Monday, October 31

Royal relevance

Tomorrow, HRH Prince Charles embarks on his first official overseas tour with his consort, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
The eight day tour of the United States of America will include lunch and dinner at the Whitehouse as guests of President Bush.
In preparation for the tour, Prince Charles has given a lengthy television interview with one of the major US networks, in which he talks about his efforts to remain relevant and worries that he may only be truly appreciated after his death. Well most positive contributors to British history only receive recognition after their death, it is a very British tradition !
Sadly, Prince Charles is much maligned, both in the UK and overseas, in some ways he was very much a victim of what we on this blog refer to as Dianaisation - a public display of excessive and misplaced sentimentality. Most of HRH's very good work goes unnoticed by the British media who seem determined to picture him as an introspective loner, who talks to trees, dislikes anything modern and requires staff to furnish his toothbrush with paste on a daily basis. Not that there is anything odd about the latter two points, what !
Much has been made of the fact that Charles and Camilla are taking a large number of staff with them on the forthcoming trip. These days anyone in the public eye has aides - compare the requirements of the Royal couple with any of the moronic (many) rock "stars" or the expanding band of sports primadonnas on tour and it will become apparent that in actual fact, the Royal "rider" is slight and excellent value to the British tax payer, particularly as for the most part, Prince Charles is funding the trip from his private income.
In truth, Charles is very much the champion of the under-privileged, concerned about the environment, a modest man who like his father, isn't afraid to speak his mind (with a very dry British sense of humour) and has a range of specialist private advisors, who are not the same as those advising Her Majesty's Ministers (thanks be to God) . On a family note, lest we forget that Prince Charles has been a single parent for some years now and his boys are turning into fine young Princes.
It is hoped that the US tour is viewed as a success; if more folk realised the extent of the good work done by The Prince's Trust, perhaps Prince Charles would be held in the high regard he so richly deserves, and thus encourage more US tourists to visit our green and very pleasant land.

Sunday, October 30

The Sunday Quote - 133

The Adam Smith Institute Blog muses on David Cameron’s rather fatuous comment:

“I don't think anyone wakes up and thinks 'gosh, I wish the state was smaller today than it was yesterday’.”

Madsen Pirie replies:

“He's mostly right, though there are a few of us who do put it in those terms (we tend to use the subjunctive were smaller).

Other people probably wake up and think things like:

I wish I got to keep more of my pay without all those deductions.

I wish the planners hadn't stopped me building a conservatory out back.

I wish Ben were not facing prosecution for waving a cricket bat at those muggers.

I wish I could get some help in the house and looking after the kids without all that form-filling stuff when you hire anyone.

I wish my car didn't cost so much extra because of those EU rules.

I wish Gran could pass on her house and savings without all that inheritance tax.

I wish the nativity play and carol concert hadn't been banned by the local council.

I wish the local butcher hadn't been forced to close his business.”

Thanks to Dr. Helen Szamualy

Born this day

Some very special beings were born on this day in history - Ezra Pound (1885), Charles Atlas (1893), Michael Winner (1935), Henry Winkler (1945), Juliet Stephenson (1956), Diego Maradona (1960) and last but by no means least, a very important, distinguished member of the veryBritishsubjects team, Hector (pictured above), our special researcher who was born 15 years ago.
Fifteen cat years is around seventy in human terms, therefore Hector is the feline equivalent of Michael Winner, but is infinitely more attractive. Hector's footwork is no doubt fancier than that of Diego Maradona and he is cooler than Henry Winkler by a country mile.
Hector, we salute you - many happy returns of the day to a very British cat!

Troy and the Tardis

Esteemed editor of this blog, Peter Troy engages in a spot of time travel, popping back to 1972 to undo the European Communities Act , since all other techniques have failed!

Friday, October 28

Special quote

"They only have enough vision to see as far as their next travel expense claim"
Peter Troy's comment to the Northern Echo newspaper, following the Federation of Small Businesses' North East regional AGM last night.

Thursday, October 27

The final insult?

Douglas Bader

From yesterday's Daily Mail, a piece by John Edwards, worth republishing in it's entirety.
The room was empty and lit by sheets of sunlight bleaching the folded curtains and lying over the tops of the polished leather chairs. Ghosts go quietly, but you knew they were everywhere. Douglas Bader, the tin-legged fighter ace, was in front of the wood fire which shot smoke up the chimney of a huge marble fireplace.

