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Stability and Expertise in the Cabinet


It is funny, I asked a person in the office this very question last week "isn't it odd how we continue to give cabinet posts to any old MP that seems to be the flavour of the month for the PM? Surely there is a better way to ensure we get clarity and sensible direction?" The answer I received was more along the lines of general intelligence will save the day and these persons will do a good job.

I'd have to agree with the lawyer below (gulp) who suggests that things are drastically different these days. For example, if the secret service suggest there is no proof of WMD in Iraq, why should the Cabinet ignore this information? Apparently its because they know better. The problem is, I don't believe they know enough, nor do they have a strong grasp on the topics they are charged with. Mere figureheads for a civil service already under great strain.

Therefore, rather than push though ID Cards, and prolonged/indeterminate detention for those who oppose the government, why don't they try to reform the practice of governing itself - to move away from presidential power to a more stable long term body, or at least one staffed with expertise so that results are more realistic and achievable?

Ditch 'dabbler' Reid and Cabinet 'amateurs', says civil rights lawyer

By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent

Published: 27 November 2006

Tony Blair's cabinet ministers are today condemned as unqualified "amateurs inspired by opinion polls" who are determined to import the worst American policy initiatives.

Clive Stafford Smith, a civil rights lawyer who has devoted himself to representing US death row inmates and Guantanamo detainees, reserves his most scathing comments for John Reid. He dismisses the Home Secretary as a "dabbler" without the expertise to oversee the criminal justice system and calls for some cabinet posts to be filled by experts rather than political placemen.

Delivering the Longford Lecture, sponsored by The Independent, he will also back demands for a British Bill of Rights and ridicule plans to reform the House of Lords as laughable.

Mr Stafford Smith will warn that the way the British Cabinet is selected is a recipe for catastrophe.

"Blair bangs on about efficiency and effectiveness in business, yet does not question a system where the most complex and difficult business of all (that of running the country) is in the hands of amateurs, who change post every time one of them has an affair," he will say. "These politicians dabble in some desperately important fields and they mess them up. There may have been a time when Victorian aristocrats could muddle along in cabinet jobs.

"But the dangers of amateurism become greater as government becomes increasingly driven by the headlines of the Daily Mail. Now we not only have amateurs as ministers, but they are amateurs inspired by opinion polls."

Mr Stafford Smith will also point out that Mr Reid has held three major cabinet posts in two years, taking charge of the Home Office, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Defence.

"Reid dabbles ... he rushes around condemning his predecessors, and promising change, without any obvious sign that he knows what he is doing. He might just be getting the hang of the job when he is moved on."

He will argue that Britain could learn from the US where any qualified person can serve in the Cabinet.

Mr Stafford Smith will protest that this month's Queen's Speech was "chock-a-block with unwise ideas" about criminal justice.

He will accuse Mr Reid of borrowing US-style "populist rhetoric" to talk about victims' rights and of "chasing the extraordinary levels of incarceration in America" with moves to increase numbers in British jails.

Mr Stafford Smith will argue that ministers should produce a Bill of Rights modelled on the protection of individual rights guaranteed by the US constitution. They should also learn lessons from the American respect for freedom of religion, he will say during his lecture in London.


Hey Music Lover...


A new post, in this new year (well Indian New Year anyway), and my decision to resurrect The Num Num from its apathy. It is therefore apt to begin with something that is not important to all, not that interesting to everyone, but has something of a little birdhouse in my soul - isn't that afterall what blogs are turning into?

I brought in this new year at my local temple with a fortuitous rendition of what is known as a general hymn to all those within a certain religion. The details aren't important, but the fact that after 30 odd years of hearing this, i finally decided to try and figure out just what it meant [surely I should have done this earlier -ed].

I could translate a fair few verses here and there, and the gravity of it was quite compelling, but its only now that I see what two other internet translations have to say. It reassures me a little (not much) that this is being sung, rather than anything else. The context is important I guess, since I see it as a tribute to the great unknown - I mean, who can really know what should be sung and to whom?

Anyway, here is translation 1, from a bloke somewhere.

Glory to the Lord Of The Universe
Who Removes In A Moment
The Troubles Of Devotees
And The Sufferings Of The Poor

One Who Meditates On You is blessed
Sorrow Is Removed From Mind And Heart
Happiness And Wealth Come To The Home
Pain Is Wiped Away From The Body

You Are My Mother And Father
In Whom Else Can I Take Refuge
No Other Than You Do I Accept
Of Whom I Accept Everything

You Are The Complete Being, The Supreme Self
You Are The Knower Of All Hearts
You Are Brahma, The Infinite Lord
You Are The Lord Of All

You Are An Ocean Of Compassion
You Are The Sustainer, I Am Thy Servant
Oh Master, Grant Me Your Grace, O Lord

You Are Invisible, Ever Present
The Protector Of All Life Force
Who Else Would Be The Channel
Through Whom The Compassion Flows

You Are The Friend of the Meek
And You Relieve Their Sorrow
You Are My Savior. Raise Your Hands In Blessing
I Am Lying At Your Door

Wipe Out Worldly Faults
Take Away Our Sins, O Lord
Increase Our Faith And Devotions
In Order That We May Serve The Saints

My heart, soul and wealth are nothing but your manifestation.
How trivial am I, to be offering what is already all yours!
Glory be to thy Name

And a Second Version, from another bloke who seems more akin to my view of things, and has more background on sources and so forth. I've just distilled the translation here:

the Sovereign of the Universe
With thy Grace
the evils of the worshipper vanish instantaneously (1)

Anyone who Contemplates on thy name is rewarded
Mind's misery gets eliminated
Bliss and prosperity ascends
Body's ailments are cured. (2)

Thou art my mother and my father
To who else should I surrender
Except You there is none else
That I may aspire for. (3)

Thou art the complete One
The all-pervading
Residing Beyond the cosmic limits
Thou art the Sovereign of all. (4)

Thou art the compassionate Ocean
Thou the sole provider
I am ignorant and trapped by senses
I am the servant and thou the Master
Please liberate me. (5)

Thou art the unmoving
The Lord of all vital force
What means shall I adopt to meet you
Reveal to me, I earnestly pray. (6)

Friend of the meek, Annihilator of evils
Thou art my Master
Grant thy grace and take me into your fold
I pray knocking your temple door. (7)

Annihilate my sensory traps
Forgive me of my sins
Grant the boon of faith and worship
and desire to serve thy creation. (8)

Body, mind and material wealth
All this belongs to you
My offerings to you are already yours
There is nothing mine. (9)

The fact that people sing these 9 verses at almost any fire-offering, is quite interesting. To be honest I don't know whether this was intended to be religious-based or thought-provoking, but it certainly puts a smile on my face.

A point about the translations though, I'm sure they aren't entirely accurate, as I know that one verse has variations of its statements on two lines, and yet neither of these pick up on that. But still, its just a way of getting back into the blogosphere init?

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Weekly musings from a confused mind. This blog, and all posts within it, are just ramblings. They are in no way affiliated with any past, current or future employers. Neither do they represent my deep felt views, or those of my friends or family. Really, its just a blog, which is a new thing, and has new dimensions. So please, dont take anything seriously. If you do, contact me via a comment, and I will get back to you to resolve the situation. Seriously, enjoy life, ignore this blog, and views within it.


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