Category Archives: Society

Snouts in the trough

Derek Conway is a throwback to the Tony’s who oozed round Westminster in the twilight of John Major’s time at No. 10. Self interested and sleezy. Sadly, he has offered little and left politics with any fragment of its credibility – and there’s not much left – removed. But at least he’s been stripped of the whip and forced to stand down at the next election. Good riddance.

In recent months sleeze and snouts-in-the-trough has been a Labour speciality. Blair encouraged it by his refusal to force disgraced ministers from David Blunkett to Steve Byers to Peter Mandelson out. At least Peter Hain quit on his own, but the reality is that he had run out of friends, not that he had many in the first place according to Westminster insiders. His excuses even before the matter of donations received by him was referred to the police lacked any credibility.

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David Wilshire – below the radar but still milking the electorate

There’s no shortage of stories about MPs taking the electorate for a financial ride at the moment, but just below the parapet are those who have not claimed for anything absurd and who, legally, are squeaky clean. Their moral position is, however, less secure.

Everyone should take a look at their local MP and see what he or she has been up to. To pick on one randomly, just look at David Wilshire, the Tory MP for Spelthorne, on the Surrey/London border. A time-serving backbencher, he has achieved little in terms of career (which is probably better for his constituents) although proved an adequate local representative.  His various records for presenting questions and speaking are below average. He is on no select committees.

But despite representing a borough within 45 minutes of Westminster by train (which many of his constituents use to commute) he annually claims the maximum of £23,000 for his second home.  His annual costs are higher than any other MP in Surrey.

Wilshire has three homes. One in Spelthorne, another in Westminster and a third in Somerset. That’s his right, but why on earth should we pay for him to do so, and then also pay more than £7000 a year for him in travel costs?

Last year, career politician Wilshire cost voters more than £160,000 on top of his generous salary. His majority is safe, although slipping, and, like many other MPs across the country, he probably thinks that means he doesn’t have to worry about a few disgruntled voters.

So far he has not commented, presumably because, like so many of his colleagues, he sees no reason to have to explain anything to the ordinary voter. But come the next election, the likes of Wilshire will come under the spotlight and his silence will no longer be tolerated. Unless he can come up with some good explanations, he and his kind might find themselves with three homes but no job.

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Police … tough on (soft) crime

The police in the Uk have a reputation for wasting time on soft targets, and this story from the BBC highlights why people are so fed up.

Police have interviewed Dennis McHugh, the contestant ejected from Channel 4’s Big Brother show for allegedly spitting in the face of a fellow housemate. He was questioned under caution but no further action will be taken for now.

So, next time you wonder why you can’t get your local police to sort out petty crime or investigate that burglary, you know why. They are probably all watching TV for an easy job to plough their time and effort into.

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The militant dark side of the RSPCA

The RSPCA enjoys a cuddly, caring image, aided by being able to use cute and distressed pets in its endless TV and press advertisements, which ensures that it receives a steady flow of income from donations and legacies.

But behind that image, the organisation has a less pleasant edge. What it is less keen to make public are the activities of a hard core of its staff who abuse their positions of trust to wage vendettas, often motivated by their political extremism, and are willing to lie and perjure to achieve their ends.

Dig under the surface and you will be surprised at what you find. The sadness is that the majority of the people who are involved with the RSPCA are decent and motivated by all the right reasons.

But the political element are the reason that people should ask questions before handing over their cash.

Click here and here and here to see what we are talking about. It doesn’t make happy reading.

Things have got so bad that there is now even a self-help group for those who have fallen foul of the RSPCA’s inspectors.

And, for a different perspective but an equally frustrating one, check out this article in <I>The Times</I>.

“But now the RSPCA, in its joylessness, is telling schools that they can no longer have pets. Research by the charity has found that a quarter of schools own pets, ranging from a hermit crab to a horse. Hurrah! A small piece of chaos, of life, amid the regimented drilling that we call school.

“Not for much longer – the RSPCA believes there is a danger that the kids might be too noisy, or the lighting conditions could be wrong, and that the classroom pet may receive variable care from different families at evenings or weekends.”

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Max Mosley – the shabby face of F1

So Max Mosley has survived a vote of no confidence and, despite a predilection for prostitutes and some unsavoury role playing while with them, he continues to be in charge of Formula One.

Mosley seems to genuinely believe that he has done nothing wrong and the (all-male) people that could have removed him agree. Clearly, having shredded morals is no obstacle to being the public support. Even Bernie Ecclestone realised that Mosley’s position had become an embarrassment.

But Oswald’s son continues. He won’t be able to attend some races because those staging them are appalled by his antics and the message it sends out. Hopefully, some of the advertisers who pay through the nose for the tiniest branding on the cars will say enough is enough. Only then might the self-interested idiots that run the sport sit up and take notice.

Anyhow, make your own mind up.

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Bad teeth – the new British disease

At the end of last week my five-year-old daughter had to go to hospital to have a hyperplastic back tooth removed. The service she received from the NHS was superb. While there we chatted with a nurse who said that the number of children having teeth removed because of bog standard decay was on the rise. She cited an example of a four-year-old boy who the week before had all his baby teeth removed. The reason? Too much sugar and no cleaning. The mother shrugged and said it didn’t really matter. The child faces two years eating on gums before his proper teeth start coming through. What odds on those being cared for?

While waiting for the procedure to finish, I came across this remarkable article in the Daily Telegraph highlighted a major national problem.

A survey by Mori for the Citizens Advice Bureau this week found that seven and a half million Britons have failed to gain access to an NHS dentist in the past two years. In one quarter of the country, no NHS dentists are allowing new patients to join their lists. And despite government targets that every child should have his teeth seen by an expert every year, more than one in three children never see an NHS dentist.

A Wiltshire toothache sufferer who told the Citizens Advice Bureau that he now takes out many of his teeth in his shed – with pliers. More than one in 20 have said they resort to DIY surgery

How come we have an NHS that has to treat people who drink or eat too much, regardless, and yet when it comes to dental care it’s down to how much money you have and where you live?

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Britain … Europe’s banana republic

The mess that is the Kenyan elections has led to puffing and posturing inside the UK but people chose to ignore the complete hypocrisy of a country whose own elections are so tainted that after the 2005 general election some regions were labelled no better than a banana republic.

Consider this. In 2005 Labour won 36% of the vote to the Conservatives 33%. The number of seats that produced were 355 to 198. In the next election the Conservatives will need to gain between 8 and 10% more of the votes cast to even get a one-seat majority. The reason is largely because the system is so skewed towards Labour, with it occupying much smaller inner-city constituencies, as well as seats in over-represented Scotland and Wales. Each Conservative seat took 100,000 votes to win in 2005; each Labour seat 45,000.

Add into that widespread corruption with postal voting, and who the hell are we to lecture anyone about democracy.

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