Thursday, 26 July 2012

UKIP: Lack of Joined up Thinking, or Something Else?

UKIP never showed much of a propensity for joined up thinking. I well remember the much vaunted policy paper launches which were embarrassing, with content being so controlled (and redacted) from above, and with the suggestion of unseen hands in the background that I eventually came to agree with Roger Knapman - architect of the 2004 Euro election success - that UKIP should have remained a one issue party.

I note an article on their party website complaining that a recently announced cut in wind energy subsidies is not enough - (complaining about wind energy is the party's stock in trade). But I also note that in UKIP's aged and out of date environment and energy policy, the party calls for 50% of Britain's power to come from nuclear generation. I have no problem with that per se, in fact I contributed to that paper, but does the party not realise the extent to which nuclear energy is subsidised in the UK?

Subsidies for nuclear energy are largely disguised, a matter recently brought up with ministers by backbenchers in the Commons. For example: limitation of liabilities, underwriting of insurance costs, subsidising waste disposal, and most importantly providing institutional support for the concept of nuclear energy. Other areas of concern have been identified.

UKIP states in the article I refer to above that "The whole wind farm industry is a con and is not viable without subsidies. It is wrong that the taxpayer should be paying to keep afloat private businesses, often based abroad,..."

British energy, which operates nuclear plants, came close to bankruptcy in 2004, and was saved by, guess what, a government subsidy of £3billion. France's EDF now owns 80% of British Energy.

Do you see what I mean about lack of joined up thinking?

But as regards UKIP's position, we have to ask if it is indeed lack of joined up thinking, or is it those aforementioned unseen hands in the background that are responsible for the lack of consistency, at least in this policy area? I personally suspect the latter.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Police State Shows Off it's Hardware.

Yesterday, July 21st, was Tin Tin's birthday, or as it is officially known, 'Belgian National Day'. It marks the inauguration in 1831 of King Leopold 1.

The highlight of the day is a military parade. I attended this year with my son, and a good friend whose own son and father were with him. The father was a lovely chap, with a great story to tell. As a young seaman, he was a crewman on board one of the ships that took the Soviet missiles into Cuba in 1962.

The military parade also had a story to tell. It is, I must say, remarkable for its lack of music. It is more like a funeral than a national celebration. But most telling is the equipment on display. This is not military hardware, this police kit. Lots of soft-skinned and lightly armoured vehicles with smaller calibre weapons - 7.62, 20mm, what looked like a 30mm Rarden, and a few close range AA missiles of a certain age. This army does not exist to deter an invader, or to take part in a major conflict with its NATO allies, it exists to control its own population.  The vehicles themselves remind me of more heavily armed versions of the 'Pigs' we used to ride around Belfast in during the late 70s, or the police armoured vehicles that were a familiar sight in South Africa during the Apartheid era. Nowhere else will you see water cannon on a military parade, but we saw it with our own eyes yesterday in the centre of Brussels.

Belgium displays many of the characteristics of a police state, and even some that I would associate with a fascist state. Its army has a strange appearance. A somewhat theatrical US inspired uniform, complete with cravattes, and a weird slow motion form of drill that makes them look like a cross between Audie Murphy and Billy Elliot. But there were not so many troops on display yesterday, just lots of police vehicles painted green, and water cannon.

I witnessed a civil disturbance last year which saw burning barricades just yards from my home. The police adopted a 'stand-off' approach until the demonstrators approached the Belgian Parliament and the Royal Palace. Then it was a different story. Then it was Robocop style riot police with batons drawn, and water cannon. This was a fascist state defending itself against its own people. It was not a pretty sight.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Another Investigation - What a Surpise!

None of us can forecast the future, but if there is one thing that is as certain as death and taxes, it is this.

If I were to be ressurected, let us say in 500 years time, I am absolutely certain that I will access whatever media is avaiable at that time, and the headline will read something like "Intergalactic Star Police called in to head inquiry into Bloody Sunday".

Of course the man who, we are told, fired the first shots on that terrible day, Martin McGuinness, will probably have been canonised by then, and will come out smelling of roses.

Soldiers are not policemen. If you fire a submachine gun at them, they will fire back, and they will do a very good job of it. In causing an incident that cost the lives of 13 civilians, McGuinness, or whoever it was, got exactly what they set out to acheive: the creation of 13 martyrs. It was one of the most cynical of acts, and yet typical of the duplicitous republicans.

This is not to exonerate any illegal acts by the soldiers involved, but having received my green card (rules of engagement) in  Northern Ireland 1979 at the age of 18, I can assure you that those rules were not as tight as they are now.

Our soldiers and their actions should be held up to scrutiny, but not at the insistence of enemies who seek to damage us, and our reputations.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A Memorial Long Overdue!

Really lovely to see this memorial being unveiled in London. Of course, it was always difficult for us to discuss this aspect of the war, and so this memorial has been long overdue.

It is a beautiful piece of work, and incredibly detailed.

The most important thing is that the veterans themselves are delighted with it, and the sacrifice of more than 50,000 of our finest young men will never be forgotten.

A just punishment.

I note that Ian Brady wants to be moved to a 'softer' prison regime.

Born in 1961, I am of the same generation as those innocent children that Brady tortured and murdered, along with his sick girlfriend Myra Hindley. As you can imagine, I have  very strong thoughts on this subject.

It always struck me as just that Hindley died in prison just weeks before her planned release. How sweetly ironic was that. I hope that in her final moments she was tormented by the knowledge that she would never see freedom. Her suffering, of course, would have been as nothing compared to what she inflicted on those children in her pursuit of sexual excitement.

I read once that Brady lives a horrible life. He is force fed with food that has been urinated on, and adulterated with broken glass. I am quite comfortable with this. I rather hope that he is kept strapped to a hospital trolley and force-fed in this way for many years to come.

I hope his death, when it comes, is slow and agonising. I a m actually opposed to the concept of capital punishment. In my younger years I felt differently about this, mainly due to the political violence in Northern Ireland that was the background to my youth. Now I see things differently, and I am confident that my arguments are sound.

Therefore, I believe that in the case of Brady, execution would have been wrong. Not least because it would have been quick. In the case of Brady, whose every minute on Earth is an agony, justice is truly being served, and I hope he has many years left in which to enjoy his sick thoughts.