Thursday, 15 December 2011

Broken Britain. Pointless Politics.

David Cameron, bless him, is a millionaire straight from Eton with influential friends and high powered connections. He has never known a day’s poverty in his life. He has not lived on a sink estate. He has not faced living in a gang culture. He has never known a dearth of opportunity. He is just the sort of person you would expect to have the right perspective of life to help tackle the troubles of people who live at the sharp end of it. No? Well he’s going to have a crack at it anyway.

Today (15 December 2011) starts the beginning of a brand new half a billion pound initiative to repair broken Britain. …or at least it is money to be spent around (not spent by, I hasten to add) 120,000 of the country’s most badly behaved families in an attempt to make them not so bad in the future. It all sounds so wonderfully brave and innovative. We save money in the long term by not having the police coming out to deal with their troubles so often, the ambulance turning up to deal with frequent mishaps, the kids go to school the adults go to work and everything in the garden will be absolutely ticketyboo.

There is, of course, a deep recession going on so money is difficult to come by. Local Government is shedding jobs like a winter coat in springtime to satisfy the demand for cuts in public sector workers while private business has created only less than 10% of the promised private sector jobs to compensate. So it comes as no surprise to find Mr Cameron announcing with pleasure that while Local Authorities would have to find 60% of the money for this initiative to even begin to take off, Central Government would ’match it’ with the other 40%. Sorry, did he say match? If one defines the word ‘match’ as ‘being equal to’ then alarm bells should be ringing at the treasury if the Prime Minister believes that 40% and 60% are equal. It also brings into question his perspective of other things, like responsibility and fairness and how on earth creating what would effectively be a social police force for socially displaced families is likely to achieve nothing more than limiting their involvement with other State departments.

David Cameron’s perspective of how to ‘fix’ these problem families centre around the typical conservative view of ‘rightness’, namely that the children should go to school, the adults should get a job and all the poverty, crime and dysfunction will disappear in a puff of magical right wing logic. What strikes me as the most bizarre observation in all this rolling up of sleeves to get on with the job of turning broken Britain around, and its full steam ahead towards a better and brighter future, is that David Cameron’s perspective is blind to the truth of the situation; he has to be because the cost of fixing it goes way beyond half a billion pounds and way beyond ‘educating’ a few families.

This scheme, which is nothing new as it happens because the Labour party looked at something similar before the Tories picked up the torch and put their own unique -watered down - spin on it, is clearly designed to get dysfunctional families to conform to the norms of society with an emphasis placed on the orderly fashion of education, employment, abiding by the law and being a considerate neighbour. It sounds fantastic – too good to be true. What it does not do is address where dysfunctional families are now and how they got there in the first place. In short, the scheme puts the cart before the horse because no sooner does the Government ‘fix’ one generation of misfits, there will be another generation just around the corner. Why is that? Because Britain has problems like everyone else in the world that cannot be solved as conveniently as politicians would wish. This scheme, fanfare announced in all its glory, is a great example of political pointlessness. If you are not going to tackle the real problems there is no point in tinkering around the edges.

Poverty is by far the number one issue in the capitalist system, and the UK is not alone in this. Some people have gotten so good at manipulating the capitalist system that they have accelerated its evolution towards its terminal conclusion. Where everything is made and sold on the basis of profit, and where there can only be a finite amount of money to play with, eventually just one person / company / corporation will own everything and the system must collapse. Not even the monopoly commissions can prevent big business and powerful individuals from hoarding money. They cannot be forced to spend what they don’t need to spend. And while this slow-release cancer causes pain and misery among the millions of ‘have-nots’ the rich and powerful stick their hands in their pockets and pretend it isn’t there.

At the other end of the scale are the millions of people who have nothing. Not only do they not have the advantage of rich parents / contacts etc, they are born into a societal structure that knows it cannot compete with the expertise of consumerist gurus, clever product advertising and mind manipulating media all hell bent on worshipping the altar of money and getting as much of it as possible. One of the most precious of commodities is truth and there is precious little out there. The truth for many dysfunctional families is the daily struggle to make ends meet and to keep a roof over their heads. The social context in which to describe the problems are very complicated, and maybe if a report made by the individuals (who will be charged with trying to make the money offered by Cameron worth spending) helped to quantify the source of these problems, it might lift the blinkers from politicians and business alike; but I am not holding my breath on that one.

