Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Legalise Drugs NOW!

I was delighted to see that even policemen across the globe are coming round to the position I adopted 20 or more years ago that drugs should be legalised.
Quite apart from the approx. £5billion a year that it costs the NHS to deal with the problems drugs presently create, there is the small matter of something approaching a further £10billion in thefts to fund the habit.
Yes there are issues of eg people craving more.
Yes there are moral issues ( but on the other hand, free will disctates that if we want to screw up our lives we are entitled so to do)
But it seems to me that the present situation is very akin to the way people looked at gin in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Lots of people never touched the stuff, but vaste swathes of poorer people in particular spent large parts of their lives in a stupor. Recognise the similarity? There was a huge move to ban gin ( remember Prohibition a hundred and odd years later- great succes that was), but it was taxed more and more heavily by successive governments, until the problem - never solved - became bearable.In a democracy, you can't have very high percentages of the population openly disobeying the law. By definition, if enough people want it, then it becomes de facto legal.
I accept that rich people use drugs too - but why should they not help finance the NHS and government?
As with all things in life, it is the will that counts. I was interested to read recently of a valley in America that had been flooded 70 odd years ago to create hydro power and supply water. Now there is a move to let the valley bloom again. There is clearly a very strong "green" move for this, but the politicians are also beginning to think it might not be a bad idea. It will cost billions.
But as a spokesman said, " If we have the will, the money is not a problem."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baroness Kennedy and the Truth

I had an extremely excellent evening yesterday at the Glasgow University Chancellor's dinner.
The speaker was Helena Kennedy, who spoke refreshingly and, one has to assume, with real truth as opposed to spin.
The reason I say this is that her speech largely consisted of an aoplogy for Tony Bliar and his conduct of government since 1997.
She made the point that whereas he had said that as a government they should listen to the people, reply honestly, and not conduct cynical exercises in political expediency.
She said that people wanted a strong government, a strong economy, and safety at home and abroad.
Sadly, NONE of these things had happened. Laws were no longer made democratically, and tended to be mere cosmetics. There was no time to debate them properly. The government used pathetically hyped " Big Conversations" to give the impression that it was listening and then did whatever it wanted in the first place. Principle had seeped away from the government and into quote"money given in unacceptable ways".
She was also involved in the commission looking at ways of reforming the House of Lords. Interestingly, she said the overwhelming feedback was for an elected assembly BUT with a range of capabilities, not just politicians, ie there should be businessmen, doctors, dentists etc etc,a House of ALL the Talents as it were.
Young people have been turned off by Bliar's spin. They are entirely capable of seeing through the non-answers, and the sound-bites, in a way that perhaps their parents were not capable of. Bliar had had a huge chance in 1997, which he has completely ruined, and possibly ruined the United Kingdom as we know it as well.
She finished up by saying that Truth HAD to return to the centre of politics, as otherwise Democracy - already in crisis - would end up being so devalued that only small pressure groups would be involved in formulating and managing policy.
What an excellent speech. Weirdly, it also encompasses very much Tory values and beliefs, but ,in a strange way, the true Socialist has always believed in respect and progress, however much he/she objected to inequality.
I think she should ditch her peerage ( honestly earned) and fight GB for the leadership. She would get my vote any day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sorry, Sorry

OK, it's not an apology. It's Deep Sorrow. As Catherine Tate's Gran would say " Wot a Facking Liberty"

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Apologise? What did we do?

So Bliar has finally " apologised " for Britain's role in slavery.
Of course, this is not something any of us have been involved in for over 200 years, but that doesn't stop him doing it. Oh, no, but it is , naturally, a cynical political ploy. Who are the strongest Labour voter block, who change least? Black and Afro-Caribbean.
So go back a bit. Who actually banned slavery first? Britain, both in the UK and throught the Empre and Colonies, did.
Who enforced a blockade to stop slave ships at both sides of the Atlantic? Britain did.
Who released slaves from Spanish ,Portuguese , Dutch & French ships, when intercepted? Britain did.
When did that Great Democracy stop slavery? Nearly SIXTY YEARS after Britain - and then enforced a different kind until well within living memory.
Every other European country ( not to mention Africa, Arabia,China,Russia - you name it) continued slavery - even for some of their own people - long after Britain stopped. And some still enforce it today.
So let's celebrate the fact we were the first to limit and stop it.
And don't give us a load of crap that is merely yet another cynical political stunt.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Call me cynical...

