It’s Toff at the Top – The Brexit Debate errors.

madmax

Apocalyptic predictions of a dystopian destiny, fuelled by supposition and opinion-derived numbers masquerading as unvarnished statistics, has been our diet for several weeks. Political reputations have been damaged as has the blimpish and flaky right-wing coalition that is the Tory Party……………Meanwhile, the Labour Party continues to flip-flop aimlessly from principle to principle, whilst trying to decide who it despises more – Corbyn, Cameron or Kim Jong-un.

Prime Minister Cameron has only just realised the dangers of following Osborne’s lead and regurgitating farcical “facts” and predicting a Mad Max future for the British people, should they choose to exercise their democratic right and abandon the moribund #EU.

Hopefully our Prime Minister will now have a crack at looking and sounding like the heavyweight statesman he imagines himself to be, rather than a 1950s second hand car salesman.

Let’s face it, the Brexit debate HAS to rely on opinion and conjecture because by definition, there are no facts about the future.

Nevertheless, it is a shame that the debate has taken on all the characteristics of a religious argument, with only faith, dogma and prophecy to fall back on.

The next four weeks will not-only be interesting from the debate point of view but after the ridiculous initial Brexit skirmishes, one wonders whether certain politicians will take the opportunity to look beyond the vote and attempt some reputation-mending and maybe extinguish some of those burning bridges.

Darwinism and EU Economic Theory

The European Union is languishing in a perpetual economic autumn whilst bankers, with the connivance of politicians, apply rudimentary quack remedies such as Quantitative Easing in the vain hope that somehow they’ll skip a couple of seasons and as if by miracle, an economic  summer will materialise out of the murk.

Last year I wrote that modern global economics owes as much to Chaos Theory as it does to Keynes and has mutated beyond the competence of mere politicians. Economic evolution has overtaken the ability of those who traditionally administer the remedies when economic sickness hits.

The mechanisms which are needed to be put in place to even begin to have any effect on economies are so diverse and complex as to make present economic theory, especially that tainted by political dogma, almost redundant. The best that a politician and his advisers can do is to prod a small corner of the economic matrix in the hope that eventually a positive effect is somehow brought-about.

It is fair to say that politicians are no longer shapers of an economy but have now been diminished to mere observers.

The post-war years have seen such an incredible acceleration in all the factors which affect us – from technology to global financing, that it is only now becoming apparent that old solutions will NOT cure new problems. Sometime in the not-too-distant past, the “butterfly effect” became the wing-flap of the American Eagle – until the eagle itself became subject to bouts of economic coma .

Now it is probably the hot-breath of the Chinese dragon which will burn economies.

It has been universally established (even by China and Russia) that Capitalism is the way forward. However, it is no longer the gung-ho, asset-and-natural-resource-stripping capitalism of the past. A democratic and more ethically accountable flavour of capitalism is now needed.

For instance,  “business” ought to be an activity which strives to maximise market share and commercial efficiency, i.e  it should be inwardly-focused with profits as the essential by-product which is then used to  disseminate wealth.

What we currently have is a business model where the rationale  is primarily concerned with the maximisation of shareholder profits which concentrates wealth into  comparatively few hands. Hence the 21st century craze for moving money in order to generate money without the added old-fashioned complication of production. A virtual world generates virtual money with a virtual value.

“Ah!” you’re thinking. Socialist!! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s keep it simple and look at the two extremes.

The Left (Socialism, Labour, U.S. Democrats, EU) dreams of public or community ownership and what you might call “forced distribution” which unfortunately needs to be underpinned by bureaucratic control and masses of public expenditure.

The Right (Conservatives, Republicans) dreams of privatisation. That has absolutely nothing to do with the individual. It is to do with corporate power.

So, at one extreme, we have unsustainable and forever expanding bureaucracy and on the other we have unacceptable (to the individual) accelerating corporate power.

Western political systems have now become nothing more than a tension between those two extremes. For instance, witness the “Punch and Judy” politics of America and the United Kingdom, as currently exemplified by the quality of the United Kingdom’s EU referendum debate and the  antagonistically offensive quality of the USA’s 2016 Presidential campaign.

Currently, there isn’t a better example of extreme corporate power than that exhibited by the banking system. A debt-fuelled crisis, which was accidentally engineered by the banking system ………aided and abetted by politicians  who continue to have absolutely NO idea how to deal with it, except by assuming that the problem has gone away.  They have adopted the “rabbit-staring -into-headlights” technique and have even been reduced to appealing to the bankers better nature, by inviting central banks into the economic driving seat!!

Paradoxically, the only people who will be able to clean-up the financial mess are financiers. Unfortunately, the type of financier that is needed is not the traditional self-serving, avaricious, unprincipled type which we have all come to love.

It is an as yet undiscovered species. The socially responsible financier who, with the assistance of the politician can generate new ideas which will, in turn, evolve into a NEW Capitalism which places the individual and not the corporation at its nucleus.

The financial crisis happened in spite of politics  and will eventually cure itself  in spite of politics. Chaos has its own mysterious mechanisms.

It is obvious though that the Darwinian aspects of world economics have outstripped the development of both our politicians and our economic theories.

…..and as China is demonstrating….it is the Survival of the Fittest…..and as the #EU is clearly demonstrating, the answers do not lie in organisational chaos, bureaucracy and huddling for political and economic warmth with people you wouldn’t normally invite into your home.

EU – Marx was right!

The questions  and comedy statistics have all been about the United Kingdom.

It’s time the debate broadened – for instance: Do we see the European Union developing into the economic Utopia that the ‘IN’ camp appears to be predicting?

Germany has always been the efficiently fruitful epicentre of the EU – but Angela Merkel’s well-meaning but misguided aberration in respect of migrants will knock-back the country’s well-earned prosperity by at least a decade.

France, with its reactionary working classes and rapidly evolving migrant-based issues and politics will never achieve proper stability – although admittedly, their international posturing is impressive.

Italy is an economic powerhouse of the future – and always will be.

Economically, Spain and Portugal are both on their knees for the duration.

The former Communist states are all ‘takers’, both directly and indirectly.

Barring a miracle, Greece will remain a basket-case for the forseeable future – and the rest don’t matter…….and the countries lined-up to join are most likely to contribute nothing more than an additional economic ‘drag’ and more itinerant cheap labour.

For the moment  – and working ONLY on the evidence, it would seem that the European Union is VERY UNLIKELY to ever achieve proper economic stability and will always continue to kid itself that proper loan-free prosperity will arrive “within 18 months”.

Remember  Groucho Marx’s letter of resignation to the Friars’ Club: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”

 

EU CONSPIRACY?

Having observed Cameron’s and Osborne’s double act, I cannot help but wonder whether they’ll soon be signed for their own BBC Christmas Show or perhaps take over from Ant and Dec!

On a serious note……The “Stay in the #EU because we are totally trapped” campaign has been SO clumsily scripted and organised that one suspects that many wavering voters are beginning to suspect a CONSPIRACY.

The latest offering was from the (totally independent and well-respected and apolitical – I cannot stress that enough!) bunch of statisticians masquerading under the letters IFS – the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Here’s a sample: ‘Ministers could react to a post-Brexit GDP fall with either deeper cuts, or by extending them.’

Notice the ubiquitous “COULD”  creeping into yet another dodgy prophecy.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said ‘IFS is biased because it was part-funded by the EU.’ – which is something they have in common with Nige.

p.s.Did you see Chancellor Gideon with the low voice and newly-minted ersatz statesmanlike manner at PMQs? Tragic! Although  – am LOVING the Caligula haircut  🙂

Cameron crosses the line.

Hello stupid!
Hello stupid!

Today, our Prime Minister’s Brexit nonsense about family holidays “increasing by £230” if we left the #EU confirms his total lack of respect and utter contempt for the average British voter.

Not only does he continue to destroy his own credibility and persuade more and more people to vote for Brexit but confirms what many of us have suspected for a very long time: If he was ever to be given an enema, he would fit into a shoebox!

Plus, his prediction that this will be his last term in office will probably be confirmed within the next six months…..or weeks.

A dead man talking.

EU lies? Like S***to a Blanket……..

 

Listening to many of the Brexit-related vox pop on the news, especially from the older generation makes you realise that not only are many of the interviewees a bit thick , but that many do not appear to read past the headlines…… and that is exactly what Cameron and Osborne are tapping into.

They fully realise that all they have to do is trot out a few memorable short sentences containing lots of “Could” and “Probably”, in the knowledge that all the audience will hear is “job losses”, “recession”, “lower house prices”, “self-destruct” etc with the latest suggestion being  that leaving the EU would be “immoral”.

Heavy shit! Of course, that is exactly what it is….Shit.

We are listening to two guys whose prediction record matches that of Dr. Dionysius Lardner who said in 1830: “Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” 

Or as recently as 1977, when Ken Olson, chairman of The Digital Equipment Corporation predicted: “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

Neither Cameron nor Osborne has any idea what is going to happen next month. Never mind in twelve months’ or five years’ time.

Because of their tactical rather than strategic mentality, they are predicting what they think will happen to the British economy in the year or so following Brexit.

Proper leaders would be thinking very long-term but of course Dave and Gideon only have to frighten this generation of voters and will not have to apologise to future generations who may find themselves unable to escape from the economic and sociological straitjacket of EU membership.

The fact is that neither Cameron nor Osborne is capable running the United Kingdom without the reassuring comfort of Brussels and its rapidly mushrooming and already considerable population of commissars.

We should also notice that no one who is in favour of remaining within the EU club is even attempting to describe the socialist utopia which is being created right under our noses.

Where is the talk of increased incomes, a recession-free United Kingdom, more employment, a prospering NHS – all the things which are the corollary of the doom-infused nonsense which we are being fed?

Is it because negativity, doom and ruination are not-only more memorable but stick in the mind like s*** to a blanket?

Another BREXIT myth?

cash

Always beware of any sentence uttered by a politician which contains the word “percentage” – especially if that politician is Chancellor Gideon.

The latest bit of statistical fantasy saw Osborne suggesting that if we leave the #EU, “house prices COULD fall by Up TO 18 %.” (!)

Obviously, he has a plan!

Does he intend to stop dodgy Russian oligarchs, newly-minted Chinese billionaires, corrupt African despots and tyrannical Middle Eastern potentates and politicians from driving-up UK house prices by buying up London properties and paying silly money for the United Kingdom’s historic country houses and estates?

Mind you, it’s all a great distraction from the NHS, the tanking economy and our unmeasured, out-of-control immigration.

The Ugly Spectre of EU Self-interest……

burning euro

A recent survey has indicated that most companies based in the eurozone believe a British decision to leave the European Union would hurt the region as it struggles with a sluggish economy and a migration crisis.

79%  of firms based in the eurozone said a Brexit would be bad for the area, with less than 4% saying it would have a positive impact, according to the report from accountants Grant Thornton.

“What’s abundantly clear from our research is that European business leaders overwhelmingly view a Brexit as a negative development for the EU,” Francesca Lagerberg, a senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, said.

She said business confidence was strong considering the various potential threats the region faced from low growth, high unemployment, migration and a potential Brexit.

“Any one of these flaring up over the next few months could see that optimism wobble if the economic shocks undermine business leaders’ ability to plan and invest,” she added.

