Brexit Explained

We at Grumpy Old Men decided we should give the outside world an idea of why Britain voted to leave the E U.


We signed the papers to join the EU (which was called the Common Market) back in  1972 and we became official members on January 1st, 1973. Back then it consisted of France,Germany, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and ourselves Great Britain.  Our attempts to join were not straight forward or short. We had in fact applied to join back in 1961, but our attempt to join was vetoed by French President Charles de Gaulle. This was the same Charles de Gaulle the British had sheltered during the Second World War and helped to rebuild and equip his French army (who had also been also exiled to Britain).

Common Market 

The Common Market was supposed to be a free trade block that would give British exports easier access to European markets, which it did.

But gradually, the idea of  having a European parliament and an ever closer union began to take shape. Historically this diametrically opposed our fierce feelings of independence.  All through our time in the EU, most people could see the benefits, but also the growing negatives of membership.  


As the Common market enlarged and the move towards having a European Parliment, Germany and France exerted more and more influence on important decisions and the directions the EU moved in. European laws: the European (supreme) court began more and more to supersede the UK's own laws and wishes.  It seemed to many if France or Germany did not back an idea, then it did not move forward.


Belonging did not benefit the workers

If you look into the touted benefits of belonging to the EU most of them benefit businesses rather than the workers.

Many industries now have layers of new Health and Safety regulations, some are good but many are an example of bureaucracy gone mad.  To me, the litmus test the EU should be judged by is: are all of the people of the UK better off than before joining?  The answer is complex but in short, for most lower-paid workers, the answer is a resounding NO.

The free movement of people allowed British companies to hire people from the former Eastern block countries at lower wages, resulting in wages being kept low. Additionally, whenever the EU created laws to improve the working conditions many industries such as catering managed to lobby the European/British governments so they could opt out. In the last 30 years, protection of workers rights to sue for wrongful dismissal has diminished not grown.      Workers are often hired on much longer trial (probationary) periods than 30 years ago and can be dismissed without explanation.  Just like the rust belt of the USA,  whole swaths of the Midlands and Northern UK, heavy industry was allowed to go bust due to globalisation, but high paid jobs were replaced with low paid jobs.  

In 1999 a type of work grew up called zero hours contracts, it was touted as a way protect casual workers and their rights, to give them flexible working hours but in fact, it has had the opposite effect.  Large companies used it to cut their payroll costs, often calling in workers at the last minute to cover shifts, even making then clock out before they went through security checks after finishing work. Sports Direct have abused it to such an extent that the owner Mike Ashley was called in front of a parliamentary committee. Once again the EU didn't protect UK workers from this abuse, so from the point of view of a British worker what is the point of EU membership?


Some in Britain who wished to remain in Europe said that people who voted to leave were racists, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  In my lifetime, for the most part, the United Kingdom has grown and progressed into a multicultural and tolerant society.

The issue of Immigration was never about Polish people or others coming to the UK for a better life, we all understand the urge to improve and create a better life for ourselves and our families. But UK businesses used this to drive wages lower and keep them low. Another fundamental part of this thorny issue is services like Hospitals and medical facilities.  If you allow an extra 3.3 million people to live in the UK then the government needs to build more Hospitals rather than close some down.

Throughout history, immigration to any country can become a more difficult question during downturns in the economy such as the Financial crash of 2008.  Since the crash, the Tory government has chosen to tighten capital spending rather than build or renew infrastructure, despite interest rates being at a record low.

When other poorer countries have joined the EU, all of those countries use English as a second language so it is understandable this has fueled the desire to work in the UK, because from their point of view UK wages are higher than the wages in their own countries.  

The free movement of people to work and live within the EU has become a cornerstone of EU policy but frankly, it is one made without thought for the future.  Britain is half the size of France but has roughly the same size of population (64Mill UK) (66Mill Fr) so when France's population reaches 132million then perhaps it too might start to wish for immigration limits. 



UK citizens have had benefits of being able to work more easily in other EU countries, cheaper travel, easier travel (at least before 9/11).  Quite a few better off Brits have been able to buy second homes in France, Spain etc because of being members. Socially, I think it has been good up to a point of cultural integration and understanding.  It is argued that food prices have come down (in relative terms) due to our membership but since I can also buy many non-EU foodstuffs cheaper I think that is also down to globalisation. Often things in life have a balance and when that balance falls out of kilter it will cause a reaction.


The Shock

Many people, particularly in the southern wealthier part of the UK were shocked at the result of the referendum, and some continue to  be churlish about it like a petulant child.  European leaders were perhaps shocked even more so, never dreaming anyone would wish to leave the "club".  Perhaps if they had understood this they might have offered some meaningful concessions to keep the UK in the EU.


If you were to talk to most UK voters who wished to remain in the EU and ask them did they wish to be part of an integrated United States of Europe, most would say NO;  when pressed for an explanation of how we could achieve remaining in the EU and  avoid the move towards a federal state they never offer any suggestion of how this could be done?



I suspect in the end leaving will create a long needed debate between the remaining countries, as to the future direction of the EU and whether it should become a looser trading block or a federal United States of Europe.  I hope the divorce is done in a reasonable way, though I doubt it, after all, we are talking about politicians.


Keeping our sense of Humour or Humor 

Just to show we at Grumpy Old Men can lead by example and show we still have our sense of humour..........

