An Economic, Moral and Practical Case For Lower Taxes

david-cameron-pic-getty-images-924849032I have visited many conferences and listened to many great speakers over the years, inspirational, evangelical and passionate. Great public speakers draw you in, hold your attention and leave you wanting to embrace their story.

People who are truly passionate about their subject are a delight to listen to, however, long gone are the days when the PM could talk off the cuff on any subject. A modern leader is a puppet of the media managers and script writers.

A party campaign manager would have a fit if his charge spoke off script so these days the great leaders have got very good at reading their prepared speeches and making them sound like their own.

In the early days I would have allowed myself to be drawn in. Like a moth to the light bulb I would open my mind and allow the mesmerizing words to mould me like putty. The euphoric feeling of inclusion, of being a part of the speakers plans, of the uplifting, wholesome, convincing, compelling… ok stop right there! Then I started to listen.

When you actually listen, separate the phrases, analyse the meaning, the contradictions, the precise language used, you realise that more often than not the words are playing on your greed and vanity and are in fact hollow and meaningless.

Since I am a sceptic and like to understand, I have stopped listening and now I read the transcripts. This morning I read David Camerons electioneering speech in Hampshire where he said;

  • …there is an “economic, moral and practical” case for lower taxes.

As part of his central election pledges on taxation the above statement sounds great, he went on to say “This is not just a vague promise,” he said. “We have a record”.

Early in my sales career I learned that if you told people what they wanted to hear they would place the order. In those formative years I discovered the dangers of promising more than I could deliver. I learned that to build a long-lasting mutually profitable relationship I had to learn how to manage expectation, how to offer a promise for those things I could deliver and how to say no when I knew I could not deliver.

Camerons Statement

…there is an “economic, moral and practical” case for lower taxes, is a very clever use of words, It plays on the aspirations of the electorate, it plays on greed and vulnerability. And while it does all this it promises nothing. It’s a “jam tomorrow” statement. If I took that statement to my sales manager he would kick me round the car park and tell me to come back when I had a real sale. By the way, a real sale is nothing untill the money is in the bank.

Cameron can make as many statements of aspiration as he likes, in reality none are going to be actioned before a general election and when the election is compleat, even if he does win, he will only have to say the landscape has changed and he can bin all his promises.

Remember, the tory party seek power to protect the wealth of the rich. The promises they make are only made to buy your vote as your vote brings them power and with power they can protect their wealth.

Stick or Carrot?

keep-calm-and-free-scotland-4Its the hottest topic in the news and thus far I have managed to avoid commenting on it but the heat is rising and I can no longer keep my tongue in my head!

On Thursday 18th September 2014 Scotland will probably vote to become a country in its own right and good for them. They deserve a selfish moment and frankly, after the way the Scottish people have been treated by the powers in London I would not blame them.

In all relationships harmony is ensured when all involved are benefiting, feel content and loved. Here are some key pointers to a healthy relationship;

Make good on your words. Follow through on your promises. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t say that you’ll stay in Europe, or invest in infrastructure, and then blow it off or simply forget about it. What this does is systematically destroy trust. And relationships need trust in order to thrive.

Admit your mistakes. If you know you’ve done something to hurt your partner, intentionally or not, own up to it. Humble yourself and apologize sincerely, without making excuses or justifications like “I’m sorry you made me angry.”

  • Commit to changing your behavior. If you notice yourself apologizing for the same mistake over and over, step it up a level. Tell your people that you recognize this mistake keeps happening, and you want to train yourself to stop. Request help and ask for them to gently point it out to you when you’re making this mistake again.

Be realistic. Every relationship has disagreements and days when staying isn’t the easiest choice. But what makes a relationship healthy is choosing to resolve those problems and push through the hard days, instead of just letting issues and resentment fester.

  • Review your expectations. Do you see your partner as a person, with both winning qualities and flaws, or as someone you expect to be perfect? If your expectations are so astronomical that no one could live up to them 100% of the time, you’re setting up your relationship for failure.
  • Accept that conflict happens. If you expect to be in a long-term relationship, you’re bound to have the occasional disagreement. Remember that one argument isn’t the end of everything, and there’s no person on earth that you’d agree with all the time.
  • Always ask yourself whether you’re better off in the relationship than out of it. If you don’t think you’re better off in the relationship, then you probably should have a serious discussion with your partner. In a loving relationship, this question almost always gets a simple “Yes.”

Put the stick away. In a loving relationship your partner will want to stay because the benefits are clear and do not require explanation or reinforcement.

  • Fear of loss often brings with it extra effort to hold the relationship together. While one partner might start looking for a safe backup plan the other might pour in the love to alleviate the fears or the other.
  • A partner who knows they have failed to put in to the relationship everything they could and fears they might looses everything may turn aggressive and be tempted to get the stick out and threaten their partner.

In the England + Scotland relationship it is clear to me, as an outside observer, who wants the relationship to endure and who feels unloved. The people of Scotland would not be seeking their independence if they felt loved and if England had anything to offer I am sure it would be offering it but England knows it is close to leaving the relationship.

Scotland is in the powerful position in this relationship, it is making the decisions and while it thinks like this England must decide if it wants to put the effort in to the relationship to keep it together or let it end. It seems to me that England knows it has failed to give enough and it knows it has nothing more to offer. England has resorted to threats, get the stick out.

