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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Digital Economy Bill – or how to screw up free WiFi

The bill is an attempt by the government to crack down on internet copyright infringement, not a bad idea in itself, but as usual with this government, it is the implementation that’s totally screwed. By attempting to place the burden on the provider, the bill, which went through the house of Lords this week and looks set to fly unless someone DOES something,  is likely to affect, Internet Cafe, Hotels, service providers, trains and the PUBLIC.

Anyone offering WIFI access – how about the COUNTLESS FON USERS !!???!!

The bill could also affect any small business that allows for home working… the list goes on and on and on…  apart from anything else, why on EARTH should any hotel, faced with the possibility of having to police the use of their WIFI – which is WAY beyond the technical or managerial skills of your average hotel, why should they BOTHER to continue to offer free WIFI.

We’re still living in the DARK ages in the UK and this bill is about to make it a LOT WORSE. What about the free WIFI on TRAINS??!!??

If ever there was an example of the government trying to turn us all into willing participants in a POLICE STATE you are now looking at it!!!  

You may find these links useful…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/apr/08/internet-piracy-bill

http://www.fsb.org.uk/policy/assets/0310%20digital%20economy%20bill%20briefing.pdf

http://www.openrightsgroup.org/

http://computingblogs.typepad.com/peter_scargill/

and to gripe to your MP

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/speakout/extremeinternetl

Champers at 10

Peter Scargill outside Number 10

It all began with a cordial invite from the Prime Minister to a small, select group of businesspeople to attend a reception at 10 Downing Street to “Celebrate the Success of Small Business”. Everyone had their own personal invite from number 10 and we individually had to RSVP directly. My invite is staying on the cork board at home in case the grandkids are ever interested.

Arriving at the scene by taxi, I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I can confirm that they’ve converted Downing Street entrance into something very military-looking, a sad reflection of our times – you simply can’t get into the street AT ALL without the full metal detector bit. To be fair the police were very friendly with it all and this didn’t really detract from the experience..

After passing security we walked up to number 10 which in itself is quite an experience as the entrance is instantly recognisable to anyone with a TV.

We were welcomed inside and asked to leave coats and mobile phones at reception. The place is a lot bigger than I imagined and there is a large entrance-way with a reception desk, racks for coats and an area specifically for storing mobile phones – not securely which was a bit of a worry, but I let it pass as everything was well-lit and there were people floating around with earphones plugged in looking like something out of the TV series "24".

Having been relieved of our potential weapons of mass destruction it was for a moment, Outside 10 Downing Streeteach man for himself. Past reception is a large spiral staircase and all the way up are images of past prime ministers – very impressive. I took my time to enjoy the moment. Once upstairs we were greeted not with champagne but simply a choice of red of white wine – and very nice too! We were free to wander about the place, I don’t think anyone got to to see the cabinet room which is apparently in the basement (good idea thinking about it) but the place is pretty impressive non-the-less. No doubt the official photos when they arrive will paint a better picture than I could here except to say that the inside of 10 Downing Street is suitably impressive.

As colleagues arrived, well known faces appeared including “Sir” Alan Michael Sugar though I have difficulty with this fellow as he looks a bit spiv-like to me..  and I’ve not forgotten the FSB call for his resignation, obviously some HAD as they SHOOK HANDS with him. Each to their own and I suppose that networking with the fellow is better for business than ignoring him as I did. Next up was Lord Mandleson who proceeded to apologise for Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s absence as he was off on important business – and who then gave us a polished, rehearsed speech about the importance of small business.

I’m not one for deference and I was glad to see that at least some of the other guests felt the same way. As the speech rolled out I imagined the phrase “small businesses” being interchanged with “unions” or whoever else the target audience might be in a smooth but less than convincing talk about how much the government cares about business, how much they need to listen to us and how much they’re doing for us. Those present for the most part stood politely in their lounge suits and merely listened… but looking at their faces it was pretty obvious not that many were staunch labour voters, none of which detracts from the excellent experience of actually BEING THERE and of course that was the whole point. There were some groans at one point and Lord Mandleson had to change tack – but then surely he didn’t think business representatives would let him off lightly?

