Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Environmental Camouflage

A quick read of the Early Day Motions always yields some interesting rubbish. I found this entertaining motion that was submitted by Timothy Farron, Lib Dem MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale:

"That this House notes with concern that the world's largest container ship, Emma Maersk 3, is to land in the UK from China bringing with it 45,000 tonnes of Christmas gifts and foodstuffs, all of which could have been purchased from British manufacturers and farmers; deplores the impact on the environment of transporting halfway around the world items that could have been produced nearer to home; calls upon the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to launch an immediate review into the economic and environmental costs associated with the Emma Maersk 3's cargo and journey; and calls upon the Government to take action to tackle damaging effects of unfettered free trade."

Now let's think about the real motivation for this post. Is it
a) The environmental harm done by shipping goods and services; or
b) No regard for the environment, but a love of protectionism, higher prices for consumers and probably higher inflation?

The environment has become the absolute base case answer now to any issue. Have a problem with the NHS? It's the environment. Have an issue with Christmas shopping? It's the environment. Fell down and scuffed your knee? It's the environment.

At least there aren't many MPs that feel the same way. The only other Member that has signed it is Bob Spink, but hold on he's a Conservative. Does anyone else think this is a case of a Tory going mad?

UPDATE: Bob Spink and Tim Farron have been very busy. Tim submitted nine other Motions at the same time and wow, Bob Spink has signed seven of them. What a lunch that must have been!
Bob Spink must be a "renta-signature" as he seems to sign almost any EDM put in front of him. What I don't understand is why Spinkers didn't sign the Public Lavatory Provision Motion below. Maybe he doesn't like public lavatories.

"That this House believes that the provision of public lavatories is a vital public service and notes with regret the closure of public lavatories over recent years, including a quarter of those in South Lakeland; recognises that these closures have a particular impact on older and disabled people and those with young families; also notes the recent National Consumer Council survey of 2,000 adults, which branded Britain's public lavatories a `national disgrace'; and calls upon the Government to make the provision of public lavatories a statutory duty for local authorities and to provide the necessary resources to enable them to do so."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Political Kids

Here in the UK we are pretty tame when it comes to the children of politicians. Apart from Euan Blair being found in the gutter drunk underage, there aren't many stories. Not so in the US. There is a fascinating 'blind item' on Wonkette entitled "Guessing Game Results: The Cokehead Daughter". It is from April this year, so I'm a little behind, but I only found it because of this article (here) that discusses New York Governor, George Pataki's daughter Emily. Apparently she failed her New York bar exam. The things you learn on the internet eh.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

National Statistics

There is a great article by Liam Halligan in today's Sunday Telegraph (here) that examines the current role of official figures and the steps being taken by the Labour government. It makes for pretty grim reading. Here is a snippet:

What concerns me most is a practice called "pre-release" which allows ministers to see official data before it is made public. Most developed countries don't allow this. Of those which do, the United States gives ministers data 30 minutes before publication. In France and Ireland, it's an hour.

In the UK — uniquely — our ministers get to see official numbers at least 40 hours before publication, and in some cases no less than five days in advance.

This allows our rulers to issue their own press release at the same time as the official numbers are published. In other words, they can capture the news agenda — which, as Holt says, means "objective, independent, authoritative analysis of what is happening in our economy and society is simply swept to one side".

A national disgrace.