Sunday, October 31

The Sunday Quote

'' Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue; it needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit. It cannot like adultery or gluttony, be practised at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.''

Cakes and Ale (1930) William Somerset Maugham

Monday, October 25

Victory Flogging

Very British Subjects
New Monthly Competion.

Each month this blog will award a free dinner to the reader who posts the most politicaly incorrect statement from a UK newspaper. The dinner, with the editor and the most politicaly incorrect political journalist or politican of the moment.

As an example of the statard of quote we are expecting I site the wondefully politicaly incorrect comments from an assistant in the souvenier shop of HMS Victory.

'' In my view this woman from the council should be taken aboard the Victory and flogged for talking claptrap like that ''

The 'clap trap' was to issist that the aim of the celebrations in Portsmouth to mark the 200 th anniversary of Lord Nelson's triumph and heroic death at the Battle of Trafalgar was not to celebrate his Victory over the French. The woman from the Lib Dem Portsmouth Council said that the city was anxious to avoid ''rubbing French noses in defeat''

Clearly a silly comment - The French are well used to defeats they have had many generations of practice. Ed.


With thanks to Jonathan Oliver from The Mail on Sunday - 24 October 2004

Sunday, October 24

Of Mandelson, Brown and Prescott

Peter Mandelson smiled and said it was a pertinent yet politically orientated question.

Clearly it was so politically orientated that the former Hartlepool MP and newly appointed UK's Commissioner to the EU, replied but did not directly answer my question; indeed a complement. The Rt. Hon. Peter Mandelson is a shrewd political operator, an important political figure who has been appointed by the new EU President as the EUs all powerful Trade Commissioner and as such is a part of the process of government of this country.

Many feel that it is reassuring to know that the North East of England will have its adopted son in a position of influence at the 'heart of Europe' giving a boost to Chancellor Gordon Brown's message of much needed Economic regeneration for the North East. Peter Mandelson has on more than one occasion been reported as saying he will be keen to continue to support the North East.

Reassuring as Mr Mendelson's offers of ongoing help for the North East may be the truth is, as I suggested to Commissioner Mandelson, he is in fact unable to serve two masters. The oath that he will swear at the European Court of Justice on 1 November is to '' perform my duties in complete independence,in the general interest of EU Community neither to seek nor to take instructions from any Government .......'' Hence my politically orientated question as to how he could promote North East issues when he will swear an oath not to do so ?

Some fellow activists of this blog editor in the Federation of Small Businesses query whether political issues are indeed business issues. I argue that political matters effect the process of business and are thus relevant to those in businesses. Politics is about ideas, ideas are needed to develop society. A healthy economy is vital so that businesses can flourish. In order to flourish society needs to be lead, leaders need ideas. Ideas is what politics is about which unless I am missing the point, questions about ideas need to be put to the increasing number of politicos that seek the attentions of business organisations.

Mindful of this I was very keen to be being able to put a double whammy of a question to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor when they addressed a meeting of business people in Newcastle I held my hand up at the start of the question and reply session. At the end of the session my arm ached with anticipation. The meeting Chairman did not call me to pose my question. Perhaps it was feared that I would take advantage of the presence of the two senior politicians to ask another politically orientated question. Perhaps some of my colleagues sitting cheek by jowl with me that morning were relieved; after all it would never do to discuss politics would it ?

Specifically I was intending to ask Messers Brown and Prescott what is the key difference between devolution and regionalisation. The answer is important since the former is what the Scots voted for and have, also what the Southern Irish were granted after the First World War. Regionalisation in the UK was rejected by Branch Delegates at the annual Federation of Small Businesses Conference in March by over 80%. A recent survey revealed a similar percentage rejection by business in the North East.

On the 4th November if the latest MORI Poll is correct the people of the North East well reject the option of an Elected Regional Assembly by a margin of at least 7 %. That rejection will also be a rejection of the Governments regionalisation in England. Now that will be a real nightmare for the Deputy Prime Minister.

A word of caution before anyone considers a celebration or perhaps a wake, MORI Polls can be wrong. If MORI was correct in June this Blog editor would now be an MEP !

The Sunday Quote

''There are no true friends in Politics. We are all sharks circling and waiting for traces of blood to appear in the water.''

an Clarke (1928 -1999).

Out with VAT in with LST

The most common objection to the proposal to abolish VAT and introduce a Local Sales Tax ( L S T ) is that most people, quite understandably, do not trust local councils with efficiently raising, and spending a local tax.

The present situation is that local authorities throughout the UK raise about 24% of what they spend through business rates and council tax. The remaining 76 % is given to them by central government. This is currently totals £ 66 billion a year.

VAT raises about £64 billion a year.

Replacing VAT with a Local Sales Tax would amount to a dramatic true devolution of power and accountability to local councils and /or Elected Regional Assemblies.

Central Government would no longer have to raise the £ 64 billion of VAT revenue and then allocate the £ 66 billion in central subsidy to local or regional governments.

One of the most complicated, bureaucratic and burdensome of taxes -VAT - can be abolished and replaced with a simpler Local Sales Tax. The £64,000,000,000 that is collected and then redistributed to local authorities to spend would stop.

Under the proposed new system the local authority's money would be collected locally, by local officials answerable to local councillors who would be responsible to their voters. Much more transparent. So if and when they make a mess of managing it they can be held to accountable by the voters.

Making local government 100 % self-financing would ensure greater local accountability.

Under this change business rates would be scrapped, a clear advantage for small businesses.

Local Authorities would not have freedom to spend as they wanted to since statutory obligations and constrains would, as now, be imposed.

A local sales tax would be too costly and complex to collect ?

No ! A local sales Tax would actually be a lot simpler than the present VAT system.

