Recent Articles

Job ad wants ‘elimination specialist’ for secret service

by Chris Barnyard     November 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Ever thought the Job Centre search website only offered crap or boring opportunities? Not necessarily.

The website earlier today featured an ad for a “Target Elimination Specialist” for the government’s secret intelligence services.

The funny ad was posted to the website and then taken down within a few hours (screenshot taken by @khyberman).

Click on the image below for a larger version.

The last line gives it away though.

Syrians wonder why Muslims aren’t rioting over them

by Chris Barnyard     September 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm

As violent protests over the anti-Islam film trailer have spread, Syrians on Twitter have increasingly wondered why there isn’t similar outrage over their predicament.








(via Al Jazeera)

Update another point to make: The US Embassy in Tunis was breached by rioters, who replaced the US flag with black banner of al Qaeda. The people rioting aren’t ordinary Muslims.

Tory minister on 100k wants free intern

by Chris Barnyard     June 12, 2012 at 11:30 am

David Gauke is a minister at the Treasury and MP for South West Hertfordshire.

He also earns around £100,000 a year in salary, plus expenses for staff and his mortgage payments.

But he doesn’t like paying interns any money.

A job advertised a few weeks ago said he was looking to recruit a ‘voluntary intern’ for his constituency office in Rickmansworth for a minimum of 6 months.

No salary would be paid, only “reasonable” travel expenses.

David Hencke points out how much he earns from the taxpayer:

He only has an income of just over £100,000 a year – with his £98,750 salary and he claims from the taxpayer a London living allowance of £3379.15 a year (desperate problem for MPs having to pay for higher London prices except for the taxpayer paid subsidised food in Parliament)

Funnily enough his expenses paid by the taypayer for the last financial year come to almost the same £98,680.93 as his salary including some £78,000 on staff (presumably in Westminster rather than Rickmansworth), another £9000+ on accommodation and £10,000+ on administration. So the poor man only has £200,000 going through his accounts.

Then there are his two homes to maintain by Tory standards well below any mansion tax level. But poor man,since this terrible crackdown on Mps expenses he has had to lose such a lot. He did grab £15,000 a year in mortgage interest payments ,a quarterly £687 maintenance charge and car parking fees- all paid from the taxpayer on his Westminster Bridge Road apartment in London which he paid £285,000 in 2007. Mind you he has had a £30,000 rise in his income since the coalition came to power.

Despite his wealth, income and taxpayer-funded expenses, he did not want to pay a penny towards the salary of an intern.

Newsnight petition gets over 20,000 signatures

by Chris Barnyard     May 30, 2012 at 10:01 am

The online petition to get Newsnight to apologise for its portrayal of single mother Shanene Thorpe passed 20,000 signatures last night.

The petition was launched last week after Liberal Conspiracy reported on how it had misrepresented Ms Thorpe.

Yesterday the New Statesman also picked up on the controversy.

Labour MP Toby Perkins weighed in again, this time condemning the film and calling for an apology from BBC Newsnight.

The BBC has yet to respond.

How Newsnight demonised a single mother

by Chris Barnyard     May 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

On Wednesday night BBC Newsnight did a short piece on housing benefit and welfare reform. Its reporter Allegra Stratton briefly interviewed (7m14s in) a young woman for the piece.

In the short interview, very little is said about the context to the woman’s situation – she is only asked about why she wants a house.

Then Stratton says: “we both know people who are living with their parents… they don’t have a job and… they have fights – that’s what happens.”

Later, directly to the camera, she adds: “The government is thinking of saying to young people: if you don’t have work, don’t leave home.”

Most likely you thought the young woman was unemployed. But she wasn’t.

Watch the interview

Update: Allegra Stratton also asked Shanene: “Do u think you should have had your daughter,” she tells me, but that question was not shown. Why is that even asked?

She then added in a series of tweets:

To set the record straight, I work for tower hamlets council, I’ve worked since 16 and I only get help towards my rent because it is so high.

I pay the same amount of as paying a mortgage, full rent on a council property, or someone living outside of london, they top up the rest.

It happens that I’ve worked in retail for years up until now so never qualified for a mortgage and wasn’t handed a cushty council flat.

The council offered to pay my deposit if I found my own accom as it was part of a scheme the had at the time. Unfortunately u can’t get much.

In london for under 4 figures a month, but wanting to bring my daughter myself and raise her my way, I took it.

