Tag Archives: Richard Ruzyllo

Egypt through the shredder

So what is Hosni Mubarak thinking as he sits in his private quarters and watches Al Jazeera, Fox and CNN on the flat-screen?. He’s probably  packed and ready to go and all that he can probably hear apart from the TV is the gentle hum of shredders as his place in Egyptian history is consigned to 3 mm wide paper strips and  burned.

There are many arrests, executions, embezzlement, property purchases, bank credits, floppy disks, laser discs, hard drives, CDs and DVDs and paper files which need to be destroyed. There’s no time for the selective wiping of a 30 year-old career. The peasants are at the gate.

Meanwhile, history needs to be destroyed and rewritten in a hurry.

If there’s one thing that we have learned from this most western of all Middle Eastern countries is that the people are patient , good-natured but most of all, resilient and sincere in their quest for a better life.

In spite of the beatings and shooting,the overwhelming feeling will soon  be one of unbounded optimism. There will be a collective dream of a sunny future as the world gathers round to help rebuild this once great (the greatest) nation.

Parents will be daydreaming of glittering futures for their children and ambitious young politicians will be dreaming  of benevolent power. There will be others who are already thinking dark fundamentalist thoughts but for the moment, they do not matter.

If you look the people in the eye, you do not see the demeanour of the frightened peasant. You see the confident gaze of a country which knows that it is going places – so what’s a few more days, or even a few more weeks. The irreversible arrow of time is on their side.

The “Berlin Wall” or “Solidarnosc” moment is nearly here and when it comes, it will be the brightest dawn any of them will have ever seen. They really will be will be blinded by the light. Stranger will link arms with stranger because for a short time, they will be family. For a brief time, they will share only one label.  Egyptian.

As the party gets into full swing, all  other sub-labels will be forgotten for a while. Arab, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Coptic, Nubian,ruler, slave, Sufi, Sunni, Shi’a, Bedawi, Siwi, Armenian or Bedouin. They will stand together as Egyptians and mass-confidence will flow as a result of their epic, well-earned achievement. They will continue to generate confidence merely by the simple act of standing together as a single people.

For many, they day when they finally realise and accept that Mubarak has left will be the greatest day of their lives. For many, their work will be done.

For many others – and we do not yet know who they are, the work will begin.

The men who damaged this country will be gone to enjoy a nervous retirement in a white villa in some soulless  Middle Eastern compound. Many will never see the country of their birth again.

Let us hope that the most difficult hurdle – the last one –  is approached with patience and compassion. The peoples’ discreditted masters should be allowed to leave and no energy wasted on either revenge or  recrimination.

This will be a time for driving  forward with the already slightly-out-of-focus past left behind in the rear-view mirror of a carelessly cruel recent history.

Bless me iPhone, for I have sinned

 

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An iPhone app aimed at helping Catholics through confession and encouraging lapsed followers back to the faith has been sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the United States.

Confession: A Roman Catholic app, thought to be the first to be approved by a church authority walks Catholics through the sacrament and contains what the company behind the program describes as a “personalized examination of conscience for each user”.

“Our desire is to invite Catholics to engage in their faith through digital technology,” said Patrick Leinen of the three-man company Little iApps, based in South Bend, Indiana.

“Taking to heart Pope Benedict XVI’s message from last years’ World Communications Address, our goal with this project is to offer a digital application that is truly ‘new media at the service of the word.”

Pope Benedict XVI’s World Communications Address on January 24 emphasized the importance of a Christian presence in the digital world.

The firm said the content of the app was developed with the help of Reverend Thomas Weinandy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Reverend Dan Scheidt, pastor of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mishawaka, Indiana.

The app is not designed to replace going to confession but to help Catholics through the act, which generally involves admitting sins to a priest in a confessional booth. Catholics still must go to a priest for absolution.

Little iApps said Bishop Kevin Rhoades, of the Diocese of Fort Wayne in Indiana, officially authorized the app for Catholics to use.

“It has been approved by Bishop Kevin Rhoades,” said Weinandy.

Leinen said the app has already aided one man in returning to the sacrament after 20 years.

“We hope many more will take advantage of this new confession resource,” he added.

The app retails for $1.99.

(Reporting by David Sheppard; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

Cairo: Berlin Wall? Woodstock?

This morning I said on Twitter that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg  showed a lack of statesmanship by saying on the BBC how “exciting” it was for Egypt to be experiencing their “Berlin Wall moment”.

Exciting? Berlin Wall? One commentator even said that Tahrir Square in Cairo was “just like Woodstock”.

This over-romanticised reporting of what is going on in Egypt has mercifully stopped because it has become apparent that Mubarak has been playing a waiting game and has now arranged for his own “supporters” to be drafted into the centre of Cairo. The result is inevitable – confrontation and aggression between the two factions which will allow the army to step in and be violent.

The sweet-stalls and drinks sellers have left and have been replaced by men with guns. The police, army and secret service personnel who have spent the last week incognito, mingling with the demonstrators will now do their job and begin to make arrests. By now, they know exactly who to target.

Perhaps Mr Clegg could strap on his guitar and give us a chorus of “Kumbaya”.

After all, it is quite exciting, isn’t it??!!

p.s. Our government is charging British citizens £300 each for repatriation. Once again, a clear demonstration that  money is more important than the well-being of the individual.

 At least our government is being consistent.

Banged-up Bankers

Norman Tebbit is right. It is about time that the banking industry told us who was responsible for the banking Chernobyl of 2008. So far, apart from one or two career casualties, no-one has been brought to book. There certainly have been no criminal prosecutions.

Politicians continue to be in awe of the bankers. This is in spite of the fact that many “spooked” governments had “no-strings” money extorted by the bankers. Governments had to go cap-in-hand in order to borrow and over-commit themselves whilst  bankers behaved merely as the wayward child who had slightly overspent a term’s university loan.

The biggest mistake that governments made was not to ask the banks to try and stay “within budget” in future and not (at least) appear to be over-indulging themselves quite as openly as they used to. As we now know, the banks did not listen , took the money in the sure knowledge that they could carry on exactly as before, because there would be no sanctions. On the contrary, the governments told them that if they were ever in trouble again, government would borrow even more on their behalf.

Some would argue that governments, in handing those vast quantities of cash over to the banks, overstepped the mandate that had been handed to them by the electorate. But the consequence is very straightforward: we are now locked-in. Governments will keep on coming back to the people who elected them and will keep asking them for more and more money.

I say “more and more” because one of the by-products of the recessions suffered by most countries is more and more unemployment. The unemployed , no matter which way you cut it , are a burden on the State – a burden which needs to be supported. Support to the unemployed costs the State which once again has to return to the working electorate for funds.

Our own government spends more than it earns. The shortfall is made-up by borrowing. The difference is called a “deficit”.

Chancellor Osborne thinks that within the life of this Parliament ( by 2015) we will be able to eradicate that deficit. This , from a Chancellor who said this in a lecture to the LSE  three years ago:

“Around the world, countries like Ireland and Australia shrewdly took advantage of these huge opportunities. They reformed their economies, made themselves more competitive, and strengthened their public finances. Both of these countries, for example, now have a “future fund” of assets built to provide security against future shocks and liabilities. Their public finances are well placed. Their competitiveness has risen. Their institutions are stronger.”

Whlie we’re at it, here’s another George Osborne quote:

“A Generation ago, the very idea that a British politician would go to Ireland to see how to run an economy would have been laughable. The Irish Republic was seen as Britain’s poor and troubled country cousin, a rural backwater on the edge of Europe. Today things are different. Ireland stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policymaking, and that is why I am in Dublin: to listen and to learn.”

Mr Osborne then went on to say that he would endeavour to create a British economy in the same mould as that of Ireland.

Some may say in that statement, we have at least one Tory electoral promise which will be achieved.

In retrospect, the above very sincerely-delivered quotations may be interpreted as the ramblings of a future Chancellor who had no idea of what he was taking on or what he was talking about – and THAT is the point.

The banks perpetrated their frauds so cleverly that not even the brightest economists or politicians saw it coming. One could even say that some bankers were SO cunning that even they had no idea of what was about to happen. Although, having said that, the accounting techniques which the banks used suggest that even when they were technically bust, they still managed to declare profits and pay bonuses. Those were the days when the phrase “off-balance sheet” came into common usage.

Whatever the excuse, we do need to see some justice.

David Cameron’s Davos Speech 2011

 

 

This is the full text of David Cameron’s speech today  to the WEF in Davos:

It’s been four decades since you first invited European business leaders up this mountain and gave them a stark message modernise and adapt – or fall behind and fail.

Forty years on, here we are again. No one can deny what a difficult position Europe is in at the moment. Four years of annual growth have been wiped out. Unemployment has risen to the double digits.

Yes, recovery has begun. But while economies like India, Brazil and China are steaming ahead in Europe, the drag on growth has persisted.

Indeed, Europe’s share of world output is projected to fall by just under a third in the next two decades. And no one is immune.

This week, we had disappointing growth estimates back home. Yes, they were partly driven by the terrible weather which shut down airports, factories and schools – but let’s be frank.

They also brought home something we have said for months: given the traumas of recent years, the recovery was always going to be choppy.

So as we meet at Davos, the big questions are these:

How can we get our economies going?

How can we get Europe going?

How do we go for growth?

Now, there are some who say that slow-growth status for Europe is inevitable.

They are the pessimists – and this is their charter.

One – we in Europe are incapable of solving our debt and deficit problems.

Two – we’re unable to compete with dynamic economies because we’ll always be over-burdened with regulation and bureaucracy.

Three – we’re hardwired to be consumers and not producers.

And four – we’re attached to liberal values that are leaving us far behind the juggernaut of authoritarian capitalism.

Today, I want to make the case for optimism – for confidence in our future. We can overcome these problems but we do need a change of direction. Huge deficits don’t just fall out of the sky.

Complex rules which restrict labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon.

Crushing regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.

All of these result from decisions we have taken – alone or together.

In many ways, we in Europe have been our own worst enemy.

But that also means the power is in us to change to make it easier for businesses to start up and prosper to open new markets – within Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world. And with so many of Europe’s leaders committed to open markets and reform, I’d argue there has never been a better time to do this.

In less than eight weeks we will announce our Budget for growth at home and I will also set out a specific plan for growth in Europe.

Today, I want to talk about the new direction Europe needs to take.

Our first priority is to kill off the spectre of massive sovereign debts.

Those who argue that dealing with our deficit and promoting growth are somehow alternatives are wrong.

You cannot put off the first in order to promote the second. Average government debt in the EU is almost eighty per cent of GDP.

Some countries are again borrowing five, six or seven per cent of GDP again this year.

The figure for the UK is more than ten per cent. This is clearly unsustainable and action cannot be put off.

Let’s put this in context.

Remember what we started with in the UK: an economy built on the worst deficit, the most leveraged banks, the most indebted households, the biggest housing boom and unsustainable levels of public spending and immigration.

And now think of where we need to go: an economy based not on consumption and debt but on savings and investment not on government spending but on entrepreneurial dynamism not on one industry in one corner of the country but on all our businesses in all our regions, with a new emphasis on manufacturing, exports and trade.

To get there isn’t easy. We can’t just flick on the switch of government spending or pump the bubble back up. Making this transformation – and it is a transformation – requires painstaking work and it takes time. It involves paying down billions of pounds of debt. New plants and factories need to be built. New products designed. New innovations taken to market. New businesses nurtured.

It’s going to be tough – but we must see it through. The scale of the task is immense, so we need to be bold in order to build this economy of the future. The British people know these things.

They understand there are no short-cuts to a better future. And already we’re making progress. Not long ago we were heading towards the danger zone where markets start to question your credibility.

Yet in the past eight months we’ve seen our credit rating – which was on the brink of being downgraded – affirmed at the triple A level.

We’ve seen market interest rates – which were in danger of spiralling – actually fall. All this has happened not in spite of our plan to cut the deficit, but because of it. That’s why we must stick to the course we have set out.

Allied to this fiscal discipline has got to be the reform and strengthening of Europe’s banks.

Last year’s round of stress tests didn’t go nearly far enough.

They said we were three and a half billion euros short – then six months down the line Irish banks alone needed ten times that.

This year’s tests have got to be tougher:

Stretching over a three-year period.

Covering liquidity as well as capital.

And involving independent bodies like the IMF.

But above all what we urgently need in Europe is an aggressive, pan-continental drive to unleash enterprise.

At home we have cut corporation tax, cut the small business rate, funded a new enterprise allowance and got a grip on regulation.

We’ve sent huge trade delegations to the fastest-growing economies all over the world, sending out the message that Britain is back open for business.

And in the essential work of sorting out the deficit, we have made the decision to prioritise growth.

So we’re making cuts to the welfare budget – which is hugely difficult so that we can fund big transport projects on our roads and railways.

We’re not cutting schools – indeed we’re boosting the number of apprenticeships – even though cuts elsewhere are deep.

And we’re striking the right balance between tax and spending, with spending cuts taking three quarters of the strain and tax rises a quarter.

Where we are raising taxes, it’s on what people spend – so that we don’t have to hike up taxes on jobs.

But this is not just about what we do in our domestic economies. We need boldness in Europe too, not least on deregulation.

I’ve had conversations with many European leaders about this – including Prime Ministers Fillon and Rutte -and we’re agreed we just cannot afford to load more costs on to business.

And I believe there are clear things we can and should do:

Bring in a one-in, one-out rule for new European regulations.

Set a new and tougher target to actually reduce the total regulatory burden over the life of this Commission.

And give small businesses – engines of job creation – an exemption from big new regulations.

Taking them out of EU accounting rules alone would save them around 2 billion euros. Now is the time to go for a genuine single market too.

Nearly twenty years since Europe agreed to the free movement of people and services we’ve still got companies employing teams of lawyers just so they can trade across the nearest border.

Jacques Delors once said that nobody can fall in love with the single market – and frankly, no one ever will if we carry on like this. Let’s look at how we can put an end to all those restrictive rules – who can hold shares in which companies, where businesses can set up and how many people they can employ and most importantly, let’s deliver on this with a tough, transparent approach to enforcing the single market.

Fail here and we’ll fall behind.

Succeed – and we could add up to 180 billion euros to Europe’s economy.

Of course our biggest ambitions have got to be for innovation.

I don’t believe for one moment we need to be downbeat about this in Europe.

It was British scientists who unravelled the genome who helped design the i-pod who invented the world wide web.

Where is the world’s capital for high quality industrial design? Not the US, not Asia – Europe.

We’ve got the raw material of good ideas – let’s get better at exploiting them. Access to finance is crucial.

For every euro invested in venture capital in Europe, more than seven times that is invested in the US. We need to do more to incentivise the same kind of risk-taking investment culture over here.

Back home we’ve introduced a patent box offering a ten per cent tax rate on patent income. But action like this will be worth little if we can’t break the deadlock on a Europe-wide patent system.

Do you know how long we’ve been discussing this? Almost forty years.

 

The truth is we can talk all we like about making this continent the capital for innovation but while it can cost up to thirty five thousand euros to get patents in just thirteen member states, it’s never going to happen.

The possibility of progress is there – we’ve just got to seize it.

So we can develop even more of the goods and services the world wants to buy. And that’s precisely why we in Europe shouldn’t be cautious about trade – we should be actively, aggressively pushing for it.

I know every speaker at events like this talks about concluding Doha as a matter of urgency – and I agree.

But we all need to be equally clear about how it’s going to happen not with more warm words but with more on the table from all sides. A little more on cotton and safeguards in agriculture. A little more on industrial goods, especially from emerging markets.

More from all sides on services – where the gains are huge. No more stubbornness. No more hiding offers in back pockets.

2011 is the make or break year. And there are other things we must do at the same time.

Last year we signed a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea worth up to thirty three billion euros to EU exporters. We can and we must do the same with India, Canada, Latin America, the Middle East, the ASEAN block.

We have the goods the world wants to buy – now let’s have the confidence to strike those deals and sell them.

There’s one final thing we in Europe need to have more confidence about – and that is our values. The value of liberal democracy used to be sacred in the West.

Now some people are doubting it. They’ve seen authoritarian capitalism and the way it works.

They see political leaders with the powers of juggernauts, forcing decisions through and they argue that against this, our liberal democratic values look outdated, ineffective – even an obstacle to success.

I passionately disagree. It’s these values that create the climate for innovation. Look at where the big ideas come from – the facebooks and the Spotifys – and the vast majority are from open societies.

That’s because good ideas come through freedom – free thinking and the free association of like-minded people. Our values create the right climate for business too.

If you’re looking to set up a headquarters abroad, are you going to invest where your premises can be taken away from you?

Where contracts are routinely dishonoured?

Where there’s the threat of political upheaval?

Or are you going to invest where there are property rights, the rule of law, democratic accountability?

These values aren’t some quaint constitutional add-on they are an integral and irreducible part of our success today and tomorrow – and all of us must always remember that.

So my message today is one of confidence.

We are an open, trading continent.

We have a proud record of invention.

We’ve got advanced democratic values.

But yes, we’ve got to recognise that Europe has got to earn its way.

The world doesn’t owe us a living.

So let’s make the choice to do things differently, to fight for our prosperity. If we set our sights high if we take bold decisions in deregulation, on opening up the single market, on innovation and on trade then together we can defy the pessimists and together, recover our dynamism.

Altar Love

 

As usual, please do not read this as you may find it offensive, especially if you are a Catholic Priest or Vatican employee. 

