Category Archives: politics

I am not a binge drinker – why should I be punished?

Well this weekend we had the ridiculous proposal for a the introduction of a ‘minimum price’ for a unit of alcohol to cure binge drinking.

However realising the political damage that such a proposal would have the Government are currently back peddling to distance themselves from it.

The problem with the proposal is many people are asking “Why should the majority of the public who are responsible drinkers be punished for the actions of a minority?” It is also obvious that the prosperous in society wouldn’t be inconvenienced in the slightest by this “minimum price” so it would be another tax on the law abiding poor.

The price and availability of alcohol are often cited as the main reasons for binge drinking and the anti-social effects it has. Ironically it was this Labour government that relaxed the licensing laws in 2005 to bring 24 hour alcohol availability. It was claimed at the time it would reduce binge drinking, people were seduced by the promised ‘cafe-culture’ seen in continental Europe.

Well clearly that utopia never arrived and back in 2007 Gordon Brown said binge-drinking was “unacceptable” and that he would “not hesitate to change policies” if he thought this was necessary.

Well despite these promises they seemed to have done nothing, even Cabinet Ministers now admit that they are bereft of ideas on how to tackle the problem, but they seem hell bent on attacking the supply of alcohol rather than demand for it.

The most frequent reason cited for binge-drinking is escapism. Amongst bar staff, patrons, police and alcohol referral workers binge-drinking was viewed as a method by which people could temporarily break loose from their personal and professional responsibilities.

On bar manager was quoted

“People drink to escape their own lives — the problem has been developing over thirty years, it’s a release for the working class to forget their hard monotonous jobs”

Perhaps the Government should address this factor? Other societies such as on continental Europe seem able to cope with a drinking culture without the accompanying mayhem we experience in the UK.

Is alcohol now the solution and a scapegoat for the anger, tensions, resentments and inequalities in today’s society? Is 2009 society so dystopian that a large number of it’s populace think their only means of escape is to drink themselves to death?

God I need a drink!

Brown In The USA

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show pokes fun at Gordon Hope Foot and the Yes We Can Five on their recent US tour.

Describing the Brown-Obama love-in as the classic nerdy white guy and the cool black guy and then showing a clip of Gene Wilder in Silver Streak was inspired

There is a classic line in that scene “We’ll make it past the cops. I just hope we don’t see no Muslims.” Sort of sums up the UK’s foreign policy for the last 6 years.

hat tip to Guido Fawkes

Games are killing your children!

Change4Life, the government’s flag-ship £75m pound nanny-state ‘health’ campaign to tackle obesity may have just made a costly mistake.

Their latest print advert (above) has angered the UK games industry. The advert created by the Department of Health in conjunction with Cancer Research, The British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK, shows a small boy slumped on a sofa holding what appears to be a PlayStation controller – above him is the headline, “Risk an early death, just do nothing”.

Condemnation has been universal throughout the industry. Richard Wilson, CEO of Tiga, the trade association representing the business and commercial interests of games software developers in the UK and Europe, is quoted saying

“This advert is absurd and insulting in equal measure. To imply that playing a video game leads to a premature rendezvous with the Grim Reaper is a non-sequitur of colossal proportions. Alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, obesity and involvement in violent crime are forms of behaviour that risk an early death.

“In contrast, many video games are mentally stimulating, potentially educational and social and some involve physical exercise. ‘Brain Training’, ‘Wii Fit’ games or ‘Civilisation’, ‘Singstar’ and ‘Buzz’ are cases in point.

“This advert is offensive to the 30,000 people who work in the UK’s video games industry, particularly the 10,000 who work in games development. Game developers are typically intelligent, very qualified and creative individuals who work to produce high quality games for people’s entertainment. They are not in the business of driving people to an early grave.

“With nearly a quarter of men and women and almost a fifth of 2 to 5 year olds in England obese we clearly need to encourage a more active lifestyle and healthy diet. It should be possible to achieve this objective without misrepresenting a creative industry of 30,000 people.”

Sony are considering whether to sue for the unauthorised use of their controller, James Binns, publishing director at Future, makes an interesting point:

“There is no arguing that the campaign’s underlying message about premature death is incredibly important – but the government would never risk the wrath of showing a child sitting still reading a book to illustrate their point.”

Picture by Nick Brickett

It could easily be argued that books and TV are much more sedentary, but demonising books was never going to go down well with the ad’s target audience of concerned parents. It would also have not gone down well with a famous Labour donor who amazed a fortune out of immobilising children for hours on end, year after year, with her stories of wizards!

The UK games development industry is a world leader, often cited as an example of Britain at it’s best, but like many industries is now suffering from foreign competition during the current economic downturn. It has asked for state help and has received little support and for the government to now demonise it as the bogeyman intent on harming children might just be enough to convince companies that their future lies elsewhere.

The Guardian blog article sums it up nicely.

