Alcohol

The thing that I really hate (well, one of them) about this coalition government is that we seem to have something very much like Labour.

It’s like you just need to pick & choose the most unpalatable parts of both parties platforms and merge them together.

With the Tories, you may get sound economics, but you get authoritarian social policies.

With the Lib Dems, you may get (sometimes crazily) liberal social policies, but you also get the economics of Keynes.

With the coalition, we seem to have Keynesian Authoritarianism.

I mean… graduate tax student loans with higher interest rates for the most successful? And redemption penalties for those that pay off early?

And in terms of authoritarianism, it’s hard to imagine even the puritans of New Labour coming up with this latest wheeze.

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The ”24/7 sobriety” programme involves people paying to be tested for alcohol twice a day after being convicted of drink-related crime, and appearing in court to face the prospect of a jail sentence if they fail.

Oh aye? Can you say AlcoBO?

It has already been implemented in the US, with the state of South Dakota reporting a 14 per cent drop in the prison population as a result, according to Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse.

He said he would like to pilot the scheme in the capital in 2011, subject to government approval.

He described London as having a "disproportionate problem" with alcohol where almost twice as much alcohol-related crime is committed compared with the rest of England.

Sooo.. you’re going to try this out in London are you? Based on a scheme hailing from the country with the most twisted attitude to alcohol of any Western nation? And from a state that no-one ever goes to, and is riddled with po-faced religionists.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I’ve been thinking about this and the list is pretty long. Because while you can bet this ruse has been conjured up to tackle a hard core few persistent drunken troublemakers, it never turns out that way, does it?

"The advantage of this is it is not just punitive but corrective," he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

Corrective? Do go on…

"It may be that it is used as an alternative to prison or conjunctive to prison."

Mr Malthouse said that current methods such as counselling did not work to discourage persistent offenders and that some needed a "more rigorous approach".

He added: "If you ask the police there are some people who cause trouble every Saturday night."

Ah yes, as I said.. it’s aimed at a hardcore minority.

Mr Malthouse said the American version of the scheme had a 99 per cent compliance rate and that it was "of no cost to the tax payer", because the people taking part paid a dollar per alcohol test. He described it as a ”cheaper and more cost-effective” alternative to prison.

Yes yes.. and for those who have committed serious enough crimes to warrant prison, perhaps this sanction has a place.

Sure, it’ll start that way, with such good intentions as pave the way to hell. But, sooner or later…

End up in front of the beak for a spot of drunk & disorderly? £100 fine, £40 costs and an AlcoBO. You’re ordered to be dry for 12 months.

Wanna bet it couldn’t happen? Wanna bet innocent and legitimate photographers could never possibly be harassed by the police under abusive invocations of our Anti-terrorism laws? No.. that already happens, of course.

Back to booze laws then. Ask drinkers in Crawley who have experienced the zero-tolerance approach, by the police and their plastic pals, to even genial and mild drunkenness of a Friday night.

This is the next logical step for the zealots, and you can bet the swelling ranks of hypocrites and puritans infesting this country will rub their hands together with glee, egging on the police and courts to take ever more radical action, against ever more trivial infractions.

Now to the reasons why this scheme is just as likely to be both unjust and unworkable, as it is to be implemented with relish by the drones and collaborators of the state.

It has the potential to be unjust in at least a couple of ways.

The first is that this will be implemented under the guise of preventing or punishing behaviour for which criminal sanctions already exist– Public Order Act , Offences Against The Person Act etc etc, and if these offences were properly dealt with, the need for this sweeping new power would cease to exist. So what exactly is this proposed law for? Probably to make life easier for the police, who are, obviously, never known to overstep the bounds of their authority, or to use their powers injudiciously.

The second is that, similar to the ASBO, it would criminalise an act which is, in itself, perfectly legal. I.e. drinking alcohol. To completely ban a person from consuming alcohol is a serious infringement of the rights of the individual.

Consider the eventuality I describe above, of these orders being handed out rather more freely than Kit Malthouse would care to admit.

Now, hand one of these orders to an alcoholic, say. One who holds down a job and lives a relatively untroubled life in terms of brushes with the law. What have you just done? Oh yes, you’ve said to someone addicted to a legal substance, ‘I will put you in prison each time you have a fix’. And will the alcoholic get the help and support he would need for this undertaking of sobriety? Not likely.

