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By David Vance On January 23rd, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Tonight, the Coalition government plan to cap WELFARE benefit at £26,000 was defeated in the Lords by an unholy (!) alliance of Bishops Lib-Dems and Labour Lords. I will be on BBC NI tomorrow morning around 9.30am to debate this with socialist Bishop Stephen Lowe.

A £26,000 cap is the same as £35,000 pa salary. This, apparently, is poverty. If you look at in weekly terms, it is £500 a week. In Northern Ireland, the average working wage is £451. So, we pay people more not to work and some leftists think this is fair and reasonable.

The Bishops have droned on about this cap driving children into abject poverty! They demand child benefit is taken out of the cap. What THIS means is a non-working household would be in receipt of up to £50,000 per annum. Nice money, eh?

Yet, and this is another cracker, the Church of England starting wage for a Vicar is £18,000! Oh no, why on why are they promoting poverty?

We’ll sort it out in the morning.

Islands in the stream….

By Mike Cunningham On January 23rd, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I am an avid reader of many of the Travel pages in newsprint these days, avid because, to all intents, my travelling days are over. In my youth, I sailed across many seas, into many harbours and ports, and even travelled further that the nearest bar; well sometimes. I also lived and travelled throughout  a fair stretch of Southern Africa. Most of the travel columns and sunjects are of course to be taken with a pinch (at least) of salt, because the writers are paid to shuffle out these columns, and the advertisers pay for the pretty pictures as well. But on the whole, allowing for the usual caveats of ‘buyer beware’ and ‘watch out for the steelworks hidden just down the road from your four-star hotel’, the holiday and tourist reader gets a fair bash at the truth about any country under the lights.

But I do tend to get just a little heated when only half the facts are lauded and pushed at the buyer, and the other half are quietly swept under the thick carpet. A good instance can be found in the columns of a travel writer in the Sunday Times (obviously no link) where he was asked to provide details of independent backpack travel through China. So Mr. Green goes into considerable proposals for backpack travel through this vast and fabulous (his adjective, not mine) country, with organised backpacker-style journeys readily available. He rhapsodises about the well-known tourist traps spots such as the Terracotta Warriors, or the Great Wall. Hostels and cheaper hotels are also covered, so he doesn’t leave much out of his writing.

It is a great pity that Mr. Green does not go into the other side of the marketing aisle, as it were, and after pushing aside some of the undergrowth, also tell his readers about the things which visitors to China might also see, or rather not see, if they walk about with their eyes only a little wider than normal.

They might see the People’s Security Police as they rough up and arrest any one who dares to even contemplate protesting against the overweening power of the Chinese Communist Party. They could attempt to travel the miles to visit  ‘Chen Guangcheng’ the blind activist, but would also have to navigate past the echelons of Security Police who are determined to keep the activist ‘safe from harm’! They might check what happens when anyone attempts to speak out about the multitudinous abuses of basic human rights, but they are also advised to ensure that they are well-protected with medical insurance.

Finally, they might travel to the heart of Beijing itself, to see the ‘Birdsnest Stadium’, the ‘Forbidden City’ and all the other fabled sights of China’s capital; it is a pity that they won’t be able to see where five thousand students died in Tiananmen Square, because all the blood has washed away long ago, all the granite has been repaired, and absolutely no protests like this one in Hong Kong will ever be allowed, or even thought of, in the Capital City of the People’s Republic of China!

We, the People,

By Mike Cunningham On January 23rd, 2012 at 6:50 pm


I have maybe said it before, but we really need the pieces of parchment operating in the United Kingdom which allowed the guys in the robes to come to this conclusion in America.

Fair enough, the bad guy is truly a scumbag, but the Law is the Law, and I sometimes wish we had something of similar value in Great Britain.

If we had the protections afforded by those precious documents, we wouldn’t have witnessed this disgraceful perversion of the Law, and we would still be governed under the ‘Double Jeopardy’ rules.

Oh me, oh my

By Patrick Van Roy On January 23rd, 2012 at 2:33 pm

The EU has grown a spine, now of course they will expect American deaths to support that spine, but it’s nice to see they have at least a half a set of balls.

