Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Privacy and Media Power

Ha! As predicted by me a couple of days ago, the totally unknown TV presenter who hit the headlines in the media, Mark Speight, who was essentially charged, tried and convicted of the murder of his girlfriend by the red top media has been released by the police from his bail conditions and is no longer a suspect (

I am essentially a free market type who believes that people should be allowed to make their own decisions and that regulation should be kept as light as possible. Government intervention is almost always counterproductive. Government does most things badly. However, we need some sort of privacy law or restraint on the media so that people like this guy are protected from media exploitation. Right now they can print anything about anyone, totally trash your reputation, all in order to get one day's titillating headline, sell more papers and make more money. They then get admonished by the PCC and get away with an apology of a few tiny lines buried on page 23 some weeks later.

Until the law changes and the PCC gets some teeth and is able to fine a paper big bucks - and I mean millions - for printing lies, exaggerations or wild insinuations, our democracy is being perverted. The problem of course is that every politician is frightened of the media and is not willing to put their head above the parapet. Too many skeletons in all their cupboards.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Compensation madness

What is going on in our society. We seem to be living in a parallel universe.

Universe 1 - A woman was awarded £200,000 today because her firm sexually discriminated against her when she became pregnant. She was told she was "useless", would "never be the same again", and that instead of the BMW company car she was due to receive she would get a "runaround". Then while she was on maternity leave she was demoted twice.

Universe 2 - Aged just 18, Rifleman Jamie Cooper became the youngest British soldier to be injured in Iraq when he was hit by shrapnel in Basra last November, during his first tour with the Green Jackets. Suffering from extensive nerve damage to his leg, a broken pelvis and a shattered right hand, his heart stopped twice as medics fought to save him. He later developed the superbug MRSA after a series of operations in the UK. He has been paid compensation of £57,00.

How can any self respecting society with a democratically elected government let this happen?

I am not saying that the woman in my first example should not be protected from an asshole employer, but it is just so obvious that the balance of our legal compensation system has become focused on political correctness and is not actually looking after those that really need society's help.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

CBeebies, Death and Media Intrusion

Now I never thought I would write a title linking those topics but the media coverage of the death of Natasha Collins has drawn me to it. Here’s my point:

If Mrs C died today in circumstances that were not clear and obvious, I would expect the police to first of all focus on me. They would need to question me. They would therefore need to arrest me in order to put that interview on a firm legal footing. Assuming I had not done her in, then they would rule me out of the case and then move on to exploring other leads. Standard stuff. We all know that. The media knows that. But still they run at the easy ‘he must be guilty’ story.

Now I don’t know if Mark Speight knocked off this poor girl or not, but the media positioning of the story yesterday was…he has been arrested, ergo he is guilty.

I find the media’s negative, conspiracy obsessed, venomous, headline focussed attitude so disgusting. Tell me if I’m wrong.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Congestion Tax Hell

As ever when I have some time off, Mrs C dragged me up to London to shop. Excellent, a chance to pay some more tax. Now I drive to London regularly for work. Not every day, but often. And The Great Newt of City Hall told us that when his Congestion Tax – and it is a tax despite its purposefully innocuous name – came into being, we would all be in road space heaven; train/tube/bus seats for all, less traffic, less congestion, better air quality, free gold bars on every street corner. OK, so I exaggerated this last point, but the rest were on the list.

So what is the reality? Well stats now tell us that we have precisely the same number of vehicles using London’s streets as when it was introduced ( We have less road space for them due to all the pedestrianisation and bus lanes paid for by the tax. And the air quality is terrible, as bad as and some say worse than when the tax was introduced ( But fair’s fair to the Newt, we do have more public transport, most of it in the form of empty red buses that sit bumper to bumper down Oxford Street.

And the Great Newt is hailed a brave political leader wherever he travels: the Labour Party conference, Fidel Castro’s hospital suite, Hugo Chavez’s parties.

It seems to me that stupid taxes which need to be ‘disguised’ to stop the people revolting are always called ‘charges’ viz Community Charge, Congestion Charge etc. If only William III had known this when he introduced Window Tax. But don’t mention this, or the Newt will reintroduce it.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

TV Company Voyeurism

So Mrs C and I settled down for a spot of telly last night. What was on, I hear you ask? Channel 4 prime time – My Fake Baby. A truly disturbing evening ensued.

