Monday, January 14, 2008

Who pays the politician, and why won't they tell us?

News that Peter Hain, Welsh Secretary and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is to face a full parliamentary enquiry into the funding of his Labour deputy leadership bid is swiftly followed by revelations that Conservative shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, failed to over £400,000 in donations intended to fund his office.

If 'two jobs' Pete and Georgie, the self-professed chief bean-counter in waiting, either haven't the time or the intelligence to report donations properly, we definitely need a thorough overall of party financing.

Both Labour and Tories, when in power, have meddled with the financial reporting requirements to give their respective supporters and politicians some supposed advantage over the opposition. In reality, by cobbling together rules that favour the party in Government, they've created a system of byzantine complexity that politicians seem unable to understand or the public able to trust. Time for change; maybe even time to grasp the old state-funding nettle, after all, we can't trust the politicos to regulate themselves, can we?

Keeping it clean.

It's a bit of a nerve for the Cleaning and Support Services Association, the umbrella group that represents private contractors who are supposed to keep hospitals clean, to say that the Government's much vaunted £50 million "deep clean" should be scrapped in favour of more payments for regular cleaning.

We need clean hospitals and by interposing private firms, with dividend expecting shareholders, between the mop bucket and the ward, the NHS is being forced to divert funds away from cleaning into the pockets of CLSA members and their shareholders.

Once the hospitals are clean, we need to get rid of the self-serving CLSA and take cleaning back under the direct control of the NHS.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

If you go down to the woods today...

Spent the afternoon of the last day of 2007 wandering round Judy Woods, a 40 hectare site of ancient woodland in Wyke, Bradford. The place is great at any time of the year, although I was annoyed to see that we've been adding some long term features to the land that could remain there for up to 2,000 years.

The woods are very popular with dog walkers; no problem with that, I love the woods and I like dogs. It's the owners who don't clean up properly after fido that get me angry.

If you leave a dog turd in the open it will naturally degrade after a week or so - unless, of course, someone doesn't tread in it first. The best option, for all concerned, is to put it in a pooh-bag and take it home with you. The worst option is to put it in a plastic pooh-bag and then leave the bagged-up turd in the woods, where the plastic will remain for centuries.

The number of stupid dog owners taking the worst option, as evidenced by the amount of little tied up plastic bundles left at the edge of the paths and the base of trees , shows that man's best friend can be one of the environment's worst enemies.

How to get rid of the plastic.