Monday 31 May 2010

There's A Kind Of Hush

The Puddlecotes have enjoyed Bank Holiday Monday to the full, though I see that some rabid anti-smoking nutters were faithfully glued to their computers.

Just a quick addendum to my earlier post about ASH's hilarious report today, which has been picked up by precisely no-one (is that the faint sound of tumbleweed I hear?).

It seems that not only are their accusations tired and desperate, their language is as unimaginative as it's always been.

"[...] the chief strategy of tobacco control is to smear the opposition by accusing them of being tobacco industry moles." - anti-tobacco activist Michael Siegel talking of his training methods in the 80s & 90s.

"Appendix 1 - The Front Men, Moles & Advocates" - ASH May 31st, 2010
It's the way they tell 'em.

ASH: Scared, Desperate, And Running Out Of Ideas

I don't know who turned off ASH's power supply, but they seem to have been rebooted. Right back to square one and their desperate fallback defence when seriously challenged.

All those successes, all those flowery reports filled with clever distortions of the truth, yet their latest is anti-smoking 101 - also known as 'what to do when faced with defeat'.

Why, smear everyone as tobacco industry stooges, of course.

I'll let someone who is well aware of their methods explain. Here's prominent anti-tobacco campaigner, Dr Michael Siegel, in November last year.

If you take part in secondhand smoke policy training in the tobacco control movement, chances are that you will be taught that all opposition to smoking bans is orchestrated by the tobacco industry, that anyone who challenges the science connecting secondhand smoke exposure and severe health effects is a paid lackey of Big Tobacco, and that any group which disseminates information challenging these health effects is a tobacco industry front group. Consequently, the chief strategy of tobacco control is to smear the opposition by accusing them of being tobacco industry moles. And in no situation should one say anything positive about an opponent, even if true.

How do I know this?

Because for many years, I was one of the main trainers of tobacco control advocates in the United States. And this is what I taught, because this was what I was led to believe. I attended many conferences and trainings and this is precisely what I was taught. I accepted it for the truth, and passed it along to others.
ASH are now facing one of their biggest challenges for years.

The state of the country's finances are so dire that their 'services' are quite simply unaffordable. The coalition government has stated that they are cutting the supply of funds to serially failed policies such as those promoted by the likes of ASH.

Their tobacco display ban is in tatters. The Tories have vowed to overturn it, while the Lib Dems, if Norman Lamb is to be taken as a guide, won't be insisting it stays.

Commenting on today’s ban on the open display of tobacco in shops, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb said: “This is the nanny state going too far.

“This will hit small businesses with added costs while there is no clear evidence that it will actually reduce the number of young people smoking."
Gone are the days when ASH lies were published automatically, too. The usually eagerly gullible BBC steered well clear of this steaming effluence from their plant at Policy Exchange, for example. And even celebrities are sticking two fingers up.

So, with nowhere left to run, they revert to the hard-wired scare tactic. Accusing everyone of being a tobacco-paid baby-eater.

"Dirty tricks used by cigarette companies to derail UK health policies that could save the lives of thousands of Britons every year are laid bare in a report, The Smoke Filled Room, published by ASH today.

Big Tobacco hoodwinked MPs into signing an Early Day Motion against point-of-sale displays by bombarding them with postcards purporting to be from worried shopkeepers ..."
It's a bare-faced lie, of course - what else would one expect from ASH - but it's also a bit rich considering the 'smokefree coalition' (of which ASH was a member) used just such a tactic [pdf p.15] in the run up to the smoking ban vote.

Cancer Research UK, the biggest cancer charity in the UK in particular substantially increased its campaigning activity. It involved its 1,000 fundraising committees, volunteers in its 620 shops and 3,000 staff and scientists in letter-writing and Christmas card campaigns to MPs. In the run up to the vote on the legislation both Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation ran advertising campaigns to urge the public to lobby their MPs on the issue and succeeded in mobilising 25,000 people to do so.
ASH's hypocrisy isn't going down too well, as you can imagine, with businessmen and women who, unlike ASH, earn their living without having to beg civil servants for state handouts.

ASH claim that the Tobacco Retailers Alliance is a ‘mere subsidiary’ of the TMA (the Tobacco Manufacturers Association) and a ‘front organisation’ for the tobacco industry, but fail to mention the Alliance’s 26,000 members, all of whom are independent retailers.

Ken Patel, National Spokesman for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance and a newsagent from Leicester, said: “ASH have always been bullies but this report is stooping to a new low."

[TRA South East spokesperson] Debbie Corris said: “This is typical of ASH – they want to discredit the masses of support retailers have from the public and in particular from our customers. How dare they?! As an independent business we are perfectly entitled to campaign against proposals like the display ban that would directly impact on our businesses.”

“I have to question whether it is appropriate for a so-called ‘charity’ that receives so much Government funding to discriminate against legitimate, hard-working businesses in this way.”

It really is desperate stuff from ASH.

An organisation worried about its future funding, facing the humiliation of their tobacco display ban - gained on the back of misleading parliament - being overturned, is fighting back the way they have been programmed to do. With tantrums and unsubstantiated smears.

But we've seen it all before. Even the dullards in the House of Commons aren't going to be fooled with this one.

Falling back on the 'big bad tobacco' defence may have worked before, but ASH's tactics are now recognised to be as manipulative, selfish, and repugnant as those employed in the past by their arch-enemies. They are the anti-smoking pigs morphed into tobacco's Farmer Jones.

ASH are out of ideas and scared.

Reason enough I'd say, to celebrate World No Tobacco Day today with a nice cigar and a satisfied smile.

Sunday 30 May 2010

Cluedo: The David Laws Edition

A commenter at Pickled Politics yesterday asked a very intriguing question.

“when I worked in Parliament it was an open secret that Laws was gay.”
This is about the fourth time I’ve heard this today.

If it was known, then surely it must have been known by Nick Clegg, and surely it would have been discussed by the coalition leaders, along the lines of the MI5 briefings about potentially difficult potential ministers, but from a gaffe perspective, no?

If it was known was it not also known who David Laws’ partner was, and that their arrangement contravened the 2006 rules on accommodation expense claims?

And if it was known in Parliament does that include press correspondents and lobbyists?

What initiated the timing of the release of the story by the Telegraph?
Iain Dale suggests a motive or two, but stops tantalisingly short of naming his suspect(s).

[...] through his stellar performance as Chief Secretary to the Treasury during the first three weeks of the coalition, Laws made himself a target.

Firstly, he made public the private note left on his desk by his predecessor, Liam Byrne, which said: ‘I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left.’

And secondly, he pulled out of Question Time last week after Labour refused to withdraw Alastair Campbell as its spokesman on the programme.

This accusation may be way off beam, but it wouldn’t at all surprise me if somebody’s tricks department had tipped off The Daily Telegraph about the nature of his relationship with James Lundie and it was that which provoked them to trawl through their expenses files again.
Food for thought there, but one presumes that Dale, being a partisan chap, was hinting at a party-affiliated whistle-blower.

However, a recent article in New Scientist pointed out that there would be many in the civil service who take umbrage at coalition policies, and may do their damnedest to block moves which threaten their cosy empire-building existence.

"Labour is not the opposition," agrees [Privacy International's Policy Director, Gus] Hosein. "The civil service is."
It's interesting, then, that the day before the Telegraph's revelations, the Department of Health was reported to be reeling at proposed cuts to their 'hectoring and lecturing' budget.

Health to bear brunt of first COI cuts

LONDON - The Change4Life, anti-smoking and alcohol abuse campaigns could be permanently scrapped as part of the Government's planned curbs on advertising, according to Westminster sources.

Drives such as the £50 million-a-year spend on public health, including Change4-Life (which spent £7.7 million in 2008-09), anti-smoking (£26.2 million), alcohol abuse (£4.8 million) and stroke prevention (£4.5 million), are likely to be affected by Government plans to cut "preachy, nanny state" campaigns aimed at changing behaviours.

