The grass is always greener

I know I spend a lot of time complaining about the way things are in this country, but sometimes we all ought to appreciate what is good about being British. Imagine we have just had a general election and two weeks or more after the polls closed, the Go

I know I spend a lot of time complaining about the way things are in this country, but sometimes we all ought to appreciate what is good about being British.

Imagine we have just had a general election and two weeks or more after the polls closed, the Government is still saying it is not yet ready to announce the results and might have to stage a rerun for all or part of the election process. I cannot help feeling that, if the results showed Mr Mugabe in front, there would have been no delay. So who can think of a reasonable excuse for this procrastination?

The so-called War Veterans could do with serious investigation. The guerrilla war ended before independence in 1980. Therefore, any real 'war veteran' would need to be at least in his 40s (assuming he was a freedom fighter at the age of 12). You only have to look at the TV shots (where they are possible) to see how unlikely it is that many of their credentials are genuine.

Imagine, too, a rate of inflation of 100,000 per cent per year. At that rate, your gallon of petrol (currently £5 or thereabouts) would cost around £420 next month and something like £5,000 in a year's time. And that ignores any surges in the international price of oil.


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I wonder what approaches the people of Zimbabwe make to their local councils about the rate of increase in the Council Tax? Do they say what people say here: that councils ought to be able to hold the increase to match the rate of inflation?

THE EURO

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I also knock Gordon Brown a lot, and I see that a lot of other people are now joining in and doing his personal ratings no good at all.

So let me just introduce a note of balance. Gordon Brown has done more than any other member of a Labour Government since 1997 to keep us out of the Euro. And now looks to be a really good time NOT to be in the Eurozone.

A wide body of respected financial opinion now believes that the Euro may not survive for too much longer. I know that Sir Alan Walters (no relation), Mrs Thatcher's personal financial advisor, forecast its end some time ago, but now others are joining in. Most notable was Avi Tiomkin, author of an article entitled The Demise of the Euro in the latest edition of Forbes Magazine.

The arguments go something like this. The woes of the US Dollar are driving the Euro higher. Thus Spain, with its property boom unravelling, and Italy (the perpetual sick man of Europe) are finding the tight monetary policy of the European Central Bank not at all to their taste. Already they are looking (very privately, of course) into the reincarnation of their original currencies. Were that to happen, it is difficult to imagine France and Germany not doing the same for the Franc and the Mark. Their national prides could not accept anything less.

The problem with the Eurozone is that there are two distinct blocs. The German bloc (which includes Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) wants a tight monetary policy. The Latin Block (France, Italy, Spain and Ireland) wants a looser one. That is exactly the sort of problem forecast by Sir Alan Walters some years ago. He pointed out that monetary union has never been successful unless preceded by political union and the harmonisation of taxes.

I know that the UK system has not exactly covered itself in glory recently, particularly over Northern Rock and the reaction to the sub-prime crisis. However, we can at least make our fiscal adjustments solely on the basis of our own national needs and aspirations. That is something that no nation in the Eurozone can do, they all have to go along with the decisions of the European Central Bank.

A BOUQUET

Your county council has just been selected as the first Local Authority of the Month for the National Year of Reading.

In common with many other local authorities, Cambridgeshire's Library Service will be hosting a series of events over the Year of Reading. However, it was a particular initiative with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire - to highlight a 'Book a Day' throughout May - that caught the eye of the judges and got us the award.

Our corporate willingness to share the experience with other authorities via 'WIKIREADIA' also strengthened our claim.

Throughout May the station's afternoon shows, Jane's Saturday Brekky and Matt's Sunday Supplement, will all be championing a popular title each day. Each show will feature group discussions and interviews with authors.

If you want more information on the National Year of Reading, go to www.yearofreading.org.uk

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