During my recent trip to Austria, I visited a well known Schnapps and fine vinegar maker called Gölles. During our private guided tour (by the owner's son), I was shown a room full of oak barrels and told for some years that they had been making and maturing whisky. Rather than join the growing number of Austrian single malt whisky producers Gölles made 5 separate whiskies from corn, rye, barley, wheat and spelt and when mature blended them together. Deciding to go in a fundamentally different direction than the rest, what else could they call their Whiskey other than Brexit!

Brexit Whiskey.png

Tumbling on Tumblr and other Useless stuff

Tumblr garbage-disposal

As any blogger will tell you, getting your efforts read is harder than you think.

With ever increasing number of blogs worldwide that create an ever increasing number of blog posts per day, you can easily spend more time promoting your blog through social media sites than actually being creative.  Worse still is many of these so-called, must belong to sites, bring very little traffic (people) back to your blog. 

Instagram is a site that brings very little traffic.  I have 403 posts 847 followers but I'm lucky if I get one visitor a week, even though I include the URLs of any recipe and photograph in the post.  The biggest shortcoming of this site is it does not allow the user to add a live link to the post, I guess the money people figure they want to keep you on Instagram, not having you wondering off following interesting links.

This is short-sighted because it would add to the overall usefulness of Instagram and ensure it's long-term future if it was more connected to the rest of the Web.   Let's be frank, along with all the breathtaking pictures of vistas, photo-shopped buildings, stunning food or gorgeous models, there is an awful lot of rubbish.  All that said, it most certainly it can amuse and delight but bring people to your blog, no.

Facebook For a time it seemed lots of people couldn't live their lives without it and would share every minute detail with the world (whether the world wanted it or not).  I do get some traffic from sharing my blog posts on my own pages and with groups, I belong to, but it is only a tiny fraction compared to the number of likes and comments I get inside of Facebook, which of course does my blog no good at all.

Never the less compared to the rest Facebook is easy to use, easy to understand and keeps you in touch with people you care about and has even helped me find a few long lost friends.

Google+ The Jekyll and Hyde of social media. I guess google wanted to set up a rival social media platform but in its attempt to be different, at the moment, it is just not as good.  In fact, it is pretty damn hard to figure out.  Unlike Facebook, every time you share a post it makes a replica on your own google+ page, so you can end up with numerous copies cluttering up your home page.  It is hard to fathom how a company worth billions can not come up with a better, easier to use design....Go figure???? Though I must definitely add google+ is extremely good at getting your work seen.  Many of my google+ posts are on google page one results, though don't ask me exactly how I did it?

Tumblr For a long time I have had this love hate relationship with Tumblr.

On the one hand, my Tumblr account ranks third in my google page 1 results when I type in Chef Kevin Ashton and in China, it ranks even higher by being second.

So for the last year sporadically, I have tried to share many of my recipes with my Tumblr account. But so far most of my very attractive recipes have not even gotten 1 note (the Tumblr equivalent of a like).  Indeed although many of my posts are tagged according to their own recommendations they don't even show up in Tumblr search results.  I've always had the feeling that renegade Tumblr was poorly organised and had built its name on porn and other fringe elements. But today Tumblr has a much broader type of user and content but unfortunately the inner workings of this platform is still an incomprehensible jumble.  The bottom line is if you can't get your posts seen in Tumblr search results then there is no chance of broadening your audience.

Determined to improve the visibility of my posts I wrote several weeks ago to Tumblr support, spending the time to explain and give examples of what I was talking about.

Their first and second response were about as lazy a piece of support as I have ever experienced from any internet company, anywhere in the world.  They just directed me to links telling me stuff I had already read.  Not to be so easily put off I used my LinkedIn account to locate someone further up the chain of command and pleaded my case again... twice in fact and in essence he did the same thing, just offered suggested links, one of which was partially out of date.  :) 

No one actually went and took a look at my account, that would take too much effort. So the other day I was sent one of those automatic feedback forms from Tumblr so I let them have it with both barrels, telling them their support was as good as a torn jock strap.

Around three years ago Tumblr got bought up by Yahoo for  $1.1 billion dollars in cash, but despite this Yahoo couldn't figure out how to improve it and start making serious money. So much so that two years later Yahoo admitted that the $1.1 billion was mostly a waste of money.  Founder David Karp, who is now CEO I suspect has mixed feelings about how things have turned out. On the one hand he's set for life with a fortune estimated at $200 million , but on the other hand,  "he's sold out to the man" or woman perhaps in this case.    Either way, lots of people grumble about the quirkiness of Tumblr and unless Mr Karp can find a way to make his baby less dysfunctional, the writing is on the wall.

Several years on, Yahoo, now a failing giant got bought by Verizon the largest telecommunication company in the US.   Perhaps a final irony for Yahoo, is it behaved towards some of  Tumblr's sales staff like the dictionary definition of its name,  "An unrefined and often loud or disruptive person".

The question now is does Verizon have the know how to  make Tumblr work, or it will continue to become less relevant as a social media platform and continue Tumbling towards the exit door?

©Kevin Ashton 2016


Mommies Boys (modern day footballers)

Jack Grealish Impressions

"Overpriced, overpaid with egos as fragile as an eggshell!" Are the typical comments you hear more and more about today's footballers. Why is it when a football team does badly repeatedly, the manager is the one who loses his job?

Back in the real world.........when most people perform consistently badly in their job, they are the ones who get fired.

