Friday, September 30

Birthday wishes.

by Sarah-Jane Hollands
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The following people are among those celebrating their birthday today:
  • Deborah Kerr, 84 (actress)
  • General Sir Edward Burgess (Royal British Legion, President)
  • Sir Peter Ricketts (British Ambassador to the United Nations)
  • Angie Dickinson, 74 (actress)
  • The Marquis of Salisbury, 59
  • Peter Troy, Esq, 52 (esteemed editor of this blog)

The management and staff of both verybritishsubjects.blogspot.com and Very British Productions Ltd would like to convey sincere birthday greetings and very British best wishes to all of todays celebrants.

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Many Happy Returns to each and every one of you!

STOP BLOG

Jean Charles de Menezes
Today ITN revealed that the Home Office has released a letter (under the Freedom of Information Act), written by Sir Ian Blair just hours after the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. In the letter, he ordered his officers to prevent the Independant Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigators from gaining access to examine the scene of the shooting at Stockwell Tube Station.
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Britain's top police officer allegedly stressed " a chief police officer should be able to suspend....[the part of the] Police Reform Act 2002 which requires us to suspend all information that the IPCC may require."
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In other words, he wanted to withhold information in the so-called interests of national security.
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To which the Permanent Under Secetary (PUS) at the Home Office replied "you don't have that power."
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Should Sir Ian fall upon his own 'truncheon', let us not forget that it was this blog that first called for his resignation, back as far as July 24th, 2005.
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Further details on the contents of the letter and reactions to it's release, can be found here :http://www.itv.com/news/index_13715.html

Better ignored than ejected


The final day of the Labour conference has seen defeats for the Labour Party leadership on council housing and NHS reform.

Earlier in the week, delegates at the Labour Party Confrence inflicted defeats on allowing secondary strike action and increasing pensions in line with earnings.

On Thursday it was announced that a Unison motion calling for a halt on the expansion of private sector involvement in the NHS was overwhelmingly passed.

It was backed by 71.09 per cent to 28.91 per cent, while a rival motion backing the government was rejected by 70.35 per cent to 29.65 per cent.

On council housing, delegates voted for a motion that sought to ensure that funds available for the government's policy of social housing transfers were also available for direct investment in council housing.

A similar motion was also passed at last year's conference but ignored by the government.
Communities minister David Miliband ( known to some of us as 'laggyband' because of his abilities to stretch a point) told delegates the policy would mean "less for new build or fewer people helped".

"We just can't do that," added Miliband.
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Well that is a clear example of democracy in action in the Labour Party, ignoring the delegates is much nicer than slinging them out into the street when they voice their off message views!
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Left, Cabinet Office Minister David Miliband

Thursday, September 29

Politics today

Walter Wolfgang is manhandled from the conference after calling out "nonsense" during a debate on the Iraq war.
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The Prime Minister has apologised to Labour Party conference delegate Walter Wolfgang. The 82-year-old was ejected from the event yesterday, in what Tony Blair described as an "overzealous" manner, for heckling. "People are perfectly entitled to freedom of speech in this country and I am really sorry," he told the BBC. The apology was no doubt forthcoming following the scenes of the eviction on primetime TV news broadcasts.
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Labour's annual conference concludes today with speeches from constitutional affairs secretary Lord Falconer, Lords leader Baroness Amos, Commons leader Geoff Hoon, communities secretary David Miliband and environment secretary Margaret Beckett. The event finishes with an address by defence secretary Dr. John Reid. The results of a ballot on the government's NHS policy is also expected to confirm that the Labour leadership has been defeated. All sounds really fun !
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Dr Reid will close the conference with a call for unity and discipline. "If the priority of the Labour government is education, education, education, then the priority of the Labour Party is unity, unity, unity," he will say. "Whatever the controversy, whatever the difficulties, never under-estimate the need for unity and for us to retain our broad coalition. Always remember we have not achieved all that we have through our individual effort but together through our common endeavour." Now if we know the contents clearly the Defence Secetary's speech can hardly be spontaneous.
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Meanwhile the Conservative Party leadership election gets underway in earnest today when David Davis and David Cameron formally launch their campaigns. Both will be in London to launch their bids for the leadership, moves which come less than 24 hours after Kenneth Clarke appealed for grassroots members to back him in the forthcoming contest.
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The House of Commons Livingston by-election, caused by the death of former foreign secretary Robin Cook, takes place today. The candidates are Jim Devine (Lab), Charles Dundas (Lib Dems), Brian Gardner (UK Socialists), Angela Constance (SNP), Gordon Lindhurst (Con), David Robertson (Greens), Steve Nimmo (Scottish Socialists), Peter Adams (UKIP), Melville Brown (Ind) and John Allman (Alliance For Change).
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The Scottish parliament's Glasgow Cathcart by-election, triggered by the resignation of Labour MSP Mike Watson also takes place today. The candidates are Charlie Gordon (Lab), Maire Whitehead (SNP), Arthur Sanderson (Lib Dems), Richard Cook (Con), Ronnie Stevenson (Scottish Socialists), Chloe Stewart (Scottish Greens), Pat Lally (Ind), Christopher Creighton (Ind) and Bryan McCormack (UKIP).
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The election for the new lord mayor of the City of London takes place at the Guildhall. Following the election, the mayor will be heralded with a trumpet call from the state trumpeters before departing the Great Hall accompanied by the current lord mayor. The lord mayor elect, does not take office until the 'silent ceremony' which is held on 11 November.
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The family of Jean Charles de Menezes, shot dead by police who mistakenly believed he was a suicide bomber, today meet the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating his death.
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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair will today address the Metropolitan Police Authority, though he is not expected to announce his resignation - today anyway.

