Minister for Faith

September 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I just heard via @davorg that Baroness Warsi is to become minister for faith and communities.

My two initial thoughts

1. What the fuck? Minister for faith? Huh?

2. I can just about hear the far right screaming about the Islamification of Britain being well under way and we should’ve listened to them all along.

It doesn’t matter what religion the Minister for Faith is, there shouldn’t be one. religionists aren’t being persecuted out of existence, their unearned privilege in society is slowly being eroded. The creation of this office is a step backwards. Once again, believers of fairy stories have the ear of government with no natural justification.

Battle of the headlines: Daily Mail 0 – 1 Taxpayers Alliance

August 1st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The Taxpayers Alliance have outdone the Daily Mail with a misleading headline.

The Mail reports…

Council that made 1,400 redundant blew £220,000 broadcasting all of their meetings online – but only picked up 57 viewers

This is, by Daily Mail standards quite accurate. The story itself contains more details of the viewing figures for Hampshire County Councils web broadcasts of it’s meetings, starting with 800 viewers in February, when the council had it’s budget, a cabinet meeting in April picked up 167 viewers and 108 viewers in May. The 57 viewers watched the July broadcast.

This detail is contained in the middle of the story, rather than in paragraph 19.

In all, the Mail seems to have done not bad, by their usual standards.

By contrast though, the TPA picked up the story from the Mail and includes the same details but their headline, in an effort to spin it more to their favour, go with

Hampshire Council spent £223,000 filming meetings for just 57 viewers

Not content with running a council down for trying to make their meetings more accessable, and reporting on what does initially look like rather a high figure for this (but what do I know?), the TPA use a headline that make it look like the council have spent £223,000 to broadcast specifically to 57 people, and not to anyone that might want to see what goes on in a council meeting.

Hampshire county council has a population (.pdf) of approximately 1.76 million people with just under 25% of it 19 years or under. so that’s potentially about 1.3 million adults that could tune in. Obviously that’s not going to happen or get anywhere near that, but the potential for a much bigger audience than 57, or even the peak of 800, was there.

But no, the TPA headline makes it look like the council were aiming for just the 57 viewers.

Sod equality, it’s dis-establishment the church frets about

June 12th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The church should just fuck off and shut the fuck up.

The threat of an unprecedented clash between church and state over the issue of gay marriage has opened up after the Church of England delivered an uncompromising warning to the government against pressing ahead with controversial proposals.

The deadiline for the consultation is appraoching and the church is panicking a little from the sounds of it.

Introducing same-sex marriage could lead to the church being forced out of its role of conducting weddings on behalf of the state, the church claimed in a potentially explosive submission in response to the government’s consultation on gay marriage, which closes on Thursday.

This issue could lead to the church being dis-established. And this is a bad thing? Surely it’ll ease the workload on the clergy, and that has got to be A Good Thing, hasn’t it?

In a 13-page submission, the church says it cannot support the proposal to enable all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.

“Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history,” it says.

It wouldn’t alter a thing for anyone except for the people that want to get married, and tell me if I’m wrong, but with civil partnerships already in place the only real difference would be what the union between two people of the same sex can legally be called.

“Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which, for many, includes the possibility of procreation.”

The underlying complimentary nature of two people does not come from one having a vagina and the other a penis, it comes from their personalities. Teh mechanics of it all is, just window dressing. If the “possibility of procreation” is so important, why isn’t the church trying to stop infirtile couples from marrying? After all, an infirtile couple, in their prospects of having children with no outside intervention, are no different to a same-sex couples.

If the cry that teh gays marrying will de-value marriage for everyone else isn’t enough, then fall back on history

“The canons of the Church of England are part of the law of England and have been continuously since the reformation of Henry VIII,” said one senior figure.

so…?

“Is it possible to have the law of the Church of England saying something different to the law of England? The question is how long we can sustain that.

Yes. Yes it is possible. In fact it is very possible for the church to say one thing and the law of the land say another. I’d say that it is not only possible, but desirable.

“It raises the sort of problems that no one has had to address before.”

It raises all sort of problems for the church that no one in the church has had to address before. Everyone else doesn’t actually give a fuck.

