Saturday, 7 February 2009

You saw it here first

No stain on their character then

The National Black Police Association had to accept an inquiry into its financial record keeping

Following an internal review and a Home Office audit of the financial management of the NBPA, in August 2007 the IPCC confirmed it would undertake an independent investigation. This examined the actions of three serving police officers, one retired police officer, one member of police staff and one retired police staff member.

Ms Naseem Malik, IPCC Commissioner said: “The investigation did not find evidence of misconduct by any serving or retired UK police officer or police staff member.

“However, the record keeping within the NBPA during this period was so shockingly poor it is simply not possible to account for significant amounts of expenditure. Our evidence showed that these accounting failures allowed a culture of extremely poor practice by some individuals. This poor practice involved significant public funds and a registered charity. It could have been stopped at an earlier stage if the Home Office had carried out its responsibilities as the main funder more effectively.

Ms Malik's statement “The investigation did not find evidence of misconduct by any serving or retired UK police officer or police staff member." amuses me. The intent is to depict an organisation where the members are as pure as the driven snow (windblown soot?). The fact they did not find any guilty person or person is down to the way the organisation was run not because none was corrupt. So, if no one nicked it - where did the money go? A little work by a forensic accountant would have reconstituted the accounts sufficiently for someone to be caught red-handed. (black-palmed?)

Look carefully at the words that the US President used about the former prime minister Blair yesterday:
I want to thank my good friend Tony Blair for coming today, somebody who did it first and perhaps did it better than I will do. He has been an example for so many people around the world of what dedicated leadership can accomplish. And we are very grateful to him.
Those words – and they are pretty remarkable words – point to only one conclusion. They say that Obama takes Blair seriously as a centre-left leader. Perhaps what he takes seriously is merely Blair's mastery of political rhetoric and communications skills rather than his policy record – why else, some might argue, would a politician who has become president because of his opposition to the Iraq war be at ease with one who was intimately involved in waging it? But perhaps the words say something deeper. Perhaps they also say that Obama grasps that Blair's experience can have lessons for other centre-left leaders like himself who are trying to sustain coalitions of support and carry out effective political leadership in countries (of which the US and the UK are certainly two) where the record of past failure is greater than the record of past success.

Not my deduction - comes from the Grauniad

No comment needed

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Stay away

The continuing efforts by Debbie Purdy to get clarification of the DPP's attitude to those who might be deemed guilty of assisting in a suicide really annoy me. She failed to get the answer she wanted and has now taken her, to me, needless campaign to the Court of Appeal. She wants to know if her husband, the Cuban violinist Omar Puente, will be prosecuted if he helps her to travel abroad to die in Switzerland, where the practice is legal. She is seeking guidelines from the Director of Public Prosecutions as to his policy on the circumstances in which a person would be liable to prosecution for helping another commit suicide. In England and Wales, aiding and abetting suicide is a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The DPP has shown his hand by not pursuing action against UK citizens who have done just what she is contemplating. He cannot state a policy all the while the aiding and abetting suicide legislation remains law but he can get around it by declaring prosecutions as not in the public interest. The risk there is that he may incite those with very firm views against self-determination to demand he justify his not in interest opinion and have his attitude overturned.

When I married, I took a vow about supporting my spouse in sickness and in health. Were I in Mr Purdy's shoes, I would make it very clear to my wife that I would do anything and everything in my power to support her wishes in this matter. From such experience as I have had in life after the death of a close relative, my incarceration or not would be very small potatoes. I will not be so sanctimonious as to plead that my oath before God over-ruled my observance of the law of the land but I reckon it would make a good defence.

Were I able, I would counsel Debby to let sleeping dogs lie. If she does stir up sufficient mud as to obscure common sense, the remainder of her life will be spent in fear and worry. In addition, she will set a precedent for others in her position. She and her husband should be enjoying today and not worrying about tomorrow - seems God has already ordained what happens then.

Wal-mart woes

Back in the day, as some say, I was a heavy user of Wal-mart whenever I was in America. The range and depth of stuff they stocked was amazing. I was first attracted by the ease with which one could inspect and handle a range of shotguns and sporting rifles. Not because I would have been able to purchase one but just for the illicit thrill of getting hands on.

Whenever I mentioned these visits to my hosts or other Americans, it was expected by me that I would hear just what a terrible organisation Wal-Mart was. Exploitation of the employees, unfair work practices, harsh terms imposed upon suppliers - almost everything was wrong. It did not dissuade me from shopping there; just that I kept quiet about it in polite company.

