Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More good news from the Middle East

Roger L Simon blogs about a Haaretz report that says that the Palestinian Authority security forces are now thwarting more terror attacks than the Israelis.

We live in interesting times.

Declaration of independence

Doing the rounds of my feeds has kept me out of mischief for quite some time. I don't seem to have missed anything too important. Dutch Report as always has some fascinating posts. I particularly enjoyed the Dutch Declaration of Independence, in which the independent member of parliament Geert Wilders issued a libertarian manifesto for his new party.

This is such a good document but it needs a native English speaker to brush up the translation a bit.

Back on the case

I've been away on business for a week, hence the lack of posts. I'm still pretty busy, but posting should pick up from now on.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

More on government accounts

Albion Blogger points out to me an article in the Spectator where Peter Oborne summarises the issues around the government's intended reclassification of roads maintenance spending in the national accounts. I blogged about this issue here.

Oborne thinks this that the changes are kosher and are allowable under government accounting rules. Unfortunately he doesn't back up his assertion with any evidence:
Suddenly, thanks to this latest accounting wheeze, the Chancellor has extra money to play with. No one doubts the probity of New Zealander Len Cook. Though to a layman, road maintenance sounds very like current spending, the exceptionally complex government rules of national accounting have not been breached. The fact that this new money has suddenly emerged from nowhere, on the very eve of an election campaign, is just a happy coincidence.

My guess is that Oborne has taken someone else's word that the reclassification is allowable. My researches have suggested that they are not. I intend to keep on digging.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Gathering Place

I see from the box tonight that the BBC is finally to air "The Gathering Place", Kirsty Wark's documentary about the construction of the Scottish Parliament. Many people believe that Ms Wark refused to release the film to the Fraser Inquiry into the cost overruns on the project as a favour to her customer and close friend, First Minister Jack McConnell.

No doubt all incriminating matter will have been carefully expunged before broadcast. It can be seen on BBC Two Scotland at 9.00pm on Thursday 10 March.

I blogged some time ago about the enormous cost of the film, and asked if this was normal for a film of this type. I don't know if the BBC reads my humble blog (surely not), but they have addressed this very point in their press release about the broadcast dates.

The four programmes have cost BBC Scotland a total of £648,000, which is well within industry norms of up to £200,000 per hour for this kind of long-filming documentary. Scottish Screen have contributed a further £332,000 to the project which gives them an additional 90-minute film for theatrical release.

..which means that it has actually cost the public sector £980,000, a figure which is both staggering and disgusting. And read that again: Scottish Screen has spent £332,000 to get a cinema release. For a film about a construction project.

Don't believe a word of it.

Update: More here. If the final cost was three times over budget, it's hard for the BBC's claim that £200,000 per hour is normal to stand up in court. Still, you don't go to the BBC for the truth.