Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Rural Post Office Scandal

High amongst the reasons for the government wanting to drop rural post offices is that Blair's regime has not shown any skill or appetite for dealing with either the rural community, small enterprises or self employed people with minds of their own.

Cherie Blair's gang of revolutionary republicans seems far more comfortable when engaging with large and easily "spun" centralised operations - with a lot to lose if they rub the government up the wrong way. Especially those operations with strategic management that has grown up in the age of spin, and who are happy to do just about anything for a gong and maintain what in more enlightend times would have been regarded as a monopoly that was not in the public interest.

A simplistic example being that a single call to the Sir Boss of a vast retail empire can result in a "deal" that affecting some 15% of the retail budget of the UK.

It's also much simpler for HMG to do a deal with Bill Gates than encourage the UK to develop innovative IT solutions based around the world of those unnervingly titled "open systems". And so MI6 can be guaranteed a back door into any Microsoft software product.

The political reality is that those affected are probably 80% non-Labour voters, and this government has shown that it can be quite sanguine about gerrymandering with the public interest and your money. By now HMG has realised that this government's involvement with anything even faintly commercial is the kiss of death, so it just wants out of the PO problem as fast as possible.

It might even pay handsomely to be rid of it if there is good PR to be had. I can imagine Tesco thinking about doing something with the opportunity - but I suspect that even they might wonder if this a bridge too far, and if there will be a backlash for the vast Tesco presence already out there.

One thing is for sure, Alistair Darling's PO plan has not been thought through commercially, and that there are opportunities for someone who can marshall these 2500 postmasters and postmistresses in a relevant structure.

The name of today's consumer marketing game is locating and engaging demographically identifiable punters as they become ever more dispersed across an increasingly distributed media landscape. So the opportunity to reach and serve defined communities like those being served here is only likely to get more valuable.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Consensus - too valuable for politicians

A word about us for a change.

TMP has no desire to create yet another political party, instead it seeks to provide a haven where despairing members of any party can come to discuss the sort of common sense and objective opinion that has been lost by the main parties in the mindless pursuit of swing voters.

There is clearly a varying degree of common ground between ALL parties, yet it is in the yah-boo-sucks nature of parliamentary politics that the majority consensus tends to get quickly overshadowed by the extremities of policy that might influence a few vacillatory swing voters.

Moreover, the dangers of consensus in the hands of dodgy politicians are obvious. Gordon Brown's latest raid on pockets in the name of the green consensus is a typically cynical effort to leverage the public conscience to fund his government's staggering profligacy and wastage.

The exploitation of careless "consensus" by party politicians had lead to the creation of monsters such as "health and safety" gestapo, and the rudderless NHS that we have today. And to listen to the twaddle spouted by job creation schemes such as "safety camera partnerships" you would think the UK was subject to the worst driving on earth - yet the stats clearly show the UK has amongst the safest, albeit most overcrowded, road systems on the planet.

Consensus works best when it is directly managed and controlled by its owners: the majority. But not all members of the majority are members of the ruling party, so how can we prevent politicians from leveraging consensus to fund extremism designed to attract the 10% of swing voters that actually decide UK elections?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

More of the same

It hardly seems worth adding the chorus of irritation and indifference that has met the Chancellor's latest assault on the pockets of the nation. The same familiar platitudes, the same lame excuses (plus an inevitable new green one), the same old story. By now it's very predictable and very boring.

Bearing in mind that Gordon is hoping that he will have at least 3 years playing at being PM, he is obviously keen to rake in as much cash as possible to fund what will become his legacy. And as forewarned in this blog, he latched on to the careless "consensus" that has arisen around climate change as a handy excuse to pile on more of his trademark stealth taxes.

If only the relentless stream of hot air from this most dour and boring Scot could be channelled into a turbine at Westminster, his place on earth might not be the relentless waste of time and resources that it presently seems to be. As the opposition's star turn George Osborne wryly observed, Gordon has been "green" ever since the fateful night when he did his deal with Blair over who would get first turn at being PM. Pass the Chianti, someone...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Banks: a cartel that must be dealt with

Anyone in the UK who deals with a "high street" bank will immediately empathize with the view that these institutions are habitually taking the piss (and anything else they can get) from their customers. And these days "high street" means Bangalore High Street in many cases.

The evidence of the operation of a cartel is so obvious that is a mark of the curious relationship between successive governments and banks that they can operate with complete disregard for the fact that just about every piece of anti-competitive legislation in existence defines how they presently operate as a monopoly that is not in the interests of customers.

Banks have been unquestioningly compliant with President Blair's raft of new privacy invasion measures dressed up as "anti terrorist" legislation, resulting in customers who have dealt with the same branch for over 30 years being required to provide proof of identity. No doubt when the time comes for Gordon Brown to implement his planned 0.5% annual wealth tax, the ever-compliant banks will be co-operating eagerly in order that they are permitted to retain their immunity from competition.

The snail pace at which many of them have adopted technology reflects the lack of any serious competitive pressure. Lloyds' customers still cannot reliably conduct business using email, for example. No bank publishes viable email contact addresses on the web, and most are terrified that email will be used by their staff to do untrustworthy things, so its use is strictly limited to trying to sell the customers junk that they don't want or need.

Yet despite being unwilling to trust their staff with doing business using email, banks are happy to insist that their systems are trusted and infallible, and that there is no such thing as ATM fraud.

The amount of time it takes for payment to "clear" is a very old and very classic chestnut that all banks profit from at the expense of their customers. I suspect it's almost unchanged from the days of stage coaches - yet items on my online credit card statement appear virtually in "real time".

Bankers know full well about the reign of terror they exert, and it is in their relentlessly suspicious nature that they assume that anyone wishing to change banks must have done something dreadful to want to face the trauma and inconvenience of moving accounts.

TMP will deal with these sorry monopolies by devising new ways for the people of the UK to interact with financial services without becoming psychologically enslaved by their banks, in a relationship that persists almost entirely because of the fear of the process of changing banks.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

When in Saudi Arabia...

TMP policy is characteristically robust in matters of foreign affairs.

Doing business in foreign parts frequently involves paying "commissions" that certain prim Brits regard as - heaven forfend - bribes. The present fuss over £50m in commissions required to secure the £70b order for Typhoon Eurofighters from Saudi Arabia is sadly typical of the type of unworldly and sanctimonious process that has become a natural part of the regime of witless political correctness that has been established during the Blair Presidency.

