Eco-friendly manufacturing on a small island

Perhaps it is just me, but the name kind of gives it away. The Isle of Wight,

located just off the Southern coast of mainland Britain. Being a small island, it requires that virtually all manufactured items be transported by sea off the island, many transferred to road and rail freight from nearby Portsmouth and Southampton, or in to larger ships for onward distribution.

The development of an eco-energy plant on a location with difficult transportation issues would not seem to be a long thought out strategic location. Be that as it may, Vestas, a Danish business set up a wind turbine blade manufacturing unit on the island, Vestas Blades, together with a research and development facility.

Vestas deem that the Northern European market and in particular the UK wind turbine market is in such a poor state that it is no longer viable to produce the blades on the island and have decided to shut down the plant.

As a result of such a large employer closing down on the Island, the workers, supported by trades unions have been fighting to keep the factory open. As part of the protest about 25 workers became involved in a lock-in, which is now resulting in a legal battle by Vestas to force the sit-in to end.

While I may not be the greatest fan of trades unions and fail to get it that when a business decides to shut a unit, the employees deem that the business should stay open regardless of any financial losses being made by the business, I do however fully support the rights for people to demonstrate, so can kind of get my head around the sit-in.

What I don't understand is why this protest has brought Green demonstraters to the proceedings. So called eco-warriors have joined the demonstrations over the shut down, despite the fact that Vestas have indicated there is no market in Northern Europe and they are planning on expanding the US operation, whilst increasing the R&D facilities on the Island.

The Government, has offered to inject money in to the plant, but Vestas have made a commercial decision that the plant is not viable.

If the eco-warriors wish to protest about the issue, they need to look, not at Vestas, but the 'nimby' attitude across much of the UK. It is council planning and local residents committees who are stopping the development of wind farms, not companies like Vestas who are actively engaged in the business. The big energy companies make great noises about eco-friendly power generation, but do very little to force the issue, so perhaps a word in their ear may be more useful.

The eco-warriors should be supporting the development of the R&D facility in to wind power generation, not bemoaning the loss of a manufacturing plant located in an ill-conceived location.

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While politicians talk, businesses act

Street Sleeper 2 by David ShankboneImage via Wikipedia

In September 2008, Gordon Brown made great play of a £285 million Mortgage Rescue Scheme, which would save 6 000 homes from repossession.

Eventually in January this year, the scheme was actually launched and so far the grand total of six homes have been helped.

Businesses on the other hand are actually getting on with things and as a result, approaching 1 000 homes a week are currently being repossessed.

When pressed on the numbers of homes which had received help from the scheme, Mandelson wouldn't be drawn on a figure, when he was told the number was six, his response was a cringing, 'you have scored your point'.

That Mandelson is back in office is a scandal, about which I have written previously, that he sees the fact that a 1 000 homes a week are being repossessed and only six families have actually been helped as a 'point scored' says all you need to know about the state of British Politics.

While politicians rush to take the microphone and grab a few seconds air time to announce yet another 'policy' the world continues around them, a fact of which they seem completely oblivious.

Homeless families are not 'scored points'. Mandelson may have friends who lend him money to buy houses, while he investigates their probity, he may get away with forgetting to inform the Britannia Building Society about the 'deposit' being a loan, but that is not the way for most people.

Politicians talk about doing things, Banks repossess homes and families are destroyed. Not scored points, but real people.
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Bercow looks above the parapet

Bercow, the new speaker of the House of Commons, has noticed that people are pretty fed up with the £25 a day unreceipted subsistance allowance that went through on a nod and has decided to call for a meeting of the members estimate committee next week.

Already Nick Harvey is claiming the story of the allowance has been blown out of proportion and all this was agreed way back in March.

Strange how MPs have been managing to claim on this allowance, but none of them actually bothered to pipe up and mention that the subsistance allowance didn't require any receipts. Even stranger it wasn't until the story gathered pace today that Bercow noticed the problem.

Who said Politics in the UK couldn't become more odious?
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The Government does care about military personnel, really

The decision by the MoD to appeal against payments received by service personnel, is being excused by the MoD as a necessary process to validate legislation.