For my own sins, I've been a lifelong Aston Villa fan supporting my team through thick and thin since the early 1970's.   Early on in this love affair the team dropped into the old Third Division (now called Division 1), and eventually climbed two divisions back to the top.  But in the last 25 years, as the player's wages have soared they seemed to have totally lost touch with the sacrifices ordinary people make to support their team.

Supporters are no longer willing to keep paying ever higher prices to watch their team play without passion or effort.  For some reason, players simply don't see the correlation between their rising wages and the raised expectations of fans, nor the shrinking patience when players seemingly don't give maximum effort.

Aston Villa Football club are a prime example of what is wrong, desperately wrong, with the modern game.  For all the millions that have been spent by the past owner and now the current one, it is still down to the efforts, skills, fitness and commitment of the eleven players on the pitch.  Back in the seventies when Villa was down in Division 1 (for two seasons) the team often played in front of 30,000 plus crowds because they were exciting to watch and never gave up.  The old wooden stands made a thunderous sound with stamping feet and equally, the cheering, chanting and applause matched the heroic effort of the team.  Walking back to the bus stop with a hoarse throat as we reminisced the highlights of the game.

For all the money sloshing around in the game, why are so many top prospects not instructed how to behave on the pitch, in public and to appreciate the special position in society they are given?   Instead, like a bad joke stuck in a repeating loop the acts of stupidity, greed, lack of self-control, poor choice of friends are constantly played out in public.  Where are the Academies in all of this? Where are the football authorities clamping down on disrepute brought to a game we gave the world?

Is it beyond the wit of man to teach these kids that the price of fame and success is to learn self-control, not just for the benefit of the clubs but to help prolong their short careers. In recent years my own team has suffered from more than its share of players never reaching their potential, often running out of chances and career before they grow up.

Tenerife Grief

Touted by many in the game to have tremendous talent, Jack Grealish has shown flashes of that talent for both Aston Villa and recently for the England under 21's. But even more memorable is his loutish, out of control, laddish behaviour.  This lack of self-control has already gotten young Mr Grealish into trouble both on and off  the field; but so far no amount of telling off's, fines, or being made to train with the reserves has managed to change this young man's ways.  For the moment, his repetitive bad behaviour is forgiven as long as he still shows such exciting potential. So will he reach that potential, or continue to be an accident waiting to happen? Jack joined Aston Villa at the age of six, so why hasn't anyone at the club taught him that part of being a professional footballer is good behaviour?

  Super sized Gabby

MacDonald's Man-Flabby Agbonlahor

But Jack Grealish is not on his own when it comes to badly behaved current Villa players. It was local gossip that Gabby Agbonlahor's car could always be seen in the car park at MacDonald's, no wonder he has constantly battled with weight problems. And when he is not scoffing burgers down, he is getting another woman pregnant!

Another product of Aston Villa's Acadamy, Gabby was touted as a future legend but instead of working hard, improving and flourishing after getting the call up from England, he has frittered his talent away. Now when he should be in his prime at the age of 29 he is in danger of being released. And just like many other footballers in the modern era, he is in denial about who is responsible.

This current plague is not just a problem for Villa's homegrown talent, sometimes buying a "star player" can bring the same results

Stan the Man

Stan the Man

Ex-Villa Player Stanley Collymore who now hosts a popular football call-in program has several times torn into the current Villa team (this year's and last) for their lack of effort and lack of loyalty to the club.  All of the accusations Stan makes are valid ones, but Stan has a short memory because his own career at Aston Villa was filled with his: lack of effort, egotistical behaviour, and only 7 goals in 47 games as a striker!

He too showed stunning potential earlier in his career by scoring 41 goals in 65 games for Nottingham Forest , which got him a transfer to the big time with Liverpool.  But after several mediocre, seasons they sold him to Villa.  This should have been his dream move after all Villa were the team he supported as a boy, but he has never worked hard enough to get past his demons to become the legend he had the potential to be.


The Enablers 

The success of the Premier League and all the money pumped into the game by Sky has glossed over these problems but they are not going away.   TV Pundits, Sky executives and the media all seem to forget where most of the money for the mega TV contracts comes   Not just Sky Sports subscribers, but all Sky subscribers (because they spread their cost), and now, of course, BT subscribers too.  Millions of ordinary people, with ordinary wages paying to keep this narcissistic bunch of wastrels in the style they have become accustomed to. The problem of bad boy footballers was around long before the formation of the Premier League and Sky TV, but the huge injection of cash into the game has definitely exacerbated and fuelled it.  It used to be that established, successful footballers would from time to time behave badly, but now the situation has moved on to where the starlets of the game are misbehaving before their career gets going.

This problem is not just with Aston Villa, other teams have their share of bad boys who constantly bite the hand that feeds them.  Yes, there are many decent, hard working footballers who do respect the privileged position they are in. And since they rub elbows with the bad boys at the training ground I wish they would tell these silly Mommies Boys to grow up.

Blogarama-Kings of Plagiarism


Blogarama logo

It seems as the internet gets bigger so does the theft.  People think they can post your articles, recipes and photographs (as if they are the author) without getting caught.  In recent weeks I have spent far, far too long defending my stuff from thieves. Every time, I have done so I have been successful but it is stressful and time-consuming when I would rather spend my time being creative.

The biggest plum of them all without a shadow of a doubt is a site called

I recently discovered that had imported a feed from my food blog without my permission, they had even created a page Chef Kevin Ashton  (which you can see below) giving the impression I have done this myself. 