European Union agrees on Iran oil embargo

European Union nations have agreed on an oil embargo against Iran as part of sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Diplomats in Brussels said the EU foreign ministers would officially adopt the measures later Monday that were hashed out by the 27 ambassadors.

The measures include an immediate embargo on new contracts for crude oil and petroleum products while existing ones are allowed to run until July.

“I am confident that the EU will give a resolute answer today to Iran’s refusal to fulfill its international obligations on the nuclear programme,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said ahead of the official adoption by the foreign ministers.

Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Iran to “come to its senses” and resume negotiations on its nuclear programme after Britain, America and France sent six warships through the highly sensitive waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

He said the EU oil embargo was part of “peaceful and legitimate” measures and not designed to trigger conflict.

Now of course cue the Persians

Iran ‘definitely’ closing Strait of Hormuz over EU oil embargo

Tensions in the Gulf could reach a breaking point as a senior Iranian official said Iran would “definitely” close the Strait of Hormuz if an EU oil embargo disrupted the export of crude oil, the semi-official Fars news agency reports.

According to Revolutionary Guard commander Brigadier General Jafaari, “The enemy is far more advanced technologically than we are, we have been using what is called asymmetric warfare methods… our forces are now well prepared for it,” he said, as cited by Global Bearings.

With Two Carrier Fleets in the region it will be American blood that keeps those Straits open. It will be American blood assuring that Europe gets it’s Oil. yeah maybe now you think Ron Paul is right. The U.S. should bring it’s ships home, let the French and British Fleets keep them there Straits open, oh wait, I forgot France and Britain don’t even have a fleet if they combined their Navy’s. Oh well not our affair.


By Pete Moore On January 23rd, 2012 at 11:54 am

Well that didn’t take long. All too predictably, actions have consequences:

An Afghan soldier who shot dead four French troops has said he did it because of a recent video showing US Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban insurgents, security sources said […]

“In his initial confessions, he said that he was strongly motivated to kill the soldiers when he saw the video of a foreign soldiers urinating on Afghan corpses,” the intelligence source said

Yes, the Taliban do worse, as was often said. Even so, professional soldiers should not mistreat enemy dead. They should not do so for dignity’s sake and their own discipline. Most of all they should not do so because it results in your comrades paying the price. Many excused what the Marines did. Some of it was understandable. A few blowhards talked big about Taliban corpses and pig fat. They have gaps in their history. Some who should know better told others to shut up because war is Hell. Yes it is, as four grieving families are now discovering.

Economy, Stupid, Its.

By Mike Cunningham On January 23rd, 2012 at 10:16 am

Former President Clinton’s campaign slogan was clear and simple, ‘Its the Economy, Stupid’. He and his advisers were of course correct, in that as long as they pummelled the Bush campaign on how the economy had tanked under Bush, the voters were sure to get the underlying message. The fact that Clinton was just another fraud with feet of clay is beside the point, the message was the item which won the election for him and his party.

So let us view the slow, noisy and self-destructive avalanche which is the Republican nomination mincing machine. Are they attacking their Democratic opponent? Are they trying to show what a difference they would make if elected? No, folks, all we are hearing is an endless re-run of Newt’s marital travails, and ‘Mittens’ tangles with the tax man. Now exposing a politician’s marital difficulties may give the voters some idea of the candidates character; or a long discussion of another candidate’s tax choices and payment schedules only shows he employed very clever tax lawyers, but it doesn’t show how either would attack or defeat Obama in November.

Instead of shouting about divorce, or tax matters; why don’t they point to two very recent actions of the president and his governmental advisers? Why is no-one shouting out the name ‘Solyndra’ with monotonous regularity? Why hasn’t any candidate zoomed in on Obama’s twin oil decisions? Namely screwing up the oil deal with Brazil; whilst at the same time negating the Keystone oil pipeline with Canada?

The Republicans should be pounding the attack messages out against Obama; but all we hear are the attack ads against each other!


By David Vance On January 23rd, 2012 at 10:07 am

Oh the horror of it all.