The survey was based on interviews with more than 2,500 senior executives conducted in January and February.

The result is in keeping with the view of senior business leaders in Britain who are largely in favour of Britain staying in the EU. Most economists expect an exit would deal a blow to Britain’s economy in both the short- and longer-term.

The Grant Thornton report showed 68 percent of British-based firms believe Brexit would have a negative impact on Europe.

Parts of the eurozone have struggled with a debt crisis in recent years which, on the heels of the global financial crisis, has stifled growth and left many unemployed. Unfortunately, quite a high percentage of Europe’s unemployed appear to be headed for the UK.

In addition, many recent migrants to the EU stated their first choice of refuge as the UK. Many of those will be arriving here in a few years….when Germany and other states hand them EU citizenship.

The region as a whole remains at odds over how to contain the continuing flow of migrants to the region.

It is regrettable that neither the UK political leadership, nor the Brussels Commissars have any idea about Managing Change on a macro scale because the sociological change within the #EU is probably they biggest issue that will need to be addressed within the next five to ten years.

Both sides are doing their best to frighten the electorate into voting for their point of view. There has also been an attempt at what can only be described as The Blackmail of a Nation – especially by the IN camp and the leadership’s foreign banking and political friends..

The fact is that BOTH sides have valid arguments but instead of helping the average UK citizen to make a reasonable choice whilst at the same time preparing for change, BOTH sides prefer to persuade through the medium of fantasy rhetoric, insinuation and slur.

Meanwhile, mainland Europe, surrounded by the Ring of Chaos, which encompasses Ukraine, then east to Turkey and south to North Africa,  sits and waits for more handouts and UK opportunities for its unemployed.

 

A favourite quote

Albert Einstein was asked how he thought that World War 3 would be fought. He said that he didn’t know but that he knew how World War 4 would be fought – with sticks and stones.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe”
– Albert Einstein

Superbugs and #Brexit

bugs

After two years of detailed statistical analysis, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance has been published and  concludes that superbugs will kill someone every three seconds by 2050 unless the world acts now.

The rather alarmist review sets out a plan for preventing medicine “being cast back into the Dark Ages.”

The report calls for a revolution in the way antibiotics are used and a campaign to educate people.

The battle against  bugs which are resistant to antibiotics has been described as “as big a risk as terrorism”. because we are simply not developing enough new antibiotics and we are wasting the ones we have.

We now await a statement from the Prime Minister to confirm that if we retain our #EU membership, the risk will be greatly minimalised “because together, we are stronger!” and a counter argument from the #Brexit camp that increased EU migration will doubtless contribute to even more infection !  🙂

 

The Queen’s Speech

carriage

Sometimes, one cannot help but feel sorry for our Queen. She has to put on a heavy metal hat covered in bling, get togged up in fancy dress and then walk up some steps (what’s wrong with a Stannah Lift), sit on a very uncomfortable looking chair and then read a load of drivel written for her by a Downing Street focus group, handed to her by the Lord Chancellor, wearing a rather fetching off the shoulder black and gold number……(Michael Gove has never looked lovelier).

Prisons, driverless cars and a spaceport were read out in the manner of an undertaker reciting from the the Book of the Dead.

it was not QE2’s fault – after all she is constitutionally obliged to read whatever nonsense the government of the day puts in front of her.

A spaceport is probably very appropriate for this government as it is mostly populated by space cadets and robots….but as the economy appears to be sliding towards the U-bend, it would have been reassuring to hear at least something about the economy. Unfortunately, it appears that Chancellor Gideon has finally admitted that he is a mere observer rather than a shaper of events – just like the Bank of England.

There is very little doubt that QE2 would have been much happier with her feet up, watching Loose Women or Bargain Hunt, rather than have been embarrassed by the unmitigated bollocks masquerading as some sort of government ‘plan’ that she had to recite.

 

Brexit – Summary , so far……

Cameron’s ‘in crowd’ has expanded offshore to include the foreign senior banking community. Here in the UK, the ‘IN’ conspiracy has now recruited some senior corporate ‘suits’.

Meanwhile, Boris is looking increasingly shambolic and isolated plus, he does not appear to be appealing to the great unwashed.

The two main messages are either “Watch out for hordes of migrants and we could do it alone if we wanted to” or, more worryingly:  “The UK is effectively imprisoned within the #EU with no way out without damaging EVERYTHING!”

Both messages are negative – especially now that it would appear that the Cameron camp has admitted that even if we wanted to leave – we can’t. We’re trapped!

Today it was the turn of Spain’s 800,000 permatanned British residents to have the fear of God put into them…..as if the Spanish economy would even think about risking the loss of such a vast slice of revenue!

The one aspect of the debate I cannot agree with and that is the perceived danger from millions of low-level migrants. Once the UK economy collapses, no-one will want to come here.

Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the ECB’s Mario Draghi to pontificate.

 

Brexit Fun with Statistics

gidders

Good to see the Cameron #EU ‘In-Crowd’ adopting the official government policy of spouting meaningless and spurious statistics in order to try and prove that being a member of the European Union is compulsory if one is to maintain economic success , which, incidentally, is something which continues to elude the United Kingdom – in spite of Chancellor Gideon’s creative use of percentages.

Here are some more numbers:

  1. Six out of ten of the world’s biggest economies are not members of the EU. If the UK Brexited, SEVEN out of ten of the world’s most powerful economies would not be members of the EU.
  2. According to Bloomberg , of the world’s top ten fastest-growing economies, not one is a member of the EU.
  3. If we look at real GDP growth rate, the highest performer within the EU is Ireland and is placed only 44th(!) in the world.

What Cameron is REALLY saying is very simple: He does NOT believe that he, Chancellor Gideon and the rest of the current crop of Westminster PPE and History Grads have the collective ability to run an economy without the bureaucratic and legal crutch of the Brussels Commissars.

What have the Europeans ever done for us?

eurozone2

Uncontrolled immigration drives down the average wage. That in turn brings down the wealth of the individual, plus it puts incredible pressure on our social security and health systems.

The United Kingdom has become a dumping ground for the European Union’s unemployed and low paid……..with lots more to come. In addition, the Home Office has consistently proved itself to be utterly incompetent in its quest to exercise ANY sort of workable border control.

A measurable percentage of income earned in the UK by non-British workers is not spent here in the UK – it is disbursed somewhere in the #EU – because that is to where the money is being exported.

YES, the United Kingdom IS necessary to the #EU – but only to re-balance the overall #EU economy …..as what used to be our wealth is gradually being dissipated throughout Europe…….and our government has no control over Paypal and Western Union!!

The legendary EU red tape and despotic restrictions on tax and trade reforms mean that we are no longer the masters of our own destiny. No amount of macho rhetoric from David Cameron will convince the average sane voter that we are anything more than a collection of small islands in the North Sea, completely subservient to Brussels.

Now imagine that we left the #EU and reformed our ties with our English-speaking allies: USA, Canada, Australia, India and New Zealand who all have much stronger economies with far more mid to long-term economic potential than ANY #EU state ……without the restrictive practices and bureaucracy.

Of course the EU Commissars want us to stay within the #EU! We, as an English-speaking nation are the ones who are indispensable allies who can penetrate the markets of the other English-speaking states…………but for whose benefit?

The sooner after June 23rd that the Prime Minister invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the sooner we can begin divorce proceedings and the sooner the signing of the Decree Nisi…..but like any bitter old divorcee, the #EU will drag it out as long as possible but the temporary discomfort will be very well worth it.

Here is the first sentence of Article 50: “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements………..”

Billions

Great quote from yesterday’s excellent first episode of #BILLIONS: “You don’t have to outswim the shark – just your SCUBA partner.”

Lagarde, Brexit & Panic

gideonLagarde
Je T’aime …..moi non plus!

It was the IMF’s Christine Lagarde’s turn today.

She says that Brexit would have “assez mauvais to très , très mauvais” consequences but was not particularly specific.

“Pretty bad to very, very bad” is once again a judgement and not a prediction….and if she wants to see “very, very bad”, she should keep a closer eye on Greece’s problems!

Make no mistake, just like Mark Carney before her, prior to issuing her predictable statement, she would have been on the phone to Chancellor Gideon or David Cameron for approval of this latest piece of the well-choreographed scaremongering pro-EU referendum jigsaw. So WHO is next to have been recruited by the ‘IN’ camp?

One suspects that either this weekend or possibly on Monday, it will be the turn of the ECB’s Mario (il Papa) Draghi to instil a bit of ‘panico’ among us gullible Brits!

It started with Obama and they’re travelling East……..

 

Carney in the Cameron Corner?

Mark-Carney

The (hired by Chancellor Gideon) totally impartial Governor Mark Carney of the oh-so independent Bank of England said today that if the United Kingdom left the Bruderschaft of the oh-so economically-stable #EU, the risk of leaving “could possibly include a technical recession”……….which by implication suggests that if we stay firmly wedged in Bundeskanzlerin Merkel’s ample #EU cleavage, the risk of recession will be gone! Good news !!

David Cameron then said the warning amounted to “a very clear message” of the dangers of Brexit.

Some have declared that the Governor was spouting unwarranted and unmitigated bollocks with several calling for him to be sacked.

In reply, the Governor’s spokesperson said  the Bank had “a duty to make its judgments known.”

As the Bank of England has been so incisive and accurate in all of its previous economic judgments and predictions – the 2008 economic collapse, the subsequent recession and the collapse of RBS, to name but a few – I cannot think of any reason why we should not take Governor Carney’s latest prophecy (it’s NOT a prediction!) VERY seriously.   🙂

EU Brexit

 

chipsDC
Poisson Tempura al fresco

Believe it or not, I have no particular view as to whether or not we should remain within the European Union but if we are minded to believe the sharp suited Westminster Europhiles (and Jeremy Corbyn), we should not take what is looking increasingly like the foolhardy and dangerous option of Brexit………. Of course, the other team is busy painting a picture of an economic Utopia, unencumbered by the tyrannical drag-chute of EU integration.

The only unsurprising phenomenon about the whole debate is that because we know of no other way, two teams were hastily put together and, as is the case with every other debate, confrontation has been the order of the day.

I would have considered David Cameron far more statesmanlike had he addressed the nation in a far more neutral way, outlining the pros and cons for both possible outcomes. Unfortunately, we only know one way and that is through the medium of opinion-fuelled conflict. Hence the Boris and Cameron camps both treating the debate more like a prizefight rather than what could have been a comradely discussion.

The most outrageous claims have come from the ‘stay in’ camp.

‘Each family will be £4300 per year worse off’, ‘mortgage rates will increase’, ‘house prices will fall’, ‘we are safer within the European Union.’ etc. are all no more than conjecture.

The fact is that whether we are in or out will make little difference to the average man in the street and given the politicians’, pollsters’ and economists’ track records on any sort of prediction, we should all be wary of all the nonsense which has been produced as implied ‘fact’.

Sadly, most of the United Kingdom’s voting population is not very ‘politically-bright’  – hence the outrageous claims made by both sides. It is the only way that they are able to communicate with the slack-jawed Mr and Mrs Average because proper economic and sovereignty arguments are far too complicated without being reduced to single sentence soundbites.

If only the government had had the foresight to produce a single ‘for and against’ document, clearly showing that the argument is largely opinion rather than fact-based, Mr and Mrs Average would not have to be subjected to the  increasingly hysterical rhetoric of the Westminster wide-boys.

However, tell someone that their property value is going to fall and contrary to world trends, interest rates are mysteriously going to increase, you begin to understand that scaremongering by both sides is the only way forward.

What is it that we are being asked to keep or abandon?

What is in place at the moment is a self-amplifying bureaucracy which has arrived at the stage where it exists to perpetuate itself rather than be there for the good of the European Community. We have a European legal system whose main function appears to be to impose itself on EU member states plus a European economy which continues to be in terminal decline. There is a massive migration problem-without-end, with the prospect of an increased internal EU migration issue as a result of the proposed future membership of Turkey and Albania. That is the organisation of which we are currently a member.

The question is very straightforward: Do we want to belong to a totally unaudited association of failing and near bankrupt economies, overrun by unwanted (yes!) migrants and presided over by an inwardly-focused, self-amplifying bureaucracy – or should we be looking outwards to the rest of the world whilst maintaining relations only with the European states we can and WANT to do business with – without worrying about regulations governing what we eat or the amperage of our hairdryers and toasters!

The MOST frightening aspect of leaving the European Union is no more than a quite natural fear of CHANGE.

With very few exceptions, politicians have clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of preventing crises and they are certainly very frightened of being accused of creating a crisis such as they imagine might occur if we left the EU.

They surmise, quite correctly, that they would not be able to deal with it, and it is no accident that both David Cameron and George Osborne are at the desperate forefront of trying to keep us in the European Union because they would be the ones expected to deal with any Brexit fallout for which they are not professionally equipped.

Their motivation is fear, whereas the leaders of the Brexit campaign are driven by no more than a misplaced ambition to rule.

The stakes within the EU debate have very little to do with pragmatism or principle. They are to do with power and we as voters would do well to remember that.

The subtext of the Brexit debate is a battle for the leadership of BOTH of our main political parties.

 

 

Jeremy Hunt’s #NHS. The end of the beginning?

hunt

There is a very good reason why heads of very large organisations command such obscenely huge salaries. They tend to be highly qualified and extremely experienced individuals whose grasp of both finance and organisational dynamics is truly mind-blowing. In addition, there are comparatively few of them….and although we may or may not agree with their vast incomes, they do have responsibility not only to shareholders but for the futures of thousands of employees.

Therefore, it is astounding as well is wrong on so many levels, that a ‘here today gone tomorrow’ politician who commands a salary of about £135,000 is given the responsibility of running an organisation as vast and complex as the National Health Service. If that individual’s qualifications and experience are no more than having been a teacher of English as a foreign language, with a couple of years in public relations, preceded by a Cambridge degree in politics, then the appointment is not only troubling but potentially destructive.

The fact that Jeremy Hunt was a contemporary of David Cameron’s at Cambridge compounds the problem because it is extremely difficult to rid oneself of family or friends that one has hired to do a job which is incontrovertibly so utterly above their competence level.

Being briefed by advisers and devouring the contents of ministerial red boxes is no substitute for the hard slog of a ‘big company’ career.

Secretary of State Hunt is clearly demonstrating his boundless ineptitude by his total inability to deal with the NHS junior doctors. If he does not manage some sort of settlement with them very soon, permanent damage will be done to the NHS.

It is now being suggested that the junior doctors’ strike is a manifestation of them trying to bring down the government! Whether that is true or not, doesn’t matter because the doctors have a great deal of support , whatever their motivation. However, I would tend to believe that they are looking for no more than fairness and understanding from an increasingly confused Secretary of State and unbending dogma-fired Tory High Command.

There is a solution to the problem….. and it is a solution with only one opening move.

The hapless Hunt, who has now completed the journey from promising politician to Cockney rhyming slang, should be asked to participate in an exit interview as soon as possible.

Whittingdale! Taxi!

Terribly intrusive reportage by the Mail. They should show John “Shagger” Whittingdale a bit of respect. The fact that this unlikely knobmeister is managing to score at a rate which should at least put him on the England subs bench at Euro 2016 is obviously causing the po-faced ones at the Mail some discomfort. Power to his elbow….and all other parts of his soon-to-be ex-Cabinet anatomy.

Osborne’s Crassness and Stupidity

All that Chancellor Gideon has achieved by stating that if the UK leaves the #EU, MORTGAGE RATES will increase, has been to highlight his stupidity and total lack of understanding of the mortgage market. Presumably he is implying that if we remain in the EU, mortgage rates will NOT go up?

However, it was good to see that in preparation for any backlash, he made the point that his weasel words were, in fact, quoting what “The Americans” said.

Tax Return? Don’t Make me laugh!

THIS is a Tax Return:

corbyntax    

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIS is NOT a Tax Return:

cameron-tax-returnPNG

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will say this only once!

Cameron, Osborne and Johnson have NOT produced what are being referred-to as “Tax Returns”.

They have produced what look like simplistic spreadsheets which do not even look as if they’ve seen an accountant, never mind HMRC.

I wonder who is going to be the first to notice and ask for their audited accounts as well as PROPER Tax Returns.

Boris Johnson is taxed as both an employed as well as a self-employed person. He should be showing TWO sets of figures – but even he has been allowed to produce a schoolboy Excel spreadsheet.

Only the unfortunate Jeremy Corbyn has produced a Tax Return!

As usual, the British public had its opportunity and blew it!

Cameron’s crap Spreadsheet

Has ANYONE noticed that David Cameron has NOT yet produced his Tax Return?

In their excitement, the media appear to have accepted a very dodgy-looking and simplistic spreadsheet – the sort we could all knock-out on our PCs. The sort of spreadsheet which would be totally unacceptable to HMRC or even to an unqualified book-keeper.

Wake up!

We should see Cameron’s and his wife’s Tax Returns plus any non-PAYE accounts.

Cameron & Gideon….don’t forget the wives!

In order to see number which give a true reflection of Cameron’s and Osborne’s incomes, their spouses tax returns should also be made public. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget having bestowed large amounts of cash on a loved one.

I am not suggesting for one moment that there may have been deliberate movement of assets or cash designed to defraud HMRC but these things can happen for totally innocent reasons…..so while we’re at it, perhaps it would be best to get it all over with in one go!

In addition, I would suspect that at least one of them is part-Schedule E and part Schedule D. That means that apart from PAYE deductions, there may be accounts!

Point of View

Remember that whatever your opinion, whether it’s the #EU hokey-kokey debate or Mr Cameron and his deep and  (so genuine!) offshore love for his father, it all depends on where you’re standing …your POV……………… For instance:

Dog: ” I love the way I’ve trained that nice Dr Pavlov to smile, make notes and give me a treat every time I drool”

The Shady in Waiting.

Now that Cameron has released a note of his tax affairs back to 2009 (yet another mistake), it won’t be long before  his income prior to that date will be demanded for scrutiny by an increasingly ferocious press.

His priority now should be to sack his ‘advisers’. They have advised him very badly in the past but on this occasion, have excelled themselves. Their talent this week appears to have consisted of no more than pouring increasing volumes of petrol onto the fire.

Yes, Dave, you were quite right, there are things which are a ‘Private Matter’. For instance: “I love my dad. I miss him every day. He was a wonderful father and I’m very proud of everything he did.’ is most certainly private in an awkwardly ‘icky’ sort of way! The tax affairs of a Prime Minister who, for several years, has been engaged in a ‘faux’ quixotic battle against tax avoiders with his sidekick Sancho Osborne are not.

Wrong again!

Of course, technically, Cameron and his family have done nothing wrong. What has been done for them with their tax (always blame the accountants!) is no more than ‘naughtiness with intent’, rather than downright badness – the sort of thing we would all do if we had an estate in excess of £325,000.

The next ‘We’re in this together’ clown who should be audited (although I prefer ‘dissected’) is the Shady-in-Waiting, George Osborne. Mind you, with that pedigree, his family is probably much better equipped for papering over the offshore cracks than Dave’s lot.

 

 

 

Painting Cameron into a corner!

Cameron spokesperson: “There are no offshore trusts or funds that the Prime Minister or his immediate family would benefit from in future.”

What about the £300K that your old man left you, Dave? Do and your family not plan to spend it in the future? Have you already spent it? Where did it come from? A Nationwide Super-Saver account? A Halifax Deposit Account? BVI?

What about the residue of your old man’s estate? When your mother’s estate is finally assessed, are you agreeing that you will have no interest in that money either? Where exactly is the offshore stash which your father left? You know the one…the one that you and your immediate family have announced that you will not benefit from in the future.

(We have noticed that Cameron Snr’s Will is ONLY about UK assets.)

 

Note to self: We really should go easy on DC. The next thing we’ll see is him resigning and Osborne ordering a Pickford’s van to move his gear into No 10…… Too horrible to contemplate!

Excellent #EU insight

eu-flag-burning

The question is very straightforward: Do we want to belong to a totally unaudited association of failing and near bankrupt economies, overrun by unwanted (yes!) migrants and presided over by an inward-focused, self-amplifying bureaucracy – or should we be looking outwards to the rest of the world whilst maintaining relations only with the European states we can do business with – without worrying about regulations governing what we eat or the amperage of our hairdryers and toasters!

Here is a link to Euro MP Daniel Hannan’s excellent revelations which we should all read: http://dailym.ai/1S2A0P6

Cameron ignorance.

Ah…….that heady aroma of a media-generated mélange of schadenfreude and disinformation!

Ian Cameron’s FUND, Blairmore Holdings was never a “Trust”. It was a Hedge Fund which invested in no more than the sort of equities etc that one finds in any other fund.

Cameron Junior and his unfortunate wife, Sam may well have invested in the old man’s business – probably because the fund was generating very high returns.

One of the factors to be taken into consideration when investing is the tax regime. Here in the UK, for instance, the Exchequer helps itself to Stamp Duty when you invest …………and then, if you are domiciled in the UK, it helps itself to some more by way of Capital Gains Tax .

THAT is why is is often preferable to invest where you do not get screwed at both ends of a transaction.

Very often, an investment choice is driven by prudence rather than naughtiness.

I DO wish that some journos would do their f******  homework! Especially the No 10 Press Office.

On the other hand, one can forgive the ignorance of MPs – because that is what they do!

For instance, did you hear Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, Anna Soubry on PMQs last night? Talk about being promoted to above your level of incompetence!

Cameron must be so proud!

Ill Gotten Gains, Dave?

Let’s not beat around the bush……London is the money-laundering capital of the world. In addition to that, it is Britain which has all those ex-colonial islands and protectorates scattered all over the world. They have become the tax-free-no-questions-asked home to all the world’s drug and crime proceeds as well as the repository for a sizeable chunk of the aid money the West continues to dish out to the Third World …..in the full knowledge that much of it will eventually land in a Swiss numbered account while it waits to be properly buried in some obscure Caribbean offshore trust.

London is the crossroads of such a high percentage of the ill-gotten gains of corrupt politicians and criminals, that if our government genuinely had the stomach to legislate in order to clean-up all this cash-trafficking, it would put such a large hole in our Gross Domestic Product that our economy would collapse.