Just back from a quick trip to Northern France, which was most pleasant as - being overseas - I was allowed a small libation.
What was I doing? Yes, indulging in that great passion of mine - looking to buy a house in France.
And,no, I didn't find one.
Still,that's par for the course - I haven't been doing this for nearly 40 years without making sure I don't have to stop! I'm quite sure I shall still be doing it immediately prior to pegging it. There is little more alluring prospect that driving around nice places, eating good food, and drinking delicious wines.
But whilst I was away, there was a report that something like 800,000 Brits now own houses abroad. That is terrifying. It means only one thing. Property prices overseas are about to crash. When a very ordinary 3 roomed property in a small town in Northern France is confidently expected to fetch £150,000, the world collectively is insane. I can still buy 2 flats in Glasgow for that, and if I really try and am prepared to do some work, I can probably get 3.
And have an income of £1500 per month.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Whilst in Kelvingrove, I came across a sign which read
and in brackets underneath ( Female toilets).
I do hope not.

Thirst for knowledge

I had a very pleasant weekend, being visited by friends from Ireland. It was, of course, accompanied by much jollity on all sides and a modicum of alcoholic refreshment by all parties except myself.
Part of the programme included a visit to the newly refurbished Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.
I was delighted to find my old friend Sir Roger the elephant still there - truth to tell he couldn't be taken out so they surrounded him with an enormous packing case and left him in situ. Only in Glasgow, however, would they have left a hole in the side of the packing case, so they could look in from time to time to make sure he was still there.
The whole building is sparkling , light and airy. The vast arrays of stuffed animals have been put away, but the remaining exhibits have been themed ( Biggest clam shell/ tallest animal/ largest /smallest egg. etc etc) which is pointed and interesting.
The paintings are superbly displayed, and the Salvador Dali has been repositioned so one comes across it either round a corner, which blows you away, or along a corridor, which makes it grow on you.
The most interesting display, however, was of the great Glasgow exhibitions of 1888 and 1901. They were of such a scale that whole trains were exhibited, and the visitors were in the millions - the last day alone in 1901 had 173,000 visitors.
What was the cost to the people of Glasgow or the Government?
No, it wasn't like the Dome, Wembley, the NHS IT debacle, or, indeed, anything else this Government meddles in.
They were ready in advance. They were constructed under budget.They were organised and run by private committees. And they made a profit. In fact, the 1888 exhibition made so much money that they were able to build the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum from the proceeds.
Now two things occurred to me - apart from the obvious. The first was that the people in Local Government at the time we are talking about were NOT politicians as we know them today. They were businessmen who wanted to give something back to their communities. And by God they did - as the Tempest tells us, true freedom consist in service.
And the second was, both exhibitions had an enormous educative effect. Whilst the Dome had interactive games and drivel, the Glasgow exhibitions showed enterprise, proper science and business, and people yearned to get on and learn more about their world and what the future might be.
Jump forward to 1988, and the Glasgow Garden Festival had a success as well, largely because it did not try to pander to the lowest common denominator, but to maintain an assumption of a certain level of intelligence.
I know I have been stressing the Education Education Education a bit of late, but this is the same theme. We are dropping our belief in levelling up, because it's easier to level down to meet the targets. There shouldn't BE targets, there should be standards - and if you don't get the standard, go back and learn it againEducation is there to bring enlightenment to the less advantaged. It is NOT there just to keep the kids occupied whilst Mum and Dad are at work - that's if they aren't playing truant. You may remember there was a truancy czar some time ago. Yes, well, haven't heard much of him recently.
So in 1888, even the poorest and most disadvantaged came to see what was what, and they turned up at school, and suffered the tawse ( better than mum or dad being sent a letter by the domine) and LEARNED.
And in case you think you didn't need to know much in the shipyards, coal mines and engineering works that made Glasgow great, you would be very wrong.
Because the cildren and people of 1888 KNEW that if they learned they could "Get on".
Can we say the same today?

