Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Climate Change: the View from IMechE in Woking

Woking uniquely features a large statue of a Martian.

The logic for this is implicit below.

On 17th November the IMechE hosted a meeting: Question Time: Global Challenges.
This was held in the HG Wells Conference Centre
The agenda and participants are given below.

The premise was that climate change is happening, is anthropogenic, and local actions such as those already underway in Woking provide an,if not the, answer.

However - my question:-
The latest statistics published by the International Energy Agency show that from 1990 to 2007 worldwide CO2 emissions increased by 38%.
They further forecast that worldwide burning of fossil fuels will continue to increase and by 2050 will be double that of 1990.
How can whatever Woking (and by extension the UK) have any real impact?

The IMechE has recently published a report pointing out the improbabilty of the UK achieving the "legally binding" CO2 reductions targetted for 2020 and 2050 by the current (past sell-by-date) government.
This offers an excellent practical approach to the (perceived?) threat.
The UK government's reaction has been unenthusiastic.

Whilst some consider it heretical to raise the question...
Extract from letter in The Economist October 31st 2009 from Horst-Joachim Luedecke, Retired physics professor:-
"The IPCC .. 2001 report concluded that there was no discernable increase in storms, hurricanes, floods or droughts."
"sea levels .. a natural increase of 1-2mm a year has been occuring for many centuries. However, over the past few decades no anthropogenic signal in sea-level changes has been detected. This is firmly backed up by precise satellite altrimetry."

A "War of the Words" if not a "War of the Worlds"

Agenda as published by IMEchE

Binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions for the UK have now been set by the Government following the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. The IMechE believes these targets to be very challenging and that achieving them cannot help but strike a balance between mitigation (reducing emissions) and geo-engineering (artificially intervening to try and reduce the Earth’s temperature). Even allowing for success, there will also be a need for Woking to adapt to a warmer world and the drier, yet more stormy climate that will come from the emissions already in the atmosphere.

This QT intends to highlight a number of issues for Woking in the next forty years. It will focus on the extent to which solutions lie within Woking itself and to what extent Woking will continue to rely on outsiders for the essentials of life and treatment of its wastes. How much will it become a "sustainable community"? It will aim to bring the issues down to the individual family level and hence start to drive the personal behavioural changes at the heart of any delivery of any low carbon agenda.

The debate will be chaired by the President of the Institution, Keith H Millard FIMechE.


John Thorp - Chief Operating Officer of Woking Borough Council
Woking has a population approaching 100,000 which is expanding by around 3% per year. Its industry is only 10% manufacturing and 8% transport. It has a public Climate Change Strategy but how can it contribute to 80% reductions in emissions when it has such a residential profile?

Miriam Kennet – CEO of the Green Economics Institute
The Green Economics Institute exists to promote "social and environmental justice". It aims to find solutions that "will bring long term and real prosperity to people, nature and the planet and its systems". How can it create this "everyone wins" solution and how does it balance the needs of people in Woking with those in Warsaw or Walajabad?

Jim Skea – Member of the Committee on Climate Change
The Committee on Climate Change is an independent body set up to advise Government on carbon budgets and then report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a central body, removed from implementation, how does it interact with others who are expected to follow its plans?

Andy Deacon (not Richard Hurford) - Energy Saving
The Energy Savings Trust is funded by UK Government, devolved Governments and the private sector to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by advising people on how to use energy more efficiently, conserve water, reduce waste and make renewable energy sources more accessible. How does it turn advice into action when money often gets in the way?

Derek Parkin - Managing Director of Business Services at E.ON UK
Although reducing energy demand is bad business for generation companies, they still need to sell something. What is the future business model for an energy supplier?

My other questions under the heading of AGW/CC/GGE:

What is the observed correlation between levels of atmospheric CO2 and global temperature?
What is the forecast correlation between levels of atmospheric CO2 and global temperature?
What probability factors are associated with the forecast?

What is the observed correlation between global temperature and sealevel?
What is the forecast correlation between global temperature and sealevel?
What probability factors are associated with the forecast?

Fixing our broken Economy V Fixing our relationship with the EU

Dear Dave,

I hope I have misunderstood something but.........

It seems that as the incoming government you:

1) cannot fix the economy without changing EU rules;:

2) will put EU issues aside to concentrate on fixing the economy.

Chicken versus Egg

"It's only words..."

On Tuesday 6 October William Hague spoke at the Daily Telegraph forum at the Manchester conference.

Much of the debate centred on the day's principal topic: “Rebuilding our broken economy”.

Given the urgency of addressing these matters, I asked the question on constraints faced by the incoming government by EU directives and the impending ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

His answer: that it would be necessary to opt out of the social chapter and the Working Time Directive.

What was clearly foreseeable on 6 October has now come to pass; the Treaty has been ratified.

You have now said:-

“First, if we win the next election, we will prohibit, by law, the transfer of further power to the EU without a referendum. Never again should it be possible for a British government to transfer power to the EU without the British people’s consent.

“Second, we will introduce a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament.

“And third, we want to negotiate three specific guarantees with our European partners over powers that we believe should reside with Britain, not the EU. We will negotiate the return of Britain’s opt-out from social and employment legislation in those areas which have proved most damaging to our economy and public services. We also want a complete opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. And we would negotiate for a return of powers in criminal justice to prevent EU judges gaining steadily greater control over our criminal justice system.”

With the power now vested in the EU following the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty aka the European Constitution, it is surely disingenuous (at the very least) to suggest that you will be allowed to pass the legislation you now plan?

Considering them in turn

- …”we will prohibit, by law, the transfer of further power to the EU without a referendum…”.

The treaty already gives the EU the power to take such powers as they wish (the escalator clause). So you don’t promise that such powers will NOT be transferred – you simply promise a referendum.

So you hold a referendum on a proposed transfer, we vote NO, and the power transfers anyway – as EU law overrides local law under the treaty..

“…we will introduce a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament. “.

You don’t promise to pass such a law – and any such law is meaningless anyway as the treaty states that EU law overrides local law – so again pointless…

“…And third, we want to negotiate three specific guarantees with our European partners over powers …”.

You can guarantee to fail on this. Europe ministers from three member states: Poland, the Netherlands and the Irish Republic; have all stated that you would fail to achieve your demand to repatriate social and employment laws to Britain as this would need to the agreement of all 27 leaders of the EU because it would require amendment of EU treaties.

UK legislation of this kind would require our prior withdrawal from the Union to have any purpose.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Climate Compensation

From The Times October 29, 2009
"Gordon Brown has suggested that the EU should pay €10 billion a year from 2020 to help poorer countries to go green and has said that Britain would pay €1 billion."

RT Comment

More hot air: fossil fuel consumption is going to keep rising regardless - driven by increasing global population and living standards.
Atmospheric CO2 levels will increase; if this is indeed the driver of climate change(= temperature increase)it is inevitable. Forget mitigation, concentrate on adaptation.