Wednesday, September 28

The mid week quote, no 4


New Orleans Police Chief, Eddie Compass has announced his intention to resign, saying "Every man in a leadership position must know when it's time to hand over the reins".
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If anyone reading this happens to be a confidant of Sir Ian Blair, maybe they would like to helpfully e-mail him the above quote !

God Save our Royal Person




Dr Richard North makes a profound point from a little story in today's British Press. The piece is truly a 'North classic'.
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Left, HM Queen Elizabeth II
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A happy little story in The Times today comes from Austria, where the minister for women's affairs has demanded wholesale changes to her country's national anthem to purge it of sexist references.
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Mentions of the "fatherland", "great sons" and "brotherly choruses" should be replaced by gender-neutral terms such as "homeland" and "joyful chorus", says Maria Rauch-Kallat. And, it is a sign of the times that her quest is considered to stand a fair chance of success.
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Whatever, Frau (or is it Mz) Rauch-Kallat, of the centre-right People's Party, has declared the anthem "discriminatory". "The federal hymn should be part of every Austrian's identity... Women's politics are also the politics of language and of shaping consciousness," she says.
If she gets her way, says The Times, national anthems across Europe could be in for a shake-up, because all too often they celebrate male heroism hand in hand with national identity.
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The Italian anthem opens: "Brothers of Italy...". The French Marseillaise, the most blood-soaked of national anthems, begins: "Children of the fatherland..." and complains about soldiers who "come to slaughter our children, our wives".
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Germany's Deutschland ├╝ber Alles is unthinkable without the fatherland, and in its second verse makes women seem like a quaint tourist attraction: "German women, German loyalty, German wine and German song/ Shall retain in the world/ Their lovely old ring."
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Perhaps the least sexist of all national anthems is Britain's God Save the Queen, ventures the newspaper. Since 1745 it has swapped King for Queen, depending on the monarch of the day. But that is to reckon without the little-used fourth verse, which offers the sentiment: "That men should brothers be/ And form one family/ The wide world ov'er." And then there is that bit, "Rebellious Scots to crush" in the sixth. But then, surely the term "Queen" is sexist? In a degenderised land of "chairs", "firefighters" and "police officers", it is high time that the distinction between king and queen was abolished.
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Clearly, "royal person" would be more appropriate. And, by the way, Austria apparently has the only national anthem in Europe written by a woman. Sung to the tune of a 1791 Mozart cantata, was written by the late Paula von Preradovic in 1947, two years after the modern Austrian state was formed.
One trusts that the next, degenderised version is written by a multi-gender, multi-ethnic team, with full representation from cultural minorities, the disabled and the gay and lesbian communities. Perhaps this time, instead of Mozart, it might be based on a tune by Beethoven
The title "Ode to joy" springs to mind.

Tuesday, September 27

Blair and his colleagues should be elected!



Sir Ian Blair, head of London's Metropolitan Police, amazingly proposed last week that the Police should be allowed to bypass the courts altogether, confiscate driving licences and seize vehicles, without going before either a Judge, or Magistrates.

Sir Ian's plans are yet another threat to our ancient freedoms which are being eroded in the name of public safety. Others include ID cards, the breach of the right of habeus corpus and the introduction of house arrest. Sir Ian Blair is a senior law enforcer, not a law or political policy maker. The most alarming of all, is that this Government is ushering in a kind of Orwellian limit on free speech, aided and abetted by many civil servants.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police should act like a policeman and address some basic policing issues such as solving crime. A recent survey (Federation of Small Business, Barriers to Business Growth 2004) concluded that over 33% of offences committed against businesses are not reported because business people do not have confidence in the police's ability to solve crime. On grounds of arrogance, if not incompetence, Sir Ian should resign, not withstanding the Police Complaints Authority investigation into the mismanagement of the shooting of the innocent Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes. Sir Ian Blair could then pursue the career in politics to which he clearly believes he is suited.

Sir Ian Blair's suggestion on direct confiscation is perhaps an attempt to muscle in on the nation's so-called private 'bailiffs', who for many years have, in total disregard for the law, bypassed the courts, in co-operation with the Police (Durham and West Yorkshire in particular), seizing vehicles belonging to self employed business people; all for alleged non payment of speeding and parking fines - many of which are now known to have been imposed illegaly anyway.