Blogarama page

Worse still if you look closely Blogarama invite me to claim my own blog???

They claim that taking my RSS feed is driving traffic to my food blog, but that is simply not the case.

Although Blogarama did link the stolen content back to my blog, because they posted the whole of each post there was no need

for readers to leave Blogarama and go to my blog. And my content along with the content of 1000's of other blogs create a site that can sell Advertisements.

I belong to a similar site called BlogCatalog, but BlogCatalog does not take your RSS feed without permission.

Blogarama did not use to be the rogue site it is today, but falling traffic and then a change of ownership they now seem to be prepared to whatever it takes to raise their traffic level and thus earning potential. 

After I sent them several emails, threatening legal action, they put a block on the content, however, this does not stop the links showing up in google results with still labelled ON MY PICTURES
So far I have 26 different screen shots showing their theft and I have posted just a small selection to show you what I mean.

Copyright theft by Blogarama 11

Copyright theft by Blogarama 6

Copyright theft by Blogarama 21

In this process, I have also come across numerous similar complaints by other bloggers saying they too had the copyright breached. If you are a blogger, I strongly and I mean strongly, suggest you google your name together with Blogarama to see if you are also a victim of this mass fraud, here are just two examples. The first is to an article complaining about Blogarama breaching their copyright.

The second example is from a blogger seeking advice on Reddit and complaining how Blogarama had not only reproduced their blog content (without permission) they wanted to charge them $9 a month for the theft!!!! please take a close look for yourself.

Reddit Blogarama


 Google, Facebook and Microsoft 
The heavyweights on the internet like google should and could do more to help protect the creative work of others. Whilst this breach of my copyright is not google's fault, it does indirectly make a lot of money from the content posted on the internet; it would show good leadership if google, Microsoft and facebook found a way to make this kind of theft harder to do and harder to get away with. As the internet continues to grow so will crime until the principle players defend the content the Web is built on. Even reporting a breach of copyright is a daunting task filled with gobbledygook that dissuades many casual bloggers from fighting back.

All over the internet, there are people willing to take your creative work, change a few words and call it their own, it is time to stop them. 

Update: Taking a person's RSS feed without permission and then charging them $9 a month to direct traffic back to them is Extortion and I strongly recommend all Blogarama members to file a complaint with the FBI (regardless of your nationality) at this address 

Not only do Blogarama hide who owns them using a company called WHOISGUARD, INC. who are based in Panama, they also hide where the site is hosted. They use a network service called CloudFlare. But you can fill in an abuse form and they will reveal who hosts Blogarama.

©Kevin Ashton 2016


Taking A Dive

Sepp-Blatter story 

Taking  A Dive

I had this article almost complete just needed a little more back story and then..................... 

 Out of blue (or so it seems at the moment) Blatter ups and resigns.

The Houdini of FIFA

I cannot think of anyone , be it a politician, despot leader, religious zealot, president or  megalomaniac  who in my lifetime has faced down his foes and beaten them all soundly time and again.

 Joseph S. Blatter, commonly known as Sepp Blatter has once again shown the world he is the greatest escape artist since Harry Houdini.  

Time and time again football rivals, political leaders, ex-professional  footballers have all tried to get rid of him and yet he still survives.  I would venture to suggest that most of his time now must be spent shredding old files to prevent the trail leading back to him.

Over the 16-17 years of his leadership of Fifa, no other sporting authority has had more scandals.

But someone, maybe one of his three former wives should have told him to quit while he is ahead and at least admired in parts of Africa and Asia.  I predict this will all end in tears for the beautiful game and for Mr Blatter.

Thankfully now, EUFA doesn't need to choose the nuclear option for the sake of the game and withdraw from the 2018 World Cup.  But what comes next?  A clearout, prosecution  of the FIFA officials involved of course but should we call for the bidding process  to be re-run?

Krazy Ivansmall
Vladimir Putin, Time Magazine, 2008

Putin the boot in

Of course, if we did, Qatar would probably find a way to hike back up the oil prices, and hold the remaining foreign builder's hostage and threaten not to pay them (oh hang on a minute...they already do that).

And then there is everyone's loveable macho man President Putin or Krazy Ivan as I prefer to call him.  If the 2018 bidding process was re-run then don't be surprised if Putin marches tanks and troops into FIFA headquarters and declare that FIFA is now a part of the Russian motherland and start kicking out foreigners. I know this sounds like wild speculation on the part of the press, but who would have thought just 24 hours ago that Blatter would take a dive?  


Can the FBI save us?

I guess even more hope is now piled onto FBI to save us and find evidence that leads to the very top and clearly shows the 2018 and 2022 bids were bought.  In the meantime, if I was Blatter I wouldn't accept any invitations to take Afternoon Tea  with anyone from the Russian FA.


And now for something completely different

Just like the Monty Python name, don't expect an organisation so corrupt as FIFA to become squeaky clean after Blatter, too many people will think it is" business as usual"

Just like the cronies and despots of the UK banking world, they will continue to feed at the trough of corruption until the world collectively says no, and enough people go to jail.

Just like Jimmy Saville, Blatter for the longest time must have been convinced that he was untouchable.  If only someone had set the FBI on Saville 15 years ago whilst the so-called UK great and the good turned a blind eye. 