An immediate freeze on new advertising and marketing spend in the current financial year was announced by the Treasury Chief Secretary, David Laws, as part of the coalition Government's £6.2 billion package of spending cuts.

Laws said ad campaigns were "not priorities", saying: "We are being very draconian in these areas and inflexible over the next year".
Oooh, that's gotta hurt. Especially for a department which has had its own way for far too long, and been a law unto itself at times.

As far as timing goes, it fits the bill perfectly, and what better motivation for someone with mud to sling than a pretty unequivocal statement of intent to curtail their wasteful spending?

I love a good 'whodunnit', me. The game's afoot!

The Year Starts Here

Finally, we can start working for ourselves, and not the state.

Happy Tax Freedom Day!

Saturday 29 May 2010

Eurovision Song Punt Test

I harbour a dirty secret. I quite enjoy Eurovision. Yeah, I know it's hard to defend ... I'm not even gay!

Still, it's one of those nights when we Puddlecotes buy in a massive pizza and marvel at a pan-European spectacle. Well, the kids do anyway, I just judge which singer has the best legs.

Unfortunately, the marking has become a bit of a procession in recent competitions, as I remarked upon, satirically, last year.

Europe was last night celebrating as the entire continent doubled their money.

After two consecutive years of the bookies' favourite walking the Eurovision Song Contest, everyone west of Palestine wised up and filled their boots by voting for who they had backed on border-free online betting sites.

Mehmet Erdogan from Istanbul enthused, "As I not able vote for Turkiye, I vote before for Germany where my brother build houses. Why? He never thank me. This year I take double money Asda price on Bet365, put all bank on Norway, and vote it. Like taking candy from baby."

Dave Smarmy of Reading, UK, thought long and hard before ringing 20 times at 15p per shot, "I weighed up my options carefully.", he revealed, "Do I waste my phone call on judging the songs on their merits? Or do I just see who the bookies favour, tell my mates in the office, prior to the event, that Norway are going to win and I've got my kids' savings on them, then boast about how brilliant and wealthy I am on Monday morning? It's a no-brainer really, isn't it? It's like backing the favourite in the Grand National and then being able to choose who wins".

As champagne corks popped from Riga to Cadiz, betting firms were planning their strategy for 2010.

"We've had a conflab and know how to beat Europe's cheating next year.", insisted Gary Camelcoat of William Hill, "We'll install Israel at odds on next time out. No-one likes them and unless they sing about polar bears like in the 70s or choose another gender bender, we'll suck the stakes up like a Dyson. Hahahaha."

Upon being reminded that those who bet are the judges, Mr Camelcoat responded, "Oh crap! Forgot about that."
On that basis, it's got to be worth a lazy score on the 2010 favourite, this sassy 17 year old from Azerbaijan. 11/4 at Billy Hills will do for me.

If you're tuning in yourself, drop any observations in the comments - I'll be around. Safura is on first.

Anti-Smoking Kills

A while back, I mentioned in passing the death of one of the most prominent American anti-smoking advocates.

Ronald M. Davis, MD, the immediate past president of the American Medical Association and a longtime advocate of healthy lifestyles and ending health care disparities, died Nov. 6 of pancreatic cancer. He was 52.
Well, recently, an equally world-renowned anti-smoker, but one who is especially relevant to the UK, has also passed away.

Tribute to anti-smoking campaigner, researcher

Professor Konrad Jamrozik was Head of the School of Population Health and Clinical Practice at the University of Adelaide and was a tireless campaigner against smoking.

He died as a result of a sarcoma.
Most will never have heard of him, but Jamrozik's four years at Imperial College London culminated in his producing the first research to declare categorically that bar workers were dying as a result of passive smoking.

It was fraudulent nonsense, of course, and easily ripped to pieces considering he employed an astonishing torturing of statistics, and quite laughable mathematics, to come up with his fantasy conclusion. However, it was this study, more than any other, which conned dull-witted politicians into voting for blanket smoking bans in all provinces of the UK.

Jamrozik was 54.

Both died of conditions which have been categorised as 'smoking-related', so therefore in statistical terms, they are counted as one of us.

Sometimes, one must wonder if God really doesn't like anti-smokers very much.

Link Tank 29/05

If you're easy like Saturday morning, there might be something here for you.

Canadian liquor police ban a brand of vodka ... because of the skull-shaped bottle

Warning labels required on, err, all solid food

Libertarianism is the indispensable framework for the future

The world's oldest sex toy

ID cards by the back door

Lost a robot monkey or breast implants on a scottish bus? Don't panic

Tories, speed cameras, and voluntary idiot tax

Politicians have failed to honour their promises to protect sex workers

John Prescott is as attractive as Daniel Craig ... apparently

US senators call for the end of anonymity for pay-as-you-go mobile phone users

Agonising over whether to allow Viagra for women ... why?

Friday 28 May 2010

Allowing Kids Independence Is Not Child Abuse

As anyone who has ever scrolled through the overwhelmingly turgid drivel at CiF will tell you, it's the cyber equivalent of wading through waist-high treacle. So when an item of dazzling enlightenment pops up there, the joy at finding it is all the more intense.

Apparently, this article from Leonore Skenazy was requested by a regular reader, suggesting that there are some who aren't yet fully assimilated into the joyless, self-righteous, risk-averse navel-gazing enjoyed by your average Guardianista. And the Guardian should be congratulated for commissioning it.

Why does 'go play outside' sound crazy?

The safer our society becomes, the more we – and the media – feel compelled to ramp up fears about unlikely dangers

"Why would you want to put children in harm's way?" That, put simply (and minus a lot of the yelling), is what I have been asked on 10 TV shows, 31 radio interviews, and an avalanche of blogs for about a week now – ever since I declared last Saturday "Take our children to the park … and leave them there" day.

I'd come up with the idea as a way for neighbourhood children (including mine) to meet each other, and even be forced to entertain themselves.
It's not the first time Leonore has lobbed a mentos mint in the fizzy pop of righteous helicopter parenting. A couple of years ago, she left her own 9 year old son in New York's Bloomingdales with just $20, a travel card and a map of the subway system, and let him travel home on his own.

Predictably, she was accused of child abuse, and when Vanessa Feltz applauded this parenting decision on her radio show, she herself was roundly attacked by British listeners too.

But, as Skenazy said at the time.

“It’s safe to go on the subway,” Skenazy replied. “It’s safe to be a kid. It’s safe to ride your bike on the streets. We’re like brainwashed because of all the stories we hear that it isn’t safe. But those are the exceptions. That’s why they make it to the news. This is like, ‘Boy boils egg.’ He did something that any 9-year-old could do.”

There is an incomprehensible attitude towards parents who allow their kids some kind of self-reliance, and one which I've experienced myself. The little Puddlecotes have just turned 9 & 10 respectively, but have been sent to the local Co-Op on their own on numerous occasions for anything from eggs and broccoli to washing liquid and kitchen roll, but tell that to a school gate parent and they look at you aghast.

"But they have to cross two roads!", they cry. Yeah, and so what? They not only know how to cross roads, they are hugely more wary of them than I was at the same age.

The reason being that schooling in my 70s childhood was about educating kids and that's all. Apart from the odd Green Cross Code ad and Charley the cat, how to avoid trouble in life was left to the parents. Yet now we have schools teaching about every danger it is possible to encounter, along with largely lower crime rates, safer roads, and CCTV which monitors every move, everywhere, of everyone. Kids have, quite obviously, never been safer to run such errands.

Despite this, the age at which they are allowed to do so by parents is increasing, and the idea of encouraging small elements of independence in kids is frowned upon, or condemned, more than ever.

There is simply no logic to that.