Bader lost his legs in a flying acident and worried the doctors into letting him fight again. His half-pint in a pewter mug was getting warm on the mantlepiece, while he tapped his pipe in a misty picture floating back through time.
And that looked like 'Cat's Eyes' Cunningham, the greatest night fighter pilot ever, talking to Johnnie Johnson, who was the number one of all aces. Stanford Tuck was in there somewhere, a bit brash and showing off, but he became a tiger in the cockpit of a Spitfire. He's talking to Sailor Malan. And there was a great fighter pilot for you.
Which is how it was in the old officers' mess at RAF Coltishall, Norfolk. The Battle of Britain still raged in that cloudless sky of memories.
"They were all here, you know", said someone who flies fast jet fighters out of the place these days.
"It's something, isn't it? The best of the best in their day, certainly the most famous, and all here in this room.Them and their colleagues asainst the German Luftwaffe. It's all we had."
Before there were celebrities, there were only heroes. That is the slot in history where those pilots' names are kept. They really did do something for this once great country. They saved it.
Whisper it near Blair and watch him squirm. His Government want history buried. Blair will probably end his days apologising to the families of shot-down Luftwaffe crews for the pain they were caused after their relatives bombed London.
Then there will be angry ghosts in the officers' mess at RAF Coltishall, now in the first sad days of closing down forever.
A pilot flew from here and shot down the first German plane in the Battle of Britain. Another one went up and shot down the last.
Oh yes. For anyone denied the chance of learning about it in school, the Batle of Britain was the one which stopped the Germans invading. It wasn't much more than that. Don't go around bragging though. You could be arrested for the newest crime, the one called patriotism.
Mick Jennings, base historian, with books under his arm, an office full of documents and even a museum in the building behind him, showed you the airport.
"How important was it? Well, it opened in June 1940 and one month later, Sergeant Pilot F.N.Robertson in a Spitfire shot down a Dornier 17 near Winterton, and that was the first officially recorded kill of the Battle of Britain. Can I still say kill?"
The first of many. Which was 65 years ago. And the station hasn't changed much. The bulidings are the same ones those young fighter pilots ran put of when someone shouted:"Scramble!"
Then they flew to 10,000ft and engaged swarms of enemy bombers.
Coltishall had changed so little that the old Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) sleeping quarters still has the original camouflage spread across the front.
This was to confuse low-flying German raiders by day and randy RAF pilots coming back from The Goat at night. The Germans never hit it. Nothing about the pilots' results was ever written down.
Isn't this just another airfield closing down, Mick Jennings was asked.
"It's closing because it's a Jaguar fighter base.The jaguars are being withdrawn from service.
But it's not just another airfield. It's the only Battle of Britain fighter base which has never changed roles. It was fighters then and fighters now. It's unique."
Seems a bit far away to have been vital to London.
"No. The Luftwaffe came from the south, over Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, bombed London, then swung north to go home and flew right into Coltishall's sector. It was one of the most important bases we had."
One of the locals came around last month and he said he was a boy back then and remembered all the Spitfires and Hurricanes racing into the air and engaging a straggle of Germans heading out to sea.
Spitfire and Hurricane
It was quite some sight, he said. And did anyone know all of the British and American bombers which crash-landed here after bombing Germany because it was the first airfield they saw after flying wounded into friendly skies?
In the movie on Bader, Reach ForThe Sky, it was supposed to be Coltishall's Nissen huts he was teetering from on his tin legs to fly into the war over East Anglia.
Now they've circled March 31st on the 2006 calendars across the airfield. That's it. Finish. The last take-off. The smell and the noise of vistory ends up as words in books.
"There was talk of a holding centre for asylum-seekers going in there," someone in The Goat said. He was standing in somewhere once called Cat's Eyes Cunninham's Corner.
"It would be an insult," he said.
Do you think anyone in this Government would worry about that?
The man shook his head over his beer, and you knew how he felt.

Wednesday, October 26

Rosa Parks, RIP

Rosa Parks, the black woman who sparked a revolution in American race relations, has died at the age of 92.
In Montgomery, Alabama, Mrs Parks a department store seamstress and civil rights activist, then 42, caught a bus on December 1st, 1955.
Three stops later, a white man boarded the bus and the driver told Mrs Parks and three other black passengers to stand up to make room for the white man to sit alone, as the rules required.
Mrs Parks refused, saying, "No. I'm tired of being treated like a second class citizen."
She later explained to police, "I didn't think I should have to, I paid my fare like everyone else."
Four days later, she was convicted of breaking the law and fined $10, plus $4 court costs.
That day, Reverend Martin Luther King led blacks in a boycott of the bus system that lasted 381 days.
The legal challenges led to a Supreme Court decision that forced Montgomery to desegregate its bus system and put an end to laws seperatimg blacks and whites at public facilities throughout the American South.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said yesterday, "We rejoice in her legacy which will never die. Rosa Parks sat down in order that we might all stand up and the walls of segregation come down."
Senator Edward Kennedy said, "The nation lost a courageous woman and a true American hero. Rosa Parks stood up not only for herself, but for generations upon generations of Americans."
Mrs Parks had been suffering from progressive dementia and rarely appeared in public in recent years. She died peacefully in her sleep at her Detroit home on monday evening, surrounded by friends and family.

Shoot to kill

By Sarah-Jane Hollands, London Correspondant
Yesterday's London Evening Standard carried a piece by Richard Edwards, Crime Reporter, under the banner headline, 'Police given sweeping new powers on shoot to kill'.
The first two paragraphs read as follows: "Police are extending a controversial shoot-to-kill policy to deal with 'extreme' cases of kidnapping, stalking and domestic violence.
New Scotland Yard guidelines will allow firearms teams to shoot suspects in the head when the offender is holding a gun or a knife to a victim's head and on the brink of murder."
Perhaps it's a case of bad journalism. I sincerely hope that Mr Edwards has misread the guidelines.
I thought in this country, actual murder didn't carry the death penalty - now, it would seem that at worst, attempted murder is punishable by death.
Of course, the family of Jean Charles de Menezes know only too well that being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be a death sentence at the hands of trigger happy police officers.