Job prospects for Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson Dinosaur

By now half the world has heard of Jeremy Clarkson's "Dustup over food", or at least he hopes you have and he would just like to take this opportunity to encourage millions more to sign his petition because he has run out of fake names to sign the petition.

It's a sad state of affairs when an out of control egomaniac is supported by the British Prime Minster.  Whereas  ordinary  workers up and down the UK would have been fired 4-5 gaffs ago.

I find it even stranger that other celebrities are lining up to defend this idiot, does that mean they agree with his views?

BBC, hopefully, will show some moral backbone and fire Clarkson and you know what ....The world and TV will still go on.

Trying to get ahead of the rest of the media, I thought I do some brainstorming about possible jobs Jeremy could try his hand at.


Jobs that might suit Jeremy Clarkson 

Write a Children's book -entitled  Tales of The Inflated Dinosaur

Jeremy could go into primary schools in costume tell adventure stories about Ego the dinosaur

Food critic for the Birmingham Post- a chance to rebuilt bridges after slating Birmingham on several occasions . 

UKIP candidate -a chance to espouse his  racist, homophobic, anti-Asian views  and get paid a lot less for it.

Anger Management Councillor-specialising in helping public figures confront their demons.

Public Relations Lobbyist -for Twyford toilets after bolting a toilet to a car whilst filming in India.After all, they have over 160 years experience of dealing with crap.

Hey You Brits--Get off your Arse and Do your Duty!!!

Roundneck_black_template copy

Let me start by saying there is not one politician I would wish to stake my life on, but even so, there are differences, though those differences seem to narrow with time or advice from their media savvy handlers.

Which one of these dunderheads' would you prefer in 10 Downing Street?

If you're an investment banker you'd probably say Tories, if you live next to a potential fracking site you will probably say Greens, If you believe Nick can keep a promise, this time, you will probably say Lib Dems, or if you feel all our problems can be laid at the door of the EU you will probably say UKIP and you believe that Labour is well meaning but sometimes inept you will probably vote Labour.

First Thing

If there is anything worse that a lying, dishonest politician who is either corrupt or just inept is a voter who doesn't vote.  And I think it is time we shone a light on this segment of the British population who's lack of civic responsibility and has helped keep these boneheads in a job.  They reckon that in the last General Election 9Million eligible voters didn't Vote.

So 9million voters had it in their hands to change the result drastically but chose instead to stay home at watch TV.


I must say as an Englishman not very familiar with the logo of the SNP, when I see it with its yellow ribbon I think of "snip" and the vasectomy my ex-wife was always trying to talk me into.


Founded for the working class by the working class but these days that term seems to be a dirty word since they've been highjacked by the Oxbridge set of do-gooders that are not really working class and probably have no more idea of the cost of a bottle of milk than the Tories.


I can't help but laugh when I hear their name Con-serve-ative . They don't conserve anything if they can make a profit (sell a forest off here, or national assets off there or declare that fracking will be good for the country....but if we are honest we know, surely to god we know they only serve their own interests. And some would say they definitely live up to the first 3 letters of their name CON.


Well after being the virginal bridesmaid for donkey's years they finally got into bed with one of the heavyweights and it seems to me they got a right old shafting, with not-so-much as a thank you or a tip left on the dressing table.


One thing they do have right is whatever the makeup of the next government we need to stop the flood of low paid eastern European workers. This flood seems to be really pushing our services like health and housing to the limit (at a time the toffs are cutting budgets and services). 

This is nothing to do with race but it is to do with the fact we are smaller than Germany or France.  Surely in the future, they too may wish to kerb their influx of EU workers, by which time the UK could be standing room only.  I lived for 2 very happy years on the island of Bermuda, any expat living there for more than 10 years was put into an exit lottery , to try and keep the population down.  No one called them racists for dealing with the facts.


The UK greens are run passionately by an Australian called Natalie Bennett, who had a bit of a brain freeze the other day on live radio.  Strangely enough, it takes an Ozzie woman to fight for the left centre ground once proudly held by Labour.  She espouses many views which are close to my heart like re-nationalise the railways which have become too expensive compared to most other European countries, and yet we the taxpayers are still subsidising.   Or fighting against fracking which seems set only to benefit investors at the expense of climate control. If the unions ever switch their financial support to the Greens this could fundamentally change the political landscape and even mark the beginning of the end for the Labour party.  The question is, does voting for the Greens let in the Tories?


In some respect, George Galloway seems like a very reasonable peace loving man.  But if you are going to name your party Respect then perhaps he should lose the wacky behaviour, wearing spandex onesies and going on reality shows to raise his profile.

Official Monster Raving Loony Party

There may be young readers who think I made this party up, but no it is an official political party.

Formed in 1983 by the late musician David Sutch (1940–1999), better known as "Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow" .   The party is notable for its deliberately bizarre policies and it effectively exists to satirise British politics but they do fund a few candidates for each election.

Two others were important in the formation of the OMRLP. John Desmond Dougrez-Lewis stood at the Crosby by-election of 1981 (won by the Social Democratic Party's co-founder Shirley Williams). Dougrez-Lewis stood at the by-election as Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel, taken from the Election Night Special Monty Python sketch.

The second important pioneer was Commander Bill Boaks, a retired World War II hero who took part in sinking the Bismarck. Boaks had campaigned and stood for election for over thirty years on limited funds, always on the issue of road safety. Boaks proved influential on Sutch's direction as the leading anti-politician: "It's the ones who don't vote you really want because they're the ones who think".

