Which Laws Should Be Enforced?

With all the complaints starting about the noise from fireworks, I was surprised to read on the Government web site about the restricted occasions that fireworks can be let off legally. Fireworks(including sparklers) can only be set off legally, on 4 days per year; Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight, New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am. The law says you must not set off or throw fireworks(including sparklers) in the street or other public places. So since many bonfires and fireworks displays don’t take place on bonfire night, and are often held in public parks, they are in fact illegal and could be opening the organisers up to litigation.

Labour made a mistake in relaxing Britain’s gambling laws

Ever since the Labour Government relaxed our gambling laws in 2005 our betting shops have been thriving. William Hill revealed that the gross profit they make from Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (either slot or virtual roulette machines with maximum payouts of £500 per bet) has been steadily increasing. From making £648 per week per machine in 2007, it has risen to making £924 per week per machine. We are seeing betting shops on our high streets in increasing numbers. The Advertising Standards Authority has branded advertisements by UK bookmakers as socially irresponsible, likely to mislead and questioned the advertisements truthfulness and honesty. This Conservative Government cares about cutting taxes and lowering our debt, both worthy issues, but surely we should protect people from addictions and being preyed upon by big companies? Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman has admitted the Labour Government was wrong to relax gambling laws. She recently recently said, “I have got the most heart-rending letters and emails and calls that I’ve ever had in 30 years of being an MP, just saying, ‘Please, do something about this. It’s ruined my life, it’s ruined my family, it’s really dangerous’. And the problem is, it’s getting worse and that’s why we need the law changed so that something can be done about it.””

Affluenza

In last Thursdays Yorkshire Evening Post, an article by Grant Woodward about the recent killings whereby whole families were killed, it was very simplistic coming up with the same old reason, mental breakdown. But are there more of this type of killings in recent years, and is it more prevalent in certain countries? British psychologist Oliver James wrote a book called Affluenza. Oliver James defines affluenza as placing a high value on money, possessions, appearances and fame, and he was saying this before it was the fashion to pile on the make-up and have plastic surgery; his book was published in 2007. In the book he asserts that there is a correlation between the increase material inequality, the greater the unhappiness of its citizens; and mental illness. The pressures of a materialistic society lead to “psychological disorders, alienation and distress”, causing people to “self-medicate with mood-altering drugs and excessive alcohol consumption” Our millionaire politicians are now saying that we need a more caring form of capitalism, but until big company bosses start taking pay cuts and paying all their due taxes. Perhaps Stephen Hester has now started the ball rolling, and the disparity between the lowest paid and the wealthy might decrease? One thing is certain; this sea change in opinion cannot be carried forward by our rich politicians. As they are part of the problem too.

Conservative manifesto

After watching Monday nights Panorama about the growing effect that alcohol is having on all our lives. In the UK nearly 9,000 people are dying from alcohol-related diseases every year, three times the number 25 years ago. The UK is one of the heaviest alcohol-consuming countries in Europe. I searched for what the Conservative manifesto said about alcohol. It said that the Conservatives would “raise taxes on those drinks linked to anti-social drinking”. Does that mean the cheap alcohol sold in supermarkets? I haven’t noticed any of these taxes, despite the Chancellor of the Exchequer desperate for more cash. Is it another case of, like with News of the World, being a the pockets of the drinks industry – I think so. Not that New Labour were any different. When our politicians get millions in the form of donations to fund the political partys, the politicians will sing to their tune.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Before the last election David Cameron said he would “crackdown on supermarkets and other stores selling alcohol at below-cost”. But we are still waiting, despite the treasury in great need of more funds. Last week a group of 19 top doctors and academics urged the Government to take “bold action” and follow the lead of Scotland by bringing in minimum prices for drinks. And again the Prime Minister promised to “take action”. We have people drinking to such excess at Christmas that the police and the, struggling ambulance service, finds it difficult to cope. David Cameron needs to decide if it prefers more taxation on alcohol, or a minimum price. Perhaps an increase in tax on retail, affecting supermarkets and off-licenses and a minimum price in bars and pubs. The former meaning more tax for the exchequer and the later helping pubs and by allowing them to set higher prices whilst keeping the profits. Alcohol-related deaths have risen by 40 per cent in 10 years, lets get merry this Christmas, but not too merry.

Free swimming

Recently there was a report on parenting and its effect on childrens’ drinking habits, published by the left leaning think tank, DEMOS. They studied data based on about 15,000 children born in the UK in the last 40 years. The researchers at DEMOS found that the best approach was for parents to be warm and affectionate until the age of 10 and then combine this with more discipline. Then at ages 15 to 16 there should be more supervision. And it goes on …… activities for at-risk children are also important during school holidays when there can be more opportunities to engage in binge drinking, Demos says. I am sure any good parent could have come up with that advice, but how do we help parents to keep their children active in the school holidays? Perhaps the Westminster Parliament could follow the example of the Welsh Assembly Government, they fund free swimming in Wales, during the school holidays.

sentences need to be tougher

The leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, said that we have a “moral collapse” and that the “broken society” is at the top of his agenda. So, one expects that we will see some drastic changes, or will it be just spin and tinkering at the edges?

At the start of the riots we did have a failure of the police to be able to act and quell the rioters, because of their overwhelming numbers; the police had to take a step back and just watch the rioters get down to it. In recent years, the parents too, have taken a step back from the parenting of their children. Its all too easy for parents to avoid responsibility, because the state will do it. The role of parents gets less important as the schools and the state take over. No longer do parents give their children sex education, healthy eating advice, even morals are taught by schools. Schools are expected to be strict, because the parents are not. Extra resources are given to the high performing schools; if parents don’t live near a good school then their children have a much harder task to make their life a success. The Government gives parents free childcare, putting presure on parents to work when they may be needed in the family home. Schools and early years providers have to care for children from birth; with breakfast and after school clubs too, and then Government wonders why parents do not feel responsible for their children.

So now we have the Government blaming the parents for not knowing where their children are, but yet its the Government that fails to support marriage and two parent families.

Mr Cameron also said he wanted a “family test” applied to all domestic policies to ensure they did not undermine or “stop families from being together”. So the first thing that comes into conflict with is evicting families from social housing. Wandsworth Council have served a family with an eviction notice for their sons involvement with the riots, and that is before there has been a conviction, to me that stinks of playing politics with peoples lives. Iain Duncan Smith has said that people convicted of involvement in rioting could lose their benefits, even if they are not jailed. How disgusting that people claiming benefits are being singled out for harsher sentences, but why would our millionaire Prime Minister care about that? If the sentences need to be tougher, make them tougher for everyone.

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