Ron gets on his soapbox to harass parliament for what he sees as a number of mis-demeanours!
An Englishman's home
Two years ago, quietly and hardly noticed by many, Parliament passed the Housing Act 2004. Under this Act there is provision for an 'Empty Dwelling Management Order' which allows a local authority to take over any dwelling left unoccupied for more than six months. Having taken control of the dwelling it seems they can treat it as though it were council property, altering it as desired, using the furniture and letting it to the homeless. To avoid an Empty Dwelling Management Order you have to prove that you are temporarily resident elsewhere.
Like many Acts of Parliament the intention was probably well meaning but, also like many Acts of Parliament, it gives too much power to bureaucratic officials who can use it in ways that were not intended (as is evident from some of the anti-terrorism laws). It is not difficult to imagine circumstances in which anyone could become a victim of this Empty Dwelling Order. A delay in obtaining probate after the death of a relative that had been living alone in their own house, for example; difficulty in selling property after taking a job overseas, and so on.
Be warned or the unwary may find themselves dispossessed.
Iraq - the saga continues with no end in sight. Spin and propaganda have led some people to believe that the reason that we and the Americans invaded was to remove the 'tyrant' Sadam Hussein, and now the same spin is claiming success in that, after having removed Sadam, we have now established democracy in Iraq. No doubt Sadam was a tyrant but, tyrant that he was, he had been regarded as an ally by the Americans for years before he invaded Kuwait and had been seen as pro-western. Under Sadam a nation was constructed with a fairly well developed infrastructure with a good electricity grid, mains water available to many, good roads and a number of modern hospitals; Iraqi women were free to wear western dress if they so chose, they could drive, they had ready access to education and could follow careers.
According to a leaked memo from the US ambassador in Iraq to Condoleeza Rice, under the new democratic government, Islamist groups are harassing women over their dress, pressurising them under threats of violence to cover themselves fully, if they drive a car they are subject to intimidation, some employers are forcing women to wear the hijab at work. It is also dangerous for men to wear shorts or for children to play outside in shorts, people have been attacked for wearing jeans. It seems we have succeeded in replacing one tyranny with another.
The ambassador's memo reports that kidnappings are commonplace; that areas have developed with people of particular ethnic and/or religious affiliations grouped together, evicting any strangers from their midst. The infrastructure of electricity supply, roads and fuels supplies - so effectively destroyed by the allies - have not been fully repaired so that fuel shortages and power cuts continue to make life difficult and, above all, the security forces have failed to curtail the acts of terrorists killing an average of more than twenty people a day.
Tony Blair and George Bush tell us that we can be proud of our achievements in Iraq. Yeah right!
The argument rages as to whether or not we should invest in maintaining and updating our Trident missile system.
Slowly more and more nations are obtaining nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. In an uncertain future world with undemocratic governments, possibly led by religious or idealistic fanatics, there is a risk that those nations without nuclear weapons will be open to blackmail and even a nuclear attack. I believe that the threat of retaliation has maintained the peace between nuclear powers. In my opinion there should be no argument we need to continue to be a credible nuclear power.