Advertisements

Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘mistake

Banker Robbers Still On The Loose

with 2 comments

If I considered it as the plot for my next novel, I would discard it immediately as being completely unbelieveable.  It is outrageous.  The story of the way the banks have wriggled and wormed away from their responsibilities is the biggest scandal the world has ever seen.

The Very Worst

Today the shameful figures are revealed of the number of complaints that our high street banks receive.  See here.  It is an appalling litany of failure and disrespect of customers.  Complaints are at the very bottom of their priorities.  They are inefficent.   They have bonus systems that discourage staff from accepting complaints.  Santander, which so many used to know as the Abbey or Alliance & Leicester,  cannot manage to answer even half of its complaints within two months!  It is shocking.  It hasn’t got better since we all bailed them out.  It’s got worse.  Oh, except for the bonuses.  They just get bigger and bigger all the time.

These problems,  affecting the modest balances of ordinary people, may seem trivial in the context of the billions that the banks have already cost us but they are not.   They are crucial.   This is real money belonging to real people and needed to pay real bills.  It’s not the cocaine, champagne, Ferrari fantasy of some City boy ponce.   These figures indicate precisely the contempt, the utter disregard which bankers have for us even though it is we, ordinary people, who have been called on to rescue them from their catastrophic mistakes.

Actions Not Words!

Where is Vince Cable now?  He is the biggest disappointment of the coalition government.  His brave words as recently as the LibDem conference are all hot air.  He has let us all down.  His promises were empty.

We want the banks split up so that they are no longer too big to fail.  Only today, in Ireland they are realising that their nation is still held to ransom by its bankers.  So is ours.

We want retail and transaction banking separated entirely from casino investment banking so that there can be no more threat to our economy from the spivs and gamblers.  We don’t want any of these sharks anywhere near our  money.   John Diamond, the putative new head of Barclays has made a £100 milion fortune on the back of the taxpayer and the banking crisis.  He is not a fit and proper person to be in charge of a British bank.  The government should ban him immediately.

Wide Boy Spiv

Late last year the Office of Fair Trading let the banks off a £40 billion hook.  These were the extortionate charges illegally debited from customers’ accounts over the previous six years.  See here. This was in addition to the £850 billion cost of the original bailout.  See here.

How much more are they going to get away with?

When will David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Vince Cable stop dithering?

Stop the banker robbers now!

Advertisements

“Outrageous Scaremongering” Over Cannabis

with 15 comments

Last October,  36-year old Julie Ryan was found dead in bed by her three children, now aged 14, 13 and 8.  At a coroner’s inquest in Oldham last week, pathologist Dr Sami Titi said “The direct cause of her death was cardiac arrest because of a history of smoking cannabis”.

Dr Sami Titi

Julie’s family claims that this is not true, that Julie’s cannabis use has been blamed because the Royal Oldham hospital failed to treat her properly. In Britain, there has only been one previous occasion when a death has been attributed to cannabis. In 2004, Lee Maisey, 36 of Pembrokeshire, who smoked half a dozen “joints” a day, was found dead on his living room floor after complaining of a headache.

At the inquest in Oldham, the coroner, Simon Nelson, was said to be surprised at the pathologist’s story and questioned him closely. Dr Titi insisted that “smoking of cannabis is well known to have a negative impact on the heart and can cause heart attacks in young people”. The coroner said that in 15 years he had never heard a pathologist so confident that cannabis could be fatal. He recorded a narrative verdict of “death from cardiovascular complications induced by cannabis smoking”.

Coroner Simon Nelson

Julie’s brother, Kevin Ryan, says that the pathologist’s remarks are “outrageous scaremongering”. Her mother, Linda, is bewildered by events. As planned, Julie’s children had stayed with her while the inquest was taking place. Now they have returned home to the furore of this extraordinary verdict and are extremely distressed.

Julie had visited the Royal Oldham hospital several times complaining of chest pains but been sent away with a diagnosis of heartburn. The post mortem examination revealed she had a severely enlarged heart and had suffered a previous heart attack which had not been diagnosed. Family sources said “It’s a cover up. Cannabis doesn’t kill. They made a big mistake.” Mary Burrows, Julie’s cousin, who was very close to her, said she preferred to smoke cannabis rather than have a drink and that “she was a wonderful mother and her kids miss her so much”.

