Friday, May 30, 2008

Me & Technology

For a geek, I'm not particularly bothered about technology. My thinking is "it's a tool, use it, don't get hung up on having the latest tool if the one you currently have works well." And this used to suit me fine. Okay, I used to get the piss ripped out of me for having a phone that was 'insured against Viking raids', but it made and received phone calls & texts and that was exactly what I wanted it to do.

Three years I had that phone, and it was still working perfectly when I was persuaded to get a newer one. So I got a shiny new Nokia about a year ago, and that too worked very well. Plus, unlike the other one, it had a camera on it. My my, how I'd moved into the 20th Century.

Then it started to go a bit mental in January. Nothing major, just a glitch taking a photo and then the whole phone locked up. Did the standard techie thing of turning it off and then back on again, and this fixed it. Or so it seemed. I think that was actually the start of the breakdown. Since then, I've had intermittent problems receiving texts, and - very occasionally - calls.

Last weekend, however, I realised I hadn't had ANY text messages whatsoever for about three days - which is very unusual for me - so I tried to speak to Orange Customer Services. Go through the convoluted menu options to be told that calls to Customer Services will cost me 25p. Okay, not a lot, but annoying anyway. Press the button to continue, then get another message telling me that Customer Services are only open between the hours of 8am and 10pm.

Wow. A company that isn't 24hr! I was surprised. Very surprised. Rang back the next morning to explain my phone problems, and was told by Customer Services that I had probably got a faulty SIM and that they would send me a new one, all configured with my number etc, and all I'd need to do was pop it in the phone.

SIM duly arrives, and in it goes. Nothing. Read accompanying instructions. Seems I need to call to get the SIM activated. Fair enough, assume this is so they know I've got it. Call Customer Services yet again, then get told the spectacular news that the SIM doesn't actually have my number on it yet, and needs to receive some SIM updates in order to work. These SIM updates will be sent by text (problem 1) and at some point over the next 24 hours (problem 2).

That was 24 hours ago. Obviously the SIM updates still haven't arrived as my phone can't receive texts - hence I needed a replacement card. So since yesterday morning I've been uncontactable. Which hasn't been too bad at all, but mainly because I have a new phone: with a new number that only one person knows.

This situation will be changing very soon, as I'm porting my old number across to the new phone. Which brings me onto something else. Orange told me - when I first rang up for the PAC number - that they *had* to send it out by post and it would take three to four days and I'd need to have ID to sign for it.

Slight problem there, fella. Can't wait that long to start the porting (which seems to take three days itself) & I don't have any ID. "Well sir" the man says "those are the rules." Now I see this sort of thing as a challenge, so I rang them back on a freephone number they don't tell you about, and asked to speak to the Complaints Department. Told I may have to wait 15 minutes, told them this was fine as I was on their freephone number and it would be costing them more money to leave me hanging.

Amazingly, get put through in less than a minute. Told the same as before, "those are the rules" then I asked the guy if there was someone there who was paid more money than him in return for being shouted at. Was escalated to said person. Nice chap, told him the problem, he then gives me the PAC number over the phone. That number goes to my new phone company, and my old number will be on my new phone on Monday.


I now have a phone with a 3.2 Megapixel camera (with Carl Zeiss lens, no less), free internet connection, free text messages and 400 minutes of free calls to any network. Oh, and the phone was free as well. I'm now in the 21st Century, and it's okay so far.

So if you've been trying to contact me, this should explain why I've not been responding. Dull, I know, but there you have it.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lying Bastards

Not content with being a general shower of bastards (as mentioned below) the Government have endeared themselves to me even more by this splendid bit of double-speak with regard to the current truckers' protest.
A Treasury spokesman said the government understood business and families were "feeling the pressure from high fuel prices". But they said the "immediate priority" was to encourage oil-producing countries to increase output, that a 2p-per-litre fuel duty increase had been put back from April to October and fuel duty was "still 11% below its 1999 level, in real terms".