Whilst VAT is added on (and reclaimed) at each stage of the supply chain a Local Sales Tax would be payable only at the final retail point. There would be none of the complex calculation of VAT liabilities and the form filling needed to reclaim VAT from the government.

A criticism of a local sales tax is that it could be unfair and inflexible. A change in the Local Tax rate say in County Durham of 1 % could make a large difference to peoples shopping bills compared to people say in Northumberland or Tees Valley ( wherever that is). That criticism is fair comment, but has advantages. In the United States, changes of just a fraction of a percent on local tax rates often lead to very heated debate. This of course makes people aware of how a local authority is spending local tax payers money.

So out would go the complex VAT system, as would business rates. Government would no longer have to transfer billions of pounds around the country. If (or perhaps when) local authorities 'balls up' they can pay the price of failure at the ballot box. Better I argue than the present system of VAT.

OK What about the EU ?

As every one knows, or ought to know, VAT replaced the existing UK Purchase Tax regime in 1973, when the UK joined the European Union (then the European Economic Community). The UK's VAT regime is governed by the EU's 6th EC Directive. VAT is important to the EU since 40% of the EU's 'resource funding' is derived from VAT -type taxes within the EU.

Thus to abolish VAT and introduce LPT will require substantial revisions to both the 6th Directive as well as changes to the current EU funding arrangements. Since the Directive is currently subject to review and has been for over 10 years that is not really an option.There must be a better way.

Perhaps that better way is the amicable divorce from the EU I have referred to before. At the same time we can repatriate the UK fishing and agricultural industries.

Better start planning now !

Sunday, October 10

A case for Jim Hacker

New legislation could lead to the destruction of government records - the opposite of what is intended, presumably.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which comes into force on 1 January 2005 will make it an offence to destroy records once a formal request has been made to see them. However there is nothing to stop officials from destroying records being destroyed prior to a request being made.

The FIOA allows the public to request information from more than 100,000 public authorities, subject to exemptions such as national security. The law will be retrospective, so unless an exemption applies, the current 30-year rule lapses and researchers will be able to ask for documents on events from any time up to the present day. This will in practice mean that civil and public servants will be encouraged to destroy 'unwanted' records. This has been confirmed by a comment from a Mr.Richard Smith the FOIA Compliance Officer at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister who commented ''Initiatives are coming down to us to whittle away our records, throw away anything not being used and to properly file those records decide not to keep.''

The Campaign for the Freedom of Information is concerned that information could be destroyed in anticipation of the Act coming into force.

Howard Davis from the National Archives said in an article in the BBC History Magazine (October edition) '' there has been a noticeable increase in the use of disposable schedules ''.

Public authorities apparently have ''folder controllers'' who weed out records before passing them on to a departmental records manager, though this process is generally informal so there is no auditable record of distraction.

All of this is clearly a case for the Department of Administrative Affairs !

Comments welcome.

The Sunday Quote

'' The Labour Party is going around stirring up apathy ''

The late Lord (William) Whitelaw, commenting in The Observer 1 May 1983.

The comment could well apply to 'Labour North' who are currently making desperate attempts (and desperate mistakes) to interest North East voters in the referendum on the Elected Regional Assembly.

When Chris Williamson, former agent in the Euro Elections, received a telephone call from Labours North East call centre a few days ago the canvasser asked whether she would be voting for the 'Yes' campaign. When told that in the event of a 'No' vote that the current unelected assembly would carry on acting as a democracy by-pass to Brussels, the caller was apparently flummoxed. Clearly Mrs Williamson's knowledgeable response was not anticipated and thus not built into the 'response script'.

Perhaps Gordon Brown will be better prepared to field questions from the NE business community following his presentation to delegates at the Labour Party organised and funded event on Tuesday morning ! I will let you all know. Perhaps unlike his former colleague and adversary, Peter Mandleson, he will actually answer the carefully crafted questions that at least one representative will put to him.

Tuesday, September 14

From the Farm

What is the difference between a rural and an urban location ?

DEFRA states that towns of less than 25,000 residents are considered to be rural. However, the Scottish Executive bases its definition of rural on driving times. That is, accessible rural areas are settlements of less than 3,000 within a 30- minute drive from a settlement of 10,000. Remote rural areas are defined as settlements of less than 3,000 and more than a 30 minute drive from a settlement of 10,000 or more.

Wonderful thing knowledge !

Monday, August 30

Bank Holiday Question

Never again, says the Electoral Commission, can a British election be held on an all-postal ballot - with the sole exception of the very next election to beheld, the North-East's referendum on an elected regional assembly , on 4 November.

At the elections for the European parliament on 10 June - about 18,000 votes were voided in the North East because voters were confused by the voting instructions.

Why, then is the referendum in the North East still being held by postal only vote ?

Answers below please.

The Sunday Quote

Following a review of all Sunday Newspapers I believe the definition of an Editor from the 1923 edition of the Roycroft Dictionary to be appropriate.

'' Editor ....... a person employed on a newspaper, who's business is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.''

Friday, August 27

Small Business - Big Jobs

New Job's in the UK are being created by the public sector and the non-corporate business community.

About 86,000 public sector jobs are currently being created each year in the public sector, the national number of jobs being just over 5.3 million. In the private sector 89,000 jobs - the majority of which are in small businesses - are being created each year. The Federation of Small Businesses calculates that firms that employ less that 250 employees have been responsible for creating over 10 million sustainable jobs over the past decade. Corporate businesses over the same period have contributed 'zero growth'.
The public sector will continue to grow so long as the private sector is able to fund it via taxation. The government is presumably aware that if it stifles small businesses with extra taxation job creation will suffer. This appears to be blatantly obvious to everyone other than politicians. Who say they understand but whose actions indicate they do not.