Surely, if we wish to have a more roundly educated, confident, self-reliant, and yes, healthy future for our kids, this is exactly what all parents should be doing. Far from being tarred as irresponsible, a liberal approach to easing kids into the world should be the norm, and those who insist on wrapping their offspring in bubble wrap until they're 18 should be the ones who attract the horrified looks.

Considering the unarguable facts on increased safety for kids, and their better education about danger, there is only one explanation, in my humble opinion, for why that isn't the case.

It's selfishness on the part of parents, pure and simple.

Because, you see, when mine leave my sight I'm worried. It may only be a mild worry, but it's there nonetheless. My parents were worried when they let me do the same (they told me) but it was a rite of passage that they realised was necessary. Modern parents don't want to suffer that worry, however slight, so they prefer instead to eradicate it entirely. And, I'd argue, it's an attitude that is not only harming society, but also damaging the future life awareness, independence, and well-being of the children they think they are protecting.

And, as Leonore Skenazy points out, all because of risks which are mostly non-existent.

But how common is it really? Warwick Cairns, author of How to Live Dangerously, crunched the numbers, and now asks: If, for some strange reason, you actually wanted your child to be kidnapped, how long would we have to leave him outside, unattended, in England, for that to be statistically likely to happen?

About 600,000 years.

It doesn't matter that those are about the same odds as death by lightning. All that matters to the media is scaring us. Result? We keep our kids inside. We stay there too. Then we turn on the TV and look! "Up next: is your toothbrush dangerous?"
Funny she should mention that.


Weapon Of Mass Restriction

I just noticed this from earlier in the week.

A US judge has ordered Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan to wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet.
Whoa! Hold on right there. Say what?

[...] an alcohol-monitoring bracelet.
I didn't even know there was such a thing.

The Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (Scram) bracelet works by sensing through the skin if a person has been drinking and sends the signal to a monitoring company.
Now, is it just me, or could this piece of technology be a sinister threat to personal liberty if it should fall into the wrong hands ...

... like, ooh I dunno, the Department of Health, for example?

Thursday 27 May 2010

The End Of An Error

The man who could envisage a health apocalypse in a cotton wool bud resigns his supersized saggy seat as Chief Medical Officer tomorrow.

And considering what a superlative disaster he has been, the day can't come soon enough. This BBC article paints a less than rosy picture of him, especially over the MTAS fiasco which slashed the number of medical recruits, destroyed fledgling careers, and needlessly cost the NHS over £6m in just a few months, but that's nothing compared to the incompetence and eye-watering waste in other areas attributable to Liam 'putrid, knuckled-headed chimp' Donaldson. The most notable being, of course, the swine flu panic which had him sweatily jerking his tadger dry at the thrill of throwing £300m of our taxes into a big pharma drain, as I mentioned recently.

We're hocked up to our eyeballs after signing up to guaranteed Tamiflu purchase contracts thanks to that rancid turd. His dire forecasts of imminent social collapse, over a virus which turned out to be about as dangerous as chicken pox, have left health authorities trawling for disused aircraft hangars in which to store the bloody stuff.
Not only that, we also have to find room - somewhere on NHS property one presumes, which incurs a cost in itself - for 226 million face masks, 34 million respirators and 15.2 million courses of antibiotics.

I mean, there really is no beginning to the hectoring jizz-chugger's talent. From ridiculous scaremongering over 750,000 deaths from bird flu, to pushing for irrelevant and entirely useless gestures such as minimum alcohol pricing, his incompetence knows no bounds.

Yet Labour took this clown seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they effected legislation which was more damaging than anything saggy-arse had done before or since ... and that's saying something.

In 2004, the BBPA estimated a smoking ban would cost the industry £3.5bn and the loss of 5,000 pubs and 75,000 staff. Considering the stunning accuracy of the pubs prediction, one can only take the £3.5bn figure as a fairly good guide of the financial loss to our economy.

And it's all down to lardy Liam throwing a tantrum and petulantly stomping his feet.

As ministers fretted over plans for limited new restrictions, Sir Liam told MPs that he would considered (sic, it is the BBC) resigning over their failure to back a full smoking ban in enclosed public spaces.
This despite his personal mantra being.

'I represent the Government, for which I work, the medical profession, which I try to listen to, and the public. My moral principle is that if ever there is a conflict it is the public who wins.'
Except, of course, when the public democratically elect politicians to represent them, and their views disagree with that of saggy-arsed cunt Donaldson.

So, nearly £4bn down thanks to the hypocritical cock, and he's finally throwing in the scaremonger-in-chief towel. Well, thank fuck for that!

Despite all this, I personally hope he lives as long a life as he envisages for others ... whether they wish it, or would prefer to take a gamble on an enjoyable existence instead. Preferably he'll survive to the age of 150, the last third of which, with any luck, will be spent in an unscrupulous geriatric home after his offspring, blessed with Liam's selfishness gene, engineer power of attorney over his cash and dump him there to dribble in impotent discomfort, being fed on liquidised offal rejected by Pedigree Chum, his arthritis-wracked, wheelchair-bound shell being tended to by minimum wage chav 'nurses' whose idea of care is changing his incontinence pants once a week.

But that's just me.

For the scientific/medical community, there are differing reasons to despise the sonofabitch, as described succinctly by Simon Jenkins at the turn of the year.

This is why people are ever more sceptical of scientists. Why should they believe what "experts" say when they can be so wrong and with such impunity? Weapons of mass destruction, lethal viruses, nuclear radiation, global warming … why should we believe a word of it? And it is a short step from don't believe to don't care.

So keep yourself alive for as long as you can, Liam (cos that's all that is important, isn't it?). Safe in the knowledge that you have bastardised evidence, invited scorn on your fellow professionals, damaged the future of the NHS, scared the public for no good reason, wasted public resources, helped rip the guts out of decent society, and advocated the deeply sinister policy of 'denormalisation' of perfectly normal citizens for the first time since the last war ended.

Lucifer hasn't a pitchfork serrated enough to adequately deal with you.

Tomorrow, I invite you to leave tributes to Liam's tenure in office, but in the meantime, I recommend reading his 'guest post' at Ross's place last year. It's rather good and astutely nails his dictatorial nature via the medium of impeccably-aimed satire.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Damned If You Do ...

From Big Brother Watch. In case you can't read the hand-written note, it says "Please don't remove no smoking sign. Camera watching".

So, let's get this straight ...

... despite the smoking ban being 'hugely popular', this sign has presumably been repeatedly removed. The owner of the premises fears vicious government threats designed to maintain the 'hugely popular' smoking ban, so must employ veiled threats of his own.

And down we spiral.

Did I ever mention that LABOUR'S ban (never forget that) is the most spiteful and divisive in history?

Extra-Curricular Activities To Cry For

Regular readers may remember this snippet of state primary education from February.

No such nonsense from the girl Puddlecote's school. They had a Big Green Tidy Up today ... or litter-picking, to you and me.

I think the caretaker had a day off.
Well, it appears he's still not back as they traipsed around for an hour picking up rubbish again yesterday.

It's all part of 'Community Week', you see, and the educational delights don't end there. Tomorrow, she will be off on an exciting school trip - to Sainsbury's where they will be spending two hours packing customers' bags before lunch.

And today? Probably the most revealing day of the week as far as school aspirations are concerned. They were seconded to the senior part of the school to help with the bigger girls' studies ... by having their nails done.

Again, I'm seriously not making this up.

Thankfully, there are no activities planned for Friday. Because they all have the day off while the staff are trained how to teach this shit.

Just to remind you again. The cost to the taxpayer of 'educating' each primary school kid in England is £3,780 per year.

Orange Digital Campaigning Awards (NOT) #orangedigitalawards

I've been tagged by Anna Raccoon to join in a meme initiated by The Wardman Wire. Matt explains the reasoning behind it at this link.

