Another Song Victim?

Hyper-active dancer Bruno Tonioli, local girl Sophie Ellis-Bextor and vocal coach CeCe Sammy will appear at the Hammersmith Apollo next Friday as the judging panel for the UK’s entry in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.

EuroVis2017Looking back over recent contests it is clear that it’s neither the singer nor the song that determines who gets the most votes in the final. A statement that is clearly supported by the way in which Australia was robbed of victory by the unoriginal and politically-themed song from Ukraine in 2016.

This year both Russia and Australia are back in the lead in the betting. But considering the UK’s political position within Europe the chances of any British song - no matter how good - getting in the top half of the results are next to zero. Even Lily Allen singing about the emotional torment of having to leave the EU against her will would struggle ...

But this year the result of a song contest seems just too trivial to justify serious consideration when compared to all the other national and international issues we are facing.

tags: song, contest, BBC, UK, Eurovision, political, divisive



A Little More Action

BreakOutEUchains2cThe combination of the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday and the Supreme Court’s promise today that they will issue a judgement next Tuesday has injected some much needed action into the Brexit soap opera. A drama that was in danger of boring its audience to distraction.

However, despite this welcome news, we are still awaiting the issue of that national resignation letter. And we are, of course, still bankrolling lavish, and unaudited, spending by eurocrats on their pet projects - and supporting their  comfortable life styles. The hope is that the PM, with the backing of parliament, will actually meet her own target of March for the resignation. But even so millions of our national taxes are still going to be siphoned off until 2019; as things stand.

So despite this week’s developments the British position is much the same as it was back in September and the advice then to opt for the simplest terms, agreed as quickly as possible, still applies. Let’s hope that Whitehall gets its act together and takes on board the advice that no deal is better than a bad deal ...

tags: Brexit, EU, progress, promises



Mind The Gap

You would think that with the government so strongly backing a third railway line from London to Birmingham that a basic national network was already in place. But this is far from the case as one Grandad discovered when trying to book train travel for relatives visiting from overseas.

man6Both Oxford and Cambridge are high on bucket lists for UK visitors. But even though the two cities are only 110km apart on the map there are no direct train links. In fact the recommended route is Oxford to Paddington then Underground to Kings Cross and from there to Cambridge. Two changes and a best journey time of 2hr 29m - if you move quickly between stations in London.

And this is not just one carefully contrived example. Rather it is a typical example of the train travel options available. Getting from Cambridge to York would be much the same - also taking around 2hr 30 and involving a change of train in Peterborough. The next leg from York to Lancaster would mean changing trains in Manchester for another 2hr 30 or so journey. Then heading south to Warwick from Lancaster would involve two trains and an eight minute walk between stations in Birmingham; taking almost four hours to complete due to waiting times.

So success ... well not really. These were the places that are easy to get to by train. Not surprising since they are, after all, county towns with plenty of rail services. For all the other bucket list places, outside of Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, it was not possible to plan a practical rail route. And since the visitors had asked to avoid changes of train it looks like they may have to be persuaded to stop over in Peterborough, Manchester and Birmingham in order to hide the fact that there are no direct services between the cities requested.

But at least there is one bright spot - a promise that the Settle to Carlisle line will be reopen by April; some fourteen months after it was closed by landslips. If so it will be back on the available list by the time the visitors arrive.

tags: train, travel, change, railway, network, gap



A Little Less Conversation ..

.. A Little More Action.

WhyAreWeWaiting1It’s back to work and school for many of the un-retired this week. But not before observing the traditional, and very short, season of resolutions and predictions for the year ahead.

As usual the resolutions are to do more good things and fewer bad ones. And the predictions are mainly of impending disasters - natural, financial or political - on a national or world scale.

But we all know that the vast majority of the words spoken or written will never become reality. They follow the truism enacted by so many, especially in politics, that - talk is cheap.

But 2017 really does require much less talk and much more action if the country is to avoid being stuck in some no-mans-land between independence and EU membership. A situation where we are excluded from Europe’s decision making but still have to pay the huge membership fees. And where we cannot enter into new external trade deals but are gaining less and less new business from Europe.

