Friday, 28 December 2012

Another stupid regulation.

About 30 years ago our old car was reaching the point of no return, but having more time than money to spare I decided to renovate it as a second car rather than replace it.

I bought another similar car, newer mechanically but structurally unsalvageable, and over the summer took both cars apart. I then rebuilt mine on its original body but using the newer and better gearbox, axle and brakes plus any other bits from the scrap one that were better than mine, plus inevitably some new parts. The spare engine went to a friend who was also rebuilding a similar car, other useful parts went into storage (and many have since been used) while the small quantity of final remains went to the scrap yard. Then I sent the log book to DVLA to tell them it was scrapped. Job done.

 I can’t do that now. The new log book, changed recently at considerable cost by DVLA on the pretext that some blanks were stolen, has no provision to declare a car scrapped. Only an Authorised Treatment Facility can scrap a car and notify DVLA.  Apparently this rule came in a year or more ago in a blaze of silence, and only now people are falling foul of it and receiving fixed penalties. Many are not even enthusiast home dismantlers but simply people who called a scrappy to take away an old vehicle and later discovered the scrappy wasn’t registered as an ATF and hadn’t properly declared it.

 It’s not actually illegal to dismantle a car for spares, but do so and its ghost will live on forever, with a requirement to SORN the ghost vehicle every year into the future or risk a penalty. It appears that this is the advice from DVLA to car enthusiasts!  It occurs to me that one could maybe send the last remaining part and VIN plate abroad and declare it exported, or report it as stolen, but whatever the ‘workaround’ it’s a mess. With no provision whatsoever for people carrying out a perfectly reasonable and socially acceptable hobby it makes the regulation an ass and forces people to break it.

 I realize not many people are affected by this, but classic car enthusiasts are, and buying and dismantling a donor car for spares is a very common way to get parts for a classic car – indeed I found out about the change because an acquaintance had just done exactly that, then got caught by the new rules.

 So in the great scheme of things it’s maybe unimportant, just another petty regulation that fails to consider who is affected, and which irritates and frustrates a small number of ordinary people for no good reason. 

 Another step away from our common law – where you can do anything that’s not banned – towards European law – where you can do only what is allowed.  Another small brick in the wall restricting our freedoms.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Back from Hibernation

I haven’t written anything for a few weeks. Partly the reason has been practical; after a period of having builders doing a series of jobs scattered around the homestead every free moment has been taken up with finishing off. All the time consuming stuff that I’m much too mean to pay someone else to do, like clearing up, finishing the woodwork, exterior fittings, decorating and the like. The other reason however has been the overwhelming stream of rubbish, nonsense, lies, ineptitude and dishonesty that has been assailing us from the media and political organisations, I don’t even know where to even start?

This isn’t the time of year to be miserable so I’ll just continue to watch the unfolding omnishambles for a few more days. I simply can’t make any sense of Cameron whatsoever. Even assuming the worst of the man and my having given up on party politics as a sham anyhow one would assume he wanted to win the next election. 

Yet he has done nothing but pick divisive and emotive issues, like gay marriage, alcohol pricing, web surveillance, and just this week web filtering. His MO seems to be to take a firm position that deliberately alienates traditional conservative voter support, then, having done maximum damage to himself and his party, he backs down and ‘U’ turns. That doesn’t win back those originally offended but also annoys and alienates all the people who supported his first position, thus everyone is unhappy with him. It’s as though he has a political death wish.

But for now, to anyone who finds themselves here. Have a good Christmas.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Police Elections

I would guess I’m not the only person becoming increasingly confused about police commissioner elections. 

When it was announced I figured it was probably an irrelevance, lip service to the localism agenda. But on the plus side it might provide a useful prop against the influence of the unaccountable private company ACPO who increasingly control our police service.

But as time goes on I find myself more confused. All the noise about it, all the political fuss but nobody seems to have any idea who the candidates are. There has been nothing through the post, no official information at all. You can find out who is standing on the internet if you hunt around, there is a web site that tells you,  but it’s of little use. In my area I got a short write-up about a conservative candidate and a note that a labour candidate is standing but has failed to provide any information (she now has I notice).