The child we want to send to school to learn is fed on the cheapest rubbish available because it is all the family can afford. But why does a responsible Government allow poisonous substances to be fed to our children at all? Adults may choose to drink alcohol or smoke. Both are poisonous to the system and there are some things that history proves would simply go underground if a prohibition were placed on them. But we don’t allow our children to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco because we know it would be bad for them. Poisoning our children is surely something that should be banned no matter how it is packaged. Fast food restaurants are bad enough but supermarket shelves are also stuffed full of additives, e-numbers, high sugar, high salt, high fat that is the real reason behind childhood obesity, attention deficit, anti social behaviour and lack of concentration at school. All of these packages of poison were not available in the mid 20th century, where most right wing politicians like to point out at how good everyone was back then compared to today. They could only buy fresh food – the good food. But the good food today is too expensive for poor families. Even if we forced the food industry into a universal colour code system to identify healthy and unhealthy food, families in poverty will still struggle to afford to make the changes because they can’t negotiate on the rent, gas, electric, water rates and so on. Even poor families need some societal conformity but the cost of telephone, TV, Internet access adds to the pressure to economise on choice of food.

Mr Cameron’s scheme will not address families where mental health issues are present. In many cases the carers must be full time family members who therefore cannot escape the poverty trap. Ordinary families, without looking after people with mental health issues, disability issues and health problems that prevent them from working, have to deal with the stresses and anxieties that go along with living in a poverty state. For families where one of the above issues is an added problem, there is no solution, no support and no avenue open to them to escape it. Once again the issue of poverty is the touch paper to which all dysfunction that impinges on society beyond the confines of the family home begins.

Recreational drugs is a big issue that I have discussed at length, so to avoid repetition please see which is an open letter to the European Commission in advance of their border control strategy for drugs and contraband.

Likewise the lack of work opportunities for people with criminal records is discussed in full on

The above list is far from exhaustive but in these three issues alone exist fundamental issues that David Cameron’s scheme will not tackle – and why it will therefore fail to make the slightest impact. Perhaps there are some who prefer the way broken Britain limps along and are happy to let the masses scrabble around in perpetual ignorance, while the pointless politics of left and right wing thinking vie for supremacy over each other. In my humble opinion, Mr Cameron’s scheme is just another distraction from what really needs to be done.

What I believe should be made public, and it would seem to be one of the best kept secrets in the UK, is the formula that the Government uses to work out welfare benefit. The letter accompanying the award for Income Support, for example, says that the amount payable to an individual is the lowest amount the Government believes is required for a person to live. Who knows if the formula for benefit has ever changed from its inception in 1946 but what I can say for certain is that the poverty of many families – and their subsequent reaction in the form of criminality, anti social behaviour, lack of education and work opportunities – are inherently linked to causes that David Cameron wants to ignore. To steal one of Al Gore’s catch phrases, there are some inconvenient truths that must be addressed to solve the problems that David Cameron says he wishes to eradicate. And it won’t be achieved by throwing money at the squeakiest cogs. Perhaps instead of looking at how society demonstrates symptoms of dysfunction within the current models and try to make them conform to those models, we should perhaps be looking at the models themselves to see how they cause dysfunction. David Cameron, like all staunch right wing supporters, is happy to tell everyone about grasping the nettle of a problem to solve it. Well this problem is particularly thorny and no one has grasped it.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Discrimination Against Ex-offenders In Employment

The BBC reported today that 73% of looters in the so-called ‘riots’ occurring in many UK cities were young people with criminal records. It wasn’t surprising that some politicians seized the opportunity of the riots to roll out their favourite pet theory on how the world can be made a better place (for some anyway). Various ‘solutions’ have been rolled out and they are all doomed to failure. Only someone who has nothing to gain by the solution would be without bias enough to find it. Otherwise there is an added ingredient (predominantly self interest) to be included that was never in the problem. This is often why no Government initiative ever works (see current stupidity on nudging as an example ).

