08/02/2019

The Patronising State

I've commented twice today that we shouldn't refer to a "nanny State" when we are complaining about government intervention in to the minutiae of our daily lives. One was in a blog the other was in response to a comment to a Liz Trust tweet:




Don't get me wrong I think she's fairly sound on being a classic liberal and letting us get on with life, or at least that's the impression I get when I listen to interviews, but as I pointed out on in the comments, again, this is her government's policies. They are funding quangos like Public Health England so its a bit rich of her to complain.

The problem I have with the term nanny when referring to interference from the State is that nannies are usually seen as forces for good, usually a woman looking after small children. Yes, there is a definition that implies treating adults as children, but that can, and is, laughed off:

nan·ny

  (năn′ē)
n. pl. nan·nies
person, traditionally a woman, employed to take care of a child.

[Alteration of nana.]

nan′ny·ish adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
n., pl. -nies.
person employed to care for children in a household.

Mary Poppy was a nanny, and who couldn't fail to like Mary Poppins?

More seriously, the time has come to call it what it is: patronising

patronizing

(pætrənaɪzɪŋ  US pt-  )
REGIONAL NOTE:  in BRIT, also use patronising
adjective
If someone is patronizing, they speak or behave towards you in a way that seems friendly, but which shows that they think they are superior to you.

Anyone who follow Chris Snowden on his Velvet Glove, Iron Fist blog is aware that the likes of PHE and the rest of the anti everything we like lobbies have given up all pretence of even treating us like adults. As Liz Truss has shown even our elected politicians can't control them, and she's Chief Secretary to the Treasury and is supposed to have control of the purse strings.

So lets call them out for what they really are: the patronising State.




06/02/2019

Just how racist is Britain?

I was listening to Today on R4 this morning while virtuously doing my Pilates prior to playing golf.

During that time there was an article about one of the Wind-rush children being sent back. Individual cases are always sad, but mostly caused by bureaucratic incompetence, that's part of the price of having big government. Anyway, that's a story for another day what got me was the implied racisim of Britain -

This was David Lammy, black man with Guyanese parents who, from what I can make out, is first generation British and has been Minister of State for Culture, berating Savid Javid the Home Secretary who is first generation British and the son of Pakistani parents who moved here with nothing and did very well. David was supported by a woman who's name I didn't catch but she claimed to be half West Indian.

I'm not saying we're perfect when it comes to racism, but it strikes me we must be doing something right.

05/02/2019

Book review: Battleworn by Chantelle Taylor

The memoir of a combat medic in Afghanistan

I'm not a professional reviewer or writer and this is just some random thoughts about a book I found fascinating.

This is not an autobiography in the sense that it follows a timeline through the subject's life. It does what it says in the sub-title and concentrates on a 7 week period when Sgt Chantelle Taylor is the senior of four medics in a patrol base supporting B Company, 5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland. We learn a little about her life as she reflects during the long periods of boredom that war brings and we have a her mother to thank for persuading her to publish this book.

It's not a story about great heroics and daring-do, its a matter of fact telling of what war in Afghanistan was like at the front end, occupying a patrol base surrounded by Taliban fighters. There's plenty of heroics on an almost daily basis and they get a fair telling, alongside the daily grind. It is a story the daily lives of brave, professional people sent to do a job that they were ill equipped for, thanks to political parsimony, and how they coped both physically and mentally.

When I mentioned that I was reading this book to a good friend and that Chantelle had been the first female soldier to kill a Taliban fighter in close-quarter combat, he was somewhat surprised that a medic was fighting. For those who aren't aware the military law of armed conflict states that a combat medic can only fire in anger to protect themselves and/or their casualties and under exceptional circumstances. She encountered those circumstances on numerous occasions, becoming number 2 on the mortar when they ran dangerously low on manpower. As they say, they are soldiers who carry medical kits, not medics who carry guns.

Women have come a long way in the Army since I joined and this book adds support to the recent decision to allow women to serve in front line units. I don't believe anyone could read it and still think that the battlefield is no place for them. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when a gobby young officer she'd nicknamed Flashheart raises the subject of females serving in the infantry, I won't give her response away except to say the Flashheart came off second. It should be noted that Chantelle qualified as an instructor in urban warfare so she would understand how the infantry operates and identify casualty choke points. That's professionalism.

