Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lesson learned.... sort of

I could be wrong on this, but it seems to me that in the decade that followed 1997 there were two lessons that the governing party and opposition parties left each other, and for some reason, it's only the opposition parties that have actually taken the lessons on board yet, and I stress yet. Those lessons are as follows.

1: Time in Government is limited. If you sit on your arse and waste it you'll never change anything. If you talk the talk on reform you have to walk the walk too. The next election will be with you in a heartbeat, don't squander your opportunity. This lesson was left by the Messiah himself, Tony Blair.

2: Opposition is not about opposing for the sake of opposing. It is about judging when you should support the Government and when you shouldn't correctly. If you don't get it right you'll end being painted as loonies on the wrong side of argument screaming in the wind like Lear. This lesson was left by the Tories to Labour.

It's fair to say I think, that the Coalition has learned Blair lesson. In fact, it looks like it is indelibly etched on their collective mind given the flurry of policies coming out from Whitehall in the past week. Whether you agree with the policies or not, you can;t deny the pace being set, and I'd say that pace is a direct result of Blair's own acknowledgement that he wished he'd done more sooner.

Unlike Blair, the Coalition has not come to power and continued acting like its in Opposition. Nor does it look like they're engaged in a permanent election campaign. To use the cliche, the Coalition has hit the ground running and is getting on with the business of governing, for better or worse is yet to be known of course, but they are "doing things".

However, has Labour learned the lesson left to them by the Tories? With just a cursory glance one might conclude not. You see, I'd say it took Labour about two terms to actually get themselves comfortable in Government, and by comfortable, I mean they got to the point where they felt they had become the "natural party of Government", and right now, they're still in that mindset and so are taking a literal view of what Opposition is about.

The Tories were of course in the same position when they lost in 1997, and that sudden switch from being able to say something and get something done, to merely being someone with an opinion who was not in power, was a shock to the system. It was why they didn't do Opposition well because they still had a mindset that was in Government, it took them a decade to snap out of it.

Will it take Labour a decade to get their head around Opposition again? It might. There are many of its MPs who know no other way of life than being in the governing party after all, which is probably why, right now they seem to be opposing for the sake of opposing.

Thus they're opposing the AV referendum on the basis that there is a proposal to make constituencies have an equal number of voters and end the insanity that means Labour need only 2.7% more votes to secure an overall majority whilst the Tories need a margin of 11.2% (source). Labour say that the Coalition is gerrymandering, which seems a tad ironic when they're essentially saying that they want to maintain the inherently unfair advantage that they themselves have.

Likewise, in response to Iain Duncan-Smith's proposals on welfare reform, the jerking knee is screaming about cost and opposing the plans even though the plans would mean people on out of work and on benefits would actually see themselves with more money in their pockets if they went into work than they have under the current system. You can't really get much more "progressive" than that can you? Yet opposition for opposition's sake has kicked in.

My guess is that simply opposing rather than opposing and offering a coherent alternative will last for at least another year, but it could be longer. At some point someone will realise that the Tories and Lib Dems learned their lesson from Labour in power, and it's time for Labour to learn the lesson bequeathed to them.

Then again, they could just implode in an internal civil war that sees the Loony Left comeback - which would be fun to watch huh?

Friday, July 30, 2010

There's ugly and there's fugly...

As it's Friday I've decided to give politics a miss and instead provide you with the pearl of wisdom that is my opinion on bloody awful looking cars. Specifically the top five most wrong cars on the road. Kicking off proceeding at Number 5 incidentally is the inspiration for this post which I saw this morning and caused my eyes to bleed.

5: Kia Soul.

Why would anyone want this car, and why would anyone let it even go into production. It looks like someone went crazy with a ruler in places and thought "aerodynamics and curves are soooo last years".

4: The Honda Insight


Look, it was annoying enough when Citroen started doing that thing with the rear wheels, but at least they had the excuse that it was there because of the fancy hydraulic suspension system.

3: The G-Whizz


I don't care if it is a hippy tree-hugging special electric car making it wonderfully "green", LOOK AT IT! It makes a Reliant Robin look stylish and you'd be dead in seconds if you hit a paperbag.

2: The Renault Avantime


If it wasn't bad enough that Renault built the Megane thinking "oh that rear end looks tres magnifique! ooo la la" some other idiot in the company thought it would be good to stretch the bloody thing.

1: Fiat Multipla


You may have thought Fiat stood for "Fix It Again Tomorrow" but you'd be wrong, it actually stands for "Fuck Italian Artistry Today". How 85% share holder of Ferrari and the makers of Fiat 500 came up with the idea of building a car that looks like a cut'n'shut along the horizontal is anybodies guess. My guess is that it was either a big joke on the rest of Europe, or someone spiked the espresso with acid.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Anne Milton's advice makes it to Facebook

Following the advice to call fat people fat instead of obese it seems it could catch on.

Via imgur.com

The Inconsistent Left

Here's a lesson for you. Never ever underestimate the incoherent inconsistency of the Left.

Take for example, this Early Day Motion bemoaning the terrible impact on the poorest of a VAT rise that's signed by an array of Labour MPs including the usual lefties like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Now compare it with this Early Day Motion tabled by John McDonnell and signed by Jeremy Corbyn that calls for an end to supermarket selling products cheaply and effectively increasing prices for those same poorest in society.

