Thursday, 9 April 2015

What Does Michael Fallon Know?

I’ve been away from this blog for a few years now, not because I’ve had nothing to say. I just didn’t think anyone was reading it! I haven’t come back to it now because all of a sudden everybody is interested in what I think, I just want what I’m about to say over the next 28 days to be a matter of public record. So when it all goes Pete Tong three years from now, I can at least say I told you so!

The elections of 2015 started proper today at 16:00 hrs British Summer Time, the last point at which nominations to be a candidate could be submitted, but this morning Michael Fallon of the Conservative Party told us that Ed Milliband would stab us in the back over “the replacement of Trident submarines” in the same way “he stabbed his brother in the back over the leadership of the Labour Party”. By nine o’clock this morning that statement had set the agenda for the days’ debate, 

“Should we renew the Nuclear Deterrent?”

There are two things I would like to take issue with, and I will qualify this by saying, I’m no expert but; first, if the Labour Party had had any inkling back in 2010 that the poles prior to this election would have been so close, they would not have put Ed Milliband up as their sacrificial pig. His brother would be the party leader now.

Second, and more importantly is the matter of replacing the nuclear submarine fleet.

The conservatives have pledged to buy four new submarines to carry forward our nuclear capability, Labour (in true party political fashion) have gone one “better” and said they would only buy three! The SNP have declared war on any nation that holds dear the notion of a nuclear capacity, and the Lib Dems went away to think about it!

All day the airwaves have been full of the choice between food banks caused by austerity, or borrowing a further one hundred billion pounds over the next thirty years to pay for new nuclear weapons.

Let’s get this straight once and for all (and remember I qualified this earlier by saying I am no expert), but nobody is talking about buying a new nuclear weapons system! America won’t let us own our own nuclear weapons system. We are half way through a thirty year, boiler plated lease contract, to rent our nuclear weaponry from the USA. Much the same as Israel, Germany, France and Poland. In fact, we are little more than a forward base for America’s Trident Nuclear Strike Capability. No! What we are talking about is our contractual obligation to provide a stable delivery system of our own choosing. In this case submarines.

The four submarines we have left over from the Polaris weapons system are getting a bit worn out, so much so that we have to scavenge bits off the three in dock to keep the other one at sea. Where the confusion arises is the title “Nuclear Submarines”! They are not submarines that have a special nuclear weapons’ capacity, they are submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors. There is a very big difference. If we spend three billion pounds a year for the next thirty years to provide four new nuclear submarines, it will make not a jot of difference of our “nuclear weapons” capability or our expenditure on that capability.

And, with the filibuster of our main party politicians all day, I was starting to think they were not making the distinction between the two, for fear of being found out. But then at four o’clock Nick Clegg came on the radio and said that if the Lib Dems were in charge, they would do the obvious thing and choose a cheaper platform! “Planes for example”... At which point it became obvious to me that the people who are our political masters, know fuck all!

So Nick, here it is! As an ex-squaddie, with a hint of some life experience, let me explain to you why we don’t run around the Brecon Beacons with live rounds loose in your smock pocket, why we don’t carry explosives and detonators in the same Bergen, why we don’t put the triggers in our grenades before we go out on patrol, or prime our mortar rounds before we get to the target. They are ballistic, their nature is to go off when triggered or unexpectedly.

We don’t put America’s Nuclear Weapons in a submarine to prevent them from being detected, or to attempt surprise or to close on our enemies! We put them in submarines because we don’t trust our friends at Aldermaston, so that when we arm the bloody things to fire and they go off in the tube, we will only kill the crew of a submarine.

Now tell me it’s not worth three billion a year for subs that are sea worthy! My only stipulation would be, that they are built in British ship yards, with British apprentices.

09 Apr 2015   22:09

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Newbury Charter Market

Victoria and Sophie on the Apolitical campaign trail in Newbury
Charter market today

I wrote the following letter to the Newbury Weekly News on 8th April, the Editor didn’t publish it for reasons best known herself… but I thought I’d share it here.

Charter Market why wait?

Dear Editor,

The Charter Market is shrinking. Some traders will pack up soon for good and they do not want their children following them into third generation businesses. The supermarkets and on-line shopping have rendered the traditional market obsolete.

However, talking to the traders on Saturday, I was delighted to find that there is a great sense of buzz and hope which is being frustrated by excessive customer parking charges and a lack of acceptance by the Town Council that the dynamic of the town has shifted north away from the Market Square.

