Monday, December 10, 2007

The Battle for Basra Palace

Listened to Jane Corbin on Radio 4 this morning and this programme sounds like it will be one not to miss.

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Panorama | The Battle for Basra Palace

Friday, December 07, 2007

BOHICA

Reading through a few of the Police Blogs at Planet Police you get the feeling that some of them might just be a tad annoyed. Now if I was a Labour politician at this point in time, I would think twice before annoying anyone in the police, because they might have an easy route to annoying them back.

We have Facts and Figures, Songs, Stories about Dogs, Fiscal Prudence, Divide and Rule, Theft, Gore, Bending, Shafting and Smiles.

And of course BOHICA.

And that's just in one day.

And it goes on even the Police Superintendents are not happy.

The Police Federation have even manged to raise a complaint and a short film






Here are some possible links for you to try and rectify this wrong.





Have your say - lobby your local MP on Police Pay 2007/2008
Federation Letter to Home Secretary 6th December 2007
Police Federation pursuing a legal challenge
Home Secretary announces 42 day pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects
Absolute disgrace - Home Secretary’s letter of betrayal last straw for police officers
Federation response to 2.5% pay award
More news and information on Police Pay 2007/2008
Make your voice heard - show your support for Fair Pay for Police and sign the 10 Downing Street e-petition
The impartiality of policing - joint statement by PFEW, ACPO & PSAEW - 13th November 2007
Policing hit by widespread detective staffing shortages
Federation response to Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s Review of Policing, (Interim Report)
Click here to petition the Prime Minister for change to police widow(er) pensions
PFEW response to Tory paper - Policing for the People
Police Bravery Awards 2007

This is a disgrace and it is not just the police who should be complaining.

The general Public should be telling their MP's in England and Wales that 30 million is nothing to pay for a decent police force. Remember this is 1000th of how much we have lent Northern Crock!

Planet Police

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nimrods are Still Safe to fly

Des Browne says Nimrods are safe to fly Beau Bo D'or disagrees and so do I.

Pigs fly over the Ministry of Defence - New animation for Channel 4 News.

Report and link to video report here.







Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Board of Inquiry- Nimrod MR2 XV230

Today in Parliament Des Browne acknowledged what anybody following the story of the crash of XV230 and the loss of 14 British lives could have told you.

According to the Times

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, in an extraordinarily contrite statement to the Commons, said: “On behalf of the MoD and the Royal Air Force, I would like to apologise to the House of Commons, and most of all to those who lost their lives, and to their families. I am sorry.”

Gordon Brown sat next to him as he revealed the shortcomings that were at the heart of the worst fatal incident to be suffered by the Armed Forces in either Afghanistan or Iraq. The families of the victims are now due to receive substantial compensation.

Coming after attacks on the Government by five former defence chiefs who complained that the MoD’s budget was inadequate, the Nimrod affair was seized on as another illustration of the Forces having to depend on ageing and unreliable equipment.

The following condemnation from the same article reveals some of the problems.

The most damning condemnation of what had gone wrong in the general maintenance of the Nimrod fleet came from Air Chief Marshal Sir Clive Loader, Commander-in-Chief Air Command. Sir Clive said: “I conclude that the loss of XV230 and, far more importantly, of the 14 Service personnel who were aboard, resulted from shortcomings in the application of the processes for assuring airworthiness and safe operation of the Nimrod.”

The attached link takes you to the full report of the Board of Inquiry into the loss of Nimrod MR2 XV230 and the loss of 14 British Lives.

A quick scan of the report brings out that the likely cause of the crash was a fuel leak after air-to-air refueling and the subsequent ignition of this fuel by a pipe at above 400 degrees centigrade. What is staggering is that despite a seven fold increase in the number of fuel leaks and general knowledge of this problem no action had been taken to properly sort out the problem.

The graph shown here shows the number of leaks per 1000 flying hours and show that the rate increased from about 0.5/1000 hrs in 1984 up to 3.5 in 2006. This was apparently missed as being a problem and was not fully investigated.

A brief report is available here with the 33 recommendations it makes.

Michael Smith writing in his Blog in the Times has the following
The scandal of the deaths of 14 servicemen on board Nimrod XV230 continues. I am bound to say that I believed long ago that there couldn't be any more bad information coming out. But the release under the Freedom of Information Act of a report by QinetiQ, the defence company, on the extent of the leaks on board the Nimrod fleet and in particular the six aircraft flying over Afghanistan and Iraq simply beggars belief. The leaks represented a "critical" structural problem. Civilian contractors at RAF Kinloss were not only not required to pass on the substantial information they had on the leaks and how to deal with them to the Integrated Project Team which oversees how the Nimrod fleets is run, they were not required to tell the RAF technicians working on the aircraft at Kinloss that the Air Publications they were working to were out-of-date and of "little, if any, value". The problems with the leaks dated back ten years but were exacerbated by the "intense" schedule flown by the six Nimrods equipped with special video surveillance equipment fed back directly to commanders on the ground. Since these leaks were largely being caused by pressure from the aircraft's air-to-air refuelling system, never part of its original equipment and fitted as an emergency measure during the Falklands Conflict, they could not be replicated on the ground. "QinetiQ were unable to establish a clear impression of how these non-detected leaks are addressed," the report said. Or put another way, they couldn't be found so they couldn't be fixed. But so essential was the real-time video surveillance equipment to troops on the ground that the RAF had to keep the aircraft in the air quite literally, and tragically, at all costs.
The Times reports here on the release today of the report.

All I can do is express my sympathies to the relatives of the dead and hope that lessons are learned, in particular by this Government and the MOD, that penny-pinching results in the death of our Armed Forces. Let us hope that Des Browne did not lie when questioned in the house about the 15bn defence cuts that have been rumoured.

Ministry of Defence | About Defence | BOI Nimrod MR2 XV230

Kebabgate - Hain and the Fifth Man


Nearly a day went by without some more embarrassing revelations for Labour.

Now Peter Hain, the Work and Pensions Secretary, admits

that he had not registered all the donations to his unsuccessful deputy leadership campaign with electoral watchdogs as is legally required. Mr Hain said his failure to register the payments was "extremely regrettable" and apologised, while sources stressed the failure to declare the money was an "administrative error".
And a fifth man may be involved in the David Abrahams donation crimes.

George Crawford, a Newcastle-based lawyer, went to the police amid claims that his name may have been used to illicitly donate money to the party.

He is demanding an investigation after a man of the same name was registered as giving Labour £36,000 in 2004. Mr Crawford believes he may have been used as a secret conduit by Mr Abrahams to donate money to Labour.

The lawyer suspects that the money was given in his name and has now reported the matter to the police as suspected identity theft by someone trying to conceal their donations. Northumbria Police said they would be forwarding the complaint to Scotland Yard.

