I still have lots on my plate but I can’t let this pass without comment.
Boris Johnson faces being drawn into a bitter dispute over homosexuality after banning advertisements on London buses promoting the idea that gay people can be “cured”.
Transport chiefs stepped in on the Mayor’s orders to block the posters, faced with a the prospect of the argument being played on the streets of the capital next week with rival advertisments.
Two Christian groups announced on Thursday that they had booked advertising space promoting the idea that people can become “post-gay” through therapy.
Anglican Mainstream, a traditionalist Christian coalition, and Core Issues Trust – a counselling group which practices controversial “reorientation” therapy – wanted to place full-length banners reading: “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get Over It!”
They are a direct response to advertisements taken out by the gay rights group Stonewall earlier this month as part of the campaign for same-sex marriage reading: “Some people are Gay. Get over it!”
So Stonewall get to place their advert sending a message I don’t particularly care about one way or the other, yet the god squad groups are banned from responding with their claim that gayness is something that can be (not, it would seem, necessarily should be) cured. Personally I think it’s a stretch to claim that someone can be prayed straight or whatever the details are and I’m not sure how you’d distinguish between someone who’s gay and been cured and someone who’s gay and been inspired, persuaded or brainwashed into sticking a crucifix on the closet door and climbing inside. Seriously, how would you test that, and even more seriously why would you even bother? I don’t care that if someone is gay and I equally don’t care whether they were and have been cured through prayer or if faith is leading them to live a lie. As long as neither one is proselytising and/or shagging me their sexuality and religious beliefs are a matter of supreme indifference.
I also don’t care if they talk about it. I don’t have to read what they write and I don’t have to listen to what they say. I can walk away from either of them at any time so as far as I’m concerned there’s no reason why they shouldn’t both be free to say their piece. The Christians’ may be saying something that sounds like complete horseshit to me but if we silenced everyone for spouting horseshit politicians would be silenced almost forever. And no, even that’s not a good reason for doing it because freedom of speech is an absolute – if saying even just one thing is off limits then ipso facto speech is restricted and everyone is fair game. This is the reality, and I fucking hate it, and I hate it that fuckwit right-on politwats like Boris ‘The Ban’ Johnson – he has form in this area, remember – take huge, steaming shits on liberty in the name of fairness and sucking up to minorities.
“It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”
So it’s offensive? And what, Boris? That I think these Christians are deluding themselves and that their gay cure is at best mind games and at worst purest snake oil would probably offend them, so can I say it or not? That you’ve decided they can’t say it almost certainly offends them, so can you say that they were being offensive or would that cause enough offensive for you to have to censor yourself? Or is it simply a case of offending them is okay because fuck Christians, but not the gay rights groups? I rather suspect it’s the last one.
Look, if they’re selling a cure, as in for money, then by all means ban it on trade descriptions grounds for claiming something that’s fundamentally unverifiable, but it sounds rather like the usual kind of religious claim that we all accept as stating beliefs rather than making actual claims. I mean, nobody has verified eternal life after death, but we don’t have mayors of major international cities in the supposedly free world demanding that all those churches with John 5:24 on big boards outside take them down.
So, Boris, here’s my suggestion: let the gay groups say their bit and the religious groups say theirs, and let both of them get as offended by the other as they fucking please. There is no right to go through life not being offended by anything, and if you suggested that there should be I for one would be extremely upset, and deeply offended, by the implied loss of the liberty to speak one’s mind.
On the plus side of the ledger this time Europe, or to be precise the European Court of Human Rights, has givethed ith blething… sorry, its blessing on the extradition of Abu Hamza to the United States.
The judges gave a final ruling on six extradition cases in a verdict which effectively passed judgment on whether America’s treatment of terrorist suspects amounts to “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” in breach of the European human rights code.
They decided it would be lawful for five of the six to be jailed for the rest of their lives in a so-called ‘super-max’ prison.
The ruling stated that the five, including radical preacher Abu Hamza, would not be subject to “ill-treatment” at ADX Florence, a so-called ‘super-max’ prison. The court adjourned its decision on Haroon Rashid Aswat pending consideration of further complaints lodged by him.
So a win, or at least most of a win.
The ruling granted the men the right to appeal to the court’s Grand Chamber, meaning any extradition could be some time away.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “very pleased” by the ruling.
Really, Dave? If I had your job I’d be fucking ashamed that it’s up to a bunch of judges in a foreign court at all as well as the fact that this result doesn’t even address the whole question of it not being up to the United Kingdom to make that decision internally anymore, so if you’re satisfied with the odd decision going Britain’s way I guess we can add ‘easily pleased’ to the increasing list of your faults.
And of course there’s the takething away part that I was coming to, though it’d be more accurate to say that this is giving something that really isn’t wanted.
In Britain, even the most minor convictions for student pranks or breaches of the peace can come back to haunt jobseekers years later if they apply for positions as teachers, policemen or other “sensitive” roles.
But migrants from EU countries applying for the same jobs will be given a clean bill of health, even if they have similar convictions, because other countries either wipe the slate clean or do not keep records of low-level offences.
The problem also applies to British workers trying to get jobs in other EU countries.
Britain’s rigorous Criminal Records Bureau regime means that even convictions classed as “spent” remain on file for life and can be thrown up during background checks by potential employers anywhere in the EU.
In stark contrast, countries such as Belgium and Germany routinely destroy after just three years records of convictions resulting in prison sentences of less than six months or fines of less than 500 euros.
