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The Fiona MacCarthy

What pleases and annoys

Instinctive, impulsive, and logical but always passionate and reflective of what I feel here and now.

Individual blogs are in most recent, first sequence and are also grouped in various "categories" which are just to the right & down a bit should you prefer to search that way. Please feel free to add a comment.

Blog restarted June 2018

My neighbours in Scotland

UK & Irish Posted on Thu, September 18, 2014 19:31:23

I would not buy a car using deferred payment terms (interest) without knowing the monthly cost. I would not order a meal in a restaurant without knowing the likely cost, nor accept a salary for a new job without knowing my future income.

But just north of me, today in Scotland some close on 4 million voters with the voting age reduced to 16 (good idea for this vote) will decide on whether to sever the link with the rest of UK and become independent. The “No” votes were in the lead but the arrogance of their campaign, their negativity and the deep rooted feeling by the electorate of isolation from the elite in London closed the gap and it will be decided more than likely by the decisions of the until today “undecided”. Polling booths close in a few hours and the vote will be known in the morning. There is a 50% chance approx that major changes lie ahead.

I would have preferred to see a 2 stage voting process whereby the campaign for independence would at first participate to see if there is interest. Then there would be a period of negotiation of the detail over say 18 months. Not everything would be resolved but there would be a clearer vision of the future including its costs in political, international and economic terms. Then the people could vote based on informed awareness of knowns and unknowns.

It is however good to see democracy in action and the the situation eg the Ukraine would be far less destructive if they were allowed to vote for unity or division. A far better compromise in this country would be to see powers devolved more from the centre to regions. There must be a reduction in central bureaucracy and not an additional layer as was the previous efforts. Health education and social welfare would be better managed at local level, Infrastructure security at national.

We (R-UK & Scotland) are both weaker separate.


UK & Irish Posted on Sun, January 19, 2014 08:40:13

The gung ho rush towards fracking in the UK is very much ignoring the risk to the environment.

Im all in favour of exploration of our resources, but as the resource wealth below the top level of soil is owned by the government, and it is displaying little awareness of the risk to water and soil caused by the chemicals used in the exercise. Offering to pay off landowners is very dangerous as any clever lawyer will have a clauses saying full compensation has been made with the payment.

The anti fracking constituency is more opposed to any fossil fuel extraction. Far too much to one end of the spectrum of debate

I seek a balanced reasonable approach and a transparent debate with evidence as to the opportunities and understanding of the risks.

High Speed 2 yes or no

UK & Irish Posted on Sun, January 12, 2014 11:55:37

From an economic perspective it is imperative that we spend money on improving the infrastructure of this country. That includes road, rail and air links as well as replacing power supply, preventing leaking water from old pipes and improving flood defences.

A look at the state of our roads, delays at train stations/airports or recent newspapers provides the evidence.

The single biggest activity on the list of government plans is High Speed 2 which will significantly upgrade the rail connection between the midlands and London. Its child will be in the form of HS3 which may link it to Newcastle / Glasgow (post 2030, maybe). A train journey through the middle of this country provides ample evidence that any changes to rail routes is really going to annoy an awful lot of people and I would put them into the category of NIMBY (not in my back yard)

The planned £50 billion is a bit more complex than this. It is based upon estimates of economic benefits that have been shown to be flawed. Assumptions have been created evolved and manipulated to show that there will be considerable benefits to justify the spending. High Speed 1 was based on flawed assumptions too.

Across Europe, schemes for rail upgrades have been stalled or amended because of austerity.

Chine needs to spend a lot of money on its rail systems and its central control economy minimises dissent if the new rail line crosses your paddi field.

In my opinion the benefits of HS2 are all to do with a major upgrade of aging rail infrastructure but not on a commercially rational basis, but rather on a political image criteria. We are financially broke and cannot afford this white elephant at this stage. Maybe one day when we are wealthy without so much national debt recorded and unrecorded we can consider a tunnel the length of the country. But that will be after my lifetime… if ever.

Good sound facts are to be found here: and facts that the government cannot counter argue these.

