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27 August 2006

Falling Polls and Rising Poles

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has returned from his summer vacation to problems with the polls and the Poles.

The Labour Government's popularity (and especially that of Blair himself) has plummeted to a level not experienced since before they came to power in 1997. I predict that this decline will continue until or unless he comes up with a date for his handing over the reins to (presumably) Gordon Brown. He also needs to drop the messianic zeal which drives his policies and pronouncements on the Middle East.

As for the Poles, they are causing big problems, not because we don't like the Poles (on the whole we do) but because they are suddenly here in such astonishing numbers. Once again the Government has not been able to do its sums properly. When the first batch of Eastern European countries swelled the membership of the European Union a couple of years ago, most of the existing members introduced (legal) controls on the rights of the new Member States to cross borders to work. But not Britain - oh no! We are so stupid that we decided controls were unnecessary, and some ministerial nincompoop calculated that there would be an influx of roughly 15,000 workers from the new Member States. The reality is that half of Poland seems to have taken up residence here. The figure is somewhere nearer half a million workers already here and/or applying to work here.

The result is huge pressure on public services and housing, and a growing resentment regarding availability of jobs for the Brits. Places like Slough, to the south west of London, now have increasing numbers of Polish shops and there are posters and notices all over the place in Polish.

All this could have been avoided if we had displayed the same common sense approach of other EU Member States who opened their borders only under strict controls. I don't think there is anything wrong with immigration, because much of it benefits our society, but like anything else you can have "too much of a good thing". Anything good taken in excess becomes bad.

So, for Labour, the polls are a problem and the Poles are a problem, and yet strangely the Opposition Parties are not cashing in on the Government's woes. One would have expected the re-branded Conservatives under the leadership of David Cameron to be riding high and looking like the next Government, but they are not. (Perhaps David Cameron looks, talks and acts a little too much like Tony Blair?!) The Liberal Democrats are doing no better either. What appears to be happening is that people are just deserting all the Parties in droves.

A bad omen for democracy.

23 August 2006

Encouraging American Poll Results

In a recent New York Times/CBS Poll 53% of the Americans polled were against the Iraq operation, 62% thought it was going badly, and 51% considered Iraq to be an issue which is separate from the "War on Terror".

You see? There's nothing wrong with Americans. It's just their government that's a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.

21 August 2006


We went into Iraq on the grounds that we were being threatened with weapons of mass destruction. It turned out that no such threat existed. The occupation then became part of the "War on Terror" even though "9/11" had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein or anyone operating inside Iraq. Then it became an exercise in imposing Democracy and was therefore "A Good Thing".

Our friendly accomplice in the "War on Terror" is Pakistan. Pakistan is a military dictatorship. Excuse me, but wasn't Iraq a military dictatorship? Why are we not going into Pakistan with all guns blazing?

Zimbabwe is being ruled by a tyrant who has destroyed his country's economy, rigged elections, bulldozed thousands of homes, and has banned any access by the BBC. Why are we not going to Zimbabwe with all guns blazing?

Do our politicians take us for complete fools when they feed us with all the garbage in defence of their stupid actions? Evidently they do.

18 August 2006

Telling it like it is

John Prescott MP
Three cheers for John Prescott!

We sometimes like to make fun of Britain's Deputy Prime Minister for his bluff manner, his indiscretions with his secretary, and his tendency to mangle the English Language, but the fact remains that he has a better brain than we give him credit for. One of his great assets is his willingness to tell it like it is; he is refreshingly free from the effects of the government's spin machine. Blair's government has made such an art of "spin" that hardly a single person can believe anything he or any of his ministers says these days, so that is why Prescott is a breath of fresh air.

His latest assertion made in a private meeting with Labour MPs (but in the knowledge that the Press were waiting outside) is ... "The Bush administration is 'crap' on the Middle East process."

Some British newspapers have come out in favour of Prescott's refreshing (if uncouth) description of the Bush regime, and here are some quotable quotes from some of his fellow MPs ...

Ian Davidson - Glasgow South West MP
"I think that John Prescott is to be commended for the quality of his political analsysis. His comment on American policy is brief and accurate. Brtain has got to ensure that it is no longer seen as simply being the glove puppet of the United States."

