Archive for March 2010

Ask the Chancellors … yawn

So, who was impressed with the Ask the Chancellors programme last night?  Nope, nor me.

The three of them – Darling, Osbourne and Cable – were utterly unconvincing and short on ideas.  Darling and Osbourne were more interested in getting their catchphrases out whilst ignoring Cable who actually came across as the most credible person there which isn’t saying much.

On one occasion, a Scottish doctor in the audience asked if they would guarantee no cuts would be made at his hospital.  Not one of them asked him where his hospital was but answered his question anyway – if his hospital is in Scotland, they have no control of the health budget covering his hospital.  They also talked about social care but failed to mention England once throughout the entire programme.

The Channel 4 poll finished as close as their policies – Darling 33%, Osbourne 33%, Cable 34%.  The Tory Twitterati and bloggers and the Daily Express claimed victory for Osbourne, Liebour and the Mirror claimed victory for Darling and the Guardian (there isn’t a Twitterati or bloggerati for the Limp Dims) claimed victory for Cable.

If the programme proves anything, it’s that the election won’t be won on the strength of economic policy and certainly not by the Chancellors.

Switch on your lights for Earth Hour tonight at 20:30

WWF has jumped on the global warming band wagon and organised Earth Hour, where it hopes people around the world will switch off their lights to save the planet.

They’re hoping lots of fools with nothing better to do with their time will get out their solar-powered laptops, connected to their wind powered telephone exchanges and sign the pledge on WWFs website which is, I expect, hosted on recycled servers in a carbon neutral data centre powered by a fast breeder reactor.  What, you mean people don’t solar powered laptops? And the internet doesn’t run on wind power?

I don’t imagine it will come as any great surprise to my regular readers that I will be going round the house turning on all the lights just to piss off the global warming scammers.  I know I won’t be the only one.

So who else is going to be “celebrating” Earth Hour with a big switch-on?  I would have burnt a few tyres in the front garden to try and combat the global cooling we’re currently experiencing but Mrs Sane wouldn’t be best pleased and have you seen the price of tyres lately?  You’d have to buy new ones because they recycle all the old ones!

Bugger the election, we need a purge

The political system is rotten to the core and the coming election isn’t going to provide the purge we need to put it right.

An investigation by the BBC has found 400 occasions where MPs have broken their own rules on declaring gifts of travel and hospitality.  Four hundred breaches by just 22 MPs, all of which were from the LibLabCon.

Three Liebour MPs have been suspended today for offering to take bribes from lobbing firms – it might have been more but the Channel 4 Dispatches investigator was rumbled at least once.

All this a couple of weeks after 3 MPs and a Lord appeared in court on a charge of false accounting relating to their fraudulent expenses.

The whole rotten lot are corrupt beyond redemption.  They hold the entire population – 60 million people – in contempt.

Stephen Byers thinks that referring himself to the parliamentary authorities makes everything fine.  It doesn’t.  He offered to take a bribe.  He bragged about taking bribes in the past.  He likened himself to a taxi for hire for fuck’s sake.  If he wasn’t an MP he’d be in a cell now waiting for a bail hearing – bribery is a common law and criminal offence, the first act of parliament criminalising bribery dating back to the 14th Century.  Byers is a crook, no better than a petty thief and should be treated as such.

The election is weeks away and what change will it bring?  A probable rotation of Prime Minister from one faction of the LibLabCon to another but ultimately more of the same.  More corrupt politicians.  More tired politics.  More sleaze.

Vote for change?  Nothing’s going to change.  A future fair for all?  Where’s the fairness in a corrupt political system that allows the people entrusted with the fate of 60 million people to lie, cheat and steal with impunity?

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

“Ye sordid prostitutes, have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d; your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse the Augean Stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings, and which by God’s help and the strength He has given me, I now come to do.

“I command ye, therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. You have sat here too long for the good you do. In the name of God, go!

Oliver Cromwell

An election isn’t going to fix politics, nor is a shuffling of the deckchairs.  We need another Cromwell, just without the God thing.

Telford & Wreking Council

Some people shouldn’t be allowed to breed, let alone run major engineering projects.

Quite a few schools in Telford are being rebuilt and one of them is a few miles away from where I live.  The council have chosen a hill covered in woodland as the site of the playing fields for this new school.  Work has already started on preparing the site in the form of hacking down the decades old (if not older) woodland from all over the hill, including the sides.

