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)

Thursday, 31 December 2009

2010 and beyond?

2010 and the next decade - who knows what it will bring. Sadly Mrs R and her family are fairly sure they have a good idea what won't happen.

It's unlikely that Harriet Harman will introduce legislation that ensures all people are treated equally, especially if her latest broadside against 'middle England' is to be believed and the 'socially disadvantaged' will get better fire services than those living in leafy suburbs where more people behave themselves and don't have so many chip fires.

It's doubtful that Trevor Phillip's CRE will act on behalf of a white chap who thinks he's been discriminated against, because yet another of Harriet's Laws says it's fine to do that - it's called 'positive discrimination'.

It's unlikely that newspapers will carry reports of Muslims, Sikhs or Hindus being sacked because they want to wear something that represents their religion, and she can't imagine anything going wrong with the idea that forcing almost all adult airline passengers to pass through body scanners at airports will stop potential bombers - because of course nobody under 18 would ever want to be a terrorist and blow themselves up, and nor would a man ever pretend to be a 'modest' woman to avoid checks.

Will exam grades be a true indication of academic achievement (that is valued by employers) in either the coming year, or over the next ten years? - Probably not, not while primary school children are being taught about sexual matters instead of being taught to read, write and do a few sums.

Will our state-educated future-scientists make a difference to the world of the future? - Probably not, not whilst GCSE syllabuses are packed full of general knowledge trivia and health propaganda instead of scientific fact.

Will some bad laws, that restrict civil liberties, be repealed? - Probably not, there are likely to be more laws, that sneak onto the books without Parliament noticing, including one promulgated by police forces who think all photographers should have to carry ID, because all people who take photographs are potential terrorists.

Will the Labour Party win the coming general election? - Probably not, but Mrs R has an inkling that their defeat will not be a massive victory for only one of the other parties. She has a feeling that the BNP might actually gain more seats than thought possible, because many working people feel Labour has sadly betrayed the "labouring" man they claim to represent.

Will people regain their trust in politicians, if they ever had any? - Probably not, the last twelve years have had such a damaging effect that even law-abiding young people distrust those in positions of high authority, whilst the thugs treat them with disdain and contempt.

Will creative taxation continue? - Probably, because governments need money and with the working population dwindling it's hard to raise enough cash directly from wages. So we'll probably see green taxes snowball (snigger) to, apparently, combat climate change - because it's a politically expedient excuse supported by some of the scientific community. Detractors will probably continue to be badmouthed and subjected to ad hominem attack.

Medical science will be likely to advance, but filthy smokers will continue to be blamed for almost every ill known to mankind, from ingrowing toenails to the uptake of vitamins and scurvy. It's likely meat eaters will be next, after alcohol drinkers, because it's reported that red meat makes you blind.

Will the Rigby family be happy? - Yep! We'll continue to mumble, moan and complain at our cornflakes. We're fairly confident we'll ride the coming storm just as our parents did before us.

Good luck, and Happy New Year to anybody who may be reading.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Mrs R went to Tesco earlier today intending to buy box of six tiny Christmas Crackers to put under the Rigby family's tree.

She had a bit of a problem though, and had to be checked out by a supervisor because the little box's barcode carried a secret message telling the computer that the Christmas Crackers are dangerous and Mrs Rigby could be buying them with nefarious intent.

Fortunately the supervisor realised Mrs R was unlikely to be such a person, and she was given the go-ahead to buy the Crackers and take them home.

Some rules really do seem to be, errm, crackers!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Did you read the one about ...

... the Mummies and Daddies who go to, and stay at, University with their children?

No, not a joke, it's for real. Look here!

Not only do Mummies and Daddies make sure their children have packed their toothbrushes and teddy bears, iPods and televisions, they also
... [sleep] on the floor in halls of residence for several days to help their youngsters 'settle in' ...
... had to persuade 'helicopter' parents - who hover over their children's lives - to leave their sons or daughters so they can experience independent living.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

An unusual way to plan a defence strategy.

