Archive for March 2007

Your name’s not Singh, you’re not coming in

New guidelines are being drawn up by the British government to force universities to take more students from ethnic and underpriveleged backgrounds.

The new guidelines – which will only apply in England of course – will mean that universities will have to take into account ethnicity, whether the applicants parents went to university and whether they have been in a council care home instead of considering the application on merit.  This means that applicants who are Grade A students, white, English and not from a broken home could miss out on a university place so the university can fulfill its “diversity” quota with a student who isn’t suited to university education but is black or asian and from a broken home.

Positive discrimination isn’t.

PRESS RELEASE – Rotherwas Access Road

Rotherwas Access Road

Work has commenced on the £12m Rotherwas Access Road, partly funded by the unelected regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands (AWM). [1]

AWM is part-funding the access road through a £9.5m “Rotherwas Futures” project [2] but the scheme has already been refused funding by the Department for Transport because it does not offer value for money. [3]

A report published last week and endorsed by Labour ministers describes regional quangos such as Advantage West Midlands as a waste of money and suggests that they should be abolished.  The cost of regional development agencies, regional assemblies and regional government offices to the taxpayer is £360m per year – when other regional quangos are taken into account the cost is closer to £500m. [4]

West Midlands NO! Campaign spokesman, Stuart Parr, says “There is no reason why unelected regional quangos like AWM should be in control of hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money when we have elected councils that are perfectly capable of spending our money for us.  If we don’t like the way our councils spend our money we can get rid of them at the next local election.  With AWM we can’t do this – the whole organisation is unelected and unaccountable to members of the public.  Spending £9.5m of our money on something the Department for Transport has said is a waste of money is wrong.”

Stuart Parr
West Midlands NO! Campaign
07973 286118


West Midlands NO! is a non-partisan campaign group opposed to regional government in the West Midlands.  The campaign believes that regional quangos such as the West Midlands Regional Assembly and Advantage West Midlands should be abolished and the powers, responsibility and funding they have given back to elected local authorities.  The campaign has a petition on the Prime Minister’s website –

Petition the PM: Respect the Bill of Rights

Another petition on the PM’s website worth signing: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Respect our Bill of Rights 1689.

Our Government should recognise that all EU/EC/EEC ( etc ) law, regulation, guidance and acts are illegal and contrary to Our Bill of Rights 1689, the basis of Common Law.

Quote – “And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm”. – End Quote

No article in the Bill of Rights can be repealed, despite Her Majesty’s signatures to the contrary. Its decrees are supreme and override all other law, regulation and acts.

We respectfully request Her Majesty’s Government to repeal, reverse and nullify any and all EU ( etc ) law, regulation, guidance and acts within 30 days of this petitions’ closing date.

This will be of particular interest to the Metric Martyrs who used the Bill of Rights in their defence against a prosecution under European laws for selling fruit and veg in pounds and ounces.

The lights are on …

The latest dictat to be issued by our masters on the continent is that we must stop using normal light bulbs and start buying expensive energy-saving bulbs instead.

We’ve got a mixture at home and I’m afraid I don’t like the energy-saving bulbs.  For a start they cost a damn sight more than normal light bulbs and while they do last a lot longer than normal bulbs, I have a 5 bedroom house and that means a lot of light bulbs!  It wouldn’t be so bad if they were as good as normal light bulbs but they’re not.  Energy-saving bulbs are dimmer than normal light bulbs and they start off even dimmer until they “warm up”.  We’ve got a pair of uplighters on one wall of the living room – one of them has a normal candle bulb in and the other has an energy-saving bulb.  The energy-saving bulb comes on about a second after the normal bulb and it’s not as bright.  It also stucks up about 4 inches about the uplighter whereas the normal bulb sticks up about an inch above the light but that’s what it’s supposed to look like.  Of course, you can buy energy-saving candle light bulbs but they’re at least a fiver plus post and packing.

This is all part of the obsession with being “green” or, as Channel 4 put it, the “great global warming swindle”.  The truth of the matter is, forcing people to use energy-saving light bulbs isn’t going to save the world from global warming for the simple fact that it’s not happening!  The average temperature of the earth has been decreasing since the 1940’s according to the met office and the receding polar ice caps that are supposedly “proof” that global warming is happening are nowhere near the state they were in a thousand years ago when the Arctic circle was north of Greenland.  The data shown in Channel 4’s documentary, the Great Global Warming Swindle, demonstrates a clear link between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature of the earth but – and this is the key thing that there so-call experts neglect to mention – the temperature of the earth goes up first and the amount of CO2 rises to co-incide with the temperature increase some 100 years later.

How can a pint conform to EU standards?

The European Federation has instructed the British government to abolish the crown mark that currently certifies a legal pint glass and replace it with a CE mark.