He added: “I do believe that the European Court could make it impossible for Church of England to go on having the role that it has got at the moment in relation to conducting marriage on behalf of the state.”

What is the problem? You don’t get hordes on Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Jehovas’ Witnesses and happy-fucking-clappers dragging cases through the European courts just because they have to make a stop at the register office on the way back from their temple to make their weddings legal.

The distinction would become “politically unsustainable”, the legal paper adds, while also calling into question whether heterosexual couples might also press for the right to have civil partnerships.

Maybe we could have a discussion about whether civil marraiges should be called civil marriages or civil partnerships, without the need for having someones choice of parter deciding on the terminology. Does it really matter what it’s called, as long as it’s called the same for everyone?

More fundamentally, it argues, the new distinction would call into question the Church of England’s place as part of the state both nationally and locally.

Ah, “more fundamentally”. Is this all a smokescreen for what the church is really worried about? With the seperation of canon and the law of the land, the church would lose it’s unearned privilege of power, and we all know those in positions of power hate to lose it.

Should the monarchy be abolished? How about a cost analysis first, eh?

June 5th, 2012 § 4 comments § permalink

So, that’s it for another 10 years, when we’ll all be waving the Union Flag at the Queens’ platinum jubilee.

As expected there’s been the republicans calling the monarchy to be abolished. Not many in the mainstream, but then there wouldn’t be, would there? I’ve seen a bit of cynicism, ok, a lot of cynicism, on blogs and Twitter but then that’s probably just the circles I move in.

But Should we get rid of Her Maj and install an elected head of state?

To decide that, we need to know what the hell she does in the first place, apart from wave at assorted crowds and chop peoples heads off. Sorry, I’m thinking of a different queen, aren’t I?

All the reasons I’ve heard for keeping the monarchy, or Queen Elizabeth specifically are:

  • She’s a good role model on how to behave.
  • The monarchy are good for tourism.
  • She brings stability to the country.
  • The queen does so much for the country

Then the reasons I’ve heard for abolishing the monarchy:

  • It is undemocratic to have an elected head of state.
  • err…
  • that’s it.

So, the queen is a good role model. So are my parents. So are my in-laws. So are thousands of other people and families across the land. Why should one person or family be put on such a pedestal ahead of anyother because of history and birth?

The monarchy may be good for tourism, but we have fuck loads of history to lean back on and sell to the tourists. Do we really need an actual monarchy now? The amount of tourist that come here really expecting to see the queen are so low as to be virtually nil. Tourists come to see the palaces, the jewels, the castles. They’re not going to go away just because we decide to elect a head of state. We could still have guards at Windsor castle and Buckingham Palace for the tourists’ photo ops and it would still cost a fuck of a lot less that it does now.

The Queen, I’ve heard, brings stability. Just like she supposedly does so much for the country. Some specifics would be nice, but no one I’ve heard ever seems to go into specifics. For the ordinary man in the street, the queen speaks to him once a year at christmas and opens parliament where she is given a script to read from. Would we be worse off with out that?

The queen also speaks at dinners and banquets, maybe I haven’t been paying attention but those speeches don’t seem to have had much of an affect on me either. Those speeches could be delivered by any head of state, elected or otherwise.

The Queen doesn’t have any political power apart from one – then ability to dissolve parliament and that isn’t going to happen, is it?

Sounds to me like we would get along fine without a monarchy. Let’s get democratic and elect a head of state instead. One drawback to that would be, what if we, as a nation, elected Tony Blair? David Cameron would probably expect to be elected as head too. After all, he did get elected Prime Minister (sort of) so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

But if we don’t need the queen because she does bugger all, do we need a president instead?

What we need to do is find out how much value the queen and the monarchy in general add to the country. Anyone know? If the monarchy bring in more cash than they cost, then fuck it, lets keep them. Once they start costing more than they bring in, then we cut our losses and fuck them off out of it.

Before we get to the stage of electing a head of state, there needs to be a debate about what they would actually be for? What purpose would they serve. If they’re just a replacement for the queen with no political power, then fuck it, We’ll be ok without, thank you very much. If their role will be different to the current monarchs’ and have at least some political power, then it will be quite a big thing to do as it will impact on the whole political landscape.

