Friday, 29 July 2011

Independent Police Complaints Commission

I have made comment previously about IPCC reports and some of the shocking things police do and that are above criticism by the IPCC. I was thinking the other day though in the context of government departments having a careless attitude to their duty to the public, that I perhaps hadn't highlighted this failing by the IPCC.

In one report I cited, a police officer discharged a high velocity round inside a house and it was lucky that the walls were brick otherwise it could have entered the next house. The IPCC couldn't bring itself to criticise overall strategy or notice the way police deploy weapons.

On the whole, I think there is a tendency to look down on US law enforcement as less civilised than what we have here, not least because US police officers are routinely armed. But quite a few officers in the UK are armed too and there is an important difference to consider. In the US, officers carry a side arm and often have a shotgun in their vehicle. These are low velocity weapons deemed appropriate, where lethal force is necessary, to the urban environment. Basically the bullets carry less energy and won't go through walls etc.

In Britain however, this wholly sensible notion is frequently ignored as our armed police carry higher velocity MP5 carbines. These military grade weapons are singularly inappropriate for the urban environment. They are compact enough to be used, but the energy of rounds discharged is too high. Think about the dramatic 'armed arrests' you see on the TV. A man is dragged out of a car and forced to lie on the ground while officers point their MP5's at him, tucked tight into their shoulder and cheek. Lord alone knows where a high velocity round penetrating right through the body and striking the pavement would end up, should they decide to open fire.

The IPCC, senior officers and firearms strategists  in the police seem to have no view, opinion or criticism of these practices. The MP5 is able to fire a round twice to four times the distance a pistol could achieve. It is interesting to note the persistent suggestion that the police receive training from the SAS and have also selected one of it's favourite weapons. Yet the SAS are not trained themselves for police actions. They are in fact trained to use extreme violence to achieve their result. Which is exactly what you want on a battlefield, though not necessarily in Bromley. We know this to be the case because of their actions in the Falklands and also in the shooting of IRA terrorists in Gibraltar. One in particular was pursued and falling to the ground was shot at close range repeatedly. The SAS train to kill and to make sure the target is definitely dead. And again, this was exactly the technique used on the completely innocent Jean Charles de Menezes.

That our senior police officers are incompetent is becoming daily more apparent (and not just because of their over-riding social engineering bias) and we let them train and equip themselves to military levels. Add to that the criminally lax oversight by the IPCC and you have a dangerous mix.

BBC Bias

You would hope that, with perhaps some personal leanings, news reports would attempt to be just that, reports on the news. However, just watching the lunchtime BBC slot it became apparent just  how distorting this broadcaster is. Whilst blatant bias is unacceptable from any broadcaster one that you are compelled to pay for should be squeaky clean. But the BBC feel they are above the mere opinion of the hoi poloi.

Today the head of the Press Complaints Commission resigned over the phone hacking scandal, but what did the BBC choose to lead on? James Murdoch. And what was the 'story? That he had been asked to clarify something. The way the BBC chose to present this was 'James Murdoch no doubt thought his appearance before the House committee would be his last', but it went on, 'the Chairman has asked him to reply in writing' to clarify something he said earlier. In an attempt to justify their misleading intro, the BBC went on to say that one Labour MP on the committee wanted James recalled but was out-voted. And the 'news' was that an email had shown up that seemed to contradict something James had said to the committee earlier. This being something that came to light days ago. So, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the state broadcaster ran a headline story that was old news and no news. Just to keep their figures of hate, the Murdoch's in the glare of publicity.

The BBC really is a disreputable organisation and one on which you can have no faith that you are being told the truth.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Rum Do

We appear to be in a financial crisis, but can you be sure? Politicians are doing some bizarre things that seem quite political rather than useful. Printing money. I thought that money supply was a tiny bit crucial to how your country's economy ran, but there seems this idea that if we re short of money then we should print some. Does it really work like that? Blair and Brown kept the country drugged and so believing that this Laurel and Hardy duo were is some way competent or useful. The drug was borrowed money. Yes we all felt part of a wonderful, prosperous, successful country because we, and Gordon borrowed on a massive scale. Now the debt falls due and we really don't like or want the pain, well no, but what to do. Ed Balls, trying to keep the idea that stupidity might be a winner going, says we should carry on borrowing and feeling good (and probably print a load more dosh too).