However, in fairness to the Europeans it must be said that this problem is entirely self inflicted. Only in Britain are there Bottom Inspectors looking forward to the day they can create lifelong criminal files on people for farting without being in possession of Class II Intestinal Waste Gas Evacuation Certificate (Adult – Unsupervised, Home/Workplace) because just about every other possible thing has been covered by legislation and can already fuck you up on a CRB check for the increasing number of jobs that seem to demand one.
Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: “The amount of information retained by the British police is hugely disproportionate compared to other European countries and this system will mean the serious flaws of the CRB system are exported to haunt British citizens wherever they may be in Europe.
“The huge amount of data held, often without any criminal conviction, has been a civil liberties concern for many years and yet the Home Office continue to fight to retain details of every minor misdemeanor indefinitely.”
Quite. I wonder if David Cameramong would say he was very pleased by this as well. More to the point, I wonder if the useless wanker will take his hand off it long enough to do anything about it.
Both my readers (hi Mum) will recall that since the UK election nearly two years ago I’ve often said that the Cobbleition government really doesn’t seem all that different from the Labour government that preceded it. I can’t be bothered to look back and see when it was that I began saying that it was like Labour had never lost the election but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t long. However, I can recall exactly when I said that the country may as well bring back Gordon Brown, which was late last November, my reasoning being that if all politicians who can attract enough votes to win power are hell bent on wrecking the place then real change can’t happen until things have got so bad that the people who voted for them can no longer ignore it, so you might as well have the worst of the bunch in charge so as to get the painful wrecking part of the process over and done with quickly. Not a new argument – Obonoxio the Clown was saying something similar even before the election, and I don’t think he was the only one. But what persuaded me that the current incarnation of the Tories, which at its best has only ever been a party that likes to boss people around about different things from those which Labour likes to boss people around, really are doing nothing more than prolonging the agony was Camermong’s announcement that he was going to fix the economy with the very thing that, in America, fucked the economy right in the eyes.
The Prime Minister and his deputy, Nick Clegg, will unveil proposals to help first-time buyers of new homes by carrying part of the risk of their mortgages.
Dave, Nick, say it ain’t so. Tell us that even you aren’t so monumentally stupid that you can’t see that it’s precisely this kind of policy – using taxpayers’ money to underwrite loans for overpriced housing to people who are at higher risk of being unable to repay them – that led with grim inevitability to the fucking subprime mortgage crisis in the fucking first place. And what did that lead to in its turn? Oh, yes, that’d be adding to an unsustainable bubble with a bonus prize of a banking crisis, wouldn’t it? And you two freak shows are now standing here telling us that you want to fucking do it all over again in the deluded belief it’ll get the economy moving. Folks, I think this year’s Jeff Buckley Award for being the Public Figure Most Hopelessly Out of Their Depth may end up being shared.
But no, they did mean it. And today it turns out to be even worse.
Up to 100,000 people will get Government support to buy homes worth up to £500,000 in a Coalition move to revive the middle-class dream of home ownership, ministers will announce.
I just want to draw attention to the maths here. £500,000 times a hundred thousand people is fifty fucking billion pounds. Fifty billion! Has the country that’s recently fallen behind Brazil in the ranking of world economies actually got fifty billion to spare? Without adding to the already mind-fuckingly huge debt that’ll need to be repaid by future taxpayers?
The guarantee will allow people buying new-build properties to borrow up to 95 per cent of the value of their new home.
Since the credit crisis that began in 2007, most people seeking to buy a newly-built property have been able to borrow no more than 80 per cent of the sale price.
Can someone explain to me why this is necessarily a bad thing? Surely if you’re borrowing less then your ability to repay is easier, giving you either a cushion or the option of early repayment or more disposable income. And if being able to borrow less means you can’t afford it at all, couldn’t that possible indicate that despite adjustments property in Britain is still too fucking pricey by far?
Some estimates suggest that the average deposit required for a mortgage is close to £38,000.
This is telling. When I bought my first house, which was back when the housing market was only silly and not outright batshit insane, I think the rule of thumb was being able to borrow triple your salary. The thing is that a little googling finds that the median UK salary is in the mid £20K area, meaning that a median salary earner needs either to scrimp and save or borrow about 50% of their salary just to get the fucking deposit together. Not the mortgage, the bloody deposit. Surely that screams ‘over priced housing’, and surely this move of Cameramong’s is only going to exacerbate it. I’m no economist but I seem to recall hearing that encouraging too much money to chase too few goods is inflationary.
Though of course it might not be in the longer term if it means loans being made to people who can’t afford to repay them.
… it could also raise fears that the State could end up guaranteeing more risky borrowers.
Quite. Because that’s exactly what happened in the US to spark the whole bloody GFC off in the first place. Put a big government made and taxpayer funded safety net under businesses and eventually some of them will forget to take as much care as they should, and so inevitably banks made bad lending decisions while feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac would take care of things if they went tits up. Can someone tell me how what Cameramong and Cleggie are doing is fundamentally different?
Formally launching the mortgage guarantee today, the Prime Minister will today pledge that the NewBuy scheme will help repair a “broken” housing ladder.
“It’s no good hoping people will climb the property ladder if the bottom rung is missing. Affordable properties and available mortgages are vital,” he will say.
You’re not repairing it, you tool. You’re fucking extending it and weakening the remaining lower rungs still further. Oh, and that name? Sounds a little familiar. Not thinking of yourself as an English Roosevelt, are you? I ask only because among other things FDR’s New Deal created Fannie Mae. If you mention the hand of history I swear I’ll get on a plane, come over there, and twat you heavily about the head and neck with Tony Blair’s autobiography.
And your drones are just as moronic, by the way.
Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, said the guarantee scheme will help unlock a housing market where for many people, owning a home is “no longer a dream, but a distant fantasy.”
Turning it into a fucking nightmare should fix that.
