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)

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Today Mrs Rigby received an email purporting to come from Billy Bragg. If you don't know who he is, she suggests you look him up.

The email referred to Mrs R as "Dear Friend", and then asked her to support what appears to be a political campaign to reform the way this country is governed. Seriously and, Mrs R thinks, dangerously reform.

A couple of weeks ago an email arrived from Tony Robinson. Yes, that's right, the Blackadder and Time Team Tony Robinson who Mrs R has a fair bit of time for, but, you see, Tony Robinson also served on Labour's NEC, is currently Mayor of Bristol and continues to be an active member of the Labour Party. Mrs R didn't ever imagine she'd hear from him, let alone in that capacity.

That particular email also referred to Mrs Rigby as "Dear Friend". The email asked her to support a cunning plan to change British politics. She ignored, and deleted, the email and asked to be removed from the mailing list - this was because she was a tad uncomfortable about the way a 'popular household name' was being used in an apparently political way, in a way that seemed very remote from the original ethos of that campaigning site that had sold itself as a voice for ordinary folk from across the political spectrum.

Enough is enough - that's two things, which is one too many for Mrs Rigby, and which is why she's now more than a bit cross.

It would appear that the 'unsubscribe' option is being ignored by these people, otherwise Mrs R wouldn't have received the most recent message. So, now, anything from them will be treated as spam and will be deleted by Mrs R's mail server - she will never know if they try to email her ever again.

Mrs R utterly despises the way that a supposedly 'democratic' online campaigning group appears to have lied, by appearing to market itself as apolitical. This is surely deception, goodness only knows if it is also fraudulent - Mrs R wouldn't have a clue about things like that, but it leaves a very bitter taste in her mouth and there's absolutely no way Mrs R can, and will, offer support to anybody or to any group or organisation that seems to cheat in this way.

If it turns out that the either the Labour Party or the Unions are behind that site then they've probably shot themselves in the foot because Mrs R can't be the only person who will have received these latest emails, and she can't imagine she'll be the only person who feels cheated, and thinks they've been lied to.

And, you know, people who feel they've been cheated and lied to talk about it, they talk about it a lot. They talk about it in shops, in cafés, in restaurants, in hairdressers and in work - and the word gets passed around. It gets passed around remarkably quickly even though we've no longer got pubs to go to and our movements are monitored by CCTV.

So, if neither Billy Bragg or Tony Robinson are involved with that group then they should take action to stop their names being used.

Also, if anybody from that campaigning group is willing to explain themselves they're more than welcome to do it here, in the comments of this blog.

They need to reassure Mrs Rigby that they are not, and never have been, linked to the Labour Party and they need to reassure her that they are not campaigning on behalf of any factions of the Labour Party or the Unions. And they need to convince her pretty damn quickly too.

But Mrs R won't hold her breath, because although those people found her site remarkably quickly when she advertised their activity she's pretty sure they won't bother any more.

Mrs Rigby also wishes to make apologies to those she tried to persuade to use that site. She apologises to everybody who copied her example and willingly gave their email details, and who may not have been able to remove them from a mailing list.

She's embarrassed too, to have made probably five or six posts extolling the virtues of that campaigning site - but she did it in good faith, because she thought it was honest and good but, sadly, she now thinks she was duped.

As she's already said - it leaves a bitter taste.

British politics eh - sleazy and dishonourable.

F & S on the budget

DS: There's a hole in my budget, dear Harold, dear Harold,
There's a hole in my budget, dear Harold, my dear.

MF: Then mend it, dear Healy, dear Dennis, dear Dennis,
Then mend it dear chancellor, dear Dennis, my dear.

DS: But how shall I mend it, dear Wilson, dear Wilson,
But how shall I mend it, dear Wilson, my dear?

MS: By building up exports, dear Dennis, dear Dennis,
By increased production, dear eyebrows, my dear.

DS: But that means working harder, dear Harold, dear Harold,
And the workers must have more incentives, my dear.

MF: Then decrease taxation, dear Healy, dear Healy,
And raise all their wages, dear Healy, my dear.

DS: But where is the money to come from, dear Premier,
But where is the money to come from, my dear?

MF: Why, out of your budget, dear Healy, dear Healy,
Why, out of your budget, dear Dennis, my dear.

DS: But there's a hole in my budget, dear Harold, my dear!
Things haven't changed much have they, not even the eyebrows!

Lyrics found here


GOS on rail strikes

From here
The GOS says: ... just a thought about these rail strikes.

All my life I've been OK with the idea of strikes. It's always seemed to me that the decision not to go to work has to be one of the few great freedoms we can exercise - provided we are prepared not to get paid for it, of course. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

But I understand that next week rail staff are withdrawing their labour only between 6 and 10 in the morning, and again between 6 and 10 at night. If that's true, it stinks. That's not just exercising your democratic right to stay in bed of a morning. That's deliberately targeting innocent travellers who have done nothing to you, causing them absolutely the most inconvenience that you can - while still presumably drawing a full day's pay since 10 in the morning until 6 in the evening is 8 hours.

No doubt somebody who knows can write in and correct me if I've understood it wrong, but on the face of it that's vicious, calculating, cynical and unprincipled.
Mrs R wholeheartedly agrees, which is why she's quoted this in full - no point in duplication is there?

And thanks to The Filthy Engineer for pointing Mrs R in the right direction to read Grumpy Old Sod's thoughts.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Forces tribute

Posted by Cold Steel Rain as a guest post on Corrugated Soundbite


MP rap (song)

First spotted at Dick Puddlecote's place this video can also be seen at Subrosa and Old Holborn.

Take your pick, but do watch it somewhere, and see what some British primary school children are being taught at school. Then take the time to read the comments that have been left on the site you've chosen to visit.

Then think about it.

The song was probably a well-meaning attempt to celebrate the 'history' or 'achievement' of people of only one colour, and in doing so focused on only one local individual who also happens to be a popular MP.

It would be interesting to know how this would work if a school were to try to, say, "celebrate" any other feature that is an inherited characteristic, and over which the individual has no personal control - for example blond hair, blue eyes, pink skin.

Would there be an outcry?

Of course there would, and history tells us that doing that sort of thing can be dangerous.

So, knowing the lessons of history, it's strange to learn that schools and, indeed, any organisation, are allowed encouraged to champion or celebrate the inherited characteristics of one group of people, and do so for a whole calendar month each year, whilst ignoring the fact that in today's Britain we are meant to be all equal - irrespective of race, colour or creed.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Wurzels "I'm a Cider Drinker" Campaign

Found on Guthrum's Place

(click image to enlarge)

Maybe there's more to this very selective tax than meets the eye, as pointed out in the Mail
Duty on cider is being increased by a staggering ten per cent above inflation – which means a pint could become up to 20p more expensive.

There’s more politics to this than you might think. The cider-producing counties of England are largely in Tory or Lib Dem constituencies, where Labour don’t get a look in – so it’s an easy hit for Darling.

Can you really imagine Labour imposing a similar inflation-busting tax rise on Newcastle Brown Ale or Boddington’s ‘Cream of Manchester’?
And, as one of the commenters points out
Why tax cider rather than anything else?

Why not add additional duty to all imported alcoholic drinks instead?
A valid point.

Tories to block National Insurance rise

Tories to block National Insurance rise
The multi-billion-pound tax pledge, to be made by David Cameron and George Osborne, is intended to open up “clear blue water” between the parties.

Tory insiders said it would form the centrepiece of the Conservative election campaign and make seven out of 10 workers better off.

National Insurance contributions are due to rise by a penny in the pound from April next year under Labour plans.
Read more here

It'll no doubt be rubbished by all and sundry, including BBC, but it's a tactic and it's an attack, and it takes less out of wage packets.

Now they need to find a way of getting rid of the 10p tax band which could also cancel the need for tax credits and so cut out a whole layer of bureaucracy.

(Mr Darling may have thought everybody would have forgotten he'd announced this rise in his 'Pre-Budget Report' last year, and it's why he announced it over a year in advance, but we haven't forgotten.
And this is why there should be no rise in National Insurance next year - it'll lead to higher employment costs (including within the public sector) and probably also lead to job losses.)

