Wednesday, October 24, 2007

...and while I'm on the subject of New Labour...

Oh yes ! One of the politburo, possibly one of the Millibanden, has now advised us to read to our children when putting them to bed. Good lord, I'd never have thought of that if he hadn't suggested it ! But then this is the government which thinks it's all right for me only to see my children once a fortnight.

(Sorry, Barry. Some readers may have noticed some (shall we say) mildly critical comments on my postings on shared parenting by someone called Barry Molyneaux (who by the way does not exist, having an empty profile, no blog and admitting to being a pseudonym).)

Is it just me or is the world mad (3) ?

Now, I admit that I may have dreamed this, as the Today programme does sometimes send me back to sleep. According to a government spokesman, they are planning to send a letter to parents to tell them if their children are fat and what to do about it ! A doctor responded that it was much better to reinforce positive behaviour. That's the plan, the spokesman said. The government will actually send a letter to all parents telling them whether or not their children are fat. Because, apparently, some parents don't notice.

Clearly the government has accepted its responsibility for people being fat (see previous posting). We can expect soon to receive our personal targets, which will then be published in a league table. Doesn't it make you all warm inside to know that we are all in the safe hands of a New Labour government ? Or perhaps just flaming furious that these patronising, paternalistic, bureaucratic fascists are wasting your taxes telling you and your children how to live !

Go on, please tell me I dreamed it. Then it's only me that needs help.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is it just me or is the world mad ? (2)

A report out today tells me it's not my fault that I'm overweight. Apparently, it's the government's fault. Clearly I should immediately stop dieting (lost 16lbs so far) and sue the government for compensation.

Is it just me or is the world mad ?

The Metropolitan Police are being prosecuted for breaching health and safety regulations when they shot Menezes, not for murder or manslaughter. I wonder, does the Health and Safety Executive publish guidelines on the safe way to kill innocent dark-skinned foreigners on tube trains ?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chris Huhne - young Turk !

...and just for balance, here's a young radical student called Huhne trying to bash in the door of the establishment with a bench. What an appropriate image for the position of leader of the Liberal Democrats in an archaic parliament whose procedure assumes only two parties.

Sorry there's no dog, Chris, but if you send me a picture of yourself with a dog, I will publish it.

I think we should be told !

Has anyone noticed the amazing resemblance between the Mountie Fraser in Due South and Nick Clegg. I wonder if they are related. I think we should be told, before we decide how to vote.

So farewell, Ming

What a strange, superficial world British politics has become ! Ming resigns because he is too old ? Or doesn't land punches in his two questions at the weekly Punch & Judy show known as PMQs ? How ridiculous.

I have been critical of Ming within the party because I disagreed with him about Trident and generally I felt his approach to policy was too cautious. The latter complaint applies not particularly to Ming but to the whole policy-making apparatus of the Liberal Democrats. As I think Simon Titley wrote in Liberator, just changing the leader won't solve that problem. It's a change of tactics that's necessary. Liberal Democrats don't need to win every vote in the country and should not be afraid to alienate some. We can and should speak for liberalism, not some curious melange called "Liberal Democracy". Incidentally, look at the loudest public critics of Ming who have fed the media desire for splits - Bill Rodgers, Dick Taverne, Chris Clarke. Guess what - all Social Democrats ! As Simon also commented on radio - the problem was not the so-called Young Turks (Chris Huhne is in his 50s) but the old gits !

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bleep, bleep...bleep, bleep

I was at primary school when Sputnik was launched and tried to make a model of it in a class when we played with building blocks. A visiting teacher of patriotic disposition said, "Why don't you make a model of the new British invention - Zeta ?" I asked her what it was, what it did and what it looked like but she couldn't tell me. Much, much later I found out that it was a very premature announcement of a fusion reactor which would produce "unlimited energy from sea-water". What happy, innocent days those were when my mother and I scanned the night sky for sputnik, Britain had its own space (or at least missile) programme and in all decent science fiction alien invasions were dealt with by the police force and the men from the ministry with a bit of help from Prof Quatermass !

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Feedback 2: Fathers

Barry's other comment was on my posting about Liberal Democrat policy towards fathers.

He wrote, "This makes disagreeable reading on a supposedly liberal blogsite, and it is difficult to know where to begin. You mix general comments with specific which you clearly are inviting your readers to believe matches your situation. Firstly, your statement "the [father] loses his property." This is not the 19th century - these days marital property is assumed to be jointly owned regardless of whose name is on the deeds(and presumably your [marital]"property" was registered in your sole name - am I right?) Wives have property rights too in case you hadn't noticed.

you appear to be demanding a regime in which there is "control" over how the "ex-wife spends the money" (the child support) Do you want a government quango to be demanding household accounts and scrutinising grocery bills, or do you want the non-resident parent[ in CSA jargon] to be able to enter his/her children's home to check on the pantry or audit bank accounts? Do you want your ex-wife to be providing receipts? Perhaps you want your ex-wife to draw up a "child support budgetary plan" for your scrutiny and agreement? Is it really true to say that your children are turning up at your house "inadequately clothed" and "ill-fed" and that you are forced to provide food and clothing for them? Or is this hyperbole to make your point?