“We want to help everyone achieve their aspirations, and feel the pride of home ownership. The NewBuy Guarantee will give thousands of prospective buyers the chance to buy a home with a fraction of the deposit normally required.”
Yeah, because you wouldn’t want to let a market of an overpriced good fall to a natural level. Oh, no. Far better to keep those prices unnaturally high by pulling magic money out of your arse with one hand while writing out “IOU – We’ll pay for everything no matter what it eventually costs. Love, the Taxpayers” with the other. Have none of these self described conservatives thought that maybe if they didn’t keep interfering with markets and pushing up prices as well as adding to the taxpayers’ bills then maybe those same taxpayers would have a better chance of being able to afford these things without help?
And this kind of shit is why this blog is beginning to swing towards overt support of Labour. Not because I have any respect or faith for that party, and certainly not in the expectation that they’ll be a significant improvement on with the Cobbleition or either of the parties in it. In fact I expect Labour to be even worse and possibly to have the capability virtually to destroy Britain even more quickly than the other two. And I’m coming to believe that virtual destruction is not only inevitable but is necessary to wake up the majority of the 26,146,419 people who voted for the Big Three for no better reason than their family has always voted that way, or because they didn’t want the other lot to win, or because they’d vote for fortnight dead roadkill if someone dropped the right colour rosette on it. It’d be far better if they’d realise the damage they’re doing by prolonging the paradigm of incompetent and destructive politicians and just start voting for someone else (though I still have concerns about them UKIP is currently my least worst option, but Christ’s sakes, anyone but the Big Three really) but I’m afraid that the majority of those 26,146,419 will carry on as they have been doing until one day dawn breaks on a Britain that is completely bankrupt, probably in more than one sense.
Only then will those destructive political parties be destroyed themselves, or at least made electorally irrelevant, because all will finally be clear and in the wreckage there will be very very few who will ever forgive the Big Three. What will happen then is anyone’s guess, but I’d very much hope it’ll be the beginning of several generations with an inherent distrust of government and big stater solutions. I can’t help but feel that if destruction is indeed a necessary condition for recovery then why put it off by voting for someone marginally less catastrophically incompetent?
That said, if destruction can be avoided altogether it goes without saying that we should, so although I’m pessimistic I really hope an alternative presents itself. Besides, voting Labour would make me want to go home and wash for about a month.
* Title from The Daily Mash.
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Dave? Do you think that this might possibly have something to do with the fact that you haven’t stopped spunking away money by the billion as fast as you can tax it off of the current workforce and borrow it on behalf of their children? Fucking hellfire, in the last couple of days we’re told that you’ve blown half a billion on the Northern Rock sale, granted perhaps unavoidably, and that you’ve decided to throw almost the same again at the building industry while underwriting all the mortgages of first time buyers. Not only have you not cut public spending you’re actually spending even more than Labour did, and incidentally failed to get the public sector to stop thinking of that as a cut as well as failed to get them to stop hiring for bullshit jobs instead of people who actually provide useful services. You’ve carried on taking money that could have paid down some of the UK’s eye watering debt and handing it to the EU, IMF and international aid, and you’ve continued Labour’s wars at significant cost and embarked on a military adventure of your own. The bonfire of the quangos was at best a barbecue of a handful of them – one of those small barbecues made of thick tinfoil that you get from petrol stations, and for which you probably paid in cash and told the attendant to keep the change from a million quid. And you’ve failed to create growth because you’ve refused to provide the conditions for it to occur. That’s just off the top of my head and I’m sure I could think of more given time and find out more still if I started looking. And here you are scratching your arse – it apparently being interchangeable with your head – and wondering why the plan’s not working.
I’ll tell you why, David. It’s because it’s basically the same fucking plan that Gordon Brown was using, you hopelessly inept cunt. How the hell did Britain come to this? It’s had some dim politicians and not a few dim PMs, but how in Christ’s name did it get landed with you: a PM whose extraordinary dimness must surely result from being so dense that light can’t escape if it falls into his head? It’s not madness that is doing the same thing and expecting different results, it’s stupidity. And that’s actually the generous alternative because if I thought you knew what the fuck you were doing I’d be describing you as evil.
I hate to go all Private Frasier again, but if these fuckwits aren’t dragged out and chained to something solid where they can’t do any harm – the Lusitania for example – I really do think the UK is doomed.
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Mr Cameron supports steps that the eurozone is taking to boost its banks and bailouts funds as part of wider moves towards closer fiscal union in order to avert a European debt crisis that has threatened to plunge the global economy into a slump.
But he fears that regular meetings of the euro’s 17 governments will lead to the creation of a Franco-Greman dominated “caucus” or a bloc that could hijack the EU’s single market for its own ends, damaging the British economy by imposing regulations that benefit Paris or Frankfurt over the City of London.
”There is danger that as the eurozone comes together that those countries outside might see the eurozone start to take decisions on some of the things that are vital to them in the single market, for instance financial services,” he said.
Well, no shit, Dave. So it’d be a really good idea to get the fuck out of there, right? Rather than have your supposedly Eurosceptic Foreign Secretary, Willy the Vague, attacking the idea of consulting the millions of British people who’ve never had a say on Europe along with the smaller number who were consulted and now feel they were misled? So if the Euro block is going to impose damaging regulation then the answer surely is to remove its power over the UK and cancel the standing order that pours vast sums of UK money into the EU black hole. You just need a good excuse, and happily the neighbours have provided one.
”We’re sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro, you didn’t want to join and now you want to interfere in our meetings,” the French leader told Mr Cameron, according to diplomats.