I can't help thinking that our parents (and I'm no youngster) had a better understanding. They thought education was important and they revered wisdom, which came as is said, with winters. Now we don't need education as a benign class of left liberals has seized power and they will do everything for us. And here we are, in what the old Suffolk wits would call a rum do.

Murdoch Runs Britain

A facile comment, but one designed to serve a purpose. The Sun newspaper, of the Murdoch 'empire', has happily in the past taken credit for winning elections. So be it. If people are dim enough to follow the advice of a newspaper written to a reading age of 8, then that is the nature of democracy. I don't remember too much bleating from the Left when Murdoch was, for totally selfish business reasons supporting the snake-oil salesman Blair.

But how much influence does he have? A Channel 4 programme seemed to suggest he is an immense power in the land and not a good one either. I confess to not being able to watch much of such a programme, but the snippet I did see contained a typical, left liberal deceit. They said that the government (which was Blair at the time) wanted to amend a law to allow foreigners to own terrestrial broadcasters in the UK. The edit then cut to Murdoch and Sky TV and the recent attempt to gain 100% control. But Sky isn't a terrestrial broadcaster. The stunt Murdoch pulled was that the law on satellite broadcasting was written specifically to allow only one digital broadcaster, so the winning company could establish itself and recover costs before having to compete.   But Murdoch skirted this by launching an analogue system. BSB, the proposed digital broadcaster was taking a leisurely, money no object approach to getting their service up and was eaten up by the efficient rival.

The power in this land clearly lies with a left liberal leaning media that will have no truck with any opposition. What it believes and says is right, no matter what, because they are inherently good people. Definitely the right people to tell others what to do and definitely right on everything. When their beliefs differ from reality, then reality has to be altered to fit (known to ordinary people as lies). This was the role of Alistair Campbell and others in the Blair government, though here the 'narrative' was more self-serving than to support an ideology, this being a concept that Blair did without. Most of the brain-washing in this country is done by the BBC, which believes in some very strange and unsupported things, with religious fervour (religion being something it is not keen on, ironically). They have been convinced by political activists, who are people very like them, that the world is subject to climate change caused by man. To avoid any embarrassment they have declared that the subject must not be debated and they will not give airtime to anything that disagrees. Particularly not science, scientists or facts. And they also assure us Murdoch is a menace.

Friday, 22 July 2011

MP Tom Watson And Parliamentary Rigour

Bravo for Tom Watson, a Labour member of the committee that grilled the Murdoch's recently (and who's party also supplied the person who attacked Rupert Murdoch), who has become aware of a possible mendacious statement by James. It seems the younger of the clan claimed not to know something that apparently others say he did. If he has misled the committee, Watson wants the police to investigate.

Now let us be clear, this is a nasty affair and whoever has been up to no good should be discovered and dealt with under the laws of the land. But the thing is, this is still really a minor matter and yet Mr Watson wants to pursue the miscreants at all costs. The same rigour seemed absent though when his ex-leader, Mr Blair, lied to Parliament in order to attack another country, Iraq. This cost the country a not inconsiderable sum and, much, much worse the lives of a lot of completely innocent and uninvolved people, not least our forces who did not need to be there. But why did we invade? Was it just for Blair's vanity? His fame and the impact it could have on his 'saleability' later? There were no WMD's and we knew that, so just what was he up to?