It's no mistake that the language of diplomacy was deemed to be French for much of the while in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, because the French have the only sane approach in all matters diplomatic, which is "if we don't do it first, then someone else will".

So this seems like a classic moment of pragmatism when TMP's proposed popular phone-in vote should be applied. It would save acres of press debate and get straight to the heart of the matter:

A: "I am happy for my government to sanction a bung of £50m to a Saudi prince and his mates in order to secure 50,000 UK jobs and a £70bn trade deal?"

B: "I would prefer that Britain remained pure and poor, and that the French got the jobs and the money".

Text your replies to 88888: calls cost £1 plus network charges, and remember to ask permission from the person that pays the bill...

And as for those sanctimonious ninnies who will then suggest that this would be the thin end of some nebulous wedge, TMP says: "Bring that wedge on! Let's buy many more deals worth £70bn and save 50k UK jobs".

Foreign trade has been a process of "bribes" and "commissions" ever since the first explorers greeted the local chief with a box of glass beads. Will we ever by ruled by anyone with a sense of perspective and reality ever again?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Stranger danger...

Having let all the genies out of all the bottles without ever asking permission or thinking through the whole consequences, we are still assured by most witless politicians that cheap travel and mass migration is good for us all, and that to think otherwise is xenophobic and racist.

Likewise the transfer of all our personal and private data to computers in a wave of globalisation and efficiency that means the foreign call center operators have access to your innermost financial secrets, has happened without anyone asking the right questions. I have no doubt that part of the much discussed computerisation of the NHS involves crucial data passing through hands we don't know about.

Globalisation is good for the sort of large companies that politicians like to "work with", since large companies generally have enough to lose that they will tend to be pragmatic and try and suck up to the parties in power. Heavens, they've even been known to donate cash to politicians and political parties.

Latterly the news that a vast amount of private data has been compromised by the loss of laptops in the hands of companies who make a fat living from "managing" this data, has reminded us to think more carefully about what is going on.

So as a result or carelessness at many levels, secure management of identity is now one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, and politicians are predictably attempting to devise ever more convoluted legislation to tackle the security implications and issues of fraud.

Not content with taking DNA samples whenever they feel like it, the police have now been empowered to initiate roadside fingerprinting - because Mr Plod is fed up being told the driver of a suspicious vehicle without any form of identification is George Bush. Anyone offering a false identity in such circumstances clearly "has something to hide", so the chances of nabbing a previously convicted and fingerprinted felon are pretty good.

But when anyone expresses concern at the broader scope of this overwhelming invasion of what was once was known as "personal privacy", Home Office ministers respond "So what have you got hide?"

I just wish someone would reply "no more than Tony Blair, Tessa Jowell, Patricia Hewitt and Lord Levy" at such moments.

TMP policy decrees that just as with most things "personal", the only person you can safely trust with your personal information is yourself. Systems can be devised that require the consent and direct permission of the data owner to be involved (or at the very least advised) in any transactions where private information is involved.

Ironically, we are heading back to the same sort of situation of suspicion of strangers that existed in the good old days when everyone knew everyone, and people rarely moved more than 10 miles from where they lived or worked. The League of Gentlemen may have got it about right.

Monday, November 20, 2006

You couldn't make it up

As if Patricia Hewitt's NHS wasn't shagged enough, we now learn that NHS hospitals are feeling obliged to market themselves to local GPs, because under the brave new scheme of internal markets within the NHS, after years of assumption that they operated a local monopoly, it seems that hospitals are competing for "customers".

BBC TV news featured a typical NHS administrator, all power suits and media-training, telling us that this is a good idea. But it seems like it's just another distraction by pointless NHS management to justify their precarious existence at a time when health budgets are being squeezed dry as a result of poor administration by so-called power-dressed and media-friendly "professional managers".

Most medical staff have given up hope of discovering method in the madness of the modern bureaucracy-mad NHS, and seem to be of the heretical opinion that there are better uses what little money they have left - for despite the huge spending increases of the past few years, many hospitals are actually laying off medical staff because they have simply run out of money. However, such poorly informed comment only goes to show how badly these doctors and nurses are in need of re-education and enlightment by Hewitt's ever-vigilant thought police.

But however hard you try and spin it, there remains no shortage of patients and waiting lists. And no surfeit of facilities, equipment or humble politicans willing to admit that NHS reorganisation has been a cockup of biblical proportions with £700,000,000,000 of your money

But at least when you attend the local flea pit and watch the wobbly adverts between the feature films for local restaurants, you may well be regaled with a glossy commercial, produced at your expense: "And when that dodgy vindaloo does its worst, why not ask your doctor to consider checking you into the Royal Gut and Gizzard Hospital, quoting bonus code 9876..."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rights and responsibilities

In case the name of TMP misleads, I'd like to stress that The Majority Party sets out to defend the rights of the individual - but it also insists on enforcing responsibilities: and it is where those responsibilities impinge on the Majority that we tend to part company with fashionable political thinking.

From this principle should arise law based on enforcing responsibilities which are generally clear, obvious and the product of common sense - rather than the current fad for creating and defending rights, which are generally wooly, ambiguous and a lawyer’s delight of misinterpretation and unforseen consequence.

This difference of approach largely explains the ridiculous consequences of Labour's mindless adoption of the ECHR, and its unthinking enforcement by the process sheep of Whitehall. Law concerning individual rights should be so obvious to sane people that any lawyer trying to make a living from practising it should be living in a cardboard box, not 10 Downing Street.

A fine example being those notorious payments to folks recumbent at HM's pleasure for obliging them to give up their narcotic habits too abruptly. As Catherine Tate's infamous Nan might say "What a flipppin' libertry..."

“Obvious” means starting with simple ideas like not receiving unwanted cold-calls on the phone, and ends up with more complex issues such as not getting blown up on public transport because a minority government listened to apparently flawed advice from unaccountable experts …and arm twisting from a US administration elected by a minority of that country's voters.

Avoiding being blown up is not an "individual right" to be defended; it is the responsibility of a responsible government to ensure that it does not happen in the first place. There is a BIG difference. In this case the process of consequences that lead to 7/7 - the defence of the rights of those involved to pursue a form of irrational religious fanaticism that overtly proposes violent insurrection - was ultimately irresponsible to the majority.