Hmm. Really? Do you have, you know, figures to back that up? And what difference exactly would increasing output actually achieve? The majority of the cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps is Duty. And the Government sets the level of Duty. Instead of hand-wringing to OPEC, how about doing something constructive that would benefit the country?

Justice Secretary Jack Straw told the BBC he "fully understood" the hauliers' concerns, but "government revenues have to come from somewhere".

Ah, and that would be the real reason why the Government are more than happy to keep Duty at the present levels. Rather than doing what they're forcing the entire fucking country to do - cut expenditure because income is low - the Government are insisting that they can't control their spending, so we have to keep bailing the bastards out.

The Tories propose anyone under 21 who is unemployed for three months would be sent for an intensive programme of work-related activity. If they were still jobless after a year they would be moved to a full-time 12-month community work programme, with those who turn down a job losing their benefits. Which would be a start, eh?

Or maybe cutting down on profligacy in Government, as more than £325m a year is being wasted by government departments through inefficient use of office space, MPs have said. The Commons public accounts committee (as in MPs themselves, never the harshest critics of their own white elephants) recommended more civil servants should be relocated from London to cut costs. Amusingly, the committee said the Treasury was spending the most on employees' workspace and urged it to "set a better example".

Yet the Government take the "we need more money, so fuck you all" approach instead. And by doing this, show the short termist mentality you'd normally find in investment banks. By not reducing fuel duty for hauliers, the Government risks losing all tax income from that industry. Foreign hauliers, buying fuel on mainland Europe, can come over to the UK and offer their services at a greatly reduced price. No income tax, no VAT, as the theme tune to Only Fools & Horses says, failing to add, no fuel duty, no vehicle excise duty etc, etc, etc.

Fuck the Government, before they fuck you. Join the Revolution.

I am the Revolution, and I want my fucking country back.

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Oh For The Sake Of Fuck

The Times are reporting that MPs are going to be able to vote for a £23k lump sum payment to cover the costs of their second homes.

You complete cunts.

So that's essentially a £23k payrise. That they can vote for. And since this lump sum payment won't require any receipts, it completely avoids public scrutiny. Remarkable decision, given the fact that MPs have just been forced to release their expense claim details by the Information Commissioner's office.

According to the Times, the automatic grant will be a key recommendation of a review of MPs' expenses, led by The Speaker Michael Martin. That's the same Michael Martin who was embroiled in a row over claiming his wife's taxi fares for shopping trips, by the way.

A spokeswoman for the committee said its report was not yet ready and it was "too early to specify its findings".

No, I'll think you'll find it isn't. The taxpayers of the UK pay your fucking salaries. The taxpayers of the UK should know IN ADVANCE what your recommendations are going to be and then they can decide if they think you're providing value for money. It gets better though. Not.

This lump sum payment would end the principle whereby MPs are compensated only for "costs incurred" and give nearly 250 MPs who claim less than £23,000 a substantial tax-free income boost. Yes, that's right, tax-free. The same people who decided it would be perfectly fair to double the minimum tax band will be getting a tax free lump sum in excess of the annual salary of the people most affected by the scrapping of the 10p tax rate.

Even more unbelievably, MPs are also preparing to reopen the battle over their salaries, arguing that it is unfair that they are paid £10,000 less than head teachers and £40,000 less than equivalent roles in the private sector. Unfair? Un fucking fair? I'll tell you what's unfair you shower of shits, the fact that you can - and do - claim expenses of up to £100k a fucking year on top of your already perfectly pleasant salary.

A report on parliamentary pay commissioned by Gordon Brown should be submitted by the end of next month. Senior MPs on the House of Commons Commission have recommended a salary rise from £61,820 now to about £75,000 after the next general election, expected in 2010.

So you're already on £62k a year basic, are proposing you get £23k a year tax free lump sum ON TOP and are saying it's unfair you're paid less than a head teacher? Do the words JUST FUCK OFF YOU WHINING BUNCH OF CUNTS mean anything to you? You shameless, grasping, duplicitous pile of wankers should be shot. Repeatedly. Starting at the ankles and working upwards in two inch movements.

I am so angry I can barely type.

