Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 in review

This has been quite a year.  Some things would have been predictable at the start of the year and others not.

It wouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to predict that the Republicans would do reasonably well in the US Mid Terms.  It would though have been rash to predict that they did as well as they actually achieved.

I wouldn't have been so rash to predict that despite such representative progress, the current Republican leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate would then cravenly acquiesce and pass the so called 'Cromnibus' bill with $1.1Trillion of new spending.  One long suspected them of being RINOs but to so blatantly, and especially so soon after the Mid Terms, ignore the crystal clear direction from the American people, takes some kind of special courage or blindness and deafness.  Or is it just arrogance?

Clearly though, Mitch McConnell in the Senate and John Boehner in the House must be deposed and replaced by real Republicans who understand the message that the people of America delivered on November 4th. .  Roll on January and a new Congress and a new GOP leadership.

Also predictable was the results from the August killing of Michael Brown, in Ferguson.  Protests about police brutality, Al Sharpton backing-up a fuel truck to add to the flames, rioters that 'trash' their own neighborhoods and loot and steal from their own people, the Obama administrations use of the incident to push their progressive agenda.  Following on, when the Grand Jury decided that based on the evidence that they had the killing was justified, we saw the normal reaction from people who demand justice but don't accept it, when it doesn't coincide with their version of justice.  Same thing happened in New York.  In both cases the 'victim' was held-up as some kind of angel, a gentle giant, if you will.  Of course the airing of the security video of Michael Brown stealing from a store and assaulting the store-owner, in the process, put the truth to that lie.

I don't though, think that I could have predicted the length or depth to which Obama and,  departing but not soon enough, Attorney-General Eric Holder would drag the US Government.  They spoke of understanding the anger.  Of empathizing.  Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.  So called 'progressives' always use 'equivalence'  and historical reference to justify the unjustifiable.  America once had slaves that were brought to the country from Africa - therefore anything that these people do, even if it is 150 years after they were emancipated, is allowed because it is a reaction to that wrong that was done to their ancestors!

All crime statistics show that American blacks are more likely to die at the hands of another black than they are at the hands of a white cop.  People point to the disproportionate number of black people in America's prison population and see this as some kind of racism.  So let's ignore the fact that America's blacks - especially young black men - are much more prone to violence and crime and end up getting convicted as a result of the choices (bad ones) that they make.  Instead, let's blame it on white slave owners from the 19th century (who, incidentally were largely Democrats, which is why the Democrat Party so opposed the abolition of Slavery!!)

It would have been good but probably unpredictable, to see black role models step-up and tell young black males that if you go around stealing and terrorizing people then you will end-up in jail or dead.  Not because you are black but because you are committing a crime.  If you want the latest clothes or shoes or cars, then do what most people do - work for them.  If you want a job, don't go to an interview with your ass hanging out of your trousers and you all 'blinged-up' and talking like only another gang-banger could understand.   The government can only offer blacks hand-outs.  If they need a hand-up, then they need to reach for it, themselves!

ISIS was entirely predictable - Obama's administration has abdicated responsibility in the Middle East.  They equate the self-defence actions of the Israelis with that of an 'apartheid' state and allow a terrorist organization such as HAMAS to go unpunished for their crimes.  There is even talk that the USA might impose some kind of sanctions against Israel!  having lifted sanctions against Iran, I suppose that the machinery needs to be put to work somewhere!

Talking of Iran, there are rumours that an agreement exists but it isn't being publicised because the Iranians need time to 'sell it' to the people and the Ayatollahs!

Other predictable events from 2014

All UK political parties falling over themselves to offer a blank cheque to the NHS.

The SNP, having lost the Scottish Independence Referendum, continuing to push for all of the trappings of independence without any of the responsibility.  Equally predictable that they are allowed to get away with their claims about independence making economic sense for Scotland and these all being based on oil at an average price of $113 a barrel.  Now it is around half that price, the fragility of their policies are exposed!

UKIP doing well as Britain, or perhaps more accurately  England come to reject the recent but rapid implementation of 'multi-culturalism'.  I think that the biggest problem with 'multi-culturalism' is that it allows no place in the 'multi' part for the indigenous culture.  Britons feel swamped because their values are being replaced.   And politicians from the three main parties are seen to be complicit in this.

