Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Prenatal smoking and ADHD.

According to an article in Science Daily
" ... when we looked at the effect of maternal smoking in children with one of our candidate genes, we saw a three-fold increase in risk, and in children with both genes whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, we saw a nine-fold increase," says senior investigator Richard D. Todd, M.D., Ph.D., the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor and director of the Division of Child Psychiatry at Washington University.
If that's the case, and irrespective of the apparent genetic link, Mrs Rigby and her siblings and cousins were lucky to escape.

Both Senior Rigbys smoked cigarettes and almost every visitor to the family home lit up while they had their cups of tea. At that time cafés, cinemas, pubs, buses, trains and railway stations were packed full of smokers, as were work canteens and even the workplace. It was normal, smokers were not outcasts.

Mrs Rigby is sure that, even had her mother not been a smoker, the developing Rigbys would have been exposed to so much so-called second and third-hand smoke via her bloodstream as to make foetal absorption impossible to avoid.

Mrs Rigby doesn't recall her education being compromised by those of her peer group who were incapable of sitting still for more than five minutes at a time. So she does wonder why, with all the health protection practices in place that ensures an expectant mother can avoid the slightest whiff of tobacco smoke, ADHD appears to be on the increase, with
Soaring numbers of children are receiving drugs to treat hyperactivity and depression
Maybe, just maybe, something other than tobacco is the cause.

The Queen's Speech.

The elements of The Queen's Speech are outlined here at the BBC.

Mrs R doesn't think many of the ideas will make the statute books, but she has a feeling that one might, and it's this one :-

Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill

Repeals legislation limiting protests around Parliament. Generally extends to whole UK.

Why does Mrs Rigby think they will make sure this legislation is repealed?

Mrs R wonders if some people think the best time for some protests outside Parliament and other city centres will be after a general election - after an election that will probably see Labour lose office - to show how dissatisfied people are with the result, and demonstrate to the world how much ordinary people hate the Tories/LibDems/BNP, or whoever manages to take seats from Labour.

If this should happen, Mrs R hopes the media will be sensible, will report things properly and explain how it's like a fizzy bottle exploding after it's been shaken, because she knows some people who are very fed up with "the way things are going" but haven't felt they can speak out in case they get into trouble and have their DNA taken and stored by the Police, even if they haven't been found guilty of any offence.

After all, if you have your name on that DNA database you can lose your job, as Lorraine Elliott discovered when, during a routine employment check, her name was found to be on the list - so she was sacked, from her job on the government's national identity card scheme. She plans to appeal to have her name removed, as a special case.

Maybe they'll change that too, and follow the EHCR ruling regarding storage of DNA, but then again, maybe not - it wasn't included in the speech.

A couple of videos.

Mrs R is trying to catch up after taking a few days off, so here are a couple of videos from other blogs.

Tory Bear takes on Labour's latest PPB and tells the truth about votes for women, the NHS and so on

It's here

Grumpy Old Twat shows how inoffensive the 'sexist' M&S Christmas advert really is

Look here

Monday, 23 November 2009

Building bridges with the TA?

From the Telegraph
Structural engineers and military experts are carrying out an urgent safety review of all of Cumbria’s 1,800 bridges.
The Army could be asked to build Second World War-style Bailey bridges over the River Derwent in Cumbria as a temporary replacement for the bridges which have been washed away by flooding, the local council has said.
“The military are pretty good at putting up these bridges quickly, and I imagine the council will be looking into how they can procure these bridges as a matter of urgency.”
Mrs Rigby has noticed that members of the Armed Forces have been conspicuous by their absence in Cumbria.

Maybe Mr Brown will come to regret his decision to cut TA funding, because even though he changed his mind quite quickly a fair number of part time soldiers will have resigned out of disgust knowing they weren't wanted unless they were being prepared to fight overseas - whilst their counterparts in the Navy and Air Force were still being paid and trained as 'weekend warriors".

Sick Britain #1

And meanwhile, in Cumbria, where flooding for the second year in a row has caused bridges to collapse and people's homes to be ruined, our Prime Minister pays a quick photocall and announces that government will provide £1 million towards the clean up - whilst sending £293 million overseas. So he's got his priorities right.

He's been copied by some little low life who also decided to help themselves - to the wheels of a BMW that had been abandoned near Ambleside when the flooding started.

Soldiers skiing in the desert.

You couldn't make it up could you?

