Mr Chindamo is still DANGEROUS then he should remain IN PRISON, Daddy calmly and patiently explained that if Human Rights are to mean anything then they have to apply to nasty people as well as to nice ones.

At once, Mr Montgomeryshire (Assembly Member: Mick Bates, Liberal Democrat) rudely butted in to say:

"Oh, you Liberal Democrats, always taking the criminal's side!"

This got Daddy a bit CROSS, but I cannot say that I blame him. In fact, if I had been there I would probably have picked Mr Mayonnaise up in my trunk and used him to club Mr Montgomeryshire (Powys Unitary Authority: Liberal Democrat 16/Labour 4/Independent 53/Conservatory nil) about the head. And that would have been WRONG!

Daddy was much more restrained and only bludgeoned him VERBALLY.

"When I and Daddy Richard were mugged at knife and gunpoint," said Daddy Alex firmly, "if there had been a magic word that could have made the muggers DEAD then I would have used it. And THAT is why victims cannot be allowed to decide what is JUSTICE."

Mrs Lawrence speaks from the heart about her shock at the news, and we should have every SYMPATHY for her. But that does not mean that she is correct. And it doesn't mean that MACHO POSTURING by the Government is going to help either.

Mr Chindamo did her a TERRIBLE wrong when he murdered her husband, Philip. But it would be doing HIM a wrong to expel him from the only country he has really ever known. Revenge is not a human right.

"I said that if he was a danger then he should remain in prison," Daddy continued, "and I notice that Tim DIDN'T say that. If he was a British murderer – like the vast majority of murderers in our prisons – then we wouldn't be able to dump him on another country. But if you believe that prison is about rehabilitation and not just revenge then you have to accept that he will be released someday, or else admit that your only solution is just to lock every criminal up forever!"

And Mr Montgomeryshire (Liberal Democrat Vote Share 51.2%) was left with nothing to say.

"I think we should let vigilantes hound him out of the country," said the automatic typing machine.

Sigh.

There was just time for one last quick question about MPs' holidays and Mr Mayonnaise thought he could slip in a last quick dig at Daddy Alex.

"Have the Liberal Democrats disappeared this summer?" he asked.

"Well, not according to your headlines which said Sir Mr the Merciless was campaigning to prevent the next flood crisis before it happens," replied Daddy, who had wisely been paying attention.

I hope that people listening enjoyed My Daddy's starring role. He can be a bit wild and wacky (opening with the news that it was the one-thousand-four-hundred-and-forty-second anniversary of the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster, by Saint Columba no less, left Mr Mayonnaise staring at him like he was going bonkers… at least until it was clear where he was going with the story) but he spoke with PASSION and PERSONALITY. Which is more than anyone else in the studio managed.

"I hope as many people rang to complain as they did the last time I made a media appearance sounding Liberal on crime," says Daddy Alex.

I think that a few people may have decided to check out the Liberal Democrats as a result!

Now, apparently, I need to deliver thirty-thousand Focus leaflets to buy Daddy back from Mr the Don!

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Day 2424: Scores on the Doors

Tuesday:


If you remember my special diary for the Liberal Democrat Voice, I said that it would be a good idea to keep an eye out for the quarterly statements from the Electoral Commission.

Well, now they are in, and on the whole they look a little more promising for Mr Frown, but probably not enough for him to call an EXPENSIVE election, unless he has some secret source of funding ready to spring into service.

The Labour got most from donors with about £5 million received. The Conservatories, however, got more actual money because in addition to their £4.6 million in donations, they received £1.7 million from public funds.

The Liberal Democrats received in total £1.3 million (£ 1,288,062.10) being £ 582,538.84 in cash and £ 597,169.90 from public funds and £ 99,975.38 non-cash (i.e. free office rent, legal bills paid, leader's car provided etc).

So how near to having the BAILIFFS sent round are we all?

The Labour are now £20.2 million in debt;
The Conservatories are £16.3 million in debt;
The Liberal Democrats are £1.0 million in debt.

(In fact, £1,049,957, half of which is an overdraft with the Royal Bank of Scotland; a quarter of which is a loan from Lord Alliance-and-Loan and a tenth of which is a loan from Lord Razzall-Dazzle.[*])

Significantly, the Liberal Democrats are the only one of these parties who owe less than one quarter's worth of income, while the Labour are still in quite a LOT of trouble even if millionaire donors now feel more comfortable giving their hard-won dosh to Mr Frown when even they were a bit uncertain about handing over the readies while Lord Blairimort was in charge.

Further down the league tables:

The Scottish Nasties owe three-quarters-of-a-million pounds;
The Welsh Nasties two-hundred thousand pounds;
Respect the Pussycat Leotard Alliance owes £35 thousand pounds and
The UKPnuts Party owes a mere twenty grand.

The Scottish Nasties received a hundred thousand pounds in public funds and half-a-million in donations (three-hundred-and-twenty-five thousand or sixty-five percent of that being from Mr Brian Souter); the Welsh Nasties received just forty-seven thousand pounds in public funds.

UKPnuts received forty-seven grand too, though all in donations, half of it from a Mr David Bick. They also received twenty-seven thousand pounds worth of advertising from J Whitaker and ten-thousand pounds worth of legal fees and postage from Alan Brown Ltd of Margate. Respect the Pussycat Leotard Alliance got nothing.


