Monday, December 31

Very British Awards

At this time of year the media is awash with comments on the out going year; predictions of all sorts on the year ahead, as well as remarks about the worthiness or otherwise of those honoured in the New Years Honours list.

To comment on the comments only adds to the agony of it all. For what it is worth try as we might the blog team has failed to find a good example of the cause of democracy being furthered in the UK during 2007. In 2008 it can only get worse, unless what passes for our Government in Westminster grants (or Parliament votes for) a Referendum on the so called EU Reform (Lisbon) Treaty later this year.

In respect of the New Year Honours List, there are no doubt many ordinary worthy people that have been honoured at the bottom end of the lists for lifetimes of dedicated and loyal service. The top of the list appears to be yet again to be top heavy with celebs and the likes of Michael Parkinson ('Parky') whose honours seem to have more to do with our ruling politicians pandering to popularity rather than recognition of outstanding service to the community.

Anyway in an act of self publicity we are making two 'Very British' awards to mark the end of 2007.
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Firstly in recognition of the very finest example of corporate arrogance and absolute brazen disregard for customer needs we award Charlotte Brown the Commercial Director of Patientline with the Very British Subjects award - with honours - for Very Unbritish behavior.
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Repeatedly Ms Brown in the face of heavy journalist questions denied that her company were targeting sick people in hospital with high pressure direct sales techniques on BBC Breakfast and News24 TV. Though Ms Brown was presented with a bottle of Champaign for her media performance by her colleagues - which is a profound reflection on Patientline's senior management - we feel she needed further recognition.
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Our Second award goes to a man who one only meets professionally under distressing circumstances. The Very British Subject Award - also with honours - for outstanding performance in the face of many self determined and exacting Troys goes to Paul Battrick MBE, Funeral Director of Pitcher and Le Quesne, Jersey CI. Mr Battrick's manner, quality of service, leadership and attention to detail with all the arrangements for the Religious and Military funeral of my late Uncle, Brigadier T M (Terry) Troy CBE held on a cold and windy December Friday afternoon were excellent. The arrangements were a fine tribute to my late Uncle and also a first class example of Britishness.

Both awards will be forwarded to the recipients in an appropriate manner.

Two examples chosen for very personal reasons ? Oh yes and for very good reason, both need to be recognized for what they are by the blogosphere since this year and in the future both will have an impact for bad and for good on British Subjects.

2007 was a year of living dangerously

By Christopher Booker

An image which summed up the surreal nature of 2007 as well as any other was a meeting in March of the European Council, at which Tony Blair and his 26 fellow heads of government decided, in the name of fighting global warming, to ban incandescent light bulbs.

From 2009 the only bulbs it will be legal to make or sell anywhere in the EU will be the so-called low-energy mercury bulbs known as Compact Fluorescent Lamps or CFLs.This may have made Mr Blair and his colleagues feel virtuous, but it was a completely crazy, quixotic gesture. They could not have taken any technical advice because their goal will prove impossible to achieve. CFLs may have a use in the right place, but up to half our light fittings are too enclosed to take them (a full conversion would take years, costing tens of billions of pounds).Their contribution to reducing global warming is derisory. And once these ugly bulbs are dead (often much sooner than advertised), thanks to another EU law which now outlaws the burial of mercury, they will be almost impossible to dispose of.
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As usual, many themes covered by my column in the Sunday Telegraph during the year have appeared more than once, to illustrate the increasing similarity of those who rule us to Don Quixote, the foolish knight who thought to save the world by charging a row of windmills with his lance, imagining them to be monstrous, planet-threatening giants.
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In the quixotic cause of fighting global warming, there is no end to the disasters we are now storing up for ourselves.
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Under an EU target which says that by 2020 10 per cent of all our petrol and diesel must be replaced with "biofuels", we are expected to devote at least 40 per cent of the farmland we currently use for food to growing crops which can beused for transport - just when there is a growing world food shortage and the price of grain has already doubled this year.

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Under another EU target, which says that by 2020 we must generate 20 per cent of our electricity from renewables, our Government plans to spend £50 billion on building 7,000 giant off shore windmills (not to mention the thousands more due to disfigure some of our most beautiful countryside). From these it claims it will be able to "power all the homes in Britain", oblivious of the fact that it will need up to 20 conventional power stations to provide power during the two-thirds of the time (averaged out) when there is insufficient wind to keep those windmills turning.
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Global warming also played a key part in yet another of the year's quixotic fiascos, the Home Information Packs which we were told would speed up the process of home-buying (billed here two years ago as "a disaster waiting to happen").
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When the predicted shambles duly arrived the Government was unable to abandon its folly, thanks to EU directive 2002/01 which, to combat global warming, compels all sellers to pay for an Energy Performance Certificate.In reality, the certificates have proved worthless. The testimony of recent homebuyers is that, far from speeding the process, HIPs significantly slow it down. Global warming was also mysteriously claimed as justification for the continuing shambles we have made of our waste disposal system, thanks to the EU's landfill directive which forces us to phase out landfilling our rubbish in favour of recycling.
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The result is that much of the waste nominally collected to meet EU recycling targets ends up either being shipped off to China or quietly landfilled when no one is looking
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Despite such hypocrisy, we are still so short of our EU-imposed targets that within two years we shall be paying £3 billion a year in ever-rising landfill tax and a further £200 million a year in fines to Brussels.
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Brussels was doubtless also grateful in 2007 for the £350 million it took off British taxpayers as a punishment for the ongoing shambles made by our Government of paying (or rather not paying) EU subsidies to English farmers.This was just part of the unending bureaucratic nightmare visited on farmers by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - the perfect symbol of which was an escape of the foot and mouth virus from Defra's own laboratory at Pirbright.
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When Brussels then banned UK lamb exports worth £500 million, no compensation was offered by the Government despite it being entirely responsible for the disaster in the first place.
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Another longstanding scandal which belatedly attracted publicity in 2007 was the forced dumping of millions of tons of saleable fish under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) quota system.
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In March, the EU's fisheries commissioner, Joe Borg, called it "morally wrong" that, in some waters round the British Isles, fishermen must chuck more than 90 per cent of the fish they catch, dead, back into the sea. (In the English Channel, British fishermen are only allowed to land 8 per cent of the total cod quota, while their French competitors have 80 per cent.)But for all the handwringing of Brussels, and of Labour and Tory spokesmen, when this obscenity was again highlighted in December, the one thing none of them proposed was abolition of the quota system which makes this ecological catastrophe inevitable. Since this is a central principle of the CFP, the disaster must continue.
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Such is the way we are now governed, by smoke and mirrors. And to judge by the way that the EU shamelessly smuggled back its rejected constitution under another name - enabling Gordon Brown to kick off his premiership with a breathtaking falsehood and break his promise of a referendum - it seems we can expect even more of it in the future.When history comes to be written, however, 2007 may well be marked as the significant year when it first registered that the disaster-movie threat posed to the planet by global warming might not be roaring down on us quite as predicted
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As reported in August, the latest US satellite records show that, far fromcontinuing to rise in sync with CO2 emissions, global temperatures have in the past few years flattened out 0.2 degrees below their 1998 level.In June this year they were actually at a level below that reached in 1983. Couple this with the corrected figures for US surface temperatures showing that the 20th century's hottest decade was not the 1990s but the 1930s, and maybe those lights don't need to go out all over Europe after all.

