Category Archives: Tories

We’re SO lucky !!

TONITE, while me and  ‘er indoors  go to the Bingo & then to the boozer, I’ll tell the kids to go to the railway to see if there’s any discarded coal. Then, as a special treat, they can stand outside the pub with crisps, lemonade and maybe share a Woodbine!

We’re celebrating because I heard on the bus that Chancellor wassisname says we’re going to get £15 grand and we can have it all at once! It’s all because of the dificit or something.  The bloke said it was a percentage (whatever THAT is ??!) of GHQ or it could have been ATM!

Then , because we’re quite strict  with the young ‘uns (ha! ha!) it’s in bed by midnight for them! After all, they’re only six and eight. We give them ten minutes start because once we get going, me and the missus can get quite noisy!  One day we hope they can have their own room and we’ve been looking at bed sheets in that Argos Book!

Busy day tomorrow – it’s the Friday family trip to Tesco for a bit of light shoplifting and then off  to the food bank.

#GodblessyerChancellor

Lynton Crosby – the DEFINITIVE answer from DC…or is it?

Below is the transcript of Andrew Marr’s conversation with Prime Minister David Cameron, on the subject of  Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party’s “campaign consultant” and his input or influence on the question of cigarette packaging.

I do so without comment (it would be superfluous) – apart from reminding DC that a “question” is merely a request for information.

Andrew Marr:

“So can I ask you again whether you have actually talked to him (Crosby) about this issue?”

Cameron:

“Well I think it is important this issue of lobbying because, well look, let me be clear he has not intervened in any way, on this or indeed on other issues and the decision, it’s very important people know this, we haven’t actually changed our policy, I mean, I think there are merits to plain paper packaging for cigarettes, we need more evidence, we need greater legal certainty, we’re not going ahead with it right now,  but I certainly don’t rule it out for the future.

“So the whole thing actually, from start to finish has been something of a media invention. So, he hasn’t intervened, it would be wrong for him to intervene in any way, the decision was actually taken by me, sitting up there (points towards building in No. 10) at my kitchen table, let’s not move ahead with this now, we don’t have enough evidence, there’s too much legal uncertainty.”

“But let’s be clear, this government has been very tough on tobacco, you know we have said we’ve got to cut down on these vending machines, we’ve got to stop big shops doing big promotions, we’ve carried on with the smoking ban, we’ve put up the price of cigarettes, and if we’re too much in hock to the lobbyists as it were, why have we just published a lobbying Bill?”

Marr:

“You have told me absolutely everything except the question that I was asking, which is have you talked to Lynton Crosby about this?”

Cameron:

“I have answered the question; he has not intervened in any single way.”

Marr:

“You haven’t actually prime minister, but you won’t tell me whether you have talked to him about it?”

Cameron:

“I think as I’ve said, he hasn’t intervened in any single way, I think you’ll find that is an answer.”

Marr:

“Yes, but its not quite an answer to the question I asked.”

Cameron:

“But its all you’re getting (laughs).”

Marr:

“There we go.”

The Eurocrisis isn’t just Financial.

The Eurozone crisis has managed to morph from a plain old currency crisis to a debt crisis, an economic crisis and now, a full-blown political crisis – although no-one seems to have noticed…….. and it’s not just the Eurozone:

In the United Kingdom, people are making increasingly indiscreet noises about the Prime Minister’s leadership capabilities and the Chancellor’s questionable competence, as the cold hand of political instability makes a (so far) half-hearted grab for No 10. Currently it looks as if there is already a swing to the right. Nigel Farage and UKIP no longer look like a bunch of extremist Right-wing loonies and as they gain respectability and seats, they will pose a genuine threat to the status quo.

Here’s a quick Grand Tour:

Greece’s political problems are well-documented and this is where the recent polarisation of national politics began with the success and increasing support of the right-wing Golden Dawn Party. Greece is on its knees.

In France  there’s the scandal of a Minister and his secret Swiss Bank account with the consequent  investigation of all Ministers – shades of the UK’s MP expenses outrage. President Hollande is keeping a very low profile because , let’s face it….he came to the table without any ideas. His mere presence has allowed Marine le Pen and her Right-wingers to re-emerge blinking into the sunlight, ready to build on her father’s legacy.

Germany’s Bundeskanzlerin Merkel is no longer odds-on to win her autumn election and so, in order to placate her detractors, countries such as Cyprus are being put through the debt-wringer and effectively having to bail themselves out! All in the cause of extra Brownie points for the Merkelator.

Many are anticipating more resignations from within the Cypriot government. Michalis Sarris, the Cypriot finance minister who negotiated Cyprus’s bailout agreement with international creditors has already gone.

Portugal’s Constitutional Court has kicked into touch some of the austerity measures imposed on the country by the Eurozone moneylenders. Now the politicians are wondering about how to plug the fiscal gap and Prime Minister Coelho may resign.

Belgium took 535 days to form a government after its last election and now has a 6-party Cabinet.

Italy is struggling to form a government and will most likely hold another election after President Napolitano comes to the end of his tenure as Head of State on May 15th. Goodness only knows what the reaction of not only the Eurozone but of the Markets would be  should Silvio Berlusconi (again) rise from the dead! Italy’s political scene has become so surreal that  ONE QUARTER of the vote in the recent election went to a protest movement headed-up by Beppe Grillo – a comedian!

Spain’s politicians, including its Prime Minister are mired in corruption scandals – and now there are anti-Royalist demonstrations as a direct result of the king’s daughter being implicated in a government financial rip-off. Mind you, affluent Spaniards have already pulled about $100 billion out of their Spanish bank accounts. They started running early. It’s only a matter of time before the Basques and Catalans start to make their separatist noises.

The difficulty is that one would normally expect the emergence of the Right to be counterbalanced by a strong showing from the political Left. But what Europe has are weak governments , compounded by even weaker oppositions. No European political party in government has over 50% of the vote……. and the less said about the European Union’s politicians, the better! They seem to have elevated ineptitude into an art form.

Currently, Britain’s Left is being driven by Ed Miliband and the New-Old-New-Who-Knows-Who-Cares Labour Party. They earn their salaries through the medium of being critical. They have shown themselves to be totally bereft of a coherent, cohesive strategy and will be directly responsible for the future success of UKIP.

Leadership (or a lack of it) within Germany’s Social Democratic Party will be the main factor which could give Merkel another few years of power. If that happens, the rest of the Eurozone should begin to consider itself as no more than a motley collection of Vassal States……there to do Germany’s bidding. Unless of course, Germany accepts George Soros’ advice and leaves the Euro.

France does not enjoy having a Socialist President and it is right to be sceptical. President Hollande is now totally ignored by Merkel and is doing what he does best – he keeps out of the way as Germany tightens its stranglehold.

Hollande could have been the Eurozone’s great hope but unfortunately is way out of his depth. France now has a negative bond rating  by all three rating services and has lost much of its international respect. It’s precarious banking system is just waiting (like many others) to go “pop!”

The Main Event this year will be Merkel’s re-election so the Eurozone states must not expect any major policy changes until then – and when she wins? More of the same – but without the compassion!

What of Europe’s medium to long-term future? Without some sort of political quantum leap, it will inevitably  descend into a collection of  Third World states but with running water, TV and a banking system totally independent of its economy and probably with its own flag.

Maggie’s Big Bang.

Although, in common with many others, I feel a sadness for the passing of Margaret Thatcher, there is one major part of her legacy which recent history has shown to have been an over-sold concept – The Big Bang.

That was the day – 27th October 1986 –  when London Stock Exchange rules changed.  Jobbers and Brokers became one and the stock market free-for-all began.

It also signaled  the coming of the modern Investment Bank.

That was also the day that the City of London became Americanised. The day that the MBAs and the suits showed up and eventually turned an old marketplace into a money-circus.

In 1986, I remember walking into an old Stockbroking firm called Scrimgeour Vickers as part of a Citicorp acquisition team. We had bought it and wanted to see exactly what it was that we had bought! I remember lots of frightened pale-looking people sitting in a sea of dark mahogany and typed paper, looking at us as if we had landed from another planet.

The contrast between us in our sharp suits with our management jive talk and these honest folk was striking.

One of them attempted to break the ice by saying: “This building was condemned in 1948!!” How he and his friends laughed! We didn’t. We were far too important for all that!

We fired most of them and installed new procedures, modern desks and computer screens. We were Gods and, without realising it at the time, a real metaphor for what was happening to the whole of financial services; an almost indiscriminate “Out with the old and in with the new!”

A white collar Revolution!

Margaret Thatcher had been unhappy about TWO main things. Firstly, London was in very real danger of losing its position as a major world finance hub and secondly, the City was ruled by an “Old Boys Network”. In place of the elitist public school stranglehold, Margaret Thatcher meant well when she had dreamed of it being replaced by the mythical “Meritocracy” – a place where people with talent and not necessarily “connected” could play their part.

She also wanted unrestrained competition and ultimately total deregulation, leading to more product innovation and the establishment of London as THE world’s financial centre.

Twenty seven years later, London is still the place to make deals and invest …..and still is the world’s biggest financial centre – but at what cost?

The Labour Government’s deregulation of the banks in 1997 unleashed a Frankenstein which was not recognised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) until all the damage had been done. The FSA had been too busy looking through the filing cabinets of provincial insurance brokers whilst the banks had been trusted to carry on being as honest and straightforward as they had always been.

No-one appeared to appreciate that those Bankers were different bankers. In fact, most of them weren’t bankers at all.

They were a strange hybrid of Corporate Entrepreneur, pre-programmed to take risks with other people’s money as if it was their own…..and…..they are still doing it!

The global financial crisis certainly cannot all be blamed on Margaret Thatcher’s hopes and aspirations for Britain. But the creation of increasingly complex and convoluted financial products, deregulation and a total failure of successive governments and their regulators to spot bank wrongdoing, is very much part of her legacy.

Cameron versus Major

At the time, John Major was not considered to be a very dynamic leader, certainly not one judged to be a GREAT Conservative leader. In fact, he was a bit of a joke and was mercilessly brutalised by the media, notably by those pesky Latex satirists, Spitting Image. Remember the Grey Major and his conversations with Norma about peas? Remember the Y-fronts and the safety-pin?

Yet he was a good man, an honest man, a straightforward man, a man from humble beginnings. After all, his father had been a circus performer!

At the time of his surprise 1992 election win – when he defeated the windbag Kinnock, he could have represented a new beginning for the Conservative Party.

Briefly, the Conservatives had been in an egalitarian frame of mind. Meritocracy was still on the menu. No more Alec Douglas-Homes, Macmillans or even Heaths. Had the grocer’s daughter from Grantham  been the catalyst for a less aristocratic and more egalitarian Conservative Party? Had John Major, albeit reluctantly, picked up the baton on behalf of the lower orders?

We tolerated Major. His image, voice and mannerisms were, let’s face it…. grey and boring. Even the revelation that he had been shtupping Edwina Currie would not have made any difference to his image. But we liked him. He was a Man of the People. The Conservatives had turned the corner. No more Eton and Harrow toffs running the show!

Anyone could become a Conservative Prime Minister.

1992….sounds a long time ago, doesn’t it? Well…..that was the LAST TIME that the Conservative Party properly won a general election.

TWENTY ONE YEARS AGO!!

Our current Rulers are keen on numbers and statistics. Let’s have a look at some.

In 1992, under the lame John Major,  the Conservatives won 41.9% of the Vote with 336 seats.

In 2010, under the new dynamic David Cameron, the Conservatives won 36.1% of the vote with 306 seats.

The last (2010) General Election election was less than two years after one of the worst financial crashes in history with the Labour Party under the stewardship of Gordon Brown. He is now widely acknowledged to be one of the worst Prime Ministers in History.

The Conservatives should have won an easy overall majority.

Had the Conservative Party Oberkommando made a fundamental error in relentlessly having pushed forward one of their gilded own towards the inevitability of the top job?

“Riding shotgun” was yet another “hooray”, in the shape of the simpering and credibility-free The Rt Hon George Gideon Oliver Osborne.  His only business, industry or commercial experience had been as a Conservative Central Office speechwriter! Suddenly, “The Unemployable One” was running the world’s seventh largest (and counting) economy!

Dave and Gideon between them have rendered the Conservative Party unelectable. They are going to lose the 2015 General Election and they will take the Libdems down with them.

Since the political assassination of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Party has shown itself to be lacking int the “Let’s Choose a Leader” department. All you have to do is to look at the array of zombie  Conservative Party leaders who have graced the top job since John Major’s severe and politically terminal bout of “Inter-scapular Neuralgia”.

….and now it seems that both David Cameron and Chancellor Gideon are beginning to feel the odd twinge between the shoulder blades. Neither really deserves it  because they were both encouraged and promoted to well-above their level of incompetence far too early.

Let’s hope that the next time, The Party gets it right.

Management: Two views

As an Executive Coach of over 25 years, there is one pet hate which I have developed – the Management Model.

Every year, new models arrive and new training methods  sprout like weeds.

99% of them are derivative.