Monday, October 24

Education white paper

Today, Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to make a speech at Downing Street, to announce the forthcoming education white paper.
The White Paper, entitled 'Higher Standards, Better Schools For All', will include plans to:
  • Allow public schools to cross over into the state school system and receive Government funds.
  • Provide more one-to-one and small group tuition for gifted and academically weak or struggling pupils.
  • Give teachers tougher powers to restrain and discpline unruly pupils.
  • Set up new parent councils which would oversee the running of the school.
  • Provide help for pupils from sink estates whose parents would like them to attend schools in better areas, including subsidised transport costs.
  • Give parents help in finding better schools, including the introduction of 'choice advisors'.


Details of the scheme emerged as Education Secretary Ruth Kelly praised the 'ethos' of public schools such as Eton and Winchester.


The Tories, however, maintained it amounted to a return to their system of grant-maintained schools, which was abolished by New Labour a year after it came into power.


Speaking on the BBC's Sunday AM programme, Miss Kelly said : "If you are talking about an ethos from a private school that is good discipline, high standards and an expectation that every single child in that school is going to succeed, then that is something I want to see in our state system.

If you are talking about privilege, selection, unfair funding, then that is something I would never want to see in our state system."


In his speech, Blair will defend the switch away from what his former spin-doctor Alastair Campbell once described as 'bog-standard comprehensives'. The Prime Minister wil use the launch of his latest education reforms to defy growing signs of resistance in Whitehall and Westminster. He will suggest that the proposed reforms represent a 'pivotal moment' for Labour.


If, as predicted, David Cameron succeeds Michael Howard as Conservative leader, Blair will face increasing pressure to show that his third term will not end in defeat for his successor-in-waiting, Gordon Brown.

Sunday, October 23

The Sunday Quote - 132

'' We will be slashing prices, improving the food, and reigniting the passion and belief of the British public.''
Simon Heath and Lawrence Wosskow the new owners of the 235 roadside Little Chefs.
High aims indeed.

Saturday, October 22

Testing Trafalgar

By Sarah-Jane Hollands, London correspondant.
In yesterday's London Evening Standard, an article was published, regarding Trafalgar and asking how much people really knew about the battle.
A reporter was duly despatched to Trafalgar Square, to ask relevant questions, of both locals and tourists. Some of the answers are laughable, some are downright depressing and the remaining question that needs answering is this : do we actually teach any British history in our schools any more?
Judge for yourselves, the questions and answers are reprinted below.
When was the battle of Trafalgar?
"I haven't got a clue. was it 1806? I know it was something to do with Nelson."
"I have absolutely no idea. Was it sometime in the 18th Century? Oh, was it a centenary? Was it 1705?"
"1700s, no 1800s, against Napoleon."
"200 years ago".
"1805. October 20th or was it 21st? No, it was 21st, today in fact."
Who fought?
"The French and the English. Spain might have been involved."
"He did - Nelson. Did he fight the French?"
"France against England."
"England against the French and Spanish armada"
"Nelson against the bloody French of course."
"Was it here in the square? It's called Trafalgar Square. Or was it Portsmouth?"
"Was it here? It was on the coast...was it Dover? I don't know."
"It was in the sea, yes? This is difficult. I think off the French coast , in the Atlantic."
"It was off, just off Cadiz."
"They took the wounded into Gibralter so it was somewhere off the Bay of Biscay."
Who won?
"I don't know who won. The last time I thought about this was at school."
"I think England won. That is why the statue is up there."
"Nelson, of course. Did you know he was looking down Whitehall at his fleet?"
"We did of course, otherwise we'd all be speaking French. We should have a national holiday on this day, why don't we?"
Name of ship?
"Oh yes, it was the Mary Rose. Or was it the Cutty Sark?"
"I really do not know, sorry. I have an MA in History, but it is in medieval history. If you had asked me about the Batle of Hastings I would have been alright."
"The Cromwell?"
"Victory. I would have been pretty embarrassed if I had got any of those wrong. He is pretty well known in the Navy."
"Victory. Nelson's ships are on Whitehall lamp posts."
It will come as no surprise to learn that the blue responses were from a Petty Officer, aged 31, serving on HMS Nottingham.
The purple answers were given by a 61 year old lady from North london, obviously remembering with ease her history lessons from over 50 years ago.
The green answers came from Italian tourists, their lack of knowledge is excusable.
Disturbingly, the orange and brown answers were given by Londoners aged 23 and 24, demonstrating once again that broadly speaking, history is a dying subject. Our school children are no longer taught about who they are and from where they came.
I asked my nine year old daughter what she had learnt in school yesterday about Nelson or Trafalgar; what had they done in celebration of this very British victory and her reply was damning. "Nothing at all."
The shame of it.

