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Why I’m Voting to Stay in the EU

imageI’m voting to remain today because I am unconvinced at how cutting ties with our largest economic neighbour with whom we trade and travel freely can be good for us. In fact, many experts say it will be bad. We will survive if we leave the EU – of course we will. But things will be a little bit tougher and a bit more expensive (medium to long term). We’ve just come out of a recession – why would we want to risk another? If we want to still trade with the EU – from outside – we will need to accept the terms that they will dictate (what we have now, but with export tariffs). Why would the EU give a leaving member state better conditions than those still inside? Survival is not the question. We will survive in or out. But why make things harder and more expensive for ourselves?

I cannot understand those who claim the EU is undemocratic and fail to mention our 820 unelected Peers (some who grabbed the title when their father died). These unelected Peers earn £300 per day, can block, modify or change government laws /earn even more money from agenda driven businesses who pay Peers to lobby on their behalf and try and amend our laws to their advantage! They are totally unaccountable to us yet wield great power. Where is the outrage over this? The EU isn’t perfect by any means – but to pass legislation or statutory instruments – impact assessments are done, public consultations are launched and national parliaments can formally express their reservations if they feel it would be better dealt with at national level. The U.K. has commissioners and vetoes – we are part of the process.

We live in a country where many people feel disenfranchised to vote. Many feel this way because they are a Labour voter in a predominantly Conservative area or a Conservative voter in labour/liberal area. Our government was elected on around a 27% share of the vote! If you only liked someone 27% of the time – would you employ them? If you only believed someone 27% of the time, would you follow them? If you only liked something 27% – would you buy it? If you are Green or UKIP and now Lib Dem – you know your vote is more likely to be just a protest. Our elections are won and lost on about 100,000 of our 65m population. How is that democracy? Our politicians are frightened to change a system where many have jobs and copper pensions for life. There are some brilliant MPs (as we saw in Jo Cox) but the system lets us down. That is not the fault of the EU! Our attention is being diverted from the real issues around our democracy …& we are falling for it. The EU isn’t perfect, of course not. But to pass laws and treaties – needs our full agreement. In this country it’s less than 30% and then the unelected Peers can have a go.

Immigrants are blamed for pressure on our NHS and housing – but the pressure comes from the fact we have a large elderly population who live longer and need more intensive care. It is our immigrants who provide a large amount of that care. They deliver our babies, help us when we are ill and look after our elderly – literally cradle to grave. There is a government shortfall of between £8-16 billion in our NHS – which is why it’s at breaking point in so many places. Yet, who do we blame? David Cameron or some faceless, nameless immigrant?

We are told immigration is to blame for our housing shortages. When was the last time your local council built new council homes? When was the last time over the past 30/40 years – our government embarked on a major house building programme?

A major housing programme has just started…30 years too late. It’s not the immigrants who’ve let us down (they pay taxes & help pay our current pension pot & NHS services for our elderly) – it’s successive governments and councils that have let us down. Thatchers right to buy in the 80s was great for my parents generation – but devastating for those who followed. Millions of homes are now in the hands of a few – who rent them out, make large profits and push up the price of the remaining available housing. Remember we need immigration to pay for our NHS, to pay for our pensions and to build things, but we also need our councils to build the houses and build the schools. Even without immigration we’d be struggling right now because a lack of building coupled with the buy-to-let sector. We are angry at the wrong people.

Finally, when we are told we are taking back our democracy – but for who are we taking it back? Our government is run by an elite group of people who went to elite schools & universities (whose annual fee is probably more than the average income).

Using the old school networks they employ each other, look out for each other and protect each other. They have good salaries and own multiple properties; with some earning more in a year – than we could hope to in our lifetime. Our banks are run by the same elite group of people. Our media also. Why after the banking crash that caused so much chaos was no one ever prosecuted nor the laws changed so that if it happens again – someone would be held accountable? Why has George Osbourne failed to properly regulated our financial institutions? Because those that run the banks are old school friends with those who run our government – with many seeking to work in both fields.