Tony Walsh was an Elvis impersonator  and was known by some as “The singing priest”. To others he was simply known as “Father Filth”. It is estimated that prior to being locked-up in prison, he had raped over 100 young boys.

His escapades contributed a whole chapter to the  Murphy Report on priestly sexual abuse within the Dublin archdiocese. One of his victims was raped on an altar after having been tied up with cords from Walsh’s vestments. When the boy screamed in pain, Walsh turned up an already-playing Elvis record in order to drown-out the noise. The boy, who later at the age of 16 attempted suicide was then told by Walsh that if he breathed a single word of what had just happened to him, he would “burn in hell for all eternity.”

On another occasion, Walsh turned up at a wake and raped the deceased’s grandson in a toilet.

A good example of how highly priests used to be regarded in strong catholic communities is this reaction from one of the victims’ parents after he told them that he had been sexually assaulted by the parish priest. His mother’s reaction was “How can you say that about a man of the cloth, a man of God?”  The boys father then administered a good hiding.

Needless to say, the boy remembers nothing but feeling profoundly and totally alone as well as constantly terrified.

Another boy recalled: “I remember lying face-down while Father Walsh lay on top of me, making gyrating movements. I remember thinking: ‘When will all this be over? When can I leave?‘ “

Many victims became drug and alcohol addicts, some ended-up in psychiatric care while others killed themselves.

The pervert priest Walsh was subsequently tried by a Dublin church court and defrocked. He then appealed to the Vatican which reinstated him a year later.

This is what a letter from the Vatican’s  Archbishop Luciano Storero, the Vatican’s diplomat to Ireland said at the time :” The Congregation of the Clergy is pursuing a global study of sexual-abuse policies and will establish worldwide child protection policies at the appropriate time. “

He also wrote that allegations and punishments should be handled within the church and that any bishops who attempted to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the highly embarrassing position of having their actions overturned on appeal to Rome.

The 1997 letter stated that Ireland’s bishops should NOT report suspected child-abuse cases to the authorities. This was a rejection of a proposal by Irish bishops to cooperate with the police when the first wave of publicly-disclosed lawsuits by victims first hit the headlines.

Even to this day, the Vatican has not endorsed the three major policy documents published by the Irish church which were designed to protect children from clerical abuse.

So far, the Irish taxpayer has paid approximately £1.5 billion to more than 14,000 abuse claimants. That is approximately the amount “gifted” by the British government to help the Irish government with its current cash-flow problems.

What about the Vatican and its talk of getting to grips with the problem of its rapist priests? Their child protection policies continue to remain in limbo.Effectively, in spite of fine words and various tours by the holy men in dresses, nothing practical has been done.

For what appear to be cosmetic reasons, the Vatican web-site does advise bishops to report priestly sex-crimes to the police. However this “advice” is totally absent from the official document produced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (which was updated as recently as 2010 – just before Pope Ratz’ visit to the UK). The document continues to stress the secrecy of canon law.

Our hero Walsh was eventually tried for only 17 cases of sexual abuse. It seems that he hadn’t even wasted much time after being ordained in 1978. His first “official” victim was an eight-year-old boy who was sexually molested TWO DAYS after Walsh’s ordination.

As the pervert’s career developed, his crimes were well-known to senior figures within the Irish Church but were “overlooked“.

After Walsh was tried and imprisoned, Irish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin delivered the customary catholic blandishments: ” I can only unreservedly apologise to the victims of this man for what they endured and for the way in which the diocese failed them.”

It  is highly  likely that the Catholic priesthood has an “organisation within the organisation” which is made up of a network of paedophile rings and this is reflected in Chapter 19 of the Murphy report.

Chapter 19 of the Murphy Report was published a month ago because to have published it earlier may have prejudiced the case against Walsh.

The recently published chapter gives details of the links between FIVE of Ireland’s most prolific child abusers although the conclusion is that there “was no direct evidence” of a paedophile ring but that there were “worrying connections” between the five priests.

A ring by any other name………

These are the priests: Tony Walsh, FR Bill Carney, Fr Noel Reynolds, Fr Francis McCarthy and Fr Patrick Maguire.

So what of the Vatican’s role in all this? That’s easy!

When the Vatican suggests that it has instructed its management to report cases of paedophilia to the authorities, it is lying. The protection of paedophile priests from criminal investigation is not only sanctioned by the the Vatican but it is ordered by it.

Here’s what Amnesty International’s Irish Director  has said about Storero’s recently revealed 1997 letter: ” The letter is of huge international significance because it shows that the Vatican’s intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here (Ireland), it applied everywhere.”

So far, the Vatican has claimed that priests are not its employees and has effectively attempted to distance itself from the scandals.  This letter now reveals that the Vatican deliberately intervened by putting pressure on Bishops to assist in an outrageous, long-standing Vatican cover-up.

The Vatican’s men now need to stand, hitch up those dresses and be counted.

 

Two reports into the the Dublin Archdiocese and its institutions were published in 2009 revealed decades of cover-ups and the systematic sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children.

A report into the abuse and cover-ups in the Diocese of Cloyne will be published later this year (2011).

“Father Filth” Walsh, who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence has recently had his face slashed by a fellow inmate. He needed 12 stitches.

Machine that goes “ping”

….And bring in the machine that goes “ping”

Prime Minister David Cameron says that the NHS is “inferior”. That is not accurate. The vast majority of people who work at the sharp-end, i.e those participating in the processes of healing and curing sick people are doing an exceptional job. What has screwed up the NHS is the endless procession of politicians with absolutely no financial or administrative “nouse” using the NHS as a political plaything.

For the last thirty years, politicians have added, subtracted, modified, remodified and created the most cumbersome administrative system in the world – and they still  continue to wreak havoc. The NHS is the most depressing administrative nightmare since the invention and continuing expansion of the Indian Civil Service. Mind you, the Brits invented that as well.

The latest plan is to ask General Practitioners to somehow administer billions in Government funds. Essentially, nerds who studied Biology at school are being asked to become managers and financial administrators. Once again, the wrong people are being asked to do the job. The NHS is suffering from Politician Disease and the prognosis is not good.

In the United Kingdom, Education is suffering from the same disease – as is politics itself.

DC cites various bits of evidence which are supposed to demonstrate that a reorganisation of the NHS will somehow push us up the league table of say, the “Cancers Cured League”. When in business or commerce, you are presented with a problem, the first thing that you look for is its Root Cause.  For instance, the reason that we lead the way in certain cancers is because the Brits (in the main) have a crap diet and/or live very stressed lives plus we have several generations of people who cannot cook.

The present government has managed to cut our discretionary spending and now it is impacting on our essential spending.  For instance – food. That means, in general terms, that there are large sections of our society which will be forced to compromise on an already inadequate diet.

The solution is NOT to allow people to fall sick and then attempt to cure them. The solution has to lie somewhere nearer the front-end of the process. The solution is NOT to bung them into hospital, feed them even worse food than they are used to at home and congratulate ourselves when some malnourished survivors actually make it home!!  READ THIS.

To put it simply (and you have to do that for politicians) the answer is NOT to throw money at the problem but perhaps finally to consider how best to reduce the number of visits to the GP and how to minimise the number of hospital admissions. 

They are already referring to their new NHS plans as “ambitious”.

“Foolhardy” would seem more appropriate.

 HAVE A ZOOM AROUND THIS MAP.

Depressing.

 

Sex Change

Counsellor Lesley Pilkington (above) has claimed that she can “cure” homosexuality – as have many before her.  Mind you, having seen a photo of her, perhaps her men friends are just pretending to be gay. I have to admit that when I saw her photo, I came over a little queer.

However, a thought occurred. If she can turn gays into straights,  the converse must be possible?

…….and I think that it’s working……

 

Harry Potter

Last week I watched the last three Harry Potter films back-to-back. I have to admit that there were several strange moments when I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to lust after Hermione until The Deathly Hallows.

Awkward.

 

Scallops

There is a phrase which should be banned from the English language  forever. That phrase is:  Seared Scallops”.

Seared Scallops have become the 21st century culinary equivalent of  last century’s Stuffed Peppers, Prawn Cocktail, Cheeze Fondue, Warm Goat’s Cheeze Salad and Quiche Lorraine.

(Needless to say, Seared Scallops with Black Pudding, Pea or Cauliflower puree  are very much included !)

 

Tunisia

I predicted that 2011 would be the Year of the Riot – and so it has come to pass in Tunisia. Like Idi Amin before him, Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has fled the country to set up home in that well-known despot destination, Saudi Arabia.

It’s amazing how much money some politicians manage to squirrell away.

 

…and on Haiti Earthquake Day

 

Feminist Hilary

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in Oman today and this morning she spoke to civil leaders at a Town Hall meeting in Muscat.

She said that women can be a major power in the Middle East peace process as well as urging regional leaders to encourage and embrace the rising expectations and aspirations  of Oman’s rapidly rising  youth population.

The Secretary of State went on to cite the example of women in Northern Ireland taking the initiative to meet and be instrumental in the resolution of the “troubles”. She suggested that Arab and Israeli women could provide a similar peace impetus.

“Women played a major role in pushing the politicians to find some solutions,” she said. “It was very clear that there just couldn’t be a divide when people on both sides were suffering in the same way.”

However, she did stress that such an initiative would be long and difficult.

She said that if Arab nations were to succeed in the 21st century they should embrace the aspirations of women and youth.

Tomorrow, Ms Clinton visits Qatar on  before returning to Washington.

 

Treasury Select Committee Muppets

Yesterday’s “grilling”of Barclays boss Bob Diamond was embarrassing to watch. In the real world people such as the members of the Treasury Select Committee would never be around the same table as Mr Diamond because in commerce, they would not be good enough. The quality of question was  appalling and the committee members all showed that what was more on their mind that anything else was the fact that Bob Diamond had a far more successful career that they – and they didn’t like it.

The question from John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw ” Why is it easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle  than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven?” produced a bemused silence from everyone, especially the smiling  Bob Diamond who is used to a slightly more focused line of questioning. “I’m stuck on that one,” he replied.

The rest of us were just plain embarrassed, especially when the Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee,   Andrew Tyrie ( Conservative member for Chichester)  added helpfully: “People have been stuck on that for 2,000 years.”

At that point, Bob Diamond must have been imagining that someone had slipped Mescalin into his Highland Spring.

We really must look at recruiting Members of Parliament who are not quite as thick and not so intimidated by someone who earns in a year what they would earn in 10 lifetimes.

What happened to the Politics of Envy? Still there, it seems.

 

Eric Illsley MP

The good news for the self-confessed “tealeaf”  MP is that he can remain an MP and draw his salary for 11 months, even when banged-up.  Work that system, Eric!

An MP’s salary is a lot of snout.

How many MPs are still thinking “There, but for the Grace of God……”

 

Haiti

The celebrities and opportunist politicians are but a distant memory. A year on and Haiti looks more-or-less the same as it did an hour after the earthquake, except that over 1 million people are living in tents and thousands are dying of cholera or malnutrition (that’s a nice word for starvation).

The £5 billion pledged has not materialised and you cannot feed and clothe people on promises.

Let’s not beat around the bush. Since Cuba has matured from dangerous Commie State to Interesting Tourist Spot, Haiti is no longer of any strategic importance. Its agricultural economy does not produce enough to feed its population. It populated by poor black people.

Remember Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Which group was left to fend for itself  for just that little bit too long? Who suffered the most because of the American Government’s intransigence. Yes. Poor black people.

Imagine if there had been  a hurricane or earthquake in Miami a year ago. By now even the golf courses would have been rebuilt.

We should all be ashamed of ourselves.

Diamond is forever

” These stiffs earn £65K. Wooooo! I’m so scared!!”

Barclays boss, Bob Diamond,  was today “grilled” by the Treasury Select Committee  and once again showed that he is slicker than frozen catshit on wet ice.

He, of course was not the ideal banker to be interviewed on certain topics, especially as Barclays did not source any funds from the British government during the banking crisis. Instead, they borrowed cash primarily from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) which was an existing Barclays shareholder.  Barclays had also held talks with  the Libyan Investment Authority and Russia’s VTB and Sberbank banking groups.

At the inquiry Diamond said (quite rightly), “No bank should ever be a burden on the taxpayer.” As someone who had run  Barclays Capital for 14 years, prior to being given the reins to the Barclays Retail operation, he had known where to source money when times became tough for Barclays in 2008.  He’d done it without any UK-focused sentimentality, whereas the rest of the industry ran to the Treasury for handouts. His exact quote: “Banks should be allowed to fail…It’s not okay for taxpayers to have to bail out banks.”

He was quite right. If a bank failed, it would be bought by another bank. Hopefully one with a competent Board and management.

Inevitably, that old chestnut, the banker bonus  reared its ugly head during rather tense exchanges but realistically, Diamond knows that he can earn what he damn-well pleases. Perhaps he wasn’t the ideal banker to defend bonuses. He has foregone his bonus for the last two years but there is little doubt that he can easily afford to do so. In 2007, he earned £21 million.

Barclays is not a government charity basket-case,  unlike the Royal Bank of Scotland whose CEO, Stephen Hester is set for a £2.5 million bonus. (As the government owns 83% of RBS shares, that will, in effect make Hester the UK’s highest paid Civil Servant).

Diamond expressed his belief in the Retail-Investment banking model, saying that the arrangement provided stability and was a “great starting position”. Many MPs believe that banks should be broken up  so that a clear distinction can be drawn between Retail (personal banking) and Investment (so-called Casino banking). In reality, they have always been separate operations and really only come together for accounting purposes.

It has taken the government a long time to come to the conclusion that they are totally impotent as far as banker bonuses are concerned and that they have effectively been told by the banks to “butt-out“.  As a concession though, the banks are expected to say that they are committed to lend more to small businesses. It remains to be seen whether this happens.

The banking industry claims that it is lending, whereas the business sector says that banks are not lending enough and when they do lend, it is at exorbitant interest rates with  borrowers having to jump through a series of bank-designed fiery hoops before banks do deign to lend.

However, Diamond said that demand for commercial loans had subsided.

Once again, Diamond demonstrated that our MPs, who are a motley crew of ex-lawyers, academics, union men and local councillors are no match for the denizens which swim the murky waters of the world’s banking system

PREVIOUS BOB DIAMOND

CHANCELLOR GEORGE OSBORNE’S VIEW ON BONUSES? BUSINESS AS USUAL

Vince Cable

Have you noticed how quiet Vince Cable is these days? He used to be the most vocal politician on the subject of both “Casino Banking” and the banker bonus. It seems that after being told never again to crap in the Coalition’s cosy little nest, he has had his wrist slapped and been muzzled.

America is about to sneeze

 

America is about to sneeze

They say that when America sneezes, Europe catches a cold. Well, the bad news is that financially, America is the equivalent of HIV positive.

Mainly, we are aware of America’s federal debt (the BIG ONE – at about $14 trillion, that’s $14,000,000,000,000!!). That debt is increasing by about 10% per year – that’s $1.4 trillion. No wonder that lately, President Obama is looking a bit jaded.

That headline debt is further compounded (as it is in all countries) by local debt. In America, state and local governments have a collective deficit (what they owe over what they can pay) of $2 trillion. That does not include a pension deficit of approximately $3.5 trillion and  about $500 billion in health benefits  still owed.

American states have been scraping by on federal handouts, or as they are euphemistically termed, “stimulus funds” but it now seems that the cupboard is bare.  State economies do not have the luxury of being able to print money, so it is unclear as to what will happen next. The law may need to be changed in respect of state and city annual returns because it is a legal requirement that cities and states have to balance their budgets annually.

The United States has a European-type problem. Imagine a Europe with many more countries having economies such as those of Greece and Portugal. That is the situation in the United States.

The Root Cause of the problem is decades of mismanagement by the local authorities as well as by the Federal government. This was caused by the election of successive administrations which were not fit for purpose. This is not a uniquely American problem and as it is becoming more and more apparent that all modern economies require not-only  charismatic leadership but a backbone of competent elected personnel who are able to manage complex economic issues. The worldwide trend is still to elect local personalities whose primary assets are eloquence and good looks, two attributes which are woefully inadequate to deal with multi-faceted economic and fiscal issues.

Rhetoric has to give way to action. All governments, local and national  now appear to be observers instead of shapers of events. As in any corporation, it is a crisis which exposes weak management and so it has happened in government.

Administrations are doing nothing more than fighting rearguard actions, with borrowing and cost-cutting   the only weapons available to them. That old weapon of economic growth has temporarily (one hopes) disappeared because the banks’ role has largely  changed from distributors of money to  recipients.

The classic example is California which has a deficit of £28.5 billion  with further annual deficits of $20 billion over the next five years.

Schwartzenegger has been replaced by Jerry Brown as Governor who has by now realised that there is no more cost-cutting to be done. Prior to leaving office, Scwartzenegger had proposed additional cuts of $7.4 billion in welfare, child care and health care. California cannot borrow much more cash because its credit rating is just about at “junk” status and on a par with the broken economies of Portugal and Greece. There are other examples:

Arizona has sold its State Capitol and Supreme Court and is now leasing the premises from the new landlords.

In Illinois , State officials are being evicted fro their offices. Why? Because they cannot pay the rent.

All over the country, emergency services are being cut because the funding is not available and rather worryingly, prisoners are being released early.

Federal tax income is also on the slide because unemployment is still on the increase and it is very likely that many major American cities will become bankrupt this year and several states, led by California  will probably default.

Countries, states and local administrations borrow money by issuing bonds with a certain “yield”. 

