Yorkshire Devolution

Yorkshire-flag-std3After years of discussion and division all twenty local authorities within what is currently Yorkshire have agreed that they will establish a single devolved unit.

Perhaps spurred on by the results of the recent public votes in Barnsley and Doncaster - where 85% voted for a Yorkshire wide solution - the local politicians have finally set a target of 2020 for a new single body to start. Even though this would mean that the Sheffield-Rotherham regional body - not due to start until May 2018 - would only last for two years.

The new Yorkshire authority would not have anything like the powers of Scotland or Wales but would serve a population of around 5.4 million - more than either of them. In fact Yorkshire’s population would put it at 25th in the European table of countries - ahead of Ireland for example - and at around ten times the numbers in Jean-Claude Juncker’s Luxembourg.

tags: UK, local, regional, politics, devolved



Another Year, Another Miss?

Man_Euro2015In the next few days the BBC are due to announce their shortlist of songs for the 2018 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Then, following the pattern of recent years, a Eurovision You Decide show will allow a public vote to select the final entry. This year the show will be on Wednesday 7 February in Brighton and makes an attempt to gain some much needed credibility through employing 2015 winner Mans Zelmerlow alongside Mel Giedroyc.

But even before the BBC’s shortlist is known the bookies are rating the UK down in 24th place with regular front runners Sweden, Russia and Australia occupying the top three slots. Given our recent poor performances, the lack of incentive for ambitious artists to enter and the political climate, such a low level of support at the bookies is to be expected. Especially when we hear that Sweden has scheduled five national song heats just to get down to a shortlist; with other nations having even more entries to pick from. While the tiny Italian enclave of San Marino (population 33,000 or one tenth the size of Croydon) has scheduled four heats...

With Australia hoping to launch a separate Eurovision Asia Song Contest the smart money is backing them for the top spot this year - assuming that they don’t suffer from another reversal at the hands of nationalist / political voters.

tags: BBC, Eurovision, song, contest, try again, miss again



Euro Heroes

old-eurohero2The efforts of the German politicians to reach some form of coalition deal could well be resolved today and so end months of argument. But at least the inter-party maneuvers have thrown up insights as to what will be the political agenda for Germany within the European Union. And the German agenda carries much more weight than the British one ever did - or was ever likely to.

It now seems clear that there are some senior political figures who will do anything it takes to achieve their target of a United States of Europe - even if this is without the support of a majority of its citizens. And some of the ways that this plan will be helped along is through the rewriting of history, the indoctrination of youth and the creation of regime super heroes.

This is not a new idea - for example a Captain Euro made a brief and very unsuccessful appearance around 1999 and again in 2015. But this time there is much more at stake that just a currency.

So here is our Captain Eurocrat. A super hero with the power to stop any business in its tracks, to make any national government comply with his demands and to print unlimited amounts of euros at will. Captain Eurocrat will soon be incorporated into a revised history of Europe where his previously unreported role in defeating the forces of evil and maintaining peace since 1945 will be fully revealed. To support Captain Eurocrat all EU units (formerly called countries) will now have to adopt the motto Ending Euroscepticism so it’s not the end of us

tags: EU, super hero, laugh or cry, Europa, reich, empire



Shuffling Off

With Christmas and New Year just memories, our democratic representatives are, mostly, back at their day jobs again while our Whitehall civil servants work (!) on their own private agendas.

ManRDSo this week in Downing Street our Prime Minister carried out the traditional reshuffle of the table seating plan of that limited pack of Right Honorables making up her Cabinet. The spin machines claim that these changes were significant but few seem to agree. In reality the changes look pretty limited with the only obvious trend being more power to MPs who have, so far, been working against a successful exit from the European Union.

Now a successful Brexit is not the only political issue - but it is the most far reaching. And, considering how little has been achieved in the 565 days since that clear leave referendum vote, a cabinet less committed to the cause is not a good sign. Overall the latest news just seem to confirm that Theresa May is not sufficiently in control of the situation to be an effective leader. And that the outcome of the Brexit talks increasingly seems be that the EU will impose costs and trading penalties that the UK is then pushed into agreeing.

Possibly Mrs May’s hope is that the EU will break up under its many pressures and so let the UK off the hook. But that is very unlikely to happen in the remaining time frame. And as a result we, the people, are likely to be worse off than if there had been a clean break last year or if the vote had gone the other way back in 2016.

tags: UK, politics, weak, EU





2G or Not 2G?