I talked to Michelle and Jessie. Michelle makes and sells handcrafted jewellery. She had been allocated a pitch facing the Hatchet. It was her second visit to Newbury and was very downhearted to have taken just £8 that morning.

Jessie has had her cupcake stall for about a year and a half. When her pitch was moved from Nat West to Bartholomew Street her takings doubled, and she was able to buy a shop in Swindon, but her Newbury stall is the powerhouse of her business.

Both enterprising young women are offering unique handmade products which sell themselves - if only the customer can see them! There is footfall at the top end of Bartholomew Street but Northbrook Street was positively awash with shoppers in the sunshine. There is already planning permission for 6 pitches in Northbrook Street – why are they not let?

I went back to tell Michelle of Jessie’s story and Michelle’s going to stick with it in the hopes that we can make Newbury Town Council wake up and make those pitches available – sooner rather than later.


Charlie Farrow
Apolitical Candidate for Victoria Ward
Berkeley Road

(We like cupcakes!)

Friday, 3 May 2013

Newbury Town Council By-election Election Literature 2

The Market

The Council seem hellbent on getting rid of the market. They seem to want to turn the town into the next Basingstoke. Who has been consulted on this? The people we speak to don't want the town changed, they want us to stay as a nice little market town.

The traders and shopkeepers tell us they are frustrated by excessive customer parking charges and that the Council has shifted the dynamic of the town north away from the Market Square.Traders who have been allowed pitches in Bartholomew Street have doubled their takings. But most are forced to occupy the retail desert that the Market Square has become. There is planning permission already for six pitches in Northbrook Street.

We will:

  • Activate the 6 Northbrook Street pitches immediately to act as ‘breadcrumbs’ bringing footfall back to the market place.
  • Produce a proper marketing plan to attract a greater diversity of marketers and generate awareness among shoppers and visitors to ensure the long term prosperity of the Market and the small businesses in the town centre.

  • Victoria Park

    The Coalition monopoly has presided complacently over significant loss of amenity in Victoria Park. The playing field and bowling green are out of action. We have cracked paths and cracks in houses. We have no toilets, no fence around the play park and a £24,000 bill for a report into the damage that we can’t see because it’s commercially sensitive!

    We didn't need a hydrogeological report to tell us what's wrong with the park. We know it's the Parkway development that's caused it. For the amount of money they have squandered on reports and prevarication we could have fixed the damage and put up the railings around the toddler play area that parents wanted reinstating.

    Charlie was one of the organisers of the 1500 strong petition to put the fence back around the toddler play area in Victoria Park. The petition was presented in October 2011 but rejected because it’s not current thinking in leisure planning. It would be reconsidered only if there were lots of incidents, due to a lack of a fence! So they’ll act only after preventable disaster has struck! Registered childminders tell us they are prohibited from using unfenced spaces for insurance reasons.There was a fence before the council removed it and installed new equipment, so we weren't asking for anything new, just to keep what we had!
    • We will get started on remedying the damage to the Park without waiting to apportion blame or further prevarication.

    We think it’s about time someone starts demanding answers for the people of Newbury:
    • Investigating why the Town Council has been paying £50,000 annually to West Berks Council for market cleansing which is now being done at virtually no cost through self-cleansing.
    • Looking at why the market hasn’t been managed and marketed more efficiently.
    As Apoliticals we have no party political baggage to prevent us from demanding full and honest disclosure to the people regarding the fiasco in Victoria Park, the politically motivated offloading of services from West Berks onto Newbury Town Council to keep the headline Council Tax rate down, and the poor management of services.

    Click for information on reverse of leaflet.

    Newbury Town Council By-election Election Literature 1

    Charlie Farrow
    I am married to Dave Yates, have lived in Newbury for twenty five years and raised four children here. The two elder ones have good degrees and jobs, the third is still at Newbury College and the youngest at St Barts.

    I’ve been a Marketing Manager in a school and a university and for some of the biggest brands. I’ve been a Governor of Park House and for several years I’ve been an active volunteer member of the Sustainable Newbury Group on Newbury Town Council.

    I was asked by a group of young mums to help them campaign to get the fence put back round the toddler play area in Victoria Park. But we were refused - all 1500 of us!

    I was among the first cohort of Chartered Marketers in the UK and if I can’t get the market thriving again, then nobody can.

