Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Iranian Protests

I was asked over the Christmas Holiday what I thought of the Iranian Protests by someone on Facebook. I thought it might be interesting to repeat that conversation here:


Nick, I'm interested what your views are on the protester deaths in Iran, not however the typical response of it's awful, but what practically can the UK do? What can we as citizens do. I became aware of the reality of this through a youtube video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW2oy9c5NiM&skipcontrinter=1

talking about the twitter revolution (which really is worth watching) but now it seems to be coming to a head with the bbc reporting between 8 and 10 deaths and opposition leaders being arrested in Tehran. Thanks, J


My response:

Hi J

That's a tough one, and to be honest my answer is 'I don't really know'.

It's very easy, as you say, to jump to a response that says 'it's awful and they should be conforming to western standards of human rights and democracy.' I'm not sure though that that's the right answer.

As an aside, I think one of our fundamental errors in Afghanistan is to try and impose a western style system on a society that is culturally opposed to such a thing. To try and impose an external solution on the situation could be doing a similar thing.

That said, we can not turn a blind eye to a government which is clearly using repression against its own people and you've asked what we can practically do.

Listening to the remenisences marking the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Eastern European dicatorships, I've been struck by the fact that the growth of access to western media, people and influences played a significant role in making the populations of those countries aware of the failings of their regimes.

I'm therefore led to a conclusion that the best thing our Government can do is to support those organisations, like the BBC's Farsi service, who broadcast independent news and information in to Iran. When those broadcasts are jammed we should find ways around that jamming and do what we can to ensure that people have access to an independent news source.

As individuals, the best thing we can do is to do exactly what you have done, ask questions, highlight the Youtube videos, support and encourage those in Iran who are making sure the world is aware of what is going on.

I don't believe we have the right to intervene in Iran and/or to impose our values on them. However we should do all we can to give access to information and an independent perspective to people there and encouragement to those who are fighting for their rights.

Sorry for such a long answer, I hope that helps a little.

All the best

Nick

Sunday, 8 November 2009

UKIPs Remembrance Service Shame

This morning, as with every Remembrance Sunday since I was elected, I attended the Service of Remembrance in the Lower Gardens.

Each year it becomes more moving as the old soldiers become older yet also become more determined to pay their respects. As their places are replaced by younger men returned from more recent conflicts. And as the crowds grow ever larger around the cenotaph.

This year though there was a difference. A demonstration by members of UKIP holding political placards during at the end of the Service.

I understand they also layed a wreath under their party colours with a similarly political note attached.

That's not jsut direspectful, it's appalling and despicable and is a mark of the people who took part. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

Remembrance Service is not, and must never be, about politics. It's far too important for that.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Abseiling for Cancer Research UK

I abseiled from the water tower in Canford Heath this morning. Not as scary as the first time I did it, but still something of an adrenalin rush.

I'm doing it again for another cause in a few weeks time and am splitting the sponsorship between the two causes. At that moment it looks as though each should get around £750.00.

Well done to all the people who were there helping, organising and taking part.





Friday, 18 September 2009

off to speak to disability groups on Canford Heath

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Monday, 24 August 2009

The Cost of EU Membership

Next year our membership of the EU will apparently increase by 60% to £6.4 billion.

Apparently we 'should be sharing the burden of membership' with the new countries from Eastern Europe according to the Government.

Hopefully someone will do a cost benefit analysis of this. I for one increasingly wonder whether the cost is worth it. I'm sure there are many others who will be thinking the same this evening.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Wimborne Post Office Petition - Street Stalls

We were out collecting signatures for the 'We want our Post Office' back petition in Wimborne this morning.

We set up two street stalls, one by Somerfields and the other in the Square. Both were incredibly busy, with people queueing up to sign the petition. We estimate we collected over 500 signatures this morning alone.

Thanks to the team that took part, and in particular thanks to Robin Cook and Anthony Oliver for sorting the positions out and to Anthony for staying all morning to help out.