Sunday, December 30

Hostile to Common Sense and Good Order

It not just a question of where
By Peter Troy
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Peter Hitchens today in his regular slot in the Mail on Sunday highlights why the British Police are very much loosing the support of the British Public. For once The Sunday Mail's sub-editors have got the headline bang on with '' Police who won't even defend our war dead''.

Hitchens is at pains to point out that the decline in public support has nothing to do with individual acts of heroism or sacrifice by Police Officers who often perform outstanding acts of bravery in defiance of quite ridiculous health and safety rules. The point that is increasingly being missed by senior Police Officers and others in authority is that many of the rules that the police operate under are hostile to common sense and good order.

The many examples of inflexibility frequently sarcastic and often rude attitude of many officers whilst what used to be referred to as discharging their duty is also having a negative compound effect of the loss of vital respect from otherwise law abiding citizens. Complaining as this Blogger will confirm (in as much detail as necessary) is now a complete waste of time - for example a visit from one Durham Constabulary PC ordered to apologise to me by his Inspector back in 2003 for his less than exemplary performance (and attitude) when I called for assistance is still awaited.
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The example detailed both by Peter Hitchens in The Mail on Sunday and in the Daily Mirror is that of the 50 year old daughter of a Second World War Fighter Pilot, Julie Lake, who was arrested following her attempt to defend a war memorial from desecration from hooded louts in Mangotsfield, near Bristol.
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It is reported that, Police first ignored her calls for assistance then when when the group of 15 surrounded her shouting obscenities and continued to ride their BMX bikes over flowers at the memorial she slapped the ringleader in the face. The youth complained to the Police and Mrs. Lake now faces prosecution for Common Assault which carries a possible maximum penalty of six months' jail or a £5,000 fine.

If this was a one off incident that would be bad enough but it is not. Stories such as this are now regular occurrences which are reported in detail in the press and other media. On three separate occasions this year I have personally reported cases of thuggish actions by youths which I have witnessed, one involved three individuals driving when drunk in Sedgefield town - in one case (detailed on this blog) the police controllers where quite affronted at my instance of a response. The responce in all cases when it came was too little and too late.

My very serious concern is that the Police at just about all ranks appear to fail to understand (or so it appears when I talk to them) of the accumulative damage of the Public's confidence (however caused). Vital confidence in Law enforcement from my observations is reaching dangerously low levels and for this situation politicians and Magistrates Courts should bare much of the responsibility. The only group in our society that can benefit for this sorry state of affairs are criminals and particularly terrorists - especially in London where the service from the Police which is now provided by the 'Met' is at an all time low.

Now is clearly a time for an up to date survey detailed on the British Public's attitude to the effectiveness of law enforcement. When completed an informed public debate must take place. The matter is far too important to be left to career Police Officers, Lawyers and Politicians alone.

As a starting point back in 2004 the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) survey concluded that over half of all crime committed against its members (now 212,000) is not reported because the victims feel that there was no point in so doing. When as Chairman of the local branch of the FSB I pointed this fact out to the then Durham Chief Constable in a detailed meeting supported by statistics provided by local busisness people he was much concerned as indeed I was at the apparent non-understanding of the policing needs of smaller businesses. Since then the problem has got worse, much worse.

In the meantime, as Peter Hitchens asks, if the many men whose names are recorded on that monument in Mangotsfield were now to return to the land they left to defend, would they believe that it was worth their sacrifice?

The Sunday Quote

''I can resist everything except temptation''

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Scared to Death


Remember two years ago when a senior official of the World Health Association told us that soon "150 million people" might be dead from bird 'flu?

Remember Edwina Currie and the great panic over eggs?From "mad cow disease" to the Millennium Bug, from DDT to passive smoking, from leaded petrol to asbestos, one of the most conspicuous and damaging features of our modern world has become the "scare".

In November book was published Scared To Death, co-authored by Sunday Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker and Dr Richard North, telling for the first time the inside story of all the major scares of recent decades, showing how they have followed a remarkably consistent pattern.

Even though a scare often begins with some genuine problem, such as BSE, the book analyses the crucial role played in each case by supposed scientific experts who eventually turn out to have misread or manipulated the evidence; then by those sections of the media who eagerly promote the scare without regard to the facts.

