Not Much Choice

In most democracies the majority of those that vote get their choice of candidate or policy. And the Scottish part of the United Kingdom did quite clearly vote against leaving the European Union – as did Gibraltar and Northern Ireland.

NotMuchChoice3_315However the campaigning in Scotland did also show that the voters with any party loyalties had little choice but to vote remain. In order to vote leave party members faced the prospect of being branded deserters – as was said by President Juncker no less. In short every party, except UKIP of course, directed their supporters to vote to stay in the EU. And quite happily posed for selfies together to reinforce the point.

So Scotland’s people did have a choice in 2016 – vote remain or suffer the consequences. Amazingly around 38% did oppose the party they would normally support and voted to leave. And in one region just six voters tipped the local majority vote into the remain camp.

But now the SNP’s policy of pressing for independence from the UK – while also pledging to give their independence away to Brussels – is starting to unravel. Catalonia has shown that the EU does not support any nation or region that wants true independence. The only route forward for them is for Scotland to be just another cog in the European machine. Perversely the SNP seem likely to get more powers for the Scottish parliament with a successful Brexit than with remaining in the EU. It’s funny old game!

Rare Alignment

StGeorge-240Yesterday was, for some places in England. their warmest April day for decades – with Sheffield claiming to have had its highest maximum temperature in April since 1882.

So things look set fair for that rare event – a dry and sunny St George’s Day weekend. True by Monday, the actual patron’s day, the weather may have reverted to type but at least we will be able to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

The weekend starts here …

Monster Mash

Unless you have studied the Second World War it is becoming increasingly unlikely that you will have even heard of Martin Bormann. In summary he was a dedicated Nazi party member who worked his way up the ranks until by 1933 he was chief of staff to Deputy Fuhrer, Rudolf Hess. By 1935 he had become Hitler’s personal secretary. When Hess flew to Britain he became the Deputy with control of all areas of government. He stayed in Hitler’s inner circle until bitter end. It was not until 1972 that his remains were uncovered during construction work near Berlin’s Lehrter station. He has since been called the secret administrator of the Third Reich.

martin4Now we have another Martin that has gained great political influence though insider dealing with the party in power. Except this time it was through being first campaign manager and then chief of staff to the European Commission president, J-C Juncker. A post which enabled him to exercise control over his leader. However Juncker’s term as president will end in June 2019. In response Selmayr positioned himself as the sole candidate for the post of secretary-general. A position that he gained after performing so well as deputy secretary-general. Not too difficult – since he had only been appointed to that post less than ten minutes before.

Initially this blatant nepotism was deemed valid by the Commission but in recent weeks there has been growing pressure to rerun the entire appointment process. However the chances are that this will lead to the same result – with Juncker and Selmayr being absolved of any malpractice. And so us commoners will be given another large squirt of air freshener to hide the stink coming from the Brussels swamp. But one day the monster will have to be slayed ..

Model Solution

Electrification of the Midland Main Line railway route – connecting London, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield – was first proposed in the 1970s. But only the southern section to Bedford was implemented. Plans for the rest of route were abandoned in the 1980s.

By 2009 a reassessment of the rail electrification options concluded that the Midland Main Line (MML) had the best business case of the remaining main lines coming into London. But the Great Western Lines (GWL) to Wales and the West were selected instead. But that is another story.

HornbyInterCity125In 2012 it was announced that MML electrification from Bedford to Sheffield would be completed by 2020. However this project was paused in 2015 and the completion date pushed back to 2023. Then in 2017 the uncommitted elements of the project were simply cancelled – leaving a wiring gap from Kettering to Clay Cross in Derbyshire even when current work has finished.

Then in February 2018 came the news that the Government wants every diesel train in Britain to be scrapped by 2040. A policy that would require all routes to either be fully electrified or to have developed and implemented some new and non-polluting power sources. [Or the route is closed?]

Given that slam-door InterCity 125 diesel units were first introduced over forty years ago – and are still in main line service today, the prospect of battery or hydrogen powered trains replacing all the UK’s diesel units within twenty-two years seems far fetched. It does, after all, require the development and manufacture of new designs of locomotives and powered carriages. A prospect made even more unlikely by the fact that there is not enough money to complete our proposed electrifications even when using existing technology.