Germany winning the World Cup wasn't so predictable but was fully deserved.  England going home early, was, sadly always on the cards.  Australia thrashing England in the Ashes was ominously predictable.  The England win in 2013 was much more slender and lucky than the scorelines suggested.  One wonders how the awfully tragic death of Philip Hughes will affect the bowling of Mitchell Johnson, in the future.

Unfortunately, the post-January fall-off in Arsenal's Premier League performance was also predictable though one always travels in hope!

On the personal front, I became a grandfather for the first time and though we don't see as much of my grandson, as we would like - he is in Scotland and we are in the UAE - the wonders of modern communications do help to bridge the gap.

Unsurprisingly, the pause in Global Warming or Climate Change or whatever is the current name that is applied to the non-happening environmental event, continued.   This of course didn't stop countries spending untold billions and impoverishing their people along the way, to try and address the climate change that simply refuses to conform to the expectations of the science and psuedo-science community and all of the other 'hangers-on' and band-wagon jumpers.  Thinking about 2015 and onwards, I predict that people will come to the realisation the this climate change just isn't happening and will demand that their politicians stop wasting money and stop funding the regressive policies of the so called 'progressive agenda'.

Of course it would have been very difficult to predict what happened to those two Malaysian Airlines planes.  One becoming inexplicably lost in the Indian Ocean and the other being shot down  as a victim of Russian expansionism or European Union adventurism, depending upon your viewpoint.  Nevertheless, the loss of life was tragic.

It wouldn't though have been difficult to predict something like the Peshawar school massacre.  The chances of this being perpetrated by the Taliban (Pakistan Branch office) were always high, given the effectively 'failed state' that is Pakistan and the state within a state that is the Pakistan Intelligence Service.  Unfortunately, we can expect more of the same in 2015 and later years.  Indeed, this won't ever cease while so many Muslims silently accept these acts being committed in their name.

Ebola was predictable but not Obama's actions in importing this into the USA.  Like the diseases brought into the USA by illegal immigrants through the US' open Southern border, these could have been prevented but they fit Obama's warped agenda to hollow-out and destroy America.

Boko Haram's action in kidnapping 200 young girls is of a kind with ISIS' enslavement of Yazidi and Christian girls.  The feeble #hashtag effort by Obama and his wife and their Hollywood allies was a  sad reflection of America's declining position in the world.

Crime continued as could be predicted - Oscar Pistorius found guilty, though of a lesser charge.  Rolf Harris and Max Clifford and Stuart Hall convicted on ancient sexual assault charges - though Bill Roach and Michael LeVell acquited.  Not sure how to categorise Dave Lee Travis who was acquitted and then re-charged.

Israel and Gaza fought a war because, predictably, Israel got tired of having rockets fired into its territory and tunnels being used to infiltrate the country.  Equally predictable the leftist media sided with the aggressor Palestinians rather than the defending Israelis.

The most predictable event of 2014?  The USA raising, yet again, its debt ceiling.

Most of the above is, I am afraid a more than a little depressing but some things particularly lifted my spirits this year.

Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize - one in the eye for the Taliban and anyone that wants to hold back women.

The Ice Bucket challenge raised funds for ALS and got people around the world, engaged.

Who cannot have been moved by the tale of Stephen Sutton?  In the short life of this remarkable young man, his story touched so many people and his efforts raised significant funds for cancer research.

Not Happy Holidays but I do wish you a very Merry Christmas and here's hoping 2015 is more peaceful for the world!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

NHS - Enough!

Firstly, let me address some questions to those readers from the private sector.  Public sector employees can think about answers but I doubt you will get it.

So, In the private sector, do you believe that the board of directors or your division's managing director would be calling, year after year for more money to be given to them while offering no guarantees of service?  Let me correct that, while stating that you may not be able to provide a service at all.

Getting specific, do you think it acceptable that the NHS have a ring-fenced budget?  Do you believe that any business in the private sector would be guaranteed that whatever their performance the organization will receive year on year growth in their funding?   Is your business one where efficiency or lack of it has no effect on the salaries or bonuses of the workers?  Where some of the workers are able to bring in private work and carry it out without anyone talking of a conflict of interest.

Of course these questions all relate to the UK's 'envy of the world' - the NHS.