Outside Downing Street waiting for security

Within half an hour or less the speech was over and everyone was pretty much free to network, which we all did – and of course more drinks were on offer and there was a fabulous view to enjoy. I was doing my best to take full advantage of the situation and having a nice chat with one of my fellow businessmen when a microphone appeared out of no-where..  For the life of me I can’t remember which newspaper or radio station it was but the reporter went through a whole list of questions about how we felt about government, banking and just about everything else he could think of, clearly he was onto a goldmine with the two of us as we were taking turns at the mic for well over 15 minutes – a MOST enjoyable way to round off the evening though some of it was probably not entirely what the residents of number 10 would have preferred to hear.

Several glasses of wine and umpteen nibbles later, though not under any pressure to exit the premises, a small group of us decided it was time to take our leave and wandered back down the scenic stairway and out of the door to be greeted by the official photographer – I can’t wait to see the results – We then took various amateur shots, most of which of course were rubbish… mobile phone cameras are pretty useless in the dark.

Off we went to the nearest Italian restaurant – and a good time was had by all. We’d done our relationship-building for the night, time for some real enjoyment.

Loser Brown Fights on

Isn’t it amazing….Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said Labour will fight “every inch of the way” to win what will be a “big choice election” for Britain’s future.

And so.. what what kind of fighting was he doing all this time as he let us slide into the worst recession in my lifetime? Isn’t it a bit LATE for speeches? He’s blown our economy and blown ANY chance of him and his band of losers getting into government again for some time – hopefully for a LONG time.

If Gordon Brown was going to get us out of a mess, he’d have done it long before now, or even taken action to stop things getting this bad in the first place. He didn’t and he deserves to GO – the sooner the better.

Happy New Year 2010

Willow Cottage Snow Scene

Happy New Year from Maureen and I to everyone.  I wonder how your NYE went?

By teatime on 31st Dec in our part of the Northeast, the roads were freezing over and as usual the council were failing to keep with the programme.  The plan was to set off to our friend’s place and park the car there. They would then take us to our destination “Derwent Manor” – to celebrate the end of, for many, one of the worst years in living memory.

With roads reduced to blankets we set off, rarely getting over 10mph for fear of heading straight on into the nearest hedge. With the help of a little grit, we parked the car up for the night and headed off in Bob and Margaret’s Lexus which, I have to say handles icy roads superbly. As you’ll see in the pictures below, everyone had a marvellous time, dinner at 8pm (we sneaked in our own champagne) and after a superb show by a “Take That” tribune band, the party went on until the early hours of the morning.

On the assumption that a picture is worth a thousand words….

AlisonMargaretMargaret, Maureen and BobChampagne

Everyone having a good timeThe band

The bandThe band

The bandThe band

The band The band

So, we had a great night and now it’s 2010, the start of a new decade – and hopefully a much nicer one. I’m busy reading a book by the founders of Ecademy, a leading social network..who quoted a speech by David Cameron, leader of the conservatives and for better or worse the guy who will head up the next government… and I quote:

“Today, in a speech to the Open University, I set out our plans for a radical redistribution of power back to the people: from the state to the citizens; from Whitehall to communities; from bureaucracy to democracy. This is a massive, radical change. But I believe that through decentralization, accountability and transparency we can take power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street”.

Let’s hope that 2010 is the start of a new and exciting decade! Happy New Year everyone!

London – the New Middle-East

When I was a youngster, one of my favourite treats was to come down to London to Edgeware Road, a delightful place full of electronics and hifi junk stores, one of the more interesting being MORGANs who used to sell surplus gear at really good prices.

Well, Morgans is no longer but more worryingly, yesterday we spent a couple of hours on the street to see what’s new. What’s new (to us, though not to Londoners) is that streets like this are now an object exercise in how NOT to achieve racial integration.  Far from the ideal of integration where people from all over the world would come over here, adopt our ways and become “British”, the exact opposite has happened here.  For all the world, walking down Edgeware you’d think you were in a foreign country, far away from the British Isles. Shops proudly display signs in utterly indecipherable language and to the last one are oriented to promoting foreign culture, not the opposite.. and frankly, the place is a DUMP.

