Weather in Brum Where The Sun Always Shines On The Blues.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Be very, very frightened if Boris Johnson

the ranting right wing extremist, working in a terrorist coalition, ever, ever gets his finger on the nuclear button.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Why I shall be voting for the Labour Party on Thursday June the 8th.

Clement Attlee meeting with King George VI in ...
Clement Attlee meeting with King George VI in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, following the Labour victory in the 1945 general election. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  I am old enough to remember, just after WW II, being ill as a child and how proud my mother was that a Labour government had established the National Health Service and that she could call a GP in to examine me, in our home, for free.
 I can also remember standing, in 1951, on a busy railway station at Wootton Bassett Junction ( shut down many, many years ago now, by the Conservatives ) with a few pals to meet the train carrying people home from work with home made placards with "VOTE LABOUR"  painted on them. I was seven years old and we did this on our own initiative with the wording dripping with runny paint which I had found in my father's shed. Clement Attlee had long been canonised in my home along with Aneurin Bevan who had fought so hard against a reluctant BMA to give birth to the NHS.
 Despite having the majority of the popular vote Labour lost that election and although young I felt the hurt then that I have felt many times since when decency, justice and fairness are rejected and evil triumphs.
English: Iraq War Protesters in Parliament Square
English: Iraq War Protesters in Parliament Square (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Many years later I felt that same hurt when, of all things, a Labour government, led by Tony Blair, illegally invaded Iraq and set of a chain of murder and destruction, bombing killing, hunger and dreadful terrorist vengeance that is happening on our streets to this day.
 That Attlee government created the foundations of the welfare state, nationalised the railways, steel and coal and ensured that  cheap gas, electricity and water were provided by the public sector.
 The troops, who had returned from the second World War, and the hundreds of thousands still overseas were determined to end the scourge of poverty and unemployment that had haunted the 1930s and unexpectedly rejected Churchill in favour of change for a better and more compassionate Britain.
President Kennedy and Prime Minister MacMillia...
President Kennedy and Prime Minister MacMillian meeting at the Key West Naval Station on March 27, 1961. Photo by Don Pinder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Although the Tories returned to power in the 1950s and early 1960s theirs was a patrician party led by honourable men like Harold Macmillan, who too had seen the horrors of the pre war days, and ruled on a consensus basis labelled "Butskillism" which was a term used in British politics to refer to the political consensus formed in the 1950s and associated with the exercise of office as Chancellor of the Exchequer by Rab Butler of the Conservative Party and Hugh Gaitskell of the Labour Party.
 Then after a long period of Tory rule Harold Wilson won the 1964 election. He has become the forgotten man of 20th century politics but his government introduced far-reaching social reforms which included:-

the foundation of the Open University;

the decriminalisation of sex between men in private; 

the liberalisation of laws affecting obscene publications;

extending the franchise with the reduction of the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen:

the ending of capital punishment;

the equal pay act;

the abolishment of censorship in the theatre;

despite tremendous pressure from the Americans he refused to send British troops to Vietnam; 

he held the first referendum on membership of the EU;

he was the first Prime Minister, since WW2, to proudly be able to tell the House of Commons that not a single British soldier had died in action anywhere in the world during the previous twelve months.

He also gave us a national holiday to celebrate May Day and his coming to power in 1964 heralded the birth of the swinging sixties and in 1966 we won The World Cup.

 When Thatcher came to power in 1979 she tried to  took a wrecking ball to much of this ruining whole communities and the  livelihoods of many. She and Reagan and successive government  in the words of Harold Macmillan, "sold off the family silver" in an orgy for the rich and powerful which Shamus Cooke defined succinctly as follows, "The essence of neoliberalism can be reduced to the following: government should be used exclusively to help big business and the wealthy with tax cuts, subsidies, privatizations, anti-labour laws, etc., while all government programs that help working and poor people should be eliminated. It’s really that simple.”   
 Now once again I have the opportunity, probably for the last time in my life, to vote in a truly reforming Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn who will transform this country from a divided and shoddy land of terrorism, cuts and food banks. Not only will they invest in our outdated roads,  rail system and infrastructure, and in so doing create millions of jobs and opportunities for British companies, but they have carefully costed the following programme (to be paid for by the richest 5% and an increase in corporation tax) which will give people hope and opportunity for the future, and dignity in old age:-

 1. Schools: increasing funding and providing free school meals and arts pupils premium.

2. Skills: introducing free further education tuition, equalising 16-19 funding and restoring EMA childcare and early years including more money for sure start. Removing university tuition fees and restoring maintenance grants.

 3.  Health and Social Care: Improve NHS spending and the provision for social care. Restore nurses' bursaries.

4. Work & Pensions: increase ESA by £30 pw for those in the work related activity group, scrap bedroom tax, implement the PiP legal ruling, restore Housing Benefit for under 21s, scrap Bereavement Support Payment reforms, £2 billion of additional funding for Universal Credit, uprate Carers' Allowance to the level of JSA.
 Double paternity pay and leave.
 Guarantee pensions tri[le lock, extend Pension Credit to those affected by changes to their state pension age since the 1995 Pensions Act.

