Posts Tagged ‘West Country’
The second dry day on the trot has the ferreters changing their minds on global warming for the millionth time. The recent long period of dark clouds and copious rain coincided with the floods in the West country and led to a renewed conviction that it is almost time to visit the library in search of a DIY guide to ark-building. All it takes is a couple of non-monsoon days for opinion to swing in the other direction which suggests that the gang is still less than completely convinced about armageddon. Since no one of note across the world seems to be actually doing anything to reduce carbon emissions we can only pray that our latest mood-swing reflects reality.
Meantime we hear a lot about endangered species ranging from tigers to starlings and the evidence there at least is worryingly validated. Sadly there is little we can do on our allotment site to preserve the endangered since the two wild creatures we encounter seem to be breeding at a rate faster than we ever managed in our days of procreation. I’m talking about collared doves, which eat everything that we grow, and moles, which constantly throw up hills often to the apparent bewilderment of the chickens.
But it is moles of a different sort that is beginning to try the nerve of the government. One can only assume that the Ministry of Defence has two moles per square yard for yesterday the Telegraph - perhaps the Telegraphs’ Editor’s neice is married to a General – for the umpteenth time obtained a copy of a report so damning that Liam Fox was forced to disown the writer and Cameron to disown Liam Fox. The report is headed ‘Restricted’ and was prepared by officials working directly for the Defence Secretary.
It tells us that the rushed and seemingly shambolic way in which the government conducted its strategic defence and security review has “badly damaged the confidence and morale of the armed forces”. We read that the decision to scrap the Ark Royal aircraft carrier and its fleet of Harrier jets was taken at the last minute.n fact the armed forces personnel first heard of the decision through the media. Officials in the National Security Council , chaired by David Cameron, are criticised for the way they handled the whole defence debate and the way they reached decisions. “People should have been consulted” the report booms.
According to the leaked report communications were abysmal. “At Cabinet Office direction , there was no pre-briefing of the chain of command and no pre-warning of units affected by changes. The combination of covert media briefings and restrictions on internal communicatiuons have “badly damaged morale and confidence and created a poor baseline for implementation” says the report. And it has few words of praise for the National Security Council, saying that meetings “did not provide the guidance the MOD needed”. Even worse “its members took too long to understand the complex issues”.
The report goes from bad to worse. Allies such as the United States were consulted so late that their comments were only received and collated as the plan “was being confirmed”.
The document makes depressing reading. It clearly points to rushed and inadequately thought through strategies and certainly adds strength to the argument of those who for some days now have contended that the whole defence package will lead to a istuation where the United Kingdom is inadequtely defended.
Predictably Liam Fox has condemned the writers as too junior to know but that doesn’t wash since they were clearly appointed to carry out the review. And it all gels suspiciously with his own early outburst about being unable to accept cuts. Of course that was before his sudden conversion which seemed to suggest that he had his collar touched as Knacker of the Yard is wont to say.
I can never decide whether moles do us a service or simply boost the sale of worry-beads. We are for ever trying to stab ours with a fork and the likelihood is that right now Cameron is proposing to do something simialr to Mr Fox!
Maybe we should build that ark for it seems that if the floods don’t get us Bin Laden will!
COALITION BARES ALL- AND REGRETS IT!
The coalition deserves great credit for its historic decision to publish full details of all expenditure in excess of £25,000, in fact many departments have gone further by using a mere £500 as the transparency line.
I hope they now hold their nerve because such openness is surely a huge step forward why would they waiver? Because the details reveal an appalling story of waste. Many will focus on trivia such as £55,000 to improve the PM’s office or nights in 4-star hotels. But for me two numbers stood out by a mile on the waste scale.
Since coming to office the coalition has spent £200 million on management consultants and £80 million on public relations. To spent so much on such frivolity when the services such as those for the mentally ill in the community have been cancelled is nothing short of scandalous.
But at least this lot is being open about its misuse of public money which is more than can be said for previous governments! My self understanding tells me that I wouldn’t have been so brave!
STAMPS FOR CHRISTMAS?
As a compulsive stamp collectors I have no alternative to buying the Christmas stamps plus the special brochure. But I did find myself wondering about this year’s choice of Wallace and Gromit.
Yes they are brilliant and funny but where are the traditional Christmas scenes based on the greatest story ever told? When I mentioned this at the bar a pal said that it was right and proper to keep religion out of Christmas. I found this odd since without religion there wouldn’t be a Christmas!
I just hope that Royal Mail has not become infected with the cult of political correctness!
HAVE THEY NOTHING BETTER TO THINK ABOUT?
Today’s papers are full of material relating to the forthcoming Royal wedding, no surprisev there. But the Daily Express has added the Charles ‘drama’ to the offering. It seems that the Prince conceded the possibility of Camilla being called Queen.
Alan Berry is the co-founder of a group called the ‘Diana Appreciation Society’ and is apparently outraged. In fact he doesn’t even accept that Charles should become King. I must confess that I had never heard of either the society or Mr Berry.