Today's reports in the media of closing RAF Cottesmore to pay for a few helicopters seem to have met with a little irritation, if comments in The Mail or on ARRSE are anything to go by.

The BBC hadn't any comments for its article, but has opened an HYS asking

What cuts can be made to balance a stretched defence budget? In which areas should defence spending be concentrated?
So that's a fait accompli then! No real need to discuss whether there should be defence cuts, merely where they should be!

What the newspaper articles are saying is that 22 new Chinooks have been ordered - because they're needed in Afghanistan. The first ten might be ready for 2013, so will be a little late because we've already been told we'll be out of Afghanistan before then. There's no hint of when the next 12 might be ready, perhaps it will be sooner than those helicopters we've already got, but that might never fly because they've got the wrong software.

Anyhow, apparently there isn't any money in the Defence Budget to pay for these lovely helicopters so Mr Ainsworth has decided it will be a good idea to get rid of a whole RAF base, the one at Cottesmore in Rutland.

Rutland and Melton is, incidentally, Tory Alan Duncan's constituency.

The MoD obviously thinks that will save the country a lot of money because it means they, the MoD, won't have to pay lots of wages and it won't have to pay for lots of equipment. They haven't thought outside their little financial box, and haven't realised that making people redundant will take money out of the national coffers - even though it's a different section of the rattlingly empty national coffers, because when, and if, the base closes the local supportive infrastructure will crumble and a lot of people will lose their jobs - and will claim unemployment benefit.

Also tucked away in the Mail's article is this gem

Two Royal Navy vessels will also be withdrawn from service in an effort to balance the books
So not only has the Navy got a lovely new boat that can't use its' weapons, it's going to have to lose some of those it's already got.

Phew, this is almost too much to take in all at once - maybe that's why it's all being said at once, because it's hard to focus on more than one tiny part of this news.

Moving swiftly backwards in time, to Sunday 13th December 2009.

What hasn't been referred to in today's reports is the news that was slipped out in an article in The Times last Sunday, maybe it was published when everybody was asleep because it has only four comments.

The article outlines other areas of cuts, and lays the blame fairly on the head of General Sir David Richards, who studied Politics and Economics at Cardiff University, because it says that,
The new head of the army [Gen. Sir David Richards] has ordered a cull of more than 300 senior officers, including two major-generals and up to 32 brigadiers.
Two major-general posts will go, one at 4th Division in Aldershot and the other at 5th Division at Shrewsbury. However, this is just two out of a total of 43 major-generals.
The closure of these divisional headquarters will also see the loss of a number of other staff officers, plus redundancies for civilian staff.
So more people out of work, because the MoD can't balance its' books.

Further into the article is a comment by Major-General Jonathan Shaw, the Colonel-Commandant of the Parachute Regiment, who "warns in the latest edition of the regimental journal Pegasus that
other infantry units are attempting to see its role axed."

The Times goes on to justify this because
No British paratroopers have dropped into battle since Suez in 1956. There are suggestions that the regiment should be broken up and used as forward reconnaissance units for the army’s frontline brigades.
So they've decided that, because an important regiment hasn't been used very often we don't need to keep it? The Paras? Surely not.

It's an unusual way to plan a defence strategy.

Is it any wonder that soldiers prefer to salute their officers than shake somebody's hand - visit Dizzy's place to see the video.

And maybe the military should be allowed to officially declare war on CO2, that way it might be able to claim some of the money that's obviously lying around because Mr Brown has just given away £1.5 million - to help other countries beat "Climate Change".

Monday, 14 December 2009

Climategate - equality means a backward step

It's interesting to ponder whether these scientists have muddled their scientific analysis and research with sociology and social manipulation when looking at these extracts from some of the Climategate emails :-

"A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation." - Paul Ehrlich, Professor of Population Studies

"The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can't let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are." - Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

And this next one is, maybe, why there has been such an apparent reluctance to develop alternative fuels that are truly alternative, that don't depend on electricity or oil. Some people don't seem to realise that electricity almost always come from power stations.

"Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it." - Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

These extracts come from here

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Climategate in the Mail ...

The Mail carries a lengthy article analysing the "Climategate" emails.

It's well worth reading but, unless you're one of Mr Brown's 'flat-earthers', it'll probably raise your temperature.

Mrs R was interested to read this red-arrowed comment,
Whatever the sceptics say about the validity of climate change claims,they cannot deny is that mankind is causing extreme damage to the biosphere by extensive deforestation & air polution,rapid depletion of natural recources. Also unfettered population growth is a serious threat to the wellbeing of mankind {or to be politically correct,personkind} These are important issues & I certainly hope they are all included in the current discussions& not just about carbon emissions.
Whilst Mrs R doesn't necessarily agree with the whole of this comment the general idea does seem about right, because it seems that the force and focus of the 'green' movement's propaganda has shifted away from the damage we know man is doing to the planet, and it's been shifted to support a clever scheme involving carbon dioxide and carbon trading - which is making some people a lot of money. It's that scheme and that trading, and phenomenal amounts of money changing hands, that seems to have been the basis of the Copenhagen meetings.

If it's true that data has been manipulated to present a particular politically acceptable outcome it means that we, the public, will be ever more sceptical when honest scientists want to tell us something important.

Crying wolf has always had a downside.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

No Heathrow third runway inquiry?

Surely parts of a village can't be tarmacked over without residents being able to voice their concerns?

Seems so - if this article is true

Ministers are set to rush through planning permission for a third runway at Heathrow without a full public inquiry, the Standard can reveal.

Official documents show the Government is prepared to make the decision itself instead of waiting for a new planning system to be introduced.

Under government reforms all decisions will be made by a new independent Infrastructure Planning Commission, due to start work next March.

But the commissioners cannot take a decision on Heathrow until ministers have drawn up a new national strategy on airports. It means the Transport Secretary will retain the power to make the final decision on Heathrow — and will not have to hold a public inquiry.

Such is democracy.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

... when global cooling was all the rage

Iain Dale asks a few questions about "Back when global cooling was all the rage". In amongst the comments is one from Shinsei, who doesn't appear to have a blog.

Let's look at Shinsei's comment in a bit more detail. (my comments in italics).

Shinsei - I'm sorry to sound slightly irate Iain but it is incredible that you keep posting comments about global warming that are factually incorrect and that you keep posing questions that you claim "no one has ever been able to explain to me" when a couple of minutes on the internet would explain these things simply.

The internet is a wonderful thing, and is also full of inaccuracies, but even so a 'couple of minutes' online will find articles that confirm Iain Dale's memories. A search will also discover many recent publications that ignore earlier scientific discussion and debate - something that's unusual in Science.

There is, of course, personal knowledge too - and that's what Iain Dale is referring to, and so he is not 'factually incorrect'.

It's remarkable how many of the adult population were at school in the seventies, or even earlier.

A high proportion of those were capable of reading independently even before they left primary school and had an interest in things climactic and scientific, especially as at that time there was a significant dip in temperatures and deep snow (40cm) in March 1970, for example. These people's memory is still remarkably acute considering they must all now be, oooh, at least 45.

The best science is checked by peer review - but some of the AGW people still don't want to share their data, maybe that's because when other real scientists check the figures and draw their own graphs a bit of figure-fiddling is easily spotted -
WuWT - 'The smoking gun at Darwin Zero'
Shinsei - 1) There was a mediaeval warm period, no member of the IPCC would deny that, however it was a lot less warm then than the temperature today.

Oh really? Less warm? Lookee here on WuWT
Shinsei - 2) Grapes have been grown in Yorkshire ever since the Romans brought grapes to England.

No, sorry, grapes have not been "grown in Yorkshire ever since the Romans brought grapes to England."

The internet has your answer,
with a little help from the Domesday Book
"... Of the Domesday vineyards, all appear to lie below a line from Ely (Cambridgeshire) to Gloucestershire. Since the Book covers all of England up to the river Tees (north of Yorkshire), there is therefore reason to think that there weren’t many vineyards north of that line."