Thursday, August 26

From the Farm

English Nature to Merge

The Government Agency 'English Nature' which in recent years has been very effectively dealing with rural affairs is to be closed down. Sorry I mean merged as a part of Margaret Beckett's (the environment Secretary of State) ''ruthless streamlining''.

English Nature, which has criticized road schemes, port proposals, details of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy and the likely effect of GM crops on wild life will soon be absorbed with the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service.

Mrs Becket recently said of the yet to be named new super-agency:

''Its remit will be the integrated management of our national heritage that the challenges and environmental threats of the 21st Century demand''.

One wonders if that includes improving our nations agricultural industry. Perhaps I should ask !

Defence Cuts - The detail

The Government defence cuts an ''improvement'' says Hoon.

The essential truth is that the cuts announced by the Secretary of State for Defence last month will render the UK dangerously short of vital protection. As expected Government spin is telling us the opposite and the Opposition is only meekly protesting.

The UK's armed services are to suffer even more drastic retrenchment than they did at the end of the cold war. Geoff Hoon's cuts will reduce the front line strength to its lowest level in modern times. As any British Subject with any knowledge of World events will know the UK is in the front line in a global war on terror. The defence cuts are a national scandal as an examination of the detail should reveal.

To be axed from RAF is 12,000 men and 108 Jaguars aircraft. The Royal Navy is to be cut by 5,000 sailors and 15 vessels. The Army by 5,000 soldiers and 80 tanks.

The detailed list of cuts is frightening, the RAF will be particularly badly hit. Four out of the 17 fast jet squadrons are to be axed by 2007, which includes all the Jaguar ground attack fleet. The Nimrod reconnaissance fleet will be cut from 18 to 12. RAF Coltishaw is to close and another three RAF stations are expected to be mothballed within the next few years. The RAF is to be reduced from 53,800 to 48,500 personnel.

The Royal Navy will lose six out of 31 destroyers and frigates over the next 18 months.The Nuclear-powered attack submarine fleet will be reduced from eleven to eight vessels. Six minesweepers are to be taken out of service.

The Army will be reduced to thirty six battalions from the current strength of forty. At least eighty Challenger II tanks, which represents a quarter of the total will be cut. Famous cap badges will go as regiments are merged when single-battalion infantry regiments merge to form regional multi-battalion regiments. Manpower in the Army will be cut from 107,000 to 102,000. Some of the detail has yet to be announced, however what is definite is that one Scottish, probably the Highlanders, and also three English regiments will be disbanded.

Mr Hoon told MPs before the Parliamentary recess that 10,000 Ministry of Defence civil servants would lose their jobs as a ''part of improvements to military capabilities.'' Well it is interesting to note that New Labour's Orwellian newspeak is alive and well. As readers of the classic political satire, 1984 will recall newspeak was encouraged by the state as a uniquely self reducing language, so deliberately designed that dissidents had less words available with which to criticise the state as the state became more intrusive.

The angry debate that preceded the announcements had led Hoon to warn the defence chiefs that any sign of dissent ''would lead them to being shown the door''.

Perhaps Geoff Hoon et al should start looking for the door.


Wednesday, August 25

A Spanking New Regulation

An employment appeals tribunal decision that Lancashire Probation Service was within its rights to dismiss an otherwise satisfactory employee who performed at sado masochism clubs has put an end to the assumption that the activities employees do outside work, in their own time have no bearing (!) on their employment.
Apparently the appeals tribunal found that some employees do not cease to represent their employers outside normal work hours and so had to maintain an acceptable reputation within the community.

Whilst off duty activities has always been an issue with semi-discipline (!) services such as the Police and Fire Service this ruling has a consequences in other occupations.
There are a number of business people who belive that it would be a precondition of employment to have sadistic tendencies to qualifiy for employment with a government agency or department. Perhaps it is in recognition of Mr Blair's objective of more transparent government that government agencies are now known as 'partnerships'.

What is not recorded is whether the former probation officer employee's collegues had a whip round as a leaving gift !
L Pay v Lancashire Probation Service, Employement Appeal Tribuneral Apeal No ETA /1224/02/LA . Full details available from

A French Complaint

From today's Evening Standard

Paris rejects UKIP backing By Joe Murphy, Evening Standard 25 August 2004

Paris today firmly rejected the UK Independence Party's controversial backing for its Olympics 2012 campaign.

Senior executives of the French bid to host the Games met British Olympic officials in Athens to make an official complaint.

Philippe Baudillon, chief executive of the Paris bid, said UKIP had used its logo without permission and had given the impression that Paris was breaching Olympic rules. UKIP says the cost of staging the Olympics in London would be too high. Ends

Well this is typical of the French ...... come up with a way of helping them spend their Franks, woops sorry Euros and all they do is moan. Ed.

Tuesday, August 24

What makes 100 %

From the other side of the pond:

What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%.

How about achieving 103%?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:
If: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z is represented as: 1 and so on

then: H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K 8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and, K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But, A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

And, B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T 2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103% and, look how far ass kissing will take you: A-S-S--K-I-S-S-I-N-G 1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can then conclude with mathematical certainty that: While Hardwork and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, Bullshit and Ass Kissing will put you over the top!

Indeed !

Monday, August 23

Defence Cuts

On Sunday two excellent articles were published in the Sunday newspapers on the vital issue of the UK's defence, or rather the reduction of it. Both The Sunday Times and the Sunday Express published large pieces on the issue which the Mori poll published in The Daily Telegraph stated is the policy issue to most concern the public.

Thirty eight percent of those polled by Mori believe that defence and foreign affairs tops the list of subjects that are of concern. The NHS is now down from sixty percent a year ago to thirty four percent. 'Europe' is down to under ten per cent.

