Friday, 30 November 2012

The Leveson Report

Well it is out and it is BIG!

I have read the first of four books, read not digested, so I am about 25% of the way through. Early this year I was gripped by Leveson, I am not a journalist but I was and still am curious about the connection between free speech and the law.

The first thing I must say is that I think Leveson is watered down, and my reasoning is that the Prime Minister before the publication of the report kept saying that he [David Cameron] would implement in full. Well now we know after yesterdays statement in parliament that he will not.

I am not a socialist or a liberal, but I agree with the opposition in that the report 'should be' implemented in full, if only to satisfy the victims that need redress. But more importantly because it has been worded in such a way as to be the best of both worlds. It will not cripple the press in their freedoms but will make them answerable which is a requirement today.

Lord Justice Leveson said yesterday in his statement that there had been seven enquiries in seven decades and that he hoped there would not be an eighth, I hope he is right, but for that to happen, David Cameron has to stick to his original statement of full implementation...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Middle East

Is Gaza a distraction from Syria or are they inextricably linked?

23rd October was not the first time Israel allegedly attacked weapons caches in Sudanese territory that were destined for Gaza. In January 2009, Israel allegedly carried out an air strike against a weapons convoy northwest of Port Sudan heading to Gaza. Hamas took a major risk in smuggling the weapons to Gaza in the first place, perhaps thinking they could get away with it since they have been able to with less sophisticated weapons systems.

When attacks against Israel began picking up again around 10th November including an anti-tank attack on an Israeli military jeep claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and several dozen more rocket attacks claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and smaller Salafist-jihadist groups, Hamas appeared more cautious, calling the main Gaza militant groups together on 12th November to seek out another truce.

A strong Hamas response would also boost Hamas' credibility among Palestinians. Hamas essentially tried to make the most out of an already difficult situation and will now likely work through Egypt to try to reach a truce to avoid an Israeli ground campaign in Gaza that could further undermine its authority in the territory.

In Tehran, Iranian officials are probably content with these developments. Iran needed a distraction from the conflict in Syria. It now has that, at least temporarily.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Online marketing transparency

There is an investigation into online sales where different people get different prices for the same product, this does not include postage & packing, but more specifically the person as a  target.

The RL comparison given was how a car salesman treats two different customers over the same car on their appearance! Apparently he will give a better discount to the guy with patent shoes, cuff links and a jacket straight out of Saville Row.

However, my view is different, perhaps why I am not a successful salesman. I would give the guy who dressed poorly the larger discount in the hope of selling two cars instead of one.

Does that make sense?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Liam Byrne says

"The truth is the world of work has changed very radically since social security was set up back in the 1940s and for many people in work they don't actually feel they get much out for the pressures they have to contend with in everyday life, so I think that fractures support and I think that's why we do have to reinvent social security for modern times and the world today."

"The zero-based review that Ed Miliband would conduct if Labour won the 2015 general election would look at the balance between universal and targeted benefits."

"There has always been a balance in the welfare state between universal benefits and targeted benefits and I'm afraid as part of Ed's zero-based review that balance has got to be looked at, but the chief focus has got to be on getting as many people into jobs as possible. It's good for living standards, it's good for growth and it's good for tax."

He has also said, 'Look, come on, think about this carefully. It would make much more sense to have a different cap in different parts of the country and let's try and take the politics out of that a bit.'

Now remember this is the man that left a note on the treasury desk when Labour left office saying "all the money has gone - lol" If this is how he considers his responsibility to everyone else, why are we still listening to him?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Democratic Deficit

What is this?

The new buzz word round town. Today [14-Nov-2012] most of Europe is on strike. Now just stand back and look at that statement.

It is not one company of employees, it is not one group of companies, it is not one town or even one country of employees, it is the whole of Europe! That is amazing.

The strikes are organised by trade unions on behalf of their members and because of last years buzz word, austerity, which is seen by many to be failing and by others as an extravagance.

Countries like Greece and Portugal have had HUGE loans given to them and have raised taxes and have cut expenditure but are frankly still failing. Growth is still non-existent, unemployment is still rising, the rich are getting richer and the poor are falling by the wayside.

How is this going to end?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Deportation Laws

Today [13-Nov-2012] Abu Qatada is released again!!

Court of Human Rights says that Jordan’s law is ambiguous in regard to evidence giving.