Socialist politicians who are funded by unions (who now mostly represent public sector workers - with a very large contingent from the self-same NHS) have managed to hijack and effectively close-off any debate about the NHS and politicians of all hues are falling over themselves, to throw ever more money at the NHS.

Le's be clear.  People are living longer, so that presents a natural additional burden upon the NHS.  This is also changing the patient 'mix' for the NHS - more elderly patients with geriatric illnesses and longer times, in hospital, to recover.  Further, people are living longer because of advances in medical science.  These advances though, don't come cheap.

Add to that the usual problem of idiots abusing the NHS - attending Accident and Emergency departments because they have a cold or a headache or some minor ailment.  Layer-on also other abuses by non-Britons who receive treatment, for which neither they nor their governments ever pay and you have a classic squeeze.

That would be the time that any other organization would look at how they can re-organize and learn to adjust their methods and spending plans to meet straitened times.  Time to root out system and process inefficiencies.  Time to look at manning levels, especially middle management.  Time to examine contracts and renegotiate with suppliers - be they PFI financiers or drugs suppliers or nursing unions or doctors and consultants.

This though, doesn't happen in the NHS.  Instead, they simply whine about cash constraints, wheel out some bleeding wounded and allow the level of service delivery to fall and fall and then blame this on 'lack of funding'.  In any other organization, heads would roll but instead, we see and hear politicians promising ever and ever higher amounts of funding.  Funding which will not actually go into service delivery but rather into the pockets of NHS staff - think about that when you next see your doctor or visit the local hospital.

The NHS is a classic example of a nationalized industry - it is there for the benefit of the providers and not for the benefit of consumers.

That is a sorry state of affairs, in this day and age, when people have the advantage of seeing the massive benefits that have already accrued from the state getting 'out of business' but what's worse is that there is no politician that has the courage to call-out the NHS and demand that they change - not one.

Ask yourself if we really get value for money, from the more than £100 Billion that is spent on this service, every year.  Ask yourself if you are prepared to pay ever higher taxes to fund the NHS - if yes, how much more?  5%?, 10%?, 15%?   Ask yourself if taxes don't rise, what else will be cut to feed the NHS beast?  Pensions? Defence? Education?

Then ask yourself when is enough, enough?  When can we clear the socialist claptrap from our ears, eyes and minds and see that this 'envy of the world' isn't the envy but rather, is a service that could easily consume ever larger parts of the national economy and yet not improve its service.

Friday, December 12, 2014

CIA Torture - Means and Ends

Not sure if it counts as one of those weird coincidences that Life throws at us but I was just reading the late but still great Christopher Hitchens' collection of essays and reviews, called Arguably and came upon his piece for Vanity Fair, from August 2008.

In this essay, Hitchens recalls how he undertook an experience of 'waterboarding', courtesy of some Special Forces veterans.  These men had previously completed SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) training, part of which included how to resist various forms of torture, one of which was 'waterboarding'.

Hitchens relates that Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the so called 'mastermind' of the 9/11 attacks had supposedly endured 'waterboarding' for two minutes.  Hitchens suspected that his own period was much less but hearing that KSM may have survived a much shorter period, he felt somewhat better.

Hitchens talks of the perpetrators of his 'waterboarding' which he clearly considers as torture, in somewhat awed tones.

"This group regards itself as out on the front line in defense of a society that is too spoiled and too ungrateful to appreciate those solid, underpaid volunteers who guard us while we sleep.  These heroes stay on the ramparts at all hours and in all weather, and if they make a mistake they may be arraigned in order to scratch some domestic political itch.  Faced with appalling enemies who make horror videos of torture and beheadings, they feel that they are the ones who confront denunciation in our press, and possible prosecution.  As they have just tried to demonstrate to me (Hitchens), a man who has been 'waterboarded may well emerge from the experience a bit shaky, but he is in a mood to surrender the relevant information and is unmarked and undamaged and indeed ready for another bout in quite a short time.  When contrasted to actual torture, 'waterboarding' is more like foreplay.  No thumbscrews, no pincers, no electrodes, no rack.  Can one say this of those who have been captured by the tormentors and murderers of (say) Daniel Pearl?  On this analysis, any call to indict the United States for torture is therefore a lame a diseased attempt to arrive at a moral equivalence between those who defend civilization and those who exploit its freedoms to hollow it out, and ultimately to bring it down.  I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint."