Friday, November 10, 2006


Whoever " anonymous migsuk" is on Guido is as daft as Kaletsky.
The judgements supposedly made under John Major have nothing to do with the present pensions problem.
This is down to two things only - GB stealing billions ( add it up - he's kept more than £100b) and the new pensions regime Nulabour put in place which required utterly insane assumptions to be used to calculate liabilities.
This forced the pension funds to flog off billions and billions of equities at the bottom of the slump and buy Government stock when interest rates were low. What has happened now, with this new, caring attitude? Er, as interest rates rise, bond and gilt prices decline. So the pension funds have had a double whammy - no rise from equities and a drop from gilts.So don't pretend it was anything to do with BT ( before Tone) - like everything thing else he and his idiots have touched they have ruined a perfectly good system.
I added this to a story Guido had about GB being on News 24 today. That man has stolen more money than any other in the history of the UK, and pissed it up against more useless walls than anyone can imagine.
By shear luck he came in after Major had done nothing for a few years which made the UK economy the strongest in Europe, and even Brown's meddling and mendacity has not been able to destroy it completely. Sainsbury jumping ship today is only the start - I predict a bloodbath before Christmas, as the pygmies and rats attempt to escape the ship as they begin to see where this appalling Government is headed - the rocks.


I was in London at an international trade fair over the last couple of days and - apart from being unutterably bored by the whole thing and astonished at the sums of money lavished on the show - I was delighted by one insight.
The organisers had set up several computers at various points around the hall, and there was forever a queue to get onto one.
I drifted past a couple of times, trying to judge a good time with not too long to wait. I stopped and waited when I saw two tall ebony-black Masai warriors in their exquisite multicoloured wraps logging on to the internet.
What a fantastic sight! There they stood with gold earrings sparkling against their black skin, dressed in a scarlet wrap with white zig-zags, Googling some information.
If that's what globalisation means, I'm all for it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wouldn't it be nice...

Well actually it IS nice. Our friends in the Labout Party have stopped shilly shallying and " have responded in a positive way" to Danny Dewsberry.
The terms of the deal are secret, but I'm sure they benefit Danny, quite apart from the exposure he will have had for his expertise!
So the blogospere triumphs. Onwards!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Home to roost..

Today may well be the day that the country as a whole falls out of love with NuLabour.
This sounds incredibly sweeping, but it is always the straw that breaks a camel's back, not the first ton or two.
In this case, it's all to do with Hazel Blears and her lot not paying a poor student for work they asked him to do.
Danny Dewsbury - he of the poor student tendency - even had to resort to a lawyer's letter to get just over 60% of his expenses that Blear's factotum had agreed to pay. My own view is that £395 to create what appears to be an excellent semi-documentary is peanuts, but then, that doesn't include time, equipment etc etc, all supplied for free by Danny.
Back to the camel.
Danny is a student with some £13,000 of debt. As far as I know, none of the Labour Front bench had any of the now ubiquitous Student Debt. They, of course, benefitted from the good old fashioned education system we used to have, whereby people could actually get an education and, if bright enough, go on to get a degree - for free.
Not now. Apart from the general dumbing down and degrading of exams and degrees, it also costs money. This has to be the one domestic result of Labour's period in power that people will remember longest and object to most. You can argue about crime, about immigration, about Iraq, or the Health Service, but the one area that EVERYONE in the country is affected by is education.
So that's why I say it could be the final straw.
Danny's story encapsulates all that is worst about Nulabour. Debt traded against education. Broken promises. Spin.
And at the end a " Hey, let's move on" and complete disregard for the individual.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Education Education Education

Thus Tony Blair's 1997 mantra.
I hardly need labour this point - he didn't. He has effectively ruined the University system in this country, and very nearly utterly destroyed upward mobility for the underprivileged. He and his cronies are the products of the system his political heavyweight forebears put in place to HELP people. Now, we have a system that is completely and utterly failing at all levels. Even potential students are shunning the offer of a place at University as they KNOW it won't get them anything more than they can get by working.
All this was underpinned today by Lord Archer on Andrew Marr. Apparanetly, if you opt for "Education" in Prison, you get £8 per week.
Anything else - laundry, loo cleaning etc - you get £12 per week.
As with so much else ( better tax breaks for single mothers as opposed to married couples springs to mind) Blair and Brown have undermined and betrayed not only this country but their own professed beliefs.
'Nuff said.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Venal, shifty, mendacious and cheapskates to boot.