I have no doubt Sir Ian Blair will argue that he is only thinking of the public interest when he makes his numerous verbal policy outbursts. Maybe he should be advised, '' you do not have to say anything ''. Perhaps the problem is more of a constitutional issue. Police Chiefs in the UK are not properly accountable to the public, the solution thus being that heads of Police services, Chief Constables, should be elected by the people. After all, their equivalents in the US are duly elected !

Comments welcome, a knock at the door at midnight expected.

PT, editor.

Flushing out



There is an unexpected benefit of the badly drafted, ill considered and entirely lefty Abolition of Foxhunting Bill that was passed into UK law, amid political chaos this year.

A rock musician who made a fortune with moronic 'hits' containing lyrics such as '' we don't need no education'' has decided to leave the country and live in the good old US of A.

Roger Waters, a member of the original band Pink Floyd said last week:

''I've become disenchanted with the political and philosophical atmosphere in England. It's so mealy mouthed. I'm lucky enough to have the freedom to live where I want because I've made a few quid. The anti-hunting bill was enough for me to leave England.''

During the hunting debate, many leading supporters intimated that they would consider leaving the UK. Many are now living in France where they enjoy the freedom of country sports and fine weather. Others who support the view that fox hunting is essential to country life will not be moving abroad. Perhaps the anti-hunting law will be a success after all and flush out other moronic, over-wealthy, opinionated rock 'stars' before the Act is repealed. Clearly we need education, education, education. Speaking of which, I wonder how Tony got on today with his colleagues in Brighton.

Indeed.

Of personality and principle






While the British press concerns itself with the Blair/Brown soap-opera, Dr Richard North comments on the illusion that could further damage the Tory party.
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Mark Steyn is on fine form today in The Telegraph, dissecting Ken Clarke, his leadership ambitions and the Conservative Party."A party out of power for a decade," he writes, "naturally finds itself somewhat short of household names, and, as one of its last surviving big beasts, Ken lingers vaguely in the memory…"
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Therein lies the problem, with the Party clutching at the illusion that, because the EU constitution has been booted into touch "it's safe", as Steyn puts it, "for the Tories to elect a Europhile leader because his ability to stiff them has been severely constrained.''
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"Only Ken can go to Europe", adds Steyn, is a weird post-modern inversion of the "Only Nixon can go to China" rationale: Mr Clarke wants to get credit as a straight-talking man of principle for refusing to equivocate about his willingness to sell Britain out to a European superstate, while simultaneously preserving his political viability on the grounds that, even though he's willing to sell out, nobody in Europe's interested in buying.Steyn points out that the cynical argument in favour of a Clarke leadership victory is that "he'd be the final nail in the Tory coffin and open up space for a new party on the Right and a long-overdue realignment in British politics." But it never works out like that.
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More likely, Ken's men would lose just slightly not too badly enough to linger on ineffectually and diminish British conservatism for another half-decade.
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Steyn's view is that this is a time for strategy, not tactics. It is in that department that Clarke fails to meet the minimum qualifications for even the squishiest "Conservative" leader.
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He adds:
On Europe, the Conservatives ought to be committed not just to bland assurances not to worry, no need to frighten the horses, old chap, everything's on the back boiler now, but to an explicit reassertion of national sovereignty: over-Europeanisation as represented by, for example, the Convention on Human Rights is an obstacle to the effective defence of the realm, and if Tories won't stand up for national security, what are they for?What indeed, you might ask, and it extremely timely that Steyn should be articulating the question that many others, behind the scenes, are asking.
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For sure, there are enough Party members who are stupid enough – or lack sufficient moral base – to fall for the Clarke line that the Conservatives should put power before ideology but, as once recent correspondent wrote in the Telegraph, if that was enough, then there is always New Labour.
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Steyn thus argues for principled Conservative leader, concluding his piece with a finely honed pay-off line: "I don't know quite what the leader of a culturally confident British Conservative Party would look like," he writes. "But, if you had to construct his precise opposite, he'd be a lot like Ken Clarke."In a letter shortly to be published by The Daily Telegraph, twenty or more Conservative MPs will argue that electoral success will not be achieved by personality but by principle. Steyn reminds us that Clarke is the "personality", but will the Party be wise enough to go for principle?

Who's counting ?



Euro-MP Alyn Smith made no fewer than eight speeches on the main platform and at the fringe meetings at the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference last Friday.

Proof that quality is no substitute for quantity was evident when he was speaking in the education debate. The MEP was well into his barnstorming speech when he realised he was reading the wrong script. He quickly and skilfully switched and not a single member of the audience even noticed.

Similarly not a single SNP activist or supporter has yet noticed that the SNP's policy (announced in May 04) of adopting the euro currency is in contradiction of their core policy of an independent Scotland, an issue that the SNP faithful were remarkably silent on at their conference in Aviemore.

The Lib-Dems meanwhile seem to have difficulty with 'the third way' as is evidenced by their election leaflet at the Cathcarte Scottish Parliament by-election. The election is being held due to the 16 month prison sentence passed on the former MSP Mike (also a Labour life Peer) Watson for setting fire to set of fine hotel curtains whilst in a state of advanced inebriation. The Lib-Dem's leaflet is headed ''Four good reasons to vote for Arthur Sanderson'' (the SNP candidate). The leaflet lists the reasons ''1, 2, 3, and 3.''. The second number three is ''energy and imagination''. Full marks for imagination anyway.

