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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘disastrous

The Third Milliband Brother?

with 5 comments

James Brokenshire

I have very mixed feelings about young James Brokenshire.  He’s a Tory and so am I, so I don’t really want to be too derogatory about him.   It’s very difficult though, just  keeping a straight face, let alone seeing anything positive.  Most difficult of all to ignore is the Milliband in him.  I mean, come on, tell me I’m wrong!

One of my more erudite commenters mentioned the phenomenon of Nominative Determinism.  According to Wikipedia:

Nominative determinism refers to the theory that a person’s name is given an influential role in reflecting key attributes of his job, profession, or general life. It was a commonly held philosophy in the ancient world.

It’s not just that he looks like a Milliband.  It goes much deeper than that.  Alright, so George Osborne is right in there as well and I just know I’ve seen at least a dozen other clones.  I just can’t quite remember their names or distinguish them.  They’re the generation that’s heir to Cameron and Clegg.  They’ve gone from graduate to researcher, never had a real job, eternally trapped within the political bubble. You know the type.  And yes, our politics and our society are broken, broken because of the sort of policies, attitudes and behaviour that James exhibits.

Of course, I’m on the libertarian side of the party and James is way, way opposite.   He comes across as not just a hanger and flogger but a hanger, drawer and quarterer – and that’s just for parking tickets.   The trouble is, I fear he’s making such an twit of himself that he’s doing my party a grave disservice.   For such a young and youngish man he is a very old, very old reactionary Tory.

James is the new Minister of State for Crime Prevention.  Congratulations to him on his appointment at such an early stage in his career.  What an important job!  He does rather bring to mind all those old jokes about policemen looking like they should still be in short trousers.   Does anyone take him seriously?

He’s the government’s front man for the drugs issue.  That’s right, it’s not a minister from the Department of Health who deals with drugs.  It’s the Home Office!  Anyway, even before the current furore, I’d seen James in action in reply to a question about drugs policy.   He’s authoritarian, repressive, intransigent and far, far too sure of himself even when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  This is not someone who believes in “small” government.   Like the Millibands and other illiberal socialists he wants close control of our lives.  I’m sorry but the boy looks silly and he behaves like an idiot.  He’s being taken to pieces all over the internet – ridiculed, abused and condemned.  David Cameron, please get rid of him now!

The trouble is that James is trying to come over all tough and spunky but he doesn’t realise that even men of my sons’ ages have seen it all before.  Eager young politicians who think they know best when they know nothing have been making similar fools of themselves since time began.  To coin a counterfeit phrase,  I’d smoked more joints than he’s had hot dinners before there was even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye!  So many of us had thought through and argued out the drugs issue a hundred times before James even left nursery school.

I can’t really expect a replacement who agrees with me 100% on drugs policy.   What I do expect is someone who is credible, sensible, well informed and committed to evidence-based policy and truth.  James is none of these.  He is making a fool of the government.

What’s really serious is that the man is misguided.  He’s flying in the face of the facts and all the experts.  Drugs policy has huge impact on our society and we need to move away from our present disastrous and oppressive course.  James Brokenshire is the wrong man for the job.

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A Fundamental Problem At The BBC

with 3 comments

I am very close to being the BBC’s biggest fan.  It is a remarkable and entirely unique institution.  Somehow it occupies a place between the state and the people which I can find no comparison for.  It would be easy to define it as some sort of socialist idea but it is genuinely independent from the state.  I do, however, have some concerns about its accountability.  I am very concerned about the way it handles complaints.

No Complaints Accepted Here

I have grown up with the BBC and I trust it.  In fact, I think that it’s done a better job of maintaining Britishness and values of integrity, tolerance, fairness and justice than any UK government of any political complexion.  That’s why the curmudgeons in all political parties turn against it.  I think Jeremy Hunt’s recent attacks and comments were particularly poorly judged.  He hasn’t a had a good start in government at all has he?