Not to leave anybody off the list:

The Progressive Party owes two-hundred and ten thousand pounds, exactly half each to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Mr Robert Durward.

Scottish Voice owes one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand pounds Keir & Cawder Estates Ltd. All this and Cawder too?

The English Democrats owe one-hundred-and-one thousand, four-hundred-and-seventy-seven pounds to three individuals.

The Scottish Socialist Party owes seventy-three thousand pounds to the Co-operative bank.

Better Bedford Independent Party owes thirty-four thousand three hundred pounds to Mr Francis Joseph Branston. Who pretty much IS the Better Bedford Independent Party. And CO-INCIDENTALLY is the Mayor of Bedford. And CO-INCIDENTALLY owned the local paper.

Solidarity Scotland's Socialist Movement owes eleven thousand pounds to Mr Gordon Morgan.

And the People's Party for Better Government owes seven thousand eight hundred pounds to Mr Christopher Prior.


[*]and since I'm practicing such FULL disclosure for the Liberal Democrats, perhaps I can also mention the following.

The Conservatories biggest creditors are Big Ben Films, Morain Investments (UK) Ltd, AIB Group Plc and Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay to whom they owe two-and-a-half MILLION pounds each, closely followed by a MILLION pounds owed to both Ironmade Ltd and Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay again (and they owe another three-hundred thou to AIB group too).

The Labour's largest creditor is the Co-operative Bank to whom they owe a single amount of three-and-a-half MILLION pounds, together with ten other loans taking the total to an amazing three-million, eight-hundred-and-thirty-eight thousand, two-hundred-and-eighty-nine pounds. Second is Sir David Garrard on two-million three hundred thousand. In third is the Unity Trust Bank with a single long-standing loan of two million pounds and six other loans taking the total to two million, one-hundred-and-seventy-three thousand and eighty-three pounds. Lord Sainsbury (where good government costs less) and Mr Richard Caring are each due two million. Dr Chai Patel CBE (Peerage Pending) is still owed one-and-a-half million pounds. And there are five people – Mr Barry Townsley, Mr Andrew Rosenfeld, Prof. Sir Christopher Evans, Mr Nigel Morris and Mr Rod Aldridge – who are owed a cool million each.

All of these individuals and companies are owed as much or more than the whole (all right, very nearly the whole) of the Liberal Democrats £1.0 million borrowings. These 17 names between them control 76% of the Conservatory Party's debt and 93% of the Labour's (even excluding the two banks that is 63% of the Labour's debt owed to nine people).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Day 2423: Self-Inflicted Balloons

Monday:


Another day, another re-launch for Mr Balloon.

Ways NOT to start a local campaign for local hospital services:

Sit in LONDON (in your chilled shoes, freshly delivered by air-conditioned Lexus); pick 29 hospitals at random; tell them you are going to save them whether they want you to or not. Or indeed whether they EXIST or not.

You see the thing is, lending your support to local campaigns ought to be a GOOD thing. That is why Liberal Democrats do it all the time. In fact we launched OUR OWN NHS SOS website in June (so it has taken Mr Balloon almost a whole couple of months to jump on the bandwagon… perhaps he has been on holiday…). WE do this because we believe that LOCAL PEOPLE are the best people to decide what services they need, not some minister in London.

But that is NOT what Mr Balloon decided to do. No, Mr Balloon just came up with HIS OWN centralised solution!

Mr Frown says: "We must have… uhh… gleaming and efficient new super-casinos…uhh… super-hospitals that will be… uhh… centres of excess… uhh… excellence!"

So Mr Balloon says: "NO! I want to change things and by change them I mean keep them exactly as they are! Every hospital needs to be saved, even the ones that don't!"

Having just spent a week supporting Mr Deadwood's new proposals to allow business to work us all into an EARLY GRAVE, Mr Balloon clearly wanted to fluff up his SOFTER SIDE and what could be fluffier than pledging a "BARE KNUCKLE" fight to save hospitals?

Well, quite a lot, actually, and isn't a BARE KNUCKLE FIGHT more likely to end up with more people IN Accident and Emergency?


We believe in CUTTING WASTE NOT WARDS. Saving the millions spent on failed IT schemes and an endless roundabout of reforms (or "whatever is this month's whim in Whitehall") and spending it on providing the service that people really want.

Mr Balloon seems more interested in generating HEADLINES from SCARE STORIES… something that has left one of his MPs apologising to the hospital in King's Lynn.

In fact, the MP in question, Mr Henry Bellingham, was on the Radio 4 news last night desperately trying to make sure that everyone knew that Mr Balloon was in no way responsible. For anything.

"I'm so sorry, I as the local MP should make clear to my local hospital that as their local MP I should have asked them it they were being closed down before Mr Balloon added them to, er, I mean before he discovered that they had been added to his list and as local MP any mistakes that were made by my leader were entirely my fault, not that he makes any mistakes and if you think he might then as local MP it's my fault for suggesting it."

(Mr Henry Bellingham is the local MP for the King's Lynn hospital. He might have mentioned that.)

Today, the Conservatories RETRACTED another apology saying that the statement had been put out by a VERY JUNIOR member of staff with no responsibilities and no one understands how Mr Balloon was allowed to make such a statement in the first place.