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The "tipping point" of any scare, the authors show, comes when it is taken up by the politicians who, with their officials, come up with an absurdly disproportionate response. This leaves us all to pay a colossal price, often running into billions or even hundreds of billions of pounds. The book shows, for instance, how Mrs Currie set the great salmonella scare on its way in 1988 by falling for what turned out to be a wholly mistaken theory that the rise in food poisoning was due to salmonella getting into eggs.
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In 1996, panicked by the media, the Government's chief scientific adviser on BSE claimed that by 2005 half a million people might have died of CJD. Only a year later, he had revised his forecast of deaths down to just 200 – leaving Britain with the consequences of a scare that cost £7 billion.In the late 1990s top industrialists and governments, led by Tony Blair, predicted that to "fix the Millennium Bug" would cost $300 billion. Yet minutes after midnight on January 1, 2000, it became clear that the threat had been grotesquely exaggerated.
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By removing our most effective protection against malaria, the ban on DDT, thanks to the scare that it not only harmed wildlife but caused cancer, may have cost up to 50 million lives across the Third World.Perhaps the most chilling scare of all was the hysteria which swept through many social services departments in the late 80s and 90s based on the belief that huge numbers of children were being subjected to "Satanic" or ritual abuse by groups of adults. The terrifying scar this left on hundreds of families persists to this day.
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The book shows how scares wildly exaggerating the dangers of lead, passive smoking and asbestos were promoted through wholesale manipulation of the scientific evidence.
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A deliberately fostered confusion between different types of asbestos created in the US one of the greatest swindles in legal history, what was termed "the $200 Billion Miscarriage of Justice", bringing Lloyd's of London to its knees. This was followed by a further multi-billion pound scandal on both sides of the Atlantic when new laws allowed specialist contractors to charge almost any sums they liked to businesses and homeowners panicked by the scare.
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But Booker and North's narrative culminates in a long, meticulously sourced account of the story behind what they suggest has become the greatest scare of them all: the belief that the world faces catastrophe through man-made global warming. It is on this that our preview of the book focuses.
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No one can deny that in recent years the need to "save the planet" from global warming has become one of the most all-pervasive political issues of our time.
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As Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, claimed in 2004, it poses "a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism", warning that by the end of this century the only habitable continent left in the world will be Antarctica.Inevitably many people have been left bemused by this somewhat one-sided debate, imagining that if so many experts are agreed then there must be something in it. But if we set the story of how this fear was promoted in the context of the pattern followed by other scares before it, the parallels which emerge might leave any honest believer in global warming feeling distinctly uncomfortable.The story of how the panic over climate change was pushed to the top of the international political agenda falls into five main stages.
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Stage one, as an overture, came in the 1970s, when many scientists, followed by the media, expressed alarm over what they saw as a disastrous change in the earth's climate. Their fear was not of warming but global cooling, heralding the approach of "a new Ice Age".
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The reason for this was that for three decades, after a sharp rise in the interwar years up to 1940, global temperatures had been falling. The one thing certain about climate is that it is always changing. Since we began to emerge from the last Ice Age glaciation 20,000 years ago, temperatures have several times been through significant swings.
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The hottest period since man appeared on the earth, around 8,000 years ago, was followed by a long cooling. Then came what is known as the "Roman Warming", coinciding with the Roman Empire. Three more centuries of cooling in the Dark Ages were followed by the "Mediaeval Warming", when Greenland was inhabited and all the evidence agrees the world was hotter than it is today.
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Around 1300 began "the Little Age", when glaciers advanced, the Thames froze over, Greenland had to be abandoned, and this did not end until, 200 years ago, we entered on what is known as the "Modern Warming". But even this has been chequered by colder periods, such those years between 1940 and 1975 known as the "Little Cooling", when scientific and media sages predicted that return to the Ice Age.
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Then, in the late 1970s, evidence showed that the world was warming up again. As we see from many other examples, a scare is often set off when two things are observed together and scientists suggest that one must have been caused by the other. In this case, thanks to readings commissioned by Dr Roger Revelle, a distinguished American oceanographer, it was observed that since the late 1950s levels of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere had been sharply rising. Perhaps it was this increase in greenhouse gases which was causing the new warming in the 1980s?
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Stage two of the story began in 1988, when with remarkable speed global warming story was elevated into the ruling orthodoxy of the time, partly due to publicity given to hearings in Washington chaired by a comparatively new young Senator, Al Gore, who had studied under Dr Revelle in the 60s. This helped make fighting climate change the fashionable cause of the moment, taken up by leading environmentalist groups, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, and by an array of Hollywood celebrities, from Robert Redford to Barbra Streisand,But more importantly global warming hit centre stage because the UN in 1988 set up its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, which from now on was to play the leading role in the whole debate.
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Through a series of reports, the IPCC was to advance its cause in a rather unusual fashion. First it would commission as many as 1,500 experts from all over the world to produce a huge scientific report, which might include all sorts of doubts and reservations. But this was then prefaced by a Summary for Policymakers, drafted in consultation with governments and officials, which was essentially a political document, in which most of the caveats contained in the experts' report disappeared.
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This contradiction was already obvious in the first report in 1991, which led to the Rio conference on climate change in 1992. The second report in 1996 gave particular prominence to a study by an obscure US government scientist claiming the evidence for a connection between global warming and rising CO2 levels was now firmly established. This study came under heavy fire from various leading climate experts for the way it manipulated the evidence by what became known as "the fingerprinting fraud". But this was not allowed to stand in the way of the claim that there was now complete scientific consensus behind the CO2 thesis, and the Summary for Policymakers, heavily influenced from behind the scenes by Al Gore, now US vice-president, paved the way in 1997 for the famous Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto initiated stage three of the story, by formally committing the governments of the developed world to making drastic reductions in their CO2 emissions.
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But the treaty still had to be ratified and this seemed a good way off, not least thanks to its unanimous rejection in 1997 by the US Senate, despite the best efforts of Vice-President Gore.One of the less familiar aspects of Gore's career is how he had already by now become somewhat notorious among America's leading climate scientists for the ruthless way in which he used his influence to try to suppress any evidence they came up with to contradict the approved global warming thesis.
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Not least of his efforts to rewrite the historical record was his bid to suppress an article co-authored just before his death by Dr Revelle. Gore didn't want to be known that his guru had expressed serious doubts about the supposed consensus, urging that the global warming thesis should be viewed with much more caution.One of the greatest problems Gore and his allies faced at this time was the mass of evidence showing that in past times, such as the Mediaeval Warming, global temperature had been even higher than they were in the late 20th century, long before CO2 levels had started to rise.
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Even the first two IPCC reports had included a graph conceding this point, But In 1998 came the answer they were looking for – a completely new temperature chart, devised by another obscure young American physicist, Michael Mann. This became known as the "hockey stick" (pictured) because it showed historic temperatures running in an almost flat line over the past 1,000 years, only suddenly flicking up at the end to temperatures never recorded before.
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Mann's hockey stick was just what the IPCC wanted. When its 2001 report came out it was given pride of place at the top of page 1, and prominently repeated four more times. The Mediaeval Warming, the Little Ice Age, the 20th century Little Cooling when CO2 had already been rising, all had simply been wiped from the record. But then a growing number of academics began to raise very fundamental doubts about how Mann had arrived at his graph. This culminated in 2003 with a devastating study by two Canadian computer analysts, showing how Mann had not only ignored most of the evidence before him but had used an algorithm which would produce a hockey stick shaped graph whatever evidence was fed into the computer. When this was removed, the graph re-emerged (pictured) just as it had looked before.
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The Mediaeval Warming was back in place, again showing the early Middle Ages as even hotter than today.It is hard to recall any scientific thesis ever being so comprehensively discredited as the "hockey stick". Yet the great global warming juggernaut rolled on regardless, now led politically by the European Union.In 2004, thanks to a highly dubious deal between the EU and President Putin's Russia, stage four of the story began when the Kyoto treaty was finally ratified. Climate change had at last hit the top of the Western world's political agenda and the ratifying governments now had to act.
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In the past three years, we have seen the EU in particular announcing every kind of measure geared to fighting climate change, from building ever more highly-subsidised wind turbines to produce derisory amounts of absurdly expensive electricity to a commitment that by 2050 it will have reduced its carbon emissions by 60 percent. This is a pledge which could only be met by such a massive reduction in Europe's standard of living that it is impossible to see the peoples of Europe accepting it. All this frenzy of political activity and propaganda has rested on the assumption that global temperatures will continue to rise in tandem with levels of CO2 and that, unless mankind takes the most drastic action, our planet is faced with the kind of apocalypse so vividly portrayed by Al Gore in his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth. Yet in the past year or two, stage five of the story has seen all sorts of huge new question marks beginning to be raised over Gore's alleged consensus.
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It was not just that every single assertion in his film was dismissed by experts who knew their subject very much better than he did. For instance, Gore claimed that by the end of this century world sea levels will have risen by 20 feet when even the IPCC itself, in its latest report, only predicts a rise of between 4 and 17 inches.
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There is also of course the harsh reality that, wholly unaffected by Kyoto, the economies of China and India are now expanding at nearly 10 percent a year, with China alone building a new coal-fired power station every four days, and likely within two years to be emitting more CO2 than the United States.More serious than either of these points, however, has been all the evidence recently accumulating to show that, despite the continuing rise in CO2 levels, global temperatures in the years since 1998 have no longer been rising and may soon even be falling.
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It was a telling moment when, in August, Gore's closest scientific ally James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies was forced to revise his long-influential record of US surface temperatures, showing that the past decade has seen the hottest years on record. His graph now concedes that the hottest year of the 20th century was not 1998 but 1934, and that four of the ten warmest years in the past 100 were not in the present decade but in the 1930s.

