Am I being naïve?

When I question so much of what is being dictated to us by government, and by industry. Harriet Harman, on a television interview, was praising the fact that the Labour Party now has as many women in the Cabinet as there were men. I can’t see the logic of this. Equality under these circumstances is nothing to do with the sex of the people involved. It is their experience, their ability and their wisdom that is important, not the fact that they’re there to make up the numbers. When I worked as an engineer every year I would get graduates coming from the University to join my group. These young men had been trained to design some of the most advanced structures, I suspect because the lecturers were tired of the same old grind. The problem was that these young men were not trained in the basics and that is what I had to do. I therefore question whether the younger MPs. with their shining degrees in Political Science have sufficient experience to warrant a seat on the Front Bench.

It’s only a couple of years ago that we were being lambasted on every side to save the world, and some of the requirements that were placed upon us in order to do so, were nothing short of ridiculous. Now it seems, that the world has got to look after itself. But it is still being mismanaged by industry. In Northern Ireland we have a county which is well known for its production of fine apples, and yet we in NI are importing apples by air from New Zealand thus using up our fossil fuels. By the same token, how long is it since you had a tomato that really tasted like a proper tomato, grown in this country picked and sold once it was still in its prime, instead of imported rubbish as hard as a stone? Also it is bad before it has ever ripened. I would have thought that we could have had tunnel culture in some of the set-aside land to bring on tomatoes which are essential for our diet, and our pleasure. Surely with the financial situation that we have, I would have thought that we can be very much as we were away back after the last war ,when everything was grown at home, you got it at the right time in the season and it was fresh, and what is more it was cheap. I’m not an economist, but I just don’t understand why stuff that we can produce in this country is being brought in from abroad, in a lot of instances by air.

My generation, and the one following me will remember the Buy British Caption that was on practically everything after WW2, to help bolster our economy and it worked. Today we are importing stuff from abroad, probably made by cheap labour, with the result that the standard shops that we used to rely on can no longer compete and we’re getting the modern version of Woolworths, in every supermarket. The supermarket did away with the family grocer, and now the same thing is happening with the shops that sell the items that we only buy rarely. We are no longer having choice, which we had in the old days going from shop to shop, our taste is limited to what the supermarkets decide they are going to offer. It is our fault, we chose to shop in the Supermarket, in preference to the old-fashioned privately owned shops. So now we all dress alike, and a lot of us eat alike, and I suggest that this latter is why obesity is becoming a problem.

We used to be able to buy things like rice in large packets that were virtually anonymous. Now if you want to buy rice, it comes in a tiny bag, which has printing on every facet, telling you the nutritional values. how to make this that and the other, and we’re paying for this little tiny packet that will only provide two meals for four, so we are having to shop more regularly at the behest of the supermarket.

When I was a boy running errands, I found that the shopkeeper in our local grocer’s stocked things that my mother bought regularly and as a result other people tried them when they saw them on the shelf. Today you can’t be sure that the supermarket will continue to stock something that you like, if it is not sufficiently popular it will disappear from the shelf.

The Pru-Man Looms

What I say here, is nothing new to most of us, but I feel that it has to be said again because you see so little movement in government thinking that gives one any hope, not for ourselves, but the younger generations that are coming up, and are still in school at this time. After all it’s our responsibility that they don’t have to undertake some horrendous burden.

Anyone under 75, will not remember the Pru-Man. He was part of the financial landscape in the 20s and 30s, looking after the benefits of the working class and the lower-middle-class. In those days pensions were unheard-of as a benefit, and this did not happen until after the Second World War, along with the introduction of the health service.

The Pru-Man cycled round working-class and lower middle-class districts, on a huge bicycle, with a carrier at the back which held his raincoat and a book. He took several different forms, but was hailed basically, especially by children answering the front door, by the same term. He was collecting savings house by house, for various purposes. The amounts of these contributions could vary from six pence, to just a few shillings. With his thick book, the page held by a thick rubber band, he would labouriously write in the contribution.

