Monday, 20 April 2015

Shitipedia: S is for Selfie Sticks

If you thought that selfies were taken by self obsessed immature twits with no life to speak of and obsessed by their own importance, then you ain't seen nothing yet...

Now I'm all in favour of the spirit of free enterprise and if people are stupid enough to pay money for tat then that's up to them but the selfie stick takes this to whole new heights!

It seems that you stick your iPhone (and in my view you can, if you see what I mean) onto the end of an extendable pole to you can take selfies. Hey! That's cool, right?

Maybe. On the other hand critics have dubbed it the Narcisstick and suggested we might just be too self obsessed. Shurely not!?!? You can't have too many badly taken picture of yourself after all.

Many public venues have banned them as an irritation and nuisance. And now they've released one that you can attach to your iPad or tablet PC presumably with an extra strong handle?

So goodbye iPad wall, hello selfie stick wall. Personally I can't wait to see your £500 iPad fall off the end of one of these stupid gadgets and smash to pieces on the flagstones or drop into the river. Now that would be really cool!!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Manifestos : Official Monster Raving Looney Party

After a week of Party Manifesto launches, we felt that we couldn't really leave out what promises to be the most sensible party of them all - the Official Monster Raving Looney Party.

Now to be fair to the Loonies, I'm a bit biased as I used to now Dave Sutch way back when and I know from following the man who was the longest serving party leader in the UK at the time of his death, that several Looney policies have actually come to pass since they were first proposed. Not all of them obviously, as the Abolition of Gravity Bill never actually made it through the house or we'd all have floated away by now...

So what have the Loonies got to offer in their 2015 manifesto? Here's a summary :
  • Air bags will be fitted to the Stock Exchange immediately, ready for the next crash.
  • Britain will exit Europe and join the Duchy of Cornwall to benefit from tax exemptions.
  • Capital Punishment will be opposed on the grounds that it is unfair to Londoners.
  • Data will be secured, placed in a brown bag and hidden in the PM’s socks and pants drawer.
  • Education. All University Tuition fees for women would be free as we are strong believers in female intuition. (Due to gender equality laws we would include males as well)
  • Frivolous Fraud Office setup to inspect fraud too silly for the Serious Fraud Office.
  • Greyhound racing will be banned to prevent the country going to the dogs.
  • Half the grey squirrels will be painted red to increase the red squirrel population.
  • Innocent prisoners will be released in order to reduce prison overcrowding.
  • Jobseekers will be made to stand two abreast in order to halve dole queues.
  • Kids will be made to sit closer together on smaller desks in to reduce school class sizes.
  • London Marathon free to anyone finishing in sub-2 hours wearing large clown’s shoes.
  • Mega carwash will be created by punching holes in the roof of the Channel Tunnel.
  • National debt will be cleared by putting it all on our credit card.
  • Pensioners will qualify for a Summer Ice Lolly Allowance if temperatures exceed 70 degrees.
  • Puddles deeper than 3 inches will be marked by a yellow plastic duck.
  • Quitters will be encouraged not to start in the first place to improve their self esteem.
  • Regulations concerning car boot sales will be relaxed to permit selling of all car parts.
  • Stamp duty will be cancelled as stamps are expensive enough without having to pay duty.
  • Terrorists will be made to wear Bells and Horns so we know where they are.
  • Unruly teenagers will be superglued together as if you can’t beat them, join them.
  • Vehicles will be fitted with bungy ropes in order to save fuel on the return journey.
  • Wind farms will be created nationwide, where breaking wind will be encouraged.
  • X-Ray machines will be manned by a skeleton staff.
  • Yellow lines will be painted where you can park instead of where you can’t to save money.
  • Zebra crossings will be made permissible to all animals wishing to cross the road
All in all, it seems pretty sensible stuff - especially when compared to the Green Party! And they have a 21 point plan to win the election as well - which is far better than the 5 the Lib Dems could come up with :
  1. Always try and read the opposing political person’s mind. Never wait until the other person (or country) explains itself.If that fails, try the Ouija board.
  2. Judge before you are judged.
  3. Never give the other side the benefit of the doubt.
  4. Always jump to conclusions.
  5. Never seek any outside assistance.
  6. What you say is what you mean, even if that isn’t so.
  7. Change your mind randomly and without notice.
  8. Always treat the other side like they were mentally deficient if not criminally insane.
  9. Impute evil intentions to every act of the other.
  10. When all else fails, do not respond at all.
  11. There are two possible meanings to everything, if in doubt, explain that they took it the wrong way.
  12. Launch a public relations campaign disputing your opponent.
  13. Predict dire economic consequences, and ignore the cost benefits.
  14. Find and pay a respected scientists to argue persuasively against incumbent government environmental policies.
  15. Use non-peer reviewed scientific publications or industry-funded scientists who don’t publish original peer-reviewed scientific work to support your point of view on matters of public health and environment.
  16. Trumpet discredited scientific studies and myths supporting your points of view as scientific fact.
  17. Point to the substantial scientific uncertainty, and the certainty of economic loss if immediate action is taken with respect to problems.
  18. Use data from a local area to support your views, and ignore the global evidence.
  19. Disparage scientists, saying they are playing up uncertain predictions of doom in order to get research funding when encountering global warming issues.
  20. Complain that it is unfair to require regulatory action in Britain, as it would put the nation at an economic disadvantage.
  21. Claim that more research is needed before action should be taken on things to do with public Health and Safety.