Next, a reason why the scheme is impractical and unworkable. They want to test people for alcohol twice a day? How?

Consider the pilot of this scheme, in London, with its highly transient population, as well as a million or more commuters who come from all over the country on a daily basis, not to mention the tourists.

Would they effectively want people to report to a police station for a breathalyser test twice a day? in London? For a year? Or perhaps they could be more sly than that and enforce blood tests and other invasive medical tests weekly or monthly, so that they could detect alcohol consumption?

Oh wait – there’s the massively expensive technology solution! Someone, somewhere must be building a breathalyser, that includes a GPS tag and cellular technology, so the recipient of the order has to self report, in real time. But how would those monitoring know who was blowing into the thing? No.. thats obviously gonna need more thought. Perhaps build DNA testing of saliva into the unit? Sounds cheap.

Sadly, the outcome of London’s pilot will be that the scheme failed because it was too localised. A projection would show how very successful the scheme would have been, if there was a national database and cross-county co-operation.

So even though the scheme will prove to be calamitously expensive, unjust and unworkable, it will be rolled out nationally on the basis of these finding.

If you look back at the last quote from Malthouse, above, it bears repeating:

it was "of no cost to the tax payer", because the people taking part paid a dollar per alcohol test.

Of no cost… no way. Not here, with the multi-million pound IT system, the gold-plated legislation, the enforcement teams, the medics, the courts, the prison places, the lawyers, the cases being defended in the the European Courts of Human Rights.

Spare us.

AJ

2012 Olympics: Shove It

Not much to add to Old Holborn’s missive on the matter.

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A complete waste of public money on an anachronistic clusterfuck.

If it was worth doing, it’d be viable as a private venture, like football, or F1, for example.

AJ

UPDATE: Join in the curmudging over at the CoffeeHouse.

If you want to rejuvenate parts of London, just go and rejuvenate them. Even allowing for the grotesque inefficiencies of the public sector, you should be able to build 100,000 units of affordable housing for the cost of hosting the Olympics. They’d be very affordable indeed, because you could give them away and still spend less than is being wasted on the 2012 games.

ConDems busy with the *real issues*

I’m pleased to see they’re keeping focused on the prize.

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The coalition government is to put the fashion industry under pressure to stop promoting unrealistic body images and clamp down on airbrushed photographs in magazines and adverts.

Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, who has long campaigned against size-zero photoshoots, will convene a series of discussions this autumn with the fashion industry, including magazine editors and advertising executives, to discuss how to promote body confidence among young people.

WHAAAAAAAT?

Are you paying for that ‘series of discussions’, Lynne?

Oh, no, of course you’re not.

WE ARE, YOU LUDICROUS MONG.

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Lynne Featherstone, after being airbrushed with a big pile of our cash.

AJ

All that is wrong

We’ve recently had the story of the Isle of Eigg, which provided us with a hilarious tale of ‘renewable energy’.

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Delingpole’s comment on that needs no addendum.

Not even that story was free of its mongnative dissonance, when three days later we read that the island’s project had won a ‘Green Oscar’. And let’s face it, this world is only big enough for ONE Green Oscar.

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And this brings me to today’s microcosmic climate comedy.

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For brevity. I’ll rehash the story a bit:

The rotary blades on the 30ft (9m) structure have struck at least 14 birds in the past six months – far higher than the one fatality per year predicted by the manufacturer.

Seagulls though. So what?

Headteacher Stuart McLeod was even forced to come into school early to clear up the bodies before his young pupils spotted them.

Oh, the glamorous life of a headteacher. I’m pretty sure that’s not in his job description, so I wouldn’t blame him for being a bit miffed.

School governors consulted seagull eyesight experts and investigated bringing in bird-scaring plastic owls to solve the problem, but to no avail.

Mr McLeod said they had tried everything to stop the carnage but had no choice but to shut the turbine down.

At least they’d enjoyed oodles of free electricity though, eh?

It provided six kilowatts of power an hour.

6kWh? So, when there’s actually any wind (see above), this thing can power 3 kettles, or about 12 computers? And when there’s no wind? Camping stoves and typewriters, I suppose?

Not exactly a return on their investment then. Oh wait, not to worry – it was OUR investment. Pffft, silly me.

The turbine, at Southwell Community Primary School, Portland, was installed 18 months ago thanks to a grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Because the school would never have put the stupid thing there in the first place if they’d actually had to pay for it and see that they achieved a return on their investment.