Bless'em.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dear Senator Robert Menendez....

Senator, look, I understand your frustration at not getting your way, so's being able to grill and question current and former Scottish/UK Government officials at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on whether or not the convicted Lockerbie bomber was released in exchange for a juicy oil deal, but seriously, flip this whole thing on its head for a moment.

If the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the UK - the nearest equivalent - asked you to come to the UK and give evidence on say fund-raising for the IRA during the Troubles, would you? I think probably not.

You'd more than likely note how Parliaments and Legislatures have no power to compel hearings with members of other equivalent bodies from other nation states. You'd note that there was no jurisdiction for such things.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is, bugger off. Not that you'll read this anyway, and if you did you probably wouldn't care because I'm nobody.

Warmest regards

Sarah Palin - CGI!

Next Media Animnation News really do rule.

Hat Tip: John Leyden

Some things.....

Morning all, apologies for the lack of posting yesterday but I had to attend a funeral so a website of no massive consequence to the wider world takes a back seat as I'm sure you'll all understand. Anyhow, that said I have two things for you this morning.

First is a post by Douglas Carswell MP on his blog titled "Yes to change. No to AV" which is well worth reading as it points out that whilst the electoral system is currently knackered in the sense that the people don't really have much say because of the "party machine", a move to AV probably won't change that and actually make things even worse.

As I read the post I couldn't help remember the words of the great Sir Humphrey Appleby,

"The argument that we must do everything a Minister demands because he has been 'democratically chosen' does not stand up to close inspection. MPs are not chosen by 'the people' - they are chosen by their local constituency parties: thirty-five men in grubby raincoats or thirty-five women in silly hats. The further 'selection' process is equally a nonsense: there are only 630 MPs and a party with just over 300 MPs forms a government and of these 300, 100 are too old and too silly to be ministers and 100 too young and too callow. Therefore there are about 100 MPs to fill 100 government posts. Effectively no choice at all."
The second little snippet for you is a follow on from my CPS post the other day, which incidentally, I think may have been a site record breaker in terms of the number of comments it generated.

It's via a post at the legal blog Jack of Kent which ponders upon why there could not be cross-examination of the different medical opinion, and specifically it's a comment by a barrister called Tom who has a blog called Triangular Bees who said the following,

From my quick reading of the Statement from the DPP it seemd to me that the concern was that the CPS felt that they would be obliged to call Dr Patel as well as the other two medics because he was the only person who saw the body intact and without him the Defence would have a field day.

However, if the CPS did call Dr Patel as well as the other two medics, the CPS would not be in a position to cross-examine Dr Patel at trial as he would be their witness. The law does not allow an advocate to cross-examine his own witness except in very exceptional circumstances where the witness is ruled to be hostile - that would hardly be likely to apply here. This would leave the CPS adducing contradictory evidence as to cause of death with which the Defence would also have a field day.
He makes the point much better than I did. As I said in my post, which caused a storm, it's unfortunate but the CPS found itself in a sticky cock-up situation. It could have been avoided by not cocking up in the first place of course, but it's just one of those things.

Monday, July 26, 2010

When did that happen then?

You have to love the Grauniad.
Hat Tip: A reader

In summary....

War is really horrible, lots of people die in horrible ways. Sometimes soldiers go a bit 'Nam crazy. Sometimes civilians go crazy to and the soldiers respond with more craziness. War is Hell and you're all so stupid you didn't realise it, so we thought we'd remind you of the bleeding obvious and make some money in the process by flogging you our paper. It's all in the name of free speech, democracy and all that jazz!

Read more here

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why the CPS was - unfortunately - right

Nothing like a bit of alleged police brutality and outrageous whitewash by the bullying fascist police state in which we live to kick off a Friday is there?

I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about, but just in case you don't I'm referring to the news that the CPS say no charges will be brought against PC Simon Harwood, the officer caught on film hitting Iain Tomlinson with a big stick who died a few moment later.

Now, let's play a game for a second, it's called "Get Into Dizzy's Time Machine" and shoot back a while to a post I did when the incident happened in which I said,

Of course, what we can guarantee from this video is that whatever the IPCC decides there will be someone on the Left that screams "whitewash" from the rooftops. The Right on the other hand will argue, as noted, that the shit that happens happened.

Was the policeman with the baton a bit naughty for knocking this guy to the ground? On the face of it, just an ickle bit and he should probably be bollocked in some way for it. Is it likely that the whack caused him to wander off and have a heart attack some minutes later? Who knows - it doesn't matter because even if it did or didn't there will still be enough that believe it did (see "whitewash" point) and boy will they shout it loudly.

Thus, the end result of this will be - as is usually the way - that the actions of one policeman will get used by those on the Left who are not necessarily violent as yet more evidence that free protest is being curtailed by creeping fascism of the state.
And 'lo it came to pass. Obviously this time it is a CPS rather than the just the IPCC but essentially that is the situation we're in this morning, with screams of whitewash and much anger about the terrible bastard Police who are, in fact, murderous scumbags, you can read the original post here.