It must be remembered that these people who were contributing, were almost certainly on a weekly wage, and accepting the circumstances that it wasn’t so long since the First World War had brought a low-level of status to the country, anybody who was at all frugal, saved as much as they could for a rainy day, and the future. One of the contributions was inevitably for a burial fund. Another was for the HSA, the Hospital Savings Association. There was no such thing in those days as free medical help, unless it was as a result of an accident either in the home, at work or on the roads. I was treated twice under these terms. Doctors bills were excessively high when the basic income was only £3 a week, and it cost seven shillings and sixpence per visit to the doctor’. There may have been pensions in private companies, but for the general working man he had to take care of that himself, and in consequence these men who called at the door from another company like the Prudential, were collecting a steady increase in savings against the day when these men could not support their families due to old age or infirmity. As far as I know, there was no cut-off age like 60 or 65, you worked till you dropped.

At the end of WW2 the Labour Party which was in power, introduced pensions which were contributory by both the worker and the employer, and the Health Service as we know it. Some would say that had the health service had a cut-off level at which new procedures were within the prerogative of private medicine, the increase year-on-year of the cost of the health service, due to progress in medicine, would not have arrived at a point that it is today. Obviously when some procedures were improved then that improvement would have been included in the system, but larger ranging procedures might have to have had subsidy by the patient.

We are now in a situation where unemployment is staggeringly high, and those who have been made unemployed are losing their employment pension rights for the periods when they are unemployed, in consequence in not too far in the future there will be lot of people trying to get on in their old age without sufficient income. Like today, the old-age pension will be inadequate for even comfortable living. It is manufacturing and export which maintains the financial basis on which a country thrives. If you’ve nothing to sell, you can’t buy abroad forever, without building enormous debts

.With respect to dealings with building societies, stocks and shares, and insurances companies, it is my experience that takeovers leave the individual unable to decide whether he has got the deal he expected, or has lost out. Some of us are a little doubtful about the dealings of insurance companies when it comes to making a claim,. In the old days. before the last war, if you joined a given company that was the company you stayed with forever if you were satisfied.

Today with dealings on the stock exchange you can discover that the company, and even the bank you thought you were with. is one that you would not chose dealing with under any circumstances. Who amongst us thinks it is necessary to research every holding that they have, but today it seems necessary, the reason that I write this is because I wonder how much we can rely over our lifetime that our savings will be safe if we take out a pension system, and are sure that it will not be taken over by a foreign company who themselves will be demanding that you pay income tax not only here, but in the foreign country as is happening to me. I think there is only one way to be sure of having a pension that you can rely on and that is by contributions made to a civil service run bank, not under any circumstances, the run-of-the-mill banks. The days of rogue traders should be over.

Is Sleight of Hand Deceiving the Eye yet again?

Take for example, the fuss about North Korea and Iran having nuclear facilities, and making bombs. Is Bush right to create a fuss? Really, just stop and think for a minute. Can you imagine any state, nowhere near the size of the US, Russia, or China, becoming a nuclear aggressor? They’d be wiped out – any one of the others similarly, would immediately get their come-uppence – for my money, this whole business is sabre rattling, unnecessarily and for another reason entirely, as everything international seems to be today.

I am firmly convinced that the entrapment of the naval boats had more to do with internal politics in Iran, than it had to do with presupposed aggressive actions by the Royal Navy.

You can’t turn on the television today, or the radio, without being deluged by a whole variety of statistics, examples, theory and counter theory, concerning Global Warming. I have already dealt with this, but I must return to it, because the attitude of the government, even the EU, is so at variance with the true facts to be laughable if it was not so damned expensive and serious. When we hear of this factory in Russia making converters and polluting not only the whole atmosphere but the whole area surrounding it, that other huge countries are putting forward counter reasons and statistics to demonstrate why their policy is perfectly adequate, surely we should reassess our position.. There is no shadow of doubt that there is a bandwagon on which all the media has climbed, – one suspects because there is no other news, – making claims which are clearly unproven, or are only to be expected, and yet put forward as a reason why we, the Brits, should pull in our belts, pay that much more in taxes, and have to buy cars that we don’t really want, and will make very little difference to the environment, .taken on a global calculation in the long run.

