Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Will the Morecambe MP reply to me?

I have written to my MP about the House of Lord Reform Bill. I was asking for his opinion on the bill although there were subtle words in my correspondence like 'Government bill' (he is a Tory) and 'reform' (who doesn't want to reform what is in need of reform?). I was also a little less subtle and told him that I thought we needed the changes even if we would still have 20% of the lords who were unelected. We can't afford to put off change for decades.

I mention this not because I want to tell you about the Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris' opinion on the House of Lords. I am writing about him because I come across people who say he is great (other Tories) and some who say he hasn't replied to them and he doesn't do a thing (usually Labour supporters). I will use this blog to let you know if he replies.

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Monday, 25 June 2012

It's time to turn when you are going the wrong way.

Did anyone see the Morecambe MP David Morris on Sky TV? He was talking to Kay Burley a couple of weeks ago about the the Government’s change of mind over a VAT rise for the sale of park homes and from the report in my local newspaper, The Visitor, the exchange became quite heated when Kay repeatedly asked about the u-turn.

David's opinion was that the Government had made a decision, then consulted on it and then responded to the public consultation (by changing its mind). He didn't quite grasp that a change of mind via consultation could be perceived as a u-turn. There is absolutely nothing wrong with changing one's mind after consultation if that is the right thing to do. It takes a strong person to admit to their mistakes. The problem is that politicians don't like to be seen as strong when it comes to u-turns. In fact they think they are weak because it could be interpreted that they have made a mistake. They certainly don't want to be labelled as a person who makes u-turns. That's a pity because we obviously have to find a new label that means u-turn so that it can apply to Mr Morris.

Mrs Thatcher was famous for not turning and I saw this as a sign of weakness as you should definitely turn when you are going the wrong way. I suppose the Tories have improved if they are now for turning. It's a pity they can't admit it.

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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Don't attack Jimmy Carr

By coincidence this post is also about a David Cameron quote (see Tory Party at Prayer). According to him tax avoidance schemes are morally wrong and he attacks comedian Jimmy Carr for exploiting a loophole. However anyone who employs an accountant will be paying for advice as to how they can legally pay as little tax as possible. Is Jimmy paying enough in tax? Of course he is. If David doesn't think so then he should change the law and then I am sure that Jimmy would change his ways. The comedian (Jimmy) tells us that he pays what he has to pay.

David tugs at the heartstrings by telling us that those who pay their tax then spend their hard-earned money to go and watch the comedian. If a loan from Jimmy's own company is totally legal then on what grounds does David attack the scheme? Actually I don't mind the Prime Minister attacking the process, even if I don't know why, as it just shows deficiencies in Government policy and errors in not seeing loopholes and further failings by not correcting the situation. What I do object to is the personal attack on Jimmy Carr. It is one thing for politicians to behave like naughty children and criticise each other. It is quite another matter to criticise high profile individuals working legally.

Ed Miliband was asked for his views and he is not in favour of tax avoidance? Why not? Does he have an accountant and does his accountant tell Ed how to save money and does Ed ignore him? I don't think so.

Why does David Cameron think that some types of avoidance are morally repugnant? What does he think is acceptable tax avoidance? The Prime Minister is hoping for good headlines by telling us about hard working honest people but all it tells me is that David Cameron and Ed Miliband don't know what they are saying.

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Slippery slope

Tony Nicklinson is a man in the news this week because he was left paralysed and with locked-in syndrome by a stroke seven years ago, and he has called for doctors to end his life. He is asking doctors to turn the Hippocratic oath on its head because, unlike other people, he does not have the means to end his own life.

So what do 'others' do to end their own life? Do they do a Reggie Perrin and cause untold trauma to the people who discover the body? Do they throw themselves in front of a train and so end another train driver's career? I cannot think of a convenient way for people who have the ability to end their own life.

Now think of the moral implications. Even if Tony can disregard the Ancient Greeks as being old-fashioned then how does he justify his views when compared to religions that hold life as sacred?  I suppose the views of others do not concern him, but they should because doctors are other people too and he is asking them to kill him.