5. Lift public sector pay cap. Introduce a Real Living Wage of at least £10 by 2020 with net scale benefits ringfenced to provide support to small businesses.

6. Recruit an additional 10,ooo police officers and provide additional border guards.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

June is coming, May will soon be over.

Well, well the biggest own goal of the election campaign. The Tory manifesto, launched in Halifax, by PM May on 18 May has revealed, with its attack on the elderly and school children, that they are still the Nasty Party. There were many ironies about, what was for the Conservative party, Wobbly Thursday, not the least of which was the pathetic image of an entire cabinet of ministers, who were filed in and out again into Bleak Hall looking like silenced Trappist monks, gloomily watching on whilst the head girl passed sentence on them.
 To pile irony on irony this team of Brexiteers were transported through a hostile and jeering mob of Halifax Town supporters on what the number plate revealed, was the campaign bus used by the Remainers during last July's EU referendum. As Harold Wilson once said, "A week is a long time in politics".

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Laura Kuenssberg and the BBC guilty of impartiality and inaccurate reporting.

 In January 2017 the BBC Trust ruled that a report in November 2015 by Kuenssberg broke the broadcaster’s impartiality and accuracy guidelines. A viewer had complained about her item, which featured an interview with Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC News at Six which was edited to give the incorrect impression that Corbyn disagreed with the use of firearms by police in incidents such as that month's terrorist attacks in Paris. His purported answer to a question as broadcast in the report was in fact his reply to a different (unbroadcast) question, not specifically about that terrorist attack. The BBC Trust said that the inaccuracy was "compounded" when Kuenssberg went on to state that Corbyn's message "couldn't be more different" to that of the prime minister Theresa May, who was about to publish anti-terrorism proposals. The Trust said that accuracy was particularly important when dealing "with a critical question at a time of extreme national concern". Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

 Despite this the lady, who emanates from the British ruling classes, is amazingly fronting up the BBC's political news coverage of the general election. So far she continues with her bias and inaccurate reporting of the Labour Party's campaign and surprise, surprise has been given the task of following Theresa May (the one that let immigration triple during her tenure at the Home Office) around the country. So far she has not asked the PM a difficult question (that duty, so far, been left to a disabled lady who confronted May over her loss of benefits in Abingdon marketplace). Instead immediately following the PM's undisturbed air time Kuenssberg is seen in a vox pop situation where she seems to find almost exclusively voters who are parroting May's views.

 Oh for a Robin Day or a Paxo, in his prime, who would not have been content to give the PM a free ticket, but instead would be grilling and torching the robotic Ice Maiden. Staged appearances and two word slogans suffice for her but when exposed to the general public she shows her lack of empathy and sympathy towards real human beings. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Stop ransomware - jump out of Microsoft's Windows

 There is one sure way to prevent a cyber attack and that is throw away your Windows machine. The latest wave of ransomware attacks has only affected WINDOWS 10 and other recent WINDOWS versions. I have been in computing, for my sins, since 1974 way before Bill Gates was on the scene. In those days apart from gaming machines like the Commodore 64, and an admirarable BBC machine and some early Clive Sinclair efforts, essentially the home computer was not around.
That all changed when in 1985 Microsoft and Gates produced OS/2 for IBM and went on to market WINDOWS, which by the early 1990s occupied over 90% of the personal computer market.
 It faced no serious competition until the niche but highly original Apple Mac was introduced and began being bought as a top end PC by some dedicated and loyal users in 1998. The Apple company had also been around since the 1970s but had suffered financial woes in its early days under its founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Apple unlike Microsoft also marketed the machines, as well as the software. There was another vital difference. The Apple machines were secure but the WINDOWS software was vulnerable to hacking so users were encouraged to buy anti-virus software to protect their machines. But WINDOWS was deeply flawed and hackers were able to exploit its vulnerability and still do so. Virtual defenestration will fix it.
 For home users this meant constant patches to fix the security holes, as they were exploited by hackers and the additional burden of having to buy anti-virus software. But in parallel to this the internet had exploded and big companies and organisations began ditching their big mainframe computers for networks of PCs. The genie was out of the box and as a result those juicy and cash  laden organisations were at the mercy of the hacker. Not only the professional experts in government and black industries but also to anyone at home, including young kids, who got a buzz from violating the supposed sanctuaries of our data held by organisations such as the big banks, commerce, government and industry.
 The common denominator in all of these attacks has been WINDOWS. Not only the most successful operating system ever but also the most insecure. Those in government and the fat IT chief executives who bought it by the shipload must take responsibility for failing to defend us from these attacks. Mrs. May and Presidents Trump and Putin have failed in their first responsibility-the security and defence of their nations.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Our freedoms in OUR Democracy

  I  have read with interest these recent revelations in The Guardian some of which is new but most of which is historical fact. The original agreement which Harold Wilson, whom I have written about previously, signed with the American's, about GCHQ Bude,provided for American funding of all of the equipment on the base, whilst the British would, exclusively, provide the manpower.

