Thursday, 28 June 2007

Brown Involved in Political Spin Already, That didn't last long

After claiming to no longer adhere to the Blair doctorate of Political Spin, Brown's Spin Doctors follow in Blair's footsteps as Ed Balls, a key aide to Gordon Brown boasted to a reception that Quentin Davies would not be the last to cross the floor of the House of Commons. Mr Balls, a Treasury minister, sought to panic the Tories into fearing more desertions but the Tories have seen it for what it is, a pathetic attempt to promote Brown's new government which will "cross the political divide," supposedly.

Davies has also jumped on this spouting last night that he is not alone in his views. From the telegraph, "Mr Davies himself told The Daily Telegraph that concerns about Mr Cameron's leadership were "very widely shared" among the party across the country and specifically at West-minster. Speaking on BBC2's Newsnight on Tuesday, he hinted that although there were a "very large number of Conservative MPs" who thought like him, they did not want to go public now"

Perhaps they think if they say it enough it will come true. I doubt it. Davies is a extremely pro European loner who I for one will not miss. Privately, Brownite MPs who were well aware of Mr Davies defection a couple of days ago were admitting that they knew of no other Tory MPs posed to make the leap. This pretty much sums it up.

Labour got a very welcome surprise when Davies defected and are trying to make far more of this than it actually is. Even John Bercow, the Bucking-ham MP who launched a blistering attack on Mr Cameron in the 2005 leadership contest and gave one of the more enthusiastic standing ovations for Tony Blair at the end of Prime Minister's Questions, made clear that he had no intention of jumping ship.

In his first statement as Prime Minister, Mr Brown - who last week controversially offered ministerial jobs to the Liberal Democrats pledged again to reach out across the political divide in the formation of his government.

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Lib Dem leader, insisted there would be no defections from his own parliamentary party.

The short version is Brown, in an effort to promote himself as leader, attempted to poach the other parties' MPs. He was successful with one loner, Davies, and is now attempting to make this defection appear to begin the beginning of many more. So much for ending political spin. New PM same games.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

On Blair's Last Day Met Police Fly Courtney Coventry to London to take Statement In Cash for Honours Scandal

On Blair's last full day in office the Met Police attempted to secretly fly the Beautiful American girl Courtney Coventry into London to take her statement in the Cash for Honours Inquiry.

From the Sun:

"A STUNNING American was flown by cops to Britain yesterday to be quizzed in the cash for honours probe. Californian actress Courtney Coventry, 25, was grilled over her links to Labour’s chief fundraiser Lord Levy. Lord Levy introduced Courtney to Tony Blair and Labour’s high command at a swanky fundraising bash.They were invited for tea at No10 the next day and taken on a tour of the House of Commons and House of Lords where Lord Levy — dubbed Lord Cashpoint — wooed them.

Courtney flew to Heathrow yesterday morning( flights arranged by the met police at the expense of the British taxpayer) from Nice to meet cops investigating allegations peerages were awarded for £14million in cash loans used to fund Labour’s 2005 general election campaign.She was met from her British Airways flight at the arrivals lounge in Terminal 1 and whisked away in an unmarked car.
Courtney, wearing a calf- length emerald green dress with plunging neckline, covered her face when The Sun asked her what help she could be to the police. Her reply was: “No comment”. She was hustled away clutching her Louis Vuitton handbag by a plain clothes woman officer with two uniformed cops in tow.

The actress was driven to the Hilton Hotel in Green Park, around the corner from the chain’s flagship Park Lane Hotel — where she was photographed with Mr Blair three years ago at the gala for rich donors. Later last night, Courtney told The Sun at the hotel: “I have spoken to the police. They flew me in. I cannot say anything else.” Asked if she had been of use to the inquiry, she replied: “That’s up to them to determine.”
The Met refused to discuss her interview yesterday. "There was no intention to cause the Prime Minister any embarrassment on his last day."

The mail apparently was given a different comment by the police. According to the mail the police source said: "We spoke to her in person but we decided she did not have anything of interest to say so she was not formally interviewed. In effect, she was time wasting."

So let me get this correct. The police fly her to London, meet her at Heathrow and give her a police escort and driver to her hotel with no knowledge of what she was going to tell them? From the sound of it they attempted to secretly bring her into the country to formally take her statement and have her out again before anyone was the wiser but it didn't quite work out that way. From the photos in the Sun in seems the press were not only at the airport waiting but also sitting outside her hotel room. Far more likely is that the police panicked when they saw the press as they have done everything in their power to keep the details of the case and witnesses underwraps. It was a nice try but I don't think anyone would believe they had no idea what she was going to say. I would bet money that they knew exactly what she was going to say , had evidence to corroborate it and that it was very damning. Otherwise why go to the trouble and expense to fly her into the country? I am certain that we will find she is interviewed but without the knowledge of the press. If not and the police are giving away free flights and drivers if you call and say I have information on xyz I'm sure there will be a line around the block and a lot of angry taxpayers.

"They did not intend to cause Blair any embarrassment on his last day in office" - Of course they didn't as nobody was supposed to know she was there.

Blair Resigns From Politics - Champagne Anyone?

Blair has not only stood down as Prime Minister he has also resigned as an MP today . Mr Blair went back Trimdon Labour Club for the first time as an ex-prime minister and announced he would also be resigning immediately as an MP. Some were more pleased then others to see Blair on his home ground again. One Trimdon woman made sure she left before he arrived. The mother of three said "He only ever comes here for the publicity, or when there's a crisis down south. They get everyone in who knows him and it looks like he's a man of the people. But the truth is he hardly knows anyone here, and as far as I'm concerned he doesn't do anything for us." Her husband, a 42-year-old joiner, has been a member of the club at Trimdon for more than 15 years. Did he vote Labour? "Labour?" he said. "This is not Labour, it's Tony Blair's Labour"
And Tony Blair's Labour has hopefully come to an end and along with it the years of Labour sleaze and broken promises. Brown has promised change and thus far there have been several resignations and discussions of a much younger cabinet.
Blair may have been PM for a long time but the old saying is true quality over quantity. The quantity is there but the quality was lost long ago.

Brown is Prime Minister

Gordon Brown has today become the UK's prime minister, succeeding Tony Blair.

Before entering 10 Downing Street, Mr Brown said: "This will be a new government with new priorities. And I have been privileged to have been granted the great opportunity to serve my country. And at all times I will be strong in purpose, steadfast in will, resolute in action in the service of what matters to the British people, meeting the concerns and aspirations of our whole country."

We will wait with interest. I dont expect Brown to be any better than Blair but one can hope.

Britain's Regional Flood Defense Committee Told to Prepare For Further Cuts

Tony Blair, in his last day as prime minister, expressed sympathy for the families of the dead and said more money would need to be spent on flood prevention. Interesting considering that last year the Government slashed £15million off spending - and yesterday it emerged Britain's Regional Flood Defence Committee had been told to prepare for further cuts.

A document sent out by the Environment Agency warned local flooding teams not to expect any extra cash from ministers - meaning a cut in real terms.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said: "At a time of storms, droughts and floods, we need more and better maintained flood defences not the cuts in real terms that regional flood defence committees have been asked to make.
"This is another example of the Chancellor failing to grasp the significance of climate change and our need for new defences against natural disasters.

On BBC News tonight the Enviormental Secretary was asked what they are doing or have done to prevent flood damage. Her answer was that councils will be handing out empty sandbags which people can fill up to help with the flooding. EMPTY? I watched this and thought she made a mistake and waited for her to correct herself and say they will be handing out sandbags (ie full of sand) but alas it never happened. Where exactly are the local villagers being affected by the floods going to get sand to fill these up with. I hardly think they have sand stockpiled in the garden shed.

The death toll of the flood reached 5 today with the latest victims being a county court judge and an 11 year old boy. Locals say the government should have done more. however the enviormental secretary said it was the councils job after being agressively questioned on BBC. I guess she subscribes to the philospohy, if in doubt blame someone else.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

NHS Failure with Tragic Results

The NHS is failing and this tragic story in the mail exemplifies the situation.

"A premature baby diagnosed with a collapsed lung died after doctors operated on the wrong side. " The wrong side? How could a mistake like that possibly be made? That is the question being asked however sadly mistakes like this one are not as uncommon as we would like to believe. The cost of this mistake to the family, the loss of a child. The cost to the hospital that made the mistake, a measly 10,000 pounds which is hardly enough of a repercussion to ensure a mistake like this never happens again. Although the US is full of absurd lawsuits over anything one can think of they are right on medical malpractice. No amount can replace a child but 10000 is not nearly enough of a repercussion for the hospital despite them issuing the following statement"Lessons have been learnt from the investigation to minimise the risk of this occurring again."

This tragic short lived baby's life began the way it ended with a complete lack of competent medical care. "Mrs Jackson, 34, from Timperley, Greater Manchester, had spent five weeks in hospital before the birth due to complications with her pregnancy.