The analogy related to the train driver would be that Tony is asking that driver to place him on the lines and then the driver has to drive in the full knowledge that he is there.Of course there may be those who say that it is alright because Tony's are exceptional circumstances and deserve exceptional measures. The words slippery slope come to mind.

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Tory Party at Prayer

David Cameron supports gay marriage because he is a Conservative. The Church of England tells us that gay marriage is against canon law. Do you have to be against canon law to be a Conservative? It would seem so if we believe David Cameron.

Whoever coined the phrase about the Anglican Church being the “Tory Party at prayer” needs to reconsider.

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Is the IOC right?

I am aware that some people believe that ticket touts do a good job (see my blog entry for the 15th July 2009). I am not keen on an unregulated industry even if it is open to everyone in places like eBay and doesn't just depend on which street you walk down.

Today I am reading that the International Olympic Committee is investigating claims that Olympics representatives are willing to sell thousands of tickets for the London Games on the black market. Well is this fundamentally wrong? I don't think so even though I disagree with it. I recognise that many others hold the opposite view.

Why shouldn't I, as a poor Olympic Committee member, be able to make a few thousand pounds by selling on my free tickets? If it is wrong for them then it is wrong for all touts and this was the basis of my previous blog.

If the allegations are correct, and IOC members have been receiving extra tickets in order to make money then to me it is obviously wrong, but I believe that touting is wrong. If you disagree then there is a case to support the IOC members. Why shouldn't I persuade my boss to give me a bonus even if I have signed something to say I wouldn't sell the tickets on. After all,, that agreement was obviously wrong.

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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Headline: Job Centre Finds Job!

You will see from my last blog entry that I have had recent experience of unemployment. Nothing beats first-hand experience to learn how systems may improve. I used to run a wedding photography business and I received a deposit just after I was made redundant from my main employment. Now business accounts are fairly difficult to grasp and I do employ an accountant, but I knew that this deposit belonged to the following tax year. This was not the view of the Job Centre. They suspended the small amount of money that I was receiving. I don't mind being called a liar or even having a small amount of benefit suspended. My main concern which became an even bigger concern as my unemployment continued was how I could work to expand the business.

I asked how much I could receive before my benefit was suspended and the answer was £5. This answer was not clear to me. Could I earn £100 and I would lose £5 benefit? Could I earn £10 and I would lose 50%? The more detailed answer was that I could only keep £5 of whatever I earned. What type of incentive is this to leave the merry band of the unemployed? I closed my business (only keeping those who had already booked me).

I received a recent email asking how the Government could improve the economy. I replied that they could look at the £5 disregard which closed my business. The benefits system should encourage private enterprise. I am only able to write about this now that I have found work but for me this should be a priority change. There aren't many jobs "out there" so individuals should be encouraged to fiind their own work. What I found from the Job Centre was the opposite and at no time was I told about any vacancy by any member of staff. I saw no reason to actually turn up each fortnight but I suppose that at least it kept some people in work.

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Anyone can find work

I was listening to Radio 5 this morning and there was a caller in discussion with the presenter and another person who held the opposite views. She sad that there were jobs "out there" and words to the effect that there was no excuse for people to be unemployed. This sounds reasonable if the vacancies exceed the number of unemployed. Even if it doesn't surely all it takes is for a bit of effort and a member of the band of unemployed will soon have that job. This person didn't just tell us how easy it was to find work but she told us with such conviction that it was fairly obvious that that those who do not work must be shirkers. This sort of speech goes down well in some party conferences (memories of getting on a bike).

Fortunately the other person gave the opposite view as to how difficult it was to find any work and the first person was invited to speak again. She was speechless. This was a pity because I got the impression that she would be happy to reproduce her previous rant to anyone who would listen but not if she had to answer for it.

For the first time in my life I was made redundant in September 2011 and thought that work would be easy to find. I have diplomas and a degree and a list of other qualifications as long as your arm. I don't have NVQs but my previous work involved helping others get through theirs. I looked for work for 8 months and after 151 applications I found it a couple of weeks ago. On average each application took a couple of hours to complete. I thought I was brilliant each time but employers thought differently and only three others called me for interview.

I don't think I could have worked harder to find work. Norman Tebbit may still claim that all it takes to find work is to get on a bike and it may go down well with those in work but my reality is a little different.

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