All of which adds up to not very much. The Conservatories are generating a lot of coverage for themselves, but mostly it is coverage of how VERY BAD at this sort of thing they are. And it is clear that they STILL have no idea how much of an EASY RIDE they get from the press.


Liberal Democrats launch a campaign to save the railways or to do our duty for Iraqi translators or against the "surveillance society" and the press barely even TWITCH. But they'll lap up every Conservatory Press Release and turn up for Mr Balloon every time to give him a week of coverage even if it IS coverage of him getting egg on his face. Again.

I am NOT bitter, though. Because I know that – unlike Mr Balloon and the Conservatories – we Liberal Democrats have the policies backed up by our philosophy and the campaigns backed up by our hard work to REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE even without free handouts from the media.

Now, if the Eejit from Eton REALLY wants to support local hospitals… has he signed our PETITION?

Day 2422: Joe and the Cat Monsters

Sunday:


Daddies' lunch guest on Sunday had to leave early because he was going back to feed Joe's pet cats. Joe could not feed his own cats because he was busy super-gluing himself to the front door of the Shouty Sheep People BAA.


The Camp for Climate Protest has gone off without too much of a fuss, Sunday's climax being a day of COLOURFUL PROTEST, in spite of the HYSTERICAL whinging from certain quarters that a collection of students, hippies, grannies and local residents might somehow bring about the END OF MODERN CIVILISATION. As though shutting down an airport is THAT important to civilisation. As though the Shouty Sheep People don't manage to shut THEIR OWN airports down with baggage handlers' strikes often enough.

There were SOME minor scuffles mostly involving policepeople on horses or in armour trying to batter their way into the camp, clearly intent on zealously pursuing someone for illegal flower picking or perhaps copyright infringement of one of Ms Joan Byes protest songs.

Police said "a number" (later described as "eight") of the protestors had been arrested. Using the words "a number" makes it seem much more THREATENING though – like it was worth them being there in force, outnumbering the actual protesters three-to-two.

Sombre announcements from the BBC that the protesters had "split into a number of disparate groups" (like they were slipping into their NINJA PYJAMAS ready to attack from all sides) ever so slightly overlooked the fact that they STARTED OUT as "a number of disparate groups".

Their OH-SO-CUNNING plan appeared to be to stage a SIT-IN (and other non-violent direct action) starting on SUNDAY, thus catching the policepeople and the Shouty Sheep People on the HOP. Oooh, better hope AL-FLIPPIN'-QAEDA don't get that idea.

One policeperson (name and address supplied) wrote in to the Metro to EXPLAIN the apparent OVER-THE-TOP behaviour of his or her colleagues. "What if," said the police person, "a TERRORIST had infiltrated the Peace Camp and got into a HIGHLY SENSITIVE AREA (i.e. the airport)…" (I'm not making this bit up!) "…then you'd be sorry!"

Well, I AM sorry, but I think that terrorists tend NOT to try and join up with a group of people who are not only highly colourful and very visible but are also surrounded by hundreds of police. Quite apart from avoiding bunches of people all with different politics and beliefs and agenda because they tend to STICK OUT like SORE THUMBS in that sort of environment.

Terrorists tend to prefer to keep a LOW PROFILE. In fact they would be better off sneaking into the airport another way while all the police people are looking at the Climate Camp going "ooh, look at them stinkin' 'ippies!"

Either that or to infiltrate a rigidly hierarchical organisation where it is easier to blend in AND gain greater access to secure areas. Like the police!

Before he had to go, we watched some of the news with our friend… and thought that we saw Joe! We texted him and he was fine. And so were the cats!

Day 2421: Darling Alistair Says Don't Panic – Now I'm REALLY Worried

Saturday:


"World Shares Crisis" that is what the headlines read, and I thought: "Oh, well, at least we are all joining in together!"


Money makes the world go 'round, or at least it does according to Daddy's record collection (I suspect that it is something to do with gravity and perturbation myself). But this week it is going round like a circle in a SPIRAL, a spiral of DESPAIR, as money gurgles round and round and down the PLUG HOLE!

What IS going on?

I asked the BBC's answer to BRAINS from THUNDERBIRDS, Evan Davis, to give me his analysis and frankly I am NONE THE WISER.

It seems that a hundred billion pounds of high risk mortgages are at high risk. So a-hundred-AND-THIRTY billion pounds has been wiped off shares world wide. Does this seem in any way a sensible way to run things?

Pension funds that had just struggled back into the black were all plunged back into deficit by the falling value of their assets. Now they are £20 billion in deficit. Which at least is better than last year when they were £40 billion in deficit. And the year before that when they were £80 billion in deficit.

This "in deficit" is a slightly alarming measure anyway. It means: if RIGHT NOW they HAD to pay all of the pensions that they one day MIGHT have to pay, do they have enough money?

The thing is, they DON'T have to pay them right now and – sadly for some people – they won't have to pay ALL of the pensions that they might because some people till DIE early. Which is why none of the pensions have gone bankrupt from losing on the stock exchange.

The reason pensions go bankrupt is because big fat crooks take all the money and spend it!

But is any of this really any reason for all the SUITS in the CITY to start doing the HEADLESS CHICKEN DANCE?

Because by and large the stock market does go up. Over time. So the problem with falling stocks is NOT that you have lost your money – you have only lost it if you need it again RIGHT NOW. So long as you are able to wait, then the chances are that the market will recover again.