So just another day in the Sleazy Life of Labour in the Kebabgate scandal. I think they are trying to bore us with the number of scandals and are trying to make it seem like "normal" behaviour.

P.S. As suggested by James Burdett in a previous entry, I'd just like to say that our Wendy hasn't yet resigned despite admitting having committed a crime. Apparently 800 criminals in Barlinnie have asked to be allowed out early as they hadn't realised they were committing a crime either, Honest Gov.

Peter Hain caught up in Labour funding row - Telegraph

Monday, December 03, 2007

Worker reveals 'Nimrod problems'


This my 500th post on this blog and it's probably on the subject closest to my heart, the armed forces and in particular the RAF.

Tomorrow will see the publication of a report into a Nimrod crash in Afghanistan which killed 14 Military Personnel last year. It is likely to be bad reading for those in the RAF, MOD and this callous government. It will also confirm the fears of the relatives that their loved ones died because of known and fixable problems.

I have blogged before on the problems and still cannot believe that they have not been sorted out or workarounds put in place. The replacement for the Nimrod is still probably 5 years away and guess what it will be yet another Nimrod still using the current airframes.

This report reveals

An insider at Kinloss said that fuel leaks among the fleet were "perpetual".

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment ahead of the Board of Inquiry findings on Tuesday.

The BBC has learned that the aircraft which crashed in Afghanistan was being worked hard and flying sometimes twice a day.

It also had seven fuel leaks on board which were not due to be fixed for several months.
Also having watched Newsnight tonight we were informed by an expert that basically the Nimrod is not airworthy and that the only reason it is flying is for operational reasons to support the troops in Afghanistan. Whilst I can understand that reasoning, the lack of money being spent to sort out the problem is nothing less than criminal.

Just listened to John Nicol on Radio 4 confirming that basically these planes would be grounded if there were not urgent operational reasons for keeping them flying. This is another example of where we are breaking the Military Covenant. Nowhere else would we put up with sort of situation and ask people to put their lives on the line.

BBC NEWS | Scotland | North East/N Isles | Worker reveals 'Nimrod problems'

UK 'failed to make Basra safe'

173 members of the armed forces have died in Iraq since the start of the latest conflict and now we here that the UK

"has failed to make Basra safe"
What does this say about the sacrifice made by these people, Was it all worth it, what have we achieved and are we running away with out tails between our legs.

The report on the BBC says
The initial goal of UK forces in south eastern Iraq was to establish the security necessary for the development of representative political institutions and for economic reconstruction. Although progress has been made, this goal remains unfulfilled."

It also suggested that the relative security of Basra did not mean that the root causes of violence had been tackled.

The report added: "There remain murderous, corrupt and militia-infiltrated elements within the police which must be rooted out as a matter of priority."It went on to speculate on the future role of UK forces in Iraq. The report said: "If there is still a role for UK forces in Iraq, those forces must be capable of doing more than just protecting themselves at Basra Air Station.
This basically means we have achieved little in our 4 years in Basra and that our continuing presence is pointless with the current level of troops.

The report also explains that
The relative security of Basra is said to owe more to the dominance of militias and criminal gangs, who are said to have achieved a fragile balance in the city, than to the success of the multinational and Iraqi security forces in tackling the root causes of the violence.
So basically we have the standard gang warfare of a disintegrating society. This is our gift to Iraq.

I can only point to the relative success that the US now seem to be having in other areas after intensifying its commitments to Iraq. Our problem is that we no longer have the capability to do this and also fight in Afghanistan, why because we do not invest in our Armed Forces.

Des Browne bleats on about how the Defence budget is keeping pace with inflation completely ignoring that most of the increase is for two ships and that inflation in the highly technical defence world runs at least twice as high as normal bread and butter inflation. This means that year on year we have been, and are, losing up to 5% of our capabilities purely to inflation never mind any other cuts this government foists on the armed services at a time when they are at their most stretched in nearly 50 years.

Makes you glad to be British.

BBC NEWS | Politics | UK 'failed to make Basra safe'

Kebabgate - Mad Party Disease claims another Labour Leader

Interesting article from Iain MacWhirter in the Herald.

Two pieces of the article stand out. Th first points out that it is Labours own Laws that may put them in prison. Labour have to remember that these are not rules as they keep saying.

What a desperate situation: was no-one in the Labour Party prepared to step up to the plate and defend their own leader? Labour appeared to be in denial, unwilling or unable to face up to the enormity of the situation. This isn't any old law we are talking about, but one of Labour's own flagship statutes: the Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. This makes clear that any attempt to conceal the identity of a political donor is against the law, as is acceptance of a donation from anyone who is not on the electoral register.

This is not some obscure piece of redundant legislation but a fresh and potent statute designed by Labour to drive sleaze out of politics altogether. Breaching this law carries an unlimited fine or one year in jail. The way things are going, a number of senior Scottish Labour politicians face losing their political careers and gaining a criminal record.

Then we have the following which indicates that someone out there really doesn't like Wendy (join the queue!) and that Labour have been in disarray since their defeat by the SNP.

We know that all is not well in the Labour leader's inner circle, since this story has been driven by a series of damaging leaks from people with access to the most sensitive inside information. The Sunday Herald document, for example, could not have been widely circulated within Labour, but it found its way into the public domain. Someone somewhere harbours a very deep grudge against Alexander and is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to settle accounts.

I'm afraid this has been the Scottish Labour story since devolution - factionalism, cronyism, incompetence and personal vendettas. They can't seem to help themselves. The party seems to have lost the will to live. Alexander was their best hope in years for a clean break from the old numpty machine politics, but it has broken her instead.



Mad Party Disease Claims Another Labour Leader (from The Herald )

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Scottish Kebabgate - The Elf Defence


Benedict Brogan in his article compares Wendy Alexander's defence to what a policeman would say to the same defence if caught speeding. I would compare it more to this story from last year.

The BBC reports the defence used in the following case:

A man accused of a stealing underwear from a shop in a knifepoint raid believed he was a female elf at the time, Belfast Crown Court has heard.
It went on to say:
Robert Boyd, 45, from Broadlands in Carrickfergus, is accused of holding up staff at the Orchid shop in Belfast disguised in a wig, hat and glasses.

He told the court he had been involved in a role-playing game at the time, and his character was an elf named Beho.

He denies robbery but says he may have blurred reality and fantasy.

He also said it "could be right" that Beho had intended to rob the shop - although he told the jury he could not remember what was going through his mind at the time.

I can think of a few other people in our government who might need to use a similar type of defence shortly.

By the way the defence failed!


Benedict Brogan's political blog

Scottish Kebabgate - Scottish First Ministers Questions

An interesting exchange in Scottish First Ministers Question Time on Thursday (edited highlights only)

The First Minister: In passing, I congratulate Wendy Alexander on her success in dominating the news agenda in Scotland.