Indeed.

Monday, September 26

A summers day



Sandcastles on Coryton Cove, Dawlish, Devon. A very British yet unique beach where Brunel's railway line (constructed in 1846 as a wide guage atmospheric railway line) runs close behind the scenic sands, an ideal spot for sunbathing railway enthuasiasts.
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The sandcraft, featuring the Union Flag and traditional Standards of the Kingdom was constructed by the Editor with the tolerant aid of his son and daughter (aged 23 and 20) one fine summers day in August. 2005

A MacInjection

by Sarah-Jane Hollands
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It would appear that in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, in the North East of England, a 17 year old girl made an appointment to receive a contraceptive injection. Are you thinking "How responsible. How forward thinking."? Well, not entirely.
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She arranged for this injection to be administered by an award winning nurse, in the toilets of a MacDonalds restaurant.
What is happening to our health service and indeed to our teenagers, that anyone should think that this is a good idea? This is taking care in the community a bit too far !
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Apparently, it is claimed the girl had 'a history of pregnancy' (through no fault of the fast food chain) Perhaps a history of sex education, moral and health food guidance would be of more use to this unfortunate individual.
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In this country, the issue of teenage pregnancy is a serious and emotive subject. However, handing out contraception as though it were a free gift with a hamburger is sinking to new depths and providing today's teenagers with a licence to behave in an increasingly casual manner.
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Where will this end? Vasectomies performed while you wait at the local petrol station? Ante-natal appointments in the toilets at Burger King?
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Why not go the whole hog and set up a labour ward and delivery suite at KFC?
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Would you like fries with that epidural?

Sunday, September 25

Booker on Big Brother

Sunday quite simply is not Sunday without reading Christopher Booker. In his column in The Sunday Telegraph today, Booker picks up the threads on the extraordinary but largely unreported developments on EU defence issues as well as a revealing piece on the dogma of speed cameras.
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As Booker explains Finland's Prime Minister intends to rebuild Europe's crumbling ''political and defence bridges between Europe and the United States.
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Contrary to official propaganda, research figures show that speed cameras have done nothing for road safety in the UK. However, as Booker explains in his inimitable style we must all learn to love Big Brother.
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Click on the link - it is essential reading for any truly thinking person.

You don't have to say anything but .......

Recommended site of the week is www.coppersblog.blogspot.com

Pass it on (via this blog).

The Sunday Quote: no 128


The Sunday Quote:

'' The truth is, Britain's entire political class has nothing coherent, inspiring or useful to say. The three parties have lost their identities and ability to address our huge social problems. What can be done about this lethal democratic malaise?''

Melanie Philips -Saturday Essay, Daily Mail, 24 September 2005

Saturday, September 24

The Swiss Connection

Swiss expatriots causing disruption to the UK's smaller political parties is nothing new. The problem has now surfaced in the political policy free zone of the Liberal Democrats (Lib-Dems), who spent a record of £6 million at the last General Election.
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Swiss based financier Michael Brown donated £2.4 million to the Lib-Dems. The problem is that Mr Brown is not registered to vote in the UK (or the EU) and the nature of the donation is probably in breach of UK election law.
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The Election Commission will this week decide whether the handout breaks rules on donations from outside the country. If the money has to be handed back the Lib-Dems will face a major financial crisis.

Thursday, September 22

Troy's Wheel of Life


Peter Troy photographed at Radio Hartlepool.


Click > Peter Troy to hear the interview with Shelagh Jones, on her radio feature, Wheel of Life recorded in June 2005 at the studios of SouthSideBroadcasting.