So, "Gordon Brown has said ... that Britain would pay €1 billion a year from 2020 .. to help poorer countries to go green.
Of course. We Brits are guilty of starting the industrial revolution and emitting lots of CO2. Just like we are guilty of inventing the slave trade etc. etc.
To which leaders in the "poorer countries" should we make out the cheques?
It would be as well to take advice from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
(The £3m annual prize for good governance in Africa will not be awarded this year.)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Royal Mail & Tory Policy

Dave has written:

His principal issue is the Royal Mail strike although comments have largely shifted to the BBC/BNP spectacular - enough!

Now, the US postal services must be facing similar challenges with technology change yet operate at a profit.

Google shows that privitis/zation of the US Mail has been discussed but does not seem to be a high priority.

There is an EU dimension to our problems.
"The objective of the EU postal policy is to accomplish the Single Market for postal services and ensure a high quality universal postal service as part of the Lisbon Agenda."
"Postal Directive (Directive 97/67/EC as amended by Directive 2002/39/EC) and as amended by Directive 2008/06/EC)."

So we can see yet another benefit of continued EU membership!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Another Quango: Infrastructure Planning Commission

From The Times October 1, 2009

Infrastructure change ‘will fast-track planning’

"More than 50 of Britain’s biggest energy projects, including wind farms, power stations, gas storage sites and high-voltage transmission lines, could be fast-tracked through the planning system under powers handed to the Government today.
In the biggest shake-up to Britain’s planning regime in 60 years, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), formally came into existence this month. Its goal will be to slash the time needed to secure planning consent for projects considered to be of national importance from as long as seven years to less than a year."

100 staff: say total employment costs £100K p.a. per head = £10m p.a. - spend in 2010.

50 projects by 2011 means approximately 50 in 2010.

Therefore £200K per project.

Well, I suppose it can provide jobs in Bristol for people liable to be laid off in local manufacturing industry (think SFO) where "value added" is easier to calculate.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Bank says QE is making a difference

"Well, they would, wouldn't they?" - Mandy Rice-Davies

From The Times October 1, 2009

"Gordon Brown isn’t the only one launching a fightback. The Bank of England has started a campaign to win round public opinion. In its case, the Bank is trying to combat scepticism about its quantitative easing policy that injects new money into the financial system."

The BoE is creating money (£175Bn so far via Quantitative Easing - a term apparently invented in Japan in 2001 for economic policies which produced questioned benefit) by buying Gilt-Edged stock at prices which have been pushed up by the Bank's own policy of low interest rates.

Government schizophrenia/doublethink Part 1: The Treasury through the Debt Management Office - DMO - (which formerly reported to the BoE) is busily selling Gilts to fund immediate government current expenditure.

The banks which held Gilts have made capital gains which they have prudently applied to rebuilding their capital reserves which were devastated by their bonus-driven imprudent lending to fund the housing bubble at home and away.

Government schizophrenia/doublethink Part 2: rebuilding balance sheets versus lending.


In the US banking system the reserve ratio is fixed a 10% (or 10 times) capital. In the UK the Bank of England now holds to a "voluntary reserve ratio" system having abandoned a compulsory limit. In 1998 the average cash reserve ratio across the entire United Kingdom banking system was 3.1% (approximately 33 times); it has probably been significantly lower since.

UK Reserve Ratios
1968 1978 1988 1998
20.5% 15.9% 5.0% 3.1%

It appears that, the BoE having relaxed its controls, the Financial Services Authority had responsibility for monitoring this situation. No-one is to blame.

Now: the BoE holds Gilts on which it has spent £175Bn of new money a la Weimar/Zimbabwe school of economics.

Sometime not too far away:-
1) the DMO will have difficulty selling x £100Bn and will have to offer higher interest rates.
2) the BoE will become concerned about inflation and will increase the bank rate.

The prices of Gilts will then fall.
“It is unclear quite how the Bank will unwind QE. But it has every reason to take its time.”

As it will be the taxpayer who sustains the loss, I guess this time will be when all those involved (no-one is responsible) have retired on their risk-free inflation-proofed taxpayer-funded public sector pensions.

I shall be delighted if someone can prove my cynicism unfounded and that QE is really the best of all possible worlds - or even all possible multiverses.

“This is, of course, completely impossible.” - Douglas Adams.

“The truth is out there”, doubtless with “42” as a significant factor.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Afghanistan: Letter to Lord Avebury

On Wednesday 23rd September there was a "fringe meeting at the LibDem conference which was addressed by Lord Avebury and attended by inter alia the Afghan ambassador.

Dear Lord Avebury,

I was at the Muslim/Afhanistan meeting in Bournemouth on Wednesday and raised the question about the identity of the "insurgents"

To reiterate and expand the question:

"Insurgent implies outsider. Who are the insurgents?

Why do the Afghan population harbour them?

Are we not seen as the insurgents?

You argued the necessity for the continued presence of our armed forces but with the imperative that they only be applied military targets.

If we cannot identify the insurgents this is impossible.
Indeed, given the inevitable (and horribly euphemistic) "collateral damage" to the civilian population, our actions exacerbate matters.

Lessons of history: this is our 4th Afghan adventure; what makes it different this time?

Surely, our only rational and achieveable objective should be to empower the local communities to resist insurgency whether labelled "Taleban" or "al Queda" or even "another ethnic group" by training the Afghan National Army and police force.

Bright idea?
To assist this process: there are significant numbers of Afghan young men seeking to get to the UK as refugees. We could allow them in on condition that they undergo military training and then return to Afghanistan to directly contribute to the establishment of the Rule of Law thereby removing their need to be refugees.

I would remind you of your own words from 4th December 2008:-
"My Lords, a few hours ago the Minister said that we invaded Afghanistan to prevent it becoming a haven for international terrorism. She did not remind your Lordships that that was also one of the excuses given for the invasion of Iraq, which, as President Mubarak said at the time, was likely to create 100 bin Ladens. He was probably out by a factor of 10, but that has happened. It has also involved us, as the noble Baroness said, in a £700 million contribution so far towards reconstruction, has placed huge burdens on our Armed Forces, and is an ingredient in the motivation of terrorists across the world."

I would also remind you of the words of another (then) Liberal:-
"The inhabitants of these wild but wealthy valleys are of many tribes, but of similar character and condition. The abundant crops which a warm sun and copious rains raise from a fertile soil, support a numerous population in a state of warlike leisure. Except at the times of sowing and of harvest, a continual state of feud and strife prevails throughout the land. Tribe wars with tribe. The people of one valley fight with those of the next. To the quarrels of communities are added the combats of individuals. Khan assails khan, each supported by his retainers. Every tribesman has a blood feud with his neighbour. Every man's hand is against the other, and all against the stranger."
- Winston Churchill 1897

Yours sincerely,

Candidate Selection Criteria

No further comment needed

From The Times September 25, 2009
Hired guns take aim at target Tory seats

Today's disclosure challenges David Cameron?s promise to usher in a 'new politics'

Dozens of Conservative parliamentary candidates are working in the lobbying industry that seeks to influence their party’s leadership.

