Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Problems with Old Etonians

Somewhere in Eton College the pupils are taught to cover up each others weaknesses from public scrutiny. This becomes a real danger when you have a great many of them holding major civil service and political positions and this could be the case if David Cameron is elected as the next prime minister. I suspect London will have to pay a quite high price for electing the old Etonian clown Boris Johnson.

So in a way it's no surprise that government archives just opened to the public dating from WW2 should show old Etonians hiding the activities of one of their number whose meeting with the Germans at the beginning of the war would have caused embarrassment to another of theirs in a high cabinet position.

The story is on the BBC website, click here. Old Etonian James Lonsdale-Bryans went to Italy at the beginning of the war to talk with a German diplomat about possible peace terms. Although he was known for his pro-German views he went with the backing of the Foreign Office. He proposed to the Germans that they should have control of Europe while Britain should have the rest of the world. No action was ever taking against him as a security risk and unlike other German sympathizers he was never interned.

The person that, in this case MI5, were really protecting was Halifax, the Foreign Secretary and pro-appeasement colleague of the disgraced Neville Chamberlain. In fact, although Halifax had made a mess of virtually every job he had ever been given, he would have become Britain's war time prime minister if the Conservative Party had been able to control the succession after Chamberlain resigned. It was the Labour Party that insisted on his rival and fellow conservative Winston Churchill as a reward for joining the government. Their fear was that Halifax would make peace with the Nazis and bring Britain under this evil influence.

This is what you get with old Etonians controlling the country.

Preston North End 2-1 Charlton Athletic

We won this fixture 2-0 last season, but from the few reports I have read today we didn't deserve any points from yesterday's game. Well at least I can expect all 3 points on the next game with the way our results have been so far this season; played 4, won 2, lost 2.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Charlton Athletic 4-2 Reading

Great result, I looked at the goals this morning (Monday) from a torrent download. Week to week mood swings could be here for the season or has Charlton discovered the midfield mix which will supply the strikers with plenty of chances consistently. Let's hope so. Still it must be boring supporting the Uniteds and Chelseas of the world.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

Shooting fish in a barrel - there are some thing that are so easy that you don't get many points for doing them, something like pocketing a white ball in billiards. One of these is criticizing Charles Windsor, (aka Charles Philip Arthur George Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). So Phil Woolas I'm not going to give you much of score going after Charles, or should I say 'Chuck', to be like Philip James Woolas who prefers to be known as 'Phil'.

Now Phil doesn't seem to be one of the worse of the New Labour Blair groupies. Well at least he isn't public school and Oxbridge, being grammar school and Manchester. But Phil when you find fault in Charles's biased views on GM food be aware that some of us are a bit suspicious who you represent in the argument.

Phil, when you say, "But government ministers have a responsibility to base policy on science and I do strongly believe that we have a moral responsibility to the developing world to ask the question: can GM crops help?", do you get your science input from government scientist or from the lobbying GM companies like Monsanto? (Click here for the Wikipedia article on Monsanto)

Watford 1-0 Charlton Athletic

Well all the good feelings I had of the coming football season last Sunday took a bit of a beating over the intervening seven days. First on Tuesday was being knocked out of the Carling Cup by Yeovil and then yesterday losing at Watford.

I know from the blogs that Charlton fans say we didn't play that badly yesterday and that the officials were 'homers', but having listened to an old (1992) Danny Baker 606 radio program I downloaded last night and hearing a Norwich fan looking for the silver lining after losing 7-1, I'm a bit suspicious on these reports.

I miss not seeing the football more now, when we are in what was the old Division 2, than when we were in the Premier. This isn't only because there are no games on TV out here, it's also because the mood swings are so much better in the lower leagues for a team like ours. In the Premier it was just a struggle every week to keep our heads above water. Now we can go mentally from being championship material to relegation prospects in a week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Charlton Athletic 2-0 Swansea City

Apologies to Swansea supporters as yesterday I tagged your team Swansea Town when of course you are city. I have nothing against Swansea, although many years ago I did use a cellar drinking club one afternoon where they had old bus seats perched on beer kegs to sit on and the beer was in plastic glasses long before the rest of Britain went that way. Still it's Swansea City and you were unlucky to play us at the beginning of the season. It's better to play Charlton at the end when we hardly win anything.

