Total of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan = 236
That's exactly twice the total killed in the Charge of the Light Brigade
Mayor Boris has added to London pollution with his failure to strengthen the successful congestion charge scheme. He sold his soul to the petrol heads to get elected. He has been writhing since denying the obvious need to extend the congestion charge and to jack up the level of charges. The welcome reduction in traffic that followed the original introduction has since disappeared.
Congestion has returned to its original level.
This conclusion is based on subjective research over the years from my flat to the Commons four miles distant. By bus or car, journey times are back to their previous worst. Creditably Boris is introducing a borrow a bike scheme. Transport for London (TfL) began applying for planning permission for the 400 docking stations, where people will be able to pick up and drop off bikes around central London.
The docking stations will be built around 300m apart so that potential cyclists are never too far from being able to borrow and lock-up hired bikes. I have seen similar schemes in Barcelona and Paris. Neither seem to be working well. I took this picture in Paris this morning in Rue des Capucines, Not a single bike was in use.
Bon chance, Boris.
Faith in miracles
It's tricky decision. To be in London to ask Gordon Brown a question on his woeful Afghan Statement or be in Paris to cross -question the head of NATO. I have opted to speak at the Western European Union's meeting to many MPs from France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Parliament has heard my views many times.
Talking to MPs from other countries in likely to be more beneficial. They are less inclined to believe in miracles.
PASC has come up with a new idea to pressurised officials into using simple English.
It emerged that Tessa Jowell, the minister for the Cabinet office, kept a "little book of b*****ks" in which she noted down government jargon and 'gobbledegook'. It's probably the first time that bit of bad language has been used in a Select Committee report.
PASC suggested people should be able to complain about cases of confusing or misleading language as they would for other types of poor administration, and if government and public sector bodies do not respond, the complaints should be taken to an ombudsman.
BBC Wales kindly gave me the chance to give a few examples tonight. Pat McFadden once told our committee, 'Government planned a one-stop shop for anyone who had experienced a ‘citizen’s episode.’ These are births, marriages and deaths.
Minister James Purnell refers to someone having suffered ‘An employment cessation event.’ However you wrap it up it’s still the sack. In 2001 the Government introduced legislation designed “to enable provision to be made for the purpose of reforming legislation which has the effect of imposing burdens affecting persons in the carrying on of any activity and to enable codes of practice to be made with respect to the enforcement of restrictions, requirements or conditions.”
The problem with the legislation that it was so infested with the jargon of regulation that it was virtually incomprehensible to anyone but the parliamentary draughtsmen who wrote it, (perhaps not even to them) and in 2006 the Act was repealed by the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act.
Liam Byrne has invented his own language, including urging everyone to 'raise their horizons'. If someone is travelling at high speed, horizons can advance or recede. If the horizon is rising, it means there's a tsunami on the way. It's time to make for the hills. But I don't think that is what Liam means.