The programmed focussed on 3 or 4 ladies who were choosing and then nursing their own dolls. Now not your ordinary toy shop type doll. These were very realistic rubber dolls for adults to dress up, play with, take for a walk etc.

We followed the ladies as they chose them, designed them, went shopping in Harrods with and for them, one lady even went to the States with her Mother to go and collect her new one (her fifth) and go through a ‘bonding process’ in a hotel room for a few days, where she ‘got to know her doll’.

As the film rolled on, it became clear that each of these ladies had a rather tragic history. One had four children, wanted more, but after 4 caesareans couldn’t. One had brought up her grandson whilst her daughter was recovering from cancer, bonded incredibly closely with the child, and just could not get over her ‘loss’ when daughter and grandson emigrated to New Zealand. One lady – the Harrods shopper and US visitor – I assume could not have children…so had dolls instead.

I couldn’t watch it for long. It was just too disturbing.

Obvious point: these ladies – nice, sweet educated, charming, good people – desperately need help. Counselling at the very least. They have gone through a seismic event in their personal lives and not dealt with it well. For them, I feel sorry and concerned that no one in their immediate family and friends group has gripped the situation and sought out the right sort of help for them.

The sickening main issue and point of this post: this was car crash television at its worst. Some evil bastards at Channel 4 had the idea, commissioned the programme, researched the issue, sought out these sad ladies, filmed them, edited the film and ran it on prime time TV. They exploited some very vulnerable people and made an entirely voyeuristic programme – and presumably lots of money for themselves – out of these ladies’ sadness.

I feel revolted that our society let’s this sort of exploitation happen.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The Boys in Blue

Now I said yesterday that I would return to the police, a subject that I am sure will run and run on this blog. For the record, I'm not anti police. Far from it. We need them. They do a lot of good stuff. They sometimes face danger on our behalf. (But let's be honest, not every day).

No, today's observation is how consumed by purile 'easy option' pointless political correctness they have become. A story to illustrate:

Mrs C and I were driving back to 'Cragsbury Towers' in leafy Sussex after a good Xmas party. It was 0130 hrs in the AM. I was driving. I am a non-drinker. Anyhow, we pulled up at some lights near to where we live. This junction is in the middle of nowhere. No people. No houses. No nothing. Being a law abiding ranter, I waited for the lights to change. But it was late and we wanted to get home. So just a smidge before the lights began to change, I eased off the brake and began to ever so slowly inch forward. Now remember, no one in sight, no noise, empty roads, no other cars. Except the police car that pulled behind me just as I was inching forward. Anyway, as green came, I pulled away. Not fast, just pulled away. Blue lights.

Plod - "Are you aware you have just broken the law, sir."
MC - "Really officer. How?"
Plod - "You crossed the white line."
MC - "What white line?"
Plod - "That one there. At the lights. I have you on camera if you want to dispute it."
MC - "Well spotted officer. I wasn't suggesting that I was going to dispute it. I just can't believe that with all the crime there is in the UK these days that this particular crime is so important."
Plod - "Who is that in the car with you, sir?"
MC - "My wife."
Plod - "Well you have just endangered her life, sir."
MC - "Officer, in the 2 or 3 minutes we have been chatting, I haven't noticed another car pass by. Have you? So I think Mrs C is going to make it through the night."
Plod - "Have you been drinking, sir."
MC - "No. I don't drink."
Plod - "Would you mind if I breathalysed you?"
MC - "Not at all."

(Test done. 100% negative.)

Plod - "Well sir, I am going to let you off with a caution."
MC - "Very kind, officer."
Plod - "Would you mind just signing this form giving me consent to show you some pictures which you may find shocking." (The evening was looking up at last.)
MC - "How shocking are we talking here? Is it porn?"
Pold - "No sir. They are images of car accidents to show you the consequences of your law breaking this evening."

(Picture shown - one car bashed up sitting in the middle of a road junction. No blood. No gore. In fact no people in the shot.)

Now the point of my little story, putting aside the fact the nice thoughtful policeman was merely looking for an excuse to breathalyse me and picked on the most pathetic reason in the world, is this: I needed to sign a form to be shown a picture of a smashed up car? Now this may seem small and innocuous, but think it through:

1. Some moron had to come up with the idea of showing pictures to motorists, as if that will change anyone's behaviour. It's a cop out. Either this law is worth enforcing or it's not. Don't waste my time showing me wanky pictures if you are not going to do me.

