SPEAKER'S CORNER

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 09 Apr 2014, 09:20

How sensible.

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You're quite right Richard. It's getting a bit like living in North Korea in Barlick at the moment. The 'Dear Leader' syndrome. This little moon face assaults you whenever you have a walk or open the paper. Noticeable that they are not the most recent images.... he had put a bit of weight on.... One thing is certain, many thousands of pounds are being spent and someone somewhere is asking the same questions as I am. Otherwise, why bother to announce specially that 'no taxpayers money is being spent'.
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Bruff » 09 Apr 2014, 09:38

He wouldn't get away with a shop front in Hoylake like that. The local community group who are among other things active in revitalising the main street, have developed 'standards' for shop fronts. And it ain't that. Still, stuck between a chippy and Chinese takeaway in what was once an independent toy shop if I recall? There's a metaphor somewhere there.........

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 09 Apr 2014, 09:40

Stop it Richard! You'll trigger my anti-Stephenson tendencies off again!
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 09 Apr 2014, 19:49

Stanley wrote:This little moon face assaults you whenever you have a walk or open the paper.
I can’t understand why you are so aggressive about out beloved MP.
Going through the facts. He was elected by a majority of people in Pendle. Has stood up in Parliament in support of Pendle. Holds frequent surgeries throughout the area. Supports local events and charities. Plants trees and kisses babies. I might add at this point that unfortunately I have that sort of face that frightens babies.
Attack his policies by all means but let’s not stoop to personal details.

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 10 Apr 2014, 04:55

Sorry about that P and you are of course quite right, he can't help his face. It all stems from my belief that present day politicians are all clones of each other. Not a lot of worry lines and character in the faces.
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by David Whipp » 10 Apr 2014, 07:59

At vast expense (but not, of course, to any taxpayer) Royal Mail delivered the latest Tory Pendle Matters.

At first, I thought the 'Frozen' in the front page picture referred to the film of that name which we're showing at the Rainhall Centre this week (full houses each time it's been on...).

Out of several absurd assertions, 'Protecting Our Green Fields' probably ranks as most outrageous.

The Tories have devised a planning system which stacks everything in favour of developers; there's a presumption in favour of development; new housing numbers calculated by government rules wildly inflate the need in a place like Pendle; if the housebuilding industry don't build, they are entitled to extra permissions to make up for it; if a planning authority can't show a five year supply of land (at inflated government rates of building), it's 'open season' for developers; and if applications are turned down locally, the developer can go to a government inspector who makes a decision based on the (biased) government rules.

In Barlick, there's a contentious application at the moment for land off Long Ing around Moss Side. The developers won round one on this one a few years ago when part of the land was designated for housing in the strategic assessment carried out at the time (the area committee was controlled by the Tories that year...).

The developers would like to build even further into open countryside. The previous owners of the land planted it up as woodland - intended as a buffer between industry and residents. When the Tories controlled the area committee, I asked for the woodland to be protected, but the Tories said 'no'. The Conservative Councillor for the ward said, "It might be needed for development." The now Tory 'team leader' for Barnoldswick said that the woodland didn't have any merit.

At the same time, the Tory run county council wanted to include another field, which they owned, in the housing land allocation. Perhaps you begin to get the drift?

So a claim of 'protecting green fields' rings more than a little hollow.

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Pluggy » 10 Apr 2014, 08:09

I did a job for a customer on Moss Side a week or two back, he wasn't well pleased by the development that he said would virtually surround him. Something about Silent Night and backhanders. I stayed out of it.
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 10 Apr 2014, 08:50

I always thought what a good idea that buffer strip planted with trees was in that it gave a lung between the industrial land at Long Ing and the existing housing.
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 12 Apr 2014, 08:19

I see that a little row is brewing over the potential influence that the donation to the local Conservative party may have over Boundary Mills application for a new garden centre outlet. I don't think for one moment that this will influence the planning permission but £20,000 is a good donation. My main concern over this application is that once built, should it be a failure, then the way would be open for yet another superstore. Under these circumstances I doubt if there is anything that Pendle Council could do to stop it.

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by David Whipp » 12 Apr 2014, 08:38

I think it was Rossendale where a garden centre was approved without the conditions that prevented it being a foodstore... it's now a Tesco.

Normally, strong conditions would prohibit such a change of use.

