Friday, 27 April 2012

Shut Up And Pay Your Taxes

I was a Civil Servant for nearly twenty years. I don't think I understood the job description properly because I signed up on the premise that I was serving my fellow citizens, on the off chance that most of what I did would be to the benefit of the common weal. Well, apart from compulsory purchase, which is morally identical to the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in 1982.

Anyway, I recently emailed Theresa May on the subject of Graham Mitchell and digressed onto Christopher Tappin and Abu Qatada and the whole dogs breakfast that is extradition:

"Dear Home Secretary,

Please suspend the operation of the European Arrest Warrant with immediate effect because the Portugese Judiciary for one does not even meet the standards of a Kafka-esque Kangaroo Court.

And while you are doing Good Things, may I suggest that you also suspend the UK-US Extradition (One-Sided Kidnap) Treaty because allowing British citizens to be rendered to a country where pensioners are shackled and unarmed black boys can be shot on the street with impunity is wrong.

Finally put that terrorist on a plane to Jordan and deport all other foreign terrorists without regard to their possible welfare: my safety takes precedence over that of people who want to kill me and my family and friends.

My decision on how I vote in the next elections will depend on how the Liberal-Democrat-led Coalition defends the human rights of British people.

Yours Sincerely,

Brian"
 
Over a month on from 23 March, I received this reply:
 
"Dear [Brian],


Thank you for your e-mail of 23 March 2012 regarding the operation of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and the UK-US Extradition Treaty. I have carefully noted the concerns raised in your letter, which has been forwarded to the section responsible for extradition.
You may be aware that the EAW is administered by the Judicial Authorities of Member States; as such there is no Ministerial involvement in its operation. The Home Secretary therefore has no power to intervene in EAW cases.
The EAW is a system of surrender between judicial authorities based on a high level of confidence between Member States in respect of judicial decisions. I am not at liberty to comment further on your assertions regarding the Portuguese Judiciary.
As you may be aware, Sir Scott Baker’s independent review of the UK’s extradition arrangements was published on 18 October 2011. The report makes a number of recommendations to improve the UK’s extradition arrangements both with the European Union and its wider extradition partners, including the US. The findings of the report can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/police/operational-policing/extradition-review
It is important to note that these are the findings of the panel, which the Home Secretary has not yet accepted. The Government is now carefully examining the review panel’s findings and will announce what action it will take shortly.
Turning to Abu Qatada; as you will be aware he has sought to have his case reviewed by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The Government maintains that his application was made after the deadline for further appeal. A panel of five judges of the Court will now consider whether Abu Qatada’s application is admissible. The panel will consider both the timeliness and the merits of the application.
The Government maintains that Abu Qatada is a very dangerous man, and is determined to deport him from the United Kingdom for good. However, they respect the rule of law and accept that the deportation must not be in breach either of our domestic law or our international obligations. This is why there can be no question of simply ignoring the ECtHR’s determination, or seeking to remove Abu Qatada before the panel has had the opportunity to consider his application. Nonetheless, as soon as this can legally be achieved, they remain convinced that Abu Qatada should be removed from the United Kingdom.
I am sorry I can be of no further assistance in this matter.

Yours sincerely,


Extradition section"

So there you have it, the British Government is utterly powerless.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A New Solution For Democracy? Manifold Democracy


Democracy is a good thing. But, it is dangerous when concentrated in the hands of a few and also when available to a tyrannical majority which takes no account of the minority. A balance needs to be struck between autocracy/oligocracy on the one hand and ochlocracy on the other.

My solution is the introduction of plural or manifold democracy into the second chamber, currently inhabited by party placemen and religoons without any accountability to the public. It's nearly impossible to convict them of expenses fraud, for goodness sake.