Reports suggest Charlton played well enough to deserve the 3 points but will have to get better rather quickly. Here's hoping for a good season. I have a feeling we will be challenging for automatic promotion this season which is a feeling I didn't have last.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Another Season

Today there's no politics in this blog. No attacks on Gordon Brown, Tony Blair or their groupies. Not even a curse on New Labour. Why? Because today is start of the Football League 2008-2009 season. Swansea are visiting Charlton and it will give us an idea of what sort of team we are following this year.

Last season was disappointing with a 11th. place finish when the hope, if not belief, at the start was for a return to the Premier League or at least a playoff spot. Charlton doesn't have a rich foreign owner so money is tight and players have been sold. It has a young team and this season's hope must be that they make good. This is the time of year I do miss being back home.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Time to reform the British justice system?

With no written constitution and laws dating back to the Middle Ages or earlier, it is no surprise that at times the British courts hand out some strange punishments. The rule of law in Britain has always been based on the protection of property. After all the rules were made by landed aristocracy who wanted their property, belongings and serfs protected.

In these more modern times I suspect that most UK citizens would rather base the punishment of criminals on the harm they do to others rather than the amount of money involved. I remember the 30 year sentences given to the Great Train Robbers when I was a child. I think many thought they were too hard and although the judge tried to justify them with the hurt caused to the train driver, there was a suspicion that this was a little overdone by both the judge and the railway man. The judge did of course talk about the amount of money taken.

So on Wednesday when I read that 5 burglars from a family of travellers were jailed, BBC story here, for up to 11 years each over a series of burglaries with no violence involved, I suspected it must be to do with the amount again. And so it proved, but not only the amount was the cause. There was also who had been the victims.

These thieves specialized in large country houses. We had amongst others property tycoon Harry Hyams, Formula One advertising tycoon Paddy McNally and Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire Sir Philip Wroughton.

Judge Critchlow said "Cases of this gravity must attract heavy sentences because of the deliberate criminality, organisation and sophistication of their planning and the effect on the occupants."

It does ask the question, "Should rich people get more protection from the law as they have more money"? For causing harm to others who does the most, these guys or someone turning over some little old lady's house. Let us get down to the dirty bit of the justice system. Should the pedophile or the rapist get a lower sentence than the 11 years these men got?

Interesting thoughts and a politician could ride a populist train by bringing the subject up, although it wouldn't go down with some of the 'conservative club blue-rinsed hang them all brigade'. Maybe the next Labour leader could try it on for size.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Maggie a State Funeral?

Like the newspapers I'm getting my obituary column ready early. It seems that in government and at the palace there is talk about giving Maggie Thatcher, Hilda to her friends, a state funeral with all the trappings that Churchill got.

Now I don't want to throw cold water on that idea but I have a much better one. How about a new national holiday instead. We could have this on the first day of May. If the first was either a Saturday, Sunday or Monday we could then have an extra Tuesday off to add to the May Bank Holiday making a very long weekend.

Now what to call this new holiday? Depending on your political allegiances it could be Thatcher Day, Bloody Maggie Day or just plain May Day, its old name before she changed it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Better Late Than Never - A Windfall Profits Tax

This week we had two major oil companies declaring extra high profits, Shell and Exxon. Exxon actually set a record high profit in the US for all industries, not just oil. There had never been a profit result that high before.

This blog in March gave the head of Shell, Jeroen van der Veer, the title of "an unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism" first awarded to Tiny Rowland by Edward Heath. My argument then was that van der Veer was trying to fight off any talk of a windfall profits tax. Big oil knew it had friends at the very top of the US political system in Bush and Cheney, but must have been a bit nervous in the UK of some of the Labour backbenchers.

A windfall profits tax on the oil companies was introduced in 1980 by Jimmy Carter on the oil companies who were gouging the public after the OPEC oil embargo. Now it seems that even some cabinet ministers in the UK are talking about it. See the BBC story "Ministers 'consider' windfall tax". Now the chances are that Brown will be against it, but for the next Labour leader in the Autumn it is important to get some basic Labour ideas across and this is one. Even Barak Obama is talking windfall taxes.

So will it be John Hutton who leads the first revolt against Brown in the government. Much as it doesn't taste very nice, the next Labour leader will be one of the Blair groupies, male or female, but it's not the person that's important but the policies that must change from the Blair/Brown Thatcherite ones in present use.