Terrorism threat, severe. Pandemic threat 6. Global Recession. Daily heatwave alerts. And Sarah Palin quits as Governor of Alaska perhaps for a run at the 2012 Presidency. I don't know about you but I've had a good week. The sun has been out and I've had not that much to do.
The good news this week was that the Government decided to scrap the compulsion element from the National ID card for British Nationals. Well that is fantastic news. Obviously foreigns will still have to have them because they are scary and weird but for the rest of us we can have one if we want to.
What a sensible decision but when you look a little closer all is not so good. Whilst the physical card will disappear you will still have to provide all the biometric data for your passport renewal and it will be stored on there instead.
There is a difference then in the way this will effect your lives because, with a card, there would be a compulsion to carry it and produce it on demand but this probably won't happen with a passport. A small victory then but it is only very small.
Interestingly enough those within Government who support ID cards seem to have stopped with the made up reasons why ID are vital for National Security. So is it possible that they have learnt that linking everything to terrorism is no longer believed. Not that, I think, we every really did but perhaps possibly they have. The U.S. government has dropped the phrase “War on Terror” because it wasn't helpful. Have they all learnt that it isn't helpful to scare your population? We won't hold our breaths though because otherwise we'll all turn blue and look like Smurfs.
Clearly Gordon Brown is rattled by the BNP issue. Last year he used the phrase “British jobs for British workers” which came back to bite him on his bum. This week he gave a speech in which he used the exciting phrase “local homes for local people”. Oh for goodness sake. How long until he starts using phrases like “coming over here, stealing our jobs.” It is a unhelpful turn of phrase because it implys that there is a problem when there is no evidence to show that there is.
When the BNP were elected to a local council in London on a ticket that was very similar to to GB's rhetoric, a study was carried out to find out what percentage of council homes had gone to local people. Of the 12069 homes that have been allocated by the council, 12068 went to long term local residents. 99.9% of council housing went to local people and not immigrants. Proper engagement with people on issues raised by the BNP proved that the BNP are liars. This is how Gordon Brown should deal with them, not shift towards their position because it is easier. If you spend time with people, dealing with their problems in a sensible and grown up way, arguing your point, showing were they are wrong and they will come round to your way of thinking. Oh and build some more council houses as we haven't really built any for 30 years.
One of the problems that we have is the level of political debate that we have at the moment. If circumstances change within an organisation or government and a new approach or policy is needed instead of allowing this change or discussing your ideas all we hear is “well, your first policy must have been wrong and this is an embarrassing climb down.” Which it clearly isn't but this is the level of debate that we have descended to. I will give you an example.
Last Sunday of Government Minister was on Radio 4 announcing a new policy (didn't the new Speaker ask you to stop doing that?) on NHS targets. When they came to power New Labour introduced top down targets for all health trusts so that they would all be bought up to a basic level of competence and efficiency. Following years of Tory under-investment the NHS was in a bit of a state.
When these targets had been reached, thanks, in part, to massive investment from this Government, they were tweaked and changed in order to keep standards rising.
Now it is felt within the Department of Health that this top down targets have done as much as they can and a new approach is needed to keep the upward trend in standards. Now they want to give the power back to the Trusts and PCTs with some sort of legal framework to ensure a minimum service. A perfectly reasonable argument I think you will agree. Not so his Tory shadow who used the argument structure as set out before. “So your policies didn't work then?”, “yes they did but things have changed because we made it better with our first set of policies.”, “so your policies didn't work then and the fact that you changing them proves that.” It's like hitting your head on a brick wall. Repeatedly. And then deciding to flog a dead horse. Repeatedly.
Really it has to stop. We have some serious problems that need sensible discussions and debate but what do we get? Childish arguments that serve only to prove who is the smelliest.
Some awards now Ladies and Gentleman,
The Award for Moving Sporting Moment of the Week,
And this has to go to the end of the Men's Final at Wimbledon. A small tear was shed for Andy Roddick. He looked sad. After all that work he still couldn't beat the best tennis player in the world. Ever. The mighty Rodger Federer has retaken his Wimbledon title and the world no.1 spot. He has won his 15 major title, beating Pete Sampras' record of 14 (seeing Sampras on TV this afternoon I am considering the possibility that he is dead inside).
The Award for Very Funny Expenses Claim of the Week,
This week saw the release the expenses of top BBC executives. One of the claims stood head and shoulders above the rest. When the Brand/Ross affair broke, thanks to the Daily Mail, Mark Thompson was on holiday. When it started to get really bad he decided to end
his holiday early and fly home. He bought his family with him. And then claimed about £2000 on expenses for the fight. Good work if you ask me. And the best bit? The story was broken by the Daily Mail. Can you imagine the anger within that paper? They hate the BBC, they hate people who aren't them claiming expenses and it was to do with the Ross/Brand thing. That is anger to the power of 3. You could power a city with that sort of anger.
I went to Marwell Zoo today and had a really good time. Hope you all have a good week. Might try and get myself some work this week because at the moment I'm not getting paid but the house and allotment are really tidy. Have fun.