Recent government relaxations of the planning regime allows commercial floorspace to become residential without needing planning consent. This has recently happened in Earby with the Wardle Storey offices.

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 13 Apr 2014, 05:00

Martha sent me this Krugman article from the NY Times. Interesting reading when you consider the moves to privatise parts of the NHS.

Paul Krugman
When it comes to health reform, Republicans suffer from delusions of disaster. They know, just know, that the Affordable Care Act is doomed to utter failure, so failure is what they see, never mind the facts on the ground.
Thus, on Tuesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, dismissed the push for pay equity as an attempt to “change the subject from the nightmare of Obamacare”; on the same day, the nonpartisan RAND Corporation released a study estimating “a net gain of 9.3 million in the number of American adults with health insurance coverage from September 2013 to mid-March 2014.” Some nightmare. And the overall gain, including children and those who signed up during the late-March enrollment surge, must be considerably larger.
But while Obamacare is looking like anything but a nightmare, there are indeed some nightmarish things happening on the health care front. For it turns out that there’s a startling ugliness of spirit abroad in modern America — and health reform has brought that ugliness out into the open.
Let’s start with the good news about reform, which keeps coming in. First, there was the amazing come-from-behind surge in enrollments. Then there were a series of surveys — from Gallup, the Urban Institute, and RAND — all suggesting large gains in coverage. Taken individually, any one of these indicators might be dismissed as an outlier, but taken together they paint an unmistakable picture of major progress.
But wait: What about all the people who lost their policies thanks to Obamacare? The answer is that this looks more than ever like a relatively small issue hyped by right-wing propaganda. RAND finds that fewer than a million people who previously had individual insurance became uninsured — and many of those transitions, one guesses, had nothing to do with Obamacare. It’s worth noting that, so far, not one of the supposed horror stories touted in Koch-backed anti-reform advertisements has stood up to scrutiny, suggesting that real horror stories are rare.
It will be months before we have a full picture, but it’s clear that the number of uninsured Americans has already dropped significantly — not least in Mr. McConnell’s home state. It appears that around 40 percent of Kentucky’s uninsured population has already gained coverage, and we can expect a lot more people to sign up next year.
Republicans clearly have no idea how to respond to these developments. They can’t offer any real alternative to Obamacare, because you can’t achieve the good stuff in the Affordable Care Act, like coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, without also including the stuff they hate, the requirement that everyone buy insurance and the subsidies that make that requirement possible. Their political strategy has been to talk vaguely about replacing reform while waiting for its inevitable collapse. And what if reform doesn’t collapse? They have no idea what to do.
At the state level, however, Republican governors and legislators are still in a position to block the act’s expansion of Medicaid, denying health care to millions of vulnerable Americans. And they have seized that opportunity with gusto: Most Republican-controlled states, totaling half the nation, have rejected Medicaid expansion. And it shows. The number of uninsured Americans is dropping much faster in states accepting Medicaid expansion than in states rejecting it.
What’s amazing about this wave of rejection is that it appears to be motivated by pure spite. The federal government is prepared to pay for Medicaid expansion, so it would cost the states nothing, and would, in fact, provide an inflow of dollars. The health economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the principal architects of health reform — and normally a very mild-mannered guy — recently summed it up: The Medicaid-rejection states “are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its SEE ALL COMMENTS
And while supposed Obamacare horror stories keep on turning out to be false, it’s already quite easy to find examples of people who died because their states refused to expand Medicaid. According to one recent study, the death toll from Medicaid rejection is likely to run between 7,000 and 17,000 Americans each year.
But nobody expects to see a lot of prominent Republicans declaring that rejecting Medicaid expansion is wrong, that caring for Americans in need is more important than scoring political points against the Obama administration. As I said, there’s an extraordinary ugliness of spirit abroad in today’s America, which health reform has brought out into the open.
And that revelation, not reform itself — which is going pretty well — is the real Obamacare nightmare.
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Tizer » 19 Apr 2014, 10:17