Furthermore scientists and academics have recently been queuing up to point out that fluctuations in global temperatures correlate much more consistently with the patterns of radiation from the sun than with any rise in CO2 levels, and that after a century of abnormally high solar activity the sun's effect is now weakening again, presaging a likely drop in temperatures. If global warming does turn out to have been a scare like all the others, it will certainly represent as great a collective flight from reality by our politicians as history has ever recorded.
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The evidence of the next ten years will be very interesting.
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Scared To Death: From BSE to Global Warming, How Scares Are Costing Us The Earth by Christopher Booker and Richard North is published by Continuum.

Saturday, December 29

A British Led Anglosphere ?

Today, John O'Sullivan in the Telegraph op-ed gives sustenance to that view, advocating the concept of the Anglosphere.
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As a long-term supporter of the idea, he frames it to perfection, describing it as a "network civilisation" which has the capability to mature into a more formal arrangement creating what a "network commonwealth". These, says O'Sullivan, may end up being more integrated - psychologically and socially, as well as economically - than consciously designed entities such as the EU.
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Read more on EU Referendum.

Wednesday, December 26

Recognition

By Christoper Booker

Michael Yon is a brave American freelance reporter who, in his unique coverage of military action in Iraq, has several times gone into front-line action with British troops around Basra.
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After a recent tour with the 4th Battalion, The Rifles, he quoted our men on the spot as saying that, although their record seemed to be rarely recognised back home, one shining exception was a "lady who gives them great moral support"."She is a wealthy woman who writes a handwritten letter to every wounded soldier in 4 Rifles and to every family of a soldier who is lost, sends $100 bottles ofwhisky to the wounded and has even invited families to her home."
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On December 14, at Bulford, that much-appreciated lady presented medals to four members of the battalion, as its Honorary Colonel. She is the HRH The Dutchess of Cornwall.
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Tuesday, December 25

The Queen at Christmas


One month after celebrating her 60th wedding anniversary, Queen Elizabeth II sent a Christmas message promoting the values of close family.

The annual message on Christmas Day began with a 1957 clip of the Queen during her first Christmas message broadcast on television -- marveling over the speed of progress. Today's message was the first to be released on YouTube, another significant communication advancement seen during her Majesty's 55 year reign.

"One of the features of growing old is the heightened awareness of change," HM said in the seven-minute message to the Commonwealth.
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"To remember what happened 50 years ago means it is possible to appreciate what has changed in the meantime. It also makes you aware of what has remained constant.
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"In my experience, the positive value of a happy family is one of the factors of human existence that has not changed," HM added.
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A new page on YouTube branded "The Royal Channel - The Official Channel of the British Monarchy" will make the message available as it is broadcast to England, Canada and other Commonwealth nations.
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The Queen ended her message by asking listeners to remember the poor, hungry and oppressed, the sick and those who mourn, as well as the lonely and the unloved.
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"Wherever these words find you, and in whatever circumstances, I want to wish you all a blessed Christmas," HM said.

The Christmas Truce, 1914


Imagine you are standing up to your knees in the slime of a waterlogged trench. It is the evening of 24 December 1914.
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On the night 24th. December there was a hard frost which made trench conditions more bearable. In the late afternoon and early evening, British troops were astonished by the appearance of Christmas trees with candles and paper lanterns, on enemy parapets. Much singing of carols, hymns and popular songs began which was followed by a gradual exchange of communication and even meetings in some sectors. Many of these meetings started with negotiations to permit collection of bodies. In other places, however, hostilities continued. At Battalion HQ level officers were uncertain how to react; in general they maintained precautions.

Read detailed accounts on: Hellfire Corner, and The Christmas Truce by Henry Williamson (a veteran) as well as firstworldwar.com


Very Merry Chrismas to all our readers.

Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas

Click to enlarge

A quote for the Christmas Holidays

Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.
Henry B. Adams

From the Farm

While the rest of the country is preoccupied with last minute arrangements for Christmas, the National Farmers Union has chosen this particular moment of the season of goodwill to talk about manure. More specifically, it is railing against the implementation of the EU's nitrate directive . Read Dr North on EU Referendum.

Sunday, December 23

The Sunday Quote


''The government solution to any problem is usually at least as bad as the problem.''

Milton Friedman

Saturday, December 22

A Question of a Referendum


Do you believe that the UK Government should hold a referendum on the European Union's Reform Treaty? (www.fsb.org.uk/eutreaty) That is the straight forward single question that the UK's largest member based business organisation the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is this week asking of its 210,000 members via an online questionnaire. All paid up members have been emailed in the past few days drawing attention to the survey.

The next question when they have got the answer is going to be; what will the FSB managers do. Twice FSB delegates at their annual conferences (1995 and 2001) have demanded by vote that the UK withdraw from the EU and twice FSB policy has been not to support the wishes of its members and to continue to placate government policy towards the UK's membership.

By reading the other pieces linked from the label below readers will be able to follow the placatory line of the FSB with regard to the EU which this blog has not been shy in exposing.

So it is with bated breath that we awaited the outcome of the latest survey of FSB members. Will the FSB be the first (or only) business lobbying organisation to join a number of Trade Unions and call for a vote on the so called Reform Treaty? There is an encouraging factor in that the National Chairman of the FSB, John Wright was curiously for ten years a member of the NEC of the very anti-business Trade Union NALGO. The latter-day successor to NALGO UNISON (and indeed the TUC) are keen supporters of a referendum on this vexed issue.

The reasons for a referendum on the so called 'reform' treaty have been frequently stated on this blog. We welcome the FSB's decision to ask its members their view, our only hope is that the policy managers of the FSB act this time on the wishes of their members. Rest assured as an enthuastic member of the FSB the editor of this blog will be keenly watching the FSB's reaction.

Control of what ?

An interesting leader in The Daily Telegraph is made more interesting by the apparent inability of the sub-editors to decide upon a title. In the online edition, they opt for, "Gordon Brown is in control of very little" yet the print edition offers, "Our masters are in control of very little". In fact, both are true, an issue that fellow Umbrella bloggers Huntsman and EU Referendum discuss in detail.

