Saturday, October 04, 2014

A healthy fairy tail

I am about to tell you a story based on true events.

Once upon a time there was a handsome headteacher who awoke one morning with pains (and discharge) in his ear. His caring bursar made an appointment with the doctor for eve of the weekend.

Leaving work 25 minutes before the appointment, the headteacher hit traffic within 500 metre of the school. With his heart pacing (worried that the petrol light was on and also he had to meet two beautiful ladies in less than 90 minutes), he made a u-turn and raced to meet his appointment, which he was 10 minutes late to. Within two minutes, The doctor, who we shall call the magic man, had prescribed a magic potion.

The dashing headteacher made his way to the pharmacy only to be told that they did not have the magic potion. With time running out, The headteacher asked the pharmacist's assistant to use the electric telephone to see whether the two remaining pharmacies in the local area had any of the required magic potion. At first his pleads fell on death ears, but finally the kind pharmacist assistant called the other pharmacies only to find out that they too did not have any of the magic potion.

With time ticking and petrol running ever low, the headteacher raced back to the magic man to seek another magic potion to mend his poor ear. The kind magic man signed a slip and the grateful headteacher once again set off to get the magic potion in his chariot with less and less petrol. This time he had to go to a high street super market (the other pharmacy was now shut).

With glee, the headteacher handed over the slip and 8 gold pieces. The pharmacist, made up the magic potion and called for a Paul. The headteacher ignoring this as Paul had no resemblance to the headteacher's actual name, was met with a quizzical look on the pharmacist face. The fair magic man had written the wrong name on the slip of paper.

The kind pharmacist used the electric telephone to call the magic man to request a facsimile of the prescription with the correct name. The good magic man did this. Well when I say did this, I mean a prescription was sent, but it was the original prescription, the one if you remember no-one had any of.

Time had now gone on and two awaiting beautiful ladies became one. The pharmacist who fought with all her heart for the dashing headteacher, once again made contact with the magic man, who dashed from his surgery to deliver the magic slip in person.

 Finally the pharmacist had the go ahead to prepare the magic potion for the headteacher. The headteacher was able to fill his chariot with the petrol, apply the first dose of magic potion and make his way over to the remaining beautiful lady.

Did the headteacher live happily ever after? only time will tell whether the magic potion worked....

Friday, November 01, 2013

Does the latest announcement mean we should be discussing a Federal Britain?

With the announcement today that Wales is going to be given more borrowing powers and there will be a referendum about greater tax powers, I think fair it time we discuss a parliament for England.

I truly believe in allowing politicians making decisions at a local level befitting the decision.  The down side with this is that there could possible create a Postcode Lottery of services.  I explored this way back in 2009.  I also believe in the United Kingdom.  I believe in some areas, we need to work as whole.

But with more and more decisions being made by the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Island, the need for a 'British' Government and 'British' Politicians to make decisions only affecting England is unjust and unfair.  How can it be right/fair/just for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Island Politicians to decide to raise Tuition Fees or to raise the cost of prescriptions, whilst their counterparts in the devolved governments are offering this for free or freezing the cost.

The decision today highlights the need for a separate English Parliament, not just allowing only English MPs to vote on English Bills.  We have seen that the voters in the devolved governments vote differently at different elections. This allowed the Scots to deliver Labour MPs to represent them at Westminster, whilst choosing an SNP Government to shaped devolved issues.

For example, I may feel that the Lib Dems would be better to run an English Parliament with their policies on Education, Health etc, whilst voting for Conservatives or Labour in a British Parliament because they are closer to my ideology on immigration and oversea aid.

With devolution embedded into our unwritten constitution, it's about time that all the nations are represented evenly.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I will be sorry to see Virgin go

There seems to be a lot of split feelings towards Virgin Trains losing their West Coast franchise yesterday.  I for one will sorry to see them go.

Now I have a very narrow experience of travelling by Virgin.  In the past 5 years I have used them once or twice a year and generally I travel off-peak and buy my tickets well in advance.  I must admit I also travel first class because the service has been great.  In the times that I have travelled with Virgin, I have never once experienced a problem.

The Virgin experience is not reciprocated elsewhere on the train network.  I have recently booked tickets (first class advance) for Edinburgh travelling using East Coast Trains.  East Coast Trains have only just, within the last year, provided a full complementary menu to its first class customers.  And as of yet, they do not allow first advance ticket holders to use their First Class Lounges, unlike Virgin.

Looking on First Great Western website, I can see where they may well end up making the savings they need to make in order to cover their commitments to the Department of Transport. The complimentary food is often less than Virgin offers and you have to pay extra by ordering from 'Express CafĂ©'.  Also they do not have anyone providing food and drink at weekends.  Instead the customers have to travel to the cafe to pick up their complementary food and drinks.

