In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The Myth of Fast Food Addiction

There is a theory that is being expounded by certain experts that fast food, because of its alleged high fat content, is addictive.

This, they say, accounts for the increasing quantities of fast food eaten; coupled with the rise in obesity in the Western world.

Needless to say, lawyers are rubbing their hands at the thought of the fees that they will earn from the forthcoming litigation. This will doubtless follow, as people sue the fast food companies for their inability to lose weight; which they blame on their insatiable appetite for fries, burgers and fried chicken.


People are eating more fast food, and putting weight on, for the simple reason that they are too lazy to exercise or cook for themselves.

My message to them is “don’t blame others for your own indolence”.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The Stench of Corruption in the EU

An internal report recently shown, in secret, to the members of the European Parliament; has detailed the corruption, and lack of financial controls, that pervade the EU’s infrastructure.

The EU Commission, led by Romano Prodi, is so concerned about the potential political fallout; that it made the members of the European Parliament sign a declaration of secrecy with respect to the contents of the report.

Needless to say it leaked! Politicians are not good at keeping their mouths shut.

The report, by all accounts, reveals that amongst others the European Statistical Agency (Eurostat) has been falsifying accounts. It is estimated that Eurostat has lost £3M of public money, via off record bank accounts and false accounting.

I have run international audit departments, and headed the fraud investigation department of one of the world’s largest multinationals. In my experience, fraud and corruption in an organisation can only be rooted out if my “five principles of good governance” are followed:

1. Those responsible for fraud and corruption are fired, and prosecuted with the full force of the law. Note that this applies to all levels up to, and including, the CEO/President.

2. Senior management are seen to be “whiter than white”; corporate ethics are disseminated top down, not bottom up.

3. There is transparency with respect to the reporting of fraud and corruption.

4. Effective financial controls are in place.

5. There is an independent organisation that reviews and reports on controls, on a regular basis.

It would seem that the actions, or should we say inactions, of Prodi and his team go contrary to every one of my principles.

There is, in my professional opinion, the unpalatable stench of corruption permeating from the EU bunker.

When something stinks, you open the window and throw it out.

I would suggest, Signor Prodi, that you act quickly and embed my five principles of good governance in the EU infrastructure; otherwise the voters of Europe may soon wake up and realise that this stench is coming from you.

PS: Signor Prodi, should you need to "bone up" on the basics of fraud, corruption and ethics; here are three articles that you should read:

Codes of Conducts and Ethical Principles of Companies
Ten Reasons Frauds Occur
Ten Types of Fraud

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Putting the Genie Back into the Bottle

MSN have announced that they will be shutting down their chat rooms. This, they say, is being done to protect children from paedophiles.

I have a number of observations:

 Whilst, at first sight, their action seems very laudable; MSN have been running chat rooms for a number of years (I don’t not know their cost/revenue stream). Shutting them down now has given them a good day’s publicity.

 There are countless other companies running chat rooms on the net. The chatters and paedophiles will simply go elsewhere.

 Aside from the internet, there are also chat rooms run by phone companies. Chatters and paedophiles can use these as well.

 Adults teach children to be wary of strangers, and not to talk to them when they are out in public. However, the very rationale of the chat room (set up and marketed by adults) is that it is a place where strangers can come together and get to know each other. This double standard is, I suspect, not lost on children.

In short, the genie is out of the bottle; you are unlikely

Monday, September 15, 2003

Pass the Sickbag

I see from reports that Carole Caplin, Cherie Blair’s “lifestyle guru”, is miffed at the way No 10 has treated her.

Caplin whose only claim to fame, prior to being involved with the Blairs, was being a topless model; had been involved with the alleged con man Foster, who handled Cherie’s purchase of an apartment for her son.

The resulting media frenzy, dubbed “Cheriegate”, caused Tony Blair to feel the need to distance himself and his wife from Caplin; lest it diminish their “brand value”.

This need was intensified when the BBC showed a fly on the wall documentary, made with Caplin’s permission, filmed during Cheriegate.

The recent magazine spread showing Caplin applying lipstick to Cherie, whilst she sat on the marital bed in No 10, did nothing to enhance Caplin’s reputation in No 10.

Caplin is now reported to be considering publishing details of life in No 10. She believes, so it is reported, that she is a victim of dirty tricks; and it is claimed that she understands how Dr Kelly felt.

Pass the sickbag!

Friday, September 05, 2003

The Sulking Conservatives

The local Conservative association in Windsor is currently in the process of selecting their prospective parliamentary candidate; after their sitting MP (a Conservative) was expelled for having improperly claimed £90K in expenses.

During the initial stages of the selection process the association has to decide who, out of the people who have put their names forward, should go through to the next stage.

The association received a large number of applications including one from Sir Malcolm Rifkind; who was a cabinet minister during past Conservative administrations, and an MP until losing his seat at the last election.

He is a most capable politician, and has a keen intellect (a rarity amongst the political classes). He is, to my view, exactly the sort of man that the Conservative Party should be desperate to employ on their lack lustre front bench.

The Windsor Conservatives selected 46 candidates to go forward to the next stage of the selection process, Sir Malcolm’s name did not appear on the list.

Why did this happen?

Were there 46 candidates who outshone Sir Malcolm? Indeed, if this were the case, the Conservatives should consider themselves truly blessed.

Unfortunately, if reports are to be believed, Sir Malcolm’s exclusion was not based on a hard nosed assessment of his abilities; but in fact the good old fashioned pomposity, and pig-headedness, of the selection committee.

It appears that during an interview with a local paper, Sir Malcolm had said that he hadn’t yet decided if he would move to Windsor. The committee, instead of talking this through with him during the selection process, gave way to the knee jerk reaction of wounded pride and, like a sulking teenager, turned their back on him.

This sorry little tale shows that the Conservative Party is still in massive sulk about losing the last two elections. It has not grasped the fundamental point, that they need to field quality candidates in the next election; not second raters who acquiesce to the single issue prejudices of the over sixties, who run the local associations.

There are two solutions:

 Lessen the power of the local associations in the selection process.

 Wait for the local membership to die of old age.

I suspect that the latter is more likely to happen, rather than the former.