Friday, 22 May 2009

An apology

It appears that I have to make an apology, because in my previous entry I stated that I had not received a reply from James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and I suggested that this was because he was too busy trying to fleece the British public for all that he could get. I was wrong. It appears that he had already done that when he evaded paying the Capital Gains Tax when he sold his London flat.

However, he is not alone, as there are at least two others to partner him in his crime, Geoff Hoon, a man whom I met just before I went to Iraq as he was Defence Secretary at the time, and Hazel Blears. Interestingly, whereas Gordon Brown appears to be hanging Blears out to dry, it seems that he's backing both Purnell and Hoon. But then the latter two haven't criticised Chairman Broon or laughed at his YouTube appearance.

The other thing that I find completely unbelievable about this whole thing is that these parasites have been robbing us for years. Now that they have been found out, despite the fact that they did their utmost to cover up their wrongdoing, and all of a sudden it’s a case of them all being very sorry and don't worry, they'll pay it all back.

Actually, I do believe that they are sorry, but they are only sorry that they have been caught out. Would they have changed their ways had the Speaker and his cronies' attempts to block the Freedom of Information Act from having any sway in Parliament succeeded? Of course not!
And as for the paying back the money that they have stolen, I think that this could well set a very dangerous legal precedent. Whilst MPs make the law, they are still subject to that law. If, by repaying the monies that they have obtained either deceitfully or in many cases fraudulently, they evade prosecution, then surely the precedent is set that anyone who commits a crime and benefits financially from it merely has to pay back the monies stolen, or return the items that were stolen, to avoid prosecution and jail.

Personally, I believe that all those that are found to have been less than 100% honest in the expenses claims should be prosecuted and, if found guilty, subject to a harsher penalty than their fellow criminals. After all, they are the ones that make the law, so if you break it, you face a harsher penalty.

However, will it ever get that far? Unlikely. No doubt Chairman Broon and his Politburo will come up with some fiddle to ensure that all the crims are given some sort of Parliamentary immunity.

The biggest problem that faces the British public at the moment is that with so many corrupt MPs, there have been many calls for the Government to stand down and a General Election held. But who would replace the current lot?

When all of these revelations first came about, there were several 'mainstream' MPs trying to scare the public that if they didn't accept the situation and voted them out, then the 'extremists' would get into power.

Again, I think it unlikely. If you look at the current make up of Parliament and recent by-election results, the only credible options seem to be the British National Party, the Green Party and the UK Independence Party. The BNP is not a credible option as it is just too extreme (I would hope) for most voters, bearing in mind that this is the party that recently claimed that L/Cpl Johnson Beharry VC was only awarded his Victoria Cross because of his colour!

As for the Greens and UKIP, I think that both of these parties simply lack the credibility, which unfortunately, leaves the only option being the three 'Snouts in the Trough' parties.
Perhaps some trust and confidence could be regained in these if there was a definite move to deselect all those MPs whose actions are found to be less than honourable prior to the next election. However, as it appears that none of the three Party leaders come out of this squeaky clean, I doubt that this will happen.

Going back to Purnell, it appears that the CSA obviously have insight into just how inactive this moron is, as my problem still hasn't been resolved. I did telephone last week but got through to another of the 'special' people that they employ.

He informed me that he had no idea what was happening with my case and that he had no idea who was dealing with it. There then followed a period of him looking to find out who was dealing with my case before I heard him laugh and announce to a colleague 'Oops, it’s me'. At this point I was put on hold.

When this idiot came back onto the line, he informed me that it was him that was dealing with my case and sounded surprised when I told him that I knew as I'd heard every word and that this summed up the efficiency of the CSA. Clearly not happy at this point he became quite verbally aggressive and informed me that he didn't have to do anything for 15 days from receipt of my complaint.

As 15 days was up I asked what he intended to do. However, CSA 15 days is not like normal people's 15 days, as they only count Monday to Friday as days, so CSA 15 days is three weeks, not just over two. Clearly the 'special' people at the CSA need their own 'special' calendar. The upshot of all this is that they will be doing nothing before next week.

I, on the other hand have been less idle. There is a programme on the Beeb in the evening, and they recently investigated the fact that the CSA are often pursuing men who are not the fathers of the babies that they are being forced to pay for, and that they are often pursuing the fathers on the say so of the mothers.
One of the things that the show was doing was asking fathers that have had this experience to contact one of their researchers. Whilst I haven't been falsely accused of fathering a child, I did take the opportunity to email the researcher and suggest that they may want to investigate and highlight the general incompetence of the CSA. Watch this space.

