Archive for July 2007

Lies, Damn Lies

Ruth Kelly, the new Transport Minister, has denied claims that the Department for Transport was blackmailing local authorities in England into introducing road pricing schemes.

This is an absolute lie and I know for a fact that at least one local authority in Shropshire is being blackmailed into introducing road pricing.

Shrewsbury is the mediævil county town of Shropshire. The entire town centre is a maze of one-way systems and pedestrianised areas. Most of the town is bypassed and the town centre, at its busiest, is almost never congested. In fact, the only time I’ve seen the town centre congested is when the buses all converge on the same stretch of road. Other than that, there is one major bottleneck at the Welsh Bridge and one at the Train Station. Congestion, of the sort you would find in a large town or city is none-existent. It is perfectly possible, in rush hour, to travel from one side of town to the other in no more than 10 minutes.

However, despite the patent lack of congestion, the Department for Transport has made funding of a new bypass (which has been postponed for years) dependent on the introduction of a road pricing scheme for the town centre. The Tory-controlled county council, which seems to have been as convinced by the global warming scam as the party, has put in a bid for funding for a pilot road pricing scheme.

If the aim is to remove the car from Shrewsbury town centre than it will be successful. A few miles down the road is the Telford Centre – several hundred shops in a covered complex with cheaper and more convenient parking and a good selection of brand-named stores. Shrewsbury, on the other hand, has an uncovered high street, a couple of small covered shopping centres and a 1960’s market hall that could only be improved by several tons of high explosives. Don’t get me wrong, unlike my fellow Telfordonians I really like Shrewsbury. The high street is full of timber framed buildings and little alleyways with overhanging timber framed buildings that really do make it possible to imagine yourself back in time 500 years. But beauty alone won’t be enough to stop people abandoning the town if congestion charging is introduced.

90 day detention again

No Mandate Brown has already spoken in favour of giving the state the power to detain people suspected of terrorism for 3 months without charge. Now Lord Carlile, the “independent” advisor to the Goblin King’s rump cabinet on anti-terrorism laws, is saying that politicians should make the decision on how long suspects can be detained without charge, judges should.

Lord Carlile is an Illiberal Dipshit Lord and campaigned to get a UK version of the US Patriot Act introduced in this country. The US Patriot Act allows the US government to detain – without charge, trial or access to legal representation – any forieng citizen for an indefinite period.

Of course, to fall foul of anti-terrorism laws you need to do something really bad like stand outside Downing Street reading the names of soldiers killed in Iraq or stand outside Parliament with a blank placard or wear a “Bollocks to Blair” t-shirt in Parliament Square. For these henous crimes you can currently be locked up for a month without charge.

This decision should not be made by unelected judges. Elected politicians have already rejected it knowing that it is not what the electorate wants. When the British government first tried to bring in 90 day detention it instructed the police to write a proposal asking for it and then said “look, the Police are asking for it” by way of justification for abusing our civil rights. Expect the Goblin King to appear on the telly shortly telling us “Look, the British independent British judiciary have British asked for it. British. How can we British refuse to British give them what they British need to do their British job?”.

Carry On Nurse

Edwina Hart, the Health Minister, recently announced that nurses should be made a 2.5% pay increase.

Nurses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been given their full 2.5% pay increase in one go but nurses in England are to be given theirs staged throughout the year amounting to a net increase of only 1.9%.

They all do the same job – in fact, English nurses have a harder time because there is less money available in the English NHS – so they should all get the same pay and conditions.

Would this happen if an English Executive concerned only with the prosperity and wellbeing of England was in charge of the English health service?

Who’s representing England?

No Mandate Brown is jetting off to Belfast today for a summit – called a Council of the Isles by an Irish minister this morning – to discuss issues such as crime and drugs.

Also attending are representatives from the Republic of Ireland, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Irish Assembly, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Spot the missing country.

Not to worry though, the Goblin King will look after English interests won’t he? Or perhaps not …

Talking Rubbish

The aptly-named Minister for Waste was on the telly this morning defending fortnightly bin collections amid warnings of a “peasants revolt” over proposals to fine people who don’t recycle enough (in England only, obviously).