He didn’t even want you in the room, Dave. Not even in the room. Can it be made any clearer for you? But don’t treat it as an insult when Nicky is really doing you and Britain a tremendous favour. The response should be a dignified exit while tossing the phrase “Well, if our money isn’t good enough for you…” over your shoulder on the way out.* Come home, announce a change of mind and policy in the light of the new attitude of the Eurozone to the UK’s participation in helping to rescue it, and say that referendum is very much on the table.
Yes, I realise that there’s a good chance you’ll lose the vote in parliament because your LibDem partners are opposed, and right now Labour would vote against you if you copied every single policy from their own last manifesto. But that could work for you too, do you see? Having been defeated on the issue you could say that the only way Britons could have their say is with a Conservative majority government and call a snap election. Hell, you probably wouldn’t need to actually call an election but just tell the LibDems you’ll go see Mrs W if the vote is lost. They’re unpopular with everyone at the moment and know it, and the last thing they want is an election any time soon where they’d probably lose seats to both the other two main parties. You’d probably also pick up UKIP votes by the bucketload as well. So man up and go for it, Dave. Sarkozy has opened a door a crack for you here, and all you have to do is be willing to kick it hard enough to open it all the way.
But of course this is Call-Me-Dave we’re talking about, a man who has, like the other party leaders, already reneged on a similar promise and so someone I would trust slightly less far on this issue than I could throw a tree.
* Only, point of order: it’s not your fucking money, and don’t you even forget it in your sleep.
… not so busy that I can’t find a few minutes to join in taking the piss out of The Mail for this:
It’s almost like they’re making up the news as they go along or, as Newsthump suggested, from time to time they occupy a parallel universe (a Dacreverse?) in which things happen a bit differently.
The Daily Mail is insisting that it published family reactions and prosecutor quotes to an Amanda Knox verdict that was never delivered due to a brief trip to an alternate universe.
Daily Mail reporter Nick Pisa told us, “It definitely happened, I saw it with my own eyes. There’s was a flash of light and then Amanda Knox was crying, before being taken back to prison – and all the prosecutors were celebrating.”
“I took copious notes and then there was another flash of light.”
“I filed my copy quickly like any good reporter, only to find out that in this universe she was found not guilty. I’m as shocked as anyone.”
Media analysts have suggested that this latest incident points to to the fact that the universe is clearly ganging up on the Daily Mail…
Hopeless knobs, they really are.
UPDATE – see the whole thing in all its glorious failicity over at Max Farquar’s. The cunning bugger screencapped the whole thing before The Fail could take it down. Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha!
And when Taxes come in the form of HMRC they can come all the time, and the Taxmong doesn’t let anything get in the way of demanding money. Especially nothing trivial like not actually being owed any.
A damning report from the Treasury Select Committee said that HMRC had sent letters suggesting that taxpayers’ possessions could be seized and sold to pay their tax debts, and that this had been “completely inappropriate” in some cases.
“These letters appear to have been widely used without sufficent thought to whom they were sent to, even being sent to people who did not actually owe money,” the report said.
That’s about as inappropriate as it gets really, sending demands to people who don’t owe HMRC a penny. I’m afraid I find it all too easy to believe too, since for my first two or three years in Australia I was sent a tax return with the usual threats of fines for not filling it in despite my having told the tax office before I left that I was going and probably for good. Even when, after a number of long distance calls, I’d finally got the damned returns stopped I still kept getting letters at first bollocking me for not paying National Insurance and then almost begging me to start paying again. Admittedly I never had anything threatening property seizure, but having been told by phone and email several times that I didn’t earn anything in Britain and didn’t plan to ever again I’d the Australian residential address they were putting on the envelopes gave them some kind of clueAnd that’s before we even get on to the letters’ contents.
Some of these letters stated that payment was needed “to fund the schools and hospitals we all rely on”…
Oh yeah? That include people with no kids because they can’t afford a family what with all the tax? That include people who’ve taken a good look at the NHS and decided that private medicine is for them? Because typically those people have to keep paying the tax for those services they’re not going to use. What comes around, goes around. Shove the emotional blackmail somewhere dark and at body temperature, and just be bloody honest: governments treat citizens as cash cows and always have, and not only did the last government overspend massively even by the usual standards of government profligacy but the current wasters can’t or won’t stop doing it either. Just put that on the fucking demands that you send out to people who don’t owe you money – at the least there’ll be some who appreciate the honesty.
A spokesman for HMRC, which has been plagued with problems in recent years, said that it had been sending letters to people who owed tax “since the Napoleonic wars”.
Even more inappropriate. Aren’t they all dead? Actually it’s a shame that HMRC isn’t chasing the taxpayers of the early 19th Century – at least those people would find the letters less upsetting and easier to ignore.
The recent problems surrounding PAYE, which resulted in over six million people either being owed tax or owing extra, “have done significant damage to the public perception of HMRC and the tax system more generally”, while the response to telephone calls has been “patchy at best and unacceptable at worst”.
Again, no surprise to me. For about half the years I was on someone’s payroll some part of my PAYE was wrong, invariably meaning I was overpaying, and rather than correct it instantly and send me a cheque for the overpayment the bastards always left it to be corrected with a revised code. I’m shocked but not altogether surprised that they’re still stuffing it up, and six million people has to be what? A fifth of the workforce? If it wasn’t so disgraceful you’d laugh, and they don’t have a lot of comfort to offer.
A spokesman for HMRC said the organisation was doing what it could to make things better. “We know we have a lot more to do to improve our services to customers.”
Customers? I think the word you’re really looking for is ‘victims’, and I’m not just playing the taxation-is-theft record here (though it is). British taxpayers seem to be victims of serial and persistent fuckuperation on the part of HMRC.