For instance, when applying a bit of pseudo-psychology, a classic Johari Window may be used. This one which is based on the Merrill-Reid Social Styles Model. Here it is:

So, we coaches and trainers tell our charges that as managers, they are either Driver-Expressive, Driver-Analytical etc. We know that accountants are Analytical-Aimiable or that a Finance Director might be a Driver-Analytical.

Then we all nod wisely and have a discussion.

But so what?

It’s no more than Mystic Meg telling you that you are “emotional” but “you like to get your own way” or that “you never give up” or ” you have a small scar on your left knee”……I can even sense you nodding as you read this!

Unfortunately, if you have staff and you are a bad manager, this is the Management Model against which they are likely to be judging you:

So, if you are a manager or an “executive”………think on……….ditch the “Bossmanship” and self-importance. Someone , somewhere may be ridiculing you.

….and oh yes……………….ditch those Management Models as well as those “soft” skills of Management.

You already have those.

(RR posted by Gemma)

Gideon’s latest Wheeze!

Various half-arsed stimulus packages by clueless governments without properly jump-starting their economies achieve nothing but a postponement of the day of reckoning.

Banks will fail, more housing  markets will collapse and panicked governments will attempt to raise taxes from the survivors as they borrow even more in a vain effort to create yet more economic stimuli.

Today, in the UK, after Project Merlin (“a great success!”), the National Loan Guarantee Scheme (“a great success!”), we have the launch of the Funding for Lending scheme.

This latest scheme, is potentially worth £80 billion but to the trained eye, looks suspiciously like rebranded Quantitative Easing.

This scheme , like most “schemes” promises no economic outputs or goals and the wording is very interesting (and flabby):

Funding for Lending aims to encourage banks to lend to both businesses and households”.

It “aims to encourage”.

Give it a rest, Gideon.

FCNK – Fur Coat, No Knickers

British politics are cyclical and there are two views as to the nature of the cycle. One is that Labour is in power for a bit and then the Conservatives come along with lots of shovels and clear up the mess. The other view is that it is Labour politicians who wield the shovels after the Conservatives’ turn.

There is another other great political constant , not-only in British politics but worldwide.  Ultimately, all party leaders fail – as do their parties. Then the other lot make an attempt. Then the shovels come out etc. etc.

This is an unbreakable cycle. The cycle can only be broken by  totalitarianism . However,  totalitarian States always have a “sell-by” date because the chaos of the democratic party-based cycle is always waiting in the wings to deliver its own flavour of damage. Totalitarianism often degenerates into tyranny, followed by the chaos of either imposed or self-imposed democracy. Just look at Iraq.

The root cause of chaos in democracy is always created by  the impact of political ideology on economics.  The latest change in the United Kingdom government is an excellent example.

There is no doubt that the British economy is in chaos and that the Conservatives believe that their policies are the only way to hose away the Labour mess.

Chancellor George Osborne is standing where he started two years ago. In the economic foothills of a great 5-year economic and political climb. Unfortunately, the peak towards which he is guiding us will not remain still and two years after the journey began, the ultimate goal has moved.

If he is a good Chancellor, he will not be afraid to change direction as we travel. Let us hope that he does not repeat Labour’s mistake and refuse to shed the shackles of ideology when the going gets tough. To put it in political terms, there will be times when he will need to think as a Socialist and other times when he will need to be even more right-wing than currently seems healthy.

That is why it is good for him to have a few Liberals in tow – although, ideally a few left wing Labourites may have been preferable.

Adam Smith is his Wealth of Nations (1776) referred to the United Kingdom as  “a nation that is governed by shopkeepers“.  Subsequently,  Napoleon said  “‘Angleterre est une nation de boutiquiers.” In typical French fashion, neither original nor accurate but we understand what he meant. He thought that he was being disparaging whereas Adam Smith’s original quotation was more about the Britain expanding its Empire for the sole purpose of establishing new markets of customers for its own economy. Like shopkeepers would.

Had Napoleon foreseen what the British economy was to become in the 21st century, he may have said, “Angleterre est une nation d’administrateurs, fonctionnaires et conseillers en gestion”

England is a country of administrators, Civil Servants and Consultants.”

If there is one good reason for the present change in government, then that is it.

There are jobs which create wealth and there are jobs which are the so-called “Cost Centres” – the jobs which only spend. Administrators, both public and private who don’t actually contribute to production are a drain on an economy.  Any organisation which is heavy on administration compromises its ability to generate a surplus – the same applies to a State.

Under New Labour, organisations such as the NHS  experienced an massive influx of administrators and  there has been a mushrooming of  Quangos. More and more inquiries have cost the economy millions, as have the gradually expanding mini-Westminsters that are our Local Authorities. Empire-building has become  the Public Sector’s favourite contact sport.

Obviously being politicians, the Conservatives  are not able to say that there are too many non-productive civil servants but that is exactly what they do mean when they point out that the so-called Public Sector needs some rationalisation –  but the gradual expansion of the administrative classes is nothing new.

My first job many years ago was in the Scientific Civil Service. Our establishment had just over 200 of us researching and more than 400 administrators. We were in prefabricated temporary structures whereas the pen-pushers  had a modern office block.  The argument was that as we were spending taxpayers’ money, no cost was too great in order to ensure that every single penny spent was controlled and accounted-for. Plus ça change.

Until very recently, there has been a “no expense spared” attitude among both public servants and politicians with little or no incentive for either of them to control expenditure. A case of   rampant accelerating Cost Centre growth.

That is why the Chancellor announced a freeze on Public Sector pay and launched a probe into public service pensions and why the budgets of government departments will be cut by 25%. In addition, the Civil List has been frozen at £7.9 million p.a. and the Government will dispose of some of its assets in order to raise cash – notably, the air traffic organisation NATS, the Tote and the student loan book.

However, in spite of  the banking system remaining one of the government’s major creditors, it has been “clobbered” with an annual levy which will probably only collect about £2 billion per year. Compare that with the total cost (so far) of rescuing our banking system, which is well-in-excess of £850 billion.

Unfortunately, the government is also committed to hand-outs to a long queue of advisers and consultants. Notably,  Slaughter & May, the international law firm will be paid nearly £33 million for commercial legal advice and Pricewaterhouse Coopers over £11 million for its work on asset protection.

The government is also paying Credit Suisse at least £500,00 per month for advice on the asset protection scheme with a similar amount being paid to Deutsche Bank.

Needless to say, there are other government “advisers” on the payroll so the final total cost of the government’s bank rescue activities is far from established because it is open-ended.

In spite of the crippling government (and therefore taxpayer) expenditure on the banks, they are still declaring weirdly high profits, paying themselves bonuses and not delivering the commercial lending agreed with the previous Chancellor.

The government has not been able to fund all this purely from the income that it generates from taxation so it has had to borrow more and more. Hence the huge deficit and the international pressure to do something about it.

That explains  the increase in VAT, the quite major changes to the benefits system, the various “tweaks” to personal taxation, the sell-offs and cuts in public expenditure.

That has all had to be counterbalanced by an encouragement for business to produce more, hire more people and thereby generate not-only more tax for the government but also stimulate us all to spend more in order to maintain the  “produce-sell-buy-spend” cycle.

The Chancellor has taken a bit of a risk because he is assuming that the “produce” stage of the cycle will ultimately act like a defibrillator applied to a dying patient’s heart. He believes that ultimately it is business which makes an economy function. On the other hand, the Socialists believe that the cycle begins with “spend”. Hence their concept of , for instance spending on roads, railways and other government-driven projects in the hope that “spend” creates employment plus income for the individual, which in turn stimulates demand which drives production.  Same principle but a   fundamentally different starting point.

It has been shown many times that Cost Centres (mostly support functions) do not generate direct profit. The drivers of any economy are Profit Centres – the ones that make something and then sell it at a profit.

The current debt-ridden economic climate needs the harsh but correct approach favoured by the Chancellor.  For the moment, the Profit Centres have it. Although that does NOT mean that the “Austerity Method” cannot be tempered with a bit of good old-fashioned government spending when necessary.

Ideology must never be a bar to sound economic common sense.

Finally, the government has the one major Cost Centre and that is the Benefits System. The system has been abused  – of that there is no doubt.  As part of its strategy, the last Labour government needed to massage its unemployment statistics. Encouraging more and more individuals to avoid the dole queue by remaining in education is an example of a  transparently obvious ploy. The other was an over-generous benefits system especially the blatantly abused Disablities Allowance which cost the taxpayer over £11 billion per year.

The Disabilities Allowance was introduced 20 years ago by a Conservative government when under 1 million people were eligible. In the intervening years, the number of claimants has grown to approximately 3 million which represents a substantial percentage of the working population.

The Chancellor’s approach of proper medical testing for Disabilities Allowance claimants may sound Draconian  but absolutely necessary because in spite of the fact that unemployment statistics will doubtless be adversely affected, there will be a corresponding increase in those eligible for work. Once again,  an example of Cost Centres being converted into potential Profit Centres.

What of normal productive workers, entrepreneurs and those engaged in support functions which are designed to keep the economy going? Have we escaped intact?

The answer is that we are all subject to collateral damage, either through increased living costs or unemployment. The real unemployment figure has been approaching 3 million for a few years and it is only now that Gordon Brown’s Canute-like posturings have been consigned to the poubelle of history , that an accurate picture has emerged.

The picture is this:

None of us is as well-off as we imagined during the New Labour years of illusory plenty. Many have been screwing the system for too long. It started with the politicians and it is now our turn to realise that the days of  “Fur Coat , No Knickers” are well and truly over.

2032

The Labour-Liberal Coalition is just about managing to cope with the constant rioting but at least immigration has been halted. No-one wants to move here anymore.

Head Minister Yvette wishes that she hadn’t defeated David Miliband because her life with the 30-stone Ed Balls ended as soon  as he had been defeated in the Leadership election by the elder Miliband. She had felt honour-bound to avenge her former husband’s humiliation and to everyone’s surprise, she had won!

Within two days had been texted by the Leader and asked to either form a government or go into exile to Melton Mowbray in the Mid-Shires.

No-one knows where the younger Miliband is at the moment. Rumour is that he is teaching English somewhere near Beijing – but these days – who knows.

Anyway, it was no joke having to go everywhere totally surrounded by large sweaty Security Guards in too-tight suits. Yvette hated that nearly as much as the Kevlar jacket which she seemed to take off only at bedtime . Even that wasn’t much fun any more.

She was soon to meet the rather wizened President of France. She briefly thought of President Lagarde in those good old days when she had been Head of the now defunct International Monetary Fund. The whereabouts of the money continues to be a mystery – but there are still lingering suspicions as to how well Germany (which used to be known as Europe) is doing.

As she climbed into the human-drawn bullet-proof rickshaw (the Ministerial Jags had been scrapped soon after the Petrol Wars) , out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of what appeared to be a familiar face. The features were still smooth – even after THAT prison sentence –  but the Buller Boy confidence now looked a little deflated and the sandwich board was not sitting comfortably on the 30 year-old hand-made suit. Sometimes, she thought that the post-incarceration humiliation phase of a prison sentence was a bit unnecessary but it did seem to teach some humility to those who were believed to need it.

The House of Parliament  used to be called Phoenix House and she was once again reminded of the historical episode thirty years ago when someone called Rupert Murdoch had a custard pie thrown in his face within these very walls! The incident had led to the destruction of the entire newspaper industry – Pre-Digi – and was commemorated by a sculpture fixed to the pavement outside.

She looked at the trio of figures. Maxwell, his wife Wendy Deng and pie-thrower Jonathan May-Bowles were depicted in life-sized splendour. Well….that wasn’t strictly true. The “sculpture” was by the Gunther von Hagens studios and rumoured to be no more than the plastinated remains of the three participants. However the bomb-proof glass case in which the sculpture was sealed made analysis impossible – plus there had been rumours that two of the figures depicted had been spotted in various locations – just like Arkle, Lord Lucan and Gordon Brown. Mind you, she mused, without any reliable news….who knows?

When she was awakened by the scream of a knocked-over tourist just outside the main entrance to the Virgin Westminster Palace of Fun, she shouted to the rickshaw pulling-team to stop. She noticed quite a few people wandering about amongst the potholes. They were all wearing those ill-fitting but mandatory jackets with “TOURIST” emblazoned on the back – although many of them were English and from only 30 or 40 miles away.

She decided to take a risk and see whether the person her team had knocked over was OK and stepped rather gingerly onto the pavement.  She reached into her gun-case for a handheld pot-pourri, as the stench of the open street was something to which she was no longer acclimatised.

A few years ago, this would have been what used to be called “an iOpportunity”. A digital image would have been taken of the Head Minister cradling an injured citizen to her Spanx-Kevlar bodice and the image would have been transmitted to everyone who still had an iDevice.

Unfortunately. Electronic signals were a thing of the past and citizens only wore “ the iBox” around their neck or waist for decoration.

However, it was soon apparent that the Tourist had a broken leg. Yvette turned and re-entered the Ministerial Carry-pod. “Deal with it, “ she snapped to one of her guards.