The Minister (her name escapes me and she doesn’t merit a mention on Google) said that the introduction of fortnightly collections has been successful in some local authorities with recycling rates going up as soon as they were introduced. Presumably these local authorities introduced fortnightly collections in the same manner as my local authority did – introducing fortnightly collections and recycling collections at the same time. How can these be considered a success when there is no benchmark to measure against?

There is a suggestion for weekly food waste collections to counter the problems with vermin and maggots (which the British government says doesn’t exist of course) but this is up to the local authority to arrange and council taxpayers to fund.

There is an easy solution to the problem of us not recycling enough. We have to recycle more and more because Federal Europe is fining us millions of pounds for not hitting their arbitrary targets. How about taking the French approach and not paying? Or even better, let’s leave the European Federation completely and we won’t have to worry about hitting targets set by unelected foreign bureaucrats.

F**k Off Straw

Jack Straw, the British Minister for Justice and dead-ringer for the Demon Headmaster, has accused the Tories of trying to make English people jealous of Scotland.

Earlier in the week Jack Straw told English MPs to show restraint on the English question in an unintended admission that English MPs are getting considerable flack from their constituents on the subject.

Once again, by trying to shrug off or ignore the West Lothian Question, Jack Straw admits that it is a problem.

So what is there for English people to be jealous about? How about we all pay the same taxes put the Scots get £1,500 per head more in public spending than we do in England? What about the free care for the eldery, free cancer drugs that we can’t have in England, free alzheimers drugs that we can’t have in England, free central heating for the elderly and free travel for the elderly on public transport any time of the day anywhere in Scotland paid for by the English taxpayer? How about having legal and constitutional recognition of their nation instead of having it broken up into artificial regions and called “the regions of Britain”? What about having your own government with politicians elected just to look after your country. How about being able to elect an MP that can completely balls up education, health, housing, environment and transport in another country but who can’t do the same in your own country? What about having your own representation in Federal Europe as well as being represented by the British government? I could go on for another few pages but I won’t.

Can’t see any reason why we’d be jealous, can you?

Police waste £111k on Brian Haw

The Metropolitan Police spent £111k last year trying to remove Brian Haw, the anti-war protester who embarasses the British government outside Parliament.

The British government brought in a new law banning any form of protest – peaceful or otherwise, within 1km of Parliament and sought to use it to remove Brian Haw. Unfortunately for them a judge ruled that as Haw has been there for 6 years and the legislation was brought in after that, Haw was entitled to stay where he was. But not before 78 police officers were involved in dragging this one man – who hasn’t shown any inclination towards violence in 6 years of protesting outside Parliament – from his spot on Parliament Square.

No other government in any civillised nation in the world bans peaceful protest from outside their parliament.

While I’m on the subject of this illiberal law, I don’t think it’s lawful and I’ll tell you why. It’s nothing to do with being illiberal, a breach of human rights, violating our rights under the constitution or anything like that. It’s those two letters – km. Under English law the use of kilometres for road signs, bridleways and other forms of official measurements are illegal and I think that this metric exclusion zone is illegal too.

Hook, line and sinker

Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, wants the Scottish Executive to represent the whole of the UK at Fisheries talks with the European Federation.

Under the anti-English devolution settlement Liebour brought in in 1997, this is possible – something the CEP objected to from the outset.

Scotland has 70% of the UK’s fishing rights and Salmond thinks that the Scottish Executive should therefore represent England and Wales’ fishing interests instead of the British government.

One question and one suggestion:

Why has Scotland got 70% of the UK’s fishing rights?
Go fuck yourself Salmond.

Leave our kids alone

No Mandate Brown and his band of merry fuckwits are intent on destroying the English education system.