No excuses Just Vote 

So even if you chose to vote for them...get your butt off the sofa and VOTE, after all, they can't be any worse than the other lot!  Otherwise, somebody will probably pass a law (like Australia has) making it illegal to not vote and even fines their sofa bound citizens.


Mark Garnier, another Arrogant Tory Unmasked!


All my life I have wondered how the Tories ever get elected, in my mother's youth employers would demand their employees vote Conservative or lose their jobs.  Even the recent Cambridge educated Labour politicians seem to be embarrassed about their roots.  Must we always forget the lessons of the past?

My local MP Mark Garnier was caught in a recording, saying a stronger offering should be given to Conservative supporters. “We need to be giving a much clearer message to them that they don’t have to worry about politicians mucking around with tax rates in order to try and attract a few dog-end voters in the outlying regions of the country.”

 Here is a link to the full story

Garnier was born in London in 1963. He was educated at Charterhouse School. In 1981 he joined the London Stock Exchange as a junior clerk on the Gilts Markets. In 1986 he left to join a succession of investment banks, working in the Far East Equity markets. His occupation prior to becoming an MP was a Fund Manager. He set up his own investment company from 1999. But for all of his top-flight education and making lots of money as an Investment Banker, it seems that humility and valuing all the voters is something he has failed to learn.

Once again, the arrogance of this current unpleasant batch of Conservative MP's seems to know no limits.

Garnier's gaffe follows hot on the heels of Former Cabinet Minister, David Mellor, who was questioned by police after claims he launched into a racist rant at a security guard.


The former Conservative MP, who is now a broadcaster, was accused of swearing at a Polish worker outside his house in east London, before getting into a row with the man’s Nepalese boss over the phone.

It was claimed the barrister launched a torrent of abuse at the pair after accusing a security guard of failing to do his job properly.

Mr Mellor was accused of criticising the men’s English, an allegation that he is understood to have strongly denied.

Mr Mellor, 65, who last week was forced to apologise after a recording emerged of him abusing a cab driver in London, was questioned by police earlier this year on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence, but no further action was taken.

Of course then there is the story of Plebgate which resurfaced in the last few days when former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell lost his high court libel case when the judge came to the conclusion it was highly likely that Mr Mitchel called the police officer "a fucking pleb" when the officer told him he could not cycle through the main gate at Downing Street.

More Tory Gaffs

In 2011, Liam Fox resigned after details of his friendship with lobbyist Adam Werrity became public. Fox allowed Werrity to live rent-free in his taxpayer-funded London flat, while questions were raised about Werrity’s defence-based business interests, telling people he was an advisor to Fox and making introductions to the minister.

Similarly, Conservative party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas was forced to quit in 2012 after offering access to the PM in exchange for a £250,000 donation to the party.

In 2010, it was discovered his former parliamentary assistant had been given a civil service job. The assistant was the daughter of a Conservative life peer who had also been the director of Hunt’s company.

·         In 2010, he apologised after suggesting hooliganism was to blame for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

·         In 2012, it was revealed he was a tax avoider (something Cameron said he would not tolerate) after dodging more than £100,000 in tax in a property deal.

·         Again in 2012, close links were discovered between his office and Rupert Murdoch’s company News Corporation. Hunt, at the time, was handling the company’s bid to take over BSkyB. It was found Hunt and his advisors had communicated sensitive information to Murdoch.

The Tories aren't the only political party with bad and egotistical memebers but this current bunch leave many appalled at their unbridled arrogance and attitude that it is their birthright to rule the unwashed masses.  This has come about in part by the shrinking number of UK citizens who turn out to vote which was 65.1% at the last General Election in 2010.

On A Personal Note

Several years ago by default, I ended co-ordinating the handing in of a petition to Mark Garnier that was organised by 38degrees. On the day about 12 people from all walks of life and all political persuasions turned up to help hand in the petition.  On seeing such a large group in Mr Gardier's suite of offices he refused to meet with all of us (obviously blue rinse tory supporters amongst our throng were menacing).

After his refusal, he negotiated through me and I went back and forth and then he accused me of being a rabble-rouser because I felt we all had a right to speak with our local member of parliament.

It's okay to be pro-business but that doesn't have to be at the expensive of ordinary law-abiding people.

Labour, has so many times been wrongly accused of causing our huge deficit but the real cause of this financial mess are the reckless bankers who brought down the banks and caused the then Labour government to bale out the banks.  The only two things Labour should hold their heads in shame about is the fact they didn't tighten up the banking regulations (to pre Maggie Thatcher levels) and that they didn't bring the police in to investigate and prosecute the cowboy bankers, as did the US government where some bankers went to jail for years!

And it is because of this "letting them off the hook" that the banking world continued with their business as usual so we ended up with PPI, Libor and currency rigging which has cost the banks and ultimately us Billions.


Airbrushing British History-The Thatcher Legacy


I don’t normally criticise the dead and this post is much toned down than it started out,never the less too many people in powerful places are trying to AIR BRUSH Margaret Thatcher’s leadership into something it will never be…..Great.

Margaret Thatcher’s Judgement

She was not a great leader because she showed no compassion towards her enemies.   She was not a great parent because look how badly her kids turned out (even for all of their advantages).

She was not a great and astute thinker because her track record is littered with examples such as calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist or supporting General Pinochet the Chilean Fascist Dictator.