The stock market is a RISKY place to put your money. This is why you should not invest ALL of your savings! Keep back some in the building society; make sure that you have some in a pension; consider buying a few government guaranteed bonds – or even Premium Bonds. In short: DIVERSIFY. Do not put all of your eggs in one portfolio. And above all DO NOT TAKE FINANCIAL ADVICE FROM A FLUFFY ELEPHANT[*]

And whadda ya know: stocks bounce back.


[*]Millennium is NOT regulated by the Financial Services Authority and if you take his advice then frankly you are crazy. Stock markets can and do go down all the time and you might still lose the lot especially if there's a Replutocrat in the White House dictating American fiscal policy like he's been to Vegas and never got out of rehab. Reputable financial advisors are available. Somewhere.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Day 2420: Enemies of Reason, part deux

Friday:


The The Today Programme appears to be experimenting with a new way to raise Daddies' blood pressures to EXPLODING point.

On a day when the most important news OUGHT to have been that German physicists claim to have broken the SPEED OF LIGHT[*] – potentially the most significant breakthrough since Quantum Mechanics reduced to "but WHY can't we travel backwards in time?" – instead they devoted a large part of the show to ANOTHER form of Time Travel: Mr John Deadwood's re-issue of the Conservatories' 1987 manifesto: "Why we're right and staying that way".

Having Mr Deadwood on at ten-past-seven and THEN having Mr Gideon Oboe (or to give him his full title, Mr Giddy Moron Oboe) on a ten-past-eight to explain just how WONDERFUL were Mr Deadwood's proposals.


This COULD have been an excuse to let Mr Humpy or Mr Naughty really try to pin down the Shadow Preparatory-School Chipmunk for Tuck Shop Money with hard questions along the lines of: "are there or are there not Conservatory policies?"

Because if these are NOT Conservatory Policy then this ISN'T NEWS, and Mr Deadwood is just BLOGGING!

Instead it was Ms Sarah Montague – or rather Ms Sarah Won't-Argue – getting her "facts" from Mr Deadwood himself and trying to get Mr Oboe to agree that obviously they were self-evident sense. It is not like they hadn't had loveable economic brainiac Mr Evan Davis on the show in the intervening half hour. He could have pointed out that Mr Deadwood was talking GIBBERISH in two seconds flat.

"We can cut taxes with the proceeds of growth," said Mr Deadwood. "If the economy grows by just 1% - and it usually grows by 2% or 3% - then the Treasury gets half-a-billion pounds extra for nothing, and we can use that to abolish Inheritance Tax."

The treasure only gets "money for nothing" if the economy grows ABOVE INFLATION! If inflation is 2% then that means the economy has to grow at 3% as anyone who was not an ECONOMICALLY ILLITERATE the The Today Programme presenter would have spotted instantly.

(In fact it is even more complicated that that because the government's spending tends to be more tied to WAGE inflation rather than PRICE inflation and so their spending benefits less from cheap prices on, say, imported toys from China.)

Mr Deadwood is basing his tax cut on money that SIMPLY DOES NOT EXIST. Though to be fair to him, this has been Mr Balloon's formula for some time.

And to be fair to Ms Won't-Argue, she did get some of her statistics from people to the LEFT of Mr Deadwood: UKIP, the UKPnuts Party, provided her "facts" on Europe"!

Arrgh!

In fact, half way through the interview, Mr Oboe did SLIP IN that he, should he ever grow up to be Chancellor, would not introduce any tax cuts that were not paid for by tax rises elsewhere. At that point Ms Won't-Argue FAILED TO SPOT that the Shadow Junior Milk Monitor had just reject Mr Deadwood's ENTIRE PROPOSAL.

The centrepieces of Mr Deadwood's proposal, then, are to ABOLISH Inheritance Tax and to REDUCE Corporation Tax for big businesses from 30p to 25p.

Yes, it is CUT TAXES FOR THE RICH time back in Conservatory Fantasy Land.

This – explained Mr Deadwood – would be better for all of us, since the rich businessmen would kindly create more wealth for us, while we work for them seventeen hours a day collating data on each other in their unheated call centres.

In the 1980s this theory was called TRICKLE DOWN, and involved the rich standing on the backs of the rest of us and TRICKLING on us!

Even back then people knew that this was UTTER NONSENSE, but the Conservatories could GET AWAY WITH IT so long as the Labour were proposing policies like COMPULSORY CUCUMBERS and the abolition of TUESDAYS. Nowadays, Mr Frown makes breakfast out of this sort of idiocy.

Just you wait: "The Conservatories proposals are nothing new, and… uhh… we've seen where this leads: a return to the BOOM and… uhh… BUST economy that ruined so many lives in the… uhh… recessions of the 1980s and… uhh… 1990s. This is… uhh… exactly the sort of thing I have spent the last TEN YEARS… uhh… ten PROSPEROUS year… striving to protect the country from."

It's difficult to think of anything more OLD Conservatory without resorting to proposing a WAR with EUROPE. Oh, hang on, we're back to Master Gideon again.

"Aren’t these wonderful polices a little bit aimed at the rich?" Ms Won't-Argue would later ask Mr Oboe.

"Why yes, Sarah," he replied, "but remember only last week Mr Iain Drunken-Swerve was presenting tax proposals to help the very worst off!"