Bar studying, I’ve always worked (sometimes both).

I got a call from my supervisor asking if I’d be happy to be filmed at work to show the side of the working single parent/ young person.

Of course I’d be happy to do that, being a working mum is something I’m proud of… Its not been all plain sailing.

I did not expect to be personally scrutinised, have judgements made about my choices and asked why I didn’t choose to get rid of my child.

Things happen in life and you have to do your best, I feel that I have and was mortified to be portrayed that way on tv.

No one judges me more than I judge myself, claiming benefits was something I struggled to come to terms with and motivated me to work more.

Unfortunately being employed isn’t enough. For me, this is a means to an end.

I don’t agree with nor expect freebies and handouts but at least help the people who are willing to help themselves

I was interviewed for the bbc and when the piece was aired it was edited to make me seem like a jobless ponce!

I am the taxpayer! And come to think of it I get in HB as much as I pay in tax working full time so really I fund what I get.

I think she has a complete right to get angry.

Shanene Thorpe is now making an official complaint to the BBC.

(hat tip @Epipsychidion86)

UPDATE: Shanene has started a petition to demand an apology from the BBC too.

How voters changed minds on Control Orders

by Chris Barnyard     January 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Never mind the ‘liberal intelligensia’, is the public for or against Control Orders? Yesterday the Sunday Times published details of a poll saying that most people supported them.

But it comes down to how the question is asked, as YouGov show today.

The Sunday Times poll for YouGov asked this question:

Current laws allow the government to impose control orders on people who they suspect pose a serious terrorist threat, but who they do not have evidence to prosecute. Control orders can restrict where suspects are allowed to go, items they are not allowed to possess, and who they are allowed to see or communicate with. They do not require a trial and there are only limited rights of appeal. Do you think the Government should or should not have the power to use control orders?

A big majority, 73% say ‘should’, while 15% say ‘should not’; the rest don’t know.

They also asked:

Some people have suggested a compromise, where people subject to control orders would be allowed the freedom to leave their house, but would still be banned from going abroad and have limits on who they could meet. Which of the following best reflects your response to this suggestion?

This time, 38% said: ‘These changes would weaken control orders to an unacceptable extent and put people at greater risk from terrorism’, while 31% said ‘These changes are an acceptable compromise that would impact less on people’s freedoms while still keeping us safe from terrorism’. A further 31% said ‘neither’ or ‘don’t know’.

A clear cut case? Not necessarily.

YouGov also did a poll for the human rights group Liberty, which phrased the question differently:

Which of the following is a better way of dealing with people suspected of terrorism, when they have not been arrested or charged?

• Restricting where suspects can go and who they can meet, electronically tagging them and banning them from using telephones and the internet

• NOT imposing such restrictions, but instead placing them under intensive surveillance and monitoring their communications, in order to gather evidence with which to prosecute them

40% supported the Control Orders option, while 46% supported the second one.

YouGov’s Peter Kellner draws three conclusions from this:

First, our findings are consistent with our past surveys: that if there is a trade-off then, for most people, national security trumps civil liberties. Those who argue for civil liberties to be upheld regardless of the risk of terrorism are in a small minority.

Second, that supporters of human rights and habeas corpus need to challenge that trade-off, rather than argue that civil liberties matter more than the threat of terrorism. If they can win the argument that control orders in practice do more harm than good (for example by alienating ‘moderate’ Muslims or because some of those subject to control orders still manage to evade their restrictions), then they can win over millions of voters.

Third, public opinion is fluid. When minds are made up, then question wording matters far less. People know which side they are on, and are less prone to be swayed by specific words or assumptions underlying the different questions. But when attitudes are less fixed, different questions can produce very different results. That is the position today with control orders.

But the biggest danger to the Coalition would be that the public were convinced that the fudge over Control Orders was engineered to keep the government afloat rather than a concern for civil liberties or public safety.

Oona: I want a London-wide school bus system

by Chris Barnyard     June 20, 2010 at 11:30 am

London Mayor contender Oona King has called for a city-wide bus system to serve schools, saying it would ease congestion and help poorer residents.

Oona King is running against Ken Livingstone to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor.

In an article for Tribune magazine published this week, she said that the school run causes 20% of London’s congestion.

We need a school bus system across the city. This is something I will make happen. Forget about the old arguments about the bendy bus and the Routemaster. The future is school buses. And I shall be the Mayor to deliver them.

