Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the month “May, 2008”

Ian Huntley

Ian Huntley the cold blooded killer of two little girls back in 2002 and sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison is apparently being given special treatment.

Huntley has attempted suicide in the past and is at risk of trying again. He was given a television complete with a set-top box early on in his sentence, even though this is an earned privilege for all other prisoners, to help him cope with prison life. Now, prison officers have been instructed to sit and play Scrabble and other games with him “to keep his spirits up”.

No one was more pleased than me when the barbaric practice of capital punishment was ended but when this distressed human being has made it clear, over a period of six years, that he wants to end his life would it not be a kindness to let him? There is virtually no possibility of his release and therefore no chance of rehabilitation, his continuing incarceration and suicide prevention must border on mental torture. I am not suggesting for a moment that he should be given any assistance to end his life but that the special measures on prevention be removed.

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Our NHS

I’ve been to my local hospital in the last two or three years a couple of times for minor injuries and the treatment was absolutely first class, the staff friendly and efficient.
Also a few weeks ago I saw my GP for hearing loss due to past industrial noise, I had an appointment for an audiology test within a fortnight, seen on time and two hearing aids ordered. Another couple of weeks and I have just had them fitted and programmed, fantastic! Mind you I’ve now got to sort out some rattles in my car that I didn’t know I’d got. As previously treatment friendly and very efficient.
I’m now 65 and all my life I have never had cause for complaint about our NHS. Yes of course any organisation can be improved but that’s an ongoing thing. Anyone working in the NHS must get thoroughly pissed off (sorry) with all the moaning and complaining mainly in the media. I’m sure most of us are very happy with the help that we receive, we just don’t get heard. So if we get good treatment why not let them know, I did.

Nuclear Power Stations

Last month it was announced by The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) that decommissioning the UK’s nuclear power stations will cost £73bn. Yesterday they confirmed that the cost will rise by several billion pounds and by how many billions they just couldn’t say. This does not, as I understand it, include the ‘safe’ disposal of all the radio active waste.

The government is now proposing to build yet more nuclear power stations. We are being governed by maniacs.

Time to get out the old badges methinks.

Hedgehogs

I heard a report on the Radio today that hedgehogs are believed to be in decline. According to the results of an investigation carried out, hedgehogs are too slow when it comes to crossing roads and hedgerows are being cut down.

Hello! Wake up and smell the coffee; did it take an investigation to come to that conclusion?

Good News for a Change

After decades of marching, demonstrating, writing to the press and politicians as well as taking part in non violent resistance and finally (well almost) becoming a somewhat disillusioned grumpy old man I have come across some good news for a change.

The Human Security Brief report 2007 continues to show a real decrease in wars and an increase in peaceful resolutions to disputes. Also and perhaps surprisingly, the Russian military have accepted the Alternatives to Violence Project to work with their armed forces in an attempt to cut down on violent bullying within their ranks, particularly with regard to new recruits who have been conscripted in. source

Of course non of this is down to my efforts of the past forty years or so but it is down to millions of people world wide who spent even just a little time and effort saying ‘NO’ to war, violence, greed and injustice. There’s a long way to go but at least a substancial start has been made and can inspire us all to keep up the pressure on those who have the power for change.

Brown ‘bashed’

In yesterday’s by-election in Crewe and Nantwich the Conservatives took control. There is little doubt that the electors wanted to give Gordon Brown a ‘good hiding’ which is understandable and being a Socialist I have little affection for our leader.

However, he is getting the blame for fast rising fuel and food prices, products over which he has little control. To gain popular support he could reduce the fuel duty by, let us say, 50p per litre but this wouldn’t slow the increases and would leave a huge hole in the State finances which would have to be filled by other taxes and so back to square one. So what could he do? Well, he could get us out of the mess, created by his predecessor, in Iraq & Afghanistan and also reduce our military to purely defensive numbers. This would save many billions of Pounds. He could cancel the totally useless Trident replacement programme and save at least £65billion on current estimates and impose a ‘windfall tax on the oil companies whose profits are rising exponentially, not through any extra endevour but due to market prices. Scope there then to ease the pain, particularly for rural voters who have no choice at all other than to drive.

It’s all too easy to forget life under the Conservatives and Margaret Thatcher, so let’s hope this kick up the backside is just that and not translated into a General Election victory for ‘New Tory’.

Local government costs

It was reported in my local paper that a disabled woman applied to the Council for a designated parking space outside her home. Her request was initially turned down on the grounds of cost at £3000. It was admitted that most of the cost was for administration!

Now, by designated parking space we are talking some yellow rubberised paint and a guy to paint it on. Let’s go wild and say £100 for the paint and £100 for the guy, that leaves £2800 for admin. I wont say anymore because like you, I suspect, I’m speechless.

China Earthquake

When the hurricane struck New Orleans a few years back almost at once an appeal was raised to help the people rebuild their homes and lives. I don’t begrudge this for one moment but New Orleans is a city in the richest nation on Earth. A couple of weeks ago an appeal was immediately launched for the survivors of Burma but China, who has an estimated 50,000 dead and widespread damage as a result of an earthquake, no appeal for the survivors has so far been mentioned.

Something wrong don’t you think?

Budget ‘U’ Turn

Changes to income taxation rates commenced in April this year meant several million of the lowest paid faced an increase in taxation. Following mounting criticism, changes have been announced that will reimburse almost all those who have lost out. The cost to the Exchequer will be £2.7bn and will be financed by borrowing!

The cost to the UK of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for this year alone is estimated to be £3.297bn. Source

I don’t need to point out the link between these costs do I?

UK’s Housing & Land

The Housing shortage & Land.

The problem is that houses are seen as investments to make a profit in the future rather than homes to live in. The cost of the land on which they are built is a major factor particularly in the exceptionally high demand and therefore high priced areas of the country in, for example, the South East of England. The selling off of Council Housing in the Thatcher era contributed greatly to the present crisis. Radical measures are needed.

Suppose that ALL land became the property of the State i.e. held in trust for all of the people, then land for building on could be released at NO charge and the occupier of the building would pay an annual lease for the land based only on the amount of land and not the building on it. This would be fair to all. Following the death of the principle occupants the building then becomes the property of the State with the local authority acting as agent and becomes available for renting. This would achieve three main objectives; houses would revert to being homes rather than investments, the cost of building a new home would plummet and eventually all homes would be rented rather than bought leading to greater availability, affordability and fairness. Additionally, considerable income would be generated through the lease payments for the needs of the population. Moving to a new area or to a larger or indeed to a smaller house would, if anything, become easier. This change could be achieved in little more than a generation. As all land and property would be held in trust for the people by the State but administered locally the system would be democratically accountable.

The same principle would be applied to current landowners and businesses. On the death of the current occupiers of land or the collapse of a business, buildings would become the property of the State and a rent paid by the new tenants. Farmers for example could still pass the business on to their children thus ensuring continuity but the land would be held in common.

Of course none of this is likely to happen due to electoral resistance by the current home owners who will cling to the notion that property values will rise above inflation for ever. This cannot be as like capitalism, of which housing and land ownership is a part, depend on ever increasing production and consumerism. It is better for our future generations to seek a new way now.

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