Hitchens being balanced, goes on to proffer the views of Mr Malcolm Nance, someone involved with SERE since 19997.  A man who would never be considered a 'bleeding heart liberal', Mr Nance also considers 'waterboarding' as torture and questions the reliability and value  of information so obtained.  He also goes on to suggest that because some of these captives that were 'waterborded', were subsequently released, then these have provided the terrorists with a training exercise which perhaps goes some way to explaining its subsequent inefficiency in actually gaining useful information.

Anyway, all of this is to lead up to the dilemma that we face.

The USA and the UK are among nations that condemn torture and punish this whenever we get the opportunity.   How then to accept the notion that the intelligence services have been using methods which can only be described as torture, to gain information?

Can the 'ends' - life-saving information on terrorist activities - be justified when the 'means' are based on what we consider to be horrific and criminal acts - torture?

The dilemma is compounded by the type of war that is now being waged.  The USA and UK and other 'allies' are fighting an enemy (ISIS, Al Qaeda, HAMAS, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, etc., etc.) which doesn't play by the same rules that are applied to them.  

Indeed, consider the case of Israel and HAMAS.  Israel considers, and all evidence suggests that they are correct, that they are under attack from Gaza by HAMAS.  Israel sees their actions as protecting their people - a fundamental requirement of any government.  HAMAS though take a more global viewpoint on its duties to its 'people'.  To HAMAS, placing rocket launchers in civilian areas, close to schools and hospitals is part and parcel of waging war against Israel.  This then presents Israel with a major dilemma.  Their dilemma is made worse by a media that either allows itself to be manipulated by HAMAS and fellow terrorist organizations or simply accepts the 'party-line' from the terrorists, without ever questioning them or applying to HAMAS, the same standards with which they judge Israel.

So how can the intelligence services fight the 'war on terror' with 'one hand tied behind their back'?  I say that not to specifically condone torture but to put in play the thought that if we are to make progress in this 'war', then we must do so using all available weapons.

It seems to me that we have to endorse some methods, which under normal circumstances, we would abhor, simply because our enemies do not expect us to.

I comfort myself that there are 'checks and balances' within the democratic system to keep the intelligence services under scrutiny.  I don't think it is naive to say that while we do have the power of the ballot box, we can control those who would perform these acts on our behalf.  Equally, I do not see that we have any choice but to ask these men to act as we want them to but we must not then indict and prosecute them if they do so.   That is, we expect politicians to set the 'rules' on our behalf and then so long as the intelligence services stay within those bounds, we cannot apply 'official' laws against them.

Further, it is wrong, on so many levels, for a subsequent administration to seek to re-write rules of engagement, down the road.  One doesn't have high expectations of President Obama but his abandoning of his intelligence services, indeed his throwing of them to the liberal 'West-hating' media, is a new low, even for an administration that  has already plumbed heretofore unseen depths.

So perhaps I have answered my own dilemma, at least for me.  Torture can be acceptable as a means to and end, so long as that process is democratically controlled.  What think you?

Oh and by the way, do buy Christopher Hitchens book Arguably.  His views don't really conform to a stereotype but they are always thought provoking.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Aid and debt

I posted previously about George Osborne's Autumn Statement and and the International Aid budget.

I will send this blog, via Twitter, to George Osborne and David Cameron.  The same sentiments though, apply in the rest of the European and the USA.  However, I don't really expect common-sense to suddenly break-out in the upper reaches of the UK Government.

How, even in the crazy world in which we find ourselves, can it possibly make any sense for a government to borrow money, so that it can give this money to another country?

Think about that.

Would you borrow money, so that you could donate it to charity?  Indeed, would you do so, knowing that it is your children and your children's children and their children that would have to pay the interest on it?

I have heard all of the stuff about 'rich' countries having a 'duty' to share the wealth with the poorer ones but how do we define 'wealthy' and 'poor'?

Is a country 'wealthy' if it has debt close to 100% of its GDP?  For that matter, is a country 'poor'  if it can dispatch rockets into space?

In 2013, the UK gave aid to the value of £249M to Nigeria.  In case you missed it, Nigeria has huge oil reserves but the almost endemic corruption means that the country has to import fuel to illuminate homes, cook food and drive vehicles.  Does it really make sense for the UK to borrow money to send to Nigeria?