Just noticed that Dizzy has already blogged about this Tories pledge not to cut National Insurance He explains that
The fact is the Tories have not promised a tax cut at all, they've promised to conserve the status quo. Shocking huh? Of course, you can guarantee that the Tories "evidence-based" enemies will soon be deploying the Ul = c \ uc © equation and telling us how many less teachers, nurses and policemen that we don't yet have we'll not have.
You'll need to read his blog to see the explanation.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Military humour.

Stolen from Oh What NOW, who found it on Daily Politics
A U.S. army platoon was marching north of Fallujah when they came upon an Iraqi insurgent, badly injured and unconscious on the left-hand side of the road.

On the right-hand side was a British soldier in a similar, but less serious state. The Brit was conscious and alert. As first aid was given to both men, the American platoon leader asked the injured soldier what had happened.

The soldier reported: “I was recce-ing the highway here when suddenly, coming towards me from the south was a heavily-armed insurgent. We saw each other and both took cover in the ditches along the road.

“I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein had been a miserable, lowlife scumbag who’d got what he deserved. The insurgent yelled back that Gordon Brown is a fat, useless, lying, one-eyed porridge wog. And furthermore, Lord Mandelson is a pillow-biting gay bastard!

“So I said that Osama Bin Laden dresses and ponces about like a frigid, hatchet-faced lesbian.
He retaliated by saying that so does Harriet Harman.

“And, there we were – in the middle of the road – shaking hands, when the f*****g bus hit us.”

Train cuts for Generals.

Kevan Jones, a junior defence minister, said the decision, “is not intended to humiliate anyone. It is about getting value for money”.
Of course it isn't about humiliation Kevan, Mrs Rigby is sure the thought never crossed your mind when you told Generals (***see P.S.) they must use 2nd Class rail travel.

For this cost-cutting, money-saving, financial exercise to be truly worthwhile there must be loads of Generals, there must be many, many, more Generals than MPs (some of whom who buy themselves fripperies out of the public purse) and there must be many more Generals than there are pen-pushers at either the MoD or the Met Office which, as you will remember, is funded by MoD and CAA, and there must be more Generals than there are top civil servants or Police Officers whose chauffeur-driven cars are funded by the taxpayer.

According to this site there are
now 65 generals in the Army, with 43 major-generals, 17 lieutenant-generals and five four-star generals
Mrs Rigby can't confirm those numbers, but she notes this chart which says that, as of 1st January 2010, there were
OF-6 TO OF-10 (NATO equivalent from Brigadier through to Field Marshal and equal ranks in Navy and Air Force)
Army = 120
Navy = 240
Air Force= 120
Total = 490 (total)
Are Kevan Jones and his chums at the MoD trying to say that the solution to Britain's financial woes rests on the shoulders of around 120 individuals from only one branch of the armed forces?

You see, Mrs R also noticed that officers of equivalent rank in the Navy and Air Force do not seem to be expected to make similar economies.(***see P.S.) So - in the same way that UOTC and Army Cadets suffered funding cuts whilst URNU and Sea Cadets (Navy) and UAS and Air Cadets (Air Force) were left unscathed - this is a highly selective ruling.

It's hard to understand why this is happening, and it's hard to understand how it is allowed to happen in these equality driven, equal-opportunity, times - but it is.

It's even harder to understand why the current government continues to expect our soldiers to risk their lives overseas when it so clearly despises the Army. It despises the Army so much that our Prime Minister was willing to lie to both the Chilcot Inquiry and Parliament about levels of funding. It despises them so much that it tried to keep the outcomes of military inquests secret, and it's now trying to humiliate military top brass by making them use 2nd Class rail travel.

The hatred felt by these powerful individuals must go very deep for them to put so much effort into such pettily, vindictive, rulings.

It won't work though.

The Generals didn't get to be Generals by being yes-men or women. They got to be Generals by passing exams and proving themselves worthy of the rank, and, right at the beginning of their military careers, not long after growing out of their short trousers, each and every one of these Generals will have passed through the tough initial training at Sandhurst. If their training and subsequent military service didn't break them, then travelling in a cramped railway carriage isn't likely to either. They'll just smile and start chatting to their fellow passengers - who could even be ex-squaddies - it'll be like water off a duck's back.

None of these Generals will be seeking counselling as a result of their transport hardships - after all, Britain's overcrowded trains are still probably more comfortable than a tank, helicopter or personnel carrier.

And that, you see, is something this government can't understand. It can't understand people who aren't cry-babies. It can't understand people who grin and bear it. It can't understand people who aren't dependent on them, and it can't understand people who follow rules without flinching, even though it might mean they die.

This government, you see, values hurt feelings much more than hurt bodies - and legislates accordingly. It puts more man hours and legislative muscle behind protecting 'us' from the imaginary effects of a single particle of third-hand tobacco smoke than ensuring our soldiers are protected from bullets and bombs.

So, government is going to have to work out yet another wheeze, it's going to have to try another way of attacking the Army and it'll be interesting to see what it will be.

Imagine all those civil servants having meetings and discussing ways to 'break' the Army. That thought should, at least, raise a smile on a damp Sunday in March 2010.

They really haven't a clue, have they?

P.S. @ 20:15 hrs

Times article now says
"admirals, generals and air chief marshals to travel second class to help cut costs.

All armed forces personnel must now sit in standard class on trains and planes, whatever their rank, under a new rule that has provoked anger across the political parties. "
So this policy is not limited to the Army, as previous cost cutting initiatives have been, which meant that this government has decided to try to demean the armed forces as a whole - all of them, all at once.

Good idea!
The one who thought that one up will probably be elevated to the Lords in superfast time - and whoever it is will probably demand their own chauffeur driven car.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Ambiguous radio news.

Heard on a news bulletin in the car :-
"Mr Brown is appealing to middle class voters."
He can appeal all he likes, but most people earning more than the magic £16k do not find him in the least appealing, unless they're getting something the rest of us aren't.

It would also be nice, wouldn't it, if he would stop using the BBC to broadcast his electioneering messages.

Contract for a Cabinet Minister.

"I will set out a clear and public annual contract for each new Cabinet Minister, detailing what I expect them and their department to deliver to the British people, and that their continued appointment is dependent on their delivery just as it would be in a business or any other organisation."
Said Mr Brown.

Does this sound like somebody who is in post as a result of a democratic process?

And anyway, what does it mean? Probably yet more unattainable targets decided by A. N. Other, and put into place without the means to meet those targets but involving a huge amount of paper shuffling and list-making. That seems to be all they're good at - making lists and looking at them.

Police apology.

A spokesman for Hampshire police said the force had apologised to the family for targeting their home by mistake and the matter was under investigation.
Why would they need to apologise and give gifts of one bottle of beer and a bunch of flowers?
Officers forced their way into Kayleigh Hill and Anthony McVey’s home while they slept, on the hunt for a suspect who had moved out months ago.

... serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister?

Tom Harris, in reply to a response to this post says,
" ... all Cabinet ministers, whether MPs or Lords, are accountable by virtue of the fact that they serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister."
Tom also says, within the post,
parliament is – or should be – sovereign
Discuss freely.

Human Achievement Hour

They want us to practice power cuts, to get used to having no lights, no television and no internet. So why not, instead, celebrate Human Achievement Hour
Millions of people around the world will be showing their support for human achievement by simply going about their daily lives. While earth hour activists will be left in the dark, Human Achievement Hour participants will be going to the cinema, enjoying a hot meal, driving their car or watching television.
So turn your lights on - 8:30 tonight, 28th March 2010, and celebrate technological advances.

h/t Dizzy

Rail safety.

The RMT claims that saving money will risk safety.

Will that be the same sort of safety as caused the Potters Bar rail crash?