Shinsei - 2) (contd) ... There are plenty of vineyards there [in Yorkshire] today. ....

Another quick search of the internet discovers a few modern vineyards in Yorkshire, at Ryedale, Holmfirth, Leventhorpe, Skellow and Great Hammerton Mrs Rigby has no knowledge of either them or their wine, she's sure it's tasty - but she doesn't really think that five vineyards in the whole of Yorkshire (2,941,247 acres/4,945 square miles) is "plenty" - but that's her subjective opinion and so is open to debate.
Shinsei - 2) (contd) ... All the documentary evidence though is that the wine made from these grapes in Roman times was pretty dire stuff, as you'd expect from a cool northern climate

How do you know that grapes from Roman wine was "pretty dire stuff"? Have you tasted any? Are your tastes the same as those of the Romans of that period? Have you made wine made from the same variety of grapes and the same species of yeast?

Where is all this 'documentary evidence'? - You ask other people to show their sources, but don't produce any of your own to support your sweeping statements - which, if unsupported, are merely opinion, not fact.

Did you read a book, an article in a newspaper or a scientific or archaeological journal, and was that information backed up
extensive practical and physical research or was it merely written by a person with twentieth or twenty-first century ideas and opinions of how horrible it must have been to have been a wine-drinking Roman living in Britain?
Shinsei - 3) I doubt you were ever TAUGHT at school that the world was going to cool rapidly. There was never a serious or consistent enough scientific consensus for global cooling to get into school textbooks or exam syllabuses. ...

The thing is, it looks as if you weren't there, so can only "doubt" what was or wasn't taught. Try asking people who were, and see what they say. Iain Dale is one of them.

Anyhow, why the big capitals? Not everybody who was alive in the seventies is now visually deaf!

Back in the dark, unenlightened, old days, including the seventies, eighties and early nineties,
children were taught Biology, Physics and Chemistry. They did Cookery/Domestic Science and used scarily sharpened knives. They did metalwork, with help from a metal-meltingly hot forge. In woodwork they using hard, heavy, hammers and newly whetted chisels, as well as needlework where fine, sharp metal needles and big pointy scissors helped make new clothes.

Back then school science teachers let children 'experiment' with nasty things like copper sulphate - because it obligingly changed colour on demand, let them chase mercury with magnets, let them make things go bang and cut open dead creatures to learn how they worked. Schoolchildren didn't die because of it. They were allowed to cook food in hot ovens, then take the meals home to be reheated. Nobody died of food poisoning - and nobody died of overwork either, even though Maths happened before calculators could be carried around in your pocket.

Schools taught how to do
practical Science, how to analyse results and how to draw conclusions from those results. It was seriously frowned upon if results were fiddled with or ignored in order to make them fit a hypothesis or theory.

Children were taught to question their results and investigate oddities and anomalies - not to hide them and presume they were wrong, because the best science teachers knew that it's always wise to look for the unusual result in case it's important. They'd heard of people like Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin 'by chance'.
(Even Wikipedia can be your friend, sometimes.)

Maybe all this is why so many 'oldies' are questioning the science behind climate change and global warming, because many of them have always been inquisitive and have always asked questions because their scientific education was based on finding out rather than being spoon fed - and because they've heard it, or something like it, before and also lived through the banning of CFCs.

Modern schools are struggling to find suitably qualified, knowledgeable and experienced Science teachers, especially those who are capable of teaching across the three disciplines of Biology, Physics and Chemistry to A-level standard. Some secondaries limit the amount of practical work their students can do because an H&S person says it's potentially
too dangerous to let them get their hands on chemicals, which is why so few school labs have fume cupboards and bits of glass that might break.

Modern 'Science', as dictated by the National Curriculum, teaches theories and dogma instead of encouraging investigative, independent and original thought. This, at its' worst, leads to unquestioning acceptance of new theories as scientific fact - many of today's students are never taught the difference, never taught to question the 'experts', never either expected or allowed to form their own opinions, especially not if their ideas run counter to current accepted thinking, and can in fact lose marks in exams if they don't produce the right answer containing the appropriate key words.