Monday, 25 May 2009

MPs Expenses - Sorry

I haven't posted anything for almost two months, no excuses really, just very busy running the businesses (the early Summer is often the busiest time of year for us both in relocation and at Rubyz) and also the County Council and European elections have been taking a lot of time too.

An anonymous person made this comment yesterday on the thread following the last post I made, entitled 'Funny and Apt':

Ok now please make a comment about the Tory MPs who have made claims and have been found out.

Whats your views on Sir Peter Viggers and others

I do not think this is a case for political point scoring.Tax payers money was abused by people put in a position of trust and yet they acted like common criminals.

Are you really the right candidate for my area.Have you the maturity,intellect and desire or are you jumping on the gravy train.

You certainly need putting in your place and after this blog it may come back to haunt you as you have lost my vote.

He or she is right. Looking back that post now seems crass and ridiculous.

The post was made on April 1st, an appropriate date for it. Who could have thought that the kind of information we have been seeing over the last few weeks would have come out at that point. I certainly didn't.

The behaviour of MPs from all parties has shamed anyone involved in politics. I'm ashamed now to have made fun of it with that post.

Am I going to remove it? No.

I think it's better to leave it where it is and to make sure those comments remain too to show that there was a point at which the whole thing seemed incredible. And more importantly to show that sometimes you can be wrong and need to say sorry.

In hindsight I shouldn't have published that post. I was wrong and I am sorry.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Headless Chickens

I was speaking to the landlord of a large number of commercial premises today.  He made an interesting comment.  In common with virtually everyone in business I know he was bemoaning the Government and their pathetic attempts to revitalise the economy.

What he added was that he felt the worst aspect of all was that the constant emphasis on being seen to be 'doing something' was actually making matters worse.  The end result is that, in his eyes Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are running around like headless chickens.  

"Employment Summit today, bank loan guarantees tomorrow, re-announcing plans to encourage apprenticeships, the list goes on and on and gives the impression they have no clue as to what they should be doing."

I have the feeling he may be right!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Drugs? All Bad, full stop

The Telegraph has a story saying that Government advisers are recommending that ecstasy should be downgraded from a Class A to a Class B drug.

I'm very glad to read that Jacqui Smith is likely to ignore their advice.

I've seen close up the effect that drug use has.  Those effects can be long lasting, slow to show their effect and can manifest themselves in so many ways, always negative.

To my mind there are no drugs that are good, none that are slightly better than others.  The effects of all of them from cannabis to heroin are negative.  Let's stop kidding ourselves by giving them different designations.

Drugs are all bad.  Full stop. 


Weatherspoons Drink Promotions

The BBC are reporting that JD Weatherspoons are offering beer at 99p a pint under a new promotion.  The promotion is apparently 'indefinite'.

On the one hand I should be welcoming the free market offering a less expensive commodity.  On the other hand it sends a very poor message about alcohol use.

We all enjoy alcohol and indeed I make part of my living through my business selling it at Rubyz.  However, one of the problems with alcohol misuse has become the freedom of its availability.  

Supermarkets are already selling it as a loss leader.  Now Weatherspoons are offering it at a price that simply can't make a profit for them, their assumption must be that those accompanying the customers buying the cheap beer will spend on their other products that do make a profit.

Alcohol sales need to be regulated, with a minimum per unit price invoked, for both 'on' sales (in pubs, bars and restaurants) and 'off' sales (in supermarkets and shops).  That's not going to stop the problem of binge drinking, it will however place a break on the ability to buy very large amounts of cheaply produced liquor for very little money. 


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Prisoners from Guantanamo Bay

Apparently Gordon Brown has agreed to accept prisoners being released from Guantanamo Bay to help President Elect Obama out of a hole.

The thing is, these people will have no link what so ever with the UK.

Presumably they have been held on Cuba becuase they were considered a threat of some kind. They deserve a proper, just, trial and if found not-guilty should be released to where they came from or to make appropriate applications to countries considereing to take them.

So why are we agreeing to take them, apparently without precondition?