Is that the same sort of safety that let a car get on the line in front of a train in January this year - killing the driver? As RAIB says
The RAIB’s preliminary examination indicates that the level crossing barriers were raised as the train was approaching the crossing. There is no evidence that the actions of the motorists or the driving of the train contributed to the accident.
How about this sort of safety, maintenance safety from February 2010, relating to a "high speed derailment of one pair of wheels on train 1F45, the 14:55 hrs service from St Pancras to Sheffield, at about 15:46 hrs on 20 February 2010." when
Train services between the East Midlands and London continue to be disrupted after a train derailed in Leicestershire.

Up to 200 passengers were forced to leave the 1455 GMT London St Pancras to Sheffield service near Kibworth on Saturday evening.
'Nuff said.

Beating the green blanket

Blanketweed**, the bête noire of garden ponds - or should that be the bête verte?

Ghastly stuff, that can choke oxygenators and because it takes up so much space means there's less room for fish. Removing it manually can mean hours of trying to twiddle it round a garden cane, a bit like making candy floss, only to find it's magically glued itself to a bamboo leaf joint and refuses to let go.

But, there's something that'll deal with it - barley straw.

It works too, even if the pond doesn't have a pump. Just throw in some bags or 'logs' of the stuff and let them work their magic. It takes about four weeks for them to start working, and they should stay active for about four to six months, depending on the amount of straw used.

Apparently as the barley straw decomposes it releases chemicals or enzymes which inhibit algal growth. Robyn Rhudy has an easy, but detailed, explanation and links to a scientific paper. Both make interesting reading and should tell you everything you need to know, both are very readable, so there's no need to be worried about too much technical stuff or incomprehensible scientific jargon.

If you don't fancy the idea of seeing lumps of barley straw in amongst the plants in your, now crystal clear, pond there's a liquid alternative - barley straw extract. All the blurb about it claims it will work almost instantly, instead of having to wait a few weeks for the bacteria and bugs to get to work on the straw, because the stuff is an extract of the decomposing/fermenting straw. If you use this it'll possibly mean two or three doses throughout the growing season.

There are barley straw pads and pellets too, all are meant to work equally well. There are some that contain lavender stalks, but these should only ever be used along with a pump/filter that moves the water around, because concentrations of lavender can kill insects, even in water.

We Rigbys have only tried using little (about 8" diameter) barley straw bags we were able to get from our local pet shop. Each one cost us just over £1 and is, essentially, a loose ball of straw inside a plastic net. We did think about making our own, but as our pond only needed four we decided that getting, and storing, a whole bale of straw wasn't worth the effort - and most of it would either end up on the compost heap or be used as a playground for mice.

Last year we dropped the bags into the bottom of the pond, weighed down with a large holey stone, but it would seem that keeping them nearer the surface might be more effective - because the warmer surface water keeps the bacteria and other micro-organisms happier. We don't plan to 'experiment' as such, there's no point, we just want to keep the blanketweed away so we'll tuck some bags of straw in behind the baskets sitting on the marginal shelf and see what happens.

Decaying barley straw isn't toxic, even though the EU tried to prohibit its' use. Here's an extract of a comment from Dr. Nick Everall from here (he wrote the paper linked earlier). He does seem to know what he's talking about.
The chemical aspect of straw control is universally accepted as a lignin derived breakdown process and thus banning straw at the levels it is applied would be like banning leaves falling into watercourses in the Autumn
All sources seem to say we can't overdose the pond and kill off everything (including the new fish we've bought for the local heron) so we reckon the more bags the, err, clearer the water.

As an aside, it would be nice if Spring would arrive in Rigby Town. It's the first year we haven't had big daffodils out for March 1st, and they still aren't showing their faces - the ground is too cold, because it's too wet. Only one or two celandines so far too, even though there are crocuses, which is unusual because our celandines are usually welcoming us in through the gate in February.

A bit of botany.

Blanketweed is Spirogyra spp. A filamentous alga that lives in freshwater habitats and was once studied as sixth formers following the A-level Botany syllabus - an exam that probably doesn't exist any more. It's named from the spiral arrangement of the chloroplasts. It doesn't like moving water very much, but will happily choke a small, nutrient rich, pond. There are some rather good microscopy pictures on this Dutch site, which even show the wretched stuff mating.

And the paper written by Dr Nick Everall is titled "Control of Algae with Straw.". Go on, read it, you know you want to.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Budget :- HMRC says 8 x 3 = 8 + (3 + 1) whilst opening mail

From 1st January 2011 the way cigarettes are taxed will be changing, tax will be charged according to the length of the cigarette, measured from the end of the filter. (No, it really isn't April 1st)

It would seem there are new rules, tucked away in the bit of the Budget called "Enforcement and Compliance" measures. HMRC have, in their wisdom, decided that smokers of longer cigarettes have been avoiding paying duty, so
any cigarette longer than 8cm (When did UK start legislating in metric?) – excluding the tip – will be treated as another cigarette and have extra duty slapped on it.

For each additional 3cm, or part thereof, it will be treated as yet another cigarette.

This means that a 12cm cigarette, for example, will be treated as three cigarettes.
How they manage to work out that three centimetres of tobacco is the same as eight centimetres is not revealed, perhaps mathematics was not HMRC's strong point.

So, not only have cigarettes already, instantly, gone up in price by 4% + 15p per pack of 20, they've changed the rules too. That lovely Mr Darling was remarkably quiet about this when he spoke to Parliament.

It's beginning to look as if he's expecting smokers to plug the government's financial black hole. Wouldn't it be nice for Parliament to decide that, as smokers are so generous, they could have accommodation at least equal to that provided for livestock?

Also tucked away in the 'Budget' small print and which amends section 106 of the Postal Services Act 2000, is legislation enabling HMRC to open mail without a warrant, and without informing the addressee - who is not required to be present.

The document, presumably a statutory instrument, is entitled “Tackling tobacco smuggling in the post”.

HMRC said :
the powers would be applied much more broadly.
Mrs R isn't in the least surprised, nor is Heather Taylor, a senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, who said:
“This seems like a very small and limited change, but it could be a very big step for increased powers HMRC. Once new powers are in the hands of HMRC they tend to be extended.”
There's a heck of a list of "Budget 2010: Budget Notes". Too many to plough through. Of course Mr Darling wouldn't have missed anything else out of his speech.

Would he?

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Spot the difference - Afghanistan.

Their faces say more than words ever could. (clicking on the pictures enlarges them)

From the Mail

Also from the Mail

More pictures on Sky News

It's always worth checking out what the military think of visits, on ARRSE (ARmy Rumour SErvice)

Oh, also on ARRSE is Operation Steel Vote 2010

Educational conditioning?

This is a comment attached to an article in the Mail
I am writing this comment as a mum of one of the children at Blackminster and the mum who bought this to the attention of the press. It is interesting and comforting to see that other people think what happened is wrong, very wrong and that I now do not feel like I overreacted in my dismay, anger and total amazement at the unbeliebility of the incident.

The school appear to have made light and their letter of apology did nothing to soothe us parents. They seem to think the problem lies with the tme elapsed between the incident and telling the children this was a spoof.

This is not the issue, the issue is that this should never have taken place, Under no circumsytances should be put in this situation. We censor what our children watch and read we hope that they all know the difference between reality and fiction but this needs to be made clear to them. We do not expect or wish to find that they are subjected to this kind of "experiment". - Vikki Woosey
The events that led to this letter being written were very well planned :-

1. Children were told there was a "gun in the school".
2. Alarm bells rang, children were evacuated onto the playing field.
3. 300+ children then watched as a teacher was gunned down by a "crazed hoodie", who then ran into the school building.
4. Children saw LSAs attempt CPR.
(4a. Children didn't see emergency services arrive)
5. Children returned to the building.
6. Children called into an assembly where they were told it wasn't real, it was playacting, it was role play, it was a science lesson.

Blackminster Middle School teaches children aged 10+ to 13+

The headteacher's response :-
'The role play was part of a science lesson where a selection of students and teachers acted out this scenario.

'The problem with a small minority of the pupils was that there was a slight delay in getting them back into the hall to to explain what had just happened.
So it was the children's fault?