From the Telegraph's report of the inquiry into the Iraq War.
Col Power was particularly scathing about the supply chain. ... he said, “I know for a fact that there was one container full of skis in the desert.”
Maybe somebody in the MoD didn't have a good grasp of geography, which is why they also failed to provide enough desert boots!

Mrs Rigby does fractions.

Apparently Mr Balls tried to bamboozle Mr Gove by asking him to do some of the Maths our GCSE candidates are expected to master.

Here is the question he asked :-
Work out 3 3/4 minus 1 2/5
(that's three and three quarters minus one and one fifth)

Mrs Rigby once learned all about fractions and things called denominators and factors.

She learned that when you try to add or subtract two fractions of different values you need to change them so the number at the bottom of each fraction (the denominator) is the same. It's easy to work out if you know your multiplication tables, and makes it heaps quicker.

You need to choose the lowest possible number that both denominators will go into, it'll be somewhere in both the 4x and 5x tables - because the first fraction has a 4 as denominator, the second has 5.

4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40 etc

5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 etc

The lowest common denominator (LCD) of these two fractions is 20.

To make the 3/4 part of 3 3/4 into 20ths you multiply both the top and the bottom of the fraction by 5 (5x4=20) and (5x3=15) and so get 3 15/20 (three and fifteen twentieths)

To make the 2/5 part of 1 2/5 into twentieths it has to be multiplied by 4 (4x5=20) and (4x2=8) , giving 1 8/20 (one and eight twentieths)

It's now very easy to subtract the smaller number from the larger, by dealing with the numbers on the top of the fractions. (15-8)

3 15/20 - 1 8/20 = 2 7/20 (two and seven twentieths)

Okay, so it looks long winded, but it took much less time to work it out than to write it down, and Mrs Rigby didn't use a calculator.

When Mrs Rigby first learned to do this Maths calculators hadn't been invented, there were complicated things called Log Tables, but they didn't get used until half way through secondary school, ready for O-level work.

Mrs Rigby is still a little bemused to know that children of 16 are being asked to do calculations like this as part of their GCSE Maths exams, and can even have the benefit of using a calculator to help make things quicker and easier, because she learned to do things with fractions at primary school - which she left when she was 10 years old because her birthday falls in the summer!

Mrs Rigby is even more bemused by the newspapers that reported this and whose reporters turned the numbers into decimals ... and they did that by using calculators!

Mrs Rigby would like to know how modern children would have coped with pre-decimal currency, where they would have had to deal with multiple number bases and complicated addition, subtraction and multiplication just to know how much something cost.

It doesn't seem as if metrication did a lot of good.

As for the point of the question Mr Balls asked - probably not much use really unless it can be related to real life.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The new religion.

Mrs Rigby was interested to read in the Telegraph that :-

Chinese snowstorms kill 40 and leave thousands homeless

Up to 40 people have been killed and thousands more left homeless after unusually early winter blizzards hit north-central China.
caused nearly 10,000 buildings to collapse and destroyed almost 500,000 acres of winter crops
It's an historical event, because
The snowfall is the heaviest in the northern and central provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Shandong and Henan in living memory.
Hebei's provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, has received nearly two feet of snow in three days, the heaviest fall in the city since 1955.

Without being too sarcastic, and trying frantically to link to the story she intended to write about, Mrs R wonders if the people of China should have taken care to switch to the new religion of the green god. They might have been saved from the snow, because the AGW prophets of the green tell us it's getting warmer and so they wouldn't have allowed snow to happen.

You see Mrs Rigby remembers reading about Tim Nicholson who, according to the BBC, said :
... his beliefs had contributed to his dismissal and in March a judge ruled he could use employment equality laws to claim it was unfair
The firm that had dismissed him disagreed, hence their appeal in October against the earlier ruling in March because they felt his views were political.

Mr Nicholson's appeal against his dismissal was upheld by the Tribunal in London because, his solicitor said :
"Essentially what the judgment says is that a belief in man-made climate change and the alleged resulting moral imperative is capable of being a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by the 2003 religion or belief regulations."
The company, Grainger plc, on the other hand thinks that
"This decision merely confirms that views on the importance of environmental protection are capable of amounting to a philosophical belief.
"Grainger absolutely maintains, as it has done from the very outset of these proceedings, that Mr Nicholson's redundancy was driven solely by the operational needs of the company during a period of extraordinary market turbulence, which also required other structural changes to be made within the company.
"Grainger rejects outright any suggestion that there was any other motivation relating to Mr Nicholson's beliefs or otherwise."