While the Government continue to protest that they support service personnel, their comments and actions hold little confidence in wider circles. While politicians and Senior Military personnel wander around attempting to out shout each other, the reality of death and injury on the battlefields continue.

The MoD is taking to the Court of Appeal cases against two servicemen:

Light Dragoon Anthony Duncan, was originally awarded £9,250 which was increased to £46,000 by an appeal tribunal, for injuries received in Iraq.

Royal Marine Matthew McWilliams was awarded £8,250, increased to £28,750 on appeal.

The deaths of two more British soldiers in Afghanistan were announced yesterday, bringing the number killed in July to 22.

Increasing number of service personnel are dying and being injured, yet the platitudes offered by politicians do nothing to appease the concerns being expressed by the General Public. This own goal by the MoD will do nothing to restore any confidence.

Of ongoing concern will be the fate of soldiers who develop mental health problems on returning home.

The closure of the Henderson Hospital last year, which was a world renowned therapeutic community for people with disorders including post traumatic stress, which was opened in 1947 to help soldiers returned from the Second World War, with the ramification of curtailing expenditure on service provision and research, is a clear demonstration that the Government is more interested in saving money than ensuring the infrastructure is in place to assist wounded and mentally scarred service personnel on their return from active service.

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Don't let foreigners use the NHS - but let us use your hospitals

The clarion call from the right wing of British Politics, which seems to include everything in mainstream politics, is that foreigners are using up valuable resources in the UK and of particular concern is the over use of NHS resources.

I wonder how these people feel, now that a British patient is being treated in a Swedish hospital, for swine flu.

There are five specialist beds in Britain for the technique, known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), at a hospital in Leicester, but they are currently all taken, so this woman was flown into Sweden, where she is now receiving treatment at Karolinska University Hospital in Solna.

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It would be interesting to take a straw poll on those who object to foreigners using NHS resources, on whether British Nationals using valuable resource in foreign hospitals is acceptable, or should this woman just have been left to see how it all turned out?

The NHS is in the process of making contingency plans to fly a limited number of swine flu patients to European hospitals if Britain’s intensive care services become overwhelmed.

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Political amnesia

The Norwich-North by-election has thrown up an interesting phenomena, so the reports from mainstream media would appear to suggest.

Political commentators tend to congregate around political activists and forget the world is far wider than myopic interest groups, reading and listening to comments pre and post election saw a focus on the 'Ian Gibson' effect. The suggestion in the world of political punditry suggesting that the fact that Ian Gibson had been axed by the Labour party caused great resentment in the constituency, with people feeling it unfair that he had been singled out by a Gordon Brown vendetta, for being an Independent minded MP.

Ian Gibson voting record Publicwhip
From -------To -------- Rebellions --------------- Attendance
5 May 2005 8 Jun 2009 63 votes out of 897, 7.0% 897 votes out of 1047, 85.7%
7 Jun 2001 11 Apr 2005 52 votes out of 953, 5.5% 953 votes out of 1246, 76.5%
1 May 1997 14 May 2001 16 votes out of 1067, 1.5% 1067 votes out of 1273, 83.8%

Elliot Morley who was also axed, shows few rebellions

From ------ To --------- Rebellions -------------- Attendance
5 May 2005 still in office 5 votes out of 760, 0.7% 760 votes out of 1113, 68.3%
7 Jun 2001 11 Apr 2005 6 votes out of 766, 0.8% 766 votes out of 1246, 61.5%
1 May 1997 14 May 2001 5 votes out of 864, 0.6% 864 votes out of 1273, 67.9%

Which leads the 'vendetta argument' a little thin.

The argument continues other MPs, who are closer to Brown, did far worse and didn't receive the same treatment. It may be true, but does that mean he shouldn't have been axed?

Great play was made on some reports of the lone protester at the celebrations, that this was emblematic of the true feeling in Norwich, that this 'hard working' MP had been hard done by. A lone protester does not make for a rational argument.

Brown may well be hugely unpopular, there may well be many MPs who committed far worse infractions, but that shouldn't leave political commentators in a state of denial.

