Saturday, May 30, 2009

Misinterpreting Public Anger

The media seen to have taken to the idea that we are more angry about the moats and duck islands than we are phantom mortgages. The premise being that the gulf between the wealthy Tory Grandees and the common man that their contempt of public money displays has caused a greater uproar than outright fraud.

This isn't quite true. The public are quieter about MPs 'forgetting' that they've paid their mortgage because it is so clear that a fraudulent act has occurred. The Metropolitan Police can step in and prosecute rather easily here. With the luxury purchases there is a matter of interpretation that acts as an interruption from serving justice.

Because this extra barrier exists the case must be fought that much harder. Forgone conclusions are given far less focus. The fury will come back when the fraudsters are not charged with the crimes that they have committed. Claiming for an expense where no expenditure occurred is clear as day fraud and prosecution must follow. Anything less will reveal that privilege breeds corruption in our Parliament and police.

Such a discovery I doubt the public will tolerate.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Forego

Today, I'm actually sick to death of commenting on political ineptitude by our political elite. Trust me, today there's plenty of it:

David Cameron fronting a hard line but even himself sending a cheque in to HMRC because evidently one of more of his own claims was excessive. Then the Labour cabinet clamouring over themselves to follow his lead by copying the same policy and claiming it their own.

So I'll take a rest from the analysis and the search for causality for now.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Gordon Brown has not apologised

Apologising on behalf of all "politicians of all parties for what has happened in the events of these last few days" is not apologising for the activities that led up to the events of the last few days.
  • He has not apologised for Michael Martin wasting thousands of tax payers money trying to scare off Heather Brooke by taking her case to the High Court
  • He has not apologised for not releasing the details in October 2008 when the court ordered the commons to
  • He has not apologised for the ill thought actions of politicians milking the taxpayer by rules of their own creation
  • He has not apologised for the changes in those rules that have made it easier for politicians to milk the taxpayer
He's not going to earn any respect back pretending to apologise.

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MP's Expenses - Not the solution

You can't describe something as "open and transparent" when what you're trying to do is fiddle the system so the information is no longer available via the Freedom of Information Act.

Forget it. It's not an option that will pass public scrutiny.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Good old speeding

David Mitchell has been winding up the old motorists with his views on speeding fines. From a similar position of being a non-driver I'd likely run into the same critisms he faces. Reminds me of Vietnam... "you weren't there, man!"

I worry that people think the laws are static for some strange reason. Labour has changed and made up thousands of them in their time in office. It is ok to change laws and regulations when they do out of date. Otherwise you end up with it being illegal for taxi drivers not to have a bale of hay in the boot to feed their horse.

Some incontestable logic:
If a law is enforceable then it must be enforced else it is pointless.
If a law is unenforceable then there is no point in its existence and it is a waste of public money creating it.

So if cost is not an issue, because the fines paid by offenders more than make up the cost of installation and maintenance of the monitoring equipment, then the road should be entirely monitored.

Breaking laws because they are inconvenient is not an acceptable excuse. If you don't think a law is just then it's your duty to lobby for its change. I have never understood why so many people protest about the speed limits and yet have no desire the change them.

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DNA Database - Put simply, bad idea

Just in case anyone thinks a fully inclusive DNA database of the entire nation and any visitors to the nation is a good idea, I offer you this thought:

Millions and millions of records on a database are subject to two huge compromising problems. First being that they require many administrators to keep up to date. Secondly, the bigger the amount of data stored the larger risk/amount of clerical error.

Now, if you were leading a criminal organisation, and heard news of this development you're going to want access to that information aren't you. So you'll get a man on the job either creating the thing of administrating it.

This government has a history of sending confidential information in the post and losing it, leaving it on trains or having it on display for the press to photograph. As for trusting clerical accuracy; watch the news on expenses roll in. Jack Straw's council tax bill anyone?

If you trust this government to keep hold of that kind of information visit your GP. It's likely they'll need to pass you on to a neurologist.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

MP Expenses - The Timing

Great to see Nick Robinson caught cold outside Westminster late in the evening as the Telegraph expenses story was breaking. No time for spin, just the story.

Given time now look what happens. The government reaction so far consist of feign responses of "it's allowed by the rules" and calls to investigate the leak that led to the Telegraph's possession of the expenses list.

If it's a leak then it confirms what is on there to be true. Pursuing legal action down that dangerous road can't be a good idea. But then that is the ludicrously weak Phil Woolas who got led around by Joanna Lumley a couple of days ago. Hard to take him seriously any more. Although it does explain why nappies were on the receipt.

So, it's early May and the list is alive, full and piece by piece being entered into the public domain. When were the Commons going to publish the list (after blanking some key details)? July. After the local and European elections. For a bunch that think nothing is wrong with what they are doing, they have made a hell of an effort to stop the public judging for themselves.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

What's this business you speak of?

I do like Lord Digby Jones for his enthusiasm for business and highlighting the basic point: you want public services paid for? Then you need business.

I watched his interview on HardTalk from March this year. Blaming the media for reporting doom and gloom goes a bit far. There is this horrid balance to strike for the media. Sure, you've got to allow for confidence to return to the economy, but you've also got to stamp on any bullshit attempted to be spun out and distributed by the Downing Street propaganda mill.

Not a criticism of Labour in this instance; you can bet your meet seat that the next administration will be doing little different. That is just the fundamentals that apply with the current political system.

Lets just be careful when he talks about business and public anger. That's not business, that's banks. Companies collapsed during the boom time, that's widely accepted as just what happens. It's important that failing businesses are allowed to fail; it tells you that they are no good or not needed. The fact that we built up a framework where banks are not allowed to fail is the main cause of the furore. Nature is not allowed to take its course.

That is what destroys confidence. When people are allowed to make huge mistakes and everyone suffers except the perpetrators then confidence will remain shattered. It will rebuild when we can trust that the fall out of risk is felt by the persons taking the risk not the nation.

The expression "too big to fail" must not be allowed to surface again. That's what competition law and regulation exists for. As yet I haven't seen any movement that will prevent privatisation of profits and socialisation of risk when this correction (recession, you may call it) passes into memory.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Gurkhas

I don't really stand on either side when it comes to the Gurkhas settlement issue. Are they mercenaries and should be treated as such or are they fighters for the British army in a very different way?

I'm not sure and I am not going to expel any effort in finding out.

That said, any Labour MP or supporter spouting nonsense about them letting 6000 into the UK when the previous administration allowed none is deliberately misleading you. They were allowed to settle in British owned Hong Kong (much closer to Nepal) before the handover of that territory to China.

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