Mrs R had a rummage around the internet. The 'Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003' are here and apply to employers and employees, but the rules apply outside employment too. According to Human Rights legislation, as outlined on CivilRightsMovement website :
... religious discrimination is unlawful.
That means we are free to choose our own religion, and should be able to express ourselves because :
The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights with regards to religion and beliefs
but it would seem that :

... the right to freedom of thought including religion and beliefs that are covered in the act only pertains to public bodies (my bold)

That bit, Mrs R thinks, is quite important, but left a loophole that lawyers later closed, because :

In Britain the Race Relations Act 1976 was amended in 2000 to include the clause that discrimination in employment due to religious beliefs is unlawful.

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 provided extra protection to those with or without religions beliefs in everyday life. (my bold)

So ... and please understand that this is a very tortuous train of thought that gets there in the end ...

Mrs Rigby thinks that last sentence is also very important, and should be looked at very carefully.

You see, Mrs Rigby thinks that, if the legal ruling means that Tim Nicholson and AGW-believers can say they hold a 'philosophical or religious belief' in relation to their employment then this has to be supported by all other aspects of Human Rights Legislation, so this ruling suggests that government and other 'public bodies' must also accept and acknowledge that a counter argument against AGW could amount to being without a 'philosophical or religious belief' in the same way as the 'there is a God' and the 'there is no God' believers have their rights respected and supported by law.

The law says that 'philosophical or religious belief' of ordinary people are protected in 'everyday life'.

Mrs Rigby thinks this means that government, public bodies, and other people are not allowed to presume that everybody in the country subscribes to any single one, group, or set of religious or philosophical beliefs. She thinks the government has to allow, and has to encourage a diversity of belief and philosophical ideas, as do all public bodies.

Following on from that, Mrs R thinks that government and other public bodies are not allowed to promote one 'philosophical or religious belief' over another - and they are not allowed to punish or disclaim or attempt to discredit those who do not place one, or another, 'philosophical or religious belief' in a position of greater esteem to or above another. It should also mean that people can choose, whether at work or in their homes, not to believe anything at all, if they don't want to, and nobody should be allowed to put pressure on them to change their minds.


Mrs Rigby thinks the law also means that the government and other 'public bodies' cannot force people to subscribe to a particular religious or philosophical belief - if they could do that they could force us all to be Christians, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or Scientologists. Couldn't they?

They wouldn't ever do that, nobody would allow them to get away with it. Would they?

So Mrs Rigby would like to know ...

Why are government, and other public bodies, allowed to spend a lot of public money trying to force us all to believe in Climate Change and Anthropomorphic Global Warming - when there has been a legal judgement that that this is a 'philosophical or religious belief'?

... Still with me?

And why are those people who do believe in the 'religion or philosophical belief' of Climate Change or AGW allowed to call people who don't believe in this 'religion or philosophical belief' horrible names?

How would it work out if, say, somebody who regularly attended a church criticized a person who regularly attended a synagogue for being 'in denial', or said 'we still have a way to go in informing' them about Christianity? Mrs Rigby thinks that somebody would probably be told off, and very quickly too - quite rightly, because nobody has the right to force their 'religion or philosophical belief' onto another. The law says that too.

We are free to believe whatever we choose, that's what the law says, and it says nobody can be forced to follow a religion or philosophical belief. No individual, no employer and no public body is allowed to force their religious or philosophical belief on another, and try to force them to abide by that religion or philosophical belief. The law says we may all practise our religions and beliefs freely, by exercising personal choice - that's what 'freedom to choose' means.

So, because Tim Nicholson has been told that his views on AGW and climate change amount to a 'religion or philosophical belief', and he must be allowed the freedom to practice those beliefs, the same freedom must now apply to those who don't believe in AGW.

Ah, but it seems not!

Thanks to Iain Dale Mrs Rigby read The Times article announcing that :

Global warming is not our fault, say most voters in Times poll
It goes on to say that :

Only 41 per cent accept as an established scientific fact that global warming is taking place and is largely man-made. Almost a third (32 per cent) believe that the link is not yet proved; 8 per cent say that it is environmentalist propaganda to blame man and 15 per cent say that the world is not warming.
According to Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office :
growing awareness of the scale of the problem appeared to be resulting in people taking refuge in denial.
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said
We know that we still have a way to go in informing people about climate change
So much for freedom of 'religion or philosophical belief'. We have both a government minister and an important person with their own department at the Met Office both being paid to promote what a Judge has said is a 'philosophical or religious belief'.

