Sunday, 24 July 2011


I had a chance to catch up with the news that matters - the Oxford Times - and I read about the problems of the elections in the Vale of White Horse and in South Oxfordshire. The Returning Officer has been less than clear in his acceptance of his responsibility, which is unfortunate.

As a candidate who lost by 92 votes I don't want to be a sore loser but I do want to ensure that in future every one who wants to is able to vote. The Lib Dems lost the election and that would probably have happened anyway -especially given some of the desperate tactics of the Tories - but some of the results would almost certainly have been different. In my case this is clearly unlikely as there were two others ahead of me.

We have to have confidence in our electoral system and most people in the Vale won't after what happened in May. Let's hope that responsibility is acknowledged soon and that changes are made.

Friday, 22 July 2011


Good old Japanese. Here's a pointer to the next stage of energy generation, reducing the need for grids and huge power stations and looking forward to a time when - once again - energy can be created, stored and used within a home or business. To coin a tired old old phrase, it isn't rocket science, just common sense to do everything locally.

I'm reading more and more about climate change and the looming problems but also about the thousands of people researching solutions, such as this. The future's not bleak.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


If it seems odd that this opinionated fool has not commented on the NewsCorp story, its not because I'm not interested. The issue is that it is moving too fast to comment sensibly.

Perhaps the best thing to suggest is that this is the moment when everything changes in the print media, with the Guardian on its uppers, the Independent going free and possibly providing a new model and the Times being dragged deeper into the NewsCorp sewer where it has existed for the past 30 years.

With so many electronic sources now available to read these papers, this is probably the end of the print media as we know it, which will be a shame but it will also be a huge benefit in terms of paper use, carbon use as the various bits of tree are driven around the country and hopefully in our exposure to information as we potentially have the choice of not one but thousands of information sources.

I'll miss my paper - currently the brilliant 'i' from the Independent stable - but the world turns and its a fool (or a Tory. Whoops, same thing...) why tries to fight against it.

Back to NewsCorp, it is difficult to form a sensible opinion with a grin this size on one's face. When the mighty fall, the crash can be heard across continents and this one's shaken the earth.

And one other thing: how is Vince right every time?!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Here's an interesting quandary for proponents of dressing in daft outfits and chasing small furry animals across the countryside in packs in the interests of 'sport' and 'control' of the pest that foxes undoubtedly are: the government is planning to shoot itself in the foot once more with a cull of badgers in the interests of controlling bovine TB in cattle, a plan which is contentious in the extreme and one which I cannot claim any expertise on.

However, always one to venture an opinion, if the government is advocating shooting badgers to control them, why can't the same be done to control foxes, instead of the farce of the 'Jeremy', to take the Culture Secretary's name in vain?

Historical note: foxes are not native to Britain. They were introduced for hunting.

Monday, 11 July 2011


For anyone who believes (i) that markets know best and (ii) that nuclear power is the best option for a carbon free future, check out this article on the BBC News website which explains how an imperfect design for nuclear power generation has been favoured over potentially better and safer designs because of government pressure and a monopoly situation within that particular industry.

I cannot begin to go into details on this as my technical knowledge is at the level of a cave man when it comes to nuclear power so I recommend you read the article in which someone with the ability to explain the many possibilities for nuclear power generation is able to better enlighten you.

I'm negative towards nuclear power as it is so flawed but this article opens up the prospect that there are much better solutions within that particular area which should be considered. However, while a few large players dominate the deeply troubled nuclear market we will be left with a divide between the pro and anti lobbies. I remain anti but this article is highly intriguing.

Friday, 8 July 2011


What a pointless wretch Ed Miliband is. Faced with the biggest scandal to hit the media in this country since, well, the last one (David Kelly, Diana, yadayadayada), this is a golden opportunity for the leader of the opposition to actually get some coverage, yet his best throw of the dice has been to call for Dave to apologise for hiring Andy Coulson.

Now, I won't defend Dave and clearly his decision to hire an ex News of the World hack was a poor one but seriously, is this the best our opposition can do? Is there nothing to be said about the Murdoch empire? Or the hateful Rebekah Brooks? Or the pretty lamentable record of the News of the World for years, which can just be discerned through the crocodile tears over its closure?

The country needs robust opposition and that opposition needs intelligent leadership which is both critical and forward looking. And we have Eds Miliband and Balls - one showing ineptitude worthy of the John Major government, the other possibly the most cynical and unlikeable politician of his generation, tarnished by his association with last disastrous government.

Thank God Nickers has again come out against the Tories and their visceral hatred of Europe today. We may be in the government but we're still a better opposition than Labour.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


On the Today programme this morning I heard a sound that chilled the blood in my body. Boris Johnson, bumbling Mayor of London and supposed secret mastermind of Tory futures, was the latest 'rent-a-quote' lined up to lambast the News of the World and its deceitful leadership. During his self-righteous pronouncements Johnson used the trick beloved of public school educated leadership hopefuls in both the Tories and Labour - he dropped a few 't's at the end of words.

This practice, made famous by working class socialist Tony Blair, has been tried by David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Dave and countless other 'hopefuls' and it seems that Johnson is the latest in a short and undistinguished line of the desperate posh.

Its time to stock up on water, pasta, torches and candles. If BoJo becomes Tory leader - and potentially PM - we may as well all give up.

Monday, 4 July 2011


The publication of the report by economist Andrew Dilnot on social care which proposes a cap on contributions by older people is very welcome in bringing to the fore a huge issue which is ignored by most of us, quite reasonably because it doesn't affect us but which will be something we will all have to face in the future.

Doubtless Ed Milispoons will say the government is not going far enough and Ed Balls will say that this is what Labour planned all along. Tories will say we can't afford this. Lib Dems will hopefully welcome the report and say its a good starting point for discussions. The hope is that this does not become a political issue.

And I paused there to hoot with laughter and wipe away the tears running down my face...

We're generally getting older, we are mostly healthier for longer and the costs of social care have ballooned in the past two decades. The answer seems obvious to me

The pension age of 65 for men was set at a time when most men died well before this age. The social security system devised by the brilliant William Beveridge was meant to be supported by contributions from all of us. We've all just got to face up to working longer and expect the politicians to devise a system which can support us all in the future - a system which doesn't rely on private equity or offshore banks or PFI deals but a sensible, sustainable system which ignores the chaotic sophistry of private finance and relies on the common sense of, say, mutual principles or building societies, none of which failed during the financial crash.

If those politicians can't or won't, they should perhaps step aside and allow others to do it. And I'm not thinking about the hopeless Milispoons or the failed Balls. I rather like the idea of a committee of experts, perhaps elected for, say, 15 years to what we could call a 'second chamber' where they can set aside political ambition to allow them to do some thinking for a change and hopefully come up with a few answers to huge problems like social care.

I really don't live in the real world, do I?