Friday, 24 October 2008
As well as a story in the Sun (can't link, it crashes my computer still), we've been in the Mail, Telegraph and on the Beeb as well as interviews with various outlets in New Zealand (which our Club President loved as they all had to be done at about 4am). Their attitude is particularly telling describing the NZ RFU as being completely OTT.
In the linked story, a 39 year old mother is not allowed to buy a bottle of vodka because her 13 year old son is woth her. Twenty minutes later, her husband goes to buy the drink (which is for them, not the child) and is also refused.
I have had a similar experience when I was buying beer in Tescos and someone I was with was asked for ID. When they could not produce it, I was refused service. In this case, the person was 22.
I am fully in favour of proper enforcement of the law on underage sales, but this is ridiculous. If taken to a perfectly logical extreme, the couple in the linked story should not be allowed to buy alcohol for another 9 years because it might be for their children.
And yet the law is also confused. It is perfectly legal for parents to give alcohol to their children at home. Indeed, many argue it is perfectly sensible for parents to teach children about safe alcohol consumption in this way. So how to define the difference between buying alcohol for them and giving some to them? Is there a set proportion defined in law?
Whatever happens, Tesco need to get their act together if they don't want to lose more customers.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
It all stems from the use of the words 'All Blacks'.
LRFC have been known as the Cornish All Blacks since they were formed in 1948. In those days of austerity, finding complete matching sets of rugby kit was very difficult and expensive. The players of the newly formed club therefore sought to produce matching kit from whatever was available. Some players took other kits and dyed them to a uniform colour and black was the easiest to match. Others made kit out of blackout curtains. The nickname Cornish All Blacks was coined at that time and has been the nickname of the club ever since. I have yet to come across anyone who has mistaken the two teams but the New Zealand RFU are objecting to LRFC's move to trademark the 'Cornish All Blacks' name to stop people from counterfeiting our kit. They have threatened to sue us.
It's interesting to note that the New Zealand national team became known as the ‘New Zealand All Blacks’ during a tour to the UK and a match in Cornwall when a pressman mistakenly referred to the visitors as the ‘All Blacks’ rather than the intended ‘All Backs’ in reference to all their points being scored by their back division.
The Cornish All Blacks are a community based club in
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Katona was repeatedly asked by host Philip Schofield about her slurred speech.
A week ago, Jonathan Ross interviewed actor Colin Farrell on his Friday night show. Farrell looked to me as though he was as high as a kite, twitching and jumping and failing to keep up his end of the conversation.
Whilst the BBC seems happy to run 'news' stories questioning whether ITV should have allowed Katona to appear in the state she was, they seem not to have noticed Farrell's appearance.
I'm now going to have a dig at the MORI poll out today which shows a 13% swing between Labour and Conservatives. Last month - Tory 52, Labour 24. This month - Tory 45, Labour 30. As PB argues - still a massive Tory lead, but a huge shift.
The reason why there should be such a shift is sort of understandable. A month ago Labour was in no end of turmoil. Brown had not yet has his successful conference and he had yet to usurp Sarkozy and the Swedes as the man with the plan for saving the world. So perfectly normal that people should change their minds you would think.
But here is what is bothering me. The MORI polling method includes just people who are certain to vote. To my mind, that would tend to narrow down the number of switchers. People who are less certain to vote, so my argument goes, are more likely to be flexible about which party to support and more likely to persuasion by political fortunes. Sure, there will be some for whom the civic duty of voting is absolute, but I feel there are many more who are certain to vote because they are certain they will always vote for a certain party.
Which brings me onto my biggest gripe with pollsters. Their refusal ever to say sorry. Every poll they have ever carried out is right, they will argue. You and I know that this cannot be right. Polls on the same day point to wildly different vote shares. Yet the pollsters, even in retrospect, will argue that their own poll showed what people were thinking at the time (no possibility of discovering the truth of course).
Of course the methodology suggests that 95% of polls should be accurate to within 3% (depending on sample size, but this figure is based on the usual size of just over a thousand). That means that one in twenty will be out by more than 3%. They are 'rogue polls'. Yet to ever infer that a particular poll might be a rogue is to invite threats of legal action (I know, I've been there). Yet you will never hear pollsters admitting which of their polls might have fallen into this category. Even when you look back the accumulated polls of all firms stretching back over a considerable period and see an unexplained outlier. Nope, says the pollster, that was wht people were thinking at the time. They just changed their minds straight after.
I'm not, of course, suggesting that the current or previous MORI polls are rogues. But it would be nice occasionally to hear pollsters admitting which they got wrong.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
So you don't think he is the best person to become Lib Dem President. Ok - your opinion.
So you want to write (occasionally) amusing stories on the ineptness of the start of his campaign. Once again, fair enough.
But it is perhaps a little over the top to castigate the man for failing to answer your questions.
First - the questions aren't exactly neutrally phrased. And Lembit could probably expect that the answers would be brutally fisked. Solution - don't offer up ammunition.