When I worked in a jobcentre, I met a young man who defended his girlfriend from an attack made by an ex-lover. His actions were in keeping with any person looking after his family but the court deemed his action against the ex-lover as excessive and he was jailed for grievous bodily harm. He had no criminal record before and none since. Never the less he discovered what his actions cost him in trying to live afterwards in the society that wanted him to be a productive, law abiding citizen but denied him the opportunity.

One of the first things that happen to you when you get a criminal record in the UK is an almost impossible uphill struggle to get a job. Without work, an ex-offender is cast adrift without money or future prospects. Now if having served a sentence for a crime committed was supposed to be payment for breaking the law, it does not make practical or economical sense to exclude an ex-offender from making a valuable contribution to a tax-paying society, but instead forcing him into a position where he (it can be ‘she’ also but the majority of ex-offenders are male) must claim benefits from the state, experiencing perpetual rejection from the labour market.

The law justifies, and rightly so, denying people convicted of certain offences the right to gain employment in certain jobs; the obvious examples would be paedophiles banned from working with children or sex offenders working with vulnerable people. Prospective employers request information from The Criminal Record Bureau, known as a (CRB) check, to ensure this is the case. In other areas of employment, however, where a CRB is not required, it should be possible to find employment. But because of the way application forms demand in advance to know if anyone has a criminal record of any kind, they are automatically sifted out of the interview stage.

So the guy I mentioned earlier has the same chance of getting a job as a convicted paedophile. No matter how I consider this point I always arrive at the conclusion that this is fundamentally wrong. Not only wrong, it is discriminatory and denies all ex-offenders of the opportunity - not to put their past behind them but - to work towards a better and more productive future.

Employers are sifting out all applicants with criminal records ignorant of what they had a criminal record for. The applicant’s skills, qualifications, experience and aspirations to be a productive member of their society counts for nothing on the recruitment table.

Now when you consider that one in four young men in the UK aged between 16 – 24 have a criminal record, (up to 73% in one could argue feature in the 2000 plus arrests) is it any wonder that many of them participated in a looting spree for goods that they could never possibly find a job to get the money to pay for legitimately. Is this not just a case of human nature expressing itself in an unfair system?

There are politicians and experts of this and that, spending money on committees and think tanks, trying to come up with a solution to prevent riots like this from happening again. Among the solutions included are the notion of water cannons, rubber bullets, harsher sentences, eviction from council houses and a whole raft of ‘tough on crime’ ideas. These kinds of solutions can only suppress human nature into finding more cunning and subversive ways of making a living in a world that does not offer sufficient opportunities. The most common way of making money outside of the system is, of course, drug dealing and one wonders how complicit we have been as a society in ‘nudging’ ex-offenders into the only types of career opportunity available to them by denying them work opportunities that should be open to all.

The laws on equal opportunities must be reflected in our treatment of ex-offenders as much as we do race, creed, colour, sexual orientation, disability (although one still experiences lip service at times just to appear to stay within the law). Ex-offenders, by their very treatment by us, are become a group that can be classified as being treated differently. So if equal opportunities exist to prevent discrimination against certain groups, then ex-offenders must surely have the same protection.

To address equality in employment, the law must first prevent employers from asking a blanket question about criminal records before the interview. Naturally there are certain crimes that will exclude certain offenders from even applying – and it is for the employer to justify its reasons excluding those crimes from its applicants. So if an offence is not on the list for that kind of employment, it will be ok for an ex-offender to apply for that job (The Department For Work and Pensions has a ‘Standard Occupation Classification’ (SOC) list that can be used to identify what types of employment may exclude what kinds of crime).