But to many it feels like, once again, games are the soft target, the acceptable scapegoat for hand-wringing middle-aged policy makers unwilling and unable to engage with game culture in any productive way. It’s such a lazy cliche and such a convenient get-out clause for a society that’s been happy to slowly erode the freedoms of children, turning the education process into a joyless conveyor belt of examination and testing, while outside the playing fields are sold off to property developers.

Childhood obesity is a complex and devastating problem. It needs to be addressed, but it needs to be addressed properly. Giving parents a bogeyman to point at and blame is not the answer, is it?

Man held as terrorist for allegedly taking pictures of a man hole cover!

BoingBoing has featured a worrying report about a Manchester man arrested using anti-terrorist powers for supposedly taking pictures of a man-hole cover!

The police didn’t find any photos, but was held for two days on suspicion of planning an act of terror! He was released but his DNA is still held on file, as the biometric of someone who had been accused of plotting a terrorist act.

So much for having nothing to fear from surveillance and control laws?

The following is a television report from the local Channel-M station in Manchester

Brown out in the cold?

Seems old Gordon Brown isn’t going to get the photo-opportunity he so desperately desires. It seems the US have cancelled,[2] the classic press conference, you know the one, two world leaders standing side by side surrounded by their flags.

Perhaps the US advisers have seen through the pathetic spin.

Brown claims he is there to save the world again, when everyone knows he is trying to save his own political skin in a transparent attempt to steal some of the ‘Obama Stardust’

Maybe the US are sick to death of Brown not shouldering any responsibility for the state of the UK economy instead blaming them for everything, interestingly it seems he is only going to get 30 minutes of the Messiah’s time anyway.

I have taken some of today’s online news reports and added the mantra that the one-eyed Scottish idiot has spouted for months….

“Gordon Brown has arrived in the US to deliver a ‘clear message’ to Barack Obama that urgent, worldwide action is needed to tackle the economic crisis, THAT STARTED IN AMERICA

“Following an EU summit at the weekend, the prime minister said he would take a ‘clear message’ from European leaders that ‘bold global action’ was needed to tackle the economic crisis, THAT STARTED IN AMERICA

“Gordon Brown will today urge Barack Obama to join forces in a concerted effort to prevent global depression as the first talks between a European leader and the new US president take place against a backdrop of deepening financial chaos, THAT STARTED IN AMERICA.”

“He is the first European leader to visit the President and hopes to use the opportunity to secure a global response to the economic crisis, THAT STARTED IN AMERICA.”

People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.

Charlie Brooker has written an article in the Guardian today that has caught the public mood, judging by the twitter storm it created and the numerous links I have seen today, it currently has 300 comments most in full support of the sentiments expressed.

Any abusive relationship tends to end with a long, slow phase of mounting disappointment followed by a sudden, irreversible snapping point. The descent to rock bottom may take years but when you get there, the force of impact still shocks, and it’s precisely this shock that gives you the strength to walk away. Take smoking, for instance. You can light up for years, hating yourself and the habit a little bit more with each accumulated puff, yet remain hopelessly locked in nicotine’s pointless embrace, until one day you find yourself scrabbling through the kitchen bin, picking potato peelings off a dog end because it’s 11pm and the shops are closed and GOD YOU NEED A FAG . . . when you catch sight of your sorry junkie-arsed reflection in the shiny bin lid and undergo an epiphany of self-disgust, vowing to quit there and then.

I bring this up because I suspect that across the country, people are undergoing similar epiphanies every day. Not about cigarettes, but politicians. My personal snapping point was reached last week, at the precise moment Jack Straw announced the government was vetoing the Information Tribunal’s order for the release of cabinet minutes relating to that whole invasion-of-Iraq thing. Come on, you remember Iraq: that little foreign policy blip millions of us protested against to absolutely zero avail, because Straw and his pals figured they knew best, even though it turned out they didn’t and – oops! – hundreds of thousands of lives were lost as a result. Remember the footage of that screaming little boy with his limbs blown off? Maybe not. Maybe you felt a shiver of guilt when you saw that; guilt that you hadn’t personally done enough to prevent it; should’ve shouted louder, marched further. Or maybe it stunned you into numbness. Because what was the point in protesting any more? These people do what they want.

They do what they want, these people, and you and I are cut out of the conversation. I’m sure they’re dimly aware we still exist. They must spot us occasionally, through the window, jumping up and down in the cold with our funny placards . . . although come to think of it, they can’t even see us through the window, since they banned peaceful protest within a mile of Parliament.

Instead they pick us up on a monitor, courtesy of one of the 15bn CCTV cameras that scrutinise our every move in the name of security. On the screen you’re nothing but a tiny monochrome blob; two-dimensional and faceless. And that’s just how they like it.

Straw and co blocked the release of the minutes, claiming that to actually let us know what was going on would set a dangerous precedent that would harm good government. Ministers wouldn’t speak frankly at cabinet meetings if they felt their discussions would be subjected to the sort of scrutiny that, say, our every waking move is. In other words, they’d be more worried about the press coverage they’d get than the strength of their arguments.