New changes to the curriculum – in England only – include:

Taking Hitler, Churchill and Ghandi out of the curriculum (but leaving in William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery protester, because we must all atone for the rest of our existence as a race for the actions of our ancestors).
Replacing European languages with Urdu, Mandarin and Arabic. ???? ????. Durka durka.
Instead of learning about countries, geography will teach about the effects of buying cheap goods from the Third World and global warming.

Also announced today by the Goblin King is a £100m funding package for teaching sport in England which will make Britain a great sporting nation. Thanks to the Barnett Formula, Scotland will get about £15m as well to do with as it pleases.

Catchment areas are also being abolished in favour of a lottery system. Over-subscribed schools will now get their pupils by a lottery instead of the usual methods – family links, academic ability, personal circumstances, etc.

But only in England.

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China, my arse

Eveshambles told me my Evesham laptop was going to China to be repaired and that’s why their engineer couldn’t pick up a new motherboard from the Mitac factory down the road from my house and repair my laptop on-site even though I have one of their worthless on-site warranties?

I couldn’t guarantee I’d be in the office for the courier to pick up the laptop this afternoon as I had to pick the kids up from school so I arranged to drop it off at the Business Post depot. I drove from my house, past the junction for Mitac and over to the other side of town to Business Post only to find that my laptop, now in the safe hands of Business Post, would be delivered on Monday to the Mitac factory I’d just driven past!

Lying bastards.

VAT on food

Historically, VAT has never been charged on food, childrens clothes or domestic fuel. They’re not luxuries, they’re essential items and should therefore be VAT free.

Then the European Federation demands that VAT be introduced on domestic fuel – coal, gas, electricity, fuel oil – and the British government conceded. It started of at a couple of percent and now it’s about 7% or somewhere in that region.

The latest plan is for VAT on food but, to make it more palatable (excuse the pun) it is only to be introduced on unhealthy foods. A morbidly obese MEP of John Prescott proportions was in the news yesterday because he told the EU that it needed to legislate to stop people from eating unhealthy food and getting fat. Hypocrite.

Anyway, the British government has decided that very shortly, unhealthy foods as decided by “experts” will carry VAT. Hopefully these aren’t the same “experts” that last week were horrified that a sandwich from Pret á Manger contained one third of the daily recommended allowance of salt. Imagine – one of your three meals a day containing one third of your daily allowance – how do they get away with it?

So, these health nazi’s “experts” will decide what food is unhealthy and the British government will charge VAT on them. The VAT will be paid to the Treasury and forwarded on to the EU … what, you didn’t know that the Treasury’s VAT receipts are forwarded on to the EU? Gosh, I wonder why nobody ever told you.

This is a very dangerous precedent to set. Food is one of the few zero-rated VAT items that we have and the EU is very keen to abolish all zero-rated VAT items. It might start with a small rate of VAT (the estimated cost is 70p per person per week) on unhealthy food but once the cash comes rolling in it’ll spread and if the “experts” are horrified when one third of our daily meals contains on third of our salt allowance, everything barring nut loaf and lentil soup (the staple diet of the “experts”) will end up carrying the full 17.5% VAT rate before long.

BEUrocrat: Emporer Barroso, the people cannot afford to buy bread.
Barroso: Let them eat rice cake.

History has a habit of repeating itself …

Safari Web Browser

I’m using the Safari Web Browser for Windows now on both my Laptop and my Desktop.

All in all, I’m happy with the browser. It’s fast and it’s not prone to the hijacks and trojans that Internet Explorer and, to a lesser extent, Firefox are targetted by. However, it’s not without its bugs.