Then of course, we have the related death of a civil servant who was involved in stating that there were no WMD's before the lies that took us to war, Dr David Kelly. There is not only an absence of rigour over investigating his death, there is official interference to ensure there is no proper investigation. These are real issues of national importance that should be investigated at all costs, with no stone left unturned. Then we might see more than mock outrage from a Director of Communications who really was a danger in No 10. But Mr Watson doesn't seem to see any need for rigour here. The Murdoch's may not be the most pleasant people, but the Left represent the extreme in that respect.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Met Police In A Mess

Well, the Metropolitan Police are currently putting up a serious challenge to the Keystone Cops. Imbued with the novel idea that the police, in addition to being social workers in uniform are also a branch of government, we see some decisions of gargantuan stupidity being enacted. Sir Paul Stephenson, another titled for time-served non-entity, resigns but skweams like a child that it is not his fault. Why, he wonders, does it seem wrong to the man in the street that a senior police officer should dine repeatedly with people whom his force is investigating? And why is it inappropriate to hire someone who is also from that organisation? I mean how did he get to hear of Mr Wallis? And how is it that Mr Wallis has 2 days a week free to be a PR consultant to the Met, if he is the busy editor of a large circulation newspaper?

Now Yates too has gone. He seemed someone on whom to rely initially, but after becoming top anti-terrorist dog, he did seem a little shifty in interviews, nothing you could put your finger on but a little shifty. Maybe his mind was on other things. This is all getting very odd and is not helped by the BBC and the Guardian constantly attempting to bring Cameron's name into every item on the phone hacking scandal. Could Coulsen not really know what was going on when he was editor, not least when you consider the scale of the thing? And is it possible that others were not up to the same thing? Most unbelievable of all is that so far Blair and Campbell have managed to stay out of it.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Abbott on Brown

Unbelievable. Diane Abbott may be most famous for saying that other people should not be allowed to send their children to 'elite' schools, whilst she should be, but last night on 'This Week' she excelled even this.

Straight-faced the champagne socialist spoke of the speech by Gordon Brown in the House of Commons. She started by saying she was actually there, which is nice as the dim witted general public thought parliamentary debate etc was rather what the £65,000+ that MP's receive from them, was for. Still, this allowed the Abbott to say categorically that it was an amazing sight, that the passion that Gordon felt clearly came through. What is the woman on? Brown was passionate about something that completely passed him by previously. It was the mock outrage of the cynical politician, but in this case one with no talent to deceive; he certainly is no Blair. Brown was merely setting up a political position that presumably he plans to come back to later, to attack News International/Corp. in some way. He is unhinged and Abbott supporting such feckless abandonment of principle should be seen as what it is, shameless politicking. It does make you wonder if, despite their protestations of effort, politicians can climb up to the level of respect the phone hacking journalists currently possess.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Dr. David Kelly

I have referred to this a couple of times in other posts as quite clearly unsatisfactory and unfinished business, as it really does bug me, so I thought I would explain my concerns (or some of them).

David Kelly had made plans, not least regarding his daughters wedding, but suddenly decided to kill himself. Why? The police operation to find him 'started' before he had even left for his walk, let alone had been reported missing. The house was searched by officers who insisted his wife stayed outside. The time of death was inaccurate because the pathologist left it many hours before taking a temperature reading. Very odd. Why were the police not pushing for an 'estimated time of death'? Why the insistence that only two police officers were the first to turn up, when the civilians present reported three? Why no inquest, which is highly unusual? Why did Hutton ignore glaring inconsistencies? Why has the evidence and opinion been ignored of the two paramedics attending that there was too little blood for a death by suicide, caused by slashing the wrist? Why are eminent doctors, including those with relevant expertise, being ignored when they say that it cannot have been suicide? If David Kelly was murdered, as the evidence seems to suggest, who stood to gain from his silence?

Who is being protected? (And it certainly isn't the Iraqi's as Norman Baker bizarrely speculates in his otherwise excellent book).

Unbalanced Britain

I don't know about you, but I don't feel any better about Britain after the newspapers revealed the scale of thievery within our political class and now the inquiries promised into the newspapers. Horrible though the phone hacking scandal is, it is not life or death. The politicians pretty much dodged the scandal on expenses, except that people hate them that bit more, as they have rejigged the rules and carry on as before. Even where criminality has been proven (such as with Ed Balls' tax declarations) nothing happens.

Now the political class are in a frenzy on our behalf to leave no stone unturned over phone hacking. Not, you understand about how we went to war in Iraq, not so that a very strange death of a public servant is properly investigated, not on anything of real substance, but just phone hacking. Investigate, properly (should there be another way?) and use the laws that already exist to deal with the perpetrators. And stop all the loud politicking.