 The NSA have always wanted their moneys-worth out of GCHQ from Bude and have, in the past, stated their intention to take-over the base and man it should its flow of information to them be disrupted. In 1980 one of the first malevolent acts of that bitch Margaret Thatcher was to abolish the Pay Research Unit who were responsible for recommending pay rates for civil servants. Put simply the Unit had been put in place to provide a fair system of renumeration for staff by comparing their salaries with the equivalent outside analogues in the private sector. So the work of Civil Servants, from high ranking heads of ministerial departments through to scientists, and clerks and messengers at the other end of the scale were compared with their outside analogues in the private sector and a settlement between the government of the day was usually agreed between the Civil Service Trades unions and the government of the day. This not only maintained a fair pay system in the Civil Service but also prevented industrial disputes from arising.
 As a result, dismayed at this action Civil Servants, voted to fight back and begin a rolling course of one day strikes in 1981 across key areas of government including at GGHQ Bude (then known as CSOS Morwenstowe), the Courts Services, DHSS offices and other key areas of government.
 Sometime after we held the two one day stoppages I was contacted by one of our Trade Union officials from Cheltenham who said that he and a colleague wanted to come down to Bude to discuss the strikes with me and the other Executive Officer working there. I cannot recall exactly when this was but a considerable time had elapsed since any industrial action at the site .The Officer In Charge at the station, because they were union officers, refused to allow them on site but after I discussed the matter with him and suggested that it may not be a good idea to hold discussions of this type in a local pub, we compromised and  agreed that we could meet in the car park but he was adamant that he would not allow them to enter the station buildings. Ironically the local Union officials for the radio officers and engineers who worked there on a regular basis, and had taken part in the strikes, were not affected by any such ban.
 Now it is important to remember, at this stage, that the industrial action that we had taken was fully supported by the Civil Service trades Unions at national and local level and that we had voted in favour of the strike action. No decision of this sort is ever taken lightly, as I have stated previously on this blog.
 They arrived on a normal windy and rainswept North Cornwall day and the four of us huddled in the porchway to the site to hold our discussions. They said that they had come to ask us not to take any further industrial action at the site, should it arise, as they had been told that the Americans would go over the head of the Director of GCHQ to the Joint Intelligence Committee to request that they should take over and man the station should the station's operations be seriously affected at anytime in the future. Because of the seriousness of the issues involved I asked for time to consider their request, as did my colleague.
 At the next meeting of staff from the station and a some senior full time officials from some of the Civil Service Trades Unions down in a pub in Bude, to discuss future strategy, I sought out my own full time officer from the Society of Civil and Public Servants and related the information to him. He immediately said that if I had deep concerns over taking any further action then, as far as he was concerned, I should act accordingly.
 There, or so I thought, the matter ended and having completed my tour of duty I returned to Cheltenham, although it was clear that my career in the organisation had been detrimentally affected. Move forwards a few years to 1984 and Margaret Thatcher introduced her infamous ban on Trade Union membership at GCHQ. I was one of a handful from the organisation who became an appellant against the ban.
 The rest, as they say is history but we mounted a long but successful campaign against the ban, and in 1997 almost the first act of the new Foreign Secretary Robin Cook was to restore the right to the staff at GCHQ to join a free Trade Union of their choice.

 I have attempted to record the events of that time as accurately as possible and hope that there is new information here for students of history to add to the plethora of information already on the public record including the Catalogue of GCHQ Trade Union Campaign papers held at Wawick University.
I have withheld names, because some of the people involved are still alive. 
 As for conjecture and comment I have the following observations to make. Brian Tovey, the Director of GCHQ at the time was the architect of the ban I presume because of the American response to events at Bude which I have outlined above. Bobby Inman visited the site shortly after the strikes and was said to be delighted when Tovey put the plan to him according to a report In The Sunday Times, published shortly after the ban was imposed.
 After the ban was announced Peter Jones for The Council Of Civil Servants and the Head of the Civil Service, Robert Armstrong were said to have negotiated a deal for unions to remain at GCHQ provided they signed a no-strike agreement but this was rejected by Margaret Thatcher whose inability to compromise led to her eventual downfall. This was subsequently the basis of the agreement between the Unions and Robin Cook in 1997. I have my own views on why, following the actions at Bude in 1981, it took until 1984 for the ban to be announced but I do know that one earlier attempt was aborted, at the last minute. 
 Dwight Eisenhower warned of the corrosive effects of  Military Industrial Complex in 1961 and although the Anglo-British relationship has been of vital importance to the peace of the world at certain times, recent events in Palestine, Iraq, Libya Aghanistanand elsewhere have posed a threat to the peace of the world and the two countries between them, since the 1960's have been responsible for more injuries and deaths to innocent people through their bombs and their policies than any other nations on earth. For those of us who having been fighting peacefully for a better and fairer world since the 1960's there is just a faint hope that government has at last been rumbled by the people following the banking crisis, and recent revelations by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. It is time for governments to serve the people once more rather than manipulate the people into becoming serfs of government who undermine their own peoples civil liberties and who pay lip service to democracy