Archive for May 16th, 2008

Politicians are hazardous to your health.

I think there should be a government health warning on every utterance made by a politician. However, last night I was invited to attend a “Bruges Group” meeting where I was fortunate to hear Douglas Carswell MP speak, and unfortunate to hear Frederick Forsyth ramble on.

This may seem a little unkind as Freddie is quite a nice chap but he does have this bee in his bonnet about the UKIP and how a vote for UKIP lets in Labour. Now I am no longer connected with UKIP and don’t vote for them any more. However, the way FF goes on, I am almost persuaded to vote for them next time around! Freddie has no idea of the British tradition of winning the hearts and minds of people. And he certainly doesn’t understand that UKIP party members don’t care whether Labour, the Lib-Dems, the Conservatives, or Uncle Cobley get in. They are only interested in building up their party. Freddie was wrong in his assumption that UKIP only consisted of ex-Conservatives. How dare he assume that only Conservatives have patriots in their party.

We did learn from him that if the Lisburn Treaty goes ahead – only the Irish seem to be having a referendum – then this gives power to the Commissioners to introduce any legislation they wish in the future without the need for further treaties (which means further permission) by member states.

I think that it is time for Frederick Forsyth to hang up his speaking hat before he starts to alienate his public.

I then had the pleasure of listening to Douglas Carswell MP (Harwich) speak. He is young and vibrant, and has only been an MP for three years; he has some really good ideas and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he was a Libertarian – of whom we need more in the Conservative party. You can see where you really stand by doing the world’s smallest political quiz – although only ten questions to answer, you need to study each one carefully and think about the implications.

Douglas told us that Britain had become a Quango state and that most of the rules were made by unelected people. This is something my friends have heard me say for years. And the people who make the laws are not just Quango members. These are people who decide on who leads the parties, and who wins an election. We only pay lip service to democracy in this country and I am glad we now have the occasional MP who has worked this out for himself.

Douglas also queried Freddy’s assumption that so many of the new MPs are anti-EU. He says the constituencies mostly try to choose pro-EU newcomers as this is what is wanted “way up high” . One idea of Douglas to counteract this pressure, which I thought was very imaginative, is that the Conservatives should take a lesson from the American format and have primaries, not necessarily to elect a leader, but to actually elect the MP in each constituency.

This would mean that as many candidates who wanted to stand could and, over a period of a few months, and many speeches, conservative members could quiz and learn just what type of candidate each of them were. One of the reasons why 40% of people no longer vote in this country is that they know nothing changes. An idea such as this would stir the hearts and imagination of Conservative ex-voters. But I think he is pixxx whistling in the wind as the party machine would be appalled at such independence and democracy. Keep trying Douglas, try and wear them down.

One of the questions afterwards to Freddy was that he was wrong about UKIP, and that the leader of UKIP had said that if any Conservative would sign a pledge to support the “Better off out” campaign, UKIP would not field a candidate opposite and would also campaign to get that Tory MP out.” Freddie said such a pledge was unrealistic and it should have been enough for the MP just to say he supported not staying in the EU in principle only. The audience laughed long and hard at such naivety.

It was an interesting meeting and I enjoyed the odd glass of wine afterwards and met up with two people I knew from the past (Linda Jenkins who wrote “Britain Held Hostage” and other books, and Tony Scholefield who I met at UKIP NEC meetings many years ago).


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We take it for granted.

I purchased an item on eBay recently. It was for a charger for one of my many gadgets – and they sent the wrong one.

Back in the old days I would have spent hours on the phone, describing exactly what they sent and even then have someone the other end thinking I was stupid and just didn’t understand whether I had the right thing or not. Now, I whipped out my digital Camera, photographed the plug showing clearly the top of the mains end and the other “gadget in” end in the same photograph. Transfer into my computer, a quick snip so that the background was eliminated, a press of a button and the photo was attached to a new email and whisked off to the the supplier. All within a minute or so. Half an hour later a email back saying new one in the post, apologies, and that a reply paid label would accompany the new goods for me to return.

Sometimes we are watching a film on TV and my wife would ask, who is that actor? A short conversation would ensure and we would remember another film the actor was in. Onto the Internet to The International Movie Database and I would type in the film we remembered the actor to have been in. A quick look at the cast would normally trigger a name, but if not we would compare the cast list with the one we were watching and come up with a solution. The other night we saw a film and I recognised an actress who was in the Zoo Game, a quick check in and yes, it was Lili Palmer.

Since I discovered “Google Reader” I have stopped watching the news all that much on TV – now just lunchtimes. I am a political animal and with Google Reader I have all the news that interests me come straight to my desk. I never have to go and search for it. That, and the very useful “Google News” keeps me abreast of the world, the IT world which is of interest, my political world and any other interests I may have at the time. It is up to me, on a day by day basis, to decide what is of interest to me.

I am rapidly approaching 69 so should be able to remember life before the Internet. But, you know, it is not so easy. It just shows how used to, and dependent of, something we can be.

Those who know me personally may remember something I said in the late seventies, not long after the Commodore PET, the Apple 2e and the Tandy 80 came out. I said “This electronic revolution is going to be different to the industrial revolution as it will fire up people’s imaginations much more. Unlike the industrial revolution this one will never settle down.” And I have certainly been proved right.

I think we made a wrong decision after WW2 in that we tried to match the Americans with their huge factories and mass manufacturing. The children of our artisans and craftsmen wanted immediate money and went to work in the factories so, for a time, our crafts were starved of talent. However, I am a firm believer that Mrs Thatcher may yet be proved right in closing down non-performing industries and promoting the smaller new industries.

And now the dependants of those fantastic craftsmen are back, as system analysts and programmers, making computers sing for us. Take America for example. We can’t match them for their products for home and business PCs but our craftsmen in this industry are sought after all over the world. But the sort of software they produce fit into aircraft that fly close to the ground at a thousand miles an hour. I am not too sure of the following and I have searched – there is a story going around that the Pentagon had a rule that only Americans could work there, but they had it changed so they could employ British computer programmers.

More of a ramble today, rather than a rant. But at least I am not talking about Linux 🙂


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