To ban or not to ban?

Iain Dale has a piece today on his blog which I completely agree with. I can’t think of another product which is legal that is treated in the same way. The Government is happy to take huge sums in tax revenue from tobacco sales, yet it has made it not legal to smoke in public places, it won’t allow advertising it, and now it wants to the product away from public view and also take any marketing materials or logos off the packaging.

Just like Iain I don’t smoke, never have, and would never allow anyone to smoke in my house. BUT the Government won’t come out and ban the thing, that they apparently are so against.

My big worry about these steps are the very same arguments could equally be applied to certain food or indeed alcohol that the Government also may think is too bad for us.

What next? No eating fast food in public places. Burgers only available from under the counter or in back alleys?

Replace replacement taxes

The media in the last few days has been full of talk of fuel duty. People are at last beginning to realise just how much the Government is taking off them in duty at the pump and no doubt that’s another reason for Labour’s current unpopularity.
 
So it was no surprise on Question Time last night when the first question was about the soaring cost of fuel. Unfortunately, Eric Pickles was unable to give a clear answer about what the Conservatives would do about this, because he desperately wanted to stick to the green agenda and so talked about the replacement taxes policy in a rather confused and convoluted manner.
 
I don’t blame Eric Pickles for this. The whole idea of these replacement taxes has become convoluted and needs dropping. It’s become apparent that tax will be a big issue at the next election with the public reaching the tipping point of their tax toleration. Do we really want to be going into the election saying we want to put more tax on cars and flights. Trust in politicians has been so eroded that the public won’t believe in the tax savings elsewhere.
 
Also, I can’t believe there are all these people (especially those on lower incomes) who are all driving and flying for the hell of it. Most driving especially in rural areas in essential to get to work, kids to school ect. In the village I grew up in, a bus come through 4 times a day. For a family to holiday closer to home and not fly abroad, that will surely involve driving as well won‘t it!
 
In practical terms, I don’t see these green taxes having a major effect in behaviour, and will only succeed in punishing the worse off. The policy must be dumped.

 

Latest from the by election in Crewe and Nantwich

I just got off the phone having chatted with Eric Pickles who was in the Camapign Headquarters up in Crewe and Nantwich.

To listen to what he had to say click this link, or listen to the podcast in the media player at the top of the website.

Eric seemed to be confident with the efforts that had been put in over the last few weeks, but was keen to point out that the party wasn’t predicting victory. He certainly had some interesting things to say about the tactics of the Labour party!

Oh, and as for predictions, he made just one. Chelsea to win the Champions league!

An insult to his inteligence

The lovely Portillo effectively revealed he didn’t vote for Boris, because the campaign was an insult to his intelligence.

Oh itmust be so nice to be so superior to the masses Michael. One may suggest that it could be that attitude which led to you failing to be leader of the party.

Just a thought?

Does the Home Secretary get out?

So the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith suggests that young thugs should be harassed and hounded by the police. Sometimes I wonder whether peoiple live in the real world.

Let me give the Home Secretary two examples of who young thugs are allowed to do exactly what they want, and why at some point I really would not be surprised if there was an upsure in vigilantism in the UK.

1) Two yobs driving their mopeds on a toddlers play area opposite my house. We call the police – but instead of getting put through to Newark, we are passed to possibly Nottingham and then Worksop who take that long taking details we think what’s the point. Previous experience of this hasn’t even brought a police office out. The local police station shuts at 5:00pm according to locals.

Now gobsmacked as I was the police actually sent a car up, and as luck would have it he pulled the little bastards over. Another neighbour went out and gave them a rollocking for driving over his garden (criminal damage I would have thought). The punishment for driving over pavements gardens and the like? A letter to their house. Oh well that will put a stop to it won’t it. I’m glad my three points have finally gone off my licence this month – or I would be seen to be more of a criminal than them!

2) Problem family lives close to my wifes grandparents in council accomodation. This week we learn one of them was caught with some stolen lead. Funnily enough on Tuesday – some time after the police had previously caught him, yet again he had more lead on his bike. The Chairman of the local tennants group has pointed out there are stolen bikes in the shed they use. The kids do not attend school. The Council do nothing to evict this family, or enforce attendance at school. The residents have asked if one of the five cameras pointed inwards at the local police station could possibly point outwards to the trouble spots. Oh no – apparently because of data protection issues? Again absolute nonesense.

To the Home Secretary. People like me and my family are now more and more reluctant to even bother calling the police because NOTHING IS DONE. I havent reported whoever scratched one of my hub caps all over when parking near to the station, as nothing will be done. But perhaps when we see crimes being committed it would be nice to think a police officer could possibly come from the station which is less that a mile away? Or how about this as an idea – maybe some regular patrols would actually prevent the anti social behaviour taking place in the place. Just a thought.

These kind of incidents are happening up and down the country and they are getting worse, and I for one am getting sick and tired of the softly softly approach of the police, and then judicial system that seems to be more on the side of the criminal than the victim.

Have I got Boris for you

Being rather sad, I forewent a Friday night out to see Boris confirmed as London Mayor. Before the result was announced, I watched a very funny edition of Have I got news for you hosting by Brian Blessed in maniac mood. It was quite fitting really as had it not been for Boris’s appearances on this programme, Ken Livingstone could well still be Mayor. For it was this programme that launched Boris on the national stage. You could argue he would have been famous due to his work at the Telegraph and Spectator but it was HIGNFY which put him in the public consciousness.
 
It was also this programme which helped the public rehabilitation of William Hague of course with a series of hilarious and very professional guest appearances which made the general public release this man isn’t a sad political loser but a clever funny normal bloke.
 
Add in the regular appearances of the likes of Bob Marshall Andrews giving New Labour a slating, and you could say the Conservative Party have a lot to thank the producers of this show for in the last few year. Whether that lasts into a new Conservative government of course remains the subject of debate.

 

Whats this EMA all about?

Last week I went back to my old school and chatted with a few students who were studying Economics at A/ AS level. We spoke about many things from current affairs to whether they would vote at the next election.

Now I don’t claim to be an expert in education, and whilst I do seem to remember something being said about kids getting paid to go to school, I have to say I hadn’t thought about it too much.

Apparently an Education Maintenance Allowance or EMA is a weekly payments of £10, £20 or £30 which gets paid directly into a students bank account. The amount received is calculated by looking at household income.

On top of the weekly amount a student can also receive bonuses – but only if you continue to do well and meet targets set by your teacher, tutor or provider when you start.

Perhaps I’m being a cynic – but the ones who handed the forms to the teacher so they could get their allowance seemed to be the pupils who were least interested in the lesson. In fact their complaint was they had to go to school 5 days a week, when those at the local college only had to do 3 days a week to get their allowance. Hmmm, hardly a ringing endorsement of the scheme is it?

So what message are we sending? Have £30 to go to school kids- but hey it doesn’t matter if the curriculum is appropriate to you, as we know you will attend just to get the money. I wonder what evidence there is that these payments have either increased educational attainment, or is money well spent in any way shape or form.

I believe there is a lot of research which points to the fact that if you want to increase educational standards money may be best spent at a primary level that at any other point of the educational lifespan of a pupil, as that’s where most rewards are reaped If you get it right at primary level, then the rest follows. It makes you think what primary schools would do to get an extra £30 per head – rather than just handing £30 to certain pupils to stay at school who quite frankly may not be that interested in stopping on.

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