Some of the things England have threatened;

  1. Currency collapse, bankruptcy, irrelevance and isolation. There will even be a frontier, doubtless with barking dogs, searchlights and minefields planted with exploding haggises (Peter Hitchens – The Daily Mail)
  2. Guards may be ordered to line the 95-mile English-Scottish border if the majority of Scottish people voted for independence in an upcoming referendum. (British Labour party leader Ed Miliband)

I could go on. But I wont. The thing is, I am in England and I am English. I do not get a vote. And what is more, I should not even get a say in it. The blanket coverage of the vote in Scotland here in English media and its attempts to convince me we are “Better together” are simply not relevant to my situation. This propaganda only serves to reveal our leaders in London as the fools they are.

The “no” vote should be all about pouring love over Scotland and its people and reinforcing the benefits of being together, not threatening them with the permanence and negative repercussions of a vote for independence. Personally I would like Scotland to vote “Yes” and when they do I will be celebrating with them. The escape from the overbearing, repressive, controlling, bullying, lying, greedy, selfish, narcissistic leadership in London is something we should all be campaigning for.

Put the sticks away, I want to see the carrots.

Pedophiles And The Growth Of Isis

isis in iraq5Mr Cameron today constructed a sentence with references to both pedophiles and the growth of Isis and used it to justify the implementation of laws that are intended to replace an EU directives that was considered to infringe human rights. And he did it for your protection?

The European Court struck down an EU directive in April requiring phone and internet companies to retain communications data on the grounds that it infringed human rights.

On July 10th 2014 the government argued Emergency legislation was needed, because service providers were being threatened with legal action by campaigners if they did not start destroying data [in compliance with the European Court ruling] , some of which could prove vital to criminal investigations and court cases according to the government.

Accordingly Mr Cameron said: “We face real and credible threats to our security from serious and organised crime, from the activity of pedophiles, from the collapse of Syria, the growth of Isis in Iraq and al Shabab in East Africa.

“I am simply not prepared to be a prime minister who has to address the people after a terrorist incident and explain that I could have done more to prevent it.”

He added: “I want to be very clear that we are not introducing new powers or capabilities – that is not for this Parliament.

“This is about restoring two vital measures ensuring that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain the right tools to keep us all safe.” [The very ones the European Court struck down in April]

In return for agreeing to back the legislation, Labour and the Lib Dems highlighted new moves to “increase transparency and oversight”, including:

  • The creation of a new Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to scrutinise the impact of the law on privacy and civil liberties
  • Annual government transparency reports on how these powers are used
  • The appointment of a senior former diplomat to lead discussions with the US government and internet firms to establish a new international agreement for sharing data between legal jurisdictions
  • A restriction on the number of public bodies, including Royal Mail, able to ask for communications data under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)
  • Termination clause ensuring these powers expire at the end of 2016
  • A wider review of the powers needed by government during the next parliament

Mr Cameron stressed that the data being retained does not include the content of messages and phone calls – just when and who the companies’ customers called, texted and emailed.

But the emergency Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill would also “clarify” the law on bugging of suspects’ phones by the police and security services, when the home secretary issues a warrant, after concerns service providers were turning down requests.

“Some companies are already saying they can no longer work with us unless UK law is clarified immediately,” said Mr Cameron.

“Sometimes in the dangerous world in which we live we need our security services to listen to someone’s phone and read their emails to identify and disrupt a terrorist plot.”

Well hang on Mr Cameron, did not you just stress that the data being retained does not include the content of messages and phone calls – just when and who the companies’ customers called, texted and emailed? Which is it Mr Cameron?

Council Elections 2014, Nigel Farage and all that.

local-european-elections-votingUKIP leader Nigel Farage has said his party will be “serious players” at the 2015 general election, in with a chance of securing representation in the House of Commons for the first time.

If that is not a big enough wake up call to the 64% of the voting age British population who did not vote yesterday I dont know what is. I would have to assume if we reach the next general election and two thirds of the population decide not to vote then we know one of two things, either they are happy with whatever the minority decide or they simply dont care.

I presume this 35 million or so people think their vote is not going to change anything but with the rise of UKIP there is a real chance the country will change, for the worse, if we do not get voting.

To be fair, at general elections the voting age population turnout is usually in the high 60%’s but even then that leaves 15 million people who chose not to vote.

The result of an additional 15 million people voting will depend on what propaganda they have been exposed to and what they want out of their vote but I am going to assume that those 15 million people will need something significant to stir them from their comfortable apathy and perhaps the threat of a world ruled by Nigel Farage will be enough.

Watching the results coming in it is interesting to note the alliance has lost seats while every one else has made gains, nothing of any surprise in that but why have UKIP acquired some of those seats?

Simply they have played on the anti EU vote belonging to many of the older voters, mainly people who were born around WWII, who grew up in the years before we entered the EU and who for some reason I can not understand, and they can not explain to me, resent being part of Europe.

I have asked; over the last few years I have asked many people who have expressed an opinion on the EU why they are against it. In general the answers fall clearly on their perceived problems of open borders, financial or work based immigration and “foreigners”.

I note that most UKIP voters also have a bumper sticker declaring their wish to retain the Pound and that they have a fear of any young people or non white people.

I feel sorry for them for although they might gain small victories they are fighting a loosing battle. As they get older their numbers will diminish and their influence will boil away to nothing.

Talk Bollox and Sell

bsThis is a rant, I will not apologize!

  • A few powerful drops of serum
  • Drink pure collagen every day
  • Use Cold plasma Sub-D
  • Save an average of £866
  • 38% Larger
  • Moisturize in the shower
  • Anti Stain Technology

These are just a few examples of the headlines used in the advertising on my TV this evening. The problem with these headlines is? They are all bollox, every one of them.