The simple facts are that Ian Gibson let his daughter live, rent-free, in a flat largely paid for out of expenses, and then sold it to her for below market value. The claiming for a second home for his daughter is and was untenable.

We hear how 'hard working' he was. This has become the mantra of the Labour party spin machine, based on political village gossip, that really everyone in Norwich North thinks he was a good man. We had the absurd sight of Geoff Hoon, on Question Time, defending Gibson on the grounds that he was hard working, this is the same Geoff Hoon, who was found out to have been claiming allowances on two 'second homes' of course by mistake and was forced to return an overpayment, claimed £400 a month in food allowances, lived in a grace-and-favour apartment in Whitehall yet claimed costs for his home in Derbyshire which he flipped within months of losing his grace-and-favour apartment in 2006.

Being hard-working is not in itself a virtue, Bernard Madoff, was by all accounts a very hard working man, unfortunately for those he ripped off, he was a man busy committing financial fraud.

The closed political circus are attempting to make the Labour defeat in Norwich-North to be an opportunity to blame Brown for yet another problem in the Labour Party. Brown may be totally discredited, the Labour Government out of steam and out of touch, but Gibson was the man claiming irregular expenses and it was right he was axed. It was his choice to stand down prior to the election, a good thing I would hasten to add. As a result of the by-election one bad apple has been thrown out of Parliament and that is a good thing, it is a great pity that more do not resign, have not yet been prosecuted and are not being sanctioned.

Irrespective of the size of the indescretion, any discredited MP who is out of office is a good thing. Were the mainstream media commentators to get their noses out of the Westminster trough and smell some real air, they may well also be celebrating this fact.

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Ed Balls and literacy levels

Ed Balls, has set himself up with a twitter account, which in itself is in my opinion a good thing, as he exposes himself to immediate reaction to his comments and a way for people to directly communicate with him.

Increasingly MPs are doing this in the UK and theoretically it can only be to the good. However in exposing themselves to this level of scrutiny, they also need to take responsibility and be aware that their actions on Social networking sites, provides an insight to some of their actions they may wish to keep out of the public glare. In other words, they should behave responsibly.

Today saw Ed Balls, make a bit of a twitter gaff. He evidently decided that he needed to generate more followers, so set himself up with one of those 'get lots of followers on twitter' sites. The value of which is a different debate and open to personal preference.

Having decided to join one of these sites, a twitter user needs to know exactly who they are dealing with. Not only does the particular site in question, require your log-in details for your twitter account, itself something that can be problematical, but in this particular instance the 'contact us page' leads to a 404 error page, the 'about us page' tells you nothing about the company itself, but is full of typographic errors.

XXX (site name removed as I have no wish to promote this site) is a tools website for twitter. Here you will gain more followers for your account. This concept is quit simple and works very well. The 1st thing you will need to do is login your account (The same info as your twitter credentials) Then after loging in your taken to page with a list of vip members and regular members. The vip members are paid members and will gain the most followers on our site. Right now vip members are getting anywhere betwenn 400-1500 followers a day. The regular members are free members. Before anyone can join this site you are obligated to click and follow all the vip members and the last 20 regular members. After doing the following you can then join the site to get more followers.

These two problem pages should lead to alarm bells, but evidently to Ed Balls this wasn't the case. So he decided to sign up for an account, despite not reading the terms of service, which do actually lead to a link with some meaningful, if incorrectly spelt information. It is only a 7 point terms of service, so hardly onerous.

1. You agree to submit your twitter accout credentials.

2. You agree to allow us to store your account information in our database.

3. You agree your account will be used to automatically tweet an update on your account for promotional purposes every 6 hours with the exception of VIP members.

4. You agree upon loging in you allow us tweet an update on your twitter for promotion.

5. You agree when buying vip there are no refunds or returns what so ever.

6. You agree to allow us up to 6 hours to put your twitter user name on the vip section.

7. You agree if you spam our site you will be banned from our service forever with out hesitation.

But Ed appears not to have read this and when the spam messages began to appear:

I just become a member of this AWESOME site that gets you TONS of followers: http://XXX

unsuprisingly followers were not amused.