Ms Alexander: I will return to the issue of domestic violence shortly, but let me make an observation. I have asked for the permissibility of the donation to my election campaign to be checked, and we await the outcome of the Electoral Commission’s investigation.

In the meantime, Presiding Officer, given the First Minister’s remarks, let me make a further observation. When my team began compiling the information for our campaign return, we asked the Electoral Commission about the previous major party leadership contest held in Scotland, by the Scottish National Party, in 2004. Following a three-month election campaign—which involved the publication of personal manifestos, websites and campaign literature, and attendance at hustings—Alex Salmond, Roseanna Cunningham and Alex Neil, and the candidates for the deputy leadership, Nicola Sturgeon and Fergus Ewing, did not between them submit a single return or report any donations to the Electoral Commission. I find that an odd state of affairs for a party that is now lecturing us on transparency.

The First Minister:
Wendy Alexander’s elaborate remarks on the leadership contest surely just prove that SNP members spent less on fighting elections than Wendy Alexander managed to spend on not fighting one.
Later On
Alex Neil (Central Scotland) (SNP): On a point of order, Presiding Officer. During her questions to the First Minister, Wendy Alexander said that she had checked with the Electoral Commission and found that I did not spend any money in the SNP leadership contest in 2004. The reason for that is that I was not a candidate for the leadership in 2004. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

Alex Neil: For the record, I publicly backed Mr Salmond. I have no doubt that that was a major factor contributing to his success.

The Presiding Officer: That is not a point of order, but it is now on the record.

Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Lab): On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Mr Neil is, of course, right. The candidate was Mike Russell. Perhaps we might be forgiven on two counts. First, it is so difficult to tell Mr Neil and Mr Russell apart as they sit together right on the shoulder of the First Minister. Secondly, everyone in the chamber knows that Alex Neil has pretensions to the throne.

However, the key point, Presiding Officer—

The Presiding Officer: Do you have a point of order, Ms Baillie?

Jackie Baillie: Indeed I do. The SNP needs to confirm that, in a three-month election leadership campaign, every candidate was entirely self funded—

The Presiding Officer: This is not a point of order for me, Ms Baillie.

Jackie Baillie:—and that each of those candidates, including Mike Russell—

The Presiding Officer: This is not a point of order for me. I ask you to close.

Jackie Baillie:—received no donations and no support—

The Presiding Officer: That brings us to the end of First Minister’s question time.
Hat tip to Mark McDonald.


The Scottish Parliament - Official Report

Kebabgate - Video Chart Top 3

At my wife's suggestsion I have put up a little chart of top Videos to do with Kebabgate. She has been listening on her I-Pod to Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac constantly for the last day or two and chuckling to herself.

No 1. Fleetwood Mac with Little Lies one of my favourites from my drinking, carousing and sporting years.



At No 2. Pink with Who Knew one of my favourite current artists, see her live her voice is remarkable.



At No 3. The Eagles with Lying Eyes, this is just for Wendy.



A few more songs to do with Wendy can be found here.

Please feel free to add any other ideas. The Spectator has a few here.

Nimrod crash puts No 10 on spot


This will be another problem that Gordon will have to face up to (Of course he might do a Macavity) this week. As usual with any story these days involving the Clunker it's not good news and will bring the Armed Forces sharply back into focus for this disastorous Labour Government.

As the Sunday Times says

GOVERNMENT culpability in risking servicemen’s lives will be thrust to centre stage this week by the inquiry into the causes of the RAF Nimrod explosion over Afghanistan that killed all 14 on board.

There is intense government concern over Tuesday’s RAF board of inquiry report, which is likely to raise new doubts over Gordon Brown’s support for the armed services. The aircraft, which dates from the 1960s, was flying only because its replacement was delayed until 2010 to save money and a number of warnings about the risks were ignored.

The aircraft had a history of fuel leaks in the bomb bay, caused by pressure spikes in the air-to-air refuelling system.

The inquiry believes that the catastrophic explosion, west of Kandahar, was brought about by fuel leaking into the bomb bay, where it was ignited by hot air from a fractured pipe. That led the No 7 fuel tank at the base of the starboard wing to explode.

“The lack of safety equipment is a direct result of a culture of poor risk management that is endemic among senior officers and MoD officials and is largely driven by lack of funding.”

The MoD and senior RAF officers ignored repeated warnings of fuel leaks and fires on board the aircraft.

Jimmy Jones, a former RAF engineering officer who worked on the Nimrod trials, said: “If the MoD had acted on BAE Systems’ recommendations, those 14 crew members would still be alive today.”

In November 2004 a hot air pipe in the bomb bay of a Nimrod fractured as the craft came in to land at RAF Kinloss, Morayshire, blasting hot air onto the No 7 tank. An inquiry into that incident found the hot air would have been at least 50C above the spontaneous ignition point of the Nimrod’s Avtur fuel, which had begun to boil in the tank.

Disaster was averted only because the aircraft was on its way back to base. In his report on the incident, the station commander at Kinloss warned of more “unexpected failures” due to the aircraft’s age.

XV230 was one of a small number of Nimrods used to feed crucial live video of the battlefield direct to commanders in Afghanistan.

Nimrod’s air-to-air refuelling system was fitted as a quick fix in the 1982 Falklands conflict.

In March 2006 a report by QinetiQ, the defence consultants, blamed the Nimrod’s age and the “intense” way in which the aircraft were flown for what it described as a “critical” structural problem. The warning was ignored – with fatal results.

I have blogged on this and other problems with the over 40 year old Nimrod on a number of other occasions, most recently last month, when a similar Nimrod almost had the same fate and yet still had not had safety updates fitted.

Clunker Brown keeps trying to tell us he is "Honouring the Covenant" but he never actually shows us how. Honour to him means dropping colleagues into the doo-doo and then turning his back on them in the vain hope the problem disappears.

Nimrod crash puts No 10 on spot - Times Online

Kebabgate - Times article - Secrets in his smile


A comprehensive review of a week in the "Kebabgate" scandal in the Sunday Times.

A point to note:

In the article Sigmund Sternberg is quoted as saying this about David Abrahams:

"I have come across him at various Labour party events. The last time I saw him was at the conference in Bournemouth. I knew him to say hello to. He’s very nice, very personable.”
He certainly had come across him as I revealed earlier this week as he sponsored him for membership of the London Rotary club.

This seems to be the general thought of everyone in an around the Labour Party, They didn't really know him and they certainly hadn't talked donations with him.

Secrets in his smile - Times Online

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Kebabgate - Blame compliance for the donations scandal

Charles Moore in the Telegraph has the attached article which points at the multitude of rules and regulations causing the the problems that have led to "Kebabgate".