Britain gave £104M to Ghana, which is in the midst of an oil fueled boom!

Crazy as that sounds, Britain also borrowed £946K to give to Argentina.  The same Argentina that constantly threatens Britons in the Falkland Islands.   The same Argentina that invaded the Falklands and now requires Britain to retain a military presence on the islands.  I am not making this up!

Then there is Brazil £5.5M and India, receiver of a whopping £269M of aid.  These are the very same countries that are supposed to be the emerging economic powerhouses!  Brazil is actually running a budget surplus, at the moment.  The UK is borrowing money  to give to Brazil.  The UK is running a deficit of 3.6% of GDP and a country that is running a surplus of 1.6% of GDP.  This is the same Brazil that has a GDP which is the seventh largest in the world!  The UK?  The UK is the sixth largest in the world.

Yesterday, in the Houses of Parliament, Member's of Parliament voted on a bill which will enshrine, in law, a guarantee that the UK will donate 0.7% of GDP to international aid.   Doesn't matter what state our economy is in.  We donate 0.7%.  Doesn't matter if people are dying on the streets of the UK.  We donate 0.7%.  This is the  liberal idiocy equivalent of Nero's antics with a fiddle!

In what world can it make sense to guarantee, by statute, that we will always donate 0.7% of GDP to international aid?

If you need an example of just how out of touch politicians are, how remote the 'Westminster bubble' has left them, then this is it.

Over to you, George and David!  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Osborne's last chance

Maybe the title isn't strictly true.  There is always the April 2015 budget but tomorrow, when Chancellor George Osborne delivers the government's Autumn Statement, he has to get it right as this will set the tone and the battle lines for the 2015 General Election.

I have already posted here and here on what I think should be happening but I wanted to have a last- minute rant or contribution to the debate, depending on your view, on what George Osborne should be saying, tomorrow.

First and foremost, the UK is broke.  I'll say that again. The UK is broke.  We are more than £1.4 Trillion in debt.  How much more than £1.4 Trillion?  Nobody knows.  That £1.4 Trillion is just the admitted debt.  It doesn't include unfunded liabilities like future pensions to be drawn by civil servants, local government employees and MPs.  It doesn't include the more than £350 Billion of NHS Private Finance Initiative debt nor lots of other 'off Balance Sheet' financing of the type in which Gordon Brown's Labour Treasury, excelled.  Note, when companies like Enron used such accounting techniques, they were, rightly, pilloried and ended up being declared for what they were - bankrupt!  However, for entities like HM Government, the rules get suspended.

So, with a 'broke' UK, the opportunities and choices are limited.

We cannot afford HS2 - so we scrap that and save, more than £50 Billion.  Let's be clear though, that isn't really a saving - as it is just a reduction in future borrowing needs.  Also, for the sake of clarity, everyone knows the £50 Billion number is just the starting point.  The final number will be much higher, if we were to proceed.

We cannot afford International Aid.  Sorry Bono but Britain simply cannot borrow money so that we can give it to others - no matter how genuine and heart-wrenching their need may be.  It cannot be about Britain sitting on the big table and lording it over others like China, because we meet the aid obligations and they (and other nations) don't.   The money we give to other countries is ultimately funded, on an interest bearing basis, by those same Chinese!

Britain must cut back on overseas ventures.  I would dearly love us to be able to project a strong military presence around the globe and demonstrate the strength and value of our democracy and traditions but we simply don't have the money.  Today, the biggest foreign investor in Africa is China and yet how much do you think they are contributing to fight the spread of Ebola?  Britain does have a strategic interest and, to some extent a local one, in the fighting in Syria and Iraq but the major beneficiaries of holding back ISIS are Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries.  If Britain is to fight on their behalf, then they should pay us top dollar for doing so.

Now to domestic matters.

All government spending must be cut.  That is all as in all.  No ring fencing, no special cases, no phasing in.  Simply put, no, no, no!

Or another way, cut, cut, cut.