Peter Kilfoyle - Liverpool Walton MP
"What he is reported to have said reflects the views of many people in the Labour Party. It may not go down well in international diplomacy - but in the Labour Party it will be welcomed as a rare flash of honesty from a senior member of the government."

Ken Livingstone - Mayor London
"I have no idea what John Prescott did or did not say since it was a private conversation, but the current US administration has been a disaster for the American people and has done untold damage not only to international relations but to the environment."

Jon Trickett - Hemsworth MP
"The actions and language of the British Government are actively hindering the prospects for peace in the Middle East; simultaneously enhancing the threat from terrorism, our historic influence with Arab countries has been squandered."

Glenda Jackson - Hampstead & Highgate MP
"I entirely endorse his view. This is why Parliament should be recalled. This government is failing miserable as far as our approach towards the Middle East is concerned. We are simply bag carriers for Bush and all his policies have been a disaster."

Martin Salter - Reading West MP
"It is abundantly clear that the Bush administration has been less than enthusiastic in pursuing the Middle East road map, and indeed many of its policies have actually inflamed the situation rather than sought to resolve this long-standing conflict."

From my own point view, there is nothing outlined above with which I disagree, and there is plenty to suggest, from recent polls, that most of the British people hold a similar view to John Prescott.

The White House has responded by saying that Bush has been called worse things. (Ain't that the truth!)

17 August 2006

Overcharged and Remote Controlled!

My house is full of battery chargers. There's one for my mobile phone, one for my wife's mobile phone, one for my wife's second mobile phone used on another network, one for my Bluetooth earpiece, one for my digital camera, one for my wife's camcorder. Then there's all the old chargers that went with older equipment that cannot be used with new equipment. Why can't I be bothered to dispose of them? None of these devices can be used other than on the specified piece of equipment, because they are either different voltages, or have different connectors, or both. It's a nightmare. First you have to find a suitable storage place, then remember which charger fits which device. I can already hear you shouting "Why don't you label them?" Oh, OK - I suppose I'll have to.

Isn't modern technology wonderful? It enriches your life with more clutter.

Now I'm done complaining about all these non-compatible battery chargers, I can move on to Remote Controls. Sometimes they are so remote you can't find them.

There's a remote control for analogue television, one for digital television, one for the hi-fi unit, and another for the VHS/DVD player/recorder. Then there's the small hi-fi unit in the kitchen and another in the dining room, and there's the kitchen TV, so that's another three remote controls.

Is anyone else remotely interested or emotionally charged up about this? It matters not - I've got it out of my system!

15 August 2006

A Note to British Muslims

You and I have different Faiths but we share the same Country.

One of the so-called "Muslim Community Leaders" (by the way, who are they and how do they become "leaders"?) was on television the other day expounding the peaceful nature of the Islamic message. He deplored the radicalisation of a minority of Islamic youth and the fact that anyone born and brought up in this Country could contemplate blowing up aircraft in mid-flight and killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children (some of whom, incidentally, would be Muslims).

He somewhat diminished the quality of his statement, however, by drawing attention to the fact that American and British foreign policy was likely to be providing ammunition to those who wanted to think in this perverted way.

Excuse me, but we live in a democracy, and if we disagree with our country's foreign policy (and I, for one, do) we kick the government out at the earliest opportunity. We do not display our displeasure by going out and blowing up our fellow citizens on the London Underground, nor do we decide to send airliners hurtling into the Atlantic Ocean.

In short, disagreeing with government policy is not a reason for mass murder.

I listened on BBC radio last week to a man born in this country of Pakistani parents. He gave an eloquent and intelligent summary of his own views which ran roughly along the lines of my own argument outlined above. He also asked the question, "Who are these so-called Community Leaders? Nobody has ever asked me to vote for one? How do they become leaders?"

If anyone has the answer to that question, or wishes to comment on anything I have written here, please click the "Comment" link below.

12 August 2006


When I became "Blogger Beck" I decided that I wanted to avoid a single theme or mood. Instead, I would try to present a multi-faceted, eclectic mix of subjects and moods. The news at the moment is almost universally gloomy, be it the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, the discovery of a terrorist plot to blow up airliners in mid-Atlantic, or the fact that David Beckham has been dropped from the England Football Team by the new Coach Steve McLaren. Even worse - one of my socks has gone missing again.