As the door hissed shut and she felt the shudder of the rickshaw slowly gathering speed, she fancied that she heard  a single gunshot….. in fact, as she proceeded, she noticed that there were lots of gunshots……


To be continued/

Quaint Liberals?

Quaintness pervades British Society – from our cute little village tea rooms, the genetically coded-in inferiority complex of the working classes, Barristers’ wigs to the way we run our Parliament and economy. We wear 21st century clothes which disguise 18th  and 19th century thinking.

For instance, India has a Space programme, nuclear bombs and an industrial infrastructure which will leave our economy standing in a couple of years. Yet we still see ourselves as “England Sahib” and attempt to dispense Colonial munificence to the natives by insisting that they accept our charity. They are embarrassed, they don’t want it but we feel that they ought to accept the £200 million-odd per year.

Remember how we felt in 1974 ago when the mad Idi Amin of Uganda launched his “Bananas for Britain” campaign because he’d heard that we were starving ? Mind you, at the time, the UK  was in a spot of bother. The oil crisis had sent the economy into freefall, unemployment was rising and industrial strife was worsening. (Sound familiar?).

The following Amin telegram was received in Whitehall:

“In the past months the people of Uganda have been following with sorrow the alarming economic crisis befalling on Britain. The sad fact is that it is the ordinary British citizen who is suffering most. I am today appealing to all the people of Uganda who have all along been traditional friends of the British people to come forward and help their former colonial masters. The people of Kigezi District donated one lorry load of vegetables and wheat – send an aircraft to collect this donation urgently before it goes bad .”

The politicians and Civil Servants both greeted the message with embarrassment and derision.

That is exactly how those  millionaire and billionaire Indians feel about the “peanuts donations” (their words) that we keep forcing on them.

But that is the very essence of our collective quaintness. We are oblivious because in our minds, we are still  “KING OF THE WORLD!”  We appear to be oblivious to the fact that  since 1845 (never mind 1945!), the world has changed.

We’re still like a maiden aunt handing a 5/- Postal Order to the nephew with an iPhone.

“But English is the world’s main-language” is the oft-repeated Mantra. Yes, because hundreds of years ago, we could sail boats. That meant that we could travel  and steal lots from the natives! Then we’d force-feed them God but more importantly – we taught them the English Language.

We weren’t “quaint” in those days. We were thieving and murdering conquerors with attitude. We used to have balls!

Now we are like the wheezy old duffer draped over a worn-out leather club chair, who likes to reminisce about the “good old days” and when being British “meant something”.

Great Britain consists of 6,289  damp little  islands in the North Sea – and only 803 of those  have what can be loosely described as a coastline. The rest are rocks sticking out of the sea.

It used to be said that the sun never set on the British Empire – but IT DOES NOW and like a rheumy-eyed old-timer, we should wake up and smell the Earl Grey!

There is one word which we treasure above all other : “TRADITION”. Our mentality dictates thas as soon as we have done something once, it has to become “tradition”.

Everything from the Christmas Turkey to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace are “tradition”.

Why is there a ribbon on every MPS coat-hook ? “It’s for his sword, Dumbo! It’s TRADITION!”

“We vote Labour in this house -it’s tradition !!”

“You have to drink 10 pints and then be violently sick because…………” You’ve guessed it!!

I am listening to three Royal Commentators being interviewed on the subject of the Queen’s Jubilee. A great demonstration of synchronised obsequiousness borne of our love of tradition. ” The Queen does not see herself as a celebrity, she is far more than that….did you see those new photos of her….she wasn’t  just “Hollywood”…. she was….Majestic!!!”

The Brits absolutely worship the Royal family because……it’s TRADITION. It’s tradition personified.

No-one is suggesting that we should start , as the French did, by trashing the Royals. The French are almost as traditionally-minded as the Brits . That is why Monsieur le Président de la République is expected to behave like a king and why he lives in a palace.

Yet, the French have taken that important  one step forward from tradition and appear more modern and sophisticated than the Brits. They are NOT quaint. They have struck the right balance between modernity and tradition.

Why do we feel so uncomfortable in Europe? Why do we come across as outsiders? Geography is often blamed. “We’re an island…that’s what it is. We’re British!!”

Geography is to blame but it is not physical Geography. It is our mental, attitudinal Geography.

“We’re BRITISH, for God’s sake!”

Yes – we are British but we continue to treat Britishness as a virtue whilst we sit passively as the world around us grows and changes.

The government is ruled by the Conservatives (yes, even when the Labour Party is running things). They (the Conservatives) are VERY traditional. They are the Establishment.

Her Majesty’s Labour Opposition (see what I did there?) is ruled by the unions who are more conservative than the Conservatives.

Even those vast expanses of white nylon shirt displayed by overweight union leaders have become “tradition”. Their antipathy to any government has become traditional and in its own way…..quaint.

We are all drowning in a sea of tradition and quaintness – but there’s a surprising answer.

The Liberal Democrats are the United Kingdom’s newest and least-traditional bunch of politicians. But traditionally , they are  constantly squeezed from the Left as well as from the Right

Liberal Democrats do not make enough of their  “Democratic” credentials because they prefer the more traditional (and  quaint) “Liberal” – which actually doesn’t mean anything  to the average voter.

Liberal has two sets of meanings: Progressive, forward-looking, reformist, radical, libertarian, free-thinking, modern.

The second set of definitions or synonyms is the one with which the Liberals have been traditionally associated: Tolerant, indulgent, unbiased, broad, disinterested, unopinionated.

However, they do have one great advantage. They are neither in the hands of the traditionally quaint Establishment nor the quaintly traditional Unions.

That’s where our answer could be. Not necessarily in the hands of the traditional Liberal-Democrats but maybe in a new fired-up Democratic-Liberal Party ?

The quaintness has to go.

50 Predictions for 2012

An economy used to depend on the interactions between consumers, commerce, politics and investors. Nowadays, we have to add banks (which used to be no more than a service industry) as an additional entity.

Keynesian economics are all well and good in a Steady State situation but we have well and truly entered times when Chaos Theory rules economics. Consequently, the motley collection of politicians-who-meet do not have the intellectual capacity to deal with what has become a multi-causal international problem with more parameters (known and unknown) than wines served at a G20 banquet.

My 2012 predictions are in no particular order, either in content or importance. They are random.

1. For several years, I have been writing about the Bank of England’s appalling forecasts. Finally, they have admitted that their forecasting model is wrong so they are spending £2.5 million on a new one. Their V-shaped recovery will become a straight-line depression and their 2% inflation forecasts will double.

2.  The prominence and dominance of Central Banks will continue to grow as politicians continue to struggle with sovereign debt.

3. Europe will continue  its recession with an estimated average contraction (negative growth) of -0.5%.

4. Sovereign monetary policy as well as the actions of Central banks will continue  to be driven by the same factor which has been dominant for the last few years: Political Ineptitude.

5. The European Central Bank has begun the process of Quantitative Easing and this will accelerate during 2012.

6. European Banks have 6 months within which to raise their Tier 1 Capital Ratios to 9%. This has already resulted in a Tsunami of deleveraging. This will continue to impact badly on economic growth.

7. Euro fiscal integration will continue to be discussed as will the ECB’s support for the (broken) bond markets.

8. Eurobond yields will continue to rise to record levels until even the Germans wake up to the fact that the whole thing has become unsustainable.

9. I continue to envisage the failure of the Euro which should have happened during 2011. There will be bank and government collapses.  French banks and the Spanish government will lead the way.

10. Contrary to what Mario Draghi has suggested, the ECB will leap into the Bond Market and begin to buy-up Government Bonds.

11. Italy will suffer massive Civil Unrest as the Monti government introduces unsustainable austerity policies and the economy is plunged into serious recession.

12. Spain is already in recession but more austerity will be announced .

13. The ECB will take centre-stage in Europe and will slash interest rates to zero (and below!).

14. The nonsense of the Bank of England’s “independence” will be put to the test with at least £150 billion in Gilt purchases during 2012.

15. The United Kingdom’s official unemployment figures will cross 3.5 million, producing an acceleration in forced sales and a subsequent collapse in the housing market with 25-30% wiped from house values.

16. UK consumption will remain weak, primarily as a result of increasing unemployment and a rising RPI.

17. Last year I predicted a UK General Election for October 2011. I now predict a General Election during 2012, following a vote of no confidence. The smart money is on Q2  – whilst the Conservatives continue to ride high in the polls and Ed Miliband remains Labour leader.

18. I predicted 2011 as the Year of the Riot. During 2012, every European capital will be affected by rioting.

19. America will make a surprising accelerated economic  recovery.

20. The next President of the United States will be…..Barack Obama.

21. Civil unrest will continue to accelerate in the Middle East as the people realise that they have been manipulated by the external forces of self-interest and that Western-style “democracy” is really not for them.

22. We will gradually realise that our intention to halt natural Global Warming was no more than a manifestation of our arrogance.

23. There will be  new Pope.

24. There will be an unusually high number of United Kingdom  by-elections.

25. Last year I predicted a Beckham divorce because I felt a momentous happening. They let me down by producing a baby (Harper Seven) instead. This year (for some reason), I see them setting up separate homes.

26. China will bail-out Italy from its economic woes. In return for gold. (Italy is the world’s 4th highest gold owner).

27. Gold will cross the $2000 per ounce barrier, then the $3000 barrier and possibly $4000.

28. FTSE  100 will cross 4000 on its way down and the Dow Jones will  hit 8500.

29. Nicolas Sarkozy will cease to be French President in May 2012 but his fate is very much intertwined with the Euro and much will depend on how long Mario Draghi of the ECB (the new man in charge) can help the politicians to string things out.

30. Turkey will be the beneficiary from  IPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance), which is yet another Euro fund. 233 million euros have been earmarked for Turkey and will be spent on judicial reforms, climate change and environmental projects.

31. Turkey’s integration with Europe will produce an unexpected benefit to Greece. A non-economic excuse to leave the Euro.

32. When Greece leaves the Euro, possibly followed by Germany, a full-blown European recession will begin.

33. Last year I predicted a pre-emptive strike strike by Israel on Iran. It was very close but will happen during 2012. Uncle Sam demands it.

34. The United States will avoid a recession because consumers have begun to consume. However, much will depend on the volume of support America continues to provide to a broken Europe.

35. Crumbling economies will have a good effect on inflation and commodity prices will slide downwards.

36. The Euro will achieve parity with the American $.

37. If there is a “burst” of the Chinese property bubble, there will be a very sharp slowdown in China’s economic growth with a massive effect on commodity exporters everywhere.

38.  Greece will continue its death rattle until it wakes up and has the courage to exit the Eurozone shambles and default on ALL of its debt. Then it will receive proper support from unexpected sources and once-and-for-all break its links with Goldman Sachs.

39. The CIA-inspired Arab Spring will continue to become unglued as bloodshed in Egypt increases and the Libyans begin to wake up from the dreams of “democracy”. I foresee a Libyan Civil war.

40. There is only ONE logical end-game in Syria. An assassination and permanent removal of the Assad dynasty.

41. Britain and the United States have left Iraq and in keeping with modern tradition, it now looks more like a giant litter tray than the ancient  Cradle of Civilisation. Once again, Civil War, more bloodshed and extremists going “boom” beckon. No number of tin ballot boxes can prevent factional interests jockeying for position.

42. My favourite politician of 2011 will make a very welcome return to the European political scene and continue to annoy the Jedward of the Eurozone , Merkel and Sarkozy, now of course, known as Merkozy. Let’s hope that he doesn’t refer to Merkel as an “unfuckable lardarse” again. That  (quote of 2011) would be totally unacceptable!

43. ONLY because I am a great Harry Redknapp fan , I predict that Tottenham Hotspur will win the Premiership.

44. This is not a prediction but a hope that during 2012, somewhere a politician wakes up and realises that in any consumer-driven society, Quantitative Easing is best aimed directly at the consumer and not at the Prima Donna banks, who are not quite sure what to do with it anyway. Never feed a gambling habit.

45. In December 2012, the Chancellor and the Business Secretary (whoever they are) will ask the bankers to show “restraint” in respect of their bonus payments.

46. The United Kingdom’s Political Parties will BOTH realise that they have the wrong man in charge.

47. The Liberals will miss even more opportunities than they did in 2011 but will continue to make macho noises to impress the electorate and each other.

48.  The Labour Party will continue to support Ed Miliband and tell us that “Ed is a great leader and the man for the job” – until the moment that he begins to feel stabbing pains between the shoulder-blades.

49. The X-factor will be won by an entity with no discernible talent. (OK – that was an easy one!)

50. The skids will be bolted under the Office for Budget Responsibility.

United Kingdom and Miracle-Gro?

“Growth” is a word which is used far too rarely in all the messages and communiques which we have become accustomed to hearing emanate from the million-and-one Euromeetings.

Consequently, it is refreshing to see something (anything) written-down which indicates some intent from our own government.

On the face of it, a raid on Pension Funds (see below) does not look like a good plan and none of the goals (below) have dates attached to them. If they did have dates , we would probably realise that this is not a plan for an immediate growth-explosion but something which first needs to be created, drawn, discussed, re-discussed before the first spade is ever  sunk into the ground. Neither is it an integrated plan – on the contrary, it can best be described as a series of disparate initiatives.