Obviously hardly anyone will bother to vote so what’s the point? Our rulers never do things without a motive so there has to be a motive or agenda behind the scheme, what is it? Someone will get elected as no doubt there will be a handful of voters, but I can only conclude that TPTB don’t actually want real public involvement, all they want is to get a political party person into the position.

It would be nice to think that the point is to neuter ACPO, and it may do that to an extent, but I can only conclude that this ‘stealth’ election is primarily designed and intended as the first move in bringing the police under direct national political party control. To that end they don’t want people to know anything about the candidates and make an informed choice, what they need is just a few political party activists to vote for one of the party candidates and suddenly we have a directly politically controlled police force and the main national parties have stretched their tentacles into another area of society, pushing out the authority of the local councils.

It may be better than ACPO, but equally well might be akin to jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Copyright, son of ACTA

We all hoped that the draconian copyright conditions contained in ACTA and PIPA had been quashed. But no, they are at it all over again. The EU is now considering, behind closed doors and in secret just as they did with ACTA, the Canadian trade agreement, CETA. And guess what, it’s less about trade than about Intellectual Property rights and it contains just the same sorts of anti consumer legislation and Internet controls as ACTA. 

So far the discussions are so secret nobody knows the exact details, a draft has not been published, there have been no open discussion. Clearly they are hoping to get this in through the back door pretending it's just a trade agreement, but some details are leaking.

I have no problem with granting inventers and artists a reasonable and sensible copyright so they can benefit from their work and ideas, but I have serious problems with everything in our culture belonging to someone, especially when it ends up in the hands of faceless corporations and IT/copyright rights traders.  All artists and inventers lift their ideas, language and skills from their existing culture, copyright should be an agreement respecting all members of society and recognising that innovation sits on the shoulders of existing science and culture. Intellectual property rights should never be a carte blanch imposition over user’s rights in favour of vested interests. This is something to watch carefully.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

An odd thought

One aspect of the EU which causes resentment has been its intrusive, nonsensical and authoritarian regulations and rules.  It has become almost ‘accepted wisdom’ that a large part of the problem is the Civil Service, predominately left wing, mostly Europhiles and riddled by Common Purpose graduates, who have enlarged, gold plated and maximised the impact of EU regulation way beyond other EU countries, and often even beyond even the EU’s intent, to further their own careers and political agenda of drawing us further into the EU.

Recently however I was reminded of a couple of occasions at work when management came up with stupid and nonsensical working procedures. When protesting the stupidity and ineffectiveness of such procedures made no progress an excellent tactic was to implement them, and to implement them as fully, painstakingly and mindlessly as possible.  Inevitably this soon caused problems because simple jobs took longer or became delayed, people were inconvenienced, systems of work fell apart, and that of course resulted in complaints to management, who were then forced to rethink their original plans and undo some of their daft ideas.

The introduction of electrical PAT (portable appliance testing) was one such scenario when the management insisted early computer equipment was all tested in a particular way. “But”, we replied, “If we do that the equipment will be damaged, the test exceeds its design limits.” “The consultants are experts”, we were told, ”you must do it like that.” So we did - fizz, bang, splat! Next week we apologised to users that various items of computer equipment were non-functional and would be out of service until they could be repaired. The following year the protocol was changed.

So with this in mind I wondered what I would do were I working in Whitehall? If I were charged with implementing EU directives for a UK government who were determined to keep us in ever closer union with the EU. That’s right, I would implement every regulation, I would gold plate all its provisions then polish them. I would ensure it affected the maximum number of people and in some way made their lives more difficult or more expensive. Then I would pass the rules along to ministers and government to enforce on the population with a big smile.

Eventually the inevitable would happen and a significant mass of people would get more and more annoyed and frustrated and push back against the rules. Isn’t that exactly what is happening?

I don't suppose this is what has happened, I can't imagine that the Whitehall mob are doing all the gold plating on purpose just to piss everyone off, but whether by accident or design they seem to have finally succeeded!