Inside the system
And they want our sympathy?
FOR A sense of opinion among at least a section of the country folk who are demanding our money to compensate for foot and mouth, get on the web. It is worth visiting the internet readers' forum of Country Life ("the voice of the countryside") and Horse & Hound ("the home of equestrianism"). Here is a selection of their views, written from houses worth half a million upwards by people on fat salaries:
- "I love the way in which the government are keeping quiet about all the illegal immigrants coming into our country. If they are sneaking in on lorries, how do we know what they are bringing with them? Foot and mouth came from somewhere, it wasn't lying dormant in the UK. Why the hell are they letting these people into our country who have no right to be here and our taxes are going towards housing them and making them comfortable whilst our own rural communities go bankrupt. Keep the illegal immigrants out Mr Blair."
- "Right at the very beginning of the outbreak, a ministry vet, when I asked about the possible source, immediately replied 'illegal immigrant'. Did he know something that we don't?"
- "It's a nice easy life for illegal immigrants over here. We clothe them, feed them, house them and when they complain they are not getting enough money they give them an extra �50 a week."
- "We pay a lot more in taxes than many urban dwellers. I do not see huge council estates full of social security dependants being paid to do nothing and paying for nothing from the cradle to the grave here in the countryside!"
- "It's about time the urban masses stopped taking us for granted and did something for us! We pay huge taxes and get next to nothing in return."
- "Our MP is a Labour urbanite who likes to be called 'Ms'. I hardly need to say more!"
HOIL giant BP has paid bonuses of �50 million to top bosses. Six directors and 500 senior executives received free shares last year. They will get another �163 million worth over two years. BP-Amoco recently revealed profits of �350 a second.
Watch TV or else...
TWO TEENAGERS in Ohio in the US have been locked up in a juvenile detention centre for truancy after walking out of their classrooms in protest at compulsory viewing of Channel One.
Channel One is an in-school broadcaster, showing a daily compulsory 12-minute current affairs programme with two minutes of adverts targeted at children. In return the schools are allowed to use the viewing equipment in other lessons. Channel One can charge advertisers twice as much as usual because its audience cannot reach for the off switch or change channels.
Friend or foe
SOLDIERS IN the SAS, the British army's elite killers, seized a group of Albanians suspected of the mass killing of Serbs in Kosovo last week. Four of those arrested are members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, the successor to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
The SAS trained the KLA in 1998 and 1999. During NATO's bombing campaign against Serbia two years ago, US officials described the KLA as "our eyes and ears". Tony Blair had his photo taken with KLA leader Hashim Thaci.
NEW Labour won't abolish the House of Lords and it also seems to have lost control of its alleged members in crucial debates. In last week's votes over hunting, just 51 out of a total of 197 voted for an outright ban, the option supposedly favoured by Tony Blair. However, 52 lords, including eight members of the government, voted for one of the two options for hunting to continue. The revolt means hunting will survive until after the election.
MPs ARE debating whether to put up a statue of Margaret Thatcher at Westminster-and Labour MP Tony Banks is supporting the idea. "Chirpy Cockney" Banks is chairman of the Commons committee which has already commissioned the �50,000 marble image of Thatcher.
But Margaret Beckett, the leader of the House, has told him it is "inappropriate". Her reason is not Thatcher's politics, but because Thatcher is still alive.
Normal for a manager
HERE IS a strong contender for the worst boss in Britain. According to evidence at an employment tribunal last week, shop owner Russell Taylor docked a worker's wages because she took a few days off following her partner's suicide. Victoria Bell had discovered her lover's body hanging from the garage roof. But Taylor didn't even offer sympathy because it was "not in my normal behaviour pattern".
He refused to pay for Victoria's time off even though she had a sick note from her doctor covering her absence. Two months later he sacked Victoria from her job at a shop in Ardgay, Ross-shire. He claimed that she had gone on holiday a day before she was supposed to.
CALLS TO international directory inquiries now cost up to �6 a time. BT is raising the price from the present �1.10 a minute to �1.50 with a maximum of �6.
Things they say
"WE ARE listening to what employers are saying."
- TONY BLAIR, speaking to the British Chambers of Commerce conference last week
"MY BONUS of �760,000 wouldn't have given you bragging power in a Soho wine bar."
- SIR GEORGE MATHEWSON, deputy chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland
"WHAT A ghastly, vulgar little man."
- EDWARD HEATH, former Tory prime minister, on William Hague
"YOU NEVER hear debates about ethics or morals in Britain, just about saving money. It's no wonder the place is falling apart."
- LE MONDE newspaper
"I AM not an expert. Six weeks ago we were planning for a petrol crisis."
- BRIGADIER ALEX BIRTWISTLE, soldier in charge of the mass cull in Cumbria
"INSURING yourself against foot and mouth is not worthwhile."
- NATIONAL FARMERS' UNION SPOKESPERSON, 10 January 2001
"THE FIRST thing we should do is turn the dead cows upside down. It would look much less awful if their legs didn't stick up in the air."
- LABOUR MP overheard in the House of Commons tearoom
"WINSTON Churchill would be thrown out of New Labour for being too left wing."
- RORY BREMNER, comedian
"CHARLES and Camilla will not marry until the old lady [the queen mother] dies."
- SOPHIE, Countess of Wessex
"CHERIE BLAIR is horrid. Absolutely horrid, horrid, horrid."
- SOPHIE, Countess of Wessex
"I WAS offered a job at �5 an hour and asked if I could drive a JCB. That was it."
- MAN recruited by an agency to handle diseased carcasses of cows and sheep