It would seem, at the moment, that only the believers are allowed to have an opinion, and the 59% of the population who do not subscribe to the new 'religion or philosophical belief' and are 'uninformed' or 'in denial' must be converted, at all costs, otherwise the planet will burn up.

Mrs R wonders how long it will take before another Judge comes along and changes the ruling, otherwise Britain will no longer be a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-faith country, it will be a country with only one 'philosophical or religious belief' - with the state ensuring we all bow low to the green deity of Climate Change and Anthropomorphic Global Warming.

Airborn CO2 and Bristol University

From Watts Up With That
Bombshell from Bristol: Is the airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions increasing? – study says “no”

New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now.
This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.
The results run contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase, letting greenhouse gas levels skyrocket. Dr Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol found that in fact the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has only been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, which is essentially zero.
Read the complete article here

Thursday, 12 November 2009

MoD bonuses and equipment shortages

The media is awash with news that MoD staff have received bonuses totalling millions of pounds, whilst at the same time soldiers are doing without or having to share equipment such as mine detectors
Mr Johnson said the MoD staff did 'difficult and sometimes dangerous' jobs which in some cases warranted a bonus
Mrs Rigby is intrigued to know what MoD staff consider is dangerous about their job, when they mostly sit in a nice chair in front of a carefully designed desk - to make sure they don't get RSI - and their working environment is controlled by air conditioning.

Compared to front line troops who drive vehicles through minefields whilst getting shot at because there aren't enough helicopters, Mrs R knows who she thinks has the most dangerous task.

Apparently there are
... 85,000 civil servants at the MoD, one for every two active troops.
Odd sort of balance, don't you think?

Mrs R ponders on the thought that soldiers go without body armour so the MoD staff can have plenty of pens and paper, and lots of pairs of scissors with which to make cuts - or would they be too dangerous for them to use?


Mr Brown has announced that he will :
... "examine" any questions raised over the bonuses paid to civil servants at the Ministry of Defence.
and :
"If there are any questions asked over the bonuses, I will examine them.
What a truly intriguing thing to do, examine a question.

Mrs R would have thought it far better to examine the issue raised by these obscene bonuses, but she supposes that in the end, all that will happen is that they set up a committee that will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, and this money will come from the MoD budget, further reducing the cash available to the military.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Col. John McCRae

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Phone call.

The Sun carries a recording of a telephone conversation between our Prime Minister and Mrs Janes, which should be listened to alongside the full transcript. (Hat-tip to Dizzy)

Mrs Rigby is more than a little bemused that Mr Brown felt the need to make this phone call and, actually, she isn't sure how she would react if she answered her phone to find somebody claiming to be the Prime Minister on the line.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Do they understand the science?

According to an article in the Mail
Supermarkets should put doors on all freezer units to cut down on energy waste, [Consumer Focus] the Government's customer body has said.

Sainsbury's said it is looking at the idea of putting doors on freezer and chiller cabinets.

However, today it is pledging to change the gas used to keep its fridges cool in a bid to cut energy use.

The company is pledging to switch to fridges to CO2 gas in all stores by 2030 and has earmarked the first 135 stores for conversion by 2014. This will cut energy by around a third

Mrs R is interested to know that

Chief executive, Justin King, said: 'Fridges are by far and away the biggest source of CO2 emissions in any supermarket through both the energy required to power them and the refrigerants themselves.

If all supermarkets in the UK switched to this sort of refrigeration, the reduction in CO2 emissions would amount to around 2m tonnes a year.'

So what are they going to do?

They're going to use all the nasty CO2 to make their freezers colder :-

The gases most commonly used in supermarket refrigeration are HFCs and HCFCs, also known as ‘F-gases’. Where F-gases have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 2,000-3,000, CO2 has a GWP of just 1 making it many times less ‘damaging’ in environmental terms.'
So, it would seem that according to Sainsbury's, government-run Consumer Focus and the Daily Mail, CO2 is not the worst bête noire, as AGW alarmists would have us believe.

A question of empathy and Mr Brown.

The media and the blogosphere are awash with comment regarding the letter Mr Brown sent to a dead soldier's family. Some are complaining because it is full of spelling mistakes, others say it was a kind gesture and he shouldn't be censured - moreso because he has a sight problem. Some are saying that Mrs Janes should not have contacted the media and is trying to make some personal capital.