Here’s what the left are currently outraged about. From 2013, the maximum  total amount of benefit that working-age people can receive will be capped at £26,000 so that households on out-of-work benefits will not receive more than the average weekly wage earned by working households.

Cue ridiculous hysteria from the Left/some Lib-Dems, Bishops in the Lords etc.

I think the £26,000 is too generous and an insult to those who work for much less than this but the principle of capping Welfarism is a good one, however, and in that regard Ian Duncan Smith is to be commended.    The squeals will come from those who quite happily choose welfarism over work and the sooner as that false choice is removed the better.


By David Vance On January 23rd, 2012 at 9:56 am

Shocking to read that one in five council and housing association tenancies could be fraudulent, according to a study.

The finding means there could be 750,000 fraudulent tenancies in England, vastly outstripping the Government’s estimate of 50,000. The cost to the taxpayer could be as much as £13.5billion a year.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps believes huge numbers of tenants are taking advantage of the hugely subsidised rents and then illegally sub-letting the properties. ‘Surveys like this one demonstrate that the scale of tenancy fraud may be even larger than many had expected,’ he said. ‘It is completely unacceptable for housing cheats to get a home they don’t need at massively subsidised rates, only to rent it out at market rates and pocket the difference.’

I hope this is cracked down on and the cheats exposed.  Why are rents subsidised in the first place? I suspect this has mushroomed during the Labour years as an increase in property prices mirrored a loosening in control over the issuance of tenancy agreements.


By David Vance On January 23rd, 2012 at 9:49 am

I suppose this really is the case of the dog that finally barked in the middle of the night;

England should either have its own parliament or only English MPs should vote on English laws, according to the survey by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) think tank. The report, The Dog That Finally Barked, said four in ten people identify themselves as English before British, more than twice the proportion for vice versa. And eight in ten believe Scotland should break all financial ties – the so called “devolution max” – because it benefits unfairly from the current relationship. But a quarter of people said they had no confidence in the ability of any political party to stand up for the interests of England.

Several points to be made here.

First, the IPPR is a LEFT WING think tank, full of good little Fabians so a degree of caution must be exercised when considering their findings. Their apparent interest in for the break up of the UK can be also be seen as support for EU to tear the UK apart into little blocks which they can they control.

Second, “Devolution Max” is not what is described above. What it allows Scotland to do is to continue absorbing all those nice English taxes plus raise additional taxation in Scotland. However I can understand why 8 out of 10 of those interviewed thought Scotland benefited disproportionately from the current arrangements! This is a matter of fact so am unsure why 2 out of 10 think otherwise – unless they are of Scottish descent!

Finally, I’m with the 25% that think NO political party puts the interests of England first. For far too long, spineless English MP’s have allowed the wishes of their constituents to become second class to those in the Celtic fringe.


By David Vance On January 23rd, 2012 at 9:37 am

The respected American economist Thomas Sowell is someone whose views I take seriously, having followed his writings for years now. So when he comes out and says he will take Gingrich over Romney I think we should consider why this might be. He carefully explains;

 Sowell points to Obama’s economic policies, which have taken the country down a path that has “led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.” He also cites a foreign policy that has “pulled the rug” out from under America’s allies while seeking to “cozy up” to our enemies, and says the failure to deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons development could have consequences “beyond our worst imagining.”

“Against this background, how much does Newt Gingrich’s personal life matter?” Sowell asks.

Voters should recognize Gingrich’s “concrete accomplishments” when he was House speaker — the first Republican takeover of the House in 40 years, welfare reform, and the first balanced budget in 40 years, Sowell says. The real question, he observes, is whether Gingrich is better than Obama — and better than “smooth talker” Mitt Romney.

He concludes: “Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich’s past, rather than on the nation’s future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: ‘If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost.’ If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means we’ve lost, big time.”

He has a point. The big issue for the US is does it want four MORE years of Obama. For this disaster to be averted, the GOP needs to find a credible alternative. I struggle to find Romney any more credible than I found McCain. Gingrich has made some very interesting comment on Islam, for example, and I find that interesting.  Let’s watch what Florida brings…