Tag Archives: Alistair Darling

New Predictions 2010/2013

Alistair Darling has never looked so relaxed. David Cameron observed that if Darling and and the Prime Minister sat any closer to each other on the front bench yesterday, they would be kissing. The Labour front bench has never  looked so “at ease” and with good reason. There’s absolutely NOTHING that they can now do about the economy, NHS or any of the other major conundrums of State. They are in a good place and enjoying the rapid approach of Spring and what it will bring – the dissolution of Parliament.

The crippled economy appears to have been left to its own devices as it staggers and bumps along from crisis to crisis. The politicians, bankers and economists seem to have been reduced to the role of observers, purveyors of increasingly convoluted euphemisms and “guessers” who still have not grasped the difference between two fundamental Theories: Keynes and Chaos.

It may be an idea to try to slash a path through the current economic goings-on in order to see if we can make any sense of it all.

Our Chancellor’s current laid-back demeanour means one of two things. It means that either he has adopted the fatalistic attitude of one who cannot wait to put his hands on the severance pay, begin his memoirs  and give Gordon Brown the shafting that he has been deserving of for the last 13 years OR  maybe he really doesn’t understand the problem.

The Winter Olympics, Christine Pratt, Gordon Brown and the Coles may be hogging the front pages but perhaps that’s all for the best because what could be on the front pages is strictly Certificate X. In fact, some of what is about to happen to the world’s economy would never pass the scrutiny of the British Board Of Film Censors.  We are heading for a cross between a social  Exorcist and an economic Armageddon. So let’s begin.

I have either observed or worked within the Financial Services Industry for over 30 years and remember the days before the present circus of  exotic financial instruments and comedy accounting. Stockbrokers and Fund managers were not riding financial tigers  or unbroken investment mustangs that were impossible to dismount without a great deal of pain. There were long bull markets interspersed with the occasional short sharp shock of a quick bear. There was order with only the occasional panic which would always be sorted out without the aid of the Bank of England’s printing presses. Those were the “My word is my bond” days.

Investment banks would never have cooked a country’s books in order to replicate what the banks themselves were doing in order to hide gargantuan unsustainable debts. They would not have  charged Greece 0ver £190 million for their trouble so that “on paper” Greece woud look financially fit enough to join the Euro.

Four months ago, Greece’s 10-year bond was trading happily, it was stable and rising.  Then,  global investors began to dump Greek bonds in huge volumes and with unprecedented speed. The whole thing was so brutal that the custodians of the Greek economy did not realise the full extent of the disaster until their economy was exhibiting all the symptoms of near-death. Thanks to Goldman Sachs who had (legally) helped them to cook the books, Greece had been living and borrowing in an economic cloud-cuckoo land. Currently, they are standing on of the equivalent of an “event horizon” at the edge of an economic Black Hole.

Three months ago,  Portugal’s 10-year government bond also peaked. That is also being dumped by global investors. Nobody wants it. Portugal’s problem mirrors that of Greece.  To put it very simply: overborrowed with no collateral. Just like our banks.

Investors are dumping Greek and Portuguese paper because they are nearly 100% certain that their current economic positions  are unsustainable and that both countries will default.

Italy is keeping afloat through the medium of creative accounting. The next economy to tumble after Portugal and Greece will be Spain  which is running out of both time and cheques with which to support its 20% unemployment rate. The ship that is probably going to support the sinking rats is the holed twin-hull of France and Germany who both know that they need to bail out Greece. After that is achieved, there is severe danger of a Euro-queue forming.

The Euro is doomed because France and Germany will be breaking that most sacred of rules which states that “Thou shalt not bail out thy Euro neighbour”. That rule was enshrined in statute so that a Euro economy in trouble would never drag down any other Euro-user.

Both the French and the Germans are continuing their own spending orgies and instead of doing something now, they are following the United States’ and United Kingdom’s lead. They are postponing the day of reckoning and merely watching the final death throes of the Greek economy.

It looks as if the Euro is about to be sacrificed.

The American dollar will also soon be needing  some sort of life support. Rating agency Moody’s  has already warned  the States about its giant but still accelerating debt.

Dollars  and Sterling have been pumped rather over-enthusiastically into both the American and British banking systems and that has directly resulted in an overvalued stock-market and the feeling is that we are now about to witness a fall in market values which will continue into 2013. That will be mirrored by the highest-ever percentage rise in the price of Gold, Platinum, Palladium and even silver. Gold may well cross the $2000 per ounce barrier.

The dollar will continue its slide which will accelerate by the middle of 2010 , with its downward journey picking up speed by the end of  the year. The pound sterling will follow because currency speculators will be falling over themselves to buy currencies such as  Australian and Canadian dollars. From flashy and weak to unexciting but solid.

At the front-end of 2011, we will see the beginning of the dreaded second dip in the recession which many commentators  seem to think is gradually exhibiting those iconic green shoots of recovery. Those shoots will turn brown and atrophy.

All this will happen because back  in 2009,  whole states made the decision to sacrifice themselves in order to  save their dead  banking systems. History will probably judge these to be the worst economic decisions ever made.   A country has never sacrificed its economy and welfare of its citizens in order to save a broke and discredited banking system which it had itself allowed to expand without proper control.

By the end of 2011 and into 2012, most countries will follow the Greek economy – which is currently exhibiting the green shoots of a civil unrest which will soon spread throughout Europe and the Americas .  That will happen because of of an exceptional set of events which will all take place more-or-less simultaneously . Western economies will collapse as their GDPs, currencies and stock markets all bottom-out .

That will finally signal the inevitable dawn of the wealth-shift from West to East.

China will begin to call ALL the shots because Western economies will have  been painted  into an economic  corner with no way out.

Our Chancellor knows that after the next election, he will probably be on the Opposition benches. In the unlikely event of a Labour Prime Minister being asked to form a government, Darling will probably be “reshuffled” out of the Treasury.  Either way, he will be able to continue what he has already started to do – observe the  sunset of the Western economies.

The green shoots of economic recovery? We’ve been looking in the wrong place. They’re in China.

Bank Bonus Farce

 

Several banks have anticipated the Chancellor’s tax-raising exercise and already paid-out bonuses to their people. Others are so cash-rich that they can afford to dismiss Alistair Darling’s gesture as the waste of time that it is. The bottom line is that there isn’t a single banker who will be affected by the Government’s pathetic posturing.

Lloyd’s yesterday successfully completed its £13.5 billion rights issue  and is preparing to pay out its bonus pool in full – with absolutely no concessions.  They will hand-over  £100 million-plus to the Treasury for their naughtiness but what the hell…. What’s £100 million these days.

Most  Lloyd’s bonuses will be comparatively modest – “only”  between £20,000 and £40,000 and  will surprise some of our less clued-up government ministers who expected the banks to rethink compensation policies in the light of the Chancellor’s “supertax”. Most people living in the real world realise that Alistair Darling’s “Coyote”  to the Banking Industry’s ” Roadrunner”  will always be doomed to failure.

Not many of Lloyd’s staff are to receive those much-publicised £1million+ bonuses, unlike the Royal Bank of Scotland , whose main money-earners will receive a total payout of more than three times the amount that Lloyd’s is paying-out.

The majority of banks are now preparing to follow suit.  Some banks have no choice in the matter – especially American ones because they cannotallow a huge pay differential between their UK and US employees .

RBS, however is the likeliest to “toe the line” and reduce 2009/10 bonuses “by a bit” because it is practically a Civil Service department. In the  long-term – it is likely to generate similar profits to the Civil Service.

Price Waterhouse Coopers  estimates that the government is likely to generate  about £2.5 billion from the Chancellor’s Bonus Tax – compared to the £500 million that was originally estimated. However, this is hardly a surprise, bearing in mind this government’s and specifically the Treasury’s record on predicting anything to do with numbers.

Even the current inflation figures are a source of constant surprise and mystery to them and Mervyn King has already inked his Shaffer in readiness for that letter to the Chancellor.