TMP believes that primary responsibility is not to interfere with the rights and lives of those who do not wish to be hassled, except where the exercise of their responsibilities to others is at issue. By all means feel free to be a practising vegan transsexual Jedi Kinght with Goth tendencies. In fact, the more you wish to exert your individuality, the simpler it is for the rest of the community to appreciate, embrace and understand your diversity and understand you for “what you are”; but please don’t complain about rights when your choice means it is difficult to get a job where “normality” is a requirement.

So if McDonalds turn you down, apply to your local LibDem or Labour Party selection committee; you’ll be amongst friends.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Then and now: a golden age?

I make no apologies for reproducing here something many of you will already have seen elsewhere in viral email.

This nicely sums up the core differences between the majority-orientated society that created the “platform” (sorry) of prosperity that presently exists, and the shambolic coalition of minorities that has systematically squandered this prosperity to fund legions of professional and amateur nannies and numerous meddlers to waste hard earned resources on endless irrelevance and interference.

These wastrels and fanatics will ensure that we will never experience the same opportunities again in the UK... without a realignment in the way the UK voting system operates, so that the Majority view can once again prevail.


First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a tin, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a van - loose - was always great fun. We drank water from the garden hosepipe and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cakes, white bread and real butter and drank pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because......


We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem .

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no text messaging, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms.......... WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them! We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We played with worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
Made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not poke out any eyes. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

Local teams had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!?

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever.

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned


And YOU are one of them!


You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were. Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Text 8MAJ to vote: cut out the middle man

The ethos at the top of this blog says it all. The nature of UK democracy is such that that a very small proportion of the population aka "the swing vote" can determine who gets into power. The energy of the political parties is thus directed towards various forms of sophisticated gerrymander to switch these vacillators (who are hardly the people who should be determining the fate of us all, eh?) meantime abandoning the voters that form the solid core of the party because they can be trusted to turn up like sheep anyway.

Labour's recent rude awakening to the fact that it has been pandering to minorities for just a bit too long brought a number of its diehards up with a jolt; and the reaction is the now typical one of suggesting legislating the perceived threat of the BNP out of existence. The Tories seemed distinctly non plussed to find the Blair regime yet again doing things with liberty and the constitution that even the most right wing Tory government would have been nervous to suggest.

Meanwhile, the steadfastly irrelevant LibDems twitter on incessantly about proportional representation in the hope that it will give them the casting vote in perpetuity in a perpetually hung parliament - which is possibly the most hopeless and divisive form of minority rule imaginable, and is no assurance that scamps like Berlusconi in Italy are kept away.

The only fair and reasonable way to deal with the issues is to let the people deal with the issues directly. Cut out the middle man. If we are going to be forced to have a big brother ID system, it will be perfectly good enough to support a system of direct voting on just about every major topic. In fact, the people should insist on making weekly referenda a condition of cooperation with this further state intrusion to help redress the balance a little in favour of the serfs, for once?

The Majority Party might even charge the punters - sorry, "voters" - £1 a call to remind them that all decisions and policies have consequences, and thus run the lottery on the back of this weekly vote-in..?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

An Englishman's Home

...is his tax burden.

Or so the Daily Mail and others are warning following the stealth tax trials in Northern Ireland where council tax has become and annual house value tax, based on some 0.66% of the valuation.

Doubtless when the tax is introduced to England, the PR department will have spun up some suitably innocuous name - such as "Community Charge". (Oops; maybe not that one...)

A property tax bears no relationship to the impact of its occupants on the local "amenities" and services. Possibly the only element of local government cost that is actually proportionate to property size is the length of the road that runs past/round it.

The political acceptance of a property tax will rely on appealing to the lack of sympathy for those who live in posh gaffs. Indeed it shamelessly panders to the well known tendency of Brits to be jealous of the "haves". It's the same button that sees to it that drivers of flash motors pay according to the envy rating; regardless of the fact that they already pay more VAT and additional fuel tax than drivers of humble transport.

The same appeal to envy also sees to it that those who pay for private health care and/or education don't get any sort of rebate because they use less of the state provided alternatives.

Will this nasty, small minded and increasingly vindictive government not give up until there is no incentive whatever to try harder and earn more? I suppose a nation of those who have given up trying and just accept what the commisars hand out will assure Labour's re-election in perpetuity. It seems to be working in Scotland.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Calling Kazakhstan

I eventually managed to obtain a csv file with a comprehensive tariff listing for non-geographic calls made in the UK. I think it's from Gamma Telecom, but my source was coy in case they got knee capped for exposing the scale of the scamming going on.

These charges relate to premium rate services and these don't vary a lot between the various alternative telco operators. I have not included the overseas tariff - 1899.com is still cheapest by far and you can look up on their site readily enough..

Following Borat's campaign to raise the profile of Kazakhstan I thought I would mention that even using the least cost possible phone call services, it costs about the same to call a mobile in Kazakhstan as a UK 087XX service - which could be located in the same building as you are. Moreover, I suspect you probably get more satisfaction from calling Kazakhstan with neither party understanding the other, than talking to the average "UK" call centre. Costs of calls to fixed lines in Kazakhstan are 4p a minute, compared to the ~10p fleecing you get on a UK 087XX.

And things don't get any better on higher ticket items. I realise that the world's car manufacturers refer to the UK as "Treasure Isle" because they manage to charge more here than just about anywhere (check the price of Subaru in the UK versus anywhere else), so why is it that the UK is so full of suckers?

Moreover, why on earth do so many foreign workers want to come to the UK and get fleeced along with the rest of us? Presumably if they send the money they earn straight home and don't spend any here (especially on optional stuff like car insurance and MOTs), they make a serious net gain.

Incidentally, take great care when calling numbers that begin with '87039" as these are costing you around £8 a minute.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The trouble with politics

At the Majority Party, we like getting straight to the heart of matters.

A politician, when you cut through all the crap, is someone who believes that they can spend your money more wisely than you can. So it's not surprising that the main problem with politics the world over is the politicians, because how many of you - deep down - honestly believe that there is anyone better equipped to spend your hard earned cash than you are?

There is no end of folk (quite apart from politicians) that believe they can spend your hard earned money more wisely than you can - they're called children, wives and husbands; but most of us human cash points have slightly more influence over those making the withdrawals than once every 5 years. Moreover, we don't get locked away for refusing to buy a 12 inch flick knife or an Ingram sub machine gun for our kids, whereas we will certainly be in deep trouble if we want to pursue the same pacifist tactic and decline to pay the taxes that Blair and Brown then dutifully piss away into the sands of the desert. Politicians can happily spend our cash on a vast selection of nasty whizz-bangs from a glittering array of questionable armament businesses, most of whom make enough money from their trade to buy politicians and influence in just about country they operate.