Or supporting the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot even though this despotic regime went on to murder  1 million of its own people.  Or perhaps her supporters would call her astute for removing the Naval vessel that guarded the Falklands prior to the invasion to save money?

Ding Dong 

Even in death she has split a nation and reminded us how wide the gulf has become between the Haves and the Have not’s.    And before someone accuses me of jealousy…. I mean Those that  “Have” a moral conscience and those that “Have” not!!


The Funeral Costs

How come the Queen of Privatisation couldn’t arrange free enterprise to pay for her funeral? 

After all, surely a private company could do it more efficiently? Not to mention more cost effective.    

Worse than the wasting of £10 million pounds of public money and the unnecessary recalling of parliament is the continuing Airbrushing of history.  Making Mrs Thatcher out to be some kind of moral hero of Great Britain when she was anything but…..



The Tories often tout how wonderful companies become after being privatised, but under closer scrutiny are they?

School Dinners - She helped give birth to the Turkey Twizzler by her education act 1980 which made it possible to sell off school dinner contracts and remove a law protecting the nutritional value of school dinners that dated back to 1905. This brought about the sell-off of catering contracts, the firing of many dinner ladies to lower costs, the use of more, junk ingredients, the introduction of vending machines and the junk food sold from them and was one of the tenets along with the advent fast food restaurants and the invention of the "kiddie menu" which help fuel the obesity crisis in the UK we are still fighting today.


British Coal – Destroyed an industry in areas of the UK without offering any alternative for thousands of workers.

Railways- Many of these national assets were sold off cheaply particularly the railways.  And now the UK rail network is back to its dislocated state it suffered during the Second World War.  So if you want to make a journey from say Kidderminster to Bodmin Parkway in Cornwall it involves a lot of changes and waiting. But are rail fares any cheaper? Are the trains cleaner and do they now run mostly on time, absolutely not but they are still subsidised by the British taxpayer and the cost of rail travel is the highest in Europe. 

North Sea Oil- When she sold off the North Sea oil fields the British public were told it would benefit us all, but I only see the benefit to the shareholders.

Utilities-When she sold off the gas companies, water and electric companies who has benefitted the most shareholders or taxpayers?  In relative terms would your bills have risen this steeply? If there were no Millionaire bosses or mis-selling (and subsequent fines) to pay for?

 Loosening of regulations

Banks-Perhaps Mrs Thatcher’s crowning glory was to deregulate the financial industry and set them on the path to their excesses, thievery and mis-selling which put us all in Hock for years!!! The financial crash of 2008 could not have happened without Margaret Thatcher.


Insurance Industry

Let’s not forget before the bank fiasco her loosening of regulations helped all kinds of mis-selling sprout up in the Insurance industry. Again we the gullible were told lighter regulation would mean cheaper insurance. Even today in 2013 and beyond the mis-selling scandals continue to pay out millions, which of course raises the cost of insurance.

Maggie and the Press

She invited Rupert Murdock to buy up some of the failing British Newspapers and look how that turned out.

During her premiership, Thatcher had the second-lowest average approval rating, at 40 percent, of any post-war Prime Minister. At yet the government is honouring her akin to Winston Churchhill.

Let us not forget

Husband Denis bought the waste disposal company Industrial Waste Service who did business with the American Mafia according to the documentary aired on British Television Channel 4 in July 1989.,640808

At the time the story got more coverage in the USA and it is rumoured it took the intervention of President Reagan to save Denis from further embarrassing revelations. Funny how it seems almost impossible to google the details (because they’ve been airbrushed).


Like Father Like Son?

In 1998 South African authorities investigated a company owned by Mark Thatcher for allegedly running loan shark operations. According to the Star of Johannesburg', the company had offered unofficial small loans to hundreds of police officers, military personnel and civil servants and then pursued them with debt collectors.   He claimed that officers had defrauded him and charges were dropped.  It was also suggested that he had profited from contracts to supply aviation fuel in various African countries. In 2004 he was arrested in South Africa in connection with the 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt), and pleaded guilty in January 2005 to breaking anti-mercenary legislation.   At the time the Sunday Times suggested that he had personal assets of £60 million, most of which was in offshore accounts.

For his role in an attempted coup, he was fined R3,000,000 rand (approximately £313,000 or $500,000) and received a four-year suspended jail sentence.

Following his guilty plea he left South Africa and lived in Monaco for one year on a temporary residency permit; this was not renewed as Sir Mark was said to be on a list of 'undesirables' who would not be allowed further residency and he was required to leave by mid-2006.   His wife and children moved back to the USA, but he was refused an entry visa due to his conviction in South Africa. Do children learn this from loving, normal, decent and moral parents?

 The Delusions of later life

Margaret Thatcher awarded herself the hereditary title of Baroness which was extremely unusual. By now deluded by her own power and spoke just like Queen Elizabeth does using the royal “WE”   “we are now a grandmother” as if she was royalty.   But unlike the royal family she had spent a lot of her leadership serving her toff friends rather than the country as a whole.


Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead

So should we mourn her passing?..............Absolutely not.

Should we denounce the greedy sinners her policies encouraged absolutely YES!!!!

But unfortunately, there is still greed and arrogance aplenty in the leadership of our country.  

As for Tony Blair, he should be kicked out of the Labour party for speaking recently kindly about a woman who should have been his nemesis if he wasn’t so much of a Maggie Thatcher Wannabe,

I can't wait until someone suggests Tony should be made up to hereditary Baron Blair on the New Years honours list.