Firstly, and this helps Cameron cut the Gordian Knot about immigrants, immediately announce a cut in welfare payments to all non-native born Britons.  If you do not have a British passport, or the right to one, then you get no welfare.  Zero, nada, zilch.  I know that Human Rights lawyers and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and all of the others that want Britain to spend money it doesn't have, will scream and shout and threaten all sorts of retribution but that's all they can do.  We must pass legislation to immediately end our association with the ECHR and abolish the Human Rights Act.  Another advantage of doing this is that it will end the Coalition and the Conservatives will have to govern alone, without the dead, interfering hands of the Lib Dems on the tiller.    I would think that George Osborne could even sell raffle tickets, for the benefit of the national debt of course, for the winner to tell Vince Cable he is fired!  I would buy a ticket for a fiver.  Hell, I might even buy two just for the chance to see the look on the face of a man who has taken sanctimonious 'prattishness' to new Olympian heights.

Secondly, as said before, tell the NHS, that funding is cut by say 20%.  This can be reduced to 15% if they abrogate their PFI deals and get significant reductions in their PFI payments.

Thirdly, All other government departments a significant cut in expenditure plans as outlined in my earlier mails.  Though, the more I think about the unsustainable deficit and the increasing debt mountain, perhaps deeper and faster cuts are required.

Clearly, some people will suffer from these cuts.

 Foreigners who take advantage of our overly generous welfare payments.  Financiers who gulled a spend-freely Socialist government into excessively generous PFI deals, and NHS back-office staff and civil servants who allowed this to happen - 'because at the end of the day, the Government will pay'.  They will suffer loss.  hard as it sounds, I don't think that is our concern.

So too though, will Britons suffer loss and therefore the tax cuts side of the equation needs to be put in place.  Accelerated raising of the tax threshold, immediate reductions in fuel duty and abolition of asinine 'Green' taxes will be a start.  Here's a further idea.  Use some of the money that  is saved by not funding International Aid, to promote charitable giving at home.  Allow  people tax-relief on up to say £1,000 of a contribution that they make to any charity that supports UK based charities that only work in the UK.    So nothing for contributing to Oxfam, Band Aid or Save the Children but full relief, up to £1,000 for money or goods given to a local food bank, for example.

This should be the thrust of the Autumn Statement but, scared by UKIP and bullied by their Coalition partners, the Lib Dems and in thrall to the Labour dominated media, Osborne's speech will likely mean more borrowing, more debt and the sound of cans being kicked down the road.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Spending priorities for the UK

Recently I posted a blog here which purported to be a leaked version  of George Osborne's upcoming Autumn Statement.  This was a spoof but some people took it more seriously.  Perhaps that's because it is the sort of thing that Osborne should be saying?

The United Kingdom now has a national debt in excess of £1.4 Trillion.  I am not even sure I know how many zeros that represents but I do know it's a lot.

Britain is now paying more than £55Bn a year in interest on its debt.  That's more than we spend on defence!

I was thinking about this and watching a news clip that was showing Bono and Sir Bob Geldorf talking about aid for Africa and so on and Bono commented that Britain was one of the few countries that actually lived-up to its international aid commitments.  I was proud, for a moment, then the news moved on.

I have been thinking about that moment, for a while and no longer feel proud.  I feel ashamed.  Ashamed that Britain is impoverishing its own people and future generations to provide aid to other nations.

That's right, Britain is borrowing money so that it can give the borrowed money to other countries to feed their hungry and homeless, while the hungry and homeless in Britain continue to be hungry and homeless.  The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum.

Any spending by government on aid has to start from the premise that charity begins at home.  In what parallel universe can it make an iota of sense that Britain borrows money to give to others?

Probably in the same parallel universe where it makes some kind of sense to be involved in the 2014 version of the arms race.  Instead of building dreadnoughts, the race is about NHS funding.  The Conservatives are trying to out-Labour, Labour on the NHS by ring-fencing spending.  They absolutely know that the NHS is a black hole that could, almost as soon as tomorrow, swallow the whole UK GDP and still need more money.  They know that the second biggest problem with the NHS is actually PFI.  The NHS, under the last Labour government, borrowed massively to build new hospitals and offices for their army of managers and executives.  Now they are spending money that should be spent on front-line health-care provision, funding this spending splurge.

Again, the UK government is borrowing money and impoverishing our people and our children and our  children's children, to fund this.

The deficit isn't coming down and neither is debt.

It is bad enough that politicians don't have the courage to do the right thing - to tell the people of Britain, what the people already know - that we are 'broke', 'skint' 'borasic' call it what you will - and we must cut back spending in order to survive and that these cuts will have to be severe.