So on the whole Virgin, to me as a non-regular first class advance ticket traveller, seems to offer a service better than their competitors.  But like most things, only time will tell.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's like half time of a cup final

What a fortnight!  The whole country came together to make the Olympics a great success.  Everywhere you went people were happy, polite and relaxed.  And didn't our athletes do us proud too.

I was fortunate to attend 5 evenings of athletics and 1 afternoon at the Canoe Slalom and the volunteers, police and members of our armed forces were my heroes.

With the closing ceremony a few hours away and the opening ceremony of the para-olympics a couple of weeks away, it feels like it is half time of a cup final.  I simply can't wait until the para-olympics!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Is the BBC and the Telegraph as bigoted at me?

My recent post exploring what the medal table at the Olympic Games would have looked like if Scotland was an independent country had a number of people leaving comments saying I am bigoted.  Yet all across the web there have been posts breaking down the amount of Gold medals won by Team GB according to the nationality, county of birth and even town of birth.

The Daily Telegraph reports that 'Aberdeenshire in Scotland has more gold medals than Australia'. Whilst the BBC is reporting that Yorkshire would also have more medals than the Aussies.  Scottish musician David Berry also made the point of where Scotland would be if they were independent in a tweet.  Searching the web further and you see this post on Facebook also looks at the medal table if Scotland was independent.

Is it really that wrong that I explore the tables from an British point of view without Scotland?

I find it outrageous that I am labelled a bigot for exploring the subject. Is it because I am an Englishman?  If I was Scottish would I have been labelled differently?  Or is it that some sour faced Scots like the idea of  independence for Scotland, providing the rest of the UK fails?

Whatever the reasons for these comments (remember in the post I did not say that Scotland should leave the United Kingdom), are these same people calling the BBC, Telegraph and David Berry bigots?

Monday, August 06, 2012

What should be ask for in return for dropping the Lord's reform.

So it looks like another Liberal Democrat constitutional reform is going tits up.  Well, that is according to the BBC news website.  I am not surprised as to be honest there is far more pressing situation that our leaders should be focusing on, the declining economy for one.

I do not share with Nick Clegg's argument that Governments can focus on more than one thing.  The country has slipped into recession once again and all our leaders' energies must be focused on turning that situation around.  I think Alex Salmond has played a blinder by timetabling the Scottish Independence Referendum later in the electoral cycle.

I also think that we are beginning to look like a fringe party with a set agenda on constitutional reform.  A bit like the Green Party, but yellow.

So if the Lib Dems lose another constitution reform, what shall we ask for in return.  That is easy; abolish Tuition Fees.  Not only will this be prove to the country that we stick by our promises, but will relieve pressure on hard-hit families at a time everyone's salaries are squeezed.  It will inspire young people to better themselves, raising the aspirations of a generation.  It will also reverse a culture, which we have seen in our banks, where people accept personal debt is part of their lives.

I bet there are a lot of Lib Dems MPs who wish now they voted against increasing tuition fees and breaking their promise to Lib Dem voters.  I bet they wished they rebelled as it is beginning to be seen that teh Conservatives are getting their own way.

How would Scotland's independence affect the London 2012 Medal table?

I have just done a very quick and very unscientific poll* of the effect of Scotland gaining independence and the impact this would have on Great Britain on the Olympic medal table, as it currently stands.

The good news is the United Kingdom (without any Scottish athletes) would still be in third place in the table, with 11 gold medals.  However, this is only 1 more than Korea.

Scotland on the other hand would definitely have 1 gold medal (Andy Murray), placing them joint 31 with Croatia and Switzerland because they also achieved 1 silver (Michael Jamieson)

There are of course a number of  other factors that need to be taken into account.  As a majority of the money comes from the National Lottery would Scotland be able to support their athletes to the same standard as the rest of the UK?  Also would the the rest of the UK be able to replace the Scottish members in the team golds with equally as good athletes meaning they would rack up the same amount of medals.

So taking this all to account it looks highly unlikely that the rest of the UK isn't really going to be effected by Scotland becoming an Independent Country.

*For this very unscientific post I have awarded all the gold medals won by a Scottish individual to Scotland and made the assumption that the teams with a Scottish member in would not have achieved gold if they were replaced with an athlete from one of the UK's three other countries.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Truth about Tuition Fees

It's me again and it's me again arguing for the abolishing of tuition fees.  Way back in September 2010 when a 'Graduation Tax' was being mooted rather than increase in tuition fees, I posted my initial thoughts.  In the article I  raised a question:
However, there is one point that I can't seem to answer. I am sure I have read it somewhere, but is there some research somewhere that says those of us who have gone through university end up contributing more through taxes in our working life than those who don't.
Now research has shown that as I graduate and very fortunate one as my fees were paid, by the time I retire I would have contributed ten times more to the economy than my peers who did not attend university.