Part of the problem is that politicians have evolved a very neat conspiracy amongst their kind to see to it that people who do real work and have real lives simply don't have time to participate in the sort of incestuous media-fuelled nonsense that is now the hallmark of politics in just about every "advanced" nation in the 21st century. For however unsound the notion has been spun to become, the fact remains that many nations, including Britain, grew great on ideas such as noblesse oblige and a ruling class that worked its apprenticeship in the realities of how the world rubs along, before being handed the reins of power.

The starkest of all realities learned in such an apprenticeship is that the world is an unfair place, full of unfair people, doing unfair things. This means that the most effective contribution to maintaining a viable society is to encourage everyone to fend for themselves, because when push comes to shove, no one else will.

Talking of spending money and “unfair”, the costliest, most unfair and yet still holiest of cows is the NHS. But if you live in an area that doesn't support the Labour Party, there is now a greater chance that your nurses will sacked, and your hospitals will be closed. And if you live in Scotland, the Labour government will spend >£1000 a head a year more on you than if you live in England. Remind us, how many Tory MPs are elected by the Scottish people?

Politicians are a self-absorbed community who try and pretend that they exist to promote "fair and democratic" concepts and principles. Voting for them is indeed "fair and democratic" - but doing anything else is take a step closer to some imagined abyss that gets wider and deeper, and inhabited by all sorts of bogeymen and the dark forces or terrorism - in fact, anything that otherwise disagrees with them.

For many years the UK parliamentary system has been excused as being the best of the various alternatives, since it produces an unencumbered long-term majority government that can make unfettered decisions. And to be honest, the shambolic periods in our history when the government was too weak to act decisively, supports this notion. However, that's mostly because of politicians' bad behaviour, since at times of herd weakness, the opportunity to trample your way to the top is never better.

But there is now a better way, it's called the will of the people and modern technology means that it is entirely possible to invite the people to participate in all decisions on how their money is spent.

So just text "no" to 8888 if you don't want another £1bn spent on propping up civil service pensions; and "yes" if you want the budget for speed cameras to be spent on more police in patrol cars.

If it's good enough for The X Factor, it's good enough for The Majority Party.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The other new religion

Further to the notion that entrenched politics is little more than a religion where rationality and objectivity play little part, what other element of the human experience attracts such extremes of opinion, bigotry and generally errant behaviour as religion or politics? That's right - vegetarianism!

All those omnivores that live with veggies will probably have lit up by now, although I accept that those who only encounter homo-vegetariens occasionally may be puzzled at this outburst of angst - after all it's only food, isn't it?

Vegetarianism pursued as a healthy lifestyle option is one thing, but in order to lash themselves into the mental strait jacket required to resist the siren smell of crispy fried duck (I've deprogrammed a couple of veggies in my time with that one) all too many of the species adopt an attitude that transcends rationality and becomes yet another crusade. It is indeed no coincidence that many strict religions set out to dictate what their followers should and should not eat, as this is all part of the programming of self discipline that is required to accept the rest of the hocus pocus.

Oh the guilt we omnivores are obliged to feel, oh the condescension whenever some veggie fundamentalist organisation issues a press release that claims to have research that can be spun to suggest that eating meat causes your genitals to turn green and fall off. Oh the finnickitiness, oh the smugness, oh the hassle when attempting to eat out and provide the other half with something more gripping than yet another risotto...

So as a matter of urgent policy, the MP is thinking of starting a members' dining club for the partners of vegetarians, where us carnivores can gather together and pursue our guilty passion for red meat and fine game with relative freedom from guilt, while our pasty partners can gather to share their concern for the animal kingdom and spend a sanctimonious time chasing lentils round a bowl.

Hands up anyone?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Phone call costs: a complete scandal

Once the cost of a phone network is paid, the incremental cost per call to the operator is negligible. By far the biggest cost element in any phone call these days is an itemised billing process, and paying a marketing department to confuse the customers so they have no idea what actually costs what.

Isn't it astonishing that many people will now use a mobile phone when they are sitting/standing 3 feet from a DECT (fixed line) phone where the calls can be virtually free? Many have now become immune to paying anything from £30-500 a month for the conveniencee of leading a wireless cellular lifestyle. (Partly because the person paying the bill is frequently not the one using the phone.)

The biggest list of charges can be found on BT's site, of course. Once upon a time this was a simple single page listing the cost of calling all the different number prefix types. That was, of course, far too simple and convenient and allowed users to easily compare costs and realise who was ripping off who. So the marketing department has buried this in multiple clicks, and the result is incomprehensible enough to cause most people to take one look and not bother to look deeper. Job done!

Complain to BT about this blatant filibustering and they will use one of the standard references to the impositions of process by regulatorss, and that their hands are tied. Well then, let's do a proper job and tie their feet, place a black bag over their head, and then open the trap door.

It would be far too dangerous to offer users a simple calculator where you enter the number calling, the number called and the time of day (defaulting to current time) wouldn't it? However, I'll save you all a lot of trouble by telling you that 1899 is by far the cheapest solution across the board.

1899.com operates a service where all any calls in the UK will cost you a flat 4p whatever duration or time of day/week. Overseas is even better: by way of example, as far as I am able to make out from the BT price list, using a "raw" BT line can be 3000% more expensive than 1899 when calling NewZealand: 31p/minute versus 1p a minute.

But just as technology has cut the cost to oeprators and provided numerous routing features, so it has provided a bonanza for companies who have climbed on the premium rate phone scam bandwagonn - which these days seems to be just about everyone including government, of course.

Many companies (and government departments) now operate 087X/084X numbers, and wrap it all up in specious twaddle about improved services. Crap, anyone with an 0870/0845 number is generally on some sort of revenue share with the service operator - 0870 yields frequently as much as 5p a minute. If they are not, they are stupid (or maybe the telecoms manager has a deal where the cash get routed straight into an offshore account?) Even 0845 numbers can provide revenue back to the company using them.

Our American cousins simply cannot believe that we Brits are being this stupid and compliant. No one there would deal with any businesss that didn't provide free 0800 numbers for everything - including complaints.