He argues that

Almost all the seriously corrupt things in politics happen when politicians misappropriate the money of the taxpayer, not when they scrabble desperately around for another cheque from Root/Abrahams.
This is certainly true to an extent but also the opposite is true as once a Politician has accepted a bribe or dodgy donation they then become vulnerable to almost any type of corruption because of the hold on them. This may then lead onto the taxpayer being defrauded but the original source was the "donation".

What I do like is his conclusion when he says
"So no, it is not reassuring that Gordon Brown is the son of the manse. His instinct, so disastrously displayed this week, is to perceive a moral defect and rush to distance himself from it as far and as fast as he possibly can, leaving colleagues in the lurch and dragging in a retired bishop to help save him. The phrase "holier than thou" could have been invented for him. This is pharisaism, not virtue."
Couldn't agree more, Gordon's sanctimoniousness nature is so apparent, as is his disdain for the general public which has become more apparent in recent months as he comes under sustained pressure from all angles.

Blame compliance for the donations scandal - Telegraph

Kebabgate - Labour launches inquiry into SECOND donor scandal | the Daily Mail


Has the Labour party got another dodgy donor ready to skewer?

According to the Mail

Mahmoud Khayami, a French citizen, has given a total of £830,000 in the past eight months, making him Labour's biggest individual backer after Lord Sainsbury.

The party said it would launch an investigation after The Mail on Sunday discovered that:

• Khayami made his first donation - of £500,000 - just 24 hours after becoming legally allowed to do so, by having his name added to the Electoral Roll.

• The tycoon - who runs a car dealership in California and has a villa in Cannes - had waited until the age of 77 before adding his name to the roll.

• Khayami is a close friend of Labour-supporting "fixer" Anthony Bailey, whose clients have included Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe regime, and whose own £500,000 donation was rejected by Labour because of fears it had come from foreign sources.

Khayami made his first donation on May 2 this year.

But The Mail on Sunday has discovered he only became a "permissible" donor on May 1, when he first appeared on the Electoral Register.

Had he made the payment 48 hours earlier both he and the Labour Party would have been committing a criminal offence.

Even though his name is on the register, he is permitted to vote only in local and European ballots, not general elections.

Commentators said that while he was thus technically qualified to make party donations, the fact he had done so meant Labour was 'sailing close to the wind' on donation rules.

Sailing close to the wind may just be an understatement!

Exclusive: Labour to launch an inquiry into SECOND donor scandal | the Daily Mail

Iain Dale makes a boo-boo - Clegg 56% Huhne 44%

Looks like Iain Dale made a Boo-Boo and inadvertently published an embargoed Poll for the Lib Dem leadership race on Blogger and then changed it back to being a draft. Now the details are there for all to see if you search Blogs in Google and type in "Clegg" or similar or just follow the link. Anyway its shows the following.

The poll of 678 Lib Dem members finds Nick Clegg ahead with 56% of the vote among all those naming a candidate. However, the results show that Chris Huhne (44%) is still able to beat the front-runner as half the membership (52%) has not ...
I should know I inadvertently did this on one of my blog entries this week and found it could still be seen on the blog search.

Hat tip to Will on Political Betting

Kebabgate - Grayling attacks Brown's Smokescreen

Gordon Brown made a speech this morning to Labours NEC as reported by the BBC here headlined "PM launches urgent funding review".

Apparently the Clunker called for consensus on the way forward and warned that he would not accept "one party deadlock". Apparently he reckons it's time to act.

Perhaps he's forgotten all the new rules, regulations and laws that Labour brought in to make donations more ethical and transparent which they seen to ignore and treat with such contempt, perhaps he's forgotten that it was his own parties intransigence that stopped the last talks on this matter when he refused to treat Union donations the same as any other donations.

Let's not get the truth out there but just blow a smokescreen to try and shift the focus from Labour, perhaps he has something a bit more to worry about?

Chris Grayling who appears to be the Conservatives spokesman on Kebabgate issued this statement on this matter

“This morning’s speech is a pretty opportunistic attempt by Gordon Brown to erect a smokescreen around events of the past two days. David Cameron wrote to him in October urging major reforms to party funding and a cap on donations, Gordon Brown refused because he didn’t want to give up on the multi-million pound financing from the trade unions. His decision to pick up the issue again today must be more than an attempt to divert attention away from party problems. The other real concern about this morning’s comments is that it looks like he’s trying to find ways of giving himself greater political advantage. He wants to cut campaigning by his opponents in marginal seats whilst continuing to use tax payers’ money to give his MPs a communication allowance to spend in those same marginal seats. It also looks as if he’s set on protecting big trade union donations whilst putting limits on everyone else."
That just about says it all.


ConservativeHome's ToryDiary: Grayling attacks Brown's attempts to switch attention from donations scandal

Kebabgate - The Wendy Apology


This is supposed to be an apology to us the punters who have to put up with this corrupt Labour Government. Wendy's ingracious apology and sneer of contempt show what she feels about the Scottish public.

A Wendy Apology

Kebabgate - Skewered Count

Labour is well on its way to being thoroughly cooked as it displays hereto unseen depths of complacency and flagrant disregard for the laws of this land which it introduced to make donations to Political Parties more ethical and transparent.

The skewered count in the ongoing Kebabgate is growing currently it stands as follows

  1. Definitely well skewered is Paul Watt, the Labour General Secretary who fell on his own skewer to try and prevent further skewering of his seniors. I discussed him here. His fall from grace may be even greater once Knacker of the Yard has grilled him further.
  2. Again definitely well skewered is Charlie Gordon, erstwhile former Scottish Labour Transport spokesman, He has again become sacrificial meat for the skewer after being thrown to the dogs by his masters. Again he is likely to be the subject to a severe roasting by the police.
  3. Looking well done is Wendy Alexander who after helping with the skewering of her former friend Charlie Gordon is now browning nicely on the skewer as she gets nearer to a proper grilling.
  4. Looking well done as well is Harriet Harman who is being skewered left, right and centre by anyone in the Labour Party, the Clunker has been fanning the flames and increasing the heat and she may shortly be well done. Donations to the Save the Harman fund required.
  5. Looking well singed is Jon Mendlesohn, The Clunkers "ethical" Fundraiser and former partner in the LLM spin merchants business.
Others that are standing by quietly marinating before the grilling begins, include the Clunker himself, Matt Carter and perhaps his predecessor David Triesman, and perhaps Lord Levy himself. Others no doubt will be defrosting as we speak ready to join them in the pot.

Scottish Kebabgate - The Wendy House is collapsing


The Herald has some details of the problems facing Ms Alexander as her rapidly disintergrating Wendy House threatens to collapse.

As Murdo Fraser said

"The only defence Wendy Alexander and her team seem to have left is that they acted in good faith, but in total ignorance, of the law. When Wendy Alexander signed her letter to Mr Green, did she not think to query the Jersey address?