Our NHS is struggling, our roads are not maintained we are not building enough schools because a lack of cash? Try telling that to Philip Green who took £400m (that he doesn’t need) out of BHS. Try telling that to those in banking who have seen a return to their bumper million bonuses or the footballers we’ve never heard of, until a court case, who earn £80,000 per week. There is lots of money flowing around – it’s just very few people get to drink from the cup.

Whether we like it or not there is a ‘them’ and ‘us’. When Rebecca Wade & Andy Coulson were first arrested under phone hacking charges at the News of the World – we know they received text messages of support from Tony Blair and David Cameron. Andy was even employed by Cam. They were friends. So, be under no illusion who we are taking our country back for – it is not us – it is them.

However we vote, we will survive. But do not be fooled into thinking leaving the EU will be so much better for us or as some claim a total disaster. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is about taking back our democracy either. It’s about diverting our attention from the real issues with our democracy. I will vote remain and yeah it may be the ‘boring’ choice – but it seems to be the safer and economic choice.

Learn How To Be A Fabulous Flirt

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We’ve all been there – an alarmingly attractive individual walks toward us in the street, you can see them giving you a look and you think, ‘Well, hello there!’. You feel a momentary flutter in your stomach as you anticipate a conversation and them asking for your number. And then the cold wind that follows in their wake hits you as they just keep on walking…

Were you reading the signals wrong? If not, what happened? Should you have gone up to him/her? But what on earth would you have said? Confusion reigns.

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Flirting expert, Jean Smith is hosting Fearless Flirting Tours of London. She will teach you how to flirt, and to approach anyone you want without fear, by arming you with top tips and techniques and a whole new way to view this flirting business.

New 1069 SFM Logo

Jean will join me on my 106.9 SFM Saturday breakfast show on 6th February 2016 at 08:10 so we can learn how to be a fabulous flirt!

Flirting tours run monthly in London. The next tour date is 11th Feb at 5:30pm and 7:45pm.

Tours begin at the National Portrait Gallery and cost £39.

For more information you can visit the website: flirtology.co.uk

Syria: The Complexities Of Bombing

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We are in the middle of a heated debate in the UK as to whether we should or should not use our armed forces to bomb Syria.  Whether we do or wether we do not will be decided by a vote of our MPs on Wednesday.

Let’s be clear.  If Paris had been London – the discourse would be very different and it is important that we take this opportunity to be thankful that we make such decisions with a cool head and not as a reaction to horrific events.  That said – we need to realise the real dangers we face as British citizens – like the horrors that we saw on a beach in Tunisia – or that of in France.  The Russian flight that was blown up over Egypt’s Sinai desert could well of been a British flight.  Wether we like it or not – we are targets – wether or not we bomb in Syria.

There are those who are totally opposed to bombing.  I understand their concerns.  However, the truth is that bombing HAS worked.  It decimated their high command; helped halt their advance and in many cases pushed them back;  spreads fear and dread throughout the ranks of Daesh who worry that every time they step outside or jump into a vehicle – they could be killed or maimed.  That in turn helps disrupt their mobility and ability to hold gatherings outside of their strong hold and if they need to communicate over long distances – they take a chance with their lives or use technology which can be intercepted and used against them.

 

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Bombing Has Limitations

That said, bombing has limitations.  We know already that there is a complex network of tunnels and command centres placed underneath the houses and hospitals of innocent Syrian people.  The extremists use these dug outs knowing that if and when they get bombed – they survive but the innocent men, women and children above ground die; their deaths then captured and edited into slick horror videos distributed to easily suggestible men and women around the world who do not comprehend the context of how they actually died.

The real question for MP’s to ask of the Government on Wednesday is not just whether we should bomb Syria.  Whether we do or do not will not make much of a difference. This fact we know. We also know Daesh will be defeated in Syria and Iraq.  Maybe not next week, next month or next year. But they will.  And we know this because – they are a death cult. They are only interested in death.  And before they die they want to ensure they subjugate, kill, terrorise  and torture anyone under their control. This is not something desired by the masses – no matter how deep rooted they are to a religion.  Daesh has limited appeal.

 

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Even the use of the word “defeat” is a simplification.  Like defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan!

So, when we say “defeat” what we actually mean is turn them from a group which controls large swathes of a country and its population – into a small group of bandits and guerrillas who still hold the same ideology but terrorise on a much smaller scale and are dealt with at a local level before eventually being replaced with some other ideology and becoming a footnote in history.