The Treasury has stated on more than one occasion that it wants the banks to retain capital, rather than pay it in bonuses. Therefore, allowing  the banks to pay bonuses at the original levels the banks themselves fixed and then depriving the banks of cash and thus reducing their capital must make sense to someone at the Treasury. So the Treasury will have  the benefit of £2.5 billion which the banks could have lent to small businesses. It would have made far more sense for the Chancellor to “give” his ill-gotten gains to small enterprises but one supposes that business thinking stops at the Treasury’s threshold.

Eric Daniels and Lloyd’s are beginning look good again – in spite of Gordon Brown nearly bringing them to ruin by brokering the HBOS acquisition deal. They now have a successful Rights Issue and all bonuses to be paid in full.

Many of those close to Lloyd’s now expect UKFI, the institution which holds the Lloyd’s shares on behalf of the government, to offload a significant portion of its shareholding in the first few months of 2010. The exact timing will depend on market conditions and presumably, the Election date.

The government will be keen to show it has made a return on its investment before the election and consider a profitable exit price to be anything over 64p a share, compared to yesterday’s closing price of 55p.

Some banking analysts have a target price of 100p for the Lloyd’s shares, which if correct, could see the government selling shares at a healthy profit.

If the government does sell its Lloyd’s shares at say 100p and then the shares “tank”, will the brokers who sell the shares on the government’s behalf be subject to the Prime Minister’s suggested “clawback” rules.

Lloyds calculates the government has so far spent £20.3 billion on it. From that it subtracts the £144 million fees paid to the government for the underwriting of the rights issue, as well as the £2.5 billion break fee from the asset protection scheme, leaving a net outlay by the Treasury of £17.6 billion. This sum would be recouped if the government sells all of its shares at just 64p.

Will anything in excess of that amount be considered as unacceptable risk-taking by the government? Will they hold-out for a much higher price? Knowing this government’s record, they will probably attempt to dump all of their shares, cause the price to fall, just like the previous Chancellor did with all of the United Kingdom’s gold reserves. That could trigger yet another banking crisis crisis and all this will be completed just before the election.

If it does all go well well, they will be able to say: “Look at all the money we made for the taxpayer – unlike the Party opposite!”  Or so they think.

If there is much more interference by the Treasury in the banking system, both Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown ought to claim for a handkerchief each so that they can wave all the bankers “goodbye” when they climb  onto aeroplanes and leave the United Kingdom.

Needless to say, they will not be flying British Airways.

Later Darling!

“Mum, I peed in the swimming pool today”

Mother: ” That’s all right Alistair, most people pee in the swimming pool from time to time”

Alistair: ” Yes, but not from the 10 metre board.”

Yesterday, Alistair Darling peed over most of us, received a lot of attention and there are still a few droplets on their way down to get us later. Some bankers wish that they’d climbed out of the pool earlier.

The attention, headline (and hopefully) vote-grabbing  was achieved through the Chancellors 50% tax on any bankers’ bonuses which are over £25,000. This is a one-off purely cosmetic gesture  because you have to remember that bankers already pay tax at 40% on that part of their income, so in actual fact, only an additional 10% is being levied. Assuming that the total amount of bonuses paid to the banking industry is £5 billion, the Chancellor will rake-in an additional half-billion. That sounds a lot, until you set it against the trillions that he has pumped into the banking system and the £178 billion that he will have to borrow in 2009/10 in order to balance the books.

The calculation is simple, this year, the Government will be spending £676billion (that’s on education, defence, the police, social services , transport etc)  but its income is only £498 billion. The government has not enjoyed such a low-level of income since the 1950s when No 10 was occupied by Harold Macmillan.

The shortfall is £178 billion and it looks as if it will be more-or less the same next year. It won’t be until 2011/12 that the deficit will begin to shrink by any appreciable amount. Mind you, the Chancellor’s crystal-ball gazing in marginally less accurate than that of the average pier-end astrologer so his figures have to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

The interest payments on the money that the government has borrowed currently amount to £30 billion per year. That’s the same as it spends on Housing or Defence and more than it spends on the Police, Social Services and Transport. That is why is is important that the governments current AAA-rating remains in place – otherwise it will be spending much more of its income on  interest payments. Currently, things do not look good and the  United Kingdom may become a sub-prime borrower – like Greece. There is still a strong possibility that once the UK’s credit runs out, it will be technically “bust”.

This Budget statement appears incredibly complacent and  both the Chancellor and Prime Minister, in keeping with Labour tradition,  believe that the best way to get out of debt is to spend their way out of it. It’s a very risky strategy because they are banking (sorry!) on tax-revenue-producing businesses reawakening, employing and so producing much-needed tax-revenue.

The alternative, of course is for the government to decrease its spending. Defence would be a good start although , thanks to Tony Blair, the country is too entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan to make any  meaningful defence cuts. On the contrary, Defence expenditure will have to increase in the short-term.

There has been talk of the the political “sacred-cows” such as  schools, the police and the NHS being “ring-fenced” and not tampered-with for the sake of saving money. That just leaves the Social Services, Education, Industry, Agriculture, Housing and the Environment. There is another line in the government’s annual budget which amounts to about £80 billion. That includes the government itself and the civil service. That is why the Conservatives are so keen to reduce the size of Parliament and the Civil Service

The only REAL way forward is for the government to increase its tax revenue by helping people back to work through persuading the banks to lend money to business so that manufacturing and the service industries can prosper and hire. Unfortunately, the banks are still sulking – especially after the Chancellors’ bonus-punishing announcement.

Meanwhile, all of us will have our living standards compromised and most of our economic pain will not arrive until after the next General Election. The April 2010 increase in National Insurance contributions will mean that anyone earning over £20,00 per year will be worse-off. That’s on top of the rate of VAT returning to 17.5% next month. To put it simply, we will be earning less and paying more.

Rather patronisingly, the government has lowered Bingo Duty from 22% to 20% and there will be free school meals for another 500,000 children.  Child Benefit will increase by 1.5% and the State Pension will increase from £95.25 to £97.65. These are all rather small vote-catching measures which are presented in order to  sugar the very bitter pill of a prolonged and unexpectedly deep recession which will finally turn the United Kingdom into the poor man of Europe.

Over a quarter of the United Kingdom’s economy relies totally on the Financial Services Industry which has moved from being a huge “profit centre” to a temporary “cost centre”.  In spite of the Prime Minister’s and Chancellor’s pantomime “macho” posturing and pointless fiddling with the bankers and their bonuses, they should find an initiative which would force the banks to do what they were designed for. To look after our money and to lend it to business and commerce. Currently, the banks are navel-gazing, producing figures which tell us that they arelending and making a profit.  Unfortunately, they cannot tear themselves away from the idea that their primary “raison d’être” is to prosper, primarily through generating profits by playing the Stock Exchange with borrowed money. Look at the mess that landed them in during 2008 – and they’re still doing it!

This morning, I heard a banker say “I work for Credit Suisse Asset Management. Does that make me a banker?”

The games have begun – and make no mistake, the Chancellor and Prime Minister are already crossing-off the days on their office walls.

Baldrick Darling

 

 Alistair Darling

More headline grabbing from a fatally-wounded Chancellor. Alistair “Baldrick” Darling has yet another cunning plan and it involves those nasty bankers to whom he has handed over all of the family silver – and more besides. Taxing bankers’ bonuses is so tragically futile that it transcends politics and lands somewhere between idiocy and comedy. No other politician has the Chancellor’s comedy timing. What makes it doubly funny is the certain knowledge that he is incandescent with rage after several  thwarted attempts at blackmailing the bankers into capitulating and foregoing their bonuses. He has provided them with months of entertainment and has only just realised that his constant carping to the media about the greedy bankers has had no effect on them whatsoever. They’re intending to keep their money.