The Liberal Democrats lost all credibility when they voted for the increase in tuition fees.  As a dedicated Lib Dem follower, more so at the last General Election, I was proud to campaign against tuition fees.  Our MPs have let us down, let the party down and the many people who voted for us

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Help my school win £10,000


Can you spare 1 minute to help my school win £10,000? Over 50 children in my school have taken part in the 'Fairy Schools Challenge'. They have designed a plate of Good Wishes for Team GB in the Olympics.

All you need to do is:
  1. Visit the Fairy Schools Challenge website.
  2. Click 'Vote Now'
  3. Search for 'Leverton'
  4. Choose one of our plates (the one you like best)
  5. Vote
Please share this with as many of your friends as possible. The more votes we get, the greater the chance of winning and winning £10,000.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Michele Rawlings Found

Great news. It is reported that Michele Rawlings has been found. I would like to send my love to her family.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Missing: Michelle Rawlings

Please help find Michelle Rawlings. I have known Michelle a number of years now. She was a lifeguard at Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool and we did our swimming teaching qualification together. In 2010 her husPublish Postband helped with Ann Haigh's campaign, and his Aunt has tweeted about Michelle's disappearance. She attends a parent and toddler group with one of my teachers and I received a text message earlier from my teacher to help spread the news.

My thoughts are with the family. Let's hope Michelle returns home safely quickly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Scottish Independence: English Fairness?

With the fuss surrounding the timing of Scottish Independence Referendum, it makes me wonder whether the party has missed the mood of the public once again. Either that or our leaders were very short sighted in the first place.

When devolution was proposed, one obvious question was not answered. What to do with England?

As a proud Englishman I feel outraged that Welsh and Scottish MPs can enforce laws on the people of England, whilst vice versa isn’t possible.

I believe that an English Parliament is the only way ahead, allowing English people to vote for parliamentarians to make decisions that directly affect them; on health, on education and on economic development.

We should have taken a bold stance in 1997, setting up a parliament in each of the countries to allow local representatives to make decisions on local issues. Then one Federal Government to make decisions that affect the United Kingdom; namely defence.

Voters know exactly what they want. They often vote for one party to represent them locally, yet another nationally.

Without empowerment for the people England, I am certain that a vast majority will encourage Scottish voters to vote for independence and the demise of the Union once and for all.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Yes to AV campaign packs up and goes home

I noticed that the Yes to Fairer votes campaign have already packed up and gone home. They have taken down their website already.

I must admit I was very disappointed with how the campaign was run, especially as there wasn't a free post.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Now we want an English Parliament

Counting is now over and the referendum in Wales has been won and about time too. Now Welsh politicians can be held to account. If they have promised to do something, they can no longer blame Westminster for holding up the delivery of the project.

Now as a proud Englishman I feel the previous Labour government and current coalition governement are discriminating against me. On key areas of policy, like health, education and housing, Welsh people, Scottish people and and residents of Northern Ireland can vote for the their fellow men/women to lead on these areas. Yet I do not have the same opportunity. Instead decisions on these areas are made in Westminster, by all members, whether representing English, Scottish, Welsh etc. How unfair is this?

So with direct law making powers in three or the four nations of the United Kingdom, it's time for English people to be on a level playing field and an English Parliament is established.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Olympic legacy beginning to take shape

This is just the sort of action I was calling for in my blog post last week. Well done British athletics!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We must not leave legacy to West Ham United alone

As an athletic supporter I warmly welcome the decision by the Olympic Park Legacy Company to back West Ham's bid to take over the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

I for one think 2012, along with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, will be a great year for Britain and I am looking forward to spending everyday supporting the Olympics and Para Olympics during my summer holiday.

When we won the bid, we promise legacy. We promised that from the birth of the Olympic Stadium, Britain will have a world class athletics venue. To be honest it wasn't until I visited the Barcelona Olympic Stadium last year that I truly realised the need for a stadium athletics can call their home in Britain.

It was during that time that I realised that Britain had never hosted a European Championships. I have subsequently found out that we have never hosted a World Championships. Two major championships, the first where we did so well last year, that help to inspire our athletes to do their best, to become the top of the game. And we have never hosted them.

So now that the legacy of athletics is secured we must get behind West Ham to ensure that legacy is fulfilled. We need to put pressure on the government, Mayor of London and British Athletics Associations to bid to stage this major events and bring them to London. Otherwise the need for an athletics stadium will disappear and football may well take it over once and for all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is Vince's indiscretion David Laws's opportunity?

So it looks like the coalition is finishing the year just as it started in May, with a Liberal Democrat resignation. Vince, for whatever reason (stupidity, tiredness or planned) has not only voiced his concern over the direction the coalition is taking, but also over inflating his own self worth.

