What Has Europe Ever Done For Me

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One thing that was a key campaign point during the general election was the question of The United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union. Now must people down my local haven’t got a clue what the EU is for and don’t have a clue what the EU does beyond straightening bananas. So here is a little bit of info that you can mull over before making a decision on referendum day.

  • The European Union is a socio-economic/ political union of 28 member states
  • The EU operates through a number of institutions and through intergovernmental decision making in order to form EU policy.
  • The institutions of the EU include the European commission, the European Parliament and the European Council, along with the Court of Justice of the European Union, The Council of the European Union and the European Central Bank
  • The EU operates a system of four freedoms, which mean the free movement of goods, services, money and European citizens between member states
  • EU policies seek to enact legislation in criminal justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development
  • The EU has a combined GDP of £12.5 trillion and is the biggest economy in the world.

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    Members of the European Union

Now that’s all lovely talking about GDP and movement of capital but what has the EU ever done for the bloke (or the bird) in the street.  Well:

  • Easy travel, no longer do I have to fanny about in customs or worry if I’ve got the right currency because 19 European countries all take euro’s. On top of that if I were to get sick with some foreign illness, I wouldn’t have to worry about a hefty hospital bill like I would if I were in the states.
  • Food labelling, thanks to being in the EU I now know exactly what is in my food, and then its up to me to make the decision about eating it.
  • Paid leave from work. Because of the EU working time directive every British worker is entitled to 4 weeks paid holiday and 11 hours rest in every 24 hours.
  • Equal pay between men and women all came from European legislation
  • A minimum wage, whilst Tony Blaire and his descendents will claim that they introduced the minimum wage, which is nominally true, it in fact stemmed from a European directive .

and on top of all that the EU also pumps millions of pounds into depressed areas in the UK , without which trying to get public funding for anything in the South Wales Valleys of the North of England would be next to impossible.

Proper Preparation and Planning…

Proper Preparation and Planning Prevent Piss Poor Performance. This sounds good in theory however when it comes to planning its sometimes better to say, balls to it, do what you want then accept the consequences when it’s done. This seems to be a lot of people’s attitude towards planning permission, the attitude of its easier to say sorry afterwards than ask permission before hand.  What I’m talking about is the granting of retroactive planning permission.

If you build without planning permission you are breaking the law. Fact. However 79% of all breaches of planning law are either ignored or given retroactive planning permission.  So councils have two choices, either force the building to be torn down or grant planning permission retroactively.

I don’t want to see anyone put out of their homes by a trivial bit of law, but the fact remains that the law is the law, and those that break it should not get off lightly. Now in this time of council cut backs this seems to be the perfect opportunity for local councils to refill their vastly depleting coffers.

For every breach of planning law the guilty party should be issued with a fine for breaking the law, a provision which is catered for under the local government act, then, rather than tear down their property the guilty party would have to pay an application fee for planning permission and a premium for a fast tracked decision, and should also face fines for any other breaches of law that they may have committed (tree protection orders etc).

The knock on effect this would have would be more revenue coming into local government hands. But it would also be an easy way for building projects to progress, as large developers may decide just to take the financial hit, but at the same time it may prove enough of a deterrent so that people start obeying the law…could go either way, but it’s a debate worth having.

Political Heavyweights Fight For Mayoral Title

My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of all ages, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE. It was yesterday announced that the Conservative Parties number one contender for the coveted title of Mayor of London has been selected. IN THE BLUE CORNER,  the current MP for Richmond Park,  the one the only Zac Goldsmith. And his opponent IN THE RED CORNER, the Member of Parliament for Tooting, Sadiq Kahn.

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Sadiq Kahn MP and Zac Goldsmith MP the two front runners for the next Mayor of London

Other candidates include Green Party Candidate Sian Berry, Caroline Pidgeon for the Liberal Democrat Party and Peter Whittle for UKIP. Other declared party candidates include the always controversial George Galloway the leader of the Respect Party, Lindsey Garret of Something New, Upkar Singh Rai of the National Liberal Party and Paul Golding of the fascist paramilitary group Britain First, have all declared as candidates as well as a slew of independents.

So when the polls open it looks like Londoners will have a real smorgasbord of candidates to choose from, but the sensible money will be on either Mr Goldsmith or Mr Kahn.  But with policies from airports to zoo’s being debated who wins, you decide.

Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Just a quick one today about Sunday trading and how these restrictions are the tool of Satan and should be repealed at once lest those in favour be burnt alive at the stake for crimes against humanity.

As you can guess I’m not a fan. You would think that at 5 o’clock on a Sunday evening, in 2015, that I would be able to walk to my nearest supermarket (approximately 70 yards) and get a loaf of bread (cake). Unfortunately Morrison’s was closed…so were ASDA’s, Sainsbury’s Lidl’s and Aldi (all of which are within a 5 minute walk from my house). Why is this?

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Now I understand the origins of Sunday trading hours stem from the UK’s Christian past, where you would be doomed to hell for all eternity for doing anything other than attending church on a Sunday. However 21st century Britain is by and large a secular society, and whilst religion is still a major part of many people’s lives it doesn’t hold the sway on everyday life that it once did (in spite of what the Daily Mail proclaims about Sharia Law corrupting the moral fabric of Britain). So I ask why, in a post Christian nation,  can I not buy a tin of beans in a supermarket at 4:05 PM on a Sunday?

I understand that for many businesses it may not be profitable to stay open on a Sunday and I even respect that sort of prudent business acumen, but surely a supermarket would see more business on a Sunday evening than at 3:30 on a Tuesday morning?

So would the government consider repealing this statute? At the moment it would be difficult to tell, as it would work well with the governments message of businesses taking care of their own affairs and the hand of government loosening its grip around how businesses operate, as state and private industry drift further away from each other, but on the other hand it does fly in the face of the conservative party narrative of old fashioned values, so it will probably be one of those things that people will just have to put up with for another couple of decades and either stock up on their bread and milk (cake and wine) on a Saturday or go without until Monday.

Guns Don’t Kill People Dickheads do

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Yesterday saw a tragedy take place in the United States. The 45th mass shooting of 2015, taking place at Umpqua Community College, which has now left nine dead (ten including the gunman himself) and a further seven injured.

I just want you to take a moment for that to sink in, the 45th mass shooting in under a year, in a so called civilised, first world country.  Now undoubtedly the gunman had some deep psychological problem, either treated or untreated, but the fact that this sort of person had access to a powerful firearm is astounding, this is why I’m glad things are different in the UK.

Chances are that in Britain, the only time anyone will ever encounter a gun is through the television, or at a major tourist attraction such as Buckingham Palace (where they are there for ceremonial purposes more than defensive). In Britain thanks to stringent firearms legislation fewer than 2.5% of all homicides were gun/firearm related in 2011 and by 2013 there were only 30 homicides caused by gun in England and Wales with fewer still in Scotland (5 in total). Statistics also show that since 2010 the number of gun related crimes in the United Kingdom has fallen year on year, thanks in no small part to our boys and girls on the thin blue line, the figures also show that in 2014 the number of gun deaths in the UK (homicide or accidental) is 21, which is less than 0.25% of the 8512 gun death victims in the US in the first 3 quarters of 2015.

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When it comes to America the use of guns is something of thorny issue with the pro gun lobby citing their constitutional right to bear arms and arguing that any new gun legislation is an erosion of their constitutional liberties (one of the many downsides to having a written constitution) and then of course the anti gun lobby citing every bit of butchery from Custer to Columbine as reason enough to tighten gun law, with a split congress and a beleaguered president caught in the middle.

hungerford massare

As an outsider it’s easy for me to say that they need to outlaw guns in the same way that Britain and Australia have, but I don’t know if it would work for America, as the US is a country with 50 different sets of laws at the state level and then federal law trying to keep a lid on that, but it’s this sort of thing that must make President Obama’s heart glow with the knowledge that an end is in sight for him, knowing that after January 20th this sort of thing is someone else’s problem.   But whoever President Obama’s replacement is they will certainly need to make headway into firearm reform its this sort of tragedy that should be the shot in the arm that America needs to wake up and see sense. In the UK after the Hungerford Massacre we got the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 making it illegal to own a semi automatic firearm, so what will America get after this its 45th gun spree of 2015.

American comedian Chris Rock said that American’s will never go for gun control, the best you could hope for is bullet control, put the price of bullets up so high that if someone winds up shot to death you know that they probably deserved it.

On that note I would like to pay my respects the victims’ families of this latest monstrosity.

*statistics courtesy of the Home Office and The White House*