For the republicans, this is what they need to do. Start a discussion on what the monarchs replacement would be and do, not just say the royals need to go.

It’s all *his* fault

June 3rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Poor Jeremy Hunt. Poor David Cameron. All this fuss about Murdoch, BSkyB and Hunt’s favouritism is not Hunts’ fault. It’s all the fault of Vince Cable

The Prime Minister yesterday blamed Mr Cable, the Lib Dem business secretary, for putting him in a position of having to make that appointment.

Aww, if only Vince had get his big mouth shut and not got stung expressing his personal opinion to undercover Telegraph journalists, Hunt wouldn’t be getting drawn over the hot coals for not keeping his big mouth shut to the Murdochs.

Lifes a bitch, ain’t it?

Bishop Dr John Sentamu talking shit about gay marriage. Again.

May 17th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The Bishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is showing what a dick he is. Again.

The Dr is trying to say what a travesty gay marriage will be but doesn’t quite make any decent arguement against it, as expected.

Dr Sentamu writes that homosexual couples should enjoy complete equality with heterosexuals but argues that this does not mean redefining marriage.

Not quite complete equality, then.

He explains: “Up to now, the only reason I have been given for a desire to redefine marriage to embrace same-sex relationships is that it meets an emotional need of some same-sex couples (only some, as I have forcefully been led to believe some reject the concept of marriage altogether).

And what is wrong with that? Marriage meets an emotional need in everybody Nobody needs to get married. Unmarried couples can do everything married couples can, it is only the state and the church that makes people want to get marrried by giving them certain rights. Why shouldn’t gay couples that want to be together for ever have those same rights?

Just because some gay people reject marriage should not be a reason to deny those rights to those that do want to get married. There are lots of heterosexual couple that reject marriage as well. By the bishops’ logic we should remove the rights and privileges of marriage from heterosexual marriage.

This little bit of bollox is trying to clear up his views from an interview he did for the Telegraph in January.

“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” says Dr Sentamu. “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.

So… If it’s not the role of the state to define marriage, then I wonder who’s job, the bishop, thinks it is? It wouldn’t be the church’s, would it? As for history and tradition, there’s plenty of evidence that the definition has been rather fluid. Here’s George Monbiot on it for starters.

“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.

This appeal to try and link homosexual rights to the whims of a dictator is just a load of wank. For a start, we don’t live in a dictatorship, and by no stretch of the imagination is it going to turn in one anytime some. It’s just bollox to scare people into thinking if we let the gays marry, the end of the world will soon follow.

Marriage is just a word. If homosexual couples have the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples then what is the fucking problem in calling both statuses ‘marriage’?

Once again, the church is in fear of it’s privileged position of power ond control, and it doesn’t like it.

The state needs to take arming people seriously

April 26th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Why the buggery can’t the Independent Police Complaints Commission force officers who witness a fatal shooting by a colleague to be interviewed?

The in this country the state doesn’t officially kill people, not even after a trial. If the police, who are part of the state apparatus, kill someone there needs to be a proper investigation, to ensure that the death resulting from their actions was unavoidable to prevent even greater loss of life.

The police will, unfortunately inevitably, now and again kill people. It comes with the territory of dealing will the nasty, desperate and sometimes unhinged elements of our society.

Letting officers that witness a death caused by a colleague only having to submission a written statement is not good enough for a proper investigation.

An interview of a police witness is needed to clear up ambiguities, contradictions or even just to clarify a statement that is written particularly clearly.

This is needed to ensure the state, via the people it authorizes to use firearms on its behalf, uses its monopoly on force responsibility properly and at a minimum.

There is no excuse not to.

The Home Office has declined to comment on this issue because of the investigation into the death of Mark Duggan during the rioting last year.

This is a weak excuse as this issue isn’t just about the case of Mark Duggan. This investigation may have highlighted the problem and brought it some welcome publicity, but the problem is about officers not having to account for themselves in general, not in specific cases.

This needs to change to show the state takes its responsibility of arming people seriously and for accountability of the armed officers themselves.

Barking up the wrong tree

February 9th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The Guardian

All dogs are to be compulsorily microchipped so that their owners can be more easily traced under a crackdown on dangerous dogs to be unveiled today.