As you would expect from a combat medic, a lot of the book is about how they do their jobs and get causalities back to field hospitals as quickly as possible. She describes in detail the mnemonics and  procedures for assessing causalities and then deciding priorities and treatments and when they should be evacuated. The senior medic not only advises the Officer Commanding the state of his men and their injuries, they must also resist his desire to get the highest priority for his troops. A medical evacuation, always by helicopter, risks not only the helicopter and crew but also the lives of those in other bases waiting for evacuation. Its a tough call to make when it could be your mates' life at stake.

Its well known that Taliban fighters are brutal, but not always discussed why. Chantelle describes how they were patrolling to find a new helicopter landing site and had to be careful of drug paraphernalia lying around. When you consider the Taliban fighters are drugged up and their commanders are not beyond shooting their own men to set an example, there's no wonder they're ferocious and dangerous fighters, although not as effective as if they'd been trained. In one incident they hear over the Taliban radio net that a special shooter who'd been sent to take out one of their incoming helicopters and missed was executed.

Whilst Chantelle was mostly confined to the patrol base, one of  her medics, two women and a man, accompanied all infantry patrols. Their professionalism and skills are tested on a regular basis and they aren't immune from death, injury and capture themselves. The descriptions of getting casualties out to meet the evacuation helicopters is quite gripping. It not only the Taliban that posed a risk, the stones and pebbles thrown up by the down draught was also dangerous.

Mental health is something that is becoming high profile amongst the armed forces and veterans and to this day there are still PSTD linked suicides amongst Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (I read recently 16 in 2016 and already 4 this year). As medics they also have a responsibility for mental health and Chantelle discusses some of the issues at length.  Most serviceman accept the injury and death are occupational hazards, but there are also added psychological pressures. In NI it was a fear of snipers. In Afghanistan it was made clear to soldiers that in the event of their capture they would probably end up on a YouTube video being beheaded. It is left unsaid what female soldiers can expect if they are captured, that really is psychological pressure.

Those pressures don't kick in when your in contact or coming under fire in one of the daily attacks on the patrol base, then training kicks in, they happen in those long down times when there's little else to do and the mind wanders. Strong soldiers push those thoughts aside, but they can surface many years later. Chantelle tells a nice story about how that good old fashioned cup of tea helps her talk to one of the soldiers who is struggling.

As is traditional with medics, their role is to treat the casualty in front of them. This meant not just their own troops, Afghan soldiers and civilians but also wounded Taliban. This led to some interesting encounters as males realised they were being treated by a woman and most seemed OK with it. It turns out very few people are fanatical enough to pass up the chance to live.

There are some tense moments as Chantelle describes what its like to be in a command post when the dreaded call "contact, wait out" comes in. This is when the coolness of commanders comes to the fore, as they asses situations and decide what support is needed to get their soldiers out of a fix. There's a horrifying incident caused by the fog of war that leaves many casualties from a missile strike from their own fire support helicopter. Dealing with that situation takes cool heads as does dealing with the aftermath of an Afghan soldier opening up on his own troops.

Personal hygiene is critical in all wars and the routines are described in some detail. From the drudgery of the food to how females deal with washing and drying their underwear without putting it on display for all to see get a mention. The joy of showering and fresh clean clothes is one of those things that only those who've been in those situations can understand, but she makes a good job of describing them.

The reader is left under no illusion that Chantelle has a lot of respect for the "jocks", as the soldiers are known. She has a deep friendship with many and tells numerous tales of the banter and gallows humour that goes on amongst squaddies under pressure. She gives as good as she gets and its obvious that the respect is mutual. There's a list of abbreviations and acronyms at the beginning of the book and it would have been nice to have a list of the dizzying array of characters, and I mean characters in both senses of the word, as I found it hard to keep up with the all the names, nicknames and roles. But that could be my advanced years.

There's so much more to this book that I haven't covered: The bravery of the helicopter pilots coming in to pick up casualties, the "bigger picture" (the reason they are there is to support a hearts and minds operation), shortcomings in their equipment, the vast difference in life between those at the sharp end at those at the rear and the constant battle with them that always goes on and how Chantelle deals with her own decompression as returning home is known and her own PTSD.

