Tag Archives: political

Which Side Are They On?

Despite claiming to be our elected representatives Westminster has way too many politicians who still believe that they know best. We even had a senior figure telling us that we should all leave politics to the professional politicians.

NoGrieve1_240

A nice try but one that would only be valid if we didn’t have to follow any of the laws or pay any of the taxes that the professional politicians seek to impose.Currently we have a rag-tag assortment of know-it-alls demanding that a no deal outcome is removed from the options available when leaving the European Union. This is such a basic mis-interpretation of the negotiation process that it beggars belief.

In fact it is such a fundamental error that you have to conclude that either those demanding it have an impaired mental capacity or that they are fighting for the other side.

If the former they need to stand down from their positions for everyone’s safety. If the later they need to face what ever treason laws are still enforceable and be removed from office.

Despite the obvious stupidity of having to agree a deal – no matter how unreasonable it is – that seems to be the way our parliament is heading. A direction being encouraged by branding a WTO Brexit outcome as crashing out over a cliff-edge leaving the population to starve in the dark.

The next few weeks will shine a spotlight on just how good our politicians are. And most have shown little sign of being capable of handling the coming situation …

Feedback

Never Heard Again – Rather than being a simple case of I told you so – the Eurovision Song Contest result could make the staging of next year’s contest in Israel more politically charged than the organisers would have liked. If the venue chosen is Jerusalem then it will be difficult to maintain the event’s ethos of being a camp, foolish spectacle. However the basic problem for the organisers remains the fact that the results rarely represent the best in European music.

Model Solution – Despite Grandad’s reservations it seems that at least one company already has plans to fit hydrogen power plants instead of diesel engines – so meeting the Government’s green target and avoiding further electrification work. It has been announced that Alstom plan to modify the existing Class 321 design to take hydrogen tanks and fuel cells – because their new hydrogen train prototype being tested in Germany is too large for the restricted UK clearances. I guess it will be up to existing operators of Class 321’s to decide if they want to convert. And it is reported that Eversholt Rail are going to do just that. However Grandad must be missing some parts of the jigsaw here since the existing Class 321’s are already electric powered – via overhead cabling. No diesel engines will be replaced by fitting hydrogen power to Class 321’s. One possible explanation for incurring the significant (?) costs involved would be if Eversholt are hoping to extend their existing routes to towns that lack overhead power.

Monster Mash – Yesterday the EU Ombudsman opened an investigation into the controversial promotion of European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker’s right-hand man, Martin Selmayr. This follows complaints lodged by Dutch and French members of the European Parliament about his method of appointment. However Selmayr seems unconcerned and Juncker has threatened to resign if the appointments are reversed. So a combination of thick skin and political whitewashing will win the day … possibly!

Never Heard Again

Tomorrow sees the first part of seven and half hours of live TV coverage this week marking the culmination of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2018. As usual Britain hopes that its entry will attract enough votes to avoid the final being another night of national embarrassment in front of a huge audience.

EuroNorton1If you think that this introduction looks familiar – that may be because it is a direct copy of what was posted here two years ago. Grandad could have also said much the same for 2017 – but didn’t bother.

Everything has become so predictable. The British entry is attracting long odds in the betting (150 to 1) meaning that it is positioned somewhere in the mid-20s in the field – again. Graham Norton will be providing the UK commentary – again. And trying to sound as positive as possible about the British entry even though he must know that there is no way that they can win – again. Meanwhile the BBC are putting out free Eurovision party packs again – despite not being able to support St George’s Day; or it seems any of the national days around Britain.

So a safe bet that we face another year of national embarrassment – but at least the BBC can be consoled by the knowledge that no heads will roll and they will not need to find a venue for the 2019 edition. To quote Mr Norton OK… That’s three minutes we’ll never get back, but look at it this way: We’ll never have to hear that song again.

From Frying Pan To Fire

But Grandad could be wrong, the DE spin could be proved right – and UK voters could cause another political surprise.” Grandad was wrong – the DE spin was right!