The cost-benefit analysis always seems to stack up differently when you’re spending other people’s money, doesn’t it?

AJ

Burn the witch

It looks like the mess left behind (are we surprised?) by Gordon Brown and his crew could stick to them in fine style.

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Following the link:

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the emerging story of Labour’s ‘scorched earth spending spree’ has to be the smoking gun that convicts Gordon Brown’s ‘evil regime’! According to John Pinar BBC 5live Chief Political Correspondent, evidence is emerging that ‘Top civil service chiefs lodged formal protests at decisions by Labour ministers to spend millions in dying months of Lab gov’.

On Monday David Cameron instructed all of his ministers to go back to their departments and list all of Labour’s spending commitments signed in the immediate run-up to the General Election. This task will be performed with relish by those who endured years of torment from Labour’s front-bench in the House of Commons. With the almost certain guarantee of possible criminal charges for the most serious abuse of government powers, many in the Conservative party baying for a McCarthy-style red-witch-hunt will get their wish.

That sounds like fun!

More anon, I’m sure.

AJ

UPDATE: More.

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More of other people’s stuff

Because, having done the stuff I needed to do, I now have CBA syndrome.

I heard Ali Darling on BBC news earlier, spouting the same old lines. Mr Eugenides sums up my response nicely (but do read the whole thing):

Hear this, Darling. You have destroyed the public finances and demeaned the nation’s governance. You have scorched the earth for your successors and ploughed salt into the ruins. You have fucked us so hard, Darling, that we will be walking bow-legged for a generation. How dare you put your mortician’s face above the parapet. Have you no shame?

Fuck off, shut up, and leave us alone. We do not wish to hear from you, ever again.

Meanwhile, Jeff Randall performs a field-autopsy on Brown’s legacy.

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Well, we kinda knew that already, Jeff, but do go on…

Despite its record of fiscal incompetence, constitutional vandalism and disregard for Middle England, Gordon Brown’s administration ought never to have collapsed. It had, after all, created for itself a client class of supplicant voters. As part of a grand plan for permanent office, more than one million immigrants were handed British passports (80 per cent of first-generation arrivals vote Labour) and 900,000 workers added to the public-sector payroll.

More pernicious still, Mr Brown and his ministers were delighted to overlook a grotesque distortion in the make-up of parliamentary boundaries, which meant that a 30 per cent vote for Labour produced about 300 seats, whereas the same percentage for the Conservatives delivered only 200 seats. In short, just about everything that could have been done to bend the system in New Labour’s favour was in place by the time the election was called.

The problem, however, was that the project had been constructed upon a moral cesspit. The party’s membership had been taken prisoner by a gang of desperadoes who clung to a conviction that honesty and integrity were disposable luxuries, and substance an unwelcome substitute for propaganda. The upshot was a dystopian regime in which Lord Mandelson and Alastair Campbell were recalled from ignominy to orchestrate a campaign of lavish deceit.

Meanwhile, the twatteriti are complaining about having a “feckless fop” like this running the nation’s finances:

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I know what they mean. Anyone who could afford a shave back when everything was still black and white were toffs, cads and idlers.

Far better for things to be run by the provisional wing of the David Bellamy fan club.

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Why can’t these bitter lefties get over the class thing? I was brought up on the breadline, in the North, in a staunch Labour household, yet I don’t appear to be equipped with the same chip as these people. Perhaps it’s because I stopped moaning, got off my arse and did something to put half of Hovis between me and the breadline.

Perhaps.

Said twitterist asks, in his profile, “Why should I face years of austerity when there are so many wealthy folk about?”

To which I reply, “Because you voted for the government that caused these years of austerity. I didn’t. Actions have consequences.”

Old Holborn has a nice compare and contrast post on this matter:

If a Libertarian doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a Fabian doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Libertarian is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a Fabian is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Libertarian sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy.
A Fabian wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.

If a Libertarian is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Fabian is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a black person is Libertarian, they see themselves as independently successful.
Their Fabian counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government protection.

If a Libertarian is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Fabian demands someone take care of him.

And there’s more… read on.

AJ

Paul Chambers GUILTY! WTF!??

He was prosecuted under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 for sending an “indecent, obscene or menacing” message.