There is now a very high probability that very soon, an administration is going to announce that it cannot pay the yield on the bonds which it has issued. That could cause a panic in the bond market as investors dump their bonds, causing  interest rates to soar.

That in turn would trigger a collapse of the dollar.

The Chairman of the Federal Reserve has already stated that the Fed will NOT bail out any defaulting local governments because they themselves do not have the resources.

However, should the US Government,  decide to assist bankrupt states and cities,  it can only do so  by increasing its own debt to well above what is already an unmanageable amount. That only leaves one question: Who is going to bail-out the US Government?

Governmets are doing exactly what the banks did before them. Papering over the cracks in broken balance sheets  while at the same time clearly understanding the inevitability on the “end game”.

 

The banks.

World government crises have all been driven by the collapse of the banking industry. Unless the bankers admit to terminal incompetence, it is inconceivable that they did not anticipate their own demise.

The great political hot potato is still the perceived self-indulgence exhibited by the banking industry in paying itself obscene bonuses which appear to be based on largely illusory profits.

Two years ago, governments were “spooked” by the banking industry and made large donations of cash to the banks without having formulated any sort of agreements to rein-in bank remuneration packages or even insisting on changes of management. With very few exceptions, the same people are running the banks who were running them when the system collapsed.

They say that you cannot judge the strength on management until you watch them experience  and deal with a crisis. When the 2008 banking collapse occurred, the banks had been hiding their losses through the medium of creative accounting and fraud. However, they were still managing to conjure “profits” which resulted in hardly a pause to their bonus payments.

When the crisis hit them, they clearly demonstrated that they were incapable of managing their way out, without going “cap-in-hand” to the politicians. At that time,  government decisions were driven not-only by the harsh economic reality of what would happen if the banks were allowed to fail but there was always one eye on political expediency.

 This shotgun “marriage” between  banks and government was always bound to be difficult so here’s some late advice to all governments:

 Always make sure that there is a signed pre-nuptial agreement in place before you allow yourself to be screwed.

Governments have now been forced to face another harsh economic and political reality: They have absolutely no control over the banks. Here’s another piece of advice:

Allow the bankers to properly earn their salaries and bonuses. Governments should begin a controlled dump of the bank shares which they own. That would have the effect of squeezing bank share prices, decreasing their profits and consequently those contentious bonuses.

That may have the effect of motivating senior bankers to extinguish their Monte Cristos, adjust their Rolexes , exit their penthouse offices, enter the real world and exhibit some humility.

That will be a good time to renegotiate.

Guns & Gabrielle Giffords’ Grit

The Americans should turn-back the clock and reintroduce  the assault weapons ban which was in place 1994-2004.

Jared Lee Loughner, the latest American shooter would always to be able to obtain a firearm but with a ban on guns with high-capacity magazines it would have been far more difficult for him to arm himself with a gun capable of discharging over 30 rounds.

The two images below show how deeply weapons are embedded in the American psyche. In the first poster, please note the fourth name on the list. There’s always someone who will take your words (and crosshairs) literally.

 

 Here’s a recent American campaign poster:

 

…..and this is as tough as we get here in the United Kingdom:

Why the banks can bank on the Tories

You may recall the pre-election  macho posturings of our  political leaders  in respect of bankers’ bonuses. You may now be wondering  why, after two years, bankers are still in receipt of what to most of us appear to be eye-watering pay-outs. OK, so about half of the £7 billion which will be paid to them will eventually appear in the Chancellor’s coffers as tax revenue but “the big picture” is far more interesting.

Traditionally, many MPs have post-Westminster consultancies to look forward to. For some, those consultancies and directorships are within the banking industry and for others, the consultancies are just being kept warm until such time…………

The article below was written by the Daily Mirror’s Political Editor, Jason Beattie and appears in today’s paper. It is reproduced here with Jason’s full permission. 

 

 

The Tory Party’s deep links to the banks are exposed today in a Mirror investigation.

More than a quarter of all Conservative MPs and peers have held jobs in banking or the financial sector.

The close ties will fuel speculation that the Tory-led Government is deliberately giving its friends in the City an easy ride.

Chancellor George Osborne has come under attack for letting the banks off the hook by imposing a levy of just £2.5billion.

 

ELITE

The Treasury has also been criticised for failing to clamp down on tax avoidance by major UK companies and allowing City high-fliers to keep pocketing exorbitant bonuses.

The Tories also stand accused of introducing laws that give a full tax exemption for British companies’ tax haven branches and letting them get away with an 8% tax rate for profits diverted to havens through internal financing.

Our investigation found that of the 498 Tory MPs and peers 134 have been or are employed in the financial sector, this includes 70 of the party’s 305 MPs. Among the 193 Conservative peers, more than a third work or have worked in finance or banking.

Altogether there are more Tory MPs who have been on the banks’ payroll than the total number of Lib Dem politicians.

Labour MP Tristram Hunt said: “The Conservative Party is as much as ever the preserve of a small elite of professions of which financial services is by far the largest.”

Among the Cabinet members with links to the City are Paymaster General Francis Maude, who has worked for Solomon Bros and Morgan Stanley; Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde who was chair of Trafalgar Capital Management from 2001-10; Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, who worked for NM Rothschild & Son from 1986-2009; International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who worked for Lazard Bros from 1979-2009; and Commons Leader Sir George Young, who worked for the Samuel Hill merchant bank.

Eleven Tory MPs and peers have worked for Barclays, including Richard Bacon MP, Jesse Norman MP, former Chancellor Lord Lawson, Earl Howe and Andrea Leadsom MP. A further eight Conservatives have been at Rothschild, including John Redwood MP, Mark Garnier MP, former Chancellor Lord Lamont and Jacob Rees-Mogg MP.

And four worked for Lehman Bros, the company whose collapse sparked the financial crisis.

They include Steve Baker MP, Chief Architect, Global Financing and Asset Servicing Platforms at the company from 2006-2008; Brooks Newmark MP and Lord Freeman. Others with links to the financial sector include billionaire Lord Ashcroft, welfare minister Lord Freud, Harriet Baldwin MP and Kwasi Kwarteng MP.

Since coming to power the Tories have imposed a bank levy which will raise an estimated £2.5billion a year. But at the same time, Mr Osborne has slashed corporation tax rates from 28% to 24% meaning the impact on the finance houses will be minimal.

The Treasury has also watered down the levy. Originally the proposal was for 0.07% on all of a banks’ liabilities. But the Government has said the banks will not have to pay the tax on the first £20billion of liabilities.

Mr Osborne has also failed to take forward the recommendation of Sir David Walker that banks should be forced to disclose all pay packages above £1million. And there has been no action to curb the bonus culture which is expected to see £7billion lavished on whiz-kids this year.

The big four banks between them paid some 200 staff an average of £1million last year.

Mr Hunt claimed it showed the Tories are inextricably linked to the world of banking. He said: “What this analysis shows is that the real coalition governing Britain is between the banks and the Tory Party.

“Can the Government really be trusted to encourage bank loans to small businesses, crack down on bonuses and end casino practices when so many of them owe their careers to the financial sector?”

ANGER

He added: “Why should our public services pay for their greed and complacency?” Max Lawson, who is leading a campaign for banks to pay a £20billion “Robin Hood” tax said: “The Government needs to show that it puts the interests of ordinary people ahead of those of bankers.

“Former colleagues may be urging ministers to protect the City’s privileged position but the Government needs to close its ears to the pleading of special interests.

 “Bankers have got away with too much for too long. They trashed our economy but continue to award themselves billions in bonuses. It’s time the Government woke up to public anger and made them pay to repair the damage they have done.”

The 24% Rate of corporation tax was cut from 28% by George Osborne, (who has no banking qualifications)  

Francis Maude, Paymaster General, Worked for Solomon Bros and Morgan Stanley

Lord Strathclyde, Leader of the House of Lords, Chair of Trafalgar Capital Management from 2001-10; 

 Oliver Letwin, Cabinet Office minister, worked for NM Rothschild & Son from 1986-2009;

 Andrew Mitchell, International Development Secretary, Lazard Bros from 1979-2009;

 Sir George Young, Commons Leader, worked for the Samuel Hill merchant bank.

 John Redwood, MP Co-chair of Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness, worked at investment bank Rothschild

 Lord Freeman worked for Lehman Bros, the company whose collapse sparked the financial crisis.

 Steve Baker MP was Chief Architect, Global Financing and Asset Servicing Platforms at Lehman Bros

 Lord Lamont, Former Chancellor, worked for Barclays

 

Read more: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/01/10/why-the-banks-can-bank-on-the-tories-115875-22838405/#ixzz1AcdQTIPi

The ghost of Roberto Calvi

 

Apart from doing God’s work on Earth, the Vatican is also renowned for self-inflicted scandals – both sexual and financial. This week yet another wave of Vatican fiscal turbulence has hit the headlines. The latest is by no means the first and one suspects, not the last.

In  1974 the Franklin National Bank collapsed and the Vatican lost an estimated $30 million. The bank had been owned by  the Sicilian financier Michele Sindona. Bad loans and questionable  foreign currency transactions  had led to the collapse.  Sindona  died in prison after drinking cyanide-laced coffee.

Who can forget the 1982 news of Roberto Calvi being found hanged from London’s Blackfriars Bridge?  Calvi had been the head of the failed Banco Ambrosiano. The bank collapse  (in the days when bank collapses were not such an everyday phenomenon)  was as a result of millions in loans that the bank had made  to Latin American-based dummy corporations. Calvi had been known as “God’s Banker”because the majority of the Banco Ambrosiano shares were owned by the Vatican.

The apparently ritual hanging of Calvi fired rumours which suggested the involvement of P2, the very powerful and influential “black” Masonic Lodge which, at the time boasted eminent members from the worlds of politics, finance and media. For instance, the current Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was a member. (Imagine an Italian Bilderberg Group or a  quasi-government with Vatican connections.)

There was talk of Mafia involvement and money-laundering on a massive scale. Needless to say, the Vatican  denied any part in the frauds but nevertheless paid $250 million the the collapsed bank’s creditors.

Thirty years later, the Vatican has agreed to establish a financial watchdog – purely as a result of yet more money-laundering allegations. It has vowed to  “battle” money-laundering and the financing of terrorism but in spite of this quixotic call to arms, Vatican banking still remains an enigma. The Vatican banking system with its extreme secrecy makes the average Liechtenstein bank look like Wikileaks with Tourettes. 

The Vatican is a tax-haven with its own rules and is seemingly above international law. Its currencies are the  Euro, scandal and secrecy. Needless to say, that automatically makes it very attractive to dishonourable people who may have things to hide.

The Vatican is now creating a  financial watchdog which will be fully functional on 1st April 2011. Everything has been done it in a hurry (by Vatican standards) because the latest scandal has resulted in $31 million of its cash being seized and two of its senior officials being suspended while they and the whole affair are investigated.

The Holy See’s bank is called IOR (Institute for Religious Works) and  was primarily created to manage assets earmarked for the pope’s charitable and religious works. The banks has over 40,000 account holders but their names are kept secret.

Pope Ratz is accustomed to scandal and will certainly be aware of the exploitation of banking and the rest of the financial sector by individuals and organisations who prefer to remain outside the law. Consequently, he has written an encyclical calling for “greater morality” in finance.

The recent decree has created the Financial Information Authority which will (theoretically) ensure that the Vatican’s financial (and other) institutions comply with the new regulations. As a result of these changes, the Vatican has indicated that it will share financial information with other states. Hopefully it will be more successful that the Regulatory bodies which have been established elsewhere and whose presence did not deter people such as Madoff in the States, the collapse of Lehman brothers and the subsequent near-collapse of the West’s entire banking system – from which it is yet to recover.

The following activities are now illegal in the Vatican: Human trafficking, training for terrorist acts, providing chemical and bacteriological weapons, selling or buying human organs and pollution. There is no mention of the Vatican’s second-favourite indoor sport (after table-tennis) :  buggery. Perhaps that will be mentioned in future edicts.

The legislation will be passed today (31st December 2010) – that was the pledge made by the Holy See  a year ago when the Vatican entered into monetary agreement with the European Union.

Meanwhile, in spite of the accelerated activity, the Vatican bank’s chairman Gotti Tedeschi and his deputy remain under investigation. They and the Vatican still maintain that the whole affair has been a “misunderstanding “but nevertheless, Roman courts have twice refused to release the seized $31 million. It would seem that the Vatican’s own secrecty laws are something of a block to this case being deal-with quickly. 

Yesterday, the pope’s spokesman Federico Lombardi was aksed about the identity of the bank clients who are possibly  implicated in the alleged money-laundering. He replied in typical Vatican nonsensical terms to which we have become accustomed. He said that this was a very “peculiar case” and he continued:  “But I maintain that this law creates a situation in which the type of problems that were verified or unsuitable are unthinkable.” 

Procrastination is a major Vatican technique in dealing with matters of sexual abuse and it seems that the same modus operandi are applied to their financial adventures. The Vatican Bank’s chairman has said that he is working “to get the Vatican to come into compliance with the norms of the Financial Action Task Force” ( The Financial Action Task Force is a policy-making body which assists countries to formulate anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing legislation).

Hopefully the construction, discussion and subsequent adoption of rules and legislation does not once again, prevent the Vatican from taking positive action. So far, the FATF has not had time to study the Vatican’s submission either in detail or in English!

A statement from FATF reads:   “……however on the strength of what has been released I can say it appears to be a significant step towards compliance with the global anti-money laundering standards.”

The whole process will take years because the Vatican must enter into tax information sharing agreements with at least 12 other countries after making a formal commitment to transparency. Only then will it become an OECD White Member.

Surprisingly, the Vatican has so far not had  contact with the OECD with  since two meetings in early 2010.

One can sense a corner of the already over-burdened Vatican carpet being lifted and the long grass quivering in anticipation.

25 Predictions for 2011

The predictions for 2011 are in no particular order and are a mixture of both British and world events. For the last two years, governments all over the  world have been doing no more that playing a wait-and-hope game;  the political equivalent of whistling in the dark.

Here in the UK, the Coalition government has introduced its so-called “austerity measures”. The rhetoric may well be very impressive  to the IMF or the European Bank but what is really happening is that the day-of-reckoning is being postponed by being nudged along by successive disjointed government policies. Everyone is confused.

For instance, in spite of the very negative economic prognosis for the coming year, Stock Markets have been climbing. That  demonstrates is that there has been a final dislocation between economies and  world markets. Stock markets have become no more than a large sandpit in which speculators and bankers play their money games and continue to throw sand not-only in each others eyes but  have also somehow managed to blind whole governments.

Bankers have progressed from custodians  and redistributors of money to self-important untouchable deities who are feared by all.

The most bizarre aspect of Global Economics is the inconsistency with which politicians address  it. 

The blame for the collapse (yes!) of  Western economies is often ascribed to a “downturn in the world economy”. However, governments continue to tinker with their own economies without considering any global impact of their policies. In reality, there is no Global Economy. It is a nonsense phrase.  All that we really have is a large number of  increasingly interdependent local economies. It is a jigsaw of economies, the pieces of which can never fit together properly.  The only solution will be a world currency (that would stop the speculators!) and a real globally conceived, calculated and controlled economy. 

So what is holding us back? That’s an easy one – politics and man’s natural parochially tribal nature.

One of the most ignored aspects of modern economics has been the rise of the bureaucrat. In that group, I include not-only large slices of the public sector  but all non-productive professions such as accountancy, the legal profession, consultancy and those who “analyse”. They do not produce anything new or tradable and  there are too many of them. Large slices of the banking profession also fall into that group.

These groups are a massive a drain on an economy. They do not add value – on the contrary, they take. These “professions” are all due for rationalisation because their only contribution is to take and redistribute money which has been  earned by others.

It is highly probable that 2011 may be remembered as the year when the waiting and procrastination had to stop so here are the predictions:

1. The era of BIG Government is dying and all governments will be forced to cut public expenditure.

2. This will be a year of strikes, general public unrest and riots. Students and pensioners will stand together.

3. The Euro will finally stop twitching and die. Germany has already realised that it can no longer remain in the Eurozone when it it surrounded by so many lame-duck economies.

4. Most western countries will experience cuts in police, the fire service and rubbish collection. Paradoxically, times of austerity produce more crime and a substantial increase in the incidence of insurance-inspired fires.

5. China is beginning to experience inflation. This will result in an upward revaluation of the Yuan – which effectively will be a devaluation of the dollar.

6. Banks will be punished for holding too much cash and  for continuing to withhold funds from commerce and industry.

7. There will be a downward correction in world stock-markets. That is very likely to happen very early in the year.

8.  Gold and Silver prices will decrease early in 2011 but rally massively during the rest of the year.

9.  Commodity prices ( wheat, soyabeans etc) will rise very substantially during the year.

10. Oil will cross the $100 per barrel barrier.

11. In the United Kingdom, the Coalition government will collapse and there will be a general election in October 2011.

12. Nick Clegg will be challenged for the leadership of the Liberal Party and  is likely to “cross the floor”.

13.  The Labour anti-Ed Miliband movement will become more and more vocal as the year progresses and  as Labour realises that they elected the wrong man.

14. After the next government reshuffle, Vince Cable will become Minister-without-Portfolio and will quietly be put out to grass.

15. The concept of Man-Made Global Warming will be further eroded as a scientific theory.

16. We are overdue a nuclear or chemical accident. Look out for one in either China or India.

17. An earthquake in California is also overdue.

18. There has been some tittle-tattle about the state of the Beckhams’ marriage. Do not be surprised if there is a sudden announcement of an impending divorce.