2. A meeting was no doubt held to discuss this idea.

3. A decision was made that this was a worthwhile idea. Laughable.

4. A committee was formed to run a competitive tender from various suppliers to provide the pictures. Several pitch meetings were held. A supplier was selected.

5. Various photo shoots were done. Different pictures. Different times of day/night. Different parts of the country because no doubt some tosser on the committee will have said 'these picture must not be London-centric. They must show a regional representation.' So the photo team will have been sent round the country, put up at nice hotels, been given a per diem etc.

6. The committee will have reviewed the pictures and selected the winning shots. A booklet will have been produced. Many meetings had.

7. ACPO will have been consulted so that the booklet could be standardised across all 43 territorial police forces in the UK. Changes made ('I think we need more pictures giving a flavour of the North East. Too many of these photos are obviously set in the South East' - or some such crap).

8. A re-shoot. A revised booklet.

9. Then - the best bit - 'Should we not have a legal disclaimer here in case someone finds these pictures of crashed cars disturbing?'

10. Lawyers consulted. 'My strong advice to the the committee is that we tone down one or two of these images. And we have a form for people to sign to give their consent. After all, we don't want to be legally responsible for all the roadside heart attacks these shocking pictures may give rise to.'

11. Consent form designed. Three drafts after legal advice. Two further committee meetings.

12. Said forms and booklets are printed. Distributed around 43 police forces. Training courses for every traffic cop in the country in 'The New Roadside Caution Procedure as amended 2007'.

Can you imagine how much money you and I have paid for all this totally unnecessary bollocks? It must run into hundreds of thousands, if not millions. And this loony shit is happening in every public sector building near you, every day of the year.

I'm so glad I pay my taxes.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

New Year Bollocks

OK. I just don’t get the whole NY thing. I mean I understand how the calendar works and I get the significance that we have moved from 2007 to 2008. Excellent. But why all the fuss? Is it really that great an achievement? Anyone would have thought that mankind had just gone through a once in a millennium moment.

Just stop and think about the money that is wasted on fireworks alone. BBC News told me proudly that £1 million was spent on the London fireworks display. Who on earth authorised that? He should be strapped to a bleeding firework and sent to hell, the wasteful bastard. Probably St Ken, the rehabilitated communist that Londoners keep failing to see through. I mean £1 million up in smoke. No lasting legacy. Just smoke. On what other day of the year would we downtrodden taxpayers say: oh yes, lets burn 1 million big ones on…smoke.

But it does not just stop there. Other things to hate about NY, not in order, just a random list:

Holiday adverts on TV – dear holiday industry, we also go on holiday at other times of the year.

Dog attack stories – dear 24/7 media, you know dogs attack small kids most days of the year. Be original, do one in June.

A policeman being shot/stabbed – I’m sure the boys in blue do great things (a topic I shall return to in later posts because a lot of what they do is not so great) but they too get shot/stabbed/injured most weeks. Why focus on it at NY?

Clergymen giving us a NY message – the media, perhaps the most immoral lobby, just love covering what the Bishop of X is telling us about the year ahead. Here’s a reciprocal message from me to all you clerics: go talk to your mostly dwindling flock and leave those of us who have opted out alone.

The Scottish bloody Hogmanobollocks thing – Now I know that the Jocks are always looking for totemic events and issues to show how very different they are from the English but WTF is Hogwarts all about? The big issue seems to be that it’s a celebration of…something that isn’t Xmas. Well whoopee doo. Well done Scotland. But why do we English need to pander to them. Now they have their own ‘parliament’ and SNP ‘government’ let’s just let them do it up there all by themselves, hating us, and we’ll do our own thing. Jools, come back to celebrate with the English. We’re bigger and we’re better.

Now what is the common link between all these, I hear you ask? Answer: the insidious power of the unbridled 24/7 media we now have.

They’re all sitting there, in their flash TV screen walled newsrooms, with fuck all to write or talk about. Nothings happening. We’re all at home, on holiday, taking time off. No news. Nothing to cover. So off they take us to ‘Jane Smith is in the New Hebrides. Jane can you hear us? Yes David, the party’s really kicking off here blah, blah’.

And we, the poor downtrodden TV licence payers have to resort to channel flipping trying to find something decent to watch because on every channel there’s a whole bunch of Jocks singing drunkenly.

I have a solution: let’s cut down the number of TV channels we have to say about 20. We should be able to cover most tastes on that number. Then we could save ourselves from drunken Jocks and endless interviews with Z list celebrities. Roll on the revolution.