Our manufacturing represents only 15% of our GDP. The rest relies far too heavily on virtual as well as  illegal money….but unfortunately, after so many years, the economy has become totally addicted to it. All that our senior politicians can offer is the traditional mixture of fine words, promises and inaction.

Cameron’s family is the personification of the moral-free, double-standard, innocence-feigning disgrace that Britain has become.

….and the consequences? The odds are that once again, nothing will change. The media will have lots of fun, the Panama Papers will be milked until we all become bored, the politicians will find something else to distract us with.

Anyone for blini?

Tax? That’s only for poor people!

Blairmore Holdings Inc, the offshore fund which the Prime Minister’s father, Ian Cameron helped to set up  has never paid any UK tax on its profits…..and that’s over a period of 30 years. Many of the fund’s clients are Brits.

(“Blairmore” is the name of the Cameron ancestral home in Aberdeenshire. It is now a Christian Healing Centre which Cameron Jnr may well need very soon……)

Cameron’s offshore shenanigans

Apparently, David Cameron was probably the only rich kid for whom a Trust Fund was never set up. A startling omission by his father because it would have been the most efficient way to put cash or any other type of asset away with junior as the beneficiary. A Trust has ‘trustees’ who usually exercise their discretion in how much is paid to the beneficiary and when it is paid. Trusts are not only useful for passing down assets to the next generation but also keep assets out of a settlor’s estate, thus reducing any Inheritance Tax liabilityIt is therefore VERY surprising that Cameron Snr did not think of that!

However, it is nevertheless always a good idea to listen very carefully to the words written for any Cameron statement. For instance, the latest denial issued by Downing Street contains the following sentence:

“There are no offshore trusts or funds that the Prime Minister or his immediate family would benefit from in future

One can only assume that the trustees have exercised their discretion very recently as well as very suddenly…….unless of course Cameron Snr indeed did not follow his own advice!

Panama Papers

PutinCameron

The Panama Papers reminded me of something that I have been thinking about for many years. What makes senior, specifically LEADER politicians so rich? Very often, all they have had is a career in politics, which as we all know, does not pay very well and yet they suddenly appear at the top of the pile with both the A-list film-star lifestyle as well as the mega-bloated bank account plus the services of sleazy bankers and agents for offshore tax havens.

As far as I can see, the only advantage they have over normal mortals is not ability, diligence, a business sense or even an entrepreneurial spirit. The only thing they do have is proximity to tax payer cash. For instance, the salary of a KGB colonel is not all that great and neither is the salary of a President-Prime Minister-President measured in millions. How then is that individual managing to measure his wealth in BILLIONS? It’s a conundrum.

There has been some criticism of UK Prime Minister David Cameron because his father was in the offshore tax-optimisation game. Of course, it is manifestly unfair to blame DC because, even though his school fees may have been paid out of an offshore Trust Fund ‘run’ by Nominee Directors of a Brass Plaque ‘Company’ located somewhere in a Central American Banana Republic , he cannot be held responsible for his father’s actions – anymore than the son of a bank robber can be held responsible for being clothed and fed on the proceeds of a bank heist………although bank robbers are often stripped of assets and their offspring allowed to go hungry. But hey….!

Javid and the Three Ps

In keeping with this government’s appalling standard of juvenile speech-writing and verbal gimmickry, Business Secretary Sajid Javid has delivered another priceless acronym. He said that any buyer of Port Talbot steelworks “…..would want to refer to “The Three Ps”. Did he mean the government’s Piss Poor Preparation or was he possibly referring to the three qualities that this government has become so well-known for: Procrastination, Procrastination, Procrastination.

BURIED Steel News.

cameron

This is what is happening while #Cameron dispenses platitudes:

German newspaper Rheinische Post has reported that Tata Steel is in advanced talks to buy a stake in Thyssenkrupp’s Steel Europe, sending shares in Thyssenkrupp 5.2 percent higher to the top of Germany’s DAX index …………Thyssenkrupp declined to comment, as did a European spokesman for Tata Steel.

Tata Steel wants to dump Port Talbot and get into bed with our German friends.

So much for DC’s negotiating skills.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-tata-steel-thyssenkrupp-idUKKCN0WY4E5

 

Cameron talking Steel.

The government is “doing everything it can” to save thousands of steel jobs – but there are “no guarantees of success”

The situation at Port Talbot is of “deep concern” and “steel jobs are vital” to workers’ families and the communities.

A “more nuanced” solution is needed in recognition of the global oversupply of steel

“Just continuing to produce steel for which there is not adequate demand isn’t the answer.”

The European Union is  “a vital market for British steel.”

Britain is “having conversations with other Governments”

I’m sure that there is a word for the above type of rhetoric but I just can’t think what it might be!  🙂

p.s. Because the government appears to be treating the Port Talbot situation as some sort of surprise, here’s something I wrote FOUR MONTHS ago. See no.9……..http://www.spygun.uk/richard-ruzyllo/cameron-a-first-assessment

 

 

A Nice Surprise for Chancellor Gideon.

The UK economy grew 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2015, higher than the previous estimate of 0.5%.

As a result, the economy grew by 2.3% for the whole of 2015, rather than 2.2% as previously thought, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Unsurprisingly, the figure came as a surprise to experts, who had forecast that it would remain unchanged.

One wonders whether Chancellor Gideon will blame the Global Economy for this morsel of good fortune.

David “Mr Meeting” Cameron and his Balls of Steel.

The outcome is already a certainty. Cameron, his Ministers will be engaging in Cameron’s favourite pastime – a MEETING. This one is to “discuss” the fate of the moribund British Steel Industry. In fact, the industry’s fate had already been decided even as far back as 1988 when the British public was encouraged to throw its cash away by investing in an industry which has been dying since the end of World War II. British Steel eventually morphed into Indian Steel, with its epicentre on the Sub-continent. Now there is hysterical talk of us being stitched-up by China with its “inferior steel” (commentators are confusing “inferior” with “competitively priced” – and there is absolutely no proof that Chinese steel is, in fact, of poor quality)…..and forget all romantic notions of the “proud steel worker” being “thrown on the scrap heap”. It’s all about market forces, dear boy. Tata!

cams

Cameron deploying his “We’ll do everything we can to help” mantra. This time  it is aimed at the British steel industry. Certain commentators have suggested that Dave is probably thinking about re-nationalising steel! He’d rather be rogered by a pig wearing a red rosette….It won’t be long before we’re importing steel from China. Remember, this government does NOT have a long-term plan – only fine words. Time to say ‘tata’ to our steel industry.

footy

Lionel Messi has offered to auction his boots in aid of an Egyptian charity. Unfortunately, no-one has briefed the Barcelona star on Arab antipathy towards shoes and boots. Remember that Libyan mob hitting Gaddafi with the soles of their shoes? Remember that Iraqi mob hitting that pulled-down statue of Saddam with their shoes…..and what about that shoe thrown at George W Bush? Now the Egyptian people feel insulted that Messi has offered his ‘shoes’ instead of his shirt. Funny old world.

#Cameron – a first assessment.

Every government is remembered by its Prime Minister and just a couple of headline achievements and policies. So far, David Cameron has built quite an arsenal of happy memories to be remembered by. Here are 20……..and they’re beginning to look very worrying.

  1. Austerity
  2. Very dodgy Statistics with the Ministry of Statistics (ONS) admitting its over-reliance on surveys.
  3. A Prime Minister incapable of completing a negotiation. (EU)…..Don’t believe me? Wait and see….
  4. All issues requiring an executive decision being farmed out to Planet Inquiry.
  5. Food Banks.
  6. Giving a totally believable impression of being comprehensively out of touch with the ordinary man.
  7. Nepotism and Cronyism…..referred to as “patronage”.
  8. The most appalling political speeches.
  9. Watching the Steel Industry’s final death throes.
  10. A flat economy with 95% of everything expressed in percentages.
  11. Too many incomplete undelivered promises and confusion between decree and action.
  12. The Gatwick v Heathrow saga.
  13. The inability to motivate Chilcot to complete his Iraq Inquiry.
  14. A pointless involvement in Syria.
  15. 2-Nation Politics and the return of toffery.
  16. Meetings – especially the pointless COBRA ritual.
  17. Fictional Economic claims.
  18. Fictional National Security claims – reminiscent of #Blair.
  19. 2015 Election win by default…Because the alternative (Miliband) was TOO ghastly to contemplate.
  20. Watching the entire NHS fail.

Daesh and the bombing

The fastest way to defeat ISIL (or as the BBC now refers to them – “So-called ISIL”) is NOT to bomb it but to ask the United States to stop supplying it. We can then go and find someone else to bomb…

The #NHS Job Creation Scheme.

scalpel

Very soon, the UK’s National Health Service will collapse under the burden of an impossible workload coupled to chronic government underfunding.

Unfortunately the Conservative mantra of “We have invested far more in the NHS than the last Labour government…..blah…blah…blah…”  has become not only an absolutely meaningless slogan but a very bad joke.

Here are TWO straightforward numbers: As at 30th September 2014, there were 1,387,692 NHS employees. That figure included 701,872  clinically-trained staff. In one year, the growth of the first figure was nearly TWICE that of the lower figure.

Many years ago, I began my career in the Scientific Civil Service. There were barely 200 of us researching, with nearly 500 admin staff looking after us…..so nothing has really changed in at least 30 years.

The NHS has undergone far too many changes – many of them based on the amateurish whims of a procession of unqualified Ministers. Luckily, the current Secretary of State seems to be more competent than many of his predecessors, but nevertheless, he is BOUND to be allowing his judgement to be clouded by politics, dogma, ambition and the Treasury. That automatically disqualifies him from making major strategic decisions.

Those pompous medical fatcats – the Consultants…. who use the NHS as a ‘feeder’ for their private practices in order to line their own pockets, also need to be audited and controlled.

An all-embracing  Management Audit needs to be undertaken as soon as possible – with only one aim…..To take a very wide “horizontal slice” out of the organisation so that the NHS administrative burden is brought DOWN to a sustainable level.

Yes, it IS very easy to justify layers of bureaucracy within a large organisation but NOT when they are killing the patient.

Cameron’s letter to Santa.

gdp

David Cameron is about to send his Christmas EU wish-list letter to Brussels.

As he licks the stamp, he should perhaps reflect on the fact that this is the third renegotiation since Britain joined in 1973 and our second referendum on membership.

It’s not even as if the United Kingdom is negotiating from a position of strength. The rather flaky economic recovery which Osborne thinks he’s sold not only to a gullible British public but also to the EU, is looking shakier by the day.

The much-promulgated “We’ve managed to get the deficit down to 5% of GDP!” may sound good in isolation but the much-maligned Eurozone has a Deficit-to-GDP ratio of only 2.1% ! (The UK figure is actually well over 5.0%). The only three coutries with a higher Deficit-GDP ratio are Croatia, Spain and Cyprus.

If you listen very carefully to Cameron’s referendum rhetoric, you may notice that he has moved from being pro-EU to very neutral. You will also notice that he’s chosen four very flabby areas on which to “negotiate”:

  • Integration: Allowing the UK to opt-out of any EU Superstate nonsense
  • Benefits: Restricting access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants.
  • Sovereignty: Giving greater powers to national parliaments to block EU legislation.
  • Eurozone vs the rest: Securing an explicit recognition that the euro is not the only currency of the European Union.