Dr Mark Eckersley, a local Manchester doctor, said “More and more pressure is being piled on medical professionals to propagate this type of untruth by the powers that be.” He said doctors need to maintain credibility with the community and that “this type of nonsense makes my blood boil”.

A spokesman for the Royal Oldham hospital said “Miss Ryan died from a heart attack and cardiovascular problems. Our thoughts and sympathy go to her family.”

On 2nd November in California, Proposition 19 is expected to permit the personal use of cannabis for the state’s 28 million adults. As a result, new tax revenues of $1.4 billion are anticipated, up to 110,000 new jobs and a boost of up to $18 billion to the state’s economy from spin-offs such as coffee shops and tourism.

In America, any health concerns about the plant are far outweighed by health benefits. Medical cannabis is already regulated in 14 states with another 12 in the planning stage. In Britain, Sativex, a whole plant extract of cannabis, was recently authorised as a treatment for MS. It costs about eight times what medical cannabis costs in America, Holland, Spain, Israel and very shortly Germany, where there is a fully regulated supply chain. In Britain, despite a House Of Lords Scientific Committee recommendation, the government refuses to consider such a move. Many patients whose doctors have prescribed Sativex have been denied funding from their health authority. In some of these cases, criminal prosecutions have been brought against them for cultivating their own plants.

A spokesman for GW Pharmaceuticals, developers of Sativex, said “The therapeutic ratio for cannabis is so high that it is virtually impossible to ingest a fatal dose”.

Prof. David Nutt

Professor David Nutt was sacked as chairman of the Home Office’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs last year after claiming that cannabis was less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. His successor, Professor Les Iversen, also maintains that cannabis has been “incorrectly” called dangerous and says it is one of the “safer recreational drugs”.

On Friday, Professor Nutt said cannabis “seems to cause much less harm than alcohol and that banning the plant is “unjust and therefore undemocratic”. He added: “The previous government’s policy to deter cannabis use by forceful policing increased convictions for cannabis possession from 88,000 in 2004 to 160,000 in 2008. As well as ruining many lives through getting a criminal record, this added massive costs to taxpayers in extra policing and prison costs.”

Prof. Les Iversen

Dr Sami Titi, the pathologist, was unavailable for comment and did not respond to emails. It has not been possible to identify any scientific support for his conclusions.

Julie Ryan’s family is left bemused and uncertain by this verdict. Three children are without a mother and confused about contradictory messages. The 13 year old has been posting on websites about her concerns. Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office have criticised the government for basing drugs policy on opinion rather than evidence. James Brokenshire, the Home Office Minister, in direct contradiction to his own advisers, continues with the story that cannabis is “extremely harmful”.

James Brokenshire

Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg are on record over the last 10 years as consistently calling for reform in drug policy. The Your Freedom website has been overwhelmed with requests for evidence based regulation of drugs and the legalisation of cannabis but the government is riding roughshod over this public outcry. A consultation document on a new drugs strategy was issued just over a week ago but it seems meaningless and dishonest as all the big decisions have already been taken. Cannabis campaigners, working on behalf of six million regular users in the UK, are outraged at what they see as hypocrisy, misinformation and regressive government action.

Dr Mark Eckersley, exasperated and concerned at the pathologist’s evidence said “This is simply not true. Hearing this story is more likely to cause a heart attack than the ingestion of any cannabinoid”.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 31, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Health, Politics

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Was Tony Blair A Force For Good?

with 11 comments

My Non-Appearance On Sunday Morning Live

Since Wednesday the BBC had been in touch every day.  This morning they started calling me and testing my webcam and sound from 8.30am.  They had me sitting at my desk from 9.45am, 15 minutes before the programme started.   I was warned I could be in shot at anytime.  I drank too much coffee.  I did get a little nervous and jittery.  I was desperate for a cigarette even though I gave up six months ago!

Who was that suave, debonair, good looking chap in the crisp white shirt on the background screens?  Yours truly of course, waiting patiently for my big moment, trying not to sneer or laugh too raucously at the ridiculous first discussion on animals.

I had my notes blu-tacked to the window frame right behind my webcam, adjusted so that viewers would never lose deep, seductive eye contact with me.

“We’re coming to you now Peter”

“Stand by”

I fancy I can see Susanna Reid flushing slightly in anticipation of introducing me…

“Uh, sorry Peter, we’re not going to be able to come to you.  Out of time I’m afraid.”