We cannot afford a high welfare bill, while also funding local spending, so 'welfare' has to be 'earned'.

We cannot simply borrow to fund overseas aid  - our first priority must be charity spending in the UK or rather not spending what we don't have.

We cannot police the world - we cannot afford it.  If certain nations want us to fight or bomb  ISIS and other terror organisations then those nations must fully fund such actions.  Same goes for the fight against Ebola.  In the extreme we are an island and have a natural barrier to the spread of foreign sourced contagious diseases, so why must Britain be at the forefront of spending its money - money which it has to borrow - to put troops and resources into Africa?

We cannot afford the European Union.  The funding of this  un-elected and highly inefficient bureaucracy is simply unacceptable.  Remember these are the same people, who, when the individual countries of Europe were implementing various levels of domestic austerity, these Eurocrats put forward a budget calling for them to have increased funding from member states.  That act, displaying such a dis-connection from the real world should be enough to cause Britain to distance itself from such madness.  Instead, Britain must borrow money to fund such lunacy.

We borrow, borrow, borrow.

We borrow to fund International Aid, to fund military adventures overseas, to fund a European monster that needs constant feeding, to fund international banks and lending institutions that suck funds from the NHS before a drug is bought or a nurse or doctor is paid and to fund an over-generous welfare system (that treats those who have never paid a penny into the 'system' the same as or better than those that have).

The spending priorities for the UK desperately need to change.

So here is a challenge for politicians.  Stand-up and be counted.  Stand-up and justify why the UK must continue to borrow money to send to countries that can afford their own space programme and yet has its own people depending on the charity of others through food banks.  I have nothing against food banks, by the way, I think they are an excellent way for us to show that we care for our fellow citizens and I see these as a great benefit in terms of the voluntary nature of the wealth redistribution and also of the spirit of compassion and humanity to our fellow countrymen.  I struggle though to understand why my children and grandchildren must suffer so that others can drive around in 4x4s doing 'good' in faraway places!

Any politicians out there, ready to take-up the challenge?  Self health tip - I am not holding my breath!

Yes for Scotland, No for England and Europe

Do you think that the Conservatives, or more accurately David Cameron and George Osborne have some kind of death wish?

I ask because I find it incomprehensible to understand the politics and policies of the Conservatives towards the Scottish, the English and the British.

On September 18, 2014, the voters in Scotland, in a high turn-out, voted No to Scottish independence by a margin of 55%:45%.  Not a resounding victory for the No campaign but enough to show a clear position.

The Conservative Party are poorly represented, in terms of MPs elected to the Westminster parliament, by Scotland.  Only one Tory MP being elected in the last three elections.  In the Scottish Parliament, the Conservatives have just over 10% of the seats and most of these coming arising from the proportional representation system, deployed in those elections.

Why therefore should the Conservatives be so concerned with Scotland?  I will come back to this in a moment but for now, think of it in cold electoral terms.  Scotland brings next to no electoral benefits to the Conservatives.  On the contrary, it elects a huge swathe of Labour opposition MPs.  Though this seems likely to change to Scottish Nationalist MPs at upcoming General Election, there is a very strong socialist and redistributive streak that runs through SNP policies, so there isn't that much difference between them.

So why are the Conservatives pushing for the devolution of further powers to Scotland's parliament?

Powers that will maybe allow Scotland to have all of the essential facets of nationhood, such as full tax raising and spending power, without the responsibilities that go with them.  The UK will still be the lender of last resort for Scotland and will be the backstop for its profligate spending plans.

As a brief aside, do you notice how quiet the Scottish Nationalists have become on the subject of oil revenues?  They were loud and proud when oil was north of $100 a barrel but we here nary a peep now that oil is south of $80 a barrel.  Is there any brave economist out there who could run the numbers and see what difference a >20% drop in the oil price would do to the SNP's already fanciful accounting?  I keep wondering if the Scots have learned from Darien, that it is always better to have someone to run to when the economic tides turn against you while the English are being led by fools who will allow such an imbalance of responsibilities.

These powers still will not address the fundamental 'West Lothian question'.  Scottish MPs will continue to be elected to Westminster, where they can vote on tax measures related to England, Northern Ireland and Wales and yet they will not be able to vote on matters relating to Scottish taxation.  If a minority Tory government, with a strong and overall English-seat majority wanted to propose tax reductions for middle and higher earners, such measures could be defeated by a coalition of English Labour MPs and their Scottish counter-parts and the SNP.  So the Scots have freedom but not the English.