History tells you that no-one is indispensable and Vince Cable's latest opinions are not so much a problem for the coalition but more of a problem with his own credibility.

But more importantly do these latest revelations about Vince Cable open the door for David Laws to return to front line politics? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

More pieces of the tuition fees policy we trip over

It seems that another concession is being made to try and buy MPs' votes on tuition fees tomorrow. In fact the coalition's original proposals seem to be in such tatters that we have to be careful where to walk in case we trip over them!

With this further concession, which only has an impact if salaries do not rise in line of inflation, then surely it is time to prospone Thursday's vote and spend longer in coming up with a policy that will have less of an impact on the future of higher education and the poorer in our society.

Coaliton agreement does not commit to higher tuition fees

One of the few arguments that Lib Dems members, who are accepting the rise in tuition fees, are making is that this decision is acceptable because we are a (minor) player in a coalition government and not all our policies can be made into law; it's about give and take. Well looking back at the coalition agreement it does not mention anything about increase in tuition fees.

The agreement states:
We will await Lord Browne’s final report into higher education funding, and will judge its proposals against the need to:
– increase social mobility;
– take into account the impact on student debt;
– ensure a properly funded university sector;
– improve the quality of teaching;
– advance scholarship; and
– attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

So on receipt of the Browne report Vince Cable and his team could quite easily have looked at the report and drawn up their own proposals. Especially as the recommendations don't take into account the impact on student debt, after all it increases the amount of debt our young will get into.

The proposals also will have an impact on the proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and the government must know this. Why else would they rush to announce proposals to give students from poorer backgrounds a year free tuition?

So the coalition did not have to follow the road it has taken. Our MPs should now uphold the pledge they made and vote with a clear conscience against the rise when it is debated on Thursday.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Maybe competition is a good thing

In September I wrote a blog entry about competiton. A new bus service started between Loughton and Waltham Abbey, running a few minutes before the established one and charging less.

My main concern was that competition made lead to the regulated service being withdrawn and then prices will rise whilst the quality of service would be fall. I have since found out that the service I use, run by Arriva Buses, in fact are not regulated.

Well this week Arriva is fighting back with new ticket prices, with a range of weekly and monthly tickets that works out to be less than a 5 x single fares.

So competition does seem to be making things better for the consumer, although spreading the services throughout the day more evenly and making tickets transferable between the services would also be welcome.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Coalition's tuition fee policy in tatters

The saga over tuition fees continues. First there is the backlash after the coalition announced it was going to raise the current cap. Then there has been will he, won't he episodes over whether Vince Cable will vote for the shift in policy, abstain or vote against. Now a new day brings a new announcement that the poorest in society will only leave with two-thirds of the level of debt than others.

This latest development surely it proves that two things. The first that the voice of Lib Dem members/ voters, whether it is through the numerous petitions set up, letters written or the falling numbers in the polls, are started to be heard. And secondly, that there is unease amongst the coalition ahead of Thursday's vote.

Surely with such uncertainty, it is best for the vote to be cancelled on Thursday and the government to reconsider its plans and wait until they have a well-thought out policy before bringing it to the House of Commons.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Simon does the Wright thing

Following on from his wishy, washy letter I received last week, (although I should at least give him the credit for replying as the other MPs haven't) Simon Wright, Lib Dem MP for Norwich South, has now come out against the planned rise in tuition fees and will not vote against it next week.

This is great news for everyone who has put pressure on the MP to do the right thing and honour the pledge he made prior to the general election. When Vince Cable announced the policy in October, I decided to stay with the only party I have been a member of and fight this insane policy. I am pleased that the petition I set up has contributed to changing the mind of one of our MPs.

Now that Simon has come out publicly we have under a week to change the mind of many others, so please do sign the petition.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vince defending the undefendable

Watching proceedings from the House of Commons this evening, I find myself cheering on the Members of Parliament from the Labour benches. They certainly are giving Vince Cable a hard time on tuition fees as Vince tries to defend the undefendable.

As one Labour MP pointed out, the Liberal Democrats fought the election with a clear plan to abolish tuition fees. Yes, the Lib Dems did not win an outright majority, but supporting a rise is a major u-turn that shouldn't be accepted. Our MPs have got to have some backbone and vote against it, not to abstain.

As Vince sat down he was patted on the back by a number of Conservative MPs. Our ministers must remember that they are Lib Dems in a coalition government not a Conservative in a Conservative government.

Appearing in the Golden Dozen again

In my experience there seems to be 3 ways to get a post on one's blog read the most. The first do extremely well in an election. The second to threaten to leave the party. And finally, criticise the leadership.

Well last week I managed to again appear in Lib Dem Voice's Golden Dozen, the forth time in as many weeks. This time I was concerned that the voice of the ordinary members of the Lib Dem is worth nothing if the leadership ignores it once they get into government. You can read the blog post here.