Good morning everyone, and welcome to another week in the fun palace that is Westminster. My, didn’t it rain last night, I don’t know how many times the rain beating on the windows woke me up. Now it seems to have stopped for a while, but when I went for my constitutional, it was much colder. In fact, I hear that there might be snow ‘up north’. I hate snow, and so would you if your bits were as close to the ground as mine!
I hear that on Saturday there was a drive-by shooting at a Church in Euston, London. It was sparsely reported initially, the main thing being related was that a seven-year-old girl had been shot and was in seriously ill in hospital along with several other adult women. Now I hear it was all related to a war between two Columbian drug cartels and the event was the memorial service for two female relatives of a gang leader. Apparently, you no longer need a visa to visit the U.K. from Columbia, so gang leaders are free to come here as they please. So what results is a crowd leaving a church service being peppered with shotgun pellets.
Sad Dick was at it again at the weekend. He really thinks he is leader of the Labour Party saying how we should be re-joining the EU. Well, he is not, he is mayor of London and in charge of the Metropolitan Police. Under him London Transport has been run into the ground, traffic congestion in London has become the worst in any of the world’s cities and the Met is in special measures. How has this come about? It seems that all the traffic measures that Sad Dick has brought in are the cause of the congestion and everywhere there are enforcement cameras. But did they spot the Euston drive-by car? I rather doubt it.
Next, we have Sir Beer Korma and his hair brain scheme to fix the NHS. Firstly, he wants people to be able to self-refer themselves to consultants. That is consultants who are already so busy that it takes months to get an appointment when referred by a GP. Well, that is going to work isn’t it! Then he wants all GP’s to be directly employed by the NHS. I seem to remember that they once were, but under a Labour Government they were allowed to become ‘fund holding’ practices and employ themselves and agree that they shouldn’t work at weekends or after six at night. So perhaps we will also go back to cottage hospitals.
I hear that the German Minister of Defence, Christine Lambrecht, has resigned this morning. It is said she has been out of her depth in the post and has been criticised for amongst other things sending 5,000 army helmets to the Ukraine as military aid. Just last week all 18 Puma infantry vehicles deployed in an exercise had to be taken out of service due to ‘technical difficulties’. Germany recently increased defence spending by €100 billion and apparently, she had not the slightest idea how to spend the money. The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has accepted the resignation and is now under pressure to replace her with another woman ‘to keep the balance in the cabinet’.
It has emerged that the problem that closed down the American air transport system last week was caused by a software engineer replacing one file with another. It seems that many of the American airlines had long been pointing out the vulnerability of the US system for having old equipment and dated software. The Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg has come in for major criticism and the US media says his only qualification for being in the position was because he was gay. I don’t know if this is true, but it does seem that the Democrats were very quick to pack the Sniffer Joe cabinet with ‘woke’ people who had little in the way of qualifications.
This morning a Metropolitan Police officer, David Carrick, pleaded guilty in court to 49 sex charges against 12 victims. Apparently, the case included 24 rapes over 2 decades. Now this man was an armed officer who worked for the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command. How did he get away with rapes and sexual assaults for nearly 20 years? Oh, and a second thought, wasn’t the Met officer who lifted that woman off the street before raping and killing her employed by the same command? Is there something fundamentally wrong in that command?
A very chilly morning, not as bad as before Christmas but a bit nippy when I put my nose out of the cat flap this morning. There was no frost on the grass, it is central London, but there it was on the roof of the gardener’s shed and the top of the wall where I sometimes sit in the summer sunshine. I hear it is going to get a bit warmer during the day and this is going to be the coldest night of the week.
I hear on the radio this morning that there has been a nasty road traffic accident in Somerset this morning involving a motorcycle and a double-deck bus. The bus reportedly carrying 80 workers to the Hinkley Point ‘C’ site is reported to have overturned on icy roads and the police have called a ‘major incident’. Everyone seems to be reluctant to give out information on injuries or possible deaths. I will be keeping my ear to the ground.
Hidden amongst the announcement of Challenger 2 tanks for the Ukraine was the fact that we are to also supply them with 30 x AS-90 self-propelled Howitzers. I have only seen this on forces websites, it seems to have been missed, or ignored, by the ‘normal’ media. The 155mm tracked Howitzers can fire three rounds in ten seconds before scooting. It also batch fire six rounds in a minute or a sustained three rounds a minute up to 30Km and can fire the ‘Excalibur’ precision-guided munitions. There is also a ‘rocket-assisted round’ that can reach up to 40 km. I understand that the Army originally purchased 179 x AS-90s but are currently only using 117. I hope this 30 is coming from the Howitzers in storage.