Friday, October 21

Trafalgar 200

Today we mark 200 years since one of the Royal Navy's most famous and most crushing victories, at the Battle of Trafalgar, fought at cape Trafalgar, south west of Spain.
The British fleet which proved too strong for the combined forces of the French and Spanish Navies, was led by Vice Admiral Lord Nelson, aboard HMS Victory.
A Royal Navy fleet of 27 ships fought against a French and Spanish fleet of 33. The British lost no ships while the opponents lost 22.
The battle was won when, abandoning the standard formation of a long line, Vice Admiral Lord Nelson used two parallel lines of ships to go straight at the enemy. This method simplified communication between ships and broke the battle down into a series of ship-to-ship fights.
On the day of the battle, Nelson wrote the following words in his diary :
May the Great God whom I worship grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory; and may no misconduct in anyone tarnish it; and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature of the British Fleet. For myself individually I commit my life to Him who made me, and may this blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my country faithfully. To Hm i resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Nelson died in battle, his last words reportedly "Kismet, Hardy" , loosely taken to mean fate or destiny.
He was fatally wounded by a lead ball, which sliced through an artery in his lung and lodged in his spine. He died knowing he had won the battle.
French Commander, Vice Admiral Villeneuve was stabbed in the chest 6 times after defeat, probably murdered on Napoleon's orders.
Life on board sailing vessels such as HMS Victory was lethally dangerous even without an enemy firing into them. Sailors drowned, fell to death from the rigging or were crippled in accidents. There were many more fatalities from disease than from enemy action.
Royal Navy crews were astonishingly diverse.On HMS Victory, there were 64 Scots, 63 Irish, 18 welshmen, 21 Americans, 7 dutchmen, 9 West Indians, 6 Swedes, a handful of Germans, Portuguese, Maltese and Danes, a Russian and an African.
Crews also included large numbers of men who - like Nelson - had lost eyes, arms, hands or legs in battle. Though they would be considered 'disabled' by modern standards, they took part in close combat.
Nelson is a true British hero and the celebrations surrounding the bicentenary of Trafalgar and in commemoration of his death have been muted, low-key and without substance.
Lest we forget has never been a more pertinent phrase, given the current dealings we have with the EU, who many consider to be the direct political descendants of Napoleon et al.

Sandhurst bound

HRH Prince William
This site would like to offer congratulations to HRH Prince William, upon the news that he has passed the entrance exams and will be joining his younger brother Prince Harry at Sandhurst military academy.
Wiliam will become the most senior member of the royal family in recent history to attend the officer training college in Camberley, Surrey.
The tests took place at the Regular Commissions Board, in Westbury, Wiltshire and at least half of those taking the tests are not expected to make the grade.
Prince William arrived at the camp on Tuesday morning and was soon engaged in a series of gym based tests.
He had to perform 44-press ups and 50 sit-ups, both within two minutes. Next up was a mile and a half run, to be completed in ten minutes or less.
A series of written tests followed, on subjects such as Army history, current affairs and general knowledge.
The second day consisted mainly of interviews, when William would have been expected to impress the top brass.
Yesterday, along with 21 others, William tackled the assault course, which included a variety of team-based tasks, such as swinging on ropes with heavy equipment and balancing on planks.
The test concluded this morning with a dawn run and soon afterwards it was announced by Clarence House that William had successfully completed his application.
" I am absolutely delighted to have got over the first hurdle but I am only too well aware, having spoken so much to Harry, that this is just the beginning. I am really looking forward to taking my place alongide all the other cadets at Sandhurst." , was Prince William's reported reaction.
It is expected that William will attend Sandhurst from January 2006 and we here at veryBritishsubjects would like to wish him every success.

Red against blue

By Sarah-Jane Hollands, football correspondant.

From an unexpected source - a football fans' forum - come some interesting and amusing thoughts on Trafalgar 200.
to view the thoughts of the Crystal Palace fans on one of Britain's finest victories and if you feel like having a laugh at the absurdities of political correctness.
For the uninitiated, Crystal Palace play in red and blue shirts!