I also notice that I've been nominated myself by Rosie who says I "worked hard throughout the election.". Although I wouldn't describe posting a series of articles basically saying 'Don't Vote Labour' as hard work - more enjoyable use of leisure time, really - I'm touched nonetheless.

I can't find fault with Anna's joint nomination of OH & GOT, but a stand out candidate for inclusion, IMO, has surely got to be Heydon Prowse and the Don't Panic TV team. From installing a plaque at Jacqui Smith's sister's home to digging up Alan Duncan's garden, they were the viral video kings of the expenses scandal.

John Walsh, Tory PPC for Middlesbrough deserves a nomination too for this innovative campaign video.

As far as tagging goes, this may not be everyone's bag, but let's shove it towards Ukippers Gawain Towler and Mark Wadsworth, plus libertarian Longrider, and see what happens.

ADDENDUM: Oops, I forgot the meme rules. And that if you haven't been tagged, feel free to tag yourself and take part anyway.

Here are the rules for the meme:

1.Nominate the best example of digital campaigning known to you.
2.Link back to this post or comment here, so I can add it to the list.
3.Start your title “Orange Digital Campaigning Awards (NOT)”, including the hashtag #orangedigitalawards.
4.Tag some others who can help us find the best online campaigning.

Tuesday 25 May 2010


Who says you need superstars and a barrowload of money to make an engaging World Cup ad?

Made me chuckle, anyway.

Turning The Screw

Boy, the anti-drink lobby moves fast!

Sixty per cent of UK adults think drinks packaging should have health warnings, similar to cigarette packets, according to a survey.
Judging by recent righteous scaremongering, this can't be too far away.

The worrying aspect of the aforementioned survey is that it illustrates the effectiveness of state-funded indoctrination and exaggeration. Even with the precedent of the assault on tobacco to refer to (that started with health warnings too), large sections of the public are still willing to participate in their own demonisation.

Mandatory health warnings won't be the end of the matter as far as the puritans are concerned. Far from it.

Monday 24 May 2010

Why Politicians Will Always Punish The Poor

As someone who engages with many everyday working people on a daily basis, both professionally and in my spare time, THE most oft-repeated phrase I hear is "I don't do politics".

They'll all advance their thoughts about the ills of the world, though. After all, it's human nature. Van drivers, bricklayers, checkout girls, roofers, teaching assistants, spark's mates, cabbies, labourers, nursery nurses, road workers, cleaners, and the unemployed - they all have opinions. And most of them feel totally ignored.

But then again, a lot of them say they 'don't do politics'.

It's getting to be a chicken and egg scenario. Did the politicians begin ignoring them before they stopped bothering with politicians, or did they stop bothering before politicians realised they were a waste of time?

I'd argue that it was the latter.

The Libertarian Alliance recently issued a press release which accused the minimum alcohol pricing proposals to be what we all know they will turn out to be.

The Government’s proposal, and the welcome given it by Tesco’s, amount to an attack on the poor. The ruling class politicians who continually whine about alcohol will not be affected by minimum pricing or the abolition of special offers. I might add that none of them can be affected by such laws.
Exactly. It will be the less well off who will suffer.

And politicians couldn't give a hoot if that is so. The reason being that they are comprehensively proving Adam Smith's principle of economic self-preservation.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest.
Politicians, by simply having scaled the greasy political pole, are driven by their re-election ... and nothing else.

Labour, who used to stand up for the poor non-political citizen (and were founded on that premise) long since ditched the idea of protecting the disenfranchised in favour of those who will gain them the most votes. People who 'do politics' are just the job. Those who don't, err, aren't.

The main parties have an incredibly forensic approach to elections. On count nights, they will corral their supporters to intensively scrutinise the ballot papers to see which ballot boxes, in which areas, are most likely to gain them support. Districts which show a willingness to vote, especially for their candidate, will be targeted first in the next election - areas where people 'don't do politics' are a waste of time to canvass.

Similarly, areas which offer a rich seam will attract market researchers to pinpoint what are the most pressing issues in their lives. The information will then be fed to the relevant central office, spreadsheets and databases updated, and policy formed accordingly.

It doesn't bode well for those who don't understand the process, those for whom politicians may as well be talking in a different language, those who haven't a clue what the word fiscal means, and those who can't really be arsed.

They all have valid concerns, and will talk about them at length to one another, but politicians won't give a stuff. It's not in their self-interest to do so.

It's why Gordon Brown would always bang on, robot-like, about 'hard-working families'. They're the ones who the focus groups identified as being most likely to vote, and when they do so, to be more likely to place their X in the box marked "free money for you".

I've seen this first hand during my brief fling with being on the stump. Hold out a leaflet to a middle class-ish family and they will take it, same for the elderly and those who look remotely 'professional'. Try it with someone sporting a neck tattoo, or a trackie bottom-wearing Mum on her phone (innit) and the best you'll get is a dirty look.

Cos they 'don't do politics', you see.

In a civil democratic society, though, their views should still be taken into account. They still get angry, they still suffer from bad legislation, they still have concerns. It's just that they aren't valuable to any politician with an eye for power.

The problem we now see, though, is that they may have started the fire by not voting, but politicians are so blinkered by their time-honoured methods of maximising their own influence, that when some try to raise their voice they are dismissed as irrelevant.

For example, Tom Harris is well aware of the upsurge in online dissent, but instantly deems it unworthy.

If Clegg really wants to be a leader, he must at some point stop uttering the banal and populist platitudes so beloved of the PPFKATLD and get on with the job of leading. It would be absurd if he believed a particular law should be repealed but chose not to argue for that in Cabinet just because it hadn’t come top in a vote by the public.
Now the chicken has been formed by a different medium to the ballot box, the politics of the egg are still being adhered to because the wonks and obsequious rosette-wearers haven't yet witnessed any change in stats from the upturned election ballot papers.

For all the talk about listening to the public, politicians will never do so until it is demonstrably proven to have transferred to cold, hard, electoral Xs in boxes.

The more politicians still persevere with such a self-interested way of governing the country, ignoring new ways in which the public can engage with those who wield power, the more people will keep feeling ignored and the more will say that they 'don't do politics'.

And, as the spiral swirls ever deeper, the more our country descends into a system which increasingly ignores those who are less able to articulate and, in ever decreasing circles, listens only to a diminishing elite to the detriment of the nation's well-being as a whole.

Just like it used to be.

H/T the Kitty Counters for inspiration

Giving Something Back

Shhh ... don't tell Mrs P. But why don't I have neighbours like this?

ASBO bans woman from lap dancing, pole dancing and prostitution
Yes. People are actually complaining!

At least one family, it was alleged, had been moved into emergency housing, while others were said to have suffered ill-health.
I feel it my duty, as a citizen, to try to ease their pain. I could do with a lodger to, err, help with the bills, naturally. Anyone know how to get in touch?

Perhaps I could also bring Tasha along to brush up on the girl's education.

You Pay ... Then You Pay Again

It's been another interesting day in the bureaucratic nightmare that is running a business in EU-led Britain.

Our attempt to book in four vehicles at the coachworks, who handle general maintenance for the larger end of our fleet, was met with laughter at the other end of the phone today. While it's never been a problem before, it turns out they're jammed to the rafters with tipper trucks, scaffolding lorries and flatbeds having new mudflaps and bumpers fitted. The EU have decreed the old ones to be illegal, so every truck of its type in the country must be adapted by a certain date or be taken off the road.

It's all extra cost to the operators, of course, which they will obviously pass on to their customers. If they be private sector, there'll be increased prices in goods and services, if it be public sector, the cost will be passed to the taxpayer. In both instances, that is us, the public.

In our case, the MOTs and associated works won't be completed in time for us to use our own vehicles, so we'll be adding to our running costs by hiring vehicles at a premium for the interim. The ones in this instance are used on public sector contracts, so guess who's going to be paying for our extra overhead?