The real question for MP’s to ask of the Government on Wednesday is: What do you think Syria will look like in 1, 3 & 5 years time and what do you base this on?  (as apposed to what do you want it to look like). What is our end game?   When Daesh is defeated – what could fill the vacuum?  Who are they? What are their aims? How far are you prepared to go militarily – understanding that bombing has its limits?  Weapons? Training? Our soldiers?

The West is adamantly opposed to Russian backed President Bashar al-Assad – yet backs the free Syrian army – which is adamantly apposed by Russia and President Bashar al-Assad.  In order to root out Daesh we may need to work with Russia and Assad – how do we feel about this?  Will  we need to adjust our policy to Assad – what about the thousands and millions killed or made refugees by his Government – what are our “lines to take” when answering their questions?  Can we feasibly have two opposing policies operating at one time?  With Assad – but against? With Russia, but against?

 

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Prime Minister David Cameron speaking about the Paris attacks in the House of Commons (PA) – flanked by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

And when Daesh are finally sent scurrying off into the desert – who will replace them?  Do we know? Do we think we know? Have we post-Daesh plans?  What do we do if Assad tries to reclaim control of the country? If we commit to side fully with the free Syrian army and this group of 70,000 militants ready to rout out Daesh from places such as Raqqa – what happens if they are then bombed by Assad or Russia?  What if we find ourselves backing an army which finds itself fighting against Assad and Russia.  Where are the lines drawn? When do we STOP?

So, whether we bomb or do not bomb Syria will probably turn out to be of less importance than wether we are or are not prepared for the end of Daesh control in the region and whether we finally find the stomach to square up to President Putin – when he tries to exert control in the region.

Let us not forget the lessons from history.

 

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Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife leaving the town hall in Sarajevo moments before they were assassinated – which in part, led to the start of WW1.

 

 

 

 

A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

Posted on Twiter by @davidhepworth

This is my favourite photo of the week.

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“…and then I said “Peking? No, officer – just having a look!” Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a lavish banquet in London’s financial district held in honour of his visit. The banquet in a 15th-century hall at was hosted by London’s Lord Mayor and attended by guests including Prince Andrew, to his left.

What #Londoners secretly think about their workplace – 2015 survey findings revealed

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The London Office Workers’ Survey 2015 has uncovered what London workers really think about their colleagues, offices and what they can’t live without…

When faced with the question “what is the one thing you can’t live without in the office?” our shameless London office workers have no qualms in dropping their colleagues! According to the results from the survey, what we really want to get us through the 9 – 5 is simply ‘coffee’ (27%). The caffeine buzz is even more important than our friends (4%) and mobile phones. (We’re sorry tea drinkers, you came second).

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The survey carried out by Swift Office Cleaning Services Ltd presents interesting findings on office workers’ perceptions of their working environment and details of their commute.

So, what about the offices we work in – how do we feel about the premises in which we spend our working week?

As the trend for companies to move towards open plan working instead of the traditional segregated office continues– results from the Survey suggest workers would actually invite the return of the individual office format. Open plan working is proving to be too noisy and cluttered for workers. 20% of people cited the space in the office to be one thing they would change if they have the opportunity, be it having their own office, or to “have smaller office areas rather than the large open plan layout”.

The minimalist design in offices is also a gripe for many London workers. 10% of survey respondents would change the look of their office saying “paint it a bright colour”, “less clinical white on the walls”, “more inviting décor”, make it “more colourful and spacious”. And the significance of office décor should not be underestimated, 66% of people questioned gave décor a mark of 4 or 5 out of 5 for importance compared with just 2% who gave it little or no value at all. And of course someone wanted a slide installed…

It’s not just office décor that holds great value to workers. Companies who get the environment and cleanliness right could see their work productivity soaring as 90% of London workers say they feel more productive in a clean environment and 86% of Londoners in the survey strongly agree that a clean office is important. 9% would like to see “people be more clean around the office”, have “better cleaners” and “have it cleaned on a regular basis”.