The End of Week Quote

The Times Obituary of the late Mr. Common Sense'

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
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He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:Knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.
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Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend morethan you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are incharge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boycharged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspendedfrom school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired forreprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
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Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Elastoplast to a student; butcould not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted tohave an abortion.
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Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when youcouldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglarcould sue you for assault.
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Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed torealise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little inher lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; hiswife, Discretion; along with his daughter and son, Responsibility and Reason.
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He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now,Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Sunday, December 16

From Left to Right Peter Troy


Or the two Peter Troys.

On the left is Jersey Politician and Businessman Peter Nicholas Troy and on the Right is Blogger and Publicist Peter Anthony Troy. The Peter Troys are related, they have a common Great Grand Father, Edward Troy a Jersey entrepreneur. The photograph was taken last week at The Shakespeare Hotel St Clement's Coast Road owned by Marcus Troy.

The Madest Decision by British Ministers


By Christoper Booker
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Last week, amid the clouds of self-righteous humbug billowing out from Bali, Gordon Brown committed us to what I do not hesitate to call the maddest single decision ever made by British ministers. It was announced by John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, that we are to build 7,000 giant offshore wind turbines round Britain's coast by 2020, to meet our EU target on renewable energy. It will be the largest concentration of such industrial monsters in the world, enough, claimed MHutton, to power every home in the country.
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No matter that Mr Hutton's officials warned him in August it was not conceivable that we could achieve even a much lower target. So keen was Mr Brown that Britain should "lead Europe on climate change" that Mr Hutton was told to ignore his officials - and the media reported his claims without questioning whether such a megalomaniac project was remotely feasible.
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For a start, no one mentioned costs. Mr Hutton spoke of his turbines, equivalent to one every half mile of coastline, as having a capacity of 33 gigawatts (GW), a hefty chunk of the 75GW of power we need at peak demand. But with the cost of giant offshore turbines, as tall as 850 feet, estimated at £1.6 billion per GW of capacity, this represents a bill of more than £50 billion - equivalent to the colossal sum earmarked last week by central banks to shore up the world banking system.
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The point about offshore turbines is that, because wind blows intermittently, they only generate on average at a third or less of capacity. So Mr Hutton's 33GW figure comes down to 11GW. To generate this much power from "carbon-free" nuclear energy would require six or seven nuclear power stations and cost, at something under £20 billion, less than half as much as the turbines.This, however, is only the start of the madness. Because those turbines wouldgenerate on average only a third of the time, back-up would be needed to provide power for the remaining two thirds - say, another 12 nuclear power stations costing an additional £30 billion, putting the real cost of Mr Hutton's fantasy at nearer £80 billion - more than doubling our electricity bills.
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But we must then ask whether it would be technically possible to carry out the most ambitious engineering project ever proposed in Britain. As pointed out by energy expert Professor Ian Fells, this would require us to raise from the seabed two of these 2,000 ton structures every working day between 2008 and 2020. Denmark, with the world's largest offshore wind resource, has nevermanaged to build more than two a week, and marine conditions allow such work for only a third of the year.It is not only on this count that Brown and Hutton's dream is unrealisable. The turbines' siting would mean that much of the national grid would have to be restructured, costing further billions. And because wind power is so unpredictable and needs other sources available at a moment's notice, it is generally accepted that any contribution above 10 per cent made by wind to a grid dangerously destabilises it.
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Two years ago, much of western Europe blacked out after a rush of German windpower into the continental grid forced other power stations to close down.The head of Austria's grid warned that the system was becoming so unbalanced by the "excessive" building of wind turbines that Europe would soon be "confronted with massive connector problems". Yet Mr Hutton's turbines would require asystem capable of withstanding power swings of up to 33GW, when the only outsidebackup on which our island grid can depend is a 2GW connector to France (which derives 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power).
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Nothing better illustrates the fatuity of windpower than the fact that Denmark, with the highest concentration of turbines in the world, must export more than 80 per cent of its wind-generated electricity to Norway, to prevent its grid being swamped when the wind is blowing, while remaining heavily reliant the rest of the time on power from Sweden and Germany.
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The Danes, who decided in 2002 to build no more turbines, have learnt their lesson. We British have still to learn it. Every time we hear that over-usedterm "green" we should remember it has another meaning: someone who is naively foolish and dangerously gullible.

The Sunday Quote


An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)
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As prime minister of Britain from May 1940 during World War II, Churchill roused the British to stand against Nazi Germany. In the years prior to the war during Hitlers rise to power Churchill had stood virtualy alone amongst Politicians fighting the appeasment policy of the British Government. During the War the sight of Churchill, with his cigar and two fingers raised in a “V for victory” salute, inspired Britons to rise to what he called “their finest hour.”

Patientline in the Mirror

Below is yet another press story on Patientline. The company has a well deserved reputation as one of the most hated companies in Britain for failing to understand the needs of sick people in hospital who are its customers. A series of incompetent marketing and operational decisions this year has exposed the Directors as at best being economical with the truth and failing in to supply a basic service to NHS patients. NHS Trusts will be better of as soon as Patientline ceases trading; which is now expected to be announced any day.

A story in the Sunday Mirror by Stephen Hayward exposes threats to patients in Hospitals by a Patientline member of staff. Such paractices as highligted by the Mirror were incouraged by Patientline Management when the editor of this blog had a contract with Patientline in 2005/6.

Patients are being threatened with legal action if they bring their own TVs to watch in hospital.

Private firm Patientline is using agents to patrol wards to insist patients only use its service - at a cost of £2.90 a day.But last night furious patients' groups slammed the firm for ripping off patients. One patient threatened with legal action by a woman Patientline agent was retired builder Cyril Holes, 64.

He was on his third visit to hospital to sort out a gall bladder problem, but did not want to pay Patientline's fees - so he plugged in his own 5in TV. Cyril said: "The sister and nurse saw me watching the TV but didn't say a word. Then one afternoon the Patientline woman appeared and told me to switch it off. She said I wasn't allowed my own TV
because it was a breach of contract her company has with the hospital.
"She said if I kept watching, I would be prosecuted." Patientline also charge 49p a minute to phone patients, while outgoing calls cost 10p a minute.

The firm has £80million debts and is keen to recoup a £170million investment in its phone and TV system in 150 NHS hospitals. The Patients' Association said: "Patientline agents are paid to go round the wards to make sure patients use their services. But they've no right to threaten patients who have no contract with them. They are simply exploiting a captive market.''

Mr Holes, back at his home in Brighton, East Sussex, yesterday, said: "It's wrong that patients are forced to pay to use Patientline TVs, as the fees really add up after a few days." A spokesman for the leading charity Macmillan Cancer Support said: "This is another tax on the sick and vulnerable."

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, where Mr Holes was treated, said it would speak to Patientline about how they approach patients - but only battery-powered devices were allowed in wards.