“But HMRC is in a much stronger position now than in 2010 and plans to go further.”
And if you’re a UK taxpayer that sentence should chill your soul.
Or possibly Tweet of the Week, on the subject of the comedian that nobody had heard of until the bellend pied Rupert Murdoch.
Last night, Mr May-Bowles’s membership of the Labour Party was suspended and a woman claiming to be his girlfriend posted on Twitter: “Not funny. Not clever. Not your girlfriend.”
Still, calling him a greedy billionaire like that… comic genius, eh?
Did you see that story about the Thai bomb disposal guy who survived a small car bomb going off literally right next to him? Did you see The Telegraph’s article on it? Well, I say article but one glaring error and one weird one make me wonder if it was a copy and paste job from somewhere else on teh interwebs.
The bomb disposal expert despite being lawn away (sic) nearly 10-meters by the explosion, picked himself up and walked away. He was treated for minor injuries.
First the weird one – what the hell does being ‘lawn away’ mean? The car wasn’t moving and so I think we can rule out possible confusion about being mown down, so all that’s left is a conflation of ‘launched’ and ‘lawn’. This doesn’t seem likely to be a typo since the U and W keys are half a keyboard apart but I suppose it could be because the person who wrote it doesn’t speaking and writing the English so goodly, which admittedly might include quite a number of people supposedly educated to
ASBO GCSE standard in Britain over the last decade or two.
Now if that’s the case then it seems like a lousy bit of sub-editing not to have picked that up, but I think it pales almost into insignificance against the truly shithouse example that followed it. Let’s have a look at the poor guy being lawn away nearly ten metres, shall we?
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I do realise that not everyone in the UK knows what a metre is in old money but I would have thought that the fact that we’re talking about ten of them would make most people think that it must be a reasonable distance, right? I mean, if a metre was about the same as a foot that’d mean the guy would have been lawn ten feet away, and since from the pictures it’s clear it wasn’t even that far you’d need to be under the impression that a metre is about 6 or 8 inches. Somehow I doubt that’s a very commonly held belief even among the dafter newspaper sub-editors, which leads me to speculate that in fact the sub-editing just had less awareness and attention to detail than a goldfish on Rohypnol.
Or maybe there wasn’t any sub-editing.
|Is this where The Tele got ten metres from?|
Maybe, not unlike last month’s Bugatti that wasn’t, the online Tele is being padded with content pulled and repackaged from elsewhere on the web, possibly by some very junior hack in a hurry and without much in the way of sub-editing or proofing before being put out on teh interwebs in all its inaccurate glory.
It’d be nice to know which because I was tempted to spend a tenner and treat The Teletubbygraph to one of these to use as a reference the next time someone is lawn any distance through the air.
But if no bugger’s actually checking the content before it goes out I shan’t bother.
UPDATE – Mrs Exile suggests that I should point out that this blog is far from error free, though of course my entire writing, editing and sub-editing staff consists of me, myself and I whereas The Telegraph has… well, who knows exactly, but certainly a lot more than I do. Still, in the interests of fairness I’ll try to remember to say so the next time I lawn into them over something.
>One of the latest lists at Cracked! is 6 Things You Won’t Believe Got Banned By Modern Government. Like similar articles there, such as bizarre taxation or some more things that are banned somewhere, it’s as much a set of reasons why governments really shouldn’t be allowed to do much as it is a piece of internet humour. However, there’s something for Australia to be proud of – not only was the number one banned thing you won’t believe right here in Oz, but in a way it’s kind of good. But for a completely ridiculous and pointless reason of course.
A couple of weeks back I had a rant about the insanity that is allowing governments to sign contracts which extend far beyond the few years of their term and commit both their successors and the poor bastard taxpayers to what may turn out to be a bad deal. The rant was prompted by news that the Wonthaggi desalination plant, a multi-billion dollar project to secure Melbourne’s water supply against drought and which was agreed by the last state government shortly before a particularly rainy year almost doubled the amount of stored water, was at least six months behind schedule because of delays caused by rain. Extra levels of Exile outrage were caused because the bastards were talking about taking legal action against the state because the profit forecast had dropped 98%. My feelings were, and still are, well boo fucking hoo – it was up to bidders to allow for the possibility of bad weather and factor that into their tenders. If the winning bidder failed to do so and is now up shit creek that’s nobody else’s responsibility but their own, and that Premier Ted Baillieu should make this absolutely crystal clear to the company.
It now turns out that it wasn’t an empty threat.
THE companies building Victoria’s multibillion-dollar desalination plant are seeking compensation from taxpayers because of the impact of this year’s floods on construction.
The state government has confirmed that the Aquasure consortium has lodged a ”force majeure” claim under the contentious 28-year contract signed by the former Brumby government in 2009.
Force majeure – French for superior force – refers to an event beyond the control of government or contractor.
This is a new legal term for me, but a quick web search tells me that it’s fairly common clause in contracts that allows for both parties to walk away without there being any liability. It actually sounds rather like the ‘acts of God’ stuff you see in the fine print of your insurance policy and it seems like it’s being used much the same way in this case. Now I’m no lawyer but to me this whole force majeure thing sounds ripe to be abused. To exaggerate the point, why bother doing any due diligence at all when you can just put in a clause saying that the contract is voided if anything happens which you hadn’t thought of? I’m not saying that Aquasure didn’t do any due diligence but clearly they didn’t allow for the possibility of a severe rain delay, and I still don’t see why the financial consequences of that should be borne by the poor bloody taxpayers.
[…] the Brumby government agreed to share the risk for ”act of God” events with Aquasure.
Wonderful. John fucking Brumby yet again.