The mobile phone has progressed greatly over the years. And for many seniors the level of sophistication and functionality required is easily met by the sort of basic handset that is widely available at a modest price - from just 12.95 at Argos this Christmas. 2GNokiaThey provide calls and texts in a small package that goes for days without a recharge. Many of these phones use what is known as a 2G network - the first of which was launched in the UK in 1992.

And even though there has since been roll-outs of first 3G and then 4G networks many of the older generation have been happy to stick with their familiar mobile phones. A choice that has previous worked fine when holidaying abroad - and avoided the high data roaming changes often incurred by smartphones. That is until recently.

Travelers from the UK to Australia expecting to use their reliable 2G mobiles will be disappointed - as the main network provider, Telstra, closed their 2G network on 1 December 2016. The second largest network, Optus, did the same in a two stage process completed in August this year. The only remaining operator, Vodaphone Australia, will shutdown their 2G service by March 2018. So visitors to friends and family Down Under still using 2G phones should consider picking up a basic unlocked 3G phone on arrival .. at least that will work while there and probably when you get back home as well. That way you are covered if the UK networks follow and start shutting down their 2G networks soon.

tags: obsolete, GSM, no service, telecoms



One Out, All Out?

The promise of the UK leaving the European Union and regaining at least some of its traditional independence may be the highest profile issue for British Grandads - but there are other devolution issues in the air.

Man1Indeed the calls for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom have still not gone away despite a clear majority vote in 2014. So the Saltire was often spotted amongst the Catalan flags in the pro-independence Barcelona marches. However the refusal of Spain and the EU to recognise the Catalan result may well have dampened the thoughts of a second vote in Scotland. Certainly the organisers of RefFest 2018 have abandoned their efforts citing a lack of funding. But in practice it may be that enough evidence has emerged since 2014 for voters to see that a future EU is aiming be a single conglomerate state playing on the world stage. A state where no nationalist politicians or devolution movements will be allowed to get in their way. Not an attractive proposition for any regional separatists.

Meanwhile at a purely local level, in England, voting is presently in progress on a devolution choice for the good citizens of Doncaster. The options being to form a Sheffield City Region or a Yorkshire wide region - with Yorkshire looking the firm favourite. Results are due before Christmas ...

tags: devolution, split, independence, EU, Scotland, UK



What’s Changed?

One month without any posts while enjoying a holiday in the sun. So has anything happened while the keyboards have been silent?

Heckerslyke_160Well last Friday saw the flurry of political activity in London and Brussels linked to the announcement of a major milestone in our attempts to leave the European Union. Every effort has been made since the news broke to make the limited progress made sound like some modern equivalent of the Magna Carta. At this rate Whitehall and Westminster are certain to win another Whitehall Farce Award. Oh what a mess they are creating!

Elsewhere the snowfall over the weekend meant great fun for the grandchildren - at least in some parts of the country. It also was fun for the Grandads remembering how many times the author of Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past has been proved wrong since The Independent published the article some seventeen winters ago.

On the technology front Microsoft gave us all the chance to test our patience again while waiting for Version 1709 of Windows 10 to trundle on - Grandad’s laptop has been downloading and installing for the past six hours. Meanwhile Wikipedia keeps ask us for money to help keep itself afloat. A request that seems a bit rich given that much of their content has been created for free by volunteers - many of whom, like us, have to pay for their Internet access. And worst still there are plenty of US tech companies in such strong financial positions that they could easily fund the entire operation without denting their bottom line.

tags: Brexit, weather, software, updates, donations



Remembering Reality


tags: World War, Fight, Freedom, Independence, real people, real events



Mounting Costs


As yet another milestone is passed it seems that the only change has been the total paid for Bruxelles club membership - and that the amount paid at date is much more than our earlier estimates.

Based on the Office of Budget Responsibility estimates the total paid since our historic vote 500 days ago has grown to some 19,000 million - even allowing for the UK rebate!

So while The Guardian, and the BBC, today push a story that a no deal EU exit would add an extra 930 to our shopping bills (!) there are many that have got to the point of saying We need to leave no matter what ...

tags: Brexit, EU, delays, no progress, hard, soft, weak, strong, ransom, 500 days


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