Get Real. Get a level playing field. All of us realise that there’s quite a lot of truth in some of the scientific proof which is being offered at the present time, we only have to look at our lawns in the summer, Definitely, steps should be taken even before the whole matter has been totally proven, to do something about global warming. But these should be done on a per capita basis, an ability to pay nationally, true analysis, so as to provide what one would expect to be a fair distribution, throughout the world, of remedies, jacked up universally, as and when more concrete proof is forthcoming. This ‘lead the world’, knee-jerk reaction, of our incompetent government, is leading us nowhere likely to have any effect on the problem, merely painting a pretty picture of how righteous our government is, at the expense of the rest of us. Actually I forgot to mention, the Government is skint, broke, the coffers are empty.

The New Party, Concluded.

From the stats it would appear that the subject is popular but not the flavour of the month, but having started it I must complete it. I propose to set out the structure and the reasoning behind the structure of the nucleus and the outposts. The purpose of this exercise is to regenerate political awareness, get rid of apathy, and to give back to the man in the street a political voice. By the nature of things it will have to start as a ginger group, using independent politicians as a means of stirring the government and drawing attention not only to the ills it is hoping to eradicate, but also any successes it might achieve.

To start with we need a Selector, a man or a woman, educated, highly intelligent, liberal, politically minded, and a member of the House of Lords – a young Shirley Williams would be an ideal selector. The purpose of the selector is to enrole the first layer of the nucleus. The nucleus is intended to be divided into a series of functions, such as law and order, health and welfare, social services, the police and the penal system, education, commerce, etc, and international relations. The latter is not a substitute for the foreign office. In a supervisory role will be the Director, a person who has had considerable experience in retailing and pulling companies out of trouble. He or she will have a sound knowledge of public relations and will oversee the second layer, the people responsible for those sections of the nucleus mentioned above, some of which could be amalgamated. The director coupled with the selector will persuade suitable people to lead these groups, and the variety of professions encompassed, will add to the competence of the nucleus. It is not intended that these people would receive more than nominal retainers plus expenses, and care should be taken to ensure they have no strong political affiliations. The siting of the individuals of the nucleus is unimportant as the work would be carried out on the Internet.

The backup staff would be in two categories, the analytical core and the outposts. The analytical core would be made up of professionals such as IT, analysts, a librarian, and those who understand the needs, can keep track, record and save the flow of information between the core and the outposts in each particular. The outposts will be manned by volunteers pure and simple, selected for their energy and ability rather than any specific training, collecting information either spontaneously or at the behest of the core, and passing it back to the nucleus for analysis and priority.

If this proposal is to be a success, publicity and media interest are cessential and so contact with local press and national media would be essential. This would require the assistance of someone well versed in this field of activity. Canvassing for information and assistance would be a suitable tool to advertise not only the project, but its aims and breadth.

The trial period. Unless the documentation and general management framework are sound, information collection, storage, extraction and correlation would be a nightmare. It is therefore necessary to have a trial period in which the gremlins and the unforeseen problems can be identified and rectified. The area for the trial period must have all the elements found in the United Kingdom on a smaller scale. The trial period itself does not have to be a full dress rehearsal it will be sufficient to take, say, four elements and deal with them in exactly the same way as is proposed for all the elements. As it is a trial there is no need for the electorate to appreciate what is going on, especially if there are likely to be errors. No one county in Britain would fulfil the requirement, and so it would appear that Scotland would be ideal, it has the full range of commerce, large cities with their inherent problems, rural areas and a thriving tourist industry. Due to the secrecy the collection of information might be slightly different from that for the final operation, but it will be adequate for a verisimilitude.

The transition from a ginger group to a National Party must be exponential if it is to retain the public interest. It would involve tremendous energy, shrewd manipulation, and a close relationship with the electorate, and the media. Initially independent politicians would be recruited on a lobbyist basis, to help promote the views, without actually forming a party. Once the numbers of those wishing to partake had reached a suitable level the
party would then declare itself

While I naturally have great belief in this proposal, I think it unlikely that it will ever get off the ground, but my philosophy has always been ‘never in, never win.’