19. As a result of fewer students, public sector redundancies and over-optimistic projections in the manufacturing industries, UK unemployment will officially breach the 3 million barrier.

20. The 279 Council elections in May 2011 will signal the beginning of the end of the Liberal Party. They are already an endangered species and will now  progress to near-extinction.

21. The referendum on the alternative vote will see the “first past the post” system retained. That will signal a long-overdue questioning of the Liberal leadership.

22. There will be an anti Coalition revolt with Labour and the Conservative right-wing standing shoulder-to-shoulder with disaffected Liberals.

23. The January visit to the United States by Chinese President Hu Jintao will not produce a cosy new relationship between the two superpowers. On the contrary, the visit may well produce  “sabre-rattling”  for the rest of the year.

24. Israel will carry-out a pre-emptive strike on Iran – as a result of the latter’s nuclear programme. Needless to say, the United States will wade-in with all guns blazing.

25. Sudan will implode. That will produce an ethnically-driven Yugoslavia-like civil war. Needless to say, the United States will wade in with all guns blazing -only this time they will be wearing United Nations hats.

The most difficult and surreal world political question – and potentially, the most explosive (literally) is whether the American nation has the appetite to elect Sarah Palin as the next President of the United States. Because, as sure as eggs is eggs, she will be a candidate. That all depends on how far to the right America is willing to lurch as a result of the inevitable failure of Obamanomics.

Condom Confusion

The Vatican  has once again clarified  the pope’s controversial  views on condoms and HIV. This THIRD clarification by the Holy See says that he had  NOT suggested that condom use could be condoned (sic!) as a means of avoiding pregnancy.

The  Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith which is the Vatican’s Rottweiler has issued a statement indicating that Pope Ratz’ views have been misrepresented. Therefore, as is customary with most papal edicts, all clarifications and interpretations needed to be clarified and re-interpreted. That is the long-standing tradition within the Catholic church.

All interpretations are available for interpretation until the correct interpretation is achieved but even then, there can be further interpretations.

Even theologians – those who do the interpreting have been confused about Pope Benedict’s recent prognostications. The basic question was: ” Is he breaking with current church teaching?”

Pope Ratz said that  condoms weren’t the “real or moral solution to battling HIV and AIDS” although some interpretations were that condoms contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, it seems that  the intention to use condoms (such as by male prostitutes), could be a step towards a more “moral and responsible” human sexuality – whatever that means.

In spite of the pope’s very generous views towards male prostitutes (who appear to be very popular within the Vatican) it has been  reaffirmed that the church still considers prostitution “gravely immoral.” (Especially at the ridiculous prices that they charge in Rome).

The inevitable statement : “However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity.”

What the Vatican is trying to say, it seems is that  “gravely immoral” prostitutes can score some “heaven points” but only if they have HIV/AIDS and protect their client form catching the disease. No points if they’re uninfected.

Obfuscation and a “smoke and mirrors” approach has always been the Vatican way. “Nuances” are the order of the day. Clean facts are a stranger to the geriatric cross-dressers.

Matters weren’t helped by the fact that the official Italian translation of the original German published in “L’Osservatore” contained two translation errors: It used the word “justified” , implying  that the pope was justifying condom usage in some circumstances.

And so the confusion continues.

The translation also used the feminine version of  ‘prostitute‘ as opposed to the pope’s original masculine — an important distinction, given that condoms in heterosexual intercourse can be used as contraception.

Unsurprisingly, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, added to the confusion.

He told reporters that he had spoken to Ratz and asked if it mattered whether the prostitute in question was male or female. Apparently the pope had said that it didn’t matter if it was a man, woman or transsexual.

In the new statement, which was printed in full in L’Osservatore, the Vatican didn’t specify whether the prostitute was male or female, referring only to “those involved in prostitution.” However,  it stressed that Benedict was not talking about sex between husband and wife or condom use as a form of contraception unless, presumably either the husband or wife was an infected prostitute.

The statement continued “The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought.”

He obviously thinks a lot about prostitutes – although there is an order of nuns within the Vatican which caters to any pope’s “needs”. Every job has its perks.

However, the pope still believes that condom use by male prostitutes could be chosen as a “lesser evil” since prostitution and homosexual sex are still evil and can never be condoned. But the statement implied that the intention of the prostitute to use a condom to prevent disease was less evil than infecting his partner.

It is still not clear whether Ratz’ edicts are “orifice-specific” but one assumes that both vaginal penetration and an old-fashioned butt-f*** were in the pontiff’s thoughts.

No doubt the 23 million HIV-infected and confused Africans have, by now,  all breathed a collective sigh of relief. They can screw away with the pope’s blessing – as long as they read the instructions on the packet and don’t wear the condom on another part of their anatomy.

His condom-related  comments in the book  “Light of the World” have  demonstrated a shift in thinking  and an ackowledgement that condoms can have a role to play in fighting HIV.

The previous Vatican tools of fidelity in marriage and abstinence are now joined by the humble condom.

So, the moral teaching of the Church remains consistent, unchanged and compassionate in its efforts to promote a genuinely human and humane sexuality.

It seems therefore that if you shag you wife wearing a condom, you will burn in Hell – unless of course, you are lucky enough to be HIV positive – in which case   you will you have a sound  moral argument sponsored by the pope himself.

Hope that’s cleared that one up. 

A safe Christmas

Cable, Assange. Two of a kind.

The main two players in the news recently have been Vince Cable and Julian Assange – and they both appear to be victims of nothing more serious than male vanity which, in both their cases, seems to have tipped over into arrogance.

What is more pleasing to a man of a certain age than two pretty young things giggling at your jokes and engaging in a bit of harmless flirtation. It is no accident that the Daily Telegraph sent a brace of young journettes to pose as Vince’s constituents. Very quickly they appear to have massaged his ego to such an extent that he went all the way in trying to overstate both his importance, his position in the government hierarchy and the length of his political willy.

If the newspaper has sent along two crusty old male journos, there’s no way in a million years that Vince would have succumbed to their charms in the way that he did with the ladies.

His craving for “esteem in the eyes of others” suggests that perhaps he needs a “fix” of what are called “brain needs” possibly because his basic physical and/or psychological needs are not being totally satisfied either at home or  the workplace. The sad old duffer obviously needs affirmation. If it is not dished out by his superiors, he will satiate the need as soon as the opportunity presents itself. That is why the honey trap sprung by young Telegraph totty worked so beautifully.

Exaggeration of our own professional importance, our experience and our qualifications, believe it or not, is a normal activity. It starts as early as our first job. When your parents asked you as an 18 year-old what you did at the office. It is never….”Well, I made the tea, received two bollockings and spent the rest of the day staring at my computer screen, did a bit on ebay and then an hour on Facebook….” It would be nearer to:  ” The boss asked me for my opinion on X, then I attended a marketing meeting  where I made a short presentation etc etc. Yes…it looks really promising…”

It is normal to exaggerate one’s own importance. Vince did not do it for physical or financial need. His need was purely emotional/psychological. It was “ego-food” and it would seem that he ate his fill. In true warrior-hunter-gatherer style, he imagined himself as Rupert Murdoch’s adversary and suggested that he had already won the battle. However, the sad fact is that he doesn’t even belong in the same arena as Murdoch. Cable is a former academic, economist and now, through the accident of a bad (in his opinion) electoral system,  Secretary of State.

Meanwhile Murdoch is one of the world’s best businessmen who not-only doesn’t take prisoners, he shoots the wounded. To him, Cable’s status in no more than that of a very minor irritant.

Vince can dream of being a hard-nosed testosterone-fuelled tough guy business-psycho but in reality, he is an academic bean counter who got lucky.

Remember when he was everyone’s favourite political uncle? Remember when he delivered that swingeing put-down to Chairman Brown?  You know, the Stalin to Mr Bean  joke? Now, Vince looks like a sad old git whose sell-by date has been tattooed on his forehead and who will be given Transport or Culture at the next reshuffle or, he will confirm that there is life after death by accepting a peerage.

One hates to watch a corpse twich but there is no way back.

Now that he has been stripped of the power to rule on Murdoch’s bid for control of BSkyB, Vince is well-and-truly fatally wouded. That makes him a potential danger to the Government and  both Cameron and Clegg know it. There have been several coy references  to the original quote but the fact is that Cameron would prefer to have Vince inside the tent pissing out rather that outside the tent pissing in.

Cameron’s advisers will probably be spending this coming weekend working out what sort of role Cable would accept without damaging the coalition…and Cable? He will be at home, continuing to cringe and probably still muttering the F-word. Lots.

Assange is also suffering from terminal vanity and you may be surprised to hear that both he and Cable probably share the same psychometric profile. Both are analyticals but whereas Cable is an Analytical-Expressive, Assange seems to be exhibiting all the classic traits of an Analytical-Driver. The starting point for both is a love of facts and figures.

 Citizens of  Nerdania.

The big difference is that Cable does have the added bonus of emotion whereas Assange is probably a sociopath. READ HERE and see if , from what you have seen and heard of Assange, you can perceive him as behaving according to type.

Assange has probably never been properly emotionally involved and his interests will be  sexual rather than emotional. If you listen to his version of the “rapes”, you may notice that he portrays himself as the victim, irrespective of the Swedish technicalities  and  interpretations of the concept of rape.

The Wikileak disclosures have given him worldwide fame and he will be feeling invincible – even though he may be in for some local trouble in Sweden as a result of those rape allegations. Make no mistake he will welcome the proceedings to extradite him to  the States because that will give him even more notoriety and fame and because he knows that the process may take years to complete.

By far the best way to deal with him would be to starve him and his ego of the oxygen of publicity and notoriety.

What Wikileaks is doing is sound but it is unfortunate that it is headed by such an arrogant publicity addict. Regrettably, the media continues to feed his over-active ego.

So we have Cable,  the Analytical-Expressive who is mortified and embarrassed by his own clumsiness and on the other hand, we have Assange the Analytical-Driver who does not feel even remotely humiliated by accusations of rape and who continues to wallow in the discomfort of indiscreet politicians.

Within the media, the indiscreet politician Cable has become a figure of fun whereas Assange, in spite of his obvious personal failings is portrayed as a hero of free-speech and non-censorship.

Both are vain men and both have made mistakes. But……………

Demos on Wheels?

 

Is this the future of Police disabled demo control?

Jody McIntyreis a wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy sufferer and “journalist” who feels that he was brutalised by the police at last week’s London student demonstration. Video footage of the incident is on Youtube.

 

People in wheelchairs demand equality and quite rightly so. Jody McIntyre exercised his right to protest because he feels that his younger brother may not be able to go to university because of the recent proposed changes in  tuition fees. So far so good.

However, was he too dumb to be aware that there are certain risks involved when attending any sort of student demonstration?  There are always “pilled-up”, stoned and drunk hotheads who cannot help but feed off the peculiar phenomenon that is crowd hysteria.

First there is chanting then  bad language is used. That is usually followed by  pushing and shoving.  Occasionally there is violence. It’s the same potential progression as that is experienced at an average football match, except that the focus is different. Both are contact sports.

I have attended demos and was only clobbered once by a policeman but then again, I deserved it. I  had the advantage of height, size and speed which meant that whenever I felt the need, I could distance myself from any  real trouble. If I fell down, I  knew that I could get up very quickly  and avoid any risk of injury.  The same does not apply to a prat in a wheelchair.

If Mr McIntyre’s objective was to make a guest appearance in the national press, he deserves our congratulations. Now, he is going to “consult lawyers” and make a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. No doubt he has already been in contact with Max Clifford in order to see if a few grand can be squeezed out of the  scandal-hungry Sunday red-tops.

The next natural development will be for the wheelchair-bound to demand demo- ramps, their own demo- toilets and lighter rocks to throw at the police.

Parliament Square is not very wheelchair-friendly  and no doubt if a case were to be fought in the European Court of Justice, proper disabled demo-facilities would become mandatory.

At any student  demo, the police has to deal with several disparate groups.

Firstly,we have the genuine student protesters who are happy to march, stop, listen to a few speeches and then go to the pub. Secondly, there is the minority of  psychos (many of whom have never even seen the inside of a university) who are there to set fire to things and to hit policemen and each other.

 The third group consists of  “the spectators”– usually  wearing designer student gear. Their university scarves a a little too pressed and their Uggs seem a bit incongruous is an environment where steel-toecapped boots should be de rigeur. They stand about in small groups, chatting and hoovering-up dinner party anecdotes for the following Saturday night Chablis and salmon-parcel  fest.

There are also spectators in their 40s and 50s who are probably on their way to the theatre and a “bite to eat”. They’re the ones wearing nice overcoats and high heels.

Then we have the snappers who, as I have said before are not averse to handing out money to students in order to secure or compose a photograph of  that bit of violence that no-one else has noticed or thought of staging. They’re easy to spot  and tend to be unshaven  and clutching a large black digital camera. They tend to wear checked shirts and body-warmers with lots of zipped pockets.

The dynamic is completed by policemen on foot, in Land Rovers and on horseback. Their job is to herd.

Because the ebb and flow of a crowd can be quite unpredictable, protesters, spectators and police are liable to  injury or trampling.  Hence the police technique of “kettling”. That simply consists of corralling the crowd in a pre-designated area so that it keeps still. 

It is not a new idea – think  “One Man and his Dog”.

Any confined herd or flock will constantly be looking for a means of escape and a student demo is no different. There is the occasional stray which is either thrown back behind the police cordon or, in extreme circumstances, restrained,  bundled into the back of a police “meat wagon” and transported to the nearest police station.

This complex crowd dynamic inevitably means that occasionally a spectator or innocent bystander will be either hit, injured or wrongfully arrested.

So, Mr Wheelchair-bound-cerebral-palsy-suffering dick, by going for your 15 minutes of fame, you  put yourself right  into the middle of an environment  which requires a set of mobility skills which you obviously do not have.

It is people like you who give the impression that cerebral palsy sufferers are mentally defective plus you have put back the cause of the disabled by at least 10 years.

Had I been the policemen who dragged you out of your wheelchair, I would also have administered a good kicking –  if only to dissuade you from attending any more demonstrations.

Our politically-correct world suggests that the next step will be for hundreds of wheelchair-bound demonstrators descending on Westminster, not-only demanding their own toilets and ramps but perhaps even their own policemen on wheelchairs. 

Mark my words – it’ll be like Scrapheap Challenge.

The Liberal Fire

 

In six short months, the Liberal party has completed the rocky journey from a small but effective band of highly-principled Westminster guerrillas to a motley collection of low-impact politicians which thinks that “principles” is a clothes shop and Parliamentary “tactics” are a type of House of Commons mint.

Last night, their Leader Nick Clegg (whose speech delivery appears have morphed into that of a Cof E country vicar)delivered a well-rehearsed soundbite by his appeal to all Liberal MPs to “walk through the fire together”. Well, there is no doubt that they will be walking into it but there’s no guarantee that they will emerge “unsinged”at the other end. 

Nick Clegg’s lack of foresight and total absence of strategic thinking probably means that after the next General Election, the Liberal Party will disappear from the political landscape. Oblivion beckons.

None of us can forget the pre-election  theatre when Liberal MPs were schlepping round university campuses garnering student  votes under what now transpires to have been false pretences (see photo above). At the time, neither the students nor the general voter viewed the Liberals’ actions with any suspicion or cynicism. After all, wasn’t it their Head Rottweiler, Norman Baker MP who had asked the very first Parliamentary question about MPs’ expenses. They were obviously an honest party who could be trusted – not like ” the rest of them”.

Our collective cynicism towards politicians was gradually ebbing away until that day in May when the Liberals signed a political HP agreement  with the Conservatives and left their principles as a down-payment.

In theory there is nothing at all wrong with raising student fees – although, as the country (and the poor) become poorer,  the timing may be seen as somewhat suspect. However, once you promise something to the current and future electorates – especially something as politically-sensitive as student fees, you should fight tooth and nail to retain it, together with your beliefs. You do not roll over and have your face fanned by a Ministerial Jag “extras” catalogue while your new security man massages your ego.

Clegg still does not realise that he and his party are not being berated for agreeing to raise university fees. This is not about winning or losing a vote. It is not about fees.

This is far more serious. It is about the credibility of what once was a great parliamentary party.

When the vote is passed, Clegg will have scored the mother and father of all Pyrrhic victories. He will be able to justify an increase in fees because that’s the easy part.

How will he explain the jettisoning of Liberal principles?

Julian Assange

One of the great talents of the CIA is the ability to destroy the reputation of anyone who crosses Uncle Sam. Look out for more women coming forward with anti-Assange claims. The CIA  will be busying themselves  engineering a “freedom-for-silence”deal with Assange. Even though only about 10,000 out of a possible 250,000 documents have so far found their way onto Wikileaks, the ” information genie”  is well-and-truly out of the bottle.

Meanwhile, let us hope that Assange is not involved in any fatal car crashes, illnesses or suicides.  However, if he really is a rapist, bang him up.

Al-Megrahi Lives!

A point of order on the continuing survival of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber. Eighteen months ago, he was given only three months to live and was released by the Scottish authorities on compassionate grounds. 

In spite of all the claims and counter claims about Gaddafi- threats to the United Kingdom and the evidence disclosed by Wikileaks of  “harsh and immediate action”  by Libya if al-Megrahi died in a Scottish prison, we can be sure of one thing.

Had Megrahi remained in the care of the National Health Service, he would be dead by now.