    I have a love of the history of Newbury and I’m concerned that its heritage is being squandered with the ever greater needs of 'vanity projects.

    Apolitical means ‘politically neutral, unbiased, non-aligned’.

    'Apolitical' describes a convention of impartiality amongst people active in politics, like the Speaker of the Commons, the Cross-Benchers in the Lords or most parish councillors, who are not subject to the party 'whip' or told what to think by a political party.

    Being Apolitical doesn't mean apathy or lack of interest in democracy or local affairs.

    We believe we should be guided by our electors' wishes, considered evidence, our real world experience and expertise, and our consciences. 

    In that order.

    We don’t believe any of the main parties has OUR best interests at heart.

    Dave Yates

    I joined the army age 16 and my role as a Military Surveyor brought me to the School of Military Survey at Hermitage in the early 1980's. I have been in Newbury ever since, first in York Road, and then Berkeley Road where I have lived for over twenty five years. A surveyor by profession and a builder by choice, I am a detail man with an eye for numbers.

    I worked for many years in the piling industry, and have been involved on many
    projects which utilised de-watering systems, similar to that used by Costains, in the construction of the Parkway Development. I, like many others, believe that the damage done to Victoria Park and the buildings around, is entirely the fault of Costains.

    If Charlie and I are elected to the Town Council, I will not consider myself to be bound by the gagging order placed on the Lib-Dems and Conservatives by their masters at West Berkshire Council. I will make known the details of the report commissioned by the Town Council, which has been paid for by you.

    Click for information on Reverse of Leaflet.

    Thursday, 6 September 2012

    What's the plan?

    I sometimes wonder if the first thing the members of the coalition do when they get up in the morning is head for the bathroom cabinet to reach for their stupid pills!

    The idea that relaxing the planning laws (for a limited period only) to allow people to build bigger extensions will encourage people to get the builders in - is complete madness.

    The reason people aren’t having extensions built at the moment are two fold. Firstly because they are unsure of what the future might hold, and second the cost!

    If the government wants to get the builders back at it, the thing to do is to make extensions and alterations subject to zero % VAT the same as new builds (for a limited period).

    Making an extension bigger only makes it more costly. The result of this hair brain scheme, will be to cause more anxiety for people worried that their neighbours will encase the back garden in roughly thrown up breeze block shacks, in order to beat a deadline. The pikeys, cowboys, and Poles will have a field day.

    Take the VAT off Mr Clegg, and give everyone a fare crack at the whip.

    That will get the builders of this country back to work.

    06 September 2012 16.38

    Wednesday, 29 August 2012

    Easy when you think about it!

    Nick Clegg, what a fool!

    His notion of taxing people’s savings to help the bail out, beggars belief!

    Like the Lib Dem’s “mansion tax”, it is an ill conceived sound bite aimed at garnering support with left leaning voters.

    If the Lib Dems had half a brain cell between them, the answer would be obvious.

    I’ll put it out there to help them along.

    • Part one:
      Profits from income on property bought with a buy to let mortgage, should be taxed at a rate of 120%.

    Those of you with considerably more grey matter than the collective which is Lib Dem HQ, will be concerned that this will mean that all rental property will gravitate to the very wealthy.

    • Part two:
      Inheritance of housing stock will be restricted to one per descendant! (Limited to surviving son, daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew). All other housing will pass to the state to be administered by local housing associations!


    29 August 2012 12:06

    Friday, 22 June 2012

    The Lion's Share

    David Cameron tells us that the K2 Fund used by Jimmy Carr and others to avoid tax is morally dubious! But in his explanation of the scheme, he may have let slip the real horror of our plight and the true failing of the way government approaches the use of our money.

    Davey told us how wrong it was that hard working people should have saved up “their post-tax pounds” to go and see Jimmy rip the piss, only for Jimmy then to use a loophole so as not to have to pay any more tax on those same pounds.

    But Davey has got it wrong! The people going to see Jimmy Carr are not using post-tax “pounds” to go and see him, because “post-tax” their pounds are only worth 80p.

    I am going to assume in this little ditty that no one uses their tax free pounds, (those seven thousand six hundred and forty five pounds that were deemed necessary for the basics in life, so were not subject to income tax last year, or indeed the eight and half thousand or so we are allowed this year), to go and watch comedians, be they stand-up or political.

    So our entertainment seekers headed off to the O2 with a handful of their post-tax 80p’s, and handed them over to the man at the door.