Mrs R views it slightly differently. You see, she thinks that Mr Brown, as Prime Minister, represents her. It he and his political party who decides how Britain, and the British people, are portrayed on the international stage.

Mrs R has sent letters or cards to friends or relatives when somebody has died. Mrs Rigby knows that most people keep letters and cards like this for ever, they are a precious memento of their loved one and affirms their belief that the deceased was well loved and well respected. This is why, whenever Mrs R has decided to do more than send a card, it has taken her ages and she's made sure it has been carefully handwritten on decent notepaper.

The easiest way to offer condolences, and to make sure the right words are used, is to go into a shop and buy a preprinted card that contains a message, it avoids having to use your own words, avoids having to write too much and generally fits in with the way most people do things these days. So why, Mrs R wants to know, couldn't Mr Brown use a standard form of letter and simply sign his name at the end? Doing this would have avoided the current wave of controversy, criticism and condemnation, and would have avoided people having once again to take sides.

Mr Brown, as my Prime Minister and my representative, quite rightly contacts the grieving families of deceased troops to offer condolences. It is something Mrs Rigby had assumed he would do as a matter of course, rather than being something special or unusual. He does this as a representative of the nation, not as a private individual - it's the Prime Minister who writes these letters, not Gordon Brown who is only temporarily in the role.

Because of this Mrs Rigby believes he should always put the greatest effort into how such a letter is presented, and believes he should ensure that it is of the highest possible standard. Letters of such personal importance should never be rushed, should certainly never appear to have been written as an afterthought at the end of a busy day. The person who receives the letter needs to know, and needs to believe, that we people of Britain are sorry that their son/daughter/husband/wife/father has died whilst on active service, and that we are indebted to them, for ever - and it is the job of the Prime Minister to ensure that they know this.

Mrs Rigby doesn't think that a handwritten letter scattered with spelling mistakes, including that of the recipients name, is good enough.

More than once Mrs R has thought that, somehow, Mr Brown lacks empathy. He seems to lack the ability to understand how other people feel when he makes mistakes and his own, or his office's, attempts to apologise only seem to make things worse. They seem to dig a deeper hole rather than trying to fill it in. They don't seem to realise that there is always something insincere in a quick apology, more especially when a few moments initial care, and a little attention to detail, would have ensured that no apology would ever be necessary.

BBC radio has reported that Mr Brown takes great care when writing these letters - if that's the case then why so many mistakes? Iain Dale carries a copy the statement issued by Downing Street on behalf of the PM. This are the last sentences. :-
I have at all times acted in good faith seeking to do the right thing. I do not think anyone will believe that I write letters with any intent to cause offence.
This is a typical instance of NLP and is designed to wrongfoot the recipient, to make them question their emotions and feel guilty for being unhappy. This sort of language is designed to ensure that one person, and only one person, retains the upper hand in any argument or dispute.

At the same time the Times reports, Gordon Brown 'mortified' over misspelt letter of condolence (by the way, Times, the words is "misspelled", although it is pronounced "misspelt"!)

Mrs Rigby looked up mortify on Ask Oxford. This is what it says


verb (mortifies, mortified) 1 cause to feel embarrassed or humiliated. 2 subdue (physical urges) by self-denial or discipline. 3 be affected by gangrene or necrosis.
— DERIVATIVES mortification noun mortifying adjective.
— ORIGIN Old French mortifier, from Latin mors ‘death’.
Mrs Rigby has to ask if Mr Brown truly feels embarrassed or humiliated or does the word infer one of the other meanings? She also questions the probity use of the word 'mortify' when referring to mistakes written in a letter of condolence.

Moving onwards, now, and backwards in time.

On Saturday evening (7th November) the BBC broadcast the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and yesterday it broadcast the service and marchpast at the Cenotaph. (video from aol because the BBC one disappears in 6 days) Mrs R wasn't able to watch either broadcast live, so caught up yesterday evening.

First of all she watched the service at the Cenotaph in London and thought she noticed that Mr Brown didn't bow his head as a mark of respect. She thought, first of all, that she was mistaken or that perhaps the camera had panned away at the crucial moment. It seems not, because many, many people are talking about it and are also making all sorts of excuses. Mrs Rigby wondered if, perhaps, Mr Brown was unsettled by the sombre and grand occasion, maybe he didn't want to bow his head to a pointy bit of granite, maybe he forgot what he was meant to do or maybe he decided to break with tradition. The thing is that none of these excuses hold water.