"Is it credible to suggest that that Scottish Labour leader, with a long track record of political experience, would have been totally unaware of the law on political donations. Her position is precarious and I wonder if they will resort to making the fall guy fall further, as Charlie Gordon is again heaped with the blame."

Yet again Labour are trying the incompetence defence, it just will not wash.

So another Labour Junior has fallen on his skewer to try and save his seniors, Will it work this time?

Hat Tip: Scottish Tory Boy for the letter.

Alexander Feels Heat After Letter To Tax Exile Is Revealed (from The Herald )

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wendy Alexander is not laughing


Kebabgate probably gets the first lump of meat on the skewer? And a large lump at that!

Guy Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy: Exclusive : Wendy Alexander Thank You Note Proves:

Kebabgate (formerly Donorgate)

I've decided to call the new crisis within Labour "Kebabgate" as hopefully they will be well skewered by the Donors.

Texting the Urine

According to the Guardian

Getting caught short in the centre of London is no fun. Trying to persuade a sympathetic restaurant manager into letting you use his conveniences will often result in the short shrift: "Toilets are for paying customers only."

So a new text service, which promises to tell you where the nearest public toilet is in the City of Westminster, should be well received.

The council's authority covers 8.5 square miles and encompasses nearly every popular shopping and socialising district of the capital.

So whether you're drinking after work in Soho, or splashing the Christmas cash in Knightsbridge, a quick text message to 80097 with the word 'toilet' will prompt a quick-response text back with details of the nearest facilities and their opening times.

Now apparently, this will, according to the Westminster council make a
"substantial impact on reducing street urination".
Apparently 10,000 gallons of urine are at risk of ending up in the city's streets and alleyways through irresponsible and anti-social behaviour.

Now I can just see the drunks of Westminster texting the service at 1am in the morning just to spend a penny.

What more can I say apart from does it help young kids pee in the right direction as well. Mine can generally find the toilet but miss the bowl, if they could sort this problem out they might be on a winner.

SatLav service finds nearest public toilet | Technology | Guardian Unlimited

Money, Money, Money


No not a song title, just a thought on where all the trouble is coming from in the "Donorgate" scandal that is currently destroying the pitiful remains of the Labour party to many peoples amusement.

All the big problems for the Labour Party are now coming not from the general donations to the party from David Abrahams which are about 650k, but from the donations to the Deputy Leadership campaigns and the attempted donation to the Leadership Campaign fund which total about 10k.

Now I can understand that campaigning for the deputy leadership might cost a couple of bob, but the amounts spent between all the candidates seems to have very significant. Looking at the amount donated to each candidate we see the following rough totals.

Blears 69K, Benn 31K, Cruddas 70K, Hain 77k, Harman 46k, Johnson 53K.
These do not include borrowings of Harman (10K at a rate of 14.17%!) and "late" changes such as the 5K to Hain that he forgot to report from Jon Mendelsohn. This brings in a total of 361K.

Now this seems to be an awful lot of money for a fairly simple job, a few leaflets, a web site, and a couple of nice suits, but it seems to have caused some of the candidates a lot of problems and in particular Harriet Harman.

She has struggled to raise money and even had to take out a significant loan at what looks like a penalty rate and received over 30K of the money after the election had been completed, which is perhaps why she seems to have taken the money from David Abrahams via Janet Kidd without doing some simple checks.

And do try and explain to me how Clunker Brown managed to need 196k for his Leadership Campaign fund, there was no need for this money as no-one challenged him.

I assume that all the spare money from these campaigns is added to the general Labour coffers?

P.S. Note that here in Scotland it only costs £950 to cause Leadership woes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Follow the Money


As I said earlier follow the money and then you will find the Smoking Gun.

According to the Telegraph

"Gordon Brown has ordered an investigation into the finances of the property developer who gave Labour illegal donations of more than £670,000."

"Fears are growing within the party that David Abrahams, who hid his identity by using four intermediaries, may himself have been a conduit for another mystery benefactor, after senior Labour figures questioned his personal wealth."

According to the usual rule of thumb a donor of over £500K is likely to have a fortune of over £50million.

The Telegraph continues
Mr Abrahams is described by friends as a “secretive” person who spends little money on himself but likes to rub shoulders with the great and the good at political and charity events. Last year he was pictured shaking hands with the then Israeli ambassador, Zvi Heifetz, who was questioned then cleared over money-laundering allegations. Mr Heifetz was recently appointed as an adviser to Mr Blair in his role as Middle East peace envoy. Yesterday, a Downing Street source said Labour “had not seen any evidence” to suggest the money was not Mr Abrahams’s. He added: “It would be very serious if it were the case. No one is aware of any such arrangement. It will be part of the inquiry.”


It just keeps getting murkier.

David Abrahams and Sigmund Sternberg


Last night I e-mailed Guido with the above photo discovered via a simple query in Google (David Abrahams Sigmund Sternberg). What more is there to come if even Google can help you out.

I see Sir Sigmund Sternberg sponsored David Abrahams to the Rotary Club in London. Page 7 of the Pdf file has the photo and details.

Sigmund is of course a leading Labour donor and active in fundraising for the Labour Party.

Sigmund is also a donor to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign fund and Hilary Benn’s deputy Leadership fund.

Seems strange that such a leading donor to Labour would sponsor Mr Abrahams to the Rotary Club but wouldn’t have introduced him to his friends in the Labour Party.

Yesterday on PoliticalBetting.com I said "Follow the Money". Today I read that John Burton, Tony Blair’s former party agent in the North East, where the scandal is centered, questioned how Mr Abrahams could afford the donations.

“I never thought he had that sort of money,”.
Of course once we get up to this sort of level, what's next!

Time for Yates of the Yard to investigate.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Captain John McDermid RIP

STOP ALL THE CLOCKS, BY WH AUDEN

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum,

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead,

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,

I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one,

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.




Today was the funeral of Capt. John McDermid.

My thoughts today are with Gill and her sons.

RIP

The official funeral notice was as follows:

Today Monday 26th November 2007 - The funeral service for Captain John McDermid took place at Inverness Cathedral and afterwards John was laid to rest with full military honours at Kilvean Cemetery.

John was killed in action in Southern Afghanistan on Wednesday 14th November 2007.

The service was attended by many friends and colleagues who knew John and also those who just wished to pay their final respects, we would like to extend our heart felt sympathies to Gill and the children at this extremely sad time.

Gill identified the charity "HELP FOR HEROES" rather than sending wreaths, in memory of John.

You can donate to the fund via the link in the sidebar.

Also see here


Chief praises soldier's bravery

Who Else Knew?

If, as reported on the BBC, the donations have been going on for four years, and Peter Watt has only been General Secretary of the Labour Party for under two years, then who else knew about the donations funnelled from David Abrahams's.

The previous General Secretary of the Labour Party was Matt Carter who, according to the always correct Wikipedia, organised the legal aspects of loans from individuals to the Labour Party that were central to the Cash for Honours political scandal. Did he know anything about the set-up or was he ignorant of the deal?

