random thoughts to oil the mind

Tag: Britain

Government Verbal Backing for Nuclear

Finally some sense from the government on Britain’s energy problems. Of course, I’m a complete cynic when it comes to discussing ‘carbon footprints’ and ‘global warming’, but there can be little denying the potential problems facing Britain’s energy industry if nothing is planned to replace the current collection of ageing and decommissioned nuclear facilities. Many cite the inherent dangers of nuclear energy and point to the potential for a repeat of Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, and the issue of dealing with the radioactive waste materials. But since these issues affect the entire planet, it seems a rather moot point to debate whether nuclear energy is ‘safe’ to be used in Britain, since its nearest neighbour is a predominantly nuclear powered nation. Aside from promoting micro-generation and energy efficiency in the home, the idea of building a green energy economy principally based on wind power seems frankly absurd.

Sadly, the news doesn’t come without other considerations, since the government refuses any public funding to new nuclear plants except in cases of dangerous emergency.

Finding Space for the Public in Transport

This is one of those posts which makes it to the draught stage and never any further, but as I was tidying up my WordPress install, I decided with a bit of reworking it’s something I still feel strongly about. The original title had referred to British public transport in particular, but in truth there is very little specific to the British experience.

Virgin Trains

Before I start my rant, let me plainly state that I am great supporter of the principles of public transport. That is not to say that I don’t see the use or take advantage of private transport, merely that I feel the balance in society is generally wrong, particularly in the first world, or whatever the preferred term is these days. These societies should be perfectly capable of providing for the vast majority of man’s annual miles, with our regular combinations of buses, trams, trains etc. and private transport being available to fill in the gaps where required. Being able to pack your bags, grab the kids and hit the road for a weekend away seems like a reasonable thing to do, but where is the logic of moving a ton of metal to work and back five days a week?

Sarah’s Law is no Megan’s Law

As part of the British government’s scheme to tackle sex offenders, Home Secretary John Reid is introducing a raft of new measures for the further protection of children from known paedophiles. Dubbed “Sarah’s Law”, after Sarah Payne who was murdered in 2000 by a repeat offender. Fears that the law would provide powers akin to those in the United States guaranteed by “Megan’s Law”, which had the potential to drive sex offenders underground, have been assuaged by the limited scope of its provisions. The new measures include a voluntary drug treatment, often cited as ‘chemical sterilisation’ in the media, as well as allowing parents to register their concern with the police should anyone be in a position to have unsupervised access to their children.

Yet these measures principally concern the prospect of repeat offences. The cases which sparked such legislation being called for in the first place so incensed the public on account of their being committed by known paedophiles. These measures, however, do not offer much in the way of dealing with the prevention of first time sex offences relating to children. Indeed, as others have said, these measures would also have done nothing to prevent Sarah Payne’s murder by a stranger, the very case which provoked calls for a change in the law.

Any attempt to the tackle the issue of paedophilia must of course require some heavy and uncomfortable acknowledgements on society’s part. Paedophilia is contrary to the social and cultural mores of the country, yet in a population of millions it must be accepted that there is a statistical probability for some individuals to have tendencies deemed unacceptable in their community. If this fact is not accepted, the problem can never be dealt with. ‘Voluntary sterilisation’ goes some way to offering a solution for those affected, to get their own issues under control. It was not a million years ago that homosexuality was deemed anti-social and indeed illegal; its suppression did not lead to its eradication, however. Whilst there is no intention for ethical comparison here, the fact is that paedophilia must firstly be given due acknowledgement if it is to be properly understood and neutralised. That is not to suggest there can be a cureall solution. But the focus can be shifted, from preventing reoffenders striking again, to suppressing potential offenders in the first instance.

Will Anyone say ‘No’ to the ‘No Smoking’ Ban?

No smoking sign

No smoking

They all roll over. What else can they do in the dictatocracy? Smoking is bad for you. It kills! And according to recent adverts on British television, passive smoking is even worse, since the smoke comes from the ‘bad’ end of the cigarette. Is it any wonder the state becomes nanny when society acts so wimpish?

But society’s seemingly burgeoning fear of death isn’t the issue here, at least not to me. That issue is freedom of choice. The ban on smoking in public places perhaps has a right to be enforced; there is no choice about which train or bus station you use, after all. But when it comes down to banning smoking in all bars, pubs and restaurants, one has to ask why we are no longer allowed to choose. Are we so incapable of rational thought? For a long time now, many restaurants have had exclusive smoking sections, and many bars too have proven capable of sectioning off areas for different clientele. One might question therefore, the need for a blanket ban.

Telescreens Hit the Streets



As if holding the title for most spied upon nation weren’t enough, CCTV cameras in England are to be updated to add something of a bark, according to the BBC. Arguing the new cameras remonstrating with petty offenders will help to prevent problems before they really start and reduce bureaucracy (by magic presumably), Home Secretary John Reid also mentioned that competitions would be run in schools in local areas to provide a voice for the cameras, which if it is true would presumably mean that the ‘talking’ ability would be limited to a choice of pre-set phrases. We can only hope that whilst these competitions are being carried out, it will be noticed how effectively such vocal coercion works in the classroom, without even a whiff of potential punishment to follow it up. After all, is that not where the problems of anti-social behaviour which these measures are designed to counteract originate?

Of course the opposition, whose main argument against such measures at the moment is that it avoids the principle totem of getting ‘more bobbies on the beat’, should well bear in mind that the ‘Peelers’ were no more popularly received on their inception either. Now they want more of them.

But wait—can anyone else hear something?

Smith! 6079 Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! That’s better, comrade.

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