Now I know that Brumby is hardly unique in this and that lots of governments sign up their taxpayers for all sorts of long term deals of varying degrees or value and shittiness, but isn’t it about time somebody somewhere put the fucking brakes on this?
Baillieu’s government is at least taking the same line I would.
The government is resisting the compensation claim. ”We believe this is a matter for Thiess and its insurers and [we] will not comment further on this as it is a commercial matter under the contract,” said a government spokeswoman in a written statement.
Couldn’t agree more, but it shouldn’t be necessary. As I’ve said here a couple of times we need to have contracts limited to the lesser of a single parliamentary term or halfway through the next parliament unless approved by a referendum. The more the whole Wonthaggi business drags on the more certain I am of it.
UPDATE – In the comments Geo points that force majeure is a legitimate clause in most contracts. I’m prepared to believe that it is but it’s not really the point I was making. You can put whatever you like in a contract as long as it’s legal, and if it’s unacceptable it’s for the other party simply to not sign the thing. My problem is that governments are able to sign up to all sorts of things with costs and effects that far outlast the government and even the political careers of those involved, and that since governments are also known to be a little too free with other people’s money and to pay less attention to details than they might if they personally were going to take the financial hit this is something that ought to be stopped.
As to the validity of the force majeure in this instance, Geo notes that
The unusual rain will almost certainly be accepted by the Adjudicator as a force majeure event if the dispute is not settled.
However, a look at Bureau of Meteorology records for rainfall in the area suggest that the rain wasn’t particularly unusual. Australia is, as Dorothea Mackellar wrote a century ago, a land of “droughts and flooding rains” and so I suspected it might turn out to be unusual for recent years but not out of the ordinary in the medium to long term, but not even that as it turns out. The 2010 rainfall (1131.2 mm, not yet QCd) is above average but isn’t even in the 90th percentile (1153.3 mm) and has been exceeded many times. Even in recent years during the drought (if it really was a drought rather than increased water consumption – I’ll look into that now if I can make time) we’ve had more rain in one year, 2001 (1157.2 mm). 1995 (1379.0 mm) and 1996 (1182.2 mm) immediately preceding the ‘drought’ were both much higher and 1991 (1151.7 mm) was also a wetter year, though the 80s and 70s were drier overall. Nor was 2010 affected by a freak month of really high rainfall since none of the monthly figures were record highs. In addition the proposed site was actually flooded in 2007, two years before the winning bidder was announced, which you’d imagine would have rung some alarm bells. With all that in mind I’d have thought they’re batting a sticky wicket but of course fuck alone knows what the arrogant twats signed us all up to. For all we know we might be on the hook for the fucking lot.
1 -Volunteer to do all the laundry
2 -Thoroughly check the pockets of Mrs Exile’s jeans
3 – Forget to check the pockets of one’s own jeans
4 – Start wash cycle
5 – Lift lid of machine at end of cycle and wonder about presence of clean but very wet $50 note
6 – Remember that a couple more had been put in pocket at the same time
7 – Rummage through wet clothes looking for other $50 notes
8 – Make some remark to wife about what a good job it is that Aussie banknotes are plastic
9 – Dry the wet notes with paper towels
10 – Try to ignore the laughter
That’s apparently how many people entered the UK permanently during the NuLab years. One a minute – boggle.
In principle I’m one of those people the fearsome and ambushily predatory JuliaM refers to as the open borders crowd, and I’m not ashamed. Free movement of goods, money and people across borders is no bad thing at all subject to a couple of important conditions. First, coming for money is fine if it’s money they’re going to work for, but newcomers don’t get to just rock up and get handouts off the local taxpayers. Fuck off. Second, hanging onto your culture is okay but newcomers don’t get to just rock up and order the existing inhabitants about because their own culture doesn’t meet the migrants standards. Fuck off again. Thirdly, and this isn’t so much an issue with the migrants themselves as their countries of origins, it needs to be a two way street. If those conditions aren’t met then open or even reasonably porous are not at a good idea at all.
In recent years Britain hasn’t really met either of the first two conditions and is a bit iffy about the third, and yet we see that the grinning mutation and the snot scoffing madman who took over from him let in as many as four million people in the largest influx in more than a thousand years.
Official figures on Thursday are expected to show up to 5.5 million non-UK born people arrived in the country as long term migrants between 1997 and 2010 – the equivalent of almost one every minute.
Around 2.3 million left over the same period meaning the UK population increased by around 3.2 million as a direct result of foreign migrants.
Plus the illegals, which might be the thick end of another million. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about.
What I want to draw attention to is the effect of me coming to Oz and Bill and Mrs Sticker going to Canada and the other 2,299,997 who all decided for one reason or another to up sticks and fuck off to somewhere better. Most of us will have had little or no expectation of benefits where we were going, which meant that to migrate we needed to bring with us either skills or money or both. In short it seems likely that Britain has exchanged 2.3 million mostly productive people plus their accrued wealth for 5 to 6 million people who, even if they were all too proud to take handouts and preferred to beaver away 16 hours a day, will often have come without a pot to piss in. And of course we know that nothing like all are too proud to take handouts. Meanwhile the Exile and Sticker households are happily contributing to the Australian and Canadian economies having already taken money with us out of the UK economy.
We’ve known for a while that this was not mere incompetence but a deliberate policy, supposedly to speed up the multiculti train wreck and possibly to fill the place up with newly enfranchised voters with a reason to feel grateful to the Labour government. And now we know the numbers too, which must be as bad as anyone suspected and probably even worse. Even I, as a believer in the ideal of open borders for free market and libertarian reasons (as very distinct from the shambolic and politically motivated clusterfuckopalypse that has been the reality), find these figures appalling.
So if, or more likely when, you see a piece in Comment is Moderated saying how Migrationwatch UK have it all wrong and they’re a bunch of heartless right-wing bastards just point out that at least one person who favours the principle of open borders, really really open borders, is utterly horrified by the stupid, lopsided way it’s been implemented by the left to suit their political agenda instead of something vaguely analogous to fucking reality. And point out that he’d be a lot more horrified if he was still there.
Why the Cobbleition are announcing this as if it’s something they’ve just discovered is beyond me.
Almost three million people are employed by local borough councils after an “explosion” in “crazy non-jobs”, the Coalition has claims.
Local authorities have taken on an extra 180,000 workers since 1997, with the total number not employed in traditional front-line roles now standing at almost 750,000, according to ministers.
The Coalition is highlighting the figures at a time when councils are threatening to cut basic services and increase charges because of cuts in central government funding.
All true, but be fair, fellas. The Taxpayers Alliance and various parts of the media and blogosphere have been banging on about this for years. Even now the non-jobs are still being advertised in teh Graun – looking now I find ads for a Prevention Key Worker for an unnamed public sector organisation’s Youth Inclusion and Support Panel, and a Youth Offending Team manager for Pembrokeshire; a heap of assorted research jobs for The Work Foundation, “the leading independent authority on work and its future”; and something called a Change Manager for Essex County Council. I’ve read the job descriptions for all of these and mostly I have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about. The youth stuff sounds like it’s to do with reducing or preventing youth crime, which to me sounds like something the police should be doing with their share of the council tax rather than adding to the bill by getting the council to do it too. While much of the rest is just incomprehensible public sector jobspeak. Here’s The Work Foundation on their requirements for a couple of the research jobs:
Our Ideopolis team is an important source of analysis and advice for the UK’s cities at what is a critical time for their economies.
Through our Bottom Ten Million programme, we investigate policies for labour market disadvantage, and the way cities and government can address in-work poverty and unemployment.
Our Cities 2020 programme focuses in the drivers of urban growth, and how policymakers can help cites thrive in the recovery.
We are seeking talented individuals to work on these exciting programmes. You will have strong qualitative and quantitative researcher skills and an interest in urban issues, labour markets and economic policy. You may already have been working as a researcher in a similar field for a couple of years, have equivalent academic experience or be keen to start your career in research.
We are seeking to develop and grow our already significant reputation for applied research in the area of ‘People Effectiveness’ with appointment of researchers to the team. You will have strong qualitative and/or quantitative applied research skills, and enjoy working on a variety of projects on the People Management agenda, including Health and Wellbeing, Future of HR and Leadership. You will have proven research skills and the ability to collect, interrogate and analyse data. Working in a lively and provocative programme that is looking at trends, not only in the UK but internationally, you will have a keen interest in the world of work and a desire to influence both policy and practice.
And here’s the guff about Essex’s Change Manager job:
You’ll play a crucial role in ensuring the changes we make are successful and sustainable. Uniquely, you’ll work across services – you’ll be a key member of the Transformation Unit, but you’ll also sit within a core business area undergoing change or re-design. Throughout the transformation process, you’ll be responsible for preparing the teams there for the impact of the improvements. Both leading and facilitating change, you’ll be required to work closely – and engagingly – with directors and managers, and a wide range of other people. You’ll support the business in developing change tools, lead change review meetings and provide strategic advice and support on processes, people and practice to key stakeholders. In short, you’ll make sure everyone is ready, willing and able to embrace change, and help make these improvements happen. You’ll enjoy a variety of unique challenges across multiple complex projects.
Passionate about achieving results and responsive to customer needs, you’re a bold thinker with a motivational and supportive approach. Educated to degree level, or with equivalent experience, you are a highly motivated individual with demonstrable drive and relevant knowledge. You have a track record of good experience and proven skills across the management of change, people, resources and projects / programmes. And it’s vital that you’re confident working with a wide variety of people.
When we realised that change was coming in the public sector, we acted fast. Our response was to embed an unprecedented transformation agenda – one with the scope and ambition to reach every part of the council. Our plan was to drive improvement across the council, at every level and in every department. In the way we think, the way we work, and the ways in which we deliver our services. We’ve made remarkable progress so far, but there is much more to do. This is why we need you.
See? Perfectly normal and understandable words artfully arranged into gibberish. If Essex Council is unable to explain what the Change Manager will actually do for the £35,500 to £59,500 they’re prepared to pay then how can anyone, especially residents of Essex, know that this isn’t yet another expensive make-work position being funded from the taxes of people who fucking work for a living?* And of course the crowning turd in the water pipe, to use General Melchett’s legendary phrase, is that town clerks are still calling themselves CEOs and, despite cuts, still being paid more than the Prime Minister of the whole bloody nation (and, yes, that’s in teh Graun jobs section at the moment too). Not that I’d go to bat for Cameramong and his pay packet but the idea that a town clerk with a flash job title is worth more is incredible.
And what are the Cobbleition doing about it now they have, after nine months in office, noticed this?
Bob Neill, the local government minister, said: “These figures reveal the explosion in town hall jobs and bureaucracy under Labour and reinforce the need for some councils to start cutting out middle management.”
Yes, but what are you actually doing about it?
“Crazy non-jobs like cheerleading development officers and press officers tasked with spinning propaganda on bin collections provide no value to the public.”
Yes, but what are you actually doing about it?
“Getting rid of the bloated bureaucracy that has grown in some elements of local government will ensure local authorities can protect front-line services.”
Okay, so are you actually going to do anything about it?