Well, boo hoo. Surely craven pussies like that shouldn’t be governing anyway?

Having pissed in the public’s face, Straw went on to shake the final drips down its nose, writing a defence of the government’s civil liberties record in this paper in which he claimed “talk of Britain sliding into a police state is daft scaremongering, but even were it true there is a mechanism to prevent it – democratic elections . . .

People have the power to vote out administrations which they believe are heavy-handed.” Thanks, Jacksy – can I call you Jacksy? – but who the hell are we supposed to vote in? Despite a bit of grumbling, the Tories supported the veto. Because they wouldn’t want cabinet minutes published either.

It’s all over. The politicians have finally shut us out of their game for good and we have nowhere left to turn. We’re not part of their world any more. We don’t even speak the same language. We’re the ants in their garden. The bacteria in their stools. They have nothing but contempt for us. They snivel and lie and duck questions on torture – on torture, for Christ’s sake – while demanding we respect their authority. They monitor our every belch and fart, and insist it’s all for our own good.

Straw wrote, “If people were angels there would be no need for government . . . But sadly people are not all angels.” That rather makes it sound as though he believes politicians aren’t mere people. Maybe they’re the gods of Olympus. Maybe that’s why they’re in charge.

Thing is, they could get away with this bullshit while times were good, while people were comfortable enough to ignore what was happening; when people were focusing on plasma TVs and iPods and celebrity gossip instead of what the politicians were doing – not because they’re stupid, but because they know a closed shop when they see one. But now it looks as if those times are at an end, and more and more of us are pulling the dreampipes from the back of our skulls, undergoing a negative epiphany; blinking into the cold light of day.

Consequently the police are preparing for a “summer of rage”. To the powers that be, that probably just means more tiny monochrome blobs jumping up and down on the long-distance monitor for their amusement. Should it turn out to be more visceral than that, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

The cock draining article written by Jack Straw that Brooker refers to has attracted over 630 comments many of them giving it to Straw with both barrels. It really is starting to look like the preparations being made by the Police and the MoD are not an over-reaction. People are really starting to get angry about everything, their rights, their liberties, their money. Scary times indeed.

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” — Alan Moore(V for Vendetta)

Labour’s on line car crash

As the UK rapidly spirals down the bankruptcy whirlpool I have spent more and more time reading various political blogs and websites to keep abreast of developments that are often unreported by the main stream media.

The majority of successful and engaging blogs and website are pro-conservative, mainly because it is easy in opposition to criticise the party in power. Labour decided to fight back recently with LabourList unfortunately they appear to have picked the wrong man to do the job.

This inciteful article by Jack Thurston outlines the problems with Labour’s online activities and timelines the recent student-union style spates the LabourList editor Derek Draper has had with established bloggers Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes.

Draper really must be on borrowed time after first accusing Dale and Fawkes of racism and then using the very unpolitically correct term “window lickers” to describe Fawkes’ followers.

Distorting The Figures

This morning I was watching Sky News and they were reporting the results of the ComRes and YouGov polls produced for the Independent On Sunday and Sunday Times newspapers, showing a fall in support for Labour.

What struck me were the graphics they used (I have captured them below) which distorted the party shares, a casual glance at them and you would think Labour were just behind the Conservatives with the Liberal Democrats way behind, the same graphics being used for both results.

However if you draw the graphics using the appropriate ratios (which I did) then the picture looks much worse for Labour and the Liberals.

Surely this sort of ‘distortion’ breaks some rule?

(Update, it has been pointed out the Sky graphics approximate to the second graph I created, this would suggest they created the graphics for the YouGov poll and then simply changed the figures on screen for the ComRes results which were the worst for Labour – why not the other way around?)

The Darling Bungs Of May

Mr Bean

What an incompetent, arrogant Government we have. In 1999 the then Chancellor, now Prime Minister, brought in a 10% lower tax band in a bid to win votes and then in his last budget in 2007 announced that from April this year that band would be scraped in order to fund a headline grabbing tax cut in the middle income 20% band. But they didn’t do their sums right and hit their hardcore low-paid voters in their pay packets and as a consequence suffered a humiliating defeat in recent local elections.

So what do they do now as they slump in the polls to their worst position in decades? Unbelievably they introduce an unfunded £2.7 billion tax cut by altering the tax allowance thresholds. Do they really think the electorate are so stupid as to not see this as not very cheap election bribe? Haven’t they spent years rubbishing opposition tax plans as being unfunded attempts at winning votes? Hypocrisy has never been so clearly demonstrated.

Then in another blatantly example of the disrespect of the rules of the house they neglected to give the opposition copies of the statement in advance, but it seems the press gallery had been. This made their job of giving a decent response to the announcement difficult.

“The Darling Bungs of May” indeed as The Sun put it.

All this on a day that inflation is reported to be surging. And Caroline Flint exposed the Government’s fears on the state of the housing market. How? by walking into Number 10 carrying a confidential briefing document in a clear plastic wallet in front of camera men!