Troy, Tea and the Trincomalee


Tea Time with Troy, ship companions, L>R Phil Cordell, Gill Cox, host Peter Troy, Rosemary Smith, Rev. Ron Smith.
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Sarah-Jane Hollands reports on the second Tea Time with Troy, photographs by Donald Davison.
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In the beginning , the cups were being rattled as the tea was being served, Jason Ramsay and his three able bodied colleagues were rigging up recording equipment kindly supplied to us by Radio Hartlepool.
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With the best laid plans of mice and men, the event was soon underway but hastily halted with cries of "stop, it's not working!" After subsequent scenes resembling 'It'll Be Alright On The Night', Peter Troy welcomed his guests aboard HMS Trincomalee, docked at Hartlepool Historic Quay in the North East of England.
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The not so motley crew and Jason Ramsey (in cool ear phones) enjoy the companions tea time comments.
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The vessel, built under orders issued from the Admiralty in 1812 as part of the building up of the British fleet to combat the threat of one Napoleon Boneparte.
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Peter Troy knowledgably pointed out that by the time the ship was launched in 1817, the Napoleonic difficulty had been resolved and therefore the Corvette class vessel was dispatched to the West Indies and the Carribean.
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The vessel later sailed the length of the West Coast of America, then visiting such notable places as San Francisco, Valparaiso, Concepcion, Vancouver Island and later, Honolulu and the Falkland Isles.
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Tea Time companions around the Captain's table were Gill Cox, media consultant, Phil Cordell, health coach, Rosemary Smith, actress and The Reverend Ron Smith, vicar of Brookfield Church in nearby Middlesborough.
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Despite sending his apologies for his absence, former MP Piers Merchant, was much discussed in relation to his prominence on a number of occasions in the British media for his particular aptitude for personally blending politics and sex scandals. Piers has promised to attend future Tea Times with Troy.
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The cabin's nineteenth century ambience contrasted with the twenty-first century controversial issues raised by Troy's Tea Time companions and a not very motley crew of specially invited guests.
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Many topics were covered, specifically the desirability or otherwise of media intrusion into the private lives of politicians, tabloid sex scandal exposes, Creation (Darwin-V-Genesis), blasphemy, the decline of standards both on television and in everyday affairs, too much or too little government, who actually governs Britain and cricket (the social cohesive effect therof) and of course, the British weather.
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Our clearly well-informed and well-educated guests waded in to the near mutinous debate (led by Able Businessman Bowler), but 'Captain' Troy managed to keep control (just about) of both his crew and the conversation and the afternoon proceeded in an orderly, ship-shape fashion. (Click here to hear - soon!)
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Thus, with the sun firmly over the yard arm (and the Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station) and having discussed Genesis, Darwin, Boneparte, Flintoff, Trafalgar, the Merchant of Scandal, patriotism, and the BBC, we retired to the alehouse satisfied that if we hadn't actually made a difference we had perhaps in the end, made a different type of radio programme.
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Details of future Tea Times with Troy will be posted on this blog.
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Very British Productions Ltd, producers of Tea Time with Troy are grateful to the Trustees of HMS Trincomalee (www.hms-trincomalee.co.uk) and Radio Hartlepool (www.radiohartlepool.co.uk), without who's co-operation, the recording of Tea Time with Troy at Hartlepool would not have occured.

North on the Lib Dems

The Party Political Conference season is now upon us. Richard North comments on the happenings at the Lib Dems conference in Blackpool.
to read more.

Monday, September 19

BBC and Katrina


According to The Business and other newspapers on Sunday Tony Blair has re-opened the government's long-standing row about BBC bias by describing the corporation's coverage of the aftermath of the havoc caused to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina as being "full of hatred of America".
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Of course, the malice harboured by the BBC towards the US, and Bush in particular, is nothing new and the “take” of the media in relation to Katrina was explored on the blog eureferendum earlier this month.
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Also recomended is the account in USS Neverdock. For myself, and indeed others I know well, I'm still recovering from the shock of agreeing with the British Prime Minister for the second time in eight years.
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PT

Sunday, September 18

The Sunday Quote -127


''A pessimist sees the dificulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty''

The late, The Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Churchill KG, OM,

Of Plinths and Political Correctness.

Trafalgar Square

It is regrettably becoming unacceptable to criticise political correctness in Britain, no matter how absurd an issue may be.
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This week's unveiling of the statue, Alison Lapper Pregnant (sponsored by London's neo-Marxist Mayor, Ken Livingstone) has been greeted with mixed reactions but objectors seem too scared to say anything in criticism, for fear of being thought of as unsympathetic towards disabled people.
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What utter nonsense! We agree with Simon Heffer (Saturday's Daily Mail ) who writes of the "unsuitability" of the latest statue in Trafalgar Square and describes it as "a self-indulgent essay in political correctness". We at verybritishsubjects agree wholeheartedly.
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The location of this statue is a mistake on many levels, not least because statues are erected in tribute to the great and the deceased. Ms Lapper is, thankfully very much still with us, and although undoubtedly an accomplished artist, she is not (yet) in the category of great.
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Naturally, we have no objections to a female subject for such an honour. Women are currently under-represented in the statues department in Central London, the two queens, Boadicea, warrior Queen of the Iceni and of course, Queen Victoria clearly need female company.
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Perhaps the statue of Alison Lapper (or is it a sculpture?) would be better placed outside The Tate or maybe outside the Maternity Department of University Hospital, London. For the avoidance of any doubt, we do believe that this work is a courageous statement but ill-placed in it's present location.
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Simon Heffer suggests that a statue of HM The Queen, in time for her 80th birthday would be ideal for the plinth in Trafalgar Square. Now this is where we part company with the the irrepressible, irascible and irreverent columnist.
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As Her Majesty still reigns over us, and long may she do so - this blog site feels it a tad premature and an inappropriate suggestion for the previously empty plinth in Trafalgar Square.
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Our vote would go to the much maligned late Thomas Crapper, a Birmingham small businessman who did much to improve the sanitary arrangements of the Western world with the mass production of the water closet in the 19 th century.
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Without Mr Crappers contribution we would all clearly be in a very sorry mess, as indeed had Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson not done his duty for his country, and well thrashed the Frenchies, we and British history would be in lots of deep doody.
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Thus, in keeping with the ambience of Central London and the tradition of celebrating British achievement by honouring deceased, worthy individuals, to stand alongside such luminaries as Churchill, Nelson, Field Marshalls Montgomery, Allenbrooke, Slim and of course, master mariner Sir Walter Raleigh, this blog nominates Thomas Crapper.
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So we cry: ''Down with Lapper, up with Crapper!"
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Alison Lapper, Pregnant
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Thomas Crapper

Saturday, September 17

In Honour of the Few.