The second area of an application for work that must change is the previous work history, where it must be explained what a candidate has done during a period of time where no work history is declared. Ex-offenders would have been in prison and many application forms ask for reasons for the gap, mainly to identify people who have served custodial sentences. This is another opportunity for discrimination. Candidates should be entitled to put down ‘unemployed’ for a period of a custodial sentence. For this reason, people in between jobs, single parents or others not in the labour market, people who have had long term sickness or disability should also be able to put down ‘unemployed’ for any period between periods of work.

Thirdly, an employer may not ask about periods of unemployment during the interview. The interview is about the advertised job, so the interview should be about that job and a candidates related experience to it.

If an employer decides, after a successful interview, to offer a candidate the post, only then can they enquire about periods of unemployment because if an employer declines an ex-offender a job for a crime that is not relevant to their business, they could then be taken to an Employment Tribunal for discrimination.

It is right that an ex-offender must declare any unspent convictions. It is wrong to exclude ex-offenders from employment, simply because they have a criminal record. With so many youngsters having criminal records it would be stupendously silly of the Government not to realise that the world has changed greatly since the laws regarding the declaration of criminal records made sense.

I sent a short letter to Ken Clarke, in his capacity as Secretary of State for Justice, a week ago with this suggestion. I have yet to receive a response.

Nudge, Nudge. Now Stop Smoking

Behavioural Insights Team. What a heap of crock!

The UK Government have set up this new psychology team in Whitehall (also known as the ‘nudge team’) to encourage – and I use the term loosely – people to fit into social norms. By this I mean to quit smoking, eat healthily, donate to charity and carry organ donor cards. David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ is being promoted through patronising and subversive means with as much hope of success as the sudden resurrection and deification of the irritating mosquito I squashed against a wall last night.

If this is the Government trying to be smarter it must think an ostrich with its head buried in the sand is the paradigm by which all Governments should formulate policy. Central to the theme appears to be adopting whatever costs little or nothing. Not central to the theme is adopting what works. Daggers of irritation are already appearing in my head.

The Independent Newspaper reports one of the experiments tried through this team, using the notion that human nature is mostly lazy, change the wording on tax letters that led to an extra £200 million in revenue. In other words the Government thinks that getting sneaky in its attempt to fill the treasury coffers is helping people to make better life style choices? But there are lessons in this success story where the example needs to be followed.

For a start, the letter was sent to tax payers by the tax office. This is good because you would expect them to know about tax. The success of this story is basically down to the way information was delivered to the individual – and the individual, without having a comparison to dispute what the taxman said was normal, felt inclined to believe the taxman. While this may work for the tax office, let’s look at the other areas they want to tackle.


The UK currently has the highest obesity rate in the world in some age categories. We are fat because generally the food we eat is rubbish or nutritionally challenged through intensive farming, including meat and poultry. Andrew Lansley has recruited food and drink multi nationals to think up ways of ‘nudging’ people into eating more healthily. Isn’t this a bit like asking an abattoir to think up ways of making slaughter more attractive? The very people who sell you rubbish are now going to advise you not to buy rubbish? I don’t think so. Most likely they will pay lip service to the Government, using their own psychologists to ensure that anything they say will be largely banal and will do nothing to prevent shoppers from carrying on spending money on rubbish as usual.

The supermarket is hardly the best adviser on healthy eating. Indeed I wonder how much of the supermarket’s influence over the cost of the nutritional value of fresh meat and vegetables through tougher cost margins has led to the deterioration of the food we eat.

There are no plans to regulate, which is a crying shame because crap food (higher in salt, sugar or fat than could possibly fit into a proper day’s food intake) should be labelled with a big red sticker that identifies it as ‘this will make you fat’ or ‘this will harden your arteries’ if eaten on a regular basis. Food that is supposed to be good for you should be labelled green. Anything without a label would be treated as suspect.

It is not that humans are lazy or can’t be bothered. They simply do not have time to read all the food labels, anymore than any of us feel inclined to read through all the small print. In fact why don’t we pass a law saying that all small print must be in 250 characters or less? That way we would have time.

We need to be properly informed about food and what is in it. Misrepresentation in advertising and ignorance of the real truth is an area worth spending more effort on. I am informed, for example, that ‘free range’ could mean a little square box in the corner of a big shed that I chicken may be able to pop its head out to see the sky.

