Saturday, July 16, 2016

Who holds politicians to account? It is is time an independent regulator did.

Following the 2015 election campaign and the more recent EU referendum campaign it is clear that across the entire political spectrum we as ordinary members of the public can no longer trust, at face value, whatever a politician or prospective candidate says.

Time and again we have been lied to, misled and generally had slogans pushed down our throats as some kind of quasi fact.

One of the reasons for this is that there is no arbiter on what constitutes an acceptable statement or fact. The EU Referendum particularly has seen a number of media outlets or social organisations (some semi- political themselves) appoint themselves as fact checkers in order to cut through the constant political / media spin. However, what none of these organisations can do is promote best practice or impose sanctions if and where necessary. This is the kind of action that in most other areas of our lives would be taken by an industry regulator.

There is in fact no regulator of political campaigns in the UK. Only very limited regulations takes place by the electoral commission in terms of spending and Ofcom in terms of TV or radio advertising. 
 
The Advertising Standards Agency states on their website:
Complaints about political advertising should be made directly to the party responsible for that advertising.”
Is that fair? If a complaint is made about a police service you can make it to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. “Independent” is the key word, if we do not trust the police to investigate themselves why should we trust the politicians and political parties.

The Electoral Commission states that:
In general, political campaign material in the UK is not regulated, and it is a matter for voters to decide on the basis of such material whether they consider it accurate or not.”
We are being asked to vote on key decisions that will affect everyone's future yet the lack of regulation means a political statement can be made and it does not have to be true or remotely based in fact as long as you can shout the loudest over those that oppose you. How is that working for us so far? Well it has lead to the slanging matches we have seen in both campaigns and when we the voters feel we have been misled it creates further alienation and a detachment from the democratic process.

We have all begun to question what the modern democratic process is all about and how politicians can possibly be trusted.

I believe that a wide ranging public enquiry similar to the Leveson enquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press needs to be set up to answer the following questions:

1) Is there sufficient independent regulation in place to ensure that political campaigns are in general fought on facts and that individuals taking part do so in line with the 7 Nolan principles. Are sanctions required where standards fall below such requirements for either individuals or parties or other political organisations?

2) Should the Advertising Standards Agency (or similar body) be given the authority to regulate all political advertising in the same way they currently regulate product advertising / claims?

3) Should an independent regulator (or similar) have a public duty to promote best practice or quality standards for political campaign material or political campaigns?

4) Should the media (in all forms) be required to include some element of political balance in news articles? (Editorial content would be excluded from political bias)

5) Should the media have a duty to ensure that all arguments are presented to voters as opposed to just those approved by the editorial team?

This list is only indicative of some of the topics that could be considered. I fully accept that if someone is appointed to lead an inquiry then their first difficult job would be to consider the scope and range of the inquiry.

It is imperative that similar to the Leveson inquiry any inquiry should consider views from any individual or group that wishes to comment. An inquiry would be centred around what the public wants our democratic process to look like not what politicians want.

Now is the time to change how politics works, they work for us or at least they should. The public is entitled to make an informed decision with all the facts laid before us.

If you agree with everything I have said then you need to sign the position so we can raise the issues in parliament:


Thank you for joining the fight back to really take back control.

Sources:

From the advertising standards agency:

Political advertising

All complaints of political bias in TV or radio advertising should be made to Ofcom
For reasons of freedom of speech, we do not have remit over non-broadcast ads where the purpose of the ad is to persuade voters in a local, national or international electoral referendum. Complaints about political advertising should be made directly to the party responsible for that advertising.

From the electoral commission:

In general, political campaign material in the UK is not regulated, and it is a matter for voters to decide on the basis of such material whether they consider it accurate or not. This includes the design of the material. There is one exception to this, which is making or publishing a false statement of fact in relation to a candidate’s personal character or conduct (not their political views or conduct), unless there are reasonable grounds to believe the statement is true. The Commission does not regulate this rule however, and any allegations should be made to the police.


Nolan principles:


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Big National Lottery Experiment


Maybe this has been done before but not by me.

The big experiment is that I am going to buy one lucky dip Euromillions ticket each week for a year. So that is 52 tickets costing a total of £104.

Will I win more than I spend? Will I win big? Is it a good investment strategy. Who knows?

As an experiment statistically it is a bit limited as I am only playing one line per week. The odds of winning any prize are 1 in 13 on the main draw.  So taking the lowest average win which is £2.70 I should earn £10.80 and spend £104 making a grand loss of  £93.20.

Of course I could win a lot less or I could win a lot more. It will interesting finding out.

I will post updates whenever the mood takes me or when I have a win to talk about.

So far after week 1 I have spent £2 and received £0 makes an early loss of £2.

Things can only get better!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Get 50% off Amazon movies ( They don't want you to know)

Amazon have recently started hiding the cheapest options for renting and streaming new movies. Take "The Martian" which is advertised as £3.45 to £9.99. When you click on the link to go to the buy page you can either rent HD at £4.45 or buy at £9.99.

