Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Who would tell us what to hate if it wasn't for the Daily Mail?

Whereas I could possibly accept that Daily Mail readers are simply misguided, most of the people who actually create it are clearly a waste of DNA. How the country can react so angrily to Jade Goody being a not-particularly-racist bully yet ignore the actually-racist and deeply, deeply vile Daily Mail is completely bizarre. I would include the Daily Express too, but their paranoid Diana fixation has relegated them from the world of 'newspapers'.

Anyway, I was reminded just how morally corrupt The Mail was today by two stories. Firstly the current investigation by the Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights into the incitement to hatred by the Mail and Express. The last few paragraphs in the BBC article just about sum the newspapers up really. However, what can the committee do anyway? I doubt they'll pass a law allowing you to slap anyone you see reading the Daily Mail and taking it seriously, even though that's probably exactly what we need.

In an unrelated and yet equally stupid move, Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, ranted about politicians all loving the BBC. This is the BBC that has just been told it can't have enough money by the government of course... the BBC that was smacked-down by the Hutton report for telling the truth... the BBC that every Tory and most of Labour would like to scrap. What world is he living in? Well, that was a slightly rhetorical question of course since we all know he's living in a world full of scary immigrants who want to steal his job and kill his children. Of course he hates the BBC - it balances the world of the UK media a bit and counteracts some of the racist, homophobic, vomit-inducing output of his 'newspaper'. Paul Dacre, you are a loathsome man - don't you dare infect the minds of people who ignore your paper with your lunatic hate-filled jabberings.

Monday, 22 January 2007

PFI Deals and the NHS

'Private Finance Initiatives' are one of those scandalous realities that nobody except Private Eye seems to care about. With any luck more stories about it will appear in the mainstream media and people will notice. Take today's story on the BBC about how PFI firms will make a 23 billion pound profit from the NHS over the next 30 years. Think how many hospitals, operations and drugs could be bought for that much money... money which has come from the taxpayer to help the NHS, yet finds its way into the pockets of shareholders and CEOs.

While it is true that the current Labour government have increased NHS funding, most of the increase has been absorbed by private companies doing things much more expensively than they could have been done under a completely public NHS. PFI deals are great if you want to use figures from one particular year to impress voters, but they are much less impressive in the long term. If only the bigger picture was shown to the public then perhaps the madness would come to an end? The figures speak for themselves and are useful ammunition in the argument against involving the private sector in healthcare. While I am one of those absolutely opposed to it on moral grounds, it's always useful to have financial grounds to convince people who think with their wallets (or taxes).

I took the opportunity to sign-up as a member of Keep Our NHS Public. Let's hope this group gains some momentum and saves our public NHS before it's too late. Once it's all sold off then we face a greater struggle to get it back - just look at the railways...

Friday, 5 January 2007

Wind farms

Polly Toynbee's article in today's Guardian about wind farms makes interesting reading. NIMBYs are usually more of a bother than a benefit, since bad things (out of town supermarkets, nuclear power stations, airport expansions, etc) get pushed through anyway while good things get blocked. Wind farms are a case in point.

Being anti-wind farm is the default Tory position, whatever David Cameron may say. I've seen this effect myself with my parents. While naturally quite green, being paid-up Conservative members and reading the Telegraph and Spectator have taken their toll. They now have the strange flat-Earth style faith in bad science that Polly describes in the article. I guess it's inevitable if you just believe the right-wing press, but it bothers me that the Conservatives pretty much brainwash their members. 'Group think' and all that. Of course, the power of the right does come from ignorance and fear, but allowing this to help destroy the planet is going too far.

So, what are we to do? As the article says, a firm hand from Westminster is a good idea. It saddens me to see that some LibDem councils are just as bad and block wind farms too - they should be slapped-down for it. However, discipline from parties themselves doesn't go far enough. I think that wind farms and green energy in general should be made almost impossible for local councils to block. This sounds quite draconian, but let's face it, most people won't want one on their doorstep. It doesn't matter that they wouldn't want a nuclear power station either - those are so universally unpopular that they get forced through anyway. No, I'm afraid to say that where politicians depend on rural votes then there is a risk that they will block wind farms whatever they think of the environmental benefits. If they are forced through by the government then the council won't lose votes since they can't block them anyway. Problem solved.

While people are dithering about with tiny numbers of wind farms we're still killing the planet. It's time to get serious about building them on a massive scale. In the end, who cares what they look like if it means we are getting clean energy? Better that than global warming or a legacy of nuclear waste left for the next thousand generations.