On an unofficial army web site known as the 'Army Roomer Service' a soldier left a satirical posting translating New Labour's Orwellian language on the defence ''review''. The definition of ''flexible was smaller, ''agile'' as ''really very very small'' and ''Britains global reach'' as the ''distance that the USAF is prepared to fly HM forces''.

Clearly the way forward is for UKIP to 'major' on the defence issue, take 'ownership' of the subject - the Tories will be unable to react because of past policy, New Labour can only dig a bigger trench, Lib Dems will only make vague statements on the issue. The merger and abolition of traditional regiments, the reduction of the Royal Navy's escort ships to only 25 frigates and destroyers, UK air power is being reduced to levels previously considered unimaginable, these are emotional issues. As Field Marshal Viscount Slim, once commented ''People are Governed by their emotions....''.

The question the voting public are now asking is: Why are our armed services being so severely reduced ? A question that can be added is there a connection with the plans for an EU defence force ? The emotional response is obvious.

Sunday, August 22

The Sunday Quote

An extract from a letter from The Daily Telegraph - Saturday 21 August 04 which not only appeals to my sense of the ridiculous it also highlights the absurdities now common place in the name of 'security'.

'' ........ The son of a friend is a serving officer in the Ghurka Rifles and was on his way to with his unit to Afghanistan, courtesy of the RAF. Dressed in full combat kit and carrying weapons, all went well until the final security check before boarding. Rifles, bayonets and kukris were fine, but when the nail clippers were discovered in his washing kit the offending article was placed in a plastic bag and confiscated. Dangerous in the wrong hands you understand.''

Col. P D King-Fretts
South Molton, Devon

Sunday, August 15

Let the People Know

''Not Just a local Issue, but an event of national significance''
Christopher Booker - page 12 The Sunday Telegraph
. 15 August '04

Two important articles have been published today in The Sunday Telegraph. The headlines 'Prescott overseas Britain's silent metamorphous' and 'Mandelson joins the real Government' are I suggest followed by the two most important pieces to have been published in the Booker Notebook pages in recent months.

The essential fact that Mr. Mandelson is about to ''join the real Government'' of the UK and additionally November's Referendum in the North East is an event of ''national significance''. The painful and essential reality that currently few people are aware of. the significance of what is happening around them. This is particularly the case in the North East which is the focal point of the next stage of the redrawing of the political map of Britain. Those that are aware remain mostly unfocused on how to counter attack Prescott's regionalisation ambitions, including I firmly believe our Prime Minister.

Mr Blair said to me in reply to my pointed question (at a business peoples lunch in his constituency two years ago) when I was seeking the Premiers level of support of his deputies regionalisation plans, ''some in the Cabinet are keener than I am on regionalisation''.

The UK's small business representatives were likewise 'less keen' in fact they rejected Prescott's regionalisation dream at their Federations national conference in March by over 80 per cent.

The great deception of Prescott's plans are as Christopher Booker writes:

''Mr Prescott's revolution has been to make sure that he never explains clearly what he is up to The powers and scope of the North East Regional Assembly have been deliberately confused.His hope has been that, by setting about it piecemeal, no one will cotton on to his grand plan''.

The Deputy Prime Minister's strategy appears to be working, apathy is alive and well. Prescot knows this and is playing on it to great effect. The business community in the North East of England have fallen in line, quite unwittingly, with this plan. They believe with robotic obedience that 'regional government' is good. The fact that the regional assembly is not a government has not been seriously questioned by all but a very few business leaders. The reason is probably influenced be the 'European money' that the regions entrepreneurs have had dangled carrot like in front of them. Clever man this Mr Prescott, the fact most think he is the opposite is testimony to his political skills, unfortunately.

I have, however, only two concerns regarding today's Bookers column. Firstly not enough people will read it and secondly 'sub-regions' in the North East are and have been a reality for the business community for over four years. In true Orwellian style the 'sub-term' has been introduced into the business support structure with frightening effect.There are four sub-regions in the North East as any employee or either the Government office in the North East or the RDA will enthusiastically confirm.

Scotland, as was confirmed in the Scottish Parliament in December 2002, is regarded as a sub-national member state of the EU. I spent three months, with others, this year pointing this out to many Scots. They seemed suitably concerned at the insult and reduction in their national self determination.

In the meantime Joe Borg, a Maltase gentleman has been appointed to manage the EU's Fisheries Policy.He will have more say in what happens to the UK's fishing industry than our ministers or officials in DEFRA. And before anyone accuses me of xenophobia, Mr Borg and I are distantly related.

Finally, all Booker notebooks are good - some are better than others - today's page is of national importance.

The Sunday Quote

A Sunday Quote especially for the start of the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece.

'' Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all the rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.''

George Orwell, The Sporting Spirit, 1945.

If Orwell's view was true 59 years ago what is the reality now? The same as Orwell wrote plus corporate greed ? Ed.

Saturday, August 14


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Of Myths and Faggots

Two recent complaints which have been made to the British media watchdog Ofcom have come to the attention of the editor. Both are a reflection of the times we live in.

An advertisement for supermarket chain Somerfield has been banned for using the word faggots. The radio advertisement featured a husband complaining that his wife had served up the same meals every week. When she told him that it was Friday so he would be getting his usual faggots, he replied, ''I 've got nothing against faggot, I just don't fancy them''.

Three listeners complained to Ofcom about the content of the ad. , saying that faggots alluded to homosexuals. Somerfield insisted that the ad refers only to food products. Faggots, they claimed, were only chosen to demonstrate the idea because they are commonly perceived as an outdated and slightly comical product and definitely did not have any allusions to homosexuality.''

Ofcom upheld the complaints ruling that the term faggots was ''highly derogatory'' and banned the broadcast until the word faggot was removed. The ruling from the regulator stated '' Irrespective of the advertiser's denial of intent and the brevity of the campaign, we believe that the aired comment was likely to have been perceived at best as innuendo''.