Did Stella Artois really think their ad campaign through? Basically, a very French man is addressing a nation famously anti-French and explaining to them that he is introducing to Britain a drink made with continental apples and is called Cidre not Cider (said with a sneer).

The French are not known for Cider, but Britain is and we tend to think of ourselves as a great apple producing country. Attacking all of this seems a fairly crazy way to go about things.

I personally quite like some of the French arty films, so the ad did convey that sense of style well, but unwittingly I fear gave the whole its proper theme. The French are style without substance. (Except Kronenbourg 1664, which is a favourite of mine. And red wine, they have been quite good at that for a while).

Government Inquiries

Anybody else a little cynical about the inquiries announced by the government into the phone hacking scandal? It seems that it will investigate the actualities, the police involvement and that of politicians, all under oath. Why this sudden 'no limits' approach to investigation? The last time we had such noble openness was when Blair launched an inquiry, as soon as he came to power in 1997, into events that only involved the previous, Tory, government. Well, I think that with all the parties agreeing at the moment we can be fairly sure no political shenanigans will find their way into the spotlight.

Of course, there could be the odd wild card. They may have overlooked the media's ability to drag others into their world. And then there is Gordon Brown. His deranged statement in the House yesterday, lapped up by the dimwit Speaker is probably a sign of things to come. Brown claims not least, to be speaking for those 'without a voice', victims of phone hacking, but not for himself. When did Brown think past his own concerns? If he had any actual moral fibre, he would have turned up a few more times in the House, for which he is paid. He is the best loose cannon we could hope for in all this. Though I dream of the moment someone says, 'yes but we did this on behalf/at the behest of the Prime Minister or his Director of Communications'. You know I don't mean Andy Coulson....

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Time To Step Up DSGi, For The Sake Of The Share Price

In the world of retail, there have been a couple of real world examples of what not to do. Firstly, there is a big favourite of mine, Marks and Spencer. When I say favourite, whilst I admire the shop, I refer rather to the self inflicted wound of a few years back.
M&S in my youth was a legendary shop, that even a child appreciated was a cut above the others mother dragged us in and out of. The staff were well presented , friendly and very helpful, nothing was too much trouble. But as we rattled into the ‘sophistication’ of modern retailing the management at M&S sought higher profits. The path they chose was to maintain price and decrease quality. Cutbacks in staff benefits, once lavish were enacted as well.
I first encountered this, as a shock when the changes were young. I had become a devotee of M&S shoes for work. Smart, all leather and well priced, they covered all the bases. But on this day, I couldn’t find any in my size on the shelf. Surprised, I stopped a member of staff hastening by and enquired if they had any ‘out the back’ and received the reply ‘if there aren’t any on the shelf, we haven’t got any’ and she was gone.
I had already noticed that the shoes were now of an indifferent quality but had a morsel of trust in M&S left, until this encounter with its staff. I have never bought shoes in M&S since. In fact I am very cautious about any purchase, now unable to trust the company to look after the quality angle for me.
The other high street casualty that was no real surprise was Woolworths. At its demise it was selling everything you could imagine, produced at the lowest cost and stacked, unattractively and unimaginatively to the ceiling. It had lost its way and it lost its life.
What of Dixons Stores Group though? Well, in a highly populated and competitive sector it is little surprise that it has difficulties. But, back to executive decisions; why oh why does it not leverage its strengths?
We are currently in recessionary times which puts poorly financed companies under pressure. Whether for this reason or not competitors are falling by the wayside and others such as Comet and Best Buy don’t look long for this world. But actually they are competitors for Currys, not the PC World part of the business. Think about it. When home computers first came about, there were shops everywhere springing up to sell them. Whilst Tesco, John Lewis and others still sell them, only PC World is able to claim it as a speciality. So why don’t DSGi make something of that?
What were home computers then are now more properly described as technology, fitting in with a range of other products including music, film, photography and communications. In today’s parlance these are all ‘lifestyle’ attributes.