Quite a system. We pay the wages of the EU muppets in the first place, and we also pay when they stop making paper clip chains and pick up a pen instead.

Seriously. Can we leave yet?

Sunday 23 May 2010

Democracy? Think again

Bulgaria is being roundly scolded.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, has slammed the Bulgaria government’s decision to delay the full smoking ban in public places.

Jakab made WHO’s feelings known to the Bulgarian Deputy Health Minister, Desislava Dimitrova, in Geneva in the 63rd session of the World Health Assembly. WHO are also set to send an open letter to the Bulgarian Parliament over the delayed ban.
How very dare a democratically elected body not adhere to rules laid down by the WHO ... who are unelected and entirely unaccountable.

The bloody cheek, eh?

The Coalition Should Look West And Jump Before Being Pushed

I have mentioned before that to see our authoritarian future one has only to cast a glance across the Atlantic.

It can be very depressing at times seeing Yanks lurch from one daft piece of oppressive legislation to the next, sure in the knowledge that some horrendous quangoista over here will notice, and be inspired to replicate it to our cost.

But if we really must endure a delayed transference of the illiberal stuff, let's hope to God (or whomever you put your trust in, could be Lady Gaga or Kevin Pietersen for all I care) that we also experience a fightback as is being effected by the Tea Party movement over there. If you've not come across them before, how about this for a libertarian ethos?

The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.
And, in defiance of increasing government control, their influence is growing rapidly, as reported last month.

The number of people who say they’re part of the Tea Party Movement nationally has grown to 24%. That’s up from 16% a month ago
A recent poll notionally pitting Barack Obama against Tea Party icon Ron Paul concluded that Paul would lose by just a single percentage point, and in America's mid-term elections Tea Party candidates are enjoying significant success.

Rand Paul from the conservative Tea Party movement in the US has won the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky.

Mr Paul - whose movement is demanding lower taxes and a reduced government - comfortably beat Republican establishment favourite Trey Grayson with some 60% of the vote.
The Telegraph also reports on the upsurge in Tea Party fortunes.

The race was seen as a test of the new movement's political muscle. It already has helped prevent a senator from Utah, Bob Bennett, from becoming the Republican candidate because he was seen as insufficiently conservative. It has also forced Charlie Crist, the Republican governor of Florida, to leave the party and run as an independent after tea party favourite Marco Rubio took a large lead in polls for the Republican nomination.

Mr Paul told supporters his victory was "a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back".
Oh joy.

So how does this affect us, Dick, I hear you cry? Well, perhaps there's a message there for our own politicians that they are fast approaching the limits of their cosy, collective authoritarianism.

While the Great Repeal Bill is promising, ridiculous policies such as minimum alcohol pricing seem to suggest that nothing has really changed, as the Devil highlights.

What is the point of the Coalition introducing a Great Repeal Bill—designed to abolish thousands (ha! I bet it will be about ten) of "unnecessary" laws introduced by NuLabour—if they are simply going to replace those laws with other, even worse laws?

Dan Hannan proved that there is an appetite for a similar movement in the UK when forced to turn people away from a sympathetic meeting in Brighton, and such gatherings can only be bolstered if the coalition deliver nothing but hollow promises and empty rhetoric.

Clegg and Cameron may be enjoying a honeymoon period at the moment, but they should be keeping a close eye on events over the pond as what happens there has a historical habit of being reflected soon after in the UK.

As cuts bite, and the unavoidable (unless you're a lefty fantasist) difficult decisions start to make life uncomfortable for very many people, the coalition are going to need a sweetener if they are to survive their full term.

Might I suggest that a solid, and evidential, respect for personal freedoms - which would cost nothing to implement - may go a long way to calming an irritated public?

How about it, lads?

How Dare You Offer Comfort And Shelter!

Last week saw a rather telling court case in Paddyland.

A judge in the Republic of Ireland has ruled that an awning is a roof.

And an area outside a pub with such a retractable roof was not exempt from the smoking ban, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said, at Dublin High Court.

An area furnished with barstools, varnished wooden counters and a large flatscreen TV was a place where, he said, customers could legally "while away their time watching TV, drinking pints and smoking to their heart's content".

Given the high level of rainfall in Ireland, especially during the summer, the judge said people "want respite from the elements" and "don't want their drink to be watered down".

Comfort and shelter were clearly the purpose of this awning."
And that just won't do.

An awning outside the building cannot be allowed because the law was (honest, guv) about victimising smokers protecting the bar staff, err, inside the building. Hmmm.

It was never about health. Was it.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Common Sense Of The Week

Once you buy the argument that some segment of the citizenry should lose their rights, just because they are envied or resented, you are putting your own rights in jeopardy-- quite aside from undermining any moral basis for respecting anybody's rights. You are opening the floodgates to arbitrary power. And once you open the floodgates, you can't tell the water where to go.
The author is commenting on Barack Obama's recent generalisation that "at some point, you have made enough money.". Do go read the whole piece as he argues that such a policy doesn't breed social justice at all, as socialists seek, but instead manifestly damages society. And the poor will always suffer the most.

The above paragraph leapt off the page though, as it can be applied to just about any facet of human behaviour.

From the moment the government made it compulsory for bikers to wear helmets, a chain reaction has taken place whereby, even if living the life of a nun, the state has a hand in dictating how you live. And behind every law - every cry that 'something must be done' - is a group of people who will, at some point, become targets of those who disagree with their own way of life. Not only that, but by perpetuating the assumption that it is acceptable to meddle with the mores of others, they actively contribute to their own future troubles.

Such does the sum of human enjoyment and prosperity deteriorate with every action designed to lecture, or coerce, others.

Or, as John Stuart Mill once put it:

"All errors which [a citizen] is likely to commit against advice and warning, are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem his good"
Which kinda proves that not only are the righteous often a financial drain on our country, or any country for that matter, they are also a social one.

In short, although they truly believe they are improving matters, in reality the best thing they could do to improve the overall state of the nation is hang themselves from the nearest tree.

Link Tank 22/05

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

Divine cigarettes used to treat cancer in Indonesia - predictably, and without foundation, condemned as funded by big tobacco

Visitors to Australia to have laptops and mobiles searched for porn

ObamaCare helps artists avoid hassle of working (that's a good thing, apparently)

You're a Russian head of state and you know the visiting Angela Merkel hates dogs. What do you do?

How to start a movement, in three minutes [vid]

Hippos, kangaroos and ants on the restaurant menu at a Chinese zoo

It’s time antismoking zealots stopped shouting and gave their lungs a rest.

Last week it was Playboy, this week Nuts also goes 3D

A glimpse of the Digital Economy Act: German man fined for someone else using his WiFi to download illegally

Bicycle helmets: A false, and dangerous, sense of security

Could your pet be gay?

Well done - now meet the constituents from hell

Viagra associated with loss of hearing ... I said VIAGRA ASSOCIATED WITH LOSS OF HEARING

4.5bn people could die due to global warming by 2012?!?

Friday 21 May 2010

Donny Fiasco

Preventing underage sales of alcohol is a serious business, you know. That's why the penalty for serving alcohol to a minor is £5,000 for each offence.

It's a drug, you see. It's lethal to young bodies, so not a drop should ever be allowed to pass their lips until it's magically less dangerous on their 18th birthday.

That's why local authorities are always on the lookout for big, strong 17 year olds, who look like rugby players, to send out to unsuspecting businesses and try to catch them out.

With penalties so high, a trader who is caught serving alcohol to a minor can potentially suffer catastrophic financial hardship. He could even lose his business as a result. And rightly so, eh? How dare they facilitate the risk of a minor possibly getting drunk.

So what happens in this situation then?