Unfortunately, if you want to vote Looney then they are only able to field 15 candidates - mainly due to the extortionate cost of the deposit required which was introduced to make it too expensive for ordinary people to stand. However, they also have 13 council candidates you can vote for. And the good news is that some of them are unopposed - so they are certain to become councillors!

For a full list of candidates, click [here]

Vote Looney. You know it makes sense!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Manifestos : The Green Party

We continue our review of the election manifestos with the Green Party. You might well have gathered that I'm not a great fan of the Green Party from looking at the picture above, and you'd be right. I will, however, try to remain objective...

Ed Miliband - a man who I'm overly fond of either although it's mainly because I consider his Shadow Chancellor an economic idiot - summed it up in his speech on Monday when he slagged of the Tories by saying 'their economic plans made the Green Party look credible' because, frankly, their plans just don't add up at all.

According to Natalie Bennett"Austerity has failed and we need a peaceful political revolution to get rid of it. Our manifesto is an unashamedly bold plan to create a more equal, more democratic society while healing the planet from the effects of an unstable, unsustainable economy." Noble sentiments indeed - but how will the Greens achieve this?

Well, for a start they will renationalise the railways, subsidise rail fares by 10% and fund it by cancelling road building. So the roads get worse, no new ones get built and the drivers are forced into trains which don't go where they want when they want to go there. In any case, the two figures don't balance even if you ignore the multi-billion pound cost of nationalisation.

Then there's free social care for the elderly. Let's ignore the fact that there aren't enough people to provide the care. How will we fund that? Well, they're going to raise the top rate of tax to 60%.

And as well as the top rate tax rise, they propose a 2% extra tax on people 'worth' more than £3million although I'm not clear how 'wealth' would be defined.

Let's look at some of their other ideas :
  • Tuition fees will be abolished.
  • The “overall volume” of advertising on TV and newspapers will be controlled and cut, as part of a war on the “materialist and consumption driven culture which is not sustainable”.
  • No more new airports or runways will be built, and existing ones nationalised. So we can't drive and now we can't fly - and we still can't pay for it!
  • Assisted dying will be legalised, and the law on abortion liberalised to allow nurses to carry it out - I might actually support the first part of that plan, but the second? 
  • Britain will leave NATO, end the special relationship with the US, and unilaterally abandon nuclear weapons. They also say there's no need for a standing army - so we're totally open to invasion without any means whatsoever of defending ourselves. Plus thousands of servicemen are now unemployed.
  • Increase Overseas Aid by 50% - after all, the Indians and Chinese need our dosh to pay for their space programs...
  • A Green Government will “progressively reduce” border controls, including an amnesty for illegal immigrants after five years - come and live in Britain. Everybody's welcome!
  • Political parties will be funded by the state, and the electoral system changed - Blimey, that might actually be sensible!
  • The monarchy will be abolished. Why? So we can elect President Bennett?
  • Advertising of holiday flights will be controlled by law to halt the “promotion of a high-carbon lifestyle”. New taxes would be imposed on carriers to reduce passenger numbers. Bye bye tourists!
  • Inheritance tax – “to prevent the accumulation of wealth and power by a privileged class” – will no longer just tax the dead. They want to tax anything you give your kids while you're alive as well.
  • Welfare benefits will include £72 a week paid to everybody. Regardless. Including all the immigrants that we just threw our borders open to. EU immigration? You ain't seen nothing yet!
  • Parents will get 2 years paid maternity/paternity leave -Bye bye small businesses!
  • Introduce a financial transaction tax - the very tax that the EU want to introduce to stuff the City of London and that both Labour and Conservatives unreservedly oppose.