How the fuck is that going to help fucking anything? The only thing it’ll do is help trace the owner of a stray dog.

If a dog attacks somebody then there is only two possibilities, either the owner (or person responsible) is going to be present or they’re not. Either way it won’t matter a shit if the dog is chipped or not. At the time of the attack the equpiment needed to scan the chip is not going to be present.

If the dog is a stray, it’ll have fucked off before the police or dog catcher arrives and everyone will be non the wiser as to who owns the dog.

If the owner is with the dog then they’ll either fuck off before the police turn up and they’ll have a description of the dog and the owner to try and trace them, or they’ll stick around and face the consequences. In either case having a chip in the dog will have been no use at all.

The only use for a chip is for identifying the animal in the case of a stray or a dogknapping. It is not going to reduce attacks or help find dogs responsible for attacks.

I don’t know the solution to the problem of dog attacks and ‘dangerous’ dogs, or if the problem is as big as it’s perceived, but a fucking microchip is going do fuck all to help.

Do Not Feed The Troll

February 7th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Someone really should have a word with Dave about Nadine Dorries. The sort of word that you’d have with someone that had their shirt poking out through their trouser zip…


(source, source) (h/t @dlandoncole, screenshot by @unslugged)

There is so much in that tweet that says so much about Dorries, that it is a little gem that just sums her up.

It’s hysterical. It tries to shut down her opponent immediately. It is threatening, whilst taking a victim stance. And as to the law, it is completely wrong. It is also completely at odds with a couple of other tweets from Dorries over the previous two hours…


(source)

and the tweet that got the reply from @mrhazzers…


(source)

Now, without implying @mrhazzers was trolling (he wasn’t, it was a good point that Nadine continuously refuses to address), that’s a funny old laugh Dorries has got.

*If you don’t know what @mrhazzers is referring to then you want to read the following:

#Dorries: The MP Who Cried Wolf (The Letter, Part One)
#Dorries: The MP Who Cried Wolf (The Letter, Part Two: Flitwick & humphreycushion)
#Dorries: The MP Who Cried Wolf (The Letter, Part Three: Chris Paul and a special surprise… or two)
#Dorries: The MP Who Cried Wolf (The Letter, Part Four: A Burglary, Carter-Ruck & Me)

Stamp Duty FoI response

February 3rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I got a reply to my Freedom of Information request about stamp duty relief for first time buyers.

I asked…

  1. How much has HMRC spent in finding out if someone has previously bought a house or flat in the UK.
  2. How much has HMRC spent in finding out if someone has previously bought a house or flat anywhere else in the world.
  3. How much STLD has HMRC recovered from people who have claimed not to have previously owned a house or flat but have owned one in the UK
  4. How much STLD has HMRC recovered from people who have claimed not to have previously owned a house or flat but have owned one somewhere in the rest of the world.
  5. How many first time purchases have HMRC investigated whether the buyers have previously owned a house or flat?
  6. How many of these investigations have HMRC found people claiming not to have owned a house or flat have actually owned a house or flat a) in the UK and b) anywhere else in the world?

I didn’t get the figures I asked for. With regard to the first to questions about how much it has cost investigating whether a first time buyer is actually a first time buyer or not…

In response to parts 1 and 2, I am writing to advise you that following a review of our paper
and electronic records, I have established that HMRC does not hold the information you
requested.
I can confirm that HMRC’s SDLT investigation work is managed by a small central team that
co-ordinates resource drawn from across the Department – including solicitors, policy
advisers and specialists in anti-avoidance, compliance and investigation work. A central
record of data on the total number of staff addressing SDLT compliance work in respect of
first time buyers claim issues across these teams is not held.

…and the rest of my request is refused section 31, the qualified exemption rule, as it could give a clue as to the chances of getting caught.

I think this exemption is going a bit far for parts 3 and 4, how much HMRC has recovered, but without the rest of the information it doesn’t really mean much. It’s just a figure that has no scale to it.

I can see how revealing the amount of investigations HMRC has carried out and the amount of fraudulent first time buyers they’ve found could give away their success rate and so the chances of being caught.

The problem is, each piece of information is not really any use without the rest so, unless you guys can come up with a reason why HMRC should cough up then you’ve got till the beginning of April to let me know.

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