Youngsters recruited to catch pubs serving underage drinkers "ended up blotto" according to the Daily Star. A Doncaster Council spokesman is quoted: "Unfortunately on viewing our own camera footage taken on the evening, it can be seen that the volunteers took it upon themselves to drink some of the alcohol. This is not in accordance with the briefing given prior to their test purchase."
I take it a crippling fine will be applied to the council officer responsible for allowing this to happen? Perhaps their livelihood will be threatened with a P45.

Nah, thought not.

Voices Of Freedom

You may have seen reference to Voices of Freedom elsewhere, but more publicity can't do any harm, can it?

The Free Society, in association with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the Adam Smith Institute, Big Brother Watch, The Manifesto Club and Liberal Vision, are holding a series of debates next month on the battle against big government.

Simon Clark explains further.

The debates - chaired by Iain Dale (Total Politics), Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas), James Panton (Manifesto Club) and Mark Littlewood (IEA) - take place next month at the IEA in Westminster. Make a note of these dates: Thursday June 3, Thursday June 10, Tuesday June 15, Thursday June 24 and Tuesday June 29.

Speakers currently confirmed include Philip Davies MP; Steve Baker MP; Michael White, assistant editor of the Guardian; Ross Clark, author of The Road To Southend: One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance Society; Dr Eamonn Butler, director of the Adam Smith Institute; Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch and former chief of staff to David Cameron; Dr Tim Evans, president of the Libertarian Alliance; freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke; Chris Mounsey, leader of the Libertarian party; Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club; and Daily Telegraph journalist Philip Johnston, author of Bad Laws: An Explosive Analysis of Britain’s Petty Rules, Health and Safety Lunacies and Madcap Laws. More speakers will be confirmed shortly.

Each debate begins at 7.00pm but prior to that there will be a drinks reception from 6.00pm hosted by The Free Society and sponsored by Boisdale of Belgravia.

Entry is free but strictly RSVP. Email or telephone 01223 370156.
They all look very appealing so I shall be trying to get to as many as possible, kids and Mrs P permitting. Maybe see you there?

The full schedule can be viewed at the Free Society website HERE

Thursday 20 May 2010

Get The Badge

For those who were requesting a site/blog badge to publicise the Great Repeal Bill Facebook group, I did consider composing one ...

... but quickly discarded that idea, and asked for help from a true professional instead.

Please feel free to use it widely, and link it to the group HERE (see sidebar for an example).

UPDATE: Someone e-mailed as they were unsure how to apply this to their blog. First save the badge. In Blogger, go to the 'Layout' tab and choose 'Add a gadget', then select 'Picture' and browse for the badge on your computer, adding the Facebook address in the URL box. Simples.

Don't Forget The Smoking Ban, Nick

I'm sucking the marrow out of life, true enough. I made my first ever Facebook group last night.

I hope you'll join and invite all your friends? After all, why would regular readers here not want to, eh?

News of how and when we can nominate an amendment to be included in Clegg's 'revolutionary' bill will be sent to all members when (if?) details are announced.

You can join the group HERE.

Feel free to add relevant photos, links, videos, discussions and anything else if it floats your boat, too.

And did I mention ... invite all your friends?

A Message To All Labour Supporters

You can stop griping now, your woes will soon be over. All you have to do is choose this lady as your new leader.

Just think about it. She's perfect! The British (Ms) Obama. She will transform your party, and no mistake.

You simply must vote for her ... pretty please?

Wednesday 19 May 2010

That's Ketchup Tackled, Now For The Bacon Sarnie

You can almost smell it, can't you?

Yesterday, I mentioned the significance of Heinz surrendering in the face of legislative threats from public health interventionists.

The capitulation of Heinz is a major scalp. It's the significant domino which authoritarians worldwide have been praying for. Other companies will soon fall into line once they realise that even a massive company like Heinz has been brought to heel.
You see, it's a feature of such campaigners that once they have achieved one 'goal', they immediately dust their hands off and look around for a more challenging target. Or 'the next logical step' as they like to term it.

And because there are so many of them, interfering with government money, it's usually a safe bet that another branch will have laid the groundwork in preparation.

So it was less than surprising to see yesterday that, having seen off Heinz, they've already found bigger, err, bacon to fry. (emphasis mine)

Eating processed meat such as sausages increases the likelihood of heart disease, while red meat does not seem to be as harmful, a study suggests.

A Harvard University team which looked at studies involving over one million people found just 50g of processed meat a day also raised the risk of diabetes.

This is defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting and includes bacon, sausages, salami and other luncheon meats.

Salt can increase blood pressure in some people, a key risk factor for heart disease.
Diabetes and heart disease, and there's that wicked salt again. But that's not all. Oh no, it's far more dangerous than that.

Not so long ago they told us that processed meat causes cancer too.

A dramatic fall in the consumption of processed meat such as bacon and ham would stop around 3,700 people a year from developing bowel cancer, scientists warn today.

Professor Martin Wiseman, scientific and medical adviser to the World Cancer Research Fund, said: "The evidence on processed meat is convincing and our scientists estimate that up to about 3,700 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented every year in the UK if everyone ate less than 70g of processed meat a week, which is roughly the equivalent of three rashers of bacon."
That's just about everything in place for a full frontal assault. Invocation of the public's most feared conditions - cancer, heart attacks, diabetes - along with a previously prepared culprit, salt, and just to top it off, a very precise scary number of possible deaths to add to the 'definite' ones they already attribute to salt.

More than 14,000 people are dying each year because we are overdosing on salt, it claims.
And, as they never tire of telling us, something will most definitely have to be done about it.

If the humble ketchup can be forcibly doctored by pressure from government, can anyone confidently rule out the same for bacon, salami or sausages on this 'overwhelming evidence'? And before you answer that, please take into account the general dozy and gullible nature of our politicians.

At the moment we are still at the advisory stage, but that's quite normal procedure. Sooner or later, such an approach will be deemed to have failed and stronger, coercive, action will be demanded.

Elimination of salt is almost a definite, banning preservatives could feature too, both of which will make processed meat very difficult, or impossible, to produce without significant cost to the consumer I would imagine. Not to mention perhaps making it unattractive to buy purely in taste terms.

Maybe they'll follow the course trodden by anti-alcohol campaigners and call for bacon to be sold in smaller portions - say, packs of 3 slices only. And you can bet your mortgage/rent/grandmother that there will soon be calls for processed meat to be officially banned in kids' lunchboxes.

Then, once another little avenue of pleasure has been closed off for us, they will direct their co-ordinated efforts towards the 'next logical step' for a pristine health-religious life ... for everyone, whether we like it or not.

Red meat itself, probably. They won't be happy till we're all feasting on mung beans and pine nuts.

It's all for your own good, doncha know.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Choice Must Be Eliminated

An unseen public rebellion has been taking place ... apparently.

You may not have noticed it - I know I didn't - but the pressure from hordes of angry letter-writers must have been intense as Heinz, the multi-national conglomerate, the fourth largest food company in the world, the supplier of ketchup to 200 countries, are changing their recipe.

For the first time in 40 years, Heinz ketchup is changing its famous recipe - by lowering the salt content in an effort to appeal to more health-conscious consumers, the company said yesterday.
Of course, as a private company they are fully entitled to. But their claim that they are appealing to a groundswell of public opinion isn't really the case, is it?

There is no uprising from the public, no crippling reduction in sales as customers flock to more healthy alternatives. Nope, precious few have demanded this, and the precious few are almost exclusively state-funded public health advocates.

Jackson said the company had been planning the change for about two years. But it is coming just as Mayor Bloomberg and other politicians are leaning on big food companies to kick the salt. Heinz was one of 16 major food manufacturers that last month signed onto the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a plan led by Bloomberg to get companies to cut back on the salt in their products.
It's state bullying of a private enterprise, pure and simple. Reduce your salt, or we will legislate to force you into it. No-one asked for this except the tax-sponging righteous who constantly seek to dictate how you live your life. Those who believe they have the right to tell you what you should put in your own body, and if you don't comply, they will contrive to leave you no other option.