She said her son was breathing and kicking when he was born but his condition deteriorated because treatment was delayed by a lack of staff and specialist equipment.
She said staff did not make checks during her 17-hour labour and she was left to give birth alone.

I had to scream for the midwife because she was out of the room and there was no other staff there despite the fact I was about to give birth to a very premature baby.
When Clark was born he was breathing and kicking and showing all the normal signs of life but equipment which could have helped him was not ready. It took the resuscitation team around six minutes to get to him."

This is what Blair has done to our NHS and I am counting the minutes until he leaves. The only problem is I doubt Brown will do any better, although one can hope.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Why Can't Blair Just Go Quietly?

Why can't Blair just leave quietly? Because he is consumed by creating his European Legacy and, as usual, it is at our expense.

Blair surrenders Britain’s to veto EU decisions in 52 other policy areas, including tourism, transport and civil protection. The Conservatives have called for a referendum, with William Hague saying: “the Government have absolutely no democratic mandate to introduce these major changes”.

The government, and certainly not a Prime Minister on his last legs a week before he leaves office, has no right to make these changes unilaterally. Last time I checked Britain was still a democracy, at least on paper if not in practice.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Back from Holiday

Just returned from holiday (yes I realise I was meant to be back Wed but the beach held me hostage)

Blogpower Awards: Thank you very much for all of your support and votes! Despite all of the whining and tantrums that appeared to go on in my abcense we did extremely well and even took first place in Best Unintentionally Humourous Category as well as 2nd Place in Best Ranter Category, 2nd Place in Best Political Blog, 3rd Place in Best Little Blogger, and 3rd Place in Most Under-rated!

With regard to the suggestions and complaints that this blog supports the BNP have the people making these comments actually bothered to read this blog?

Just to clarify, this blog proudly supports the CONSERVATIVE Party. While I fully respect each and every individual's political views as well as the right to express those views I in NO WAY agree with the BNP and in all honesty believe they are rather "out there."

With that said I would just like to thank all those who voted for UK News and Politics again, it was a remarkable result and quite unexpected.

Absurd News of the Week

US City Imposes New Dress Code

From the Telegraph:
A town council in Louisiana has made it a crime to wear baggy trousers that expose the underwear. Residents of Delcambre in the southern US state face six months in jail or a fine of $500 (£254) if they are caught wearing trousers which show their undergarments.

How exactly are they going to impose this law. If one bends over and their knickers show slightly will they be tossed in jail? I wonder if they realise how ridulous this law is. I am not fond of the look they are banning but this law is a perfect example of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Blogpower Awards- Vote Early and Often!!

I will be out of town from Sat 9 June until Wed 12 June and will be writing posts if (hopefully when) I have any free time. We are still doing well in the Blogpower Awards but need your votes to pull ahead of the current leaders! Thanks for all your support and keep voting! You can vote once per day and the link to the polls can be found HERE

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

NHS has over £500m Surplus But At What Price?

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt had put her job on the line over getting the health service out of the red. Hewitt now claims success as on paper the NHS has a 510m surplus. The question is how is that possible when only a year ago they had a deficit in excess of 500m?

Are you suspicious yet? Well you have every right to be. This "surplus" came at a heavy price. Over 17,000 jobs have been lost in the last 12 months according to the NHS Information Centre and in the final months of the 2006-07 financial year, operations were delayed by NHS trusts so that they would not appear on the balance sheet. A perfect example of politics taking precedence over health care. What did they tell the people who had most likely been waiting months if not years for their operations? "I'm sorry ma'am but Hewitt has her job on the line therefore we need to reschedule until the next financial year."

The British Medical Association has accused the government of "decimating hospitals". I'm sure Hewitt thinks this is a minor price to pay if it means saving her job.

The above cuts alone however were not enough to rid the NHS of debt.
With the agreement of ministers, NHS chiefs began to build up reserves to cover any shortfall and create a safety net. Approximately ten percent was shaved off the £3.7bn training budget (I guess Hewiit figured the trainees would figure it out on their own eventually) and cuts were also made to public health spending. This gave the health bosses a contingency fund of £450m.
Additionally 1/3 of the extra £5.4bn the NHS was due in 2006-o7 was held back.

Then, in the last weeks of the financial year, millions of pounds were put back into the NHS, helping to create the surplus. Yes Hewitt has created a surplus but at the cost of thousands of jobs, postponed operations, less training for employees, and withholding money which prevented the expansion of services.

Hewitt has done nothing more than fiddle the books. Even with this surplus nearly a fifth of hospitals and PCTs, which are the parts of the health service responsible for care, finished the year in the red.

The government says the public should not be worried about this as the NHS is still getting the money. Tell that to the people who had operations delayed so they wouldn't appear on the 06-07 balance sheet.

Blogpower Awards- Vote Early and Often!!

The voting has begun in the Blogpower Awards and UK News and Politics needs your votes!! Thanks to your support we have been nominated in several categories. Here is the list of categories. If you click on the category it links to each poll. Thank you again to each and every person that nominated UK News and Politics. Now comes the real challenge.

Categories you can Vote for UK News and Politics in :

1 Best Britblog or Column

5 Best Ranter

6 Best Political Blog or Column

10 Best Little Blogger [i.e. under 100 uniques a day]

12 Most Under-rated Blog or Column

20 Most Unintentionally Humorous post

We are very grateful to have been nominated in so many categories but to stay in the running we need your votes!! Thanks again and happy voting :)

Blair and Labour Party Waste Another £750,000

If Blair's £1m farewell tour wasn't enough money wasted, according to Scotland Yard the police probe into the cash-for-honours affair has cost more than £750,000 so far it emerged today. And we wonder why there is a constant lack of funding for schools and health care.

If Blair, Levy etc are found guilty they should be made to foot the bill for the investigation. I don't see why it should come out of taxpayers pockets.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Last Day of Nominations!!

Today is the last day of nominations for the blog awards so don't forget to stop by the Blogpower Awards and nominate UK News and Politics! Thank you for your support we can't do it without you. We are doing well in the nominations for best british blog , best political blog, best little blogger, most under rated and surprisingly we have been nominated for our absurd news of the week post as well as best ranter. All looks good but to UK News and Politics a Place in the competitions we still need your nominations.

One laste note : Central News has been very supportive of our blog and does a great service to the blogging community. I have nominated Central News for Best Blogpower blog (it is where I found out about Blogpower) and the services to blogging award. I encourage everyone who is very kindly taking the time to nominate UK News and Politics to add nominations for Central News fo Blogpower blog and services to blogging.

Thanks again for all of your support. We are doing really well! Dont forget to visit the Blogpower Awards and nominate!

"Further Inquiries" Demanded in Cash for Honours Scandal

Despite receiving a 216 page file from Scotland Yard, the Crown Prosecution Service has demanded additional evidence from the police and that they "undertake further inquiries" before deciding whether there should be criminal charges in the cash for honours investigation. It appears Prime Minister Blair may be interviewed by the police for a third time. This time however, it is highly possible that he will be interviewed under caution as detectives were ordered to again question the key players .

Although thus far Blair has only been interviewed as a witness, he was the first Prime Minister ever to be questioned by the police as part of a continuing criminal investigation. Once he leaves Downing Street at the end of the June if he is interviewed it could take place under caution, technically making him a suspect.

There were 2 comments left last week in the Herald relating to Cash for Honours which I posted previously. If you didn't get a chance to read them you may find them interesting. Whether they are accurate or not I don't know but in light of the CPS demanding further investigation it makes you think. Click HERE for the post and to read the comments.

Monday, 4 June 2007

£1m To Be Spent Training Muslim Imams at University

A new report by Academic Ataullah Siddiqui says teaching of Islam in English universities is based on "out-of-date and irrelevant issues". It concludes that more emphasis should be placed on Islam in a modern context.

Ministers will now label Islamic studies a "strategic subject" because of its role "in preventing extremism". Education Secretary Alan Johnson is expected to announce a £1m cash injection later to plug gaps highlighted by Dr Siddiqui's report.

I find it absurd that Blair seems to find money to "update" Islamic Studies and train foreign Imams, provide exercise facilities to prisoners, install all kinds of spy toys and spend a million pounds on his "farewell tour" (only to name a few unnecessary expenses) and yet can not find the funds that our schools and the NHS desperately need. I would love to know how Blair justifies spending a million pounds on updating Islamic studies instead of spending it on our children's education. Is it really more important to teach Islamic studies at university than it is to teach maths and reading to our children?

One more note on the report:
The report also concludes that Islamic studies syllabuses should focus on aspects of Islam "relevant to contemporary practice of faith". Students should be able to learn parts of the syllabus from Islamic scholars, it adds. It calls for more recognition of the importance of campus Islamic societies and more prayer facilities.