Excellent examples of this can, naturally in this wonderful wide-web age, be found on the likes of Twitter, with pearls of wisdom such as

Police use video as evidence to convict people, http://j.mp/afDW7D. People can't use video as evidence to convict police. http://j.mp/djUoA5
Looks like a pretty straight forward killer argument doesn't it? Unfortunately though, if you actually pay attention to what the CPS have said, and the law, it isn't. As many will have heard yesterday, whilst the CPS pretty much acknowledges that yes, the officer committed assault, the law has a time limit of six month and they've been investigating for 16 months, there is nothing they can do about it.

And let's be fair for a moment, nothing bar a manslaughter or even murder charge would be considered enough anyway, so, had they proceeded at pace with a common assault charge, there would have been screams of, yes, a whitewash and lack of justice.

Then we have the issue of different medical opinions from medical examiners who would have to be called as prosecution witnesses. How, precisely, can the Crown take forward a prosecution where its own case would involve its own witness undermining its assertion of guilt by offering "reasonable doubt" up to a Jury?

Yes it does absolutely suck for the family and the screaming masses of outraged political activists, but what I've just said is exactly the point a defence barrister would put to a Jury. You can just picture the scene,

Ladies and Gentleman of Jury, it is not my job to prove the innocence of the defendant, it is my job to show to you that the case against him presented by the Crown does not establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant's action led to the death of this man.

You've heard the evidence the Crown has presented. You've heard how the Crown has brought its own expert medical opinion to this court; and crucially ladies and gentleman, you have heard the Crown's first medical opinion; the doctor who performed the very first post-mortem on the alleged victim of manslaughter; and that opinion, given to you under oath, was that the cause of death was not as a result of the blow from the defendant.

Your job is not to decide whether the defendant is guilty on the balance of probabilities. Your job is to decide whether there is absolutely no reasonable doubt that he is guilty. The Crown has, in fact, made my job very easy, because I have not had to question their witnesses to establish doubt in your minds, their own witness has testified to this court that there is doubt over the causal relationship between the blow by the defendant and the death of the victim.

Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury. The Crown has shot itself in the foot. The Defence rests.
I realise some people might not like this, and they might think "well it's 2 to 1 on the medical opinion, majority rules OK!", but that is not how criminal justice and jury trial works. I myself have been on a Jury at the Old Bailey, and even though I personally felt the defendant was guilty there was reasonable doubt which meant they weren't convicted.

Think about it for a moment. It would, frankly, be absurd for the Crown to attempt to prosecute someone and then have their own witness testify that their own case wasn't water-tight and that the defendant might in fact be not guilty.

That's why the CPS didn't, wouldn't, and couldn't go ahead with a trial, and screaming "whitewash" or "cover-up" is little more than a jerking knee inspired by those who have prejudged the case and have a committed held view on the officer's guilt already. If this had gone to trial, and the result would've been not guilty, I imagine there would be theories and speculation about Jury nobbling too.

I guess the next step in this process is going to be a private prosecution, which, to be honest, the family should easily win because the burden of proof will be lower. However, that won't stop the heckling screams of a cover-up at the expense of sanely examining the CPS argument and realising why it had to do what it had to do.

Yes, you may say it's a travesty of justice, but having a trial where the prosecution made the defence case would've been an absolute travesty of the legal system as well.

*battens down the hatches for the inevitable onslaught*

UPDATE @ 12:30 - Before anyone starts saying I'm not responding to your comments or I have run away scared, or I'm censoring them, I have to go and do things for the rest of the day in the real world. Croydonian will be authorising comments ad hoc but don't expect a response from me any time today.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tenenssee's next Republican Governor?

*facepalm*

Welfare Reform in Tough Times

The Taxpayers Alliance has another of its neat and snappy videos out, this time about how welfare is knackered and how to fix it.

Personally I think we should just scrap the system of taxing people and then giving some of it back when they apply for it, by just not taxing them the money they get given back in the first place. It ain't rocket science.

Sometimes the camera can lie right?

The screenshot below is from a story in today's Daily Mail titled "Puffing Billie: Toddler gets smoke in his face as actress mum enjoys a roll-up".


Pretty shocking huh? Take a closer look though. Look at the size of Piper's hand proportionally set against her child. It's massively out of proportion isn't it? Now look at the smoke, it's going behind the child's head, not in the child's face.

If I didn't know better I'd say the picture had either been photochopped (that is Piper is imposed on another shot), or Piper is actually much closer to the camera than the child and what we have is a perception trick going on.

What do others think?

Update:
I see the Sun has the same picture.

Cutting Police numbers and increasing policing

If you ever wanted to see just how completely insane, pathetic and intellectually vacuous politicians are, then take a look at the "Police numbers" argument going on in London at the moment between the mayor, Boris Johnson, the former Mayor who wants to be Mayor again, Ken Livingstone and his cheerleader Len Duvall.

It's a classic example of wordplay by politicians as they try to turn an issue with shades of grey into one that is black and white, all for the consumption of us proles naturally.

So where to begin? OK, I'll try and keep this short and sweet so let's bullet point:

  1. Boris Johnson's budget explicitly states that "over the three years to 2012-13, the number of police officers is forecast to decrease by 455."
  2. Livingstone and Duvall say this is terrible cut of 455 and Boris is breaking his manfiesto commitment to the Police and petition the Mayor
  3. Other rebut the petition saying that, actually, the cut is just part of something called Project Herald, that Livingstone and Duvall both supported.
  4. This rebuttal is rebutted with the statement from Len Duvall that "Project Herald was to get more police on street - nothing to do with Boris's 455 cut."
So who's right?... errr none of them really. You see, Project Herald was, as Duvall said, about getting more police on the street, but it wasn't about increasing the number of police officers overall. It was about redirection of police officers from back office custody type work onto the street. Specifically, 550 police officers in total (250 sergeants and 300 constables) as noted in the table here.