He has totally ignored our two biggest gripes: The £6-20 BILLION (depending on who you talk to ) net annual contribution to the EU and that obscenely inflated money-pit that is the Brussels bureaucracy. THAT is where the changes ought to be!

However, we can take comfort from the certain knowledge that WHATEVER our Prime Minister “negotiates” will be proven statistically to be a great (statistical) victory for the UK taxpayer.

 

 

WEALTH WARNING!

Chancellor #Gideon is considering scrapping tax relief on Pension Contributions but then allowing tax-free access to savings upon retirement. This should be resisted by everyone. Not only is it a bad idea, borne of Treasury short-termism and a Chancellor with a singular lack of imagination but it is also a con…..He obviously has not learned the Tax Credits lesson and is obviously in a hurry – before the UK economy ‘tanks’ again.

Sharm el-Sheikh Sabotage

It’s a great shame that even when Cameron makes an absolutely CORRECT decision in halting flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, people still complain. As evidence accumulates, it looks increasingly likely that the Russian Airbus 321 was brought down by a catastrophic event which occurred inside the plane. DC is taking no chances – and quite right too!

NHS – the beginning of the end? It doesn’t have to be.

spratt

The issues which the NHS is currently experiencing have a  lot to do with a fundamental change in its ethos. When it was formed in 1948, its organisational foresight was totally focused on improving the health of a patient. The needs were the needs of the sick. Fast forward to 2015 and we see an amplifying obsession with expenditure and management.

The organisation no longer asks the question “How do we improve the health of a patient?” or “What are the patient’s needs?”  The fundamental 2015 question is: “What patient needs does the capital allow?”

Patient needs are no longer an absolute. They are a function of cash available. Too many NEEDS and you’re dead!

It may sound counter-intuitive but the government can only solve the current NHS issues of underpaid Junior Doctors, the shortgage of beds, overpriced drugs, GPs becoming an endangered species etc. through a massive investment programme coupled to a gradual dismantling of the management structure which is weighing down what could once again become a great British institution.

NHS problems are mirrored in what has happened to the UK’s Education system. They have both been ‘broken’ by a lack of continuity, caused by interference by successive governments, ‘management’ by incompetent dogma-fuelled Ministers with their little ‘pet’ schemes –  as well as the installation of massive administrative systems.

The reason why Private Schools and Private Healthcare are both cost-effective and thriving is NOT because they are private but because they are FREE of government interference and the sort of management and admin structures which would frighten the Indian Railway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Syrian conflict for Dave.

An influential Commons committee has urged David Cameron not to press ahead with a vote on UK air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria.

The Foreign Affairs Committee – which has a Conservative majority – said the Prime Minister should instead “focus on efforts to end Syria’s civil war”.

The committee also raised concerns about the legal basis for any UK action.

Downing Street has strongly denied reports Mr Cameron has abandoned plans for a vote altogether…….but Oh YES, he has!

There’s no way that he can risk another Commons defeat, Lords humiliation or be seen doing to Syria what Blair did to Iraq.

He has taken the line of least resistance.

UK Credit Card Debt.

cards

In the United Kingdom, total Credit Card debt now stands at about £61,000,000,000.  Approximately 2,000,000 people are in arrears or have defaulted and another 2,000,000 are struggling to repay their debt…..The Financial Services Authority says: “Our study suggests that the market is working reasonably well for most consumers, with a range of cards on offer. However, for a significant minority who are in persistent levels of debt, the market could potentially work better.”  (Not sure what that means.)

Export worries.

cameron and osborne

David Cameron and George Osborne both appear to think that meeting other politicians somehow creates international trade. The fact is that politicians have very little influence on commerce and none at all on corporate trade-related decision-making.

The three months to September 2015 saw British exporters experience the weakest growth in orders since the second quarter of 2009 when the country was in the grip of recession.

Admittedly, manufacturing represents only about 10% of GDP but nevertheless it is worrying to see the UK’s export drive going into reverse at exactly the time when the government is dispensing such positive economic mood-music.

Yes, we understand that the UK economy is in better shape than most other European countries but then again, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man IS king!

Our overall economic growth has slowed to 0.5% per quarter but it is most likely that almost all of that growth is as a result of domestic demand – which is certainly not particularly encouraging within the global economy.

A Markit survey published yesterday shows that  in spite of the rhetoric, the construction sector also slowed in October.

Big Brother.

big brother

 

George Orwell may have been 30 years out, but he was right. Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill must not be allowed to pass into Law. I certainly do not want to traumatize some innocent Plod as he or she scours my web-browsing history…(It was for research purposes!). Rewind 20 years and we have the equivalent of the government saying: “We want to steam-open your letters before you read them but we’ll only have  sneaky little peek. Nothing to worry about. It’s all that terrorism y’know! It’s for your own good!”

Hopefully, once again…the House of Lords will protect us from a government which is becoming far too prescriptive and self-important.

Another case of Big Brother is Botching?

Renegotiation of the UK’s EU Membership.

cameu

If you ask the average British person why they are dissatisfied with the nature of the UK’s  membership of the European Union, the items which are always near the top of the agenda are: 1. The scale of our national contribution.  2. Migration fears.   3. The wastage on the bloated Brussels bureaucracy.

That is why it is strange to see that David Cameron’s tediously anaemic ‘negotiation’ shopping list does not mention TWO of the above. Here’s the list:

  • Securing an opt-out from the principle of ever-closer union
  • Protecting the rights of countries outside the eurozone
  • Regaining more powers for national parliaments
  • Overhauling the existing welfare rules in relation to migration

If Cameron does not deal which what is really bothering the UK voter, the 2017 EU referendum already has a foregone conclusion.

 

 

Victorian Diseases.

Many years ago, I was in East Germany (don’t ask!) and recall a Keep Britain Tidy demonstration being reported in a Russian newspaper. The strapline was “The average Englishman throws his rubbish onto the street.” I knew what they meant but the impression given was horrific. This week, the following article made it to the Independent. Here’s what is being reported about the United Kingdom and its ‘hardworking people’………………..‘Victorian’ diseases rise as Tories fail to tackle food poverty http://bit.ly/1S9nI6A

We not only want our cake……….

camcart

 

Chancellor Osborne is off to Germany next week to outline how he wants to protect London’s financial services industry in a reformed European Union. The fear is that ever-closer integration of the eurozone could leave London sidelined in financial policymaking, affecting its banking sector. In fact, London’s status as a European financial centre has already been compromised by Cameron’s dithering and inability to put down on paper the exact changes he is (apparently) negotiating. The continuing lack of detail on his demands for new EU membership terms, is causing both frustration, bemusement and a level of confusion among EU leaders.  Cameron has now had to “do a Chilcot” by promising to send them his wish-list by next week.

Euro zone corporate lending growth slows to near zero in September

 

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Growth in lending to eurozone corporations slowed almost to a halt in September while a broader measure of money circulating in the euro zone was unchanged, the European Central Bank said on Tuesday.

Lending growth to non-financial corporations slowed to an annualised 0.1 percent in September from 0.4 percent a month before, while lending growth to households picked up to 1.1 percent in September from 1.0 percent in August.

Sparse lending to companies has dogged the struggling euro zone economy although the picture improved slightly over the summer months before September’s dip.

The ECB last week raised the prospect of providing more monetary stimulus to the euro zone economy, possibly as soon as December, to boost inflation and growth.

The M3 measure of money circulating in the euro zone, which is often an early indicator of future economic activity, grew by 4.9 percent in September, unchanged from August and missing forecasts for 5.0 percent. (Reuters)

The Nouveaux Pauvres.

Socialism was not invented by the working classes. Neither is it a natural state. It is a construct.

It was developed by intellectuals (who incidentally, now appear to be reclaiming it as their own) for the benefit of the poorer members of society. Originally, the theorists who invented it were concerned with social discrimination.

We no longer consider discrimination of the poor by the rich as prejudice but this type of intolerance is just as insidious as discrimination on the grounds of race, religion or disability.

Economic and Social Apartheid developed over hundreds of years and eventually caused societies to polarise. It is only in the last 100 years-or-so that the expansion of the middle-classes served to gradually dilute the Rich-Poor divide and give it “fuzzy edges”.

Some countries took a shortcut through the medium of revolution. The French did it in the 18th century and the Russians in the 20th.

Society will always “tend” towards a rich-poor split and without proper economic, organisational and social control, the trend accelerates.

Unfortunately (and to everyone’s surprise), in the United Kingdom,  there appears to have been a sudden resurgence!

Huge economic changes, which are being accelerated by destructive remedial measures are driving an accelerated programme of social engineering, creating a clearly-defined society of  “Haves” and “New Have-nots”……………. The Nouveaux Pauvres.

As the stock of “Have-nots” grows, so will discontent. That always leads to social unrest….with Greece being the latest and most visible.

Several governments, notably that of the UK and the Eurozone should think and remember that Government by Balance Sheet is NOT Government for the benefit of ALL of the People – otherwise the consequences will be catastrophic.


THE DEFICIT MYTH – We’re STILL underperforming the #EU ……..#GE2015

THE DEFICIT has been a constant in our ears ever since someone at Conservative HQ discovered that because the GDP was exceptionally low in 2010, THE DEFICIT was a high percentage of it.

In fact, it was about 10%.

Gradually, because the GDP has increased, THE DEFICIT has gradually become a lower percentage of the GDP.

It is now of the order of 5%……..or as Messrs Cameron and Osborne prefer: “We have HALVED the deficit!”.

Yes…from 10% to 5%.

The graph above shows that as far as THE DEFICIT is concerned, the United Kingdom continues to UNDERPERFORM the European Union.

(If you click on the “EXPLORE DATA” link on the above graph, you will land on the official Eurostat page where you can add other countries to the graph for comparison and have as much fun with statistics as our Coalition Government did!)

Which political party is IN TOUCH with the people?

prez2

Many years ago, I was asked to chair a Citibank meeting during which the CEO and directors would meet the staff and answer pre-submitted questions. The whole event was started off by the Chief Executive delivering a “Where We Are Now/Where We Would Like To Be” presentation.

In the manner of all Chief Executives with an accountancy background, there were upward-sloping graphs, slides entitled “Return on Equity”, “Return on Income”, a lot about Profit, Expense Overruns, Assets, Take-over Plans etc. After about 15 slides of numbers, there was a final slide which, for some reason, senior management invariably feels obliged to roll out….It is the one about “Our MOST valuable asset…..OUR PEOPLE!”

I believe that it is meant to reassure staff how important they are to the business but having attended many meetings where the CEO only referred to staff as “FTEs” (Full Time Equivalents), that final slide seemed like a bit of an afterthought. ” HR needs an incremental FTE next year.”  (In fact, his slides had been prepared by a team of Actuaries and Accountants, so inevitably there had been a slide showing how our FTEs needed to grow in order to deliver some very bullish business plans.)

Then we came to the Q&As. The ones which had been chosen were primarily about the business and its future. As the answers had been rehearsed by various  members of the Board, the session went very smoothly and appeared to end on a high.

The CEO turned to me and whisphered ” Before we wrap this up, Richard……let’s take some more questions from the floor…” 

I replied “No Paul….Just say a few words of thanks and let them loose on the sausage rolls…..”