Chancellor’s Folly

Ken Clarke, the Lord Chancellor seems very keen on releasing prisoners, so here’s an idea which I am sure would be very popular at Westminster.

Build a large hostel in SW1 – somewhere near the palace of Westminster so that all freed criminals would  have somewhere to live on their release.

There would be several advantages to such a scheme.

Firstly, the authorities would know where all the lags were lodging with the added bonus that living among politicians, they would immediately blend in and feel at home..

Ratz Ass 2

The Vatican Public Relations machine has lifted its skirts a tiptoed into the winter sunshine. Two weeks ago, the PR men caught our attention with Condomgate and  last week they issued a statement indicating that the pope would be happy to ride a solar-powered electric Popemobile. All very cosy and light!

Yesterday they decided to have a “go” at rewriting history in the first stage of making Pope Ratz into everyone’s favourite “Onkel”.

It seems that in 1988, Das Pope wanted to find quicker ways to permanently remove priests who had raped children. Suddenly, the official line is that that the then Cardinal  Ratzinger’s initiative had been blocked by Church Law and the conservative Church hierarchy which implemented it.

The law to which the Vatican PR men are referring is that which only allows for removal of offending priests when they askto be laicised (defrocked). That law was last modified in 1983 but is soon to be amended so that when a priest is accused of child rape, he can be dealt with reasonably quickly. Apparently, all those years ago, Ratz asked for a “quicker and simpler” procedure rather than what  was (and still is) available –  a lengthy church trial. There aren’t all that many priest-trials anyway but apparently, the powerful Cardinal Ratzinger was overruled on the grounds that a priest’s ability to defend himself would be compromised.

The documentation which kick-started Ratzinger’s rehabilitation was published last week  in L’Osservatore Romano, in an article  explaining an upcoming revision of  the 1983 Code of Canon’s Law penal section. It seems that the Holy See finally recognises that the Code has too many loopholes to make it a deterrent to priests who have been entered by Satan and encouraged to perpetrate such heinous acts against children and parishioners.

The Vatican “Max Cliffords” are now seeking to portray  Benedict as having done more than anyone else at the Vatican to crack down on paedophile priests. However, in 2001, he had requested that all abuse cases should be referred to his former office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which to many observers suggested “containment” and suppression of information rather than any serious attempt to deal with the problem.

For many years, the Cardinal’s office had been hearing from bishops who were rarely allowed to deal with priests without the rigours of Vatican procedure. Fortunately for the Vatican, the majority of bishops preferred inaction and neither various popes or more recently, Cardinal Ratzinger had a single bishop removed from office even after it had been revealed that the bishops had been complicit in many hundreds of cover-ups.

Sexual abuse victims’ representatives say that a single letter does  not excuse decades of inaction or Pope Ratz’ continuing inaction in removing guilty bishops.

It is generally agreed that the pope should be judged by his actions and not by that  single letter which , in fact, achieved nothing.  As the clerical abuse scandal erupted earlier this year, Benedict was mired by accusations that as prefect of the congregation, he repeatedly refused bishops’ requests to have abusers removed. In reality, he has had ample opportunity to unilaterally declare changes but has continually failed to do so. When it suits the Catholic church it is a democracy and can bring all of its substantial bureaucracy to bear upon an issue and guarantee that it takes years or decades for any change to be effected.

At the time, Ratzinger was following laws and rules introduced by his predecessor Pope John Paul II, which largely left punishing such priests in the hands of local bishops, who often decided against conducting church trials because they found them too cumbersome and could lose them Vatican “brownie points”.

John Paul had also made it tougher to leave the priesthood, hoping to stem the tide of thousands of priests who left in the 1970s to marry. That was during the time when heterosexual rather than paedophilic sex was fashionable.

The priests who remained and who abused children were simply moved to other parishes where they would continue their perversions. The consequence in many countries – notably the USA was that victims sued the local parishes. That resulted in many Catholic dioceses being bankrupted.

In a March 1988 letter to Ratzinger, Cardinal Jose Rosalio Castillo who had headed the Vatican Commission which implemented the 1983 code,  said that  simplifying the procedures “would endanger the fundamental right of defence” of the priest whilst at the same time straying from the church’s legal-based system. That is to say, a priest’s and the church’s rights took precedence over the victims’ rights.

As the Catholic church’s victims have become braver and thus more vocal, the Vatican has been forced to streamline its own system and procedures so that a priest could be removed without the need for a church trial. Pope Ratzinger’s PR men are now making capital of the changes by portraying their man as an “I told you so”  hero.

Monsignor Juan Ignacio Arrieta, the No. 2 in the Vatican’s legal department, said that very soon, proposals for revisions of the penal part of Code of Canon’s Law will be sent to Vatican consultants and advisers. So far, the study has taken over two years and there is no time-limit or target for any changes being implemented. Theoretically, it could take years for any modifications to become law.

Meanwhile the VaticanPublic Relations  opportunists have begun to rewrite history and possibly the process which will ultimately have Pope Ratz declared a saint. It seems that the pope’s image is far more important than the physical, psychological damage which was and continues to be inflicted on innocent children by the perverts in dog-collars masquerading as messengers from God. 

FIFA princely cock-up

A couple of years ago I was asked to represent a Bermuda-based bank. They wanted my company to increase their exposure in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). The idea was that I would design an all-singing, all-dancing presentation/pitch and deliver it to various organisations on their behalf. During a meeting with their Board, they asked whether I would mind (for the purposes of this presentation) acting as if I was a member of their senior team rather than as a consultancy. I agreed and they asked me whether a corporate title would help. Eventually, we agreed on Business Development Director and they even printed a few hundred business cards with my name a title on them.

I contrasted this with a similar scenario which presented itself here in the United Kingdom. A relatively small company asked me to help them to break into new markets.There were also specific clients which they had tried to attract but which they had been unable to “hook”.  The owner of the business and I agreed that the sales pitch which I had arranged with a major company would be led by me and that he and two of his senior staff would also attend the pitch but more as corporate “ballast”. Once again, we agreed that I would present as his company’s “pretend” Sales Director.

A couple of days later, slides, handouts plus the script had been completed and I was ready to go.  Then the phone rang with a rather frantic company owner on the line. ” You can’t call yourself “Sales Director” because, according to my advisor, there are legal implications. You’ll have to think of another title or present as Chief Executive of your own company.”

That is the British attitude. Not positive motivation but “fear” motivation.

The owner of the British company was being advised by an accountant who used to be a bank manager and  a small-business specialist. Rules, legislation and regulations were more important than pulling-in business. The British Way.

He was also one of those people who believed that anything to do with “sales” , by definition, was dodgy. He also felt that he should be involved because he had all the figures at his fingertips. An accountant-bank manager attempting a sales pitch! THE nightmare scenario.

The company owner has still not realised that his “adviser” will do everything to ensure that his company remains small, otherwise the adviser will be out of a job and if the company did become big, he would be stranded well above his personal level of incompetence.

I politely told them that they should perhaps consider making the presentation without me and handed-over all the marketing material that we’d prepared.

To cut a long story short – they blew it and will carry-on blowing it until they rethink their attitude to business.

The banker/accountant  had advised the company owner that if he agreed to me using the title “Director”, I might be able to lay some sort of monetary claim against his business and that it was “dishonest” to allow me to call myself something that I wasn’t.(The fact that the title “Sales Director” effectively demoted me did not occur to him). Ugly self-interest, an accountant’s caution and total lack of business “nouse” had blown a potential £30 million deal.

Here in the UK we are afraid of success and waste too much time considering what could go wrong, not what could go right and we have too many advisers. I have a relative who always did everything that his accountant told him not to do. He retired at the age of 40 with £7 million cash in the bank.

We “make do” and instead of getting something 90% right and launching it, we wait until it is 100% right, by which time we’ve missed the bus because someone else has not-only launched but stolen all the clients.

The company owner and his accountant above had gone into their presentation without the proper preparation and screwed-up the whole thing and  forgot the most important thing – again very British. They forgot to ask for the business! Their pitch was amateurish because instead or preparing , they “made-do”. They thought that they could muddle through.

The Brits have a Heath-Robinson attitude in a Heath-Robinson society. We muddle through and invoke what is laughably called the “Dunkirk spirit”.

Currently, the country is languishing under a blanket of snow and inevitably, the media are hunting for human-interest stories. Stories abut how we are managing and once again “making do” because that is what makes the nation happy.

Roads, airports and railways are struggling because they “made do” in their preparation.

Our FIFA bid for the 2018 World Cup relied on the oratory of Beckham – for Christ’s sake! We made-do once again because  we did not realise that the FIFA decision had been made months ago!

Our media likes to expose bribery scandals which upset our delicate British sensibilities  so here’s another lesson:

I used to be a director of a company called American Marine and we used to carry out expensive refits on yachts in the Med. To everyone’s surprise, we managed to secure most of the business – from Nice, Antibes and Cannes to anywhere you care to mention on the Italian Med coast. How did we do it?

We would ask the skippers of any yachts which were tendering-out refit business to let us know what the highest quote that they had received was. Once we had the information, we made sure that our own figures well substantially above the highest other quote. Why did we do that?

Because we knew that the skipper of the yacht would demand 10% of the quote (in cash) as commission. Needless to say, we would always make sure that there was an additional amount paid over to him as well.

The  higher the quote, the higher the skipper’s commission – except when the skipper was also the owner!

If I sold a yacht to an Arab Prince, I knew that his “advisor” would need  a commission. That consisted of a handshake and an envelope full of cash before any deal was signed. Because of our British hard-wired gene-level suspicious nature, we in Britain believe that all Arabs are crooks. I have always found them to be extremely honourable. The real bandits are the suited ones in Europe who shake your hand and congratulate you on a wonderful presentation.

When I was Head of Broker Division at Citibank, I would talk to brokers and offer them ridiculous amounts of commission in return for them placing their clients’ money with us. I could erode a profit margin like no-one else! However, I made sure that there was still a profit and with the volumes that my over-generosity (bribes) generated, I was not given as much trouble by my CEO as I probably deserved.

So, we should stop trying to “make do” and always play fair and derive satisfaction from the belief that although we don’t win, at least we lost honourably.

As far as the FIFA bid for the 2018 World Cup is concerned, we should have done what most other countries would have done. We should have approached each committee member and asked him what we needed to do to be able to secure his vote. The answer would have been simple – money.

What did we do? We sent an ex-England footballer, a new Prime Minister that no-one outside London is particularly aware of and a grandson of our Queen!

So, the Queen couldn’t be bothered to turn up, the heir to the throne couldn’t be bothered, so we sent the grandson. OK, (on paper) he’s nominal President of the FA but he has never actually either played football or been interested in it – and they know it. You cannot fake passion about your product – unless you are a pro. William is a rank amateur.

We sent William because we are in love with our Royal family and imagine that everyone else is. They don’t care about our Royals any more than we care about the Dutch or Scandinavian ones.

David Beckham is a fine-looking young man but in spite of voice-coaching and presentation-training, he is not a presenter. This was a sales pitch which impressed no-one but fellow Brits.

David “Hey look at me I can talk wthout notes” Cameron’s spiel impressed the British media but it was not a sales pitch – it was politico-bullshit.  He spoke without notes (wow). That may impress fat Tory ladies on a Conference front row  but is not for the jaded palettes of Sepp Blatter and the rest of the football Illuminati. What they saw in Cameron’s noteless “trick” was not an impressive orator but a young Prime Minister who could not be arsed to prepare properly.

Boris Johnson would have made a better fist of the whole thing. Where was he? Either in the audience or munching canapes at a reception.

The FIFA bandits did not want to be entertained by Cameron, Wills and Becks (The Three Amigos). They wanted bucks transferred to their nominee companies in Liechtenstein. What did we do? We entertained them and were happy to be told how well our presentation was received.

We were suckered.

Now it transpires that we managed TWO votes out of twenty-two and one of those was the British vote.

I shall repeat that the decision was not dependant on the presentation. As Sun Tzu said over 2500 years ago “Every battle is won before it is even fought.” When you go in to pitch for any sort of business, it should already be in your pocket. The presentation is the Coda not the Exposition.

By the time Cameron, Beckham and William had entertained the FIFA committe, they were nothing more the “post-deal” cabaret. The battle had already been fought and won. It is unbelievable that they actually believed that such a major decision was going to be based on three amateurish performances by a footballer, a politician and a prince. They had missed the battle.

We “made do” and once again emerged as the gallant losers.

They say that a silver medal merely indicates the first of the losers. We weren’t really even among the losers so we must never ever again send amateurs to do a professional’s job.

Let the recriminations begin. (By the way, it was not the fault of the media).

www.retraining.info

 

Pope’s Embryo

“For all the good that one of these does, you might as well shove it up your ass”

There is much confusion and theological discussion about Pope Ratz’ apparently softening views on contraception and the fact that he has appeared to support the use of condoms by prostitutes. We are missing the whole point. According to Catholic dogma, prostitutes and homosexuals are going to Hell anyway, therefore it doesn’t matter WTF they do. In fact, if the truth be told, anyone who isn’t a good Catholic is going to Hell. That means that most of us are going to meet up outside Satan’s front door.

For instance our Muslim brothers don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God. They’re hellbound –  as are the Jews who don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. No doubt they’ll spend an eternity disputing each others’  underworld territorial rights.

Pope Ratz latest edict was a few days ago. In it he said that embryos aren’t just biological material but dynamic, autonomous individuals and therefore we should all show more respect for human life at its earliest stages. On the Pope’s behalf, the Vatican urged bishops around the world to make the the Popes pre-Advent Mass a vigil for “nascent human life.”

The Vatican knows a great deal about respect for “nascent human life” – right up to the time when it starts to wear short trousers.

The coming of  Jesus once again took a back seat to arguments and reinterpretations of the Pope’s words on HIV-AIDS and the nonsense about condom-users  “edging towards a greater morality because they’re aiming to protect their partners from an HIV infection.”

According to two papally-approved “clarifications” delivered by a Vatican spokesman, Pope Ratz is NOT changing church teaching on artificial contraception. On the contrary, according to the Infallible One, “There is a need to protect human life from the moment of conception”.  He said  “It’s not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and marvelously ordered, a new individual of the human species.”  He also pointed out that science has showed us how autonomous the embryo is and how it interacts with the mother. The Vatican is selective in which aspects of science it supports – ask any palaeontologist or evolutionist.

Finally, without any hint of irony, Pope Ratz said, “Unfortunately, even after birth the life of children continue to be exposed to abandonment, hunger, misery, sickness, abuse, violence and exploitation.”

You said it, mate.

PIGS will kill us

The Irish Prime Minister

Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain. PIGS. What do they have in common? Everyone of them, so far has been quite adamant that it did not need any outside help to help sort out its finances – until 24 hours before they accepted the promise of money from whoever was willing to dish it out.

Ireland has been the latest to take weeks rather than minutes to succumb. One of the great mysteries is why the “we don’t need help” phenomenon keeps on being replayed. The solution is most-likely testosterone-related. Accepting help because your economy is in the red is the same phenomenon as not having the humility to admit defeat when lost.

A man will drive round aimlessly for hours rather than stop his car, approach a local and simply say “I am lost. Can you please help me.” Why? Because asking for help suggests failure, incompetence and ultimately a small willy.

If women had been in charge in Ireland , they would have accepted outside-help months ago. The Irish cock-up didn’t happen within the last few days. They’ve known for ages that their economy had run out of steam but like the lost driver, they have been having pointless meetings and briefings in the vain hope of hitting upon some self-engineered rescue plan which, just like the lost driver, would somehow allow them to accidentally arrive at their destination.

Unfortunately, the Brussels Protectorate of Eire (formerly known as Ireland) cannot just have unconditional money. There are conditions. Firstly, austerity laws will HAVE to be introduced even before even one euro is paid over. Secondly, Ireland’s accounts are now open for Brussels to peruse at its leisure and no doubt an unelected Viceroy of Eire will be nominated by the Eurocrats just to make sure that the Irish government is dancing the right  jig  and singing the right song to the newly-composed Euro-tune.

The civil unrest has already begun. The Irish are a proud lot and the thought of Johny Frog and Fritz Hun running the Irish Economic Song Contest is as unpalatable as it gets. Make no mistake, the Irish economy is now in the hands of International Monetary Fund and European Union pen-pushers. The Irish Finance Minister is an observer.

The Prime Minister Brian Cowen is now regarded as “walking-dead” and it seems unlikely that his administration will last to 2012 which would have been the normal term had the economy not hit the fan.  He has enemies both outside and within his own Party but so far he has managed to hang on to office. There is serious talk of an imminent vote of no confidence which, if carried would cause the government to collapse  and result in a late December General Election.

That would make Ireland’s new Euromasters very nervous because at the moment they understand that after tomorrow’s announcement of  a new 4-year Irish economic plan, the new policies will be signed-off in a December 7th Budget. Their Irish economic Blitzkreig will have been wasted.

Economic crises always go hand-in-hand with political crises and because of the depth of the current mess, it is almost certain that Prime Minister Cowen’s Fianna-Fail party will be out of government for the first time in over 100 years. Presently, they are in power only because of the Green Party’s parliamentary support but relations between Fianna Fail and the Greens have reached such a low-point that the Greens’ support of the forthcoming budget is conditional upon a January General Election.

The latest polls indicate that support for Fianna-Fail among the electorate is currently at a historic low of 17%. That suggests a total wipeout in any forthcoming election.