While Somerfield consider whether to advertise their fine selection of fairy cakes, they should perhaps check their stock of Trojan Condoms. This is not because I have a vested interest but because the guardian of our national consumer interest Ofcom has rejected 209 complaints by outraged British Subjects on the content of Trojan Condoms television advert.

Indeed a curiously named product - we all know about the wooden horse. The ad is raunchy or sensuous depending upon ones point of view, it features a head and shoulders close-up of a woman having an orgasm. The filming, all without oral script, is viewed from a position that any heterosexual man would be familiar; the scene illustrates a performance of Herculean satisfaction with the clear enjoyment of the male's partner. The ad was first broadcast during the commercial break of Big Brother.

The editors understanding is that the advertising studio that produced the advert is French, well of course.
Perhaps because of the 'French connection' the British watchdog ruled that '' the ad did not breach advertising standards''.

Maybe, but Trojan strength is of myths and legends.

Floret Ilium.
With acknowledgement to the Shropshire Star 6 July,2004 and On Target supplement no. 458 produced by Intelegence Publications, Sudbury Suffolk. CO10 2TD

Monday, August 9

Blot on the Landscape

HRH Prince Charles has reportedly told senior aids that wind farms are a ''blot on the landscape'' and that their spread must be halted before they ruin some of Britain's most beautiful countryside.
Apparently The Prince, who has an abiding interest in environmental issues, does not want to have any links with events or groups that promote onshore wind farms.This will present a problem for Energy Minister Stephen Tims MP who is charged with implementing HM Government policy of increasing out source of power from the likes of wind farms from 4 per cent currently to 10 per cent by 2010.

Perhaps the Monster Raving Looney party will adopt the policy of underground wind farms. In the meantime I suspect there will be a matter of protocol to solve between Whitehall and Clarence House, again.

President Bush, a Dyslexic ?

There have been many theories put forward as to why US President Bush repeatedly subjects the English language to manglings which the British Deputy Prime Minister would be proud. Many political commentators have claimed that Bush is intellectually dim.

My personal theory that Bush possesses one of the greatest political skills a politician can acquire, to constantly allow his political opponents to underestimate him must now been seen in a different light.

George Bush Junior is Dyslexic. This is my theory, I know because I am a fellow dyslexic. There are many variances of dyslexia and the severity of the affliction varies with individuals.There are many combinations of dyslexia which I believe many international statesmen have and do suffered from, most notably Churchill. My form of dyslexia effects my ability to spell. When I was a young child I had a stutter, common amongst dyslexics, which I self cured in my teenage years. Occasionally when talking I mix words which many dyslexics do.

Bush is no fool. He has degrees from both Yale and Harvard Universities. Evidence of Mr President's dyslexia is in his many apparently curiously strange statements as well as his well known dislike of reading lengthy reports - as indeed did Churchill. Notable British dyslexics include, Rt. Hon. Michael Heslitine, Richard Branson and the late Agatha Christie; all three achieved the status self made multi-millionaires.

Recently Bush said,
'' I think the American People, I hope the American, I don't think' let me, I hope the American People.''

On an other occasion,
'' I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here.''

And famously,
''Keep good relations with the Greecians.''

These are classic comments from a dyslexic. The fact that they originate from the leader of the most powerful nation on earth is of concern to all; other than fellow dyslexics who fully understand what the President meant.

Why is all of this of interest to British Subjects ? Well there are estimated to be a million of so dyslexics in the UK. Many of whom have under achieved in life primarily due to lack of confidence.

This is a subject I shall come back to !!

Peter Troy

Information on dyslexia can be obtained from the British Dyslexia Association Tel. 0118 966 8271

Sunday, August 8

Lottery Winner Seeks Cancer Cure

Congratulations to Iris Jeffery to donate most of her record winning £ 20.1 million jackpot for a global cure for a cure to Cancer. Mrs Jeffery, from Belfast, has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment since being diagnosed with throat cancer last April.

The Lottery, viewed as a tax on stupidity by this blog editor, has resulted in mixed fortunes for many winners and some curious decisions as to who the benefactors of 'good causes should be'. The jackpot prize of many millions appeals to the greed factor in people who's realistic chance of winning millions is so remote it creates false hopes. Reform of the National Lottery is much needed; more smaller prizes must be in the public interest.

Regrettably, this subject is not on the agenda of any political party.

Iris Jeffery and her family have made a wonderful decision that we hope will it time save the lives of millions of people. Well done madam.


Thank you for logging onto this Blog.
How are we doing so far ?
On this site we deal with some very British Subjects. We aim to mix a sense of the ridiculous with discussions of serious issues with appropriate humour and humility as is appropriate.
Comments are most welcome, in fact they are vital for the success of this blog, all will be replied to within 48 hours.
Peter Troy

A Jester from the State

The first state jester to be employed in England since 1649 in the Court of King Charles I is to being sought to entertain the crowds once again.

English Heritage is reviving the post which was abolished by Oliver Cromwell under pressure from the puritans following the English Civil War. An advertisment has been placed in a national Newspaper inviting applicants who will be expected to audition before an audience gathered for a history festival in Warwickshire. The successful applicant will be required to perform at historical events around Britain next year.

A traditional role of State or Court Jesters was to entertain members of the Royal Family and their entourage. Apparently this will not be expected of the new post holder, presumably because members Her Majesty's Government provide all the hilarity that the Royals can handle.

Hartlepool by-election

Robert Kilroy-Silk UKIP's 'star' personality today announced that he will not be standing as a candidate at the Hartlepool by-election which is expected to be held on 7 October. The party is now in the process of selecting a candidate.