“A few powerful drops of serum” is from a hair products advertisement. Does anyone know what “Serum” is? There is no explanation on the advertisement, just an assertion that you need it.

“I drink pure collagen every day” is another beauty product headline. In this case no one explains what collagen is or why you should drink it every day. Collagen is in fact about 25% of all the soft tissue in our body, it is all the connective tissue and is in muscles. It is a natural protein. I still don’t know why you should drink it.

“Cold plasma Sub-D” Honestly, I watched half an hour of programmed advertising and still didn’t find out what it is so I went to Google and asked. It was created by Dr Nick Perricola, a real doctor of medicine in the US, a self proclaimed expert in beauty. I still don’t know what Clod Plasma Sub-D is. Or why I need it.

“Save an average of £866” is from an advertisement from a company that wants to buy your car. Although they explain this is the saving made over the trade in value they don’t explain how that value is derived. It is meaningless.

“38% Larger” Than what?

“Moisturise in the shower” Im a man, I don’t moisturise.

However the last quote here “With Anti Stain Technology” is the headline from an advertisement for a washing machine. I thought getting rid of stains was the idea of a washing machine. They all have, by definition, anti stain technology. How can you turn a basic feature into a benefit?

Stop Listening And Think!

Advertisers are so confident you will buy their product they don’t even bother to be clever about their advertising any more. They hold it up, wave it in front of you, talk bollox then sit back and relax as you buy it. And buy it you will.

Although it is clear all products are sold this way the main culprit has to be beauty products.

The advertisers of beauty products have given up using language we would recognise and are now inventing a whole new vocabulary to describe their products.

The Sub-D Serum Cold Moisturizing Plasma Drops are an entirely made up products. From concept to innovation they are created not to solve a problem but to fill a tiny niche of market that has been identified. A market for a “blue package with orange labels smelling of apples and used by 18 year old women in the shower” Go make it!

And then sell it, don’t forget to use these compelling statements;

  • Problematic areas
  • Changed My Life
  • Buy the products
  • Delivers
  • Get Results
  • The only product you need
  • You could get the same results.

Ah yes, you could get the same results, if you talk bollox and have the advertising budget you too could be a big brand beauty company.

The Victim.

Women and girls, and to a small extent young men are the victims. Cosmetics, beauty and media companies have cooperated in brainwashing 50% or more of the western worlds population into believing they are well below perfect.

Without the right hair, face, skin, shower, deodorising, moisturising and, or hand products these people will remain less than perfect, they are doomed to be lonely, unloved, freaks who no one will ever give any attention to. Except that is, the very companies selling the products you need if you ever want to succeed at work, in love or life.

 

Smoke, Mirrors and the Minimum Pricing Of Alcohol

calais-booze_1117162cBack in the news again is the discussion of minimum pricing for alcohol. I am listening to the radio where they are discussing the subject.

I have discovered that 10% of the population purchase 50% of the alcohol [by price I assume]. They have not actually said, but I suspect the 10% demographic buying all the beer is the same 10% who are the poorest of our population. I also discovered that those six million people spend on average, £3,000 per year, each, on their drinks. Thats £18 billion.

Its no surprise therefore that the main objectors to any Government interferance with this market are the very companies who make the drinks. They have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

On the opposition benches are plenty of social workers, doctors, nursing staff, police and other people who consider they are victims of this over indulgence.

Supposedly moderating all these opinions and proposing corrective policy are the politicians who fall in to two categories; Those who have interests in the drinks industry [or would like to have interests in the drinks industry] and those who don’t and have decided there is more political milage in being in favour of price capping.

Either way I have my suspicions that they are all wrong, managing the price of booz will not make any difference, it might even make it worse.

Let us start with the basic pretence that increasing the price per unit of alcohol will reduce consumption and by virtue of our population being a little more sober, crime will drop, fewer livers will fail and the cost to the nation will decrease in proportion to the reduction in collected tax. In the long term a healthier nation will be more productive and we will all benefit with increased wealth, flat screen TVs and new BMWs.

Unfortunately there is an alternative scenario. Increase the cost of a bottle of Lambrusco and desire and aspiration will increase proportionally to promote desperation leading to an increase in crime, more people in prison, broken families, badly parented kids, drugs, more booze and well no one is any better off.

The first proposition fits well with the White Middle Class views of how to deal with their perceived problems with the ‘Drunk Lower Classes’. I am surprised they have not yet recognised that simply repeating the same actions, and talking about how well it is going while ignoring the glaring facts does not in fact make it go well.

Permitted to continue I forecast a change of headline followed by a diversion of attention and eventually we will all forget about the price of beer. That is until it is back in the headlines, about six weeks before the next election.

Now I do not have all the answers, In fact I have no answers. What I do have is an observation.

I live in France for a lot of the year and in my local supermarket I can buy bottles of excellent local wine for about €2 each. Well it is not just me who can buy €2 bottles of wine, any one can. And its good stuff.

Everyone drinks in France, from a stiff one in a PMU at 10AM to the evening Genepi after dinner with local wines. The whole family drinks and no one worries about it.

It is rare to find drunks on a park bench [I dont think I have ever seen one], or the youth swigging from cans on a street corner, or people filling their shopping trollies with cans of cider [except the tourists when they arrive on a saturday afternoon].

I checked my local police records and found no cases of ram raiding the local bottle shop, no arrests of brawling men in the local night club, a couple of drunk drivers and well, thats about it.

Alcohol is just not a problem in my bit of France. The reason is commonly attributed to parents introducing their kids to wine at dinner when they are only 8 or ten years old and instilling good attitudes to drinking.