Now the figure of 350 million per week going to Brussels has been dismissed as misleading since it excludes the Thatcher rebate and any money that the EU currently spends back here. But since the referendum last June Brussels has upped our contributions and these could well increase again if the EU votes to scrap the rebate once the voting rules change in April.

However even the most die-hard EU fan has to admit that at least 121 million per week does get kept by Brussels. This means that during the 27 weeks of talking since the referendum have seen some 3,271 million of our tax contributions go permanently down the Brussels drain. Soon these will be followed by another 1,575 million purely because we are waiting for the Government to issue our leaving letter. Clearly those in power need to take on-board that other truism - time is money - and get things moving; fast. If not then more and more of the country may well be singing -

Oh, why are we waiting; Oh why, why, why?

tags: waiting, Brexit, no news, more costs, less opportunities




Unfinished Business

Looking back at the year here in the UK there have been some major decisions taken. After years of delays there was the choice of Heathrow over Gatwick for an extra runway. And, at last, an agreement on a new nuclear power station for Hickley Point. Plus, of course, the once in a life time chance to have a vote on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

2016YearReview1But on reflection many promises and plans failed to reach their targets and objectives. Some never even left the launch pad.

In politics, of course, the big one was the vote where the populus refused to be pressured into accepting a future tied to building a single European super state. But six months later and the actual implementation of this critical decision is still stuck in quicksands around parliament and delayed by legal processes. Clearly the people’s decision was not the one that the power brokers wanted to hear or can now accept.

In transport we had another year where HS2 kept consuming public funds at an alarming rate but without actually laying any tracks. This prestige project has already taken longer to get to this point than it took the Victorian navvies to complete an entire railway between the same two stations - by hand. But at least some lower profile railway projects did produce results. For example the delivery of the first of the Hitachi Intercity Express trains being built at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. As reported here before these new trains - and others proposed - will be able to cut journey times using existing tracks. In fact, well before the HS2 links arrive at Leeds and Manchester, these new trains could be providing nearly the same journey times as HS2 - for much less cost and lower fares.

In energy any electricity from Hickley Point is still decades away and it feels like only a succession of mild winters will avoid major black-outs as demand continues to climb but capacity steadily falls. The idea that all new homes would be zero-carbon was quietly abandoned. While the smart meter project limped along - costing more but achieving less. And extra gas from fracking will not be around to help - as a combination of indecisive leadership and grass roots protests crippled all attempts at drilling.

In the media the year is probably best described as familiar. The press stuck to the traditional views of themselves and the world at large. While the BBC continued to claim it was both politically neutral and seriously underfunded. So still living in a world of its own. One day someone will bring reality to bear on the claim that we are all happy to pay the TV tax as good value for money ... but that’s some way off.

In sport things looked much brighter in 2016. Everywhere there were victories, records and medal winners. A truly memorable year that will be hard to match. While it is true that England continued to fall short of expectations in the national game - football - again; the other home nations did a good job at making amends. Sometimes having the richest league does not help build a winning national team.

So it is probably best to look back at 2016 as the year of sporting success - and forget all the other issues. At least until life returns to normal early in January!

tags: 2016, retrospective, year passed



More Delays Mrs May

Today sees the start of a second legal process to give a further opinion about who needs to be consulted before the EU withdrawal letter can be sent. A process expected to take us past the six month anniversary of the vote and into 2017.

Yet this is a legal process that need never have happened. If the Prime Minister had accepted the outcome of the previous court ruling and tabled the minimal withdrawal bill before parliament the issue could have already been resolved. This expensive and time consuming approach of appealing to the supreme court does call into question Mrs May’s judgement and even her motives. Since as things stand she has not actually completed any of the steps needed to implement leaving the EU.

BreakOutEUchains2bTo quote the official Government web site -

A once in a generation decision

The referendum on Thursday, 23 June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union.

The government believes it is in the best interests of the UK to remain in the EU.

This is the way to protect jobs, provide security, and strengthen the UK’s economy for every family in this country – a clear path into the future, in contrast to the uncertainty of leaving.

This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.

And we all know that despite continual pressure from both the Government and the opposition parties over an extended period our majority decision was to leave.