The New Party, New Politics

Some could say that I am naive. So be it. But, if it is thought there is even a grain of truth in the idea, and something is done about it, it will be worthwhile. This follows the piece I did on the 29th of March, concerning Trust, the Nucleus, the birth of a new party and the reason for it. Here I set out the reason why I believe the total overhaul of our political system is essential, and logically try to show how this might be achieved. I am a layman, without real political experience, most of us are, yet we repeatedly rail against the current system. From 1970 the teeth of Local Government were steadily extracted, with the result our influence is weakened. I submit that if corruption or mismanagement is a worry, it will come to light quicker and be less destructive in a council than in a National organisation. Hence pressure for improvement will be more effective at local level than Nation wide. If this submission is accepted, the New Party must have influence, a strong input at local level, which is where the Nucleus and Radial system comes into its own as it is based on National policy resulting from collected local research. Sophie says it is too idealistic – I say if you shoot for the stars you might hit the moon

If a new approach is broached, people ask ‘where would one get sufficient people of sufficient quality?’ In the past few had university degrees in politics, they came up the hard way or were, born into it. Now being a politician is the aim of many young people, possibly for the wrong reasons. We need people of great talent, with political bent, retiring early from a profession, or commerce, with sufficient experience of life, and know-how to succeed in another profession. At 58 having had enough of doing roughly the same thing month after month, I took early retirement. In a new profession in a different field I qualified jointly to receive a British Design Award. I quote this, not to boast, but because I sincerely believe that there is a tremendous amount of wasted talent among the younger members of our retired population. I therefore suggest that some who have a strong interest in politics as a hobby, possibly working for a local party, long before retirement, should do part-time degrees in politics, through the Internet or the open University, as that would give us a pool to draw from.

I believe the reason we need this change is paramount because the current political scene has insufficient contrast to get any real choice. The real priorities are not being addressed, lip service, and band wagons, are taking the place of what really needs to be done. The Green Party, apart from wetlands and other worthy but minor aspects, has been usurped by all the rest of the parties when it comes to green issues. However, as I have repeatedly said, the green issue is not the important issue here in Britain all the time the major populations, China, Russia, Eastern Europe and the rest, are belching out smog and CO2 – some of it on our behalf. Our major issues are prisons, and all the other neglected services. We have got our priorities wrong, and this is why I suggested that the process of obtaining a new party which would address this imbalance, could be started with the Radial System I proposed, feeding to and from the Nucleus, to give priority to the most urgent reparations needed and thus build a valid and sensible opposition bent on improvement rather than rhetoric and theatre – an open system the electorate can be involved in, contribute to and criticise,

It won’t happen over night, it will take a lot of dedicated work, and a tremendous amount of logical, careful thought, not knee jerk reactions or winging it with a prayer. We still have the House of Lords, in which there is a good deal of political experience, and that is probably why the current government want shot of it. But I don’t think it likely that we’ll be able to rely much longer on it, in the way we have in the past, to curb some of the excesses of the House of Commons, We just have to hope that not too much damage will be done in the meantime and pray that the system will somehow be regulated and that we will be governed with less change for change’s sake, and more respect for the real priorities and the Public Purse.

The populace is not apolitical, only apathetic through frustration and political impotence. If a government is totally secure, has the whip hand, then the electorate is bound to be apathetic, and frustrated, especially when any choice appears to be more of the same, in lesser doses. So a totally new approach, spelled out to the electorate so that they understand precisely what is happening might succeed. Even more so if they have the opportunity to engage in some form of relationship with the Termini of the Radial System, and are asked to contribute their views and even take part. Under these circumstances we might generate a much needed revised political awareness, with a more circumspect approach to grass root need rather than the flavour of the month.

Trust, A New Party, Character Assassination

Trust. From birth, our whole outlook, reactions and decision-making, no matter how simple or complicated, is dependent upon trust. Until 1939, trust was almost implicit in everything we did. If you found a purse you took it to the police station; overcharging was a rarity and houses were rarely locked through the day. Whether right or not, we trusted our politicians, or most of us did, and we were rewarded by the occasional resignation for some breach of the code for the House of Commons, that to us lay men, seemed excessive and unwarranted in many cases. Now in business, on the Internet, in the home, in fact in every aspect of our lives we cannot afford to be trusting. Old people, young people, all of us, risk being battered for some trumpery item or a handful of cash. It doesn’t stop there, dealing with people today, often remotely, you’re never quite sure whether you will be dealt with fairly, or even honestly. Get out clauses, which seem to be designed for a one-way street, are now common. This lack of trust, this cynical expectation of being diddled, is rampant at all levels of society, except with the totally naive. And now this lack of faith is paramount on a political level, because a proportion of those who should be dedicated to our welfare, are more interested in their career prospects than the truth of the matter. How often has one heard excuses or half truths. Trust is the cement which holds society together, In the last decades it has withered. Why?

