Buying Votes – another act of folly

Ed Miliband MP speaking at the Labour Party co...
Ed Miliband MP speaking at the Labour Party conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, Ed Miliband wants to raise the minimum wage over the course of the next Parliament from £6.50 which is due to take effect in October to £8 an hour.

This is a remarkably easy vote winning strategy for a Labour leader to throw out there, but he needs to understand the reality of what he’s doing because somebody has to pay.

Let me take an example of somebody I know who runs a takeaway and fast food restaurant, he employs around 40 staff, working seasonal and shift patterns to deal with demand. Most are young people, working in their first jobs, in an area where work is quite hard to come by. Continue reading “Buying Votes – another act of folly”

More Rubbish on Rubbish

I live in Cardiff, but am lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Aberaeron in Ceredigion.

One strange thing I’ve noticed is that the 2 councils place different recycling demands on me, and other residents, and are not working in a common national agenda.

For example: we’ve all got those horrid little food recycling bins now, one in the kitchen and another that probably sits outside or in our shed for the larger collection. With such a small market in Wales you’d expect them to be the same throughout the country. One single purchase would have got the best price surely. They are not the same; both the small and large variants are different in both locations.

But then of course so are the bin bags: different colour, different printed messages, different contents accepted.

Recycling is inconsistent with bottles (beer and wine for example) being acceptable in Cardiff but not in Aberaeron. When I’ve got empty wine bottles in Ceredigion the policy is to take them to the local collection point. Consequently one can regularly see people driving to the big bins to drop off their glass. That does not seem to promote a green agenda as far as I can tell.

I accept that there are challenges to be addressed in terms of managing our recycling and I am not anti any of the efforts to manage our future better. I do however object to a small country like Wales having different implementations of such simple policies, creating decision points that don’t need to exist, working to differing local agenda and, in the final answer, wasting money that could be spent better elsewhere.

No doubt someone will claim that “we are doing so much better than them” and I commend them for that. But let’s adopt the best practice and spread it across the whole country whilst removing the need for rubbish decisions to be made at local levels and at unnecessary cost.

Education in Wales: time for some change

English: School bus seats, photographed from b...
Where are we going on this bus

Last week the BBC reported in Wales:

“First Minister Carwyn Jones has told BBC Wales he thinks some councils are incapable of improving education in their area.

He said that with six local education authorities (LEAs) in special measures it is impossible to have faith in the delivery of education across Wales.
Mr Jones argued it gives further urgency to the need to cut the number of councils from the current 22.”

But hang on just a minute: where’s the logic in that? Continue reading “Education in Wales: time for some change”

Why Cities need a Digital Conscience

 

20 mph residential area speed limit warning
20 mph residential area speed limit warning (Photo credit: freefotouk)

There’s a 20 MPH zone outside my house, it arrived over the last few weeks in dribs and drabs. I’d seen the Planning Notices a few months ago, but of course hadn’t bothered to question or challenge the intentions. And I’ve not heard anyone in my street jumping up and down demanding a slow down to the traffic and since its arrival I’ve not heard anyone extoling its benefits either.

All that set me wondering: why is it there? How was it planned? Where’s the value for money? Continue reading “Why Cities need a Digital Conscience”

With the likelihood of attack lifted, now is the time to become more involved in Syria

Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text ...
Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text God protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that world leaders have seen some sense and cast aside their desire to attack the Assad regime in Syria, it remains a clear duty for those of us who can to become more involved in the region. I don’t suggest for one moment that we need to prepare any military engagement,that was a nonsensical idea mooted by politicians probably more interested in their political legacy than anything else. It certainly wasn’t based on foreign policy goals.

Instead we ought to be far more willing to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people who are fleeing from conflict.

We are tremendously fortunate in this country, we live comfortable protected lives. Those fleeing the war are at the other end of the needs spectrum: they now have little left, having lost almost everything in their pursuit of safety. They need our help, and help is not delivered in the form of a cruise missile.

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Hold your Horses and get some perspective

horsemeatWhen you compare the reaction to the reports of Horse meat in many “prepared meals” to the reaction to reports of poor care in NHS Hospitals it is clear that some people have lost their true sense of perspective.

There are now 14 hospitals subject to investigation of high death rates, but the public reaction is muted. That makes little sense when we look at the hysteria surrounding the reports of what is perfectly healthy meat masquerading as something else.

Fraud should not be a cause for public concern on this scale, and far too many people appear to have forgotten that plantar fasciitis cure. Let’s get some perspective.

Why you should not get involved in countries with Straight line borders

English: Map of Mali showing Tombouctou Region...

Several years – actually probably around 2 decades ago – I was getteing ready for a new job in the Army. It was at a time when all our political and military focus had been on the threat of war in Europe as a result of a Soviet invasion.

This focus was almost total, as was the stability that it generated. But my new job was to take me away from Europe as I turned to look after what was officially called “The Rest of the World”. That is: the non-NATO threatened parts of the world.

And in preparation for that work I remember being told by one old sage “never to trust countries with straight line borders”. The reasoning was simple: they are the results of colonialist interventions that could not be bothered to understand the local cultural and tribal landscapes before drawing up national boundaries. Continue reading “Why you should not get involved in countries with Straight line borders”