Update I. BBC reporting a further 200k of donations found through Mr Abraham's solicitor.

Update II. Lib Dem Voice reports that Peter Watt must have known the rules.

Update III. Comments on Guido indicate the matter is now going to the Police.

Update IV. Now it seems Harriet Harman trousered 5K from Mr Abraham via a similar arrangement. Hilary Benn received 5K direct from Mr Abrahams

Labour Blames another Junior Worker

I see that Gordon Brown's Labour party are again blaming an Office Junior for another disaster that has befallen them. Where do they get these patsies from.

Listening to the various Labour Ministers being rolled out to blame it on the junior I was just cringing.

Jon Snow made a good point speaking to Jack Straw when he asked how come if no-one else knew of David Abrahams's donations, why was he given a ringside seat at Tony Blair's departure.

How they can expect us to believe the story that he didn't realise it was just slightly shady to third party the money is beyond belief.

This stinks, something is rotting in the corpse of the Labour Party.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Labour boss quits over donations

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Independent thoughts on Gordon

The Independent has gone to Town on Gordon as follows.

Government in Crisis (I): Victory to the traffickers

Government in Crisis (II): PM and Darling hit by triple whammy

Government in Crisis (III): Defence Secretary’s £1bn plea rebuffed

English FA - Ultimate Humiliation

So there you are having done the decent thing and sacked your Leader after some disappointing results and you get the ultimate humiliation of being told by the current Labour Government that
you need to get your house in order.

Apparently the Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has decided the Football Association needs advice on picking a new coach. He thinks the FA is wasting money and needs to take a good hard look at itself.

I can only raise my eyebrows at the sheer hypocrisy of this. Labour has wasted billions in the last ten years and should not have the right to tell anyone how to run their business. At least the FA have got rid of their leader who was under performing, I don't see the Labour Party doing this.

Minister attacks FA contracts for flops | Football - Times Online

Officers quit army in record numbers

This article just says it all, as Gordon Brown bleats on about how he is doing the best for the Armed Services and they are getting more money than ever.

It looks like the Officers in his Armed Forces are voting with their feet and leaving the services by the bucket load. Already in the first six months of this year 1,300 officers left which is double the rate of the previous year.

One officer, who put in his 12-months’ notice last month, said the reason most were leaving was that the army felt

“undermanned, undervalued and underfunded”.

“We are overstretched and quite clearly underfunded,” said 31-year-old Captain Will Richards. “It’s not a lack of job satisfaction – that still exists – but the incentive to stay in is no longer there. The forces no longer get the public appreciation and recognition, or the funding, they used to.”

Last night I blogged that due to the shortage of troops many are being denied the 24-month gap between frontline operations promised by the Ministry of Defence over the past four years. This is just another nail in the lie that are Armed Forces are properly funded and equipped.

Officers quit army in record numbers - Times Online

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We should Hang Our Heads in Shame...

We should Hang Our Heads in Shame today that this could happen in our once Great Country.

Soldiers who suffered appalling injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan were verbally abused as they swam in a public swimming pool.

During a weekly rehabilitation class at a council leisure centre, 15 servicemen – including several who have lost limbs or suffered severe burns – were heckled and jeered by members of the public.

One woman was so incensed that the troops were using the pool at Leatherhead Leisure Centre in Surrey that she told them they did not deserve to be there.

Unfortunately this is only what can be expected when we have leaders of our Nation who have contempt for the Armed Forces.

The members of public who did this should be publicly named and shamed.

Wounded Iraq veterans driven out of public pool when told they might scare children | the Daily Mail

Rent-a-Jock

Apparently its not just "Two Jobs Des" who is trying to do two things at once. Due to the shortage of troops many are being denied the 24-month gap between frontline operations promised by the Ministry of Defence over the past four years.

The Herald reports

That one battalion, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was given just one-third of the recommended time off between six-month stints of duty in the Balkans and Iraq.

The unit is also the worst-manned of the five regular battalions in the new Royal Regiment of Scotland (RRS) with a shortfall of 97 trained men and a backlog of experienced soldiers who have already applied to leave the Army early.

The Black Watch, now 3rd Battalion, RRS, had only 12 months - half the time for rest and recuperation deemed necessary under the MoD's "harmony guidelines" - between two punishing tours of duty in Iraq in which it lost nine dead.

Before the King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Royal Scots amalgamated into 1st Battalion, RRS last year, the component battalions had 16 months and 18 months respectively between deployments in Iraq and Northern Ireland.

One officer who spoke to The Herald said the real situation is much worse because sub-units - 30-man platoons or 100-man rifle companies - are often re-assigned during what is supposed to be their down-time and "bolted on" to other battalions to bring them up to fighting strength for operations.

Under MoD rules, this does not show up as a unit deployment for the soldiers involved. To register as a tour, a battalion has to send a headquarters and at least two company-sized groups.

Anything less than that does not appear in official statistics as a breach of harmony guidelines.

The report then goes onto to make the point that the troop shortages are causing the problem by explaining the "Rent-a-Jock" System as follows

The officer, a veteran of Iraq, said: "Every battalion in the Army is an average of 70 soldiers short of complement. That means robbing Peter to pay Paul when it comes to fielding a unit in combat in the necessary numbers.

"It's known as the Rent-a-Jock' system. A prime example was the KOSB having to provide a reinforced company for six months on a rolling programme at a time to garrison the Falklands while the battalion was supposed to be in peacetime barracks and undergoing normal training in the UK.

"It has become a regular occurrence in this overstretched Army to haul guys away from well-deserved time with their families to bulk out another under-strength regiment which needs the bodies.

"It's little wonder that soldiers are voting with their feet and leaving. There are just too few men available."


Shortages Force Scots Troops Back Into Battle Too Soon (from The Herald )

Friday, November 23, 2007

Laugh at Gordon Time


Apparently The Clunker is giving away copies of his book "Courage" to kids in Uganda. Apparently all the press are laughing at him.

What can we say about this tragicomic figure. Please, Please think what you are doing to this country.

Guy Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy: Bottler Gives Remaindered "Courage" Book to African Kids

Priority NHS treatment promised to war veterans ?

According to the Guardian

Health Secretary Johnson is expected to write to GP's across the country instructing them to extend priority treatment to all 4 million existing veterans. Those with injuries received as a result of their service will be able to bypass hospital waiting lists, get priority access to specialist care and become eligible for free prescriptions.
Whilst I applaud this idea, it will do nothing without the backing of funding to allow the priority treatment and still retain reasonable treatment levels for the rest of the General Public. Perhaps the £1.8 billion the NHS is in "surplus" could be used to help with this.