An investigation by The Times has found that 28 prospective candidates who have a good chance of becoming Tory MPs are working as lobbyists or public relations consultants on behalf of businesses and other interests. More than a quarter got their jobs after being selected to fight seats.

Several acknowledged that they had set up meetings for clients with Shadow ministers, MPs and officials. More said that they had been asked to provide advice on the party’s direction. A few admitted to having pressed clients’ cases to Tory frontbenchers.

The disclosure challenges David Cameron’s promise to usher in a “new politics”. More than a fifth of his 150 candidates most likely to win seats for the first time will have done public affairs work, although a handful have since left the industry. By contrast, only seven Labour and three Liberal Democrat prospective candidates with realistic hopes of victory have jobs in public affairs or communications.

The influence of paid consultants was thrown into sharp relief this year when President Obama announced that he would block the revolving door through which lobbyists moved in and out of US administrations. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have issued any such edict.

Francis Maude, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, said last week that lobbyists could face statutory regulation if they did not volunteer more information on clients and consultants. “Greater openness and transparency is needed to help ensure high standards in public life,” he said.

Last night the party declined to comment on the disclosure that so many candidates were working in the industry or the evidence that lobbying firms were keen to build bridges with a party on the cusp of power.

Senior Conservative sources have told The Times of their unease over how former party advisers have moved into lobbying before the election. Several firms now advertise their Tory credentials; others have been hired to change policies on gambling and home improvement packs.

The British Horseracing Authority said that it chose a lobbying firm partly because it employed a prospective parliamentary candidate. “It’s certainly helpful,” said Will Lambe, the organisation’s head of public affairs.

The Lisbon Treaty Referendum: William Ress-Mogg

From The Times September 21, 2009

Rule Britannia? Not if the EU gets its way
We should have the referendum we were promised, whatever the result of the Irish vote on Lisbon

Early in the election campaign of 2001, I was asked to write a couple of regional reports for The Times. I visited seats in the West Midlands, and another group in Scotland. In the West Midlands, one of the Labour women candidates was outstanding. Gisela Stuart was already a junior minister in the Department of Health. When I interviewed her I was impressed by her intellectual approach, perhaps derived from her German upbringing and early education.

At the election, she held Edgbaston, her Birmingham seat, quite comfortably, but had the misfortune to be present when Tony Blair, campaigning in a local hospital, was upset by an angry woman complaining about the poor treatment her partner was receiving for cancer.

Mr Blair seems somehow to have blamed Miss Stuart for this hitch. In his post-election reshuffle she was dropped, a loss to the Government.

She was subsequently appointed to an important role in European politics, becoming the British representative on the Presidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe, with the ex-President of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, in the chair. The Presidium produced its draft for the European Constitutional treaty. That treaty was rejected in referendums held in France and the Netherlands.

Miss Stuart and her Conservative colleague on the Convention, David Heathcoat-Amory, had fought to introduce a modicum of democratic liberalism, but were overruled. President Giscard was not interested in cranky English notions of habeas corpus or electoral accountability.

After its rejection, the treaty was rewritten in a bureaucratic dialect, and resurfaced as the Lisbon treaty. Britain had been promised a referendum on the Constitutional treaty by all three parties in the 2005 general election. The Labour Government and the Liberal Democrats did not honour these commitments when it came to ratification by Parliament.

One could reasonably describe this change of policy as dishonest and shameful.

Britain is now waiting for the result of the repeated Irish referendum on October 2. In their first referendum, the Irish voted “no” to Lisbon, but now they are being asked to overrule themselves, and may do so. If this happens, there do not seem to be any further obstacles to the monstrous fraud of Lisbon being trundled past the winning post by its dubious acolytes.

Last week Miss Stuart warned of the potential constitutional consequences. She said that the Lisbon treaty puts the future of democracy in Britain at stake, that it would allow the European Union to launch power grabs unchecked, that it would leave a “democratic deficit”, in which the EU’s leaders would be accountable to no one, and that it would breach the democratic principle that voters can get rid of those in power. All of these criticisms are true and important. They would have been true of the original Constitutional treaty, which Miss Stuart and Mr Heathcoat-Amory fought to amend, and they remain true of the Lisbon treaty.

Lisbon would in effect repeal all the main legal safeguards of British liberties. The European Arrest Warrant has already repealed habeas corpus; Lisbon would repeal Magna Carta and the sovereignty of Parliament. The EU might as well have inserted a clause repealing “Rule Britannia”, and particularly the assurance that “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves”. We are already much less free than we once were.

There is also an immediate threat. The Lisbon treaty contains a proposal to create a European president, who might well be Mr Blair. Like the Mayor of London, the president of Europe will be tempted to interpret his powers so as to expand his jurisdiction. How can those who object to Mr Blair becoming president of Europe give any expression to their opposition? The Europhiles always rush to explain that the fears of Eurosceptics are mere bogies.

I would put a question to them.

How can I vote against Mr Blair as my president? Who will provide me with a ballot paper on which I could vote for some other candidate, preferably one who has not helped to trick Britain into the Lisbon treaty, without a referendum? To that question there is no answer. Mr Blair cheated the British out of a referendum; if he becomes president, there will be no referendum on that.

This faces David Cameron with a dilemma. If the Irish vote “no”, the Conservatives would undoubtedly call a referendum, but if they vote “yes”, as they probably will, the Lisbon treaty could become law before the next British election.

The constitutional issues are so serious that the Conservatives should promise to hold a referendum even if the treaty has already become law. The EU countries have known throughout that the British electorate was promised a referendum by all three parties. They were co-conspirators in the deception. They can scarcely complain if a referendum is in fact held.

If Britain were to withdraw from the Lisbon treaty because the British electorate had voted against it, that would be a healthy challenge to Europe. It is possible that the EU would then break up, but it is unlikely. The trading Europe is too valuable for Britain and the other EU countries to wish to lose it.

The Commission and Mr Blair himself might be annoyed by a British declaration of independence but Lisbon is deeply flawed, as Miss Stuart has shown. Europe, as well as Britain, would benefit from a new and more democratic approach.

RT Comment

David Cameron appears to have already committed to a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; unless he changes his mind we are guaranteed the opportunity to vote on the matter - hopefully once and for all.
There remains the not insignificant matter of how The Question is worded.
I suggest that this must form part of the Conservative Manifesto.

"The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything"?
42 will be there somewhere.


David Cameron: Fixing Broken Politics Tuesday, May 26 2009

"We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, pass a law requiring a referendum to approve any further transfers of power to the EU, negotiate the return of powers, and require far more detailed scrutiny in Parliament of EU legislation, regulation and spending."

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Foreign Policy: Blair's Principles for Intervention

Doctrine of the International Community [24/4/1999]

Extract from TB's speech

Looking around the world there are many regimes that are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. If we wanted to right every wrong that we see in the modern world then we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries. We would not be able to cope.