The CE mark stands for Conformite Europeenne and certifies that the item in question confirms to EU standards.  This raises an interesting question – how can a pint conform to an EU standard when the only measurements Federal Europe allows is metric?  Could this be a sneaky way of replacing the pint with the litre in our pubs?  Change the law so that you can’t serve a drink in a glass that doesn’t have a CE mark and then refuse to issue CE marks for non-metric glasses – if I wanted to force metrication on England that’s what I’d do.

Update on getting blocked by China

Just a quick update on my bid to get blocked by the Chinese government.

After about 8 hours I still hadn’t been blocked but I checked every hour or so and I can confirm that Wonko’s World was blocked after 12 hours.

The British government might be a bunch of illberal tossers but the Chinese government puts them to shame.

Another life saving drug we can’t have

The Times says that there are at least 8 other life saving drugs that are refused in England but provided on the NHS in Scotland.

This is probably part of the mysterious “union dividend” that Gordon Brown keeps talking about.  Where else in the world could 85% of the population be denied life saving cancer treatments whilst still be expected to pay for the same life saving treatments for the other 15%?  Nazi Germany?  Apartheid-era South Africa?

The Commission for Racial Equality are obviously too busy to take this racist government to task over things like medical apartheid.

What about us?

Yesterday the people of Northern Ireland went to the polls to elect assembly members for the Stormont Assembly.

The DUP, under Reverend Ian Paisley, has taken the majority of votes with The IRA Sinn Féin in a fairly close second place.

All parties involved in the Northern Ireland Assembly have until the 25th of March to come to an agreement on power sharing or devolution won’t happen.  At least that’s what Tory Bliar has told them but there is no way in the world that the British government are going to go back on their pledge to restore devolution to Northern Ireland.

So where does that leave us, the people of England?  Well, it leaves us in precisely the same position that we currently find ourselves – the only nation in Federal Europe that has no direct political representation and the only part of the British Isles that doesn’t have its own government.  Scotland has its Parliament, Wales and Northern Ireland have their Assemblies, the Isle of Man has its own Parliament (the oldest in the world apparently), the Channel Islands have their own Parlaiments – even the Scottish Isles have more say over what happens in their little corner of the world than we do with their Islands Council.

Liebour has pledged to restore devolution to Northern Ireland, they pledged to bring devolution to Wales and Scotland but all they’ve pledged for England is to continue the current racist, undemocratic system of asymetric devolution with England ruled directly by the British government.  Of course, we’ve been offered devolution but with a big price to pay – the dissolution of England.  The only offer of devolved power in England is in the form of regional government, either by Regional Assemblies or City Regions, but its a price too high for most people in this country.

John Major has criticised the way England is being robbed blind and discriminated against by the Scottish Raj but it’s too little too late – he had his chance to do something about it when he was in charge of the country but he chose to do nothing.  Only now that it is looking increasingly like becoming the big election issue are the Tories looking to do something about it but even then they can’t bring themselves to give us what we want – an English Parliament.

Yesterday the Conservative MP for Dorset introduced the House of Commons (Participation) Bill which would have implemented the Tory policy of English Votes on English Legislation (EVoEL).  The EVoEL proposal would allow the Speaker of the House of Commons (currently a Scottish Labour MP – well, you wouldn’t expect anything else from King Tony would you?) to certify that a bill only affects England and Wales and ban MP’s elected in Scotland and Northern Ireland from debating and voting on it.  The bill was opposed and didn’t get a second reading with most opposition coming from what the Daily Mail describes as “hostile, mainly Scottish, MP’s”.  The fact that MP’s elected in Scotland are even allowed, let alone have the bare-faced gall, to take part in a debate on whether it is right that they should be allowed to interfere in English legislation only serves to emphasise the ridiculous mess that Liebour have made of devolution.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a supporter of EVoEL – it is an inherently fauly concept and will solve nothing – but it is at least an acknowledgement that there is a problem that needs addressing and should it ever miraculously get passed into the statute books it will fall on its face spectacularly and the only solution will be to introduce an English Parliament.

MP’s vote to abolish Lords

MP’s have voted to abolish the Lords and replace the upper house with an elected chamber.

This is bad for democracy, don’t be blinded by the “voting means it’s democratic” argument.

Before Labour “reformed” the House of Lords it was completely hereditary.  The political balance of the upper house was random.  Ok, it had a general leaning towards the Tories because rich aristocrats tend to be Conservatives.  However, none of that was set in stone – the political make-up of the House of Lords was decided entirely by an accident of birth.

Changing the upper house to a fully elected house is going to ensure that the House of Lords is dominated by the same party as the House of Commons.  Having proportional representation isn’t going to make enough of a difference – it won’t convince people to vote for a different party and PR isn’t going to make that much difference to the number of seats gained by each party.