Could the 'delay' in 'getting them into the hall' have been because the children were scared or upset and they didn't want to be herded indoors, especially as they'd just seen a gunman running inside?
'Most of them already knew it was a spoof but a couple of them were upset and we have since spoken to them and their parents and apologised to them.
Tsk, it must have been the naughty children's fault for not knowing it was a spoof. See, it was only a couple of them. Most, oooh, that'd be at least 151 children wouldn't it, already knew it wasn't real - so they wouldn't have got the point of the 'exercise' either, would they?

Heck, there are some rotten kids around these days, but there are loads and loads of decent kids too. Grown ups, especially teachers and headteachers, shouldn't try to pass the blame in this way.

Or should they? We'll see why later.
'It was one of the more popular teachers who played the victim, I don't think there would have been as much concern if it was one or two of the others.'
Ah, so this headteacher believes that children as young as 10 wouldn't have minded seeing somebody killed - as long as that person was less popular?

There's so much wrong with this statement that it could easily be the subject of a PhD thesis. Mrs Rigby isn't even going to try unpicking it further.

Maybe the school got the idea for this 'experiment' from here, which was a project from Science Year 2003, and decided to jazz it up a bit, and do their own thing - without truly understanding that they're dealing with children who, no matter how bolshie they may to be, are still children - and in the school's care. These are, after all, the same children who can be killed by a single particle of cigarette smoke at 20 yards.

In 2005, following an inspection, OFSTED inspectors concluded that the overall personal development and well-being of the learners was worthy of a 2 (2 = 'good'). Perhaps they might think otherwise now?

But then, maybe not.

Blackminster Middle School doesn't seem to be alone in experimenting with the thoughts and minds of its' children, because only a couple of weeks ago children at St Kilbride Primary School were 'traumatised' when their teachers decided to play Holocaust with them - and
deputy head teacher Elizabeth McGlynn segregated nine youngsters in Gerry Blair’s P7 class and told them they were being taken away from their families.
The role play was
... designed to give the 11-year-old children an insight into the horrors of the Holocaust as part of a project they are doing about the Second World War.
It worked so well that it
left pupils crying in fear.
These children were later told it was all a game, but their parents weren't amused and wrote letters of complaint to the council - which wrote a nicely 'on target apology :-
“Schools commonly engage in drama-based exercises which encourage children to use their imagination and act out a character. These role play situations are designed to help children understand diversity and develop empathy for the victims of prejudice and are usually very well received by pupils.

“We are sorry that the lesson had this affect on some pupils.
See? Same thing.

Some pupils.

Some pupils obviously didn't have enough diverse empathy for Holocaust victims, they were too busy being scared and upset for themselves - selfish little blighters aren't they?

All this leads nicely to the little boy who climbed a tree in the grounds of Manor School, Melksham. He couldn't get down, and was left there because the school has a policy to
observe the situation from a distance so the child does not get distracted and fall.
A passer by didn't think this was a good idea, so she strolled into the school and got him out of the tree.

Was the school grateful? Were they heck, they contacted the police and accused her of trespass!


After all that, is it any real wonder that Truancy hits record high with an increase of 44% during the term of this government.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said
'Parents have a clear duty to ensure that their child is in school ...
Why, Mr Coaker, why? Because you 'say so' isn't good enough any more.

What's the point in them going to school? Where's the incentive to those who aren't A* material? Compulsory sex lessons haven't been enough to pull them in through the doors, and too few are being taught to read, write or do maths, and now we learn that primary school teachers are willingly traumatising those in their care - in the name of 'equality, diversity and blimmin drama.

So, come on Mr Coaker, and Mr Balls too, please tell us.

What's the point of school?

Is the point of school these days so that kiddies can learn what it's like to be the playthings of "the authorities" when they practice their own emergency games? It very nearly worked with the swine flu panic.

Here's how this little exercise was planned :-
1) Leaflets delivered to residents outlining emergency procedures in the event of radiation leak - delivered in the evening, after dark.
2) Almost simultaneous loudhailer announcements that water supplies are being cut off.
3) Residents panic.
4) "Authorities" say all is well.
5) "Authorities" say residents over-react.

It didn't go down too well in Portland, but that nice BBC said it was the silly residents' fault, they were mistaken - just like the frightened children.

Balls out?

This seems like a remarkably good idea.
h/t Guido

From Antony Calvert :-
1997 was an awful year for the Conservatives, and Michael Portillo, who lost his Enfield Southgate seat which had a majority of 15000 for the Conservatives. My seat in West Yorkshire, is called Morley and Outwood. It's my home seat, and it's got a notional Labour majority of around 9,000. My opponent, is Ed Balls. Ed Balls is most widely known as Gordon Brown's chief lieutenant and enforcer. He's the author of Brown's most damaging fibs, about Labour investment vs Tory cuts, about the economy being in good shape to weather the storm, even abolishing boom and bust. You name it, Brown has spun it, Balls has probably written it. He has consistently put Labour's interests over that of the nation. Ed Balls is being bankrolled by the unions. If you support my campaign, his 9000 majority won't be safe. If you want to castrate Labour and help me get Balls out, just click, and you can donate to my campaign online. It'll be a moment you won't forget.

Mrs Rigby doesn't live in that constituency, but she might be able to find a spare fiver.

Donations here.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Forty years on.

Our own government has been tilting at windmills in a highly visible attempt to make it look as if they're doing something to avert an energy crisis (of their own making) and be 'nice and green' too.

They, and their successors, might do well to look overseas to see exactly what a lot of money thrown at an environmental problem can achieve, as long as the scheme is carefully planned, carefully managed, and followed through to the end.

The article is a travel piece, but it's interesting all the same. It would seem that 40+ years ago the then ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, decided he didn't like looking at loads of desert, so he did something about it - experimenting on the island of Sir Bani Yas.

He planted mangroves, to protect and enhance the coastline. He wanted big trees, so removed loads of salty sand and replaced it with good topsoil. He made sure there was irrigation too.

Once the plants were sorted out he started on the animals, with a captive breeding programme for Arabian Oryx - which were in serious danger of extinction, and are now being released on the mainland. Perhaps the turtles, flamingoes and so on arrived in the mangroves all on their own?

It all sounds rather wonderful, although apparently the external transport links still need a bit of work. It won't bother Mrs R though, because she can't ever imagine seeing it for herself.

Have a read though, and whilst reading think on how our own government has squandered spent public money and left almost nothing to show for it, apart from an increasingly dissatisfied underclass - some of whom have been encouraged to look at the working population, see their salaries, and demand ever more handouts so they can be 'equal' without having to leave the comfort of their settee.

At about the time Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was starting his project Britain elected a Labour government, led by Mr Wilson. Another Labour government was elected in 1974, their reign ended with the "Winter of Discontent" and an IMF loan.

The current Labour government came to power 13 years ago.

Let's look at what they will leave behind - their 'inheritance'. In Abu Dabi they managed to change a desert into an oasis, has Labour, elected on a platform of change and improvement, managed to do the anything worthwhile, and long-lasting?

Well, actually, most people look at these thirteen years in bemusement, see all the bad things that have been imposed by a government with a large enough majority to be able to do exactly what it wanted, without challenge. In reality, a careful government can undo a lot of the legislative harm in a relatively short time - if they have a mind to do it, and if it's parliament's will.

(Mrs R presumes that the next government is unlikely to have a landslide majority, so will need the co-operation of other parties to pass any controversial legislation, although, of course, it could be done as now - by small committees or using statutory instruments.)

There are things that can't be undone though, not in a hurry. These things are to do with keeping the country going. In view of what we've learned over the last day or so it's hard not to wonder who paid whom to draw up the 'right' guidelines and recommendations to, effectively, stop Britain in it's tracks - because that's what will happen in the very near future unless there's fairly urgent action.

There were plans, and money put to one side, to increase Britain's electricity generating capacity - all shelved, but we got expensive windmills that don't work when it isn't windy, but do make a big show of 'doing something'. And there are still no plans for new power stations - instead we get gas from Russia, coal from just about anywhere, and the French (perhaps with a bit of help from Andrew Brown) control our electricity supply companies.

