27 July 2011

Pity the whistleblower.....

The 'Today' programme on Radio 4 yesterday morning carried an interesting piece on the plight of the 'whistleblower'. Its worth listening to and you can find it here at around 10 minutes and 57 seconds into the programme. I know how they feel.

23 July 2011

21 July 2011

The future of agriculture....

Driving along Reynalds Way today I took time out to have a look at a photovoltaic installation that has appeared at the junction with Sub Road. I don't have much experience of these installations but this one looked quite substantial and, after a little research, it turns out that this is just the beginning.

Two planning applications have been approved by Mendip, app numbers 2011/0781 and 2011/0688, and the details are pretty eye-watering: 2011/0781 is a 32 acre, 5 megawatt installation of 25,000 panels and 2011/0688 is a 26.4 acre site. Although the second application lacks many specifics, it is probably safe to assume that, taken together, these two installations will total approaching 50,000 panels with an output of around 10MegaWatts.

I'm a big fan of sustainability but the industrial scale of these two installations forces me to ask if the government are doing as much to encourage us to reduce consumption (and therefore energy) as they are in encouraging industrial installations like these. I'd say that government is doing damn all but we have to remember that any effort to reduce energy consumption will result in reduced economic activity. As government depends on tax revenue, any effort to reduce consumption will be resisted therefore government will encourage the carpeting of Britain with these industrial installations.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly
(photo montage for illustrative purposes only)

20 July 2011

Praise freedom and pass the bung......

The punch and judy show that is parliament shows just how rotten Britain's democracy and democratic processes have become. If someone has made a poor decision all they have to do is say that they 'didn't know' and they are absolved of any responsibility. There seems to be no need to take responsibility for actions as once might have been the case. Profumo showed poor judgement and he walked without being pushed but these days there is little or no transparency and little or no accountability.

The ex-chief of the Met accepts a 5 week freebie and doesn't think that there is anything wrong with that. When was the last time that you were given a 5 week freebie and wouldn't you wonder why it was coming your way? Obviously the ex-chief of the Met didn't think that there were any questions to be asked.

Now we have a story about Bernie Ecclestone ( the man who donated £1,000,000 to the Labour Party - later returned - which exempted F1 from the cigarette advertising ban ) and allegations in Germany that he bribed a bank staffer during the sale of CVC Capital Partners.

Anyone who thinks that money doesn't talk, here or anywhere else, is dreaming.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly

16 July 2011

During the first Reith Lecture broadcast by the BBC, Aung San Suu Kyi was asked by Sir David Steel, "Is there too high a price to pay for dissent?". Aung San Suu Ky replied, "I don't think so........there are many others who have paid a much higher price for their beliefs.".

Listen to the entire broadcast here.

11 July 2011

What good is law........

Its strange how things change. Only a few weeks ago the people of Britain were reportedly consuming 2.9 million copies of the News of the World (copies reportedly read by something over 7 million of the population) and today, because of commercial and political expediency, the NotW is no longer. Stranger still, today we see our political class distancing itself from News International and questioning whether or not it was right for politicians and parties to have been so close to one particular media empire.

But what we haven't seen is those self-same politicians going head to head with News International and its representatives. That particularly difficult task has been left to people like Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan and from my viewpoint, they've done a damn sight better job of it than Cameron, Clegg or Milliband. Take the BBC's 'Question Time' last thursday.

Hugh Grant (included on the panel because he has been a target of the tabloid media) made the most telling point when he proposed that most politicians lived in fear of News International and the personal damage that could be done to them by News International if they moved against the interests of News International. Panelist Jon Gaunt, broadcaster and ex-Sun columnist, made Hugh's point by attacking Hugh during a discussion about 'press regulation'. Gaunt sought to denegrate Grant with comments about Grant's need to 'keep it in your trousers', a comment which simply underscored Gaunt's journalistic heritage.

But, to a certain extent, the discussion ignored the central issue which is that there is law and legislation which regulates the Press but that law and legislation is meaningless if it is not enforced. The Press Complaints Commission did nothing to constrain the activities of the Press and a seemingly substantial police investigation claimed to find only isolated instances of wrongdoing. But it now seems that abuses were widespread and endemic throughout the tabloid press and beyond, and it is only the widespread outrage generated by the 'hacking scandal' that has forced our politicians to consider action.

If I turn to Somerton, there is plenty of legilslation which is intended to regulate town and parish councils and these regulations, it is fair to assume, were introduced for good reason, possibly to avoid abuse or exploitation of public office. But what good are they if they are not enforced? Wapping and Somerton are not too far apart.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly