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Passport whinge

Today the passport people asked me for some more photos. I sent off for a new passport last week and this week they write to say that my photos are too small – apparently my face was a couple of millimetres too short on the photos. I took them in a photobooth at Hammersmith Tube station branded “Photo-me at the Underground” so I expect lots of people have had their photos returned or maybe I just have a freakishly small head?

At least I should be grateful that I got away with paying only £51 for this crap service. Since 1st April this year the passport wallies have been known as the Identity and Passport Service. They are a self-funding agency so they don’t cost the taxpayer much only you have no choice about buying from them. This means they make you use a premium rate 0870 number to call them. It also means they are free to increase their charges as much as they like.

In order to hide the costs of driving through identity cards that no-one wants they are going to keep on ramping up the cost of passports. When Tony Blair came to power in 1997, the cost of a standard passport was only £18. From 5th October a standard ten-year British passport will cost £66, up from the current £51 or a 29% rise. But the last rise was only in December 2005, when fees went up from £42. It gives a £24 rise, or 57%, in less than a year.

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Now government lawyers doubling

After Tuesday’s news that government spin doctors are three times more common under Labour the Evening Standard today reports that government lawyers have pretty much doubled. Apparently figures from the Attorney General’s office show that government lawyers have gone up from 1,107 nine years ago to 2,005 today, a rise of 89%.

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BBC Radio 4 Today cannot tell the truth

The top 8:10am slot this morning on the Radio 4 Today programme was used to interview Christina Lamb who, on a slow news day, got the front page lead and a story that extended across the first four pages in yesterday’s Sunday Times. The story covered the ambush by the Taliban of men of 3 Para in Zumbelay, Afghanistan last Tuesday. In the ST we learnt that around 20 Taliban were killed in a very hairy engagement that the Paras were lucky to escape without ANY injuries let alone fatalities.

On the Today programme this morning we had a 13 minute package covering the same material. The tremulously voiced Lamb was interviewed (she should stick to print journalism as she does not come across well on radio). The line was all ill-equipped, bitten off more than we can chew, radios not working, no air support, opium, blah, blah, blah. Sarah Montague, the Today presenter, is no journalist as she managed to do 2 interviews in 13 minutes and leave out the fact that the Taliban got absolutely hosed by the British Army.

I leave it to Captain McKenzie quoted in the ST: “The Taliban are quite ingenious but they’ve probably got 25 dead blokes and we’ve got none and that speaks volumes”.

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Petition to kill Strasbourg II

Yesterday the Telegraph covered the petition by the Campaign for Parliamentary Reform (see their site).

They say that the European Parliament should be located in Brussels only and that the second seat in Strasbourg should be closed down.

If you agree with the following statement you should join in: “It costs European taxpayers approximately 200 million euros a year to move the Parliament between Brussels/Belgium and Strasbourg/France. As a citizen of the European Union, I want the European Parliament to be located only in Brussels”.

As of 8:35am this morning the petition had 474,000 people signed up. They have picked up 99,000 signatures since I last reported on this 6 days ago.

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Petition to kill Strasbourg

I don’t want to spread myself too thinly with this site but a Dutch friend of mine gave my e-mail address to a site called www.oneseat.eu. Set up by Cecilia Malmström, member of the European Parliament for the Swedish Liberal Party, the site is trying to get a million signatures on their petition to get rid of the European Parliament’s second site in Strasbourg.

They have almost 375,000 signatures already.

It costs European taxpayers approximately 200 million euros a year to move the Parliament between Brussels in Belgium and Strasbourg just over the border in France. Love Europe or hate it the only people who benefit from this arrangement are the restaurant owners of Strasbourg. I am sure that it would be money well spent just to give them all a few hundred thousand euro to compensate them for their loss and shut the whole Strasbourg circus down.

Get signing!

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Little Red Book published today

Today The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze is published by Politico’s Media. This is a round-up of nine years of New Labour sleaze cataloguing over 100 examples. Listed on Amazon and appearing at a Waterstone’s check out near you the book is a product of the work of 70 odd bloggers led by Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. I volunteered to help do a couple of pieces that appear in the book.

The project came together at the end of April, just as Blair was enjoying his own black Wednesday on 26th April. Iain Dale, a well-known Conservative writer and political blogger asked for help in putting the book together from the blogging community. I heard about his efforts through Conservative Home and joined in. Three weeks later a copy of the book lands on my doormat! Let’s see if it has any resonance.

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Marxists rule the roost

Peter Hitchens totally made my day this morning on the Today programme. In a debate about the state of the left Peter Hitchens pointed out the success of the left by identifying that John Reid, the Defence Secretary, interviewed previously on troop withdrawls from Iraq had just quoted the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci with “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”.

John Reid is one of those academic failures who annoy and confuse everyone else by calling themselves Doctor. His doctorate from Stirling University in Economic History is where the Marxism was learnt I guess.