Two names, at the time of typing, have been accepted by the local party Chairman for consideration, Chris Williamson a local business woman and Steve Allison a former local independent councilor. Other names are expected to be put forward for for consideration as UKIP's candidate this evening before nominations close at midnight.

Please see for up todate details.

Least We Forget

The Sunday Quote

Four quotes today from four of the surviving twenty three combatants of the First World War who on Wednesday so movingly honoured their fallen comrades at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

'' I will never forget my comrades. You cannot think about the morbid things that took place. If you did, you could not go on. But on days like this I pray for them.''

Mr Harry Allingson at 108 Britain's oldest survivor of WW1 who fought at Ypres, Jutland and Passchendale in the Royal Naval Air Service.

'' No one would know what it was actually like unless they were there. Your imagination won't go that far. It is best forgotten. It was that awful.''

John Oborne, 104, speaking on BBC Radio 4, 'Today' programme. Mr Osborne Joined the 52nd Devonshire Light Infantry, fought at Passandale and other battlefields of France and Belgium.

'' I saw many of my friends who went to fight in the war and who never came back. It was tragic and this morning's ceremony was deeply moving for me - I am a fortunate representative of those who have died.''

Bill Stone the 103 year old veteran who lead the 90th commiseration. Mr Stone joined the Royal Navy as a stoker on his 18 th birthday. Served in both world wars on eight ships was decorated after Dunkirk where he made 5 heroic trips to the beaches.

''I miss my brothers so much, Tom was killed first, and that was terrible, but Bill and I were only a year apart in age and we grew up together. We played together. Every thing we did we did, we did together. War is not something nice to remember. There is nothing nice about it. It was a bad time and we were often outnumbered by the Germans. But it was not them I went to fight. I wanted to help Bill and Tom, but I could not in the end.''

Fred Lloyd, 106 former soldier who served with the Royal Field Artillery and the Royal Veterinary Corps, has six great grand children.

The four centenarians with chests emblazoned with medals on carried wreaths and personal messages to the Cenotaph to mark the 90th anniversary of the start of the First World War. The war that was to end all wars.

Who was it that said ''War is a failure of politics'' ?

Least we forget.

Tuesday, August 3

On the Subject of Farming

To most people in the UK the Machiavellian maneuvering of EU officials and politicians to decide which EU Commissioner becomes responsible for what portfolio is of no interest whatsoever since it is regarded as an irrelevance.

In actuality, who the power players in the EU are is more relevant than who are the political heads of government ministries in Westminster, or indeed the members of the Scottish executive. The levers of power in the UK have long been transferred from Westminster to Brussels.

Thus it is a very relevant subject to every British Farmer as to who the next EU Farm Commissioner is to be.

The favorite is Dutch Farm Minister Cees Veerman closely followed by the Danish Farm Minister Marianne Fischer Bole, who is a radical CAP reformer. Though Mr. Veerman is much favored by his fellow bureaucrats at the heart of Europe his fellow countrymen seem reluctant to nominate him.

Another contender is the Finnish Commissioner despite the fact that he has no direct experience, or apparent knowledge of agriculture.

In all this confusion, to which British Farmers are largely unaware, essential questions remain unasked in the UK's newspapers.

Why is there a need for a Farm Commissioner ?

The answer is because the UK is subject to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union !

Is this costly to the UK ?

Well the answer is, for last year that I have been able to find figures the cost of CAP to the UK is at leat £4.5 billion, and that was back in 1998. According to The Institute of Economic Affairs that was a serious underestimation; by now the true net cost of CAP on the British Tax payer is estimated to be at least £6 billion and rising.

Adherence to the Common Agricultural Policy is the major economic cost of the UK's membership of the European Union.

This raises two more questions: Why does CAP exist and two, why are we paying so much into it?
The answer is to prevent inefficient French farmers from rioting on the streets of Paris and two, because the UK is a member of the EU.
The essential fact is that the UK does not have an agricultural policy of its own; we have to rely on the common policy determined collectively by the now 25 member states. All at great cost to British subjects.
Can all this be reformed? According to Margaret Becket the political head of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Britain will be 'leading the pack' in pursuing reform.
Talks at the heart of Europe are always dominated by speculation as to whether the Greeks will play ball with the Fins, Danes, Irish or Potuguese or any other combination. The French, by the way, tend not to play ball on principle.
All in all what should be a very British Subject is a very European issue.
So what do we do ? Are we perhaps better of out ?
Questions should be directed to readers MPs, who by the way will be back from their summer holidays in the first week of September , for two weeks before they go away again for another six weeks rest.

With thanks to The Farmers Guardian 30 July 04, IEA Occasional Paper 99 - Dr Brian Hindly and Martin Howe QC and The Death of British Agriculture - Dr Richard North

Monday, August 2

From the Farm

From the Farm will be a weekly offering of a cynical quote for the discerning.

'' In our time, political speech and writing are the largely the defense of the indefensible. Political Language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of pure wind.''

George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1950.

Sunday, August 1


The case of Andrew Wragg is particularly tragic.
Mr Wragg is accused of murdering his terminally ill son. Clearly Mr Wragg is in a distressed state made worse by the insensitive way he was handled by the authorities at his appearance in court on Tuesday.

I hold no views on the case it self other than to illustrate it as an example of the robotic methods that are increasingly employed by the police and court services in the execution of justice. Furthermore the insensitive use of photographs in many newspapers this week of Andrew Wragg's situation was inexcusable.

Well done to Peter Hitchens making the same point in his column on in The Mail on Sunday today.

The Sunday Quote

'The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.'