Self-Help – A New Party Political policy has become pragmatic and distant, ‘what wins votes is in the manifesto’ irrespective if it is an improvement or not, which of course is then sidetracked. The actual needs of the Majority seem to be secondary, witness NHS Dentristry, and all the other ills now expressed daily on TV and in the Press, The majority is becoming poorer and less advantaged instead of better off. Our Politicians are now more obsessed with ‘Leading the World’ than serving the electorate.

It behoves those with the knowledge and dedication, the artisans and the professionals, to reawaken the old fashioned Ginger Group, a tool of the past, to bring politicians to heel. Working from a managing and analytical Nucleus, into groups throughout the Realm, reassessing needs, mismanagement, corruption if it exists, and waste, should all be highlighted, channelled back and forth, until the extent of and solutions to the problems, nation wide can be assessed and those ills reaching unacceptable levels raised at Parliament level. The obvious outcome of such a system would be a new Parliamentary Party rising from the ranks of this analytical association, independent candidates and those disillusioned. They must simplify, not centralise government, act as a watchdog, with strong responsibilities to the electorate instead of steamrollering it. The Nucleus would be the conscience of the party, and if the party came to power, it would not be the government, but would retain its role of critical analysis and contact with the electorate. We need something! Westminster has totally changed in the way politics are run. It used to be confrontational for a reason, now it is theatre, with all the puppets having the same script, written by the puppet master.

Character Assassination To evaluate a writer’s views and bias on a given project, is essential to assess how much credence one can place on what is written. .I am careful to give a thumbnail autobiography, to provide a fair idea of my biases, which I do my best to keep in check. On a recent TV programme, a journalist gave a biography of David Cameron, from his antecedents right up until today. It seemed very harsh whether factual or not. Without knowing about the journalist, I had no idea of the bias, or alternatively, perhaps someone employed him. There must have been a reason for this analysis of someone adjudged good enough by his peers to be the leader of a party

One aspect I feel strongly about, is the fact that all parties have a number of advisers dealing with every aspect of political doctrine and management, people rarely members of the House of Commons, who have no mandate, no tangible responsibilities for their actions other than the sack. They seem to hold tremendous sway when it comes to National policy, lawmaking and implementation. This whole agenda seems to be in line with the current trend that no one in the House of Commons can be brought to book for flagrant breaches of the code of the House, as I understand it to be from past examples, they should be the norm. So much is at stake. In effect, who can one trust implicitly, who is to be believed?

Illogical Hypocricy

I take exception to the illogicality of our Government’s Climate Change Bill,when presented with the fact that we are now using the very outlets that we are complaining of, concerning climate change, to create carbon emissions on our behalf to supply us with the goods we purchase. This is fatuous! As a nation, with only 0.6 % of the world’s population, in a physically small country, consequently reducing travel distances, with a reasonably low standard of emissions already, it beggars reason to even consider that the policies that the government is proposing are likely to make any significant difference in the rate of change, when placed against the recalcitrant attitudes inherent in the more populated and larger countries for the foreseeable future. Now is not the time.

I believe that this Bill is a purposeful distraction, because no intelligent person could put it forward with any moral logic. I fear with all the depression in stock markets throughout the world, with our immense debt, and our reliance on the stock market to stay afloat, that on top of our current tax burden, this latest proposal will not only produce hardship intrinsically, but could tip the scales to national financial ruin. In the light of our failing infrastructure, child illiteracy, overburdened penal system and other shortfalls, the money could be better spent on these deficiencies.

I believe that if ever there was a case for a referendum, this is it.