Amazon are hoping that everyone will click on the £4.45 button but unless you are on a HD laptop or a large HD TV you can get away with SD. If you are on a slow connection or a tablet then SD is the better choice.

But how do you find the £3.45 option. Click on the "More purchase options" to reveal the hidden cheaper option.



















Et Voila!



















Want to save another pound. If you are a amazon prime user you can select "no rush delivery" when you order something. Each time you do this amazon will give you a £1 promotion code to use on amazon video. The discounts are applied automatically but to check your balance you can click on "Redeem a gift card or promotion code".

Use both tricks to get your 50% off.

If you want to maximise your vouchers you can even split up your orders into single item orders and get a £1 voucher for each item.

Why pay more?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My thoughts on the upcoming EU referendum

For me there is a simple argument which can be easily understood by everyone. Larger groups of countries in this global economy are stronger than individual countries. Or alternatively to quote Aristotle "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

This is simply common sense and those in favour of brexit are simply deluding themselves that Britain will somehow be better off standing on the outside looking in. These are probably the same people that believe we still have a British Empire.

I would agree that Europe is not perfect but let us change it from within not leave in a hissy fit. We are stronger working together and we must work together for a better outcome for all. We must look outward beyond our island than inward and hope for the English channel to protect us.

Some 'pause for thought' comments from the first few days of campaigning:

"But in my view - for reasons of security, protection against crime and terrorism, trade with Europe, and access to markets around the world - it is in the national interest to remain a member of the European Union. " - Theresa May.

Although the brexit campaigners are arguing exactly the same about leaving.  Again if you use a modicum of common sense team work would triumph over going it alone. After all terrorist groups are generally global operating in a number of countries so surely it makes sense to work together.

Evening Standard - Anthony Hilton article

"I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. “That’s easy,” he replied. “When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.”"

If that doesn't convince you to vote to stay in the EU then nothing will...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Open Letter to Google: Bring back the Nexus 7

Dear Google,

I love my nexus 7, I wasn't sure I would like a tablet as I didn't know what I would use it for but since I bought it two years ago I have never looked back. Its the Google Nexus 7 (2013) if you want to know exactly which version.

Lately it doesn't charge as well, probably the abuse on the usb connector has finally taken its toll. To be fair it is not poor craftsmanship but simply my beloved nexus has been used daily and charged almost continuously to keep up with my relentless use. My final idea is to get a wireless charger to keep it going for a while yet so it is not over yet.

I have had to face the inevitable truth that perhaps it will soon be time to find a replacement tablet.

So having had such a wonderful experience I look to see what the latest version of the nexus 7 brings to the table. In reality, nothing, as google have callously binned it.

Damn!

Google - a quite word - basically you have made a mistake. You had the equivalent of the first can of coke  and then said lets add lemon to it. Result nobody likes the new drink. People like coke because its coke. People liked the nexus 7 because it was the 7. People did not sit there and think "I really wish I had an extra two inches."

Think of the paperback book. Its pocket sized, fits nicely in the palm and does the job. Nobody except maybe the google design team wants a bigger paperback.

Since the nexus 9 apparently google have been disappointed by sales, could it be that the 7 was the star and the 9 a poor relation.

For the Douglas Adam's fans in the world the best thing about the nexus 7 was that it fitted in my dressing gown. One dressing gown, one tablet, one towel and the world was my oyster. Or it least it would have been had the earth not been demolished.

Enid Blyton wrote the Secret Seven, she knew that nine wasn't going to work.

When the Nexus 7 finally dies do I put it in a frame and hang it on the wall with the label "Google's best and greatest tablet". Do I fall to my knees in Hollywood style and scream to the skies "No!!!!!". Or do I just find a 7 inch tablet from another reputable manufacturer and wonder what the nexus 7 might have become.

Please Google, I am begging you don't give up on the Nexus 7, I am never going to buy a Nexus 9. Google, we could have been great together, you and me against the world. We could have made it, if you had given us the chance.

Kind Regards


Zephyrist.



 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Railway Ghost Stories

I have been looking for railway stories (non fiction) from 1880 to the Beeching era as like most people I find the lost age of railways very interesting.

Whilst searching I have come across various ghost stories from around the uk.

Some links for others that might be interested:

Rail forum thread - Are our railways haunted? - Excellent thread on a railway forum with lots of short stories.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tim Vine Style jokes

These jokes are my own creation in the style of / paying homage to Tim Vine. Usual disclaimer applies these were funny in my head, they may not be in reality.

Number 1

DFS delivered my new suite the other day, Sofa so good.

Number 2

I went to the Doctors the other week, he asked for a urine sample. I gave him the sample and he said "I was only pulling your leg" and I replied "No, you are taking the piss".