And then of course there's that nasty clean energy that's produced by those wicked nuclear power stations. We need to replace them with bird mincers and solar panels that only work if the wind is blowing and/or it isn't dark. So look forward to the lights going out on a still winter's night.

I've tried to be objective, but there's very little here that makes sense other than in the great Green Party family of man, all pulling together for the good of the planet. Try telling that to ISIS when they march down Whitehall because we've opened the borders and disbanded the army.

No, this is a recipe for disaster and the only reason they can peddle this tripe is because they no they have absolutely no chance of forming a government. To paraphrase Ed Miliband, the Green Party make the Monster Raving Looney Party look credible.

Anyone voting for this lot needs their head examined...

Friday, 17 April 2015

Manifestos : UKIP

This time it's the turn of UKIP to be put under the spotlight with the launch of their manifesto.

It's been said by many people over the last year that UKIP are one trick pony and have no policies. It's fashionable to kick the man when you can't kick the ball and the other parties have proven this with their continuous attacks on UKIP whilst refusing to debate the issues.

So are they a one trick pony? Well, they don't seem to be from looking at their manifesto. whether you agree with what's in there is, of course, up to you.

The main thrust of their approach seems to be two fold - firstly that every one of their policies has been independently costed, and secondly that the major source of funding for it all is dependent on leaving the EU and generating £120 billion a year.

That's an awful lot of money that can be spent elsewhere, so let's look at what they propose to do with it :
  • Maintain business links to Europe through Swiss-style free-trade agreements - they're not anti Europe just anti EU and want to trade with everyone including the EU which seems reasonable to me
  • Raise tax-free threshold on income to £11,500, followed by a flat rate of 31% to replace current income tax and employees' National Insurance (NI) - well, if you want to simplify the tax system then rolling NI into income tax seems a reasonable approach but it ain't going to happen in five minutes!
  • Abolish inheritance tax at "earliest opportunity" - I've always wondered why you should pay tax when you die on income you've already paid tax on all your life.
  • Award only temporary work visas, using points-based system - works in other countries
  • Double number of prison places and end early release, ensure life sentences are served totally in prison and set up "boot camps" for young offenders - capital investment required and recruitment of extra officers could come from ex-soldiers under their plans
  • Abolish Crown Prosecution Service and put police in charge of taking offenders to court - I thin a lot of police would support that?
  • Allow universities to choose on academic merit alone - that's how it should be, not target driven
  • Replace student loans and tuition fees with grants - turning back the clock
  • NHS to remain free at point of delivery. No cuts in frontline services but waste and bureaucracy reduced, with matron in charge of hospital wards and nurses trained on-the-job, rather than at universities - Agree with most of that although Uni training does include and awful lot of hospital placements already.
  • Revamp NHS management structure - well overdue
  • Restore free eye tests and dental check-ups - good idea when you have the money
  • Roll current state pension, Pensions Credit and Winter Fuel Allowance into a flat-rate, non-contributory Citizen's Pension worth at least £130 a week for all people aged 65 and over - not convinced about the non-contributory bit. There's already a minimum state pension anyway
  • Freeze public sector pensions, bringing them "back into line with typical private sector pension provision" - removes the unfair advantage of being a civil servant
  • Benefits are only available to UK citizens or those who have lived here for at least 5 years - I think a lot of people would go along with that?
  • Retain national assemblies but replace representatives with Westminster MPs from those areas - There a lot of meat to go with that but it basically means national votes on national issues combined with UK votes on UK issues from the same people. Not convinced that it's practical given the time demands it would place on MPs
  • Introduce "Alternative Vote Plus", with 450 MPs elected after earning at least 50% of constituency preferences, with 200 MPs elected by PR system - some sort of PR is a good idea in my view but I'm not convinced that this is it
  • Repeal Climate Change Act and allow wind farms to be constructed only off-shore, abolishing EU carbon cap schemes, emissions trading, landfill taxes and renewable subsidies - get rid of an awful lot of bullshit!
  • Incentivise use of 800,000 empty homes - a better idea than building thousand of new ones or 10 new Lib Dem cities!!
  • Increase nuclear power to up to 50% of energy needs. Support efficient UK coal extraction for use in cleaner coal power stations - clean energy has to be a good thing and we certainly can't go green following the Green Party ideas!