Another article worth reading


The Weight of a Nation

Wales from England
Although dating is not the most pressing issue in my life, I would like to have a meaningful long-term relationship.   But therein lies the rub, or should I say the sub?

It seems that in the last ten or fifteen years a large proportion of British females have become overweight, many actually morbidly obese.  The chances are that if I date someone from my own age group..... she will be overweight, have a few (now) wrinkly tattoos and hate men due to past experiences. (shudder)


Pregnant Pause?

Almost one in five pregnant women in the UK is clinically obese. Some health authorities have given up on the birthing pool and hired the swimming baths.  Many new mums never lose that excess weight and afterwards their bad examples of living off junk food is passed onto their kids.


Empty Calories

Soda…….a tin of coke has 17 teaspoons of sugar plus all the alcopops drunk by our teenage women.

It was reported in 2011 that UK women are more likely than men to weigh over 30st (which is 420lb for my American readers) a study says.  The shock statistic emerged as our women were revealed to be the fattest in any major nation across western Europe.  The average British female has ballooned since 1980. Experts have blamed ready meals, takeaways and driving instead of walking.  Average body mass index, a fat measurement based on height and weight, is 26.9.This is classed as seriously overweight and well above women in Italy, France and Greece.


De Nile is A Big Fat River

Rather than face the health threat reality of their situation overweight mommas have begun using terms like… Big and Beautiful, Curvacious, Curvy, Thick, Ample to describe themselves on dating sites.   Often on their profile, they will complain that their last boyfriend lost interest in them (sob)…..I can’t imagine why, can you?   Some of these self-indulgent gluttons have gone so far as to call some of my slim female friends “anorexic bitches”.


UK men should shoulder a large portion of the Blame

Mostly, men want a quiet life and therefore don’t turn around to their wives or girlfriends and threaten to withhold sex unless their loved ones lose weight.    Let’s face it from a blokes point of view free sex is still free sex even if you have to think of say “Goal of the Month”  at the critical moment.

The War for hearts and minds
The obesity rate in England has doubled since 1980, but some people like Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver continue the fight knowing eating habits are formed in childhood.  His 2004 initiative to bring smart eating and cooking instruction to schools has helped improve childhood obesity rates, James said, though adult stats remain stubbornly high. There are some success stories in some schools.  A recent survey showed that 19 percent of boys and 20 percent of girls ate at least five daily portions of fruit and vegetables in 2008, compared to 10 and 13 percent just four years earlier.

Gold digga

The evil Triumvirate of the 80's

From a historical point of view, the UK problems with obesity took off in the 80's because of 3 factors.  First Margaret Thatcher changed a law which stated that school meals needed to meet a minimum nutritional standard.  She did this in the 1980 education act to make the sell-off of school dinners possible and the result was school kitchen staffs were slashed (fired) as more convenience foods such as Turkey Twizzlers were brought in.  Some schools in their wisdom (not) completely threw away their in-house kitchens and got their school meals brought in (yum!). 

Secondly, about the same time fast food chains like McDonalds and others came flooding into the UK.  In response, many UK restaurants and hotels (even nice ones) felt compelled to fight fast food food ! So the kiddie menu was born and I then witnessed parents eating wonderful fresh foods but demanding chicken nuggets (chemicals and all) for their blessed offspring?    

The third part of this evil plan was well meant...I think?   Someone in the current Tory government decided to end the teaching of Domestic science in schools, instead it was replaced with Food technology (an evil concoction of Technical drawing, food manufacturing and ??)   The intention was I think to show working class people that UK schools had moved into the age of technology, but ask anyone who took the subject what did they learn and they will tell you they learned how to make a pizza box but not the pizza. Now for those who don't know Domestic science was the teaching of basic cooking skills which had many benefits, particularly if you came from a family who didn't cook ....this was a chance to break that cycle.  To teach children the value and cost saving of cooking for yourself, not to mention the health benefits.     So here we are 30 years on with health consequences of these stupid ill-thought-out policies, to save a little money only to cost taxpayers billions today.

On a more humorous note

Are fat people adding to the problem of Global Warming?

Further compounding the problem, say the scientists, is that overweight people are more likely to drive than walk causing an increase in CO2 gases in our atmosphere.

The study by Dr Edwards and colleague Ian Roberts is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.    Dr Edwards went on: “We are not just pointing the finger at fat people. All populations are getting fatter and it has an impact on the environment.

Supersized Sodas in the USA

Recently, soda companies fought and defeated attempts by local lawmakers to limit the size their drinks can be sold in.  The decision of a New York State court to throw out a proposed ban on super-sized soft drinks has laid bare an unlikely web of alliances between major beverage manufacturers and civil rights campaigners, health advocates and community service organisations.

Groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Hispanic Federation (a coalition of Hispanic service agencies in the New York area) supported major soft drink companies including Pepsi and Coca-Cola when they successfully fought off an effort by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to limit the size of soft drink serves to 16 ounces (450 millilitres) at restaurants, theatres and food carts.  So you can still buy a 64 oz (which is over 3 UK pints in size) in many places, but it’s their God given right to ignore common sense!

Beached whale

Personally, I blame the whole obesity issue on my late mother, well at least the UK portion of it.

You see if she hadn’t stopped me and my twin brother from yelling “There she blows” whenever we saw fat women in the cake or chocolate aisle (when we were kids) none of this would have happened.