Somehow I don't think adding additional Islamic Societies and prayer facilities will miraculously enlighten potential terrorists and convince them to change their ways.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Brown Pledges To Protect Our Civil Liberties ... By Giving Police Powers to Hold Suspects Without Charge for Over 28 days

Gordon Brown has said he will not to put civil liberties at risk over plans to introduce new anti-terror laws. He says this despite the fact that he wants to give police more powers, including holding suspects without charge for more than 28 days, when he takes over as prime minister on the 27 June.

Mr Brown also wants to allow police to continue questioning suspects after they have been charged. But of course as he said, he would make sure that "at no point will our British traditions of supporting and defending civil liberties be put at risk. " The most terrifying part is that he was not joking when he made that statement.

Does Brown realise that twenty-eight days is already the longest period to hold a person without charge in the free world? But no, holding them for longer is definitely not jeopardizing our civil liberties.

Blair unsuccessfully attempted to introduce 90-day detention without charges in 2005 and was opposed by Tories, Liberal Democrats and some Labour backbenchers. Conservative sources say there is no new evidence to suggest that police need more than 28 days.

I have said it before and this goes to prove my point, Brown is Blair in different wrapping.

One last question, since our prisons are already over capacity where exactly are they holding these people who may or may not be charged at some point in the future?

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Next General Election in 2009?

All of those hoping for a quick general election will be disappointed today. Although he did not intend to, Gordon Brown accidentally let slip that the next general election is planned for 2009. After realizing what he had said, Brown promptly backtracked on this comment.

"That is why, when I was asked about what we can do to make it possible for us to win more seats in 2011 (the next scheduled Scottish Parliament election) and win the general election in 2009, we have to be the Labour party listening and involved with the people of this country. "

The meeting came to an abrupt halt after this statement due to a fire alarm going off. When it resumed shortly after Brown backtracked on his previous statement. He told one questioner: "I was asked what we could do as a party to win the Scottish election in future and the general election - and I should say whenever the general election comes in the future".

So much for getting straight answers out of Brown. Blair's era of political deception continues.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Thank you for Your Support!

We want to thank all of our loyal readers for their support in the Central News Blog of the Month Competition. It was a fiercely fought race during which we were swapping the lead with Falkirk BNP who pulled ahead on the last day. Our congratulations go our to Falkirk BNP on their victory. We were also joined in the competition by Mr Chalk and Pommygranate, both excellent blogs, who received 1 and 11 votes respectively.

We had an amazing 211 votes and thank each and every one of you for taking the time to support our blog.

Immigration Damaging Education

Home Office figures show that 4,200 children were brought from the Eastern Europe to Britain by their parents in the first three months of this year, or 65 every school day. Schools have no option but to devote thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours to attempt to bring the immigrants up to the same standard as British children. The result of this is devastating of the education system.

David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank, said last night: "We do not have the capacity to cope with these numbers, but it is not possible to stop people from coming, so schools have to do the best they can. This must be having a detrimental effect on schools. We have seen in London that, where there are a lot of non-English speakers, the standards are very low."

Initially the influx of Eastern Europeans was mainly adults however due to the offering of free education as well as generous child tax credits significant numbers of young children are now arriving for the first time.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "The Government originally estimated that no more than 15,000 would come from the new Eastern European members of the EU. At least 600,000 came. Britain benefits economically from immigration, but not all or any immigration. There must be a limit to the amount of people who can come here, bearing in mind the ability of our public services and infrastructure to cope with new arrivals."

The entire position relating to immigration needs to be revised. It is bitterly unfair to British children to have the level of education they received degraded due to the amount of funds and time being spent on immigrants.

Thousands of Criminals to Escape Justice

The sentencing of criminals should be decided by the seriousness of the crime, not by prison capacity. This seems a fairly obvious statement unfortunately, despite Blair's "tough on crime" slogans the government does not agree.

It has emerged that the government will not keep building prisons which will result in thousands of criminals escaping jail. Justice Minister Lord Falconer said offenders currently given sentences of less than a year should in future receive community punishments instead. He added "More offenders who are not considered a threat to the public and who would face a term of 12 months or less must be dealt with in the community. Of course dangerous criminals should still be given custodial sentences, but we need to get to the point at which the prison service is able to meet the demands placed upon it by the courts."

On Tuesday, inmate numbers reached a record 80,846. There are fears the court service and Police cells, which are providing overflow cells could run out of space later this week. Lord Falconer is desperately seeking ways of solving the crisis, but is running into great difficulty with Downing Street which is desperately attempting to preserve what remains of Tony Blair’s legacy on crime, and is blocking the early release of up to 3,000 inmates to create space.

I hate to be the one to tell Downing Street but Blair's "legacy on crime" would be laughable if it was not so devastating.

Just to add to the position of overcrowding when the smoking ban comes in on July 1, doubling up in cells will be limited by a new right for nonsmoking prisoners to refuse to share a cell with a smoker. Now why people who are in PRISON should have any rights other than a cell, meals and clothing is a mystery to me. Prison is punishment for a CRIME they CHOSE to commit. If they did not want to be stuck in a cell with someone who smokes they should not have committed a crime in the first place. Pandering to prisoners cell requests should result in criminals who should be in prison being set free due to lack of space.

An estimated 60,000 to 70,000 criminals each year are given up to 12 months in jail. This will translate to 60,000 to 70,000 free criminals who will not serve any jail sentence. Burglars are one of the groups of criminals who will benefit most so I would not forget to lock your doors.

Blair's £1million Vanity Trip

The Conservatives have accused the Prime Minister of authorising a "self-indulgent" waste of public funds to promote his reputation at home and abroad. Nine official and political visits have been scheduled by Blair since announcing that he is to step down on June 27 and there is the possibility of more to be added. The Conservatives claimed last night that the total cost of the trips planned for the six weeks between his announcement and his departure will exceed £1million.

I can think of much better ways to spend £1million than on Blair's "farewell tour." Education, Health care .....

Foreign Office's Failure of Accountablility to Parliment

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett's reluctance to attend a session ahead of an EU summit, was "a failure of accountability to Parliament" according to the foreign affairs committee.
The summit will consider attempts by Germany to revive the EU constitution, vetoed by the French and Dutch in referendums two years ago.

"Deep concern" that MPs had not had a chance to question ministers was expressed by comitte chairman Mike Gapes. In a letter addressed to Beckett he said,"The committee regards the refusal of the [Foreign Office] to provide a minister to give oral evidence during this crucial phase of the discussions on the future of Europe as a failure of accountability to Parliament."

Since February Gapes has continually requested either Becket or Europe Minister Hoon to appear before the commitee "so that Parliament could be better informed on the government's approach to the discussions taking place and so that ministers could hear the views of the committee."

He also said that Mr Hoon had also refused to appear until June to which Gapes said"It is the strong view of the committee that an evidence session in June is too late.By then, decisions concerning the approach to be followed by government ministers and officials will effectively have been taken and the opportunity for Parliament to influence the debate will have passed."

A spokeswoman for Mrs Beckett said she and her ministerial term took their responsibilities to Parliament and the committee "very seriously". Of course she does, just not seriousley enough to spare 10 minutes of her time.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

5 Britons Taken Hostage from Government Building in Iraq

The British government convened an emergency meeting of its Cobra crisis management committee on Tuesday afternoon after Five Britons were taken hostage in Iraq. The Britons, an IT expert and his four bodyguards, were seized from the Iraqi Finance Ministry in Baghdad by heavily-armed men who arrived in dozens of police vehicles wearing police and commando uniforms.

As of yet no group has taken responsibility for the kidnapping although witnesses say the abduction was carried out by what appeared to be a police unit. The street was sealed off at both ends and the kidnappers, in police camouflage uniforms, passed through security checkpoints at the finance ministry building on Palestine Street by showing apparently-genuine identity papers.

The Foreign Office says it is in "urgent" contact with Iraqi officials in a bid to resolve the crisis. Blair, who is currently on a trip to Libya , said: "We will do everything we possibly can to help."

I would love to know Blair's definition of "everything possible." Does that include discussing the kidnappers demands over a cup of tea or does it mean definitive action especially as they were kidnapped from a GOVERNMENT building. My thoughts and prayers are with the hostages and their families as I can not begin to imagine what they are going through.

Tragically, 38 people were also killed yesterday in two separate bombings in the Iraqi capital . 23 died and 68 were wounded when a bomb exploded in a packed minibus in Tayaran Square and a further 15 people were killed by another car bomb in the southwestern Amil district.

More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003 although this is the first time Westerners have been abducted from inside an Iraqi government building.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Blog of the Month

UK News and Politics is the running for Central News Blog of the Month and would love your votes! Click HERE to visit the site and vote (the poll is on the sidebar). Thanks for Your Support :)

"Tony Blair wandering around the world doing nothing but indulging his vanity."

Blair claims important work is being carried out not just by him but by ministers acting "as a government" including international duties, such as the G8 summit in early June. However, to the rest of the country it appears Labour is in limbo.