But you can frequently avoid paying the ~10p a minute surcharge if you just look at SayNoTo0870 to provide the geographic numbers of those companies scamming their customers by using 084X and 087X numbers. Or look for the "when calling from overseas" UK geographic number that some of the 087X scammers sheepishly publish. And then use 1899 to call them.

The UK regulatory body for the really outrageously priced premium rate services (PRS) is Icstis, and they (just) come under the heading of "better than nothing". Although quite how such a shabby industry has been allowed to establish and thrive is a mystery (do certain PRS operators "have the negatives", I wonder?), but ITV's crass misuse of PRS has eventually forced some sort of effort to curtail the more blatant abuses.

One of the more disturbing aspects of all this is the time and intellectual effort that has gone into creating these numerous "call plans" that are designed to do nothing more than confuse all users into submission. And worse still, is the prospect that many people must have been trained to understand and sell them; 4 dimensional chess is simpler.

This is job creation of the most pointless and worthless kind. But guess what? Just as with the deployment of snooping CCTV, privacy invasive DNA databases and stealth taxing traffic camera technology, Britain proudly leads the world!

Insurance and other protection rackets

Buying motor insurance online is not a happy experience for anyone with a vehicle that is more exciting than a very bland Mondeo. In fact, if I go through any more forms only to reach the end and be told to call a number where all the same bloody questions are asked again, I may give up and buy a Mondeo.

There is little doubt that insurers apply the principle that people that buy expensive cars will meekly pay extra for their insurance. Even an aged "posh" motor that cost £30k new but is now worth £5k seems to be rated the same for insurance premium costs as a new one.

It's all part of the process of ratcheting cash out of a compliant populationon when the gross sums involved make the sneaky levies seem insignificant. Much as Estate Agents have traditionally got away with hacking "a meagre 2%" from a £n000k transaction for what is frequently no work at all.

And let's not forget "insurance premium tax". There's a stealthy one if ever there was, it should probably be deemed a covert wealth tax, but since it appears to have been meekly accepted by a supine electorate, there's no chance of any party willingly scrapping it and giving the money back to the punters, is there?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The lapdogs of war

The Boy David was getting it in the neck from the smuggies at Blair's Broadcasting Corporation for changing the Tory mind on George and Tony's Iraq crusade when I switched on News 24 this morning.

Of course, no Labour politician ever changed their mind about anything, did they? The recent about-turn on matters such as controlled immigration and the end of multiculturalism has nothing to do with responding to popular demand, does it? Nooo... of course not. The BBC's management and Board of Govenors is far too conscious of its opportunities for sinecures in the Lords and "service" on other quangos for that to be the case.

Bush and Blair's big mistake was failing to find WMD within hours of the invasion; the next was failing to "find" WMD at all. After all, what on earth are MI5, the SAS, the CIA and the NSA (and presumably also MOSSAD) for? From that point on, a meltdown was pretty much assured as Arab support poured in from Saddam's old enemies as well as guaranteed disruption from his vast Baath party organisation.

It wasn't as if the US and UK hadn't had sufficient prior experiences of dodgy ventures in foreign lands. The aftermath is ALWAYS more tricky than any politician wants to believe, and it is fair to point out that nearly all the support for the original invasion was qualified with "as long as you know what the end game is really going to be".

If the unholy alliance of opposition parties lead by the boy David finally knocks over this tattered administration, I imagine all sorts of dirty tricks and favours will be called on to try and discredit the effort. The US administration reaction will be especially interesting: do they know the meaning of the expression "lost cause", I wonder?

Someone somewhere has plenty to hide, and the Kelley enquiry fiasco suggests that there is an alliance and conspiracy of government, spin doctors and some media being held together in the name of not making life any more difficult for our forces in Iraq.

So it's hardly surprising that Blair doesn't want a proper enquiry - but is it just possible that Cameron's surprise move arises partly because the Labour Party is again busy doing what they have done for the past 9 years - using the proven diversionary tactic of blatantly stealing potentially popular Tory party policies (this time the Green ones) ? Does the boy David reckon it's time to fight dirty at last?

Those who watch "Spooks" - a dangerously credible BBC1 drama about MI5 - get a wonderfully rich diet of scarily plausible misdeeds in the highest places of government, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if Cameron soon starts sporting a chunky jacket to cover a bullet proof vest. Or maybe he'll ask the well-upholstered Boris Johnson to walk just ahead of him... or both?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Best practice

According to the Wikipedia, Best Practice is a management idea which asserts that there is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive or reward that is more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. The idea is that with proper processes, checks, and testing, a project can be rolled out and completed with fewer problems and unforeseen complications.

Yes, just as you and I suspected, it's yet another form of modernspeak designed to state the obvious, and give those stating the obvious an air of undeserved authority. It has found its way into both political and management jargon, and it is completely meaningless.

Would anyone knowingly pursue the route of worst practice?

A big danger of this type of mindless tripe is that it encourages those witless folks whose sad lives revolve around stringing together such phrases in order to seem as though they know what they are doing, to believe that they really do know what they are doing.

Next time anyone mentions "Best Practice" to you, tell them that the bloke drank himself death, so you'd rather not bother.

Global warming and erosion of the bank account

There's a golden rule for voters of competing parties: never, ever agree about anything.

When politicians detect a glimmer of consensus on any subject, with barely concealed delight, the first thing they will try and do is look for ways to tax it. Having taxed all the traditional sources to death, the new opportunities of congestion charges and now climate change are providing rich new pastures for those who think they can spend your money more wisely than you can.

The doom mongers commenting on the lingering summer and autumn are twittering about global warming and imminent doom. But before we get overwhelmed by the assumptions, let's examine what's actually going on.

We are told that planting a tree is necessary to balance the carbon equation through the process of photosynthesis that uses the combination of sunlight, H20 and chlorophyll to hoover the C from CO2 and fix in complex hydrocarbons, and then release back the 02 to the atmosphere. However, trees take a long time to grow. So consider the immediately beneficial effects of extending the period of the year in which the green stuff is able to rinse the atmosphere. Would it be fair to suggest that by extending the growing period for a month, we might get an extra 15-20% of the carbon absorption?

While you are cursing the need to cut your grass in November, just think how much extra carbon has been taken from the atmosphere in the growing process.

Higher temperatures, lashings of rain and the effect of extended growing seasons look very much like nature's feedback system at work. So whilst we may need to build a little more thoughtfully to keep the roof on - and improve the drainage - just maybe things are not quite as dire as the more hysterical tree huggers would have us believe.