Now let's do some quick maths. Johnson's budget says that the number of total police officers is forecast to reduce by 455 over three years - that it is a "forecast" suggests that assumptions are being made about what's called "natural wastage" combined with a reduction in the rate of recruitment but never let that get in the way of a good "vicious Tory cuts" story right?

Anyhow, I digress. At the same time, we're also going to see an increase of police officers on the street to the tune of 550 as they're redirected from custody work. Now, for arguments sake, let's assume that 455 of those 550 are the ones that are going to go over the next 3 years. That's still an increase of 95 police officers on the street, whilst also being a reduction in the total number of police officers.

Funny old world isn't it when a reduction of police officers overall can also produce an increase in actual policing huh?

So what's the point I'm really trying to make here? I guess it's that so many politicians are actually little more than opportunistic wankers trying to con the public into ignoring the grey and only seeing the partisan black and white narrative they're desperate for us to buy into.

Basically, their bullshit knows no bounds!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When satire becomes news...

The following is a screenshot of discussions flying around Facebook and Twitter about a video that was posted on the Onion three years ago that has resurfaced and people now think is real.

To see more of the discussion click here.

A brilliant illustration of when amusing political satire and stupid people on teh Interweb collides.

Commons refuses to disclose information.... again

As many will recall, in the wake of the "Expenses Scandal" many MPs chose to step down from Parliament at the May's General Election. Many will also recall that the issue fo expenses came about largely due to the Freedom of information campaigning by Heather Brooke and the fact that the House of Commons fought tooth and nail to avoid disclosing the information, and then, when it was eventually leaked, the roof came falling in.

One of the things that had many people up in arms was not however the more outlandish claims that some members made, but also the fact that as they were stepping down they would all receive a nice little Golden Goodbye in the form of a resettlement grant, which is calculated based length of service and detailed in a table in the Green Book.

However, the grant is not something former MPs get automagically. They still have to make an official application for the grant using one of the many forms that Parliament has. So who made applications for the grant from public money and how much did they receive? Who knows?

Well the House of Commons does but they've decided you're not allowed to know because it would be a breach of the Data Protection Act, at least that's was their argument when responding to an FoI on the matter.

We have concluded that this information is exempt from the disclosure. We can confirm that this information is held by the House of Commons.

However, your request for this information is refused. This information is exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the exemption for personal information), as disclosure of this information to the public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with data protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

In particular, it cannot be disclosed without contravening the first principle as none of the relevant conditions for the processing of personal data are satisfied. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.
Now there may be some that agree with this, after all, the people receiving the money are not MPs and are actually "former" MPs (alternatively Joe Public). However, given so many stood down after expenses scandals, and given that came about after the House and its members consistently tried to block the information being released, isn't the claim that the "public interest test does not apply" at least partly, if not wholly, bollocks?

There are currently three former MPs awaiting trial on allegations of false accounting after the whole expenses saga, doesn't the public have a right to know whether they have been given more taxpayers money since leaving? What's more don't we have a right to know in general which MPs have received public funds as a goodbye present?

Update:
A former researcher has been in touch to note that I;m being unfair and that the resettlement grant money is used by former MPs to make redundancy payments to their staff, and is not pocketed entirely by them. Whilst I understand this, I still think that knowing how much was actually paid to each former MP shouldn't be withheld. How they spend it is their private business, but how much they receive, if any, isn't.

What a logo....

Wonder how much it cost and whether the people that did it also wear white pointy hats whilst burning crosses in the evening?
Logo at Speed Staffing LLC via imgur.com

If only.....

From Hansard,

Jonathan Edwards: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he made of the merits of making the content of the Your Freedom website available in languages other than English.

The Deputy Prime Minister: The goal of Your Freedom is to allow as many people as possible to contribute their ideas and comments in a cost-effective way. An assessment was made of translating the content into other languages but all options considered were felt to be disproportionately expensive.
Oh how I wish Clegg had just said "We didn't do it in Welsh for the same reason that the majority of your own website isn't in Welsh."

Would never happen though.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chchch.....change!

Daily Mail (Associated Press) - 20th July 2010



Evening Standard (Associated Press) - 19th March 2007



Conclusions:

  1. They've been talking about it for years but not actually done it.
  2. They did it, spent it, and within 3 years a further £400 million materialised from the ether.
  3. The figure is completely made up by the press/civil service/aliens.
  4. There has not been a change of Government but instead a change of reptilian humanoids after a particularly vicious power struggle on the mothership hiding behind the moon.

You decide (or add further ones)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Did you know.....

The free snuff provided to Members and House officers in a box located in the Principal Doorkeepers chair costs a massive £6 per tin and they've bought 4 tins over the past 8 years out of the Serjeant at Arms' petty cash.

Consumers of said snuff are not known but I guess if you see any MPs sneezing a lot you can assume they've been shoveling something up their nose - might not be snuff though.