I have always hoped that I could reach a readership that understood the meaning of words like multi-faceted and eclectic (if for no other reason that they might drop me a line to explain them to me). Obviously I've been pulling the wool over some people's eyes as I seem to have picked up a couple of readers who run Knitting blogs. They are generally complimentary, for which I am grateful, since they could so easily have just knit-picked my posts. The last time I looked at a knitting pattern it struck me as being a great deal more complicated than a page of HTML code, and possibly even more baffling than Javascript. I am full of admiration for anyone who can make sense of them (and that includes my dear wife).

Wondering how to lighten the mood, albeit for a short time, I was rooting through some old files on my computer and was pleased to come across a collection of slogans for car bumper stickers. (I believe for readers on the far side of the herring pond that should read "car fender stickers". I could be wrong: my position on U.S. English is still somewhere half way up the learning curve.) I have no idea where they came from, but I freely give acknowledgment and credit to whomsoever collected them in the first place. So, here are some of them, to lighten your day ...
  • I love cats...they taste just like chicken
  • Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
  • Born Free. . . . .Taxed to Death
  • Cover me. I'm changing lanes.
  • As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools
  • The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.
  • Laugh alone and the world thinks you're an idiot.
  • Conserve toilet paper, use both sides.
  • Sometimes I wake up grumpy; Other times I let her sleep
  • SAVE A TREE: Eat a beaver
  • I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather ... not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
  • According to my calculations the problem doesn't exist.
  • Some people are only alive because it is illegal to kill.
  • Pride is what we have. Vanity is what others have.
  • A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory.
  • He who laughs last thinks slowest
  • Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.
  • Very funny, Scotty. Now beam down my clothes.
  • Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.
  • Consciousness: that annoying time between naps.
  • i souport publik edekasion
  • Be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home.
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder...
  • 3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can't.
  • "Auntie Em: Hate you, Hate Kansas, Taking the dog." - Dorothy.
  • "Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?"
"i souport publik edekasion" is a familiar kind of language, because in recent weeks I have been subscribing to a community question-and-answer site called Yahoo! Answers, and there is a disturbingly high proportion of contributors who actually write like this. There are some very good questions covering complex subjects in politics, chemistry, physics, philosophy, etc., but a high proportion of questions are mind-blowingly dumb, such as, "Can I get pregnant by masturbating?" and "How can I get a girl to like me?"

It's all very reassuring because I can answer those questions.

Onward and upward - keep smiling!

11 August 2006


Don't listen to the politicians talking about Iraq. Get the inside story from someone who is living there! Check out my link in the left-hand panel - "Girl inside Iraq" (or just click the heading above this post).

10 August 2006

Critical Security Alert

The first item I hear on the news at 7 o'clock this morning is that the US and the UK are on the highest security alert following the arrest of 21 British citizens in connection with a plot to blow up a number of air liners in mid-flight. All our airports are now in chaos. Whilst all remain open, passengers are no longer being allowed to take any hand luggage on board. They are being restricted to travel documents, passport and prescription medicines. No newspapers, books, children's toys, laptops. The consequent delays are causing aircraft to back up on the ground, and further incoming flights have had to be diverted.

I am thankful for a couple of things: (1) I'm not proposing to fly anywhere right now, and (2) these bastards have been identified and arrested by the security forces.

I hope everyone has noticed how the Bush/Blair Axis of Testosterone joint foreign policies, military actions, the so-called War on Terror, and political reactions to events in the Middle East over the past two or three years has made the world so much safer!!(?)

09 August 2006

Israel and Lebanon

We are getting nowhere fast, and if Israel can't accept that in order for a ceasefire to be workable they will need to withdraw from Lebanese territory as part of the deal, then there is no hope.

I am also a little tired of hearing about Iran's provision of weaponry for Hizbollah when we all know that the USA is the principle provider of weaponry for Israel.