Tory Leader David Cameron hit the mark when he said, "There are urgent problems in our country, like the crisis in the NHS, that need to be sorted out now. Instead we have to put up with the farce of Labour's 'non-election campaign', with Gordon Brown wandering round the country with nothing to do and Tony Blair wandering around the world doing nothing but indulging his vanity. In this country, we don't do 'farewell tours'. Tony Blair was elected to be the prime minister of this country, not a pop star."

I am not looking forward to Brown as Prime Minister but, as it is inevitable, it seems rather pointless to have this "transition period" where the government is essentially in limbo with Blair floating around the world and Brown twiddling his thumbs.

Hosptials Using Unqualified Support Workers to do Job of Midwives

Last month Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said maternity support workers were "not a substitute for midwives". However, a new report released today contradicts Hewitt's previous statement. The report which was commissioned by Hewitt says that the lives of mothers and their babies is being put at risk by NHS hospitals which use unqualified "maternity support workers" to do the work of trained midwives.

Research shows maternity support workers are carrying out internal examinations, ultrasounds, and pre-natal screening counselling and advising parents about important tests to detect foetal abnormalities. They are also being used as the sole night cover at some midwife-led birth units.

Prof Jane Sandall, lead author of the report by the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery at King's College, London said, "There is a danger that support workers could cease to become another pair of hands. Instead, they may be called upon to substitute care provided by midwives, without sufficient investment in their training or development."

There is no national training program for maternity support workers with most trusts insisting they take only an NVQ ( a qualification course lasting only 15 days) versus midwives who endure a rigorous 3 year training program. I would consider the birth of a child one of the most, if not the most, important event in a person's life.
It is completely unacceptable that these unqualified workers who are meant for jobs such as cleaning up are advising patients of the results of potentially devastating tests and being used as sole night cover for midwife led birth units.

Royal College of Midwives adviser Sue Jacob said it would be 'nothing short of scandalous' if support workers were left doing the job of midwives. "Women want nothing less than a midwife by their side when they are in labour. We know from all the research that's been done that continuous care from an experienced professional makes a huge difference to the safety of both the mother and the child."

In an attempt to mitigate the damage of this report a Department of Health spokeswoman said,"It is completely unacceptable if a hospital is using a maternity support worker as a substitute for a midwife, and the chief nursing officer has written to all trusts to clarify this and asked that they review the working practices of all support workers, ensuring maternity services are provided safely." However in the beginning of April, Hewitt admitted that midwives would probably not be present during the whole labour in any NHS hospital and campaigners said that costs could be cut by using "maternity support workers" not midwives during the majority of the labour process. This was unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now.

Perhaps if this Government spent less money on surveillance and spy planes they would have enough left to gives mothers and babies the care they deserve. Who knows, they might even have enough left over to improve the education they receive after birth to a reasonable standard. What the Government needs to realize is there are more important things then knowing when Joe comes home from work or having little Michael yelled at by a camera for dropping a chocolate wrapper on the sidewalk.


Telegraph Headline - Immigrants Need More Help To Adjust

I would suggest they need more help to leave.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Absurd News of the Week

The greatest concern of women prisoners in a Swedish Jail near Gothenburg is that the are not able to get a decent tan. A prison council has written to Sweden's Justice Ombudsmen to say the issue is one of sex discrimination. The female inmates complained that that, unlike their male counterparts, they are unable to take off their tops to enjoy the sun thus depriving them of a basic human right. They believe they should be allowed bikinis.

"It's a human right," said the women. "We want to be able to enjoy the sun just like everybody else in Sweden, whether they are in an institution or on the outside. How are we supposed to be able to sunbathe at all? The answer we have got is that we can sunbathe in shorts and sports top," the prisoners wrote, according to Sweden's Aftonbladet. "We are treated differently because we are in an institution and we are discriminated against because of our gender."

If these female inmates' greatest concern during their imprisonment is that they are unable to maintain a nice tan there is some fundamentally wrong with the jail they are in. Punishment for a crime should not be enjoyable. Prisoners' rights = food, water and a cell, not bikinis.

Since when is achieving the perfect tan a "human right?"

Government Considers Increasing Police Powers Under the Pretense Of "National Security"

The Government's newest proposal in their campaign against freedom is to give the police the power to stop and question at random without reason. Big Brother is becoming so prevalent in our country we should issue the following disclaimer to anyone entering:

WELCOME TO THE UK. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER. "Welcome to the fastest growing Police State in the World. You WILL be caught on CCTV hundreds of times a day and you may see spy planes flying above. Do not be alarmed if a CCTV Camera yells at your child for littering. Please be advised that the police may stop and question you for any reason. No probable cause is required. Finally please be aware that you may be profiled as a potential criminal if you have a too many drinks at the pub."

In the past weeks this Government seems to have been on a mission to take away the small amount of freedom we have left under the guise of "National Security" and "Anti- Terror" laws.
According to the Home Office, the government is now considering giving police officers across the UK the power to "stop and question" individuals without probable cause under new anti-terror laws. Police elsewhere have to have "reasonable suspicion" a crime has been committed before they can stop people. According to the Sunday Times anyone who refuses to co-operate, even if they were doing nothing wrong, could be charged with obstructing the police and fined up to £5,000. Greater powers to remove vehicles and paperwork for inspection are also believed to be part of the measures.

After it emerged Thursday that three men suspected of wanting to kill UK troops had disappeared, Mr Reid criticised his political opponents and judges for stopping the use of tougher measures against terror suspects and promised new anti-terror measures within weeks. It has been suggested that the new laws were to be rushed through before Tony Blair steps down as prime minister on 27 June, however The Home Office refused to comment on this. Campaign group Liberty Director, Shami Chakrabarti, reiterated this suggestion when she said, "This looks like political machismo, a legacy moment."
Blair has said the disappearance of the three suspects under control orders was a symptom of a society which put civil liberties before fighting terror. " The prime minister described this as "misguided and wrong" and said prioritising a terror suspect's right to traditional civil liberties was "a dangerous misjudgement".

The solution is not to penalise the whole of the British people for the error made by the courts. One of the three terror suspects who went missing while on control orders was granted bail by a senior district judge on at least two occasions. On both dates, prosecutors asked for him to be jailed, but were refused. If there is sufficient evidence to show suspects pose a serious threat they should not be allowed bail or more closely monitored if they are. Rather than take away the civil liberties of society as a whole penalise those who are reasonably suspected of planning or committing crimes. Why should our freedom suffer because of the legal system's incompetence.

Our "civil liberties" in the UK are being disregarded on a daily basis. We live in a true surveillance society that is very quickly becoming more and more of a police state. There are at least 4.2 million CCTV cameras some of which talk, spy planes are being introduced, the government is considering profiling possible criminals, biometric id cards will be introduced if Labour wins the next election and now they are considering giving police the power the stop and question at random without cause. I would not call that a country that puts civil liberties before fighting terror. I can not think of any other "democratic" country that has the same amount of government intrusion and lack of civil liberties that the UK does.

Since Blair has announced the date he will stand down, it seems the government is attempting to push one measure after another through under the pretense of National Security. Is this Blair creating a legacy, or is the Labour Party conveniently pushing unpopular measures in their agenda through in Blair's last weeks so Brown does not receive the public backlash?
At least we can sleep a little easier knowing that this particular plan will not come to fruition in the weeks before Blair leaves as the House of Lords will put a stop to it.

Tony Blair's Article in the Sunday Times

I just finished reading Blair's article in the Sunday Times and have suddenly developed a headache.

Blair began with, "First let us clear away some of the absurd criticism of the police and security service over the three individuals who absconded. " He then went on to blame British society for having the desire to retain some of the few civil liberties we have left. According to Blair because of this desire 3 terror suspects have gone missing," the fault is not with our services or, in this instance, with the Home Office. We have chosen as a society to put the civil liberties of the suspect, even if a foreign national, first. "

Blair continued to write,"Over the past five or six years, we have decided as a country that except in the most limited of ways, the threat to our public safety does not justify changing radically the legal basis on which we confront this extremism.

Their right to traditional civil liberties comes first. I believe this is a dangerous misjudgment. This extremism, operating the world over, is not like anything we have faced before. It needs to be confronted with every means at our disposal. Tougher laws in themselves help, but just as crucial is the signal they send out: that Britain is an inhospitable place to practise this extremism"

The main problem (out of a list of many) with Blair's logic is that although a police state may make Britain more "inhospitable" for terrorism it will do the same for the law abiding public.

Blair ending his article with, "This extremism can be defeated. But it will be defeated only by recognising that we have not created it; it cannot be negotiated with; pandering to its sense of grievance will only encourage it; and only by confronting it, the methods and the ideas, will we win. " - I guess he has changed his view on negotiating and pandering to terrorists since he dealt with the hostage situation in Iran.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Spy Planes and CCTV Are Not Enough.. Government Now Considering Rewarding Neighbours to Spy on Eachother

The Government is considering a plan where the public would be rewarded for spying on and reporting neighbors who may be VAT or customs cheats. Benefit cheats could also be targeted.