So how do we decide when and whether to intervene. I think we need to bear in mind five major considerations

First, are we sure of our case?
War is an imperfect instrument for righting humanitarian distress; but armed force is sometimes the only means of dealing with dictators.

Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options?
We should always give peace every chance, as we have in the case of Kosovo.

Third, on the basis of a practical assessment of the situation, are there military operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake?

Fourth, are we prepared for the long term?
In the past we talked too much of exit strategies. But having made a commitment we cannot simply walk away once the fight is over; better to stay with moderate numbers of troops than return for repeat performances with large numbers.

And finally, do we have national interests involved?


So Tony (& Gordon): How have you applied these principles in the last 10 years?

Foreign Policy: Idealism versus Pragmatism
The Times September 24, 2009

Britain is appeasing Iran, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi says

The only Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize accused Britain of ignoring the regime’s savage suppression of opposition in order to safeguard talks on its nuclear programme.

In May 1997 the late Robin Cook as Foreign Secretary in the incoming New Labour government enunciated:-
".. the fourth goal of our foreign policy is to secure the respect of other nations for Britain's contribution to keeping the peace of the world and promoting democracy around the world. The Labour Government does not accept that political values can be left behind when we check in our passports to travel on diplomatic business. Our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension and must support the demands of other peoples for the democratic rights on which we insist for ourselves. The Labour Government will put human rights at the heart of our foreign policy and will publish an annual report on our work in promoting human rights abroad."

Searching the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website does provide an update from the current incumbent David Miliband in interview with David Frost:-
DF: ".. Robin Cook used to say those words that he probably regretted saying but he said that there should be a more ethical foreign policy, do you agree with him on that?"
DM: "Well a foreign policy without values is not a foreign policy that’s worth having."

NuLab's record hardly positions UK as an exemplified leader in this area; one can only work to encourage the next government to be more principled.

"A Conservative Government's approach to foreign affairs will be based on liberal Conservative principles.
Liberal, because Britain must be open and engaged with the world, supporting human rights and championing the cause of democracy and the rule of law at every opportunity. But Conservative, because our policy must be hard-headed and practical, dealing with the world as it is and not as we wish it were."

Monday, 21 September 2009

Lovely new aircraft carrier, sir, but we’re fighting in the desert

From The Sunday Times February 24, 2008

Lovely new aircraft carrier, sir, but we’re fighting in the desert

Money is squandered on equipment that is useless in either Iraq or Afghanistan - or in any foreseeable theatre

19 months on nothing has changed

Friday, 18 September 2009

David Cameron: Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty


David Cameron: Fixing Broken Politics Tuesday, May 26 2009

"We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, pass a law requiring a referendum to approve any further transfers of power to the EU, negotiate the return of powers, and require far more detailed scrutiny in Parliament of EU legislation, regulation and spending."

No mention of Irish vote.
Whither (wither) UKIP?

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Afghanistan Adventure 216/830

From The Times September 18, 2009
General David Petraeus: allied failure ‘would intoxicate terrorists’

The Generals say;-
“no quick fixes” = a 40 year commitment?
"Nato had yet to find the right formula for success" - what constitutes success?
Lessons of history.

This is Britain's 4th Afghan adventure.
The Russians failed despite huge amounts men and materiel.
Why will it be different this time?

Of course, we have yet to deploy the most valuable (costly) weapons in our armoury: Eurofighters, nuclear submarines, Trident missiles...
Think of the difference their use would make.

"Italy wants to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible, Silvio Berlusconi said yesterday after a suicide bomber killed six Italian soldiers in one of the worst attacks suffered by a Nato contingent in Kabul."

Less law. More employment

Interesting thoughts from Tony Light, Publisher, Totally Media Ltd.

Does EU membership limit such innovation?

Less law. More employment

We have all read the headlines. Unemployment is expected to continue to grow. Small businesses are still struggling in the face of recession. So me thinks it’s time for another cunning plan.

Anyone in business cannot fail to have noticed the impact of employment law over the past couple of decades. It makes a mockery the cut and thrust of TV dramas and soap operas. Of course it’s much more exciting for Tony to march into Coronation Street’s ‘Underworld’ and yell “You’re fired” to Janice Battersby, his latest victim. It doesn’t have the same dashing impact if he follows correct practice and politely asks Janice to step into his office where he will start the process with a discussion that outlines his cause for concern. The next episode will see him delivering a carefully worded letter of warning, followed by another meeting with another senior officer of ‘Underworld’ on hand as an in dependent witness to the discussion. Maybe by the time the Christmas episode arrives the final warning letter will have been delivered only for Janice to reveal – shockingly – that she was never issued with a proper contract of employment in the first place and therefore has a strong case to defend her position and maybe seek compensation.

Just not good television is it? But it is a closer resemblance to real life.

The fact is that in 2009 most small businessmen – I refer not to those with the stature of Ronnie Corbett, but those who have to be all things to all men, including a handful of staff and without the benefit of a safety net called a personnel department – will at some stage have vowed that they will never employ another person as long as they live.

There are many examples that have passed into employment folk-law to demonstrate the threat of getting it wrong. The case of the employee that was caught stealing money from the handbag of a colleague during his first week on the job – was dismissed on the spot – and ultimately won a compensation claim for unfair dismissal because his hapless employer had not followed the correct procedure when firing him (probably thought he was running an underwear factory).

Even those businesses that do want to recruit live in fear of not following the correct selection and interview processes. One false move and you could be paying ‘employment compensation’ claims to an army of people that you have never even met!

I have even heard a rumour that the law in Spain states that – as was allegedly the fact in one case – an employee that crashed her car on the way home, under the influence of substances that can only be described as illegal – was entitled to be financially maintained by her employer for life, because the accident was on the way home from the office. And when the employer is a hardworking self-employed individual (not a faceless corporation) it begs logic.

Maybe we should not be surprised that unemployment is rising.

So here is my cunning plan.

Time for radical thinking Mr Brown – or Mr Cameron – and to make a change of logic and direction. This is how it works.

Allow small businesses – defined by number of employees, for example less than 50 people – to ‘opt-out’ of employment law. “How unfair!” you shriek “surely that’s a mandate for a return to the dark ages of employee abuse by selfish, evil, money-grabbing, slave-trading business monsters”.

No. There would have to be a few conditions that allow potential employees to make informed common-sense judgements for themselves.

If a business ‘opts out’ it is legally obliged to do a few things. Firstly it has to have the ‘I have opted out of employment law’ logo on it’s letterhead and business cards (I envisage a highly productive little character with a relieved look on his face). It also has to show this logo on all of its staff recruitment programmes.

Additionally it would be legally obliged to register on the Government’s ‘I have opted out of employment law’ website. And this is the interesting bit. Here any prospective employee can view details of how many staff each business is currently employing, how many it has had in the past, and how long the average staff member stays for.