“But just imagine what could happen if we wake up tomorrow to the prospect of a hung parliament or a change in government … Gawd help us!” We really do need help … big time.

Not sure whether to just add a 1000s column to our Brexit scoreboard and wait or make our escape while we still can …

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.

The Best Laid Plans

After all those hours spent watching this year’s Eurovision Song Contest we should have learnt something. But many Grandads will today be wondering what?

Eurovis2Certainly the Swedish hosts laid out a spectacular show; one of the best. And the presenters managed to carry off their multi-talented performances in all three live shows with few, if any, glitches. And right up to the final round of scoring things looked set fair. Australia were well ahead in the jury voting and the UK entry was about midway down the field – a situation that seemed to fairly reflect the quality of the songs and their performances. But then the scores from the phone-in votes hit the fan and everything fell apart. Britain’s placing went down like a burst balloon. Poland went from having just 7 points at halfway to suddenly having 229 points and eighth place. Australia’s substantial lead over everyone else evaporated as Ukraine was given a massive 323 points for reasons that were clearly unrelated to the appeal of the song. Favourite Russia finished third.

So this Grandad didn’t learn anything new from Stockholm. Most countries still vote with a strong political bias, Britain is still Johnny No Mates and Russia is still a bear to be baited. Sweden tried so hard to create a musical Utopia – but in the end their dream was an illusion. Just sing c’est la vie ….

Powerless EU

European governments have been aware of the problem for months, if not years, yet still seem to have been surprised and confused by the recent rapid increase in mass migration from the Middle East and Africa. Powerless1The resulting chaotic scenes around the edges of the EU have prompted the politicians to take action; but with little co-ordination or clear objectives. It is hard to blame migrants for wanting to get to somewhere better; even if their expectations of what awaits them in Europe are unrealistic. Even Germany cannot provide them with everything they expect and need.

But with Europe’s current policies there seems to be no option other than simply accommodating whoever gets over one of its many porous borders. So the warnings made here last September are starting to come true even without Turkey joining the EU. In response Germany and France have apparently decided to assign migrant quotas to each country in an attempt to spread the financial burden. They claim this will protect one of the EU’s key objectives – free movement. But sending, say, 5,000 migrants to Luxembourg when they really want to go to Germany will simply mean that the 5,000 stay the minimum possible time there and then use this free movement policy to relocate to Germany anyway. Without border controls what is there to stop them?

How different for any Grandad that wants to move closer to family members or simply retire in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, etc. But then the UK does to suffer from any large scale civil conflicts .. well not yet.

Silent Majority

Now that the Scottish vote on the future of the United Kingdom is out of the way the politicians at Westminster will have to reluctantly address the views of the rest of us. Certainly the Welsh and Northern Irish will be looking to their national politicians in Cardiff and Belfast to put their case and not miss out on any extra powers.

Cleggy Lib-Dem LeaderBut with Scotland grabbing the attention for years politicians have largely ignored the regional differences in England. Yet Yorkshire alone has a similar number of voters to Scotland. For equality English regions such as Cumbria and Northumberland should be receiving just as much in special treatment as, say, the Scottish Highlands. And Glasgow and Edinburgh should not be getting a bigger share of the British tax spend than similar sized English cities such as Liverpool or Leeds.

Yet for the 83.9% of the UK population that lives in England there is no specific parliament or assembly to represent them and ensure that they get a fair deal.

The obvious political solution is to create the English equivalent of Holyrood in, say, Derby or Nottingham. But that has already been ruled out by Westminster leaders on the grounds of cost. Considering that English tax payers help support the extra politicians and their fine facilities this veto just reinforces the view that England gets second class treatment.

A more radical solution would be to disband the national assemblies and go back to the way things were in the 1990’s – before MSPs and AMs existed. Scrapping them would stop all of us having to pay for this extra layer of politicians and bring Britain in line with a key objective of the EU – increased political union. The logical way to go – but seemingly dead in the political waters.