Er, is Master Gideon talking about the Bribes for Marriages proposal contained in "Back to Basics, the revenge"? Because Conservatory policies for the "worst off" appear to be "your parents should have got married!"

Speaking of parents, Mr Deadwood described Inheritance Tax as a "tax on aspiration", which is really only true if your aspiration is for your parents to DIE.

Mr Oboe later went on to repeat the old canard that "this is double taxation, that inherited money has already been taxed when it was earned".

Well yes, when it was earned back in the sixteenth century in some cases.

But what about Income Tax then, Mr Oboe? Are you proposing to abolish the Income Tax because after all the companies that pay people's salaries have already paid Corporation Tax on their profits? Isn't Income Tax "double taxation" in EXACTLY THE SAME way as Inheritance Tax? i.e. in the way that one person (a company is a legal person, did you know – and Mrs the Queen is a legal company; isn't life WEIRD!) one person earns the money and is taxed and then passes it on to another.

Actually Income Tax is MORE unfair than Inheritance Tax: the difference is that the company pays you IN RETURN for something that you do, whereas you don't need to do ANYTHING to get an inheritance. (In fact, if you DO do anything, you might end up in GAOL!)

But that's not all. As previously reported, Mr Deadwood's plans extend into abolishing workers' protections too.

He explained it in terms of the Data Protection Act. "Well, it's just the BUREAUCRACY that we want to get rid of. People will still be able to demand to know what information is being held on them by Big Brother Inc."

It's just that there will be no penalties for Big Brother if they tell the people asking impertinent questions that they can go and stick it.

After all the "BUREAUCRATS" here are just the people whose job it is to enforce the rules.

Think of it this way, what if Mr Deadwood proposed abolishing the POLICE.

"Well, it's just the BUREAUCRACY that we want to get rid of. People will still be able to demand that the mugger who beat them up be sent to prison."


So, Conservatory Policy (ish): give money to the rich, free them from the "burden" of looking after the people who work for them, abolish the people who police the laws that fat cats might break.

Which means that Mr Balloon has an INTERESTING choice this summer: accept this ridiculous reactionary right-wing return to the reign of Queen Maggie… or admit that two years later he STILL doesn't have any policies at all.


[*]apparently not. Which just goes to show that nothing travels faster than a good DEBUNKING.

Day 2419: Plot to Scupper Conservatory Mayoral Candidate

Thursday:

Apparently Mr Bonkers Boris is standing…

Day 2418: Is Scottish Independence Any of Our Business?

Wednesday


In Scotland, the Scottish Nasty Party (prop. Mr Alex Salmon) has plans for independence, or at least plans to ask the one-third of Scots who want independence and the two-thirds who don't to get out and vote in a referendum on the subject.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have joined other opposition parties in saying that this would be a waste of time and money. In a further statement Mr Nicol “and dime” Stephen reminded people that the Liberal Democrats have invited the Scottish Nasties and everyone else to join in a new Constitutional Convention to work out together how to improve the devolution settlement.

This has prompted much debate among my friends on the Liberal Democrat Voice and Mr Jonathan over at Liberal England, has said: "whatever you think of the SNP or independence, if the only way the Union can be maintained is by denying the Scottish people a vote on the subject, then it really must be in trouble," which seems to have rather got Mr James's goat.

"Scottish Lib Dems don’t need Perfidious Albion butting in," he retorted.


Well, taking my life in my fluffy feet by crossing Mr James, I think people of Albion have EVERY RIGHT to butt in where the settlement of the Union is concerned. We are a part of this Union TOO!

If two people were in a marriage, you would not expect to say: "he's thinking about getting a divorce. This is his decision; he doesn't want her butting in!"

I know that, over the years, there has been FAR TOO MUCH of England shouting and Scotland having to listen – especially when the Conservatories were last in power. Nevertheless, that is NOT a good reason for Scotland (or anyone) now to say that England should get no say any more.

Telling England to "butt out" is why there are bits of England that are starting to stand in the corner muttering shiftily!

Entirely too much of the problem is that England is – and increasingly FEELS – left out of the constitutional settlement. Be it British devolution OR European Union, too many people have started to believe that things are just being IMPOSED upon them, when they have no say in the matter. This is DANGEROUS – it allows UNPLEASANT elements like the British Nasty Party to creep out of the shadows and gain support by BLAMING people for things instead of offering real solutions.

Mr Balloon's SELF-INTERESTED desires to turn the Conservatories into an English Nasty Party… or even a Home Counties Nasty Party, and his support for English Votes for Ingsoc Laws [aka E.V.I.L.] only go to make the matter WORSE.

It may be that we need to let the people of England speak, get things off their chests as it were. A referendum on Europe is a SURE FIRE LOSER for any Government, and for ANYONE pro-European, at the moment. But we may need to take that ON THE CHIN as the penalty for not having kept people feeling INVOLVED in the three decades since the last one.

Referendums are not always the answer. Mr Salmon is no WET FISH. He knows that a Scottish referendum on independence is NOT about getting people involved; he just wants an excuse to BANG ON about his hobby-horse for a while without having to get involved in anything difficult like actually RUNNING Scotland.

