Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Somewhere on the Net

Catching-up with the papers in an airport lounge a very long way from home, I see that while I've been away, we have been given a 'Dual Premiership' otherwise known as the 'annointing of Gordon' and that the ID card bill, with a little help from the same character, has made it through Parliament, taking with it, a few more of the privileges which started with Magna Carta and which have steadily disappeared under the combined efforts of Messrs Straw, Blunkett and Clarke.

Another thing I caught up with today is that the TV licensing authority is now going after the owners of video phones too. 'Sorry son, you need a TV license to watch that football clip on Vodafone. No license, then your'e nicked, that's a thousand pound fine please or a month in the pokey.' Meanwhile, the dear old BBC, to whom all this loot goes, has just been castigated by MPs for spending eighty million on furniture with staff chairs coming in at 360.00 each in a new refit. 'An appaling waste of license fee payers money.'

It's amazing how much there is to miss about Britain when your'e away.From afar it does rather seem at times that we've left the lunatics in charge of the asylum.

I'll write a little more on the aircraft.


B of Birchington said...

I could say I am glad to be old but I worry about the young of today. What a mess we are leaving them. Trouble is I don't know the answer. All this needs a visionary of greatness now. Politicians are so shallow.

Square Eyes said...

With regard to the BBC, it was £60m, not £80m. Please do not take at face value what you read in the Murdoch media (Sun, Times, Sunday Times, NoW). Murdoch owns one of the BBC's main competitors, Sky, and has been on a crusade to knacker the Beeb for years. Would you believe Asda if they said all Tesco pies contained arsenic?

All basic media studies stuff, to quote someone who once said something on this blog.

Then again, £60m is still quite a lot to spend on chairs!

James Maskell said...

For those interested in the ID cards issue the votes last night basically mean anyone who applies for a passport get thrown onto a national database (oh yes a new IT system!) and get an ID card automatically. I hate the idea of ID cards and have opposed them from the very beginning. Its completely wrong and a waste of billions of taxpayers money. The cost according to the LSE is going to be around 28 billion pounds...compare that to the entire budget of the NHS at around 96 billion pounds. Basically ID cards will cost the equivalent of over a quarter of the NHS budget! Thats an obscene amount of money.

I refuse to buy an ID card and will not renew my passport if Im to be given one.

Anonymous said...

anon again!
you'll need an ID Card or Passport in order to be issued with the Ration Card for Water, that will soon be neccessary...
never mind though, as long as we pay high taxes to fund the lunacy...
makes you wonder WHY we vote loonies into power a bit though!

Still, being a converted smoker, I must say, even when as a smoker, I could never stand eating in a nice restaurant, next to a table of smokers. I used to wait until I was back at home, or even take a break in the fresh air, to go and have a puff. Thank goodness I quit the weed. Thank goodness the Government has banned smoking in Restaurants and Pubs. Now, perhaps the rest of us can enjoy a nice meal out. Any truth in the rumour that the Government's next issue is to Ban alcohol in Pubs? (cynic).
What a world.... no more drunken drivers... or alki-yobs smashing their towns up on the way home.

One can only hope that the £360 chairs are Acute Haemorrhoid inducers.

Cllr David Green said...

James, dont quote opinion as fact. The "LSE" report you refer to was by one academic, well known as a opponent of ID cards.
As you well know there is no proposal to make ID cards compulsary. The bulk of the committed costs will be borne by the technology to introduced biometric passports which most agree are necessary.


We must not be surprised at the BBC's profligate waste of tax payers money (the licence fee is effectively a tax); surely we have our own TC fiasco as the latest reminder of how prevalent such waste is.

On the subject of smoking, we have seen a serious assault on the rights of individuals akin to the Puritans banning dancing.

I accept the ban on smoking in all places where non-smokers may have to go. I can see no reason why private businesses cannot make a decision to be smoking or non-smoking (which also includes their staff).

The decision by this Government to promote a Bill that was then supported by a majority of MPs to ban private individuals in a private members club from smoking if they chose to is a serious assault on our basic freedom. I hope that private members clubs up and down the land will fight this interference in their private lives through the courts and by defiance of the law.

For the first time in my life I am now prepared to ignore the law in respect of smoking in a private club. I urge others to consider what their stance will be.

My country has become unrecognisable in such a short space of time: CCTV everwhere; speed cameras; political jobbery and scuppering of our traditional Parliamentary system; repressive laws (excuse being 'war on terror'); imprisonment without trial; gross restrictions on freedom of thought and speech; hunting bans etc. etc.

In this country of ours it is now permissable to sodomise a 16 year old boy but not to smoke in a private club. May your God preserve you all!

James Maskell said...

Cllr David Green, whats the point of a national ID card scheme if its voluntary? You are only half right about compulsion. It wont be compulsory to carry it round with you, but it will be compulsory to register on the database.

Looking at the numbers Labour have manipulated in the last 9 years, I trust the LSE much more than this Labour Government. The only way this Government can allay peoples concerns about the costs is to have a report with the full costings of the scheme prior to the scheme starting. But of course, they didnt want that. Instead we will be having a six monthly report for the first ten years.

The technology isnt ready as the Governments own trial said. Not only that but has happened in the past, every form of "secure" identification has been forged. Its a matter of time before the technology is broken.

DrMoores said...

I'm not going to be dragged into this conversation. I've said enough on the subject and given enough evidence against the proposal but government forges blindly on. Anyone interested just look up "simon moores" + ID cards on the web.