Apparently some information that is useful to the uninformed has already started with fast food joints having to advertise how many calories exists in their food. I wouldn’t know for sure as I try never to set foot in such places. My rule is simple – No packet food, no fried stuff, no processed food, no fast food. I bet you the supermarkets won’t be ‘nudging’ their customers not to buy anything I just listed and fast food companies would be apoplectic at the notion of plummeting sales. But if the UK Government was serious about reducing the nation’s weight, that would have to be their advice.


The Government will no doubt say that the chief medical officer is the person who should advise on ‘nudging’ people to quit smoking. In fact the chief medical office has been advising for years and the fact that so many people still smoke is a great testament to how the chief medical officer is not the person to advise on how to quit smoking. If you really want to quit smoking you have to talk to someone who has quit smoking (see Stop Smoking: Diary Of A Quitter)


David Cameron wants us to give to charities. When people do not have enough money to look after themselves, it is hardly appropriate to start giving your money away. There are thousands upon thousands of charities available. My question to David Cameron would be why is there the need to create so many charities? Where is the world’s responsibility towards its people? Why have we not, once and for all, worked out how much digging wells for fresh water in Africa will cost and just do it? The one thing a big charity will never want to do is extinguish the need for the charity. How many charities do you know that reported ‘We got all the money we needed thanks’?

Charity is a huge business. How much of your money goes to pay for those awful advertising campaigns? Why isn’t that money going to the place it was given for? Who pays for the huge offices, staff and administrators? No wonder they need so much money. I would consider giving money to help a starving person if I could be sure that it went to feed a starving person– but I will not to pay the wages of a charity fund raiser. Charity in its current structure is a parasitic drain, surviving on other people’s income. The reason for the charity is merely the recipient of whatever is left after so many expenses have been taken away.

‘Nudge’ me about charities and I will kick where it hurts.

Social Networks:

The Behavioural Insight Team recognises the importance of community networks and their ability to work together to get things done for no cost to the Government. No one lifts a finger to help anyone in any circumstance until the problem is plonked in their back garden. Then they want the world and his wife to ‘join the cause’; look at David Cameron and his ‘Big Society’ for example. The simple fact of life is that people will get together when there is a strong enough shared interest. But when the first priorities are earning enough money to keep a roof over your head, making sure the children get what they need and don’t get into trouble, making a better life for your family and protecting your property, there is neither the incentive nor the energy to invent more life by joining a group that holds no benefit to you or your family. Only rich people who have the time and luxury to consider the ethics of a wider world can indulge in their little bit of ‘I’m doing my bit for the big society’ and sleep happily in their bed knowing they just made the world a better place. Isn’t it great being an ostrich!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

China Joins The Stop Smoking Revolution

China is to ban smoking in public places. It had to happen sooner or later. Now if only I could get some nice person to translate and publish my book 'Stop Smoking: Diary Of A Quitter' into Chinese, I would even consider offering a percentage of the royalties.

The things is though, if China has joined the battle against smoking - one of the most prolific smoking countries in the world - then it really is all over for the cigarette. OK it may still take a few generations before tobacco is reduced to a harmful drug taken by only a few silly people but what became an ubiquitous and acceptably social activity looks destined to be consigned with great ignominy to the dustbin of history.

In the meantime there are a great many people who want to quit smoking now but for whatever reason do not feel confident or able to. With the notion that it will still take time before cigarettes lose their popularity entirely (oh yes, the great cigarette manufacturers will think nothing of simply closing down if they don't make enough profit) the current smokers may well feel persecuted more often as they continue to smoke.

China is destined to become the next superpower. It looks like tobacco has no place in its future.

('Stop Smoking: Diary Of A Quitter' is publish in ebook format by Synergebooks)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Say YES to AV on 6 May 2011

Politicians are running scared, in fear of losing the safety and security of their jobs. If ever the Alternative Voting system (AV) won the referendum on 6 May 2011, politicians would have to start working for the electorate instead of party ideals. It may not be the greatest voting system in the world but it is better for the electorate than the First Past the Post (FPP) that the UK has had for so long. We simply must vote YES to AV. It would be the best move that the electorate could make to prevent systemic sleaze, corruption and the eternal strangle hold of Labservative.