The more I dwell upon this, the more I feel sick to my stomach. This country is ruined and there truly is tyranny.

My commiserations to Paul Chambers, and here’s hoping the sentence will be lenient, and not even a sniff of custodial.

More anon.

AJ

(Background here)

UPDATE: £1000 fine.

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UPDATE: With pledges of help with Paul’s fine mounting up on Twitter, Old Holborn is on the case of (i) finding out if Paul wants this help and (ii) getting it done.

Natural Wastage

Tories plan to cut 20,000 public sector posts, by not filling them when they become vacant due to leavers, retirees, promotions etc.

In the private sector we call that ‘natural wastage’.

In the public sector, the ones who remain are called ‘natural wastage’.

That’s the only possible conclusion I can come to. Otherwise, why would the Tories not counter Labour’s “20,000 jobs cut” with “through natural wastage”, thereby deflating Labour’s false claim that anyone will be fired, laid off or made redundant by these cuts. I.e – Jobs will be cut, but there will be no-one in the job at the time it is cut.

Useless. Are they terrified of the word-twisting lefties spinning the ‘natural wastage’ term, in much the same way the superbly powerful term ‘creative destruction’ is studiously avoided by the most free-marketeer of politicians?

Spineless.

AJ

UPDATE: In fairness, CMD did put this argument on the news, just bit using those loaded words.

Smash the NHS to pieces

Since this sort of thing is all too common, it deserves nothing less.

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A patient desperate for a drink of water had to telephone the switchboard of the hospital he was being treated in to beg to see a doctor.

Derek Sauter, 60, used his mobile phone to request medical attention after his pleas for help were ignored.

But when the doctor arrived he was turned away by ward nurse Caroline Lowe, who said Mr Sauter was ‘over-reacting’ and threatened to confiscate his phone.

Eight hours later the grandfather-of-three, who was suffering with a chest infection, was dead.

Well, post hoc ergo propter hoc and all that. We don’t know the cause of death.

Rather than offering sympathy to Susan, Mr Sauter’s wife of 41 years, Miss Lowe later told her that he could have been prosecuted for harassing the doctor on call.

Although I’m starting to get an idea.

Yesterday his daughter, Ruth Sauter, 42, said she was appalled at the way her father, a former administrator for the Healthcare Commission, the former NHS watchdog, had been let down by the NHS.

Oh dear – they fucked one of their own. Good work, NHS morons!

‘My father went into hospital for a routine chest infection, but never came out,’ said Miss Sauter, of Thurrock, Essex.

‘His condition was not life threatening and the nurses had specific instructions to keep close tabs on him.

‘But their appalling lack of care, and cruel behaviour killed my father. He should not have died that weekend; it was not his time.

‘It’s so much worse knowing that he died alone, thirsty and scared on that ward.’

Mr Sauter was admitted to Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, in Kent, at 9am on June 27 2008.

Another NHS trust to avoid then. I wonder how excellent the CQC had rated them that year.

A note scrawled by Mr Sauter and discovered by his family after his death said: ‘Asked for a jug of water at 6pm and again at 8.30, told to wait for handover. Said I knocked cup of water on floor.’

It’s just breathtaking isn’t it. Last year, on top of private health cover, private pension and income protection insurances, I paid over £4000 in National Insurance. If I could take that money and put it into private schemes, or use that money to self-insure, I’d do so in a heartbeat.

Being a monopoly provider is precisely what’s wrong with the NHS, and the arrogance it fosters in those it employs in one of the worst symptoms.

Still, there is something of a silver lining:

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Sacked. Should be in prison, but I suppose we have to be satisfied with this, notwithstanding the likelihood that she’s now working in a different NHS trust, because information about her gross misconduct was never passed on, and she hasn’t been struck off.

So, Caroline Lowe. I hope you do get struck off. I hope you get to watch (or miss) your nearest and dearest die due to a disgusting level of callousness and negligence. After which, it’s face cancer for you, you evil fucking cow.

AJ

H/T Ambush Predator

Today in total and utter fuckups

… we introduce civil servants to the term ‘due diligence’ – something we find quite handy in the commercial world.

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In an extremely critical report, the Public Accounts Committee attacked the Government’s failure to get a guarantee from EDF that it would build nuclear stations without subsidy when selling its 36pc stake in January 2009 for £4.4bn.