When DSGi sell a laptop to someone, are they even aware what else goes on in that person’s house? His router, his streamed films and music. Does he have servers for these? Nope, apart from a desire to mug people for security software and insurance the customer is left to buy what he wants.
Many people are savvy these days, but technology moves on very quickly. A great deal of advice is available in magazines, which really are the modern day catalogues, but PC World stores should be addressing the ‘lifestyle’ choices and making customers aware. Information and informative displays should lead customers to browse. The store has to be a destination as much as a place to simply pick stuff up straight away.
And what the hell is the policy of the endless sale achieving? By constantly shouting about low price you focus the customer on that rather than buying products that he wants. Generate need guys! Of course, this policy of having a waving sea of gaudy banners shouting ‘sale’, ‘money off’, ‘great deal’ constantly above your head, does present an image of a store trying to emulate Woolworths in its appeal.  Not what I would do and not a store that suggests you will be well served if you enter.
More ‘what the hell’ is attached to the chaotic online arm. The website is an absolute mess, unattractive and not easy to use (but did you notice that there is a sale on?). A small incident will suffice. My brother told me that he went in search of a product and the PC World website said it was not in stock, but suggested an alternative that was much more expensive. That just breeds cynicism. He certainly wasn’t impressed.
Then there is the online only Dixons brand, competing with other DSGi arms. What? Why? This is such a no-brainer it is difficult to know where to start, so I’ll just give a summary; don’t.
There are many low price products in technology as in any field and there is no harm honestly stocking them, but generally PC World should be looking up-market and addressing ‘lifestyle’ decisions. The stores look should reflect it, the stock and range should reflect it and the staff need to be retrained to meet the challenge. PC World should be a specialist and should look and act like it too. This is the route to survive the recession. PC World should be an aspiration store.
The website, whilst requiring some work to make it usable, should just be an online arm of the stores, again rich with information on technologies and products, but supporting store pricing. If you want to order online, for delivery or to collect in-store fine, the facility should be available, but at store prices.
A separate website should be established with no obvious link to DSGi (so not called Dixons for instance) to sell kit more cheaply and thus offering opportunities to compete with the likes of Amazon.
Ultimately, stores will be most attractive to those who spend more as they are not so price conscious that they migrate instantly to the web to purchase. The more expensive, the more likely there will be a need to see, feel and touch. The staff complete the picture and give the reassurance to buy from the store.

Here is a summary of the general principles I have espoused and as knowledge is often referred to as ‘gen’ I have called them the Gen Ten.
1.       Rationalise what you sell and why
2.       Every aspect of ‘lifestyle’ should be considered and needs and aspirations met.
3.       Price for profit but not greed
4.       Staff should be educated and selected with care
5.       Store design and layout should be stylish and informative. It should encourage browsing
6.       Stocking ‘high end’ brings people in. They look at the Rolls Royce even if they only buy a Mini
7.       Separate store and online
8.       Develop more ‘in-house’ products, with an eye on quality and looking for niches
9.       Targets should always be tested against this: measure what is important; do not make important that which you measure.
10.   Have a clear company ethos and incentivise staff to do their job properly.

All this has a cost of course, but money wisely spent is money well spent. And most of the cost is remedial, putting right past mistakes, so watch out they are not repeated. To me, so much of this is self evident and yet we see the dreary ‘same old, same old’ from DSGi, with tinkering around the edges. It’s the way to survive and it’s the way to shove up the share price. (I’m available if DSGi believe I’m on to something, for a fee. Not least because I bet their internal systems and departments don’t talk to each other as partners, but competitors. Another common source of problems in large companies).

Brown 'In Tears'

More mysterious mutterings about what people know (touch side of nose) of the hacking scandal at News International (now that the Sun and Sunday Times have had fingers pointed at them we can no longer call it the NotW scandal). Policemen knew they were hacked but felt churlish about mentioning it before apparently and Gordon Brown knows about his son's medical records being hacked, his own bank accounts and that this was done by criminals. The police investigation continues in slow motion it seems and Robert Peston (who should have been imprisoned previously) may be 'too close' to a NI person.