But it can not be that simple, for parents to do that it implies there are two and that they are sitting at a table. They are eating as a family and sharing everything about their social standards, not just an appreciation of good French wine.

The difference is in the culture. The French, on the whole do not over indulge.

The solution? like I said earlier, I dont have one.

Cameron’s speech on March 12th

This is the full transcript of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on March 12th, 2014, to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

“Shalom le-coolam [Hello everyone]

“Mr President, Prime Minister, Mr Speaker, Members of the Knesset, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great honour to address this historic Parliament – for sixty-five years the heart of the State of Israel and a beacon of democracy to the region – and to the world.

“When I was last here in Jerusalem, I came as Leader of the Opposition and I remember being quite bemused as I sat listening to Israeli politicians telling me all about the challenges of coalition politics. They told me about building a coalition, keeping it together, balancing the demands of different parties, sorting out the disputes and I just didn’t understand this strange system of government. But after nearly four years as Prime Minister of my own coalition all I can say is: ach-shav ani mevin [now I get it].

“What I have always understood is the extraordinary journey of the Jewish people. Thousands of years of history in this holy land. Thousands of years of persecution. And even today, some people despicably questioning your right to exist. My Jewish ancestry is relatively limited but I do feel just some sense of connection. From the lexicon of my great, great grandfather Emile Levita, a Jewish man who came from Germany to Britain 150 years ago to the story of my forefather Elijah Levita who wrote what is thought to have been the first ever Yiddish novel.

“But more importantly I have learnt to understand something of Jewish values and character and I have grown to appreciate the extraordinary contribution of the Jewish people to my country and to the world. That sense of understanding has shaped my determination to remember the past, my commitment to Israel in the present and my hopes for Israel’s future.

“And I would like to say something about each of these today.

“First, remembering the past.

“One of the most moving experiences I have had as Prime Minister came in January this year, when I held a reception in Downing Street for 50 Survivors of the Sho’ah. I met some of the most inspiring people and heard some of the most incredible stories.

“People like Harry Spiro who couldn’t understand why his mother pushed him out of her house and off to the factory, when she was actually saving his life.

“Gena Turgel, who witnessed her brother being shot by the Nazis and lost another brother and two sisters before she was eventually liberated from Bergen-Belsen and went on to marry the British soldier who freed her.

“And Ben Helfgott who endured three years in a ghetto, two labour camps and three concentration camps to make it to England where he was reunited with one of his sisters, the only other member of his family to survive. Ben went on to represent Britain as a weightlifter in two Olympics set up a society for Holocaust survivors and was honoured in Poland for his reconciliation work between Poles and Jews. And I am delighted that Ben has come with me here today.

“All of the survivors have made such an incredible contribution to Britain.

“And one of the things so many of them have done – and which never ceases to amaze me – is to go into our schools and share their testimony first hand.

“It is hard to imagine the sheer strength of humanity it must take to do that.

“To relive time and again the one thing that frankly many of us in their position would do almost anything just to try and somehow forget.

“But they do it because they share an urgent sense of mission that their story must never be forgotten.

“I share that mission too.

“And I am determined that long after they are gone and long after we are all gone their memory will be as strong and vibrant as it is today.

“As a father, I will never forget last year visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin with my children and for the first time trying to explain to them quite what had happened.

“I want every child in Britain to learn about the Holocaust and to understand just how vital it is to fight discrimination and prejudice in our world.

“It is vital that we do all we can with our international partners to preserve the site at Auschwitz, which I will be visiting later this year.

“But we need to do more.

“That is why I have set up the Holocaust Commission in Britain. A number of the Commissioners are here with Ben and me today and as we visit Yad Vashem together later today, our pledge to Ben will be that Britain will never forget what he and his fellow survivors have taught us.

“We will preserve the memory of that generation for every generation to come.

“But remembering the past goes far beyond that horrific suffering of a generation.

“It is about remembering the long and rightful search of a people for a nation. And the right for the Jewish people to live a peaceful and prosperous life in Israel.

“From the early pioneers, the men and women of the Palestine Exploration Fund, who saw the Jewish history in this land and the possibilities for the future to the Balfour Declaration – the moment when the State of Israel went from a dream to a plan Britain has played a proud and vital role in helping to secure Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.

“And just as important as the history, is the partnership we are building between our countries today.

“That begins with our commitment to Israel’s security. On my last visit here I took a helicopter ride heading north over Israel.

“Looking right to the Jordan River and left to the Mediterranean Sea, I really appreciated for the first time just how narrow and vulnerable this land is.

“A vulnerability that has already seen 38 missiles from Gaza this year alone.

“A vulnerability that just this week has seen the interception of the Klos C ship – yet another despicable attempt by the Iranians to smuggle more long-range rockets into Gaza. A vulnerability that has too often seen nearby Palestinian schools being named in honour of suicide bombers.

“It gave me a renewed understanding of what it must be like to be afraid in your own home.

“So let me say to you very clearly: with me, you have a British Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security will always be rock solid.

“I understand the concern of Israelis who have seen land that Israel has pulled out of, becoming a base for terrorist attacks. And I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens. A right enshrined in international law, in natural justice and fundamental morality, and in decades of common endeavour between Israel and her allies.

“When I was in Opposition I spoke out when – because of the law on universal jurisdiction – senior Israelis could not safely come to my country, without fear of ideologically motivated court cases and legal stunts. When I became Prime Minister I legislated to change it.

“My country is open to you. And you are welcome to visit anytime.