UPDATE: I see Guido is also steaming from under the freakishly shaped hat about this as well.

I am the Revolution, and I demand my fucking country back from you cunts.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Lib Dems Also Wankers, Shock

The documents relating to a FOI request into MP's expense claims have been released. Among the nuggets released so far, receipts from 2003 show the then prime minister Tony Blair spent more than £10,000 on refurbishing the kitchen at Myrobela - his constituency home in county Durham. Items included tiling and £1,000 on fitting a mantel shelf to the AGA.

More entertainingly, the MP's are HUGELY pissed off that their home addresses are going to be published. The High Court ruled that MPs' addresses should be published - pointing out they were already disclosed when MPs sought nomination for election and if someone was determined to discover it, they were likely to be able to do so.

Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell has tabled a motion calling for a breakdown of the expenses of, and home addresses of, High Court judges. Conservative MP Julian Lewis backed Mr Russell's move in the Commons on Thursday, branding the release of MPs' addresses "barking mad" and claiming it opened them up to hate mail and attacks by "extremists".

Perhaps if your expense claims weren't so fucking outrageous, and you hadn't backed the illegal war in Iraq quite so obediently, you wouldn't have so many people anxious to tell you what a shower of cunts you all are. Just a thought.

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Sightseeing Trip

As you are no doubt well aware, there is a ban on protesting within one mile of Parliament. Which is a shame, as there's rather a lot to protest about at the minute.

Handily, there's no ban on sightseeing, or having a walk around Parliament Square.

So, here's the plan. I shall be having a walk around Parliament Square on Saturday 28th June at about 1pm. I will be taking photos of Westminster and possibly being nostalgic about how we used to have a Government worthy of the name.

If you care to join me, that would be super.

No banners. No slogans. No chanting.

This is not a protest. This is a Revolution.

I am the Revolution and I want my fucking country back.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's All Laugh At Jacqui Smith

First up, apologies for basically copying the entire BBC article onto here. Just loved every painful minute for it and felt I should pass it on.

The Home Secretary (Smith) has "betrayed the police service" by refusing to backdate a 2.5% pay rise, the chairman of the Police Federation has said. Jan Berry told its annual conference that Jacqui Smith's decision, affecting Wales, England and Northern Ireland, had been "a monumental mistake". Funny, in retrospect, but agreed, a monumental mistake. As Home Secretary you really don't want to piss the Police off, but hey, what would I know? I don't need them to follow every stupid law I pass, do I?

Ms Smith later addressed the 1,000 delegates herself. "I know you strongly disagree with the decision," she said, "but it was one that I took only after a lot of thought, after considering the full facts of the case, the need to keep mortgages and the cost of living under control - and that includes your mortgages and your families' cost of living as well. And there was another crucial factor at play: affordability. And for that, read police officer numbers."

So in an attempt to justify the spectacular decision to ignore the advice of an independent review panel - as has happened recently with the decision to reclassify cannabis - Smith is saying that the decision was based on financial prudency. Good work there, you dumb bint, seeing as the only reason the economy is so completely fucked is because of your fucking boss. I wonder if old one eye has anything to say for himself?

A Downing Street spokesman said Gordon Brown believed the home secretary's decision was "difficult" but "absolutely right". And there's surely no-one better placed to know about making difficult decisions. Now, doesn't that sound like a vote of confidence from Gordon by the way? Given his recent record of backing losers, then it seems only a matter of time before Jacqui walks or is sacked.

But sadly not soon enough to avoid this quality bit of abuse. Ms Berry, picking on her admission that she smoked cannabis in her youth, said "I am sure you felt like reaching for a stab-proof vest and perhaps slipping into an old habit - lighting up, calming your nerves. But as you've reassured us, you've moved on from those past indiscretions. Your recent crimes have been more for the serious fraud office than the drug squad."

Ms Berry also compared Ms Smith to Education Secretary Ed Balls who has recently defended a pay deal for teachers, but, and I have to compliment the speech writer here, in a fantastically funny way: "Home Secretary, what is it that Mr Balls has but you do not?"