    A good many of those 80p’s were, in turn, handed over to the funny guy, Jimmy. It was after all his show!
    Because Jimmy is such a popular fellow and had been working hard all year, the nice people at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs think that Jimmy should have been paying 50% on these particular elements of his earnings, and so Jimmy should give them half of all the 80p’s, leaving him with a pocket full of 40p’s.
    A bit fed up with the media intrusion into his private affairs, which now prevent him from being able to make any more “poor misjudgements” in his dealings with the tax man, Jimmy heads to the pub and hands over ninety of his 40p’s for ten pints of strong larger.

    The duty and VAT imposed by HMRC (again) on said pints is close to 25%, and so Paddy the landlord only gets to keep 30p of each of the 40p’s that Jimmy puts across the bar.

    Paddy uses the 30p’s to pay Sally the barmaid, who is working in the pub in the evenings as a second job to make ends meet, and as such is taxed at the full rate because her tax free allowance is apportioned to her day job working at the council offices. So Sally only gets to take home 24p of each of the 30p’s that Paddy is supposedly putting in her pay packet.

    On her way home Sally stops at the petrol station to fill up the car, for her commute to work everyday, and hands over her entire week’s wages from the pub, to fill up the tank. The duty and VAT on the petrol represents a little over 70% of its total cost, and as such only about 7p of each of the 24p’s stays in the hands of Mario the petrol station owner.

    So there we have it! Five transactions are all it takes for HMRC to convert a pre-tax pound into as little as seven pence of ongoing economic potential. Where will the growth come from that?

    We are past the point of moral bankruptcy! We have a bankruptcy of ideas!

    It’s time for a new way!

    Suggestions on a post card please to:

    59 Berkeley Road.
    RG14 5JG
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    I regret that ideas (especially the good ones) cannot be returned, but if your idea makes it into the party’s manifesto you will receive all the credit it deserves!

    Thursday, 12 January 2012

    Is It Only Alex Salmond Being Done Up Like A Kipper?

    Davey Cameron, leader of The Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain is pressing for an early Referendum on the Independence of Scotland. His reasoning being, that the question of Independence, “hanging over” Scotland, is causing economic uncertainty, and turning away would-be investors.

    Alex Salmond would like the referendum to be held in 2014, towards the end of this current term of the Scottish Parliament, at a time when he has had an opportunity to work more of his magic, and presumably when these uncertain economic times are behind us.

    Many political commentators are saying this is a game of chess, and that Davey is merely trying to scare the Scottish people into believing that it would be a mistake to be set adrift in the world, especially in these times of financial turmoil.

    Some are suggesting that this is a double bluff on the part of Mr Cameron, and that in truth he wishes to go against the Constitution of his own Party, and would be happy to see an Independent Scotland, because it would kill two birds with one stone. Firstly it would achieve at a stroke his idea of a reduction of the number of MP’s in The House of Commons, and secondly it will dead head the Labour Party.

    Meanwhile the discussion behind the scenes is all about the legality of the Referendum: the Coalition Government claims that the Referendum will only be legal and binding if it is enacted by the Government in Westminster under the scrutiny of the Electoral Commission!

    Alex Salmond is saying he has a mandate to set the terms, and the nature of the way the question is asked when it comes, because he made it clear in the run-up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections that the Referendum will be towards the end of the parliamentary term, and he won the election.

    Davey Cameron claimed yesterday at the first Prime Ministers questions of 2012, that he was full square behind the continued success of the Union of Crowns. Ed Milliband had little choice but to agree, and after a few more days of press speculation over who has been seen to be the better leader, this whole issue will be consigned to the back burner, other than for a few legal eagles  dotting the eyes and crossing the tees, for a clarification of “the Constitution”.

    But hold on!

    If David Cameron walks away from this as the victor, he will have succeeded in setting a very dangerous precedent regarding another referendum that many in this country are calling for.

    If an individual “member state” (in this case Scotland) is shown not to have the legal authority to call a referendum on its continued participation in a “political union” (in this case the United Kingdom). Then Davey will have put to bed forever the possibility of the British People being given the opportunity to unilaterally decide on our continued involvement in the EU.

    While the English Skin Heads are shouting “Go Home You Jocks”, the British Bull Dog is being taken to the vets in the back of a Volvo estate to be put down forever!

    Rise Up! Rise Up!