If the business is a dry-cleaning business that was established in 1973, and has employed the same five ladies for the past 36 years, there is a reasonable likelihood that the boss is a person of pleasant disposition that delivers nicely cleaned garments to his customers, has no nasty habits such as bullying or sexual harassment, and is a thoroughly good egg. The alternative potential example of a café that has had thirty-eight staff on its books in the four months that is has been open and current only retains two of them raises a few alarm bells. Might have a bit of trouble in the recruitment process. And quite right too – ‘cos treating good staff well is the route to good business.

If someone looking for a job can’t be bothered to do a bit of simple on-line research before taking a job then I would say they deserve what they get. OK, there would probably need to be a TV and newspaper advertising campaign to remind people to ‘look out for the opt-out logo’ and ‘check-out your future employer’ just to be sure.

And other nice little features could emerge. For example there may a degree of negotiation created by this initiative. Opt-out businesses may end up having to pay a little more than ‘normal’ employers. That gives some extra comfort to new staff – but is probably more than acceptable (and affordable) to the employer compared to the cost of a personnel department, employment consultants and a few years’ worth of sleepless nights.

Initial Application to Conservative HQ - 3rd August 2009

1c Weston Park Close
Thames Ditton
Surrey KT7 0HJ

3rd August 2009

Gareth Fox
Deputy Director – Campaigning; Head of Candidates
Conservative Campaign Headquarters
30 Millbank
London SW1P 4DP

Dear Gareth Fox

Candidature Application
“If you are interested in becoming a Conservative candidate and believe you would make a good Member of Parliament, please write to Gareth Fox at Conservative Campaign Headquarters .. setting out why you would like to be a candidate, and enclose a copy of your CV. Please set out any work you have done in your local community and achievements in your work or your personal life which you think would make you an effective MP.”
- David Cameron 24/5/09 on the Blue Blog
“I'm going to reopen the candidates list and invite new people to come forward. They don't necessarily need to have been involved in the Conservative Party in the past – more important than that is a belief in public service, and a desire to clean up our political system. Of course, I want them to be conservatives too. The values we share – a belief in the family, thrift, enterprise and a strong society – are needed now more than ever.”
- David Cameron 25/5/09 in The Daily Telegraph

Why would I want to be an MP?
My CV demonstrates that I fully meet the above criteria.
Following a very full working life in industry, I had not seriously considered this possibility until two combined events: DC’s invitation and the announcement of the intended retirement from Parliament of my MP - Ian Taylor.
As part of his announcement Ian wrote: “I still feel youngish and active but perhaps need another challenge in the next phase of my life”.
I feel the same.
My ambition is to be a “good constituency MP” and bring my experience to bear in parliamentary committees. I have no ministerial aspirations. I would not anticipate standing for more than two parliamentary sessions. During this time I would work actively with my constituency party to refine the process of selecting my successor.
(This application is written primarily, although not exclusively, in the context of the Esher & Walton constituency.)

What I offer
Experience of over 40 years working in the real world of industry with its clearly defined needs for rational decision making, adding value, making profits and meeting deadlines.
During this time I have developed a wide range of contacts in science, technology, public sector, industry. I can therefore act as an “aggregator” drawing on the wisdom of this wide and diverse range of these people as and when required.
We currently face tremendous challenges in areas such as: Climate Change; Energy; Transport – with Education as a fundamental enabler. It is therefore essential that we, as a nation, make prompt, rational decisions.
I can therefore, to some considerable degree, assume Ian Taylor’s mantle on Science & Technology issues - and trust, as I have said elsewhere, that his expertise would still be available to the incoming Conservative government.
Phil Willis, chairman of the House of Commons Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee quotes Sir Nicholas Stern, the former Head of the Government Economic Service and Adviser to the Government as follows:-
“Most of the high profile policy issues that face our nation and the world are critically dependent on the input of scientists.
• Securing economic prosperity through the knowledge economy;
• Protecting the population of the country against an .. influenza pandemic;
• Mitigating and adapting to climate change;
• Safeguarding the UK's energy supply;
• Detecting and averting potential terrorist threats”
It is therefore salutary and depressing to read the overall conclusion of the report “Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy” which was published only last week by this committee that “the Government has reduced science to a political bargaining chip and must raise its game to produce an ambitious science and engineering strategy for the future”.
By bringing a wealth of practical experience to the party I would endeavour to change this appalling situation.

Leadership by example.
Recent revelations have brought the many aspects of parliamentary processes into disrepute and reinforced the impression of a distinct “political class” decoupled from the realities of life faced by their constituents.
In all other employments it is legally required to have a “contract of employment” *; I would expect to define my relationship with my constituents and the Party similarly. This would include a process for handling expenses identical to that required of employees in the Civil Service. Were I to represent a constituency remote from London, I would stay in a reasonably priced hotel on the nights when it was necessary for me to stay near Westminster.
I would not join the MPs’ defined benefits pension scheme: I believe this should be abolished as exampled leadership in a total overhaul of the current highly unaffordable system of public sector pensions.
The Seven Principles of Public Life enunciated in Nolan Committee's First Report on Standards in Public Life dating from October 1996 should be emphasised again.
* (A significant contrast is Patricia Hewitt’s “earnings” as non-executive director of BT: £75,000 for attending 15 meetings, versus her MP’s salary of £64,766.)

Adherence to the “Party Line” etc
Many senior MPs have announced their retirement. An influx of youthful enthusiasm will require balance. I well remember the 1989 Conference when the ill-fated “community charge” was enthusiastically welcomed by an overwhelming majority.
To quote again from Ian Taylor's standing down letter:- “the influence of MPs in general has declined and this needs to be addressed. This is strikingly evident in the loss of real impact of backbenchers. In the Chamber, speeches have become best-kept secrets. The Executive have control - I do not see this as changing under a Conservative Government despite recent talk of encouraging 'independent-minded' MPs. As someone who has shown an independent streak, I know it is not career enhancing!”
“I can already see the whips licking their lips at the enhanced power of patronage at their disposal over MPs who either do not have the qualifications for outside interests or increasingly are denied the opportunities by new rules.”
“I fear that the rise of the professional MP will further undermine the quality of parliamentary debate and certainly be counterproductive if we are looking for more free-thinking candidates.”
This is highly reminiscent of the words of W S Gilbert in Iolanthe:-
“When in that House M.P.’s divide, If they’ve a brain and cerebellum, too,
They’ve got to leave that brain outside, And vote just as their leaders tell ’em to.”
Is there any evidence that the Party is “looking for more free-thinking candidates”?
Following the “triumph” in Norwich North there is already considerable press speculation over the composition of a new Conservative government; will “Bliar's (sic) Babes” be replaced with a coterie of “Dave's Debutantes”?
However to quote David Cameron:-
“There are far too many laws being pushed through, with far too little genuine scrutiny from MPs. And excessive "whipping" of MPs by party hierarchies further limits genuine scrutiny. This too has to change.
“We need standing committees that genuinely examine bills as they go through Parliament. And we need select committees – the committees that look at each of the government departments – that are more independent.”

