21 April 2005

Tories set to decimate post-16 basic skills training

The Tories have a statement in thier policy, a deceptively small one, that they are going to cut a large chunk of the funding to post-16 basic skills (e.g. literacy, IT &c) and 'soft skills' (e.g. assertiveness) training. If they get in and go ahead with this The the first effect will be that a large number of people involved in delivering such training will lose their jobs, the longer term effect will be a gradual widening of the educational gap in people over 16. Many people, especially those who went to school under the Thatcher/Major regimes, were failed by the educational system in this country, many now lack training to advance in their careers and the basic skills to get that training (and often their confidence has been so destroyed by the failure of their school education that it is difficult for them to even ask for the training). The long term effect of the Tory policy will be to further marginalise these people and deny them the opportunity to advance and improve their situation.

18 April 2005

Political leanings

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:


Your actual outcome:

Labour 29
Conservative -26
Liberal Democrat 52
UK Independence Party 0
Green 52

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

You should vote: Green

The Green Party, which is of course strong on environmental issues, takes a strong position on welfare issues, but was firmly against the war in Iraq. Other key concerns are cannabis, where the party takes a liberal line, and foxhunting, which unsurprisingly the Greens are firmly against.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

This is worrying, I'm a dedicated Labour supporter. I've only ever voted LibDem where Labour didn't have a chance but a LibDem vote could keep the Tories out.

Choice in healthcare and education

Once again the Tory party are pushing the idea of offering choice in healthcare and education. I don't have kids so the education side doesn't directly affect me, but lets look at the healthcare. Would you rather be told which hospital you were going into, knowing that they were the best able to treat whatever afflicted you, or have a choice of which MRSA ridden dump to be seen by a junior doctor who hasn't slept more than 3 hours in any given 24 since 8 weeks before their graduation from medical school.

I'll take quality over choice.

School Dinners

It has just been announced on the local BBC news that a school is to start serving vegetables with school dinners. In my own school days (1974-1987) it was pretty much impossible to avoid vegetables with your school dinner, even burger and chips came with a salad (which included, for some reason, a slice of orange).

15 April 2005

MG Rover

It's just been on the news that should MG Rover go under the company that owns the site are looking to redevelop it, creating around 10,000 jobs (about 50/50 new jobs/relocated jobs). Apparently they have a track record of doing this and have revitalised other areas including former mining communities destroyed by the Tories.

I remember being on a course with some people from MG Rover last year. They were very critical of the management, feeling that there was a gap between what management thought was going on and what was actually going on.

It seemed like more than the normal workers criticism of management.

14 April 2005

Getting a message through

I discovered today that at counts the returning officer has to show all spoiled ballots to the candidates or their agents. Therefore if you don't want to vote but would like to get a message to the candidates then if you spoil your ballot and write a message on it it will be seen by them.

Apparently some of the messages that get written are rather rude.

Personally I plan to vote for the candidate that will do me the most good.

3 April 2005

Public Transport and Politics

John Hemming (LibDem), Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, is proposing that the age limit for free travel on public transport be lowered to 60. He has indicated that it is a move to relieve congesation by getting people out of their cars and onto public transport.

I've heard a rumour that he's making another run for MP, perhaps this is part of his strategy?

Whilst I'm very much in favour of enouraging people to use public transport, I feel that the moeny should be spent on improving usability, safety and reliability for all passengers. Not just for those over 60. Plus free travel passes are only usable in off peak times, which are not the problem. It's when everyone is travelling to work/school or home at the end of the day (i.e. the peak times) that are the problem.

For example I have to travel into Birmingham city centre each week day for work. Fortunately I'm on flexitime so can arrive at work anytime between 07:00 and 10:00 and leave anytime between 16:00 and 19:00 (although it's far from unusual for me to have work later). If I leave the house at 09:00 then I generally get into work at around 09:30-09:40. If I leave the house at 08:00 then I generally get into work for about 09:25-09:35. To get the same travel time as at 09:00 (travelling in just after rush hour) I'd have to leave the house before 07:00, not being a morning person I choose the later option.

Similarly at the other end of the day, if I'm not out of the office by 16:15 then I may as well not bother to leave until 18:00 (unless I've got shopping to do). Fortunately that's not often a problem as my managers have perfected the art of dropping big packets of work on me at 15:55 as they head for the door.