Today, two old school chums Ron Evans and Laurie Smith, both 84, will be collecting money on Darlington High Road in aid of the annual Wings Appeal, a task they have performed with pride for many years.
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Ron, formerly a Lancaster Bomber navigator, flew 29 sorties over war-torn Germany with 90 Squadron at the end of the second World War.
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Laurie, formerly a Spitfire pilot, flew Spitfires in combat against the Japanese in the Far East during the same period.
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This site would like to pay tribute to these two fine gentlemen and their many colleagues across the country who are not only living history, but also serve as a reminder to those born after the end of the war of the sacrifices made by so many. Lest we forget, we owe so much to these gentlemen and their compatriots.
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This week The Battle of Britain was commemorated on the 15th, the day was the height of the Battle of Britain when sixty five years ago, over 1,000 German bombers attacked London over a tewnty four hour period.
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There is a regrettable trend in the psyche of modern Britain to denigrate our war heroes and belittle our military achievements. The latest trendy revisionists assertions is that the Battle of Britain, was (as if were a game of cricket) a draw.
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This is as laughable as is the nonsensical view the the Royal Navy could have saved the nation had Fighter Command ceased to exist in late August 1940 - as indeed it very nearly did.
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The failure by the Luftwaffe to secure its objective of control of the skies over southern England resulted in Hitler abandoning Operation Sealion, the land invasion of the then might of the German Army on the south coast. The achievement of RAF's fighter command under the cool leadership of Air Chief Marshall (later Lord) Dowding from July to October 1940 - the duration of the Battle of Britain - is rightly regarded as one of our nations most important military victories.
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Thus the Battle of Britain Monument, to be unveiled tomorrow (Sunday 18 September) on the Thames Embankment in London rightly celebrates and honours the courage of the few and particularly the 544 RAF Pilots (who's average age was 20) who lost their lives sixty five years ago.
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They (famiously dubbed 'the few' by Churchill in the House of Commons ) are all rightly remembered because of their dedication, courage and tenacity which, trendy thinking apart, is considered to have thwarted Hitler and his henchmen's plans for the Nazi occupation of Britain.
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Gentleman, carry on rattling your tins in continued defiance of ever present threats to our national freedoms.
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Ad astra, ad adsurdum.

Tea Time With Troy


The second edition of Tea Time With Troy is due to be recorded next week. On Tuesday 20th September, at 6.30pm, Peter Troy and his guests will gather in a prestigious location in the Captain's cabin aboard the HMS Trincomalee, in Hartlepool, for a full and frank discussion.
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The panel, which is to include an actress, a vicar, a former MP, a media consultant and a life coach, will be tackling the great British conversational taboos, namely, politics, religion and sex.
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This is one in a series of programmes specifically commissioned for the American radio market. It will be the bringing together of like-minded, forward thinking people and we aim to capture the essential Britishness of a wide variety of subjects.
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Admission is free, but by invitation or ticket only. There are a limited number of audience tickets still available and these will be issued on a strictly first come, first served basis.
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For further information, please e-mail verybritishproductions@yahoo.co.uk
Alternatively, telephone Sarah-Jane on 07968 257 461.
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This promises to be an entertaining and enlightening evening. Expect fireworks as Peter Troy chairs a lively, no-holds-barred debate and we find out what people are really talking about!
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A new angle on everyday thinking.

Friday, September 16

The price of vehicle fuel.

Picture - Peter Troy watching the price of fuel at the pumps in the Prime Minister's
Constituency of Sedgefield.




The front page headline in The Sunday Telegraph was typical, '' Fuel protests will bring Britain to a standstill''.

Wthout doubt it was of the belief of the British press that the hugely disruptive protests in September 2000, organised by the Peoples Fuel Lobby, would be repeated this week with blockades at fuel distribution centres, refineries and motorways across the country.

The Fuel Lobby (curiously 'people' has been dropped from the name of the group) failed to muster support to mount their planned three day protest. The publicity did however manage to put the issue of high fuel prices once again at the top of the political agenda; but to what long term effect?

The reason that vehicle fuel is so very costly in the UK and has risen in twelve months from around 80p a litre(£3.64 per gallon) to a current average of 97 pence (£4.41 per gallon) is clearly not understood by the British public.

Crude oil prices have more than doubled since Spring of last year when demand grew at its fastest pace for 30 years, in part due to the rapid expansion of the Chinese economy and the strong performance of industry in the US.

Oil production has failed to increase due to decades of under investment in refineries and the reluctance of Opec, the oil cartel to bolster production.

In, turn, price inflation has enabled the oil giants to pass on the cost in the form of increased oil prices to consumers.