Throughout the book we get insights in to Chantelle's life and her past deployments. It is the story of an extraordinary woman who's also seen war in the Balkans, Iraq and Sierre Leone, where she had the harrowing task of treating child soldiers, amongst other places. This isn't a page turner in the same way as a good thriller, but it is a holds the attention nonetheless. The reader won't come away with anything other than respect for the women and men who gave and risked their lives in Afghanistan and the medics who helped so many survive harrowing injuries.

You can follow Chantelle: https://twitter.com/Altern8rv

04/02/2019

Be careful what you wish for.....

Tim Newman has a post up about the the Asda shop workers' legal clam to be paid the same as warehouse workers. Leaving aside the economic illiteracy about the labour theory if value theory, the conclusion in the comments was that women would end up being worse of as capitalists find ways to optimise the position and they'll end up working in cold warehouses or even competed out of the work force as men apply for more comfortable shop positions.

I was reminded of this last night as we sat watching American History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley  and a far sadder case of be careful what you wish for, which had much wider and deeper consequences.

I was recently listening to this episode from Malcolm Gladwell's exceptional Revisionist History podcast series:
Brown v Board of Education might be the most well-known Supreme Court decision, a major victory in the fight for civil rights. But in Topeka, the city where the case began, the ruling has left a bittersweet legacy. RH hears from the Browns, the family behind the story.
Long story short: Blacks were getting a good education, in schools staffed by black teachers. However the Browns wanted to make the reasonable point that they should be able to send their daughter to the school of their choice, even though they were happy with her school and he education she was getting.

The way the case was resolved  by the Supreme Court meant that the city education board could close down the black schools and sack the black teachers. This meant that black children had no role models and sympathetic teachers and their education is still suffering to this day.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating apartheid, I've seen it in action and also the aftermath, I'm just pointing out that before we make major social changes we need to have a very long hard headed debate about what outcome we are looking for, and not just rely on wishful thinking. 

14/01/2019

Raw Recruits - 47 years on

I've just got round to watching Channel 5's Raw Recruits and realised its nearly 47 years since I started that journey as a 15-year-old and it brought back some fond and not so fond memories, and made me think about what's changed.

This isn't going to be an old man moaning about how good it was in my day, quite the reverse I think they've got quite a lot right and I was impressed with the attitudes we've seen so far. A few minor things first:

I was surprised when they went in to a lecture theatre to be sworn in, we did that at the recruiting office. I suppose those are few and far between now.

I really felt for the lass who had to leave because of shin splints. Again, we had medicals before we joined. It wouldn't have picked up the sprained ankle if it happened after the medical, but certainly the shin splints would have been from what she said. And what were her parents thinking if the first thing they said was she had to get a job rather than offering sympathy. No wonder she joined in the first place, I wish her well.

Talking of parents, what's with the father putting so much emotional pressure on his daughter? Its hard enough doing anything at that age without your parents using emotional blackmail if they don't like it. If you can't support your children, at least stay neutral.

Its nice that they have some privacy in their barrack rooms. The old 8-man oblong's we had were dreadful. There was nowhere to have a few moments and collect your thoughts.

The discipline issues are still the same - locker inspections, kit inspections, bed times, lights out - all good character building stuff.

The one big thing the army has got right is making them become soldiers before they start their trade training. I joined as potential technician and we went straight in to the classroom and then we did a week's military training every half term for 3 years, which amounted to around 18 weeks, plus the odd weekend stuff. By making them do all their military training first it reinforces the idea that they are soldiers first, tradesman second. That wasn't taken seriously enough in my time in training and throughout my career and I admit to a few lapses myself, until I got attached to the Royal Marines for the Falklands War.

Its hard to judge from such a brief insight, but I think the staff got the line between being big brother/sister and army command about right. If you've selected these kids because they have potential then its worth investing in them and bringing them along a journey. Shouting, screaming and generally making life miserable just for the sheer hell of it makes no sense. That isn't to say standards or expectations should be dropped, just that encouragement has to play an equal role.

One final point - I think I did my 1-off army swimming test about 30 times in my 18 years service :)

Looking forward to the rest of the series.


The ellusive search for mobile data killer apps goes on ...