All electorates imagine that when an economy is not functioning, a simple change of leadership and administration provides an answer. It rarely does. For instance in the United Kingdom, the electorate did not so much vote for the Conservatives as vote AGAINST Labour. In Gordon Brown, they saw an inept leader who was floundering and whose own party was divided. They saw the solution in a vote against Brown.  The Irish are seeing Cowen in the same light.

It was not the fault of the government that their economy collapsed. It was the banks’ fault and contrary to popular opinion, no amount of regulation would have prevented the fiscal crisis.  For a bank, the system is simple:  You buy-in money at a certain rate and you sell it at a higher rate. Simple economics. Alternatively, you can balance the books by lending against assets. If you lend 100,000 euros on a house valued at 100,000 euros, your books balance because you have 100,000 on both sides of your balance sheet.

However, if property values collapse and one side of you balance sheet now shows that you have lent 100,000 euros and the  other shows that the asset against which you lent (the house) is only worth 50,000 euros, you have a problem – a banking crisis.

Ireland’s property market has been collapsing for months and the Irish government went from making things happen to watching things happen. Now they are at the final stage of the cycle and they’re wondering WHAT happened.

The British government has pledged a loan of £7.5 billion loan to the Irish. That seems like a lot of money until you realise that the Irish exposure of the British government-owned Royal Bank of Scotland is well over £50 billion. RBS owns the Ulster Bank where the downward spiral in property prices has effectively meant that the bank has £30 in assets for every £100 that it has lent to mortgagors. That’s the equivalent of a bank giving you a £1 million mortgage on a £300,000 house.

George “Schadenfreude” Osborne’s macho white charger is nothing more than a painted lame donkey. His £7.5 billion is “gesture politics” at its most pointless. His primary worry is RBS and to a lesser extent Lloyds (Irish exposure nearly £30 billion).

Because the markets believe that much of the RBS-owned debt will eventually be written-off, RBS shares are once again falling in value and yesterday stood at  39.4p. Less than three years ago they were over £5. Lloyds Bank is experiencing a similar drop.

RBS also has an exposure of about £15 billion in Portugal which is also employing Ireland’s macho “in denial” technique and announcing to the world that it does not need a bailout.

We’ll see.  Two PIGS down with two to go.

 

Condom Vatican-love is cool!

Pope Ratz pontificating on the subject of correct condom deployment is akin to Josef Fritzl sharing his views on good parenting.  Morbidly fascinating but in reality totally valueless. In the  good old days, one expected popes, priests and theologians to share views on subjects with which they were familiar. For instance, God. That invisible super-being which created the universe in six days and then rested. That was in 4004 BC.

A mere two thousand years later, the same God impregnated the wife of an understandably pissed-off  Middle Eastern carpenter, thus producing an illegitimate son, Jesus who went on to be crucified and who then buggered-off to heaven, not forgetting to tell the faithful that he loved them lots. It is reported that he left behind twelve gay fishermen to “spread the word”. (You couldn’t make this up, could you?)…….

Is the Catholic church so obsessed with contraception because God’s abstract screwing of the Virgin Mary was not supposed to have produced a son and heir? Are there secret scrolls in the Vatican which indicate that God should have used contraception? Did God act irresponsibly and then tried to redeem himself by doing what many modern fathers do? He “snatched” Jesus through the medium of the Ascension (thus assuming sole custody), leaving the distraught  (ex) Virgin Mary with absolutely no visitation rights.

The first inevitable question is what  the 83 year-old virgin Pope Ratz  knows about sex – apart from the self-inflicted kind? The Vatican’s favoured contraception method is the “Vatican shuffle”, otherwise known as coitus interruptus. In theory, quite easy and  I am sure that you are aware of the (theoretical) modus operandum. During intercourse (traditionally with an adult of either sex, although the Vatican appears to have other views) the male withdraws at the point of ejaculation so that the ejaculate goes everywhere except where it is supposed to. If you are male and reading this, you will know that it would take the combined force of several substantial teams of fit Shire horses to make to you withdraw at that particular juncture. In fairness this method is still used by many Catholics but unfortunately, it results in abortions and unwanted children on an epidemic level.

The other Vatican-favoured method is abstention. The “do-as-I-do” method. That method does NOT work as the predilections of many bishops, priests and choirmasters testify. However, there is a small technicality which you may already be aware of. Catholic sexual intercourse has to be “open to the transmission of life”. That is to say sex-for-pleasure with a member of the opposite sex is a strict “no-no”  BUT the Holy Pontiff’s latest (apparent) edict  specifically mentions male prostitutes. There is a reason for this because in the Vatican, man-love is cool.

Earlier this year, the pope’s aide Angelo Balducci was removed from his post because Vatican phone-snoopers discovered that this  “Gentleman to his Holiness”was paying another Vatican employee, chorister Ghinedu Thomas Ehiem to procure male prostitutes at anything from 50 to 100 euros per encounter. Most of the male prostitutes were sourced from the Rome-based Pianeta Escort.HIV-Aids within the Vatican would be such an embarrassment to the Holy See so it seems that after the latest Ratz pronouncement, male prostitutes hired by the Vatican will no longer pose a health threat because condoms are OK! (By the way “Gentleman to His Holiness” is an actual job within the Vatican – think Catholic usher-butler. They’re the ones who are pallbearers at Papal funerals and they know things).

Catholics are still confused and many believe that the latest pope-statement indicates a major “sea-change” in Catholic teaching  on the subject that the Vatican loves above all others – sexual intercourse.

This what the pope actually said earlier this year to journalist Peter Seewald:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

Further clarification was offered by Cardinal Elio Sgreccia who is the Vatican’s  top official on bioethics and sexuality. He said that it was ” imperative to make certain that this is the only way to save a life.”

Then he added  “…… that  is why the pope dealt with the issue in the realm of exceptionality.”

Surreal and indecipherable Vatican prognostications on all aspects of sex and perversion may be the reason why in our hearts, Pope Benedict XVl will always remain  “The Fucking Pope”.

Final thought: The Vatican’s primary revenue stream (plundering the world’s increasingly meagre Catholic collection plates) is in severe decline. Is it possible that the Holy See is considering alternative incomes – for instance corporate sponsorship?

Will we soon witness Formula 1-style  “Durex” decals adorning the Popemobile? Even the pope’s white dress and hat will lend themselves to tennis-type mini ads.

Prospective sponsors must be trembling in holy anticipation!

Capello Exlusive!

This is a transcript of the first serious interview given by Fabio Capello after England’s 2-1 humiliation by those Brie-sucking, Gitane-smoking surrender-monkey French.

“Hi am think dat de football whene sheia isa playing in da Inglandterra continues is in to beano good. Isn’tit no da feaults ofda badder is habits which weiram seeon da fileld.

Lass weaks I expermimente widda newuseless yeurng players big coz I, Capello wazza fucked-offwith dalack of respek from daoldbastados like thefuck Lampard and all ofdem other injued on the led useless twats.

Dey is say dat I is no McLaren wid da sttupidofuck unmbrellos or why I weering da hat likea Postman Pat. Why socha stupido jokings? Dey canorl goan fuckthemsel. I no care no more. I is neither da Sweedish twat widda stupidofuck hair withhdacan of shit hairsprayings. Hejossashag Ulrika an he fenito. Now he where? I tell you hewid serm useloessfuckk clubb in da bottom divisione .

Da eenglish player alweys no good. Dey really no good. Itry widda coffee-cloured ones but dey useless fucks an’all. I even makeda cofee-coulered captain, the thicko Rio but he no understandda EEnglish or Italiano so he doubleuseless twat.An he got bad back.

Gerrard look like his fambly is capturing by da piratos and he run like he gotta da ass-piles an stuff. He missa da goalscore maybe threetimes so I bringon da really tall twat. Wassissname? Pietro Crutch. He run like a fuked-up giraffa widdalegs look like he Pinnochio on da string. He no look nice but I say to him”Listen talltwat. You scoreada gole ‘coz Don Capello know whereyore familia leev”. Workevry time. Heanother stupido.

Anda new criminalo widde girlie ponietale. Him name Randy Carol and he play good but he no coffe-coloured so he no score but he score good in da camera da letto when he come from drink-club. He gotgoodfuttura if he stop da Chianti and Dashaggin.

Monkeeboy Rooni (he have name Italiano) is havingda pretent fucckeup akle. His manager Sralec Fergusson is old twat anwill alwaystryto shit me with da pretend injurias.

Then I findiss Welch shagger ofthe “ovino”. Him name Joy Bothroyd and he play for capital of Scottishland,  Car-diff. He runrounda bit, no fallover ees laces – so he in my plan – when I make  one.

German Dafoe an daother di colore nero – is name too long for me. Saun da Black Sheep-Philips. Dey good at da runninbout likeada two black, ow you say, Jim Russells. But deys too piccolo. Small, you say.

So nobody say I no know da team . Dey is juss useless shits.”

University or REAL Success?

Let’s get one thing straight about the Coalition’s hurry in taking the brakes off University Fees. It has less to do with the country’s  mountain of debt and much more to do with the rapidly growing  student population.

University used to be one of those words which was associated with clever people. Then we experienced the advent of large unemployment figures which seasonally self-adjusted upwards when the  school year finished and tens of thousands of school leavers joined the back of the dole queue.

Politicians had a meeting and thought ” What if we keep these youngsters in education or training and hence off unemployment?” At the time, the idea must have seemed a jolly clever wheeze. The resultant  plan was Baldricesqe in its cunning: Allow every crap institution which houses anything to do with teaching to become a university, fill it with morons and you immediately remove the mid-summer unemployment “blip” plus, you postpone these special-needs-academics’ membership of the Unemployed Club.

Then you just sit back, dish out worthless degree certificates, continue to hire immigrants for the REAL jobs and “Bob’s your father’s brother”. You have a pseudo-egalitarian education system whereby every thick pikey with a pad of paper can wear the old mortar board and Harry Potter cloak as he fills out his Jobseekers Allowance form –  three years after he should have done. What could possibly go wrong?

What was wrong was that too many wide-eyed hopefuls were hitting the university trail producing too many degrees without additional jobs having been created. All that the three-year postponement of unemployment achieved was that individuals  bagan to collect their various allowances at age 22 instead of 18.

A university degree has now lost its kudos – unless it is from Oxbridge. Don’t believe me? Walk into any London restaurant and ask any waiter who isn’t Polish whether he or she has a degree. Try the same exercise at a Tesco or Asda checkout.

10% of graduates are still unemployed six months after graduating. That is the highest proportion for 17 years, which coincidentally is when New Labour came to power. There has also been a very marked increase in graduates taking jobs which do not require a degree. That has simply meant that they have placed themselves at a three or four-year disadvantage on the career ladder compared to those who began work immediately after leaving school.

A recent survey of 225,000 graduates has shown that rising numbers are taking jobs that do not require degrees, including as waiters and checkout workers.

The previous highest percentage of  unemployed graduates was in 1992 when the number was 11.6%. At that time, the United Kingdom was approaching the end of the previous recession – which was nowhere as serious as the current economic situation.

Currently, only about 65% of graduates who are in-work achieve a degree-level job (as defined by the government) and the biggest “growth” area for university leavers is the retail and catering sector with ONE IN SEVEN graduates (15%) starting their careers within that industry.

Fine Art graduates have the lowest initial income (£15,000) which is £5000 below the average. The highest starting salaries are among students who studied Chinese. The future.

Over the last two years, it is the Public Sector which has continued to recruit a disproportionate number of graduates. That does not bode well for the future as it is this sector which will see the most savage jobs cuts. Degrees with a “Social Studies”  or Healthcare-related bias have seen the largest graduate intakes in the Public Sector, although even those have only risen by 0.5% in the last year.

Contrary to popular opinion, IT-related graduates have fared the worst with over 17% still being unemployed six months after graduation. That is even higher than the ubiquitous Media Studies graduates who managed a comparatively decent 15% unemployment rate after six months. The rest are probably flipping burgers.

12% of engineers remain unemployed after six months whereas the more generalist subjects such as Geography and Psychology produced the highest graduate  employment rates with only about 7.5% being unemployed after six months. However, many of those are working in non-degree-specific jobs.

It has been claimed by a UCU (University and College Union) spokesman that an uncertain job market and higher fees could “turn talented people away from university”.

That, theoretically, should be a good argument for not transferring any more of the cost of a degree to students. However, instead of the government paying the price for policies which have totally devalued a university degree, it is applying a uniform solution to our current economic chaos.

It is asking future generations to fund the mistakes of  successive inept administrations.

Finally, there has been a lot of Ministerial talk on the subject of entrepreneurship and “stimulating young budding entrepreneurs”. I have some bad news. The Brits make lousy entrepreneurs.

Why? Because they do not have that “merchant” mentality. We are indeed a nation of shopkeepers, advisors, accountants and civil servants. That’s what we’re good at. We’re good at telling others what to do and at measuring things.

Here’s an extract of the top  names from Britain’s latest Rich List:

Lakshmi Mittal, Roman Abramovich, The Duke of Westminster, Sri and Gopi Hinduja, Alisher Usmanov, Ernesto Bertarelli, Hans Rausing, John Fredriksen, Philip Green, David and Simon Reuben, Leonard Bravatnik, Sean Quinn, Charlene and Michel de Carvalho, Kirsten and Jorn Rausing, Samy and Eyal Ofer, Vladimir Kim, Earl Cadogan and Family, Nicky Oppenheimer, Joe Lewis, Sir Richard Branson, David Khalili, Lev Leviev, Anil  Agarwal.

Notice anything about the nature of the names?

If you want to be successful, forget university. Either inherit large tracts of London and if that doesn’t work, become either Jewish, Russian  or Indian. It is the dealmakers who shall inherit the Earth.

Most of the world’s great entrepreneurs did not attend university – they were too busy making money. Unfortunately, we in the UK still suffer from our own special brand of intellectual snobbery whereby a university lecturer on £30k per year will look-down on a barrow-boy from Essex with £10 million in the bin –  on the basis that he’s thick and cannot distinguish between a Chardonnay and a Blue Nun.

Our problem is that we care more about appearances that we do about money and we like letters after our name. Paradoxically though, if someone hands us a business card with “BSc(Hons)” after their name or worse still “MBA”, we think that they are a jerk-off. We are a complicated people.

Britain’s (degree-free) working class parents dream of their Wayne or Waynetta attending university and “becoming someone” through the magic medium of a degree. “Get some QUALEEFEECATIONS behind you.” is the working class Mantra. Notice that it is “qualifications” and not education. Often we sacrifice the latter for the former.

It doesn’t happen, folks. In the United Kingdom, it is class and contacts that matter – alternatively, you need the credibility of a foreign name.

The university “thing”  has been the biggest-ever con of the last twenty years and it continues to be so.

This time though, the government’s actions are driven by the very real need to reduce the number of university places so that a degree reverts to being a privilege for the very very  clever poor, the very clever rich and the quite clever very rich . The  government doesn’t really want our money, it needs to close those ridiculous pretend universities with the Mickey Mouse degrees.

If the Browne (another cunning disguise?) review which recommended the lifting of the current tuition fee ceiling has the effect of drastically cutting our graduate intake, it will be the best thing that happened to this country for a generation. On this occasion, support your government – and don’t go to university. Start to make your fortune three years earlier!

All those Aarons, Benjamins, Jacobs, Lakshans, Ashoks, Gregoris and Nikolais can also have an early start towards that first million.

If you think about it, when  Nick “Tough Choices” Clegg,  our Deputy Prime Minister changed his mind about University Fees, he wasn’t being a duplicitous spineless bastard.

He did our future economy a very big favour!

The Enlightened Belgian Bishop.

If you are a devout Catholic, please do not read this. It is offensive. However, it is offensive for a reason. There are many of us who have little or no respect for a church so heavily populated by perverts without conscience. Their way of life, their dresses and their views, attract ridicule and I am always very pleased to supply them with as much ridicule and bad taste as they deserve.

 

“I fucked my nephew. Sorry about that. Do you like my dress? It’s a Mary Quant”

If you’ve had an abortion, you will be pleased to hear that your murdered baby will greet you in the afterlife crying “Momma!” If you’re gay and you have HIV/AIDS, it is God’s punishment because you are  “intrinsically disordered”.  Women who have aborted foetuses  and  homosexuals who have engaged in any sort of “congress” are sinners.

These are the views of Belgian Archbishop Andre Leonard. Last January he was tasked by Pope Ratz to “energise” Belgium’s Roman Catholics because he thought that in the last 30 years, Belgian Catholics had become “too liberalised”.

Belgium is famous for only three things: Chocolates, Paedophile rings and Hercule Poirot, so an Archbishop who is anti the prosecution of paedophile priests and who thinks that AIDS is a form of justice for homosexuals is the ideal candidate for dragging the Belgian Catholics back into the Dark Ages.

Pope Ratz is known as an an uber-conservative and in the spirit of God having created man in his own image, Ratz is busying himself appointing traditionalist conservatives to his front-line so that Catholics can be shepherded towards a return to traditional values, the literal interpretation of the gospels and the strictest application of Catholic dogma.

Needless to say, there are some Vatican progressives (those whose minds reside in as recently as the 19th century) who feel that such appointments will further erode the church’s image and amplify the issues which have proved to be such a massive public relations disaster to the geriatric Vatican virgins and their flock.

The Archbishop Leonard case has not been helped by his spokesman, Juergen Mettepenningen resigning last week. The whole controversy seems destined to develop into a full-blown public revolt, especially after Mettepenningen referred to Leonard as a “loose cannon who thinks that everyone else is wrong” and that he could “no longer morally defend” his former boss.

