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Lesson from the Post Office scandal
Mr Bates vs The Post Office (available on ITVX) is a brilliant drama documentary with superb acting against vivid village and country environments which describes one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British criminal history, caused by the Post Office’s imposition of the Horizon computer system. It is frightening to see the way the Post Office Investigation Branch behaved like the Stasi, and the way postmasters and postmistresses were treated. Between 2000 and 2014 more than 700 were wrongfully convicted of stealing cash. One Surrey postmistress was sentenced to 15 months in prison when she was pregnant. Others committed suicide. All were bankrupted. The prosecution relied on ‘expert’ witnesses who said that the Horizon computer system made by Fujitsu was infallible when in fact it was rotten. The lesson to be learned as we go into the uncertain and dubious age of driverless cars and AI – when computers take decisions affecting all of us – is that computers are neither failsafe nor completely reliable.
A better way to vote
The question is posed: Could Andrew Bridgen hang on to his seat (North West Leicestershire) at the general election? Under a party duopoly and first-past-the-post in single constituencies, his chances are slender. Yet nationwide he would easily garner a couple of hundred thousand or even a few million votes. Democracy, going beyond a liberal dispensation with rule of law, property rights and free speech, means votes being counted and the outcome observed.
It would seem therefore that the concept of constituency needs changing. In the past there were practical reasons to stick with a narrow geographical base, but in the 21st century we have other options. With electronic voting, secured by printout ballots to ensure proper audit, a first screen would show local candidates as now on paper, but a second would enable the voter to access candidates in a wider region and ultimately nationally. Election would require a fixed number of votes wherever cast.
It is this idea which needs disseminating, not the limited solution of direct democracy with endless referenda. Once the idea has taken hold, and all-party group-think has been thoroughly discredited, a shift can become feasible, beginning maybe with county-wide voting.
P C Gregory
Haute Loire, France
The nonsense of Net Zero
In the Telegraph, Annabel Denham describes how the impact of Net Zero will become increasingly painful. But the graph of costs with the article, suggesting an average annual cost of around £40billion over 30 years from 2020, is not complete.
National Grid estimates that the cost of upgrading the grid alone (by 2035) is £3trillion, which equates to £250 billion pa.
A further £2trillion for transport and industry etc would equate to around £60 billion pa more over 30 years.
Who would have thought that a trebling of the national debt (with a £5 trillion Net Zero bill) might cause us a problem while reducing our CO2 emissions by a negligible 0.00048ppm pa? Who did the viability assessment?
Roger J Arthur
Starmer’s ‘change’ means ‘no change’
‘Change’ cries Sir Keir Starmer like so many Opposition leaders before him, but what does that most repeated and hackneyed political mantra actually mean? Change for its own sake? If it meant improvement, surely it should be accompanied by an outline of how improvement would be achieved if he were in power? It would appear to be enough to believe that the electorate are so disenchanted with the current administration that they would vote for almost any alternative as long as it was different. In short, the popularity of the Opposition leader and shadow cabinet is entirely dependent on the unpopularity of the other guy.
Sir Keir says he grew up working class, but attended a selective school that went independent while he was there. Reigate Grammar School former pupils include Norman (Quentin) Cook, David Walliams and Ray Mears. Its old boys’ rugby club is not known for being anything but middle-class.
Starmer speaks about populism, as the left do, as if it were a personality cult rather than what it is, a reaction to out-of-touch establishment elitism. His reference to nationalism betrays an inclination towards supranationalism and globalism and consequently the unchanging national and global political elite whether in Westminster or Washington. As to Britain’s relationship with the EU, the writing is on the wall.
Freedom of speech, Islam-style
In Australia a teacher can be censured for using the wrong pronoun and can even lose their job; but in Australia, an immigrant preacher can vomit forth a whole language of hate and horror, as reported here, but cannot be criticised, as that would be classified as Islamophobia, hate speech and even misinformation! What have we done to ourselves?
Pity the poor EV driver
We really must make a New Year resolution to be nicer to EV owners. Grants for EVs have ended for those costing more than £35,000. Free electricity is no longer available at railway stations and in local authority car parks. Some insurance companies are charging £1,000 a month. No one wants to purchase a used EV. The recharging infrastructure is unreliable. EVs stuck in snow or traffic jams have run out of electricity. EVs’ lithium batteries can catch fire. In Europe EVs have been banned from underground car parks. A tip for those thinking of buying an EV: Don’t. People can continue to buy a petrol/diesel car until the 2035 cut-off date. Not saving the planet? Since there are 1.474billion cars in the world and only 33.2million in the UK a few EVs will make no difference especially since as was shown at COP28 other countries are ramping up their greenhouse gas emissions and have zero intention of ramping down.