A poor compromise would be to make Westminster dual purpose; with English issues covered by English MPs and Britain-wide issues open to all. But to accurately reflect English interests then around 85% of parliamentary time would have to be for English MPs only. While the 12% time share for England, Scotland and Wales debates would equate to less than one day per week. This would make it less than worthwhile for their MPs to travel to – and stay in – London. But still this looks to have the right level of cobbled-together bodge-up to appeal to the Westminster sheep.

However the real danger is that nothing will change and the West Lothian question will still lack a genuine solution before the 2015 general election. Then it is just possible that the sweeteners promised to Scotland will have created enough resentment to make change unavoidable.

Playing With Fire

It is nothing new to say that the current crop of British politicians lack strategic vision. But with a relatively stable and peaceful domestic situation they – and their unelected advisors – can bumble along in their fantasy world without doing too much damage to the average UK citizen. True they can waste billions of our taxes on infrastructure liabilities and public service mis-administration. But that is only money. If Crossrail and HS2 never make a profit, if smart meters fail to cut energy consumption and if wind turbines prove to be no help to the National Grid then they are all just a waste of time, effort and cash. Probably no one died.

man9But once the politicians turn their dubious skills to international issues then things get a lot more serious – and potentially dangerous. Take Afghanistan. In 2001 British politicians decided to send in our troops – to solve the country’s problems. Thirteen years, 453 UK service personnel deaths and countless millions of pounds later that country is still beset by problems. And it will not take much, once the foreign troops leave, for Afghanistan to fall back to where it was before.

But Afghanistan is just one example. Removing Saddam Hussein got rid of a dangerous and brutal tyrant but has left Iraq in even worse turmoil than before – despite six years of British military help. Intervening in the Libyan civil war deposed another dangerous and brutal tyrant – Colonel Gaddafi. But that country has now fallen into chaos and conflict. Our political leaders have looked for ways to remove Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria. But may have become vaguely aware that there is little public support for more gunboat diplomacy. However this may be just be temporary and reflect concerns about their jobs – given that there is an election next year.

MapTurkey2But so far British meddling in foreign conflicts has been at a safe distance from home. This could soon change and bring unforeseen dangers closer to our doorstep. Take, for example, Ukraine and Turkey. In the first our political leaders – via NATO and the EU – could put us in direct conflict with Russia. Not a trivial issue. And in the second Britain’s support for Turkey having EU membership could mean that our borders move all the way east to reach Syria, Iraq and Iran. Then the EU would become responsible for millions of refugees fleeing conflicts and for defending a huge land frontier against an assortment of unpredictable military factions. A time for some basic geography lessons for the Cabinet – before we all get burnt?

China’s Climate Change Leadership

According to a report today on Politics.co.uk China is showing a leadership on climate change which the UK is lacking. This comes from MP Joan Walley (Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North) who chairs the Environmental Audit committee. She is quoted as saying that the Chinese government had a set of plans and the ability to deliver them in contrast to the UK government simply paying lip service to the decarbonisation agenda.

Shanghai1The implication is that China has done more than the UK to clean up its pollution and reduce its impact on the world’s climate. Yet simple observation does not support this politically inspired theory. Any Grandad who remembers British cities – like Stoke on Trent – in the 1950’s will know how much less pollution there is today. And any Grandad who has friends or relatives working in China now will have heard first hand reports on just how bad most Chinese cities are.

Just leaving a window open overnight results in a layer of black dust over everything by morning. Main roads need to be hosed down daily – even in mid winter – to reduce pollution build-up. Government inspectors are charged with checking factory discharges – but only work office hours so factories churn out their worst pollution over night. City pollution levels reach 10’s or even 100’s of times the recommended safe limits. And yet this exemplary Chinese government has plans for 22 additional coal-fired power stations in Guangdong alone. The emissions from which are predicted to cause as many as 16,000 additional deaths in the next 40 years [South China Morning Post].

So as little Britain tries to solve yet another worldwide problem many other countries pursue a self-interest agenda. Perhaps we should learn from them?