The court says that with a small amendment the deportation can take place. Well, why didn't they say that last time? Is this a different court or the same place? Why has it taken seven years to get this far?

Just how expensive is this process...?

Monday, 12 November 2012


I do not need to say anything else...

Statement from Jeremy Paxman:

“George Entwistle’s departure is a great shame. He has been brought low by cowards and incompetents.

The real problem here is the BBC’s decision, in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry, to play safe by appointing biddable people.

They then compounded the problem by enforcing a series of cuts on programme budgets, while bloating the management

That is how you arrive at the current mess on Newsnight. I very much doubt the problem is unique to that programme.

I had hoped that George might stay to sort this out.It is a great pity that a talented man has been sacrificed. While time-servers prosper.

I shall not be issuing any further statements or doing any interviews.”

Friday, 9 November 2012

Which Hunt

Yesterday [08-Nov-2012] the Prime Minister David Cameron was handed a sheet of paper which reportedly had a list of names on it connected to a 'rumoured' paedophile ring, on live TV without a brief. Without looking at the paper he said it was unwise to invoke a witch hunt over speculation without evidence.

He was right. Not only that but he has already setup an enquiry into this matter.

Online claims about alleged abusers have arisen because of the failure of police and authorities to investigate allegations, this has been said before and will continue to ignite debate until a resolution has been published, so an enquiry is necessary.

The current problem is there are too many enquiries happening at present at there is the possibility of us all getting lost in the woods, which of course means nothing will get done in the end.

Sad times…

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

No Stone Unturned

Still reading...

The common census of opinion at the moment is that this is a huge amount of re-hashed ideas, albeit good ones. However, if that is correct, then why haven't they been implemented?

The picture I am getting so far is devolution of powers from Whitehall to local government, not really a new idea but there are some new names like LEPs, Local Enterprise Projects/Programmes and LGTs, Local Growth Teams.

I think the message is more involvement on the ground locally, but this has been tried before and failed due to corruption, hence big government, so it appears we might be going round that big circle again, and all the time it takes the fat cats just get fatter.

If democracy is people thinking they have more power because that is what they are told but in reality those they vote for do nothing constructive and a dictatorship is people knowing they have no power, what is the difference?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

I have been reading no stone unturned

and I haven't either finished it or absorbed it yet. However, the immediate point for me is these four:-

> a Prime Minister-led National Growth Council, ensuring all parts of government play their part to support growth and with an independent secretariat to ensure its conclusions are fully and expeditiously implemented

> a very significant devolution of funding from central government to Local Enterprise Partnerships so that government investment in economic development is tailored directly to the individual challenges and opportunities of our communities, and can be augmented by private sector investment

> a clear statement by government of its priorities to guide Local Enterprise Partnerships in the preparation of strategic plans for their local economies

> and for central government, a clear policy for each sector of the economy conceived in conjunction with industry and academia.

There are 89 recommendations apparently, this is going to take a while...

Monday, 5 November 2012

Living Wage Week

A KPMG survey has showed that nearly 5 million UK workers earn less than a living wage, and this is Living Wage Week [4-10 November]. Politicians of all stripes like the idea of private companies paying their lowest-paid workers a bit more, for moral reasons and also because it could save the government a shedload of cash.

In 2010 the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated that bringing every private sector worker up to the living wage would raise total earnings (before tax) by around £12bn. Around half of that - £6bn - would go directly to the government, in higher tax revenues and lower benefit and tax credit payments. That's a nice bit of spare change for the chancellor, especially one whose government wants to "make work pay". But no-one wants to be seen to be pushing new costs onto businesses at a tough time for the economy - let alone costing jobs. And it is private employers who would pay that extra £12bn (plus another £1.5bn in employers' national insurance contributions, for good measure).

Does such a miraculous thing exist? Many will be understandably sceptical. But KPMG claims that you can pay higher wages without paying higher costs. "At KPMG, we have found that the improved motivation and performance, and the lower leaver and absentee rate amongst staff in receipt of a living wage means that the cost is offset and paying it is the right thing for our business."

The key point is that the firms reporting these positive consequences are the firms that have chosen to pay this wage. So, presumably, they had done their sums beforehand and decided the benefits outweighed the costs.

Economists used to say no: if employers have to pay more for labour, they use it less. Then, starting in the 1990s, academic evidence started to build up about the minimum wage, in the US and the UK, suggesting that, at the very bottom of the labour market, telling companies to pay people a little more did not actually cost jobs.