In spite of the fact that the Vatican refers to Catholic women who have aborted foetuses as “sinners”, it is the most widely-used contraceptive method within the Catholic church. The figures are staggering. The latest figures show that worldwide, there are 42 million abortions per year. Catholic women account for 31.3% of that number. That means that annually, the Vatican has at least 13 million additional women “sinners”.

In 1990, a law was passed in Belgium which liberalised abortion but still, the Belgians continue to have one of the lowest abortion rates in the world. Nevertheless, the Vatican remains unhappy that these “murders” take place and Archbishop Leonard is its new “voice”.

The Vatican continues to be confused and to confuse. On one hand, the Catholic base is unhappy with Leonard’s prognostications but on the other hand his views dovetail exactly with the church’s teachings.

Also, the Vatican admits it has no tolerance for paedophiles, but rarely subjects paedophile priests to full canonical trials, instead telling them to live out their years in prayer and penance. Leonard definitely supports this view.

Make no mistake, Leonard’s views have not suddenly been formed since his appointment. On the contrary, he was appointed because of his views. The pope knew very well what type of individual he was appointing.

Belgium has ten bishops and two of them have already challenged Leonard. Yves Leterme, the Belgian Prime Minister has also condemned the newly-appointed archbishop.

You may recall that several weeks after Leonard’s appointment, Roger Vengheluwe, the then Archbishop of Bruges retired. He then admitted that, for many years, he had been molesting his own nephew. Consequently, the police raided Leonard’s office in the hope of finding evidence – on the assumption that Leonard would have known about Vangheluwe’s misdemeanours. Several months later, Leonard demonstrated his total lack of public relations knowledge by stating on Belgian television:

“If they are no longer priests, have no more (church) responsibilities, I doubt that taking some kind of vengeance … is a humane solution. Do they really want a priest, aged 85, to be put in stocks and publicly humiliated? I think most victims don’t want that.”

That statement supported the Vatican’s imagined view that there is “occupational dispensation” for priests who have buggered children. Paedophilia should be punished by law – except if you are lucky enough to be a priest and you “repent” and/or retire.   Then you enjoy the full protection of the Holy See because the Vatican’s Men in Dresses believe that a third party would have been responsible for your sins. Satan himself – but that’s another debate.

Archbishop Leonard clearly demonstrates that no amount of good Catholic education can override limpet-like dogma.

He holds a philosophy degree from the Leuven Catholic University and completed theological studies at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was also a member of the International Theological Commission, which then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger  headed as prefect of the Vatican’s orthodoxy office.

Leonard took over from Cardinal Godfried Danneels. Danneels had opposed key Vatican edicts such as a ban on condoms in AIDS prevention. During his tenure, Belgium legalised euthanasia and same-sex marriages. Those are two primary Vatican obsessions and because Danneels had demonstrated progressive credentials by not actively trying to slow down the pace of change, he had to go. Hence Leonard’s appointment

Vatican officials now acknowledge concern about the simmering Belgian state of affairs but have refrained from direct comment saying they don’t want to inflame “an already tense situation”.

Gabriel Ringlet, a former deputy dean of the Universite Catholique de Louvain, wants Leonard to resign — a highly unlikely prospect and one that would be unprecedented in Belgium.

It seems that in the current atmosphere, a bishop cannot be too conservative. Pope Ratz does not appear to be worried about the decline of Catholicism in the West because he feels that once the liberals have gone, the Catholic church will be able to return to basics.

As the winds of change blow through the Roman Catholic church, it seems that this pope is “not for turning” – in spite of the fact that the winds are blowing the church backwards into an age that for the rest of us, disappeared several hundred years ago.

Millbank Melee

This is the image which most newspapers have used today. Some Liberals may find the image quite disturbing but if you look properly you will find the whole scenario even more frightening than Nick Clegg’s propensity to abandon principles.

 

If you ignore the moron attempting a bad  yoko geri kekomi, you will notice that he is surrounded by photographers who are gathered in a three-deep semi-circle around their subject. The photo has  no spontaneity and there are no other students within the circle. You may also have spotted the  two policemen near the top of the picture. They are behind the snappers.

This is a contrived, posed image.

Whenever there is a mix of  demonstrating students, policemen, reporters, photographers and competing  photo editors, there is  “naughtiness”.

In March 1968, I was at the Grosvenor Square “Punch a Pig for Peace” demo. We were all feeling very anti-American Establishment, although most of us weren’t quite sure of the exact location of either Vietnam or Cambodia. Still, it was a good day out and we had arranged to meet some friends that we hadn’t seen for a while.

Initially, the atmosphere was relaxed, we talked to the police but we were always conscious that we were being stalked by men with cameras. The demo was good-natured and there honestly was no intention (that we were aware of) of violence  – don’t forget that the Summer of Love was still fresh in our minds and we were (mostly) still pretty-well mellowed-out.

Soon, our group was approached by a man who offered £1 if a couple of us would measure up to each other and pretend that we were about to fight. We took the money and did the business. There were other payments. I recall being paid for standing too close to a policemen who I remember was constantly moaning about the “fucking Inspector and his fucking whistle”.

( The police technique for keeping us away from the American embassy was to link arms and obey blasts from their Inspector’s whistle. It was a farce because those of us at the front were constantly being squeezed-out so that we would end up behind the police line. At that point, we would be jumped on by back-up plod who would grab us by the hair and throw us back to the other side of the Thin Blue Line.)

One thing was for sure – the police didn’t want to be there and many became very angry. They had no protection whatsoever and the ones that I spoke-to had been drafted in from out-of-town. Remember we were still in the days when a policeman’s weapons were a notebook, a truncheon and in extrememe circumstances, the acerbic remark.

Reporters and photographers were handing-out beer and dishing out £1 and 10/- notes   for various poses and misdemeanours. I do not recall what the fee was for punching a policeman – probably £2.

There were certainly those “students” who had arrived tooled-up for trouble but as yesterday in downtown Westminster, they were a small minority and probably not students.

Demo-terrrorists have always existed. In 1968, they brought steel ball-bearings to throw under the police-horses’ hooves and they brought darts to throw at the police, their horses and at other demonstrators. Most were definitely NOT students. This year, they brought flares and steel-toecapped boots.

Look again at the photo above and notice how the “student” kicking at the window at 30 Millbank is dressed. He doesn’t look much like a student to me. Far too well-dressed – and his boots are polished.

The Brits are very civilised demonstrators because to most of them a demo is no more than a welcome exposure to our three favourite national sports –  mass-queuing, a good bracing walk with a side-dish of a good-natured moan. Once Spring 2011 arrives, we may well see students joined by the unions and the unemployed for another West End frolic.

A year ago, I predicted the rise of civil unrest, driven by a badly damaged economy. The Millbank Melee is only the overture to what may become a long summer-symphony of protests.

Let’s hope that the violent ones stay in their bedsits – especially if they are the sort of demo-terrorist that we should really fear.

The one with a real  surprise in his backpack .

It’s only a matter of time.

 

 

Here’s one for the “olds” . (Nostalgia definitely isn’t what it used to be): 

New New Deal?

Work Activity Scheme supervisor 

There have been not-so-muted rumblings about the government’s scheme which will force individuals to work if they wish to retain their social benefits. The new Work Activity Scheme is being hailed by the Conservative government as yet another one of the Work and Pension Secretary’s genius initiatives.

The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan-Smith is not new to creating jobs for the unemployed. When his wife was unemployed, he found her a job in his own office. Her salary was was paid-for by the taxpayer. Here’s a quote from IDS when BBC’s Newsnight programme and  Michael Crick dared to suggest impropriety: “If anybody makes such allegations, I will sue them. I have a whole legal team who have been looking at this and I can tell you absolutely that they will find themselves with a lawsuit.”  See here.

The Work Activity scheme will soon be formalised by IDS and will most likely consist of four-week placements for the unemployed as well as benefit-cheating malingerers. Unfortunately, government information is not sensitive enough to distinguish between the genuinely, reluctantly  unemployed and the pathologically lazy. Consequently, both the workless and the workshy will receive the same designation and the same treatment.

The scheme has been designed to “flush out” those claimants who have opted for a life on benefits. It is not yet 100% clear how much the government is hoping to save by identifying the workshy but to put it in some kind of perspective, the cost to the taxpayer of fraudulent benefits claims is about £1 billion per year. Compare that with the cost of bailing put the banks at about £850 billion.

The type of work that is proposed will be exactly the work which is currently meted-out to petty criminals who have been sentenced to Community Service – painting railings, picking-up litter and gardening on roundabouts.

There is no doubt that in spite of  all of the government’s attempts to “tart up” the scheme, it will always retain that punitive mien.

Here’s a quote from IDS:   “One thing we can do is pull people in to do one or two weeks’ manual work – turn up at 9am and leave at 5pm, to give people a sense of work, but also when we think they’re doing other work.”

The only thing that the above sentence shows is Duncan-Smith’s total lack of understanding of the mind-set of an individual who may possibly have been banging his head against a brick wall for years in a vain attempt to secure a job. Picking up litter is the last thing that he or she needs in order to reaffirm themselves as a useful member of society. Manual labour  is not a cure for the feelings of humiliation and uselessness which the vast majority of the unemployed feel. Try sending an out-of-work lawyer, architect or computer programmer to pick up other people’s rubbish at £2.17 an hour and you may finally beat his ego into total submission and demolish any vestiges of self-worth.

£2.17 per hour? Yes, that’s  Jobseekers’ Allowance of £65, divided by 30, which is the number of hours that these people will be told to work. That’s assuming of course, that the government is not in contravention of Minimum Wage legislation or some dark corner of the Human Rights Act.

Remember that there are already people being paid (at least) the minimum wage to do this kind of work. Is there any danger of them being made redundant because a  government has given itself rights to “employ”  people on the sort of income that makes as “sweat-shop” wage look attractive?

What the government REALLY needs to do is to create an environment in which it can offer proper jobs and not continue Labour’s method of papering-over  the cracks (apologies to Osborne & Little)  of a lame economy with the primary purpose of keeping unemployment figures at a level which is tolerated by the electorate.

Twelve years ago Labour introduced the New Deal which twelve months ago, was re-branded as the Flexible New Deal. This was a fully-funded scheme which was paid-for by a £5 billion windfall tax levied on the privatised utility companies. The scheme provided subsidised employment, training and voluntary work for the unemployed.

In essence, Labour’s  New Deal was the same scheme as this government is contemplating but with a touch of  self-respect thrown in.

The Labour government also had the ability to withdraw benefits from those who refused “reasonable employment” but did not attempt to humiliate them by  focussing solely  on low-level manual work. Proper companies were offered subsidies to employ people in proper jobs.

Eleven years ago, the Working Families Tax Credit was introduced. This tax credit scheme was designed for the lower-paid as an incentive to work  and to continue to work because the scheme was designed to ensure that a family’s net income would be in excess of benefit payments.

Billions were allocated and spent on these schemes but sadly, they do not seem to have had any effect on either unemployment  or fraudulent benefits claims.

There were New Deal schemes  for a number of groups – from the Disabled to the Over 50s. In comparison, the new IDS scheme seems a very blunt instrument which, based on the previous government’s experience, has little or no chance of having any measurable effect.

The government should state clearly whether or not all of these (Labour) schemes have been ditched and whether the Work and Pensions Secretary’s “Work Activity Scheme”  is an added scheme or merely a replacement.

A replacement tagged with the twin components of Coalition brutality and humiliation.

Condoms and Students

 

George Soros Condom

George Soros, “Le Roi” of  Hedge Fund managers and currency speculator-in-chief has bought 5% of  The Female Health Company. Is he planning to screw someone? Is Mary Ann Leeper looking over her shoulder? Remember when  George Soros screwed the British Pound in 1992 and forced Sterling to exit from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism?  He trousered a cool £1 billion from that deal.What’s he up to?

X-Factor

This is the way it works. Max Clifford calls his chums at the Daily Mirror on Tuesday and gives them a story: ” Louis and Cheryl fall out”, ” Cheryl and Simon fall out”, “Danni not speaking to Louis”. You know the sort of thing – and there are many permutations.

On Wednesday, it is all  printed on Page 5  by which time Max has called again with another “story”:  “Wagner kicks the crap out of _______” , ” Cher is a pikey”, ” Wassail girl becomes unglued” etc.  That sorts out Thursday’s Page 5.

Strangely enough though, by Saturday night, when we’re all gathered around our screens, everything looks quite stable.

We love it!

Well done , Max.

The Enlightened Catholic

Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard who is the head of all Catholics in Belgium has said that HIV is justice for the “travesty of homosexuality”.

People like the Belgian Archbishop and all of the other ordained men in pretty dresses are also a travesty.  They are a travesty of human decency.

Perhaps he should keep busy by concentrating on dissuading his staff from screwing young boys. Now THAT’S a travesty.

University rip-off?

These days, when you go to University, it is not just the tuition fees that you are spending money on and sometimes, life can be hard.  From 2012, it could become a financial nightmare whose repercussions could result in some pretty extreme social engineering. Among other things, the new rules could generate a disincentive to work, a “brain-drain” and they could even affect  first-time buyers in the housing market.

For three years, you will for pay rent at £100 per  week, that’s a total of about £10,000. Food, drink and Entertainment? Let’s add £5000 per year, which is about  £15,000. If your University is charging £9000 per year for tuition, you’ll borrow £27,000.

Add that lot up and you have a total spend of over £50,000.

Then remember that to compete properly in the job market you need a decent degree because nowadays, it seems that everyone with a double-digit IQ has a degree.  So, the question is, are you confident that you are both clever, committed and ready to work hard enough to achieve a decent degree?

Do you want to go to a lower-tier university where third-rate students are taught by second-rate lecturers?

Or are you willing to risk £50 grand?

( I should point out that I attended university when there were no fees and only clever people went.  There were no degrees in Equine Psychology, David Beckham Studies or any of the other vacuous pseudo-vocational qualifications which are currently being dished up by former Polytechnics).

You should also be aware that if, at the age of say 25, you find yourself sitting (or kneeling)(or worse) before a bank manager and you ask for a mortgage, a debt such as the one you are likely to be burdened with will automatically screw your chances of a mortgage.

Purely for comparison purposes, I can tell you that I know people  who charge less than $5000 to write a PhD dissertation – and that includes coaching.

Final thought: We live in a market- driven economy. Are we going to be subjected to the unedifying spectacle of universities competing on fees.

“Oxford will charge you £9k but we can do it for just over £3k and we’ll throw in some Air Miles.”

It could happen.

“Fryflounce” – a new word

His Excellency, St Stephen of Fry, the media’s Gay Mafia Ambassador has once again flounced and left his 1.9 million star-struck Twitter admirers staring into the abyss of a future without His Excellency’s oh-so-clever musings and self-obsessive bollocks.

It seems that gay is the new black. There was a time when racist abuse was the unforgivable social sin – now, if you’re at all disrespectful of a prancing poofter, you are well and truly in the shit. (!) Oops!

So who is Fry? There are those who say that this self-important oaf is clever. Pause and think – what is he clever at? What is his forte – apart from pseudo-erudite jive-talk? He is the ultimate media “jack-of-all-trades”, the poor man’s Peter Ustinov and as Julie Burchill once said, “the thicko’s idea a clever person”.

He “amuses” the prince of Wales at Highgrove suppers. Wow! A modern jester whose motley is more Emperor’s New Clothes than substance.

He is obviously damaged because what he craves more than anything is approval. Approval and esteem in the eyes of others are his “raisons dêtre“. His carefully contrived, constructed and regurgitated little homilies which appear both in his speech and in his Tweets are only modern in the sense that they are disposable. Most owe more to J.I. Rodale (look it up) than they do to spontaneity.

Because he’s a “celebrity”, an Attitude Magazine hack asked him for his views on sex (what else do you ask someone who is known for having as much sex as His Excellency?). Unfortunately, Stephen must have imagined that he was sitting at HRH’s dinner table with the port on its third lap because he went on and on…and on and talked bollocks. That was followed be even more bollocks.

It was then reported verbatim but according to the man himself, it was “out-of-context”. Yawn. Apparently, he was being “humorous”.

During the interview, he imagined that if women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas – just as there are gay ones.

Reality check for the (largely) celibate one: WTF do you think that pubs, clubs, am-dram societies and “working late” are for? Admittedly, it’s not quite as exciting as entering a public lavatory and sticking your knob through a hole in the wall but we sad heterosexuals manage to put up with the comparative warmth and comfort.

Skulking around in park bushes may be “cruising” to some but most of us “straights” prefer  central heating.

Fry’s last (I won’t say final) Twitter message reads: “Bye Bye”. It was delivered via his iPhone at 1.27 p.m. on 31st October.His Bio reads “No longer in service”.

Just wait. The Deluded One will be back “by popular demand”. Yeah, right. Popular.

Admittedly, he has many followers who believe that by following the Sainted St Stephen, they will appear clever-by-association or through some process of Tweetosmosis. Forget it guys. You’re encouraging Stephen to confuse popularity with our collective worship of celeb-fatuousness – especially when it’s sprinkled with Fry Fairy Dust.

Finally, this is one gay dude who belongs to that media group of batty boys who believe that being gay is not just a vaginophobic lifestyle choice for those saddos who found girls difficult to talk-to before they became officially gay. He is one of the gang which truly thinks that gayness (didn’t it used to be gaiety) is an endowment or gift.

It isn’t.

So, the next time a hack from a downmarket magazine asks you about your views on sexuality and sex – butt out.