07 August 2006

Bedroom Bat

I received a phone call late Sunday evening from a distressed neighbour. She had a bat whizzing around in her bedroom. She couldn't persuade it to go anywhere near the open windows, and having a strong dislike of flying creatures (especially in the bedroom) asked for assistance. By the time I got round next door the bat had flown downstairs and was now doing arial acrobatics in the kitchen and dining room. The neighbour's cat, whilst perfectly used to chasing birds, took one look at the cavorting bat and beat a hasty retreat.

Meanwhile, my neighbour had produced a fishing net. I noticed the bat coming straight at me, and took a wild swing with the net with more desperation than accurancy, but was astounded to find that the net now contained the bat. I covered the top of the net with a large envelope and walked my catch down the road before releasing it (so nobody could acuse me of taking my bat home!)

Job done, I wished my neighbour a good night and retired to my own (bat-free) bed to dream of big game hunting.

05 August 2006

Plum Target?

Have the Israelis totally lost the plot? Not content with bombing a UN observation post and killing UN pesonnel (in spite of being repeatedly told of their existence) they have now bombed a fruit farm.

How to win hearts and minds!

Hizbollah are now increasingly supported by the general population of Lebanon. Even the Christian community there is allying itself with Hizbollah.

Madness, total and utter madness.

03 August 2006

Fundamental Beliefs

There are creationists and there are evolutionists. They are at opposite ends of a belief spectrum.

I have never understood their problem. If you believe in God as the creator of the universe and this world, then what is wrong with regarding the evolutionary process as part of that creation?

To those people who get hung up on the 6 days of creation and a 7th day of rest as written in the Bible, this too is no problem. A "day" as we know it could not have existed before the creation of the earth and its place in the solar system. References to periods of time in the Old Testament appear to be very shaky; people apparently reached ages measured in hundreds of years. How credible is that?

I interpret the story of the creation as an allegorical description of a 6-stage process; the exact timing is not important. A black and white interpretation of anything is usually faulty. The creationists and evolutionists should make their way towards the middle of the belief spectrum and see how much they have in common.

02 August 2006

A Question of Perspective

Apparently George W Bush's close affinity with Israel (not, incidentally, shared by Bush Senior) goes back to his time as Texas Governor; on a visit to Israel he was taken on a helicopter trip by Arial Sharon. George is reported to be have been shocked by how small and vulnerable the country looked, and said they had driveways in Texas that were bigger.

Somebody needs to take Dubya on one side and explain to him that when you are very high up, things tend to look a bit smaller.

01 August 2006

My Patience with Israel is Severely Stretched

Israel has the right to feel secure within its borders and has a right to defend itself against attack. The problem with the concept of an Israeli border is that it has been something of a moveable feast over the years. The long-term occupation of other peoples' territories, confounded by a deliberate policy of building permanent settlements within them, is a sure-fire recipe for the existence of "resistance forces" or "terrorist organisations" (pick a description that fits your viewpoint).

Lebanon's big problem has been the existence of "Hisbollah" virtually as a State within a State, and when they decide to fire rockets into Israel, or kidnap their soldiers, independently of the Lebanese Government, then they run the risk of bringing down the wrath of Israel on the whole of Lebanon, and this is what is happening now.

Unfortunately, Israel's response has been so hugely disproportionate that they are now wrecking (physically and economically) all the good that has been done in Lebanon over the past twenty years. They set out to destroy Hisbollah, but their tactics have not been very well thought out, since what they have achieved is the exact opposite. Hisbollah are now regarded as heroes by more and more of the Lebanese population, and they are even now drawing support from moderate Arab governments who had hitherto been critical of of them.

Much has been said about Iran and Syria conducting a war against Israel by Proxy, and maybe this is true, but I wonder if it could also said that the U.S.A. is conducting a war by Proxy through the provision of sophisticated weaponry to Israel and by displaying an extremely equivocal attitude to the matter of the much-needed cease-fire. I don't believe that Condo Peas 'n Rice has yet displayed a convincing role on the Peace front. Meanwhile, Israel talks about easing up on the aggression whilst at the same stepping up the air attacks.

The only way to remove Hisbollah as a military force is to remove all causes for its existence, and this is a political and diplomatic process, not a military one. The military process has been proved to be counterproductive.