Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Thai Rak Thai and Democrat party to be disbanded?

The fallout from the failed elections continues. The Constitutional Court now has to rule on whether or not these two parties should be forcibly disbanded for violating elections laws. It seems unlikely that this will happen but even if it did I cannot see how it would work in practical terms. The same groupings would probably reform even if under another name. Meanwhile no date has yet been set for the rerun.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tracy Chapman at the Colston Hall in Bristol

We went to see Tracy Chapman last night in Bristol as she kicked off her European tour. I have seen her live several times and she was as ever absolutely brilliant. She played many of my old favourites and there were only one or two that I did not recognise. For me two songs really stood out. Her performance of “America” was so strong and powerful it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and her performance of “Behind the Wall” was absolutely awesome and you could have heard a pin drop as she performed this one. Anyone who wants to know more about Tracy can find a discography here

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pensions under threat again

Ok I accept that pensions is a big issue and a big problem facing all of us. But this article in Saturdays Guardian worried me. We may need to raise the retirement age, we may need to contribute more and we may need to find ways of ensuring that everybody contributes to their future retirement fund and not just through the state pension provision. But the argument put forward by Christine Farnish, the chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds worried me. She argued that "employers should be able to cut retrospectively benefits built up by employees in "guaranteed" occupational schemes." If this is what she believes then I wonder why she is the Chief Executive of National Association of Pension Funds which says on its website front page "We work to promote an environment where people can save for their retirement, with confidence, in the workplace. " I am not sure how retrospectively stealing pension funds which have already been earned is supposed to give people the confidence to save for their retirement through workplace pension schemes.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

More barking mad nonsense

This time in Torbay where they may have to consider removing their Palm Trees as they may constitute a safety hazard! I was really disappointed with the Liberal Democrat comment in the piece in yesterdays Guardian. Someone please tell me he was completely misquoted. This sort of mad nanny state stuff is the sort of thing we should be opposing. Yes we have responsibilities to protect people but we also have responsibilities as Liberals to fight against this sort of nonsense. Torbay is a beautiful area and as I write number one son is there imbibing a few small beers and watching the football with his mates. I will warrant that if he gets injured by a Palm Tree it won't be because the tree attacked him!!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The World Cup and politically correct nonsense

Please do not expect to get any common sense from me until after the 9th July. With two or three games to squeeze in every day until June 27th normal service is unlikely to be resumed for a while. I may blog about football, I may even blog about other stuff, but on the other hand I am just as likely to sit in front of the telly and forget all about blogging.

The two opening games in group A today will not have worried England as none of the four teams looked to be a huge threat and if England qualify out of Group B they will have to meet the first or second team from this group.

As for real life - well lets put it like this. Political correctness can be taken too far in my humble opinion. In a certain office a draw was run for the World Cup. Each team was allocated a World Cup team and each team was then encouraged to decorate their area in the colours, flags, shirts etc of their nominated team. The reason that this had been done was because they were worried that those non English people who worked for the company would be offended if the English people all put up the English flag. How about the English people who are offended by this politically correct nonsense!!

And if you want to see more nonsense have a look at this one

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrates 60 years on the throne

He is the worlds longest reigning monarch - what an achievement. Those who know me will know that I am not renowned for being a monarchist but from my visits to Thailand it absolutely clear that the Thai people have the utmost respect for their monarch. The Nation has also produced a special website to mark the occasion - click here

Thursday, June 08, 2006

So Rooney goes

But it appears that he is not going with the blessings of M****ester ***. What a surprise - oh and if he gets injured again they may sue. All down to money again.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women

According to Britains oldest war veteran that is the secret to a long life. For the full story click here

Monday, June 05, 2006

Tax Policy - where do we go?

I have read two interesting blogs on this subject over the last couple of days. First of all at QuaeQuam Blog and secondly at Jocks Blog. There was also a piece in yesterdays Observer and another one in today's Guardian. All of this has set me thinking about which bits I like and which bit I don't (bearing in mind of course we are yet to see the actual proposals). I am not keen on dropping the 50 percent tax rate simply because I believe that those who are substantially better off can afford to contribute more to the pot and that a society where the gap between the richest and the poorest is so large is not healthy. There may be an argument that we have pitched the starting point for this higher rate too low but I would not want to abolish it. The increased emphasis on green taxes is to be welcomed although initially I was concerned that those who were worse off would penalised for aspiring to a foreign holiday. Assuming that the comments in today's Guardian about the support of charter firms is accurate then I am reassured. I agree that some form of progressive property tax would be the way to go and like QuaeQuam blog I worry about the problem of looking like we are giving with one hand (through cuts in the rate of income tax) whilst taking with the other (through the introduction of local income tax). I am also not sure that cutting the basic rate from 22p to 20p is the way to go. It may be more marketable but would it not be better to help those who most need it by spending that money on raising the threshold at which you begin to pay tax?

Friday, June 02, 2006

World Environment Day is on June 5th

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. World Environment Day is hosted every year by a different city and there is an international exposition in the host city. The 2006 World Environment Day is to be held in Algeria and the topic for 2006 is Deserts and Desertification. According to the UN site "World Environment Day can be celebrated in many ways, including street rallies, bicycles parades, green concerts, essay and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, recycling efforts, clean-up campaigns and much more." In the UK the Environment Agency has a page where you can Promise the earth for World Environment Day. I think that most of these should be doable for most people. Certainly 1 to 7 should be easily achievable without any significant additional effort or expenditure although I am not sure if sharing a bath counts for item 1!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Haditha the US "Mai Lai" moment in Iraq

The massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha may turn out to be the Americans "Mai Lai" moment. It looks as if there may have been some form of cover up which will not help the overall impression. The Mai Lai massacre was believed to have been a key factor in undermining support for the Vietnam war and it remains to be seen whether or not this incident will have a similar impact on US public opinion. George Bushs opinion poll ratings have not been good of late fluctuating between 31% and 37% approval over the last couple of weeks. If you want to track what happens go here. Currently 37% of Americans think the war with Iraq was worth fighting and 32% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq. To track these numbers go here.