And, actually, Mrs Rigby knows that "Global Cooling" was taught in schools - but as a theory, as a possible, as a likelihood, not as a proven fact.

Shinsei - 3) (contd) ... However it probably appeared on a couple of Panorama programmes in the mid 70s. The media gave the global cooling thesis far greater prominence than the actual climate scientific community which, even then, were publishing far more research showing evidence of AGW.

It looks as if you're guessing. My clue is the use of the word "probably". If you don't know, keep quiet otherwise you make yourself look silly.

Shinsei - 4) Even if the world has been hotter in ages past without any man-made influence (which it no doubt has) that doesn't mean that current warming is not caused by human influence. ...

... and of course you have to accept the counter argument that if indeed there is current warming it could be a natural process, that we meddle with at our peril.

A theory is just that, it's an idea, it's ephemeral until it is proven - just like Darwin's Theory of Evolution. As we can't go back to see what happened to the dinosaurs we will never know, for sure, how some of them got to be so big, what they looked like, what colour they were and we'll never know why they seemed to have died out in a hurry. And nor will we know, for sure, why the Galapagos finches have different beaks, although we can make a jolly good guess.
Shinsei - 4) (contd) ... Climate is dependent on numerous factors - solar activity, moon orbits, tectonic plate shifts, tidal movements etc ...

As for tectonic movement affecting climate - I think you're misleading yourself. Tectonic movement theories are positional and have nothing to do with climate, although it can be, and probably is, related to volcanic activity which over millions of years has caused landmasses to move to areas that are either warmer or colder than where they originated. That isn't climate, it's a mixture of geophysics and geology.

The timescale involved is incomprehensible to most people, who think that maps are always going to be accurate because they're written on a piece of paper, and who worry when nature moves a bit of coastline to make it look different from an old picture.

Nature does things mankind doesn't like and things that mankind doesn't understand. Science is our way of trying to make sense of the planet and its' natural forces.

Shinsei - 4) (contd) ... AND man-made CO2 emissions.

Really? Is climate controlled by man-made CO2 emissions?

Prove it!

I haven't yet seen a single jot of incontroversial evidence that mankind has made things on Earth worse by breathing out.

I do, however, know that man's activities used to be a lot dirtier than now, with factories and homes belching out a mixture of sulphur gases that, according to scientists of the time, caused acid rain which killed inland fish and the European pine forests.

The filth spewing out of both homes and industries mixed with bitterly cold, damp, air causing poisonous smogs that killed people. The Thames was so dirty that salmon stopped breeding in it about 200 years ago. If you fell in and were rescued you were likely to succumb to poisoning, and it's mainly because London was an embarrassment that there were the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968, (which extended to the creation of smoke control areas and closure of urban power stations, with new ones built out of sight in the countryside) and also the beginnings of serious regulation of hazardous waste.

I also know that without CO2 plants will die and animals will starve - even primary school children are meant to study food chains, webs and pyramids these days, so there's absolutely no excuse for ignorance.

We need plants to survive, more CO2 possibly means more, healthier, plants - which is a good thing.
Shinsei - 4) (contd) ... The issue at the moment is that all these non-man made activities are not significant enough currently to explain present warming conditions.

Really? How do you know? Who told you, and who told them. And what "warming conditions"?

It isn't being widely reported that USA has had its earliest snowfall for years.

The BBC didn't mention the hard frosts in Southern England last week, that froze some ponds deep enough to support a human - I saw it, I did it, so it happened.

Why are they not telling?

It's mind-numbingly arrogant of mankind to believe that a single successful species - Homo sapiens - that is only capable of inhabiting a tiny proportion of the surface of this planet, can have a greater influence on climate than to quote
"... solar activity, moon orbits, tectonic plate shifts, tidal movements etc"

Have you any real idea how utterly insignificant animals of any species are when the planet gets angry? Hollywood got it wrong - running away from a volcanic eruption and pyroclastic flow isn't a viable option, as the people of Pompei and Herculaneum discovered and more recently the people living near Mount St Helens.