Source: FoI response on 'what do they know'

Gordon Cameron's Big Social Investment Society Bank

So David Cameron is relaunching the Big Society™ today, which may yet become the 21st Century equivalent of Tony Blair's Third Way™ - that being a bland, pointless and utterly vaccuous phrase. The Big Society™ has certainly started off well in mimicing the world brougt to us by Tony Blair.

For a start, it's been announced and re-announced three times now, and, even better, one of the core announcements today on using unclaimed assets in dormant bank accounts for community porject has been announced not once, not twice but at least three times before by the last Government, and guess what, the Tories were against it when it was first announced in 2005, well... sort of.

So, back in 2005, Gordon Brown, as the then Chancellor, said he was going to use money in dormant bank accounts and give it to community projects. The Tories attacked it, quite rightly, on the issue of whether it was even legal to seize the funds from people's dormant bank accounts.

This was, in fact, a Labour party 2005 manifesto commitment which stated “We will work with the financial service industry to reunite assets or channel them into the community." Oh yes, the Tories didn't seem to think there was a legal issue at that election either as they promised to "use the unclaimed assets of banks and other financial institutions to replenish the pension funds of people who lose out when a scheme fails."

Gordon Brown returned to the subject in 2006, again as Chancellor, in his budget pledging to damn well take the money. A few months later we had a consultation paper from the Commission on Unclaimed Assets (headed by Grodon's mate Ronnie Cohen) which proposed a “Social Investment Bank”, then Brown announced in his Pre-Budget Report that a consultation paper would be released on the idea.

Another year later, Gordon Brown announced in his Budget... wait for it... the release of a consultation paper on the idea. Finally, by November 2008, we had Royal Assent of the Legalised Theft from Bank Accounts Bill The Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Bill.

And now, we reach today, 2010, and we have, yes that's right, the proposals for a "Big Society Bank" which is, in no way whatsoever the same thing as a “Social Investment Bank”, which will use money from dormant bank accounts to fund community projects.

As New Labour repackaged the Youth Training Scheme and called it the New Deal, so the Tories have repackaged something the last Government did and given it a new name.

Plus ça change. New Politics. Lalalalalalala. Can you pass me a sick bucket and a razor please?

Another day, another legal high story *yawn*

I see the issue of "legal highs" has reared its head.... again and at the same time every chemical fanboi out there slaps their head in their hands and asks "when are they going to realise that sometimes people just like to get high?"

As some may recall, last August the Government quickly rushed through the banning of certain legal highs, including Benzylpiperazine (BZP) along with other piperazines products, at the time of which I blogged that "no matter what they ban, herbal high producers will just find something else that produces similar effects that hasn't yet been banned"... and so it has come to pass.

The Herbal high Company is already selling a BZP alternative called pink champagne (not to be confused with actual speed of the same name), and numerous other legal products are coming to market all the time. At some point Government is going to get to grips with reality on this.. that being you can't ban everything.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Subtlety

MP spends £39K of *your* money in one day

Written Questions to the Executive are no doubt important, but they also cost money, thus I have but one question in relation to this Early Day Motion tabled by DUP MP, Gregory Campbell and currently supported by his DUP colleagues,

That this House notes the continuing cost to the public purse of hon. Members tabling substantial numbers of written questions; understands the principle behind limiting the number of named day questions which can be submitted on one day; and questions the wisdom of an hon. Member recently tabling wellover[sic] 200 questions on one day, at an estimated cost of £149 per answer and incurring a cost to the public purse in excess of £39,000.
Who is the "hon. Member" in question and can we get him/her to pay some of it back?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I want to be the worst...... vote Dizzy!

The leftish blog A Very Public Sociologist has decided to run a poll looking for the Top Ten Worst Blogs as a fun and clever counter-balance to the Total Politics Blog poll. Given the left leaning nature of the poll's host the current blogs in the running for the title of "Worst political blog in Britain" are inevitably all the right wing blogs including this one.

Anyhow, you have to pick a minimum of three blogs and rank them in order of preference, so off you run please and make sure that you make this blog number one in your list. Don't be putting it down more than once or the votes won't count.

Come on now, make me the worst blog, it would be a pleasure to know that I was hated more than anyone else and if I don't win I might cry.


P.S. You might also want to vote for me in Tim "I'm not as mad a box of frogs, beep beep swivel swivel poop! Pass the turkey baster and lime jelly I need to go to the toilet Betty" Ireland's Top 10 Biggest Liars in British Blogging Poll - 2010 - you can cite the time I climbed up Everest and then in a single bound jumped to the top of K2 whilst screaming "I'm a big fat liar nothing I ever say is true!"

LibCon do a tabloid embellishment headline?

Whether I agree with their political view or not, Liberal Conspiracy does, on occasion, do a very good job of hammering certain tabloid newspapers for exaggerating and/or misrepresenting news stories. So imagine my surprise and amusement when I saw this, this morning.

Now let's look at the source story they linked at the Independent.

Spot the difference? Not only do we have the omission that this about Hudson Bay polar bears only, but we've also lost the "could soon be" from the Liberal Conspiracy "newswire" post - it's exactly the sort of sloppy mis-representative churnalism they quite rightly complain about so much.

A quick look on Polar Bears International gives a wider and more rounded picture of the situation. Yes there is decline in populations but there's also increase in others and of the 19 sub-populations, there isn't enough data for 35% of them to establish what their status is.