You've probably never heard of Danny Dewsbury. In essence, he asked if he could make a film of the members of the LabourParty at their conference. He was told yes, and we ( the Labour Party) will pay expenses.
Danny - like so many students - owes about £13,000, so getting back his expenses would be good. He provided his own camera, lighting etc etc and made a good film ( see it on YouTube) which the party hacks chopped about to get rid of the embarassing bits. They then used it for their own propaganda - and didn't pay him the expenses.
So a group - including Croydonian, PragueTory and others - is getting a fund together to repay him for his efforts.
Quite rightly, Danny has sent the unedited version to The Daily Mail, which shows eg Hazel Blears having four attempts to introduce herself.
No only venal etc etc, but stoopid too.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Into the sear, the yellow leaf....

Those of you with a theatrical bent ( no aspersions cast) will know this comes from King Lear. In case you don't know he has three daughters like me - or vice versa.
Anyway, I have been feeling somewhat like Lear the last couple of days, sleeping almost not at all and enjoying, if that is the right word, 2am and 3am cups of tea.
Last night was no exception, but the quiet that surrounds that time of night is extremely pleasant.
I was able to reflect on the continuing spiral dowawards of our society, highlighted today by the reports on 4 million CCTV cameras watching us. I didn't vote for it, did you?
I certainly didn't vote for policemen to arrest people and break their doors down, and then have the DPP, on looking at the evidence, say it is a load of tosh. This has been happening more and more recently, and is of course related to the war on terror.
In case you missed it, one of NuLabour's Gurus has said " Scare the people and they will put up with anything." Ok, that's a paraphrase, but you get my meaning. So the headlines scream about terror plots averted, stringent new measures for taking lipsalve on aircraft ( oh, that's being relaxed this week. I can take it in a plastic bag. That'll contain the blast) - huge inconvenience and disruption to people and companies. And then.. nothing. But that of course is SOOO much this Government. I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said " speak softly and carry a big stick". Our present Masters do the exact opposite, to the detriment of both ourselves as individuals and our society as a whole.
What was the best period of government this country ever had? I'm not sure, but it would have to be one where it interfered as little as possible, or did something genuinely good for the people as a whole. Perhaps Lloyd George's Edwardian era Governments. Let me know.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


How good to see everyone on the telly sporting their poppies.
More importantly, do you know that there are two distinct kinds?
I am a bit of a WWI geek, so have been trawling through some of the Earl Haig Fund original minutes from when it was founded, and the history of the poppy. I'm sure we were all brought up on the story that the fields started blooming poppies when the guns fell silent, but of course that is rubbish - it was November and they couldn't have bloomed until the spring. There may be some truth in the odd poppy blooming where the high explosive had churned the ground during the previous summer, but it appears the real reason is slightly different.
Poppies, of course, are where morphia comes from. The idea was it would symbolise the " balm" and soothing of pain of the War.
But back to my opening sentence. There are two kinds - very in evidence once you know.
The English poppy has a green oak leaf. The Scots does not.
The Scots - Haig was one - wanted a special remembrance for their ( relatively heavier) casualties.
I had the opportunity to visit the WWI battlefields last year. More than a quarter of a million Brits to this day visit the Somme in particular. What shocked me was at Notre Dame de Lorette, which is the French National Cemetary for ALL their wars with the famous WWI ossuary. Less than 20,000 French a year visit it. The French, of course, regard the Germans as their new best friends, and nothing is to interfere with their love in.
Some years ago I visited Oradour sur Glane - one of the several villages utterly destroyed by the Germans during WWII. It has been preserved as it was, which is the most eery and extraordinary thing.
The tour ends in the Church, where the village's women and children were burned to death and shot as they tried to escape. The tour guide says " Madames, Messieurs, this is what the Germans did to the French, we must NEVER forget".
I regret to say I am told they now say " This is what the Nazis did ( full stop)"
I've also visited Auschwitz - but that can wait for another day.