More Rubbish About Rubbish

On the ninth of October last, I wrote an article about rubbish. Unfortunately I feel I have to make some further points more strongly, because the Local Authorities in conjunction with the Government are still intending to further charge us for collecting our rubbish. They are using the current, excessive amounts being put out for collection as a case in point, without due regard that during the Christmas period people were given large quantities of packaging, which inevitably had to be disposed of, and that there was also a change in the collection routine.

When a fair proportion of the population is spending in excess of its income, it is not surprising that it is overbuying. During the same period I was given several items of hardware for my computer. I discovered the large size of the boxes in which these articles came and the miniscule amount of information in book form. The boxes were half the size of a cornflake packet, containing in one case, a very small Life-cam, with next to no information, a CD, and a small package of wiring. This was not an isolated case, it seemed to be commercial policy.

With the spending boom, of which we are told we are unique in Europe, coupled with, one assumes, a general marketing assumption that the bigger the packet, the bigger the sales, the amount of rubbish will continue to rise. We have arrived at the absurd point concerning the wrapping and packaging, where the box is more important than the contents. How often does one by a pie in a huge box, only to find that the pie itself, in yet another box, is much smaller than anticipated – a disappointment all round.

It therefore seems only logical, that a tax should be placed upon the suppliers of the goods to cover the increase in waste disposal rather than on the individual who has no say in the matter. The proposed system of the extra costing of waste disposal is a very cumbersome and unwieldy one, open to all manner of abuse. I urge anyone who feels as strongly as I do, to address this matter to a wider audience such as MPs and newspapers, because not only will we all suffer from this injustice, but once the system is underway they’ll discover that it doesn’t work like so many current attempts at policy, and then have to change it after spending millions on bins with chips in them.

My Views, Do You Agree?

Political Absurdities, especially about us leading the world, are becoming the norm. A man on television was proposing we – in Britain – should give an open apology for Slavery, and implied a responsibility for restitution. Where does this sort of lunacy stop, we, as a nation were not unique. We all know it was cruel and wrong, but therefore, should the French and the Danes have to apologise and make restitution, also? If we should be apologising at all, it should be for allowing Israel to settle in Palestine in the first place, that was mainly the British; later, not to have allowed building in the occupied areas, and to have led the world then.

Margaret Beckett, in a cleared field in the Middle East was proclaiming that we should ‘LEAD THE WORLD’ in ridding it of Cluster Bombs. They are a stupid, random and hideous weapon aimed at the non combatants, like napalm, but I wasn’t aware we ever intended using Cluster Bombs. If we don’t, we can’t really say we are going to get rid of them now – presumably, we already have in essence if not in fact. Just a sound-bite, maybe? Our PM wants to spend Billions on atomic subs and bombs. Why? – when we haven’t enough to money to equip our forces currently in battle. Like Iraq, and Afghanistan, he wants to LEAD THE WORLD, while our infrastructure is crumbling. If a nuclear deterrent is required, and many authorities think it is outmoded, Europe should be footing the bill. In this day and age, international aggression is taking a more personal form, and there are easier and cheaper ways of creating havoc than loosing off rockets which will be retaliated. They are fiscal, and strategically hand-placed bombs, and with our economy on a knife edge, and our security stretched, it doesn’t take the mind of an Einstein to think of how these atrocities could be achieved.

A Long Route to Order out of Chaos- I write as a professional who covered most facets of his work and have also been a civil servant and a Local Government employee. The word ‘professional’ in this context includes all who have served their time and know their job inside out. Local and civil services used to employ professionals at all levels of their professions, allowing in-house training and promotion. Now work of any significance is farmed out to consultancy companies, and contractors, Promotion is less in-house because the experience to make valid professional judgements is no longer on the strength. Civil servants move from department to department, as do politicians, and while they may have managerial experience, most are not experienced in the professions and regimes they are managing. Hence, policy is an abstract, based upon second-hand information, prescribed by government, controlled by targets, spin and aims, the latter not always intrinsic. The professionals juggle to meet the criteria posted, by managers without the background or training in the field they are managing. Greed, self-interest at many levels, together with vested-interest pressures are the causes of mis-management, as is sweeping implementation of untried policies without adequate localised test – the poll Tax, and many, many others.