“When I saw the threat that Hezbollah represented to Israel and beyond I forged a Europe-wide consensus to proscribe its military wing, a key step in the fight against this enemy on your borders.

“I have led the fight against anti-Semitism and extremism in Britain.

“We’ve removed over 26 thousand pieces of illegal terrorist content from the internet worked with the police and with universities to stop extremists spreading their divisive messages on our university campuses and we’ve excluded more foreign preachers of hate on the basis of our strategy for preventing extremism than ever before.

“We said no to Zakir Naik. We said no to Yusuf Qaradawi. And we said no to Dieudonne M’bala M’bala whose abhorrent displays of anti-Semitism have no place in a tolerant and inclusive Britain.

“I’ve stood up to protect Jewish practices too. The Jewish community has been an absolute exemplar in integrating into British life in every way but integration doesn’t mean that you have to give up things that you hold very dear in your religion.

“When people challenged kosher Shechita. I have defended it. I fought as a back-bench Member of Parliament against the last attempt to do something to change this. And there’s no way I’m allowing that to change now I’m Prime Minister. On my watch Shechita is safe in the UK.

“I am proud to be pursuing the strongest and deepest possible relationship between our two countries.

“From our trade – which has doubled in a decade and is now worth £5 billion a year to the world leading partnerships between our scientists, academics and hi-tech specialists.

“Britain and Israel share a commitment to driving the growth of high-tech start-ups. In Britain we’ve introduced huge tax breaks on early stage investment and special visas for entrepreneurs and in just three and a half years we have grown our Tech City in East London from 200 digital companies more than 1300 today.

“Israel is the start-up nation – with the second highest density of start-ups outside of Silicon Valley anywhere in the world. As the inspirational President Peres has put it: Israel has gone from oranges to Apple. There are now more than 60 multinational companies with research and development facilities in Israel.

“Israel’s technology is protecting British and NATO troops in Afghanistan. It is providing Britain’s National Health Service with one in six of its prescription medicines through Teva and it has produced the world’s first commercially available upright walking technology which enabled a British paraplegic woman to walk the 2012 London Marathon. And together British and Israeli technical expertise can achieve so much more.

“From our scientists working on stem cell cures for some of the worst diseases on the planet to our hi-tech specialists who are making a reality of the UK/Israel Tech Hub – the first of its kind in the world I hope this visit can lay the foundation for even more collaboration and even more business between our countries.

“And to those who do not share my ambition who want to boycott Israel I have a clear message. Britain opposes boycotts. Whether it’s trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis or universities trying to stifle academic exchange Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people will never rest on hollow resolutions passed by amateur politicians.

“It is founded in the spirit and strength of your people. It is founded in international law. It is founded in the resolve of all of your allies to protect an international system that was forged in our darkest days, to put right historic wrongs. It is founded in the achievements of your economy and your democracy – a country pledged to be fair and equal to all its citizens whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian Arab or Druze.

“It is your destiny. Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong.It’s abhorrent.

“And together we will defeat it.

“Let me turn to my hope for Israel’s future. We all yearn for a lasting and secure peace between Israel and its neighbours.

“Britain fully supports the great work that American Secretary of State John Kerry has been leading. And we believe that in Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas you have leaders who want peace too.

“We back the compromises needed – including the halt to settlement activity and an end to Palestinian incitement too.

“And we recognise the difficult and courageous decisions both sides are taking not least with Prime Minister Nethanyahu’s decision to release terrorist prisoners, with all the anguish that can bring for affected families.

“But people come to this Parliament from all over the world and talk about maps and population numbers and processes and deadlines. They tell you how to run your peace process. I will not do that. You know I want peace and a two state solution.
You don’t need lectures from me about how to get there.

“What I want to say is something different. What I want to say is this:

“Imagine what this land would be like if a two state solution was actually achieved.

“Think of all the aspects of life that would change.

“Israel’s relationships with the world. Its security its long-term prosperity and the quality of life for all its people.

“On Israel’s relationships, imagine, as John Kerry put it: “mutual recognition of the nation state of the Palestinian people and the nation state of the Jewish people”

“Let’s be clear what that means.

“An end to the outrageous lectures on human rights that Israel receives at the United Nations from the likes of Iran and North Korea.

“An end to the ridiculous situation where last year the United Nations General Assembly passed three times as many resolutions on Israel as on Syria, Iran and North Korea put
together.

“No more excuses for the 32 countries in the United Nations who refuse to recognise Israel.

“And for the Arab League, how many of those States today yearn for a different relationship with Israel – which the peace agreement would enable them to deliver?

“Think of the capitals in the Arab world where Israelis could travel, do business, and build a future.

“Imagine Israel – like any other democratic nation – finally treated fairly and normally by all.

“On security, imagine a peace deal that would leave Israel more secure, not less secure.

“Not a temporary deal, broken by Hamas firing rockets at you or Iranian proxies smuggling weapons through the Jordan Valley.

“But a proper lasting peace that allows a strong moderate Palestinian government to end the fears of a failed state on Israel’s border.

“A deal that means an end of all claims – and an end of all conflict.

“Israelis and Palestinians no longer each other’s enemy, but actually working together to maintain security against those who would seek to harm us all.

“On prosperity, the possibilities of peace are extraordinary.

“This is a region where demographics are demanding 40 million jobs in the next decade, to keep pace with the rising expectations of young people.

“A region where the thirst for higher education today will need to be met with the jobs of tomorrow.

“So imagine the engine of Israel’s economy fully unleashed to work in the region – and to meet the needs that are common to all.