There’s another issue too.  The House of Lords doesn’t revise devolved legislation so how is PR going to work?  Will the vote only be proportional to population or will it also be proportional to the amount of involvement in the democratic process that the House of Lords has?  England comprises 85% of the population of the UK and 80% of the work that the British government does only affects England so why should the vote of a Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish person be equal to the vote of an English person?  The House of Lords doesn’t have any involvement with the majority of decision-making outside England.  If you give equal weighting to relevance and population, about 90% of the vote should go to England alone based on population, English-only matters and a pro-rated share of British matters.  In fact, my estimate of 90% is erring on the safe side – I’d need more statistics to come up with a more accurate estimate.

The solution is a simple one – roll back Labour’s “reforms” which allowed them to appoint themselves a majority and politicise the upper house and restore the previous hereditary system.

This, of course, leaves you with another problem – unelected Lords over-ruling elected MP’s.  There is a solution in place in the Parliament Act which allows the British government to over-rule the Lords when they reject a bill 3 times in one session.  The Parliament Act has been used many times – more by Labour in the last 10 years than in a whole century of previous administrations – but it is flawed in itself.  If the Lords are so convinced that a piece of legislation should be blocked that they are prepared to block it 3 times in one session of parliament then there is obviously a major issue surrounding it and to allow the Commons to over-rule the Lords and ignore their concerns is equally wrong.

There is a way to make the House of Lords entirely hereditary and democratic.  All that is needed is to amend the Parliament Act so that in the event of an irreconcilable difference between both houses, the matter is put to a binding public referendum.  If the two groups of people charged with running the country for us can’t agree on an issue then the decision should be made by us.

Great Firewall of China

Thunder Dragon posts about China’s latest crackdown on internet use and links to an interesting site – the Great Firewall of China.

Interestingly, my own rantings and ravings are not blocked in China despite my previous swipes at the Chinese government for the illegal occupation of Tibet, threats against Taiwan and their supression of the internet and free speech.

So, I’m going to do a little test and see how quickly I can get my blog blocked by the Chinese government.  Please leave your predictions in the comments as to how long it will take to get blocked.

I disagree with the illegal occupation of Tibet and the illegitimate threats to Taiwanese sovereignty.  I don’t like the Chinese government and I think it’s about time the Chinese people realised that there are a billion of them and in the face of a mass uprising, the authorities would stand about as much chance as a ghost’s fart in a force ten gale of stopping them.

Cynical, me?

Telford & Wrekin Council has decided to put up council tax by only 2.9% this year.

Fantastic.  The only problem is that it leaves the budget £2.3m short so they’re topping the budget up out of the borough’s cash reserves.  The £2.3m represents a third of the reserves and the amount of cash needed to fulfil the council’s promises is actually more than 8% higher than last year.  This means that the only way to sustain the level of spending they’re promising for this year is to bump up council tax by double-figures.  The alternative is to cut services or raid the reserves again.

Now, I have been accused of cynicism in the past so it may be unfair to suggest that this is the action of an increasingly desperate Labour council that has recently lost its majority to a local residents group in an election year.  It might also be unfair to suggest that the unsustainably low council tax demand is a thinly-veiled attempt to trick residents into voting Labour again in May with the added bonus that if the Tories win as expected they’ll inherit a bankrupt local authority and will have no choice but to cut services and investment.

Of course, you’d have to be a real cynic to think that they’d do such a thing.  Again.

A prescription for disaster

From the 1st of April the price of a prescription in England is to rise by 20p to £6.85 per item.

Most terminally ill patients, cancer sufferers and disabled people still have to pay for their prescriptions, as do asthma sufferers.  The whole idea of charging people for life-saving medication is just wrong but what is even more wrong is the fact that in Wales prescriptions are free and in Scotland about 85% of prescriptions are exempt from charges and the Scottish government has plans to abolish prescription charges north of the border.

The price rise comes into force on April Fools Day – how ironic.  The irony is that we must be fools to continue to accept such blatant discrimination.  Most prescriptions in Scotland are free, all prescriptions in Wales are free and who pays for it?  The English taxpayer through the Barnett Formula which forces England to subsidise the rest of the UK.

Up yours Murdoch

I’ve got a Telewest set-top box in my house – well, it’s called Virgin now but that’s irrelevant – and at midnight last night I lost Sky One and all the other Sky channels thanks to Sky trying to take the piss.

Sky tried to almost double the price of its non-premium channels to Virgin saying that they’ve increased in value.  Virgin have quite rightly refused to be held to ransom saying that they couldn’t absorb the extra cost and would have to pass it on to customers.  Lets not forget that, depite the name change, the company is still ntl:Telewest and both those companies went through bankruptcy and financial restructuring before they merged.  They aren’t a cash rich company and they still have crippling debts.