The cross-party group of MPs, which holds government spending to account, criticised the “systemic weakness” at the heart of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and its approach to risk that could cause “serious liabilities to fall to the public purse”.

Ah yes – the DECC, as run by Ed Bonzodogdoodahband. The useless twat.

“Given that there is a clear risk that EDF will not build them, with or without such subsidy, the Department needs to say sooner rather than later how the country’s increasing energy demands would be met under those circumstances,” said Edward Leigh MP, chairman of the committee.

“It is of concern, to say the least, that the Department does not know how much nuclear generating capacity will be needed to meet our future energy needs.”

The committee was “not convinced” by the Government’s reliance on the market to deliver investment in nuclear power and renewable energy, he added.

“When selling strategically important assets, like its stake in British Energy, the Department should carry out systematic and timely assessments of risk,” Mr Leigh said.

Quite.

Still, I expect they’ll all have a bloody good laugh when it turns, out in 3 years time, that the Tories can’t afford to get any of the required nuclear generating capacity built, because (French state owned) EDF have shafted us.

Buy diesel generators.

AJ

Enough is enough. I am forming a think tank.

How hard can it be? Now just need to think of a name.

Sherlock? Nah – been done. Ishityounot? Nah – sounds like a Micronesian beach hut.  I have it – ‘The Wellduh! Foundation’.

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Oh, I think I need to sit down. You mean… the public sector is a hive of cosseted fuckwits, leeches and educationally sub-normal wasters?

This is all too much to take in.

Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain. But there is one place where nothing much changed after May 1979; a lost world where strikes are commonplace and powerful trade unions still rule the roost. It’s a slice of 1970s Britain preserved in aspic, where productivity falls, pay surges and nobody gets the sack. All that’s missing are the Austin Allegros and Donny Osmond.

That place is the public sector. Review the facts: public sector productivity fell almost 4% in the 10 years after 1997, whereas private sector productivity grew 28%. Public sector pay has grown by 15% more than private sector pay. But despite that, people in the public sector aren’t happy: in fact, compared with the private sector, twice as many managers say morale is low in their workplace. Sickness rates are 50% higher and the number of days lost to strikes is 15 times higher.

Strikes? Right – down in the unions like a ton of bricks for a start. And perhaps we should redeploy those 10,000 Tasers Jacqui Bigtits ordered for plod.

There are many reasons why the public sector is underperforming. Four-fifths of public sector workers have their pay set not on the basis of individual performance but by national pay bargaining agreements.

Quite – no incentive to perform better as an induhvidual.

In much of the public sector, promotion is automatic each year and doesn’t reflect effort or ability.

Errr. What? The? Fuck?

Public sector organisations are saddled with top-heavy management and expensive pension schemes.

Yes – a cull is indeed necessary and those pension schemes need to be chucked over the side of a transpacific freight liner, in a sack full of rocks.

Perhaps the most important reason is that it is very difficult to hire or fire anyone. Almost no one is ever sacked for underperforming in the civil service. And whole teams of people who are no longer really needed remain because it is difficult to make people redundant. According to the Cabinet Office: “There were fewer than 100 compulsory redundancies between 2005 and 2008.” That means just 25 people each year out of 525,000 civil servants.

There are 6,000 in my company in the UK and I know 25 personally who were made redundant last year. Boo hoo. So how come?

In 2008 the government and the trade unions agreed a “protocol for handling surplus staff situations” under which the government will almost never force through compulsory redundancies. So people have to be bribed to leave with generous pay-offs. For example, in 2005-8 almost 300 people agreed to take early retirement from the Foreign Office with an average payout of £162,000 — on top of their generous pensions.

Do read on, though it doesn’t get any better.

AJ

Bonfire of the insanities

Rubs hands together with glee.

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Predictably, they are looking at libraries, nurseries, arts and leisure services, as well as roads, refuse collection and everything else. The question I await the answer to is who is less important than a 5-a-day coordinator or a lesbian albino budgerigar outreach worker?

AJ

Merde du jour

I had a whole bunch of stories I wanted to blog about, but then I had to go and do some fucking work, which impressed me not a jot.

So, here’s what I had lined up for today:

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Which is rather contrary to the weaselly claims he made at PMQs on Wednesday.

Next, who gives a fuck about this?

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I have absolutely no idea why this shit is still illegal in this country. Fucking puritans.