“How to make the best use of land and technology to feed a rising population?

“How to harness water resources so precious to all?

“Imagine Israel’s technology working hand in glove with those making strides with renewables – securing the future needs of their peoples for a time when their economies can no longer rely on carbon.

“Imagine the agreements ready to be signed off with every major trading bloc in the world.

“Committees deliberating not on what products to stop from Israel – but on what products they can bring in.

“Imagine too how this new future would feel.

“Because this isn’t just about security and prosperity – as important as those are.

“This is about justice for two peoples.

“Dignity for the Jewish people and yes, dignity for the Palestinian people too.

“Generations of Jewish and Palestinian children for once growing up in hope not fear.

“Israel is a nation where around every corner there is a memorial and a reminder of those who fought to create a modern Israel from the human tragedies of the past.

“But those sacrifices were not just to build a State that was physically secure.

“They were to build a state that would fulfil its rightful moral position in a region where security, dignity and mutual respect would be the new watchwords.

“For Israelis, a life free from the everyday fear of terror.

“For the Palestinians, finally, the chance to live autonomously in a state of their own.

“Imagine if you could look your children and grandchildren in the eye and know that your hope could become their reality.

“These are the dividends of peace that I long for in Israel.

“And I will do everything I can do help bring them about.

“At the same time, we must be constantly vigiland about the wiuder challenges in the region.

“These are challenges we all face.

“The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and perhaps the greatest challenge of all, the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism.

“And to people who try to say that Israel is the cause of these problems. I say that fundamentally misunderstands what these problems are about.

“Take Iran. Israel is not the cause of the shadow that Iran casts over the world. There is no rule that says if Israel and the Palestinians make peace, Iran is somehow going to dismantle its despotic regime or abandon its nuclear intentions.

“That can only be done through sustained international pressure. I share your deep scepticism and great concern about Iran. I am not starry eyed about the new regime. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world – not just to Israel and with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen.

“Similarly, while of course, extremism feeds on conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere Israel is not the cause of the poisonous ideology that fuels terrorism across the region and across the world.

“We must be clear what we mean by this term – the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism – and distinguish it from Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people.

“Islamist extremism is a warped and barbaric ideology that ties to set our societies against each other by radicalising young Muslims all across the world.

“At its furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm. Governed by an interpretation of Sharia.

“Move along the spectrum and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world view, including real hostility towards Israel and the West, towards our democracy and liberal values.

“They provide succour fort the men and women of violence – and we must confront and challenge them too.

“That is what Britain’s approach to anti-extremism is all about.

“No country knows more about the threat of terror justified by this grim Islamist mind-set than you do here in Israel.

“But we too have paid our own prices on the streets of London, elsewhere in the country and around the world.

“So we share your resolve top overcome this evil. And I believe that like our closest allies, Britain and Israel have the history, the values, capability and – yes – the historic responsibility to take this on.

“We need a response that is tough, intelligent and patient.

“Tough – in that it demands a strong security response. Whether that’s military action to go after the terrorists, or international co-operation on intelligence and counter-terrorism.

“To make sure that the Taleban don’t take over Afghanistan. To support AMISOM against Al-Shabab in Somalia. To support the government in Libya to build new and effective security forces. To support the people of Mali, together with their neighbours and our French allies to prevent a new terrorist haven developing on our doorstep and yes, it requires a tough, strong security response to defeat the Al Qaeda linked extremists in Pakistan, in Syria, in Sinai – and wherever else they are found.

“But second, alongside a tough security response must be an intelligent political response. We know that Al Qaeda franchises thrive where there is political instability and weak or dysfunctional political institutions.

“So we must match a strong security response with a political approach that addresses these issues.

“That means supporting the building blocks of democracy – the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, the rights of minorities, free media and association and a proper place in society for the army.

“I’m a Conservative. I don’t believe in dropping these things from a great height. Every country must make its own way. But we should never forget those values that are at the heart of our own progress.

“And that means supporting the evolution of effective and accountable government and backing people in their search for a job and a voice.

“Third, we must be patient and resolute. We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous ideology which is an extreme distortion of the Islamic faith – and which holds that terror and mass murder are not only acceptable but necessary.

“I am convinced we will be fighting Islamic extremism for the rest of my political lifetime.

“We must tackle this poisonous thinking at home and abroad and resist the ideologues’ attempts to divide the world into a clash of civilisations.

“The underlying conflicts and grievances that are exploited by terrorists are in many cases long-standing and deep.

“And the building blocks of democracy, which are a big part of the solution, take time to put in place.

“But this tough, intelligent and patient approach is the best way to defeat terrorism and ensure our own security.

“And we must – and will – pursue it with an iron resolve.

“Later this week you will celebrate Purim.

“You will recall the time when the Jewish people were under threat of extermination in ancient Persia.

“And you will experience a day of joy in memory of the way the Jewish people were saved and freedom was delivered.

“All of us here long for the day that the Jewish people can be free and safe in their homeland.

“I know the challenges in getting there are great. But far greater is the friendship I bring from Britain – and the strength of our collective resolve.

“So as I stand here with you and look to the future, my message to you today is simply this: we’ll be with you every step of the way.

“Anachnu Beyachad [We are with you].”

Mark Duggan inquest: Family fury at lawful killing decision

Mark Duggan’s family have said they will fight for justice after an inquest jury concluded by a majority of 8 to 2 that he was lawfully killed by police.

Mr Duggan was shot dead by armed officers in August 2011 in Tottenham, sparking riots across England.