Hey ho!

Hooray for transparency!

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which of his Department's regulations are under review; and if he will make a statement.

Chris Grayling: The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for a wide range of regulations; by necessity the Department is constantly reviewing regulations in relation to delivering its business. Details of those specific regulations currently under review could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Ironic that a internal regulation controlling the cost of answering questions should be invoked to answer a question on the slashing of regulations init?

A row brewing with the Highlands and Islands?

No matter which party is in Government you can guarantee they'll do what they can to avoid answering questions and thus create implications by omission when they do so. Thus, when Angus Macneil, the SNP MP asked the Treasury whether the people that live in the Highlands and Scottish Island would continue to maintain their air tax exemptions even if the tax changed from an air passenger duty to a per-plane tax, the response from Justine Greening was,

The budget announced that the Government will explore changes to the aviation tax system, including switching from a per-passenger to a per-plane duty, which could encourage fuller planes. Major changes will be subject to consultation.
Now I could, and probably will be, very wrong on this, but I reckon that it could be a real contentious point and row if the Coalition is seen to punish those living in hard-to-reach places with taxes on air travel and freight they rely on.

We can probably expect a "Tories always screw Scotland" line too no doubt.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spending Challenge - classic fail

Lesson One for running discussion website:

If you're going to do "wiki-politics" at least make sure you've got a moderator that is paying attention to what is on your site.

Many more examples of how the Spending Challenge website is little more than an echo chamber for webtards at the Other Taxpayers Alliance.

Private Eye won't need to make up their "From the Messageboards" column in the next issue, they can just cut and paste the real thing, e.g forcing cats to spend one hour per day on electrical treadmills or a windfall tax on people called Steve.

Clifford Singer from the Other Taxpayers Alliance and creator of the Cameron poster satire site, My David Cameron, summed it up beautfiully to me saying,

"I'm just worried those of us who want to deliberately create parody websites are being put out of business."
Never a truer word spoken.

Frankly, this is the funniest thing I've seen all day.

Are DNA retention changes being kicked to the long grass?

One of the complaints of some during the election was the crossover between all the three parties on certain issues and the lack of clear dividing lines in some cases. However, one of the definitive lines of difference between the parties of the Coaltion and Labour was, it seemed, on the retention of DNA.

The Labour Manifesto argued for the status quo and that they would "retain for six years the DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted." Meanwhile, the Lib Dems said they would "introduce a balanced approach to the retention of people’s DNA" (whatever that means it suggests change from the status quo at least); and the Tories said they would "give people on the database who have been wrongly accused of a minor crime an automatic right to have their DNA withdrawn" and "Remove innocent people from the police DNA database."

The Tory position is essentially the Scottish model on this issue, which is that DNA is retained for a maximum 3 years where arrest is for serious offences with the periodic removal of the DNA of those later found innocent, and the end to the retention of someone arrested for a motoring offence having their DNA held when they've not really done anything particularly wrong.

However, where exactly are the Coaltion Government on this? There was no specific mention of what was planned in the Queen's Speech bar a vague reference to civil liberties and as yet there does not appear to be any draft legislation to make these changes. OK, they;re busy dealing with the deficit you might say, but when questioned about what is happening there seems to be a little bit of avoidance going on.

Jacqui Smith's replacement Tory MP in Redditch, Karen Lumley, for example asked the Home Office about the progress made "reviewing the retention on the national DNA database of records of those who have been neither charged nor convicted of a crime", and the response from James Brokenshire was simply a restatement of a commitment to the Scottish model and that they would introduce "detailed proposals shortly".

Then we had David Morris MP who asked the Home Secretary "how many records on the national DNA database she expects to be destroyed in the next 12 months." Brokenshire responding again said,

At present, a DNA profile will be retained indefinitely unless the relevant Chief Officer of Police as data owner decides to authorise its deletion from the National DNA Database.

The Government are committed to a policy on retention of DNA profiles that provides the protections of the Scottish model, under which the profiles from those arrested but not convicted are only retained in serious cases and for a limited period. We will bring forward shortly detailed proposals for legislative change to give effect to our policy.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this suggests a U-Turn, but by avoiding actually answering the question which was about the time frame of the next 12 months it has to make you wonder how strong the commitment really is.

The cynic in me would say that civil liberties campaigner shouldn't hold their breath that innocent DNA profiles will be removed anytime in the next twelve months and that the phrase "kicking an issue to the long grass" may in fact be appropriate very soon.

Notes:

For information on Scottish model see Big Brother Watch.
Thanks to Alex Deane for pointing out the Karen Lumley question to me.

Dammit, who'd have thought it....

In the last post I mentioned the rather fallacious arguments that the meeja were to blame for Raul Moat because of the way they covered Derrick Bird, but it seems there is an even more stupid argument being peddled by none other than the Labour blogger snowflake5 who, bless'em, puts a pretty picture of a snowflake after each post. Apparently,

all sorts of lunatics are going on gun rampages - first Derrick Bird, now Raoul Moat. You have to go back to John Major's government and Dunblane (and Huntingdon under Thatcher) for the last episodes. And it's only been just over two months since they were in power.