As for vice cops – Captain Buzzkill one and all – lowest of all cops. And that’s low. Once again, I refer you to the honourable Doug Stanhope.

Talking of cops…

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There are plenty of non-public sector blogs for children and hokey old women who like to anthropomorphise animals. That is all.

I’d rather you just concentrated on not melting the dogs to death in your cars, chaps.

In old news recycled:

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Ofgem reported on this yesterday?

Perhaps they’d have saved themselves 12 months by just reading some blogs and newspapers. After all, some of us have been concerned about this for a while now. Or maybe it just took them 6 months to remove the swearing from my blog posts.

Indeed – the front page of The Economist looked like this last August:

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Concerning.

More concerning, though, is this:

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Read that carefully, click through and digest. By many measures, we’re not in much better shape than Greece. We could end up in the same boat as them if our sovereign debt is downgraded this year.

So, perhaps the fact that we’re not in the Eurozone is the only thing standing between the us and ‘special measures’ imposed by Brussels, including a budget imposed by the ECB.

Next – the shock. The Sherlock. The meh.

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No fucking surprise when you look at what our society has become – divided, spiteful, shallow, avaricious, covetous, resentful, expensive, dirty, violent – and what our state has become – overweaning, overtaxing, under-delivering, deceitful, fraudulent, war-mongering, fear-mongering, risk-averse, bullying, nagging and judgemental.

Errr.. that’s it for now. If there’s anyone I didn’t mention, they’re all nobheads too.

AJ

Die, story, die.

Why won’t this bullshit just die?

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:sigh:

I dealt with this shit last year, on 29th March, 28th August and 15th September.

Let’s consider from an economic and commercial point of view. Specifically, as the last G20 country to come out of what was the longest recession ever. With Q4 growth of a pathetic 0.1%, built on QE, the VAT cut, the stamp duty holiday, the scrappage scheme and Christmas shite.

The whole package would cost an extra £5.26 billion a year on top of the £2.07 billion at the moment.

And that’s pretty much just for the…

Fathers [who] would be eligible during that three-month paternity leave to statutory government pay of £123 a week.

So what about the cost to business?

Last night, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) pointed out that the new measure would be one of eight extra costs to businesses already planned for next year. In total, business leaders estimate that red tape and planned increases in national insurance will cost £25.6 billion over the next four years.

“I know, Gordon”, said Puppet-Gordon, “we love tax revenues, so let’s fucking kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”

Fuck off Labour. Fuck off welfare state. Fuck off paternity leave.

If you support any of these, you are a rancid, yeasty helmet.

AJ

Nag Nag Nag

Via @sscrltt, a decent post at Liberal Vision regarding the constant nagging that the state has peppered TV (and every other channel of) advertising with over the last year or so.

Government lecturing is ruining my weekends

January 25th, 2010 Posted in UK Politics by Angela Harbutt

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As is quite common these days, my much-loved weekend of sport was once again intermittantly interrupted with Government messages attempting make me a better citizen, protect me from my own stupidity, or both.

Television shares must surely be set to take a tumble as it slowly dawns on people that we cant actually afford to subsidise broadcasters in this fashion any longer (just last Spring it was reported that the Government was bombarding us with 10,000 ads a day and was set to become Britains single biggest advertiser.)  I thought that I had read that Government was set to slash spending on this nonsense, but when I ask you. When?

Read on…

AJ

Stupendous Incompetence

It’s not often a phrase like that can be considered a grave understatement.

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An investigation by The Independent has found that the total cost of Labour’s 10 most notorious IT failures is equivalent to more than half of the budget for Britain’s schools last year. Parliament’s spending watchdog has described the projects as "fundamentally flawed" and blamed ministers for "stupendous incompetence" in managing them.

Botched projects: The cost of failure

£12.7bn National Programme for IT (NHS)

It was meant to revolutionise the way the health service worked. But far from heralding a new age of efficiency, the National Programme for IT is now widely perceived as the greatest government IT white elephant of history. As well as the huge costs involved, suppliers have walked away, projects are running years behind schedule, while medical professionals have complained that they were never consulted on what they wanted the new system to achieve.

£7.1bn Defence Information Infrastructure (DII)

It seemed like a good idea at the time. In 2005, the Ministry of Defence decided to offer a contract to a consortium of suppliers to replace the hundreds of different computer systems being used by the military with a single system that would be used by the army, navy and air force, as well as the MoD itself. It was to be used by 300,000 people across 2,000 sites. However, it is running more than £180m over budget and 18 months late. A parliamentary inquiry also warned that forces’ reliance on older systems put them at risk of a security breach.

