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Just ordinary men.

They were just ordinary men with ordinary backgrounds. They stood and chatted with each other, comparing notes about family and friends, showing photographs of loved ones and sharing food, drink and cigarettes. Only a few hours earlier they had been shooting at each other on a battlefield and only a few hours later they would recommence on the ground they were standing on and kill those same men just like themselves with the same hopes and ambitions.

The 1914 Christmas truce is a well-known occurrence early in the First World War, the war to end all wars or the Great War. In Late December the soldiers and officers of the British Army were disappointed that they were still in France. The popular scenario bandied about was that it would all be over before Christmas. It wasn’t and they weren’t.

At that moment the British Army was made up of full-time professional soldiers whereas the German Army were mainly conscripts. The trench system was still in its infancy but still men were being killed at levels, which can only be described as criminal and would of course later become wholesale slaughter.

The accounts of the truce here, here and here tell it better and provide more detail than I can.

“We don’t want to fight on this day or any other” is a quote from a German soldier during the truce, it kind of sums up all wars past, present and future. Ordinary men and women who don’t want to fight and military and political leaders who don’t see themselves as ordinary and who want OTHERs to fight on their behalf for aims which are at best dubious and at best ill considered and meaningless.

At this time of year we’ve enjoyed Christmas and the Christmas spirit bringing cheer to all men. We have New Year to come when we regard the year we’ve survived and look forward with optimism to the year ahead. We take time out to remember those who are no longer with us and to hope that those less fortunate than ourselves find life easier in 2012.

We all should be actively pursuing good works, which give our lives more value and meaning. There are those who will do no such thing and will selfishly pursue their own agenda.

Next year we shall be a year closer to inevitable power cuts forced on us by warmist, meaningless dogma. We will also be paying more for energy; we will perhaps be coming to terms with the break up of the Euro Zone and perhaps even the EU itself. We will be a year nearer a Scottish Independence referendum. Most importantly we will be a year older and where will the value of that year have been demonstrated?

Answers on a a postcard to…

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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Politics

 

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The spirit of Christmas.

Previously this week I’ve written about Christmas parties, Christmas shopping and a Christmas film. The spirit of Christmas is, of course, supposed to be the moral and ethical side of things, the side that deals in generosity, selflessness and respect for others.

The case of the young chap who had too many shandies and boarded a train without the correct ticket or no ticket at all probably falls into this area of Christmas cheer.

The famous phone video shows what happened although there is also a CCTV version, which allegedly shows the young chap being a bit more “boisterous” shall we say? The current bottom line of this saga is that the “big guy” who tackled him has been charged with assault, the train guard has been suspended and the “big guy is also in danger of facing disciplinary action for bringing his employer into disrepute. Nice.

How very 2011. The moral minority (MM) are up in arms because a young chap was manhandled and abused by the “big guy”. Something must be done. Outraged and, the favourite, favourite word of the MM, “offended”. Off with his head! Throw away the key. Not for the young drunk guy of course. No, no, no, no, no. This is for the “big guy”.

The young guy was in the wrong. Okay most people get it wrong once in a while but aren’t we all tired of people doing something idiotic and then wasting our time or costing us money? “Big guy” may have been over zealous. The guard didn’t use the training he had, had to deal with such incidents. And?

Enter Christmas spirit. Young guy apologises for being an idiot and asks the police to drop all charges. He asks Scotrail to immediately reinstate the guard and he also asks “Big Guys” employers to drop the disrepute nonsense.

The Police could have a quiet chat with “Big Guy” without recourse to the courts. They could hold a discussion with the young chap and point out the error of his ways.

Scotrail could shoot another video covering the number of these fare infringements and the loss this represents to them and subsequently their customers who end up paying more because of it. They could also provide examples of how that lost revenue could be spent on improving services to their customers.

Let’s hope common sense prevails.

Now here is another example of the further need to see a valuable demonstration of the “Christmas Spirit”.

Edinburgh Council. You remember them? Well they’ve really played a blinder this time. Cuts are to be made to save £5.5 million. Now I ask you to remember that specific amount. 35.5 Million.

The £5.5 million (as reported by Michael Blackley the City Council Reporter for the Evening News in the December 22 2011 edition) will be saved by –

Introducing a £10 charge for people who need permits so they can have delivery or removal vehicles parked at their property.

That’s not a saving that’s an increased charge on residents.

£10.000 reduction in rate charge for Gracemount Youth and Community Centre.

That’s not a cut to services that’s a cut in rates!

3% cut to Children and  families department supplies and services budget.

That’s a cut. But is it a cut which will reduce costs by a few thousand, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or even more? Unlikely to be really significant although worthwhile perhaps?

3% rise in fees and charges within the services of the Communities Department.

That’s not a saving that’s another increase in cost to the residents.

Saving £112,000 by not producing the A-Z of council services booklet for resident.

That is a saving, but why spend that amount of money on a booklet in the first place?

£35,000 funding cut to Sestran.

That’s a cut but very small.

£100,000 cut in payments made to NHS Lothian for them providing beds to vulnerable people who will be kept at home instead.

That’s a cut, on the handling of vulnerable people. It is to be hoped that this does not result in a negative outcome.

So it’s cut here and there but mainly increase costs for the residents.

But there is a further twist. Another adjoining article states the following. The refuse collection industrial action, which dragged on for almost three years and only ended because of the threat of privatisation cost the council £5.5 Million.

Enter Christmas spirit.

No additional charges for residents will be levied.

The privatisation of the refuse services will proceed as per the report by the Council Officers and audited and assured by the accountancy firm brought in.

An enquiry will be carried out immediately, by an external body, to discover how £5.5 million could have been lost during the industrial action, how no action was taken to reduce the on going costs and the dispute was not ended quickly in the residents favour. Heads should roll where incompetence, and the sum of money involved suggests significant incompetence, is evident.

Real cost reductions across all council activities and services should be pursued regardless of outcome and should not be manipulated for political reasons.

A strange way to define the Christmas spirit?

The council and councillors have suffered reputational damage, which has been serious enough to reduce the confidence of residents to a point where it is becoming impossible to believe anything, which the council now says.

Drastic action to address this is required very much sooner than later.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in General, Politics

 

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