Thursday, October 20

Airbus whistleblower faces prison

By Ambrose Pritchard-Evans

Joseph Mangan thought he was doing Airbus a favour when he warned of a small but potentially lethal fault in the new A380 super-jumbo, the biggest and most costly passenger jet ever built.
Instead, Europe's aviation giant rubbished his claims, and now he faces ruin, a mass of legal problems, and - soon - an Austrian prison. Mr Mangan is counting the days at his Vienna flat across the street from Schonbrünn Palace, wondering whether the bailiffs or the police will knock first.
An American aerospace engineer, he has discovered that Austria offers scant protection to whistle blowers. Bankrupt, he is surviving with his wife and three children on gifts of food from fellow Baptists in Vienna.
Having failed to stump up a £100,000 fine for breaching a court gagging order, he now faces a year behind bars.
His troubles began in September 2004 when he contacted the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), claiming that the cabin pressure system in the A380 might not be safe, and that this had been concealed. Mr Mangan's message was not one that Europe wanted to hear, least of all from a garrulous American who jabbers aviation techno-babble at machine-gun speed.
TheA380 is the world's most ambitious aircraft, fruit of a joint effort by the French, Germans, British and Spanish. A double-decker giant, it can carry up to 856 passengers at 42,000 feet. "The symbol of what Europe can achieve," said French President Jacques Chirac as the aircraft completed its faultless maiden flight this April.
Airbus has overtaken Boeing, snatching 57per cent of the big jet market. It employs 52,000 staff, a fifth in Britain, where the wings are built. Not everybody is convinced that Airbus is wise to stake so much on a project loaded with new technologies.
The A380 uses glass laminates for the plane's fusilage, and questions have arisen as to whether the material might degrade under ultra-violet radiation. Airbus insists not. But any hint of hubris in one area spreads doubts about others, which is why Mr Mangan's saga is so unsettling.
His role in the A380 story is no more than a bit part. He was recruited from Kansas in September 2003 to take charge of the aerospace team at TTTech Computertechnik, an Austrian firm supplying Airbus components. He has accused the firm of "intentional non-compliance" with safety rules.
Public court documents in Vienna record his allegation that TTTech conspired to "keep certain information secret from the certifying authorities". Mr Mangan alleged "human lives could be in danger", according to the document - an injunction by a Vienna judge. TTTech denies the allegations, calling him a disgruntled ex-employee who never fitted into the team, and is now bent on revenge.
Mr Mangan claims a defect in the outflow valve control system could lead to an abrupt loss of cabin pressure, leaving passengers unconscious in as little as 20 seconds. "Normal oxygen masks don't work properly above 33,000 feet.
It would take two and half minutes to bring the aircraft down to the survival altitude of 25,000 feet. Pilots would have little time to act. In the worst case scenario, the plane could crash.
"The A380 uses a set of four identical valves that could all go wrong at the same time for the same reason. The typical jet has three different systems to eliminate such a risk," he claimed.
Glitches had arisen using the same operating system in February 2004 during a test in Phoenix for the Aermacchi fighter trainer, which he had helped to fix, he claimed.
There were 160 cases of emergency loss of cabin pressure in Europe last year. Investigators suspect it played a role in the crash of a Helios Boeing 737 flight over Greece in August, killing 121 people.
Airbus dismissed fears about the A380 as baseless. "We have examined this internally and found absolutely no reason to be concerned. The scenario made up by Mr Mangan does not exist," said spokesman David Voskuhl.
But officials at the air safety watchdog EASA said they took the concerns"extremely seriously". An EASA source said that the agency was "able to confirm certain statements by Mr Mangan". A probe - conducted by the French authorities for EASA - allegedly found that TTTech was "not in conformity" with safety rules and had failed to carry out the proper tests.
The key microchip was deemed "not acceptable". EASA instructed Airbus to sort out the problem before the final certification of the A380 next year. It is unclear whether this has now been done.
EASA has refused to comment publicly on the details of the dispute, prompting concerns at the European Parliament. Eva Lichtenberger, an Austrian Green MEP, wrote an "urgent" letter to the agency last month demanding "prompt and extensive information on the matter".
"We cannot leave questions open like this when it comes to aircraft safety," she said. "I have received no reply up to now.
Unless I have a proper reply by next week, I will launch a formal complaint with the European Commission," she told theTelegraph. Rüdiger Haas, a professor of aircraft manufacture at Karlsrühe University, said he "shared the reservations of Mangan" over the safety of the outflow valve controls.
"The system markedly deviates from previous specifications in aircraft construction," he told Germany's ARD television. Mr Mangan claimed that his employers were under intense pressure to meet deadlines. The A380 venture was already ¤1.5billion (£850m) over budget and six months behind schedule. He claimed it would have taken two years to carry out the proper certification.TTTech falsely classified its micro-chip as a simple "off-the-shelf" product already used in car valves in order to excempt it from elaborate testing rules, he claimed. This would breach both EU and US law on aircraft regulation.
"I refused to sign off on the test results, but TTTech went ahead anyway," he claimed. The key papers relate to the TTPOS operating system and were allegedly dated August 24 2004. Mr Mangan is concerned that his name may have been linked to certification, leaving him with legal liability. "That's why I have to stick it out here inVienna until my name is cleared, " he said.
French prosecutors tracked alleged negligence in the 2000 Concorde crash to an American mechanic, who now faces a manslaughter probe. Mr Mangan said within days of reporting the alleged abuse he was sacked.
TTTech filed both a civil and criminal defamation suit - possible under Austrian law - securing a gagging order on all details regarding the case. Mr Mangan refused to remain silent.
"They say I can't even talk to safety officials about a threat to safety. This violates my duty to the public. People could die on that plane if they don't fix the problem," he said.
TTTech is a spin-off from the University of Vienna, specializing in"time-triggered technology". The firm said it was forced to take action after Mr Mangan had inflicted "severe damage" to its reputation with wild allegations that he had so far been unable to substantiate. It admits to a routine software glitch, since corrected, but said an external audit found no trace of any abuses.
"What he is saying is simply not true. We checked the evidence and found nothing wrong," said the chief executive, Stefan Poledna. He said TTTech was never informed by EASA of any alleged non-compliance, and insisted that certification was an on-going "iterative process".
"This is all very strange. It was clear the certification bar had been raised after October 2004, and we had to do a lot of double-checking, but we've never been told that anything was fundamentally wrong," he said.
For now, the first A380 is carrying out daily test flights from its base in Toulouse, racking up 350 hours of flying time. The results are secret.
Next month the A380 will take off for its first test trip around the globe, stopping in Frankfurt, Singapore, and Sydney, before gearing up for passenger flights next year.
Airbus is clearly confident that the A380 issafe. It will now have to convince prospective buyers.