Lack of diversity
As a mature, male, white, heterosexual, un-handicapped, Anglican etc. I can contribute nothing to any “politically correct” diversity agenda.
Clearly my immediate focus is on Esher & Walton; should the party require that I offer myself elsewhere, I would still aspire to reflect strongly the characteristics of my prospective constituents.

If nothing else, I hope that this application provides some stimulus to consideration of the qualities the Party and constituency should require of their candidates.
I look forward to progressing matters in due course.

Yours sincerely,
Richard Tebboth

cc Esher & Walton Conservative Association, Ian Taylor MP

Summary Curriculum Vitae: RICHARD TEBBOTH

1c Weston Park Close, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0HJ
020 8398 3951 07816 853259

Since graduating from Imperial College (Physics), I have spent over 40 years working in the IT industry dealing predominantly with technical and scientific applications across major industrial companies (e.g. Ford, BAe, Rover Group [deceased]) and the science research community. I have retained many contacts in these areas and continue to develop new ones via such institutions as Imperial College, IET and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
My immediate top interests/concerns are the inter-related issues of energy security, climate change and nuclear proliferation.

Political Background:
Former ward chairman, Kingston on Thames – Norman Lamont
Contributor to speeches in House of Lords on industrial policy
– the late Earl of Kimberley
Past member of Bow Group, CTU.
Spoke on industrial policy at CTU conference 1981.
Active in Esher & Walton constituency party – Ian Taylor,
Conservative Policy Forum, Conservative Technology Forum
Contributor to the “Blue Blog”
and other on-line postings: see

Career Background:
Graduate of Imperial College: Physics
Over 40 years with IT industry including:-
ICL: Manager Competitive Marketing for Group
Vice President Marketing – Canada
Thinking Machines Corporation (US) – Sales & General Manager - UK & N Europe
Sales/Marketing roles with IBM, Computervision, Intergraph.
Consultancy, regular voluntary work at Brooklands Museum, Science Museum.

Domestic Context: Married, 3 children, 5.3 grandchildren

International Perspective:
Periods of residence: Johannesburg, South Africa (1969/76);
Toronto, Canada (1981/82); Boston, Mass. (1990/91)
Family: Australia, Morocco (son & family working in rural development),
Uganda (daughter & family working in health & education), USA.
Friends & acquaintance: above plus Canada, Iran, Israel, Jordan, S Africa, Europe.
Recent travel: Morocco, Jordan, West Indies, Australia, South Africa, East Africa,
China, Tibet.

Conservative Candidature Chronology

24/5/09 David Cameron on the Blue Blog
“If you are interested in becoming a Conservative candidate and believe you would make a good Member of Parliament, please write to Gareth Fox at Conservative Campaign Headquarters .. setting out why you would like to be a candidate, and enclose a copy of your CV. Please set out any work you have done in your local community and achievements in your work or your personal life which you think would make you an effective MP.”

25/5/09 David Cameron in The Daily Telegraph
“I'm going to reopen the candidates list and invite new people to come forward. They don't necessarily need to have been involved in the Conservative Party in the past – more important than that is a belief in public service, and a desire to clean up our political system. Of course, I want them to be conservatives too. The values we share – a belief in the family, thrift, enterprise and a strong society – are needed now more than ever.”

15/6/09 Ian Taylor announces that he is standing down.

7/7/09 email to Gareth Fox: Is there a closing date for submissions?
Response from GF: Not at the present time but please submit as soon as possible.

17/7/09 Constituency social: “Many of you have ambitions on my seat” - Ian Taylor

3/8/09 Initial application to Conservative HQ with summary CV.

7/8/09 Receipt of application form and form for referees.

24/8/09 Electronic and postal submission of application.
Postal input from 3 referees: RD, MR, IS.

25/8/09 email from
Thank you very much for your application to join the Conservative Party’s Candidates List.
We have received a great many applications and are currently assessing them to decide who should proceed to one of our Parliamentary Assessment Boards (PABs). PABs are a formal assessment process which takes most of a day, where we look for the qualities we believe are necessary in a successful candidate and MP. Passing a PAB is how potential candidates join the List.
We have received so many applications, that it will not be possible to invite all applicants to a PAB, but I can assure you that every application is being looked at in detail by at least two senior members of our Candidates Team. It may be a few weeks before we can get back to you to tell you whether or not you will be invited to a PAB and we would appreciate your patience.
Also because of the large number of applications, it will not be possible for us to enter into individual correspondence with you about your application, but you will hear from us, probably by the end of September.

9/9/09 email to
I have received an acknowledgment of my application & await further developments.
You should have separately received my 3 referees statements; please confirm as they have heard nothing more.

14/9/09 Postal submission of 4th referee statement - JG

16/9/09 email from
Thank you for your email to Gareth Fox of 9 September. We are still reviewing the applications.
We will contact you should you be progressed to the next stage.
You will, however, be advised either way.
We can confirm that we have received all 3 references.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Tories pinpoint three defence projects for cuts in 'snap Budget'

"George Osborne said today that a Conservative government would deliver a Budget within weeks of an election victory and appeared to hint that three major defence projects could be an early casualty."

It is interesting that these comments come from prospective Chancellor Osborne rather than prospective Defence Secretary Fox.
Some questions for The Times erudite readership:-
Were we to give up our "independent" deterrent, would this lead to the loss of our permanent seat on the UN Security Council?
Would that matter?
Can we retain a nuclear deterrent capability more cheaply with cruise missiles?
Given the devestation which can be delivered very accurately (GPS) with cruise missiles and conventional explosives, why is the "bomb" necessary at all?


There is an under-reported political party whose policy to increase defence spending.

"To stop trying to buy defence on the cheap. UKIP will spend an extra 1% GDP
year on defence – an increase of 40% on current budgets. UKIP believes in
establishing a defence budget which will properly sustain Britain’s defence
commitments. To keep defence costs down by smarter defence procurement,
and with more involvement of British industry wherever possible."

Friday, 11 September 2009

al-Megrahi: Part 3 - SAS training Libyan security forces

SAS training soldiers from Libyan regime that provided explosives to IRA terrorists

On 28th August I sent emails to the Strawman as follows:-
"It is widely reported that, some two years ago, in your capacity of Justice Secretary, you wrote to Kenny MacAskill, your Scottish counterpart, that it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make al-Megrahi eligible for return to Libya.
"As this was done despite assurances to the Americans that he would serve out his sentence in a Scottish jail you must have had compelling reasons.
"It would be informative were you now to publish them and, with the benefit of hindsight, comment on the consequences – both foreseeable and unforeseeable."
No answer from JS: perhaps the pieces of silver the MOD are getting for this training is part of the "overwhelming interests".