I was interested to read that as a result of the war in Ukraine the Ministry of Defence is now reconsidering its plan to only upgrade 148 x Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks to Challenger 3s, with a new turret and a smooth bore main gun to match those used by its NATO allies. The Army originally purchased 386 Challenger 2 tanks leaving it with quite a large number it will not be upgrading so giving a single squadron of 14 MBTs to Ukraine is neither here nor there. The contract for the conversation to the 3-standard was worth £800 million with the first tank going back to the Army in 2027 and must have included the recovery of development costs and setup costs. I suspect the remaining 224 Challenger 2s could be upgraded to 3s for a similar sum. We should just be getting on and doing it.
I hear that the Conservative members of the London Assembly are accusing Sad Dick of fiddling the numbers for the London-wide survey on increasing the ULEZ zone. Apparently, the mayor was asked numerous times if he had seen the results of the survey before it was announced and if he had attempted to influence it, to which he repeatedly said no. However redacted papers released to the Conservative opposition in the Assembly, under a Freedom of Information request, show the results were shown to him before being announced, together with a whole series of ways in which the poll could be swung in his favour. These included upping the advertising spend and pushing young people to answer the survey as they were thought to be more likely to be in favour of the plan. But it seems that over 5,000 responses from anti-ULEZ expansion campaigners were rejected. I can see a judicial review coming.
BBC Breakfast TV celebrated 40 years since going on air this morning. I am nowhere near old enough to remember the first day with Frank Bough and Salina Scott. Of course, I have seen film from the old days when they first hit the air and woolly jumpers were the order of the day. I understand that doubters said that breakfast TV would never work in the U.K. and the BBC were not sure about the viability of a programme. However, when ITV announced a new breakfast TV franchise, the BBC bit the bullet and decided they had to beat the ITV to going on air. Strangely I don’t think we would consider doing without breakfast television these days as nearly every station has one.
The other evening there was a Jack Reacher film on TV starring Tom Cruise as Reacher. In the series of books, Reacher is a muscular, tough, 6’ 5” ex-military police major, whose physical appearance threatens the villains. In the film, Reacher is played by 5’ 7” runt Cruise and although the film went down well with people who hadn’t read the books however those who had read the books hated it. In the hit Amazon Prime series, Reacher was played by a 6’ 2” muscular actor and the book readers loved it so much that a second series is on its way. I never bought into the Cruise portrayal, but I am looking forward to the new Amazon series.
Cold again this morning with a frost just like yesterday! However, it is a beautiful morning with a clear blue sky. What a pity it is cold out there.
I read that a female football player has just won a tribunal over the non-payment of her maternity pay. It seems that the Iceland women’s captain Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir was playing for French club Lyon when she became pregnant. Under the FIFA rules she was entitled to 14 weeks of 2/3rd her salary for maternity pay. When the doctors told her to, she stopped playing and with the club’s agreement returned to Iceland. However, the club stopped paying her so she eventually took them to a tribunal. The tribunal has now ruled in her favour and been ordered to pay her €82,094.82 within 42 days. It seems that Lyon was using French law. I wonder how that will affect other EU countries?
The Scottishland ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) is reported to be struggling to run a service. It appears that this is because of the age of its fleet. The average age is 38 years. They are desperate to get the two new ferries being built in Glasgow into service, they are years late. Is it any wonder CalMac has ordered its next ferries from Turkey?
The Belfast shipbuilders Harland & Wolff are looking to recruit. They recently were part of the consortium selected to build three Solid Support Ships for the Fleet Auxiliary. Although manufacturing of the first ship doesn’t start until 2025, they have decided that they need to start the search for over 900 personnel. The group also owns the Appledore shipyard that Babcock sold off a couple of years back and they will be taking on another 300. I hope they manage to find the numbers they are looking for, as I understand it is not easy to find people these days.
Recently I have been getting fed up with being told how wonderful the Chinese snooker players are and how they are taking over the world. Now I hear that ten of them have been charged by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association with charges of cheating. All ten are in the top 100 players and have been charged with either match-fixing, being involved with match-fixing or approaching others with a view to match-fixing. Some are on multiple charges. If found guilty they could land up with lengthy suspensions from the sport.
Apparently, according to reports, Tesco are looking at closing all its remaining fresh food counters later this year. But the report goes on to talk about closing the deli, meat and fish counters it didn’t close in recent years. It seems that customers prefer to buy their food pre-packaged and other supermarkets have already gone down this path. But what I don’t understand is, if Tesco are actually closing ‘all’ the fresh food counters as they have others that were not mentioned like bread, pizza and hot chicken. I rather hope the hot chicken is staying as I rather like it, but you know me and chicken.
I hear that Turkey is not very happy with the United States. You may remember that a while back the US cancelled a Turkish order for F-35 jets when Turkey ordered S-400 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia. Instead, they have had to stick with the much older and inferior F-16. However, what has really upset Turkey is that its neighbour and huge rival Greece has been allowed to order F-35s.