Patientline refused to comment last night



Friday, December 14

Brigadier T M Troy CBE 1923 - 2007

The Family of the late Brigadier T M Troy CBE would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to all those who cared for the Brigadier in his later years, particularly the medical and care staff at Jersey General Hospital and Lakeside Care Home, his many friends at St Bernadette's RC Church. To those who made good his wishes for his funeral, Captain N Spratey of the Jersey TA, Gerald Bison Chairman Jersey Royal British Legion, Father Peter Glas and Paul Battrick MBE and staff of Pitcher & Le Quesne Funeral Directors.


"Absent in body, but ever present in spirit." Corinthians 1:34. 5:3




Brigadier Troy who died peacefully in Jersey General Hospital on 1 December was buried with full Military Honours at Mont-A-L’Abbe Cemetery Jersey on the afternoon of 7 December 2007. He is survived by his Brother Kevin who lives in South Devon, his two nephews Peter and Colin Troy.

The Brigadier's last journey


Chief Mourners. Kevin and Marjory Troy followed by Peter and Colin Troy

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A personal note from the Editor.

I have many fond memories of my Uncle not least of which is when as a 16 year old I accompanied him and his wife Pat to the Palace on the occasion of his investiture of the CBE in the summer of 1969. At that time Terry drove an old Triumph Herald motor that had seen many better days, which much to his wife Pat's horror he insisted in driving into the palace alongside some what larger and more prestigious looking vehicles. I recall the bemused look on the face of the duty Police Inspector as the Palace Guard presented arms and my Uncle trying desperately (and failing) to wind down the drivers window whilst showing his pass and return the salute at the same time.

My final memory of Terry was that of humour over riding physical discomfort and a frustrating lack of control of at the end of his eventful life. When I visited my Uncle in hospital on Friday 30 November on what was to be his final day I commented that the name above his bed read 'Mr' Troy. Why I asked him have they not written Brigadier - ''oh security old chap'' he snapped, '''security, one can never be to careful, you never know''. Before I left him that evening he insisted on calling 'K' (his younger brother, my father, now 81) unable to 'dial' the numbers or insert the coins in the pay 'phone on wheels I made the call for him - it was a short call since after a day of visitors he was both tired and short of breath. He told his brother in his inimitable style that all ''was fine, Peter was here, and I have some jobs for him to do''

I left him that evening with a list of orders, some shopping requests and a list of items to bring from his rooms at the care home. Though bright in mind I was very much aware that the indignity of hospital life was not to my Uncle's liking - Terry was a proud man.

At 5.55 am the following morning I was woken in my hotel room by a phone call from my cousin Brian Troy. ''Peter I am sorry to tell you your Uncle has died''. It came as a shock for Terry had always been there, now suddenly he had gone. Later that morning in Terry's care home rooms that had been his home for five years Brian and I opened a file marked ''funeral arrangements T M Troy''. It was a detailed document complete with an index, amendments and diagrams. The final paragraph was the order: '' I don't expect you to follow all of my instructions, but whatever you do, do it bloody properly.'' That was Uncle Terry direct, realistic and to the point.

At the reception following the funeral at the Shakespeare Hotel on the afternoon of 6 December I proposed a toast (with a fine blended whisky in my hand -my Uncle Terry's favorite tipple). Calling for attention I thundered: '' William Shakespeare's Othello said of Casio - 'He was want to speak plain and to purpose, like an honest man and a Soldier' Ladies and Gentlemen to the memory of The Brigadier ''.

All those I have met who served with Terry Troy from those I met when as a young man I visited him in Ankara, Turkey, back in 1974 to the reception on the afternoon following his final journey, 33 years later, made the same point: Brigadier Troy was indeed a fine honest soldier.

Peter Anthony Troy
Sedgefield, County Durham.

The Last Post

Thursday, December 13

In the Long Term

Gordon Brown said several times in PMQs yesterday that governing is about taking the long term decisions for the good of the country. Translation: my short term decisions are in trouble. There are at least two political advantages in concentrating on long term decisions. First, you can make good headlines out of them now ... read more on The Purple Scorpion.

Sunday, December 9

The Sunday Quote

"Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd"

Dame Edith Sitwell 1887 - 9 Dec 1964


Saturday, December 8

Whatever you might think of our engagement in Afghanistan, where a major operation has just commenced to recover Musa Qala (now confirmed by the MoD), the fact is that, once Mr Blair decided on a military intervention, the Armed Forced got stuck in. And, by and large, they are doing a good job – certainly one of which we can be proud.

See the post  on EU Referendum.

Wednesday, December 5

Common Fisheries Policy

Published yesterday by the EU’s Court of Auditors was the most comprehensive, unmitigated and comprehensive indictment of the Common Fisheries Policy – and no one noticed. Actually, that's not strictly true. England Expects wrote a piece about it ... a chilling account of the Auditors' press conference .Posted on EU Referendum is Dr North's piece.

Tuesday, December 4

Brigadier Troy


As the readers of the last Sunday Quote will have gathered there has been a bereavement in the Troy family in the glorious Isle of Jersey; the ancestral home of the editor Peter Troy. Consequently since this is a one man and his cat Blog postings will a bit thin for the next week or so. A fitting Obituary to the editor's late Uncle Brigadier Terence Troy CBE will follow once the editor returns to the UK from Jersey. The Brigadier's funeral will take place at St Bernadette's Roman Catholic Church at 1.30 followed by an Interment with appropriate very British Military Honours at Mont-A-L'Abbe Cemetery Jersey.

Pro-Car

The out-spoken boss of BMW UK has slammed the growing number of anti-car schemes as 'unfair' and 'ludicrous'. The intervention, which came at the BMW Group's recent Annual Press Dinner, is another sign of the growing backlash from the car industry against excessive and unjustified attacks on the car and car-users in the name of alleged man-made global warming. The details are posted on the excellent Blog Pro-car.
How much does the European Union cost Britain?

The British Government is handing-over billions of pounds of taxpayers' money to the EU. The combined direct and indirect costs of EU membership costs every man, women and child in Britain over £1,000 per year.

