After decades of unmitigated and relentless capitalism and a Thatcheresque meltdown (she was not very good at seeing things going pear shaped in the long term either) it would be nice to have just a thin slice of socialist compassion and equality for the ordinary person, especially the ones on low and fixed incomes. Despite the rampant privatisations the trains do not run on time, energy, fuel and utilities cost an arm and a leg, we do not have enough affordable housing, and our infrastructure resembles an unfinished matchstick model. We are being screwed by taxes, largely to pay for a massive failure in the private sector.
Sticker graffiti near Borough Market, Southwark, London, England
I managed to catch up with last night’s BBC Panorama programme which featured author Bill Bryson examining the shocking state of litter in this country. It’s one of those sobering examinations which probably needs someone like Bill Bryson, an American who clearly has a soft spot for this island and who desperately wants to do what he can to somehow stem the ‘background noise’ of litter that is spread across Great Britain throughout the towns, cities and in the countryside.
Passing The Buck
The sad part was watching individual council’s and supermarkets passing the buck on responsibility for clearing up our mess & failing to enforce the stringent littering and fly tipping laws that are available to us in this country. In one example a concerned member of the public had to take independent legal action against his own local authority via an abatement order for not carrying out their duty in clearing litter in his own town.
Different But the Same
I have this pet theory about Britain, that there’s something slightly ramshackle and ungovernable about its people due to its resentment of any form of a nanny state. I can never quite work out whether Britain is just really good at apathy and buck passing or whether we’re just congenitally bad at management.
Join The Dots
It really irks me the way local authorities have different ways of applying the law across the country.It’s just ludicrous that we don’t seem to take litter seriously enough and if it’s even suggested that people should be heavily fined for dropping litter then our knee jerk seeming distaste for a ‘nanny state’ comes into play. But if nanny doesn’t nag us or encourage us to be better people us then we simply would not control our urge to do whatever the hell we like and that includes defacing this land with litter.
Try To Remember
Back in the day (play the old Hovis advert music, it’s flashback to my youth time) I worked in between my education during the summer for the local parks department. The public were always very keen to come up to anyone working in the park & chide them for not picking up some piece of litter they’d just seen. The official council line ,sobering though the point of view was, ran along the lines that they weren’t the ones dropping the litter. It was stalemate really. Very little seems to have changed in that a change of culture is still needed to stop litter being dropped and authorities need to treat the clearing of litter as a serious matter.
The programme can be watched again in the UK via the BBC iPlayer.
Some of the main UK supermarkets have been accused of fixing the price of many dairy products. The Office of Fair Trading is looking into claims that whilst the price paid to the farmer stayed the same and even fell over a 6 year period the price the consumer paid in the supermarket went up.
In 2001 the supermarkets paid the farmgate 18.47pence for a litre of milk and charged 42.7p whereas in 2007 the supermarkets paid the farmgate 18.08p a litre but charged 56.3p.
The Office of Fair Trading, the government fair trade watchdog, estimates that consumers have paid around £270 million more than they should have done for many dairy products.
Supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda are to examine the report whilst the farmers processors, Dairy Crest, Arla, Lactalis McLelland, The Cheese Company – part of Milk Link – and Wiseman also are implicated in an agreement to fix prices. Morrisons may have inherited a policy that Safeway undertook prior to being bought by Morrisons.
Some think that the dairy processors may have colluded with the supermarkets in an attempt to raise the falling price being paid at the farmgate. Source
Richard Branson has sold Virgin’s 125 UK and Irish record stores which will be re branded under the name Zavvi via a current management buyout. Earlier this year Branson had sold his US record stores. The current and presumably now future management of the soon to be former Virgin record stores say they are upbeat about the viability of the stores in a market that is feeling the continued impact of the decline of CD sales.
In the UK many supermarkets have signalled they will no longer stock CD singles whilst Music Zone, MVC and Fopp had already disappeared from the UK high street leaving only HMV and some smaller specialist stores remaining in the diminishing physical record store market.
The demise of the high street record store seemed inevitable much like the decline of milk floats and milk deliveries, film cameras, TV and video rental stores and public phones boxes which are all increasingly becoming consigned to being just a memory for people of a certain age.
As people say, a week is a long time in politics and in a few weeks time we could even find ourselves in the midst of election fever if Gordon Brown decides to light the blue touch paper and signal a general election. The opinion polls don’t show such a decisive gap between Labour and the Tories but the Conservatives still seem riddled with in fighting and the old party pull that wants yet another new leader to lurch to the right.
Maybe Gordon won’t take the chance but he does still seem to be bouncing at the moment and if he thinks that David Cameron’s conservatives are not behind their leader 100% (will they really start playing the anti Europe card yet again?) then pressing home the advantage whilst pursuing his own mandate with the British people may prompt him to plump for an October election.
A water buffalo named William Shakespeare escaped from a field in Cumbria and ran into the path of cars on a nearby road on Tuesday, police reported. The buffalo was sadly killed in the accident and fire fighters had to cut a 19 year old driver from the wreck of his fiat punto that collided with the animal. The driver was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries.
Two other drivers collided with each other as they attempted to swerve and avoid the accident on the A590 near Dalton-in-Furness. The driver and passenger of one vehicle was taken to hospital with whiplash injuries.
Boris Johnson finally launched his campaign to become the Conservative candidate for London Mayor and instantly got the iPod generation branding seen here. I’m not sure which facets of Boris each silhouette is meant to replace but the pink one on the right is clearly playing to his ‘lovable buffoon’ persona. So from left to right I see statesman Boris (yet to see more of that one), cycling Boris (he is a keen cyclist), shambolic Boris (the natural state?) and puzzled but lovable buffoon Boris. Of course branding alone will not stop the famous Boris foot-in-mouth tendencies but his campaign has got off to a colourful and good humoured start.The question is will London voters buy into the Boris brand?