Let’s assume that bankers’ bonuses this year total £5 billion. As they are already paying tax at 40%, that means that the Exchequer will be collecting £2 billion in tax. The rumour is that they will be taxed another 20%, which will enable the authorities to collect another £1 billion. Attempting to grab another billion or so seems more like a fit of pique rather than a policy. The government has failed to persuade the bankers to curb their bonuses , so it has to be Baldrick’s version of the big stick.

So who will he be taxing? Which bankers? What is a banker? What about fund managers? Is it just going to be confined to the traders who actually buy and sell stocks? Those are the sorts of details which can be overlooked when ” back of a cigarette packet”  policy is cobbled together over a few days.

This has all the usual hallmarks of a rushed idea, probably spawned by a No 10 focus group. Banker vilification continues because the government seems to think that it is going to be a popular measure and a possible vote winner.

The banking system employs some of the best tax accountants in the universe and it will probably take them just a few days to drive a coach and horses through the proposed new rules.

In addition, the Chancellor forgets that Euro legislation is always peering over his shoulder and there is the all-singing, all-dancing Human Rights Act. There is absolutely no chance of this crassly stupid proposal to have any “legs” whatsoever.

At worst, it will result in another pay-day for the legal profession. At worst – yes, you’ve guessed it: an inquiry.  New Labour is merely fiddling, secretly praying for the next General Election.

This is just more “gesture politics” designed to yet-again deflect our attention from New Labour’s  economic incompetence and blind panic.

NHS balls-up

Imagine that you were a New Labour Government and you were desperate to save money because you had badly screwed-up the economy by handing out too much money to the banks. Where is the first place that you would look in order to cut costs?

The NHS of course!  Easy target.

If you had been stupid enough to hand the initial project to BT who then subcontracted to somewhere in the Indian sub-continent and Far East- specifically to outfits called Tech Mahindra or Fujitsu, and you had also handed over half a billion to them as an interim payment and they had failed to even look as if they were going to deliver the project what should you do? Scrap the project and hand-over a couple of billion in compensation or maybe risk a court case? Who cares? It’s only public money.

This £12.7 billion project was one of Tony Blair’s babies and the original plan was the ill-conceived notion that ALL NHS records should be put on one centralised data base. Software houses all over the world rubbed their hands in glee –  in anticipation of dealing with this crazy self-important bunch of no-hopers, masquerading as a Labour Government and  its very expensive posse of advisers.

Mervyn King had not yet started to print money when this project started in 2002 but now that he has the presses warmed up and running, why not print some more? After all, what is £12 billion these days? This project started in the old days , when £12 billion meant something. Nowadays, it represents only about 50% of bankers’ total annual bonuses.

This project was doomed from Day One – both  in cost and concept. Even NASA has not spent as much on its system. The international IT industry saw this lot coming. It seems that New Labour lost touch with reality on the day that Blair walked into Downing Street. There was no-one who believed that this grandiose project would be delivered – least of all the IT contractors.

New Labour have known for a few years that the project was doomed – companies such as Fujitsu and Accenture walked away a couple of years ago. Now the government has an excuse and is preparing to cut and run. The government has already packed its bags and is now just sitting in the starting blocks awaiting the inevitable.

Alistair Darling is the Edinburgh solicitor who is currently masquerading as the Chancellor of the Exchequer:  “The NHS has quite an expensive IT system that, frankly, is not essential for the front line. That’s something we do not need to go ahead with just now”  Yet another one of his famous “No shit, Sherlock “ moments.

Luckily, Alistair Darling’s P45 is already in the envelope – probably hand-written by the outgoing Prime Minister.

This, from a Treasury spokesman: “The Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Health have examined options for savings on the NHS IT system and more details will be set out in due course.”

The upshot will be more cost-cuts within the beleaguered and demoralised NHS. There will be more  mistakes caused by overworked and under-appreciated staff. That will mean that even more has to be put into each Health Trust’s litigation budget. So what can we do?

The next time you are admitted to hospital to have your tonsils out, make sure that they have the trolley the right way round, otherwise, they’ll probably cut your balls off.

The Brown-Darling Conjecture

There are still six Millennium Prize Problems which remain unsolved. The proof of the Poincaré Conjecture was completed by Grigori  Perelman in 2003 and its review completed in 2006.  That means that there is room for another insoluble problem and that  problem is the current United Kingdom economy. In common with the other Millennium Prize Problems, the UK economy is doubly incomprehensible  because not-only has the solution evaded the greatest economic and political minds of the day but there is little understanding of the question.  We propose therefore to  formally name the government’s “solution” to the current orgy of Quantitative Easing, Low Interest Rates, Banker Intransigence and Economic Chaos. The Brown-Darling Conjecture. 

Another handout

Darling’s unique approach to the banking industry.

 

Alistair Darling is going to announce that the government will spend £30 billion on “buying bank shares”. One presumes that it is now called “buying shares”  because the government does not want to keep using the word “handout”. (By the way, he is not using “our” money. This will be a combination of recently-produced or borrowed money). The government will thus be increasing its equity in the banks and so diluting the share value. The medium-to-long-term intention is to break-up the banks and have another fire sale. This time the beneficiaries will be companies such as Virgin and Tesco. Considering the way that the banks have behaved, surely Ladbrokes would be more appropriate. Dealers have once again begun “shorting” bank shares so there is a very real possibility of the government ending-up with a load of underpriced stock which they will have to hold-onto  until the City  screen-monkeys decide to play again. Continue reading Another handout

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. 

  •  

Wednesday September 30th 2009

  • So the Sun will not be supporting the Labour Party. No real problems there, except the usual one. Why should an Australian like Rupert Murdoch have any say in which newspaper supports which Party. The Sun is read largely by the drooling classes who are very susceptible but regrettably, there is very little that can be done. The Sun’s sister paper , the News of the World, no doubt is poised with some salacious Labour politician scandal ready-to-go.

 

  • The Sun will not just be pro-Cameron  – it will be strongly anti-Gordon Brown. The Sun will do the same assassination job on Brown as it did on Neil Kinnock . The Sun has a circulation of 3 million which means a readership of about 9 million – so  when the Labour Party says – ” it’s people who decide elections”  – they are not really being naïve because they know deep-down that seven months of relentless mickey-taking of Gordon Brown by the Sun will have a profound effect on working class views. Remember that this is the paper that helped Margaret Thatcher to power – they’re THAT good – and relentless. Incidentally, did you know that one James Murdoch is a pal of David Cameron? Coincidence? Er…No.

  • Today’s Conference speeches by Ed Balls and Andy Burnham are very likely to be delivered to a near-empty Brighton Centre. Quite right too.

  • One hesitates to dispense advice to Labour MPs but those who are screwing either their secretaries or researchers should beware  – at least until the First Thursday in May 2010. Whatever you’re doing that is naughty, illegal or vaguely interesting – stop doing it immediately. The News of the World will be releasing the hounds at any minute. For all you know, they already have their snouts in your dustbin.

  • Why was Gordon Brown banging-on about “change”? They’ve had 12 years. It’s a bit late with only a few months to go.

  • Gordon Brown has announced a referendum on how we vote in future – a subject always popular with minority parties. Which counting system will the referendum use? First Past the Post, the Single Transferable Vote or the Alternative Vote method? I think that Gordon looks like a Schulze Method man.

  • Good to see Martin McGuiness attending a Party at the Grand Hotel. Wouldn’t it have been ironic if someone had blown up the hotel – just like his IRA did in 1984?

  • 350,000 old people are to receive free home help. The only good thing about that is the fact that the £400 milllion cost is being made available by cutting some “bolt-on” NHS departments such as Marketing(!) and Communications. Get rid of them anyway.

  • Nero’s revolving dining room has been discovered in Rome. I’ve been in lots of rotating dining rooms in my time  – funnily enough, they usually begin rotating at about 11.00 p.m on a Saturday evening. We call it the “whirling pits”.

  • Tuesday September 29th 2009

    • Interesting statistic which doesn’t appear to be receiving the publicity that it deserves: In the United States, a house is foreclosed or repossessed every 7.5 seconds. As usual, the politicians are taking care of business at the macro-level, while the grass-roots are burning.

