Saturday, 22 April 2017

Going to the polls

I had a schedule for publishing  that I like to keep very much with but as ever real life events just have this habit of forcing a change and this one is pretty big.
This if you were to believe the press and many of the politicians was a unexpected announcement, that Great Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, was to call for a snap Election June 8th on Tuesday at 11AM British time.
To me it's always been on the cards, something I expected sooner rather than later as much as I and evidently the PM herself would much sooner of had a period of stability prior to the negotiations on the way to leave the European Union.
There a number of reasons, one being to draw a line under the Cameron chummy governance  period she took over from making it very much hers in her own image, all ghosts duly dispatched, with an election held with the policies she supports uppermost on a manifesto.
There is as she said on Tuesday a mismatch between the mood of the people over leaving Europe and that of members of parliament voted on on a manifesto that pledged support to it. Moreover some conservatives saw it as their duty to fight it tooth and nail not just in the Commons but the Unelected lords.
Being able to say people voted her party in with the leading issue  getting on with leaving the E.U clearly signals even to the lords the government has the mandate to act and so their role is therefore to advise and revise not to obstruct it.
It also challenges the Scottish Parliaments assertion it alone has a mandate from that part of the UK and offers the opportunity to campaign against the idea of a second referendum on leave as the leading UK wide Unionist party which there seems rather less of a majority in Scotland for.
It also sends out a clear signal to the E.U itself that the country is behind leaving and the Government can't be bought off even if some compromises may be necessary in the short term.
To me this step simply stacks up and is what I would of taken if in a similar situation.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Talking warfare blues

"In the event of an air attack, the warning will sound and you are to make you way to the air raid shelter underground".
Well after last weeks attack on Syria by the United States  following the use of chemical weapons that killed  and injured children and babies, the sending of ships of the Korean Peninsular and last nights bombing of underground caves in Afghanistan strongly believed by us to be used by those masters of inhumanity, Isis,  you could say the world's very much on the edge.
It isn't that any one of these measures isn't justifiable - I was darn well angry as most of us were over what happened in Syria, that the North Korean leader is a threat to anyone who the Chinese ought to deal with and as far as I'm concerned Isis specialisms in gross inhumanity, approval of child sex abuse and destruction of world cultural artifacts would justify its removal from the planet - it's just the three at once that has me concerned.
This doesn't feel like the 70's and 80's where we lived with the so-called Cold War or even the Prague Spring, it's more reminiscent of the early 60's on the edge of real  warfare with China and Russia and the World-wide gorilla army of Isis rolling out destruction on a street near you as you enter McDonalds.
These times are scary, particularly for the young and we need to talk with them about what's on their minds.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

The UK and the EU: Article 50 signed

First off thanks for the increased viewing of posts recently on this blog which is appreciated as with the changing nature of my life it's not always easy to slot in a post here although perhaps inspiration is more at hand in national life.
Wednesday was a very important in the history of our Country here in Great Britain because it was the day a letter was delivered by hand to the President of the European Commission both signalling our intention to leave it and the European Union as well setting out our intentions and expectations regarding negotiation around leaving terms and expectations.
These cover things such as trading arrangements, the rights of each others citizens in the UK and the EU, any monies owed upon leaving or rebates and security which in view of last Wednesdays events are extremely important.
That Associated Press picture  is our Prime Minister signing it at No.10 Downing Street where I did spend and afternoon and evening at by request of a serving Prime Minister so is something I do recognize!
However the negotiations go, we are past the point of the question of leave or stay raised at and shortly after last June's referendum  however some might like to believe otherwise because we are actually leaving.
This does not mean we've ceased to be a member subject to its rules and laws because until a date is agreed for leaving and following any 'implementation period' where old arrangements expire, new ones come into affect and any 'ad hoc' temporary measures introduced as needed, we are still legally in membership.
The 'Great Repeal Bill' so-called is just a rolling up of exclusively EU law formally into British law to avoid a legal black hole whereupon afterwards Parliament (both Houses of) can alter, revise, revoke or replace as a Sovereign body as it can any other Law (and is in part its purpose) but not before leaving.