Priority NHS treatment promised to war veterans | Society | The Guardian

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Old Buffers forced into Active Service


The BBC (other internet news sites are available) reports that Five former defence chiefs spoke during a Lords debate, during which there were calls to improve levels of military funding.

The most revealing statement was the fact that

"Gordon Brown was a most unsympathetic chancellor of the exchequer as far as defence was concerned - and the only senior Cabinet minister who avoided coming to the Ministry of Defence to be briefed by our staff on our problems."
So the man in control of the purse strings didn't care enough for the people who are risking their lives for him and his corrupt Government to even come and see the people running the Armed Services. The man is a complete disgrace. We can only hope he is beginning to see the writing on the wall and resigns in the near future.

Lord Boyce didn't hold back in his criticism
"The smoke and mirrors work of the government and, in particular the Treasury, actually means the core defence programme has had no effective budget rise at all.
If we were actually to cut to the truth, we would find it was actually negative - especially if one subtracts the £550 million to be spent on the slum accommodation that should have been replaced years ago.
And this negative budget is why, if you go to the MoD today, you will find blood on the floor as the defence programme is slashed."
Admiral Lord Boyce added that the decision to give one person - Des Browne - the jobs of both defence and Scottish secretary was an
"insult"
at a time of war and followed up with
"It is seen as an insult by our sailors, our soldiers and our airmen on the front line. And I know because I have reason to speak to them a lot. And it is certainly a demonstration of the disinterest and some might say contempt that the prime minister and his government has for our armed forces. And it shows an appalling lack of judgement at a time when our people are being killed and they are being maimed."
Another former defence chief, General Lord Guthrie, said Mr Brown had been
"unsympathetic"
to the military, following up Lord Guthrie said:
"In my experience... he [Gordon Brown] was a most unsympathetic chancellor of the exchequer as far as defence was concerned - and the only senior Cabinet minister who avoided coming to the Ministry of Defence to be briefed by our staff on our problems. And I think really that he must take much of the blame for the very serious situation we find the services in today.""
As I have been saying this Government and especially Gordon Brown have nothing but contempt for our Armed Forces yet expect them to fight and die for this country. This is the Labour Government's biggest disgrace and makes the loss of personal data by HMCR look like a petty mistake.

P.S. This post was inspired by a "Champagne" Socialist Roger of Political Betting who had this to say on the "Old Buffers"
I was encouraged by seeing those three buffers (who used to run the armed forces) in the House of Lords criticizing Brown personally for not giving them enough money. It reminded me what I dislike about the establishment in this country and I was left asking myself how these three could run a cake shop let alone the armed forces.
My reply to him is here


BBC NEWS | Politics | Brown 'shows contempt for forces'

Scotland Dies Laughing

The Daily Mash's take on the football last night is here

Image
Most would have been dead within minutes


TRIBUTES are being paid to Scotland this morning after the entire country laughed itself to death.

The alarm was first raised at around 10pm last night as thousands of phone calls and text messages went unanswered.

Small groups of volunteers from Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Carlisle ventured north just after midnight only to find houses full of dead people gathered around still blaring television sets.

By dawn, as RAF helicopters flew over deserted city streets, it was clear that the whole country had suffered a catastrophic abdominal rupture.

Wayne Hayes, a special constable from Northumberland, said: "We went into one house in Dunbar and found three men sitting on the sofa with huge smiles on their faces, still holding cans of 70 shilling. They seemed to be at peace."

He added: "In a house near Edinburgh we found a man face down on the living room floor with his trousers and pants round his knees.

"It seems he may have been showing his bare buttocks to the television when he keeled over."

Roy Hobbs, a civil engineer from Northampton, said: "I got a call from my friend Ian in Stirling at about 9.50pm.

"He was already laughing when I answered the phone, but after about 25 minutes of the most vigorous and uncontrollable hilarity, everything suddenly went very quiet."

Moving tributes are already being placed along the Scotland-England border with many mourners opting to leave a simple bag of chips or a deep fried bunch of flowers.



The Daily Mash - SCOTLAND DIES LAUGHING

Ministers 'ignored data security warnings'

Please read the whole of this article in the Telegraph. It is just goes from bad to worse. The article currently has 3 pages. How many more will it need?

Some points from the article

  • HMRC has had 2,111 data protection breaches in the past year, according to the Tories. Customs refused to disclose details of what these were
  • A government review of security in 2003 identified “serious risks” of information going astray and recommended data should be encrypted.
  • The chairman of HMRC who resigned over the fiasco is still on full salary and will receive a full pension package.
  • Mr Darling has repeatedly pinned the blame for the missing CDs on a “junior official” at the HMRC who put them in the post. Yet the staff member was following procedures laid down in March by senior HMRC managers when a similar request for data was made by the National Audit Office.
  • Mr Darling also told parliament that he delayed announcing the loss of the CDs for 10 days after being told about it on November 10 because banks wanted more time to prepare anti-fraud measures.
  • The British Banking Association said: “The BBA did not ask for more time and none of our members asked for more time.”
  • The Association of Payment Clearing Services, which manages the movement of money between banks, said: “We found out on Friday and were given until Monday to sort it out. There was no request for a delay.”
  • An almost identical breach of security involving CDs happened in September 2005, when the names, addresses, dates of birth and bank details of UBS customers were lost in the post after being posted by HMRC.
  • Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, said he had repeatedly warned the Government that its data protection procedures were not up to scratch. He said: “I have been pressing the Government to give my office the power to audit and inspect organisations that process people’s personal information without first having to get their consent.”
  • In July this year Mr Thomas warned that data protection breaches in Government departments were "frankly horrifying”. Turning to the latest breach, he said: “It is a shocking case. I am at a loss to find out what happened in this situation. This goes beyond legal compliance. Any aggregated system for collecting information must be proof against criminals, it must be proof against idiots, it must be proof against those who don’t follow the ordinary rules of procedure.”
What more can I add.

Ministers 'ignored data security warnings' - Telegraph

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

HMCR Junior Official Found

I hear they’ve found the “junior” official from HMCR, he was found at Wembley playing in goal for England. Claimed he had got lost in the post.

Another quote from last night from a text message on the BBC. This time from Watson in Aberdeen.

“Without doubt, the defining image of McClaren’s short reign. With their backs against the wall, England need blood, sweat and tears, and yet McClaren stood there helpless, umbrella aloft, not even prepared to get his hair wet! What would Churchill say?”
Next step Home Internationals?

Two die in Iraq Puma helicopter crash

The BBC reports today on the death of two more members of the Armed Forces in Iraq.

We also hear of further stories about the suitability of the equipment being used in Iraq and the age of the equipment. According to the BBC

The US military issued a statement on Tuesday saying two people had been killed and 12 injured when a coalition helicopter crashed near Salman Pak, on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital.

But a spokesman for the UK defence ministry said he could not confirm whether this was the same incident but the details did appear to match.

Defence chiefs said their thoughts were "with the families" of all involved.