Mrs Rigby has never been to the Cenotaph, but she has watched the ceremony every year for as long as she can remember and has also attended a local service. She has noticed that every single person who lays a wreath also bows their head for a moment. She knows that they don't bow their head to the Cenotaph or to a War Memorial carved out of stone, she knows they bow their head at what the memorial represents - which is to acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives in service to their country, so many that, apparently, if they stood in massed ranks preparing to march past the Cenotaph their line would end at Edinburgh.

Mrs Rigby notes what the Army Rumour Service thinks of what happened yesterday at the Cenotaph. You can read for yourself, here.

Within that thread somebody else picks up on another thing Mrs Rigby noticed while she watched the British Legion Festival of Remembrance, which was a wondrous thing that brought many tears to her eyes.

During the broadcast the cameras frequently showed what the Queen, Royal Family, Mr Brown and Mr Cameron were doing. Mrs Rigby noticed that whenever the camera panned on to MMr Brown during the hymns he was looking down at the service sheet, seemingly checking on the words - unlike anybody else in the Albert Hall and slightly surprising for somebody brought up as the "son of the Manse".

Whenever Mr Brown was shown seated, when he should have been watching what was happening below him, he was fidgeting and his gaze wandering around, almost always across to his right, past the Queen to where Mr Cameron was. It was as if he was monitoring other people's actions instead of doing what he was there for - which was to be Mrs R's representative at a Festival of Remembrance. He reminded Mrs Rigby so very much of a child who finds it difficult to sit still and do whatever they're meant to be doing because of other more-important-to-them things going through their mind that they're incapable of suppressing, even for a moment.

But, Gordon Brown isn't a child and he isn't a private individual, he is Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland representing many, many people. The Festival wasn't very long, not even long enough for Mrs R to put it on hold so she could wander off to make a cup of coffee. So why on earth couldn't such an important man sit still for an hour or so?

Why does Mrs Rigby have to be represented by somebody who is, so often, more than a bit embarrassing?
Read Charlotte Gore's opinion of the Brown letter, take note of the comments.

Read Paul Waugh's thoughts here.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

For The Fallen

For the Fallen

Written in 1914
by Robert Lawrence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

How many police officers does it take to control a bus queue?

Precisely how many Police it takes to control a bus queue is uncertain, but it includes a PCSO who was originally supervising the queue and :-

Local safer neighbourhood teams, safer transport teams and police officers from Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich were all drafted in to deal with the mob.

The Met’s dog unit and territorial support group were also called to the scene.

It all started when students going home after a day's hard work at Orpington College were told they couldn't get on a bus because it was full. Some of them thought it would be a good idea to :-
... force their way onto the bus, kicking the front and back doors.

The violence quickly escalated and a 25-year-old PCSO sustained a cut above his left eye.

Two other police officers were also struck during the incident.
and then,
The high street was shut for around an hour while officers fought running battles with the teenagers.
Mrs Rigby was interested to read the comments beneath the article in the Newshopper (thanks to Ambush Predator), including this from a bus driver,
I am a regular driver of route 51, it does not surprise me at all what happened in Orpington High St. on Tuesday. We are subjected to a barrage of verbal abuse from the time we start until we finish and we would get physically assaulted if we were not protected by an assault screen. This abuse is usually because of fare disputes, but often it is because the bus is full and we can't let any more people on. As a bus driver we are legally responsible for the safety of the bus and if it were involved in an accident and found to be overloaded we would definitely be sacked, could lose our PCV licence and could be fined or even jailed.

Arguments also occur frequently about baby buggies, we can only carry 2 unfolded in the disabled bay and 1 folded in the luggage rack, why don't young mums ever walk anywhere with their babies any more? They are amongst the most foul mouthed when we refuse them entry!

We get sworn at on a daily basis because we refuse people entry who are carrying pots of paint and inflammible liquids and people seem to think we are exempt from traffic jams and swear at us for being late, usually implying that we have been sitting in the canteen.

When the buses are turned because of late running despite the blinds clearly stating the destination and the in bus information announcing the destination, we are again verbally abused.