There's a piece in this week's Economist about smart phones in which they say:
There is as yet no obvious “killer app” for 5g devices .. (paywalled)  
I was involved in bidding for one of the first 3G network licences in the mid '90s  and subsequently quite a few more. The Korean government had decided it wanted 3G networks for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Mobile data was going to be one of the big drivers of 3G networks and they needed a "killer app" because the Mobile Network Operators were sceptical and were still paying down huge loans to build 2G networks. Most of them would have been happy with more 2G spectrum.

In all the 3G projects I did we had a gaggle of serious management consultants looking at the problem of revenue streams from data. There was lots of talk about killer apps such as video calling, mobile health, cameras an ambulances, linking vending machines etc. For all that brain power none of them figured out it would be the Internet and people would use it in different ways, but even if they had it would have been a hard sell.

The same is going on with 5G. I have a very good friend who is quite senior in one of the mobile operator's strategy teams. We had a boys weekend last week and he says the same thing, they don't need a killer app, they need more spectrum and more efficient technology for using it.

Still, I suppose all those expensive management consultants need to justify their rates and talking of killer apps sounds sexy when you're pitching to Chairman and briefing journalists.

We lost that bid, but while we were doing it our lead technologist figured out the the CDMA radio would "breathe" and that cells would be smaller as loads increased.  We designed the network based on a 70% load which meant more cell sites. Our client wasn't happy when they found out that other bidders had used the larger unloaded cell size and so had few sites and lower Capex, which may have contributed to them losing.

A few years later we were engaged by one of the winners because they were getting all sorts of quality problems and the regulator was threatening to fine them. It turned out that as demand increased data rates at the edge decreased significantly, as predicted. The only solution was to build more sites but now they would have to build far more than they would if they'd started with a smaller cell size and it was going to cost a lot more that we'd planned for our network.

10/01/2019

The lessons that won't be learned from Saudi Arabia's new oil reserve figures

I should say before I start that I'm not an oil expert or economist, this is all basic stuff I've picked up in the past 10 years or so reading blogs by economists and oil industry engineers and books. I'm more than happy to have any misunderstandings corrected.

This isn't making major headline news but it provides some useful lessons:
Dubai (CNN Business)Saudi Arabia has opened up its vast energy reserves to independent auditors for the first time, a move that could help it revive plans to sell shares in state oil giant Aramco.
The government of Saudi Arabia said in a statement Wednesday that US energy consultancy DeGolyer & MacNaughton had concluded that its oil reserves total 268.5 billion barrels.
The estimate is slightly higher than the 266.3 billion barrel figure previously published by the Saudi government.
    Allowing an independent company to assess its reserves represents a major shift for Saudi Arabia, which has for decades closely guarded data about its oil and gas industry.
    What does that mean? As someone posted on Twitter:




    A bit of history and because there was no Internet then we'll have to rely on my memory. In the '70s there was much talk about peak oil and that the world would run out in that favourite period of forecasters, 30 years. Yet here we are, nearly 50 years later predicting another 69 years, how could they have been so wrong, especially when you consider the world is so much richer and using even more oil than forecast?

    The first thing to understand is what reserves mean. Those reserve forecasts are based on an oil price of $50 per barrel (pb), there's plenty of more oil that is known about, its just it can't be extracted profitably at $50 pb. If the price rose the reserves would increase. The oil is known about that can't be profitably extracted at a given price is referred to as a resource.

    Even in the '70s when oil prices were high, there were still resources but these were discounted. And here's the big mistake that those forecasters didn't take in to account: human ingenuity.

    Driven by competitions and a search for profits, as well as security concerns about all the oil being in the Middle East, humans set about what they've done since we came out of the trees - we started to look at ways to make live easier and cheaper (cheaper in this context doesn't just mean $ it means effort). So they worked on ways to make the existing processes cheaper, which is the flip side of prices rising. So that brought some resources in to play.

    The biggest driver has been new technology, which played two parts and here I'm a bit ignorant on the details, but these include technologies that allowed drilling round corners and long distances, extracting more from known wells, being able to operate in more inhospitable places, improving geological surveys for locating oil. All of these have both reduced costs and known resources. It doesn't matter what they were, the point is that throughout history we have used technology and human ingenuity to solve problems. As one TED talkj put it: we've done more with less for more (people).

    As I mentioned on twitter, when people talked about peak oil it would be pointed out, flippantly, that the stone age didn't end because we ran out of stone, we just found better technologies.