You call for "shared parenting" This can work and many divorced couples arrive at mutually acceptable arangements but it all depends on the nature of the divorce. If you have not managed to agree a "shared parenting" regime with your ex-wife then it probably is because she does not want it. Perhaps - have you considered - she has good reason? Reading your blog, and the casual way you seem to want to control her life through control over her household finances and the way she is bringing up her children and the insinuation that she is starving her children and failing to clothe them adequately- I would say she had reason enough to reject a closer involvement with you over parenting. I note that you are standing for the European Parliament in my region (the south-east) I for one will not be supporting you. "

Barry, by all means take issue with things I say but don't attack me for things which I didn't say. My remarks were based on my experience in counselling fathers through Family need Fathers and not just my own experience. Your remarks about my attitude to my ex-wife are unjustified, insulting and absurd. For the record, I have not claimed and I do not claim that my ex-wife "is starving the children and failing to clothe them adequately" nor do I want to "control her life". Given your propensity to distort what I have said, I will confine any future posts on the subject to the general.

Firstly, property. As you rightly point out property is assumed to be jointly owned and not merely assumed but actually set out in the relevant deeds. Why then is it reasonable for the state through the courts to order that one partner's share in the property is taken away and given to the other partner, whom the state has decided should live with the children ? Of course, in some cases this may be the only solution for the sake of the children. However, in many cases it would be possible for the children to spend more time with both parents. In many cases, the value of the joint property would be sufficient to allow both partners to buy new but smaller properties if it were sold. The courts do not usually support such a solution, preferring to expropriate the share in the property which the parent now labelled by the state as "absent" has built up over years. The absent parent may as a result have insufficient accommodation for the children when contact happens.

Secondly, the question of what counts as child support. Of course, I am not demanding such an absurd regime as you suggest. I am simply pointing out the unfairness of a system where the resident parent is assumed to be benign and to spend child support on the children whereas the non-resident parent is assumed not to support the children even when such expenditure can be proved. Thus, if a non-resident parent buys clothes for a child, this will only count as child support if the resident parent agrees but, of course, the resident parent has every reason not to agree because that would reduce the money to be transferred to the resident parent. The law and the courts treat the non-resident parent as an occasional visitor and a source of funds, not as a equal parent with a share in bringing up children.

My point is simple. The interests of the child should be paramount as current law provides, but why can we not also say that shared parenting is presumed to be the best way to achieve this ? That is the policy that the Labour government and the Liberal Democrats have both rejected.

Finally, of course you must make up your own mind how to vote in the South-East Euro selection, but please decide about me on the basis of what I actually say and not what you wrongly attribute to me.

Feedback: 1. Water

Barry Molyneaux has left comments on two earlier posts, but I'm responding here because I want to make the discussion more visible. Firstly on water and Barbara Young.

Barry said, "Who is Barbara Young and why do you think she is in a position to know? And why do you not see that it is a disgrace to be making an excuse that the flooding was caused by climate change and hence was not in anyway something for which the EA was responsible. Well the rainfall was unexpectedly severe and this is due to climate change but the flooding was severe because of building in flood plains, inadequate flood defence, built in most cases to withstand nothing more than a 1 in 50 flood. There is no programme of flood prevention nor of sea defences. That is the responsibility of the Environment Agency and they have failed. And all we get is excuses from Barbara Young. The time is overdue, axe the EA, send Barbara Young off to do whatever it is that she is qualified to do, which is what exactly? and bring the functions of the EA under a directly elected Regional Assembly and fund it properly. If you want to be founder member of the Barbara Young society forget it."

Well, Barry, perhaps it is naive to think that the Head of the Environment Agency would know anything about flooding, but I don't think so. My point was to emphasise the need for politicians to take the opportunity to remind people about climate change, not to defend the shortcomings of the government or the agency. I have met Barbara Young when she ran RSPB. She seemed a professional and efficient manager with no special expertise in environment matters but quite close to the New Labour camp. My criticism of the EA wouldn't be to do with personalities but with the agency's dependence on central government. I like your idea of putting some of their functions under elected regional control, but we might need an independent, national voice that could scrutinise and recommend free from the control of those who run the relevant services.

A sense of loss

No. I'm not referring to what you all feel about my almost complete silence for two months. I'm just reflecting what a strange channel Radio 4 is. This morning "The Choice" told the story of a Pakistani women who still loved her country but had to flee it because of a brutal husband. Her courage and her sense of loss were palpable. Of course, the Home Office tried to send her back !

By way of contrast, this was followed by the family of Peter Brough saying how cut up they were to part with his ventriloquist's dummy, Archie. Of course, the Home Service (or was it the Light Programme ?) was quite strange in the 1950s. Where else would a radio programme feature a ventriloquist's dummy ? You couldn't see Peter Brough's lips moving, could you ?