Stanely, what's this mean in your above post? "The Medicaid-rejection states “are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its SEE ALL COMMENTS".
............................................................................................................................................................................
On a different topic...
Would you trust HMRC with the following plan? I wouldn't!
HMRC 'plans to share tax data with private firms'
Taxpayers' personal data could be shared with private firms under plans drawn up by Revenue & Customs (HMRC). If given the go-ahead it would allow HMRC to release anonymous tax data to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies. But former Conservative minister David Davis told the Guardian the plans were "borderline insane".
Mr Davis told the Guardian: "The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age. "Our forefathers put these checks and balances in place when the information was kept in cardboard files, and data was therefore difficult to appropriate and misuse. "It defies logic that we would remove those restraints at a time when data can be collected by the gigabyte, processed in milliseconds and transported around the world almost instantaneously." Emma Carr, deputy director of civil rights campaign group, Big Brother Watch, said: "The ongoing claims about anonymous data overlook the serious risks to privacy of individual level data being vulnerable to re-identification. "Given the huge uproar about similar plans for medical records, you would have hoped HMRC would have learned that trying to sneak plans like this under the radar is not the way to build trust or develop good policy."

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 20 Apr 2014, 03:19

Tiz, some states, due to their autonomy in the Federal system do not operate Medicaid (provision of drugs and services to the poor) and so they don't get the government subsidy to help pay for the service. The article was originally in the NY Times so the comments would be available. It was sent to me as an extract.
As for sharing tax data, the killer is the word 'anonymous'. No such thing these days. Why are they proposing doing it anyway, are they selling the data?
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 20 Apr 2014, 08:18

Remember we have a Tory government. Keep a eye on your Grandmother.

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Pluggy » 20 Apr 2014, 14:10

Stanley wrote:Why are they proposing doing it anyway, are they selling the data?
I can't see HMRC giving it away.
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Tripps » 20 Apr 2014, 17:00

plaques wrote:Remember we have a Tory government. Keep a eye on your Grandmother.
I thought it was a "Tory led" coalition. Looks like Mr Clegg's many claims that they have influenced policies have passed you by. :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 20 Apr 2014, 18:05

Tripps wrote:I thought it was a "Tory led" coalition. Looks like Mr Clegg's many claims that they have influenced policies have passed you by.
I've heard these rumours several times. The only trouble is that we will have to wait another 30 years before the cabinet papers come out to find if they're true.
Perhaps Mr Clegg will use his coalition influence to remind Mr Cameron about Julian Assange and Edward Snowden before HMRC starts collating data for outside use.

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 21 Apr 2014, 03:44

The only time that the coalition leans towards the Liberals is to hold the majority together. Mr Clegg is thrown a crumb occasionally to make it look as though he is influential but not in what the Tories see as 'important matters'. Many of the Liberal placemen have gone native.
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Tripps » 21 Apr 2014, 09:03

They were very shrewd to get the five year fixed parliament measure through.
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 22 Apr 2014, 05:22

Agreed David. They saw problems arising and even though the freedom to call an early election is a valuable asset to the party in power it was seen as better to lose that and lock the Coalition in place.
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 27 Apr 2014, 08:17

A NAIVE OCCASIONAL PAPER 27/04/14

TRADITION.