Manifold Democracy gives every organisation with, say, 80,000 paid up members (the same as a constuency for exanmple, the right to a voting seat for as long as they retain their membership quota  in the second chamber. If an organisation has more than 200,000 members it gets two seats etc. I have no problem with even religoons plonking themselves down if they have the legimacy of 79,999 other like minded people.  There will probably be just as many people to balance out extremist opinions. The beauty and simplicity of this idea is that all of a voter's interests can be represented simply by him or her joining one or more organisation. Of course, political parties can also claim seats but only if they attract enough members. By becoming mass membership organisations again, instead of North London dinner party/focus group cliques, the Augean Stables of the first chamber with its constituency Representative Advocates will begin to be cleaned of the filth of party whipping.

Discuss.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

BREAKING NEWS! Cameron Recovers Classic Aircraft From Abroad



In a classic publicity stunt today to attempt to associate himself with the Brave Brylcremed Few, David Cameron announced that negotiations had been successfully concluded for the return to airworthiness in Britain of up to 20 iconic British aircraft. Unfortunately, they aren't the 72 Harrier GR9s that were flogged off at fire sale prices to the USMC by the Amalgamated Union of Tornado and Typhoon Drivers. VAT will be charged on them to simplify matters.

A spokesperson for the other member of the Special Relationship was subsequently reported to say that "The Department of Defence  negativizes with extreme prejudice the speechification of the English Premiership, Mr Dale Campbell. We have gotten 'em fair'n'square. Git or Ah'll shoot you varmints"

Update 16 April: Dave "Mavis" Cameron is going to buy the F-35B STOVL after all.

Friday, 13 April 2012

It's A Meteorite Re-Entry Redux



Like the Tunguska Blast in 1908. Update 23 April or this recent event in America.

Now the truth can be told .... as they used to say in those black and white war films with Anthony Steel, Dirk Bogarde, David Niven and Richard Todd.

It was a couple of Rare Force Typhoons haring across country from Coningsby to Bath where a hapless helicopter pilot had accidentally squawked 7500 on his transponder (I'm hijacked). Naturally, the supersonic fighters on QRA had to go supersonic to get to Bath quickly (like it says on the tin) and so scared the bejabers out of millions of people from Coventry in a swath southwestwards to Oxfordshire and Swindon as they boomed at about 6:10pm here in Coventry.

On Local Radio they knew nothing. I actually phoned up and said it was a meteorite re-entry. Most were saying it was an earthquake. The emergency services knew nothing. Birminingham Airport ATC said it couldn't be a supersonic boom because there's no supersonic aircraft in the country. Birmingham Airport ATC is provided by NATS, Swanwick in Hampshire which has RAF ATC co-located there.

Finally, well past 7:00pm, the MoD stuck up their hand and admitted the truth. Well, that is not good enough in this day and age. Could they not have alerted the emergency services and ATC of the boom by superfast interwebby thing? In the old Cold war days, the civil defence UKWAMO system covered the country and sirens were regularly tested. Nowadays, in the world of 24 hour rolling news, it takes over an hour for Wing Commander "Boz" Chaff i/c MoD RAF PR to release a carefully crafted, diversity and sustainability proofed press notice to the media, after senior officers, Ministers and probably Dave in KL has heard first. So far there has been no indication of how many trees the RAF will plant to offset the carbon footprint of the extra thrust and it looks as though earlier claims that all five of the single helicopter have been shot down with two probables and eight damaged for no losses have been revised downwards on detailed inspection of gun camera film. 

Meanwhile the Poor Bloody Taxpayer sits in the metaphorical dark for over an hour. Up with that I will not put as Winston Churchill once joked. I'm surprised that Typhoons had to be despatched to investigate what would have been immediately identified as a helicopter - eyewitnesses said they saw a Typhoon over Bath circling the helicopter at high alpha (helis are slow, Typhoons are fast) just to keep down with it. Why couldn't a copper chopper have been tasked instead or maybe Sidewindered Hawks could be dispersed across the country instead. Certainly cheaper than the £35,000 per flying hour (actually it's £70,000!) of each Typhoon. But then the Rare Force would argue that its pilots needed practice to keep current. I doubt very much that Boris's Limp Pricks Opening Ceremony speech will be drowned out by the sound of Typhoons racing after a supermarket bag caught in the breeze.

In big letters as a reminder for any future incidents:

TELL THE PUBLIC IMMEDIATELY YOU KNOW. THEY ARE PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

Friday, 6 April 2012

We Are All Residents Of Dumpton Place Now

From today's Daily Wail. Developers want to change the name of Dumpton Place in Norf Landan to the more upmarket sounding (to downmarket people) Jasmin Mews in order to increase the Ker-ching factor.

But, rather like President Kennedy claiming to be a fruit pastry (everybody knew what he meant, smart arses), I think I am, and indeed most of us are, involuntary residents of Dumpton Place as our home country has been changed without our consent in order to satisfy the whims of a minority - 'twas ever thus, alas.

As far as embarrassing street names, well our Anglo-Saxon ancestors were plain speakers who believed things should be just as it says on the tin or street sign. The excellent Londonist has a list. And everyone knows what used to go on in Grape Lane. I arranged for some  repairs to be done to a stone wall in Treacle Cock Alley in Bingley. What went on there? Originally it was called Tickle Cock Alley because cock fighting took place. Ooooh Matron!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Six Ways Of Improving Direct Democracy




1   The introduction of mandatory binding referendums on the annual Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) Bill as an additional stage before Royal Assent. If the Bill is rejected then Parliament is required to produce a revised Supply Bill for referendum within four months. The Consolidated Fund Standing Service procedure which removes annual Parliamentary control of certain items of expenditure will be abolished.

2    Recall of MPs and Councillors by a petition of 20% + 1 of the voters in their elections.


3    All voting slips to have a box for “None of the Above”.

4     Referendums for any Act of Parliament passed within the last twelve months if a petition of 1,000,000 voters is collected.

5     Binding Referendums on all Treaties prior to ratification

6     Bills or bye-laws can be introduced to Parliament or local authorities if any person or body collects a petition of 500,000 voters for Bills (or 10% of the local authority electorate for bye-laws) within three months

Reforming Representative Democracy



It doesn't work so it must be fixed.

At the moment, political parties produce a manifesto containing the least disliked set of policies their focus groups come up with and put forward a candidate that ticks the trendy diversity and inclusivity boxes. Thus voters in a constituency vote on a mixed auction lot of policies, only some of which they positively like, and for a candidate who may be a complete twerp but at least voting for him or her means that the the awful policies of the other parties and their incompetent and corrupt ministers aren't elected to form a government. In addition, manifesto promises are meant to be broken as circumstances change.

And with the Coalition Agreement of May 2010, democracy stepped back to allow the party bigwigs to bargain amongst themselves a new set of policies that very few wanted when they actually voted in the General Election.

What I propose is that the policies and parliamentarians are voted for separately. It's not a such radical change as it might appear at first sight, since MPs are already duty bound to look after the interests of all of their constituents no mattter whom they voted for.

There will still be parties and they will produce policies to be voted on. However, voters will be able to pick and mix the policies they want instead of having to bid for a mixed auction lot. Voting will take place on a touch screen and voters can vote for as many policy areas as they wish. The most popular policies in the constituency will form the accountable constituency business plan of the Representatative Advocate who will be voted for separately after the policies have been selected on the same touch screen.

Representative Advocates (RAs) are like barristers whose duty is to put their clients case forward to the best of their ability. They can be members of political parties but they are obliged to vote for and enable the policies voted for by their constituents.  If they ignore the constituency business plan RAs can be recalled by a petition of 20% + 1  of their voting constituents or voted out at the next election.  RAs  will be elected on the basis of their character, experience and judgement.

By reforming representative democracy in this way and introducing direct democracy by Referism, the will of the people will be more accurately translated into the way we are governed.