The argument put forward by the No to AV campaign is absurd. I received a leaflet through my door today offering me six reasons why I should vote No.

1. It will produce more coalitions under the Alternative Vote system...

Fantastic! Already the Vote No campaign admits that Labservative will be no more. This means that other, more electoral-friendly parties may come forward with better policies and better politics. So on point one I would vote YES to more coalitions.

2. It is used by only 3 other countries in the world...

Steve Baines (Fairer Votes Oxfordshire) has already done the homework and posted a letter on Newton News saying how widely the AV system is used, including India and the USA. Prime Minister David Cameron was elected as leader of the Conservative Party under the AV system. It is a gross distortion to say it is only used in three countries. And anyway, if it was only used in a single country, the questions would have to be asked: what did it replace? and why did they choose AV over FPP? Point 2 doesn't strike me as having any truth in it.

3. It allows the second or third place candidate to win.

Or to put it another way, it stops the first place candidate with only 30% of the vote going on to represent a constituency. Only a Proportional Representation System like the one I devised (Political Solutions) back in the year 2007 would truly reflect the Democratic wish of the electorate. In the meantime, why should any Government be formed with less than 50% of our vote? It is silly to support the FPP system as a fair system.

4. It will cost the country £250 million

The Spectator ran an article with the figures but it has to be pointed out that £90 million of this is the referendum. So it costs that much for EVERY referendum the country has and why should we not have a say at something so important. Take this figure away and the cost to the country is now £160 million, which admittedly is not such a round and headline grabbing figure. The cost of running the 2010 election probably hit about £100 million anyway so what are we arguing over... £60 million. Considering the billions of pounds the taxpayer handed over to the banks, only to see the banking industry award themselves millions of pounds in bonuses, this is hardly a startling increase. I would rather spend £60 million on a fairer voting system than billions on bankers any day.

5. It means that someones 5th preference is worth the same as your 1st preference.

This is true but until politicians have the guts to allow a proper Proportional Representation System to be used, where almost every voters first preference is worth the same, we have to start somewhere. Under the current FPP system there are many voters first preference that will never count. They will never be represented by their choice of political persuasion, either because it is an extreme minority or, as is much more usually the case, the voter votes for the wrong candidate in a 'safe' constituency. For example, no Conservative voter has ever been represented by a Conservative MP in Hull. This means that Conservative votes in Hull are always worth less than Labour votes. The AV system will not wipe out the safe seats of constituencies where the incumbent candidate already has over 50% of the vote. So even AV will not solve this current injustice and that is where a proper PR system is needed; but greedy politicians would not allow the electorate a real referendum on a range of voting systems. They only allowed us this one choice, which just goes to show how scared they are about giving the electorate real power to decide a voting system for themselves.

6. It will mean that supporter of the BNP and other fringe parties would decide who wins.

What rubbish! First we have to acknowledge that the BNP is represented in the European Parliament because of the PR system used for the European Elections. What politicians must address is why such extreme parties have become popular? If Labservative had done a better job there would most likely be fewer extremist supporters but if no one ever listens to people's concerns it is only natural to gravitate towards more extreme measures. It will be the voters who decide the winner, and yes this may include supporters of extreme parties but they have a democratic right to vote and who is to say that they do not already vote tactically within the current system? This is all just scare mongering.

Well that is the campaign for No to AV. It is hollow and misleading.