The Roman Historian Tacitus. AD 68 - 96

The EU which has todate produced 89,000 pages of regulations all of which have to be implemented into UK law (European communities Act 1972 section2.2) certainly fulfils Tacitus' criteria.
When the UK eventual leaves the EU, unplugging EU derived law and reconnecting UK law will require considerable planning, drafting and implementing. Perhaps we had better start now. Offers of help please in the comments box below.

Saturday, July 31

One for the Doctor

Who said Judges do not have a sence of humour ?

'This is an appeal with a hole in the middle. It is dismissed'

Mr Justice Muumery on Nestles attept to register the Polo mint shape as a trademark.

With thanks to The Times 31July '04

Friday, July 30

The Few Fighting for the Many

Last week it was revealed that two proud and distinguished British institutions, Sandhurst College and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight are to be given the axe.
The reason is that the Government has decided to reduce defence spending by £11 billion  over the next 10 years. The reduction in spending will seriously effect the volume and quality of equipment that will be supplied to all three armed forces.

The fact is that Britain's armed forces are to be reduced in size and power to the point that our nation will be striped bare of protection.We can no longer defend our selves from attack or go to war on our own.

Senior Ministry of Defence officials admit that there is nothing that can be done from that terrorist attack from the air.

Clearly we will all have to take comfort  in the fact that the best advice will be available on how to cope  with a terrorist attack in  the free booklet that is being delivered free this week to every household in the country.

Yesterday's News

Twenty five years ago yesterday Labour MP Tom Torney denounced in the House of Commons an  EEC directive to ban the sale of fish and chips in newspapers as ''a load of cods wollop''. He later wrote to the Minister of Agriculture urging him to 'stand firm and ignore the Brussels bureaucrats who seem hell-bent on changing our traditional eating habits'.

The MP commented to the Hartlepool Mail at the time that '' I would kindly advise them to keep their  melding hands off our fish and chips.''

Tom Torney was unaware that there was nothing that the Minister could do to over ride the EEC regulation, the leavers of power had been reconnected to Brussels seven years previously.  As is now well known thanks to the EU's Common Fisheries Policy Brussels 'meddling hands' have wrecked not only the wrappers but also the entire British fishing industry.

Until  Britains off shore fisheries are repatriated we will have to put up with '' a lot of cods wollop'' 

I am grateful  to the Hartlepool Mail of 29 July 1979

Wednesday, July 28

Of Oaths and Solemn Declarations

The Rt. Hon. Peter Mandleson will later this year, upon taking up his post as the UK's EU Commissioner, be making a solemn declaration before the Court of Justice of the European Communities.

That declaration is intended to pledge a Commissioners sole allegiance to the European Union. In the case of the new British commissioner the making of this solemn and symbolic declaration will be in conflict with the oath that Mr Mandleson swore (or possibly affirmed) when he was appointed as a  Privy Counsellor in May 1997.

The substance of the oath sworn by the Hartlepool MP, when he became a Privy Counsellor includes the solemn undertaking:
'to bear faith and allegiance to the Crown and to defend its jurisdiction and powers against all foreign, persons or states'.

In the Autumn the UK's new (and now only) EU Commissioner will be required to declare:
' To perform my duties in complete independence, in the general interests of the communities; in carrying out my duties 'neither to seek or to take instructions from any Government or body; to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties.'

How can The Rt. Hon. Peter Mandleson defend the jurisdiction and powers of the UK and at the same time act in the general interests of the communities?

There is a clear conflict, allegiance may be born to one or other of the oaths but not both.

What then should the UK's new Commissioner do to resolve this conflict of loyalties ? Clearly he should resign as a Privy Counsellor. 

That is  not  likely to happen. No other UK EU commissioner has done so and they have all faced the same dilemma.

Questions should be asked, letters should be written by Her Majesty's subjects to Her Majesty.

UKIP's first MP in Hartlepool ?

On radio Cleveland I will announce the launch of my new blog website - Hartlepool 2004 - The site, which will be available from  07.00  will give updated news, views and comments on the UKIP campaign in the Hartlepool by-election.

Read about the horror of Hartlepool !  

Wednesday, July 21

Bloom's Bloomers

UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom was yesterday at the centre of controversy following his  comments in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.  Mr Bloom a blunt talking Yorkshire academic and businessman was appointed to the European Parliament's Women's Rights Committee.
Mr Bloom's comments to the committee were  that ''No businessman with a brain would employ a lady of child-baring age'' has been widely  reported all day in the news media.
The goodness  is  the negative effect of EU orientated employment law  has on the nations small businesses  hit the head lines. The effect that recent employment law has on the growth of business is often forgotten.
The mass of 'social' legislation which is so very keenly 'goldplated' by our civil servants and accepted without very much debate ( if any) in Parliament  by our politicians is a real barrier to the growth of smaller businesses. What Mr Bloom did bring to the fore is the fact that  recent employment law has had the effect, in practice, of reducing employment opportunities  for many young women. Few employers would openly admit to this since to do so, as Labour MEP Mary Honeyball  reminded Mr Bloom,  would be blatant discrimination.
The Federation of Small Businesses offers its 185,000 members legal advice and representation, over 70 of the  legal help that the FSB gives to its members is on the complex issue of employment law. The  volume of legislation is impossible to keep up todate with and the fear of the consequences of falling foul of the law is a major barrier to the growth of the smaller business.
However, the bad news is,  Mr Blooms other and more colourful and chauvinistic  comments yesterday would have clearly upset a number of British lady subjects. ''I want to deal with women's issues because they just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough''. Later  he added  '' I am representing Yorkshire women who always have dinner on the table.'' Godfrey Bloom who is a keen supporter of the Blower Hat would perhaps be well advised to seek a political advisor and soon.
When interviewed today on BBC Radio Scotland I was asked whether Mr Blooms comments were UKIP policy. I was delighted to point out that Mr Bloom was expressing his views in his characteristic way which has revitalised the debate on how EU legislation is both inflexible and counter productive.
Politics is about ideas, controversy and image. UKIP will now be keen   to develop the first, encourage the second and improve the third.
Finally as one  business woman commented to me today, '' men's brains are often located in the wrong place''.
What could she mean ?
The Editor was the lead candidate for the UKIP in Scotland during the EU Parliament elections in June.