Such are the trials and tribulations of my life!  Suddenly the programme was over.

You'll Get Your Chance, Gorgeous

Turning to far more important things, the dogs and I set off for the hills.  My mobile rang and it was Anna from the BBC, apologising and promising me dinner and a hot night with Susanna all at the corporation’s expense.  “No, sorry, I can’t be bought off.  Call me tomorrow. I’m too busy now.”

On the panel in the studio had been Mary Whitehouse’s successor, frumpy Anne Atkins and the utter jerk, Francis Beckett.   What a prat?  Why would anyone want to listen to his obnoxious, ill considered views, delivered with all the grace of a blind, three legged rhino?

Was Tony Blair a force for good?  This was the question I was supposed to be answering.  The BBC had come to me as a result of this article.  I had, of course, considered my response and this is what I intended to say.

Was Tony Blair A Force For Good?

I do not count myself as a Tony Blair supporter.  I never voted for him.  In fact, at all those elections I deliberately spoiled my ballot papers writing “no suitable candidate” across them.  I am an admirer though.

I think you have to give him credit for a number of things.  He rescued Labour from its madness and turned it into a credible and electable political party.  That was good for democracy.  He finished off the good work that Margaret Thatcher had done on the unions.  He was her true successor.  Now the only nutters that we have left are Tweedledum and Twitterdee from Unite and the mad and bad Bob Crowe from the railways.

You have to give him huge credit for Northern Ireland, for Kosovo and Sierra Leone.  I think he was also responsible for a fundamental change in British politics in that he reconciled caring with competition.  For the first time it was accepted that you could have a social conscience but still believe in business and the free market.

On Iraq, clearly it is a good thing that we got rid of Saddam Hussein although, personally, I think we should have assassinated him.  If there was a moral justification for war,  for shock and awe, then there was for assassination.  Even if we had lost thousands of special forces that would have been better than hundreds of thousands of innocents.  I do think that Blair became carried away with George Bush and that was a mistake.  Bush will be forgotten long before Blair.  He was not of the same calibre.  All he had to offer was the might and power of America.

Fundamentally, what you have to ask is did Tony Blair act in good faith?  I believe he did.  I believe he is an honourable man.  Look backwards from Blair to Thatcher and there’s noone else until Churchill and then Lloyd George.  That is the company in which Tony Blair will be remembered.  He is a great man.

I Was There For You Tone!

The one thing I really don’t understand in this man of vision and intelligence is his conversion to Catholicism.  I can just about accept his Christianity although why a man with his intellect needs organised religion I don’t know.  I really can’t understand why he wants to be allied to the institution that has been responsible for more evil over the last 2000 years than any other.  I think it demeans him.  He has far, far more to offer the world than that stupid old bigot the Pope, for instance.  It seems to me the Catholic Church will benefit far more from him than he will from it.   That’s his business though.

Proposition 19. Just Say Now!

with 3 comments

It looks as if, on 2nd November 2010, a small but very significant part of the world will at last come to its senses and legalise cannabis.

On that date, California voters look likely to approve Proposition 19 on the state-wide ballot that legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties.  Currently the polls show that about two-thirds of voters are in favour.

Over the age of 21 it will be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to cultivate an area of up to 25 sq ft on private property.  The state estimates it will collect about £1.4 billion pa in new tax revenue.  save $200 million pa in law enforcement costs and generate an additional $12 – $18 billion pa for California’s economy, with 60,000 to 110,000 new jobs.   As the Americans say, with one of their most unpleasant expressions, “It’s a no brainer”.

In America they finally seem to have got past listening to the stupid scare stories and propaganda about the cannabis plant.  The misinformation has ranged from the idea that marijuana makes white women promiscuous with black men to the suggestion that it causes psychosis in adolescents.  Both of these ideas are as impossible to prove as each other.  America also  recognises the huge medicinal benefits of cannabis with medical marijuana legal in 14 states and planned in 15 more.   As a recreational drug,  cannabis use is almost never associated with the sort of anti-social behaviour that alcohol causes.   It produces an essentially peaceful, happy and soporific effect.

Instead of insulting and ignoring their scientific experts as we do in the UK, Americans are now more interested in the facts and a pragmatic approach to drugs policy.  The “war on drugs” is now universally recognised as having been an abject failure.  We should, of course, have learned from the experience of alcohol prohibition in the early 20th century.  That created the whole idea of gangsters and organised crime.  We managed to repeat the same mistakes all over again with drugs.