    • It is an excellent idea for Gordon Brown to take-on the other two Party leaders in televised debates. Any future Conservative or Liberal vote should be a “pro” Conservative or Liberal vote and not an anti-Labour vote. The Labour backroom boys, led by Darth Mandelson are obviously running a campaign centred-around the comparative inexperience and youth of the other two leaders. That’s fair, because that’s exactly what the Tories did  to Tony Blair in 1997. Admittedly, David Cameron and the Liberal David Whassisname look fresh and youthful compared to Brown – who currently looks as if he has been cage-fighting with his hands in his pockets but in spite of his comparative lack of political fitness, he is not to be underestimated. He will be boring but he will come out fighting. There will be blood. We’ll know by late next week whether David Cameron and George Osborne have steel and substance. Constant criticism and sniping at the Government by the Opposition is quite entertaining but when it comes to a General Election, we will need to witness views and hear policies. Having said all that, remember that PERCEPTION is king and if in spite of brand-new shiny policies from the Tories, the Labour spin machine manages to make David Cameron look like a shallow “oik” then the forthcoming election will be much closer that we currently perceive.

    • One of the ideas being kicked about at the moment is the saving of millions of Education pounds by  cutting teaching assistant jobs in schools. In the UK there are 40,000 teaching assistants – they’re the ones who sit in the classroom with “challenged” children or take them on zoo trips. They are all very nice people, I’m sure –  but a waste of money. Many of the children don’t need a glorified baby-sitter – they need specialist teaching. While we’re on the subject of cuts , I would take an immediate horizontal slice through the current Education Department bureaucracy and take-out all those school advisers – the ones in the designer suits with Series 3 BMWs. They are a waste of time but unfortunately , many are ex-teachers. 

    • Conference time is the time when politicians churn out populist crap in order to grab newspaper headlines and cheap applause. Gordon Brown now says that he will turn 11,500 Post Offices into the “Peoples Bank”. That’s what Building Societies used to be. There was one other bank which used to be popular with the “people”. Now what was that called?…… Oh yes, it was called the Trustee Savings Bank. Whatever happened to that? Here’s a quote from Gordon: “I want the Post Office to step in to help hardworking families to save and access their money easily with banking for the people in our neighbourhoods”. If Brown thinks that he is going to create a new banking system in under eight months, then perhaps Andrew Marr was right about the happy pills. Brown is obviously playing without the full complement of marbles. Oh yes – one final thing. “Hardworking” working class families need JOBS. They rarely save their Giro cheques.

    • Today’s the day that Gordon Brown will either  read the best speech of his life or stumble his way through the world’s most-boring and longest-ever suicide note. Whichever way it swings – there will be lots of applause, back-slapping and standing-up.

    • If you keep putting rats in a cage and keep adding rats, there comes a time when they start eating each other. The human equivalent is the run-down council estate. Weak rats are prey to the bigger and stronger rats. That is exactly the phenomenon which killed Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca. Mrs Pilkington was driven to such desperation through being goaded and verbally abused by a gang of young pikeys that she set-fire to herself and her daughter. Not the best way to die. Needless to say there will be enquiries, lessons will be learned, the Social Services will be exonerated, the Police will make excuses, the local Council will hold a press conference and make a statement. By now, the whole process is probably in an Operations Manual somewhere.

    • Jack Straw is surprisingly eloquent today. The trouble is that The Brighton Centre seems half-empty or as the Tories might say “half-full” or as the Liberals would say “too big”. Let’s hope it fills up when the leader performs. The Labour Party is going to play dirty this time. Straw mentioned Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act. This was repealed by Labour in 2000 and was the section of the 1988 Act which stated that a Local Authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”. They should stop dragging up 20-year old legislation (under which there wasn’t a single prosecution). Homosexuality is not an issue in 2009 and “New” Labour is clearly demonstrating what little legislative success it has had in the last 12 years. Occasionally they still bang-on about 13 years of Tory Rule!!! Labour should fight on current policies. By the way, when Jack sat down, the reception was at best muted, at worst underwhelming. As the spin doctors might say: He received a seated ovation.

    • Fiona Phillips off the telly is speaking but she is having difficulty speaking because she appears to have  her tongue well-stuck up Alan Johnson’s well-groomed backside. She is acting, flicking her hair and simpering like a love-struck typist who’s just shagged the boss. At least Johnson, who looks (and sounds) more Bookie’s runner than Statesman has the good grace to look embarrassed. What the f*** was all that about? “Airhead introduces Postman Pat”? 

    • There is one session that we presenters and speakers like to avoid – if given the choice. It is the session immediately after lunch when your audience arrives full of food and drink and whose brains are temporarily in semi-shutdown as their stomachs begin the digestion process. We call it the Graveyard Session. Wonder who’s speaking this afternoon? Oh yes! Him! Perhaps the audience needs to be semi-comatose. If it isn’t, it soon will be.

    • I’ve just been watching a recording of John Denham speaking at the Labour Conference. Is it me, but doesn’t he look like a Conference League Football Referee? He’s another one who disapproves of David Cameron’s “Notting Hill” Policies. All Labour speakers are talking-up the social gap between the poor and the Conservative Party. A dangerous and desperate strategy. Only Mandelson has verbally placed the Labour Party firmly in the middle of the political spectrum but he also took the opportunity to accuse the Tories of lurching to the right as soon as they are elected. The Socialists are going to defend  that middle ground to the death. That is where the election will be fought. The Labour strategy appears to be to make the electorate perceive the Tories as a gang of inexperienced extreme right-wing Notting Hill hoorays.

    • Have you noticed how the Party that’s behind in the polls always accuses the BBC of “bias”. Today we have anti-Government bias – in the old days, under Her Thatcherness and John Major, we had BBC left-wing bias. Apparently the BBC is capable of bias in all sorts of delicious flavours and colours.

    • Gordon Brown has started his speech with a list of Labour achievements. That’s the first five minutes gone. He has obviously structured his speech very simply. The next list is one of his cabinet and their achievements. That will probably be another ten minutes. Luckily I have a hairdressers appointment at 3 o’clock. He’s just mentioned Northern Rock. Talking off-script? He started with a smile but has now forgotten it and his expression has returned to looking as if he’s defusing a Taliban bomb. I notice that his <pauses for applause> seem to be immediately after he has mentioned a large number of some sort and his intonation changes as if he’s saying “Crackerjack pencil! “He’s mentioned Harriet and Alistair but has now stopped naming Cabinet members. My current thought is that his speechwriters should be ritually disemboweled and fed to Darth Mandelson. His speech has now become the usual drone. As he is slagging-off the bankers, I fear that it is time to go. If you listen to his speeches, you will notice that he seldom uses adjectives or adverbs. I just killed a fly and wonder whether I should turn the Aga back on today, in  spite of the sunny weather. Our field was cut a couple of days ago but I just cannot summon the energy to cut the lawn. It takes two hours. Gordon Brown is still talking. He doesn’t like banks, does he? Surprising therefore that he’s invested so much of our money in them. I’ll record it and come back later after a couple of Bushmills. He’s just used the most exciting phrase of the whole speech – Economic Model. Enough. He’s off on his pre-leaked Post Office bollocks.  Low carbon Zones? He knows how to give his audience a good time.

    • What’s all this about “Middle England”?  Why don’t they just say Northamptonshire? Or do they mean Middle Earth?

    • In the USA, the Federal Housing Association has a leverage ratio ( What it owes compared to what it owns) of 50-1. Interestingly, that’s just about the same as Bear Stearns had on the eve of its collapse. The FHA insures about $750 billion in mortgage debt. In the UK, “leverage” is known as “gearing”. They are both euphemisms for debt.

    • Have you noticed that the £-Sterling is just about to achieve parity with the Euro?