He was suprised by this, sending out the following message:

Apologies to all.. I followed a link and it has spammed everyone. Still learning.. RT @deburca: Be aware of all of these automated tweets!

I accept people make mistakes, yes even I do, but this process provides an insight into the mind of this man.

He doesn't check site validity prior to signing up, he doesn't read T.O.S. despite them being very simple and easily seen.

I wonder whether Ed Balls is someone we should trust to prepare and scrutinize legislation. If he can't read a 7 point Terms of Service, how on earth does he manage with reams of documentation?

Is it any wonder the Learning Skills Council overspend occured? Balls introduced legislation to raise the education leaving age from 16 to 18, yet failed to give schools and colleges the money they needed to make these reforms a reality.

He has shown himself someone as not fit to tell other people how to use the Internet, as he doesn't grasp the reality of not checking out a site, or the need to read the T.O.S.

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The wasted 16 million pounds and the missing Minister

The investigation into the collapse of MG Rover in 2005, which resulted in the loss of 6,000 jobs at the plant was finally completed 4 years after its instigation a

MG Rover GroupImage via Wikipedia

t the cost of £16 million.

Just when it appeared that some questions would be answered about the Phoenix Four, the SFO were asked to investigate the collapse, leading to the report being suppressed.

As this is a fairly significant issue in the UK, it is right that the Government are called to explain their actions. But this being the UK, it really isn't as simple as that.

Due to the archaic structure of Government, Ministers can be and are appointed, who have not been elected to office. It is not possible to question unelected Government Ministers in the House of Commons. This may seem perfectly reasonable to the knuckle heads in Parliament, but it is not an acceptable position.

The more unfortunate aspect in this particular case, is that the Minister who can't be questioned is none other than Mandelson.

Mandelson, is the man who was ousted from Office twice due to irregularities in his conduct. Who the voters of Hartlepool threw out at a General Election, then reappeared as one of Blairs special appointment's as a European Commissioner and has now resurfaced under the Brown administration as the Minister of all he surveys.

To Mandelson and the Politico commentators, his re-emergence, is a source of great amusement. His appointment and reincarnation is not in the least amusing. This is a man who has an unquestionably murky past, who at one time was borrowing money off friends to support his lifestyle, but now seems to have vast tracts of wealth, while he has not held a position with a large enough income to explain his largess.

The continued lack of accountability by the Government, which in this case is explained away as 'oh well he is in "the other place"', which can't be seen by the myopic political pundits as anything more than, 'that is the way it is', is untenable.

We require an accountable Government which means Ministers must be open to questioning in the democratically elected chamber, by democratically elected MPs. Anything else is not acceptable. The obfuscation that these ministers can be called in for questioning by committees is not good enough. There are times and the MG Rover situation is one of them, when Ministers need to be questioned straight away.

The appointment by Brown of someone that the people of Hartlepool didn't think was fit to serve them, as an unaccountable Minister has brought the farcical situation whereby Ministers can't be questioned, to a head.

The UK has the facade of a democracy, but in reality, we have a largely unelected and unaccountable Government.
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Police dogs found dead

Nottinghamshire Police Force have had a complaint filed to the IPCC after two police dogs were found dead in the back of a Police Vehicle on a hot summers day.

The marked police car was parked in the HQ car park of the Force. Whilst the case has been referred to the IPCC no-one has been suspended.

The incompetence of the Police doesn't come as any great surprise, I sincerely hope the RSPCA do push for a prosecution of the Officers involved.

The callous disregard by the Police of animal welfare, resulted in the Animal Welfare Lay Visitor Scheme. The operation of the scheme is the responsibility of the Police
Authority, and that responsibility is exercised, in consultation with the Chief
Constable. The AWLVS appears to have become yet another PR stunt, with no teeth.

The death of animals, particularly dogs, in vehicles during hot weather, is page 1 of the common sense guide to animal welfare, why and how these two dogs died is still being investigated.

Nottinghamshire Police Force need to get their act together. Police Officers are not above the law and this case should lead to a prosecution.
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