I think that’s probably the last time I will ever visit Edgeware road. I felt like a minority. From now on when I hear Londoners complain, I shall reply appropriately – you get what you ask for.

An Embarrassing time for Nuclear Protesters

ban the bombSo now, Ed Milliband is going to approve a new generation of nuclear power plants – and not before time.

But isn’t there something wrong here? Do older readers recall that it was generally socialists who used to go so far as to break the law, trying to break into nuclear power stations to SHUT THEM DOWN?

But then as we’ve seen recently with the expenses scandal, principles and honesty seem to be items that have long since disappeared from this government’s agenda.

I can remember when Bedlington had big signs up declaring it was a “nuclear-free zone” – I used to go around with an ink marker as a youngster adding “tell that to the Russians” at the bottom.

Covering one’s Backside

tmpCA35Children are to be banned from paddling during school trips under “health and safety guidelines”.

Apparently they are to be ordered not to wade into ankle-deep water until teachers first carry out a full risk assessment and put “proper measures in place”.

This has nothing, NOTHING to do with health and safety. It is legislation gone MAD and is more about covering one’s BACK.

Whatever next, no using the school loos without a biological inspection (looking in the matter, as it were)?

I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in my LIFE!

Mr Alan – you’re FIRED!!

"Sir" Alan Michael Sugar’s remarks are a disgrace. I would not work with him if he was the last business in the world. How on EARTH our misguided government ended up taking him on is totally beyond me. I cringe whenever he is shown on TV as a businessman — because it gives a HORRIBLE and inaccurate impression of business people to today’s youth.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK and many are struggling hard. He is arrogant, ignorant and should be removed from his government post IMMEDIATELY.

Indeed if he had any honour – he would RESIGN!!!

Last, dying Gasps of Government

As far back as I remember, we always seem to get sensible white papers from governments either just before they go on summer break – or when they’re about to be thrown out of office – either way, nothing ever then happens.

In a new white paper, the suggestion is being made that parents could be fined or jailed if their children mis-behave! Now, you may think that’s drastic – but nothing else has worked, in many parts of Britain kids roam around causing damage and absolutely nothing is done about it – I’m 55 and it’s been this way since I was in my teens. The parents don’t care, the police are almost powerless, schools are terrified of even scolding kids – and the kids themselves know it. Perhaps the thought of a jail sentence might renew the parents’ interest in the behaviour of their offspring.

As a kid, I went to “Spring Gardens” school in North Shields and I had a fabulous time but there was no shortage of discipline when needed… I was generally productive – I had hobbies and simply got on with my life – but on the odd occasion I got into trouble like everyone else and I still to this day remember sitting for what would typically be 5 minutes but which seemed like hours, outside of the headmaster’s room awaiting a caning across the hand and BOY did it hurt. Ok the pain only lasted minutes but the whole authority thing, backed by parents who usually tool the school’s side, ensured I generally played ball with society. Today, schools have zero power to discipline kids and have done for some years. Parents of unruly kids are more likely to try to sue schools and police than cooperate with them and meanwhile the kids are loving it!

If someone has kids then until they are 18 and fully responsible for their own actions as adults, SOMEONE should be responsible – and I reckon it should be the parents – and it sounds like the government finally agrees…. it all sounds like a breath of fresh air – the funny thing is it’s the LAST thing I’d expect from socialists – but then, there isn’t a hope in hell of the current government staying in office for much longer – so don’t expect ANY of these new bold initiatives to actually GO anywhere.

Professional Persons

I’m in the process of applying for a new passport, having put mine in the wash (don’t laugh, it’s easy to do).

In the process of filling out the two forms to get a replacement I noticed that you have to get the form countersigned by “a professional person or a person of standing in the community (for example bank or building society officials, police officers, civil servants…etc)”

Bankers… they’re kidding, right?