Did you know, for example, that the eruption of Krakatoa in 1833 resulted in a serious dip in temperature due to particular atmospheric pollutants?

Did you know about Constable's paintings depicting weather patterns related to volcanoes?

How about other painters? - Look here where it says, "
Many of Joseph Turner's works depicted sunsets. It is now clear that he was painting glowing skies caused by sunlight scattering off volcanic dust from the immense eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora in 1815."

They called that year the "year without a summer" because it got a bit cold and a bit dark, and crops failed.

And you say nature can't change weather patterns because it is not significant enough!

Shinsei - 5) There are snow drops out in Hyde Park today. I don't remember reading in Tacitus anything similar happening in the first century AD.

It's thought that snowdrops (Galanthus) were brought to Britain by the Romans, who will also have known of autumn and winter flowering variety, Galanthus reginae-olgae, that is native to Greece and Sicily. There's even a picture of some here, nestling amongst autumn leaves.

And anyway, even if Tacitus did mention the odd flower or two, he had much more important things to write about.

Separately, did you ever learn about trading in Dutch Tulips or South Seas investments, and did you hear of the Emperor's New Clothes?

Silly woman!

Angela Epstein writes "proudly" about being the first person to be issued with an ID card. She didn't apply for one, it seems somebody in the Home Office invited her to be first. In the middle of her article Angela says this:-
An ID card is a portable, convenient way to prove your identity without having to carry something like a passport with you — which is murder to replace if you lose it.
"Murder" might not have been the most appropriate word to use, especially alongside a reference to wartime, but never mind. According to the leaflet it's quite easy to replace a lost ID card, it even includes a comfy reference to a passport :-
If you lose your identity card (or passport) you will be able to inform us so that we can cancel it on our system. Then nobody else will be able to use it in any situation where an organisation checks its validity with us. It will already be unusable anywhere a PIN or fingerprint is required as long as you have kept your PIN secret.

You will then be able to choose whether or not you wish to apply for a
replacement card.

If you want to get a replacement you will need to apply to the Identity
and Passport Service either directly or through one of the high street facilities provided by our partners, in the same way as when you first applied. Clearly you may want a replacement card quickly, so this will usually be a much faster process than the first time your card was issued. This is because we can verify your identity against your existing record.
There's no information about how much a replacement card might cost and, unfortunately, the legislation says a bit more about the rules :-
Section 11: Invalidity and Surrender of ID Cards
2.8. Section 11(6)(a) Failure on the part of a cardholder to notify the Secretary of State, where the cardholder knows or has reason to suspect that the card has been lost, stolen, damaged, tampered with, or destroyed. Maximum penalty £1,000.

2.9. Regulations under section 11 The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Notification of Changes and Loss, Theft etc. of ID Cards) Regulations 2009 require a cardholder to notify the Secretary of State within one month if he knows or suspects his card has been lost, stolen, damaged, tampered with or destroyed. A card will be classed as damaged if it or anything on it has become unreadable or otherwise unusable. A card will be classed as being tampered with if it or the information on it has been modified, copied or otherwise extracted for an unlawful purpose.

2.10. In considering liability, the Secretary of State will need to be satisfied that one of those things has occurred; that the cardholder knew or had reason to suspect that it had happened; and that the card holder failed to notify the Secretary of State within the prescribed period.
So, Angela, the law says that if you lose your card and don't tell the Secretary of State soon enough (it doesn't say you can tell anybody else, or an agent of the Secretary of State) you could be fined up to £1,000. If you use your card so often that it gets worn, you could be fined up to £1,000.

What happens if you lose your passport, either in the UK or overseas?

According to Directgov it's easy

What to do about a lost or stolen passport

It is vital you report a lost or stolen passport as soon as possible. If your passport is stolen you should report it to the police at once.