The 51 is actually no worse than any other route in London as I sometimes drive other routes. Fortunately I don't have many years to go before I can retire and get away from what is now a stressful and un-satisfying job.
From students, who clearly have plenty of spare time after college, there is this
wer d future so wen ur old well b der...
and this
excusee mee i dnt kno where all dis story is coming from nd i dnt kno y ppl r over exagerrating nd gettin scared chattin rubbish about orpington college students. i am a student dere nd dats not even how it happened IT WAS THE POLICE CAUSING A SCENE. nd to dat fed dat got hurt good 4 him he deserved it. all u old ppl dat live in orpington y u gettin shook 4 did n e wun touch you? NO so shut up. any way freeeeeeee da ppl dat got knickd it was'nt ur fault dese feds r gettin xcited coz dere in uniform. nd ppl if ur scared STAY IN UR HOUSE. nd stop tellin stories like u woz dere frm beggining FOOLSS
In response to concerns about the quality of teaching there is this,
Orpington college have grammar exams in place when you first apply and actually go out of their way to make sure that students who have problems with their English and grammar recieve special help. Whether or not they accept this help is another story.
But it would appear that some students have their own special reason for attending college,
i had good reason to further my edercation at orpington: free gym, ema, socialising and to learn..
Mrs Rigby is delighted to know that the main reason this young person wanted to go to the college was because it has a gym, because the government Rigby Family would pay them £30 a week Educational Maintenance Allowance so they can build some nice muscles, (especially irritating because Junior Rigby is still waiting for this year's student loan to appear) so that when they spend time with their friends they don't look too puny. Then, in their spare time, they might be able to relax study learn to spell.

Mrs Rigby thinks students like these will, presumably, be the ones that nice Lord Mandelson wants to give prior right to a University place, over and above any student who has had the misfortune to have been brought up to behave decently and to have attended a school that makes them work hard.

From the Mail

Middle-class pupils face being bumped off prestigious university courses under plans to give youngsters from poor homes an A-level 'head start', it emerged yesterday.

Unveiling a ten-year blueprint for universities, Lord Mandelson declared that published or predicted A-level grades would not be enough to win places at leading universities.

72,324 sign a petition - with no positive outcome.

Kalvis Jansons' "Please-Go" petition is now closed, and the 72,234 signatories will have received their response.

The petition said:-

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to resign.”
Details of Petition:
“There are many reasons why we might want Brown to resign, but rather than having lots of narrow petitions on this topic (most of which have been rejected), I wanted one for all of us.”
The response says :-

The Prime Minister is completely focussed on restoring the economy, getting people back to work and improving standards in public services. As the Prime Minister has consistently said, he is determined to build a stronger, fairer, better Britain for all.
Luckily for Mrs Rigby she noticed her email from Number10 had been automatically consigned to her Junk Folder!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Power cuts and costs

Mrs Rigby was wandering through the Guardian today, and noticed a couple of interesting articles.

Apparently UK only has storage for a few hours worth of gas,

The UK could run out of gas within six hours this winter, the Observer has learned. The revelation has sparked a row between the Conservatives and Labour over who is doing more to keep the heating on. Last winter, the UK was left with only three days of reserves when foreign energy companies started exporting gas to supply their European customers after Russia cut supplies that used a pipeline through Ukraine.

A spokeswoman for Ed Miliband's energy and climate change department said that under a civil contingency act he had the power to halt exports from the UK if the Queen had signed the order.

So it's the Tories fault - but Mrs Rigby would be interested to know who has been responsible for demolishing all the gasometers. She'd heard they were got rid of because they were a health hazard and a possible target for terrorists.

She's a little bemused by mention of the Civil Contingency Act though, and wonders if not enough gas coming through the pipeline from Russia is really enough to declare a state of emergency.

The Guardian has uncovered 'secret' plans to make those of us who have fuel bills pay an additional tariff tax to fund construction of nuclear power plants. Not very secret now, is it?

The government believes that only by artificially increasing the cost of electricity generated by coal and gas stations through an additional carbon levy on household bills can nuclear become more competitive and encourage new reactors to be built.

One European utility executive told the Guardian: "New nuclear will not happen without sorting out the carbon price." The Guardian understands that the Office of Nuclear Development (OND), set up by Lord Mandelson's business department, has promised nuclear companies that the price of carbon under the EU emissions trading scheme – now about €13 per tonne – will not be allowed to fall below €30 per tonne, and ideally €40. According to the energy consultancy firm EIC, the new carbon levy would add £44 to the £500 annual electricity bill paid by an average household.

