Matthew Paris in writing in The Times yesterday is absolutely bang on with his assessment of the David Laws situation. I urge you to read and comment.
Yes, we’ve all read it before in the newspaper, but today the Queen re-opened Parliament with a speech which sounded rather different to what we’ve become used to, no huge focus on terrorism and no awful news-speak about helping families (with yet more benefits that keep the poor dependant). Instead we got something altogether different: the word de jour is freedom: Scrapping of draconian ID cards and ID databases, Measures to help bolster civil liberties, Powers to set up new schools and open more academies (which are in effect just grant maintained?), Fixed-term Parliaments are now properly on the agenda and a couple of referendums, first on the voting system (a/v) which seems to be linked to a promise of reform for the new rotten boroughs so we equal out the size of constituencies, and if anything happens in Europe now we’ve got a guarantee of referendum on future EU treaties or major changes of power-balance from the UK to the EU (and one would presume vice versa?).
In other news there’s going to be changes to financial regulation but no detail, changes to the police with elected police officials (good news) as well as restoring the pensions link to earnings, and the rather vague promise of more power for the Scottish Parliament: whether the coalition is feeling brave enough to properly tackle the West Lothian question has yet to be seen.
It was nice to see a speech that for the first time in a long time didn’t feel like it’d make us worse of democratically: I still think with the cuts and the world-economic problems coming up, but I do feel like the power of the people has been dramatically realigned. Now the coalition has to stick together to get these things through.
This week we’ve seen a very dark day in England’s judicial history, it’s a week that’s seen two young boys placed on the sex offenders register after being tried by a jury in Court 7 at the Old Bailey: the crime – attempted rape, having been cleared of actual rape only a few days earlier. But these are children: by all accounts none when questioned had any understanding of the mechanics of rape or sexual behaviour, they’re simply children, and it’s an extremely dangerous day when we start criminalising this country’s children for exhibiting natural inquisitive childish behaviour.
Sure, we must try children who transgress into violent or aggressive acts, but all children experiment, often with others – and if we apply our horrified tabloid sexualisation to these fundamentally innocent act we run the risk of turning children and teenagers into monsters because we apply adult laws, adult thought and adult morals onto those too young to understand any of these things.
The simple fact is that none of those involved, certainly not an 8 year old girl should have known what sex was in any way that was complex enough to make an allegation – We’ve over sexualised our children, over-exposed them to a media and a culture that thinks children can be adults, and that’s just got to stop. We can’t go back to some golden age, because there never was one – kids have always figured out what is what in some respect, but please – can’t we just do enough to give our children back their childhood?
Parliamentry expenses is the monster under the bed that just won’t die: it’s once again rearing it’s ugly head as MPs complain that the new rules regarding expenses are unfair, we’ve heard it all – from MPs complaining they’re being treated like they’re on benefits to one MP bemoaning that it’s going to be unsafe to go home.
What happens on a January night in London? I suppose I will have to take the tube, then a bus and then a long walk home. That is not safe.
Well, that’s just awful – I know what I shall do, I’ll fund the police better, I’ll lock up the criminals, I’ll insist train companies fund proper staffing for their stations and I’ll work with councils to ensure that better late night transport routes are provided between hubs… oh wait, I can’t do that: that’s the job of my MP! If the streets are so unsafe for you, then guess what – they’re unsafe for everyone – so use the powers we invested in you to do something about it?
The level of stupidity and hypocrisy regarding expenses is truly staggering, the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority created to ‘solve’ the problem of duck houses, husband’s porn and flipping (or to give it it’s proper name ‘fraud‘) is an unwieldily behemoth. It’s generated a situation where for every transaction invoices are received, authorised and paid by MPs they’re then sent to IPSA where they’re re-checked, approved and reimbursed by IPSA – that’s a ludicrous waste of time. When the Sunlight Centre published their report Disinfecting Parliament last year they made a suggestion which draws on vast amounts of real experience from the private sector – that MPs should be issued with a debit or charge card on which all expenses must be charged: that way you get real time electronic tracking, no spending beyond agreed limits and a massive reduction in paperwork and manpower as the card issuer is already well placed to deliver accounts ready for immediate audit.