Now, New Yorker Bloomberg, the guy who wants smoking banned in public parks, is a hideous dictatorial scumbag, but don't ever think that we in the UK can be in any way blasé. The same bansturbatory elements over here have been dreaming of this for quite a while.

Heinz ketchup, Kellogg's cornflakes and a host of traditional foods from Cornish pasties to Stilton cheese are under pressure to slash their salt content. The Food Standards Agency says radical action is needed to cut salt in a vast range of popular foods. More than 14,000 people are dying each year because we are overdosing on salt, it claims. Bread, ready meals, cakes and savoury snacks are also under scrutiny.
The capitulation of Heinz is a major scalp. It's the significant domino which authoritarians worldwide have been praying for. Other companies will soon fall into line once they realise that even a massive company like Heinz has been brought to heel.

There are, of course, available alternatives for those who truly care about salt content, as the Guardian reported in October.

Customers searching for the healthy options on supermarket shelves may be better-off choosing the cheaper deals, according to a study which has found that own-brand and "value" ranges have the lowest levels of salt.
Fantastic for the salt-averse, then. Not only are the lower salt options easy to source, they are also cheaper. But it's not enough, you see, because the popular brands (that is, the ones which everyone likes) are still serving those who really couldn't give a toss one way or another as long as it tastes nice, and that just won't do for any self-respecting righteous hector.

OK, maybe that was a bit harsh. I mean, perhaps some who don't like salt would really love to buy Heinz ketchup but can't because of the salt level, and feel they are missing out. It's not fair, they might argue, that Heinz are forcing them into a Hobson's Choice on the country's favourite ketchup.

Well, no. That doesn't hold true either, because Heinz already produce a low salt and low sugar version of ... Heinz ketchup. It's pictured above and can be bought from every supermarket in the UK.

The choice is there already. For everyone. But some (in fact, the majority) are bound to choose incorrectly, so there must be no choice at all. Nanny knows best and you cannot be allowed to wriggle out of her all-encompassing net.

Or maybe I've just been talking with my tinfoil hat on. Perhaps Heinz really do see this as a marvellous opportunity to ride the wave of popular opinion. But if so, they have a funny way of publicising it.

Marketing strategists are surely thinking back to the days of New Coke, a massive PR failure, but the Heinz ketchup reformulation has some important differences. For one thing, the catalyst for the change would appear not to be PR but rather public health. Spokeswoman Jessica Jackson told the Post that the company was keeping "the needs of our consumers and our commitment to health and wellness" in mind. The other major difference is the lack of a glitzy ad campaign. Bottles containing the new recipe will have no hint on the label; customers will have to look at the nutritional data in order to tell the difference.
Err, how will all these health-conscious customers, who have been feverishly calling for this measure, know it's happening?

Well, they won't as they don't exist to any significant extent. But at least the loyal Heinz customers, in the main, will be blissfully unaware so sales won't be hit as Heinz dance to the selfish, holier-than-thou, public health tune.

If, however, you prefer your food untainted by government interference, I'm afraid your preference doesn't count. Your choice must be eliminated ... for your own good.

More Lefty Tantrum Fun

Kudos to Stewart Cowan for highlighting another disjointed Labour nose to add to the growing list of blubbering, sore lefty losers. They really are great entertainment.

The latest is tinfoil mad hatter, Michael Meacher, who had this to say about the Con/Dem coalition on the 8th.

The difference between the two parties on fundamentals like the EU, immigration, Trident and early spending cuts are large, probably too large. [...] The chances of any deal now with the Tories that passes this very high democratic bar must be exceedingly small.
In hindsight, such a prediction must be rather embarrassing even for the doyen of doolally himself.

Which could explain Sunday's bitter grizzling at those who are in the jobs which Labour MPs so jealously covet.

The grand talk of a reformist coalition is already looking bare even before it’s started. With the neocon Trident-hardliner Liam Fox as Defence Minister, the anti-EU fanatical and Ashcroft-corrupted William Hague as Foreign Secretary, the inexperienced weakest link George Osborne as Chancellor, the anti-State ultra-marketeer Michael Gove as Education Secretary, and the anti-abortion and anti-gay rights Teresa May as Equalities Minister, it’s a throwback to the Thatcher era, in reactionary instincts if not in the same form.
Someone give the guy a hankie, for God's sake!


Monday 17 May 2010

Calling Carl In Hull

Via Julia, I see something rather sinister has been mooted in Hull.

Residents are being asked to report neighbours for 'environmental crimes' such as putting their bins out too early or late.

A council is urging householders to snoop on fellow residents and fill in 'diary sheets' to log incidents - the same way it tackles violent anti-social behaviour.
In fact, more than mooted. It is being reported as a done deal.

Now, this is all rather disappointing as I've met the leader of Hull City Council and he's a good sort, quite the anti-authoritarian, in fact. If only there was some way of asking him to comment on what does appear to be a quite appallingly illiberal, and socially divisive, policy, eh?

Hold on, I have just remembered that he reads here! Or used to, anyway, though it's possible he could have got bored with all my 'tabloid' crap.

Perhaps if we get in a circle, hold hands, wear flowers in our hair and chant in unison, we can tempt him to say hello. It's worth a try, no?

So, altogether now, breathe deeply, meditate, and repeat after me ... Carl Minns, why the blithering fuck are your lot even considering this nonsense?

Bled Almost Dry

There's nothing like submitting year end returns, as I have done today, for focussing one's mind.

Last year, my small business paid over £130,000 in tax and national insurance contributions to HMRC. And the reward for working hard and winning sizeable enough contracts to keep a substantial number of people in employment (on generous salaries, I might add) is ...

... a further tax bill, reflecting my partnership share, for having the temerity to actually make a living, of £22,000. And they want it, err, immediately.

Now, if in the future, as has been mooted, the NHS begin to ration healthcare for those who enjoy a pint and a Castella, the person who is ever tasked with explaining the policy to me - by hinting that I am a cost burden on the country - may well experience the most difficult day of their entire working life.

Lefties Still Crying

Come on guys and girls on the left. I know you're hurting and can't help whinging like a compo-seeking chav, but isn't it time to start growing up and accepting defeat with some semblance of good grace? You know, take it on the chin and start thinking positively, instead of moaning that everyone else is being unfair.

Idly wandering around the severely deluded areas of the lefty blogosphere, with a rather large beam on my face it has to be said, I came across this amusing contribution from Jane Watkinson. Anyone know her? Like a lot of socialists who always seem to have a disproportionate amount of indolent time on their hands, she also tweets a lot, apparently.

Frank Field and Philippa Stroud have been appointed as part of Ian Duncan Smith’s (the backbone to the ‘Broken Britain’ narrative) Work and Pension department. Wow. This department is becoming increasingly powerfully armed with people who are very controversial when it comes to promoting socially just polices to tackle inequality in society. It will be a deadly cocktail of right-wing, homophobic, traditional and sexist thought, resulting in ineffective and inequality promoting ‘polices’.
So many scary accusations, so little evidence. None less so than this one, outdated even before she wrote it.

And now, [Philippa] Stroud. Well she doesn’t really need an introduction does she? But the reports claiming she was involved in a movement that sought to try and drive ‘demons’ out of homosexuals and transsexuals didn’t seem to put IDS or Cameron/Clegg appointing the Conservative MP to a senior role in the department. So much for equality, hey?
Yep. That's exactly what the reports did 'claim'. One particular report, to be exact, in the Observer on the day that they turned to the Lib Dems, who were coincidentally Stroud's opponent in a tight Tory/LD marginal. Fancy that!