The feel of the whole area is different now the trees are gone and feels a lot worse.  It’s bright and airy but it’s lost its character.  But there’s a problem which the highly paid and highly qualified consultants and engineers seem to have missed.

There are houses at the bottom of the hill and the hill is very steep.  What happens next time it rains heavily – an April shower perhaps – when you cut down all the trees off the side of a steep hill?  Ask anyone from Boscastle, they’ll tell you.

NHS Database: All or Nothing

I arrived home from work this evening to find a letter from the NHS.

This letter was informing me that unless I opt out by the 31st of May, the NHS will create a “summary care record” in their spangly new multi-billion pound database.  The pitch informs me that in the first instance only details of any allergies, bad reactions to medicines and any medication I’m currently on will be included but “other important information such as serious illnesses, long term conditions and/or test results” will be added to the record.

Now I don’t have a problem with the whole NHS knowing that I have an allergy to penicillin, nor do I have a problem with them knowing that I have an inhaler for asthma.  In fact, not only don’t I have a problem with it, I positively welcome that information being available to anyone in the NHS that needs it because if I was taken into hospital for some reason and was unable to speak for myself, it’s important that the medical staff know that I have asthma and that I have an allergy to penicillin.

It makes sense that a serious illness should be on the record but if I’m knocked unconscious and taken to hospital, do they need to know that I have arthritis?  If I’d been to the doctors and had a routine blood test, would they need to know?  I don’t think they do and I’m not prepared to give the NHS or any other agency that plugs into the database in the future (and there is very little doubt in my mind that this database will be added to, shared and linked into other databases in the future) permission to record any medical details they see fit about me in a database that’s available to tens of thousands of people in the NHS and beyond.

There is no way to control the amount of information that they record in the “summary care record” – you either agree to nothing or you agree to whatever they decide to put on there and whilst you can view your own record any time you want, you can’t remove anything from it.  If it was possible to choose what type of information was recorded on the “summary care record” I would happily agree to it but as I’m not allowed any control over what goes on it and where it goes I’m going to opt out.

It’s time to do away with BMI and start using common sense

A year and a half ago I wrote about English PCTs weighing and measuring children and sending letters to parents telling them if their child is classed as obese on the fundamentally flawed BMI chart.

Back then I said:

The parents getting the “very overweight” letter will presumably put their child on a diet and the parents getting the “underweight” letter will presumably start trying to fatten their kids up.  Both sets of parents, you would hope, will be fretting over the health of their child.

But what if the BMI is wrong and the child isn’t obese or underweight but is a perfectly healthy child that simply has a large or small frame?

Too much faith is put in statistics and arbitrary scales and targets and not enough in common sense.

Mrs Sane showed me an article in Reveal magazine today about a woman whose daughter was weighed and measured and then a letter was sent to her to tell her that her daughter was obese.  She isn’t obese, she’s normal and one of four children, none of which have problems with their weight.  But because she was 1lb over the “normal” weight for an “average” child with an “average” build her mother got a letter telling her her daughter was obese and therefore at increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type two diabetes and cancer.

Luckily for the young girl in question – who, from the photos, looks perfectly healthy – her mother didn’t believe a word of it and has kicked off instead.  But like I said a year and a half ago, what about the parents that get the letter and inappropriately start to fatten up their child or put them on a diet?

It’s time to do away the BMI scale and start using some common sense before we end up with a generation of children pushed into an obsession with weight and body image by British government propaganda.

Mark Pritchard MP getting his priorities right?

Mark Pritchard, the Tory MP for Telford, has made a cryptic announcement on his website:

Under Parliamentary rules governing the pre-election period, this website will not be updated from 1st January 2010 until the General Election.

What rules say that a sitting MP can’t update their official website before an election has been called?  I’m not aware of any but I am aware of new rules on election expenses during a “long election campaign” which are the rules that I suspect he is misleadingly referring to.  These rules cover the 6 month period prior to an election and place strict limits on the amount of money that can be spent on an election campaign.  His website would, of course, be included as election expenditure which would limit the amount of money he can spend on leaflets, public meetings and driving tanks up the wrekin.

If those are the rules he’s referring to then I’m sure his constituents would prefer that he was spending money telling them what he’s doing for them rather than saving up a few quid for leaflets.