The CEO nodded and stood up and addressed to 200-strong audience ” Does anyone have any more questions….Anything you like…….!”

I assume that no-one heard my “Oh, fuck!” as the benignly-smiling Chief Executive waited….

A gnarled hand at the back of the hall went up. It was Harry. He was past retirement age but we’d kept him on as office Postie. He was an old-school Union man who hated all management and their “queer” ways.

Paul the CEO knew Harry because everyone knew Harry, so he was extremely proud to be able to use a first name and demonstrate to everyone what a lovable caring boss he really was. “Yes, Harry….What’s your question?”

“Thank you, Paul,” said Harry “Are you aware that there are no plasters in the fourth floor First Aid Box. I’ve been telling Personnel for ages but they just don’t seem to care…..Not only that…but it’s contrary to Section C of the..blah, blah, blah…..”

“Oh , fuck,” I repeated into my notes.

The smile never left Paul’s face as he turned to me and said in a very loud voice “Richard….Why wasn’t I briefed about this? “

Needless to say, the meeting deteriorated as the staff, emboldened by troublemaker Harry started to ask the REAL questions. The meeting ended with an exhausted Board, an newly-liberated staff and a CEO who wanted me to meet him in his office the following morning.

The Coalition government has made the same mistake as Paul the CEO.

It has spent the last five years telling the voter about its achievements. It has bombarded the voter with statistics. It has told us that there is a “plan”. It has told us that there is a Deficit and that it has to be paid off…….and apart from a very short period last week, when there appeared to be a sudden realisation that it was not making contact with the people, it continues to spout figures and intentions.

As Harry showed the Citibank management, ordinary people are not interested in the Big Picture. What they are interested in though, is enough money in their pockets to deliver self-respect , good health, food and shelter for themselves and their family, freedom from worry and where appropriate, a job which can deliver a future as well as provide their present.

There is only ONE additional concept which every voter supports and which does not affect themselves directly. It is the thought that all vulnerable members of society are respected and catered-for.

The Deficit, “Since Records Began”, taking MILLIONS(!) out of tax etc are the Accountants’ slides which Paul the CEO bored his audience with.

The United Kingdom desperately needs a government and leadership which resonates with its people and not just with a calculator.

 

 

 

 

The #DPP Lady shows the LAW is not “a ass”

alison-saunders1

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, is quite right in having decided NOT to prosecute Lord Janner for alleged child abuse. Her reasons and rationale are to be found here: http://blog.cps.gov.uk/2015/04/the-decision-not-to-prosecute-lord-janner-statement-from-the-dpp.html

Although her reasons not to prosecute are (quite rightly)  based in law, there is also the question of compassion…..something definitely not afforded the hundreds of  children who have been abused over the years. However, compassion must never be confused with forgiveness and we must also remember that Greville Janner has never been convicted of child abuse.

Needless to say, this will be a great disappointment to his accusers as well as their families. His family must also be disappointed that he will go to his grave with accusations hanging over him without having had the opportunity to prove his innocence.

However, an old man who possibly may no longer understand either his alleged crimes or even a long legal process and whose medical condition definitely means that he is not a danger to society is certainly not an ideal subject for prosecution.

Janner has not “got away with it” as have many able-bodied and fully compos mentis individuals, who are doubtless still stalking Establishment corridors. His life is over – guilty or not.

Meanwhile a big “up” to Ms Saunders for taking the difficult decision, although she would do society as well as disappointed victims an immeasurable favour if her department and the police fast-tracked some of the many other files on their desks.

Indentured Servitude

slum

#GE2015 The Help to Buy scheme continues to place many young homeowners in “indentured servitude”? Why not do the same to those with a home enjoying the protection of a Housing Association by extending their Right to Buy? Although the Right to Buy Scheme seemed very trailblazing and successful in the 1980s, the sad fact is that Local Authorities continue to buy-back Council houses at greatly inflated prices. Placing more people in more debt and selling the concept as a great pre-election “positive” is arrant nonsense…..If you are tempted, remember…..mortgaging a property is no more than RENTING it from a bank, except that YOU pick up the tab for insurance and maintenance…..and knowing the Conservative Party’s fondness for post-announcement small print….make sure that you understand what a pre-emption clause is, should you decide to sell-on your house after having exercised your Right to Buy. By the way, The Conservatives say that every house purchased by a Housing Association tenant will be replaced “on a one-for-one basis”. The Social Housing stock can be increased WITHOUT any more hare-brained schemes. Currently 3.4 MILLION people are awaiting Social Housing.

Prime MInister ate my Dog!

MIlibandbutty

Ever since Ed Miliband was captured devouring a bacon sandwich with the expression of a psycho eating his own brother’s liver, snappers have been trying to catch David Cameron in a similar predicament. This week, because the canny Dave was photographed tucking into a hotdog with a knife and fork, we have headlines such as “Cameron doesn’t know how to eat a hotdog!” or “Prime Minister ate my dog…with a knife and fork!”.  If lazy journos take the trouble to Google “Cameron eats hotdog”, they will find quite a few examples of DC biting into a Dog the traditional way. Anyone would think that there was an imminent election!

The Bank Job and Hatton Garden.

bank job

The signs so far indicate that the Hatton Garden safety deposit heist was loosely based on the 2008 Jason Statham movie “The Bank Job”, which was itself based on the 1971 Baker Street Lloyds Bank job. The main differences appear to be that in the Hatton Garden caper, the police alarm was set-off and ignored and the thieves were Health and Safety conscious  – wearing both high-viz jackets and hard-hats! Just to strike a slightly political note: It is very likely that if it is shown that a burglar alarm WAS ignored, insurance companies  will ensure that the Plod is soon standing in the dock , being sued for MILLIONS. However, as the taxpayer funds the Plod, it will be the taxpayer who ultimately pays the bill (as usual)!

Have Newspapers lost their political influence?

newspaper

There’s a bit of a contradiction in  all this pre-election media nonsense. The pro-Conservative PRESS,  The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Sun, Times and the Evening Standard (TOTAL CIRCULATION 5.25 million) in the BLUE Corner AND  only The Mirror with the non-Libdem bit of the Guardian holding the sponge, (TOTAL CIRCULATION about 1.1 million) in the RED Corner.  That 5-1 in favour of the Blue corner! In spite of this apparent handicap, Labour and Miliband are edging ahead…. Can it be true that the electorate is finally making-up its own mind? Or is Tory dead-tree journalism a dead parrot?

Pickles in a Pickle.

Conservative  #GE2015 promises are now taking on a surreal air. The latest was from Eric Pickles who proposes to give people three paid days off per year in order to carry-out “altruistic works” such as watching the Test Match and mowing the lawn … It does look as if Cameron is hoping to revive THE BIG SOCIETY, which is fast becoming a bit of a pre-election tradition which somehow manages to disappear by the summer! Here’s Eric Pickles being put to the sword by Radio 4: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/eric-pickles-radio-4-interview-5490633

Help to Vote

“Help to Buy” and now, courtesy of the Libdems, the largely theoretical ( it AIN’T going to happen!) “HELP TO RENT”.  In order to complete the set, can we please also have “Help to Eat” for all those hungry people queueing at food banks and maybe, we can have “Help to find a Decent Job” for all those who wouldn’t need HELP, if the government had not allowed house and rent prices to run out of control.

Brighton Gin – Raoul-style!

A couple of years ago, I was in Oman, running a Management Audit course for a dozen  employees of a well-known petro-chemical conglomerate. The group they had sent me was the usual mix of nationalities, religions and language abilities.


Years of practice meant that I could judge how difficult or easy the week was going to be within a couple of hours of our first meeting. In keeping with my own tradition, I asked the course participants to interview each other and then introduce the person they’d interviewed. That gave me an idea of what they were all about but more importantly, their English Language skills.


We were is a very posh hotel for a week which gave me the opportunity not only to teach them some “hard-skills” but as usual, I planned to spend some time with each delegate informally – especially those who I felt might be “shy” and not ask questions or fully participate.


Having spent many years in hotels all over the world, I have two very simple rules: When I’m working I don’t drink alcohol or eat abnormally. However, this particular course turned out to be an epic which caused me to break one of my rules, for a very unexpected reason.


The Brazilian delegate spoke Linguaphone American (what I call the “tennis-player” accent) and although his English was passable, he was the most withdrawn of  the whole group. He was the lone accountant …the others ranged from a couple of crazy drillers from the USA to a petrol station manager from Poland…all wildly extrovert.


On the second night, I asked the Brazilian to sit with me over a drink to see how he felt. We chatted about this and that, he noticed that I was nursing a lime juice. “Don’t you drink alcohol?” he asked.


” I MOST certainly do,” I replied…”but never when I’m running a course.”

” I see you are drinking LIME. Have you ever tasted a proper Vodka and Lime?”


I had only ever had a British Vodka and Lime…you know, the one with a shot of vodka plus a shot of cordial, topped-off with ice. He smiled…..
“Let me make you a REAL Vodka and Lime!”


JUST to be sociable, you understand…I nodded…and that simple nod was to lead to one of the most memorable drinks I have ever tasted.


We both walked up to the bar and  he asked whether he could go behind the bar.


The barman said “Yes, of course” and my new Brazilian friend, Raoul was away!


He asked for sugar and fresh limes. A vast quantity of each was brought from the hotel kitchen and he began…and as he worked, I saw his demeanour change from standoffish accountant to Vodka super-hero!


Needless to say, the other course delegates gradually gathered around the bar to witness Raoul’s alchemy.


He cut limes in half and squeezed juice into a jug. Then he sliced limes and ground them with sugar to release oils from the rind (a Mortar and Pestle had been delivered from the kitchen). The green sugary Lime-sludge was deposited in the jug with the Lime juice. Then he crushed ice and threw it into the jug with a Brazilian flourish. Finally, a fresh bottle of vodka was brought from the freezer and glugged over the jug’s ingredients.


By then we were all slavering. Raoul lined up many glasses, placed ice cubes into each and began to pour his elizir. He then popped a swizzle stick in each and casually said “Enjoy!”


And we did!  For most of the night……..and Raoul became the most popular (and extroverted) course delegate – although my 9 a.m. training session the following morning felt a bit flat!


You may be forgiven for wondering what precipitated such self-indulgent nostalgia….


Last week I invested in a bottle of Brighton Gin and as soon as I opened it, I knew that this was not just gin…this was GIN….Gin which deserved some  care and special attention….and while I am sure that tipping Tonic into it and floating a slice of lemon is perfectly fine, I felt that it deserved more….SO…..


I gave it the FULL Raoul!


Only FOUR ingredients: Lime , sugar, ice and Brighton Gin…..but WHAT a mix!


It was sublime (geddit?), delicious and I have a new hobby….although, for the moment, my wife continues to have me on vision only!

The Greeks – they’re just like us!

First published  17th March 2015, The News Hub…. www.the-newshub.com

The relationship between the European Union, the Eurozone and Greece is no different to the relationships between many governments and their own citizens. The EU-Greece relationship is no more than a macro model of what is currently occurring, for instance, in the United Kingdom.