Perhaps surprisingly only 9% of London office workers taking the survey said they’d change the people they work with. Of course there were a couple of people saying they’d change “the boss”, and someone simply wants “more women”!

However, other people-related issues include wanting to have “better teamwork”, “the best people, clean and tidy people” and to “get rid of the lazy workers”.

It would appear that our office managers need to take a good look at office provisions too. Of course there are the requests for free biscuits in the kitchen and requirements for better coffee machines (we already know this is THE most important thing in the office…) but when it comes to eating and drinking in the office, the general consensus is “not to allow staff to eat at their desks”. This brings us back to the desire for “more space effective” layouts in the office and specifically areas to relax and to eat away from desks.

‘6 of the Best’ from the London Office Workers’ Survey 2015

1: 42% believe men and women are equally messy in the office, yet 40% think it’s just the men…
2: 20% of commuters read the free papers
3: 90% of workers feel more productive in a clean environment
4: 27% of people choose coffee over anything else in the office…
5: … including their friends! 4%
6: In fact 9% of you would change the people you work with – including your boss!

For more information visit Swift Cleaning.co.uk

Holey Moly!

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So, the saga of the saggy middle motorway which lead to a rather aggressive 15ft hole opening up just near Sittingbourne on the M2 continues.

Geotechnical (a bloke looking down the hole thoughtfully) investigations are ongoing to discover what caused it to develop. Lucky it couldn’t have happened in a better spot as a few yards either side and it might also have swallowed up some poor driver with their car – and we can but guess that outcome!

Traffic is still slow and will be for the next few days whilst the men and women in their high-vis jackets – scratch their heads, point a lot and take great satisfaction in the fact that they are deemed important enough to peer inside, whilst the rest of the bourgeoisie  can do nothing more than admire the pictures 😦

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What exactly causes a sink hole?

I had absolutely no idea, then I found this graphic has helped to demystify this phenomenon somewhat!

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Sinkholes are part of the slow, natural process of erosion in limestone terrain that occur over thousands of years. These common geologic phenomena generally occur where the limestone is within a few hundred feet of the land’s surface

Source:  Inspiring Tech  blog

That said – there have been bigger sink holes…none of which I’d want to be living near when they open!!

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Sinkhole in Guatemala
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A different view of sinkhole in Guatemala
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Police Car Swallowed in Texas
Sinkhole in house
Eeek! Someone actually disappeared down that hole!
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What a glorious hole…the Great Blue Hole near Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Accused of genocide? Better get here quick….

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We have a peculiar set up in 21st century Britain whereby If I was to say or write something derogatory about someone in another country – if they were to protest and take me to court – chances are I’d be hauled in front of a Judge to defend my words.  It seems, however, if someone abroad commits horrendous acts of slaughter, rape or genocide and then flees to our country, our Government is rendered incapacitated to extradite them back to their country of origin by our Courts – in case to do so leads to their torture or death.

And so, they flood here, knowing that our strong humanist beliefs will shelter them from their past indiscretions and enable them, sometimes people who have killed many, to share the same bus or restaurant as our unsuspecting non-murderous citizens who’d be affronted if they knew the true unpleasant history of the person(s) that shares their space.

We wonder why our country has such a bad reputation the further East one sails – we are seen to espouse standards and export morals that we ourselves do not abide by.  If you live in Africa, Iran, Afghanistan or Iraq and know, or even simply suspect, that a man who’d killed, tortured and maimed many people – including some of your own relatives, was walking free and protected by England and English law you’d be sick to your stomach.  You’d wonder at the double standards that doesn’t allow this man who’d brutalised your friends, neighbours, your children to be brought back to your country and account for the crimes committed.

And they are right.  We often condemn Russia for protecting known hitmen and I’m sure there would be absolute outrage in this country if a person killed hundreds of our citizens, fled to Iran and was then protected by the state.  Yes, you can argue that once returned we would not torture and we would not executed. However, with regard to the latter these are our standards that are not universally excepted.

Human rights are crucial and come from one of the worst moments in our history on this planet – Hitler and the Nazi’s.  We must not forget the circumstances that brought in these laws, however, must not allow the continual reinterpretation between different generations of judges and lawyers to decimate credibility in what is about protecting the innocent – not harbouring the guilty.