Balls, being the obvious answer. Which is ironic, as that seems to be what Smith specialises in talking. Along with the rest of the disingenuous cunts in Government. We need a revolution, and we need it now.

I am the Revolution and I want my fucking country back.

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Tories Just As Bad At Data Security

Proving themselves to be equal to the current Government in their disregard for Data Protection laws, the Tories have admitted today that they sent the details of 3000 people to Manx Radio, a local newspaper and one other un-named media outlet.

That's the names, addresses, telephone numbers and intentions of voters in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, by the way. So at least their banking details weren't involved for once.

Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith said "It is a serious concern if people's personal details and voting intentions have got into the public domain. Voting information is particularly sensitive. We will be launching an investigation to establish the full facts and see where responsibility lies."

Interesting choice of words there, "responsibility lies". I've noticed a bit of a theme of that recently, where people in positions of responsibility lie, and lie again in order to avoid the outcome of their actions. But I digress. The Tories, and fair fucks to them for this, have held their hands up straight away to the error.

A Conservative spokesman said: "The email shouldn't have been sent but we have done all that we can to ensure that it remains confidential. The email - which was based on information from the electoral register - was sent in error to a journalist. Within two and half hours the recipient was informed. Both he and the local newspaper he sent it on to have now given undertakings that the information on the email has been destroyed... An internal investigation has already discovered that it was due to human error but an internal inquiry has begun to ensure that it does not happen again."

You see, they are ready for Government. Blame someone, without saying who they are, start an internal investigation, so no-one knows what it is, and then claim to not let it happen again in the future. Brilliant.

Tories, Labour, LibDems, all cunts. There really is no point in voting for any one of them, we need a revolution.

I am the Revolution, and I want my fucking country back.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Protest While You Can

Alarming news from El Reg about a teenager being issued a court summons for displaying the not exactly controversial statement: "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult."

Alarming because this happened in the City of London earlier this month.

The City of London Police read the protestor Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and removed his placard before issuing him with the summons. The Act makes it an offence to display "any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby".

In response, the teenager quoted back a High Court judgement from 1984. Justice Latey repeatedly said in a family division case that Scientology was a "cult" - one that was "immoral", "socially obnoxious", "corrupt", "sinister" and "dangerous".

The City of London Scientology building opened in 2006. The financial district's police force was heavily criticised at the time for their apparent endorsement of the sect. Kevin Hurley, the force's Chief Superintendent praised its work for bringing "positive good" at the opening of the multimillion-pound site, and it later emerged that officers had accepted hospitality from Scientology, including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises. The organisation also made donations of thousands of pounds to the City of London Children's Charity

Which kinda makes you question the City of London Police's motives in this specific case, doesn't it? As I'm fairly sure we have the right to peaceful protest - unless you're near Parliament - unless I missed the meeting where that was removed from us as well.

I am the Revolution, and I want my fucking country back.

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Product Placement

Here's something for the beleaguered smoker. A smoke-less cigarette that gives you a nicotine hit *and* lets you exhale properly.

And there's not really any reason why you can't "smoke" them in the pub, on the train or on the bus, as what you're exhaling is essentially steam. No carcinogens, no tar, just sweet sweet nicotine!

Oh, and the site I've linked to is MUCH cheaper than the similar product being hawked at Harrods.

UPDATE: Just been told that if you order one and put an "X" by your name, then the manufacturer will know that you've come from here.

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1984 Still Not Instruction Manual

In a completely unexpected move, Home Office staffers have suggested that the UK Government need to keep a complete log of all emails and phone calls. Obviously they claim this will help deal with terrorists, because terrorism is the catch all excuse du jour for such eye watering stupidity.

The Government - who have a fantastic track record in losing data - are proposing that they should have control over this FUCKING ENORMOUS database of information. And that somehow, magically, it won't be hacked, lost, sold or used for purposes other than what you're currently being told. Because I can't imagine any junior staffer who has access - and remember, under the RIP Act pretty much every jobsworth cunt up and down the country will have access - not just having a look to see who has been contacting who.