These projects will NOT make the country any richer, because they represent a “spend” rather than an “earn”, that is to say, they are not something which we can exchange for goods or cash with other countries.  These are job-creation schemes which are often confused with proper growth.

Nevertheless, it’s a start. We have lift-off!

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, have  announced a wide-ranging package of more than 140 reforms to build a stronger and more balanced economy. These measures include actions from the second phase of the Government’s Growth Review Phase II and the National Infrastructure Plan.

These measures are supported by an infrastructure package of £30 billion.  This includes unlocking up to £20 billion of private investment through signing a Memorandum of Understanding with two groups of UK pension funds, an additional £5 billion of infrastructure spending in this Spending Review period, and commitments to £5 billion of capital projects in the next Spending Review period. In addition, the Government is supporting around a further £1 billion of investment by Network Rail.

To make the UK’s infrastructure fit for the 21st century, the Government has published its National Infrastructure Plan 2011. The plan sets out a critical analysis of the state of the UK’s infrastructure and sets out a pipeline of over 500 infrastructure projects. It commits to clear ambitions to address the key challenges in each major infrastructure sector – energy, transport, telecommunications, waste and water.

The key measures in the National Infrastructure Plan include:

  • introducing a new approach to financing infrastructure, by leveraging £20 billion of private investment from pension funds;
  • giving local authorities more flexibility to support major infrastructure by considering local borrowing to fund the Northern Line extension to Battersea, and exploring new sources of revenue, such as options for tolling on the A14.
  • investing over £1 billion to tackle areas of congestion and improve the national road network, including £270 million for two new managed motorway schemes at congested times on the M3 and M6.
  • investing more than £1.4 billion in railway infrastructure and commuter links, including £270 million for a rail link between Oxford and Bedford and £390 million on enhancement and renewal works to improve stations and infrastructure.
  • investing £100 million to create up to ten ‘super-connected cities’ across the UK, with 80-100 megabits per second broadband and city-wide high-speed mobile coverage.
  • The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, will chair a new cabinet committee on infrastructure, to push through the delivery of the top 40 priority projects and programmes that are critical for growth.

The second phase of the Government’s Growth Review has been led jointly by HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).  The Autumn Statement announces a set of further reforms building on this, including:

  • creating a £20 billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme, to lower the cost of loans to small businesses, and a £1 billion Business Finance Partnership, which will lend to mid-sized businesses and small and medium sized businesses in the UK through non-bank channels.
  • increasing the Regional Growth Fund by £1 billion to provide ongoing support to grow the private sector in areas currently dependent on the public sector.
  • an extra £600 million to fund 100 additional Free Schools, and an additional £600 million to deliver an additional 40,000 school places.
  • introducing a new build mortgage indemnity scheme which will help up to 100,000 families to buy their own home, and launching a new £400 million Get Britain Building investment fund to progress stalled developments.
  • providing £45 million of support to UK firms wishing to export, doubling from 25,000 to 50,000 the number of SMEs supported, and making similar support available to 500 mid-sized businesses.
  • making 100 per cent capital allowances available in six Enterprise Zones (Black Country, Humber, Liverpool, North Eastern, Sheffield, and Tees Valley).
  • making available around £250 million from 2013 to support energy intensive industries manage the costs of electricity, including increasing the relief from the climate change levy on electricity for Climate Change Agreement participants to 90 per cent.
  • an additional £200 million for science capital investment.
  • investing £55m into the Strategic Rail Freight Network to help deliver schemes that remove bottlenecks and improve capability and longer term connectivity to the UK’s major ports.
  • giving a bigger role to businesses in purchasing vocational training programmes. In the New Year employers will be invited to bid for a share of a new £250 million government fund. This will route public investment directly to employers.
  • taking decisive action to remove barriers to hiring by making reforms to streamline employment law.
  • investing £10 million over five years from 2013-14 in Project Enthuse, matched by investment from the Wellcome Trust, to improve the quality of science teaching in schools
  • announcing how the Government will maximise the value of public sector data.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:

“We are committed to making Britain the best place to start, finance and grow a business.  The measures I am announcing today will help us to achieve this by creating an environment in which businesses are easy to set up, have access to credit when they need it and are able to grow without being held back by red tape.  This action supports our deficit reduction plan and the Government’s monetary activism as we build a balanced economy.”

Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said:

“These measures are an important element of the Government’s work to create the right conditions for business to start up, invest, grow and create jobs. They sit alongside our deficit reduction plan and work to increase the supply of credit.

“I attach particular importance to infrastructure and Government capital spending, including that on innovation and science, and the credit easing initiative.  Speedy and effective implementation is now required, building on the major progress that has been made implementing phase one.”

The first phase of the Growth Review was published in March 2011. Work has started on all 137 commitments and substantial progress has been made.  The Government has  published an update on every single measure announced in The Plan for Growth.

Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – just the facts

“We will do whatever it takes to protect Britain from this debt storm” in Europe.

Office for Budget Responsibility does not predict a recession in UK.

OBR forecast: GDP growth estimated at 0.9% in 2011. 0.7% in 2012 (down from 2.5%).

Borrowing falling but not as fast as forecast.

OBR sees additional borrowing of £5bn in 2011/12, £20bn in 2012/13 and £30bn in 2013/14.

Public sector pay awards set at average of 1% increase after the pay freeze ends next Spring.

NHS and schools budgets protected.

Deal on public sector pensions is “fair”.

Basic state pension to rise by £5.30 next April. Pension credit also uprated by £5.30.

In 2026 – state pension age will rise to 67.

Benefits uprated by 5.2% next April.

Credit Easing to help small business – ceiling of £40bn. National Loan Guarantee Scheme to use country’s record low interest rate to ease interest rates charged to firms who borrow from banks.

Country’s low rate to benefit families too through mortgage indemnities. Will reinvigorate “right to buy” to also help construction sector.

Bank Levy rate to rise from January 1st.

National Infrastructure Plan to get Britain building to improve roads, bridges, rail, schools etc. It will be paid for through”British savings for British jobs.” £20bn to come from pension schemes.

£5bn of additional Government spending on infrastructure plan – 90% of homes will have access tosuper-fast broadband.

Regional Growth Fund for England to get extra £1bn.

£0.5bn for science projects.

Health & Safety red tape to be cut further for small firms.

Corporate tax rate to fall to 25%.

Business rates holiday extended until April 2013.

8.7% unemployment rate forecast for next year by OBR.

New Youth Contract to offer work experience and assistance getting into private sector to help ease youth unemployment.

Extra £1.2bn to schools with 100 extra ‘free schools’. Maths Free schools to help UK’s science industry.

Free nursery places for 40% of the country’s 2-year olds (260,000)

Planned 3p per litre fuel duty increase in January is cancelled. August’s planned increase to be reduced.

Rail fares capped at 1% higher than CPI inflation

‘The taxpayer will see its outstanding loans to Northern Rock repaid in full, with interest.’ ………. Alastair Darling, February 2008

‘At the end of the day banks will be paying money to the British public, not the other way round.’…….Gordon Brown, November 2009.

The Chancellor has flogged Northern Rock to Richard Branson’s Virgin Money with a potential LOSS of £700million  to the  British taxpayer. Why? Who were the other bidders? I feel yet another Freedom of Information request coming on. George Osborne believes that a potential loss of this magnitude represents “good value for money”. WTF?

It is certainly NOT good value for money. Most losses are not. Is this guy REALLY running our economy?

Home Secretary Theresa May HAS to resign. Never mind that she is female and that David Cameron appears to be very limited in his choice of talented Conservative ladies. She has failed to manage her staff and as a result,  Head of the UK Border Force, Brodie Clark has resigned. He has been a civil servant for over 40 years  and his salary is £130,000. That means that  he will be receiving a  tax-free six-figure pay-off and will probably move straight to a pension of about £90,000 per annum.  After the Metropolitan Police debacle, this is one hell of an expensive Home Secretary.

Closet or Cabinet?

Dr Liam Fox and now Oliver Letwin have given David Cameron the sort of distractions which he does not really need. There has been speculation about each man’s political future and the doom-mongers reckon that “it’s all unravelling”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A few years ago, I  had a meeting at Conservative Central Office (when the Party could still afford Smith Square) with Lord Freeman who, at the time, was in charge of Candidates. We discussed the possibility of me testing prospective members of Parliament so that the Party did not have to rely on patronage and the  depressingly amateurish local interviews which continue to be a feature of candidate selection.

Had we gone ahead  with the plans, the present Cabinet would have contained some candidates who would have been pre-vetted by me. In the event, it was decided not to go ahead with something which may have caused certain future Ministers embarrassment.  Mind you, this parliament has produced those who are managing maximum embarrassment without any external help.

However, in the main, DC has assembled a surprisingly able bunch of characters.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – David Cameron is a good, solid Prime Minister and, given the time, he could become a great one. There is just one thing holding him back – the lack of depth in his “one-downers”. The Cabinet.

Here’s the list:

Nick Clegg, William Hague, George Osborne, Ken Clarke, Theresa May, Liam Fox, Vince Cable, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Huhne, Andrew Lansley, Michael Gove, Eric Pickles, Philip Hammond, Caroline Spelman, Andrew Mitchell, Owen Patterson, Michael Moore, Cheryl Gillan, Jeremy Hunt, Danny Alexander, Lord Strathclyde, Baroness Warsi, Francis Maude, Oliver Letwin, David Willets, Sir George Young, Patrick McLoughlin, Dominic Grieve.

No problems at all with the first five:

Nick Clegg has the most difficult job, both as a politician and nanny to his confused Liberals who, in spite of (mostly) enjoying  the aphrodisiac nature of power, are still a bit uncertain as to whether they are really participating or merely ballast. His sometimes diffident manner disguises a will of steel.

William Hague has grown into his job, in spite of the shaky start with Libya. He has credibility abroad which is probably one of the most important attributes of any Foreign Secretary.

George Osborne, unsurprisingly has been the recipient of more “stick” than any other politician but , love him or hate him, he has shown courage and tenacity and sometimes, downright stubbornness. Whether those attributes are born of economic understanding or just downright bloody-mindedness, remains to be seen. What is in his favour is that, unlike many others – he takes decisions and stands by them.

Ken Clarke has made the legal system accessible. I know that sounds a bit fanciful but in spite of his occasional too-straight talking , he is a great antidote to a legal system which makes bankers and their bonuses look like paupers. Currently, both the economy and David Cameron need a Lord Chancellor who at least “appears” non-elitist because sooner or later, we are going to scrutinise the multi-billion pound cash machine that is THE LAW.

Theresa May is annoying. However, she is good at her job and so far, does not appear to have put a a faux leopard skin kitten-heel-clad foot wrong. She too is not afraid to take unpopular decisions. Her handling of both the News International scandal and the inner city rioting was impeccable.

I would also add Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove to the A-team. IDS has proved that there is life after political death and has been delivering spectacular results with his pensions initiatives. He is both a great theorist as well as having a rare quality among politicians – he is a “doer”.

Michael Gove has been quietly ploughing the Education furrow  and shaking-up an over-bureaucratic education system and has not been afraid to take some very unpopular decisions. He too is a “doer”. His thinking on education harks back to the 60s when children were educated and not used as test and statistics fodder. 10/10

Philip Hammond at Transport also belongs in the A-team and is without doubt a star of the future. He is lucky though to have both Norman Baker and Mike Penning as Parliamernary Under Secretaries.  Norman the Idealist and Mike the “no shit”  British Bulldog. Philip Hammond is seen on TV as a government spokesman much more than you might expect from a Secretary for Transport.

Dr Liam Fox has been delivering what, on the surface has been a solid job – if not a bit over-influenced by the balance sheet. He has always looked like the Conservatives’ “nearly man”. Soon, he may be the “never really was” man – as his political career begins to unravel. He, in common with all politicians should remember that Perception is King. The current perception of him is now tending towards  the seedy.

Vince Cable was always going to be a problem and continues to be a bit of a thorn. He is a natural backroom boy and looks terribly uncomfortable in the back of a Ministerial limo. However, by far his biggest handicap is the fact that he is having increasing difficulty in disguising his Socialist views. He seems to be in permanent pain. Very soon, his political career will  describe the downward arc of the parabola. He is the Statler and Waldorf of the Cabinet and compared to some of the other youngsters is from the wrong generation. His obssession with the bankers is hurting his credibility because he has not managed to do anything about them and never will.

Chris Huhne is even more annoying than Theresa May (!) but his personal life and the alleged driving licence naughtiness has totally blown his credibility. He is lucky that he is a Liberal – otherwise he may have already participated in an exit interview with DC.

Andrew Lansley is running the NHS in the way that you would expect from a career Civil Servant. He is doubtless very able – as a Civil Servant – but the NHS currently needs a large dose of commercial thinking. Everything that he has put forward so far has been through the wringer. Wrong man in the wrong job.