Mrs R notices the dreaded C-for-Carbon word again. This Carbon is obviously terribly expensive stuff. She wonders if she can buy some in a shop, or if it's only big governments who can buy and sell it whilst the rest of us pay the bills, with new taxes piled on top of old taxes until we haven't a clue what's going on.


According to 'Burning our Money' Britain has become great again, but not in a good way. We have the greatest government deficit of the developed world

Here's an extract :
we must just record an eye-popping chart recently published by the OECD. It shows their estimate of the fiscal deficit each of their members will clock up this year (as a percentage of GDP). And as we can see, we are at the very bottom of the league.


You should remember this chart next time you hear Brown/Darling or one of their media apologists telling us we are helpless victims of an international problem. The reality is that we are worse placed than anyone else - including basket cases like Ireland and Iceland.
See the chart here and weep, for us, our children, our grandchildren and probably our great-grandchildren too.

Who would have thought that a mere twelve years of socialism could do this - thanks Gordon!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Spilling secret beans.

The Times reports conversations between the now Lord Irvine of Lairg and Tony Blair relating to the decision to abolish the position of Lord Chancellor :-
[Lord Irvine] first discovered that the office of Lord Chancellor was to be abolished and the job transferred to a Secretary of State in the Commons in early June 2003, just days before it happened. “I had no intimation of this but when The Times and the Telegraph carried the rumour I determined to see the Prime Minister.”

That was at No 10 on June 5. Mr Blair hesitated and then said that it was being considered but nothing had been decided. Lord Irvine asked “how a decision of this magnitude” could be made without consultation with himself, the permanent secretary within government, the judiciary, House of Lords authorities and the Palace.

“The Prime Minister appeared mystified and said that these machinery of government changes always had to be carried into effect in a way that precluded such discussion because of the risk of leaks.”

What makes Mrs Rigby more than a little bemused is what might have happened had these plans been "leaked" - presumably to the opposition and the media - and if these matters had been discussed, debated and voted on in Parliament, which is where we ordinary folk expect such wide reaching decisions to be made. With a massive majority it would have been surprising if things hadn't gone according to plan.

The end result is that Jack Straw, MP for Blackburn, is "Lord Chancellor" and "Secretary of State for Justice", in charge of the brand new Supreme Court which the "Justice Department" says :
... provides greater clarity in our constitutional arrangements by further separating the judiciary from the legislature.
This is the same Jack Straw that avoided answering a QT questioner, who asked, "Can the recent success of the British National party be explained by the misguided immigration policy of the government?", by coincidence only a day before other secret discussions were revealed (quoting from Minette Marin's article in today's Times) :-
Andrew Neather — a former adviser to Straw, Blair and David Blunkett — revealed that Labour ministers had a hidden agenda in allowing immigrants to flood into the country.

According to Neather, who was present at secret meetings during the summer of 2000, the government had “a driving political purpose” which was: “mass immigration was the way that the government was going to make the UK truly multicultural”.

What’s more, Neather said he came away “from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended — even if this wasn’t its main purpose — to rub the right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date”.

“There was a reluctance ... in government,” he wrote, “to discuss what increased immigration would mean, above all for Labour’s core white working-class vote.” The social outcomes that ministers cared about were those affecting the immigrants. This, Neather explains, shone out in a report published in 2001 after these confidential deliberations. One must question whether this is true. Needless to say, Straw has denied all this and Neather has since tried to back-pedal.
Mrs Rigby can't, from any of the reports she has read, work out what the truth is. She simply hasn't a clue. But, she does know that Britain has changed so much that it no longer even vaguely resembles the Britain of pre-1997 when Labour were first elected.

Since 1997 a whole generation of young people have grown up, they seem to accept that it's normal to be watched by CCTV cameras, that it's normal to be asked for identification by any number of either uniformed or non-uniformed individuals. It's normal for the Police to close roads without saying why, and it's normal for DNA to be taken at the slightest opportunity. It's become normal for summary justice to be served through the post, without the chance of time in a Court of Law to plead innocence.

Since 1997 it's become normal for people's personal and private opinions to result in dismissal from work, and words said in private conversations to be reported to the authorities. It's become normal for ordinary people to be criminalised for trivial 'new' offences, whilst thugs are let off with a warning, or taken to Alton Towers.

It's also become normal for our MPs to be subjects of scorn and derision - unworthy of the trust we, the public, place in them.

Mrs Rigby thinks it will be quite a tangle for the next government to unravel, if they have either the time or energy to do so whilst they are also dealing with the financial mess they will inherit.