What is the real reason for the floods

UK & Irish Posted on Thu, December 26, 2013 19:13:26

Britain would not be Britain without challenges. Back during the 2nd World War (Im told) the expression the Blitz spirit entered the lexicon to reflect the resilience of the bombed civilian population. This Christmas its the floods in the South, and blackouts. More flooding forecast tonight on saturated grounds. The media celebrates the resilience of victims

We have been told of global warming and how the sea levels will rise. Most scientific evidence supports this prediction. There is correlation in evidence but the causality as been 100% human is less certain. A bigger elephant in the room is not discussed.

The reality is that the south of England is sinking in response to the north of the country rising. This is not due to Scottish nationalism but a delayed response by nature to the departing of the icesheets a few hundred thousand years ago.

In summary approx half the reported forecast rise in sea levels is due to the sinking land which gets scant attention in the media.

For further reading

The attached article outlines in summary the scientific work covering predictions of Scotland rising by 10cm and the south sinking by 5cm over the next century. Not many other articles since 2009 such is the importance of this, (in the eyes of the media).

Some more interesting evidence see sections 2.5.1 of region 7 report on the south east coasts on the following weblink

Police Commissioners

UK & Irish Posted on Sun, October 21, 2012 10:25:53

We are being warned this morning about a lack of enthusiasm for the forthcoming elections for this new £100,000+ role. Already a turnout of 18.5% is being forecast which hints of spurious accuracy. I will vote, will you? but you should (please)

But who will we be voting for in the UK and more particularly in the North East.

No election material has tainted my post box and yet Im very concerned that a public service that has been most supportive of me personally from time to time may itself

become tainted badly by this new role. Focus may become lost, resources misdirected.

I have 3 problems with this new role. Firstly: Nationally as in English Welsh nations (this time) we are being divided into 41 constituencies and this new role will determine strategy and budgets but not operations. In that lies the first problem as the person who controls the purse strings does control operations.

Secondly the current line up of 3 men 1 woman represent the main political parties including UKIP and yet this is not meant to be a party political rule. Absolute balderdash. This will be a highly political rule as the prevailing occupants in 10 Downing will stretch and crack the whip of their ever increasing centralised political powers. The opposition of the day will do likewise. If the new puppet does not jump then they will be dumped. There are no independents here.

Finally the geographic area is too big making excluding independents due to logistics and funding. I would prefer more influence via my local council which is where I live.

My recommendation is to look at the candidate personally and at their track record in whatever sphere. Vote for the person not the party.

More from the BBC website


UK & Irish Posted on Sun, June 24, 2012 10:23:49

Its nearly six years ago that this company went bust swallowing £40million money received from poor people. Its business model was simple: People save in advance towards Christmas and get gifts or vouchers in return.

However Farepak was owned by another company that was on an acquisition trail and needed money and hey, a good source of funding was to be found in Farepak. By the time of its failure the parent company owed £34million to Farepak. All totally legal in the strict interpretation of the law.

The judge this week has been very critical of the governments attempt and its faulty legal case to bar the directors of Farepak from acting as directors. Justice Smith also criticised the secured bankers (HBOS now state owned) who gobbled up the cash flow in the run up to christmas. A clear case of secured creditors exercising their legal rights to the detriment of the unsecured. But the unsecured were financially naive as to their exposure.

The losers are the people who saved. The law needs to be changed so that such savings are given the rank of a secured creditor and safeguarded in an escrow account. We must learn from this shameful period. In the meantime the taxpayers face a bill of £20 million for the governments errors in its flawed legal proceedings.

Paying for failure

UK & Irish Posted on Sun, May 06, 2012 11:29:28

Share price falls from £7 to 32pence in 10 years.

The Chef Executive is on a salary of £750,000 per annum plus bonuses and has earned £14million in the same 10 years.

Yet the company offers her a million quid to leave.

That is and was Sly Bailey’s contribution to creating wealth at Trinity Mirror Group (Mirror and some 160 regional titles), but not for shareholders.