Saying YES to AV is not the end of the line for the voting system. Like the rest of the World at this time seeking reform, we need a better voting system. AV is not the end - it is the beginning. I don't particularly like the system but I like FPP even less and this is the limited choice we have been given. IF People vote for AV, the next step will be to encourage MPs to give us the right to campaign towards Proportional Representation, just as we have a type of PR in the European Elections (and that could be reformed even more). The old two party politics has to go if we are to make politics more transparent. Clearly we cannot rely on the present 'No to AV' campaigners to tell us the truth... and one has to ask why? Is it because, like the rest of us, they can no longer count on a job for life. And is because, unlike most of the rest of us, they fear losing the diamond encrusted pension that we could only dream of? Politicians have more to lose under AV than the electorate. Now you should look carefully at who does not support this important reform.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

National No Smoking Day

National No Smoking Day in the UK is 9 March 2011 this year. I would advise anyone who hasn’t planned to quit on this day to sort out a plan before quitting. Why? Because just like New Year’s resolutions they rarely have a successful outcome.

If you really want to quit, the best thing you can do on National No Smoking Day is to plan how you are going to quit. If you know someone who wants to quit, they might find this article useful, so please pass on the link.

Planning is important but be careful what advice you accept. In my opinion, the only real advice you can accept is from someone who smoked and has quit successfully. Do not take the advice of companies selling quit smoking products or medical facilities where the people who have set it up have never smoked and – quite frankly – do not know what they are talking about. My book ‘Stop Smoking: Diary Of A Quitter’ would be a useful start to any would be quitter, especially for those people who have tried quitting many times but fail after a few weeks (For many people there is no ‘easy way’).

  1. Your reason to quit has to be solid.
  2. Look at what Nicotine Replacement Therapy is best for you and see if it is free via your GP or smoking cessation service.
  3. DO NOT keep a diary of when you smoke; it won’t help you. When you first start to quit smoking the nature of your habit is the least of your worries. The first thing you have to do is break the addiction.
  4. DO NOT ask your medical professional for advice on how to quit smoking unless they have had first hand experience of quitting smoking.
  5. Join a support group, either online or locally. No one is better qualified to help you than someone who is going through the same experience as you.
  6. Buy my book: ‘Stop Smoking: Diary Of A Quitter’ for some amazing advice, support and some humorous distractions while you suffer your nicotine withdrawal pangs.

Even if you only decide that you want to quit on 9 March 2011 it is a step in the right direction. Right now cigarettes are only permitted to continue to exist because of the tax revenue they bring in. As soon as that revenue drops below a certain level, the death knell of the tobacco industry will be heard. Perhaps if you quit smoking now, you will still be alive to see the day it happens.

Monday, 7 February 2011

A Kick In The Pants From David Cameron

David Cameron is trying to get banks to lend more to businesses. Without the banks willingness to help private enterprise there will be nowhere to go for the thousands of public sector workers who are about to lose their jobs. Mr Cameron says that he is not interested in giving the banking sector a 'kick in the pants'.

Let us not forget that it was irresponsible lending by banks, encouraged by the banks, in their frantic attempt to claw as much profit as possible for themselves. It was the investment banks that sold toxic bundles across the world, holding debts that were doomed to go unpaid. Let us not forget that it was greed, greed perpetrated by the banks that promoted excessive risk taking for profit and ever increasing bonuses, that led to the crash and the cuts to jobs and services that this country (UK) is being told by David Cameron that we must endure today. And why should the tax payer endure that alone?

The banking industry has cost people their jobs; income starved individuals who had no culpability in the cause of that loss. There is no bonus for them. And it is now historical fact that a culture of excessive bonuses is the carrot that encourages the very risks that caused the crash in the first place. Allowing it to continue is a travesty.

People who lost their livelihoods after the Deep Water Horizon oil rig disaster were able to claim compensation from the company that caused the loss of their job. Had it been a country responsible for this much devastation there would be calls for reparation. The banking industry has cost this country more than just money. So why does David Cameron think that the banks should be treated any different?

We are not 'all in this together' Mr Cameron. Allowing the banking industry to suffer nothing, while the electorate suffer greatly, demonstrates how you protect the haves at the expense of the have nots. The tax payer is experiencing more than just a kick in the pants. While the war on the tax payer continues, the war on the banking sector must continue also. Otherwise we become impotent in the shadow of the demon that demands we sacrifice with our jobs and our security whatever price is necessary to replenish its insatiable appetite.