In fact the investigation has all the makings of a Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The politicians will hope so no doubt. And with rumours as to who is to look into police conduct it is like asking a paedophile to run a school. Proof if ever you needed it that the politicians never, ever learn anything. They are persisting with moving inappropriate people around, into inappropriate jobs, just to repay old debts and keep in with the right people. Remember, there are allegations of murder floating around regarding the very strange death of Dr David Kelly and yet we mustn't have an inquest, with all its legal powers and responsibilities. What hope that the smoke canisters are not as yet being deployed around this unholy and entirely self inflicted mess from News International and politicians and favours.

Friday, 8 July 2011


Just hearing the recording of Rebekah Brooks addressing the sacked staff at News of the World, she appeared to be saying 'if you knew what I know, you'd understand why the title had to be closed down'. Which not only sounds a bit childish, sort of 'my dad is bigger than your dad', but rather suggests that she has information that presumably the police don't have yet (or do?) The arrogance attached to this is monstrous. News Int. has already said that it lied to a parliamentary committee and now that they will tell people only what they feel they have to. I would be quite keen to see these people disabused of that notion.

The bottom line with this much admired, though seemingly not for her intellect, woman Rebekah Brooks is that she feels a roomful of, at least mainly guiltless individuals can be sacked, but that someone at the centre of the storm, her, should be untouched. If her assertions to these people were not just an attempt to dodge face to face opprobrium, but based on truths she knows, that is absolutely incredible. As a senior executive of a major organisation she feels it right and proper  to bring up information about criminal activity only when she feels she has to. Or didn't she mean that?

News of the World

We had the News of the World when I was a kid. I remember being vaguely embarrassed and bemused by the nature of the publication, recognising I suppose that all the other papers we had (morning and evening) only contained 'news'. I didn't really understand why my parents took it. There was a story once, about a man recalling being caned at school for telling the careers master that he wanted to be the person who painted women's bodies for stage shows. The rub of the story being that, amazingly, that was the job he went on to hold!

Today, we live it seems in a less innocent world, where there is no morality whatsoever at the paper. Well, I say that, but the revelations about phone hacking do all seem to carry the past tense. So the seemingly dim James Murdoch has decided to shut the paper down because it's name now has such terrible associations and put out of work journalists who had nothing to do with the emerging scandal and probably didn't work there at the time. One clearly involved though, Rebekah Brooks, is to stay in her post. She is currently running with the line that she is paid the big bucks (at the time as editor) to not know what is going on, not set the tone and the standards expected nor to take any responsibility. She must have had a lot of spare time. Otherwise, these extensive and long running phone hacking episodes were something that at the very least those actually involved knew those above would not criticise, or perhaps turn a blind eye. Maybe taking convenient and well-timed holidays.

The questions for me are; who knew what and when, why is Cameron so pally with too many of the executives involved, why did the initial police investigation not reveal these stories coming out now and how do we prevent it happening again?

The amazing thing though is that Blair and Campbell's names haven't cropped up, this is surely right up their street, the sort of thing they would normally be involved in.

Friday, 1 July 2011

No Taxation Without Representation

I would like to start a new wave. In the UK we are mainly governed by laws promulgated in the EU by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. The parliament at Westminster has elected MP's but they merely fall in line with their party leadership, so all policy is based on a small group at No10. Hardly democracy.

Additionally we see privilege everywhere; tax avoidance by large companies, assisted quite often by HMRC, policy run by 'consultants' who recommend options that they then make millions from, right down to politicians on the take with their expenses fiddles, directorships and 'sweeteners' from companies seeking advantage. This is similar to the corruption in Greece that has grown to an extent that is unsupportable. And we are powerless to stop it because of the lack of accountability.

This lack of actual, working representation in parliament is unsustainable in itself as it will lead to the same breakdown and chaos as in Greece (and still hidden in the likes of Spain) and the EU structure itself. We the people, have allowed this to happen by becoming apathetic about our democracy and the political class have taken advantage, most spectacularly in the form of New Labour. This band of brigands spotted the flaws in our system of government that allowed large scale corruption, not just financial but of principles.

If we want democracy back (and apparently it's worth fighting for elsewhere) we must demand that there is no taxation without representation.