In ironic appreciation of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say Nc” campaign, those in favour of Proposition 19 have adopted the slogan “Just Say Now”.  In addition to the direct financial benefits, the state expects to be able to focus police priorities on violent crime, cut off funding to violent drug cartels and better protect children, road users, workers and patients from illegal, unregulated use.

The UK will eventually follow down this inevitable path.   The only questions are how many lives will we ruin and how much time and money will we waste before we finally get there?

See here for the latest updates and news on Proposition 19.

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.

In Defence Of Nick Griffin

with 5 comments

"Oh let him in. He's harmless really!"

I am not a supporter of the BNP but I defend their right to campaign for their policies, especially those individuals who have been elected to office.

Despite his crass, discourteous behaviour, it was a mistake to have Nick Griffin barred from the Queen’s garden party.  He was invited there as an elected MEP and he should have been welcomed in accordance with his office.

A bad mistake.  Far too clumsy to have been made by any member of the Royal Family itself.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 22, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Now I Understand Why I Hate English Football

with 10 comments

Whinging, Whining Loser

I’ve hated football for 20 years or more now.  With the World Cup I’ve finally come to understand why.  English football is rubbish.  It’s been corrupted and destroyed by an incurable cancer of money and venality.  English football players are overpaid ponces, whores and playthings for foreign potentates.  They cannot play the game anymore.  They stand around worried that they’ll make a mistake, that they’ll bruise their poor little knees, fracture some obscure little bone in their foot or that their orange-painted slag will run off with their best mate while they’re training.   They seem much more concerned about getting their name in the newspaper than on the scoresheet.

I do remember a rare glimpse of sanity in this crazy world when a year or so ago the great Bobby Charlton apologised for the £80 million pound transfer fee for Ronaldo and described it as “vulgar”.  He had that absolutely right.  Screaming and curling into the top corner from 40 yards in the last minute of extra time right.

Talent. Honour. Pride.

I’ve just watched the most riveting, scintillating, magical game of football between Spain and Germany.  It reminds me how much I used to love the game and how much I and other British sports lovers are losing out.  It was a joy.  I saw beauty there in the poetic movement and interplay.  There is nothing beautiful about the English game.

In 1970-71, when I was 13, I was lucky enough to attend every home game at Highbury stadium.

My Hero

Arsenal won the double that year and Bob Wilson was my hero.  I played in goal too and even today I still treasure that special camaraderie between goalkeepers.  Even as I’ve lost interest in the game I’ve still retained that love hate relationship with the most important position on the pitch.  I’ve been angered and bemused once again at the inane remarks of commentators.  Only occasionally do they compliment a goalie or even understand what it involves .  Usually it’s either a “blunder” or an “easy save” or  “straight at him”.   Don’t they realise that it was “straight at him” because he was in the right place to begin with.  There’s no such thing as an easy save.  Bob Wilson used to have a reputation as an “unspectacular” goalie – because he was almost always there before the ball arrived!  There are no excuses when you’re a goalkeeper.

There isn’t any passion in the English game anymore.  I don’t think they know what it is.  Passion for that bunch of losers is what you get in a lap dancing bar – innit bruv?   There’s very little pride either.   Even at its very best football can never compete with rugby as a real sport so when the BBC had the audacity to hijack Invictus and try to apply some of it’s wonderful, uplifting qualities to the English football team – well, I was just disgusted.

The Spain Germany game was wonderful and I expect the final will be too.  The Spanish were inspired and fluent.  The wonderful Xavi is a powerful symbol of how useless the English chavs are.   The multiracial German team was a redemptive lesson for us all.  They were proud, positive and every colour of the rainbow.  Schweinsteiger, the archetypal aryan stormtrooper, strong, fearless and utterly reliable.  These players are so talented they don’t need to feign fouls or injury.   They just get on with the job – beautifully.

So the World Cup has been a very big but very pleasant surprise for me.  I’d fallen victim to the propaganda that the Premier League is the best football in the world but that’s been proven to be a great big lie.   It might be the richest league but that’s exactly what has ruined the game.

As a Welshman, for me nothing will ever come close to rugby. I’m glad I’ve found pleasure in football again but English football has finally proved itself to be the very worst football in the world.