Like most people (if polls are to be believed) I think that both England AND Scotland are better off together and both would suffer if we went our separate ways. Scottish prudence and invention and English tenacity and eccentricity (with a dollop of Welsh passion and a lot of Irish HARD WORK) are the elements that came together to create the Industrial Revolution and the basis of most of what we call CIVILISATION today. Why should we chuck that all away?

What we need though is a proper FEDERAL structure that gives an equal voice and a fair standing to EVERYONE.


In fairness to Mr James, his article goes on to be a rather more TEMPERATE call for people actually to read the Scottish Liberals' statement and support the idea of a renewed Constitutional Convention.


Meanwhile, the Labour leader Mr McConnell has quit

…in order to become High Commissioner to Malawi!

Which, frankly, is better than the deal Lord Blairimort got when HE quit as the Labour leader.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Day 2417: The Elephant's Voice

Tuesday:


While we were away on our hols, I was given a VERY SPECIAL MISSION by Mr Lord Deputy Stephen and the LIBERAL DEMOCRAT VOICE.

But since it is supposed to be EXCLUSIVE, you will have to read my SPECIAL DIARY for Liberal Democrat Voice over there!

It comes HIGHLY recommended!

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Day 2416: The President's Brain is Missing

Monday:


Speaking from a podium next to a clearly NAUSEOUS Monkey-in-chief, his chief advisor Mr Karl Grover from Sesame Street said today:

"Squeak, squeak, squeak! The ship is sinking! Squeak, squeak, squeak!"

In reply, the Monkey said:

"I love you too, Karl, and that is why I am appointing you King of Iraqistan. May the little baby Jesus have mercification on your soul."

Day 2415: Enemies of Reason

Sunday:


My top chum, Mr Professor Richard Dawkins – his wife is Time Traveller Romana, you know – has a new series out about how people can be very stupid about SUPERSTITIONS.

For example, the Conservatories STILL think that it is GOOD LUCK to "Touch Redwood", and that is why they have asked the MP for Vulcan South, Mr John Deadwood to come up with BRAND NEW new policies that will be EXACTLY like the OLD policies. Er… who is this supposed to be lucky for?

But do not take MY word for it. Funnily enough, Mr Deadwood's plan does not appear on Mr Balloon's website, but here is the man himself writing in the Daily Hellograph.

The BEST answer for Britain, he says, is to CONCRETE OVER THE HOME COUNTIES. Yes, he wants MORE roads, MORE railways and, just for good measure, MORE aeroplanes as well.

I have SEEN "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"; it does not end well for Uncle Buck!

But Mr Deadwood seems to think that this is a GREEN solution. Building more roads will let people travel more fuel-efficiently, he claims – like he's never heard of the traffic INCREASING to fill the available supply of roads.


Meanwhile, Mr Deadwood's self-styled "tax cut" plan is to SLASH protections for workers so that employers can drive down wages and make people work long hours with no holidays. Then the FAT CATS can make so much extra money it will be JUST LIKE a tax cut!


Liberal Democrat Mr Vince Power Cable, who knows a bit about money, compared the Conservatories' proposed cuts to the "totally fictional" £15 billion of cuts that they claimed to have found at the last election.


Still, at least Mr Deadwood has got the IRRATIONAL on side: young Master Gideon Oboe was hoping up and down saying "Me too, sir! Me too!" and declaring his intention to start a war with Europe.


Later, Mr Professor Richard was seen asking the Observer's ASTROLOGER: "don't you think we should test this theory of yours?"

"Ooh, I don't think we should do THAT!" said the wily astrologer. "No, no, no, that sort of scepticism would never work."


You have to wonder if Mr Balloon isn't wishing he'd asked the astrologers for his policies and left Mr Deadwood reading the tealeaves for gullible Observer readers, don't you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Day 2414: Millennium versus Boba Fett

Saturday:

The trouble with being on HOLIDAY is that it is difficult to get Daddy to do my Diary when I cannot peel him away from the STAR WARS LEGO!


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The Bounty Hunters... are here...

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I know a SONG about that!



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This ear...

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...goes 'ere

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Who nose...

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...where this goes!

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Snap! Together!

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You'd better do my diary NOW, Daddy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day 2413: Air Marshal Tim

Friday:


We are all very sad to hear that Lord Tim Garden has passed away.

Remember him.

Day 2412: Sister Species

Thursday:


New fossil evidence has been dug up that suggests a change to our understanding of the human evolutionary family tree.

Until recently we thought that you monkey-people were descended from one species called Homo Erectus (or Upright People) who were in turn descended from another species called Homo Habilis (or People who shop at Habitat, er…)

But now archaeologists have found some new bones that suggest that both these species existed at the same time, and so one was NOT descended from the other. Instead they may have been distant cousins, like you humans were to the Neanderthals.

This is a little bit of a setback and shows that we have not quite got the whole picture yet.

On the other fluffy foot, this is a GOOD EXAMPLE of just how science is SUPPOSED to WORK. When you find new evidence that contradicts your theory, you start again and find a new theory.

Day 2411: Foreign Debt

Wednesday:


Sir Mr the Merciless has written to me to ask me to get behind his campaign to make the Government do the DECENT THING and rescue the Iraqis who have been helping our brave soldiers by translating all of the things that the people of Basra have been shouting at them.

Without their help, who would have known what the Iraqi was for: "Please depart like swift angels, you kind and gentle foreign barbarians for we are filled to overflowing with gratitude for your despoiling of this hellhole that was once our prosperous and peaceful land"?