Let’s face it since the Greek crisis started a few years ago, in the main, the Greeks have been caricatured as lazy, workshy and the architects of their own misfortune. That naturally led to the assumption that they didn’t ‘deserve’ support from their richer European cousins unless they changed their ways.

Here in the United Kingdom, the scrounging working classes, just like the Greek nation, have really been clobbered over the last few years. They have been characterised as lazy, workshy and sitting back, as hard-working richer people fed them undeserved benefits. Government slogans such as “The workshy”, ” Abuse of the system” and “Benefits Culture” became common.


The government not only blamed them for a poorly designed welfare system by cutting benefits but humiliated the sick and disabled by forcing them to undergo questions and tests to ascertain whether they were deserving of government support.
Welfare benefits were even reduced if the State decided that they had more bedrooms than they really needed!
This was forced austerity without purpose.

The Greeks are taking the rap not just for their own economic shortcomings but for a very badly conceived and designed Eurozone. Their punishment too was humiliation through austerity.


Poor Brits had the state machinery and official interrogation to contend with whilst the Greeks were humiliated by the fiscal police known as ‘the troika’. Same principle, different scale.


The EU continues its slogan of “We want Greece to remain within the EU”, when all the evidence so far, is to the contrary.
The equivalent UK slogans are all about those ubiquitous ‘hard-working people’ and being ‘In it together’, which just like the EU – is supposed to be a club that everyone needs to belong to.

The oppressed eventually find a hate figure. The Greeks have found themselves the Nazis and poor Brits have found themselves ‘the toffs’ and the bankers. The Greeks want reparations for the damage done during WW2 and the Brits are enjoying bankers forgoing their comedy bonuses. The oppressors (real or imaginary) also need to be punished – an economic quid pro quo!


The Eurozone’s motives in not being too overt in helping the Greeks are very straightforward.


They say that they want to avoid a possible Greek exit from the Eurozone but in fact, it’s much more than that. There are other states within the European Union which are just below the radar and could potentially be in just as much trouble as the Greek economy. Spain and Portugal immediately spring to mind.


If Eurozone officials were not seen to dispense a certain amount of punishment to the Greeks before helping them, or if Greece decided to leave the Eurozone as a result of not being able to stand any more EU humiliation, others would doubtless follow . That means that Greece can only be helped by being thrown the occasional EU morsel, preceded by a public serving of abuse or austerity.

In the United Kingdom, the poor are being kept in line by also being thrown the occasional morsel such as an increase in minimum wage, a meaningless shift in tax bands or mini handouts which no doubt will be expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this week’s Budget.
It’s all about keeping the poor in check without giving others any ideas.

EU urges Greece to ‘stop wasting time’ on reform

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (L) talks to Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt and Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem at an Euro zone Finance Ministers meeting (Eurogroup) in Brussels March 9, 2015. REUTERS-Yves Herman

(Reuters) – The head of euro zone finance ministers has urged Greece to “stop wasting time” and buckle down to serious talks and implementation of a reform programme to secure urgently needed fresh funds from its international creditors.

“Little has been done since the last Eurogroup (meeting two weeks ago) in terms of talks, in terms of implementation,” Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on arrival for a meeting of ministers of the 19-nation currency bloc.

“We have to stop wasting time and really start talks seriously,” he said, adding that euro zone partners stood ready to support Greece if it continued on the economic reform path.

Euro zone officials were not persuaded by a letter sent by outspoken Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Friday outlining seven planned measures. They said it was only a starting point and no basis for releasing frozen bailout money.

Varoufakis irritated EU partners in a weekend newspaper interview by dangling the prospect of a referendum.

Dijsselbloem said earlier the steps outlined were “far from complete”, adding that it would be very difficult to complete the reform programme during the four-month extension of Greece’s European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout that runs until end June.

Shut out of capital markets and with international loans frozen against a background of falling tax revenues, Greece could run out of cash later this month.

Hardline German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters Athens must start implementing its obligations and refrain from unilateral changes to its commitments.

Varoufakis, who wants a negotiated restructuring of Greece’s debt to official lenders, was quoted by Italy‘s Corriere della Sera on Sunday as saying the leftist-led government could call a referendum or early elections if European partners rejected its debt and growth plans.

The finance ministry later clarified that the Marxist former academic had been replying to a hypothetical question and that any referendum would “obviously regard the content of reforms and fiscal policy” and not whether to stay in the euro.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on leaving Paris for the meeting that while he was not worried about a risk of Greece defaulting, “things are serious”.

A source at the European Central Bank said the cash position of Greek banks, on a drip-feed of emergency funding, appeared to be stabilising after heavy deposit outflows from December to late February. The ECB would not allow Greece to increase its issuance of short-term treasury bills because it could not allow monetary financing of the government, the source said.

A senior politician in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc said Greece would be better off outside the 19-nation euro zone, suggesting that Schaeuble privately agreed.

“By leaving the euro zone, as Finance Minister Schaeuble has suggested, the country could make itself competitive again from a currency perspective with a new drachma,” former transport minister Peter Ramsauer, a member of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), wrote in Bild.

Merkel and Schaeuble have both said publicly they want to keep Greece in the currency area. But in a sign that German sentiment may be shifting, Ramsauer said a temporary “Grexit” would be a “great opportunity” for the country to boost its economy and administration “making it fit to return to the euro area from a position of strength”.

GREEKS WANT TO STAY

Seeking European support for his government’s efforts to alleviate deep hardship caused by austerity, leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday.

A Greek official said they would discuss how Greece can use EU funds to tackle what he called the humanitarian crisis.

Juncker has been trying to mediate between the new Athens government and its EU creditors, notably Germany, but his efforts have irritated Berlin, the euro zone’s main paymaster, which is keen to avoid sending mixed messages to Greece.

German Deputy Finance Minister Steffen Kampeter said in a radio interview he did not expect substantial decisions on Greece at Monday’s Eurogroup meeting because ministers were waiting for more financial details on the reform plans.

He criticised Varoufakis’ talk of a referendum or returning to elections, saying it would only delay what needed to be done.

An opinion poll on Monday showed a large majority of Greeks want Athens to reach a compromise deal with lenders to avoid having to leave the euro.

Some 69.6 percent of Greeks say the new leftist-led government should look for an “honourable compromise” to resolve the crisis, according to a Marc survey for the newspaper Efimerida Ton Syntakton. Only 27.4 percent of those questioned wanted Greece to refuse any compromise, even if that meant having to leave the euro zone.

Tsipras won power in January promising to renegotiate the bailout package and end austerity, but was forced to accept a four-month conditional extension to avert bankruptcy.

(JAN STRUPCZEWSKI AND INGRID MELANDER with Additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Tom Koerkemeier, Renee Maltezou and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, Stephen Brown and Noah Barkin in Berlin, Steven Scherer in Rome and Angeliki Koutantou in Athens; Writing by Paul Taylor Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

Camron and Karney the Head Banker – A Fable

(A government FAILS to persuade bankers to lend to the common people.)


A Mordor Scene by steinliland

The Gates to Economic Recovery and New Prosperity were being guarded by the Bankers.


A tired and bedraggled band of travellers stood before them. They were led by Camron, the legendary economic illusionist and Prime Minister of the Ukshire.


The Chancellor Gideon, the Cabinet and other Uks were busying themselves with trying to appear invisible – an ancient trick modeled after the mythical Bank Elders.


Camron raised his pink chin so as to appear less terrified than he really was. He tried one of his famed rictus-like smiles. “Please let us in! We have cleared The Mess!” .

After he had spoken, he looked round to his band of followers for their approval – for that was their job. They made the customary grunting and “Hear! hear! The Mess! The Mess!” noises of approval.


The Bankers were confused and even a little frightened but nevertheless, were obliged to follow their elders’ orders.


“You have to pay to come in,” oozed the Banker as he counted heads an
d flicked at his abacus. His fingers were a blur as he remembered: “…then there’s the insurance…..and other charges”. The abacus was smoking.


“But we have already collected and given you all the gold that we could find. And you did promise than when our coffers were empty, we could come in. It is getting so cold out here. We are tired and hungry and we can see that behind the gates there is sunshine and the New Prosperity. If you will not let us in, would you please lend us a little of our own gold back, so that we can eat . Many are dying – even the hard-working people”


” That is not our problem. WE hear that there are Food Banks for the poor! You enjoyed the Old Prosperity when we gave you more than we had and now, we have no more to lend. Anyway, you look as if you would not be able to repay it.”


” But who are all those smiling happy people who I can see through the gates?”


” They are the Bankers. It is the time of the Feast of Bonus and they are celebrating and making merry. Are you a Banker?”


” No I am not but there are occasions when I am speaking to an audience – I imagine that I can hear a whisper in the audience.”


” And what is this ‘whisper’
?”sneered the Banker.


” It seems that there are some who think that I am a Banker – because that is the sacred word that imagine I hear. On some occasions, I can hear it several times. There must be many who think that I am a banker. Can I at least come in? Just to see?”


” Why should anyone think that you are a Banker? Do you receive a bonus? Do you have large expense account? How big are your share options?”


” I have none of the Sacred Trappings – I am merely the Prime Minister of the Uks but there are those who see me nearly as important as a Banker. In fact, sometimes I hear whispers which make me think that the people wish me to be in charge not only of the Cabinet, the country but of even …………………the Bankers.”


Camron immediately looked down at his feet because he sensed that he may have gone too far. His entourage cowered.


The Chancellor Gideon tried to make himself even more invisible and only just stopped himself from laughing by biting so hard into the back of his own forefinger that blood flowed from the wound. As you would expect, it was a clear liquid.


Shocked, the two Gatekeeper Bankers took a step back. They had never heard such a preposterously outrageous claim. In charge of the Bankers???? Who? You?!!”


They knew in that instant that they were dealing with a “Dangerous” but decided to continue the dialogue and try to learn more.They didn’t usually have contact with people.
They had heard the legend that one day, a simple creature would come to the Gates and become “In Charge”. No-one quite knew what this strange phrase meant but they wanted to be sure.


Was this “The One?”. They doubted it because the legend of the god Euro suggested that the one who would one day be in charge, was to be a red-headed female called Merkil from the Land of the Goths.


But the pink-faced stranger had just used the sacred “In Charge” words!


It was a joke among Bankers because they knew that no-one but a Banker could be “in charge”…… They were the chosen ones. They used to serve the people but now the people served them.


” Are you ill? What are the people saying?” The Banker took out his Magic Blackberry and punched at some buttons. His eyes did not leave Camron’s pink face, who continued:


” Sometimes when I am speaking in riddles to the people of The Deficit and suchlike – I seem to hear not just “Banker” but also “King” Banker. That is the phrase! They call me a “Right King Banker”. That is the phrase I hear.”


” But can you talk in riddles? Can you make money disappear? Are you so self-serving, selfish and thick-skinned that you can ignore the criticisms of all those around you? How good are you at offering help to those who do not need it? Were you unpopular at school? Have you ever given money and then changed your mind and taken it back? Well…… have you. Do you have the Gift of Sneer ?”


It was like a bolt of lightning. Camron knew! He was The One !!


He tried his smile once again. Some recoiled in disgust but there were those within earshot who were also beginning to believe that perhaps Camron was “The One”.
Camron certainly believed it. He would ask for an Inquiry – just to be sure. He liked an Inquiry – that most holy of Ministerial Sacraments. Meanwhile, he decided to take the bull by the horns – he would assert himself.