This week we have seen a groundswell of shareholder revolt against paying to fail. Why not a lower salary and a simple long term share based bonus. Stop using incestuous remuneration committees with fancy complicated schemes that consume more and more pages of annual reports and keep it simple. If these people were so good and fantastic they would have set up their own business and not gone for salaried employment.

Good news from UK Aviation

UK & Irish Posted on Sun, April 29, 2012 12:38:39

Too often we think Boeing is American and here in the UK we are just one of several partners in European Airbus.

This good news article from the Telegraph highlights that there are 250 UK suppliers to Boeing making up 25% of the finished Dreamliner (the new one) from engines to de-icing to landing gear and seats. This speaks well for an industry often overlooked but is an employer of highly skilled workers.

Justice and Security Green paper

UK & Irish Posted on Fri, April 06, 2012 10:06:55

I am deeply concerned about the current generation of politicans. Leaving aside jokes about expense statements and avoiding traffic offences, I am fundamentally dissatisfied with their susceptibility to outside influence other than the electorate. The absence of any public interest party politicial philosophy in preference to a self serving money and ego making machine heightens my concern.

National security is a favourite friendly mantra of the Right and a symbol of Fascist state to the Left. Im in the middle, but not out of ambivalence. The Justice and Security Green paper (available on website cm8194) is an example of what worries me. The security services say they need more powers and the politicians offer up a 70+page consultation document heaviliy weighted in favour of the services. Simple and clear?

Fighting back from the middle ground is the Joint (meaning “all party”) Parliamentary Committee on Human rights who have in the words of Joshua Rozenberg in the Guardian this week dissected this attempt to hijack justice. The Green Paper proposals put the security services in a position to decide what evidence the defendant will get to hear about and even the “gist” of the evidence can be muted. The security services via the government will decide who defends the defendant, wish to exclude press and obervers from the trial (ie keep it secret) and what little oversight will be in the hands of a political lackey.

There is already a large number of measures designed to determine what evidence can be presented in court and how. The reason for this attack on civil liberties comes from the USA who have scant regard for the rights of any non USA citizen and care little for kidnapping them and taking them to their recreational resort on Guantanamo denying them access to justice as normally understood.

Terrorists are evil nasty people more so when their actions can harm me, my firiends and fellow citizens, but unless there is evidence to convict, then they are presumed innocent. It is wrong to deny justice, based on hearsay and so called evidence that the defendant cannot question.

Gay Marriage right or wrong?

UK & Irish Posted on Sun, March 04, 2012 20:03:28

The Catholic Church in UK has criticised the plans of the Government to allow two men or two women to marry each other.

Marriage is an agreement between two people in love with each other to love and support one another. Its not a child breeding factory as some churches postulate.

Church and society are not mutually compatible and we live in a multicultural multi religious society including a large secular component.

There are legal and respect issues to marriage in society and I find no evidence that it is a preserve of the churches.

There should be 2 types of marriage in society a state / civil marriage ceremony and a church etc of your choice. The rights of dissolution / remarriage for each should be defined.

The catholic church has no monopoly on marriage or morality. It is a cruel and wicked organisation that has for decades covered up and protected child sexual abuse across many countries. Wikipedia puts the stats for the guilty at 1 in 20 priests in USA and they dare declare a hypocritical right to talk on morality,

Love is far stronger than a bunch of robed singular men wedded to a sad sick cruel out of date ideology. If you believe in it that is your affair but dont make your rules mine

Private Policing

UK & Irish Posted on Sat, March 03, 2012 12:44:02

The proposals as reported on today’s BBC about plans to hand over large chunks of the responsibilities of our UK police services to private enterprise is a disgrace.

In the past week we have had evidence of how a small part of the police has been corrupted by News International. Private enterprise in policing would be self serving, prone to infiltration by thugs and crooks.

Our own services are not perfect but they would be far worse where ROI and EBITDA replace our feeling of safety and security. The fact that the current plans talk about patrolling investigating and detaining whilst conveniently and flawed operationally missing the link of arresting shows that these are not fringe or admin support services but very much front line public fronting tasks.

The plans should be stopped, now.