Yesterday, ministers seized on Liverpool city council’s decision to advertise three highly paid “non-jobs” on a day when it was announcing job cuts in other areas.
They were for a director of regeneration and employment on a salary of “up to £140,000”; an assistant director of adult services on £90,000 a year; and an assistant director for supporting communities, also on £90,000 a year.
Are you actually able to do anything about it?
Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, is demanding that…
Wait a minute? What happened to local government minister Bob Neill? Look, if Bob’s simply going to leave it to Eric do we even need Bob? Why is there a Local Government minister and a Communities and Local Government Secretary? I spy an opportunity for savings, gents. Anyway, carry on.
Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, is demanding that councils “put their own house in order” before considering cuts to the front line.
He wants chief executives to take pay cuts, claiming that those on a salary of £150,000 can afford to take a five per cent cut, and those on £200,000 can afford a 10 per cent reduction.
This week it was disclosed that 220 town hall executives received a higher salary than the Prime Minister’s £142,500 a year.
At least 26 chief executives earned more than £200,000 last year and 1,000 council officials more than £100,000.
Oh dear. Apparently we need to ask Eric what we were just asking Bob. What the fuck, if anything, are you actually going to do about it?
Mr Pickles has also seized on figures showing that more than 15,000 council workers earn more than £58,000 a year. He is about to force local authorities to publish a list of the staff earning that level and above.
The Communities Secretary has published a new code of local government transparency to ensure that taxpayers can “look under the bonnet of their council” and see where town hall chiefs are spending their money.
Oh, Christ. It’s like Labour never left, isn’t it? Did you feckless twats dream up that yourselves or did one of your departmental Sir Humphreys reach into a drawer and dust off a plan drawn up for John Prescott a decade ago, itself possibly a redraft of something knocked out in John Major’s or even Thatcher’s time?
Look, if you really want this shit to stop then NuLab style edicts and codes of conduct are not the way. Surely you understand this simple truth when you yourselves point out that for the last dozen or so years public sector productivity has gone down as that of the private sector has gone up, while at the same time public sector wages have risen and overtaken those of the private sector. Christ, having a Local Government department at all is a NuLab idea – they created the bloody thing in the first place. Doesn’t this give you a clue as to how things have got to where they are? Doesn’t it hint that the creation of jobs, departments and functions that didn’t exist 15 years ago because they were not and still are not needed is the root of the problem? New codes of transparency and repeated demands for the lunacy to end are not going to cut it. Either you order the councils to stop buggering about, which probably means little short of virtually disbanding them and micromanaging everything from Whitehall, or just give them all the rope they want and let them hang themselves.
Seriously, if you want them to stop wasting money just give all local council and authorities full control over their budget. Stop interfering with what they want to spend money on and stop feeding them money from central funds. Tell them you’re going to scrap all the central government grants – not to mention NuLab’s unneeded local government department that the Cobbleition have retained against all reason, which will be yet another saving** – and reduce tax accordingly, and that from the next financial year councils will be free of government interference and able to raise the revenue they think they need in whatever ways they see fit. Then sit back and watch what happens (from the back benches).
After some initial wild jubilation reality will dawn as councils suddenly realise they’ll no longer have both the chequebook and the scapegoat of Westminster to fall back on, and will actually have to raise council tax and other local charges to politically suicidal levels if they wish to keep things going as they are. Massive piles of bricks will be shat in town halls across the land as the implications sink in. The majority of council funds come from Westminster which means if the taps were shut off councils would need to increase revenue their own sources, and suddenly the increasingly tricky job of justifying stuff like this
Among the jobs that have been spawned by the boom in “non-jobs” were a “bouncy castle attendant” on a salary of £13,000 at Angus council in Scotland and a “cheerleading development officer” in Falkirk.
to local voters gets even harder. Oh, sure, you can tell them that they’re no worse off really. You can point out that the tax they pay to the government has fallen by roughly the same amount as local taxes have risen and that overall they’re not any worse off. But the problem is perception. Councils spend about 25% of the public sector’s total and get about three quarters of their money from the government, which means taxpayers will get about a 25% reduction in taxes to central government. But they’ll probably barely notice that when the money they have to pay the council in council tax, car parking charges, business rates and so on will have to quadruple. Just keeping things that way will be a tough sell – creating even more bullshit jobs will be harder still. And the government will be able to stand back and tell angry council tax payers that it’s not its responsibility any more, and that if they’re not happy being bled white they should use the opportunity of the next local election to vote for people who will make it stop.
It’s a nice dream but sadly it requires ministers with the balls to abolish their own departments and their own jobs, and a PM who’s not afraid to cede both power and responsibility to the people at the sharp end. In other words David Cameron would probably have to put someone like Douglas Carswell in charge with instructions to be back on the back benches inside six months. Instead what we can expect is more talking and talking and talking from people like Eric Pickles and Bob Neill.
The King put it this way: it ain’t satisfactioning anybody. And it’s not helping get the rubbish collected either.
UPDATE – there’s one here who was getting more than half a million.
Phil Dolan, 54, received £569,000 of taxpayers’ money in salary, pension and redundancy payments after leaving his post as chief executive of South Somerset district council. He is now acting as a consultant for other local authorities.
Two other executives at the tiny council also received more than £300,000 each in salary, pension and severance payments last year.
It means every resident of the district paid the equivalent of £7 in council tax last year just to fund the three men’s pay packages. Taken together, the payments represent the most dramatic example of local government largesse yet to be exposed.
* I imagine the Ambush Predator will be taking a whetstone to those fangs.
** This department has government jobs for no fewer than five MPs and a member of the Lords, on top of which there are two more in each of the corresponding departments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I’m not even going to annoy myself by trying to find out how many people the departments employ.