You can read it at this link. Or rather ... you can't read it at this link. Anymore.

I wonder what happened there, eh? The only story which unequivocally asserted that Stroud was a homophobic lunatic has disappeared. Without so much as a by-your-leave. Bloody inconvenient, isn't it?

Lefty twitterers (what's the collective noun for them? A 'tantrum', perhaps?) made a lot of noise at the time about the fact that the press didn't take up the story with gusto while they were still laughing, as we all were, about Brown's iconic moment in history.

Channel 4's Ben Cohen tactfully suggested one possible reason for that on May 3rd.

It’s interesting to look at the number of people reTweeting messages like the ones above using the #philippastroud hastag who have “vote Labour” profile pictures. I’m NOT suggesting there’s a conspiracy theory going on here, that the Labour Party are responsible for a reTweeting army, but there could be political motivation behind some, but clearly not all the Tweets.
Indeed. And considering that the Observer article has now been unceremoniously pulled, I'll bet that Channel 4, and others in the MSM, are mighty relieved that they left it well alone.

I mean, just go with me here, if you will. Imagine, just for a minute or two, that it wasn't true. Eh? Well, could 'appen, couldn't it?

I reckon the Guardian's Andrew Brown, in a particularly observant and astutely suspicious moment, may have smelt the coffee quite early.

[...] a couple of days into the arguments about Philippa Stroud and her church in Bedford two people who knew her or belong to her church turned up. So I am copying them up here, for the perspectives they offer on the question of homosexuality and homelessness.
He quotes one of them thusly.

As one who knows the church that the Strouds established, is a christian, worked on the social action project that supported the rough sleepers of Bedford and is bisexual i can CLARIFY that the church does not / has never cast demons out of gay people - I am loved and accepted in my church. I know 3 of the gay people who are quoted in the article and all 3 are using this 15 min of fame to air their anger and personal issues .

I don't feel the need to public argue against the lies that they are spreading and I imagine that P.Stroud's silence is because these are people that she knows, that she has supported through their chaotic lifestyles ( and no i am not using that term in relationship to their sexuality but addictions, depression, self harm etc etc) people who she wants to see the best in and who she would have promised confidentiality to. Philippa is a women of integrity ...
Hmmm. More than a little doubt there, Jane, doncha think?

But why should Jane care? After all, it's a bit more mud to sling around, in between munching on sour grapes, while the real job of running the country falls to the other two parties (rankles, doesn't it?). If this Observer article turns out to be the lie that got its boots on early, and its abrupt disappearance from the net would tend to suggest there is at least a case to answer, the #philippastroud hash tag becomes nothing more than desperate lefty smearing.

Face it, Jane, apart from people who would vote for a cardboard box if it wore red, your truth-bending and character assassinations were roundly refused by the country. Get over it and try something new.

Labour's poor campaign consisted entirely of 'the others are rubbish, vote for us', yet despite the Tories being incapable of punishing it, and the Lib Dems being their usual wishy-washy selves, you still lost.

It was a failed approach before the election, and just because May 6th has come and gone, it doesn't mean that the same negative scaremongery is all of a sudden going to work now.

Still, I suppose it's your right to continue whining like stuck pigs, so feel free to keep it up if you so wish. Especially when such laughable public hand-wringing is also devoid of the merest glance toward integrity or cursory research.

How long is this puerile collective lefty sulk going to continue? Porridge made us laugh for five years. With any luck this petulant socialist comedy could keep us entertained for the same length of time.

Sunday 16 May 2010

There's None So Blind As A Scottish Publican

Sure. A decent education has never been a pre-requisite for running a pub, but one would have thought that, when their business is threatened, an ability to at least attack the correct target would come in handy.

MANY struggling pubs across Scotland can now only afford to open at weekends as drinkers turn to cheap supermarket booze, beleaguered landlords have warned. Scores of bars have been forced to close during the week due to a devastating dip in trade.

Some pubs in Glasgow are only open for EIGHT HOURS a FORTNIGHT - relying on punters watching big football matches to survive.
Yep. It's a dire state of affairs, so it is. Time to fight back.

Jim McClelland, 57, has owned the Thistle Inn, in Crossmichael, Kirkcudbrightshire, for 35 years.

But for the last six months he's been forced to shut up shop on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Jim groaned: "It just doesn't make any sense to pay staff when there are no customers.

"I've been running my bar for 35 years and this is the first time I've had to shut during the week. It's heart-breaking."

Jim reckons supermarkets and the smoking ban is killing the industry.
So what's your plan, Jim?

He said: "These supermarket giants are being allowed to crush our small businesses. They have so much power and the politicians seem scared to act."

Err, Jim, how have they changed their business plan in the past ... ooh, I dunno ... 35 years? They have always sold beer cheaper than you. Considerably so, in fact.

So much power and politicians scared to act? There is certainly an industry to which that could apply, but it ain't the supermarkets. Try again.

Publican Tommy Muir has run the Fiveways Inn at Bridgeton Cross for 16 years.
Since 1994, eh? Who do you blame, Tommy?

Tommy blames politicians for failing to protect the pub trade.
By jove, I think he's got it!

He said: "We employ tens of thousands of people in this country but we're not being given a level playing field.

"I'm not holding out too much hope in the SNP forcing through its minimum pricing on supermarket booze."
Err, no actually. He hasn't.

Listen Tommy. This is how it works, OK? The SNP are advocating a 40p minimum price per unit selling price. This would make a 24 pack of 440ml (Mmmmm) Carlsberg cans cost about £16. Even if the saggy-arsed one's recommendation of 50p per unit was implemented, it would still only result in the same pack being sold for £20.

The equivalent price in your pub (at a notional average of £2.50 per pint) would be over £45.

A considerable saving then, even with minimum pricing. Enough, in fact, for a slap up takeaway into the bargain.

And for the meal accompaniment, a glass of Jockland bottom drawer pub wine is probably over £3 while, even with a 50p minimum unit price, you can still get a whole bottle for £4.50 in Morrisons; and you can choose your favourite bottle; and you can finish off with a nice cigar should you so choose. Inside.

So how is this perceived panacea of the minimum unit price going to help you ... exactly?

Actually, perhaps I'm being a bit harsh on the publicans. For it would seem that some kind of myopic mass hysteria is at play here.

Scottish Licensed Trade Association chief Paul Waterson said: "The Government is allowing supermarkets to give alcohol away and ignoring the fact it's killing pubs."
Nothing else to blame, Paul? Nothing at all? Really?

Colin Borland, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "This is a very difficult period for the small independent pub as they are up against supermarkets' very aggressive and predatory prices."
Aggressive and predatory? Give me strength guys. There is a huge fucking elephant running amok and you're talking about applying a pretty kids' plaster to a deep, gaping gash which is spurting gallons of publican blood all over the industry.

There is, thankfully, one who is thinking on the right lines ... though still, like his customers who are in mid-conversation when their gaze, and attention, is drawn to the silent scrolling Sky Sports News ticker, he also loses his train of thought and partially falls for the big-bad-wolf-supermarket red herring.

Landlord Sean Kennedy has owned the National Hotel, in Dingwall, Easter Ross, for 10 years and is facing the same problems.

"A lot of people have decided 'Why should I go to the pub when I can drink cheap supermarket booze and smoke at home?'"

Listen guys. The minimum alcohol pricing is, firstly, illegal under EU law. Secondly, it's not going to exert any influence on the prosperity of your business unless implemented in tandem with a relaxing of the far more damaging problem of the smoking ban.

It really is that simple.

Funnily enough, that's exactly the approach suggested by trade newspaper, The Publican - it may even be sold north of the border - in its pre-election 'manifesto' for 'saving' the pub trade.

Until they start making as much noise about the real source of their woes, instead of a quite inconsequential sideshow, these scottish publicans really don't deserve saving.