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that 60,000,000 people and 49 data fields on each means a National data base to run almost 3 billion records. Does such a system exist or does it have to be designed? I am not very technical but doesn't this Goverments record on big fancy computer systems for NHS, DVLA, CSA etc show big cost overuns and systems not able to work?
Policemen catch criminals not computers; lets have 100,000 more people in Police, Customs and MI5/MI6 etc!

James Maskell said...

Thats it Anonymous. 3 billion records. And yes, IT systems in Britain are notorious for having cost over-runs, delays and failures, not to mention inadequate training for staff and managers.

It would have to be designed and built from scratch and its going to cost a fortune. The 5.5 billion pounds is not going to be the final amount at all. I will literally eat a hat in Margate High Street if the final cost is less than 20 billion pounds. The staff will need training and as with the NHS, CSA and the DWPs Jobcentre Plus, the training needs to be effective (ie dont just hand them a manual and tell them to get on with it) and the managers need to know the procedures.

As for smoking, I think the total ban is a good idea. As I say this, it must be noted that Im a non-smoker.

Very persecuted smoker said...

James, you cannot be serious about curtailing an individual's right to gather with like minded individuals albeit in a private members licenced club to partake in a mutually agreed past-time?

You must not let your personal prejudices about the fact that it is SMOKING distract you from the priciple involved!

James Maskell said...

No one is stopping that from happening. Why should non smokers have to inhale second hand smoke, which has been proven to harm them? They dont smoke and yet they are being hurt. The staff may not smoke and yet they have to inhale it. The right to smoke still exists, but dont non smokers have the right to not have to inhale second hand smoke?

If it deters people from smoking isnt it a good thing? Millions of pounds is spent dealing with the problems related to smoking. Wouldnt that be better spent in schools, or in other parts of the NHS?

Still persecuted smoker said...

James, your normally up to flying speed but on this one you missed the point. Parliament has passed a bill which also includes banning smoking in private members clubs. I PERSONALLY THINK IT IS OUTRAGEOUS. If firms can now insist that their staff are non-smokers then these clubs could have only employed non-smokers.
Freedom of choice all round and not a non-smoker in sight. It may not be healthy but what the hell, its their choice.
Smokers more than pay their share through exorbitant taxes on cigarettes and are less of a burden as many expire young and often quickly with heart attacks.

James Maskell said...

I dont think it is all that outrageous. There are 18,000 private member clubs around the country and they shouldnt be exempted on the grounds that they arent the same as pubs or bars. Smoking kills directly the smoker as well as indirectly harming others in the area. Around 1.5 billion pounds is spent each year treating smoking related diseases.

Private member clubs may be different from pubs and bars but smoking doesnt have any different effect. It still harms people. Detering people from smoking is the best thing. There needs to be a level playing field.

Very persecuted smoker said...

It is quite clear James that you do not support the principle of freedom of choice in respect of smoking, even if it has no direct effect on non-smokers.

As a member of a minority I am now used to anti-smoking prejudice.

On the subject of the cost of smoking related illness, you fail to mention the contribution smokers make each year through the exorbitant tax take on their cigarettes. So great in fact that rumour has it that Mr Brown at the Treasury is perhaps floating the idea of a delay in implementation of the Act until 2008 on the grounds of the impact it may have on the tax take!

Persecuted smoker said...

Another thought James. Vehicle exhaust pollution has yet to receive the attention that secondary smoking has. If you believe in the principle of banning smoking on the basis that others have to breathe in the smoke what are your thoughts concerning the lung harming cocktail of exhaust fumes and particulates that make sitting at a table outside the Powell Arms probably more dangerous than sitting inside breathing my secondary smoke? (Did you see the results of air testing at the 'square' last year?

Another thought. As smoking has declined asthma and other respiratory illnesses in children have increased in the past 20 years in line with the growth of vehicles on our roads and the resultant decline in air quality.

James Maskell said...

I wouldnt call it prejudice at all. I know many people who have smoked in the past and its a terrible habit to pick up.

What do you mean by "freedom of choice" in relation to smoking? Tax is very high with smoking (I work in a convenience shop and as I understand it, tax can be as high as 80% on a pack of 20), so is tax on alcohol (which impacts on me when I have my Sunday pint). Its deliberately high to deter alcoholics and smokers by hitting them in the pocket as a sin tax. Of course this leads to the problem of smuggling from abroad, which is why Customs need beefing up.

I didnt catch the results of the air testing around the Square in Birchington though Im aware there is a smog round the Square at times (what did they say?). Either way its going to cause damage to my lungs not to mention the lungs of everyone else in the area. Certainly more needs to be done to encourage people to avoid pulluting the atmosphere. Encouraging people to not use their cars as much is a must. Learn to ride a bike or use public transport and you save a lot of money. But I digress.

Asthma is indeed caused by being overly clean (overuse of disinfectants for example) as well as the increasing use of cars and private transport. That is why we all need to make sure we dont make things worse by contributing to it. Smoking does not allievate those problems and only makes things worse. Im yet to see a healthy cigarette.

There are a whole bunch of reasons as to why asthma is becoming more prevalent including the overuse of disinfectant and household goods. Smoking is not the only reason and I accept that. But its it really that unreasonable to have smokers breathing in their own smoke outside rather than it spreading round an enclosed space and into the lungs of those who dont smoke and dont want to breathe in the fumes?

Again, I say, this is not about prejudice, this is about the publics health. If people want to smoke, its up to them and Ive no right to stop them (hell I sell them cigarettes so who am I to stop them?) but why should I have to breathe in second hand smoke when drinking a pint at the pub, which puts me at risk of respiratory problems, whilst watching the football on a Sunday afternoon even though I am not a smoker?