The facts:
● Over-regulation costs Britain at least £26 billion per annum
● The Common Agricultural Policy costs Britain at least £15.6 billion a year
● Britain's accumulated trade deficit with the EU since we joined has risen to £359.5 billion
● In the tax year 2006/'07 membership of the European Union will cost Britain £60.1 billion gross, or £50.6 billion net

The Hidden Benefits of the EU

Front page of The Daily Telegraph last week-end – which has finally managed to tear itself away from its total obsession with the Labour funding scandal – is a piece of news which will have far-reaching consequences, most of them malign.
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The paper tells us that the Department for Transport is to launch a consultation in the New Year on a proposal to reduce the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving by almost half. It is thought, we are told, that the limit could be cut from 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood to 50mg, effectively putting drivers over the limit after one strong pint of lager or a glass of wine.Tucked in then is the single line, that "A reduction would bring Britain into line with most other European countries," whence the story moves on.
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What we are not told, of course, is that this move is most certainly the direct result of pressure from the EU commission to harmonise our road safety laws – the EU now having full competence in this area. But, rather than issuing directives, the commission is using the threat of legislation to bring member states into line.
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This has the effect of allowing member states to retain the fiction that they have any say in the matter, and for the EU to deny complicity in the action – a ploy which invariably works as the media rarely digs deeper than the story of the day, and lacks understanding of how the mechanism works.
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On the back of this proposal also comes plans for random testing, something which, way back in 2005, the Home Office rejected as ineffective and a waste of police resources. Any number of studies have shown that the major issues in drink-driving are young drivers – often driving way over the current limit – and middle-aged alcoholics. These are the main problematic groups. Targeting those, it has been shown, would have far more effect than diluting resources by chasing the whole of the motoring community.But, despite Home Office reluctance, when the commission has an obsession, it is not to be denied.

So, what does our government do? It leaves it a few years and then, out of the blue, it pops up with a proposal that just happens to bring it into line with the commission's demand. Enough time has elapsed, however, for most people to have forgotten the original EU input, so it is seen as a UK initiative and the government can maintain the pretence that it is still in charge. Any EU involvement can be denied.That is now the way our government works.
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The Government is forced to do something which is not in the best public interest, on doctrinaire rather than scientific grounds, it simply rolls over and does what it is told, then pretending that it was its idea in the first place.
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The "consultation", therefore, will be a sham. The European Union has spoken and must be obeyed. In due course, the lower limit will come in. Life will become that more tedious and drab, and the sense of oppression will increase. Many lives will be blighted because otherwise innocent drivers will be caught up in the new law and banned. Meanwhile, drink-driving (which is already on the increase) will continue to be a problem, more so because police resources will be misused.
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Such are the benefits of our membership of the European Union, but so inadequate is the media, and so supine is our government, that most people will not even realise. Call it one of the hidden benefits of membership, if you like.

Sunday, December 2

The Sunday Quote


"He was want to speak plain and to purpose, like an honest man and a soldier"

William Shakespeare 1564 - 1616

In memory of Brigadier Terrence Michael Troy CBE who died 1 December 2007

Late of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Nec Aspera Terrent

Wednesday, November 28

Patientline Sinking Fast

Patientline - who has well earnt the title of probably the most hated company in Britain - the hospital bedside telephone operator that provoked outrage by hiking the price of calls to patients last April has reported widened first half losses prompting fears for its immediate future.

Patientline which said two months ago it was in danger of collapse, is in the midst of restructuring its £85.7 million debt and warned that its shares are about to become worthless. Patientline's operating loss has trebled to £11.2 million, while loss before tax doubled to £15.3 million, in the six months to 28 September. Revenue for the year fell 22 per cent, led by a 31 per cent decline in revenue from incoming calls.

The company has confirmed that its liabilities exceed assets by £43.1 million. Today the company is continuing talks with its patient bankers to yet again reschedule its mounting debt, though as the debt is increasing faast and the revenue falling sharply it is likely that the company will command as much confidence with its bankers as it does with hospital patients and staff.

The companie's revenues plunged following patients outrage at the 160 per cent increase in the cost of calling patients on the companies bedside units introduced in April as well as an increase in the cost for older patients to view tv. The fallout from the Director's crassly stupid decision to upset the life blood to its business is well covered on this blog.

Various management speech statements from the company  Chairman Geoff White detailing structural changes in the troubled company this week would win the 'Rearranging Deckchairs on the Titanic Award' of 2007.

Jobseekers who are considering applying for any of the vacancies currently being advertised by Patientline are advised by this blog that they will be better of by not doing so.

Sunday, November 25

The Failure of the Met (MPS)


Sir Ian Blair the Commisioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) held on to his job on Thursday only because of support of Labour Party members on the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA). Members of the Authority voted 15-7 against the motion of no confidence in the Commissioner which had been tabled by Conservative members and supported by Liberal Democrats. The vote was taken in the wake of the Stockwell shooting trial at which Scotland Yard was found guilty of serious failings under the Health and Safety Act in the operation that led to the death of the innocent Jean Charles de Menezes.

Bob Neill, a Conservative supporter of the no confidence motion, said, quite rightly, the failures in Stockwell had been "so grave and so catastrophic" that Sir Ian should step down. Lord Tope, a Liberal Democrat, said that Sir Ian should follow the example of Paul Gray, who stood down as head of HM Revenue & Customs this week after the loss of the child benefit database by his staff.

A separate report presented to the MPA revealed that the cost to the Met of defending the Stockwell case was £600,000, bringing its total bill for the trial – including a £175,000 fine and prosecution costs – to more than £1.1 million. So as a result there is even less money to fight crime efficiently in London than at the start of the fiasco, what a paradox.

The authority was also told that an amazing £4.7 million of expenditure by Senior Metropolitan Police Officers on corporate charge cards was not 'properly' accounted for. A quarter of that money was made up of cash withdrawals, usually by officers on assignment overseas. What a disgrace.

In support of Sir Ian, Richard Summary, a magistrate member of the authority, said: "This is about more than Stockwell; people are out to get the Commissioner." Well actually he is quite correct it is about a lot more than the killing of Mr de Menezes, the cover up and the deliberate misleading of the media by some senior officers in the Met in the days immediately afterwards. As horrific and as serious a failing of systems and duty the vote of no confidence in Sir Ian Blair as head of the Metropolitan Police Service and the UK's most senior Police Officer it is also about the failure of a Police force (or Police Service as it is now misnamed).

The Magistrate's comments begs the question, what would Richard Summary's response be if an otherwise law abiding motorist were to speak out in his court in defense of a charge of being caught driving at a few miles an hour over the prescribed limit by a gatso roadside tax collecting camera: Imagine the defense by a hapless motorist '' This is more than about speeding your Worship. People are out to get the motorist'' An extra fine and penalty points would no doubt be the reaction rather than a vote of confidence from the Bench!

Anyway to return to the point of this posting. Most criminals in London no longer regard arrest, let alone imprisonment as an occupational hazard. The Met only sends a policeman to the scene of a burglary if the intruder is present. Of the 97,000 burglaries that were reported in the capital in the accounting period 2006-7 64,000 were not investigated. So, in effect Londoners need now only dial 999 if they can persuade the burglar to wait the arrival of the Police! Indeed of all the offences reported in London during this period the police did not even carry out a cursory investigation into 53 per cent of them.

At the present time less that 6 per cent of Mets 30,000 plus officers are dedicated to local policing, compared with over 31 per cent in North Yorkshire and over 30 per cent in Essex. Petty crime in London is flourishing due to the Met's incompetent management.

Whilst considering statistics it is worth noting that the Audit Commission noted that the quality of the Mets sats have been downgraded to only 'fair', the penultimate of four grades. So even at compiling statistics to show that its performance in just about every aspect of its work getting worse - the Metropolitan Police Service is failing.