Eric Pickles is a great man in every sense.  He provides the Cabinet with some Northern credibility. From a Labour family, this ex-Communist has travelled the entire political spectrum and is one of the shrewdest operators in Government. He is one of the few in Cabinet who is 100% suited to his brief with the advantage of being a working-class Conservative.

One Cabinet member who one could have been forgiven for thinking would, by now be running one of the great Departments of State is Francis Maude. He is a rock-solid operator and should, without doubt be on the real A-team. As Minister at the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General , he has been handed a temporary consolation prize. He has not peaked yet. As a former Managing Director of Morgan Stanley, he knows things.  Street-wise.

Oliver Letwin is Minister of State at the Cabinet office is DC’s Policy Adviser. Like many intellectuals, he appears to be constantly stressed and “away with the fairies”.  He is the archetypal analytical-amiable who cannot manage himself – or others – and has been given the “Special Projects” brief. He is currently the recipient of a press-roasting but, like a good luck charm, will always be retained in some capacity. It is a pity that other Cabinet members cannot spot “burn-out” when they see it.

David Willets, like Letwin is a white-hot intellectual who is good to have around. He is articulate and fiercely bright.  He would have done much better , had he not looked like a spud. His great disadvantage is a lack of any “street-cred” because he has always been a political “wonk”. Having said all that, he is the ideal person to be looking after Universities and Science with the advantage of being so clever that there isn’t a single other member anywhere NEAR as suitable for this job.

Danny Alexander is another (young) career politician and his appointment has always smacked of tokenism with the added suspicion that David Laws is hanging about whilst DC waits for a respectable passage of time before he invites him back.

Sir George Young SHOULD have been Speaker of the House and his present post as Leader of the House is his consolation prize.  He is marking time because he will probably be the next Speaker. In spite of a comparatively undistinguished Parliamentary career so far, he gives the Cabinet gravitas.

Next we have the Cabinet  “solid citizens”.  All are capable but not stars: Caroline Spelman, Andrew Mitchell, Owen Patterson, Michael Moore, Cheryl Gillan, Jeremy Hunt, Patrick McLoughlin and Dominic Grieve are all OK but will never set the world on fire.

Finally we have the youthful, Lord Strathclyde, or should I say Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde. As Leader in the Lords, he is a very safe pair of hands and is a Conservative straight from Tory Central Casting. A great asset to the Cabinet.

Baroness Warsi is Chairman of the Conservative Party and although a competent TV performer, she always sounds as if she’s reading from a Tory pamphlet. She is very likely to be reshuffled out soon. Bearing in mind that Perception is King, her appointment smacked of tokenism.

So, you see that , in spite of the elitist-millionaire tags, the Cabinet is largely populated by a very cabable and  solid bunch of operators –  although the real depth of talent within the Coalition parties is still a bit of a mystery – even, one suspects, to David Cameron himself.

This Cabinet has a good mix of experience, intellect and toughness.

Whether or not you share their views or politics – they are (by far) the ones who have the very best chance of extricating us from where we have landed.

We’re in the Shapps!

House building in the United Kingdom has slumped to a 90-year low. Home ownership is predicted to slump to  approximately 65%.  The proportion of people living in owner-occupied homes is forecast to fall to 63.8% by 2021, down from 72.5% in 2001 and from the mid-eighties high of 74%.

According to economists, house prices are set to soar by 21.3 per cent over the next five years whilst rents are set to rise by up to 20%.

In some parts of the United Kingdom, 16% of home owners owe more on their mortgage than their property is worth.

Housing minister Grant Shapps said: “The trebling of house prices in the 10 years from 1997 has locked too many out of owning their own home.

“I want to see a period of house price stability so that more homes become affordable, but I am also determined that we pull out all the stops to give hard-working first-time buyers the help they need.

“That’s why I’ve held summits with lenders to encourage them to do more to help people take their first step onto the housing ladder, and I’ve launched the First Buy Scheme as a valuable alternative to the Bank of Mum and Dad for those struggling to get together that much-needed deposit.

“But we also need to get Britain building again. That’s why I’ve announced plans to release thousands of acres of public land for housebuilding.

“Despite the need to tackle the deficit we inherited, this government is putting £4.5bn towards an affordable homes programme which is set to exceed our original expectations and deliver up to 170,000 new homes over the next four years.”

Phrases from Mr Shapps such as: “I Want to see”, “Pull out all the stops”, “The help they need”, “We need to get Britain building”, “Announced plans”, “Set to exceed” all indicate well-meant sentiments  – a “politician’s intent”.  Even the “170,000 homes over the next four years” is preceded by the phrase “set to exceed” and not “WILL exceed”.

Incidentally, the ONLY thing that Mr Shapps promises to exceed are his own expectations –  which have not yet been delivered anyway.

Yes, there is a shortage of housing but  the ROOT CAUSE of this dire situation is not being treated.

Once again, I shall put it in plain English: The reason why the housing market is in a moribund state is because the banks are NOT lending money to building companies and they are NOT lending money to first time buyers – who incidentally are becoming a near-extinct species.

Mr Shapps may well have held “summits with lenders” but he has not yet given us any indication of any positive outcomes. Meetings do NOT solve issues – only outcomes. So, Mr Shapps, what have the banks promised on this occasion? Amounts? Terms ? LTV? Underwriting Criteria? Perhaps The Big Society Banks can help??!

So far, we have The Big Society, Enterprize Zones and now the The First Buy Scheme.

The first is still a mystery, the second contributes little more than mass relocations of existing businesses and First Buy-type shared equity schemes  do little more that frighten first-time buyers by the morass of  bureaucracy into which they are suddenly plunged.

Once again, the REAL solution is in the hands of the BANKERS.

p.s. I am  surprised by the fact that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is still allowing itself to be pushed about by the banks. They used to be a very powerful organisation which played its part in controlling house prices.  The boom times prior to the 2008 crash turned the RICS into followers. They USED to be leaders. CLICK HERE

Gideon Floundering?

The MOST wretched Cabinet job is that of Chancellor of the Exchequer. I  spent years criticising the “Iron Chancellor”,  Gordon Brown. During his posturing days when he was surfing the economic wave created by his predecessor Ken Clarke and even when Tony Blair had declared him the “best Chancellor we’ve ever had”. I saw that he was overspending and that if he’d carried on, the solids would have hit the air conditioning even earlier than they did .

He was given the credit for keeping us out of the Euro but I suspect that the only thing that stopped him was his innate inability to make a decision. He was constantly hounded by self-doubt – and quite rightly so.

It took others several years to realise that the Iron Chancellor was more Irn Bru than of  the metallic variety and in retrospect, perhaps  didn’t quite deserve the consolation prize of the keys to No.10.

I had a sneaky admiration for Alistair Darling because he and I once shared a platform in the early 90s when he was in charge of Pensions. He came across as  a Minister who had taken the trouble to familiarise himself with his subject and anyone who can do that with Pensions earns my undying respect. Plus, when the bankers crapped their own nest, he was the one who managed to wipe their noses and bottoms, give then some pocket money and send them back to their offices without alarming the rest of us.

His contribution has never been fully recognised because his then boss was arguably the worst manager and motivator I was lucky never to come across.

Nowadays we are in the hands of Gideon “George” Osborne. His public manner and voice belie that fact that he is a shrewd operator and very bright. The only problem that he has is one of communication. He is too defensive.

The Labour Government left him NOTHING. In effect, he was (and still is) is in a start-up situation. He has to create the conditions which give the rest of us a reasonable chance to create an economy which, had it been a horse, would have been shot by now.

For several years I have been saying that Economic Theory needs a healthy dose of Chaos Theory appended to it. Consequently, what has become increasingly obvious t0 some of us in the last few years is that economic forecasting has become a mug’s game. Both economic forecasters and politicians ought, by now to have learned that any projections have an inbuilt error of up to 100%. So, if growth is forecast at 5%, it is just as likely to be either 10% or Zero. This is exactly what we are finding today with inflation predictions. The Governor of England may as well hire Russell Grant or Mystic Meg to hand him the numbers.

Hence the overuse of the phrases “Higher than expected” and “Lower than expected”. In spite of the unpredictable variables – from the Japanese Tsunami to the Middle East Riots, politicians still persist in their own special brand of blind optimism. The nearest that they come to admitting that they are no longer in control of events is the occasional “Because of global economic conditions…”

Unfortunately, blaming the Global Economy now looks like an excuse, on a par with “the wrong kind of weather”. The “Global” excuse is only pulled out of the hat when things appear to be going wrong.

The fact is that  a loosely integrated global economy  contains an infinite number of variables, so Finance Ministers ought to relax and freely admit that currently, they are OBSERVERS rather than SHAPERS of economic events.

We have just seen a “surprise” increase in the United Kingdom’s unemployment figures. The figure is 2.49 million – which in reality means that there are probably over 3 million people out of work.

The Chancellor says that in spite of the “disappointing” figures, his policies “are creating jobs” – and do you know – HE IS RIGHT!

He has already cited “world markets” as an explanation – and once again, he is absolutely right! Unfortunately, after a year of unnecessary excuses, that in itself looks like yet another routine excuse.

The number of unemployed women has risen by 38,000. That is the sharpest increase in 2 years and the highest number of unemployed women for 23 years. Why is that? The truth is that no-one really knows. Unfortunately, politicians and “experts” cannot find it in their hearts to admit that they do not know. So we will have yet more pointless explanations.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is NOT responsible for the current moribund state of our economy. That was caused by a mixture of Gordon Brown’s ineptitude, crooked Bankers and the resulting recession.

George Osborne may have the communication skills and manner of a 30s lounge lizard but, technically, he is without doubt the best we’ve got.

He deserves our support so that he no longer feels the need to sell us  what is undoubtedly the most  foul-tasting economic medicine that has EVER been dished out by a peace-time government.

Be nice to your Chancellor. The alternative sits on the bench opposite –  a Brownite about to explode out of his grey suit and it ain’t a pretty sight!

Hug a Hooray.

A real Legg-up

 

“I’m as innocent as the next man.”

The MPs expenses fiasco rumbles on and Parliament’s reputation is still heading South. Much was made of the previous Speaker’s lack of management skill and consequently he was removed from office. So where is Speaker Bercow? In the last few days, his name has not been mentioned at all. This is the time when he should be earning his salary and TELLING members what they should do. Continue reading A real Legg-up

Dave’s Speech

 

Standing ovation? Inevitable. Interestingly enough, the autocues were not visible. Dave walked on clutching a pile of notes – which was probably a disappointment to those who expected another off-the-cuff session.

He told us in true “Honest Dave the Voters’ Friend” style that the next few years will be tough. The Honest Dave approach will be contrasted by many with Gordon Brown’s style which increasingly resembles that of an ageing Poker player holding his cards ever closer to his chest. Dave continued by repeating that although times are now bad, he wanted to talk about ” How good things could be.” Continue reading Dave’s Speech

Conservative Party Conference week.

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      • Boris Johnson once again has showed his leadership credentials by being approachable, witty and engaging. He does make the rest of them look a little bit pedestrian. In spite of his shambolic image, you can sense a rod of steel running through both his speech and personality. One to watch for the future. Imagine   a TV debate between Boris and Gordon Brown. It will never happen – but what a prospect.

 

  • Boris Johnson and friend

 

  • George Osborne’s department lined up like a row of fairground ducks was quite diverting. George Osborne is gradually shaking-off his Tim Nice-but-Dim image.

 

  • It’s very brave of David Cameron to allow Ken Clarke a voice – bearing in mind his strong Euro-sceptic stance. The Conservative Euro-sceptics should not attempt to embarrass David Cameron at Conference. They all seem to think that the next election is already won.

 

  • Custom dictates that when any Party is in the middle of its Conference, the other Parties keep quiet and do not make any pronouncements. So, Alistair Darling’s crudely populist announcement of cutting the incomes  of GPs and other high earners leaves us in no doubt that the Election campaign is now in full swing.

 

  • Retirement at 66? Purleeeze George – you can do better than that! Many will still retire at 65 and most of those who have not retired will be out of work – unless there is a local B&Q. The ACTUAL money saved will be negligible and it was hardly worth the leak.

 

  • It appears that as far as cutting Public Expenditure, the main Parties are now engaged in what can only be described as a peeing contest.

 

  • It was good to see that old duffer Kenneth Brown. So there is life after death!

 

  • The Editor of the Sun did not have to buy a single drink in the Conference bar last night. Hardly surprising but the Sun’s move to withdraw support from the Labour Party caused some disappointment among Conservatives. About as much disappointment as finding out that Gary Glitter can’t babysit tonight.

 

  • On a completely separate subject, the annual yakfest that is the 11th Pride of Britain Awards took place last night. One is never sure why only some kids with cancer attend the show, why only the kids whose parents managed to inform the media of how their brave 2year-old “dialled 999 whilst motherwas having a seizure in the bath” receive bravery awards and why Gordon Brown has to make a “surprise” appearance. We all like proper heroes but nowadays it seems that we have developed a real “need” to worship – as long as it involves lots of celebrities. If Michael Caine is made to feel any more ” ‘umble” I shall throw up. Having said all that, I’ve never managed to watch the show. This year there is a teacher whose Maths lessons contain RAP (one presumes that the “C” is silent). Then there’s the lady who stood between a small child and a Rottweiler. The best one is an ex-heroin addict with 176 convictions who now helps “young people to change their lives”.. As long as Simon Cowell, Tess Daly and Davina are there plus a room-full of tear-wracked luvvies we can rest assured that all’s well. Now where can I buy a Rottweiler? I’ve just noticed something and it is the final piece of jigsaw in a theory that I have been working on for some time. Here goes. I believe that Christopher Biggins is God. Why? because God is everywhere.