Or indeed how to give our traditional cheery reply of: "We come in peace; shoot to kill!"


Try to understand the Government's position for a moment, though. After they have spent four years spreading PEACE and DEMOCRACY in Iraq, they do seem to think that it is a little UNGRATEFUL of the people who have been helping us to say that WE HAVE MADE IT TOO DANGEROUS for them to live there any more!

Day 2410: Camp X-Ray

Tuesday:


Mr Millipede is to call on his US counterpart, Ms Condescending Rice, to release five men who are residents of the United Kingdom. Or at least they WOULD be residents of the United Kingdom if they were not currently residents of the United States' current version of Devil's Island at Guant√°namo Bay in Cuba.

The lovely Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather
, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Guant√°namo Bay, responded saying:

"This decision should have been taken years ago. Abandoning British residents to indefinite imprisonment in obscene conditions was a gross dereliction of duty by the Government."


The US Government though still thinks that the men, including a mechanic, law student and a volunteer charity worker, are HIGHLY DANGEROUS.

"We don't want to be the world's jailers. At the same time, we also don't want to see very dangerous people allowed to walk the streets freely," said State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack.

"Unfortunately, there seems to be some legal difficulty with us just shooting them," he didn't add.

Day 2409: Camp Airport

Monday:


If you do not believe that Heathrow Airport is CAMP then you need to see the EXCITING [R: he's only six, he can't tell the difference] new DVD from the BBC of Dr Who's adventure on board the "Time-Flight"!

However the people who own and allegedly run the airport, BAA – who are either the former British Airports Authority or a SHOUTING SHEEP – are having trouble with an entirely other sort of camp, a bunch of harmless protestors who want to save the Earth by reminding people that flying is BAAD.

The Shouty Sheep People have apparently been granted an injunction to protect the airport.

Having attempted to take out a banning order against five-million members of the National Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Our Own Dear Majesty Mrs the Queen, BAA announced that they had won a SIGNIFICANT VICTORY when the court granted their injunction… but limited its effect to five men from "Plane Stupid" and a dachshund called Graham.

Nevertheless, the BAA have drafted in 1,800 police people to protect them from the expected 1,800 harmless hippies.

This does actually leave me wondering where they've recruited these police people FROM… and whether the airport wouldn't be a jolly sight SAFER if they went back to whatever they were doing there rather than concentrating on a field outside of the actual airport's grounds!

A Downing Street spokesperson is reported as saying "any disruption to the airport would be "unacceptable"."

ANY disruption? What, like the disruption caused by, say, a JUMBO JET taking off every thirty seconds? Heathrow airport causes nothing BUT disruption to everyone around it – get a sense of PERSPECTIVE for goodness' sake!

Day 2408: Ruby Slippers

Sunday

Congratulations to Daddy Richard's Mummy and Daddy who have been married for FORTY YEARS!

Day 2407: Apocalypse Cow

Saturday:


You would be forgiven for thinking that it was the DIVINE RETRIBUTION of Shambo the Sacred Bullock, given the HYSTERICAL coverage that the BBC – and all other news broadcasters – felt it was appropriate to give over to what has, so far, proved to be a relatively SMALL and CONTAINED outbreak of "Foot in Mouth" disease.

Almost EVERYONE has already done the gag about Mr Balloon suffering "Foot in Mouth" disease, and that the BOVINE Conservatory leader has cancelled his next holiday in order that he can be humanely put out of his misery for the good of the country.

But that does not appear to have stopped me doing it again!


Apparently "Foot in Mouth" is only FATAL to cows (and Conservatory Leaders) because a Man from the Ministry comes along and SHOOTS THEM. (Appropriately enough, the Ministry is called DEAthRAy.)

Once again, I am left wondering why we do not just try to find a CURE.

Mind you, it turns out that people are going to blame looking for a cure for getting us into this problem in the first place, with the Government Laboratory at PIRBRIGHT fingered for the source of the germs. Or rather, the commercial company right next door, swilling around a hundred times the volume of virus in order to make vaccine.

But, really, I think that the problem is not the LOOKING for a cure but the NOT CLEANING UP after themselves carefully enough. And then the FLOODS came along, carrying the disease all over the countryside, because the Ministry had had to CUT all the spending on FLOOD DEFENCES.

Of course, the reason for the cut backs was because DEAthRAy were fined for not compensating farmers quickly enough the last time they all caught Foot in Mouth.

I THINK this is called a VICIOUS CIRCLE.

Day 2406: Let's Get this Green Revolution Moving

Friday:


I have been on HOLIDAY but I am BAAAAACK!

And now, here are some stories I may have missed…


Don't you think that it is a bit STRANGE that oftentimes travelling by railway can be MORE expensive that travelling by car? Or, even more bizarrely, that it can be more expensive than travelling by AEROPLANE?

This CANNOT be very good for the planet!

Just this week, the House of Commons Joint Committee on Climate Change said that the government's targets for cutting carbon emissions should be tougher.
But here we are, actually giving people an incentive to use the WORST forms of polluting travel.

I think that the problem is caused because there are only so many trains that you can run. Already they are carrying more people than ever and, without importing those people from Tokyo with their foam rubber battering rams, there is no way to cram any more bodies on board.

This is why the Liberal Democrats have a PLAN.