Mind you, my ex-wife actually spoke to me for the first time in about three years, not through lawyers or via email, but on the telephone. Unfortunately, the reason was that No.2 son, Drew, was admitted to the hospital where I work and had his appendix out. Very bizarre, really, as there is almost exactly four years difference between them, Alec's birthday being the 20th July and Drew's the 21st. The bizarre thing is that it was almost four years to the day since Alec had his appendix out.

It was also typical that he was admitted on the one day that week that I wasn't at work, as I had taken time owing to do some TA stuff. Fortunately, I was recceing an exercise area nearby so was able to detour into the hospital on the way back, which surprised a few of the staff (I was in uniform) and caused one Dr to greet me with the words 'What the f*ck are you doing dressed like that!'

By the time I saw Drew, it had already been decided that he was going to theatre that afternoon, so I was able to help him get changed and settle down. The heat coming off him was incredible.

After a short visit I headed back to the Sqn and didn't see him until later that evening, by which time he was appendix free and very sleepy, although he did have enough strength to gesticulate at his brother, whom I'd taken in with me.

To my surprise, he was discharged by lunchtime the following day, less than 24hrs post-op, and seems to be doing fine.

The reason that I was doing the TA stuff is that last weekend I did my first 'proper' field exercise with the Sqn since February last year. I say 'proper' because we were visited by a Brigadier and the Regimental CO and in the evening we left the training area, changed and went out for a meal at a local Gastropub, before changing back and returning to the exercise area.

Not only was this the first exercise I'd done in a while, it was one that I'd organised, the emphasis being on primary health care, which, from experience, I know will be the majority of the work that the medics will have if they deploy.

It was also the first of a series of five exercises, all emphasising the primary care role, that I was to organise, but I have also been appointed as the Second-in-Command (2ic) of the Sqn and, although I will be running the next exercise in July, I will be handing the organisation of the remaining three to one of the other Officers.

I was surprised at just how rusty I'd got with my enforced break, from just the military point of view. It took me a while to pack my Bergen as I was convinced that I'd forgotten things. It all came flooding back over the weekend though, and I'd planned for everything to be done in slow time anyway.

Apart from the Gastropub meal on the Saturday evening, the remainder of the weekend we ate rations, including some of the Halal rations, which I thought were far better than the old rations (apart from the mushroom omelette. I hate mushrooms!). There were even tubes of strawberry jam and Vegemite in some of the packs!

The downside was that on Monday I had a bit of a 'gastric upset', although, as it didn't hit until the evening, I suspect that it was a bug rather than something that I'd eaten. What it did mean was that I only worked for two days this week, as hospital policy is that if you have D&V, you don't go back to work for 72 hours, even if you feel fine.

So after my two day week, I now have a no day week, as its half-term and I have the kids from next Wednesday.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Snouts in the Trough

Having written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a complete waster by the name of James Purnell, I had expected to at least get an acknowledgement that my letter had been received. To date, nothing. Not even from his minions within the Department of Work and Pensions. How rude!

I have read on other forums that people have written to various ministers and received no reply. They have even been defended on some as being too busy with their day to day duties to be able to respond to the countless letters that they receive from various people. However, I think I know the real reason why.

It appears that British Members of Parliament spend an awful lot of their time finding ways to fleece the British public that voted them in, and then claiming that these are legitimate expenses. Examples that have been quoted are an MP who claimed for a Kit Kat, another who claimed for tampons and even one who claimed that she felt unsafe in her own London home and claimed more than £25,000 for security patrols, despite being a millionaire.

There has also been much concern about MPs second home allowance, which they receive so that they are able to live in London because their home or constituency makes it impractical for them to commute. However, it was revealed in 2007 that 16 London MPs are claiming more than £20,000 a year for second homes, even though they live less than an hour's commute from Westminster.

Another MP, less than a year after being elected, put in a detailed claim for various repairs to a house that she had already lived in for five years! Even the Solicitor General is at it, claiming for 'miscellaneous items' which it was spotted were a Christmas tree and decorations. On that occasion the claim was not paid, but what's the betting that it was claimed back some other way. At least she didn't try to claim for porn films watched by her husband, which is what the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, did.