There's a lot of other stuff in there as well and if I'm honest I can't see a lot to disagree with on immigration, EU, NHS and policing and although I'm more in agreement with the principles than the mechanics.

They are able to offer a hell of a lot more than the other parties simply because they have more money to spend. Overall it does make me wonder why we give all that money to Europe and what we get in return when you see in black and white what else we could do with it.

Basically I guess it all comes down to whether you think the EU is good for us or bad...

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Manifestos : The Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg's positioning in the election race is quite interesting. Basically he's telling the people that there's going to be a hung parliament so you need to decide whether you want him, Sturgeon or Farage pulling the strings on the larger puppet PM.

It's not an attractive position is it? And what he's not saying is that if you divert your vote to the Lib Dems then the possibility of a hung parliament becomes even more likely. But enough of that. Let's look at what the Lib Dems are putting in their manifesto.

The main point is "we're not the Tories and we're not Labour. We'll bring heart to the Tories and a back bone to Labour." Well, I'd agree with that because the Lib Dems simply don't have the expertise and talent pool to pick from in government. They simply don't have enough MPs to pick from.

Saying they'll "borrow less than Labour and cut less than the Tories" really isn't very decisive either. It just makes me think that they're hedging their bets. It's a bit like saying their the top of the bottom and bottom of the top - the cream of the crap would be a less polite way of putting it.

Specifically, here's their key proposals :

  • A Zero Carbon Britain Act to set a new legally binding target to bring greenhouse emissions to zero by 2050 - exactly how this would achieved or monitored is unclear, but it sounds good!
  • Develop a comprehensive plan to electrify the overwhelming majority of the UK rail network and push ahead with HS2 - aren't we doing that anyway?
  • Raise the personal allowance to at least £12,500 - no argument from Labour or Conservative on that as they've both said the same
  • Restrict access to non-dom status, by ending the right to inherit it - Labour want to scrap it, Tories want to keep it, Lib Dems want to sit on the fence
  • Extend free childcare to all two-year-olds for working families and 20 hours free childcare a week for parents with children aged two to four - again sitting in the middle of the two main parties
  • Remove eligibility for the winter fuel payment and free TV licence from pensioners who pay tax at the higher rate - costs more than it saves and isn't vote winner amongst the age group most likely to vote!
  • Increase the state pension by the highest of earnings growth, prices growth or at least 2.5% - good soundbite but doesn't actually put much in a pensioner's pocket
  • Double the number of businesses hiring apprentices - How?
  • Establish a review of higher education finance within the next parliament to consider any necessary reforms - so are they promising to abolish, cut or reduce tuition fees becuase they seem to have done all three at some time over the last 5 years
  • £8bn more funding a year by 2020 to the NHS - same as the main parties
  • Set a goal of 300,000 homes a year, including 10 new garden cities in areas where homes are most needed - 10 new cities FFS!
  • New 'rent to own' homes where your monthly payments steadily buy you a stake in the property - well, that should kill the buy to let market stone dead and reduce the number of available rental properties. It'll probably also depress the housing market when all those rental properties get sold off.
  • Give 16-year-olds the vote - Dear God did you listened to some of the drivel that 16 year olds came out with on Sky when they were championing this? I would agree with giving tax paying 16 year olds the vote, but not when they're still at school.
  • Reform the House of Lords, cutting its size by nearly half - why not just change it altogether?
  • Reform voting systems to ensure more proportional representation - have I missed something? Didn't we have a referendum on that and reject it? Oh, I forgot. We didn't give the right answer!

In summary, the Lib Dems are steering the middle road to ensure they don't alienate any prospective coalition partners. They're just pushing 'hung parliament' down our throats in a desperate attempt to hang onto power and this manifesto proves that. There's also a few carrots there to tempt us in the full knowledge that if they are in government, they'll have to give them up.

I think the Lib Dems did the best they could in the coalition, but frankly they sold their principles to get there and now they're offering to sell their souls to stay there...

Zero credibility.