What is more energy efficient? Running a vehicle for 500k miles and accepting that older engines emit a bit more of the nasty stuff - or go mad like the Japanese and devise emission rules that require engine replacement every 50-75k miles or so? (Which actually results in the Japanese shipping loads of second hand cars around the LHD world and keeping their home economy churning.)

Let's put this in perspective: the UK is responsible for 2% of global pollution, there will be no more fossil fuels in 30 years time anyway.

Easily the biggest political challenge arises from who controls what's left, and governments (like ours) that have wasted their peoples' resources. So governments that are now perilously dependent on savvy Russians and unstable Saudi Arabians would prefer not to admit this to the voters, but try and find ways to deflect attention onto other things - especially when it means they can tax something new and kid the voters that they are doing them a favour.

The main reason for you to fret about energy conservation is cash conservation. The best use of old engine oil is to pour it into vats, boil it, and place them on the roof of your porch, ready for when New Labour's numerous new tax inspectors come calling.

If only we could find a way to tax the sanctimonious...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Human rights and inhuman wrongs

The dangerous stupidity and dogmatic ritual of "Human Rights" legislation is one of the crowning works of the devil and his/her many disciples in Brussels and Whitehall. It brings together the otherwise unimportant, the self righteous, the unworldly, the well-meaning, the smugly sanctimonious and the downright mischievous in an co-ordinated orgy of self-indulgent hypocrisy, the like of which civilization has not seen since the Spanish Inquisition.

With acknowledgements to Monty Python, the big difference this time around is that by now, most of us do indeed thoroughly expect the European Convention on Human Rights.

Where ever justice, truth, decency and the normal of way doing things has prevailed for centuries, some unelected twat will turn up and quote some obscure regulation enacted by a committee of unelected twats, to ensure that common sense is brought to a swift and mindless conclusion.

The bastard offspring of the ECHR are of course the legions of Health and Safety officialdom. H&S frequently quotes the ECHR as its foundation, justification and guiding principle. After all, sending a bloke up a ladder to change a light bulb without a full safety harness and air-sea rescue standing by is indeed asking for trouble in today's litigation-laced environment.

And just we have come to expect the ECHR and H&S blocking the path of common sense at every turn, so it's no surprise to find the worthless bureaucratic mandarins of the EU and President Blair's lawyer missus at the heart of this catastrophe of obtuse, unnecessary and disruptive legislation that has spawned more work for the vexatious and their lawyers than just about anything else in the past 50 years.

If like the many political apparatchiks drawn from the legal profession, you have a £m+ mortgage in trendy Islington and a penchant for living above your means to service, that's good news indeed.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Our survey said: more sex please, we're past it

Dontcha just love surveys? UKTVGold has commissioned an audience attitude review to assess the regrets felt by two specific age groups. It quizzed 1,500 Britons over 65 and the same number aged between 20-29 and asked for their top 10 wishes if they could turn back the clock.
Instead of UKTV's probably hoped-for news that the nation was gagging for more episodes of the Sweeny and reruns of Bargain Hunt, the 20-29s mostly regretted wasting money and not getting on the housing ladder soon enough. Maybe not too surprising given the sort of treadmill lives they lead where the first 364 days of the working year are just about all spent working for Gordon Brown. And if that's not a waste of money, what is?

But the really interesting thing was that the over 65s mostly (70%) regretted not having enough sex and travel. All of which only goes to prove that you always want what you can't have.

Another disappointing but telling regret is that only 16% of crumblies regret not starting their own business - but bear in mind that the survey was probably drawn from the audience of daytime satellite TV...

More ladders, less snakes

After many years of blameless motoring, it comes as a something of a shock to get shot in the back at 90mph by two of Essex's finest, skulking behind a bridge on the A120 on a perfectly clear day with little traffic around. Or so my friend tells me.

This set a train of thought running for a possible TMP policy: negative points on your license.

The marketing industry has known the carrot value of fluffy loyalty bonus points for years, but Her Majesty's Plod only knows the stick value of stern punishment. Insurance companies appreciate the overall value of no claims' bonuses, so how about giving motorists a negative point for each year they manage to navigate the hell on wheels that is the British road network, without incident..?

Moreover, because these bonus points are just that - "a bonus" - it should be possible to invoke other aspects of motoring presently (rightly) outside the penalty points scheme. For example, certain types of static motoring misdemeanours could count against the annual bonus scheme - whereas it would be deemed grossly unfair to treat parking on a par with moving traffic violations when handing out penalties, these "static" offences could more fairly be taken into account when handing out the gold stars.

With a bit of thought, such a scheme might also be introduced to other areas of incentives to give those who try and lead responsible lives some hope that maybe the criminal justice system is not entirely skewed in favour of the feckless and irresponsible.

The insurance industry would also love it, since such a scheme would provide a very reliable instant provenance on prospects and give it yet more excuses to penalise the young and feckless. And capping the negative points at -15 would probably ensure that some elderly motorist with an armoured car, a grudge and -60 points didn't decide to cash them all in one fell swoop by going postal and wiping out an entire town centre.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

One man's tax cut is another man's soundbite

Understandably, the present hierarchy of the Conservative party does not want to be drawn on policy, yet. Over the course of the last 3 elections, the Labour Party has quite unashamedly stolen the finest fashions from the Tory wardrobe. The fact that most of these clothes fit badly on many of Blair's fellow travellers becomes apparent from time to time, with the occasional accompaniment of the sound of rending seams. John Prescott in particular clearly couldn't wait to get his kit off; but the trouble was he forgot to put any of the new gear on ...

So all George Osborne had to say when commenting on the Tax Reform Commission was that he would be prudent and not risk affecting mortgage rates. And all Gordon Brown's soulmate and gopher, Ed Balls, could say in response was to try and brazen it out, by avoiding answering the observation that Labour had imposed more than 60 stealth taxes. Instead, he predictably tried to plead what Labour had done for "the family" as many times as he possibly could, despite the shambolic state of the family credit system being pointed out several times by the (R5) interviewer.

I particularly liked one text comment sent on the Labour Treasury spokesman's input:

"Ed? Balls!"

So after months of pestering for a glimpse of a few policies, the BBC website dutifully says: "The Lib Dems say the Tories are in a muddle, while Labour say tax cuts would be financed by cuts in public spending. " [errrm... can we have our licence fee increase, now please?]