  • There is a memory leak somewhere in the application – a few times I’ve had to kill the process as it gobbles up more and memory until the machine grinds to a halt.
  • The Windows Media Player plugin leaves a lot to be desired – number one on the list would be a pause button!
  • It has a problem with the tinyMCE WYSIWYG editor that is found in many web applications, including WordPress – because it trashes Safari as soon as it starts the browser simply blocks tinyMCE. The tinyMCE people say it’s a Safari bug and nothing they can do about it.
  • Occassionally a link stops being “clickable” (but only occassionally).
  • Some websites (my bank’s online banking site being one) refuse to load in Safari because it’s not a “supported browser”.
  • There doesn’t appear to be a keyboard shortcut to navigate tabs (I like keyboard shortcuts).
  • There doesn’t appear to be an option to open all pop-ups in a new tab instead of new window without holding down control when clicking a link.
  • You can’t insert “special” characters using the Alt+ASCII code into textboxes because Safari loses any text after it. Even if you try and do a copy+paste from the browser windows into Notepad it loses the text but bizarrely you can copy special characters from Notepad and it’s fine with those. Go figure.
  • You can’t insert an e with an acute accent using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+e (as used in Deja-Vu or Cafe) because Safari has hijacked it for clearing the cache.

I think that’s all my gripes – if anyone from Apple wants to get in touch I’m happy to elaborate on them. So, bearing in mind the above list of irritating bugs why do I keep using Safari?

  • As I said above, it’s fast. Much faster than Internet Explorer and despite what the PC magazine’s say, you can tell the difference.
  • It’s more secure because producers of scumware haven’t bothered targetting it. Apple’s are pretty tough nuts to crack, especially now they’re built on a proper operating system, and Safari has a smaller market share of the Wintel market (about 5% so Apple claim).
  • It makes a very good attempt at CCS2 compliance – better than Internet Explorer and Firefox – and even has a bash at rendering CSS3. For example, most elements have a hover pseudoclass in CSS3 – check this demo out. If you’re using Safari and hover over a menu on the left of the screen it will expand with more options. If you’re using Firefox or Internet Explorer you’ll see a normal link.
  • Textboxes on pages can be resized whether they’re coded that way or not. Sure, it messes up the page layout quite often but instead of typing into the 4 or 5 line textbox Blogger comments give you, you can resize it to fill half the page if you want. Small things please small minds I guess but it’s a nice touch.

Emperor Barroso speaks to his subjects

Jose Manuel Barroso appears to have declared himself the first Emperor of Europe.

For some reason he has decided that the EU is like an empire and, being its president, he must surely be the emperor. If ever there was evidence needed that the EU has imperialistic ambitions, Emperor Barroso has just provided it.

My grasp of Latin is pretty poor but I think this sums it up (please correct my grammar if it’s wrong):
Venio, Vidio, Vicio, Dictatio

Eveshambles Part 2

Well, surprise surprise, Evesham are still shit.

The keyboard on my Evesham laptop is broken and they won’t honour the on-site warranty. Apparently they don’t have motherboards in stock even though my colleauge had his motherboard replaced in the carpark at work a month or two ago. No, they’re going to collect my laptop and send it to China for repair and I can have it back in 7-10 days.

If you’ve read about my shambolic experience of Evesham before then you may remember that the repair to my laptop last year was going to take 7-10 days and I spent weeks without a laptop while they “repaired” it and lost it and lied to me and then sent me an old laptop that they tried to pass off as a new one (I still have the photographs showing it thick with dust.

My conversation with Eveshambles Technical Support went something like this:

Evesham: They don’t do motherboard replacements on-site.
Me: But they did not long ago for my colleague.
Evesham: Ah yes, they’re out of stock now and Mitac have all the stock.
Me: Not a problem, the engineer will have to drive past the Mitac factory to get to my house.
Evesham: They won’t do that.

There was some boring stuff going over the same old things again and I declined his offer to arrange for a collection. It’s not possible to complain to Eveshambles over the phone so I phoned the press office.

Me: Hello, I’m getting really crap service from Evesham again, you’ve had bad publicity about it last time and I don’t mind giving you some more but I wanted to give you the opportunity to make some effort to put it right.
Evesham: Can I take your name?
Me: Stuart Parr
Evesham: Oh right, you’re that wonko person?
Me: Yes.
Evesham: In that case …

It did look like they were going to make some effort, “think outside the box”, live up to the 5-star rating they got for customer service from PC Pro magazine. But no. They won’t ask Mitac to give them a motherboard, not even as a one-off bearing in mind what they’ve done to me before.