Friday, 24 March 2017

On the attacks on London

I suppose I might as well start by saying this was not a post I was expecting to make today by both topic and also by virtue of not being in the twice monthly publishing cycle of this blog.
It also is is by grim coincidence almost exactly a year on from one of the pre-paused posts on here where I talked about the Brussels terrorist attacks and the impact on us all.
On Tuesday March 22 at approximately 14:40 hours GMT, two people drove a 4x4 vehicle down Westminster Bridge, London into the sidewalk killing three people and injuries scores of others, some very seriously. 
Having realized they couldn't continue, they crashed into a railing near Parliament, killing one police officer before one dashed toward Parliament itself, stabbing to death a security person before being shot dead by police
That takes us to five persons currently dead from this incident which is clearly terrorist related.
The affected are of many nationalities, not just Britishers, but include French schoolchildren, an American tourist and so on so it has touched many people around the world and we know that the people of Canada, Australia, New Zealand with the reminder of the Commonwealth, the leaders of our European neighbours such as France, Belgium and Germany, our great ally, the United States of America and many others are thinking of us and are together as one at this terrible time.
Five dead and scores injured can never be be justified and are 'too many' but it has to be said we have a lot to thankful of such as the speed the police, emergency services were on the deal keeping people safe and treating those who could.
Parliament wasn't stormed. Politicians, staff and visitors including children were kept safe.
We owe them all a lot including the two who were killed.
Going forward, we have all resolved to carry on our lives even with more vigilance presently than before getting on with our lives,going to work, Parliament doing its job democracy and freedom upheld for all.
Terrorism WILL NOT prevail over Liberty and Freedom.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Leaving minus part of ones country

Harder, more old school posting today that between the everyday fluff this blog was more noted for that that other one never goes into brought about this weeks Current Affairs.
Getting on for nearly nine months back, we had here in the United Kingdom, a referendum that asked us if we wished to remain in the European Union or if we wished to leave.
Very much a simple tick which of the two boxes you agree with thing although nobody would say the propositions themselves don't have complexities and for some people the final outcome was more a finely balanced judgement than just a straightforward Yes.
Well the one thing we do know know is our Prime Minister will start the formal process of leaving with its discussions by months end having gotten Royal assent Thursday with much arguing around the legality of Government just starting the process and what if any approval by Parliament is required upon the completion of negations by both the United Kingdom's and the European Union's negotiators.
Going back some two and half years ago however Scotland held a referendum of its own about remaining  a member of the United Kingdom or establishing itself as a fully independent state to which the outcome was to remain a part of the United Kingdom by a majority of ten percent.
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the majority SNP party and First Minister of the Scottish Parliament however has decided  that although it was said to be decided for a generation, the UK exiting the European Union including leaving the Single Market and Customs Union to control migration and make own trading agreements so undermines Scotland that another be held between the Fall of 2018 and Spring 2019 and is pushing a bill through institution to cause it to be considered by the UK House of Commons.
The problem with this is it would be right in the middle of the negotiations for the whole of the UK to leave the EU including any terms that would effect Scottish Interests and these would be helped by the best brains of the Civil Service so not only does this add extra layers on for Scotland, the nature of what may even be agreed under Independence may alter it plus these same 'brains' would not be available for those talks.
Even if all of this were to happen, upon the UK leaving the EU, that would take Scotland out and so it would need to wait in line to apply as itself (there would be no question of 'taking' the UK's place) so for a period Scotland would be outside the EU anyway.
Then, many Scots who do favour independence don't like the EU whose popularity has dropped a lot so mixing the idea of Independence with joining an unliked institution that does usurp some sovereignty may not play out too well.
As well some four-fifths of Scotland's business is with the remainder of the UK and that upon Scotland joining the EU would be effected by the terms  agreed between the remainder of the UK and the EU plus they'd be expected to work toward or adopt outright the Euro as currency that would complicate life for individuals crossing the border and business.
Then the border itself may need fortification being a EU/England+Wales+Northern Ireland one that may require checkpoints, guards and travel documents.
Who is going to pay for that if Scotland votes for independence? The English taxpayer who will be no doubt livid???
 If this question really needs re-examining, on grounds of practicality and giving everyone an informed basis of what life post Brexit would impact everyone including Scots, this really is best left until at least 2020. Maybe as former Prime Minister Brown is suggesting a more overtly federal structure for the whole UK including Scotland is a more realistic option for all of us?
It just smacks of political opportunism rather than a serious attempt to deal with real issues.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Musical gifts