If you want to apply for a replacement passport and are:

  • a British national
  • in the UK at the time of applying

you can report your passport lost or stolen at the same time, following the instructions ...

If you are not in the UK, or you don't want to replace your passport straight away, you should report it as lost or stolen by following the link ....

And the price?

An adult passport costs £77.50 for standard service and £112.50 for the one-week Fast Track service. A child passport costs £49 for standard service and £96.50 for the one-week Fast Track service. The Premium one-day service is not available for replacement passports.
Doh! Angela! Did you read any of the small print before you signed on the dotted line?

Number 10 closed for business?

From the Times, dated 6th December and reporting an event on 2nd September. Mrs R has no idea why it took them so long to publish the details, maybe all eyes are meant to be on Copenhagen and they thought nobody would notice.

Gordon Brown was snubbed by badly injured Afghan veterans when they closed curtains round their beds during a hospital visit and refused to speak to him.

More than half the soldiers being treated at the Selly Oak hospital ward in Birmingham either asked for the curtains to be closed or deliberately avoided the prime minister, according to several of those present.

The soldiers, who have sustained some of the worst injuries seen in Afghanistan, described his visit as “opportunistic” and a “waste of time”.

Furious about equipment shortages and poor compensation for their injuries, one soldier said: “It is almost as if we are the product of an unwanted affair ... he has done nothing for us.”

The article continues

Sapper Matthew Weston, 20, is one of the most seriously injured soldiers to have survived. He lost both legs and his right arm when a bomb exploded on a dirt track outside Sangin.

He said: “I didn’t want to speak to him, I didn’t want to waste my time talking to someone who was just trying to make themselves look good. I spent the day with my family instead.

“Half the lads didn’t want to speak to him and those that did pretty much blamed him for everything. Many of the lads just closed their curtains and hid themselves away.

“I met Prince Charles and Sir Richard Dannatt [when they visited Selly Oak]. I have respect for them. Prince Charles spoke to me for two hours. I really didn’t want to speak to Gordon Brown.”

More straight talking ...

Another soldier, who lost his right leg after being caught in a mine blast in Afghanistan, said that more than two-thirds of the 25 soldiers on the ward closed their curtains. He, however, decided to speak to Brown.

“I wanted to find out how the guy’s head worked,” he said. “I was interested in what he had made of his trip to Afghanistan and what he had learnt from it.

“I feel that even if someone is a moron, he should have the opportunity to defend his moronity. [His response] all seemed rather textbook and not from the heart.

“It is quite obvious to anyone that Brown is not concerned, it is almost as if we [the soldiers] are the product of an unwanted affair.

“The straight fact is this: we don’t like the man, he has done nothing for us and continues to kick us in the teeth over equipment and compensation.”

So what did Mr Brown say about his visit? Did he mention increased compensation? Did he heck!

Here you go!
Two days after his visit to Selly Oak, Brown paid tribute to injured soldiers during a speech in London. He said: “There is nothing more heartbreaking than, as I did this week, meeting a teenager who has lost a leg.”
So he didn't say he would throw money at the problem, didn't say government would provide either additional military resources or an urgent injection of cash to back up the charitable donations that Help for Heroes receives and spends on Headley Court. He said nothing about matching monies raised by limbless soldiers who do things like climb Kilimanjaro so their mates can get treatment if, and when, they're seriously injured. Nothing about pumping public finance to help fund the urgently needed extension.

Zero - zilch - just a, "Look what I've seen", a bit like a child talking about visiting Disneyland. Yet this same government can send millions overseas as an example of the country's largesse.

Maybe the soldiers' behaviour is rooted in the government's failure to acknowledge and act on the High Court ruling that said, as reported in the Guardian in April 2008

Sending British soldiers out on duty with defective equipment may breach their human rights, the high court ruled today.

In a potentially significant verdict for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr Justice Collins ruled that a soldier "does not lose all protection simply because he is in hostile territory carrying out dangerous operations".

In another blow to the government, he rejected an attempt by the defence secretary, Des Browne, to stop coroners using phrases such as "serious failure" in inquests concerning troops who died on active service. Browne had argued this might prejudice subsequent civil action.