    So, the lesson that won't be learned is that no matter what the resource, in a market based system humans will always strive to extract it cheaper and find more of it using technology, or if they can't they'll find a substitute technology. Just remember that when you're hearing the latest scare story from someone is forecasting the end of resources, the world as we know it isn't coming to an end.

    Some post scripts:

    If you were wondering why $50 pb is used for those calculations, its because that's roughly the current cost of extracting oil using fracking, another technology advance. Its reasonable to expect that cost to come down.

    When my son was about 8 in the mid '90s we heard him crying not long after his story and he'd settled down in bed. When I went up to see him he said something like "its all right for you, you'll be dead when the earth stops spinning". It turned out that the book he'd been looking at was from the '70s had had said that oil powered the earth and that it would run out in, guess what? 30 years. He assumed the world would stop spinning.

    With reference to technology advances I started out working on radios that were driven by valve technology. Even for short term comms the radios were large, heave and power hungry. I've seen the introduction of 2G, 3G and 4G networks and did a little bit of work on the impact of 5G networks before I retired. Its not just the size of the equipment and increase in computing power that's improved but also what is referred to as spectral efficiency. That is, that amount of voice and data we can transmit using the same amount of spectrum has increased by orders of magnitude, spectrum being a scarce resource we are incentivised to improve its usage.





    30/12/2018

    Setting high expectations of disadvantaged children in education

    In the early days of blogging there was a blog called To Miss With Love. It was by a teacher in an inner city school who obviously loved her pupils, but also believed that just because they were disadvantaged there was no reason why they shouldn't succeed in school. She had high expectations and standards and, from her own telling, was quite successful. Here stories were great reading and she was widely admired, but not by the hard left.

    In modern parlance she was doxxed, she was publicly named (Katharine Birbalsingh), and she also made a speech to the Conservative Party conference in which she said the education system was broken:



    She disappeared after that and  who can blame her. As she says on her new blog:
    Before 2010 I was a normal teacher/head of department/assistant head/deputy head, just like anyone else. Then I gave a speech at the Conservative Party Conference which caused a bit of a storm. Now a lot of people hate me.
    It isn’t easy being hated. But any amount of hatred is worth tolerating in order to have our extraordinary school Michaela with our dedicated staff and delightful children
    You're probably wondering where this is going, bear with me, its an inspirational story.

    In August I was listening to a Dave Rubin podcast when he announced his next guest would be Katharine Birbalsingh, a teacher from London. My ears pricked up as I  recognised the name:



    You can find the podcast on your favourite site if you don't want to sit and watch. It really is worth an hour of your time to either watch or listen.

    She still the same inspiring leader with high expectations and now runs a Free school:
    We aim high at Michaela Community School and expect high standards of behaviour and academic effort and achievement from all of our pupils.
    I've been following her blog but not on twitter since then and recently this popped up on my Twitter feed:




    I've only been active on Twitter for a while and my comment was the biggest reaction I've received and I was rather pleased as I had expected it to be a rather controversial opinion.

    I'd like to claim it as original thought, but I don't think I'd get away with that from people who know me :) I heard it when listening to a podcast series about someone who is just as remarkable and driven as Katharine:

    Eva Moskowitz wants to fix a really big problem. There are over a million kids in New York City’s public schools. Most can’t read or do math at grade level. Many won’t graduate on time. And it’s largely poor, black and brown kids who are stuck in the lowest performing schools. Eva’s the founder and CEO of Success Academy, the subject of this season of StartUp. And she’s actually making progress. 

    Her school network is growing at lightning speed, and her students get among the highest standardized-test scores in the city, beating out schools in some of the wealthiest districts. And the education world is watching. But not everyone likes what they see. In this season, we ask how exactly Success is doing what it’s doing, and why does it have so many critics?

    Today, on the first of our six-part series about Success, we meet a mother, Sherisse, who desperately wants her son to get into Success, so that he can have opportunities she never had herself. And we go inside a Success classroom on the first day of school, to see what parents like Sherisse are clamoring for.
    Its during one of the episodes when Success is criticised for concentrating on passing the State exams when the point about being at the bottom and needing passes is made. It immediately it home as something I've grappled with when defending "teaching to the exam".