Second - you have shown you're not entirely pro Lembit. You don't have to be, of course, but I can think of far better things for Team Lembit to do with their time than spend it answering your questions.
I'm not on anyone's campaign team and haven't publicly declared who I have voted for (and I won't). I happen the think that any of the three candidates could offer something positive. I'm not really in a position to bemoan negative campaigning, but I do get a ittle hacked off with a blog which is becoming more hatchet job than anything else as regards the Presidential election.
Monday, 20 October 2008
What if Gordon Brown has not buried the hatchet with Mandelson?
What if he has not brought the twice resigned Prince of Darkness back into the Cabinet because of his desperate need to appeal to Blairites, his need to have the best talents and biggest names on board and a desire to have Mandy in place for the election campaign?
What if, instead, the move is actually part of a very clever revenge plot?
Mandelson has resigned twice from the Cabinet already, both times for 'scandals'. He is hardly in a position to resign again and keep any credibility whatsoever (yeah, I know that's what people thought last time but bear with me). And if he did resign again then he could hardly expect Brown to give him an important job overseas like his mate Tony did. And Cameron is even less likely.
So Mandelson is in a bit of a parlous position. Just the sort of position that Brown wants him to be in. Let's call that position 'The Stocks'. Why? Well what happened to people in the Stocks? People threw all sorts of shit at them. That's what. And I nominate Gordo and his proxies as those with the biggest piles of shit that they need to get rid of. So why not chuck them at the bloke in the stocks who you all detest anyway - no matter that he is supposedly on your side.
Actually, I don't think Brown is positively aiming to get Mandy to resign - at least not immediately - but he won't shed too many tears if and when he does go. 'Couldn't cut it' will be the refrain. But while Mandelson is there, then he is bound by collective responsibility and he'll have to take the flak for all that is going wrong with the business world.
Note that Brown is trying to separate the economy from business. The economy was doing perfectly fine, masterminded by the greatest brains in the world. People were enjoying the good times with their wealth (on paper) skyrocketing because of the house price inflation bubble. Why, even people north of Watford were benefitting to some degree. But those nasty business people - short sellers and bonus culture bankers, particularly in the USA - ruined it for everybody.
So the rescue plan from the world's saviour shows that our PM is back to his economic brilliant best (never mind that the rest of the world calls it the Sarkozy plan and it actually originated in Sweden). And all the continuing problems are to ba associated with 'business' and laid squarely at the door of the Business Secretary to answer.
Sunday, 19 October 2008
The people, like last week's hunters in New Hampshire and this week's dancing gigolos in Florida are fun and deserve far more space to show themselves off.
And just how rough did Mr Fry look today?
Friday, 17 October 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
It now appears that as 'informed investors' local authorities will not have their deposits guaranteed in the same way that individuals will. So Cornwall is set to possibly lose £5 million and other counciles the same or more.
Should Cornwall and other authorities be putting money into banks like Landsbanki?
Well, they should certainly be putting their money somewhere. They get huge amounts of council tax money and government funding paid to them and it then trickles out through the course of the year. Far better to put it in the bank earning interest than stuff it under the proverbial mattress.
They should also be looking to earn a decent return rather than simply settling for the lowest rate of interest on the high street. But here is the crux. With higher rates of return comes an element of risk. I suppose, at least theoreticlly, they could play with these funds on the money markets. But the risk that they might lose the lot and not be able to pay for services is clearly one that no sensible council could take.
Ironically, it is by spreading the risk through putting the funds into a range of different financial institutions that they opened themselves up to this loss.
But equally, if they had put all their money in one particular high street bank - HBOS - then they could be seen as playing safe and yet still lose the lot.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
I have a real problem with this decision for a number of reasons:
- I think democracy is worth paying for. The Government's view that all money must be scrimped and saved is wrong-headed. Sure, let's cut back on un-necessary spending, but it is worth spending a few extra quid on ballot safety, for example. It is also worth paying to avoid...
- Voter confusion. If you combine Euro and local elections onto the same day then what messages are people going to receive about the campaign? Through their doors they may receive a modicum of Euro literature and quite a bit of local election stuff, but only if they live in a target ward. The TV and radio will only be talking about the Euro polls and so the debate will be on the duo of misleading subjects - straight bananas and a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (a treaty that is already dead as other have pointed out). I would like to see people voting on the basis of the elections that are actually happening. This is difficult enough when many people just want to give Brown a kicking, but almost impossible when UKIP - who are likely to stand virtually no local election candidates - are part of every debate and there is no reference to local polls. In Cornwall, we will have elections for the new Unitary Council. These are going to be tricky enough (for both voters and parties) without being muddled with the EU elections.
- Extended terms. I'm a believer in fixed term parliaments. I am also therefore in favour of fixed council terms. The ability of the Government to mess around with polling days at a whim (this is NOT the same as the foot and mouth postponement) runs contrary to that principle.