” Bring the Head Banker to see me here at the Gates. Tell him that David of Camenor (for that was his real name) wishes to see him!”


There were gasps. Humans, Uks and Bankers looked at each other. For what seemed like an eternity, there was a cold, dark silence – just like the one which would follow a joke made by the Prophet Milibrand the Younger!


Just as suddenly, the beyond-dead atmosphere was broken by a commotion inside the Gates. Word had been sent to the Head Banker. There was no going back!


Eventually, a short man in a black silk pinstriped suit appeared at the gates. His gold tooth and diamond in his chunky gold pinkie ring flashed as he removed his Fedora. The black overcoat remained draped over his shoulders as he approached Camron.


Camron noticed that the Head Banker’s white silk tie matched the handkerchief tumbling out of his breast-pocket. He briefly imagined his own finger in the Head Bankers chunky ring!
They stood toe-to-toe. It was the Banker who spoke.


“Yes?”


Camron felt more resolute than he had ever done in his life. This was his destiny! He would be the saviour of the people. This was his time. He cleared his throat.


” On behalf of the people, I command you to lend them the money so that they may enter the Gates of Prosperity.”


It was the briefest and most “to the point” statement that Camron had ever made – and he’d managed it without an Inquiry! He felt quite exhilarated and just in case someone was sketching this historic moment, he struck a heroic pose and focused his bloodshot piggy eyes on the horizon.


Karney the Head Banker moved even closer. They exchanged knowing smiles, although the Head Banker’s eyes retained all the charm of two bullet holes .


Almost imperceptibly, as Camron leaned to wards him, the Banker’s expression changed.


Swiftly, he brought his knee up.

Rifkind Seppuku!

With Malcolm Rifkind (quite unnecessarily) having made the grand gesture of Political Sepukku, the Conservatives will be looking to Labour’s Jack Straw MP for a similarly honourable and pointless act. Jack is already standing down as MP in a month’s time but surely, there must still be something by which he could demonstrate that there is honour in politics. Turning down a peerage would earn a few Brownie points. Mind you, he does appear to be under the misapprehension that members of the House Lords can carry on with impunity and acquire any number of nice little earners…..so THAT’S probably out of the question. Mind you, SHOULD a sudden explosion of avarice and self-ennoblement disqualify him from his hard-earned Baronetcy?

Blue or Red corner?

We are constantly being reminded that that the May General Election, rather than being an ideological battle between the two usual suspects, it is much more open…..but is it?

The main two protagonists have been standing toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring for some months now…but it is is the Blue Corner’s “second” who is twitching on the slab, hoping for a last-minute crumb of absolution from the electorate. The mauve circus continues to be led towards that mythical New (EU-free) Dawn by their gurning ringmaster…hardly spilling a drop as he marches through town…always steering towards the Main Event but aware of the fate which befell the man on the slab. There are the tree-huggers flitting in and out like Noddy’s goblins…but there will always be tree huggers. The REAL Green Controller is staying well out of this Rumble in the Westminster Jungle.

The UK 2015 General Election IS a Beauty Contest but with only two contestants. No matter HOW many votes go to the Mauve Circus, the Man on the Slab or the Green Goblins, it is (and always has been) either the man in the Blue Corner or the Man in the Red Corner who will become Champion.

So which one should our money be on?

Blue Corner

Very light on his feet (No! NOT in that way!), trains hard by performing endless U-turns and making vague promises about the future. Puts on a brave face but beginning to suffer mild stabbing pains between the shoulder blades. He likes to start fights but rarely finishes them (see European Union) but likes to say that everything will improve, if he wins his next fight. His “previous”  as a former speechwriter to John Major (really?) and special adviser to Norman Lamont (in 1993!) does NOT look too good on paper but his shouting skills at the Despatch Box have become legendary…plus he has perfected the art of giving the same answer to every question! For example: “Good afternoon, Dave”  “It would have been a much better afternoon if we didn’t have to clear up the mess..left behind….etc” Invented but unfortunately mislaid The Big Society.

Red Corner

Although youthful, his face looks as if he’s been in many fights but apparently, it’s his natural look. He suffers from the same stabbing pains as the other guy but always gives the impression that he is very thick skinned….as you’d expect from someone who once shafted and humiliated his own brother in public. His general  “look” has been described by some as “weirdo chic”, as has his voice, face and hair. His “previous” is as impressive as his opponent’s…his main claim to fame being a very long-standing association with the Old Charmer himself, Gordon Brown…as an adviser and then as author of his party’s last election manifesto. A 2011 Ipsos Mori poll found him to be less popular that Iain Duncan-Smith when he was Leader of the Opposition.

THIS is going to be very close but my money will be on the Blue Corner……Purely on political guile, leadership qualities, contacts and presentation skills. However, they ARE reasonably well-matched with the main issue for both of them being the quality of the people they have surrounded themselves with.

(Who would YOU rather see across the table from Putin?)

#Islamic State – Cause or Effect?

After the mess left behind in Iraq, Libya and Syria, Western leaders appear to have realised that the days of a “good shooting war” being good for political image have gone forever. For most political leaders, heroic speechwriter-polished phrases and Churchillian posturing are a remnant of a past when the words ” honour” and “bravery” still had currency.

Today, war is recognised as a filthy misery-spawning industry which, like an appalling Grand Prix Circuit, moves from country to country, leaving no more than a legacy of destruction and death. There is no honour in war – there is only pointlessness, rubble and refugees.

The most bizarre aspect of the whole Middle East circus is that the leader of a small cluster of damp islands in the North Sea is always the one who makes the most noise, always hiding behind his younger but much bigger American cousin’s skirts…..and unsurprisingly, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minster is at it again. This time, from the safety of the White House.

Historically, the West feels that its job is to dispense the universally therapeutic remedy of “democracy” – even to those who don’t really want it.

Democracy is not an emollient to be force-fed in the same way that 18th and 19th century missionaries (from exactly the same damp islands) delivered Christianity to the world’s natives.

The Arabs are not even remotely interested in our special brand of democracy. Democracy used to be THE excuse because they knew that as soon as they shouted “Freedom!” or “Democracy!“, the usual suspects would come riding in, dispensing guns with notions of rescue, egalitarianism and ballot boxes.

THAT didn’t work so now it’s Muslim Fundamentalism and not democracy which needs to be spread! However, the Root Cause remains the same. Only the excuse is different.

Can you imagine revolutions in the Middle East if the family businesses masquerading as governments, distributed their oil billions as they should? Would the average Muslim be interested in getting shot in the name of “regime change” ,  “democracy” or even “Islam” – if he had a job, enough food, decent housing, a car, TV set, free hospital care for his family and a bit left over? Of course not.

Exactly the same economic argument applies here in the West . Would as many young Muslims fly to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State if they had a career, a home and a future? Would they blow-up magazine offices and fly planes into buildings?

With horrific levels of  Muslim youth unemployment and social exclusion, their “Islamic revolution” is primarily based in economics….. not religious idealism.

Once Western leaders accept that, instead of constantly citing “Radicalisation”, we may be a step nearer to finding a solution.

The Paris Love-in.

The Summer of Love, Woodstock and now Je Suis Charlie…….. Love-ins are doubtless very motivational, inspirational and emotionally regenerative but unfortunately, they carry with them a large dose of exponential decay.

Other demonstrations such as Solidarność worked because they were not-only inclusive but they also hinted at revolution and violence……..undercurrents which are (by definition) always missing from love-ins.

Make no mistake, the events in Paris yesterday were wonderful and uplifting but regrettably, not transformational. They were no more than a herd coming together after a few of its members had been attacked and killed by predators. We were all looking for emotional warmth, safety, reassurance, a feeling of belonging and motivation of the sort which only a herd can provide.

It was all terribly emotional but in time, emotions grow dim.

Words of love and respect were spoken by members of all denominations and class. Politicians delivered their obligatory words of defiance. Social and Political commentators provided analysis and words of caution as well as optimism. Mothers brought their children for that “I was there” moment….but feelings will pass and memories fade.

We are currently watching the emergence of  a rogue herd which is not yet ready for the pragmatism of rubbing along peacefully with all the other herds. The Islamic State will be “l’étranger” for some time to come. Showing it love and respect is impossible for the rest of us because for the moment, in spite of our numbers, it is they who are the predators and we are the hunted.

However, looking at the magnificent sight of two million individuals sweeping slowly through the streets of Paris reminds us that  it is not only time which is on our side but that it will always be a numbers game.

Yesterday, the human herd grew….both in numbers and stature.

Conservative Hunger Games

The Conservative solution to British hunger and poverty is best exemplified by Leader of the House & former pin-up boy of the teaching professions, Michael Gove:

“Those who find themselves without money for food are not best able to manage their finances”

Just like the Government! When there’s not enough money in the kitty, you either borrow or do without. The trouble with the hungry is that they are unable to conjure-up food money by clever accounting tricks which make them look better off than they are.

The Call of the Mild.

Political and Establishment figures keep “calling” for stuff! “Calling” appears to be used as an action substitute. They “call” for ceasefires, they “call” for international responses and so on. They even “called” on Russia to get out of Crimea!

Today, it’s the turn of the Archbishop of Canterbury! Today, he will CALL for more help to prevent British families from going hungry.

I call on them all to shut up and DO something positive.

Beware – especially #SMEs

Whether you provide a service or whether you make something and no matter how GOOD you are, you need to tell the world about what you produce. THAT means that a large part of your job is Selling!

Whenever I train people to sell, I tend to major on how to get your product or service in front of people and how to turn value into hard cash. A good Sales Presentation IS useful but as MOST entrepreneurs who fail, do so because they don’t distribute or sell their product effectively, I thought that on this occasion, I would cut to the last bit……the very end of a pitch, presentation or meeting  – so that you recognise the signals which tell you that you have hit a brick wall and have made an error during your pitch.

I have many years experience of pitching my company to senior management – usually the Chief Executive and even though I’ve completed hundreds of pitches, presentations etc, I still find myself making the occasional mistake – usually by simply misreading my prospect’s signals.

Here are some phrases which you may have already come across….ALL of them indicate that somewhere along the line, you have made a mistake. It’s by no means irredeemable but you DO have a bit more work to do:

” Leave me your card, I’ll get back to you.”

” I need to discuss this with my partner/directors/ wife/ HR Director/ Purchasing Manager/ Accountant/ Solicitor etc etc.”

” Call me in a week’s/Month’s time.”

“Let’s get Christmas/ Easter/ Summer Holidays etc  out of the way…then we’ll talk again.”

“Write to me.”

“We’re reorganising/moving premises/installing a new system.”

“At the moment, everything is a bit ‘Up in the air’….I’ll call you when  we’re ready.’

“We’ll definitely go ahead in the New Year/ next month/next financial year  etc.”

If you look carefully, ALL of the above are stalling statements from someone who has not been persuaded that he or she has a NEED or that YOU are the one to satisfy their need.

So, if after the first one or two follow-up phone calls, letters or emails, you are still being stonewalled…..move on and maybe come back in a few months.

Remember: There are NO reasons…only excuses and bad sales presentations!