So, interesting to read an account of an undercover but frank stint as an employee. Maybe they have improved as a result of the criticism I found or they were never that evil anyway. Just another reason for me to rue the fact that I shall never get back to visit America. Though, I have to concede that there is still opposition to my Shopper's Paradise.

Monday, 2 February 2009

"Be prepared" be buggered.

Dramatic warnings about heavy snowfall started to appear yesterday morning. Sure enough, the day dawned with that sort of translucent light through the bedroom window and, sure enough, a carpeting of snow lay all around.As is usual, a slight fall of some 2 inches (five centimeters for the cognoscente), brought almost everything to a swift halt. All London buses - off. London Underground that has open air bits - Off. Major rail networks - Shut down. Airports either closed or reduced to just one runway with consequent cancellations of flights out to allow aircraft already in the air to land. Schools are closed and police and traffic organisations are issuing dire warnings not to travel if one's journey is not essential. The news broadcasts are talking of Arctic Blizzard conditions. The country is at a standstill

I have lived in countries where the snowfall was reported in feet not inches. Vehicle radiators froze up as the vehicle was being driven. Battery acid froze and burst the battery casings. Bare skin stuck on exposed metal. None of these places could be said to be modern in terms of road quality or simple technology such as gritting. But life went on. People moved about - the oxen provided motive power. Animal furs gave protection from the wind. But, life went on. No hiatus as we have here with a dusting of snow and the best of modern machinery to cope with the cold.

I suppose we might get some benefit from the weather conditions. Wildcat strikes have spread very quickly and the protesters are on the march. Hopefully, some will decide that their journeys are not essential. The problem seems to have started after the Italian company IREM won a £200m construction contract and supplied its own permanent workforce. It is understood 100 Italian and Portuguese workers are already on site and 300 more are expected in the coming days and weeks. Doubtless, the contract was placed on lowest cost criteria and the incoming workers are cheaper that UK employees. The actual cause of the action seems confused but that has never deterred the Great British Worker. There is a ghost hovering here like something from Elsinore; fuel distribution may be disrupted. Just in time to add to the misery of the old and handicapped who have trouble meeting fuel costs.

One thing the dispute is doing is to increase disenchantment with the current Government amongst those traditionally its supporters. So, a small benefit there then. I see little chance of the Conservative party hastening the demise of NuLabour as it was dictated by Blair and as it is now under Brown. Cameron has almost the status of the Invisible Man. This was emphasised when he recruited William Hague as the Senior member of his Cabinet and old toughie Clarke to oppose Lord Meddlesome. It is almost as if he has put them into position to further opposition to Brown's team rather than be personally involved. His Party give serious - almost dramatic - accounts of the damage that Labour is doing to the future financial standing of the country but allows these to continue. Ensuring that the situation and damage gets worse by the day.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


but all good satire is based upon something that could well come about.
Government officials have announced that the historic Isle of Wight town of Shanklin has been selected as Britain’s first set-aside town. During the next six months the municipality and surrounding villages will be evacuated, businesses will be closed and utilities will be cut off. The area will then be left to lie fallow for a two year period.

Set-aside is an old farming method where a field is left unused, or fallow, for a period of time to allow the soil to replenish nutrients and thus remain fertile for the next phase of crop rotation. In 2007 a government think-tank hit upon the idea of using this technique to revitalise parts of the country during recession.

‘This is a radical new form of urban regeneration,’ explained a Whitehall spokesman. ‘Once Shanklin has been set-aside, the area will no longer be subjected to the every-day wear and tear that afflicts other urban areas. There will be no demand for precious fuel resources, traffic congestion will ease and housing problems will be non-existent. In short the town will have time to draw breath.’

Purpose-built camps are being built in disused airfields across the country to house the residents of Shanklin, where they will be provided with food and water for six weeks before ‘making their own arrangements’. Opposition to the scheme has been surprisingly muted although under new legislation, Shanklin’s dispossessed lose their citizenship during the fallow period, so the town’s population are not eligible to take part in national politics. But one visitor to Shanklin found it very unsettling; ‘It is like a ghost town. Nobody on the streets, all the shops shut; nothing happening anywhere,’ he reported, unaware that the scheme hasn’t actually started yet.