 

  • Safety campaigners are saying that if the Conservatives axe speed cameras, the accident-rate will increase. Here’s a compromise – and it will be comparatively cheap to implement. How about a sign that says “SPEED CAMERA IN 50 YARDS” on either side of every single speed camera in the country.  Not a good idea, I hear you say. Why not? Oh I see. What you really want is speeding motorists that produce a revenue and not necessarily slow motorists who do not.

 

  • Sir James Dyson managed to look like a prat when his autocue failed. A Dyson Vacuous.

 

  • Liked the announcement today that the Conservatives will begin a process of ridding us of Government forms and red tape. THAT’S the sort of thing we like to hear.

 

  • Conservatism SHOULD be the politics of giving everyone in Britain the ability, opportunity and tools to look after themselves and their families – without the smothering State intervention that is the hallmark of Socialism – even when it is wearing the thin veneer of New Labour. That should ALWAYS be, of course, coupled to the State taking care of its weakest citizens. Call it benevolent Conservatism if you like. Simple.  THAT is  the message that David Cameron and his rejuvenated Parliamentary Party should be promulgating. Needless posturing and name-calling should have no place in the modern Conservative political toolbox. David Cameron should look straight down a camera lens and explain what modern Conservatism is. Unsurprisingly, there are those who have never heard exactly what modern Conservatism represents because their views and opinions are still being distorted  and influenced by New Labour spin.

 

  • George Osborne is looking very promising.

 

  • So why DOES Jordan look as if she’s wearing a gumshield? Is in “hommage” to her cross-dressing new beau and professional thug Alex (Max – you’re running out of crap copy!) or has she been “done”. I think that we all know the answer to that one.

 

  • David Cameron has been photographed with a glass of champagne. Big deal! I shall simply repeat a previous report: The biggest consumption of champagne at  Conference time is by Labour. That was told to me by a former Chief Barman at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Hypocrites.

 

  • Today, all the Socialist rags are laying-into  George Osborne who has introduced a bit of realism into our understanding of the economy. One suspects that once the Conservatives are in power and manage to have a good look at the books, they will see that things are far worse than has so far been admitted by ther present incumbents.

 

  • We are still living in cloud-cuckoo land as far as the economy is concerned. The FTSE is UP. House prices are UP, Gold is UP, Tesco shares are UP. In fact – everything is UP. Sounds great doesn’t it? So why aren’t we all feeling more positive. The fact is that the FTSE is up because  money is being invested on the Stock Exchange as a result of bank savings rates being so derisory plus, much of the money currently being invested is foreign so it could leave us at any time. The money that is being invested by British banks is not all real money. Some of it is the stuff that has been printed by the Bank of England and handed to the banking system. Mr Quantitative Easing strikes again. Gold has been creeping up for months. It is normally viewed as a “hedge” – somewhere to run when equities and commodities are down in price. That is not the case at present.  Something that has gradually been creeping into our collective peripheral vision is the slow-collapse of the dollar. There are strong rumours that very soon, oil will no longer be traded in dollars – there is foreign plotting afoot! Once the dollar really does go into freefall, share and commodity prices will tumble very quickly. The British economy has much to fear because the factors that it has traditionally relied-upon to buttress the economy have all but gone. The City of London USED to be the world’s financial centre. That is no longer the case. WE used to MAKE things and export them. Nowadays, that is down to about 17% of the country’s total economic output. Finally, the British economy and Governmemt are “over-borrowed” with little realistic prospect of repaying much of what was borrowed. If George Osborne had been in possession of ALL the facts, I don’t believe that he would have wished to even beigin his speech yesterday. He did very well and reminded us that we need to take a more collective and inclusive approach to heal the economy.

 

  • Yesterday I said that I would probably throw -up if Michael Caine was once-again “umbled” at the Pride of Britiain Awards. Apologies to Michael as it was Joanna Lumley’s turn to be “humbled and overcome”. Please make it stop.

 

  • So Boris and Dave are ex-Bullingdon boys and used to piss it up, throw bread rolls about, get toffed-up  and pose for silly photos. Go to any Comprehensive School on Prom Night (American import, I’m afraid) and watch scores of youngsters, toffed-up, arriving in ridiculous stretch limos and being encouraged to be extremely silly. So where’s the difference between our Grease wannabees and the Bullingdon Boys. Apparently, it’s only OK to dress like a posh prat and behave outrageously if you’re NOT a posh prat. It seems that those aspirational working classes are being herded by the Labour media back towards a concept which one hoped had been left behind – The Politics of Envy.

 

  • There was a great photograph of the Pride of Britain winners outside No 10 Downing Street. Sarah Brown looked very vivacious – so why did Gordon Brown look as if someone had inserted a six-inch ruler between his cheeks? Oh I see. Smile, eh? Wow.

 

  • Are we, as a nation, losing our sense of humour? We all remember Boris Johnson insulting Liverpool, Portsmouth and rather bizarrely – Papua New Guinea. He acknowledged all that in the introduction to his speech at Conference this week. Whatever you think of Boris, you have to admit that he carries a very mischievous sense of humour. That reminds me of a pilot who was censured by his bosses for the following Tannoy announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to fly over Liverpool. Would you please ensure that you have placed your hands over your wallets.”

 

  • This woman’s husband, Andrew George was taken ill but has now been discharged and is being comforted by his family: 

  • She used to work at Little Ted’s Nursery and is a pervert. Although her husband does have our sympathy, one cannot help but think that at some stage during the marriage, he would have benefited from a visit to Specsavers.

 

  • The Conservatives have announced that they will deal with binge-drinking and teenage violence through the medium of taxation. Surprisingly, this is the first Conservative initiative that I disagree with. Remember that some drugs are far more expensive than alcohol, yet, money is still found for them. The alcohol genie is so far out of the bottle that there are no initiatives that will ever change the Brits’ uneasy relationship with alcohol. Social Engineering through taxation does not work. Let’s face it, Brits drink to get drunk – and then they drink some more. A few more pence on booze will make no difference whatsoever. Practical tip: The increased tax will be on cider and strong lager so do what kids do already, buy normal lager and tip cheap vodka into it. Now what?

 

  • Could it be true? Avram Grant is returning to Portsmouth as Director of Football? That should cheer the place up. Here is a photo of Avram practicing his Gordon Brown smile.

 

  • Sharon Shoesmith has  launched judicial review proceedings against Haringey Council, Ofsted and the Children’s Secretary Ed Balls. She was in charge of Haringey Social Services during the Baby P murder. One of the great British traditions is that if there is a screw-up on your watch then you fall on your sword. Ms SHOESMITH DID HERSELF NO FAVOURS during her few TV appearances when the Baby P affair was at its peak. She seemed aloof, smug, unrepentant and unapologetic. ” I was following orders” is the usual excuse. Hers was “We followed all procedures”. That neither exonerated her, nor did it go down well with the public.  Had she cried, begged forgiveness and made some sort of admission, the public would have been a little more sympathetic. As it was, Ed Balls did exactly the right thing in instructing Haringey to sack her without compensation.

 

  • Labour bleating noises have been heard again today. General Sir Francis Richard Dannatt, GCB, CBE, MC is our most distinguished soldier and tomorrow (Thursday) he will be officially announced as a Conservative Life Peer who will be advising the Conservatives on defence. General Dannatt was our highest-ranking  soldier and Chief of General Staff. He was going to be promoted to Chief of Defence Staff , which means that he would have become head of all of our armed forces – not just the Army. However, Gordon Brown personally blocked the promotion and General Dannatt was instead given the consolation prize of Constable of the Tower of London. Traditionally the Chief of Defence Staff is principal military adviser to the British Government. Gordon Brown was miffed because of General Dannatt’s “repeated calls for better pay and conditions for servicemen”. So General Dannatt’s sins? Speaking his mind, not being a Brown “yes man” and caring about his soldiers’ safety and welfare. Gordon Brown really has no idea whatsoever – probably because he was dealing with a proper  leader. It’s patently obvious that Brown does not recognise the species. He should learn that leadership is much more than Benito Mussolini-type posturing with overworked, overtired, adjective-free, moribund speeches.

 

  • Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Quite right too. Climate, Democracy, Nuclear Disarmament – in fact, everything that he has touched so far. It looks as if Zimbabwe’s Morgan Chanderai was the runner-up. There is already talk  and discussion of whether Barack Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize with only nine months in office. The fact is that the Nobel committee can see that in spite of the fact that Obama’s actual achievements so far  are comparatively modest – he is by far the most influential individual on the planet as far as the short and medium term futures of the Earth are concerned. The progress that he has made in the last nine months is nothing short of remarkable.

 

  • It appears that today is probably the last posting day for Christmas. If you  want to send cards abroad, you’re too late. Christmas parcels should have been posted by March 31st. Why didn’t Crozier stick to football. This is yet another case of a Business Model triumphing over the Customer. Perhaps Royal Mail should be renamed Royal Lemming.

Friday October 2nd 2009

  • Ethiopia has suddenly become the focus for all anthropologists. An ancient  skeleton was found in 1992 and it has taken 17 years for the research team to rebuild it. Why all the excitement? The skeleton belongs to an in-between species of humanoid about 4.4 million years old. It has been designated Ardipithecus Ramidus. It is not “the missing link” but by extrapolation, it appears that it is probably about 9 million years since the division between apes and humans. So where was John Prescott this week?
  • The East of England Minister Barbara Follett is to stand-down from Parliament. She is (was) Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism. Her reasons for leaving? Yes, it’s the old chestnut: “For family reasons – to spend more time with my family”. Heard her name before? She’s the MP who claimed £500 to repair a Chinese rug ( don’t we all?) and she also claimed £25,000 “for security reasons”. She has since repaid all of the money. So how could she afford to sign such a large cheque? Her husband is millionaire pulp fiction writer, Ken Follett. Barbara and Ken epitomise the “champagne socialist” and are chums of Tony and Cherie Blair.
  • Jobs for the boys. Former Northern Rock boss, Adam Applegarth is now an advisor to Apollo Management. They are an American Equity firm. Adam is advising them on the purchase of bad loans, including parts of Northern Rock bank, the former Building Society he brought to its knees. Perhaps a touch ironic but perfectly legal. He will earn about 200,000 per year which is a lot more than the thousands of people who lost their jobs at Northern Rock. It’s all very worrying.
  • Today, Ireland will vote in favour of the Treaty of Lisbon. It’s their second attempt. The Irish economy is currently in such an appalling state that they appear to have little choice. However, if they do not support the Treaty, then it’s curtains for the Treaty.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that the British economy will grow by 0.9% next year. That’s about four times the current politicians’ prediction. House prices have returned to their pre-crunch 2008 levels, the FTSE 100 index is UP. As one of the few people who predicted nationalisation of the banks, I am still not sure whether to put the Bolly on ice just yet.
  • Vanessa George, Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen. They are the three baby-abusing perverts who are spread all over the newspapers today. Angela Allen is the one from Little Ted’s Day Nursery in Plymouth. She photographed herself sexually abusing babies as young as 12 months. Whichever prison they end up in, they are guaranteed some very close attention from other inmates. The burglars, drug dealers, fraudsters etc look almost honourable professionals next to these degenerates. I do hope that the other prisoners are not too gentle with them.

Thursday October 1st 2009

  • A survey has just been published of the world’s top  Broadband Countries – taking into account speed etc. The United Kingdom is languishing in 25th place. The top country? South Korea. Is this another indicator of the rise of the East and the slow eclipse of the West?. 