Wheels within wheels

by Dr Richard North

The second round of the Tory leadership contest is declared and the pundits are in full flow. But the result, although pre-ordained, is not quite what it seems.
Cameron polled 90 votes of the 198, making him the clear winner, but the result fell short of expectations – some pundits having predicting well over the hundred mark. And therein lies the story.
Should Cameron have actually reached or exceeded the magic hundred mark, the pressure on Davis – who polled 57 against his first round figure of 62 - to concede, would have been huge.This would have led to the "coronation" of Cameron, which would have been convenient but hugely unpopular with the party, which wanted its say in the contest.
But, with Fox coming up strongly, and offering some real policies with hard teeth – not least issues which he had adopted from the Cornerstone manifesto – the Cameron team decided, it the contest was to be kept going, Fox must be neutralised.
If they had to go to the party, a tired and increasingly unconvincing Davis would be the best foil.
Far from supporting their man, therefore, the Cameron team have spent the day frantically bolstering Davis, persuading "flakey" supporters to stay with him, rather than defecting to Cameron.
To cement in the final choice, some of Cameron's most loyal supporters cast their vote for Davis, to shore up an otherwise collapsing vote and keep Fox out of the race, with the added advantage of keeping their man's vote below the century.But for this back-room dealing, Cameron's vote could have reached 120 as Davis's collapsed, leaving him trailing behind Fox's 51 votes. The final contest would have been between Davis and Fox.
The Cameroons are jubilant that their ploy has worked. They now feel that their champion cannot help but shine against a demoralised Davis. He is well aware that his position in the finals is entirely due to his opponent, who has saved him from a humiliating defeat.
The game, however, is not entirely over. Although Cameron is regarded as "unstoppable", the Foxites will now be trying to pin down the elusive old-Etonian, forcing him to make policy commitments that he has to carry over into his leadership.
There are three weeks to go before the postal ballots go out – with the majority being returned within 48 hours – so there is little time to make an impact.
Whether the media take part in the game is questionable, or whether they even realise what the game is, but if they could tear themselves away from personalities and start looking at the issues, this could be the most interesting and important phase of the contest.

Let there be light

From the department of 'you couldn't make it up', (and the pages of yesterday's Daily Mail,) comes a remarkable tale of a Norfolk church, which has fallen foul of EU regulations.
St. Benet's Roman Catholic church, in Beccles, Norfolk, is over 100 years old, and the nave is quite high.
Until recently, changing the light bulbs used to involve the local electrician and some very long ladders.
The Priest in charge, Father Sutch was forced to look for a new electrician, as the firm he had previously used had gone out of business.
The work usually took a couple of hours and the bill came in at around £200.
However, thanks to new European Union (EU) Directive, which is automaticaly incorporated into UK law, regading light bulbs and the changing of, Father sutch is now looking at the prospect of paying out somewhere in the region of £1,300 for the same job.
Thanks to Schedule Six of the EU Working At Height Directive ( which states: 'every employer shall ensure that a ladder is used for work at height only if a risk assessment has demonstrated that the use of more suitable work equipment is not justified because of the low risk') a risk assessment had to be undertaken, which ruled out using a ladder. Instead, scaffolding with a platform on top had to be erected to reach the bulbs which are 40ft above the ground. As a result, the job now takes at least two men two days, at a cost of £260 per bulb.
The bewildered Priest went on to say "The cost is six times what it was and my collections are not growing that fast. I'm trying to concentrate on the things of God, but it's difficult with all these worries about money. People are dying from MRSA in hospitals - where is their health and safety?"

Wednesday, October 19

The mid week quote

“I voted then, for Saddam, of course, because I was afraid. But this time, I came here by my own choice. I am not afraid any more. I am a free man.”
Jabar Ahmead Ismail, 75 an Iraqi voter in this week's referendum.
The quote is posted with thanks to the NewYork Times and specifically in tribute to the British and American servicemen as well as journalists who have been killed in the war in Iraq. Freedom comes at a terrible cost, lest we forget.

Tuesday, October 18

One down - two to go

Tory Leadership latest :
The first MP's ballot has resulted in Kenneth Clarke being knocked out of the battle to be the next Conservative leader.
Sir Michael Spicer , the Chairman of the Conservative MP's back bench group - the 1922 committee - announced this evening that 198 votes were cast (the number of Conservative MPs); Cameron received 56 votes, Clarke received 38, Davis received 62 and Liam Fox received 42.
David Cameron is still the bookies' favourite; a second vote will take place on thursday, then the grass roots party members will make their choice from the remaining two candidates.
In an inevitable twist of the Tory leadership election system, today's ballot saw MPs voting, not for the person they wanted as leader, but strategically to eliminate the person they wanted least.
It seems that the Conservative party, formerly the greatest political machine in the Western world, has been reduced to an organisation of fundamental negativity, devoid of meaningful policy which probably accounts for the success (so far at least) of arch 'Tory boy' Cameron.
The Conservative party members will, following the ridiculous second stage of the competion, be offered a choice of which personality they wish to lead their once great party. Politics is about ideas - the lack of any original thinking from either of the three 'wanna be' leaders is a cause for concern. Such is the state of Her Majesty's loyal opposition.
Desperandum indeed.
Above David Cameron - second in the ballot
.Ken Clarke - out

Above - David Davis - very much still in

Dr. Liam Fox - still in

Statutory wrongs?