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Waving the flag is never the best defence

Defence companies unite to fight budget cuts

RT's Input
A quick search shows that the Defence Industries Council research reports* comprise some 60 pages; these comments are made pending forensic analysis from Times' correspondents and readers. However, from other recent reports it is clear that MOD's procurement process takes too long: by the time equipment and systems deliveries take place both the threat and technology has changed. The threat has become one of dealing with terrorism (predominantly home-grown) and guerilla warfare. At Dunsfold last Sunday we were given a dazzling display from the Eurofighter. This was designed to provide air superiority in the context of the cold war; its role in countering the current threats is negligible. Ditto for the new aircraft carriers, Trident maintenance and renewal. The West can clearly can deliver any required amount of shock and awe using missiles with conventional explosives. The question is not one of whether we need a defence industry, it is rather the nature of the products MOD is specifying and purchasing.


Monday, 31 August 2009

My Blue Blog submission 25th March 2009

Enough is enough: the anger is building – but this does not seem to be reflected in the level of aggression displayed by the Conservative front bench.
As Kinnock did not quite say “Things can only get worse with Labour” – even Bliar's (sic) washes whiter, sleaze-free New Labour.
The sooner the electorate is allowed to replace the Brown/Daring/Mandelson troika with the Cameron/Osborne/Clarke triumvirate the better for us all.
In 1963 I heard Dennis Healey say of the (Tory) Douglas-Home government: "A condemned man does not hasten towards the scaffold". The current lot are equally reluctant to face the drop.
The Party should be actively opposing the dysfunctional Brown regime on all and every reasonable opportunity (P.O. 'privatisation'?).
Dave should adopt the attitude, if not repeat the words of Oliver Cromwell:- "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go"?
After the election - clearing up the mess: “I've got a little list”
Reduced public expenditure
1. Starting at the top – leading by example.
Reduce the number of MPs; link their salaries to a multiple of the national minimum wage; apply the same rules to their expenses/allowances as for ordinary civil servants; move them to money purchase pension system; place a cap on the maximum pension payable an individual can receive from all public sector employment in current schemes.
2. Apply similar conditions to MEPs, County Councillors, Local Councillors.
3. Ditto for senior civil servants, public sector appointments.
4. Ditto (in time) for all public sector employees.
5. Cut red tape (what happened to Michael Heseltine's bonfire?)
6. Zero base budget, cost-benefit analysis
There must be no sacred cows:- Europe, the nuclear “deterrent” - missiles, warheads, submarines; aircraft carriers; outstanding order for Typhoon fighters; large-scale computer systems.

al-Megrahi: Part 2

Sent to JS (Justice Secretary aka Jack Straw) via 4 email routes

Dear Mr Straw,

It is widely reported that, some two years ago, in your capacity of Justice Secretary, you wrote to Kenny MacAskill, your Scottish counterpart, that it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make al-Megrahi eligible for return to Libya.

As this was done despite assurances to the Americans that he would serve out his sentence in a Scottish jail you must have had compelling reasons.

It would be informative were you now to publish them and, with the benefit of hindsight, comment on the consequences – both foreseeable and unforeseeable.

Friday, 28 August 2009

al Megrahi
Brown's lack of leadership over Lockerbie release
David Cameron, Thursday, August 27 2009

My submisson:-
We also read "the most recent medical consensus was Megrahi would live eight months, too long to be eligible for compassionate release".
There are other instances of miraculous recovery after release.
BTW The headline is too verbose: "Brown's lack of leadership" says it all. How long before NuLab's backbenchers lose their nerve and we see a contest?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Public Sector Pensions
From The Times August 26, 2009

Crunch time for council workers’ golden pensions

Leadership by Example? Not!

"John Denham, the Communities Secretary, is drawing up a series of proposals to overhaul the pensions of two million council workers, covering short, medium and longer terms."

We should see the MPs' scheme "overhauled" first. Then MEPs', then the top public sector jobs.

How about a cap on public sector pensions calculated as a multiple of the Basic State Pension?

MPs' Emoluments

MPs hijack expenses inquiry with complaints and demands for pay rise

RT wrote: "Every other paid occupation legally requires a Contract of Employment. Why should MPs be different?"
August 25, 2009 8:13 PM BST

Monday, 17 August 2009

Partial Pensions

One million more workers face poorer retirements

End of final-salary pension is no bad thing

In the real world of industry and commerce it has been clear for over 30 years that final salary schemes only provide significant benefit to those (directors apart) who are in a "job for life".
It is now clear that, real world, value-adding, profit-making, dividend-paying companies cannot afford them.
The 500 gorilla lb in the room: how does the economy pay for all the defined benefit pensions in the public sector? And which particular group has the best scheme as part of its "rations"?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Carbon Capture and Sequestration CCS

From The Sunday Times August 16, 2009

North Sea’s new bonanza Jonathan Leake
"Britain could be in line for a new North Sea bonanza following research which reveals its suitability to store billions of tons of waste carbon dioxide."

CCS sounds wonderful but there are two significant issues.
1. The CO2 capture process is energy intensive. It consumes 25% of the power output equating to burning 33% more coal. There are consequent increased transport costs with their own CO2 overheads.
2. Once captured the the liquid CO2 is nasty stuff. For heath and safety reasons a CO2 pipeline should not run through populated areas. This present a serious problem for the Kingsnorth expansion proposals.
Whilst some may tilt at windmills, nuclear power is the only viable route to meeting our CO2 reduction aspirations and commitments.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Alan Duncan's 'rations'

Submitted as comment to The Times
From Times Online August 13, 2009
Alan Duncan keeps his job but Cameron criticises 'big mistake' over comments

"my remarks, although meant in jest": it does not sound that way in the recording Mr Duncan.

How are MPs different?
Well, they are currently only liable to dismissal at general election time.
They are free to take up other paid employment.
(A former Labour minister received £70,000 last year for attending 14 meetings as an non-executive director of a FTSE100 company. Its share price declined some 70% over the same period and the dividend has been slashed.)
Their salary of £64,766 is in the top 10% of UK incomes.
Their holidays compare well with any other job.
Their pension scheme is generous - even when compared with other public sector provision.
Their restaurants and bars in the Palace of Westmister are subsidised. This cost taxpayers £6.1 million last year; food and drink at around half the cost ordinary consumers would pay.
They do have a new expenses regime, however...

In every other work context it is a legal requirement to have a contact of employment. Similarly expenses are only reimbursed on the basis that they are incurred "wholly, necessary and exclusively" as part of the job.
Mr & Mrs Taxpayer have to purchase & maintain their home and pay their living expenses from their taxed income. MPs should do the same.
Mr & Mrs Taxpayer mostly have to fund their retirement income through money purchase (defined contribution) schemes. MPs (leading the way for other public sector employees) should do the same.
Those MPs who need to stay in London on parliamentary business (200 nights p.a.?) should be accommodated in adequate hotel rooms - perhaps to MOD standards.
"Rations" Mr Duncan?
"But his views are shared by many MPs" - roll on the election and the constituency selection process!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Dave's policy on a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (a.k.a. European constitution) should the Irish vote "Yes"


Simon Heffer: The trouble with Labour is that they never grasp the consequences

The trouble with Labour is that they never grasp the consequences
The Government's failure to think ahead will leave a disastrous legacy, says Simon Heffer.