This informant plan would offer a reward to anybody producing hard proof , otherwise unavailable to the authorities, that a person was defrauding the Government. An example of the "proof" the government would require could be secretly taken photographs.

The payout could be as high as 30 per cent of the total amount seized. Ministers have also not ruled out allowing informants to take over a neighbour’s possessions, such as luxury cars or plasma TVs, if they had been bought with the proceeds of crime. These rewards could reach to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

After the less than successful start made by the Assets Recovery Agency, which initially cost more to run than it recovered, this is the Home Office's latest idea to target the extravagant lifestyles enjoyed by criminals. Other new powers in the plan could include the right to seize lifestyle items from thieves and burglars, such as jewellery, and laptops. Tony Blair originally suggested these powers as part of a package of policies on law and order.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said it was based on a "strikingly successful" scheme in the U.S. He continued to say that, "We are asking, is it applicable in this country, is it something that people would find acceptable and is there a workable model? "

Coaker surely must be aware what a ridiculous concept this is. Encouraging conflict and distrust among neighbours is not something the government should promote. I am the first to agree that people who are benefit, VAT, or Customs cheats should be prosecuted. However this is not the way to gather evidence. One would think that the government is able to gather enough evidence with its' spy planes and millions off CCTV cameras without encouraging neighbours to secretly photograph and spy on each other.

I would not be overly concerned about this plan moving forward though. As Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said,""Behind the spin, this is yet another government consultation, containing yet more gimmicks. This Government has a woeful record at seizing criminal assets."

The Assets Recovery Agency was described as a disaster earlier this year after the National Audit Office said it had cost £65million to run but had seized only £23million.

Perhaps if the Government spent more time focusing on doing the job at hand, rather than spending time and resources developing new (absurd) plans and agencies to do the job, they might actually accomplish something.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Are Likely Charges in the "Cash for Honours" Scandal the Real Reason Levy is Standing Down?

I was reading the morning papers and came across this in The Herald... Interesting. The girl they are referring to, Courtney Coventry, is the one pictured with Blair in the Mail Article in March.

Posted by: Barry on 7:08am today
Lord Levy, a major contributor to labour sleaze, will be finally leaving! Was it "Anticipated?" - Only because CPS will likely be charging him in the Cash for honours scandal, especially as the American woman has implicated him to directly to police. Apparently, Levy bluntly offerred to arrange a peerage for her British husband for a large donation to the party. So much for Levy denying any wrongdoing.
Lord Levy, a major contributor to labour sleaze, will be finally leaving! Was it "Anticipated?" - Only because CPS will likely be charging him in the Cash for honours scandal, especially as the American woman has implicated him to directly to police. Apparently, Levy bluntly offerred to arrange a peerage for her British husband for a large donation to the party. So much for Levy denying any wrongdoing.

Posted by: diana, london on 7:52am today
Referring to Barry's comment about an American girl, her name is Courtney Coventry. A good friend of mine worked on the Cash for Honours inquiry and she said Courtney Coventry (who is american) contacted them via email with a very damaging statement (and documents to support it) about Lord Levy which would on its own justify charges to be brought against him.
Referring to Barry's comment about an American girl, her name is Courtney Coventry. A good friend of mine worked on the Cash for Honours inquiry and she said Courtney Coventry (who is american) contacted them via email with a very damaging statement (and documents to support it) about Lord Levy which would on its own justify charges to be brought against him.

Lord "Cashpoint" Levy Announces He Will Stand Down as Middle East Envoy

Lord Levy announced that he will step down as Middle East Envoy when Blair leaves office in June. Downing Street thanked him for his role and said the PM "believes, and has always said, that Lord levy has done an excellent job as his personal envoy." After the recent inquiry it is not surprising that they failed to thank Levy for his work as chief fundraiser as well.

Levy, also know as Lord Cashpoint after being arrested in recent months by police investigating cash for honours, claimed his departure "has always been anticipated and is not different to many other similar positions."

Lord Levy was arrested on suspicion of possible infringements of honours and election laws in July 2006, and, six months later, arrested again on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. His arrests came during a year-long inquiry into allegations that honours had been sold.

The Crown Prosecution Service was given a 216-page report by Police in April. PM Blair was among 136 people interviewed by Scotland Yard . All parties questioned thus far deny any wrongdoing.

Simply because Lord Levy repeats over and over again that he "denies any wrongdoing" does not make it any more believable. Levy was a strong contributor to the years of Labour Sleaze who,along with Blair, is finally on his way out. Too bad we still have to suffer with the rest of them.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Government Takes Big Brother to New Heights

The Government is taking big brother to new heights with the UK's first police remote control helicopter. The "spy drone", fitted with CCTV cameras, is being used by Merseyside police primarily for tackling anti-social behaviour and public disorder. This machine which was originally used by the military is 1m wide, incredibly lightweight, and can record images from a height of 500m.

Merseyside's assistant chief constable Simon Byrne said, "We're always looking at ways of putting more officers on the streets, and maximising technology is a powerful way of achieving this. Our drone will be used primarily to support our anti-social behaviour taskforce AXIS, in gathering all important evidence to put offenders before the courts. For us, this is a cost-effective way of helping to catch criminals and supports similar technology we're already using in our vans and helicopter."

Deputy director, Stephen Cahill, said, "We are pleased to support Merseyside Police in their efforts to reduce crime through the use of new technology. This trial is the first of its kind in the country and we're excited about its potential."

The images recorded by these silent night-vision equipped "spy drones" cameras are sent back to a police support vehicle or control room.

This latest development is enlightening and terrifying. The 4.2 Million CCTV cameras and the new "talking" cameras obviously do not satisfactorily fulfill the Government's desire to monitor our every move. They have now turned to "spy planes" which they claim are in the interest of public safety. This is a horrifying window into the future of things to come, especially if Labour wins the next general election. If this level of government intrusion was occurring in another country such as Russia, it would be condemned.

With millions of CCTV cameras, spy planes, and the government's plan to profile people who MAY commit crimes the future of UK is beginning to look more like the movie the Minority Report than the country we know and love.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Government Plans to Profile "Potential" Criminals and Victims

Home Office plans reveal that council staff, charity workers and doctors among others will be obligated to inform police of any person they believe MAY commit a violent crime.

The leaked Home Office document states, "Public bodies will have access to valuable information about people at risk of becoming either perpetrators or victims of serious violence. Professionals will obviously alert police or other relevant authority if they have good reason to believe an act of serious violence is about to be committed. However, our proposal goes beyond that, and is that, when they become sufficiently concerned about an individual, they must consider initial risk assessment of risk to/from that person and refer (the) case to (a) multi-agency body."

Under the plan two agencies would be formed, one for potential criminals, and the other for potential victims. The plan suggests that these bodies could share information received and carry out "full risk assessments".

Danger signs of potential criminals could include a violent family background, heavy drinking or mental health problems, while potential victims may seek treatment for stress from their GP.

If this plan succeeds children who, through no fault of their own, have been raised in a violent family could be profiled as potential criminals. Millions of people who have grown up in adverse conditions as well as those who have mild mental health problems function successfully in society without EVER committing a crime. Further to that, if someone seeks counseling for stress it does not necessarily mean they are a potential victim of a crime. If this is allowed to continued both assumptions being made by the government could be self-fulfilling. A person who is not a criminal but, because of his background, is treated as such may as a result become a criminal. This government is going too far. If you have not watched the movie Minority Report, go rent it. It is not the best movie but, although fictional and far-fetched, it shows an exaggerated version the results of profiling "potential" criminals.

Question of the Week

Do you agree with the Government's new plan to profile "potential criminals and victims?"

For the Article Related to this Question click HERE

Previous Questions of the Week 14 May ,

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Police Cheif Fears "An Orwellian Situation" In Britain

Deputy chief constable of Hampshire Ian Readhead said Britain could become a surveillance society with cameras on every street corner. He fears the spread of CCTV cameras is leading to "an Orwellian situation".

Readhead expressed concerns about CCTV being used in small towns and villages where crime rates were low and whether the relatively low crime levels justified the expense and intrusion.
Mr Readhead also called for the retention of some DNA evidence and the use of speed cameras to be reviewed.

"I'm really concerned about what happens to the product of these cameras, and what comes next?" Readhead said. "If it's in our villages, are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner? I really don't think that's the kind of country that I want to live in."

I couldn't agree with Readhead more. If not now, when do we draw the line? There are already up to 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain which is about one for every 14 people. The UK also has the world's biggest DNA database, with 3.6 million DNA samples on file. Labour will make it mandatory to own biometric ID Cards if it wins the next election. What is next? Will the government decide it is necessary for our safety to implant microchips under our skin or put CCTV cameras in our houses? This may sound far fetched but so did biometric ID Cards or "Talking" CCTV cameras 20 years ago.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Another Embarrassing Report for the Government

Tony Blair, John Reid and Lord Falconer have claimed that too many criminals are being jailed.