The BBC article states that MPs haven't seen the proposals yet, handily, nor says how long the data will be kept for, but there are already objections to the plan. The Assistant Information Commissioner, Jon Bamford said:
"We are not aware of any justification for the state to hold every UK citizen's phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable."

Or plausible. From an IT point of view it is just unbelievable. Do-able, yes. Expensive, you bet your sweet ass. Likely to happen in a given timeframe to exacting demands of the IC? No hope in hell. As the Slashdot tag for their article suggests, goodluckwiththat. So if this does come to pass, it'll be an exceptionally costly sieve through which all your personal data will fall like water into the hands of anyone who happens to want it.

When exactly did my private communications become the property of the Government? Did I miss that fucking announcement? I will - if this becomes law - set up a spam mailer on any number of open relays (quite often Government ones) telling all and sundry about my intention to blow up numerous Government buildings. Encrypted. In Arabic.

I am the Revolution and I want my fucking country back now, you disingenuous cunts.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Wasting Time

Again courtesy of b3ta, a wonderful way of passing HOURS of your day: Braincloud

It's basically a word association game. But it then tells you how many other people have come up with the same word as you. I was surprised to discover that given the word "tentacles" that someone other than me would come up with "spectacles" but such is life.

If anyone else comes up with "Marrying two trees" for "Bigotry" then I will be deeply worried about the state of the world.

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Bum Flute

From the ever wonderful b3ta

Just quite what they were thinking remains a mystery.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Snouts In Trough

Good-ish news today, the House of Commons has lost its High Court battle against a decision to force disclosure of MPs' expenses. The Commons authorities must release the details by 1600 BST next Friday. They have until Tuesday to appeal, and I'm expecting them to.

The Commons challenged the Information Tribunal's "unlawfully intrusive" demand that a detailed breakdown of second home allowances must be given. They also failed to overturn the tribunal's decision that MPs' addresses should be published, as the courts decided that any individual who was determined to find out, could do so quite easily and legally anyway.

The Commons authorities have also been ordered to pay at least £33,500 in costs. And I'm fairly certain that will end up coming from the tax payer. Like every other fucking thing. And I'm again fairly certain the tax payer will be paying for the next appeal as well. As if MPs don't make enough money from the tax payer already.

On a related note, Commons Speaker Michael Martin was himself criticised when it emerged that his wife had claimed £4,139 on taxis - largely for shopping trips. The money claimed back comes from, you've guessed it, the tax payer! But on Wednesday, Parliament's standards chief John Lyon ruled Mary Martin's claims were "reasonable".

Presumably that's Parliament's definition, not that used by the public. Because I don't see how it's reasonable that the Speaker's WIFE - not even him - can have her taxi fares paid for by taxpayers.

The solution is simple. Stop paying tax.

I am the Revolution and I want my fucking country back, you thieving, money grabbing cunts.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy 30th Birthday Grandma

The title of this post is a suggestion I made several years ago for a new line of greetings cards. It was a joke then. It doesn't seem to be now.

The BBC are reporting that the Conservative's shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling, will "warn" today that parenting of the type seen in the TV show Shameless has become the "norm" in many places.

He will say in many families children are "largely left to their own devices" and will ask how people learn parenting skills, "if that inherited knowledge simply isn't there". Which is a very good point, to some extent. As my dad died when I was ten, I don't really have much idea of what a father should do. Which is handy as I don't intend to be one, but never mind. I know how a single mother brings a child up though, and I like to think she did a pretty good job.

To be fair to the man, he will say "the Conservative Party should focus on parenting problems generally - not on single parents."

He will add: "Those (inherited parenting) skills can quickly disappear. In many of our most troubled areas, the generations pass pretty quickly. Thirty-year-old grandparents and 45-year-old great-grandparents are far from unusual in today's Britain."

Really? Do you happen to have the figures for that? Or are you, like so many before you, embarking on a journey to Daily Mail Island to frolic on Insanity Beach? The Office of National Statistics most recent report (admittedly from 2000, but confirming what I've seen personally) says that the average age of a mother when she gives birth to her first child has gone up to 27.1, despite the increase of teenage pregnancy.