As I get older there are many aspects of the modern world that nag me and of course, most of them are simply because they are a consequence of change. That can't be avoided and all I can do is make sure that I don't allow the natural prejudices of old age to affect my judgement. I have applied that test and am sure that what follows has a basis in fact, not prejudice. (Not that this will protect me, I know I'm going to get into trouble!)
On a superficial level I am protesting against the use of 'traditional' in the marketing of goods, particularly food. What exactly is a 'traditional meat pie'? However it goes much deeper than this. Politicians in particular are very fond of citing 'traditional values' when what they actually mean is this is how we did it in the past and it's good enough for us now. Nowhere is this stronger than in dealings with the structure of the armed forces where it is said to bolster morale and enthuse serving soldiers, sailors and airmen. It also bolsters the establishments control and perpetuates levels of senior management and privilege which, as the forces shrink, are totally out of proportion to the tasks in hand. Take one example. The Royal Navy has at present 19 active warships but 260 captains and 40 admirals (Daily Mail report 18th October 2013). I am pretty sure the same imbalance could be found in both the Army and the Royal Air Force. Am I alone in thinking that some judicious pruning might save money and streamline the services?
However, to my mind this isn't the worst aspect of the use of 'tradition'. Too often it is used as a smokescreen for the protection of privilege. I shall step into a minefield here and the fact that I have to do so is one evidence of how pervasive and successful the use of tradition can be. When the monarchy was getting into serious trouble in the 19th century largely because of Queen Victoria retiring from public life after the death of Prince Albert a cottage industry sprang up reviving old traditions and inventing new ones to bolster the image of royalty. Largely sparked by Sir Walter Scott's successful Waverley novels Scotland was completely reinvented. Tartan, the kilt and the highland games were so heavily promoted that even to this day this is the overwhelming view of Scottishness outside Scotland (of course). The old queen had to be almost forced to come out of hiding to participate in the Golden Jubilee of 1887 which was completely invented and choreographed as a public pageant. The nearest we have got to this in modern times was the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon castle in 1969. True there was some historical precedent but the 1969 event was choreographed by Lord Snowdon and was a public pageant intended to reinforce the connection between the monarchy and tradition.
The past masters in any league table of users of tradition to promote a brand are the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Starting from the foundations of Judaism and belief in the veracity of the New Testament they have constructed frameworks and liturgy that do not bear close scrutiny if you take the trouble to read some basic theology. Far too big a subject to investigate thoroughly but there is no mention anywhere in scripture to support the 'traditions' of infant baptism, church weddings or funeral services. Worse still there is no mention of Purgatory, the intermediate stage between heaven and hell, which was such a lucrative money spinner for the church in Rome which sold indulgences allowing the faithful who were wealthy enough to by-pass this painful transition. The 'evidence' to support this concept was forged in French monasteries supported and financed by the Papacy. I'm sorry to say it but if you attempted to found an international industry on such concepts today you would immediately get into trouble with Trading Standards!
I think I've done enough damage! But at least anyone who reads this will know where I stand. Don't brand me straight away as a Republican or Atheist, I am, on the whole a supporter of history, tradition and faith as a basis for living. My beef is with what I see as manipulation and social control using spurious tradition. Every time you come up against it, think for yourselves, take the trouble to investigate the evidence and use this knowledge to construct your own world view. You will be following the oldest tradition of them all, examining the evidence and making up your own mind about the path forward.

SCG/27/04/14
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 27 Apr 2014, 08:43

Thanks to David for pointing out a typo!
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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by David Whipp » 27 Apr 2014, 08:47

Thanks Stanley.

I agree with the thrust of your post, but I have to confess my complicity in helping create (modern) traditions...

The role of Barnoldswick's Town Crier was invented relatively recently and I helped Allan Buck set up Barlick's Beating the Bounds walk and event.

Hopefully, these add colour to local life and are exempt from your critique!

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Tizer » 27 Apr 2014, 09:15

I wonder if Stanley's `Tradition' article was prompted by Ian Hislop's `Olden Days' series of TV programmes? There are strong parallels between the article and the programme in terms of the relatively recent creation, or revival, of `traditions', especially with respect to Scott, Waverley, Victoria etc. Well, it puts Hislop in good company! One of the other examples Hislop raised was Morris Dancing and I hadn't known previously about the lady who went to Flanders in WW1 and got recuperating wounded and traumatised soldiers to take up Morris Dancing as an aid to recovery. Judging by their praise and thanks it must have worked. She put it down to their having an innate feeling for such folk dancing even though most came from urban backgrounds but I think it more likely that they felt comfortable with the discipline, repeated movements, footwork etc which has much in common with parade ground training - even the carrying of sticks was like carrying a rifle.

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Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 27 Apr 2014, 18:33

Stanley wrote:Too often it is used as a smokescreen for the protection of privilege.
It used to be quite common to hear that something was against the British Constitution. People then rumbled the fact that there was no written Constitution just a collection of Parliamentary laws stating what you can’t do. Consequently, if there is no law against something then it is legal. Preventing someone from doing something which is legal is in itself illegal. This simple bit of logic is at times very embarrassing for people in power who would like to retain the status quo. Knowing that they are unlikely to be granted a new law through parliament to give them what they want the typical response is to say it’s against tradition. A totally irrelevant argument, as Stanley says “a smokescreen”. Now comes the fun bit. Where there is no obvious “tradition”, ie: it hasn’t been done before, the powers that be take themselves off into a back room and invent something that sounds plausibly like “tradition” and offers that as a reason for not changing.
All this has now been hit on the head by the introduction of “European Laws” and “The European Convention of Human Rights”. Suddenly, Joe Public is given access to challenge what is being passed down and to put it bluntly the establishment don’t like it. The rise of what I may call the far right parties, UKIP and BMP, all trumpet the same theme of keeping Jonny Foreigner out and keeping Britain for the British. A quick glance through Burke’s Peerage will give some idea of which section of the “British” population they are aiming at.

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