It won't matter if Contact Point is online, it won't matter if GP records are online, and it won't matter if government gives us all a personal webpage and installs a CCTV outside every house - all these things need computers, and computers need electricity. They don't seem to have thought about that important little detail.

There were plans, and money put to one side, to improve and enhance the road network - shelved by that nice Mr Prescott who put traffic lights on motorway junctions and told us to drive on the hard shoulder. Try getting onto the motorway network to travel more than 200 miles - it will take hours longer than it did ten years ago because there is more traffic and the roads are bedevilled by roadworks, often carried out by an invisible workforce.

There were plans to protect coastlines in east and south east England - shelved. Despite knowing that, due to post glacial bounceback, the landmass to the south has been sinking whilst Scotland has been rebounding from the decreased load the greenies have had their way, claimed any rise in sea levels (or sinking land) is due to global warming and can't be beaten, so it's good 'environmental practice' to abandon whole swathes of the coastline to the sea, including ancient villages - which does damn all for the people who live there, and destroys livelihoods. Odd, isn't it, how Holland can manage to keep the sea out, by spending the right sort of money on the right sort of schemes.

Foot and Mouth showed all too clearly that this country is very dependent on tourist income. When the tourists stopped coming, even for a short time, livelihoods were lost - and not only in rural areas. Since then we've been quietly haemorrhaging manufacturing capacity, and consumer prices have been rising due to increased labour costs, port taxes, transport costs, personal taxation and property charges - all of which are passed onto the consumer.

It's possible to stay in Dubai for £125 a night - in an hotel with a private beach, including flights.

Britain is less fortunate with its weather, and many people have been caught out by the grossly inaccurate Met Office forecasts.

We Rigbys know of several Americans who have been to Britain in the last twelve months, they were regular visitors to this country - love the scenery, love the history - but will not be returning. They say this country doesn't seem welcoming any more - they cite the incessant nagging tannoys and gun-toting police at our airports, and customer service staff conspicuous by their absence.

Some 'healthy yanks' dislike the anti-smoking legislation. Why should you pay a small fortune to stay in an hotel only to be forced to stand outside, with less protection from the British weather than that given to livestock, to smoke a cigarette - or pay a whopping instant fine?

Who would want to visit London when there's a risk of being arrested for taking a photograph, and who would risk flying when unions can stop you getting home.

These people we know also think the country is dirty and run down, shabby. When told about the false shop fronts they laughed in disbelief, but they do watch the online media, so know what's happening here.

So, if tourists don't want to come to Britain and businesses choose not to come here and donate large sums in taxation, from where does the government think it's going to generate income to fund the lifestyles of the workshy?

The public sector ostriches have got to look reality in the eye and see how, for example, Abu Dhabi managed to change sand into an welcoming oasis - and realise that the latest 13 years of self-indulgent misrule have merely built on, and enhanced, what was started 40 years ago by Messrs Wilson and Callaghan.

I'm all right Jack.

Reading this it's too easy to wonder if the storyline is being used as a handbook.
Newly-graduated Stanley Windrush is looking for a job, but fails miserably at interviews for various entry-level management positions. Stanley's uncle Bertram Tracepurcel and his old comrade Sidney Cox persuade him to take an unskilled blue collar job at the uncle's missile factory, despite the misgivings of his aunt Dolly.

At first suspicious of the overeager newcomer, Communist shop steward Fred Kite takes Stanley under his wing and even offers to take him on as a lodger. When Kite's curvaceous daughter Cynthia drops by, Stanley readily accepts.

Meanwhile, personnel manager Hitchcock is assigned a time and motion study expert, Waters, to measure how efficient the employees are. The workers refuse to cooperate, but Waters tricks Windrush into showing him how much more quickly he can do his job than other, more experienced employees.

When Kite is informed of the results, he calls a company-wide strike to protect the rates his union workers are being paid.

This turns out be exactly what Cox and Tracepurcel want. Cox owns a company that can take over a large new contract with a Middle Eastern country, at an inflated cost. He, Tracepurcel, and Mr. Mohammed, the country's representative, would each pocket a third of the £100,000 difference.

However, things don't quite work out as planned for either side. Cox arrives at his factory to find that his workers are walking out in sympathy for Kite and his strikers. The press reports that Kite is punishing Windrush for working hard.

When Windrush decides to cross the picket line and go back to work (and reveals his connection with the owner of the company), Kite asks him to leave his house, provoking Kite's wife and daughter (who likes Stanley very much) to call their own private strike and also walk out. More strikes spring up, bringing the country to a standstill.

Faced with these new developments, Tracepurcel has no choice but to send Hitchcock to negotiate with Kite. They reach an agreement, but Windrush has made both sides look bad and has to go. Cox tries to bribe him with a bagful of money to resign quietly, but Windrush turns him down.

On a televised discussion programme moderated by Malcolm Muggeridge** (playing himself), Windrush reveals to the nation the underhanded motivations of all concerned. When he throws Cox's bribe money into the air, the studio audience riots.

In the end, Windrush is convicted of causing a disturbance and everyone else is exonerated. He is last seen with his father, relaxing at a nudist colony, only to have to flee from the attentions of the similarly unclad women.

As an aside, Muggeridge's father was a founder of the Fabian Society.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Dear Frogs,

Thank you so much for letting us know that Spring has arrived, at last.

There is just one thing we would like to point out - the best place to spawn is in the pond, not on a damp patch of lawn.



English Geography.

I like this.

Thanks to Calling England


Monday, 22 March 2010

Dinner money.

Raedwald carries a piece highlighting that the public sector is spending 52% of GDP, based on a release of pre-budget figures in the Times. This is unsustainable.

Not many people seem to be able to understand that government and government departments don't generate an income, they just push money around in circles.

Subrosa explains the frugality of the MoD, budgeting a mere £3.45p a day to feed a soldier. (Maybe some people also remember the Monty Python menu.)

Last year, Channel 4 carried a programme explaining how MPs can eat a full meal for less than £2.50, with the most expensive meal at "The Terrace" costing £3.80 - for a grilled rump steak. So, maybe, if MPs etc never eat anywhere else, never do any shopping, they might think the 52p budgetary limit for a soldier's breakfast is reasonable.

Those same MPs, however, can claim up to £400 a month in 'meal expenses' - which, over 365 days is around £13 a day. And they can visit restaurants and supermarkets, something soldiers tend not to be able to do when they're fighting.

It's the same old story - "somebody" must be frugal, "somebody" must cut expenditure - but it mustn't hurt MPs, and indeed it mustn't hurt any "public servants".

Perhaps the MPs and MoD chiefs would like to try living solely on military ration packs for a week or two - in a sandy place where they're also fighting real opponents, who use guns, not words. It might, umm, focus their thinking a little, and might make them consider spending less MoD money on the Met Office and more on soldiers.

Manufactured decline.

Over at Scunnert Nation there's part of the Politics Show where Barry Weir asks Mr Brown about the loss of manufacturing jobs in Stourbridge, and asks what he is doing to stop this decline in manufacturing. He's very polite.

Two things Mrs Rigby would like to point out, the first is the expression on Mr Brown's face at the beginning of this clip - and he's there with people he hopes will vote him back into office.

The second is, well ... Mrs R has written several draft blogs about Mr Brown's words during this programme, but they all ended up too wordy. She's tried writing about how he didn't seem to be able to grasp the difference between manufacturing jobs lost now and the urgency of the situation for those who are out of work. He referred to retraining - in literacy and numeracy - and 'research and development' programmes, advance engineering of the future, and apprenticeships, but nothing now, nothing to help the adults who might well be breadwinners and who don't seem to have a future because there's nowhere for them to use their existing skills.

It was as if they don't count any more, that they were ignored, their problems sidestepped, as if it doesn't matter too much when grown men lose their livelihoods.

Anyhow, watch it for yourself and see what you think.

It'll be hot.

the country really is on course for a barbecue summer
So say the people at Positive Weather Solutions, who have managed to be more accurate than the Met Office over the last two years.

Barbecues would be nice, no? Balmy evenings spent in the garden, clutching an overcooked beefburger and a glass of tepid wine? What could be more British?