Crime always rises under Tory governments, it rose steadily from 1979 to 1997, and looks like rising again. It's a combination of Tories cutting back on the police while at the same time causing stress in the population at large, which always tips those at the edge into violence.
That's even more speshul than the last lot, especailly the reference to Huntingdon rather than Hungerford but what's 130 miles between friends huh?

Yes it's so self-evidently true, Derrick Bird wasn't bitter about some family feud over inheritance causing him to flip, nor was Raul Moat a nutter with a fetish for extreme violence, oh no! It was because the Tories caused them stress tipping them over the edge into violence!

Hat Tip: DevonChap

Monday, July 12, 2010

Speshul Arguments of the Day

Morning all, blogging will be light over the next few days due to working odd hours, but I did just want to pass comment on something that has been tickling me. More than once in the past week I've seen certain left wing bloggers that like to think of themselves as "rather clever don't you know" link to a little video by Charlie Booker about the media presentation of mass shooting.

The video (below) contains some footage about mass shooting with Charlie Brooker moaning that rolling news channels saturate their coverage, and then has a "forensic psychiatrist" (that's a hired opinion if you were wondering) banging on about how the coverage of mass shootings by the media creates further mass shootings, or what someone might call "copycat" events.



You can probably guess where this is going right? The Charlie Booker skit first started doing the rounds from the self-righteous clever lefties after the Derrick Bird shootings. In the last week it's been linked to again because of Raul Moat with the to-be-expected addendum of "see it was always going to happen and science told us so, we love science, science rocks, science is God muwaahahahah".

OK, so they didn't do the bit about science, but the point is, like in the video you have the "expert" opinion and the words "why not ask a forensic psychiatrist?", or, as logicians would like to put it argumentum ad verecundiam, that is to say, source A says that B is true, source A is authoritative, therefore B is true.

But it doesn't stop there of course, because whilst the original argument attempts to appeal to authority we also then have the argument that was made in the video being affirmed because of the Raul Moat event. Also known as post hoc ergo propter hoc, or, A occurred, then B occurred. Therefore, A caused B.

Thus we reach the tickling aspect of whole thing. For not only do we have a logical fallacy being used to chastise the news reporting the news, we also then have the same logical fallacy being used to support another logical fallacy that claims the first logical fallacy was right.

I can think of few words better than "that's pretty fucking speshul" to describe the sheer wonderment of the edjumacation level of said people.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Teh InterWebs is wonderful....

Errrm.... OK.

mynewpinkbutton.com

Whoops... did we write that out loud?

Click IMage for Larger Version


Via imgur.com

It pays to be in the equality and diversity game

The other day, the Tory MP Philip Davies put a question to the Home Office asking it how much it,

spent (a) in total and (b) on staff costs on activities to promote equality and diversity in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and how many people her Department employs for that purpose.
Now, it's not the yearly figure as such which bothers me, although it is, of course, seven figures and will bother some, but rather the percentage of it that covers staff costs and the number of staff, which happens to be 20.

2007-08: £1,725,000, of which £837,000 were staff costs.

2008-09: £1,683,000, of which £1,071,000 were staff costs.

2009-10: £1,518,000, of which £1,026,000 were staff costs
So we have 48.5% of the spending on staff in the first year which then jumps to 64% in the second and finally, in the last year, 67.5% of the spending on equality and diversity by the Home Office goes on paying 20 people to carry out the work.

Makes you wonder whether the work is (a) worth it, or (b) the people doing the work have been given continual payrises for doing less and less.

After all, in the first year, on the assumption that they're all paid the same (which obviously they won't be), they'd all be on £41,850 per annum, and by the third they'd be on £51,300 per annum.

Wish I could see approximate rises of above 20% in salary over three years for seemingly doing less. Only in Government could a budget decrease whilst salary cost for those spending the budget increases by an order of magnitude.

Everyone's equal but some people are more equal than others huh?

WTF? of the Day

RAPPER SNOOP DOGG is in talks with Coronation Street producers about a cameo role - in Ashley Peacock's butcher's shop. - via The Sun
Surely a job in the Rovers serving up Gin and Juice for his homies with the rubbers would be more appropriate?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The firebrands are back, and don't they look silly

If there's to be something, nay anything amusing about the Labour party finding itself on the Opposition benches after 13 years in office it has to be the resurrection of firebrand synthetic anger and gibbering idiocy that was so absent when they were in power.

It is a wonderful testament to the genus politicus that within a matter of month so many who were essentially on the centre and proposing cuts can veer wildly like a blind man driving a car wildly to the Left and scream like the end of civilisation is occurring.

I doubt it will be long before we see digital WWI style "satire" portraying the Lib Dems and Tories as baby-eating monsters.

Take, for example, Tom Watson's outburst in Parliament yesterday where he got synthetically angry when Tony Baldry noted the synthetic anger on the Labour benches. He ranted on about how,

"the pupils in Sandwell have seen what the new politics is... You're a miserable pipsqueak of a man, Gove."
Tom, seriously, put whatever sugar you've been consuming down and take a reality check. The "pupils" you refer to for the most part wouldn't know, and for most part probably don't care. I doubt few of them are screaming about how they want their new wall, desk, roof or chair - far more likely they want the latest XBox 360 game to hit the shelves.

