Tag Archives: GE2015

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

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

In fact, it was about 10%.

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

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

Yes…from 10% to 5%.

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

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

Which political party is IN TOUCH with the people?

prez2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Indentured Servitude

slum

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

Prime MInister ate my Dog!

MIlibandbutty

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

Have Newspapers lost their political influence?

newspaper

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

Help to Vote

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

Blue or Red corner?

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

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

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

So which one should our money be on?

Blue Corner

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

Red Corner

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

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

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