Hmmm. How about financing some tax cuts by ditching the BBC tax (aka license fee)? This country is already awash with more media than it's subjects can possible consume, and the need to operate it on a costly broadcast infrastructure no longer exists - strategically or practically.

Why not gift the whole thing to Channel 4 to operate? Given the magic of digital delivery, it is now perfectly possible for those that wanted to, to "buy off" the commercials that would otherwise interrupt and fund it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Ballot Box

In the mindless pursuit of democracy, those chanting "one man one vote" have become about as rational as any religious zealot; and it's a brave soul indeed that suggests that democracy has become just as badly abused and misused as religion. Yet the evidence of the systemic inoperability of the concept is all around: there are numerous voting systems within "democracy", usually manipulated by the party in power to ensure that it stays in power.

The democracy zealot is now just as immune to reason and evidence as the religious zealot. Worse, if you are George W Bush, and his obedient servant, Yo Blair, democracy and religion are one and the same crusade. Democracy advocates will justify the many sacrifices made in world and other wars in its name; much the same sacrifices were made in the name of religion during the Dark Ages.

The cynical abuse of "democracy" is all around. The furor surrounding the dubious abuse of patronage and allegations of cash for peerages comes under the familiar heading of "no surprises there". Indeed, all political parties do it and have done it for ages, so all the purple bluster and steam seems unlikely to stir an unsurprised nation to arms; but let's extract the principle "of purchased influence" and place it in a proper democratic context.

Unless the theory of marketing and advertising is complete nonsense, democracy, crudely means a system of government where money buys influence. Why else would the US be so keen to impose it?

Dangerously, for the cosy beneficiaries of the status-quo in that most undemocratic of lands where minority rule is imposed every 5 years (the UK), "genuine democracy" where the people are allowed to decide on all important issues, has become perfectly possible now that modern technology connects the entire population to an instant voting mechanism. Moreover, the proposed £5bn worth identity card effort at least ought to ensure that a secure means of proof of identity was in the hands of every subject.

But who should be permitted to vote? In the present system of delegated voting authority, there is a very clear and brutal system that dictates just how far democracy reaches. And the answer is just 316 egomaniacs who are sufficiently self-obsessed and self-seeking to seek election to the House of Commons.

The moment that Commons majority is reached, this oligarchy can conveniently forget the 60-odd million voters for whom life is a daily struggle for survival in the face of increasingly tedious and questionable impositions. The magical majority of 316 people, mainly drawn from the ranks of lawyers, teachers, lecturers, trade union activists and an increasing number of "professional politicians" who have never held a proper job of any sort in their misbegotten lives, can do what they bloody well like. And as President Blair has shown on many occasions, he bloody well did; entirely ignoring parliament and acting like a dictator.

So then, please remind me, just why is universal suffrage deemed to be such a great idea? Adolf Hitler was elected democratically, as was Robert Mugabe, George Bush (just) and Tony Blair (overwhelmingly). This suggests that democracy might not be all that it's cracked to be. In fact, it suggests that democracy is a dreadful way to elect an effective government.

One US political commentator once observed:

"Every 4 years, the US public generally gets to make a choice between a crook or a fool. If they have any sense, they vote for the crook."


A tax by any other name...

Tell me, fellow subjects, what is the difference between a tax, a "duty", a "charge" or a "licence fee" when the cash ends up being spent by the same bloke on the same things..?

Just as squirrels are rats with PR and a sense of theatre, some politician somewhere must have felt that it was worth the effort to try and masquerade house purchase tax as "stamp duty" - in a quaint allusion to a bygone age. It is nowt but a tax in pantaloons and tricorn hat in an age when President Blair and his closet republican henchmen (and women) are desperately trying to edge us towards becoming citizens, and no longer subjects.

This game of "when is a tax not a tax" doesn't always work out. One tax that was proposed in a coiffured wig, thigh length boots and leather hot pants ended up doing for a certain Margaret Thatcher. The "Community Charge" was instantly dubbed the "poll tax" by her opponents, and the rest is history.

Ironically, Red Ken Livingstone's infamous "Congestion Charge" seems to have raised £trillions, but even that's not enough to clear his irritating sinuses. What's that? Oh? I see! He actually meant to call it the "London Travel Tax", it has nothing to do with clearing congestion, nasal or streetwise. Every political address should carry the warning: Too much honesty may seriously endanger your re-electability.

Blair's very own combination of Brutus and Robespierre, Gordon Brown, has achieved a new benchmark in political fiscal chicanery with his complex system of retrospective taxes and emascualtion of the once thriving and essential pensions industry in order to fund Labour's traditional wasteful spending, most of which has been directed towards propping up regions - both geographic and demographic - that traditionally support the party.

Remind me, what happened to the Westminster councillors who attempted a spot gerrymandering on a relatively modest scale? It all goes to show that the bigger and more outrageous you are, the more likely it is that you will get away with it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Scorekeepers shall not also bat

There is a widely accepted principle that students don't mark their own exam papers, and that the scorers in sports events don't participate as players. Auditors are supposed to be independent of the firms that they audit. So why should those who derive their income from public funds be allowed to vote on par with those who provide that income?

UK governments of the past 50 years have all declared that you cannot buck markets. This is just another market, but one where the sellers are allowed to set the prices - which is fundamentally flawed and will end in tears. I don't for a moment suppose that this idea will be wildly popular amongst those who become disenfranchised, but once upon a time "public service" meant accepting less financial reward in return for stability of employment. But these days, public servants get more money, enjoy less stress and better pensions than those who pay for them.

One of the trickiest legacies of the Blair Presidency will be the fact that just about half the working population of the UK is now paid from one public purse or another. How is any politician ever going to get elected on a policy of redressing this insane situation? We've already seen how easily the civil service managed to close ranks and brush aside what seemed like perfectly reasonable attempts to put their retirement age in line with the rest of us.

But those who are paid by the state, are allowed to vote for the composition of the state. Why?
The argument generally goes that they are also tax payers. OK, but the tax they pay comes from salaries that are provided by the rest of us. Precious few civil servants have any role in any form of wealth creation; almost universally they dig large holes into which the wealth created by others simply "disappears".

So how about this for a way forward? We should hold a referendum where everyone (for the last time) gets to decide which of the publicly funded occupations should be allowed to vote in elections. Simply listing the vast roll call of who is taking our money will require polling stations to have standby smelling salts, when those who pay for them at last realise just how far the disease has spread.

