I wonder how many car drivers knew nothing about the introduction in the UK of E10 petrol? The many advantages of this fuel – lower emissions, more sustainable production, lower import levels – do not appear to have been widely touted by the government.
Its introduction reduces carbon emissions by the equivalent of all the cars in North Yorkshire. Not game-changing, but certainly a step forward.
Could this possibly have something to do with some embarrassment due to fact that it has been available in the EU since 2010 and the EU introduced it as a voluntary directive in 2011? It has been swiftly taken up by most member states, with almost 100% of petrol sold in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands now E10.
As COP26 gets even closer, it will be interesting to see how Johnson explains the UK’s 10-year lag, given our claimed world-leading status in combatting climate change. Mind you, with all those lorries off the road because there’s nobody to drive them, hence saving lots of noxious emissions, there is at least one claim he can legitimately make.
Shelving our problems
I enjoyed reading Mandrake last week (TNE #258), especially the item about the somewhat disingenuous mantra, the poor Sainsbury’s staff have to utter, when customers query the paucity of items on its shelves.
In my own supermarket (not Sainsbury’s) when I have mischievously discussed this surreal situation, the assistant just looks crestfallen and I feel doubly guilty when I comment “Well it’s not your fault” and then declare fortissimo that “We shouldn’t have left the EU”, thus inciting shoppers behind me. But this is becoming a real crisis as flu vaccines may be held up on their way to surgeries.
Judith A Daniels
Great British blunders
In issue #258, the answer to the question posed by James Ball’s article “Why can’t Britain ever get the big things right?” should read “The blunders of government”. It seems that once somebody has a ‘brilliant’ idea (the Marble Arch mound, the garden bridge, HS2) everyone else seems to be incapable of pointing out what a stupid idea it is as well a complete waste of money.
The only project that appears to have worked out well is the Channel Tunnel, but then we made it largely redundant with Brexit.
Cons and coalitions
Peter Wrigley was wrong to think that in 2010 there were only three options; a coalition with the Conservatives, a minority Tory administration or confidence and supply. (Letters, TNE #258). The latter was the only option.
Coalitions of different political parties for a particular purpose are only used usually for a limited time such as those in the interwar years and during the Second World War. The 2010 coalition was only a Nick Clegg vanity project that had a very unhappy ending for the Lib Dems.
The only coalitions which are viable are those like the Liberal/ National Party of Australia which was formed in 1920 as the Liberal/Country Party conservative coalition to bring together urban and rural electorates against the burgeoning Australian Labor Party, using AV to elect the House of Representatives.
The SNP/Scottish Green Party coalition is nothing more than a scam to con central government into allowing the first minister to arrange for an in-name-only referendum which, like the 2014 and 2016 EU, will only be a ‘survey’ of the people’s thinking about Scotland becoming an independent country. Alex Salmond’s Alba Party’s attempt to win additional MSPs was also a scam to undermine the purpose of the additional-member voting system.
The SNP and Scotland’s Green and Alba Parties must now wait for the next election, in which the three parties will enter a joint manifesto in which is written their intention for Scotland becoming an independent country just as Heath did in 1970. However, a genuine referendum can only take place according to law after its parliament has approved the bill.
Kenneth R Jarrett
In his article (“This apprenticeship scheme must be told: ‘You’re fired’”, TNE #257), Jonty Bloom hits a big nail very firmly on the head – the UK has never had a high-quality vocational training system which provides parity of esteem and financial reward with more academic studies.
Many people involved in vocational training and apprenticeships have argued for years that we need a system similar to the Dual System in Germany, versions of which are to be found throughout the EU, where young people from the age of 14, 15 or 16 follow a vocational training route which combines education in key skills with on-the-job training with a firm, whose provision is subject to rigorous quality standards.
Funded jointly by government and a levy on employers (who see the benefit of a reliable supply of well-trained younger people), these training strategies have ensured for many years that there is a plentiful supply of highly-trained people across all the sectors of their economies. The training programmes are flexible and respond to projected demand for skilled workers and tradespeople.
During a visit to Germany and France in 1985, I saw a training centre which had previously focused on mining being transformed into a training hub for insulation and building sustainability. It was impossible to get a well-paid job without the necessary level of vocational qualification, but for those who had the qualifications (and success rates were very high) there were excellent prospects.
Où est Jacques?
The photograph accompanying Alastair Campbell’s article (“Mutti’s little helpers…”, TNE #258) shows the G8 leaders in 2006 and the caption lists “French president Jacques Chirac”. Yet there is a conspicuous gap between Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin where M. Chirac allegedly should be.
Was it a mistake in the caption or was he deliberately removed from the photo? I think we should be told!
Editor’s note: The photo was an out-take from the official photo session and shows the other leaders as they wait for M Chirac to arrive, which is presumably why George W Bush is signalling to the empty spot where the French president should be.
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