Following the inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice, his aunt Carole Duggan said he had been “executed”.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has asked for a meeting with local community leaders.

There were angry scenes outside the court, with supporters of Mr Duggan’s family chanting “murderers” at Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley as he read a statement.

‘Lethal force’

Jurors concluded Mr Duggan did not have a gun when he was shot by officers who surrounded a minicab he was travelling in.

But the jury said it was more likely than not that Mr Duggan had thrown a gun from the vehicle just before he was killed. The weapon was found about 20ft (6m) away from the scene.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley was met with a barrage of chants

The panel of seven women and three men was asked to answer five questions:

  • In the period between midday on 3 August 2011 and when state amber was called at 6.00 pm on 4 August 2011, did the Metropolitan Police Service and the Serious Organised Crime Agency do the best they realistically could have done to gather and react to intelligence about the possibility of Mr Duggan collecting a gun from Mr Hutchinson-Foster? The jury said a unanimous no.
  • Was the stop conducted in a location and in a way which minimised, to the greatest extent possible, recourse to lethal force? Unanimous yes.
  • Did Mr Duggan have the gun with him in the taxi immediately before the stop? Unanimous yes
  • How did the gun get to the grass area where it was later found? A majority of 9 to 1 said it was thrown.
  • When Mr Duggan received a fatal shot, did he have the gun in his hand? A majority of 8 to 2 said no, he did not have a gun in his hand.

Following the verdict his mother, Pamela Duggan, was led out of the court in tears, while Mr Duggan’s brother was seen screaming and shouting.

Mark Duggan's mother Pamela (left) and aunt Carole outside court Mr Duggan’s family said he was “executed”

BBC News home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani tweeted: “I don’t think I have ever heard of a jury, performing their civic duty, being abused in court by members of the public.”

Following the conclusion to the inquest, an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) spokesperson said: “We note the inquest jury’s determination and findings and we are considering them as a matter of urgency in relation to our ongoing investigation.”

‘No justice, no peace’

Outside court, his aunt Carole Duggan said: “The majority of people in this country know that Mark was executed.

“We’re going to fight until we have no breath in our body for justice for Mark, for his children, and for all of those (unclear) with deaths in custody that have had nothing.

Sir Bernard Hogan Howe: “We need to do more to build trust”

“We are not giving up. No justice, no peace!”

But Met Police Commissioner Mr Hogan-Howe said: “I welcome the verdict of a jury that our officers acted lawfully when they confronted an armed criminal who they believed posed a threat to them and to the public.

“The death of Mark Duggan in 2011 was a tragedy for his family and led to a significant reduction in trust between London’s black communities and the Metropolitan Police.

“I know that we have much work to do with black Londoners to build trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police.

“I have asked some of the capital’s political representatives, and local community leaders from Tottenham, to meet me tomorrow [Thursday] to discuss how the Metropolitan Police can build better relationships for the future.”

‘Shot on sight’

The Duggan’s family lawyer Marcia Willis Stewart said “We can’t believe this was the outcome. He had no gun in his hand, yet he was shot, he was murdered.

“To us, that is unlawful killing.”

In a statement later, Ms Stewart said: “The jury has found that Mark Duggan was unarmed at the point at which he was shot.

“We cannot countenance a situation in which an unarmed citizen is shot on sight.

“The jury found that there were failings in the way the police conducted the gathering and actioning of evidence. Had they done their job properly, this fatal shooting could have been avoided.

She added the family would seek an urgent meeting with the IPCC, their MP David Lammy, and MP Keith Vaz, in order to ensure the IPCC “carry a vigorous review”.

Deborah Coles, from the charity Inquest, said Mr Duggan’s family were considering whether to apply for the decision to be judicially reviewed.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley attempted to read a statement outside court

Outside court, Assistant Commissioner Rowley attempted to read a statement which said the force had sympathy with Mr Duggan’s family.

“No officer sets out at the start of the day to run an operation that results in someone dying,” he said.

“We send out well-trained, professional armed officers thousands of times a year to combat this threat [of gun violence], only firing shots once or twice. These careful tactics have significantly reduced gun crime.”

He added: “We know the trust is not shared by everyone. I will be offering to meet Mark Duggan’s family to express our sorrow.”

Tottenham MP David Lammy said the IPCC investigation had questions to answer, in particular what happened days before the shooting.

He said: “The Duggan family’s sorrow and anger was palpable in court this afternoon and it is a feeling that will inevitably be reflected in the wider community.

“Further clarification on the events surrounding Mark Duggan’s shooting is essential to enable the relationship between the community and the police to move forward.

“There are aspects of this verdict that are somewhat perplexing and seemingly contradictory to those of who us who have carefully followed the proceedings over the last few months.”

Tottenham ‘calm’

A Home Office spokeswoman said it was “inappropriate to comment” while the IPCC was still carrying out its investigation.

BBC News correspondent Tom Symonds, who is in Tottenham, said the area was “very calm but has a high police presence”.

The Met said there was an operation in place across London this evening where they have the ability to deploy extra officers if needed.

After Mr Duggan was shot, rioting spread across London and other parts of England in what became some of the worst disturbances in decades.

The inquest began in September. Before the jurors retired for what was seven days of deliberation, Judge Keith Cutler told them to reach their decisions “on the evidence and the evidence alone”.

The coroner thanked the jury and told them they will be excused from future jury service for life if they want.