The deaths on Tuesday take the total number of UK troops killed in operations in Iraq since the 2003 invasion to 173.
Puma Helicopters have been involved in a number of incidents in service

December 1979: Two RAF pilots and one crewman killed in Mtoko, Zimbabwe, after their Puma hit phone wires.

August 1991:Two killed when a British military Puma crashed in southern France.

November 1992 - Four killed when a Puma and a Gazelle helicopter collided in Northern Ireland.

February 1997 - RAF Puma pilot died after his helicopter crashed near the Bavarian village of Urspring during a training exercise.

April 2001: Two RAF pilots killed when a Puma crashed near Kosovo's border with Macedonia.

March 2002: Seven hurt after an RAF Puma made a forced landing in south Armagh, Northern Ireland.

July 2004: RAF co-pilot killed when a Puma crashed as it came in to land in Basra, southern Iraq.

April 2007: Two British servicemen killed in a collision between two Pumas near Baghdad.

And then in August 2007 3 servicemen killed near Catterick as a Puma crashed.


Which brings us to PMQ's today when the following question was asked

Mr. Paul Keetch (Hereford) (LD): The Prime Minister rightly paid tribute to the servicemen killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The two men killed in Iraq were possibly in a Puma helicopter that was older than some of the personnel it was carrying. When will the Chinook helicopters ordered by the previous Conservative Government for use by our special forces be delivered for use by our special forces?

The Prime Minister: I do not think, despite the tragedy yesterday, that anybody should jump to any conclusions about what has happened. A full investigation should and will take place. I want to pay tribute to the courage, dedication and service of the men who have died.

As for equipment, we have ordered more helicopters; more helicopters are there on the ground; and we have the biggest defence programme of capital investment over the next 10 years of any Government at any time.

You just have to admire the gall of the Prime Minister as he ignores the question (that means no the Chinook's are not in service) and rolls out some Tractor Production statistics instead of answering the question.

Our Armed Forces deserve so much better than this. The Puma is a 40 year old design and all RAF Pumas are at least 20 years old.


BBC NEWS | UK | Two dead in Iraq helicopter crash

Who knows what else is out there?

It appears from this report in the Guardian that it was a junior civil servant who made the cock-up and sent the data to the National Audit Office. Apparently

"This individual should not have been involved. It was none of their business. They should have forwarded it on to someone else - another group of civil servants at a more senior level."

"The HMRC office is a huge office with 200 people and there is a nominated team that send items between us and other departments. The individual in question had nothing to do with that team and the it was completely outside their job remit."... ...

And on it goes about how they shouldn't have done this and etc and etc.

This is just not the point. No official should have the capability to do this in HMRC without having gone through a whole range of audited steps. No official, however high in the organisation, should have the ability to do this on a whim at any time. It is a complete breakdown of Security and not just a case of "not following procedures".

It is not just a case of a silly person doing something silly it is about an organisation that is criminally incompetent.

The only saving grace is that we know about this incident.

What about the untraced copies of data that could have taken by, it seems, any member of this organisation and have already been supplied to those who could profit from this data. Who can tell what is out there if it was only procedures that are supposed to stop this type of data extraction.

Civil servant who made the 'colossal error' | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics

Parachuting in the Sun



I rather liked the advert in the top right corner for Customs and Excise as they bailed out of a plane as Darling will surely have to do from the Government if this scandal gets any worse. Strike three cannot be long.

Its juxtaposition with the article on the loss of 25 million records by HMCR is striking.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Broken Spine

After todays news that the Government via the HMRC has managed to lose 25 million peoples personnel and banking data how safe do you feel about having your health details held on a National Database.

According to the Guardian

Nearly two-thirds of family doctors are poised to boycott the government's scheme to put the medical records of 50 million NHS patients on a national electronic database, a Guardian poll reveals today.
Now this is doctors who won''t put your details onto the system so they must not trust it for some reason otherwise they would happily put your details onto the database as it would be tremendously useful.

In a poll for the Guardian three-quarters of family doctors said medical records would become less secure when they are put on a database that will eventually be used by NHS and social services staff throughout England. Half thought the records would be vulnerable to hackers and unauthorised access by officials outside the NHS. A quarter feared bribery or blackmail of people with access to the records and 21% suspected that social services staff would not adhere to the confidentiality rules. I am unsure if there was a tick mark for all the data being given away to all and sundry by junior staff.

The poll of more than 1,000 doctors was conducted by Medix, a healthcare online research organisation previously used by the Department of Health to test medical opinion. It found GPs are increasingly concerned about the department's plan to automatically upload the records of everyone who does not register an objection.

I would venture to suggest that after today the polling figures amongst Doctors would be even worse.

Also in the the Guardian's Comment is Free, Ann Robinson says a second opinion is required on The Spine and it's use. Don't forget you will have to actively register an objection to having your details put on The Spine by replying to a letter telling you of the the changes.

Afters todays inept showing by the Government I would prefer not to have to give my details to them at all. I wonder if we could refuse to give details to HMRC as we believe they are in breach of the Data Protection Act and as such should not be allowed to store confidential data.

Just in case you wondered the total cost of the Spine system for the NHS is currently running at about £12.4 billion.

Family doctors to shun national database of patients' records | Society | The Guardian

MOD and its ‘Co-operation’ in Inquests



Please read the blog entry by Beau Bo D'or and see the image.

MOD and its ‘Co-operation’ in Inquests at Beau Bo D’Or

Major Operational Problem?

What more can go wrong for this Government?

"Intriguing news. Alastair Darling is to make a second and unexpected statement to the Commons this afternoon. It is not about Northern Rock but is, I'm told, about a 'major operational problem' at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. One rumour (and it is, I stress, no more than a rumour) has it that it is about 'data loss'."

Update: More discussion on this here

According to the BBC
Confidential details of 15 million child benefit recipients are on a computer disc lost by HM Revenue and Customs, the BBC understands.The chairman of revenue and customs, Paul Gray, has resigned.

Update 2: According to Darling all Child Benefit names have been "lost" includes parents/children and basically all the details you would need to raid an account or set up a new account. This is a disaster waiting to occur and apparently this is the second time it has happened.

PC gone Mad

I see the Met Police are taking Political Correctness to the nth degree. A uniformed Mascot of one of Blunkett's Bobbies (PCSO'S) was criticised by one of the force's sergeants for failing to represent the capital's communities.

He said the figure, white with blue eyes and blond hair, risks leaving Asian and women officers "isolated".

According to the Telegraph

senior officers said they would invest £15,000 in the design and production of three new characters.

In a written response to the London Assembly, Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said staff from the force's diversity unit were brought in to help create the costumes.

So what started out as a simple and effective idea which was popular in schools has been turned into an issue which could damage the public image of the Police

Met to create politically correct mascots - Telegraph