Only in the world of model railways do InterCity 125s run solely on electricity – so perhaps the Government should call in Hornby to advise …

Are We There Yet?

Scoreboard6_630

As the relentless peck, peck, peck removes more flesh from the bones of Brexit the dominant sentiment for many of those commenting on-line is disappointment at how long the process is stretching out. Even though leave now is the feeling the chances of this happening are close to zero.

One factor that has been claimed to be a cause of the slow progress is the number of EU rules imposed over our decades of membership – estimated at around 12,000 regulations and 8,000 statutory instruments. And it is true that work on reviewing and amending these rules, in preparation for leaving, seems to be a low key, limited effort at best. Possibly because current negotiations are taking so much of the available resources.

However another reason could be the fact that the actual EU Withdrawal Bill is still not finalised so limiting the effort that can be spent on what is currently a speculative result. And with parliament on holiday until 16-April – plus taking two more breaks during May – it may be that this vital legislative step does not get passed before the summer break – which this year starts 24-July. In which case March 2019 is starting to look very close.

But then a more Yes Minster scenario might be that delaying the EU Withdrawal Bill could therefore stop, or at least cripple, Brexit. The logic being that by adding more and more complications to the process the chances of failure will be greatly increased. Sadly we, the people, will never really know what is happening and why .. so nothing new there then!

Faded Symbol

Today saw the chance rediscovery of a Europe car sticker bought in 1992. For some reason it never got used. And by now it might be rare enough to attract a few bids from die hard Europhiles on eBay.

Europe1992Sticker1Looking back, over the intervening twenty six years, the changes have been major. Events have gradually eroded the hopes of a peaceful, sun-lit, golden future. And these earlier ideals have been replaced with the growing realisation that we are merely taxation sources funding power hungry politicians who are pushing their project to create a European super state. A state without national allegiances in perpetual, worldwide competition with other super-powers – and with themselves in control. A state where democracy is called populism and where populism is bad. A state where disagreement and opposition is renamed euro-scepticism and that is even worse than populism.

So was the 2016 vote to leave the EU just a moment of mass hysteria based upon fake news and false promises?  I can only speak for myself but I know that this was definitely not the case when my vote was cast. Rather it was the result of watching those hidden agendas gradually emerge along with more and more directives seeking to gain control of every aspect of our lives. If our politicians fail to deliver the platform for a sound, independent and peaceful future as we leave the EU then we will all be the losers – irrespective of how we voted in 2016.

You Don’t Have Mail

For those of us that have been using e-mail since the 1990’s the prospect of changing a key e-mail address has very little appeal. With decades of accumulated messages, contacts and web site logins any changeover can easily become major task.

man58_160So this month’s announcement that the Tesco.Net service will be closing in June has triggered the need for wholesale changes by everyone still using their service. And, in our particular case, the loss of Tesco.net is the third time that our e-mail provider has closed down; with first Talk21 (British Telecom) and then Beeb.net (BBC) forcing us to look elsewhere for our e-mail.

Back in 2008 the BBC said that Beeb.net just didn’t fit with its core values anymore – i.e. flogging off licence-fee funded content to the rest of the world. And in the case of Tesco the closure of the service seems a minor consideration amongst all their other corporate cut-backs of recent years.

So for those Grandads with ISP contracts that include e-mail services the only problem should the effort needed to make all the changes. But for those wanting to have an e-mail address that is not tied to sticking with their broadband provider the choice is rather limited. The obvious front runner is the Google Gmail service – almost a given if you are also an Android user. But some viable alternatives are Yahoo mail, Microsoft’s Outlook mail or Apple’s iCloud mail. However all of these services are based in the USA so if you want something more local – in either Britain or the EU – then you need to look elsewhere.

One option from a company with a good track record is the GMX free mail service provided by Grandad’s  German Internet service provider; 1and1. But which ever solution you go for you have until 27-Jun-2018 to complete the move. And don’t forget to check if anyone in your contacts list is still using Tesco.net – since it seems that not everyone with an account has been told of the closure!