Putting the clock back is appealing, but impracticable. Putting the management back in the hands of the professionals, should be our aim? Brainstorming, favoured by No 10, has a pecking order favouring the bully. Instead, if a small network was built of real, select professionals, working individually, and communicating using the internet, posing questions and supplying solutions if available; this information could be channelled to central logistical correlators, who would evaluate, circulate it for selective comment. Then one might arrive at a workable and professional solution which could be implemented. The merit of this idea puts the decision making process in the hands of people who have nothing to lose or gain. Small, general problems can quickly be identified and possibly solved as quickly – many errors now, must be through mismanagement rather than resources. A pilot scheme, highlighting universal faults in a small area of activity might just prove the theory. Invention starts with an idea, then a prototype to iron out logistical problems, and sometimes at this stage another idea is envisaged which dwarfs the original.

The level of expertise in government is being steadily diluted; those with real ability profit more from seeking other paths. Fewer faces become known on TV and seem to change almost weekly in all parties, so how can they become expert? It seems sensible for outsiders to come up with watertight, irrefutable solutions to problems. Currently those in charge tinker regularly in every sphere, causing confusion to those expected to implement the changes, wasting money promulgating the changes and rescinding them, and spreading Public frustration and discontent.

General Foremen, Fiscal Iniquity, The New Industry

The New Industry 2 On the 31st of October I posted this subject (still included) and I have already said I wouldn’t Rant – I say sorry to those looking for something different – look tomorrow, I’ll put an extra piece in. The panic is that they are at it again, using Global Warming as a lever to make more money by the back door. Of course we have parking problems; we haven’t got a sensible and convenient public transport programme. Surely, instead of giving unscrupulous Clamping Companies a licence to extort, – also making a total hems of the Olympics – which is another Blair ego trip – which few outside the Southern Counties want – which will further drain our resources – still without a firm budget probably 50% wrong; – we should be using all those billions to improve the Transport system and really help the Environment. I mentioned this to someone, who said we are a World Leader and must lead – where has he been for the last 10 years?

General Foremen (GF) are the backbone of any engineering/building project. In my day they started on a long apprenticeship, followed by a journeyman period, became Foremen and finally reached the top. All this time they had been moving from job to job for advancement, gaining experience in many fields, manufacture, building, engineering and heavy engineering, and management. These men were university material but circumstances or finance had forced them to take the hard road. Decades ago the system was changed, the apprenticeship was shortened, and the quality of skill fell in many instances – output and cost were the key, not perfection. At the same time, affluence meant that those with the attributes were going to university, not into apprenticeship, a different route with a different outcome – hence the long experience gained to enable a man to become a proper GF was lost. recently there has been a training programme for people with the ability to be trained in the Trades, but as it is a government scheme, I doubt if the products will ever match up to the men I worked with. I now hear that Polish workers are arriving here with those very skills and presumably there will be more to follow from elsewhere.

Fiscal Iniquity I am worried that we have all been marched into an organisational morass, by the constant and pointless tweaking of every system, without reference to the actual professionals carrying out the work.

The Fiscal Iniquity which ties the hands of all those dispensing Government funds has operated since God knows when. It is a boon to small contractors but a bane to those trying to manage budgets. On the 4th of April, each year, allocated funds not spent revert to the Treasury; and money for the following 12 months has already been allocated, but not necessarily in the same proportions. Teachers, libraries, book sellers, small road contractors, and the rest, all are aware of the system. From October on. there is a rush to buy materials, books, to draw up and let contracts to have footpaths relaid, roads tarred and a host of ad hoc ideas, to use the surplus derived from under spend in other spheres. The under spend results from circumstances outside the control of the local authority, it could be strikes, weather, a glitch in supply, but the money doesn’t roll over, if it is not spent it is lost. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realise the resultant waste of money – in being put under pressure to spend, forethought is at a minimum. Multiply this throughout Government contracts and general expenditure and the waste must be mind boggling. I fail to understand how, overall, politicians haven’t woken up to this waste, unless there is some valid reason why Government spending is so different from Industry, where a rolling programme is essential.

When I complain, I am thinking of the generations born since ’75 and in the future and worrying where they as a community will finish, when all the skill has been down graded through expediency. – Sorry to be so miserable!