I would guess that all medical staff in the NHS will be allowed to vote - but not administrators; the police force below the rank of deputy commissioner would send an interesting signal to those for whom political correctness has become more important than catching felons. The whole of the Armed Forces would almost certainly get 100% approval.

But is there a chance in hell that BBC employees, politicians, tax collectors, traffic wardens, or Whitehall civil servants would ever the see the inside of a polling booth ever again?

These are a few more of my most unfavourite things

Following on the list of the Blair presidency's outstanding achievements in the previous blog, I have been offered a few more to include...

  • More surveillance TV in the UK than any other country in the world
  • The Scottish parliament building is 4 times over budget, a snip at £200m
  • Council tax rising >3x faster than inflation
  • No discernible energy strategy or resource planning
  • The sacking of nurses
  • Human Rights as an industry
  • Postcode medicine
  • GPs abandoning weekend cover yet now getting paid £100k PA average
  • Bugged dustbins
  • The Health and Safety Gestapo
  • Stealth taxes
  • Annual taxation documentation that has ballooned by some 1000%
  • Confusing new postal shipment rules
  • ASBOs and tagging
  • Dr Kelley's "suicide"
  • House of Lords "reform"

One of the most predictable excuses offered by UK governments since the first oil crisis was the news that "global events" were beyond its control; so it also seems appropriate to list the major global influences and trends since 1997 to see how many can be blamed for the mess overtaking The Republic of Blair. Not many of which seem to have been much of an impediment to running the country in the past 9 years. In fact the negative consequences of 9/11 now seem to have been self inflicted, and have left the world in a position where it is powerless to act on the news that North Korea really does have WMD.

All the other events have been grabbed by most nations of the world and turned into fantastic opportunities for development and growth. Countries like India and China have leveraged telecoms and IT to come from almost nowhere during Blair's reign. For HMG's part, IT has been the scene of yet more famous costly disasters in just about every aspect of public spending, despite Blair cabinet fixture, Patricia Hewitt, famously having been a former high flyer with high fallutin' and famously expensive management and IT consultants, Accenture. (Errm, but surely Accenture has been one of the usual suspects involved in many of these costly disasters..?)

Sadly, the one and only public IT project that seems to have worked well has been the introduction of the Livingstone Tax on London drivers - plus of course ultra efficient digital speed cameras; now just about the last industry where Britain proudly leads the wolrd.

Significant World Events since 1997...

  • 9/11
  • The internet
  • The end of broadcast TV as a mass medium
  • Satellite Navigation
  • Cellphones for all
  • Renewable energy competes at last on price with traditional energy

The President has gone mad, long live the President

To give Blair his due, it's probably not all his fault. He's an actor, and now his scriptwriters have given up the ghost, and deserted him. He never was a rocket scientist, as his proud admissions of supreme computer illiteracy might have warned us. As a manager, he's quite obviously out of his depth.

His judgment with sycophantic colleagues was clearly flawed from the off: the preposterous Mandleson, the even more preposterous Prescott. The unimaginably awful Patricia Hewitt, the permatanned Hain, the ghastly Hazel Blears, the increasingly weird Straw - and then his crowning glory - Tessa Jowell.

Tessa is the minister once married to a lawyer involved in distinctly dodgy goings on with that unimaginably dodgy Italian, Silvio Berlusconi - Italian premier and one time provider of luxury B&B services to President and Mrs Blair.

The litany of Blair's incompetence is endless. Moreover, integrity and talent has been (at the very least) a career setback to any would be Blair apparatchik: witness the late Robin Cooke and the late Mo Mowlem. Clare Short is wisely keeping her head down.

Much of Gordon's frustration is that Gordon thinks he's a lot smarter than Blair; and entirely personally responsible for providing the stability of the economic platform (mostly by continuing the previous Tory administration's core policies) while Blair collected the plaudits. He only gave in over the leadership issue the first time around because he was told that Tony was electable, and assured that he wasn't.

Of the scriptwriters, Alistair Campbell went mad first; and now his simply dreadful wife has run out of preposterousness at long last, and left her husband standing on the burning deck as his administration sinks slowly under a hail of Iraq-inspired suicide bombers, and the sort of systemic sleaze and incompetence that put the relative misdemeanours of the previous Tory administration into interesting perspective.

After all, the quicker he's out of office, the quicker all the memoirs can get published and the sooner the much-needed fees can start rolling in to pay off the mega mortgage and her various other ambitions.

So how come he's clung on this long? Perhaps this has more than a bit to do with the BBC's efforts to avoid getting deservedly gelded in the next license review, and the fact that the BBC is overtly operated by anything but Tory sympathisers.

So, now what? Despite the shambolic state of the UK in 2006, the incumbent government is still being allowed to get away with it, and technically, could do so for another 3 and half years. After all, how many Labour MPs are likely to vote for their own demise? Why on earth does the Great British Public allow this to happen? I suspect that much is down to the mindset that has grown up around the simple but widely held view...

"What's the point? They're all as bad as each other, aren't they?"

Which is a view that now applies to much more than just the Government. It is an indictment of 10 years of Labour's mismanagement of the country, where the government has actively encouraged the creation of vast monopolies and cartels, since they are much simpler to manage centrally and coerce politically than a multiplicity of smaller and more agile competitive businesses. And bigger businesses mean bigger party donations. Or they did...

The tacit permission for the concentration of near monopoly powers and the operation of cartel tactics means that bully-boy providers of anything from satellite TV to software to groceries to phone services to banking services have no fear of come-uppance arising from their arrogant and poor service - simply because the public have given up hope of finding anyone that cares.
Ironically, this attitude bears more than a passing resemblance to the resigned fatalism that prevailed in Russia under communism.

So the Useless Opposition needs all the help it can get, and I'm gathering together a check list of everything that's gone sour during the Blair Presidency.

  • Government elected by a minority of English vote
  • Scottish and Welsh assemblies - so what about the English?
  • Creeping EU takeover
  • Pension Thefts
  • Foreign call centres
  • No Go Zones
  • Dangerous tolerance of BigCo Monopolies
  • Peerages for donations
  • Political Correctness gone mad
  • The War on Terror Fox Hunting Speed cameras
  • Immigration out of control
  • Pointless job creation
  • Sports worship
  • Ladettes Boozing all hours
  • Tattoos for women
  • Gambling more attractive then working

All contributions welcome.