But, you've got to be 'on message' these days, so Jim from Rennes in France carefully warns that
barbeques are extremely cancerous. So is sunbathing.
Look Jim, we know we're likely to get rusty this summer, so why don't you just go away and annoy the locals.

A joke?

Thanks Mr Eugenides! That really was a jawdropping moment.

The Home Office has, apparently, been hiring Ruby Wax as an adviser. She
provides senior civil servants with lessons in leadership and communication.
Chris Huhne expressed astonishment at Ms Wax’s role. Mrs Rigby is equally astonished, but not in the least surprised by the Home Office "spokesperson's" defence.
“The Home Office is committed to providing our staff with the best training possible, while ensuring value for money.”
But we can't judge for ourselves because the cost of these workshops sessions is
"commercially sensitive".
Oh! Right! That's told us! Thanks - we Rigbys are only little taxpayers, we don't really need to know how our money is being wasted.

Maybe, thought, it's because only the taxman is allowed to know how much Ruby Wax earns?

But, maybe, just maybe they don't want us to realise that these workshops were a complete and utter waste of money. They were intended to show participants how to
present a more human face using humour, empathy and honesty.(my bold)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Some strike action must be made illegal.

For these people at least. (And in Telegraph here)

Let's, first, look at how some Labour MPs have been caught out trying to fill their pockets with lobbyists' cash, in return for favours
- Patricia Hewitt, a former health secretary, who claimed she helped to obtain a key seat on a government advisory group for a client paying her £3,000 a day.

- Geoff Hoon, the former defence secretary, offered to lead delegations to ministers and told the reporter that he was looking to turn his knowledge and contacts into “something that frankly makes money”. He said he charged £3,000 a day.

- Margaret Moran, the Luton MP who was forced to pay back £22,500 in expenses, boasted that she could ring a “girls’ gang” of colleagues on behalf of clients. Among those she named were: Jacqui Smith, the former home secretary; Hazel Blears, the former communities secretary; and Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour party.
Oh, they're wriggling, of course they are. They're saying they didn't go along with the scam because they thought something was amiss - but none of these three, not one, said, "No!" then and there. They must have thought about it, wondered what they could get out of it, wondered if it might be worth it.

We know Mr Blair has made quite a lot of money, but didn't want anybody to know because it was 'sensitive'. We know that he shredded documents before leaving office. His children have Irish passports, he doesn't stay long in Britain any more - it would be quite interesting to learn where he pays his taxes, especially as he owns a rather nice house, with a tennis court - in England.

But all that's just fine - because he supports the Labour Party, so he doesn't get called rude names by the media.

And now some of the top "public servants" in the land might think it's just fine to go on strike, and walk out of parliament on Budget Day. Instead of doing what they're paid for,
Those MPs taking part will also join union chiefs on a boat trip along the Thames at Westminster
Secondary picketing is illegal in this country.
Secondary picketing
It is unlawful to picket other companies’ premises where workers are not in dispute with your employer. For example, if you are on strike you should not go to the premises of your employer’s customers to encourage their workers not to handle your employer’s goods. This is known as secondary picketing.
But, presumably, it's just fine for union activists to try to prevent Parliament working - maybe because it isn't a "company".

So Mr Serwotka, in [a] letter, dated March 16 and headed 'To all members of the PCS Parliamentary Group' [wrote]:
'Our members will be taking strike action again on Budget Day ...

'There will be picket lines (my bold) at Westminster and we would ask MPs not to cross in solidarity.

'We will also be taking a boat up the Thames past Parliament on the day which will be suitably equipped to generate media interest for our members' case.
Mr Serwotka isn't talking about demonstrating, he isn't talking about bringing something to the notice of Parliament - he's talking about picket lines at the Houses of Parliament, intended to stop MPs getting into their place of work, and as a softener he'll take them for a nice boat trip on the Thames, with reporters and TV cameras in attendance.

Is that a bribe?

Mrs Rigby honestly doesn't know the answer to that, she doesn't know if, "If you refuse to go to work I will take you for a nice boat trip instead," counts as a bribe. Maybe somebody else will know the answer to that one.

Oh, and according to the website
PCS has a highly active all party parliamentary group with over 65 members.
Ordinary people, according to DirectGov,
have the right to try to prevent or stop industrial action if the industrial action is, or is likely to be, unlawful and either:

* is likely to prevent or has prevented you from receiving goods or services
* is likely to reduce or has reduced the quality of the goods or services you get

This is called the 'citizen's right to prevent disruption'.
So we could have the bizarre situation of ordinary people demanding their MPs turn up for work, to ensure government happens!

But don't hold your breath - it won't happen, because these are Labour MPs, and everything Labour MPs do is brushed under the carpet by the media.

If any MP decides to strike on budget day it will be made very clear who they are working for, and it will not be their constituents - who elected them, and whose taxes pay both their salaries and extremely generous personal expenses, and whose taxes will pay these same MPs a 'winding up allowance' on leaving Westminster.

Mrs R wholeheartedly agrees with these MPs opinions:-

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard:
'Not content with closing Britain's airports and railways, union bosses are now colluding with Labour MPs to disrupt democracy itself.

'Any Labour MP who fails to open his or her Commons office on Wednesday should have their pay docked. This bears all the hallmarks of a co-ordinated union spring offensive against the nation.'
Eric Pickles is also right, he said,
'This could only happen in the topsy-turvy world of the Labour Party where your loyalty to the unions takes priority over serving your electorate.'
It's a great pity there are no quotes from Labour MPs who think this possible 'strike' is a disgrace.

Who'd have ever thought to wonder whether or not it is 'legal' for MPs to go on strike and halt the process of government - in Britain, in 2010.

Oh, and where's Mr Brown, the man who is Prime Minister of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? Is he in hiding, again?

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Veggies for dinner.

Hmm, something a junior Rigby discovered earlier.

If a bunch of veggies are invited for a meal there's a load of fuss about choosing the right menu, making sure it's been cooked in or with the right sort of sauce - with not a trace of animal matter.

When omnivores go to eat at a veggies' house, they get given beans, or tofu, and have to drink soya milk.

Where did the reciprocal agreement go?

Friday, 19 March 2010

146 medals

Well done.

Without government medals quotas the list of awards would be longer.

A larger copy of this image is here

Quoting from Defence News
Operational Honours and Awards List: 19 March 2010


George Cross (GC)
Staff Sergeant Kim Spencer HUGHES, The Royal Logistic Corps
Staff Sergeant Olaf Sean George SCHMID, The Royal Logistic Corps (Killed in action)
(their 'story' here)

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Brigadier David Arthur HOOK, Royal Marines
Colonel Greville Kenneth BIBBY, MBE, late Coldstream Guards

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Lieutenant Colonel Simon James BANTON, The Mercian Regiment
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Simon CALDER, The Royal Anglian Regiment
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Robin James CAMPBELL, The Royal Logistic Corps
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen John CARTWRIGHT, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Acting Colonel Douglas McKenzie CHALMERS, MBE, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Staff Sergeant Thomas Edward John BRENNAN, Royal Army Medical Corps
Major Oliver Jerome KINGSBURY, The Parachute Regiment
Major Eldon Nicholas Somervile MILLAR, Corps of Royal Engineers
Major Samuel Joseph PLANT, The Light Dragoons

Bar to Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Lieutenant Colonel Angus George Costeker FAIR, DSO, The Light Dragoons

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Major Giles Richard HARRIS, MBE, Welsh Guards
Brigadier Timothy Buchan RADFORD, OBE, late The Light Infantry
Acting Colonel Robert John THOMSON, MBE, The Rifles

Associate Royal Red Cross Medal (ARRC)
Captain Gail Lesley WHITTLE, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC)
Sergeant Alan Gordon DENNIS, The Mercian Regiment
Gunner Steven William GADSBY, The Royal Regiment of Artillery
Sergeant Marc Kevin GILES, The Mercian Regiment
Serjeant Jaime MONCHO, The Rifles
Lance Bombardier Gary PROUT, The Royal Regiment of Artillery
Lance Corporal Kyle Patrick SMITH, The Mercian Regiment