For any of the reasons stated Sir Ian Blair as head of the dysfunctional, fragmented and increasingly unaccountable organisation should be sacked. However, he remains in post because he has the political support of the Labour party, not his own officers, not the media and most importantly not the public.

Sir Robert Peel the great Statesman who founded the force in the 19th century (remember not so long ago when it was a force not a service) once said: ''The Police are the public and the public are the Police.'' The sentiment is as true now as it was then - without the willing co-operation of the public the Police cannot function efficiently. The Met are losing the confidence of the public hence they are losing the ability to function efficiently. The arrogant Sir Ian Blair and the members of the Labour party who are keeping him in office - but not in power - have forgotten that principle; in consequence it can only get better for criminals in our Capital City.

__________________________________

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Finally, a year and ten months it was first formally finished, we receive the IPCC investigation into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes (PDF). What once would have been explosive and damning reading has been rendered, both by the leaks and the trial of the Met under health and safety legislation, into something almost familiar. It documents failures at all levels, from the officers conducting the surveillance on the morning all the way up to "Sir" Ian Blair himself. .

One of the IPCC recommendations is that there should have been a public debate prior to the implementation of the shoot to kill policy-Kratos- but that it wasn't thought necessary, or even worthy of discussion in parliament is an indictment of the secretive way of which the police continue to operate.
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Even though Kratos was not in actual operation, de Menezes' fate may well have been sealed by the briefing delivered to the firearms 'officers' at Nightingale Lane police station'. The individuals involved in the bombings were described as being "deadly and determined" and "up for it" (section 11.11); never was it mentioned that they might encounter those who were entirely innocent in the course of the day. The two officers who shot de Menezes, referred to as "Charlie 2" and "Charlie 12" in the report both said how they believed it was very likely that they would be asked to "intercept deadly and determined terrorist suicide bombers," in the words of Charlie 2 (section 18.21).

The report asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether the actions of of Charlie 2 and 12 amounted to murder, given their justification for shooting de Menezes (section 20.74). They decided against.
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Commander (now DAC) Cressida Dick's abject failure to properly either know what was being sent to Room 1600 from the CO12 team, or to make clear to the SO19 team that she wanted de Menezes arrested and not shot, something she failed to make significantly clear, was of no help.

One witness from within Room 1600, at Scotland Yard, - as had been leaked - claims that Dick added "at all costs" (section 12.36). Whether, if true, it would have made any difference we'll never know. The report does possibly help clear up some of the initial eyewitness reports given to the media which were so horribly wrong. Many of the witnesses mistook "Ivor", the officer first on the scene and who grabbed hold of de Menezes for an Asian man, and with him also being thrown and a gun pointed at him, he could have easily been mistaken for the man who was shot.
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There are a few minor points in the report that are interesting or indicative of what already was happening on the scene in the aftermath; the pathologist who was on the scene by 13:33 on the 22nd of July was apparently briefed that de Menezes had vaulted the ticket barrier (section 14.16) and ran down the stairs before being shot after tripping, and included those "facts" in his report. It also notes how officers took statements from some of the witnesses inside nearby pubs while music was playing and with the news of what happened on the TV.
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One of the witnesses described how an officer tried to influence her statement (section 14.8):
“You have to be careful what you say in this sort of situation, or it will be just one more copper with a family losing his job or worse”.
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It also shows how the firearm 'officers' were allowed to draw up their statements on what happened together and come to a general consensus, whereas the witnesses were denied any opportunity to do just that.
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The IPCC report really ought to have marked the end of Sir Ian Blair's term as head of the Met. The most damning condemnation is really reserved for him. The IPCC was not allowed any access to Stockwell tube station until the Monday, following Blair's order that the IPCC should be refused access, sent to the Home Office within an hour of the shooting. If we are to believe that Sir Ian Blair didn't know until the following morning that an innocent man was shot, it can't even be said he was trying to instigate a cover-up; he was simply opposed to the IPCC doing the job they was set up to do.
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Nick Hardwick, in his statement on the issuing of the report, made clear that the delay in the IPCC being able to investigate led directly to much of the "difficulty" that has faced the Met since then. The fact alone that Sir Ian Blair worsened the situation that the police has faced since the tragic death of de Menezes is reason alone for the Commisioner's resignation or sacking.
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The Sunday Quote

Oil of Dr William Battie by an unknown artist. Courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians

Style is when they're running you out of town and you make it look like you're leading the parade.


William Battie (1703 -1776) a physician who published in 1758 the first lengthy book on the treatment of mental illness 'A Treatise on Madness’, and by extending methods of treatment to the poor as well as the affluent, helped raise psychiatry to a respectable specialty. He was the first and only psychiatrist to become President of the Royal College of Physicians. He gave his name (unlwillingly perhaps) to the slang term 'battie'.

From the Farm

The EU likes to refer to "competent authorities" but this is now a contradiction in terms. Europe's massive one-size-fits-all mentality needs some trenchant downsizing. We need a panel of independent experts who understand the science and technology, can manage people and funding and who are not allergic to change. Such a new kind of group to keep things grown-up, rigorous and efficient is long overdue. Its members must be seen to be independent of the government ......... Mary Critchley continues on Warmwell.

Saturday, November 24

About that Referendum

Dr Helen Szamuely's opinions matter. She is head of of Research at the Bruges Group, co-author of EU Referendum blog and author of Conservative History blog as well as editor of the Conservative History Journal. She is also the co-author with Bill Jamieson of A 'Coming Home' or Poisoned Chalice? and with Dennis O'Keeffe of Samizdat, both published by the Centre for Research for Post-Communist Economies (CRCE). She has also written briefing papers on enlargement and other matters to do with Eastern Europe for the CRCE and has appeared on the media, including internet media, to speak on subjects to do with the European Union and post-Communist affairs. At times, she has worked and still works as a researcher and brief writer in the House of Lords.
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''We are'' writes Helen today ''going through another period of fussing about referendums and it seems to me that I should try to weigh in on this subject. What with one thing and another, I have written and spoken about referendum – need for one and justification for it in a supposedly functioning representative democracy a few times."
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The full piece ' About that Referendum ' is posted on EU Referendum.

Unprecedented Attack

The political importance of the "unprecedented attack" on the Prime Minister by no less than five former defence chiefs in the House of Lords yesterday can be read on Dr North's Blog Defence of the Realm.

Friday, November 23

The End of Week Quote

London is the second most expensive city in the world, and while billions are made in the City, ordinary Londoners often struggle to pay for the basics - housing, energy and transport. Being Green is about believing in a fair share for everybody, so I'm determined to cut the astronomical cost of living and make a fairer, greener London.
The somewhat daft comment from Sian Berry, the hitherto invisible Green London Mayoral candidate. Read the full piece on posted on One London.