    • An ASBO is an Anti-Social Behaviour Order and it is usually given out to pikeys and their parents. The trouble is that most of them are so thick that they probably think that an ASBO is a qualification which will be worth a few points on their UCAS form when they go to University to study demolition or vehicle hotwiring. I’ve just seen some ASBO-pikeys being interviewed and it seems that the sub-species favours a single earring and a tattooed neck (men) and the women have to be very fat with bleached hair. Their natural habitat is either a bus shelter or a stained sofa which faces a television. They only eat orange-coloured food – as long as it doesn’t contain fruit or vegetables.

    • Just saw a re-run of Sarah Brown introducing Gordon. She was good. She will be a major Labour weapon in the forthcoming General Election. I wonder if David Cameron’s wife Samantha is taking Powerpoint and sincero-talk lessons?

    Monday September 28th 2009

    • Excellent headline grabbing by that jug-eared gargoyle Andrew Marr. He is without doubt a supreme journalist but his questioning of Gordon Brown yesterday was inexcusable. Suggesting that Brown needs prescription drugs to get through the day, followed by Brown’s admission that he has trouble with his eyesight was a direction that no journalist should steer. There is a real danger that if the Tory Press goes down the  ” Brown’s a sick man and therefore unfit for office” route, there will be a swell of pro-Brown sympathy. Then, if the Socialists succeed in portraying the Tory Shadow Cabinet as a bunch of hoorays lounging about in the senior common room with David Cameron as a self-serving Head Boy, there is a very real possibility that Labour will retain office. Undecided voters are driven by PERCEPTION and not by policies  or past performance. Remember John Major’s victory in 1992? He was behind in the polls, yet in that year claimed the most votes in British electoral history. Leading up to the 1992 election, Labour had been ahead in the polls since 1989 plus the economy had entered a recession under the Tories. Yet Major won and remained in power until 1997.  He won because the electorate liked him and thought that Neil Kinnockwasaprat. Nothing to do with policies.

    • Alistair Darling is going to deliver his usual speech on bank bonuses. “Clawback”, “Unacceptable” “Deferred” etc.will all  make their appearances – as they have done for many months. Alistair Darling will “pledge” to clean-up the banking industry. The proposed Fiscal Responsibility Act sounds like another focus group creation and no doubt, there will be another Financial Services Act close on its heels. He is obviously working on the principle of “If you can’t win the argument – legislate”. It’s all a monumental waste of time but look on the bright side – we will be living in a society where the highest earners are footballers and pop singers. Something which our children can really aspire-to.

    • Gordon Brown says that he won’t  ”roll over”. I do wish that his speechwriters would give him words that he is comfortable with. What’s next? “I ain’t goin’ to be no Tory dude’s bitch. Shabba”?

    • Roman Polanski arrested on a 31-year-old warrant. Apparently in 1978 there was a plea-bargain andhewasto receive a nominal sentence if he pleaded “guilty”. The judge then reneged on the deal so Polanski absconded. Originally, Polanski has been charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14 but the plea-bargain reduced the charges to  a single charge ofunlawful sex with a minor. Polanski was six years old when WW2 broke out and like many Polish children who grew-up during the war, he was damaged. Add to this the horrors of the Manson murders and the killing of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, it is doubtful whether Polanski has ever been in what we might call a normal psychological state. However, the fact remains that he did horrible things to a 13 year-old girl and is a convicted criminal who probably still poses a danger. There is no Statute of Limitations for this type of crime but as his victim has forgiven him and so much time has passed, one hopes that the high-level diplomatic activity currently taking place will result in some sort of amnesty. There should be a White House statement soon.

    • The next Labour Prime Minister is the new the darling of Conference. Yes, Peter Mandelson earned a standing ovation and became the Labour Party joker today after delivering an appalling speech. He stumbled over the funny lines, his timing was out and his voice was its usual oleaginous drawl. However, the Conference highlight up to that point had been Alistair Darling and had it not been for Mandelson, they audience would have been engaging in synchronised self-harming. That’s how dire it had been. He is going to extend the scrappage scheme <applause>. Sadly, he appeared to be talking about motor cars and not the Cabinet. The scrappage scheme will keep the Japanese, German and Korean car industries going for a couple more months so let’s hope that their own governments can take over soon after that. 

    • Tomorrow Gordon Brown is widely expected to give “the speech of his life”.  That good eh? He’s probably in his hotel room practicing by reading the instructions on his Corby trouser press – that’s just about the level of excitement that he’ll generate tomorrow. But the Labouristas will clap and there will be a standing ovation. Is it true that the conference-hall doors lock from the outside?

    • Alistair Darling’s speech also had all the excitement of a talk on basket-weaving at the local WI . He obviously had gaps in his script indicating <pause for audience reaction>. Unfortunately, the pauses were more exciting and informative than the text. As expected he did some pointless macho posturing on the subject of bank bonuses  – in the certain knowledge that the whole thing will be picked up by “Boy” George Osborne and lost in the mountain of unfinished business that Labour will leave behind in the May 2010 rush to clear their desks.

    • The British Frigate IRON DUKE scored a decent stash of Colombian Marching Powder, weighing 5.5 tons with a street value of £250,000,000. Apparently , the fishing boat containing the stuff was sailing erratically and suspiciously. That’s Coke for you! The only worry is that instead of sinking the boat WITH the cargo, the frigate is now taking the cargo to New York. Let’s hope that H.M.S Iron Duke doesn’t sail up 34th Street all shiny-eyed and twitchy to tie-up outside Macy’s. 

    Sunday September 27th 2009

    • Just down the road in Brighton THEY are arriving for the Labour Party Conference – or should that be the New Labour Party Conference. Did we elect Labour or NEW LABOUR? Anyway, that’s  now just a technicality or a long-forgotten dream of how things could or might have been. Here’s a Labour FACT, given to me by a friend who used to be Chief Barman at the Grand Hotel. More Champagne is consumed at the Labour Party Conference than at all other conferences and he told me stories of vintage Champers being quaffed  – not from a young lady’s glass slipper but from PINT jugs. If I recall correctly, that particular incident involved a gang (?) of Trade Unionists. Now THAT’S Socialism.

    • You know things are bad within the Labour Party when John Prescott begins to look like a Statesman (comparatively speaking). When Johno was Deputy Prime Minister, he used to deliver those grammar-free rabble-rousing “calls to arms” which could have been such fun if we’d understood what he was talking about. This year it’s Harriet’s turn and it won’t be the same. It will be the difference between a drug-crazed, alcohol-fuelled multi-position shagfest anddoingitquietly, Missionary-style with the lights out.

    • Gordon Brown is to introduce a law which is currentl;y being referred-to as the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FSA) (running out of ideas,perhaps?).The Act will oblige all future Governments to reduce the country’s borrowing by a set minimum amount. Needless to say, the amount and timescale are yet to be decided – probably a commission or enquiry… So what will happen if a Government fails to repay the minimum amount in a given year? A fine? Arrests? I suggest firing squads.

    • The Labour spin doctors have decided that David Cameron will be portrayed as a shallow toff – a script and autocue-reading “hooray”. Normally, that would upset the Tories but then they remembered the alternative.

    • Quote from Gordon Brown: “By 2015 we want our country to be fairer, greener, more prosperous and democratic.”  Seems to me that we have several Labour admissions in that sentence.

    • Lord “Darth” Mandelson has referred to David Cameron as “hugely arrogant”. Not really much more to say on that one.

    • Mandelson has said that he believes that the forthcoming election is “up for grabs”. Yes it is – by the Tories.

    • Great interview in the Sunday Mirror today. Vincent Ross interviews Mandelson and re-defines the phrase “butt-kisser”. Perhaps a spin-job awaits at No.10?

    • Iran is launching missiles today. So, they have missiles and they’re developing the capacity to stick nuclear warheads at the missiles’ sharp-end. I am now off to have another “No shit, Sherlock” moment. I shall report when I’ve worked it all out.