Screaming like a petulant teenager about the outrage of it all is hardly edifying, and frankly speaking, makes you look like a complete cock. Where was this anger when your party was in power and cutting NHS services in the name of "modernisation"? Oh yes, that's right, nowhere.

Then we have David Miliband, using words like "ruthless" to describe the Budget, as if people in the Government, Lib Dem or Tory, are actually having fun taking scissors to budgets and are in fact in some sort of nasty cabal that secretly meets to find out how it can bend the poor over and screw them.

For God sake man, grow up.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Time to bungle the census?

In light of the news that the Tories, now in Government, have performed a swift U-Turn on the intrusiveness of the 2011 Census and are still going to ask us the identity of overnight visitors to our home, it seems about the right time to start the ball rolling on screwing the data over.

Last time, as some will recall, Jedi became an official religion because enough people wrote it on the form, so here's an idea, how about we all tell the Government we have Zippy, George and Bungle from Rainbow to stay over?

Three in bed and all that jazz *nudge nudge wink wink say no more*

Hat Tip: Alex Deane @ ConservativeHome

Can the Government handle a thermodynamic slashdotting?

Let's be honest, it's was always going to happen, and now it has. Nick Clegg's Your Freedom website has a popular call on it to repeal the second, third and all laws of thermodynamics.

The question is, now that such a thing has been picked up by Slashdot can HMG bandwidth actually handle a slashdotting?

Slashdotting: The Slashdot effect, also known as slashdotting, occurs when a popular website links to a smaller site, causing a massive increase in traffic. This overloads the smaller site, causing it to slow down or even temporarily close. The name stems from the huge influx of web traffic that results from the technology news site Slashdot linking to websites.
Time to sit back, watch and see.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Value for Money

Cost of setting up the Independent Police Complaints Commission Recruitment website - £51,750

Number of people successfully recruited through website since September 2007 - 93

Note: Ongoing operating costs of the website were not available.

Friday, July 02, 2010

iPhone4 vs HTC Evo

Had me wetting myself.


Even better is Xtranormal.com that lets you create these sort of videos. Very cool.

TV's Shane Greer in ladies underwear..... viral video

What an interesting little cameo in a viral advert for ladies "bottom shapers" (at about 45 seconds in).


I wonder if Shane has started wearing them... he looks the sort right? ;-)

Jealously will get you everywhere....

As we all know, MPs have found themselves under the spotlight somewhat over the past year because so many of them, shall we say, "took the piss" on what they should and should not have been taking from the taxpayer to fund their lifestyles.

Now, it was noted yesterday that my cynicism level was exceptionally low in relation to the "Your Freedom" website from the Coalition, so, in light of this, I offer a heightened level of cynicism this morning with news that MPs are clearly about to get jealous about how much the "lesser" staff of the House of Commons get paid.

Back on June 24th, Andrew Selous MP asked the House of Commons Commission how many staff were earning more than "honourable members" salary of £65,738. Apparently the answer is 83, most of which work in Department of Chamber and Committees Services, and I;m presuming in IT.

Methinks the MPs are getting jealous that the lesser being proles of the Parliament may get more money than them.

Yay for envy politics!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Freeeeeeeeeedom!

What a bind it is, you spend four years slagging off pointless Government "engagement" websites that no sod bothers using but which cost the taxpayer money, the old lot get kicked out and the new lot come in and produce a Government "engagement" website that you really hope many sods will use.

And so it comes to pass we have a "Great Repeal Bill" engagement website that hopes to take advantage of "wiki-politics". Just pop along to Your Freedom and tell the buggers what stupid laws you think you should be repealed. If you can't think of some, here's a few of my choices (with explanation natch because some might seem controversial.

1: A really good place to start would be some of the wording and laws brought in by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 because they're either totally unnecessary; make the wrong people guilty or cause weird contradictions.

For example, the age of sexual consent remains 16, but child pornography is defined as images of anyone up to and including 17 years of age. Figure that one out? I can, legally speaking, have a 17 year old girlfriend but if we were to take pictures of ourselves getting jiggy then it would be child porn.

Next up we have necrophilia. A truly disturbing, worrying and warped act that is so rare there wasn't actually a specific law against until this Act made it so. Prior to the act, if you were caught playing doctors and nurses with a corpse it was covered by other things like public decency etc. Why did we need to get specific in 2003 after 600 years of legislation though?

I realise that last one is controversial, but seriously, fiddling with dead bodies is not exactly common and where it does happen I would imagine there's not likely to be any witnesses. I'm not sure how many people have actually been charged or convicted of the crime, but I reckon it's not going to be a high number.

2: Here's another controversial one possibly, but how about getting rid of the absurd section on knives in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006. Don't misunderstand me here, people that carry what I believe are called "shanks" on the street these days should not get away with it, but we didn't need a piece of new legislation to do it.

We already had the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 which prohibits the "carrying of offensive weapons without lawful authority or reasonable excuse". Is anyone seriously suggesting that a dodgy 17 year old gang member carrying a kitchen knife on a night out in the park would not be covered by this?

3: Finally, my last one, although there are of course many more, would have to be amending the smoking ban and introducing licensed smoking bars, or at least rooms or sections of bars that can be used by smokers but which are ventilated in such a way that they cannot impact on non-smoking areas if a bar wished to offer both.

Of you run and make some suggestions.

P.S. Yes, it was a very good holiday thank you for asking.


 

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