I made a complaint to the BBC recently and I am very, very unhappy about the way it has been handled.   The subject is not relevant here.  I shall write about it in future but for now it would distract from my point.  I am horrified to discover that the BBC does not handle complaints itself.   They are outsourced to Capita in Belfast which describes itself as “the UK’s leading outsourcing company…at the leading edge of redefining and transforming services to the public.”  For me that needs a huge pinch of salt, a mountain in fact and even then I’m choking on it.

Handling complaints should be at the very heart of an organisation.  It is the essence of your brand.  There is no more important management function.  Contracting them out is an abdication of responsibility.  More than that, it is a complete failure of integrity, a massive mistake.   If an organisation is truly committed to meeting its customers’ needs it must be as close to them as possible.  This irresponsibility strikes at the very heart of everything I value about the BBC.  I am deeply disillusioned.

If this disastrous decision had resulted in a well administered service then that might be some consolation but not a bit of it.  It is dreadful.  Every bit as bad as any horror story you’ve heard about British Gas, BT or yes, even a bank.  This is the British consumer experience at its very worst.

Not What It Used To Be

In sharp contrast to the rest of the BBC’s websites, try making a complaint online.  It’s like something from the very early days of the internet with clumsy, badly aligned fields and an archaic feel.  I almost expect to hear a modem whistling away in the background.  From a complainant’s point of view it’s quite useless.  You don’t get any option to save a copy of your complaint or email it to yourself.  You don’t even get an acknowledgement once you’ve completed it so you’re left with a completely unsatisfactory feeling of uncertainty.  Did they get it or not?  Will I get a reply?  When?

It gets worse.  Complaints are lost.  They don’t get answered at all.  They certainly don’t get answered within the 10 working days promised.  One answer I received was just laughable in its anodyne, crass simplicity.  It was nothing more than an patronising acknowledgement of what I was “unhappy about”.

Useless

I could go on even further but I won’t.  It does get even worse and it becomes embarrassingly so when Capita start to trot out the oldest excuse of all about “system problems”.  It is an excruciatingly bad, defining example of appalling customer service.  I’d say it takes the biscuit.

All this is the inevitable result of outsourcing your complaints procedure.  That aspect of business that should be one of your most important tools.  What’s worse is that Capita are absolutely useless at doing the job.

It is no exaggeration to say that, for me, this rocks the very foundations of everything I believed about the BBC to the very core.  It is not the organisation I thought it was.  I feel betrayed.  I am “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.   In fact,  I am very, very, very disgusted of Weymouth, Dorset.

I Weep For Jamaica

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Ocho Rios

The events unfolding in Jamaica are disastrous for the country, its reputation, tourist industry and economy.   They give an impression that is completely false.  In reality it is a wonderful place, full of kind, warm, generous people.  I was astonished on my first visit to find the countryside lush and green, rather like Cornwall or Wales and the people more friendly than anywhere else I have ever been.

I was very privileged to be introduced to Jamaica by a Jamaican.  It was no all-inclusive tourist resort for me.  There the poor Brits hunker down and never move anywhere.  They seem to believe that right outside the gates are a bunch of Uzi-toting crack dealers but it’s simply not true.  I’ve been back several times and I love the place.  I recommend Ocho Rios on the north coast of the island.

True, the murder rate is one of the highest in the world but it all happens in a very small area of Kingston.  The rest of the island is peaceful and probably safer than London.  I have been through the Tivoli Gardens and Trench Town districts where all the trouble is.  It’s not a good place.  You lock the car doors and windows and you don’t stop but it is tiny.  According to my memory it’s not much bigger than, say, Regent’s Park so it’s easy to avoid.

My Local

Undoubtedly at the root of these problems is high level corruption and I wouldn’t be surprised if that extended to US officials as well as Jamaican.  The cocaine trade is a huge curse on the country but while the world continues with its ludicrous, discredited policy of prohibition it will never solve the problem.  Drug laws support and encourage organised crime and corruption.   If we stay on our present course things will only get worse.

I weep for Jamaica and its wonderful people.  Without radical international action, I have no idea how this problem can be solved.