    • Why are the authorities making such heavy-weather of Baroness Scotland and “CLEANERGATE”. If they announced an amnesty for all illegals, they would have to hire at least one Wembley Stadium to fit them all into. Leave the Baroness and her cleaner alone. Is it because she’s clever, female, attractive and black? Mind you, she is Labour. See what you mean.

    • Ken Livingston has just married. At London Zoo. There are some things which are way, way beyond parody.

    • “I want this so badly” “It’s been a great journey for me” “Singing is my life” ” I’m doing this for my (sob) brother/mother/ sister etc”  and ” I’m sure he’s looking down on me” The last one is about Simon Cowell. He’s not dead – just incredibly condescending.

    • Great quote from Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan “Shagger” Cole on Jo Wood. ” One of Jo’s big strengths is that she’s alive.”Considering how long she lived with Ronnie Wood- it has to be worth a mention and maybe a box of chocolates. We all hope that Ronnie Wood is reunited with Jo as soon as possible-he is currently risking his life. Some of those Russian girls will do anything for a bowl of Borsch and clean sheets. Anything.

    • In 2008, the NHS collected £112 million in parking charges. With such figures, perhaps the NHS should concentrate on parking and stop the healing and surgery  activities which probably distract them from where the REAL profits are. Perhaps a joint-venture with NCP beckons? Worryingly, £28 million was collected from its own staff. It’s a great wheeze. Tax the sick, tax their families and tax those who look after them. Who helped with the Business Model? Gordon Brown?

    Saturday September 26th 2009

    • The  American Fed has issued the following statement:   To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets, and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve will purchase a total of $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt.”  Now we can watch the demise of the once-mighty American Dollar. Fund Managers and Investors will now start dumping dollars like confetti. A TRILLION is a million millions and in this case, it represents more Quantitative Easing or to be strictly accurate, the purchase of toxic assets with “printed”  i.e non-existent money. The sort that caused the global banking meltdown. This is a case of throwing bad money after bad.

    • President Obama has announced tough new capital requirements for banks as well as more stringent rules on bank borrowings. If you were to ask what these rules are likely to be or when they are to be implemented, the answer would probably be “We haven’t really decided but it will definitely happen later.”  They are saying that  the rules will be phased-in once financial conditions improve and recovery is “assured”. Leaders have been discussing a cap on bank bonuses for a while  but they still haven’t agreed any numbers or timescale. The only thing that they have agreed is that bonus payments should not be guaranteed for many years, should be deferred in part and should not exceed a percentage of the bank’s revenue. That is how vague it is at the moment. When the global economy has healed itself and both governments and banks return to generating profits, most of this will be forgotten because by then, the balance of power will, once again have shifted back towards the banks and the next boom-bust cycle will begin.

    • The least entrepreneurial profession of all is banking. There is a vastly different mental attitude between say, an entrepreneur such as Richard Branson and say, MervynKing, the Governor of the Bank of England. That rule works all the way down the line until we have the small local businessman and the small-town banker. Chalk and Cheeze. Incidentally, when I say “entrepreneurial” – I am referring to people who take risks with their own assets.  Just to reinforce the cultural difference – bankers will gladly take risks with other people’s money – especially in very large amounts – as evidenced by the cause of the current Global Banking crisis. However, when a local business goes to its local bank in order to borrow say £20,000 to purchase a machine, lots of fiery hoops are assembled for the business to jump through, fees are charged, personal guarantees are demanded, forms need to be filled out, cash flows and business plans are sought . So when a  small businessman goes to his bank – the MOST likely answer (especially nowadays) in “NO”.  Perhaps unknowingly, the banking profession is not-only killing itself but it is also slow-strangling the business community. The banker chose to work in a bank because he didn’t want the worry of not having a pay cheque at the end of the month, he did not want to work a 16-hour day and he didn’t want to cold-call  people in order to drive his business forward. What he needed from his life was predictability, order, neatness and a company pension. This is the paradox: The banking profession has managed to evolve itself into something which it was not designed to be and  it has managed to do it by what is known as the “Halo Effect”. There is a saying “Get them by the balls and their hearts and minds are bound to follow.”  Banks now have “business advisers”  ; mostly young people with degrees who cannot possibly have ever tasted the fears of an entrepreneurial businessman.  Bank management has developed a culture of self-importance and inaccessibility.  Remember the time when a bank manager tried to impress you in order to win your business? Now , you have to ask him to welcome you to his club so that he can look after your money. He is now doing YOU a favour – unless it’s ” I’d love to help you but the System  ( or those upstairs) say “NO”. The banking tentacles have moved further into he business community. Local Enterprise Organisations and  Business Clubs are now both Governed and heavily populated by more bankers. Entrepreneurial andmanagementadviceisbeingdispensed by a profession with little or no practical or first-hnd business experience or knowledge. That is the Halo Effect. Put simply, because the banker knows about money and has you by the balls, you assume automatically that he is able to dispense Tax Advice, Marketing Advice, Sales Advice, Organisational Advice, Training Advice, Recruitment Advice, Purchasing  Advice and any other Advice that you need.  The total power of the banking community is evidenced by the fact that Chancellors, Prime Ministers and even  Presidents are having to say “Please do something about your bonuses Mister Banker.”  Banking has developed into a multi-headed all-powerful Frankenstein. It is not a simple case of imposing a few rules. What is really needed is a massive cultural change within the banking industry and a massive perceptual change from both private and business clients. If you’re a businessman or work for yourself in any way, ask yourself – ” Am I comfortable with taking business or financial advice  and all the other captive-audience advice that they like to dish-out, from an organisation populated by people who obviously did not heed their own advice and lost billions but have no idea what really happened?”  WATCH THIS SPACE.

    •  I received a letter from a Member of Parliament today. He addressed me by my Christian Name. What’s going on? Paranoid? Moi?

    • The airlines appear to be learning from the banks. British Airways will be charging us again AFTER they have our business. We book a flight and then pay an additional fee  to get a seat. Genius! Can you bring your own seat and pay corkage?

    • There’s only one thing wrong with an Indian Summer. The Global Warming Mullahs will wake from their torpor and deliver the usual speech about our emissions. I think that 4X4 vehicles should be compulsory. Have to go now and have my dolphin steaks and light the coal fire.

    • In the last two years, 150 teachers have been sacked for sexual misconduct. A loss to the teaching profession but what a bonus for the Vatican’s recruitment team!

    • Gordon Brown has been voted World Statesman of the Year – mostly for giving away any leftover taxpayers’ money that Mervyn King has not given to the banks. Brown has been generous to Africa and quite right too. In addition, he has enjoyed many politicians’ or Pope’s ultimate wet-dream. An embrace from Bonio who , apart from being big in the dog-biscuit trade, is (apparently) some sort of Irish pop singer. He plays in a popular beat combo named after some American spy-plane. U2, I think. Crucial.

    • Remember Gordon Brown selling off the UK’s gold to China a few years ago? Who better to value, melt-down anddoitallover again with that pile of  gold Anglo-Saxon tat recently dug up in Staffordshire – wherever that is. Middle Earth?

    • There’s a very exclusive TV Club – the old dears who used to read the news and appeared on the Christmas Morecambe and Wise show in the 50s and who did high kicks andeithermarriedapolicemanorshagged Jon Snow or went to live on a farm in Scotland. Pretty soon, the pre-teens running the BBC andthecommercialchannel will be  playground-bullied into re-hiring these venerable oldsters.  Prepare for News at Ten to look like a re-run of Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 1.

    • In 1959, Typhoon Vera struck Nagoya in Japan. There was a 20 ft tsunami, 150 mph winds and 5000 people died. Did you know that they managed ALL that without Global Warming! They could do stuff like that in the 50s. We have a lot to learn.

    • TV’sDoctorGorgeousappearedtohaveeverything – but he was struck by the one affliction that even he could not cure. He lost the ability to keep it in his trousers. Marriage, Mistress, Divorce, Mistress, two-timed Mistress, Girlfriend.  Best of luck mate. The definitive case of “Surgeon heal Thyself”.