Unleaded petrol tax duty in the UK is 47.1 pence per litre (£2.14 per gallon), VAT is levied on the petrol price as well as the duty. As has been stated by the editor of this blog both here and in the press that if the Chancellor were to not charge VAT on the duty (a tax on a tax) as well as the product price the price of fuel at the pumps would be lowered by 10-12 pence per litre.

The reason that this blog is so keen to promote the abolition of VAT on fuel duty is quite simple, it is the only reduction option available to the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer.

To explain: The basic product price is determined by supply and demand as well as the might of Opec. Secondly, the EU finance ministers confirmed at a meeting last week in Manchester to continue with the agreement made in May 2000 that no member state would reduce fuel duty. The rate of VAT is in
fect an EU competence and thus can not be lowered by any UK Chancellor. Thus the proposed manoeuvre of removing the charge of VAT on duty (and only levying it on the actual petrol price) is indeed the only option that is open to the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown if he were intent (under political pressure) upon reducing fuel prices at the pumps in the UK.

Why this precise request has not been made by any lobbying organisation, or indeed any political party, must for the moment at least remain a mystery.

It is expected that the chancellor will, yet again, postpone this years annual inflationary rise of the rate of duty at a cost to the Treasury of some £1.2 billion.

It is all very well and comforting to believe that there will not be another tax increase on petrol, but the fact remains that the government is getting a massive windfall from the increased price. That, perhaps, would explain why the government is not keen to abolish the tax on a tax at the pumps but it does not explain why the idea has not caught on in the media or with the so called pressure groups or opposition political parties.

If taxation is the fuel for revolutions (English Civil War and the American War of Independence) then a tax on a tax should be very revolting.
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Flashback to the fuel protests of September 2000.
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'Stop Press' > Supermarket retailer Asda this morning announced it would cut the cost of petrol to a maximum of 89.9p per litre at its 158 petrol stations and diesel to 92.9p per litre.

Thursday, September 15

Katrina's economic impact


Hurricane Katrina has been an appalling natural catastrophy, with a significant loss of life and for the survivors devastating suffering and dislocation.
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If the human impact has been all too evident in the misery unfolding on our British news broadcasts, the economic implications have been less clear cut and at times confusing.
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Most of the economic fall out that has impacted upon the UK has been the rise in the oil prices, which stems from the loss of production of crude oil and refined products.
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The long term effect on the 'western' economies should not be negative in the medium or long term. Much of the negative short term impact is likely to be self-cancelling in the medium term. The estimated drag on the US economy recently estimated to be about $35 bn caused by high oil prices should be more than offset by the reconstruction programme estimated to be worth as much as $50 bn.
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Lloyd's of London today estimated a loss of £1.4 bn from Katrina - a loss that the insurance market can well absorb.
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The political response to the effects of the hurricane will probably be more extensive than the economic impact. In the UK the Atlanticists and the Europhiles are now well identified.

Anti-Social Partnership


From The Hartlepool Mail 15 Sep. 05

'' Residents were able to question Sally Forth, anti-social behaviour co-ordinator for the Safer Hartlepool partnership.''

Perhaps residents of the coastal North East town would prefer a more social co-ordinator and one dreads to think how hostile the less safe partnerships are.

Tricky business reporting political correctness.

A Trojan Horse


By Dr Richard North

It is a measure of the level of distrust of the European Union than news of the failure of plans by the EU to introduce a potentially life-saving system can only be greeted with unalloyed relief.
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The system in question is known as eCall, which automatically generates an emergency mobile phone call the emergency services, in the event of a car crash, triggered by sensors inside the car. The system informs the services of the vehicle location, thus enabling a rapid response.
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However, while the EU commission “agreed” with the automotive industry that all new cars in the EU would be equipped with the technology by 2009, according to Reuters, of the 25 EU member states, only Finland and Sweden have agreed to install the equipment needed for emergency centres to receive the calls.
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Although Germany is set to sign up soon, that still leaves 22 countries who have not made any plans.The EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, yesterday told the Frankfurt car show on Wednesday that eCall could save 2,500 lives a year. "This is the life saver,” she said, “because it works whether the accident victims are conscious or not."
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What Reding did not say, and the EU publicity seems to avoid emphasising, is that to use the service, cars must be fitted with Galileo satellite positioning receivers.
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Linked to the mobile phone, it is the Galileo receivers which enables the emergency services to locate vehicles in distress. But, once the equipment is installed, there can be no guarantee that it will not send signals unbidden, thus enabling the authorities to keep track of unsuspecting motorists. Furthermore, exactly the same technology is used for road charging schemes and automatic speed limiters.
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Almost certainly, many motorists would be reluctant to have the equipment fitted to their cars if they knew its full potential.How clever of the commission, therefore, to “sell” the system as a life-saver, gulling the unsuspecting into fitting what amounts to a Trojan horse.

Low Price Petrol





STOP PRESS!
Is the cheapest fuel in the UK in Hartlepool ?
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The Shell petrol station on Easington Road, in the North East coastal town of Hartlepool is charging 91.9 pence per litre, which works out at "just" £4.18 per gallon!
Troy tops up his tank.

