Friday, 17 August 2012

The Harrogate Agenda- An Elected Prime Minister

Another brilliant idea from EUReferendum that's discussed here.

I support the idea, especially because a national vote for that the PM and his cabinet increases the plurality of voting and diffuses power.

I consider that the House of Commons should be reformed by voters voting for policies and their Representative Advocates separately as I have proposed elsewhere.

Departmental Policy branches should become part of the independent House of Commons Library to provide statistics and research for all MPs.

Departmental Permanent Secretaries must be approved by a House Appointments Committee.  They will be appointed on short term contracts to manage their departments and deliver the policies set out by the Cabinet. Ministers and Permanent Secretaries will be regularly examined by committees to ensure they are performing satisfactorily.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Thank You Olympians

Thank you all, medallists, competitors, volunteers, servicemen and women, organisers, even the BBC (for avoiding another Golden Jubilee River Pageant fiasco) for a splendid Olympic Games.

I was sceptical before the games but I've been bowled over by the ceremonies and the sport and the sheer niceness and joy of the competitors. And, I must admit, by the superlative Twenty Twelve.

It's proof that Britain can do it, that British people are great and that Britain has not declined but other underachieving countries have caught up and progressed towards their own potential.

I like the idea at Heathrow of treating the departing athletes like VIPs. Memo to airports, treat everybody like VIPs, smile at your salarypayers, don't make them queue for ages.

And all the Churchillian stuff in the ceremonies ought to be balanced with a very modest yet capable chap during whose administration the 1948 Games took place. Clement Attlee. It's worth listening all the way through.


This evening I thought I'd have a look at my statcounter stats - it's been at least a couple of months since I last looked.

My eye was immediately drawn to the very odd google search term "is there something wrong about peter hitchins" (sic) which linked to my post last month on Sir Arthur Harris. It was tenth in popularity on the list. I have amended the title of original post because I want people to discover my opinions on Sir Arthur Harris and British area bombing policy in WW2 directly (those terms put my post fifth on the search list) instead of via a search about a journalist.

Why would anyone google that question? Beyond the usual concern for another person, who cares?

If Peter Hitchens is concerned about the identity of the searcher, I tracked the IP back to a Mac user whose ISP is Be Un Limited and who lives in Oxford.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Improving Local Democracy

The peerless EUReferendum has an excellent campaign for putting political power where it should be, with you and me. The Six Points of its Harrogate Agenda are being honed into razor-sharp perfection. I suggest that you click on the link above and search in via the Archive  to read up while I finish writing this blogpost.

I'm writing about local democracy today. Did you know that the Local Government and Rating Act 1997 enables you and like-minded citizens to organise a petition (50% of local electors in the area for civil parishes smaller than 500 voters or 10% of voters for larger parishes) to request that the local authority organises a referendum for the creation of the civil parish (which can be as small or big as you think suits your democratic needs). Click on this link for more information about creating a council.

What sort of council is best? Well you could have a parish council or a parish meeting. The latter gives all electors the right to speak at meetings (with Parish Councils the Chair has discretion to allow non parish councillors to speak), and section 109 of the Local Government Act 1972 enables district councils to give parish meetings some or all of the powers of a parish council.

The next step is to press for more of the powers of district and unitary councils to be given to civil parishes because the closer power is to the individual elector the better.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Spend More Public Money On Sport?

How dreadful that independent schools have bagged a disproportionate number of medals at the Olympics - more than 50% from 7% of the school population - chant the usual idiots ( mainly guilt-tripping  independent school educated mouths).

Something must be done to make things fairer (or unfairer) - spend more money in state schools, pay teachers more, buy more kit to be nicked and burnt. Looking after what's there already or joining non-school sports clubs isn't considered an option. There must be growth everywhere.

Or, if the children want to be Olympic champs they could modify their discretionary leisure spending. The UK video games industry turnover in 2011 was £3.266 billion. In other words, every four years the UK could pay for the Olympic Games if its video games players so chose.

And those grants paid to "elite" sportsmen and women. Why not introduce a Sports Loan system on similar lines to the Student Loans. Unfair? On which, games or education?

And compulsory competitive sport in school. Right, reintroduce competitive exams and testing to provide a worthwhile education. Select the brighter children with potential and spend more time and resources educating them. I don't expect a state funded performance coach to mentor my fifteen minute mile so why should athletes who can barely write their names in the longjump pit expect top class academic teachers?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

‘We have a moral obligation to help people in other countries even when times are tough’ David Cameron

Photo with thanks to the excellent

So that's why you are bunging India £300 million a year that it doesn't want,you stupid boy.

The Tory Party, and every other Jellaby party, are "toxic" because of the £12 billion international aid splurge.

If David Cameron, Andrew Mitchell and Baroness Warsi want to make themselves feel good helping foreigners they are free to use their own money - and not money claimed to pay for housing costs.

British money for British people. Simples

Monday, 6 August 2012

Read Your Coalition Agreement, Nicky Clegg

You and David Cameron agreed to it, I didn't want a coalition, but I'm only a voter and taxpayer, not a professional politician so my job is to pay my taxes and mind my business util the next election time when all you pollys are my BFFs.

Anyway, Nicky, remember this bulletpoint in your Coalition Agreement?

  • We will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. We will whip both Parliamentary parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.

As far as I am concerned Alternative Vote (you lost the referendum) is linked to constituency reform.and not to House of Lords reform. You apparently agreed to that as the next two bulletpoints are:

•We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.

•We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

It appears your schoolgirl cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face logic holds that if you can't have the House of Lords reform exactly as you want it for your party's interests then the House of Commons can't be reformed so that one person's vote has the same value in every constituency when it comes to electing MPs. Very mature of you; it seems the cactus arsonist has not grown up. 

What are you doing about recalling MPs and introducing a statutory register of lobbyists that you also agreed? Is gay marriage really more important than those reforms?

Is it any wonder most thinking people despise MPs and most politicians when you lot play narrow party interest games while the useful sector of the nation doesn't have the luxury of your perks? Grow up and do a proper job of sorting the country out. Then, as Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation:

"You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."

Saturday, 4 August 2012

How Much Does It Cost To Post A Letter?

Since 30 April 2012

First Class                            60p

Second Class                       50p

First Class Large Letter         90p

Second Class Large Letter     69p

That's the same whether you use  traditional adhesive stamps, online postage or SmartStamp®

Unless you have a franking machine, in which case the prices are:

First Class 44p

Second Class 31p

First Class Large Letter 66p

Second Class Large Letter 53p

That's a saving of  16p, 19p, 24p and 16p respectively or savings of between 23 -38%.

Now franking machines cost between £1,250 at entry level -£20,000 to buy or £150 to rent a year and there's the cost of consumables, but the same baseline costs apply if one prints a label on one's printer at home. And if you post out masses of post the average cost of using a franking machine falls to a couple of pence per letter.

 It seems that Royal Mail reckons that a square inch of sticky paper costs between 16 - 24p (that's Speaker's wallpaper pricing) if it's selling to Mugs R Us. It can apparently make a profit delivering a second class letter from a large volume mailer anywhere in the country for 31p, provided you and I subsidize them by 19p for every letter, every Chrismas and birthday card we send.

Royal Mail is having a laugh at our expense. Why don't they offer the same discounts to online postage users and reduce the price of stamps? Answer: British people are there to be overcharged for the benefit of business. What's the chance that when the Royal Mail is part-privatised to satisfy EU dogma, its new foreign owners will increase the discounts to business at our expense to "remain competitive"?