So I have no choice – my laptop is going to be collected, it’s going to be shipped off to a factory in China where it will no doubt languish on a shelf for a few weeks and maybe get repaired, maybe get lost. My hard drive will be formatted even though there is nothing wrong with it and I have no way of backing up an 80gb hard drive.

I will, of course, be keeping an Eveshambles Part 2 diary.

Eveshambles Strikes Again!

Regular readers of Wonko’s World will remember the absolute disaster that is Evesham … or Eveshambles as I like to call them.

Last year I got an Evesham laptop, it broke, they didn’t attempt to repair it on-site even though I have an on-site warranty, they lost the laptop, they lied repeatedly for weeks and then sent me a replacement laptop that was supposedly newly built but mysteriously thick with dust.

Anyway, all has been well until tonight when I turn my laptop on to find the keyboard has stopped working. F**king marvellous. Here we go again.

On blogging and stuff

Yellow Swordfish is feeling the strain of attempting to blog about every shitty thing the British government does.

It’s just not possible. It’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge – you get to the end and then you realise that the rot’s been setting in behind you so you have to start again. The upshot, of course, is that it does get demoralising with no end in sight – even more so if you are genuinely disturbed at the way things are going in a country that you love.

Political blogging is hard work, demoralising at times, but if we don’t keep tabs on the establishment, who will? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Incompetent DEFRA boss gets over £1/4m

The incompetent, bungling idiot who headed up the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) when the decision was taken to introduce the computer system that messed up farm subsidies has been given over £1.4m of taxpayers money so far since being sacked and may be in line for some more.

The RPA – part of DEFRA, a byeword for ineptitude in the farming world – decided that it would change the way subsidies were paid in England and introduced a new computer system to handle the payments. It was an unmitigated disaster but neither Johnston McNeill or the Millibeast would pull the plug on the system. Farmers were left destitute with subsidies being paid more than a year late in some cases. Most farmers had to run up crippling debts and incurred substantial financial penalties for unathorised borrowing to stay in business. Others simply went bankrupt, losing their homes and businesses. It was too much for some farmers who were so driven to despair that they committed suicide.

As a result of this shambles, our masters in Brussells fined the British government millions of pounds which will be paid for through cuts in DEFRA’s budget in England.

McNeill was suspended and then sacked but because “proper processes” weren’t followed he went to an employment tribunal, DEFRA were found guilty of unfair dismissal and he was given compensation of over £60k. While he was suspended he received £81k in salary (for eight months – nice work if you can get it) and a £42k lump sum when he was sacked. This is in addition to 6 months salary of £56k and an annual pension of £12,800.

This is, of course, a shocking state of affairs and a criminal waste of taxpayers money but there is the vague scent of “scapegoat” wafting from this story. It’s worth remembering that the Millibeast and Margaret Beckett, who were the Ministers in charge of DEFRA while all this was going on, have both been rewarded with promotions despite their ineptitude which ultimately lead to several deaths.

The cost of “fixing” the RPA is estimated at £55m and it could take another 5 years to get them doing their job properly. In the meantime, the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly who are responsible for paying out the subsidies in their own countries, are both managing to pay out on time or early in 100% of cases using the old system that was also previously used in England. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learnt here? The current system clearly isn’t working – we can either waste £55m “fixing” the RPA and incurring millions of pounds more in fines from the EU for the next 5 years at least or we could simply roll back to the old scheme that everyone – farmers and DEFRA employees alike – were already familiar with and get it right in time for the next lot of payments.

Misconceptions about an English Parliament

I posted this into the comments section of Caroline Hunt’s blog and thought it was worth reproducing here:

There are a couple of misconceptions in the comments thread that Gareth didn’t pick up on.

Firstly, the “huge extra cost” of an English Parliament. There is no “huge extra cost” involved. Currently, the British parliament has over 650 MPs and handles reserved matters for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and reserved and devolved matters in England. If you were to take the devolved matters away from the British parliament and gave them to an English Executive and Parliament then you wouldn’t need 650 MPs at Westminster. The standard stock argument that it’s an extra tier of government, yada yada, is rubbish – it’s not more government, it’s different government. Personally, I think that once and English Parliament has been established, Westminster needs one MP from each county in all four home nations.