Another frosty morning in Westminster. Just like yesterday it is chilly out there but bright and sunny. At least it’s not raining or snowing here in London, however, I hear that Manchester Airport had to shut for a while this morning because of snow on the runway.
Wonderful news overnight, Jacinda Arden, the New Zealand Labour PM, has announced that she is going to resign no later than the 7th February, following a leadership election. The PM who was lauded by the woke for her Covid actions where she locked down New Zealand and even barred her own citizens from coming home from overseas. In her resignation speech, she looked close to tears and haggard. I could help wondering if she was jumping before she was pushed. I hear that her Labour Party had been well ahead in the opinion polls but, with an election coming up, they are slipping badly, and I suspect she has been told by the men in suits that Labour can’t win with her as leader.
I hear that someone won the National Lottery ‘Set for Life’ first prize at the weekend. The top prize is £10,000 a month for 30 years. Just think of all the Chicken in Jelly Felix that could buy! The only problem is that cats don’t live for 30 years so what happened to the remaining prize when you die? It is probably not a lot of use to anyone over 65 going in for that competition as they will probably not live to see it all. On the other hand, if you were to win it at the age of 30 what would you do when you got to 60 and the payments finished? I think the answer is to put a big percentage of the monthly payment away for a rainy day.
So, Sir Beer Korma has gone off to Davos to the WEF meeting today. Apparently, he will be giving a speech where he will be telling all the rich people there that when he wins the next general election and is PM, the country will be open for them to come in. Is it not open to them now? I understood that we were always open to rich foreign business investors coming here and paying tax. Will he also tell them how much he will be raising the taxes on the ‘rich’ too and that he wants to do away with non-dom status? I suspect not.
A year before they are planned to enter service the first new carriage for the 42 new Docklands Light Railway (DLR) trains has arrived in the new Beckton sidings. However, I hear there is a bit of a problem. The trains are supposed to be paid for by the Government but as yet they haven’t handed over any money to DfL, maybe that has something to do with them being delivered early. London is however borrowing the money from London’s Housing Infrastructure Fund. This means that London’s planned housing development, particularly in the Royal Docks is threatened. What is strange is that part of the case for new trains is based on the need for extra services generated by all the new housing being built in the Docklands! I that TfL want to add 11 more trains to the order, but they need the Government to guarantee the money first.
Is the Totteringham Hotspurts manager, Antonio Conte, preparing for the sack? His team have not been having a very good season and are 14 points behind the league leaders having played a game more. There have been whispers for some time that the money man behind the club is not happy and he has been considering the position. Conte has been talking to the press about the recent deaths of three friends, living in a London hotel and leaving his wife and daughter in Italy and how hard it is. Is he thinking about quitting before he is sacked?
I hear that with work underway on the last two of seven Astute Class submarines, design work is well underway for the next attack submarine family (currently known as SSNR). The big question is will they have both horizontal and vertical launch tubes? British attack submarines currently only have horizontal launch tubes through which they can launch both torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles. The newest US attack submarines, while continuing to have horizontal launch torpedoes now come equipped with vertical launch tubes for cruise missiles. Although the horizontal launch Tomahawk is still available at the moment, we are increasingly looking at becoming its only customer. The advantage of moving to VLTs on the SSNR seems to be overwhelming if we want to be able to procure the latest versions of Tomahawks and their future replacements. I fully expect to see the SSNR to have both HLTs and VLTs.
Morning all, another frosty one, with bright sunshine. It was chilly during the day yesterday and I bet it will be the same today. I hear the Rich Boy could be in trouble for not wearing a seat belt. Most policemen don’t bother to nick people not wearing a seat belt, they just tell them to put it on. But this is political, and he has to be hanged for the offence! People also moaned that he took a flight to the north of England, ignoring that Sir Beer Korma took a plane to the WEF yesterday.
Christiano Renaldo is, I hear, looking for a personal chef. He is building a family mansion in Portugal and wants a chef who is capable of preparing both Portuguese dishes and international dishes such as sushi. For this he is willing to pay £4,500 a month but has so far failed to find anyone. Apparently, he is very, very fussy, and this is the main problem he is having in recruiting anyone.
I hear that a family flying off on holiday with their toddler in First Class were abused by another passenger who objected to children being in First Class. It seems both the husband and the three-year-old girl were sleeping when a man approached the mother and told her, “Children are not allowed in First Class,” and to get back to their seats in Economy. I understand that this is rubbish and that there is no age limit on travelling in First Class, the only criteria is that you have a First Class ticket.