    Katharine and Eva have one thing in common, a belief that you shouldn't lower standards and expectations just because pupils are from disadvantaged backgrounds and its a lesson that for some reason seems to be resisted in many quarters. They are both strong willed and have had to fight education orthodoxy to make their point.

    Their success is measured by how well their pupils do and the down side of failing is not just their own failure but they could fail a generation of children It takes a lot of moral courage to put yourself in that position, far easier to be a sheep and follow the herd, even if it means letting down pupils.

    From what I see they've been a great success and we need more of them. I commend them both and all those like them.


    29/12/2018

    Honours for sports men and women

    A Twitter spat popped up on my time line that reminded of my irritation at sports men and women getting honours for no real reason, other than allowing politicians to revel in the reflected glory:




    I'm sure Harry and the others brought joy to many people, I know I've enjoyed Alistair Cooke's magnificent career, and I may have missed something they've all achieved outside their chosen sports, but I expect honours to be given for something beyond what they do for a living. The classic case is Sir Ian Botham, there's no doubt he was a great cricketer and he brought joy to 1000's of cricket fans and few won't be aware of his famous Headingly innings, but that wasn't why he was knighted:
     Botham has made effective use of the fame given to him by the publicity because he is actively concerned about leukaemia in children and has undertaken several long distance walks to raise money for research into the disease. These efforts have been highly successful and have realised millions of pounds for Bloodwise, of which he became president. In recognition of his services to charity, he was awarded a knighthood in the 2007 New Years Honours List.
    Lots of sports men and women have done great things and not been recognised, Boycott's 100 first class centuries was quite an achievement, as was Jason Leonard's 114 caps for England but they weren't recognised with honours. Its not the fault of those awarded with honours and I really don't wish them any malice or blame them for accepting, but it is going too far.

    I'm not sure when this trend of giving honours for sporting achievement started, but I suspect Blair or Cameron was behind because its the sort of shallow PR stunts they would pull, but I'd like to see it stopped. Great sportsman have usually got there because they've been quite selfish, in the case of Olympians often at the tax payer's expense. It should be made clear that they will only receive honours if they do something more than just make people smile or even cheer once in a while.

    Of course it goes without saying that civil servants should be getting them automatically, but that's a different story.






    Whatever the crime, rough sleeping isn't the punishment.

    Update: Because of abuse Simon has pulled the appeal and is refunding everyone. 

    It's become axiomatic that whenever Channel 4 or the Guardian run a tear jerk story to make the evil Tories look, er .... evil, there will be something in the back story that makes the subject not as sympathy evoking as claimed. It's doubly so when it involves rough sleepers, as most of them will have a mental health issue that has led to drugs and/or alcohol abuse and a trail of victims.

    Just before Christmas C4 ran a story about Steve Rowe, a veteran who was forced to live on the street. Predictably it quickly attracted attention and sympathy on social media. The veteran community was rightly incensed that a former veteran was living on the street and a gofundme appeal was launched by veteran Simon Hammerschmidt (@sjhhammerschimdt) raining £2100 very quickly There were some other gofundme appeals for Steve as well.

    It came as no surprise to me when the story started unravelling and it turned out that Steve not only had mental health and alcohol problems, but he was on the sex offenders register. Simon's response was to write to all of us who'd donated, giving us a chance to withdraw our donations with those that weren't withdrawn being donated to charities for rough sleepers. You can see Simon's message below or on his Twitter feed.

    Simon and those like him should be proud of what they did, nobody should be left on the streets, no matter what their crime, unless Parliament legislates that rough sleeping is a legitimate punishment, and we can be sure that won't happen.  Those who should be ashamed are the likes of C4 who didn't do their due diligence and be honest with their story* and those, like Jeremy Corbyn, who tried to make political capital out of the situation as they should no better.

    I don't know how much was withdrawn, but I left mine in because rough sleepers are really hard to deal with. Their mental health problems mean that they often can't be let in to shelters because of the risk to others and the same goes for housing them. Many reject offers preferring to stay on the street. Short of sectioning them and locking them up there is very little that can be done so those who do try need all the support they can get.

    We are all reluctant to give rough sleepers money when we see them because we think they'll just blow it on alcohol or drugs. I don't do it as often as I should, but my preferred way of helping is to buy them something like a Tesco's meal deal.

    *I'm giving them the benefit of doubt that they didn't do it on purpose for political reasons