Birthday Greetings


This site would like to convey sincere birthday greetings to His Royal Highness, Prince Harry on the very happy occasion of his twenty-first birthday.
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His Royal Highness is also wished a long and successful career (if that is what he wishes) in Her Majesty's armed forces.
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This blog is pleased to note that the young Prince has clearly benefitted from media training ( as evidenced by the interview on the BBC Today programme this morning), perhaps thanks are due to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
The Prince's - official birthday portraits by Mario Testino.

Wednesday, September 14

Cricket draws crowds


by Sarah-Jane Hollands, London Correspondant.

Today, tens of thousands of people crowded onto the streets of London to applaud the victorious England cricket team and to celebrate the rightful return of The Ashes - although they never actually left the safety of Lords, it is clearly nice that they have been won back.
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Trafalger Square was awash with patriotism, Union flags only outnumbered marginally by the familiar Cross of St. George and it was Last Night of The Proms all over again as anthem after anthem rang out joyfully.
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The cricketers themselves even joined in the singing, although it has to be said that Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff is a lot more handy with a cricket bat than he is with a microphone!
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Of course, 'Jerusalem' got top billing, closely followed by 'Rule Brittania', 'Land of Hope and Glory' and the National Anthem. Even 'Nessun Dorma' snuck in there at the end. Appropriate really as (if the red tops are to be believed!) some of the players (step forward Mr Flintoff!) got precious little sleep last night!
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Naturally, an event as auspicious as this could not pass without that well known cricket afficionado, Tony Blair getting in on the act. Does the phrase "jumping on the bandwagon" have any significance here?
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One could assume that Tony Blair has his own personal bandwagon, which he keeps parked round the back of Number 10, filled up with (expensive) fuel and with the engine running, so at the first hint of sporting success, he can cling onto the coat tails of the winners.
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Unlike his immediate predecessor at Number 10, Blair has never shown the slightest inclination towards cricket and did not even play cricket at school.
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Well, neither did Flintoff. The two schools he attended did not have cricket on the curriculum. Cricket has all but disappeared from state schools. Today's victorious cricketers don't need Tony Blair's hollow congratulations, they need a firm commitment to give every child the chance to play cricket, not just watch it. Hopefully then it won't be another 18 years 'without' The Ashes.
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It was also noted that Blair invited the England Ladies cricket team to tea today. One can only suppose he got the girlies round to make the cucumber sandwiches and serve the tea, as cricket is very definitely not for girls - Howzat for political incorrectness? Indeed!

Tuesday, September 13

The mid week quote, No. 3


''Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.''

George Bernard Shaw, Irish literary critic, Playwright, and Essayist, Nobel Prize winner.

Hot air at the Seaside

One of the distinguishing qualities of the annual political conference season, started this week with the TUC Conference, going on next week to the Lib-Dims, thence to Labour UK, Independence Party and indeed the Conservatives, is the extraordinary amount of hot air emanating from assorted seaside resorts. (UKIP's confrence is being held in Westminster).
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The indicators for global warming will go up in this period. Chancellor of the Exchequer and eternal Prime Minister in waiting (always the bridesmaid, never the bride, sob), The Rt Hon. Gordon Brown made a speech at the TUC Conference, in which he tried to explain how he was going to deal with the possible problems caused by rising fuel prices.
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"Because we will never be complacent, the first action we must take is to tackle the cause of the problem, ensuring concerted global action is taken to bring down world oil prices and stabilise the market for the long term."
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I guess this still goes down well with the Brothers but the rest of us find that as a policy statement somewhat inadequate. Maybe this is better:

“Lack of transparency about the world's reserves and plans for their development undermines stability and causes speculation. The world must call on Opec to become more open and more transparent.
"From the additional 300 billion US dollars a year in revenue Opec countries are now enjoying and the additional 800 billion US dollars available to oil producers, there must be additional new investment in production and global investment in refining capacity.
"The search for alternative sources of energy and greater energy efficiency is urgent to ensure both the maintenance of economic growth and tackling climate change.”
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So what have we got that is even remotely like a practical suggestion? Well there is the incredibly “radical” idea that “the World Bank should set up a new fund to support developing countries, which were investing in alternative sources of energy and greater energy efficiency”.
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In other words more money pumped into the various unsatisfactory governmental “projects” in developing countries that have not, at this stage, adequate economic infrastructure for basic development.
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What is it about Gordy’s mind? It moves along entirely predestined grooves.
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Ultimately, one assumes that our wonderful Chancellor is proposing to put some kind of pressure on OPEC for it to pump out more oil (which is questionable in practical terms), presumably, in order for him to tax it to the hilt. After all, what with one thing and another, tax returns are going down, not an unknown phenomenon in economies that are over-taxed in an ever more complicated fashion.
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At a recent discussion about flat tax and its advantages (not yet clearly perceived by any main political party in this country, George Osborne’s feeble murmurings nothwithstanding) I was particularly interested to hear Professor David Myddleton of Cranfield University School of Management, an expert on taxation, announce that despite being that and despite lecturing on it for forty years or so, he still could not understand his tax form.
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No wonder the Chancellor is looking for another source of revenue.