Sunday, 8 November 2009

Keeping it in the family......

A CHAP called Kelly has finally revealed his brilliant plan to sort out MPs' expenses. While most of it is OK, there are a few slightly weird bits in it. For example, he reckons that eventually all MPs might have to live in accommodation owned by the government. What has he got in mind? A giant dormitory, with lights out at 11pm and no visitors? Or just a converted prison where we’re all locked up for the night, for our comfort and everyone’s safety? Then there’s the other recommendation: You can’t employ a “family” member. So what does that mean exactly? What constitutes a “family member”? Lots of MPs employ their wives and husbands partly because that means they actually get to see each other a bit more than they would otherwise. Many MPs work 90 hours a week, and if they can work as a team that makes sense. Also, what on earth does “family member” mean? Does having a Christmas kiss with your secretary mean you have to sack her? Can you employ your ex-wife? If you suddenly find out your excellent researcher is, in fact, a long-lost cousin, does that mean it’s curtains for his employment? This one seems a bit dodgy to me and would actually mean we’ll need a kind of register of romantic interests. I mean, if you just fancy someone, do you have to make them redundant before you take them out on a date? These are unanswered questions, and they’ve got to be sorted out before the new system comes into force. The rest of the Kelly stuff makes reasonable sense, but I wonder if he really thought about the family stuff before making his proposals. There’s no doubt things have to change. Personally, I say get rid of all the allowances, apart from travel, and leave an independent body to set MPs’ salaries. What we’ve got goes some of the way there, but until we simplify this whole business, it’ll never go away completely.
SINCE 1989 the Indian army has been trying to defeat Islamic militants in Kashmir. They’ve tried everything. High tech weaponry, aircraft, military vehicles and thousands of troops have been deployed in the region. However, this week two rebel fighters were successfully taken out — by a bear. The mis-adventurous militants were taking a break from fighting and putting together a meal when a great big black bear wandered into their cave. And despite the pair being armed with AK47s, the hungry mammal managed to overcome them and, well, eat them. It proves nature can win where a well-armed military force can’t. The US will be hoping that one day Bin Laden might go the same way. After the billions the Yanks have invested in tracking him down, it would be ironic indeed if he became a tasty snack for Yogi
Bear’s peckish pals!
THE House went nuts this week when Home Secretary Alan Johnson sacked the government’s top drug advisor Professor David Nutt. Dangerous Dave advised the government on drug policy. But he got the boot for saying cannabis was less risky than alcohol or tobacco and that it should never have been made a Class B illegal drug. Now I like Alan Johnson but it’s ludicrous to ask a top scientist for policy advice and then sack him for sharing that advice with the public afterwards. It’s like asking Daily Sport babe Bailey to get her kit off, then getting offended because you don’t like nudity. Anyway, Prof. Nutt is right. I’m not encouraging you to have a spliff instead of a pint, but booze and ciggies are also dangerous. Cannabis may cause mental illness but so does alcohol. Then there’s the link between fags and cancer. If you’re going to make cannabis a Class B drug,surely whisky and cigs have to go in there too! But while the medical world (and the LibDems) are right behind downhearted Dave, the Labour party and, predictably, the Tories seem set in their ways. They’re waging a war against common sense and, sadly, they seem to be winning.
REMEMBER a few months back when I told you about the decision to let the UK Youth Parliament use the Commons for their annual session? It was the end of a long hard battle against a group of stuffy old traditionalists who opposed letting the youth into “our” chamber. Last Friday the Youth Parliament session happened. And a lot of those guys and girls shone. There was no bitchiness or political point scoring, just serious and very well handled debate. My mate, the “Speaker” John Bercow, chaired the session and praised MYPs for their speeches. It was great to see so many young people involved in democracy. Some who spoke — like Funmi Abari and Oliver Rawlinson — have already been spotted by the press. The way things are going,maybe they should start running the country right now.

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