Lord Falconer, the newly-created Justice Secretary, announced this month that tens of thousands of burglars and other thieves would receive community punishments instead of jail sentences. The Prime Minister signalled that there should be greater emphasis on rehabilitating offenders, tougher community sentences and crime prevention in March, and Home Secretary Mr Reid caused outrage in January by urging the courts to use jail sentences only as a last resort. Due to this paedophiles, muggers, burglars and heroin dealers walked free from court.

However, a Home Office report has concluded that stiffer prison sentences deter crime. This contradicts Labour plans to hand out softer punishments

Key Points in the Report

"Custodial sentences of at least a year are most effective in reducing re offending."

Figures showed that 70 per cent of convicts jailed for under 12 months re-offended within two years, compared with 49 per cent of those sentenced to between one and four years and 36 per cent of those serving at least four years

Men and women released from prison within a year had on average 13 previous convictions – suggesting shorter jail sentences were failing as a deterrent.

Prisoners released from longer sentences were less likely to re- offend because they were older, had time to be rehabilitated and had been convicted of more serious "one-off" offences.

Last night, the Conservatives blamed the "abysmal" situation on Labour’s failure to build enough prison places. Philip Davies, the Tory MP who uncovered the report, said: "The Government are at sixes and sevens. Because the Chancellor has consistently refused to invest in building more prisons, that has resulted in their being full. The Government now have to pretend that prison does not work after all, and that it is tougher not to send people to prison and to give them so-called tough community sentences."

A Home Office spokesman said the relationship between prison sentences and re-offending rates was "quite complex".

He said the report did not contradict the Government’s view. Is the Home Office spokesman reading the same report?

This comment is clearly the work of Gordon Brown and his "political spin" team. Rather than accept responsibility for the lack of investment in building prisons, Labour is attempting to claim that tough community sentences are best and prison should be a last resort despite the fact that their own Home Office Report contradicts them.

Labour Desperately Seeking Partner

Welsh Labour leader Rhodri Morgan is desperately seeking a deal.

Labour, the largest party after May's election, may be forced out of power if a coalition between Plaid Cymru, Conservatives and Lib Dems is formed. Following the 3 May election, Labour remained the largest party in the assembly with 26 seats but was left without a majority in the 60-seat chamber. Plaid Cymru has 15 seats in the new assembly, the Conservatives 12 and Liberal Democrats 6.

On Thursday, Lib Dem AMs and the Welsh party's national executive met in Llandrindod Wells where they decided to suspend talks with Labour in favour of seeking a deal with Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives.

Mr Morgan, who has been first minister since 2000, said he believed Labour could still form a government,"We are ready to govern but with a partner."

Morgan continues to say,"I still think there are many twists and turns in this tale before it's all over." This particular statement I agree with. It shall be interesting and all we can do now is watch the saga unfold.

A new first minister must be chosen by 30 May to avoid another election.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Brown Will Be New Leader of Labour and Prime Minister

Mr Brown's campaign said they would await the formal voting figures announced by the party on Thursday before making any statement however, shortly after 6pm yesterday, Gordon Brown reached the crucial total of 308 nominations needed to avoid a contest. The chancellor's only rival, John McDonnell, conceded after Mr Brown secured enough nominations from Labour MPs to stop him getting the 45 needed. Gordon Brown will be confirmed as Tony Blair's successor when nominations for the Labour leadership and deputy leadership close at 1230 BST.

Brown has achieved his long standing goal of becoming Labour Leader and Prime Minister. He will now have to wait a further 42 days before Tony Blair formally hands over the reins of power. Meanwhile, in Whitehall the transition to a Brown premiership has begun. Officials are currently working on Mr Brown's blueprint for power and preparing for a radical Cabinet reshuffle.

Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell said the fact Mr Brown would be unopposed meant it was even more important that there was a General Election. "The country is surely entitled to pass judgement on whether he should become the most powerful politician in the country," he said.

Campbell has a point. Even though Brown has made promises to improve education standards, an extension of GPs' hours and a house building programme when he takes over is that really enough? Promises are very easy to make and we will have to wait and see if he actually follows through with them. Personally, I wouldn't hold my breath. The greater question is, do the British people want Brown in office at all or, as Campbell said, are we "entitled to pass judgement on whether he should become the most powerful politician in the country?"

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Brown to Attack Blair Over Education

Gordon Brown will attack Tony Blair's education reforms today in an attempt to further distance himself from the Prime Minister. The Chancellor will describe numeracy rates among young children as "unacceptable" for one of the world's leading economies. "It is unacceptable that we still have 150,000 children leaving primary school who aren't numerate. Both a strong economy and an inclusive society require a fully numerate population." Brown will go on to admit that the Labour Government has failed to deliver a "world class" education system.

Blair will not look kindly on this latest strategy in Brown's campaign. When Blair came to power in 1997 he claimed "Education, education, education " was his priority. Today in contrast with Gordon Brown's recent comments, he believes he succeeded. Blair recently said "Education, education, education was how I described my priorities at the outset of this Government. A decade on, this report shows we meant it".

As I said in a previous post regarding Blair's eduaction reforms, it is progress to renovate and build new facilities for students. However, the current problem does not lie with the facilities, but rather with the education they receive inside them.

Mr Brown claims he will try to shift the emphasis of Labour's education policies away from changes to school structures to core activities in the classroom.

Government Targets Divert Police From Serious Cases to Deal With Trivial Crimes

The Police Federation of England and Wales says government targets lead to "ludicrous" decisions and warns that detectives are being diverted from serious cases to deal with trivial crimes.

The federation will debate the issue during its annual conference in Blackpool. At the conference police will discuss whether judging officers purely on numbers of arrests, cautions or on-the-spot fines is the best way to assess success. After reading examples from a dossier of "ludicrous" cases it claims are the result of Home Office targets, clearly it is not.

The following are actual cases detailed in the dossier.

A man from Cheshire who was cautioned for being "found in possession of an egg with intent to throw"

A child in Kent who was arrested after removing a slice of cucumber from a sandwich and throwing it at another youngster

A West Midlands woman arrested on her wedding day for criminal damage after her foot slipped on her accelerator pedal and her vehicle damaged a car park barrier

A 70-year-old Cheshire pensioner who was arrested for criminal damage after cutting back a neighbour's conifer trees

A federation spokesman said these cases were a direct result of officers being "so busy chasing targets and securing ticks in boxes". The list of compiled cases showed incidents where officers had been "under such pressure to deliver it has resulted in an arrest or caution when even the officer themselves thinks it is ludicrous", he said . It is not surprising even the officers themselves thought the arrests/cautions ludicrous. They seem more appropriate as part of my Absurd News of the Week than in a police federation dossier.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said Whitehall targets were "stopping the police from doing what the public want them to do". He added, "Conservatives would free the police from Labour's red tape so they can be deployed onto our streets where the public want them."

Monday, 14 May 2007

Damning Report Questions Gordon Brown's Welfare Reforms

Mr Brown claims to have slashed youth unemployment and transformed life for the poor. However, according to a damning report that questions Gordon Brown's welfare reforms, youth unemployment is sharply higher than when Labour came to power. Despite Labour spending almost £2 billion on the New Deal, the number of people aged 18-24 out of work has risen by 70,000 to 505,000 since its launch in 1998.

Last week the National Association of Head Teachers said that schools were producing an "army of the unemployable" as tens of thousands of teenagers quit education at 16 with no qualifications. This was emphasized by the Bow Group, a Conservative-affiliated think tank, which tracked secondary school pupils over three years and found thousands had gone missing from school rolls.

Frank Field, the former welfare minister, says that the New Deal has been "woeful". He continued, "The results show that even if the money was available, which it isn't, more of the same won't work and will be a betrayal of young unemployed people. As part of the Labour leadership contest it is important for the Chancellor, and the candidates for the deputy leadership, to tell the electorate how best to move the 505,000 unemployed young people into work, as the New Deal is failing to do so."

Mr Field backs up the a criticism of the Tories that many of the young people helped into employment by the New Deal would have found a job anyway "Moreover, the number and proportion of young people finding work as a result of their New Deal has collapsed from 51 per cent in 1998 to 34 per cent in 2005," he adds. "Youth unemployment is higher than when Labour was elected in 1997, and rising.

The figures are in sharp contrast to the claim by Jim Murphy, the employment and welfare minister, who said in an article that "youth employment has been virtually abolished". .

This does not bode well for Brown as he attempts to rebuild public trust. As I said before, a package disguised in different wrapping is still the same package. It is just a little more attractive until you open it. With these latest developments it appears Brown is still very much subscribed to Blair's philosophy of political spin, despite recent attempts to distance himself.

Question of the Week

Blair claimed that Labour's multi-billion pound programme to renovate England's classrooms illustrated how he had lived up to his now famous promise to prioritise "education, education, and education".

The measure of Mr. Blair's success is dependent on whether you place a greater value on the buildings in which students attend school or the level of education achieved within them.

Do you believe Blair has been successful in his promise to reform education?