£ 3.70 per gallon - 82p per litre

The British motorist pays more  for vehicle fuel than any motorist in the Western World. A staggering 76 per cent of the price of both petrol and diesel is Tax, in the form of Fuel Duty and VAT. If the great British driver were to be reminded of the staggering amout of tax that is levied every time they fill up at the pumps there would be an  massive out cry. The combination of the 'road fund license' and fuel tax contributes  over 16%towards the governments income.  In our typically British way we  pay up, without asking to many questions,   and meekly  go on our way.

The Chancellor yesterday announced that  the planned increase of an extra 1.42p per litre of  fuel tax in September would be delayed.  For this decision we are told we must be grateful. The loss of revenue  to the government  will be about £ 63 million  per month, we should I suppose spare a thought for the extra administrators that will not now be employed in our beloved NHS.

Monday, July 19


Thank you for logging onto this new blog.
'A very British Subject' will
examine and encourage discussion
of a variety of British political issues.
 This Blog aims to project a vision of Britain
 in the future with a sense of our nations past
blended with  an understanding of the present. 
'A very British Subject'  guarantees to be
 controversial, entertaining and informative.
All contributions and comments will be valued.
The Editor, Peter Troy is a very British Subject.
6  6  6

The Great Danger.

The great issue facing the UK is our continued membership of The European Union.   The euro elections on 10 June gave an excellent result of the NO to the EU party, UKIP.
The result of over 2.6 million votes and 12 MEPs has given credibility to the out of the EU argument which clearly has now become 'respectable'.
The issue now is within 18 months the people will be asked to vote in a referendum on whether or not to adopt the EU constitution. This is the big issue that our Prime Minister is so keen to sell to us.
The concern is that most of Her Majesty's subjects will be turned off and will not want to think about the implications  because most people, understandably,  will consider rhe subject  boring and complicated.  This attitude which  will lead to mental  lethargy and ballot box apathy is the great danger. 
If the EU constitution is ratified and the UK remains a member state of the European Union, the UK will cease to be a nation in the true sense of that word. It is that simple really.
This is blog will aim to extract from the debate the salient points and express them in terms that are relevant to peoples every day lives.
Recently on a Television 'show' the well known comedian Bernard Manning said that what is needed is a ''ladybird book on all this (EU) constitution business''.

Small is Big in the North East of England

I was recently asked by The Northern Echo write a piece as Chairman of the Darlington Branch of The Federation of  Small Busisnesses on the issue of the elected regional assemblies.
This Blog will return to the subject of regionalisation in future postings. As well as the hidden agenda of Government busisness support agencies.
I wrote:
Small businesses in the North East of England represents a big element in the economic life in the 'region'. Politicians these days are well aware that without the contribution small businesses make to the economy, quite simply there would not be any economic growth. This is particulary the case in the North of England.
In the last decade, eight giant  companies  have  left the North East  or reduced their operations, resulting in a loss of 5,000 jobs'. Small businesses in the North East on the other hand  are providing the meaningful growth in the financial well being of the North East. Over 60 per cent of small businesses in the North East who responded to a recent  detailed survey expected to expand their business operation in the next twelve months.
A prosperous North East in which business can grow is vital.  There is, though most people are unaware of it, a Regional Assembly in existence now, so how, if at all, would the creation of an Elected Regional Assembly give  smaller businesses in the North East additional benefits. 
Almost unnoticed whilst  small business people have been focused on growing or indeed  surviving in there business the North East has become 'regionalised'.
Briefly,  the recent history to regionalisation is that  in May of 2002, the government published a White Paper on the regions. It proposed introducing Elected Assemblies for the eight English Regions - subject to the agreement of the British people in local referendums – delegating  functions to them from central government authorities, and giving them some powers. What those powers are has yet to be fully explained by the government.

According to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, the main sponsor of this White Paper, the idea of English regionalism has been his personal dream for more than 30 years and from the general thrust of his White Paper, it would indeed seem that his dream originated from a well-founded  desire to "bring decision-making closer to the people".
A line that Mr Prescott  has been very  keen to promote in person on his frequent visits to the North this year.

At the Annual Conference of the Federation of Small Businesses, in March, delegates representing the 185,000 members debated in detail the effects of regionalisation and concluded by a majority of some 80% that there was no benefit for business people in the governments plans. Decision making, it was concluded would not be more business friendly as a result of Mr Prescotts so called '' home rule'' plans. 

The key issue is, will the creation of new politicians create new resources from which businesses can grow ? By converting the existing Regional Assembly to an elected one sounds as though the people of the North East are getting a better democratic deal. But how will  all  these new politicians in the new elected assembly  in their new purpose built debating chamber together with their doubtless new large support staff actually provide the tools vital for economic growth. Will the consequential loss of Durham County Council and other major changes to local authorities  actually make any difference. Only when the Government has published to details of the powers that will be given to Regional Elected Assemblies will any assesment of the the effects on the business community be possible.

The fact is that regionalisation in the North East is occurring any way, the unelected regional assembly will continue to act as the body through which the European Union will funnel 'Structural Funds'. So what difference will an elected Regional Assembly make to the process of business in the North East. Probably none, but the North East RDA One North East will doubtless convince us otherwise.
As always I am greatful to the writings of Dr Richard North, in this case 'Regionalisation a Democracy By-Pass' was most helpfull. Dr North is also a prolific blogger  is particularly recomended.