From RT
Amen. So moet it be.
An excellent analysis.
However, analysis is much easier than synthesis.
I hope you have the conviction to work within Dave's incoming government to help sort it out.

The view from Cliveden: "Well, he would, wouldn't he?"/MiniTruth

Routine denials/retractions/redactions
While giving evidence at the trial of Stephen Ward, charged with living off the immoral earnings of Keeler and Rice-Davies, the latter made a quip for which she is now best remembered. When the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her, she replied, "Well, he would, wouldn't he?".

MiniTruth: Stating the bleedin' obvious
If the negative version of any statement is clearly content-free; the original statement is equally useless.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The Iraq Enquiry
June 15, 2009 William Hague attacks Brown's terms of reference for Iraq inquiry

email to David Cameron
date 16 June 2009 06:41
subject Iraq Enquiry


Iraq Enquiry

I would have put this comment on the Blue blog but...
"David Cameron today called on the Prime Minister to take steps to ensure the Iraq war inquiry is not seen as "an establishment stitch-up".
With no public sessions planned, and with the Inquiry itself not due to report back until after the next General Election, David said people may conclude that the Government want to ensure that they do not have to "face up to any inconvenient conclusions"."
Surely the answer is in your own hand: why not commit publicly to, post the election when you are in charge (inshallah), change the terms of reference & hold the hearing in public (perhaps with anonymous witnesses for evidence which has security sensitivities)
Posted by: Richard Tebboth | June 16, 2009 at 06:35 PM

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Wind Power: the view from Frinton

As at the end of July 2009
There are 16 windmills visible in the Naze estuary. They have been there for some months.
The wind blows steadily to the delight of the kite fliers.
But the mills have yet to turn.

Government 'suppressed' report showing massive military waste

Nothing new here: it's all in "Yes (Prime) Minister.
No one is to blame; if the stress becomes too much there is always early retirement on that meagre Civil Service or parliamentary pension.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Iran, UN, the Bomb & all that

Comment posted on

Nuclear progress in Iran has dire consequences if diplomacy fails

So: diplomatic progress with Iran is dependent on "Russia and China, who hold the right of veto at the UN Security Council".
Meanwhile, a common argument in the debate over the future of Trident is that this is the essential criterion for Britain's membership of that Council.
Meanwhile, the resolutions of the UN General Assembly are ignored.
Not entirely unlike the situation with resolutions passed by (or the lack of resolution of) the League of Nations.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Britain needs a General Election David Cameron, Monday, May 18 2009


Comment by Richard Tebboth on May 18 2009, 21:48

Dave, as I have already urged you:
It is surely time for you to deliver the same explicit message to Mr Brown as that of Oliver Cromwell to the rump Parliament in April 1653:
“You have sat for too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Furthermore: "Mr & Mrs Taxpayer have to purchase & maintain their home and pay their living expenses from their taxed income.
Parliamentarians should do the same.
Mr & Mrs Taxpayer mostly have to fund their retirement income through money purchase (defined contribution) schemes.
Parliamentarians (and other public sector employees) should do the same.
Those MPs who need to stay in London on parliamentary business (200 nights p.a.?) should be accommodated in adequate hotel rooms.
End of story."

Luke 16:10: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."

Leadership by example, leadership by example,
leadership by example.

"What I tell you three times is true"

Finally an email:-

From: Richard Tebboth
To Darling Alistair, Peter Mandelson

Dear Alistair & Peter

I was intending to order a car under the scheme which you announced in the budget speech over three weeks ago.
Presumably a little preparation went into your announcement particularly as it was widely anticipated and imitative of other policies in France, Germany...
It is therefore somewhat annoying to discover that my selected supplier informs me that they await input from the government before they can proceed.
My supplier is not unique:-


"Under the scheme, the government will subsidise £1,000 while the motor industry will provide at least a similar discount.

However, Honda says it is seeking clarity on the contribution from industry, as well as on a couple of other "administrative points".

A Honda spokesman said: "Relating to the £1,000 contribution - the original request was for a contribution of £1,000 from the industry.

"We were looking at splitting that between the manufacturer and our dealers but we're being told that we can't do that."

He added that they were being told that manufacturers alone would have to make up the payment, and Honda was challenging that.

A spokesman for Ford said: "Based on details which have only become apparent late in these negotiations [between the government and manufacturers], Ford is working to resolve some outstanding administrative issues."

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it was seeking to clarify the exact tax position."
A well known phrase including the words "piss-up" and "brewery" springs to mind.

Of course, Alistair's immediate neighbour could call an immediate general election and pass on this and less pressing economic issues to a government of whatever complexion the British electorate deems capable of managing them.

Yours very sincerely,

Richard Tebboth

Sunday, 2 August 2009

The British Mandate in Palestine


"Sir, I may have been the last British serviceman to leave Palestine on May 14, 1948. The governor, General Cunningham, intending to be the last to leave, had already boarded HMS Euryalus at the oiling jetty at Haifa and, to my embarrassment, they were waiting for me, a junior engineer officer, to finish refuelling the ship before we left. Firing had already broken out on Mount Carmel to the south. The feeling on board as we sailed west was of disappointment. Despite the efforts of Britain to provide balance, the world was trying to correct the great wrong done to the Jews in Europe by committing another great wrong, the dispossession of the Arabs of Palestine. Despite the subsequent admirable courage of the Israelis and the unattractive behaviour of Palestinian extremists, I still feel the same. This is simply a sense of practical justice.

The injustice will continue to be the cause of Middle East instability and a volatile fuel for terrorism until it is understood both by Israel and the US. In practical terms it requires the maximum effort by Israel to put it right as far as possible within the bounds of its own prosperity, which would probably improve as a result.

Israel needs to renounce all religious claims to territory, to clear the West Bank of settlements other than those maintained by negotiation, and to facilitate communications between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by some kind of Palestinian-controlled road. The real possibility of peace would make it clear to the Palestinian people which of their political parties truly represents them and their Government would become more reliable. The rest of the world could then help by providing aid and trade to the new nation, cramped and oddly shaped, as is Israel, but at last viable."

Saturday, 1 August 2009

That Was The Week That Was: week to 1st August 2009

Maybe the editor of the DailyTelegraph is trying to wind me up.


"Motorists to pay £250 tax for parking at work.

Motorists who drive to work face having to pay a £250 “parking tax” under a scheme to be announced by ministers on Friday.

The country’s first “workplace parking levy” will come into force in Nottingham in 2012 and is likely to be adopted by other councils.

Under the scheme, any firm with 11 or more staff parking spaces will be charged £250 a year for each. That cost could rise to £350 within two years."

My comment
Can this be really true?
If it is, surely the public sector should be "leading by example".
There are many parking spaces allocated to parliamentarians and civil servants in Westminster and Whitehall.
No doubt councillors and Officials in Nottingham enjoy similar facilities.
But then, were they to be charged, it would probably be "within the rules" as an expense.

More to follow....