The judgement – which the Ministry of Defence said it would appeal – raises the possibility that families of soldiers killed on active service could sue the government for compensation.

The MoD did, of course, appeal and lost, as reported in May 2009

Deploying British troops on battlefield operations with inadequate or defective equipment could breach their human rights, senior judges ruled today, opening the way for potentially huge compensation claims from bereaved families.

Dismissing arguments by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the court of appeal backed last year's high court ruling that sending a soldier out on patrol or into battle with defective equipment could constitute a breach of article 2 of the European convention on human rights, which enshrines the right to life.

and more

Three appeal judges, headed by the master of the rolls, Sir Anthony Clark, said the defence secretary had conceded before the hearing that soldiers who died on a UK base, such as Smith, were covered by human rights laws.

"It seems to us to make no sense to hold that there is a distinction between a person inside and outside of premises controlled by the UK," the judges said.

"If in a British base, why not in a British army vehicle? If in a vehicle, why not when a soldier gets out of the vehicle?"

The judges noted that soldiers were subject to British military, criminal and civil laws, no matter where they were.

"Soldiers serve abroad as a result of, and pursuant to, the exercise of UK jurisdiction over them.

"Thus the legality of their presence and of their actions depends on their being subject to UK jurisdiction and complying with UK law."

Mrs Rigby can understand why the soldiers in Selly Oak were reluctant to speak to their Prime Minister, because it would seem that it was his policies as Chancellor that led to serious cost cutting which now means that soldiers are expected to walk across an areas that are likely to have been mined because there is not enough equipment for them to travel in either wheeled transport or in helicopters.

And meanwhile some nasty little thugs are let loose because the Judge thought their 9 month sentence was too harsh, and an HBOS executive would like £600,000 compensation after being taken to a lap-dancing club.

Civilian MoD staff, who have already received whopping bonuses (whilst soldiers are short of equipment due to funding restrictions) are to be awarded the Operational Service Medal for duty in Afghanistan (interesting to note the ratings of comments left on this story) ... and a Falklands Veteran sells his MM after his security company employers refused to keep his job open while he had surgery to remove an Argentine bullet and pieces of shrapnel from his hip.

Today also marks a sad day because another soldier has died in Afghanistan. It is the hundredth death this year and brings the total of lives lost in that country to 247.

Maybe all this is why the Telegraph is showing a picture of the door of Number 10 with a notice that says

Monday, 7 December 2009

Climate and Copenhagen

It looks as if Mr Gore has decided not to go to Copenhagen, maybe he thought he might get an icy reception.

A bunch of emails from East Anglia University were put online, they've been analysed by all sorts of people who are seriously questioning the validity of the "research" outcomes. Mrs R thinks it's a pity that some still think it's okay to call "sceptics" rude names and turn science into a political football - especially as surveys suggest that "Almost half of Britons believe there is no proof that global warming is caused by man". (even though the term 'global warming' is outdated they still manage to use it to raise emotions) I suppose that'll be the half of the population that don't vote for any political party then!

Will Mr Brown save the world this week when he goes to Copenhagen? He said he would, but maybe he'll just turn up late like he did in Lisbon. Mrs R has noticed that some bloggers think that when Mr Brown offers support to almost any cause it goes wrong, which is a bit like what's happened to the (in)famous hockey stick graph in the article on WattsUpWithThat now they've rediscovered the data for the Mediaeval Warm Period.

Mrs R found this on Obo's site it's well worth watching

Maybe by the end of the week the politicians will have discovered a sense of perspective, and will have stopped throwing our money into schemes that resemble in part both the South Sea Bubble and the Dutch bulb fiasco. Mrs R is more and more convinced that we should remember the expression cui bono - because she's pretty sure it won't be her and her family.

(And if anybody reading this can tell me how to shrink the graph to a sensible size I'll be eternally grateful - and promise to write your name in big, pretty coloured, letters by way of a thank you.)