Source – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25657949

 

Wind turbines trash the landscape for the benefit of billionaires

Energy policy is chaotic and incoherent. The myth that wind power is ‘free’ has driven Britain’s politicians mad

Is it fair for the chancellor to cut pensions for the poor while offering a million pounds a year to the Duke of Roxburghe for letting the wind blow? Is it fair to offer half a million to the Earl of Moray, a third of a million to the Earl of Glasgow, and a quarter of a million to the Duke of Beaufort, Sir Alastair Gordon Cumming and Sir Reginald Sheffield, the prime minister’s father-in-law? Is it fair to promise a reported £1bn to Charles Connell over the next 25 years?

I am not particularly egalitarian. I support austerity in the public finances and accept that this may require a bit of smooth with the rough. But George Osborne is going beyond smooth.

British energy policy is chaotic. It is intellectually incoherent, lurching from fashion to fad with each lurch breeding a pile of taxpayer cash and a carnival of lobbyists out to protect it. Never in the history of public subsidy can so much have been paid by so many to so few.

The chancellor’s well-trailed announcement that money for onshore turbines will be cut in favour of offshore is welcome in part, but it makes no sense. While less intrusive on the eye, offshore turbines are even more expensive and inefficient than onshore ones. The bizarre plan to erect 240 down the middle of the Bristol Channel has already been abandoned as uneconomic, despite Osborne’s subsidy. The huge East Anglian field may cost billions. It all makes nuclear seem a bargain.

I have sympathy with the wind lobby in one respect. Its members are trying to turn an honest penny and must plan ahead. Just a couple of years ago they were told by wind’s most fanatical subsidiser, Chris Huhne, to plan for 10,000 onshore turbines. Contracts were promised. Public money was unlimited. Offshore wind alone would “generate 20,000 British jobs”. It was rubbish. The giant Sheringham field is so Norwegian that the country’s crown prince was invited to declare it open.

There are almost no British jobs. The German firm Siemens makes most British turbines and sensibly does not rely on British government policy for its investment. It builds on the continent. Its competitor Vestas has pulled the plug on a plant in Kent, and South Korea’s Doosan has done likewise in Glasgow. The energy required to mine the turbines’ rare minerals and build, import and erect them makes a mockery of their “greenness”.

The industry lobby, RenewableUK, on Thursday deplored what it suspected was a “political decision” to cut subsidy, and it was right. The switch reeked of Downing Street’s obsession with Ukip, which has shrewdly opposed wind turbines. But an industry that is effectively a state subcontractor must accept such whims. The golden goose would never last.

I have spent two years traipsing Britain in search of the finest views. It is hard to convey the devastating impact of the turbines to those who have not seen them, especially a political elite that never leaves the south-east except for abroad. Fields of these structures are now rising almost everywhere. They are sited irrespective of the wind, since subsidy is paid irrespective of supply, even if there is none. It makes EU agricultural policy a paragon of sanity.

Turbines are to surround Cornwall and stretch along the north Devon coast. They will form a wall off the Dorset shore. They will line Offa’s Dyke from Gwent to Shropshire, with a single giant on Clyro Hill looking down the Wye Valley like Rio’s Christ the Redeemer. The once desolate Cambrian Mountains are on the way to being an estate of 840 turbines filling views in every direction.

The shires of Northampton, Nottingham and Cambridge are already gathering turbines. Heckington Fen in Lincolnshire may have ones higher than Lincoln cathedral. They are to appear in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, in the Brontë country of Yorkshire and on Spurn point off the Humber.

The wildest coastline left in England, in Northumberland, is being flanked by 70 turbines. In Scotland the Roxburghe array of 400 turbines has turned the once lovely Lammermuir Hills into a power station. Inverness and Caithness are to lose their open vistas, as are the Shetlands and the islands off Argyll. Scottish aristocrats have not seen such a turn in fortune since the Highland clearances.

Britain’s landscape has never before been subject to such visual transformation. Human hands have always refashioned the country, urban and rural alike, but they have not industrialised its appearance on remotely this scale. Roads, railway lines, quarries, even towns and cities, are inconspicuous compared to wind turbines. Few of Britain’s greatest views will be free of the sight of them.

Mostly the gain is footling. Turbines seldom produce their declared capacity. The one that towers over the M4 at Reading generates just 16% of its capacity. What they really generate is money, up to £30,000 a year each in subsidy. The billions poured into wind would have been far better spent – as energy professor Dieter Helm, the consultants KPMG and others have long argued – in pursuing lower emissions through energy efficiency and cleaner carbon.

Yet the myth that wind is “free” has driven politicians mad. They have chased the length and breadth of the land showering quantities of public money on a tiny handful of the rich. Britain’s modern landscape is their memorial.

Source – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/06/wind-turbines-landscape-billionaires-energy-policy

Coronation Street – Hayley faces more heartbreak

Spoiler Alert!

Roy is worried that Hayley is being taken advantage of as she accepts Christian’s request for money in exchange for seeing her grandkids.

It’s a bittersweet moment for Hayley as she watches Roy happily play with the children and imagines a life she might have had. As Hayley bids goodbye, she’s heartbroken. Could this be the last time she’ll ever see her grandkids?

Meanwhile, Peter tells Tina that the kiss was a mistake and won’t happen again. Tina is not pleased and Peter is left fearing her reaction to being given the brush-off. As a fuming Tina strides over to speak to Carla, what will she say?

Elsewhere, unaware that David is just feet away, Kylie pours her heart out to Audrey. David hears every word of how much pain he’s caused Kylie and reflects on his actions.

Also, Tim is unfazed as Sally shows off her keys to the factory.

Source – http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/s3/coronation-street/spoilers/a532151/hayley-faces-more-heartbreak.html