Military Cross (MC)
Warrant Officer Class 2 Mathew Robert TOMLINSON, CGC, Royal Marines
Corporal Craig ADKIN, The Mercian Regiment
Captain Edward Robert BROWN, The Mercian Regiment
Major Jo BUTTERFILL, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Corporal Steven Graham CHILDS, The Rifles
Corporal Richard CLARK, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Major Neil Darren GRANT, The Mercian Regiment
Lieutenant Tresham Dames Rowley GREGG, The Light Dragoons
Major Karl Christian HICKMAN, The Rifles
Lieutenant William James Archie HIGNETT, The Rifles
Private Alexander Robert KENNEDY, The Mercian Regiment
Corporal Paul Edward MATHER, Army Air Corps
Lieutenant Alexander John PHILLIPS, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Corporal Christopher Sean REYNOLDS, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Corporal Craig Richard SHARP, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Lance Corporal Alexander James SMITH, The Parachute Regiment
Warrant Officer Class 2 Simon Nicholas THOMPSON, The Rifles
Lance Sergeant Matthew Philip TURRALL, Irish Guards

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Flight Lieutenant Marc Alan HEAL, Royal Air Force

George Medal (GM)
Rifleman Paul Raymond JACOBS, The Rifles
Captain Daniel Marc SHEPHERD, The Royal Logistic Corps (Killed in action)

Queen's Gallantry Medal (QGM)
Warrant Officer Class 2 Peter John BURNEY, The Rifles
Captain Wayne Edward James OWERS, The Royal Logistic Corps
Corporal Carl Peter THOMAS, The Rifles
Lance Corporal David James TIMMINS, The Royal Logistic Corps

Mention in Despatches (MiD)
Acting Sergeant Sean Conor BINNIE, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (Killed in action)
Corporal Samisoni Naisabo BOILA, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Lieutenant Robert Alexander Macpherson BUCHANAN, The Rifles
Captain Owen Alastair Ralph CANDY, The Royal Regiment of Artillery
Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul David COLVILLE, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Rifleman Gary CRANE, The Rifles
Lieutenant Mark Alexander CRIPPS, The Rifles
Sergeant Grant Leslie CUTHBERTSON, The Light Dragoons
Warrant Officer Class 2 Mark Andrew DOBBS, The Light Dragoons
Lieutenant Christopher Stuart Nicholas FENTON, Welsh Guards
Lance Corporal Buddhibahadur GURUNG, The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Lieutenant Duncan Simon Whittick HADLAND, The Mercian Regiment
Lieutenant Andrew John HALLIDAY, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Sergeant Darren Justin HANRAHAN, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Rifleman Kevin HOLT, The Rifles
Captain Howard Robert HOOPER, Corps of Royal Engineers
Corporal Paul INNES, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Lance Corporal Christopher Paul JAKEMAN, The Rifles
Sergeant Jamie Stuart LAWSON, The Light Dragoons
Lance Corporal Rhodri Wyn LODWICK, Welsh Guards
Sergeant Terence Albert LOWE, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Sapper James Ewan MCINTOSH, Corps of Royal Engineers
Sergeant Andrew Peter MCNULTY, The Mercian Regiment
Lance Corporal Nigel David MOFFETT, The Light Dragoons (Killed in action)
Private Edwin Goitseone MOTETE, The Royal Logistic Corps
Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Simon MUCKLE, The Mercian Regiment
Captain Matthew Bromley O'HARE, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Lance Sergeant Michael Ellis PARRY, Welsh Guards
Rifleman Prakash PUN, The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Lance Corporal Tilakkumar RAI, The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Sergeant Gary Richard REYNOLDS, Corps of Royal Engineers
Private Lauren Louise RICHARDS, Royal Army Medical Corps
Corporal Anthony RICHARDSON, The Light Dragoons
Corporal David Joseph ROY, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Guardsman Lee SKATES, Welsh Guards
Major Alasdair Fortune Lyon STEELE, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Lance Corporal Matthew Paul TURNER, The Parachute Regiment
Lance Corporal Matthew David VITEL, The Rifles
Major Richard David WALLWORK, The Royal Regiment of Artillery
Rifleman Daniel Christopher WILD, The Rifles (Killed in action)
Flight Lieutenant David James GRINDAL, Royal Air Force
Flight Lieutenant Adrian PARKINSON, Royal Air Force

Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB)
Rifleman Edward Kenneth William BENTON, The Rifles
Corporal Leslie John BINNS, The Light Dragoons
Lance Corporal Sally Patricia CLARKE, Royal Army Medical Corps
Rifleman Ricky Dean EDGAR, The Rifles
Rifleman Robert Craig FLANAGAN, The Rifles
Lieutenant Charles James Richard FRASER-SAMPSON, Welsh Guards
Captain Judith Lorna GALLAGHER, The Royal Logistic Corps
Rifleman Liam John HARGREAVES, The Rifles
Fusilier Rory HUGHES, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Corporal Timothy Kenneth JONES, Corps of Royal Engineers
Corporal Ian Paul PASCALL, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Corporal Henry Edward SANDAY, The Rifles
Sapper Matthew Robert WESTON, Corps of Royal Engineers

Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS)
Surgeon Commander Sarah Ann STAPLEY, Royal Navy
Acting Captain Michael James BRIGHAM, The Mercian Regiment
Private Charlotte Angharad BUTLER, Royal Army Medical Corps
Lieutenant Aloysius Coleman CONNOLLY, The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Captain James Alexander CORBET BURCHER, Welsh Guards
Captain Mark Robert CRANLEY, Royal Army Medical Corps
Warrant Officer Class 2 Andrew DAVIDSON, Adjutant General's Corps (Royal Military Police)
Major Darren John DENNING, The Rifles
Major Robert Woodd GALLIMORE, Welsh Guards
Captain Mark James HALE, The Rifles
Major Ion Cameron Walter HILL, The Rifles
Colonel Peter Francis MAHONEY, OBE, late Royal Army Medical Corps
Acting Corporal Nathan Derek Leon MURRIN, The Royal Logistic Corps
Major John Edward Keith OLDROYD, The Royal Regiment of Artillery
Corporal Jonathon Simon PRECIOUS, The Parachute Regiment
Major Jeremy Andrew ROSTRON, The Parachute Regiment
Warrant Officer Class 2 Declan Brian SIBLEY, The Rifles
Major Guy Charles Gideon Rees STONE, Welsh Guards
Warrant Officer Class 1 Richard Charles TAYLOR, Corps of Royal Engineers
Rifleman Thomas John THOPPIL KEZAKETHIL, The Rifles
Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Stuart Michael THORNELOE, MBE, Welsh Guards (Killed in action)
Major Stuart Peter WILES, The Light Dragoons
Air Commodore Kenneth Leslie O'DEA, Royal Air Force


Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Brigadier Thomas Anthony BECKETT, late The Parachute Regiment

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Commander James Robert DEAN, Royal Navy
Colonel Andrew DENNIS, late The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment
Major Simon Peter HAMILTON, Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Captain Keith TATE, Intelligence Corps

Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS)
Commander Henry Alworth Hamilton MEREWETHER, Royal Navy
Brigadier Rupert Paul STEARNS, Royal Marines
Major Christopher James BELL, OBE, Scots Guards
Captain Nicholas David Guise COWLEY, The Queen's Royal Hussars
Lieutenant Colonel Ludwig Karl FORD, MBE, The Royal Regiment of Artillery
Colonel Ian Alexander RIGDEN, OBE, late The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Lieutenant Colonel Gavin James THOMPSON, The Royal Tank Regiment
Captain Timothy WALVIN, The Royal Logistic Corps
Flight Lieutenant John Gerard Hughes MCFADDEN, Royal Air Force
Mr Richard CARD


Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
Colonel Nigel Malcolm Tree STAFFORD, late 9th/12th Royal Lancers

Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB)
Petty Officer Richard Griffiths HICKS, Royal Navy
Petty Officer Air Engineering Technician Alan MURPHY, Royal Navy
Leading Seaman Carl THOMAS, Royal Navy

Queen's Commendation for Bravery in the Air (QCBA)
Sergeant Keith Stewart BEST, Royal Air Force


"Have your Say"

The BBC has made quite a few changes to their "Have your Say" pages.