She also said she would promise better night buses to outer London.

If you live 10 or 15 miles out you have just as much a right to an easy bus ride home late at night as those living in zones one or two. And I want to make cycling easier, with bike lane superhighways and a quadrupling of parking places for bikes.

Last week at a Labour Party meeting in Ilford North she also she would “consider” building on green belt land in order to ease housing shortage.

But that policy was immediately criticised by Ken Livingstone, who said he wanted to protect London’s existing green spaces and would concentrate house-building on ‘brownfield’ land.

Tesco signs ‘let girls be girls’ campaign

by Chris Barnyard     June 15, 2010 at 9:50 am

Retail giant Tesco is the latest to sign the Mumsnet website campaign, ‘Let Girls be Girls’, against premature sexualisation of children.

The u-turn has come literally hours after Tesco was criticised for selling high-heeled shoes to girls as young as three.

The Mumsnet website explains the reasoning behind the campaign:

A growing number of toys, clothes (‘sexy’ slogans on young girls’ clothing) and accessories (Playboy-branded stationery sets, anyone?) encourage children to enter the world of adult sexuality.

There are plenty of reasons to be worried by this trend:

– It introduces children to the world of adult sexuality, when elsewhere we are rightly encouraging them to resist the pressure to become sexually active at a young age

– It tells girls that the most important quality they need is ‘sexiness’ and that female sexuality is all about pleasing others

– It encourages a culture in which children are viewed as sexually available

– Authorities as varied as the NSPCC, the NUT and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams have all weighed in on this issue, calling for a halt to the premature sexualisation trend.

The campaign offers retailers a positive course of action – to pledge that they will only offer products “which don’t play upon, exploit, or emphasise children’s sexuality”.

De Menezes family: Ian Blair peerage ‘insult’

by Chris Barnyard     June 1, 2010 at 10:15 am

A spokesperson for the J4J (Justice For Jean) campaign last week condemned the decision to give former Met Police chief Ian Blair a peerage as an “insult”.

This seems like a final flourish of a discredited Parliamentary system handing out tawdry awards to political allies and cronies. Actions like this only reinforce the impression that politicians remain detached from the views of ordinary British people.

Jean Charles De Menezes was shot by Met Police officers in 2005. An investigation later showed the Met Police repeatedly tried to block the inquiry into his death.

Vivian Figuereda, cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes, who lived with him at the time of his death said:

We are disgusted at this decision. As Commissioner, we believe Ian Blair was ultimately accountable for the death of Jean, for the lies told and the cover up. He even tried to stop the IPCC investigating our cousin’s death. This is a final slap in the face for our family.

Blogger Kevin Blowe added:

Quite how someone, who deliberately delayed an investigation into a hugely controversial death and whose force was found to have made nineteen catastrophic errors that endangered the lives of Londoners, could ever been viewed as fit to serve in the House of Lords, or provide the benefits of his ‘specialist knowledge’, is quite beyond me. Once again, it rather makes the case for the abolition of the Lords so that such blatant acts of patronage are no longer possible.


PR voting demanded as top reform by public

by Chris Barnyard     February 24, 2010 at 8:00 am

A demand for proportional representation was voted as the top Parliament reform by popular choice, the Power2010 campaign group said today.

The most popular proposals that will make up the ‘Power Pledge’ will now be: PR, the end of ID cards and government data hoarding, an elected House of Lords, English votes on English laws, and a commitment to drawing up a written constitution.

Over a 100,000 votes were cast on the Power2010 website, which also conducted deliberative discussion events across the country.

Power2010 Director Pam Giddy said:

This campaign sends the clearest possible message to the political classes that it is time to listen to the people’s demands. 100,000 votes were cast – and we expect many thousands of people across the country to pledge their support before the election.

We’ve taken the campaign to towns and cities across the country and everywhere heard the same thing: it’s time to fix our political system, not fiddle it.

The next phase of the campaign will see voters asked to commit their support to a majority of the proposals – at least three – and then challenge every candidate at the next general election to support them too.

A network of regional campaigners, supported by high profile partner organisations and a national marketing campaign will also be used to push the campaign forward.

Pam Giddy added:

We’re going to keep up the pressure until election day to make sure the people who want to represent us in parliament take these results seriously and back our campaign for change.

The campaign is backed by the Joseph Rowntree Trusts and is supported by a wide coalition of organisations and individuals.

From a press release

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