I don't usually make do two consecutive editions on this blog anymore but the timing would be off if I left this until next Saturday so here goes.
I had a birthday recently which was marked on two sites by birthday wishes by friends and did have a few presents that included two cds.
This is a five cd set in the low rent card sleeve in box sort that is very common now in the UK and Europe that has the first five albums this pioneering Sheffield, England "New Romantic" band issued where the card sleeve is an exact replica of the original lp sleeve right down to marking side one and two!
Unlike the remastered editions of the first three from 2006, these discs are just the original lp program with no bonus tracks and having listened to them they have preserved much of the original dynamics in the mastering which is something I was concerned about  ever since my copy of Pleasure One developed 'sticky top' and my copies of the others were downloads of so-so quality.
A worse fate came to my original 1991 copy of this album by the Scottish Band, Big Country, where the disc itself had started to go rusty due to so-called CD Rot and nearly every copy had it!
This edition is the 2016 Deluxe one where you have the whole album plus bonus tracks across two discs and that'll be replacing it.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Let's redefine disability away!

This fortnights edition will be more old school Daytime Office Girl Crisis than what I have published more in the last ten and bit month but inspiration is at hand as the expression might go.
Ever since its introduction, Personal Independence Payments, otherwise called P.I.P.s the gradual replacement for 1992's  Disability Living Allowance, a payment made regardless of employment status to help with costs of maintaining independence and personal dignity has been dogged by controversy from the designed in to lose 20% of existing DLA claimants element, movements in who gains what levels of payment, reducing the unable or virtually unable to walk criteria for around 200 yards to under 50 and so on.
The consensus among disabled people and many in charity sector has been that this while potentially offering a higher payout to a few was rather more about reducing the total claimant bill fitting in with more the idea of medical adaptions and technology reducing the disabling impact to those of us who are disabled while rather ignoring how this was to be funded by the individual in an era of reduced grants and local government provided support.
Well the proverbial hit the fan this weekend when a assistant of the Prime Minister started to talk about keeping P.I.Ps for "genuine disabled" not people sitting at home taking pills.
What he was alluding to were to court decision against the governments criteria that said they needed to consider conditions such as social anxiety where a person may be unable to go say to a doctors appointment or get the shopping in so that a person may go with them on on their behalf as say a carer that was estimated to increase the bill somewhat.
Part of the problem was his wording which as a someone who has invisible disabilities such as memory issues and social anxiety as well as learning and physical ones is offensive implying that what we have isn't interfering in regular everyday life to the point it disables us taking us back the days of only physical  or sensory disabilities being accepted and all else not visible being treated with suspicion  or widespread ridicule.
The other is many physical conditions may be part managed by pills at home such as painkillers, some many not manage weight issues that make things worse for themselves but they're exempted from any similar consideration. And why the rush to shut down this widening of the criteria?
Many us feel the buzz word "sustainability" in the context of sustainable disability welfare payments really means paying the least to the fewest consistent with relatively low taxation plans.
The minister tried to suggest care packages as delivered by Care Trusts would provide what these people need but there's no indication how many of these people would get anything like the same care and how  with shrinking health and council budgets with a political imperative to deal with the frail elderly to avoid so-called "bed blocking" at hospitals how much of these funds would be spend on people of working age requiring considerable support.
That policy measure doesn't actually justify in itself the attempt to reduce the type of disabilities P.I.Ps are supposed to help promote personal independence for.