  • The Daily Mirror has adjusted its reportage of the Tories today – presumably in response to the Sun’s decision to back the Tories. It’s going to be a right mess leading up to the election. The gloves are off

  • BAE systems is about to be prosecuted for dishing out hundreds of millions in bribes. You may recall that when Tony Blair was in charge , there was a bit of a bribery scandal  involving Saudi Arabia, but as they say – all charges were dropped. There is one thing that both our Government and Judicial System would do well to remember and that is that greasing the cogs of commerce through the medium of bribery is normal in many countries – especially hot ones. Many years ago, I sold a yacht for a $1million to an Arab Prince and we shook hands on the deal and arranged to complete the paperwork the following day. That night , my phone rang. It was the Prince’s “Private secretary and advisor”. This is what he said: “Although the Prince is a very rich man, alas he is not a generous man. You will also understand that he always seeks my counsel and almost always heeds my advice. I have yet to advise him as to whether he should complete this purchase – but I am sure that we can come to some sort of arrangement.”  I was outraged! I told him that I did not make a practice of dishing out bribes and that I would report our conversation to the Prince. I never saw the Prince again. Some time later I realised that the Prince had probably been sitting next to his Secretary when he had made the call and it was probably his way of getting a few thousand off the price. I also recall another yacht-owning Middle Eastern client. Whenever we presented him with an invoice, I would ask the staff to make sure that it was itemised and added-up wrongly, but in his favour. Usually by either £50 or £100. Before handing over a wad of cash, he would add-up the bill himself, realise that it was incorrect , say ” Yes, that appears to be in order”  and pay. He was happy and I was happy but more importantly, honour had been satisfied, he had won a little victory and he always came back to us because he enjoyed our little game. We should NOT always be so po-faced about the way that other nationals  do business. It may not be pretty but it works.
  • Is it really the end of the Labour Party Conference? Thank You, God. Harriett Harman is not too chuffed about the Sun’s decision to support the Tories. She said: “Let’s face it, the nearest their political analysis gets to women’s rights is Page 3’s news in briefs.”  It’s only a matter of time before Harriet gets the call from Hugh Hefner.
  • At the Labour Conference yesterday, the jurassic Tony Woodley, leader of UNITE, was cheered when he tore up a copy of the Sun. One presumes that he had looked at the pictures first. He said: “I suggest the rest of the country should do exactly the same thing”. Labour should persuade more progressives such as Tony Woodley to give voice to their views – that way they’re absolutely GUARANTEED to lose not only the next election but several after that. During Tony Blair’s tenure these Brylcreemed 50s throwbacks used to be kept in a darkened room or padded box until after Conference. A dignified silence without even a platform-mention of the Sun would have been far more powerful.

  • Financial Analysts seem to be confusing the state of the FTSE 100 with the British Economy. The fact is that many of the billions invested in the Stock Exchange consists of foreign money. That’s where many of the profits are going – abroad. Instead of flying to Monaco to play the tables at the Casino, many foreigner “investors” are winning lots in the Casino that is the London Stock Exchange.

  • The FTSE 100 has experienced its biggest quarterly rise in 25 years. Once again, this  is being hailed as some sort of success. It simply means that lots of bets have been placed. The punters will be taking their profits soon. Then the Government can once again blame the bankers. Let’s hope that they don’t break the bank again.

  • Politicians are always saying that it is the Pension Funds and Insurance Companies  own most of the assets traded on the Stock Exchange. In fact, between them, they only own about 25%

  • Today the national minimum wage rises by 7p an hour to £5.80 and for 18 to 21-year-olds, the minimum wage increases by 6p to £4.83 per hour. This is also the day when the government legislation on “tips” has changed. From today it illegal for bars, restaurants and hotels to use tips or service charges to make up a minimum salary. That is all very well but in the grand scheme of things, it is a comparatively trivial matter and possibly not a terribly cost-efficient move by the Government. Especially as the Government has already conceded that the changes governing tips will lead to an estimated £60m in extra costs to ensure the legislation is implemented properly. The new code will also lead to higher National Insurance payments. This is an inflationarymove because bars , restaurants etc will simply “up” their prices to maintain their margins. The British Hospitality Association (BHA) estimates the new rules could lead to an additional £130m in costs and up to  5,000 job losses. There are those of course who feel that a tip should be a customer’s expression of appreciation for good service and should not be used by an employer to bring wages up to the minimum. Mind you, both the Federation of Small Businesses and UNITE are both in favour of the changes. The only people who will be really affected are the tippers and the tipees. The customer tippers will experience increased prices and the waiter tippees may suffer up to an estimated 5000 job losses. There is a saying: ” If it ain’t broken – don’t fix it.” Needless to say, one of the few groups who will not be affected is Politicians. You may have heard that when they eat out or stay in hotels – it tends to be on expenses. 

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Friday September 25th 2009

Friday September 25th 2009

  • The mole who leaked the MPs’ expenses information to the Daily Telegraph has revealed what motivated him to do so – apart that is, from the £110,000 fee that he was paid. It now appears that his primary motivation was not money but the fact that serving soldiers were “moonlighting” at the House of Commons. They were working in the Security department and protecting the Civil Servants who were dealing with confidential matters – one of which was Members’ expenses. Apparently, it wasn’t long before the soldiers realised the extent and extravagance of MPs’ expenses and so glimpsed the comparative opulence and excesses of the politicians’ lifestyles.  The very people who represented them and who had sent them abroad to be shot at. The sums of money involved in the claims that they either saw or were told about were further amplified by the fact that the soldiers were doing this extra work in order to buy decent boots and body protectors and other items which would make their soldiering duties easier and safer. It is currently very easy for us to feel very emotional  when they hear stories such as this – but we should proceed with extreme caution because it now seems that the mole is trying to justify his actions in leaking the information. He appears to be telling us that he now feels vindicated because of the “poor” soldiers and because MPs have to-date returned over £500,000 in mis-claimed expenses. Planes bearing dead blown-to-bits soldiers, processions through Wootton Bassett and full-page photographs of a recently mutilated soldier paying his last respects to his blown-up dead buddy certainly do tug at the heart-strings. Great propaganda andimmaculatetimingbyourmole. Now the facts: The mole received £110,000 pounds from a right-wing paper. Currently each soldier receives Osprey lightweight body armour and£3500 – worth of state-of-the-art equipment – including boots and shoes. The mole’s motives for leaking the information would not be in question had he not accepted such a large amount of money – which one presumes has been donated to the Army Benevolent Fund. I am not a great supporter either of this Government or of the pointless shenanigans in Afghanistan but sometimes there are over-sugared pills which are just too difficult to swallow.

  • One question remains: Why were security men  -serving soldiers or not- allowed to either view or be given  confidential information.

  • China , India and Brazil are to play a more prominent part in G20 and will also have more IMF votes. Currently, China wields 3.7% of IMF votes compared with France’s 4.9%, although the Chinese economy is now 50% larger than that of France and  in spite of the fact that China has over 20 Provinces which each has a population greater than that of France. This looks very much like the dawn of the Eastern or New economies and the inevitable sunset for the once all-powerful West. Regrettably, not only is it a question of size and manufacturing power but the West is currently “in hock” to China. Chinese and Indian savers enabled all of us to be borrowers. Now economists are saying that the East has to create the same free-spending and borrowing consumer society that we have enjoyed for so many years: just look where WE are now! Are we really so well-placed as to be dispensing economic advice?

  • Another New Labour piece of legislation which has been languishing in the long grass for a while is the changing or possibly the removal of the Statutory Retirement Age. It is a shame that there are ex-teachers, ex-managers, ex-engineers who happen to be over 65 and who are now either shelf-stacking, working at B&Q or watching Countdown. What a waste. The Government says that the matter will be dealt-with in 2010, in other words, by the Tories. Meanwhile, at least 300 over 65s are taking ex-employers to Tribunals and yet again, lawyers have become involved. That is New Labour’s one big success – through their intransigence and incompetence, they have produced the best-ever Lawyer Job-Creation Scheme. The Brits have always been obsessed with 65 being their time to stop work, relax, take long holidays etc. Unfortunately in many cases it’s retire, sit around for a bit, die.  We are changing as a nation and it is not purely because of the recession or plundered company pension schemes that people wish to carry-on working. Our “retirement mentality” has gradually been disappearing and people genuinely WANT to work for as long as they can. OK, there are very physical jobs where at age 65, you’re clapped-out. For instance, building, mining or farming. You can punish your body to such an extent that by the time you are 50, you start looking forward to the day when you can stop. However, nowadays many of us are engaged in non-physical work which means that we SHOULD be as fit at 65 as we were at 45. Policies should not be driven by a Government with one eye on unemployment statistics because as usual, public opinion is against them. It’s now time for the Statutory Retirement Age to be abolished.

  • Iran is the world’s fourth-biggest oil producer. No wonder they need to make such a vast investment in nuclear energy. You never know! Or, could it be that the Mullahs want to produce nuclear warheads in order obliterate Israel and/or the USA. That’s not possible because the Koran says that Muslims want us all to be their chums. Here are three quotes directly from the Koran (or Quran if you know your Peking from your Beijing). Here goes: “O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” (5.51)  or :“So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates.” (47.4)  or “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement” (5.33) As I said – nothing to worry about. They’re just misunderstood. Talk of fundametalist Muslims being a bunch of fanatical murdering misogynist psychos is very naughty. They want to love us – as we love them. It says so in the Quran. Let them build their nuclear power stations bombs. It’s for our own good. Just think about all that cheap electricity.

Nearly forgot: “O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand.” (8.65)

  • The often misunderstood and misinterpreted thing which suggests that when a  Muslim blows himself up for the cause , he will be rewarded in Paradise with 40 virgins to shag (presumably) -is wrong. Martyrs in Islam are classified as people who die for their religion whereas people who blow themselves up for women are dying for their own lusts. It’s Hell for them. Presumably you need to die with a hard-on. Not impossible – many men do, apparently.

These are Iran’s main Nuclear sites:

Thursday September 24th 2009

  • The Government has criticised the Football Association for not reforming itself. It has also asked the F.A to spend more time and resources on ethnics and women as well as telling them that they should provide better leadership. Perhaps when the F.A has completed its restructuring it can then give H.M Government a few tips. Talk about Pot-Kettle.

  • A recent U.S survey shows that many Americans think that Tony Blair is the British Prime Minister. Someone ought to tell them who the real UK Prime Minister is. Darth Mandelson.

  • Mandelson has been quoted as saying that Gordon Brown ought to “lighten up”  a bit. Not THAT smile again PLEASE!!!!  NOOOO!!!

  • What is it about meetings beginning with a “G”? Why is our expectation level do low? Is it because we know that the post-meeting statement has already been written? Is it because all previous meetings were such a monumental waste a waste of resources, time and money? Anyway – who DOES write that n-page statement which announces the next meeting in 6 months? Gordon Brown’s LAST such meeting.

  • Is it true that Obama snubbed Gordon Brown? Obama has had one-on-one meetings withotherleaders. Why not with our own Prime Minister? Is it because of the Megrahi affair or could it be because of the increasingly prominent sell-by date on Gordon Brown’s forehead?

  • Banks are currently reducing their assets and hoarding cash because of liquidity requirements. Put in simple terms, that means that the magic conjured-up money – the so-called Quantitative Easing is making it in through the banks’ back doors but the front doors remain only slightly ajar. READ REST OF ARTICLE

  • In 1998, the Saville Inquiry began its investigations into the shooting of 29 Civil Rights protesters by soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the British  Parachute Regiment. Five protesters were shot in the back and two injured protesters were run down by Army vehicles. Fourteen people died. This was the Bloody Sunday Massacre which took place on 30th January 1972 in Derry. The original Widgery Tribunal concluded that the  soldiers actions could be best described as “bordering on the reckless” . Unsurprisingly, the Widgery report was widely regarded as a whitewash. Hence the Saville Inquiry. Now we hear that the Saville Inquiry will report in March 2010!!! Apparently, there’s a printing issue that needs to be resolved. Once again , this 11-year inquiry brings into focus two great British institutions – queueing and inquiries. Not to mention a steady income for a whole “shark” of lawyers.

  • The anniversary of Lehman Brothers going down the toilet has passed anditisnowayearsincethesolidsreallyhitthe air-conditioning big time. For those who do not really understand finance – and who really does these days, here’s the deal. Politicians and bankers knew for at leat 18 months before the collapse that there was not enough cash in the system andthatmost, if not ALL banks were now standing on foundations of sand. It was only when Lehman had to admit that there was no real money – only paper ” instruments” which could be worth cash , that it was realised that the real currency that the banks had been  dealing-in was bullshit and promises. Politicians are now beginning to strike heroic poses as they tell us how they saved the banking system and that they only-just managed to avert a financial Armageddon. The real fact is that they knew what was happening all along and lived in the HOPE that somehow (they did not know how), the financial system would self-adjust or self-regulate itself back to stability . It didn’t and the solution that is being applied today is exactly the same as that which caused the collapse. Imaginary money. Eighteen months ago, bankers and politicians were HOPING that the system would sort itself out and that is EXACTLY what they are hoping for today. What is really needed is a total restructuring of the banking system but there isn’t the global political will to make that first all-important move.

  • There’s a (denied) rumour that Gordon Brown is going blind. Obviously we all hope that he is not. In spite of the fact that he has all the leadership qualities of damp Kleenex, he is a decent man. The rumour that he is blind has obviously been started by someone who is confusing his eyesight with his policies and management style.

Wednesday September 23rd 2009

  • Apparently, there is a small but statistically significant rise in patient deaths when junior doctors start work in August. Perhaps the same survey should be done with slightly different parameters: Before pubs open and after closing time.

  • A friend sent me a cartoon yesterday which, for the first time, explained the constant Midde East conflict . Jewish man  looking up at the sky saying, “Now, let me get this straight God. The Arabs get the oil and you want us to cut the end off our what….?” 

  • This snippet explains better than anything the anonymous nature of the Liberals’ leader. Nick Clegg will be delivering the Leader’s rabble-rousing Conference for the THIRD time!! He will attempt to come cross as a TOUGH leader. Doesn’t compute, does it? He always looks as if he’s just taken a “NICE” pill.