If anyone has any more up to date figures that support Mr Grayling, please let me know. Ta.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tax Allowances Raised, Darling

The Government have today announced that they are increasing the personal allowances on the basic rate of tax by £600 so that those in that bracket receive an extra £120 a year. There will be a lump sum of £60 in September, followed by £10 a month after that.

Now I'm not a mathematician, an economist or indeed Chancellor (who is neither a mathematician nor an economist), but I'm fairly certain that is still less than the £232 a year that the removal of the 10p tax band cost single people with no children who are earning less than £18,500 per annum.

So the promises made earlier this month about making sure no-one was worse off are, like the majority of promises made by the Government, completely pointless. Hmm, having just checked that promise, it seems Darling only promised to "compensate" not to completely reimburse.

The obvious answer for the Government, surely, would be to raise the tax allowance to £12,000. This allows people on minimum wage to earn a realistic amount before they start paying taxes for the benefit of the rest of the population. It also reduces the amount of paperwork for small businesses.

The more sensible answer, as I've advocated before, is to stop paying taxes to this shower of incompetent cunts. Stop paying Council Tax, avoid paying income tax and try bartering for goods and services to avoid paying VAT.

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Daddy Or Chips

While some people in the UK may be aware of the above comparison - and how difficult it can be to resolve - the Australians have their own: Child or Beers.

Funnily enough, it seems that they also have a great deal less trouble deciding which is the most important.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Just Hilarious

Found this on Guido's site and it made me howl. Click the image to read the full document.

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Florence Nightingale's Birthday

Well, it is according to Google, so it must be true. While more famous for being the "mother of modern nursing", she was also the first person to use the pie chart as a graphical means of representing information.

Happy Birthday, dear dead bird, Happy Birthday to you.

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The Vultures Are Circling

You know things are bad when three people (admittedly from roughly the same cabal) take time from their "busy" schedules to tell the papers what a complete freak you are. If so, you know how Gordon Brown is feeling today. Although I'm fairly sure he was feeling pretty bad already. What with being "the worst Prime Minister in living memory" and all.

Cherie Booth (Tony Blair's mouthy wife) lets rip in her hastily released memoirs, describing Brown as "ineffective" and "has expressed her anger and bewilderment at the Labour Party’s slump in the opinion polls." The memoirs were due to be released in October, but I guess the political climate wasn't going to improve - or indeed get better for her - over the next few months, so why wait? Particularly when Rupert Murdoch's News International are paying you a six figure sum.

John Prescott's memoirs - already gaining some infamy for the revelation that he "suffers" from "bulimia" - back the opinion that Prescott's main role was as peace maker between Blair and Brown ("he said that he had brokered 'hundreds' of reconciliation meetings and telephone calls between the Prime Minister and Chancellor") but also show he "urged Mr Brown to resign to the backbenches and suggested Mr Blair sack his then chancellor".

Prescott describes the current Prime Minister in less than flattering terms: "frustrating, annoying, bewildering and prickly. Mr Brown sulked so often during meetings that they had to be abandoned, and, on other occasions he could "go off like a bloody volcano". He continues, showing the nature of Brown & Blair's relationship: "On one occasion, Gordon wouldn’t let Tony see what was in his preparatory budget proposals. He even banned the Treasury from telling him. That was totally against tradition. The Prime Minister is always told in advance."

The third and most entertaining of the now daily attacks on Brown however, comes from 'Lord Cashpoint' himself, Lord Levy, who suggests that Brown should resign! More amusingly Levy - one of the men arrested and interviewed by police over the 'Cash for Honours' row - repeated claims that Mr Brown must have known that Labour was using secret loans to fund the 2005 election campaign.

