Bad cold calling from HSBC

Normally I never answer my mobile if it is a withheld number. If they want me I think whoever it is will either call back or leave a message.

Today I answered and there was a jolly voice asking if it was me. I of course said yes, and then they asked me could I confirm part of my security as it was HSBC calling. I said, but I don’t know it is HSBC calling. To which they tell me I can call HSBC through their usual number to confirm it is a legitimate call. I then ask, well what is the call regarding, and laughably they tell me they can’t say.

The outcome… they waste a minute of my life, and because they can’t tell me what it was all about why on earth would I call back.


Sometimes the NHS can be a disgrace

My brother works in the NHS. My sister in law is a nurse. My father in law has dialysis ever other day. I understand what a great job the NHS does, yet sometimes some in the organisation just beggar belief.

Firstly for anyone who works for a living it is damn hard to ever see a doctor. But I can put that to one side. I am lucky. I haven’t seen a doctor sine I had a medical in the first week that I went to University. I have nearly doubled in age. I m 36 next yer.

For my wife’s fortieth birthday we are taking a holiday which require us to have various jab. She has just called the doctors surgery who have informed her that they won’t do it as they took a decision this year that “it takes too much time” and that we can go to Nottingham. Good to see that the first time in 18 years I might need something which is a medical issue (haven’t had a tetanus jab since at school for example) that “it takes too much time”!

PMQs 24th November


If you missed Prime Ministers Question which took place on 24th November click the play button above to listen again.

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The choice for Higher Education

Education is not free. It has a cost. With anyone who wants to going to University who can argue that the user (an adult) should pay something towards that?

The simple fact is the state – which actually means the taxpayer, cannot afford to fund the current system. So essentially there are two choices. You continue with mass Higher Education, with some courses that will have no value in terms of getting you a better job, and students take the hit if and when they earn £21,000 ad over by paying back their tuition, or you scale back the University sector,going back to selecting on academic merit, with the top going to top Universities (which would see lesser institutions close or back to teaching vocational courses) and the state pays.

The choice for the NUS and for students is there. Which would you prefer?

Students should just stop moaning and get in the real world

What are these EMA’s students are whining about? Hang on… are you telling me kids are getting money to go to school. My god. What happened before these things? I mean imagine you have a brother at University and you are at school and have a household with income from one parent working in the public sector. They would qualify for an EMA undoubtedly.

But you see I didn’t get one, and as any old geezer will tell you, “It didn’t do me any harm”. I’m fed up of hearing about education is a right. Yes it is to a certain age. But you don’t have a right to have free Higher education. Something being free does not mean there is no cost. Frankly  don’t accept you have a right to get an EMA either? Need some extra money? Get a weekend job like thousands have before you.

What is the point of the tax disc?

Yesterday the engine warning light came on my beloved Crossfire. Apparently it can mean anything though I know just the diagnostics will cost me a pretty penny! That combined with Humberside police giving me three points for driving 39 mph in what I thought was a 40 mph zone (apparently 30 mph) means the cost of motoring has suddenly increased for me in recent days.

Having just driven the car into the garage and left the mechanics to poke around and do what needs to be, I noticed my tax disc. It is there for all to see that the car is taxed, but what actually is the point of it? One of my first jobs at the post office was working in the DVLA team that dealt with returned tax discs bought over the counter. When the Government changed the rate of the tax discs it always created a huge job needing many more man hours to deal with such a change.

The DVLA I am sure spends a pretty penny sending out these discs and I am sure also has teams dealing with the millions of people sending partially used discs back wanting a refund. Just the time in man hours opening the post must be huge. But do we need the things in the first place?

Surely these days a tax disc is just a glorified receipt saying you have paid you tax. When you apply online the system can tell if you have an MOT and insurance. The police can check your number plate to confirm the same, so surely the same is true of a tax disc. The argument that it shows people you have paid tax on the car is a red herring. The only people that need to check is the police, surely…. and they can do that electronically.

I wonder how much money could be saved by stop issuing the things and just doing them electronically, or am I missing why they are still vitally important?

Are students interested in any dialogue?

The NUS suggest 50,000 students marched in London earlier in the month. If they are so interested in dialogue I wonder why out of 70 or so MPs contacted by this website were only 4 actually lobbied by students, parents or NUS representatives on that day?

Strikes me that they weren’t that interested in dialogue.

What to do with the trains?

Commuters and train users learned the not so great news that rail fares are going to shoot up. So that means a season ticket will got up 5.8%. Not good news. That means that our household could well face two lost of +£465. I wonder if I can put my prices up 5.8% or ask for a 5.8% pay rise. If it goes up by the maximum 10.8% possible that’s two lots of £866 to find. I wonder if I can put my prices up 10.8% or ask for a 10.8% pay rise. Doubtful- but then I don’t operate a monopoly whereby someone has no choice but to use my service.

Conversely the rail companies will point out passenger numbers keep on rising, and that the choice is bigger public subsidies from the taxpayer (from people who may not use the service) or increasing prices for them that use it.

So what’s the solution?

Will Irish eyes be smiling?

I am not sure what to say about the Irish bail out. Part of me, as I said on The Seven Days Show last night would like to see the Euro crash and burn. I have never been a believer in giving away your economic independence which frankly is what you do with the Euro. I am glad the UK is not part of it. It gives you that little bit more extra economic freedom – the power to set your own interest rates – which is vitally important.

But could we really have stuck two fingers up to Ireland and said you guys are on your own? We clearly do alot of trade with Ireland so its in our interest to keep their economy going, but if I were a constituent living next to Sheffield Forgemasters I would ask why can we find billions to lend to Ireland, but we can’t find a few million for Forgemasters? Of course that question could equally apply to why we would cut money for the police, or other areas yet can lay our hands on billions seemingly easy.

A further reason as to why we were in a complete Catch 22 situation was apparently (and I would love someone to confirm this) when the lovely Gordon Brown sold a chunk of our gold reserves at rock bottom prices, the money was put in Euros, so we have another financial interest to prop up the Irish economy and also the Euro.

I guess then, the questions shouldn’t be will Irish eyes be smiling – their electorate seem pretty miffed with the whole situation. The question is whether the UK taxpayers eyes be smiling having coughed up a considerable chunk of change.

Seven Days Show half century edition


The latest edition of the Seven Days Show is now online. In this weeks show (episode 50) we discuss the Royal Wedding; bailing out Ireland; the perils of blogging and why Tom Harris will be missed; Lord Young; some very very forthright views on the list of new peers announced; the new leader of UNITE; Lord Mandelson; and the Pope and condoms. Iain also tries to convince me the Chelsea manager has resigned, and has a request for the best apps available for his new I-phone.

To listen to the podcast click the play button above.

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