For the article relating to this question read Blair Attempts to Promote His Success in Education Reform

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Blair Attempts to Promote His Success in Education Reform

Blair claimed that Labour's multi-billion pound programme to renovate England's classrooms illustrated how he had lived up to his now famous promise to prioritise "education, education, and education".

A survey of local authorities in England found that since 1997 there have been 1,106 new schools, 27,000 new or improved classrooms and 2,300 new or refurbished school kitchens built. In the 450 most recently built schools, new indoor toilets had been provided, so no children have to use outside loos any more, the report said. It also said that sports facilities had been improved or provided for the first time in 2,450 schools in England.

In his introduction to the report, Mr Blair said: "The programme of renewal is truly historic. It compares to the legacy of the Victorians and the post-war generation. Generations of young people will benefit. Twenty years of under-investment is being steadily reversed."
He continued: "Before 1997, schools and colleges suffered decades of under-investment. Buildings were decaying. Thousands of young people endured shabby facilities, temporary classrooms, leaking roofs or outside toilets. "New buildings were desperately needed, but the funding simply wasn't there."

"Education, education, education was how I described my priorities at the outset of this Government," Mr Blair said. "A decade on, this report shows we meant it".

It is progress to renovate and built new facilities for students however, the current problem does not lie with the facilities, but rather with the education they receive inside them.

There was no improvement in education in 2005. This is from the Telegraph 17/05/2005 "The number of failing secondary schools has gone up despite the Government's focus on improving standards through the "reform" of comprehensive education." Today there is still no improvement. This from The telegraph 09/05/07 "Last year, one in 10 pupils - 75,000 - failed to obtain five GCSEs of whatever grade. That figure has remained the same since 1999. Of these, 26,000 pupils fail to achieve a single GCSE."

The measure of Mr. Blair's success is dependent on whether you place a greater value on the buildings in which students attend school or the level of education achieved within them.

Absurd News of the Week

Balloon of Naked Man Floating in Milan's Main Park

MILAN, Italy — It would take one very large fig leaf to restore modesty to Milan's main park after the installation of a 70-foot floating sculpture of a naked man.
The balloon self-portrait by Polish artist Pawel Althamer has been hovering outside the Renaissance Palazzina Appiani in Parco Sempione since Monday, drawing second takes, amused looks and disapproving concern about exposing children to nudity.
"To be honest with you, it's nothing new," said Rosaria Mirabelli, mother of 3-year-old Tommaso who stared at the sculpture from the back of his mother's bicycle.
"He sees his father naked. In this park we see so many worse things than a naked man," she said, referring to the park's reputation as a haven for drug users.
On weekday afternoons, the park is given over to mothers, nannies and grandparents with preschool age children in tow, along with a few joggers, cyclists and dog owners.

I do not understand why a person would put, or have a desire to look at, a massive balloon of a naked man. Perhaps someone could enlighten me.

A Chocolate Treat Straight From a Horror Movie

If you are a lover of chocolate bars I do not suggest you read this. After this, I may not indulge chocolate bars for quite some time.

A man in Germany is enjoying his chocolate bar when he notices something strange bump.
It turned out to be part of a human finger.

“He found a fingertip, complete with fingernail, right in the middle of the bar,” said a police spokesman in the town of Mainz, close to Frankfurt. “I suppose it went unnoticed because there were nuts in the chocolate and it was hard to tell the difference,” the police spokesman said, adding the fingertip was being examined by forensic experts.

Despite request the police have refused to mention the brand.

Previous Absurd News of the Week

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Gordon Brown Attempts to Rebuild Public Trust

Mr Brown pledged to govern “in a different way’’ yesterday when launching his campaign to lead Labour and become Prime Minister. He promised a clean break with the Blair years as he admitted “mistakes” had been made in Iraq, hinted at a review of ID cards and vowed to end the cult of celebrity. Brown also said he would restore power to Parliament and rebuild the public trust in democracy.

Yesterday, in a low-profile launch which was in sharp contrast to Blair’s carefully-choreographed grandiose farewell, the Chancellor quickly distanced himself from the spin and obsession with image of Blair while emphasizing his own "moral compass." Brown promised measures would be taken to make government more accountable to Parliament over decisions to go to war and senior public appointments, with a new code of ministerial conduct, to be followed by a major programme of constitutional reform. When speaking about Iraq, he said: “I accept that mistakes have been made”.

Mr Brown indicated that he would stick with Blairite health reforms and a push to increase the number of affordable homes. Policies that are seen as essential to keep on board "middle Britain" voters who helped Mr Blair win three election victories.

Brown's statements sound promising however George Osborne, his Conservative shadow, had it correct when he said: "After 10 years of waiting, all Gordon Brown has given us is reheated slogans and a promise to listen - when all the evidence shows he's incapable of acknowledging his mistakes."

Brown is responsible for the pension disaster and his tax credit system has handed out 6 Billion in overpayment and lost a further 1.4 Billion due to fraud. If this is Brown's track record should we not be concerned that he will be responsible for running the country? As for distancing himself from Blair, it is nothing more than political spin. A package disguised in different wrapping is still the same package. It is just a little more attractive until you open it.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Home Office Attempts to Hide Rising Cost of ID Cards

The Home Office has been accused of a "pathetic" attempt to hide that the projected cost of identity cards has jumped to £105. Ministers chose not to fulfill their legal duty to update Parliament on the price of the scheme at the end of March. Instead they waited over a month to give out the details at the same time as the Prime Minister, the project's main supporter, was announcing when he would leave office. Ministers hoped that the PM's announcement would overshadow these new increases. The estimated price of the scheme has increased by £640million in six months. This means that the ID cards will now cost £105 which is a 13 % increase over the previous figure of £93 for each card which the British public will have no option but to pay.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "The public will see through this transparent and pathetic attempt to bury bad news. It is also no surprise the Government has had to revise their cost estimate up by so much in less than a year and undermines their criticism of the independent London School of Economics cost estimate of up to £20bn."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said the bad news was "illegally postponed", illustrating the "depths of cynicism" to which ministers were resorting to force through the scheme.

The Civil rights group Liberty said the "dangerous and expensive" card plan should leave Downing Street with its author.
ID cards will carry biometric details on every Briton, as well as up to 50 pieces of sensitive information.

Home Secretary John Reid insists they will make travel easier, proof of age more convenient and proof of identity more secure. Reid's statement is exactly what this Labour Government wants the public to believe while burying the implications of the scheme just as they attempted to bury the increase is cost of the cards.

For the few people out there who still believe the governments spin and think that ID cards may not be such a bad idea please consider the following. Those who will get the ID's, simply because it is the law and not because they have any desire to have their personal biometric information stored on a card , are the law abiding citizens who should not have to. If Labour seriously believes criminals will line up on day one, or at any other time, they need a reality check. The next question is, when ID cards do not achieve the desired results what is next? Microchips implanted under our skin? It may sound far fetched but so did biometric ID cards 20 years ago. We can only hope Labour does not win the next election. I enjoy my freedom. Well, what's left of it anyway. Still not convinced? Visit . It will give you a very different perspective on the issue. "There is no evidence the system will produce the stated benefits. Less liberty does not imply greater security." (from the no2id website)

Blair Announces He Will Stand Down on 27 June

After briefing the Cabinet on his plans Blair made the announcement he would stand down as Prime Minister in a speech to party activists in his Sedgefield constituency. Blair will stay on in Downing Street until the Labour Party elects a new leader who is expected to be Gordon Brown.
In an emotional speech, Mr Blair said he had been prime minister for 10 years which was "long enough" for the country and himself. He thanked the British people for their support and apologised for when "I have fallen short". Blair acknowledged his government had not always lived up to high expectations but said that he had been "very blessed" to lead "the greatest nation on earth". He wen t on to add "I did what I thought was right for our country," Mr Blair said, summing up his record. I came into office with high hopes for Britain's future, and, you know, I leave it with even higher hopes for Britain's future." In conclusion, he said: "Actually I've been lucky and very blessed. And this country is a blessed nation. The British are special - the world knows it, in our innermost thoughts we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth."

Shortly after Mr Blair's announcement, the deputy prime minister and deputy Labour leader John Prescott also announced his intention to stand down.

Brown, who is expected to launch his campaign for leadership Friday, said of Blair: "I think I spoke for millions when I said at Cabinet today that Tony Blair's achievements are unique, unprecedented and enduring." He went on to add that Mr Blair's legacy would also be better public services and a strong economy adding "Britain's reputation in the world is stronger than ever before. At all times he tried to do the right thing".

Conservative leader David Cameron posted his reaction to Blair's speech on his website. He said: "I think a lot of people will look back on the last 10 years of dashed hopes and big disappointments, of so much promised so little delivered." Mr Cameron has said the country faces seven weeks of "paralysis" until Labour chooses a new top team, accusing Mr Blair of running a government of the "living dead".