Mrs Rigby did, once upon a time, contribute the odd thing to HYS. She stopped because the 'only so many' characters for a comment - (was it 200, including spaces?) - made it a bit hard for her to say what she thought, although it certainly made contributors think, focus in the issue, and use language concisely and carefully.

That character limit has gone, which means the comments have grown - some of them look like mini-blogs, which some might say is a good thing, but it's no longer quick to skim what 'people' are saying.

Moderating hasn't improved. It's still very slow - there are, currently, more than thirty comments on this page (about the future of British Pubs) 'awaiting moderation'.

It used to be possible to 'agree with' a comment. That was a fine idea, because it was quick and easy, and also saved seeing the same thing written again and again. Being able to rank comments according to 'most popular' was a good way to get a very general idea of what 'readers' thought.

Can't do that any more.

The only thing anybody can do is 'complain about this comment' - which would end up with it being removed. It is no longer possible to 'agree'.

The BBC wants people to
Send us your ideas for new topics and you can set the agenda for a global conversation.
Global conversation?

For goodness sake! In whose dreams?

And, in these data-sensitive, terrorist-hunting, days when you can be thrown off a train for writing down the "wrong" word in a piece of paper, who would, truly, wish to write anything that could end up on a page like this - with your name and where you live written next to it?

The HYS pages are, according to BBC
... where we aim to offer you a platform to discuss and debate key stories making the news agenda.
Umm, actually, since when did news have an agenda?

News is :-
1 newly received or noteworthy information about recent events.
2 (the news) a broadcast or published news report.
3 (news to) informal information not previously known to.

— PHRASES no news is good news proverb without information to the contrary you can assume that all is well.
Agenda is :-
1 a list of items of business to be discussed at a meeting.
2 a list of matters to be addressed.

— ORIGIN Latin, ‘things to be done’.
The two should, surely, be mutually exclusive?

Or doesn't Mrs Rigby understand basic English any more?

Headline - "Hull Relieve Brown of his Duties"

Headline dated 10/03/10
Boss put on gardening leave
Mrs R thought for a moment that the News of the World had managed to get a scoop, and nobody else had noticed.

An image flashed before her eyes of the "Forces of Hull" invading Number 10 and Jabba the Hut answering questions at PMQ.

But no - it was all a dream, wrong Brown - so he won't be planting broad beans in his constituency garden.

You can see that Mrs R really hasn't much of an interest in the footballing world, although she has noticed that another Mr Brown is awfully worried about David Beckham's injured tendon. Let's hope his concern doesn't cause even grater problems.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Union Modernisation Fund payments

Found via a comment on Nick Robinson's blog
"The so-called Union Modernisation Fund, introduced by Labour, appears to be little more than a bribe to keep their comrades on-side.

Unions receive lots of taxpayers money, then make donations to the Labour party. How cosy!

For details of payments to individual unions, see here for answer given by Patrick McFadde Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

As for donations from the Unions to keep Labour afloat, these appear come with strings attached. In other words, the unions are using donations as a way of influencing government policy. See here, here and here.

Could this be cash-for-policies? There should be an investigation."

Union Modernisation Fund
Business, Innovation and Skills
Written answers and statements, 8 March 2010
(Hansard Source - here)
Quoted from Theyworkforyou
Greg Hands (Shadow Minister, Treasury; Hammersmith & Fulham, Conservative)
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how much has been paid to each trade union from the Union Modernisation Fund in each year since the fund was started.

Patrick McFadden (M (Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; Wolverhampton South East, Labour) 8th March 2010

Union Modernisation Fund
The information on how much has been paid to each trade union from the Union Modernisation Fund in each financial year since the fund started is as follows:
Grant paid to each trade union by financial year
Union Grant paid (£)
Year ended 31 March 2007
GMB 23,340.53
Wales Trade Union Congress 12,252.64
National Union of Teachers 7,377.84
Royal College of Midwives 43,329.35
Union of Finance Staff 7,083.30
United Road Transport Union 24,330.00
Community and District Nursing Association 8,125.65
British Dental Association 6,047.75
Connect 28,647.63
USDAW 104,011.73
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers 32,489.00
National Union of Journalists 11,475.34
ASLEF 13,232.25
General Federation of Trade Unions 23,284.48
Portman Group Staff Association 6,070.70

Year ended 31 March 2008
GMB 106,532.92
Communication Workers Union 28,008.85
Wales Trade Union Congress 29,708.34
National Union of Teachers 20,285.64
USDAW 5,783.00
Royal College of Midwives 88,135.28
Union of Finance Staff 41,776.70
Unity 15,192.76
United Road Transport Union 50,670.00
Equity 22,737.50
Transport and General Workers Union 47,535.05
Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union 17,241.06
Community and District Nursing Association 6,418.37
Community 63,453.00
British Dental Association 15,329.00
Transport Salaried Staffs' Association 46,618.70
Connect 28,988.12
USDAW 82,811.00
Prospect 78,621.69
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers 161,245.00
National Union of Journalists 43,145.52
Trades Union Congress 62,695.00
Community and Youth Workers Union 16,915.96
Unite (Amicus) 128,105.62
ASLEF 58,245.47
General Federation of Trade Unions 74,623.90
Portman Group Staff Association 9,533.80
Musicians' Union 17,788.00
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 2,845.00
Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians 5,983.00
Equity 7,691.30

Year ended 31 March 2009
General Federation of Trade Unions 15,122.48
Trades Union Congress 39,863.19
General Federation of Trade Unions 40,333.07
Musicians' Union 14,426.00
Association of Teachers and Lecturers 326.02
Unison 54,942.22
Association of Professionals in Education and Children's Trusts 5,100.00
Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians 7,957.50
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 14,371.00
Accord 106,164.00
Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union 40,957.97
First Division Association 27,437.00
Trades Union Congress 23,049.00
Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians 7,957.50
General Federation of Trade Unions 37,344.17
Nautilus UK 27,007.06
Equity 35,654.58
Unite (Amicus) 29,309.18
Retained Fire-fighters Union 51,930.68
Nationwide Group Staff Union 5,875.00
GMB 63,667.08
Communication Workers Union 116,159.35
Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union 33,405.42
Wales Trade Union Congress 83,681.18
Lloyds TSB Group Union 22,322.60
National Union of Teachers 35,267.02
British Dental Association 780.25
Prospect 26,197.78
Association of Professionals in Education and Children's Trusts 5,100.00
Prospect 20,591.49
Unison 87,515.50
Association of Professionals in Education and Children's Trusts 4,085.00
Association of Teachers and Lecturers 17,606.14
Community 23,151.00
Communication Workers Union 14,088.92
Communication Workers Union 20,359.04
National Union of Teachers 41,733.63
PCS 31,268.82
Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians 9,720.00
USDAW 71,532.90

Current financial year to date
Association of Teachers and Lecturers 28,858.76
Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union 35,964.40
Communication Workers Union 21,931.14
First Division Association 81,509.00
General Federation of Trade Unions 23,707.63
National Union of Teachers 24,254.82
Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians 11,496.28
USDAW 26,938.50
Nautilus UK 6,834.31
Accord 30,587.50
Equity 14,103.55
General Federation of Trade Unions 53,978.98
GMB 63,937.54
Musicians Union 15,284.00
Unite (T&G) 88,302.00
Trade Union Congress 67,109.83
Unison 16,835.78
Unison 106,997.01
Unite (Amicus) 89,217.79
Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union 128,096.20
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 11,230.00
National Union of Schoolmasters, Union of Women Teachers 28,385.00
Trades Union Congress 52,683.23
Unison 79,543.50
Note: Where some unions have more than one project, these have been itemised individually above.

Oh, and The Sun points out that
"HALF the Cabinet, including Gordon Brown and 12 of his ministers, are bankrolled in their constituencies by militant union Unite, ...."