So when will the current government - or indeed any replacement government - actually make it happen? These constant delays and attempts to redefine what Leave means are getting very frustrating ...

tags: waiting, Brexit, no news, more costs, less opportunities



Rewriting History

BreakOutEUchains2wThe British public would be voting, if we Leave, to leave the EU and leave the Single Market - David Cameron, Prime Minister in BBC TV interview broadcast nationally 12-Jun-2016.

We’d be out of the Single Market, that’s the reality, Britain would be quitting, quitting the Single Market - George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer in BBC TV interview broadcast nationally 8-Jun-2016.

And all of the Remain campaigns boldly stated what a vote to leave would mean. Most of their material is still online and can easily be checked by anyone unable to remember as far back as June.

Yet this week we have - there should be a second referendum because people did not know what they were voting for - Sarah Olney, LibDem MP on BBC TV. A view supported by her party leader.

So now we have the surreal situation that Remain politicians are saying that their own party’s pre-referendum statements - and involvement in Project Fear - never actually happened. A denial of the truth that even Paul Joseph Goebbels would have struggled to sell.

tags: waiting, Brexit, no news, more costs, less opportunities



No News Is Bad News

Break Out Of EU ChainsWe start another month without any form of public admissions or signs of progress on that most basic step towards leaving the EU - written notice.

It is twenty-three weeks since the UK voted to leave. Everyone knows the official result - not just in the UK but throughout Europe - especially the Brussels politicians. Yet we are going through a charade of delays and petty arguments about who needs to be told, by whom, where and when before the withdrawal notice can be officially issued.

Everyone already knows the people’s decision. How can all these delays and arguments be expected to change the result? What is the point of putting off any useful discussions with the EU until the end of March 2017? Why does it take so many politicians, advisors and civil servants to put into writing what is already *!# obvious?

Every week that the UK delays means another week of sending millions of pounds to Brussels never to be seen again. But more critically it also means another week of lost opportunities for Britain to promote itself in world markets. Oh how we want to break free!

tags: waiting, Brexit, 23 weeks, no news, more costs, less opportunities



Meme of the Day

Clueless Tim Brexit Vote

tags: Brexit, vote denier, clueless, LIbDem, leader, ET



Meme of the Day


tags: waiting, Brexit, five months, missing, kidnap, randsom



Meme of the Day


tags: dictator, corruption, ruin, suffering, Africa



End of a Battle

Today officially marks 100 years since the end of the Battle of the Somme. A phase in the First World War that inflicted death or injury on over one million soldiers of all nations. It is hard to say if either side gained anything - or indeed if the battle really did finish on 18 Nov 1916. But the losses were so great and so many families were effected that the date will be remembered for a few more generations at least.


More centenaries of events will continue to be remembered during two further years - putting into perspective just how long the Great War dragged on and how trivial some of today’s concerns are in comparison. However we still have values that need to be defended and sometimes that defense will lead to a life or death struggle. For no matter how civilised we think we are there will always be nature’s self-preservation instinct waiting just below the surface.

tags: WW1, anniversary, Europe, Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Somme, Western Front



Meme of the Day

San ISIL disinfectant

tags: disinfects, germs, smells, strong, wipes out, vintage



Pointless Predictions

ExpressWeatherSep2016aAt the end of September newspaper headlines gave us the news that in six weeks time we would start a four month period of heavy snow and a big freeze. Much the same story as the one printed last February and before that in October 2015.

Now those six weeks have passed without any sign of the predicted white-out. In fact the mild 14 degrees we had yesterday prompted our rose bush to open one last bloom before winter starts. If it ever does start, that is, since for years the Daily Express has been printing incredible stories about the weather that turn out to be wildly inaccurate. Undeterred the Express has further hyped the weather predictions with the latest headline - BRITAIN will be colder than Antarctica this week when temperatures plummet to -11C. Let’s see how near the truth that one turns out to be ...

So why does the Express keeping printing them? Who knows - or cares? One day they may be right - but no one will have taken any notice. Such a pity to see what was once a reputable newspaper become little more than a comic. A comic that undermines the credibility of causes that it claims to be supporting.

tags: spin, incompetence, crying wolf, sloppy journalism



Meme of the Day

Phone Home Tim

tags: ET, extra terrestrial, LIbDem, leader, alien


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