Purnell had a second home in Covent Garden, which he claimed more than half of the rent on expenses each month, despite the fact that his girlfriend allegedly contributed half of the rent. When he moved out recently, he lost his deposit of £2,500 because, according to his landlord, he left the flat like a pigsty. So what happened to the £1,600 that Purnell claimed for employing a cleaner. Not surprisingly, Purnell has denied that the flat was as bad as claimed. Similar to the denial that he had allowed himself to be 'photoshopped' into a photograph. Perhaps he was late for the photo shoot because he was busy lining his pockets elsewhere.

All the information regarding expenses was recently published in a National newspaper, and Parliament is far from happy. The reason is that they had always vehemently opposed scrutiny of their expenses. Straight away, to me, this raises suspicions. However, the Commons authorities lost the legal battle and the expenses were due to be published on July 1st. Now they've been leaked to a newspaper and parliament has called in the Police. That seems to be a case of 'We've been caught with our fingers in the till, so we'll call the Police and try to deflect it onto someone else'. If the expenses were due for publication anyway, is this not a huge (further) waste of public money, or were the expenses due to be 'sanitised' prior to publication, and the leaking has circumvented the sanitation process?

It’s interesting to read just how much work an MP actually does (or not, in most cases). And it’s not that difficult to find out. In fact, there's a web site, appropriately titled And I think that this is where the problem arises. Unfortunately, once politicians are elected, they forget that they are nothing more than public servants, and often very transient ones at that, sometimes in the 'job' of being an Member of Parliament for as little as four years. The hierarchical system means that the only guidance that they seem to receive from their more senior colleagues is in how to take advantage of other 'perks' that they were unaware of and line their pockets further. Maybe that's why so many of them spend so much time trying to fleece the system for as much as they can get.

Sadly, a legal precedent has now be set that means that MPs do not actually have a duty to their constituents, which I guess gives them free rein to do nothing whilst getting paid large sums and taking every opportunity to line their own pockets. Isn't democracy great.

Suspecting that Purnell would turn out to be an utterly useless oxygen thief, I also wrote to Mary Quinn, another waste of skin public servant. I had written to this woman previously, about two years ago, so am qualified to describe her as I have.

In my five page letter, I have catalogued the total incompetence of the agency of which she is head and given her two weeks to sort the mess out. However, I firmly believe that Mary Quinn, the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency, is so incompetent that she couldn't find her own arse with a map, a person pointing to her arse to show her where it was and a huge neon sign saying 'Your arse is here' if she was given two lifetimes, so I don't hold out much hope.
Normally, someone this incompetent would have been removed from post and reassigned to something more in keeping with her apparent abilities, counting paperclips perhaps, but Mary Quinn, the Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency is fortunate that she has Purnell as Secretary of State, a man who probably doesn't realise that there is a problem.

Having written to Quinn, in which I gave her four tasks that I expected her to perform in a fortnight and actually stating:
'I expect you carry out the above personally, as I have already seen that your minions are actually incapable of performing the duties for which they have been employed.'
the only response that I have had so far is a telephone call from the complaints department to inform me that they had received my complaint and that someone would contact me within a few days. Obviously, Quinn is too stupid to follow simple instructions, so has passed it on to an equally incapable minion, who telephoned in an effort to placate me almost a week ago. Again, I don't hold out a lot of hope of a solution.

Perhaps I should take a leaf out of the book of a man named Mr Daz. The CSA will no longer talk to this man on the telephone because, like the CSA, he records all of his phone calls. But, unlike the CSA, he uploads these calls to the Internet, including one where they have informed him that they will only communicate with him by post, before going on to reveal that although they have his correct address in their records, they have been sending all communication to him to the wrong address. Genius! At least it has proven that I'm not the only one that talks to morons when I telephone this agency.

On a far more cheery note, last weekend saw myself and my sons make the annual trip to Twickenham for the Army v Navy rugby match, or, as it should be called, the Fiji v Navy rugby match.

Drinking started early, in fact as soon as we arrived at Waterloo at 1115 and carried on for pretty much the rest of the day, with just a short break for the match, although it was more of a rout, the Army winning 50-7.

Alec's godfather, Guy, had travelled down from Shropshire with his girlfriend and her daughter and we were also able to meet up with H. Sadly, this may be the last time that myself and the boys all go together as Alec will probably be in Guyana next year, at Sandhurst the year after and then who knows.

It was odd being back in Twickenham, as well, as I had lived there as a child and Guy and I had gone to college there. In fact, as we made our way back to Richmond station along the river, there was much reminiscing going on, admittedly much of it with the boys saying 'Do we want to know about this!?!'

So now it’s back to the real world and preparing for a TA exercise next weekend. Hope it doesn't rain too much!