  • Justin-lee Collins has said what many are thinking: Bruce Forsyth should have stopped TV presenting three or four years ago. There’s a touch of the Emperor’s New Clothes about the whole thing. So much so that no-one appears willing to say ” Brucie, you are now coming across as an old twat. Piss off”. Instead the poor old bugger is being patronised, allowed to be unfunny (obviously from the tumbleweed school of humour) and worst of all, he’s being referred-to as “sprightly”.An adjective every man dreads because it is THE word which signifies the beginning of the end. It is NOT a compliment. It means that you are past-it and when you attempt to tap dance avec embarrassing Sammy Davis Jr-esque gurning, you look like a swinging cadaver with a ferret up a wet trouser leg.

  • I have just discovered that Chas & Dave have split up.     p.s. I am writing this on Beachy Head.

  • Kristna Rihanoff whose Strictly Come Dancing partner is Joe Calzaghe celebrated her birthday yesterday. Rumour has it that Joe and Kristina have grown very close. I  wonder whether he had any difficuty in wrapping her present?

  • More meaningless military “sincero-talk”today. Acting Sergeant Michael Lockett was blown up by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province.  “There’s now a gap in our ranks that will be so very difficult to fill”  and  “Sgt Lockett’s raw bravery and seflessness cost hm his life but undoubtedly saved that of one of his soldiers.”  are just two more examples from the Army Book of Fine Words. Meaningless twaddle. Sgt Locketthas left behindastrickengirlfriend and three children aged eight, seven and five. “We take solace in the fact that he died doing a job he was born to do” was more puke-inducing bollocks – this time from his father.  Stop this pseudo-heroic crap and bring ALL of our young soldiers back here to the United Kingdom, where they belong. The Taliban certainly do not see these young soldiers as heroes  –  more like fairground ducks.

  • When will the Vatican be called to account over the tens of thousands of children that have been abused by pervert priests? The Catholic Church has been accused at the United Nations Human Rights Council of a systematic and long-standing cover-up. The Vatican is in breach of its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Handing out MILLIONS in compensation is really not the way forward. It’s customary to pay for sex up-front , not ten, twenty or thirty years after the event. Let us hope that one day there will be a time when the Vatican can close its child-abuse fund and get on with the business of religion.

  • Nothing about Gordon Brown today because he hasn’t said anything new or original. Situation normal. 

Tuesday September 22nd 2009

  • Did you see Darth Mandelson being questioned on the subject of bankers’ bonuses last night? As Business Secretary, he has the power to stop the bankers in their tracks. But he cannot and he would not answer any bonus-related questions.

  • General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan has warned that the war there could be lost unless there is an increase in troops within a year. He is asking for an additional 30,000 troops.  This is truly developing into another Vietnam. Currently, there are 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, 62,000 of whom are American. Time to talk.

  • The United Kingdom is needlessly wasting resources by sending too many average and some downright thick students to University. In fact, there are too many Universities. Hence the current funding crisis. The solution is so simple that even an Education Minister ought to be able to work it out.

  • The worldwide recession and the resulting drop in consumer demand has had a profound effect on industrial production. That has had an unexpectedly welcome effect on greenhouse gas emission – it has fallen by over 40%. Perhaps the Global Warming Mullahs will take this opportunity to shut up.

  • Anish Kapoor, the 1991 Turner Prize winner has a solo exhibtion the Royal Academy. This event is unusual because Anish lacks the traditional qualification for such a exhibition. He isn’t dead. If you enjoy abstract sculpture and/or you like spouting pretentious arty bollocks, then this exhibition is for you. Here’s a nosegay from Anish himself: “That sense of the poem being put together as word objects relates to sculpture in a very fundamental way. Sculpture also has this ability to be what it isn’t. It’s kind of about the illusory and the real.”Quite.  Anish is very keen on vaginas so do look out for the odd wobbly red letterbox shape.

  • The media seem surprised that construction companies and builders have been ripping-off Local Authorities and other organisations which are spending other peoples’ money. It’s been going on for years. This is from April 2008 – CLICK HERE– and it includes a scene from the Coconut Club, which you will be hearing more and more about over the next few weeks.

  • This week is Climate Week – a crucial  week in the quest for a global climate deal. World leaders are meeting at the UN in New York and a G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Meetings such as this have been going on for a few years now so let us hope that the current series of meetings produces something that has been sadly missing from previous encounters. Action. In December the Copenhagen environmental conference will hopefully be the real turning point and turn meetings into agreements into action.

  • Global Warming: Predictions are made using computer models and although the general consensus is that Global Warming is occurring, there are scientists (the so-called “deniers”) who have alternative models which suggest that the Earth will cool before its becomes hotter. Regrettably, the religious-like aspects of Global Warming, treat scientists who deny Global Warming as heretics who are often lampooned andmarginalisedby both the scientific and political communities.  The latest of these is a   Professor Mojib Latif, from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel,  who has suggested that the long-term warming trend could be masked – perhaps for as long as 10 or 20 years – by a temporary cooling caused by natural fluctuations in currents and temperatures called the NorthAtlanticOscillation. It all seems to depend on which set of data is plugged into which computer model.  However, it is the politicians who are the true believers who only appear to read data which supports their dogma.

  • Helen Goddard , music teacher has been jailed for 15-months as the result of a lesbian affair with a 15-year-old pupil. How modern. Not nice – but definitely “of the age”.

  • Rumour has it that Louis Walsh, the Irish spud  and pop manager from the X-factor is going under the knife in order to improve his looks. There must be a long queue of knife-sharpening volunteers. Surprising that he hasn’t yet benefited from sitting so close to that pair of  BotoxedBookends – Simon Cowell and Danni Minogue – by osmosis.

  • Sir Bobby Robson’s Memorial service must have been an ordeal for Paul Gascoigne. There was only one photo of Gazza that the snappers wanted – and they got it.

  • This is the sort of medical research that we like:  If you have alcohol in your bloodstream, you are far less likely to die from a head injury, says Dr Ali Salim from Los Angeles. The findings are based on a 5-year study of 38,000 people. You can’t be too careful. Cheers.

  • Nothing in the Press about Jordan today. Max Clifford must be on a long weekend break.

  • Attorney-General Baroness Scotland is still facing an uncertain future. Gordon Brown, her boss is being his usual decisive self. This is what he said this morning: “We will have to find out what has actually happened and I will have to wait for that report this morning and she will want to answer the questions that are put to her. We will have to make decisions.”  Brown obviously has not been watching the news or reading his Daily Worker. The fact is that Baroness Scotland employed someone who did not have authorisation to work in the United Kingdom. In fact, her papers expired five years ago. As usual, the long grass is quivering in anticipation.

Monday September 21st 2009

  • It now appears that Womens World  800m champion Caster Semenya was tested ages ago and there has been concern over her sex for months. The issue did not suddenly materialise at the last Word Championships. The whole thing has been handed so badly that there is every likelihood of IAAF resignations.

  • Baroness Scotland will probably resign this week. If every politician who made a mistake resigned, Westminster would be empty by now.

  • It looks as if Megrahi is going to be the first criminal to be retried on the Internet. We’re still awating an intervention from God and the miracle recovery. There has been one previous miraculous recovery by a convicted criminal. Ernest Saunders (1980s Guinness Scandal) was freed by a judge because he was suffering from Alzheimer’s. So far, Ernest Saunders in the first  and only recorded case of a total recovery from Alzheimer’s. The recovery took place soon after he was released from jail. Speaking of miraculous recoveries – Ronnie “released on compassionate grounds” Biggs has been seen out and about on his mobility scooter. Megrahi or Biggs? I’m off to Ladbrokes to make a small investment.

  • The Liberals are having their occasional rush of blood and putting themselves forward as a party of government. Remember David Steel in 1981? “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government.”  Forget it boys and girls. There’s Vince Cable and Norman Baker and after that it all becomes a bit anonymous. Nick who?

  • The Liberals want to tax home owners whose properyis worth in excess of a million. They will be the only Party whose policies will be derailed by a property crash andonthatbasisalone, this policy has the depth and solidity of  a closing-time back-of-a-beermat “I really lovvve you”  concept. They’re not sponsored by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, are they? This new policy is the Liberals’ biggest-ever lurch to the left. The sort of thing that New Labour would have done when they were Proper Labour.

  • The elephant in the room – the one that no-one is talking about is still there. I am of course referring to the economy.

  • Several big companies, including a couple of large builders as well as the Royal Bank of Scotland will be coming to market very soon to raise many billions. Watch those share prices.  Here we go again.

  • Have you noticed how Kerry Katona’s nose is looking more and more like Danniella Westbrook’s last nose-but-one?

  • The Education bods are gettinng a bit twitchy at Ed Balls’ suggestions of swingeing cuts in Education. It is the designer-suited BMW-driving “advisers” at County Hall who should think twice before renewing their gym membership or booking that holiday in Tuscany. CLICK HERE

  • I did not see Alesha Dixon’s debut on Strictly Whatsit but it sounds as if she had a list of pre-prepared crap written down, dispensed it quite randomly and personalised it by adding bad grammar.

  • Rules are being published this week which will exempt family and friends from being prosecuted after assisting in a suicide.  It is purely coincidental that these rules are being rushed through just before Gordon Brown’s conference speech.

  • Manchester City manger Mark Hughes is complaining that too much time was added on at the endofyesterday’sderbygame with Mancheser United.  Michael Owen scored Man Utd’s winning goal in he 97th minute. Hughes forgets that his team had the identical extra time in which to score.

Monday September 7th 2009-Friday September 18th 2009

Friday September 18th 2009 

  • There has been some concern that Romell Broom may have suffered mental anguish when two Ohio State officials failed to find a vein in order to deliver a fatal injection. According to Broom’s lawyer, Broom had suffered both “mental and physical injuries” and apparently became distressed and appeared to cry. Broom was convicted of raping and then killing a 14 year-old girl.
  • We’re too fat, we drink too much alcohol, we’re unfit, we ingest female hormones in our meat  and weedkillers from our vegetables and we’re too stressed. Paradoxically, our life expectancy is increasing.
  • Alistair Darling is engaged in a series of meetings in order to decide where spending cuts can be made. If you’re expecting decisions within the next few months – stop being so silly. Although professional pundits do now have the opportunity to make pointless predictions.

  • Andy Burnham is suggesting yet more NHS changes. The God of Change strikes again! This month’s idea is that we will all be able to choose our GP. I would like one that’s qualified, understands human anatomy and is sober.

  • Baroness Scotland should know that in a Court of Law, ignorance is no defence. Mind you, the Baroness is the Attorney General. Hopefully, hiring someone called Loloahi Tapui(clue!) with out-of-date papers was just an oversight and as such, does not generate a witch-hunt. Oh yes – there’s an enquiry. There’s always a feckin’ enquiry.

  • Suddenly, Jordan doesn’t want to talk about “the rape”. It seems that her PR people are running out of interesting stories. The only remaining possbilities are either  ” I was abused as a child” or “I was abducted by aliens”.

  • Bit of a “to-do” about  unofficial sperm donors. Apparently, ladies can contact a sperm donor  on-line, arrange a meeting and either be handed a container-full of the stuff or on occasion have it delivered direct through the medium of sex. Hence the phrase : “”Bottled or draught?”  Sounds like an excellent service as well as an interesting career move, although it could mess-up the old CV, especially if the CV is printed on a sheet of Kleenex. Just realised that if this type of work is a career, the phrase “hand job” begins to make sense.

  • How would the management at Student Loans UK feel if they were told that because of administrative incompetence, their September salaries will be paid at the end of October. They would probably be quite upset. Next question: How do young kids with the incredible stress associated with leaving home feel-when they’re told by Student Loans UK that their University grants will be paid “about” four weeks late? Why is the beginning of the academic year ALWAYS a surprise? For the record and to help Student Loans UK: The next academic year will be starting in October 2010. Hopefully, that’s enough notice.

  • Scientists at Newcastle University have produced human sperm in the laboratory. Didn’t know that there was a shortage. Just take a chipping hammer to any Confessional carpet.

  • Gordon Brown said today “Cooperation between nations at the G20 summit will be crucial to ensure global economic recovery”  That is probably the twentieth version of the same sentence . It is a truism and it’s boring. Here’s another sentence which I hope Gordon finds as interesting as his own deep thoughts: ” The sun is in the sky”

  • Here is a quote from this evening’s No 10 bulletin: “The Prime Minister is launching a brand new podcast series this week talking directly to you about the big issues of the day. The podcasts, which will be available on our iTunes channel andonYouTube, will be recorded at Downing Street or around the world when the Prime Minister is travelling.”  Wow! That Gordon Brown is so “street”  -using that Interwebthingytoconnectwith the YouTube dudes. Way to go, MC Gordo! Soon,  he’ll be buying a pair of those really cool Levi Strauss blue denim casual trousers with the turn-ups, copper rivets and the little red label. Sound! Should go well with the black brogues.

  • Remember what I told you about the American dollar going into freefall. Soon. Continue reading Monday September 7th 2009-Friday September 18th 2009