    • In an average week, I speak to 5 or 6 Chief Executives – guys I’ve either trained, coached or who I know personally. This week I had the most weird experience with a company CEO and company owner. He fancies himself as a “leader” but  is just realising that he has recently reached the upper limits of his incompetence. The stress-levels are phenomenal and I shall devote a whole article to him next week. Look out for it – it WILL be libellous!

    • Fantastic evening for crumblies. ITV is celebrating 250 years of Cliff Richard. He hasn’t changed one bit – apart from wearing Frankie Howard’s old rug. Well, it’s either that or a  very quiet ginger cat.

    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.

    You calling me a banker?

    “Move over, Darling. Please!”

    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.

    No amount of media-blackmail or Government arm-twisting is going to persuade the banks to start lending to commerce or to the private sector  in reasonable volumes or at reasonable rates. The banks are lending but at nowhere near the volumes needed by the economy. When they do lend, they apply wall-to-wall fees and a starting interest rate of the order of 6% over Base Rate. So, if you factor-in their fees, the actual percentage rate is ridiculously high compared to what little the BANKS are paying for the money and compared to the average company’s profit margin.

    Very often finance is over-complicated. For instance, if you are a manufacturer and you have a bank overdraft on which you are paying 10% per year, you need a pretty hefty profit margin in order to make any profit after you have paid your bank charges. Simple.

    Currently, margins are so tight that the banks may as well be in a different economy and on another planet because the sums just do not add up. The banks are doing their own thing, apparently with absolutely no reference to what is happening in commerce – especially where interest rates and current commercial margins are concerned.

    There are those who seem to think that the current Bank of England Money Sale (Quantitative Easing) is not working. “We can’t tell yet” is a current often-recited bankers’ Mantra. The double uncertainties of whether QE is working and more importantly, whether  the UK will ever be able to repay its currently vast borrowings without further damaging the economy has caused the pound sterling to fall in value. It has begun its short journey South and will be closely followed by the dollar.

    Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England wants to add another £25 billion to the Quantitative Easing pot. He is currently in a minority of ONE. The dissent reminds us once again that Economics is largely a matter of opinion, guesswork and misjudgement.

    The Chancellor, Alistair Darling still has an occasional bleat about bankers’ bonuses. That is all purely cosmetic. Bankers’ bonuses are trivial in comparison to the current needs of manufacturing and commerce.  In fact, the whole subject of bankers’ bonuses is taking-up a very disproportionate  amount of not-only our media space but also of the Chancellor’s and the Prime Minister’s collective energies. It is a red-herring. This morning, Alistair Darling has again been banging-on about “clawback” and banks holding onto bonuses for three years. It’s all ill-conceived rubbish.

    The fact is that the Government has absolutely NO RIGHT to tell any privately-owned company what it should be paying any of its employees. That is up to the owners of the company – the shareholders. However, where the Government is a major shareholder in a company, e.g. RBS, only then is it at liberty to impose its views.

    The banking issues will not be solved until there is a dislocation between High Street Banking and Investment Banking.

    This morning’s hare-brained scheme was to ask companies  to declare their TOP 20 earners’ incomes. That should work-well for many Hedge Funds! Some only  have 5-10 employees. We’ll know what their secretaries and cleaners are earning which should be useful!!

    The Banker Bonus issue is a red herring which the Treasury is using more and more to distract us from the fact that they  not-only made a mess of managing the economy prior to September 2008 but  it now looks increasingly likely that the “cure” that has been applied through the medium of Quantitative Easing only has a 50-50 chance of working.

    The real worry, however is that Quantitative Easing was the last throw of the dice – and don’t be fooled by the near-miraculous “recovery” of the Stock Markets. Those Investment Bankers are now gambling with pretend QE money. The end-game will be fascinating.

    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

    VAT are you saying?

    Alistair the house elf

    This Government and the banks have a lot in common. They have both enjoyed many years of negligible economic turbulence and  zero competition.

    The good times may have continued if either had noticed that Wall Street had invented the real weapons of mass destruction – the financial ones. The banks had sliced, chopped, diced and mixed bad mortgages and fashioned them into contaminative instruments of death with a built-in time fuse.

    The bankers’ handiwork has created a vast financial Black Hole which has already consumed many financial institutions and is beginning to consume whole economies. So  what to do? It’s obvious – decrease VAT by 2.5%.

    Decrease VAT? The Government has shown once again that it is a bit short on creative ideas. It often uses short-term tactics to deal with strategic matters. On this occasion, it is in the vain hope that when the global economy returns to sunshine and wealth , the Government  will will be able to claim that it  had controlled events. Gordon “Canute” Brown and his house elf  Darling will have done it!

    (In reality it will have simply been a readjustment in the new global Stability-Chaos-Stability cycle). 

    But think about this: The global economic crisis is happening because of “external forces which are out of our control”. If that is the case and we truly have no control over super-macroeconomic events, gestures such as VAT-tweaks will have negligible impact. Even Mervyn King appears to be distancing himself from this initiative.

    Gordon Brown is indeed a one-trick pony who believes that the only way forward is to persuade the consumer to consume. However, he will not pull the economy out of the quicksand by persuading us to buy 42″ television sets and new cars. When the going gets tough, the tough buy food and clothing.

    By pulling the white rabbit of higher taxation out of the Budget hat for those earning more than £100K, he has appealed to the “not-so-rich” (are we allowed to say “poor”) with a touch of the old “Politics of Envy”.  We can almost hear Denis Healey  “squeezing the rich until the pips squeak” .  Let’s call it Gordon’s “hommage” to Old Labour.

    In the next few years, the pips will squeak but the fact that there will be a saving of £12.50 on a £500 TV set will not dampen the squeaks.

    Have I got a deal for you!!

     gavel.gif

    “Mr Starling. If you were ever accused of understanding all of the issues surrounding  the collapsing house market – would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

    For instance, there are only two reasons why house prices are falling and why the house market is moribund.

    Moribund? Just look up New Labour.

    The market is at death’s door because:

    1. Obtaining a mortgage at a decent interest rate with a good Loan-to-Value is becoming increasingly difficult. It has nearly got to the stage when the only people who can obtain a mortgage are the ones who do not really need one.

    2. House prices are falling at an ever increasing rate. 

    House values are likely to fall by 15% in 2008 and probably about 12% in 2009. (Source: Howard Archer, Global Insight, Sept 2008)

    Let’s do a quick calculation:

    Assume that I buy a house for £175,000. If the value drops by 15%, after one year, I will have a house worth £148,750. 

    Then if the value of my £148,750 house drops by a further 12%, my house will then be worth £130,900.

    That means that in two years I will have made a paper loss of (£175,000-£130,900) which is £44,100.

    So, Mr Starling what you are saying is that you want to encourage me to go ahead and buy this house by removing the Stamp Duty which will be £1750?

    I am no Einstein but that does not look like a good deal to me.

    Oh, I know that you will help me when I get into arrears by making my home a part-council house and there may be a small bung to help me with a deposit. But no thanks.

    I realise that life on Planet Westminster  is a bit different to the real world but I would suggest that you change your advisers because the “suits” who are advising you at the moment appear to be tragically out of touch.

    Mervyn? Mervyn King?

    Great darts player. You should get advice from Eric Bristow as well while you’re at it.

    Can’t do any more harm.

    mervyn-king.jpg Mervyn King

    Give us a clue

    darlingbrown2.jpg 

    1-across is SWAT TEAM”

    “I’ve got ‘T’ as the first letter”

    “That doesn’t surprise me.”

    The latest desperate initiatives of an increasingly desperate Prime Minister and  a Chancellor who is already packing his parachute  have just traversed the laughable and blundered into the surreal.

    The plot so far: The banks rip each other off by granting a mortgage  to anyone with a pulse – irrespective of whether or not they can repay the loan. The banks then tart-up these dodgy mortgages by packaging lots of them up them up into a fund (securitisation)  and then they flog shares in these funds to each other. 