Am I in a minority in wondering why he and they cannot find something a more productive way to pass the time? Perhaps I live in a non-typical community for I have never heard anyone express the slightest interest in what the future holds for Charles’ second wife!
YESTERDAYS QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Walter Mondale 2 Graham Greene
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which country maintained Syowa Station in Antartica? 2 Which French carmaker did Peugeot take over in 1974?
We have the fire on maximum in the shed this morning and as we gather round in steaming clothes we wonder why anyone with enough readies to holiday abroad would be as daft as David Cameron who is shivering in the West Country and banging on about ‘staycations’. Add to that the fact that he has left the equivalent to Eddie the Eagle in charge of the nation and you begin to wonder what lies behind that plummy exterior. It was whilst we were crouched in a scene resembling armageddon that Lance Corporal Jenkins – like retired Generals, Jack still uses his rank - mentioned Quangos.
Apparently a friend has long held a position of non-executive director on such a body. Selection process seemed to comprise his wife knowing the Charman’s wife and the pay is good for doing little other than turning up once per month. And there are hundreds of such bodies, all working on the basis of creating rules, each of which requires more inspectors ad infinitum. But before various ferreters could begin to reach for their mobiles I warned them about the new slayer of Quangos, none other than Eric Pickles.
The new Communities Secretary may look like the answer to who ate all the pies but he is off to a good start. Nothing like hitting a big target on day one and our Eric has done just that. He has abolished the National Audit Commission. This august body was created in the 1980s to monitor the performance of local authorities and other public services. Sadly it hasn’t monitored its own excesses, which are considerable. Six members of its ‘management team’ earn more than the Prime Minister and it was only the intervention of the slayer that prevented the new chief executive being paid £240,000. He was not overly pleased either at the decision to spend £50,000 on a lobbying company!
The big-spending Commission has no fewer than 37 offices and employs over 2000 people but cannot even balance its own books – last year it posted a £9 million loss. So out it goes!
But it is far from alone. Take Ofcam, the media regulator. That pays its chief the unbelievable amount of £400,000, employs 873 people and gets through a cool £142 million each year. A lot of public money to cover the cost of an occasional rebuke for the BBC! And then there is the Equality and Human Rights Commission whose accounts have not been signed off for the past two years because of “irregular expenditure in a number of areas”, and the Charity Commission which blew £7.5 million last year “promoting the effective use of resources”. And the list goes on and on.
Hopefully our Eric will take another slice of cow pie, take a deep breath and scrub every single one of them. Any that feel able to demonstrate that what they do is remotely in the public interest could then apply for re-sanction with reasonable salaries and structures. If Cameron is serious about local enpowerment this is surely the way to go.
We musn’t load young Pickles with too much but it might also be helpful were he to take a peep at the Health and Safety lot. They seem to breed like ferrets and produce a new rule each week. The latest headline-hitter is their ruling that the grass at the 900 year old Carlisle Castle cannot be cut since it is on a slope near the former moat. There has been widespread criticism of the scruffy appearance of a place for ever renowned for its immaculate appearance but English Heritage have had to comply with “updated guidance from the Health and Safety Executive”. There is no record of anyone ever having been injured whilst cutting the grass since time immemorial but it will be cut no more. Not quite as daft as goggles for kids playing conkers but right up there with the thousands of lunacies enacted by this pompous waste-of-money busybody organisation whose self understanding is so slight that it believes we all value it.
So go to it Eric. You do not have the haggard appearance of an executioner but we need one. And not least on a day when we learn that we are to be the only developed country to ban the use of a life-extending drug for patients with terminal bowel cancer. Like many of the draconian cuts it is hard to accept whilst fat-cats stalk the land with impunity!
THE BANKS GO FROM BAD TO WORSE!
A few months ago I lashed out on some ISAs, virtually the last investment offering any hope of matching inflation. Barclays extensive advertising offered 2.55%, hardly generous but it was the best on offer. Today I received a letter confirming news of Barclay’s intention to reduce the interest to 2.23%.
Why? One can only assume that the incredible salaries dished out to the top executives not to mention bonuses, are proving a bit of a challenge to the ‘bottom line’. That being so we humble customers should accept that the Banks have been excused from the general need for economies and concentrate on our cricket.
WHY NOT BUT THE LOT?
Liverpool were humiliated by the Sheik-led Manchester City last night. Small wonder since one of the richest men in the universe is happy to buy the best players. Given that backing I think I could manage a championship win.
But why not make it easier still. To buy the whole Premiership would be no great financial strain and just thnk how easy finishing top would then become!
A LATE COMMENT.
Have just heard the good news of the Cameron’s new baby girl. Sorry that your holiday was so rudely interrupted David. Your decision to holiday in the UK hs been vindicated!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Eritrean Liberation Front 2. Portugal
TODAY’S QUESTIONS: 1.Who sang Bright Eyes in 1979? 2. In which TV show did Maureen Lipman play an agony aunt?