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell joined Cameron in criticizing Blair. He said that he thought Mr Blair's speech was "defensive, defiant, and even chauvinist at the end talking about Great Britain as being the best country in the world".

Only time will tell whose account of the "Blair Years" will go down in history. However one thing is certain, it was time for Blair to go.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Brown Can't Run An Effective Tax Credit System ... Now We Expect Him to Run the Government?

Gordon Brown's tax credits system has handed out nearly £6 billion of overpayments over the past three years. Officials have already had to write off more than £500 million of overpayments and are "unlikely" to recover a further £1.4 billion according to a report by MPs. the MPs stressed that a further £1.28 billion of tax credits was lost in a single year as a result of "unacceptable" levels of fraud and error. The report also says that the Government has not introduced additional checks on tax credit claims submitted by migrant workers from Eastern European countries that have joined the EU.

According to the Public Accounts select committee tax credits now suffer the highest levels of fraud and error in the whole of the Government.

We already know about the pension disaster under Brown and the tax credit system he is responsible for hands out 6 Billion in overpayment and loses a further 1.4 Billion due to fraud. If this is Brown's track record should we not be concerned that he will be responsible for running the country?

In Anticipation of Blair Announcing His Resignation ... Quotes to Remember Him By

In anticipation of Tony Blair returning on Thursday to his Sedgefield constituency for the long-awaited announcement that he is standing down as leader of the Labour Party here are a few interesting quotes from his time as PM.

From Prime Minister's Questions, 30 July 1997:
Sir Michael Spicer: Looking back on the past 96 days, and with the benefit of hindsight, what does the Prime Minister think has been his worst mistake--losing control over interest rates, raiding pension funds, robbing the reserves, or what?
The Prime Minister: Certainly our greatest triumph has been to remove the Conservative Government. As for my greatest mistake, that is for me to know and for the hon. Gentleman to find out.

Well Mr Blair, we have found out and there is quite a list.

Blair Quotes ...
"This party will, ultimately, be judged on its ability to deliver on its promise" ... Based on the numerous broken promises I'm not sure Blair would feel the same way today :)

"I didn't come into politics to change the Labour Party. I came into politics to change the country." From Tony Blair's speech to Labour Party conference October 1995. Blair did succeed in changing the country, however not in a good way.

"Ask me my three priorities for Government, and I tell you: education, education and education." ... I have a few quotes for Blair regarding his priority.
1. There was no improvement in education in 2005. This is from the Telegraph 17/05/2005 "The number of failing secondary schools has gone up despite the Government's focus on improving standards through the "reform" of comprehensive education."
2. There is still no improvement today. This from today's telegraph "Last year, one in 10 pupils - 75,000 - failed to obtain five GCSEs of whatever grade. That figure has remained the same since 1999. Of these, 26,000 pupils fail to achieve a single GCSE."

Speech in Paris, May 1997.
“Labour is the party of law and order in Britain today. Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.” Violent and serious crimes have increased. If Blair meant he would be "tough on crime" by installing "talking" cctv cameras to yell at children for littering as they walk down the street then he has succeeded at that.

"We'll negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC"(now the EU)"which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs". Tony Blair, before he became an MP, in 1983. Mr Blair is now an enthusiastic supporter of the EU and asserts that Britain must "be at the heart of Europe". It is very possible that Blair intends to use his final weeks as Prime Minister to in office to surrender British powers to Brussels as part of his drive for a European "legacy" irrespective of the fact that the majority of the public are very much opposed to this.

"Power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile. This is a party of government, and I will lead it as a party of government." Blair has had his time with barren power. Soon he will no longer have power and his principles are long gone so what will be left?

In the spirit of the transfer of Labour leadership, one final quote from Gordon Brown about Tony Blair. "There is nothing that you could say to me now that I could ever believe." (To Tony Blair by Gordon Brown) That pretty much sums up the public's view on Blair. The only thing Brown didn't mention is that is sums up the public's view of him as well.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Rally Yesterday Demanding Amnesty for Hundreds of Thousands of Illegal Immigrants

Thousands of protesters took part in a rally at Trafalgar Square yesterday demanding that immigrants who have been in Britain for longer than 4 years be given a two year work permit without access to benefits. However at the end of the two years, providing certain conditions have been met they would be given indefinite leave to remain. These tests include an English test, criminal checks, and employer references.

Well known figures who joined in the protest included Dr Tom Butler the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, Labour deputy leadership contender Jon Cruddas, Baroness Shirley Williams and Billy Bragg, the singer and political activist.

Both Labour, apart from the Deputy Leader contender Jon Cruddas, (which is no surprise as Labour can rarely agree within the party) and the Conservatives have rejected the idea thankfully.

The shadow home affairs minister, Damian Green, said "We are not attracted to the idea of an amnesties. Experience from abroad shows that they attract illegal immigration. The long-term solution is to have an efficient asylum system which allows people to have their case heard quickly, so that we do not develop the huge backlog from which this government now suffers."

Green is correct. The last thing the UK needs is more illegal immigration. Offering amnesty to the illegal immigrants currently here would simply invite more people to illegally enter and reside in Britain. It would be effectively rewarding immigrants for getting away with breaking the law by living illegally in the UK for an extended period of time . It is completely illogical and would simply serve to make the problem even worse than it already is.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Brown Hopes That By Bringing In A Younger Cabinet He Will Have A Better Chance a Challenging Cameron

Brown hopes a Cabinet with a younger yet still experienced image will give Labour a fresh start and counter the challenge of David Cameron after the Conservatives success in last week's elections. When Mr Brown takes over it looks as though the four most senior posts in Government, prime minister, chancellor, foreign secretary and now home secretary are most likely changing.

This large cabinet restructure would the largest since 1997. Brown is attempting to make a clean brake with the Blair years and resurrect Labour. The only problem facing Labour is that the voters support Brown only marginally more than Blair. After the past 10 years the British public are no longer that easily fooled. Brown will create new slogans and spin however the same package in different wrapping paper is still the same package.

Brown will need to perform a miracle to gain the support of the country after the past 10 years of broken promises and Labour sleaze. A miracle which I hope, for our country's sake, never materializes.

Scotland In Crisis After Lib Dems Refuse Coalition with SNP

Scotland was in turmoil last night after Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen refused Alex Salmond's offer of a share in a coalition government. Stephen demanded that the SNP instantly drop their demands for a referendum on independence.

In a powerful statement issued after two days of talks Stephen said that the way was now open for nationalists to try to form a minority government as the Liberal Democrats had earlier also categorically ruled out a coalition deal with Labour. It now appears that a minority SNP administration is Mr Salmond's only option.

The Scottish Parliament will meet to swear in new MSPs on Tuesday and have only 24 days to elect a First Minister or a new election must be called.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Question of the Week

Does it concern you that Tony Blair intends to use his final weeks in office to surrender British powers to Brussels as part of his drive for a European "legacy" ? Bearing in mind the repercussion this may have on the future of Britain do you believe Blair is more concerned with securing his "legacy" during his final weeks in office or the future of the country?

The article relating to this can be found at Blair's Desire for a European Legacy

Previous Question of the Week 30 April ,

Blair's Desire for a "European" Legacy Is More Important to Him than the Impact His Actions Will Have on Britain

Senior Whitehall officials claim that Tony Blair intends to use his final weeks in office to surrender British powers to Brussels as part of his drive for a European "legacy" despite the future repercussions. Prime Minister Blair will effectively be binding the hands of Gordon Brown by committing Britain to a rewritten version of the European Union constitution days before he finally resigns at the end of June.

Mr Blair's has wanted to do forge closer links with France and Germany since coming to power in 1997. This action by Blair will dash Labour's hopes of a "stable and orderly transition" of power when Mr Blair announces his departure plans later this week. Brown will have a series of difficult and time consuming negotiations to undertake to undo any or all of Mr Blair's moves to sign away powers. These negotiations would likely dominate Brown's tenure at number 10.

Yesterday a senior civil servant said, "The concern is that the outgoing Prime Minister will take constitutional decisions which will bind both his successor and the country for years. There is a worry he believes this should be part of his political legacy and that he will be acting as an individual and not the leader of a government." This seems to be a very accurate statement.

Blair is consumed by ensuring his legacy and will do so, it seems, even at the expense of the country he was entrusted to run.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Sucessful Result for David Cameron and the Conservatives

David Cameron's Conservatives have strong hopes of winning the next general election. And they should do after Labour suffered a historic national collapse yesterday. the Chancellor now faces what some say is an insurmountable task to restore a party which has been severely damaged weeks before he is due to take over from Tony Blair.

The Conservatives 40 per cent share of the vote would translate at a general election into a majority of about 20. Cameron is on the right track to victory in the next general election. The British Public have shown they have had their share of the era of Labour sleaze, broken promises and scandals. We are looking for new direction and, after winning over 850 council seats, it is becoming apparent Cameron in the person for the job. With results in from 303 councils, the Tories had won 856 new seats and taken control of another 38 authorities, many in areas which for a decade have been hostile to the Tories.