- By moving local election date to June, they appear to dismiss local elections as being of minor importance. This appears especially to be the case for County (and unitary) elections. County councils have not taken priority in terms of elections for the past 15 years. On every occasion since then the Government has decided that the General Election should fall on the same day. Fair enough in those cases because we do not have fixed terms Parliaments. But to arbitrarily subjugate the County elections yet again makes a mockery of these polls. It's a silly point, but did they ever think about the possibility of asking the EU to bring forward the Euro-polls?
- This decision will allow developers and others to get away with murder. It is bad enough during normal elections, but in early April the County and all six district councils will simply cease to be. The new Unitary Authority in Cornwall will take over responsibility with no democratic control. Canny developers and licensees will time their applications so that the Council will have to make a decision when there can be no oversight by elected people. The default option for the council officers will have to be to allow anything dubious or risk huge costs awards from the courts. Although not likely to be hit by this hiatus, there are set to be applications in the near future for a speedway track in Bodmin and for vast developments in Newquay (as well as the potential for lap-dancing applications). I'm not saying any of these are necessarily good or bad, but they should have democratic oversight.
It's a bad decision and the Liberal Democrats should vote against it.
They have a picture on file of a Qantas jet, but how to make it more dramatic?
Easy. Crop the picture so you just have the tail section with the distinctive kangaroo and then tilt it so it looks like the jet has crash landed.
The only giveaway is the building in the background which also appears to be on a dramatic slope.
Get your act together Auntie.
(As readers will know, I only use photos here which I have taken or which I have specific permission to publish. As this is a case of direct critique, the use is justified under copyright law)
Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael and David Heath all fell out with the Party line when they were told to abstain on the EU referendum vote but voted in favour of a referendum - alongside 12 of their colleagues. They were forced to resign from the shadow cabinet as a result.
With the recent cabinet changes announced by Gordon Brown, this gave Nick Clegg the chance to reshuffle his team. Steve Webb has moved to cover the new Energy and Climate Changeministry and Tim Farron takes on the farming and Environment brief. Alistair Carmichael returns to voer Scotland and Northern Ireland and David Heath will head up a new Commission on Privacy - presumably looking at ID cards, data loss and so on.
In other changes, Sarah Teather moves from BERR to Housing - superficially perhaps a demotion, but Housing is a key campaigning area for the Party whereas BERR is not - especially when you are always having to play second fiddle to Vince. So I reckon she has gone up in the world (insert height related joke here). John Thurso will take over the Business brief.
I have to say that I am very glad that this has happened. I declare an interest in that I have been a friend of Tim Farron since long before he became an MP and think that he will rise far in the Party (so long as he holds off those pesky Tories).
Friday, 3 October 2008
Some will see this reshuffle as shifting the deckchairs on the Titanic. My view is that he wants to prove that the overall situation is so bad that it is not his fault that the Economy is going down the tubes. By bringing in the likes of Beckett and Mandelson he is aiming to show that even the Blairites could do no better. One question is - did he try to convince Prezza to come back?
One line from Des Browne that stands out is this (quote from the BBC):
Mr Browne is to leave the government, the BBC has learned. He was offered another job but he felt it would be an insult to the armed forces to leave as defence secretary but take another job.Hmm. Nice spin but perhaps the armed forces are delighted to see the back of yet another Defence Secretary who failed to provide them with the vision and the quipment to allow them to do their job properly. To be sacked from the Defence job - even if offered another - is a comdenation of the individual and not of the services. I really don't think they would have viewed it as worse if he had taken whatever role was offered to him.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
Apparently this might be serious enough to see him suspended (we will wait with bated breath). But your force refusing to investigate arson, burglary, theft, muggings, threats of rape and so on is not. Neither is officers running round the streets shooting unarmed and innocent by-standers.
Beggars can't be choosers. So long as he goes.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Do the Tories really believe that the Police should be able to shoot first and never answer questions?
What Grieve appears to say is that the Police should not have had to face a Health and Safety prosecution for the de Menezes case.
In a way, I agree. I think that the use of Health and Safety law appears a bit desperate when you are dealing with something as serious as the killing by the State of a completely innocent man. I would far rather see the prosecution of the officers who pulled the triggers if they are culpable or (as appears more the case here) the prosecution of Police Commanders personally for negligence.
The 'breach of Health and Safety' route was clearly not seen as a major failure by the Met as absolutely no-one has had to go as a result of their guilty verdict. It is quite clear that they see this matter as nothing serious.
(However, as they also appear to feel that burglary, theft, threats of rape, assault and arson are not serious enough to be worth investigating it's a wonder we bother with them at all.)
So I think that the Health and Safety prosecution route should be changed.
But I suspect that Mr Grieve has other reasons for wishing to see a change in the system. I imagine that his piece of populist rubbish was actually seeking to make the case for not subjecting the Police to any of the controls of the law where they can bring the word 'terrorism' into play.
After all, if you are innocent, you have nothing to worry about, have you?