In what world does this make any sense for the English or represent any notion of fair play?

I know that Conservatives will say that we are a United Kingdom and this is a legitimate response to widely-held Scottish opinion but when will they stop to ask the English?  The Scottish 'tail' is well and truly 'wagging' the English dog!

Then we come to Europe.  Here the Tories are losing ground to UKIP.  Here the Conservatives claim that they are unable to put a referendum before the British people until sometime within 2 1/2 years of the next election.

Think about that.  The Conservatives can push through parliament, in the space of a few months, legislation that fundamentally changes the fabric and constitutional settlement of the  United Kingdom and yet legislation related to the EU must wait.  Consider also, that there is no mandate from the British people, nor even the people of Scotland to push through the proposed changes.  Nothing was mentioned, about giving sweeping or indeed, any extra powers to Scotland, in any of the party manifestos, for the 2010 election.

In their haste, the Conservatives are supported by the Labour Party and the Lib Dems.  Both of these parties are pro-Europe and hope to reap some electoral rewards in Scotland as a result of this unjust settlement (though all opinion poll predictions are that both of these parties will go the way of the Tories in Scotland)

I believe that the British public know that all of the main parties want to stay in the European Union.  That all will campaign on that basis in any eventual referendum.  I also believe that the British people want to have a say in the matter.  It is perhaps a sign of the times that the people of Scotland can get a vote on issues like independence but the English cannot.  That Scotland can get local tax raising powers but the English cannot.  Perhaps it is a realisation that given the real powers that actually rest with the European Union, any such local powers, pale into insignificance.  What does it matter what taxes are raised in Scotland, England or the United Kingdom, if un-elected Eurocrats can simply decide that the UK must pay more funds to feed the EU beast?  And that there is nothing that can be done by the Scots, the English or the British to counter the position (and please do not try to use George Osborne's  decidedly dodgy accounting tricks concerning the £1.7Bn, that was recently demanded).

Only UKIP is offering an immediate referendum on EU membership and yet the likelihood of a UKIP parliamentary majority is very slim.  They can damage Conservatives and Labour but are highly unlikely to be the majority party nor to hold the balance of power.  My sense is that UKIP will damage the Tories on Europe and immigration and will damage Labour on immigration.  Labour's (pro) policy on the EU is not something that they really push, though I think that this will be under deeper scrutiny, in the coming months.

So a system of an united governance, for the United Kingdom, that took more than 300 years to develop, can be fundamentally changed in the space of a few months, without the say-so of the people of all of the United Kingdom and yet an alien system, and make no mistake,  the EU's definition of democracy - deals done behind the scenes by un-elected Eurocrats - is alien to British ideas of democracy, cannot be even discussed let alone changed until after years of wrangling.

Forget all the talk about fighting for Britain in Europe, that comes from the mouths of politicians.  That is at best just a soundbite and at worst an outright lie.  Britons fighting in Europe ended in 1945 and since then our democratic freedoms have continuously been whittled away with a rapid acceleration after 1975.

If David Cameron and George Osborne cared a fig for the United Kingdom or even just the Conservative Party, they would put legislation for an EU Referendum, before Parliament immediately.  This would take the wind out of the sails of UKIP and would force Labour and the Lib Dems to show their true colours.  Most importantly, it would give the people of Britain a voice on an issue of truly fundamental importance.

We don't need any fancy propositions or crazy and undemocratic notions - as for example spouted by Nicola Sturgeon, here - a simple Yes or No to continued membership will suffice.  If the result is a Yes, then the strength of the majority will settle things.  If a very strong Yes, then nothing more to be said, Britain succumbs to the EU Superstate.  If the Yes majority is more narrow - say 10% or less, then Britain seeks a re-negotiation of the terms of membership.  If the majority is for No, then we leave the EU, within 12-18 months.

I am not usually one to give out health tips but if you are hoping for a referendum on the EU, don't hold your breath.  Unless UKIP do really break the mould of British politics and achieve a significant breakthrough in 2015, we will see no change in British/EU relations until after the 2020 election and by then it may be too late.

Very depressing that we have come to this and especially so that it is at the hands of the Conservatives.