Private Health Care UK style

UK & Irish Posted on Sun, January 08, 2012 09:39:18

Private health care companies in the UK are campaigning to get a bigger share of the NHS budget.

But the performance of some of those who have carried out breast implants using faulty products is despicable. They seek to blame everyone else but themselves.

As a consumer who might for example eat fish and chips in a restaurant and for bad luck suffer food poisoning, then my legal action is against the restaurant and not the fisherman or some government quango.

Similarly with the breast implants and these private medical providers should have their own rigorous procurement procedures combined with product liability insurance.

They should pay up or get out of the business

More from today’s Telegraph

Private Medical Care and NHS

UK & Irish Posted on Sun, January 01, 2012 11:49:05

The NHS retains a special place in the heart of the British population. To most of us it provides a good service but it has too many failures for its own good ie it could do better.

It main faults stem from its bureaucratic size and its desire to silence whistleblowers to mention 2, but is also impacted by an ageing population and the cost of newer medicine which are driving up costs.

The government would like to see more private sector involvement and as long as its not cherry picking then good, in theory.

However the problem of sub standard gel implants from a French company now closed reveal a serious problem in what the government is trying to assess. It is now been revealed that the defect rate (% which rupture) is 7 or 8 times higher than claimed of about 1% (the latter figure is one I found acceptable myself). The revelations have come from one UK provider of procedures which claims to do 10% of the market: welcome bit of honesty.

If private companies are manipulating failure rates then not only should the pay the cost of correcting the problem but should also risk being struck off the list of companies allowed to provide medical services.

Lying and cheating private companies have no place in the provision of heath care. The MHRA regulator also needs to re-examine its own procedures: I am not sure from the attached article what happened when the issue was raised years ago and recommendations for removal were said to have been made. Its murky and more details are required in the public domain

More for the Independent



UK & Irish Posted on Fri, December 30, 2011 12:58:51

Much is been made about the cabinet papers released under the 30 year rule most of which should have been made available much earlier

The plan to let Liverpool go down the road of “managed decline” get headline from the BBC.

More interesting is the following report from Liverpool council which places it as the most deprived city in the uk for the period from 2004-2010 the periods covered by 3 separate studies.

The causes are not explored in the council document but it is a sad reflection on the quality of the political leadership that cannot be excused by recession or the party colours of the tenant of Number 10.

The plan for the future is littered with buzz words that should provide optimism but lack evidence of recent performance to provide comfort that there is sound logic for the future wishes which are largely dependant on figures not yet released. The failure to have statistics more readily to hand is a sad reflection on political talk rather than economic doing. As an example Gross Value added per capita on page 22 for 2009/10 is due for a big jump over 2008/9 figures and will be updated end december 2011. Future years then flatline which is not encouraging. This is as per report a key statistic of progress. Okay maybe I should be patient for January but they are probably writing the excuses.

Welfare reform: UK style

UK & Irish Posted on Sun, November 20, 2011 11:13:49

In the good old days we did not seem to care how much money was spent on welfare, but now there is a plan to put a limit of £500per week on what a household may claim. Rowan Williams, one of our most intellectual bishops (is an archbishop) is leading a campaign against this as it will force more children into poverty.

Welfare was developed to help those unable to work and those out of work and it has become a bureaucratic and costly monster. It does do good but a big chunk of it is wasted.

I believe that the standards for disability should be fair but also that someone who may be unable to do a particular type of work may be quite able to do another. Training should be provided where possible and the person not consigned to the scrapheap.

Paying people based upon the number of children is stupid. Any working family must consider the implication of additional children. Those on welfare do not. That is wrong. A ceiling is required and procreation has responsibilities.

The average income in this country is £24,000 approx and surely a cap of £500per week for those not working is itself too low. Somewhere between 60-75% of the average income would be an incentive to work.

Finally the growing number of young unemployed must be tackled to make them employable. This includes reading and writing (for many are functionally illiterate) , as well as customer service skills (most jobs require) and timekeeping awareness which seems to have been thrown out as old fashioned. Too many employers are frustrated by the low skills of home grown talent who must compete with the most ambitious people exports of other countries.

More on the bishop in the Guardian

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