By Sarah-Jane Hollands, London correspondant.
It would appear that the location of the statue, Alison Lapper, Pregnant is not the only error concerning this controversial piece.
The accompanying plaque contains a glaring spelling error, and has been in situ for more than a month.
Quoting the sculptor, Marc Quinn, the plaque reads " To me, 'Alison Lapper, Pregnant', is a monument to the future possibilities of the human race as well as the resiliance (sic) of the human spirit".
The correct spelling is of course, 'resilience'.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, whose office commissioned the statue, said : "the spelling mistake has been spotted and it will be replaced as soon as possible. The plaque was only ever intended to be temporary".
Many feel that the statue, as well as the erroneously spelt plaque, has overstayed it's welcome!
Henceforth, the dyslexic editor of this blog wishes it to be known that all his spelling mistakes are intended to be only temporary.

Monday, October 17

Economic growth to half

A new report has predicted that economic growth in the UK this year will be only half that predicted by the chancellor, Gordon Brown.

The Ernst and Young Item Club - which uses the Treasury's own economic model to make its forecasts - said on Monday that it expected growth to be just 1.6 per cent in 2005.

Gordon Brown estimated that the UK's GDP would expand by three to 3.5 per cent in his Budget in March, although he has since acknowledged that it is set to under-perform.

The chancellor will make updated forecasts in his pre-Budget report next month, but is set to blame rising oil prices and a global downturn for his miscalculation.

However the Item Club argued that problems had been apparent in the British economy this time last year.

Chief economic adviser Professor Peter Spencer said that Brown should blame himself as much as external economic shocks.

"The chancellor is blaming the UK economic slowdown on the recent spike in oil prices and the weakness of the European economy, but this is unrealistic," he said.

"The problems were plain to see at the time of last year's pre-Budget report in December, but instead of addressing them then, the Treasury chose to dress up the UK finances for the election."

He added on BBC Radio Five Live that Brown had not been "prudent".

"The simple fact is that he'd already run out of money this time last year," Prof Spencer told.
"But a prudent chancellor would keep some money in the bank so that he could do something about it."

The Item Club said it was "cautiously predicting" growth of 2.2 per cent next year, in contrast to the chancellor's last estimate of 2.5 to three per cent.

That would represent a small upturn but still leave the Treasury short of its estimated funds from tax revenues.
As with any downturn in the Economy smaller businesses will feel the impact hardest, particuarly in the retail sector where profit margins are thinner now than at any time in living memory.
Perhaps the policy free thinking zone of the Conservative party may yet wake up to the fact that some ideas on issues such as our nations economic future matter more than soap operan machinations, but judging by recent performance, I doubt it !

Sunday, October 16

Integrated defence (in secret)

Dr Richard North writes in The Business today about how the government's "Europe first" policy is undermining Britain's defences and comments that the British Government's covert defence policy is wasting £14 billion ($25 billion).
That is a sum which could be spent building a new hospital in any major British city, with enough left over to maintain the said hospital for around twenty years.
Dr North's paper, published last week by the Centre for Policy Studies on European defence integration called "The Wrong Side of the Hill: the secret realignment of UK Defence Policy with the EU" was commented on by Defence Secretary, Rt. Hon. Dr John Reid MP, at a press meeting of EU Defence ministers.
As can be read from the link, the detrimental significance of the Government's preference for EU over US equipment on the effectivness of our Armed Forces can not be overstated. The full paper can (and must) be downloaded from here.

The Sunday Quote - 131

The Sunday Quote (the original and still the best) :
"Next friday is the 200th anniversary of Nelson's great victory at Trafalgar, which saved us from invasion and domination by Napoleon. To celebrate, beacons will be lit and countless families will give dinner parties with traditional British food. The initiative has been taken by private individuals across the country - not by a government that hates our history. We should all join this great occasion without any inhibitions - not merely to salute one of England's greatest heroes, but because it will enormously annoy New Labour."
Simon Heffer, writing in yesterday's Daily Mail.

Saturday, October 15

A message of support.

Following the recent earthquake in Asia, the team at veryBritishsubjects would like to offer our sympathies to the many people affected by this disaster, both living here and of course overseas.
This earthquake has wiped out entire villages and over 38,000 people are dead, with many more injured and without shelter. Pakistan is worst hit, but parts of India and Afghanistan are also affected. Obviously, there are many British subjects who themselves or their families originate from this part of the world.
If anyone wishes to offer financial support, the Disasters Emergency Committee is once again collecting and distributing aid.
The helpline is 0870 60 60 900 and donations can also be made online at
The Disasters Emergency Committee is formed of 13 different charities and aid agencies: ActionAid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International UK, Concern, Christian Aid, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.
Please give what you can today.

Thursday, October 13

Birthday greetings

This site would like to convey sincere birthday wishes to Baroness Thatcher, who celebrates her 80th birthday today.
She remains Britain's longest serving 20th Century Prime Minister, was the first and only female Prime Minister of this country and is thought of as the last conviction politician.
This evening she will be attending her birthday party in London, at which Her Majesty the Queen is expected to be among the guests.
We here at veryBritishsubjects would like to wish Baroness Thatcher many happy returns of the day.

Tuesday, October 11

100 Greatest British Heroes

By Sarah-Jane Hollands
In the pages of yesterday's Daily Mail, author George Courtauld, (The Pocket Book of Patriotism) lists his 100 Greatest British Heroes, from his latest offering, The Pocket Book of Patriots.
We at veryBritishsubjects felt it our patriotic duty to republish the list in it's entirety. The editor of this blog will be adding his comments very shortly in red. In chronological order, George Courtauld's heroes are as follows:
c.AD 20-61. Queen who led a revolt against the Romans.
373-463. Converted Ireland to Christianity.
Dates unknown. First Archbishop of Canterbury.
c.673-735. Theologian and historian.
c.735-796. King of Mercia, dubbed King of the English by the Pope.
849-901. King around whom a unified country evolved.
924-988. Archbishop of Canterbury and favourite of five kings.
1019-1066. Last Saxon King of England.
1027-1087. First Norman King of England.
1068-1135. Began the evolution of Parliament.
1133-1189. First of the Plantagenets.
c.1228-1282. Known in Wales as Our Last Leader.
1239-1307. The Hammer of the Scots.
1274-1329. Victor of Bannockburn.
1327-1377. Fought the Hundred Years' War.
c.1340-1400. Author of The Canterbury Tales.
1359-c.1416. Tried to rid Wales of English rule.
1387-1422. Victor of Agincourt.
1421-1491. First English printer, also a translator.
1428-1471. Powerful baron.
c.1475-1530. Failed to engineer Henry VIII's divorce.
1478-1535. Lord Chancellor who defied Henry VIII.
1489-1556. Creator of the Book of Common Prayer.
1491-1547. Broke with Rome to form Church of England.
c.1494-1536. Martyr and translator of The Bible.
1516-1558. 'Bloody Mary', who burned heretics at the stake.
1533-1603. Defeated the Armada.
1537-1553. Boy King, came to throne aged nine.
c.1540-1596. English sailor and explorer.
1542-1587. Executed by Elizabeth I.
1552-1618. English explorer, courtier and poet.
1552-1599. Author of the epic The Fairie Queene.
1564-1593. Spy and playwright, wrote Dr Faustus.
1564-1616. Greatest ever playwright.
1566-1625. United the crowns of Scotland and England.
1599-1658. Parliamentarian who ruled as Protector.
1600-1649. Belief in divine right of Kings cost him his head.
1608-1674. Puritan poet, wrote the epic Paradise Lost.
1624-1691. Founded the Society of Friends, the Quakers.
1628-1688. Wrote The Pilgrim's Progress.
1630-1685. Restored to the throne after the Commonwealth.
1632-1704. Philosopher, champion of democracy.
1632-1723. Architect of St Paul's Cathedral.
1642-1727. Identified the force of gravity.
1650-1722. Victor at Blenheim.
1650-1702. Dutch prince, became King of Britain.
1667-1745. Author of Gulliver's Travels.
1676-1745. First British Prime Minister.
1689-1761. Wrote longest British novel, Clarissa.
1703-91. Preacher and founder of the Methodist movement.
1707-54. Author of Tom Jones and campaigner for justice.
1708-78. Whig Prime Minister.
1709-84. Produced the first English dictionary.
1720-88. Young Pretender defeated at Culloden.
1723-90. Economist who wrote ground-breaking Wealth of Nations.
1725-74. Victor of Plassey, first Governor of Bengal.
1727-88. Georgian painter.
1727-59. Captor of Quebec, died in battle.
1729-97. Philosopher who sympathised with American revolution.
1738-1820. Symbol of patriotic pride during wars with France.
1757-1827. Romantic poet and painter, author of Jerusalem.
1758-1805. Victor of Trafalger, died in battle.
1759-1806. Tory Prime Minister.
1759-1933. Led movement to abolish slavery.
1769-1852. Victor of Waterloo.
1770-1850. Poet inspired by nature.
1775-1817. Influential and acutely perceptive novelist.
1775-1851. painter, use of light aticipated impressionists.
1776-1837. Landscape painter with love of countryside.
1780-1845. Quaker and prison reformer.
1781-1848. Inventor and railway pioneer.
1784-1865. Whig Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister.
1788-1824. Handsome romantic poet who wrote Don Juan.
1788-1850. Prime Minister and founder of police force.
Romantic poet, wrote Ode To A Nightingale.
1804-81. Novelist and Conservative Prime Minister.
1806-59. Built Great Western Railway.
1809-82. Developed the theory of evolution
1809-98. Liberal Prime Minister and moral crusader.
1811-63. Journalist author of Vanity Fair.
1812-70. Prolific and influential Victorian novelist.
1815-82. English novelist who invernted tha pillarbox.
1819-1901. Reigned for 64 years and gave her name to the age.
1820-1910. Raised nursing to the status of an honoured vocation.
1850-1916. Poster recruiting sergeant for World War I.
1853-1902. Helped found Rhodesia.
1857-1934. Composer, wrote the Enigma Variations
1858-1928. Suffragette campaigner for women's right to vote.
1863-1945. Liberal Prime Minister, succeeded Asquith.
1865-1936. Empire poet and author of The Jungle Book.
1868-1912. Doomed Antarctic explorer.
1874-1965. Led Britain through World War II.
1887-1915. Poet and soldier killed in World War I.
1891-1970. Commanded the 'Forgotten Army' in Burma.
1903-50. Author of Animal Farm and 1984.
1906-84. Poet Laureate from 1972.
1922-85. poet who echoed the nostalgia of millions.
1925- Longest serving 20th Century Prime Minister.
1926- Celebrated Golden Jubilee in 2002.