Here’s hoping that Cameron & Clegg take another leaf from the private sector and take steps to abolish the IPSA (an organisation which has just advertised for a £80,000+ marketing director at our expense). It’s my opinion that the IPSA is nothing but another wasteful quango creating work for itself and it’s beneficiaries when there’s a better solution available from the private sector… I’ve used company debit and charge cards for years, both for myself and my staff, and I see no good reason why this solution is not good enough for Parliament when it’s used by millions of private companies worldwide.
I’ve waited a long time to say that, a damn it feels good. Well done to David & Samantha, Well done to everyone that took part in the talks, and a huge well done to the grassroots that stuck by the detoxifying of the Conservatives and the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.
I’ve got a tear in my eye.
I don’t know what to say about today – shocking dithering from Brown, the pound is once again crashing, PR looking like it’ll be thrust on the country without a referendum, Nick Clegg’s opinion polls crashing as he looks like a turncoat, and the Lib/Lab pact now looking like it could happen.
If a ‘rainbow’ coalition comes together (and do note that the most likely leader, David Miliband is not even on the talks panel), it’ll be disastrous, the pound will spiral, nationalists and minorities will force cuts onto England and we’ll end up with another election in less than a year.
Let’s not forget, Brown promised that if £6b went out of our economy immediately after election it’d cause a double dip recession – but amazingly, Darling’s just given away more than double that to prop up the Euro.
So, we want your money, but we don’t want to do anything for it, we want it all, better, and now. So fuck you. If you still think bailing out the Greeks was a bright idea – watch them now bring their own country to it’s knees despite €120 billion, from the Eurozone, Us, the Yanks and anyone else.
For those of us that grew up in continental Europe during the cold war the Hammer & Sickle is something that’s very unwelcome. Markets are crashing through the floor, Portugal, Spain and Ireland frankly are on the brink of another downgrade, and all because no one is prepared to stand up for treaties that were designed to prevent this from happening in the first place.
They had a chance to salvage this, to bring things under control – but no, they want it all, now: and guess who’s going to have to pay for it.
And if you thought this was a European problem the DOW is down -2.02% today – I bet the traders are loving Obama’s spin on this on. Frankly I’m to disappointed to blog about this any further: details here. I have an awful feeling this is going to spread now, and the UK’s gilts are going to be in the spotlight, especially if we’re delivered a hung parliament on Thursday/Friday.
It’s 12 years ago today that Justin Fashanu hung himself in a lockup garage not a kilometre from where I’m sitting now, miserable, pursued by a press following up an unsubstantiated assault charge, he spent his last wretched hours in Chariots sauna – if you ever needed to sum up a fall from grace the dark alleyways of Shoreditch are a long way from being the first Black, openly gay million pound footballer.
12 years is a long time, the world has moved on – but we still don’t seem to be any closer to sport and gay people coming together, sure we’ve got gay football and rugby teams, but we’re not exactly represented in top flight sport? Why is it – when even our military has come round to having it’s pink contingent – that top flight sport seems so entirely unable to come to terms with the fact that some people are gay: it’s an odd area that doesn’t seem to have moved with society.
There’s an interesting article about this in Today’s indie, not sure it comes to any conclusion, much like this blog – as I’m not sure that there’s a conclusion to come to, things don’t seem to have changed, there’s a lot of talk; but still no action.
Posted in News
Tagged News, Society, Sport
And it’s in no less a journal than The Times. It’s nice to see someone standing up for the ‘average’ man, casting aside the beefcakes and the waifs and rakes that have insidiously cornered almost every area of our print and broadcast media.
It’s mainly good stuff, positive in most respects although I’m not sure ‘corpulent’ would be the word I’d use to describe the average man.
You can read the article here:
Posted in Life, News
Tagged Life, News
This article from today’s guardian is fascinating, I do remember some time ago hearing about this on the World Service, but they didn’t go into much detail; these stories of people who were up until now little more than vegetables gaining their facilities once again is nothing short of truly miraculous; and a testament to how little we actually know about the workings of the human brain.
Posted in News
Tagged Guardian, Health, News