    The money rolls in and  is lent to more dodgy individuals until someone realises that selling shares in  “funds” that are not producing any income because no-one seems to be paying their mortgage is not a good thing.

    (The American banks started it but we aped them and then blamed them.)

    The banks then decide that there is a crisis and the only way to deal with it is to stop lending – to each other and to the public.

    This strange new situation is given a name – Credit Crunch.

    Then these privately-owned banks go cap in hand to the Bank of England which has been “advised” to bail them out. Others, such as the Northern Rock are given money directly by the Government.

    That does not seem to do the trick because the banks decide to sit on their (our) money because they don’t want to take any more risks. Why not? Because these ersatz corporate entrepreneurs can only function when things are going well.

    They have no real idea what to do next – except perhaps to rip off existing customers by increasing interest rates on anything that they can get away with.

    When they did play at being entrepreneurial with these so-called “securitised ” mortgages, they messed up – big time. They should all be standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the dock.

    However, the banks know that if they do nothing for a few months, the desperate government will be forced into action. They know that the New Labour government has only two ways of doing business:

    1. No Crisis = No Action.  

    2. Crisis = Panic = Action = Handouts = Big Bucks.

    Today we have the announcement that the government will lend money to first-time buyers and there will also be a package for those who cannot repay their mortgage and for good measure, Stamp Duty for properties with a purchase price of £175000 or less will be suspended for a year.

    So the government lends to the banks then it lends to the borrowers so that the banks can lend some more to the borrowers.

    Why doesn’t the government cut out the middle-man and give the money to the builders to build houses which can then be rented out with a post-dated option to purchase.

    When will we all wake up to the fact that the “owner-occupier” skirmish with hard capitalism has not worked  and that we have to be re-educated into thinking of a house as a home and not as a commodity.

    This is what Gordon Brown had to say:

    “No-one in this country who works hard and plays by the rules should be left alone to bear the impact of the current global economic downturn, and I am determined to see the government do everything we can to help British families weather these difficult times.

    I understand what it means to see people struggling to get mortgages or homeowners who, through no fault of their own, suddenly find themselves unable to keep up with their repayments. And it’s not just families who are finding it tough but businesses as well, with house-builders now experiencing difficult conditions after years of extremely favourable circumstances.

    So to address these issues, the government’s new £1 billion housing package will give first-time buyers a leg-up onto the housing ladder, help homeowners in difficulty and support the UK’s housebuilding industry.

    First-time buyers are one of the groups hit hardest by the credit crunch and are crucial to driving the wider housing market. They would usually benefit from falling prices, but a combination of the higher cost of borrowing, bigger deposit requirements and weakening consumer confidence means this has not happened.

    To do everything we can to support them, there will be a one-year stamp duty holiday for all properties sold for up to £175,000 – helping to restore market confidence and giving first-time buyers the extra help they need. And, alongside this, 10,000 more first-time buyers will benefit from a new £300 million shared equity scheme called “Homebuy Direct”.

    The current housing market difficulties are also leading to increased repossessions, so we are introducing a new £200 million mortgage rescue scheme that will help thousands of vulnerable families to stay in their homes.

    And to do more to encourage social rented housing, we are bringing forward £400 million of government spending to deliver up to 5500 new social rented homes over the next 18 months.

    Taken together, I am confident these measures and the other new steps we have announced will help create the best possible environment for the housing market to come through these challenging times – and I invite you to read more about our proposals on the Number10 website. “

    Darling – listen to what I mean, not what I say.

    doomed3.jpg

    We know what Alistair Darling said but do we really know what he meant? What was the subtext? Let’s try and sort out any misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

    Last week, according to the Chancellor, the British economy was going down the toilet and the public was “pissed off” with the Government.

    YESTERDAY he said that the “fundamentals” of the economy remained strong.

    So what were his motives? He must have known that he would come in for the mummy and daddy of all bastings by the media and his Cabinet chums. Dave Cameron and his hooray happy slapper mates think that Christmas has come early and if they’re thrown any more Labour screw-ups, they are in danger of sensory overload.

    Not one commentator has spotted Mr Darling’s motives for his outburst to the Guardian.

    Whether he’d had a glass too many of (courtesy of the Guardian) Glencrap, whether he was feeling naughty  or whether he thought that he would piss on Gordon Brown’s strawberries just for the hell of it – none of that matters.

    We suspect that there may have been a touch of  “In Vino Veritas” but that does not matter either.

    This former Edinburgh councillor and small-time Solicitor who for some miraculous reason is running our economy is (and looks) stressed beyond limits.

    Another case of a politician being promoted above his level of incompetence?  Or one who has just looked up “fall guy” in his Thesaurus.

    What he would like more than anything is for Gordon Brown to put him out of his misery and replace him with David Milliband.

    Darling’s own personal “end of term” will come in mid-October when Brown yet again rearranges the deckchairs on the sinking SS New Labour. (You started it, Prescott).

    Darling’s outburst to the Guardian is a transparently conscious provocation and New Labour should be prepared for more. To continue the nautical metaphor : in Brown’s eyes, Darling has now become the shit deserting the sinking rats.

    Do you remember Geoffrey Howe’s devastating attack on Margaret Thatcher during his 1990 resignation speech. Darling obviously decided to dictate his suicide note to the Guardian rather than make a speech.

    He and Howe are both examples of “Yes” man morphing into “Fuck you” man.

    If Brown does not “redistribute” him in the next reshuffle, Darling will resign either for health reasons (good early-pension scam) or the more likely “I want to spend more time with my family”.

    We have already had the “anti-gaffe” brigade attempting to water-down  and reinterpret Starling’s indiscretions but it’s too late.

    Man the lifeboats!

    And the Milliband played on.

    Alistair Starling – a cautionary tale.

    Once upon a time there was a tiny little Starling called Alistair who was so happy and confident that he decided to see how high he could fly.  It was winter, there was a dusting of snow on the ground and  the sky was clear . Nighttime was fast approaching but he decided to have a go because he was so happy and confident!! He felt that he could accomplish anything!!

    He took off and flew up and up towards the clouds until his wings began to feel a bit tired. Then he noticed the cold but he decided to fly on a bit more. Gradually the cold froze little Alistair’s  wings until he could not  fly any higher. The frost also froze his legs. He began to fall.

    He fell towards the ground but noticed that if he tilted his body a certain way, he could glide!! He was so excited because he realised that he was not going to die. “Phew, what  bit of luck,” he thought as he landed in a snowy field.  The soft snow cushioned his landing. His luck was holding out!

    Unfortunately, a snow blizzard began and the temperature dropped very quickly. Alistair began to shiver. He could not move because his little wings  and little legs were still frozen stiff. He began to sob quietly to himself because he thought that he would definitely freeze to death and die.  Alistair closed his eyes. His luck had finally run out.

    Just then he heard footsteps! Of course, this was Gordon the Bull’s field and there was Gordon walking towards him. Alistair hoped that the bull would not step on him and crush him to death! That would be horrible!

    Alistair saw the outline of the huge bull above him but luckily, Gordon managed to avoid  the little bird. Then, just when Alistair thought that he was safe from being stamped on, Gordon stopped. Alistair looked up and saw a large brown steaming object falling towards him. He was going to drown in Gordon’s shit!! What a terrible end!!

    Sure enough, the brown stuff covered Alistair, but he just managed to keep his head above the surface.

    A minute-or-so  later he realised that he could move his legs and wings. Gordon’s hot shit had thawed his wings and legs. He was free!

    He was so happy that he began to sing as loudly as he could. “Tweet Tweet Tweet” he sang over and over again. He was so overjoyed!

    He sang so loudly  that every animal within a mile could hear him – including Sly Cameron, the crafty fox.

    Sly Cameron sneaked up behind Alistair and bit off his head.

    MORAL:   1. Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy   2. When you are in the shit, keep your head down and be quiet.