£5bn National Identity Scheme

Originally budgeted at £3bn, the Government’s plan for new identity cards, containing biometric data and linked to a central database, soon came under heavy criticism from civil liberty campaigners. As the costs spiralled, so the Home Office began to water down the aims of the scheme to assuage the critics. In July, Alan Johnson announced that the cards would no longer be compulsory, while moves to force all airport workers to use the cards were also abandoned.

£400m Libra system (for magistrates’ courts)

An attempt to bring records used by magistrates courts into the digital age backfired when trying to introduce one universal IT system to all courts descended into a costly mess. Fujitsu originally bid £146m to deliver the Libra system in 1998. However, the project proved more complicated than anticipated, and costs have now been put at more than £400m.

£350m Single Payment Scheme system (SPS)

The Single Payment Scheme system was designed in 2003 to be a sophisticated way of giving farmers their subsidies, by mapping their land and working out their level of payment. But failures with the IT systems being used mean that farmers were left short-changed. In 2006, around £1.28bn of the £1.5bn subsidies destined for British farmers still had not been given out. The Rural Payments Agency overseeing the project was ordered to make 23 major changes to the system. Despite the £350m spent on the technology, the Public Accounts Committee warned last year that it was already “at risk of becoming obsolete”.

£300m GCHQ "box move" of technology

When the Government’s intelligence organisation, GCHQ, decided to move its complex computer systems into a new building in 1997, the projected £41m cost was so small that officials believed it could be absorbed within existing budgets. That was until the Curse of the Government IT Project struck. Costs of the so-called “box move” soon began to rise out of control. In 2003, the National Audit Office (NAO) put the costs at more than £300m. Edward Leigh, Tory chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, called the original budget “staggeringly inaccurate”.

£155m National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis)

In an attempt to make sharing information about offenders easier, the Department for Justice gave the go-ahead for the National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis) to be rolled out to prisons and the probation service. As the estimated cost doubled to more than £600m and senior officials questioned the whole point of the project, it was abandoned in 2007, with £155m already spent.

£106m Benefit Processing Replacement Programme

In June 2006, the Department for Work and Pensions confidently assured Parliament that new funding for its Benefit Processing Replacement Programme (BPRP) had been approved. So it came as a surprise to many when it emerged just three months later that the project had been quietly scrapped. Little information has emerged on why BPRP was abandoned, but the Government has admitted that £106m had already been spent on it before it pulled the plug.

£88.5m Prism IT project

Undeterred by past failures, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) thought it would be a good idea in 2002 to order a new computer system for their 200 offices around the globe. The result was the Prism IT project, seemingly a bargain at just £54m. However, delays and costs have risen, while the contractor was even forced to temporarily halt the scheme in 2005 while an investigation took place into its various problems. The system has not proved a hit with staff. One wrote in 2004: “In all the FCO’s long history of ineptly implemented IT initiatives, Prism is the most badly designed, ill-considered one of the lot.”

£81m Shared Services Centre

To officials at the Department for Transport, the Shared Services Centre seemed to good to be true: not only would it integrate the human resources and financial services of the department and its various agencies, it would even save the taxpayer £57m. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed as the scheme became another example of an IT project going horribly wrong. Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) were forced to brush up on their language skills as computer systems gave them messages in German. It will now cost £81m, a failure in management that the Public Accounts Committee described as a display of “stupendous incompetence”.

TOTAL: £26.3bn

Shameful.

AJ

Perks of the job

Hey – I may only have get a shitty pay rise this year, but at least my company are offering some great new benefits, like.. err.. a cycle to work scheme.

image

And this is just perfect for me. Really it is. It would have made the 300 mile round trip I did last Thursday a doddle. And those 28 miles to my nearest office would just fly by. Especially on a brand new £300 bike, which would doubtless put mine to shame, costing as it did north of a grand.

So basically, I’m subsidising people who don’t already have a bike, to get a cheap nasty Chinese bike, that can be stolen from the railway station by chavs, to be used in the commissioning of further bag snatchings and muggings.

Sounds perfectly sensible.

Get the fuck out of my pockets you cunts.

AJ