Secondly, “we only need to stop Scottish MPs from voting on English matters”. This, again, is wrong. In Scotland, MSPs handle most of the domestic affairs of Scotland. They are elected to do what is best for Scotland and to put Scotland first and foremost in everything they do (like Gordon the Goblin King pledged to do in 1998 ). The British MPs elected in England are there to represent Britain and to do what is best for Britain. If that means it’s bad for England then history – recent history, even – has shown that they will do it. Under English Vote on English Matters, MPs not elected in England will still be able to propose, oppose and debate matters that only affect England even though they cannot do the same for matters that only affect Scotland.

Here’s an example of how English Votes on English Matters wouldn’t work: the smoking ban in England. The smoking ban only applied to England because it is a devolved matter. I watched the debate on BBC Parliament (yes, I understand this makes me a very sad person). I watched MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – all of which have smoking bans in their own constituencies – debating the smoking ban for England. Most of them were opposing the full ban that was originally proposed and supporting the partial ban that had been introduced as an amendment. By an MP elected in Scotland. In the end, the amendment to make it a partial ban that had been introduced by a Scottish MP was successful – English MPs had been talked around by an MP elected in Scotland where the ban didn’t apply into supporting a partial ban when previously a majority had supported a full ban and the majority of their constituents had supported a full smoking ban. Under English Votes on English Matters, nothing would have changed other than the MPs not elected in England being barred from casting a vote. If we had an English Parliament, the debate would have taken place entirely with representatives elected in England to deal solely with English matters. There would have been no intereference from foreign MPs whose own constituents weren’t affected by the bill and they would have proceeded to introduce the full smoking ban they originally supported and that the majority of the electorate supported.

MPs must display “self-restraint”

Jack Straw has called on English MPs to show “self restraint” over the unfair, racist Barnett Formula which gives Scotland more public spending than England with the English taxpayer footing the bill.

The Labour back benches are starting to get more vocal about the fact that their constituents in England can’t have life saving cancer drugs or drugs that will save their eyesight from the most common form of blindess but in Scotland they are available free of charge on the NHS thanks to the £11.3bn subsidy paid by the English taxpayer.

The Demon Headmaster also launched a predictable scathing attack on the Tories’ English Vote on English Matters proposal that would ban MPs not elected in England from interfering in English-only matters that are devolved in their own constituencies.

By calling for self-restraint Straw is acknowledging there is a problem and, more importantly, he is acknowledging that MPs need to do something about it but for the good of the union and to keep Liebour in power they must suffer the discrimination against their constituents and be prepared to lose the next election as a result.

Breaking the English education system

According to yesterday’s Daily Mail, the geography curriculum in England is being changed to “make it more relevant”, the usual reason given for changing something that doesn’t need changing.

Kids will now be taught “themed” issues like global warming, third world trade and the 2012 Olympics. They will be taught about the impact of buying trainers and clothes made in third world countries- an entirely subjective subject. Commited capitalists will say that it’s just market forces at work, anti-capitalists will say that we have a social responsibility to the third world. Children will, of course, be taught the “social responsibility” side of the argument because it’s British government policy. The 2012 Olympics is widely seen as a disaster in the making – the costs have quadroupled and the entire project is running behind time. Kids will, of course, be taught about the “positive” aspects such as the taxpayer-funded regeneration of the East End of London. I won’t even start on the global warming scam.

Basically, the objective of this and other changes to the education system in England is simply to ensure that future generations grow up with New Liebour’s corrupt champagne socialist values. Britishness lessons will attempt to keep the British identity alive for another generation in England even though it doesn’t really exist any more in the real world. The propaganda issued by Federal Europe to be taught as the truth in English schools is a work of fiction but will go some way to brainwashing a generation into being eurofederalists when the rest of the country are eurosceptic.