We want to raise billions of pounds to spend on fixing the BOTTLENECKS in the system so that you can run more trains; to build improved, fast-rail links to major cities, sort of like railway bypasses, so that passengers can get about more quickly and more goods can go on goods trains without getting in the way; and to support much needed relief projects like the London Crossrail. We also want to help cut fares so that people think it is better to use railways than their cars.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for the Environment, Mr Hewn, launched the plan to fix our railways saying:

"The Future Transport Fund will provide ring-fenced funding for the improvements that future generations need if we are to cut our carbon emissions."

While Ms Susan Kramer-vs-Kramer, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Industry added:

"Rail is the key to cleaning up Britain's transport, not an added extra as ministers seem to think."


Funding from new charge on road freight and on internal air travel. This is GOOD! First because, as we know, air travel causes more pollution, and it should therefore cost MORE and not LESS. And second because freight lorries do more damage to our roads than cars do – in fact they do ALMOST ALL the damage to the road surface, causing all the roadworks for resurfacing, whereas you could run cars practically forever before wearing out a motorway.

I do have one little QUALM. Did we not say that we were going to try to be FISCALLY NEUTRAL from now on? I may be wrong, but this does look like raising just the teensiest bit more tax in order to do some more spending.

I think this must be why we have said that these taxes will be a TEMPORARY measure. Let us hope that they are MORE temporary than that other temporary tax – introduced to cover the expense of going to war against NAPOLEON! – the Income Tax!

When the Conservatories flogged off the old British Rail, they made what even THEY now admit was a horrible botch up of it all. Because they made it all so COMPLICATED it is not just a simple matter of the government paying money to support the train companies. I think that someone is going to have to look at the way that some companies can, say, OWN the railway carriages and make HUGE profits leasing them to the people who are ACTUALLY running the railways and making it more difficult for those people to make a fair profit of their own.

Sorting this sort of thing out would help US in our aim of getting private business to help the railways.

Making our trains work would be a massive undertaking and a big risk… but it would be of immense benefit to many, many people and to all of our futures if we succeed.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Day 2405: SO when IS an innocent man being shot dead a calamity, Mr Mayor?

Thursday:


Today we got the report into the aftermath of the tragic shooting of Mr Jean-Charles de Menezes.

If you remember, this was in the days after REAL terrorists had exploded fifty-two people on the London tube and on a bus, so the police were on high alert and probably a bit PANICKY when they mistook him for a threat and so shot him very, very dead.

In anybody's book, this is a TRAGEDY. Another innocent victim in the War on Adjective, and doubly so because we are supposed to be the GOODIES.

Well, I SAY in anybody's book, but not, apparently in the book of our very own Mayor of London Mr Ken, who rubbished the idea "that this is some sort of catastrophic error of judgment on the part of an officer".

The office in question is Mr Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman who was ALSO in charge of the shooting of ANOTHER innocent person in the raid in Forest Gate last year. Though that is just a coincidence and you shouldn't hold it against him.

"Well, basically, he's my mate so he can shoot anyone he wants to, really," the Mayor very nearly added.

Of course, the report – which DID find errors of judgement – was in fact about the rather curious events AFTER the police made their horrible error. I am talking about the news stories that were MYSTERIOUSLY leaked to the press about how Mr Jean-Charles was wearing a heavy overcoat (suspicious in the HOT July weather) and how he supposedly LEAPED over the barriers at the tube station, clearly making it more urgent that the police catch him before he could escape or WORSE explode himself.

Except of course he was NOT wearing a coat and he entered the tube station at a walk, picked up a Metro and read it standing on the escalator.

So, these stories were NOT TRUE. They were FIBS. But they were fibs that were terribly handy to the police in justifying their precipitous and ultimately WRONG actions.

That wouldn't be a problem except that the police, and by "police" in fact the report rather specifically means Mr Mayor Ken's mate, rather seems to have KNOWN that they were fibs and carried on letting people believe that they were true, and by people the report includes his own BOSS the clone of Lord Blairimort who is Head of the Met.


But Mr Livingstone said: "It's all very well for academics, which is largely what the police complaints authority are, sitting in their office saying this is how it should have worked.
You try doing it while you are waiting for the next bomb to go off.
"

Actually, this report is from the INDEPENDENT Police Complaints Commission, and you might guess that the point of them being INDEPENDENT is that they AREN'T police officers. In fact, the Chair and Commissioners are a group of lawyers and public servants and you can read all about them HERE… but basically they are people pretty much like Mayor Ken and if he thinks that means THEY aren't qualified to oversee the police, then he ought to be calling for his OWN immediate resignation too.

Ooh, just listen to the silence.

And ANYWAY, this FIBBING – well, all right "allowing people to go on believing in fibs that you could and should have corrected" – was being done AFTER the shooting, not while waiting for the next bomb. No, more like in the time after it turned out not to be a bomb at all.


I am afraid to say that this is a very SOCIALIST attitude: "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, unless…" as Mr Mayor Ken might put it "…the one happens to me ME!"

Mr Mayor Ken has done many good things for London… but like any good old-fashioned SOCIALIST DICTATOR, he knows that the first step to a successful POLICE STATE is to get the Police on YOUR SIDE.

Oh, and speaking of the police not having enough evidence, the Joint Human Rights committee says there is not enough evidence to extend detention without trial beyond 28 days.