Check the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail. David Cameron has had his bike nicked. If this is in fact the case then commiserations to him and a special place in hell to the evil tosspots who did it. Bicycle theft is never going to be the top of the police list of priorities but I think it is really serious. People who have their bikes nicked often revert to other forms of transport which have seriously bad effects on their own health and that of others as well as the environmental aspects.

Anyway i’m not sure that David Cameron’s little tale of living like us rings true. Call it a hunch if you like but I think there is a chance that some or all of this could be a set up. I think the following questions need answering.

Who was the reader of the London Evening Standard who took the photo of David Cameron?

When was the photo taken? Was it staged later?

Mr Cameron said that he reported it to the police. If he did what was the crime incident number that the police would have given him ?

How did that photo end up in the press? Did the reader send it in or was it a Tory press operation?

What kind of idiot locks their bike up to a 2ft bollard? Did he mean for the bicycle to get nicked?

Who “nicked” the bike? Was it bicycle nicking evil scum or was it a tory operative?

Who was the shop worker quoted in the Evening Standard story? was the quote just made up?

If he reported it using the police online facility who was he on the phone to when the picture was taken?

How Much!

7 July, 2008

The best part of £700 million down the swannie on road builders who can’t contain their costs and a roll over tax payer who bails them out for a tummy tickle. I think democracy and elections do make a significant differance. People do get choice in how they are governed. That is apart from the Department of Transport who are a front company for the roads lobby.

The following excerpt is an arguement of such stupidity that this blog cannot be held responsible if it rots your brain

However, a lengthy report into Britain’s transport has argued that the country needs at least 500km-850km of extra lanes on motorways and A-roads by 2025, even with a national road pricing scheme. Motoring organisations also argue that it is unrealistic to clamp down on road construction when car and lorry journeys account for 80% of distance travelled.

If we have learnt anything on transport policy in the last 30 years it is this: if you build more roads and keep the cost of motoring relatively low they will fill up with more traffic and in a few years we will back in exactly the same place we were to begin with.

The solution: massive investment in rail particularly high speed rail that every other significant european seems to manage, safe cycle routes that makes the dutch green with envy, loads of buses and variable national road pricing. If we do that the well enough the share of travel on the roads will fall under 50% which would be the biggest change since WWII. All that’s needed is a pile of cash and some political guile. So how about it Tom ?

We love you, your fabulous, we’re so happy you got over the doctors and the Tories trying to strangle you at birth. 

Incidently Nye Bevan was the youngest minister in the Labour cabinet at the age of 47, today the average age is somewhere around twelve but then they had a very different media to what we have today and less opportunities to become professional politicians straight out of university.

There was a piece by RenterGirl in the Guardian today which made me check her blog. Anyway it got me thinking about what we should be doing to stuff the new Rackmanites. How about the following for starters:

  • Minimum of a years notice unless there’s a court order re: anti social behaviour
  • A Decent Homes standard for the private sector with vigorous enforcement 
  • Rent increases no more than average wage inflation
  • Tenants to be able to redecorate
  • Compensation if services like central heating aren’t repaired quickly

Jesse Helms

4 July, 2008

Another dinosaur is now extinct.

Quite sad this but how on earth did this women become a MP ?

I bet there has not been a single MP in the House of Commons who hasn’t at some point wanted to do a Clelland and tell a constituent where to get off. Personally I really don’t have any sympathy with MP’s who do this kind of thing. Really they should be above this even if they are having a bad day.

There are however interesting challanges as to how the MP-constituent relationship can be developed and deepend. Presently constituents may see them in the media, may if there lucky get a leaflet on a sort of regular basis, be canvassed though that is turning into a minority sport or they can email or write to the member.

There are problems with this arrangement. The information that gets conveyed from voters to the MP primarily comes from the agitated about a particular issue or a small section of the electorate that will contact a politician at a drop of a hat. Frankly there is nothing wrong in this, its how democracy actually happens but there are things that can be done to improve the MP-constituent relationship.

MP’s need to be more interested in the opinions of people who don’t often contact Members of Parliament. I think the best way to do this is for local parties with Members of Parliament to collect email addresses from as many contituents as possible and if they consent they can be emailed a very short survey every once in a while. Over time this enables constituents to tell MP’s how they feel about issues and it enables MP’s to build up a picture of the electorate.

For example an MP may have asked questions about environmental issues. Before an election they can interogate the database to find out which constituents actually care about the issue, they can then send them an email or direct mail setting out how they worked to represent them.

The benefits of this approach are that Members of Parliament will be much more sophisticated in what they know about their constituents, be able to better represent them and communicate with them about issues they care about rather than things they don’t. The costs are getting a database which can be an open source one, paranoia about data security, making sure that the party collects emails during campaigning and a little time and effort. All in all it’s only the IT illiteracy of most MP’s that holds them back.

 

Skipper has got a piece up about african leaders, well worth a gander. There are 46 countries in Africa and some are run better than others but the African response the events in Zimbabwe has been totally, totally pathetic.

On another note in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs there is a great article on the Congo by Severine Autesserre. It’s about how local disputes in the Congo have fuelled a conflict that has engulfed much of central Africa and makes the Sudan situation look like a tea party. With 3,300,000 dead from the conflict which ended in 2003 and deaths now running at 1000 per day from malnutrition and disease the Congo has to be one of the worst hell holes that humanity has ever fallen into. Answers on a post card as to why we get to hear about the goings on of Amy Winehouse in ever increasing detail and nothing about one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes since WWII?

Is the BBC a Turkey?

1 July, 2008

There are major things going on in Turkey at the moment. Lets not forget Turkish admittance to the EU is a contentious and important issue and it’s a significant country in its own right. So what are the chances of the BBC covering these important developments? Answer considerably less than the chance of covering a pissed Swedish pensioners journey home from the pub. Not impressed.