Anyway, along comes the greedy crooked Australian owner of Sky, Rupert Murdoch, and desides the best way to stifle the opposition and keep Sky’s domination of the home entertainment market is to overprice the Sky channels so that they are either too expensive for Virgin to sell their TV service competitively or that they will be withdrawn and customers will flock over to Sky.

Well unlucky Murdoch, I don’t think your plan will work.  Firstly, what is on Sky One that can’t be got elsewhere?  The Simpsons and Futurama?  They’re on Channel 4 – admittedly not the latest episodes and not in the same quantity but as an avid Simpsons and Futurama fan I can tell you that unless there is a new series I see a new episode on Sky One maybe once every 3 months.  Lost and 24?  Never watched either of them and all the people I know who are fans of Lost and 24 downloaded episodes off the internet when the UK was a series behind the US and will do the same now.

What are Sky doing to the advertising value of their channels now?  Virgin has 3.3m cable TV subscribers, all of which had access to Sky channels until last night.  BSkyB has 7.7m customers – a third of its audience has disappeared overnight.  Lets see your advertising reps put a positive spin on that one Rupert.  Will Sky be able to afford the next series of Lost and/or 24 with the loss of income from Virgin and the reduction in advertising revenue that will follow from the channels being pulled from Virgin?

If you’re on Freeview and laughing because you don’t pay a subscription and still receive a handful of Sky channels then your schadenfreude will come back to haunt you because guess what – Sky are pulling their channels from Freeview in the next couple of months too.  One industry organisation estimates that there are 5.8m Freeview viewers and Freeview itself (which is part-owned by Sky) reckons that 10m set-top boxes have been sold since it took over digital terrestrial broadcasting when ITV Digital went bump.

So, taking into account Virgin and Freeview customers who will no longer be able to receive Sky channels, Sky is losing over 50% of its audience for its own channels.

There’s another angle to look at as well.  Virgin Media, through Telewest, owns Flextech.  Flextech owns Bravo and Trouble and half-owns the UKTV family of channels with the BBC.  UKTV includes UK Gold, Living, UK History, etc.  These are some of the most popular channels in the UK, along with the BBC channels and Sky channels.  If Virgin were to do the same thing to Sky then things could get interesting.

Anyway, back to the title of this post – I just wanted to take this opportunity to say “up yours Murdoch”.  I will stay with Virgin Media and you can shove your crappy satellite TV service up your arse.  I don’t need a phone line to “go interactive” and I don’t need to buy an expensive set-top box to have a PVR service.  In fact, I don’t have to buy a set-top box at all – Virgin provide it and replace it at their own cost if it’s faulty.  I also get to have cable broadband down the same cable into my house whereas Sky broadband customers have to use antiquated, inferior BT copper wires.  Cable broadband is, of course, faster and more reliable than ADSL.  When my mobile phone contract is up I also have the opportunity to take out a cheap mobile phone package and get my internet, TV, landline and mobile phone all on one bill with even bigger discounts for having all four services.  But most importantly I won’t be lining your grubby pockets and for that I am quite prepared to forego a couple of Sky channels.

Shropshire Star: Scotland Stays Free of Road Pricing

A Telford man has had over 1.8m signatures on his online petition against road pricing. The Department for Transport, Douglas Alexander, says that the wording of the petition is misleading and that’s what has led to the biggest protest in the history of this country.

Lots of people are pointing out the unfairness of this proposed new tax – we already pay a mileage tax, it’s called fuel duty – but miss the most obvious injustice.

Douglas Alexander was elected in the constituency of Paisley & Renfrewshire South, Scotland. Transport is devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so he has no say over transport policy in his own constituency.

Because transport is devolved, road pricing only applies to England and law compelling motorists to fit their cars with a spy box to track their every move will only apply to England.

Not only will road pricing not happen in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland but the people who live there won’t have to pay to use English roads.

Douglas Alexander can’t lose. He is the architect of the most unpopular transport policy ever to come out of the Department for Transport yet his own constituents – the people who decide whether or not he keeps his job every five years – are completely unaffected by it.

This isn’t a one-off either – Alistair Darling, the Minister for Trade & Industry recently dismissed a call for Sunday Trading laws to be changed so that supermarkets can open all day on Sundays in England.

Yet in Scotland, where he was elected, supermarkets can open all day on Sunday because it is a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

I sincerely hope that the petition will force the British government to rethink their plans to tax the English off the road but I suspect that all that will come of it is a belief by the powers that be that we need the Government to save us from ourselves.

Stuart Parr, Telford