Brown has said he knew nothing of the loans and his aides said the suggestion was "garbage". And if that is true, perhaps it explains Brown's sudden loss of economic acumen. In his mind he probably thinks the Labour Party's whole election campaign was funded by 11.5p and some chewing gum, yet they never ran out of money, so he thinks the whole country can be funded in a similar manner. He's probably now sat there wondering why there's not another £2billion in used notes being shoved through his letterbox in the dead of night.

(UPDATE: According to Nick Robinson, I missed that Frank Field also gave the Prime Minister a good kicking this morning on Radio 4)

This is not a good time for the Prime Minister. Every television appearance is lampooned, every utterance seemingly contradicted the second it is spoken, and on top of the Blairite attacks mentioned above, there are questions about him being gay. The alleged comments about Brown's sexuality from Peter Mandelson - previously only discussed in places like Guido's comments forums - were mentioned on Rory Bremner's show last night. And I'm not sure if this just shows the homophobia of the press. What I am certain of, however, is that I know several gay men who would do a better job of running the country - and making it look fabulous at the same time - than Brown is currently managing.

We are a divided nation and there's virtually no 'community' left. Labour were supposed to be the champions of the working class. I cannot bring myself to vote Tory, but I am now ashamed I voted Labour in 1997. We need a complete change in this country, and quickly. A revolution, if you will.

I am the Revolution and I'd like my fucking country back.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

I Am Not A Stoner

But if I was, I think I would be more than a little angry at the Government. Firstly, they have decided to completely ignore a report into the effects of cannabis that they themselves commissioned, and reclassify cannabis as Class B. The opening paragraph of the report reads:
Dear Home Secretary In July 2007 you asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to review the classification of cannabis in the light of real public concern about the potential mental health effects of cannabis use and, in particular, the use of stronger strains of the drug. I have pleasure in enclosing the Council’s report. You will note that, after a most careful scrutiny of the totality of the available evidence, the majority of the Council’s members consider – based on its harmfulness to individuals and society – that cannabis should remain a Class C substance. It is judged that the harmfulness of cannabis more closely equates with other Class C substances than with those currently classified as Class B.

As Tim Worstall quite rightly points out in the article I mention below, "There doesn't seem to be much point in reading any more of that report, nor paying attention to it - since, obviously, no other fucker has either."

Funnily enough there's not been so much reporting of the other stats mentioned in the report. Except for this wonderful article in The Register. Yes, the IT crowd's favourite read (possibly bar Slashdot) and generally only interested in all things geek. They have, over the past couple of years, been increasing the politics angle (mainly related to issues of security lapses, privacy and ID cards), but this seems a step into a different area.

The article is quite compelling, with some lovely use of statistics. Like the fact cannabis use has fallen over the past ten years, the number of people admitted with schizophrenia has also fallen, and that the oft quoted stat that today's cannabis is 20 times stronger than that of 20 years ago is just plain wrong.

The second page of the article, however, has some worrying information.
Police will be able to seize high-value assets from suspected drug dealers as soon as they are arrested under plans to be unveiled this week by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.

As Worstal says, "Yes, they'll take your house, your cars, your bank accounts, anything with a realisable value, at the moment of your arrest. No court case necessary at all, simply forfeiture to the State on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. Even better, they won't leave you with enough money to hire a lawyer to defend yourself on those drugs charges"
More than 30 barristers from London, Leeds and Sheffield were approached to represent the offender, but refused because they felt the new fixed-rate legal aid fees of £175.25 per day does not justify the complex workload that would be involved. The case would have involved 6,586 pages of documents and a total of 4,548 transactions to prepare for an estimated six-week hearing. The offender, who has served a nine-month sentence for two drugs convictions, could not pay for the legal fees himself because his assets had been frozen.

Worstall continues: "That pretty much puts paid to the idea of innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair trial and all the rest of that gubbins that our forefathers fought and died for, doesn't it? That's what I'm worried about, the leeching away of the very things that make us a free country in the face of this mass hysteria. It's decades since I last felt the urge to indulge beyond alcohol and nicotine, so the specifics of the drugs laws are an academic issue for me. But the abandonment of even the pretence of a fair trial should worry you as much as it does me."

I am the Revolution, and I want my fucking country back.

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