Turkey is said to be looking at buying two of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates. This has come as a bit of a surprise to many commentators as the first Type 23s are not expected to leave the fleet until replaced by Type 31s and Type 26s. Turkey is currently building its own frigates but they are much smaller than the Type 23. Turkey’s need for frigates come from the fact that it is building its own aircraft carrier. Once launched it will need several frigates to protect it from attack by submarine, aircraft and surface ships. The Type 23 was initially an anti-submarine ship but are now armed with 32 Sea Ceptor vertical launch anti-air missiles, eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, two twin torpedo launchers, a 4.5” gun and a Wildcat helicopter also armed with torpedoes, so it covers just about all Turkey’s needs.
The whisper I hear is that Air India is on the verge of placing orders for 495 new aircraft split between Boeing and Airbus. For single-aisle planes the Airbus part is said to be for 235 A320neo-family planes while the Boeing part is for 190 737 MAX airliners. In addition, twin-aisle orders are said to be for 70 long-haul aircraft including up to 40 Airbus A350s as well as some 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777X. I hate to think what that little lot would cost.
I hear that in Moscow, Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air systems are being installed on top of some of the tall buildings. This is intriguing, as despite Russia bombing and firing missiles at Ukrainian cities, the Ukraine has only hit Russian military targets. Does Russia think that the Ukraine is going to hit Moscow, or are they worrying that someone else might attack them?
I read that when 18-year-old Adam Powis was sacked by B&Q in Weston-Super-Mare, for allegedly vaping outside the store he was more than a little upset. In fact, he stormed into the office grabbed the Tannoy and announced to the shop, “This is a customer announcement. I just got sacked and B&Q are c****. F**k everyone. Have a nice day.” He then walked out without a word to anyone. Unsurprisingly he has now been banned from every B&Q in Britain.
Cold again this morning and I don’t like it! I suppose you must expect it in winter, but I don’t like winter either! My poor little paws on the cold frosty ground when I go out for my pre-breakfast constitutional are awful
So, the Rich Boy has been fined for not wearing a seat belt. I understood that the driver was also liable if a passenger was caught unseat-belted. In the Rich Boy’s case, that would have meant fining a member of the Metropolitan Polices’ Diplomatic Protection Force as they supply his driver and a close protection officer. I wonder if that happened?
In Italy the ‘old lady’ of football, Juventus, has been fined 15 points for abnormalities in transfer deals. What has that got to do with Britain you might ask? Well, one Fabio Paratici, an Italian national, has been banned from football for two-and-a-half years for his part in the case and Signor Paratici is currently employed as the Spuds Managing Director of Football. As I have already told you earlier in the week the Spuds are having a bad time at the moment and the last thing they want is to lose a club director. It hasn’t yet been confirmed whether the ban applies in the rest of Europe or if he is going to appeal.
The new Elizabeth Line in London is drawing more passengers than predicted. They were predicted to have 3,000,000 passengers a week at this stage, but I hear they are actually carrying 3,500,000. The next big change on the line comes with the next National Rail timetable change in the spring. At the moment trains often wait for ten minutes outside Paddington before continuing. I believe this is because there is not enough capacity on the lines to Reading and trains have to wait for a slot. The spring timetable change is expected to fix that problem. In addition, there will also be a signalling software update at the same time. I hope doing two things at once works.
I hear that in Ginge’s book Spare he talks about the ‘thoughtful’ gift he got from Whinge when Archie was a baby. Apparently, she purchased him a Christmas tree bauble with the Queen’s face on it! He claimed to be delighted and on unwrapping it, he immediately hung it on the tree, low enough for Archie to see it. However, it was so low the toddler smashed it and it landed in the bin. That same year the Queen asked what Archie would like for his present and Whinge said “a waffle maker” which duly arrived. What a one-year-old would do with a waffle maker is beyond me.
Is Germany reconsidering its reluctance to allow its Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank to be used in the Ukraine? I hear that when a country issues an export licence for military equipment they always include a clause that says it is for the use of the purchaser only and and subsequent on sales must be approved by the manufacturing country. In this way Germany can control who purchasers of the Leopard 2 can be sold or give their MBTs to. However, the new German Defence Minister, (one day in the job) has ordered a full census of all Leopard 2s. Are the Germans bending under the pressure of other European nations?
I hear of a rather confusing court case in the US of A. The shipping company MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) was taken to court for damaging the business of American furniture manufacturers MCS. MCS claim that MSC had failed to process paperwork resulting in their containers not being shipped. Because MSC were late in filing paperwork the judge made an interim award of nearly $1,000,000 to MCS without hearing any evidence. MSC have appealed, claiming that MCS had never asked them to ship containers. I shall continue to keep an eye on events.
Right, I’m done for another week. It’s a cold old day out there, I am not going outside, instead I’m going to snooze the big armchair in the waiting room just like I did last week. With any luck I’ll be chatting with you next week.
© WorthingGooner 2023