Striking Fireglam morons

“Heroes”

Let’s face it – putting out fires and rescuing pussy cats from trees ain’t exactly rocket science. The fact that it takes seventeen months to train a firefighter may not necessarily  be a comment on the difficulty of the tasks but more an indication of the quality of  the trainee. It’s another one of those jobs that requires two or less GCSE passes.

” We are like solicitors and lawyers – professionals and we should be paid accordingly”.

They are nothing of the sort. They are uniformed manual labourers who go up ladders, use cutting equipment and breathing apparatus. They  have also talked-up the job to a silly level.

Last week, some firemen did themselves no favours by giving ad hoc interviews. For instance, ” I risk my life every day” is just not true.

Every fire is not life-threatening and neither is every trip up a ladder. Perhaps he was referring to over-exposure to TV’s  ” Cash in the Attic” or perhaps too many  “Countdowns”. Maybe even eating dodgy spag bol knocked up by his pal back at the station was worrying him or perhaps the risk to his health posed by sitting around on his backside playing cards or risking a poke in the eye from playing Pool or Darts.

The transition from Fireman to the more macho **Firefighter** started with TV’s “London’s Burning” and was finally crystallised by the terrible events of 9/11 in New York.

At the time, the media appended the  word “hero” to the job description of every NY fireman – and they were heroes. Unfortunately, all of our firemen here in the UK then decided that they would also accept the honour and suddenly morphed  from Firemen to “Hero Firefighters”.

The new testosterone-fuelled  twenty-something crop-haired body-builder “Firefighter” who thinks that he belongs on a calendar is here to stay and will soon displace the old beer-bellied thirty or forty something “Fireman”.  Firemen now believe that they’re brave rugged and sexy heroes. They’re glamorous – or so they think.  But then again they probably think that “firework” is what they do for a living.

“FIREGLAM” is beginning to cost.

Can you imagine lawyers, doctors or accountants standing round a brazier, wearing silly hats and waving at  anyone who toots their car horn at them? Why not?  They are members of the professions –   just  as our striking chums the Firefighters claim to be.

Later this week, they will be standing around in the vain hope of Joe Public expressing support for their totally irresponsible strike.

Firemen striking on November 5th? Aren’t they clever? Who thought of that one?

Why do these silly people persist in their lemming-like protest – have they gleaned nothing from history? Remember the miners, remember the oh-so-powerful print unions? Where are they now?

Hopefully, jobs will be lost and fire stations will be scaled down , Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union will  be elected to Parliament and then he can really continue to moan about media intrusion.

So what of these Firefighters – these heroes? Their current wages and contracts will be just a distant memory as they (hopefully)  “principle” themselves into the dole queue. There has been a lot of talk but not so many figures relating to Firefighters wages. The Firefighters do not seem to want to cloud the issues with facts but here is an extract  from the  Hay Group Comparability Study:

Fire Services roles were compared with equivalent roles in the public sector and with industry and services as a whole (including the public sector) and the conclusion was that the base salary of Firefighters is very competitive in relation to both the industry and service and the public sector markets. Against industry and service, the base salary ranges from below median to above upper quartile for both the national and London markets.

The minimum base salary of a Firefighter is above the public sector median. The maximum total remuneration is very competitive; the maximum level is 45 per cent above the industry and service median and 40 per cent above the public sector median.

The remuneration of the Leading Firefighters is also competitive. The minimum levels of remuneration are at or above the upper quartile  of all markets.

Transalation for Leading Firefighters: You get more than the average.

This is an extract from another report. This time it is the DLA MCG Consulting report.

Within the public sector, DLA MCG Consulting compared the Fire Service roles with jobs in the police, prison service, ambulance service and NHS acute care trusts. They focused on these four areas since all involve shift working and require the ability to respond rapidly to emergency situations as part or all of the role. Some other comparisons were considered less relevant; for example teachers, who require a significantly higher level of entry qualifications.  These are some of the findings:

  • In general Fire Service staff are well paid compared with comparable jobs in the ambulance service and in Nursing. Once holidays and pensions are taken into account their overall reward package considerably exceeds these groups.
  • Fire Service staff are less well paid than comparable prison service staff at levels up to watch commander (sub-officer) but these differences are in general more than compensated for by their pension and holiday package.
  • Police pay and total reward is well in excess of Fire Service rates at all levels but police roles are larger at all levels.
  • Overall their analysis of public sector job and reward comparisons did not support a case for a substantial upwards adjustment in Fire Service pay for the roles discussed, either before or after benefits are taken into account.

A central plank of the Firefighters’ claim is that they put their lives at risk (the hero bit). However, a study in the Lancet found Firefighting to be only the 23rd most dangerous occupation after common occupations such as refuse collectors, builders, lorry drivers, and farm workers.

The Hay report stated quite unequivocally that the Fire Service is not badly paid – it is fairly paid. It is time for the “heroes” to take a reality check, take off the silly hats, pour water on those braziers and accept what’s on offer. Otherwise someone might notice how overpaid they are and how few hours they actually work and why most of them have time for second jobs.

Sign those contracts, you heroes.

Otherwise, many will find that the trip from hero to zero is short, quick and not in the least bit heroic.

“We’ve got a nigger”

Don’t let anyone tell you that the outcome of the American mid-term elections and the rise of the right-wing TEA Party have nothing to do with racism. Many Americans seem so profoundly bigoted that they must have sucked up racism with their momma’s milk. We are beginning to see the  ugly side of an America which many outsiders thought had largely disappeared with the election of Barack Hussein Obama.

Not so long ago, during one of Jamie Oliver’s USA cookery programmes, he wanted to talk to a few mid-western locals about the kind of food that they ate.

He and his crew drove into that modern-day icon of American life – a trailer park. (Economic changes in the States are accelerating at such a rate that even the trailer park  will soon be replaced by America’s new logo – the boarded-up house)

Jamie introduced himself to a local white guy who was necking a beer outside his trailer. ” Hello. I’m Jamie Oliver.  I’m doing a programme about food in America.”

The local (who obviously was not the sharpest chisel in the box) said, “Where you from, Jamie?”

Jamie answered, “England.”

Local: “England eh? You’ve got a Queen and we’ve got a nigger,” he sniggered.

To us, here in England – in spite of the fact that the man was obviously a moron – that one sentence was deeply shocking. It illustrated that the relationship between blacks and whites in America is still not as comfortable as it should be. Never mind phrases such as the homogenised and politically correct “African American“. In many parts of the USA, blacks are still “niggers”. 

That was very uncomfortable to write as well as read but someone has to do it because America is in denial.

In the 1960s, American blacks fought for their civil rights. Today, the TEA Party claims to be fighting for the civil rights of American middle-class white people. They are using extremist language and the focus of their hatred is Barack Obama. “Let’s have a look at the President’s passport and make sure that he was born in the States. All we’ve seen so far is a facsimile.”  ” Is he a Muslim or isn’t he?”  ” His father was a Muslim”  ” We have a president whose first name is Obama and whose middle name is HUSSEIN!”

Those aren’t just undercurrents.

The TEA (Taxed Enough Already?) Party objects to Big Government – especially one run by a black president. The financing behind the TEA Party is by disaffected anonymous rich people whose ambition is to seize control of the Republican Party. Although they already have one eye on the 2012 presidential elections, they have not yet elected a national TEA leader – although they do have some big-hitting main players.

Enter Sarah Palin with her own particular flavour of folksy and shallow Right-wing moonshine and claptrap. She is the party’s darling and is the party’s public face, although she has already stated that she is not interested in becoming leader. Either she has honestly reviewed and appraised her political talents and decided that she does not have either the intellect or personal attributes to succeed or she’s playing “hard to get” and will “allow” herself to be persuaded.

The other player in all this is one Glenn Beck. He has a show on the Fox news network as well as a nationally syndicated radio talk show. He is a Mormon, a recovering alcoholic and former drug addict and is descended from German immigrants. His party trick is to cry during speeches and he above anyone else personifies the blurring of the boundaries between politics,celebrity and show business. He has become famous in the US for his outlandish and sometimes undecipherable quotes.

That makes it seem as if the TEA Party is being steered by two political misfits but there are important heavy-duty big-hitters  who are pulling  strings and gradually turning up the volume.

The first is Dick Amey. He is a former economics professor and  as a politician he was House Majority Leader and  former  Texas Representative . He is currently chairman of FreedomWorks which is an organisation that shows citizens how to mobilise themselves, how to conduct rallies and  how to garner support. Coincidentally his views are for  “lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.” He has showed the TEA Party how to connect not-only with the people but with politicians and funding organisations.

The other main player is Matt Kibbe who is President and CEO of FreedomWorks. He is also an economist and was a  very influential financial journalist. He is a regular guest on Glenn Beck’s shows.

This year, Kibbe and Amey released a book entitled  Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto. It became an immediate best-seller, struck a very powerful note among disaffected Republicans  and the rest is history.

The TEA party is named as a salute to the 1773 Boston Tea Party when colonists destroyed British tea rather than pay a tax which they believed violated their rights to “Taxation without Representation”.

The modern Tea Party (which has not yet become a properly constituted official political party) feels that history has repeated itself as a result of recent bank and motor industry bailouts by both Obama and Bush. Specifically, they are objecting to  the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and  the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The government simply grabbed money and handed it to the bankers and the moribund American motor industry.

The final straw was the series of Obama’s healthcare reform bills with the main objection being that the provision of some sort of healthcare insurance for  all American families should be mandatory.  There is a feeling that Americans should not be told that they have to own something which , for all intents and purposes is a privately marketed product. “What next?” they say “Are we going to be told what type of car we have to own or which refrigerator?” 

Barack Obama has inherited the poisoned challis of  twenty-first century American economics. Whereas Martin Luther King had a dream, Obama, with the help of the TEA Party, may be about to preside over a nightmare.

Just Take Yemeni!

 A typical al-Qaeda dwelling

There is one question which you will always be asked about Yemen: ” Where is it?”

It is in the bottom left-hand corner of the Arabian Peninsula with Saudi Arabia to the north and Oman to the right. It is the poorest of all the Arabian states and although the majority of its income is currently derived from oil, the reserves are projected to run out within five to six years. After 2017, its economic future looks very uncertain. In common with other poor countries, it has a very high birth rate and although it is nominally run on republican lines, there is a tribal sub-structure which , similar to Iraq, makes the introduction of a western-style democratic system very challenging.

Since the recent al-Qaeda-placed printer bombs were discovered, the world has trained its beady eye on Yemen and it has been dubbed “The new Afghanistan” – the inference being that this is another hellhole which will soon necessitate a shooting war, once again starring Uncle Sam.

Al-Qaeda has already stated its objective in Yemen: ” Our great Islamic project – establishing an Islamic Caliphate.”

The tribal structure within Yemen means that much of it is run without the benefit of formal centralised governance, although the tribal chiefs are well recompensed for their loyalty and good behaviour. This gives the country a precarious stability and if al-Qaeda imagines that it will find it easy to introduce a Taliban-type regime, then it could be severely disappointed. Theoretically, the Yemeni tribes should not welcome any major threat to the status quo. That is why, rather cleverly, al-Qaeda is playing the long game.

Hopefully, the United States, together with its Blair-created British lapdog will not make the mistake of trying to impose its own flavour of democracy within Yemen. It hasn’t worked successfully in any other country which is run on tribal lines  – Iraq being the most recent failure with Afghanistan soon to follow.

Officially, the Yemenis are not particularly predisposed to al-Qaeda because most are not sympathetic to militant jihadism. The Yemeni administration will make the right noises towards the West because it wants economic aid. Currently it receives about $100 million from the United States, ostensibly to help with internal security but it needs more.

In the 1950s, Yemen was ruled by an imam but the country had nothing. It did not possess its own currency, there were only three hospitals and towns did not even have a sewage system. As recently as 50 years ago, this was a very primitive state and its “oil era” did not begin until about 30 years ago.

Traditionally, oil revenues have been filtered out to the tribal sheikhs and it is only in the last twenty years that there has been anything resembling political centralisation. However, political acquiescence remains in the “gift” of the tribal sheikhs. That gift is beginning to look very tenuous – but solely as a result of the oil dollars beginning to dwindle.

The pessimism of not-only the people but that of a central government with severely depleted coffers is what is causing  Yemen’s negative political issues and crises. That is exactly the environment in  which oranisations such as al-Qaeda create a foothold. Weak and poor governments give al-Qaeda the perfect conditions to establish, put down roots, propagate and make mischief.

Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) has a stated long-term objective  which is not-only to establish a Yemeni Islamic State but to eventually look north and overthrow the Saudi regime.

Ironically, it may well be the tribal structure which hinders AQAP’s ambitions and that is why it is concentrating its efforts on winning the hearts and minds  of the tribes – as it has done in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The tactic is simple: al-Qaeda targets tribal sheikhs who appear to have been complicit with the state and encourages the tribes to abandon those leaders.

The sheikhs are portrayed as corrupt tools of a corrupt central government  and the tribes are encouraged to think that their own personal and tribal  “heroism” is aligned with jihadi ambitions to topple the corrupt state – and by implication, their own sheikhs and local leaders.

The concept of political autonomy being moved away from central control appeals to a people which has generations of tribalism running through its veins.

 AQAP is presenting itself as both partner and patron to the tribes. The West, apparently suffering from the myopia of democracy always  feels that it just needs to be the patron of the centralised government. It has made exactly the same mistake in Afghanistan, whereby it  throws money and resources at the Afghan central government  whereas al-Qaeda is busying itself by working with the actual (tribal) structure within the country.

AQAP is not-only a patron to the  tribes but also partner – a double whammy. It shares stated  personal, ideological and economic goals with the tribes. That again is something which the democracy-obsessed West cannot possibly compete with because it no longer understands  tribal mentality.

Saddam Hussein showed the West that tribes and factions could only be controlled by a mixture of strict regulation, draconian law and brutality. Consequently he ruled over a stable multi-tribal Iraq. Admittedly, his methods weren’t to everyone’s taste so he was removed. A once-rich, clean country run by a despot, now has a nominally democratic government. Iraq has progressed from order and comparative peace under Saddam, to a pile of desert rubble and twisted metal where the natural animosity between tribes and factions has been allowed to flourish, resulting in an undiminished appetite for violence and natural hatred. The Sunni side of the street can be Shi-ite.

Let us hope that the Americans, no doubt followed by their very own hero-worshipping Brits will resist the temptation to once again chase al-Qaeda shadows in a grotty collapsing country, otherwise after all those “away games”, it will only be a matter of time before  a very unwelcome home fixture.

Sex victims blocked by Vatican

 
 
Below is a piece by Nicole Winfield of ASSOCIATED PRESS. It once again reminds us that, in spite of fine words from the Vatican, there are still many thousands of people who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests who are either keeping quiet or are vainly awaiting some sort of  restitution. In fact, children are STILL being buggered, raped and sexually assaulted by the clergy.
 
We all enjoyed the spectacle of Pope Ratz , his popemobile and his PR machine’s visit to the United Kingdom but we forgot that he is the one man who ,  for the last fifty years has been at the epicentre of the Catholic church’s worst scandal.
 
The Catholic church is very good at shifting responsibility. It is not the fault of the Bishops, the Devil or of any other being – real or imaginary. This is institutional rape and the Vatmachine is doing absolutely NOTHING about it, except dispensing words. That is why we now have the too-sad spectacle of  broken middle-aged men and women looking for an admission or perhaps a REAL apology from the Vatican hierarchy. They (the Vatmen) can only respond in pseudo-sympathetic platitudes but what they really believe is that the responsibility for their vile acts rests elsewhere.
 
The Roman Catholic Church is haemorrhaging both priests and believers because it is no longer relevant. Its main growth areas are in places such as Africa where there is still a largely untapped population of the ill-educated, sick and desperate. They still respect men in dresses whose ideas and ideology continue to be well-and -truly rooted in the Dark Ages.
 
For the last 25 years, Father Gabriele Amorth has been the Vatican’s  exorcist-in-chief. He has said that  demonic possession is responsible for the church’s decades-old sex abuse scandals involving priests and children.  He said that the Devil is:
 
 “Pure spirit, invisible. But he manifests himself with blasphemies and afflictions in the person he possesses. He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages, transform himself or appear to be agreeable. At times he makes fun of me.”
 
Perhaps the Devil DOES exist but “El Diablo” resides mainly in the soul of the Holy See’s management. The management which harbours paedophiles. The management whose power structure is able to conceal the perverted sexual behaviour of its employees and which uses strategies of attack, induced shame  and duplicity against the victims.
 
The Catholic church has always considered the sex act as a “big deal” – hence its own over-preoccupation with the subject. The virgin geriatric Vaticaneers cannot possibly understand that the sex act is a necessary bodily function as well as an expression of love between two people – traditionally two adults. 
 
Paedophilia and masturbation will continue to be an integral part of the Catholic priesthood until the Vatican’s men in dresses and silly hats wake up and realise that the trembling butt-cheeks of a terrified sobbing young boy are no substitute  for a healthy sexual relationship with a spouse of partner. 
 
The  article, which was filed yesterday contains a very harrowing passage during which a 63 year-old English lady describes her rape. The final paragraph of Nicole’s piece is a particularly vomit-inducing passage from Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. 
 
Italian paramilitary police blocked a boulevard leading to the Vatican to prevent a march Sunday by some 100 survivors of clergy sex abuse from reaching St. Peter’s Square, but later allowed two protesters to leave letters from the abused at the Holy See’s doorstep.

The two also left a dozen stones near the obelisk in St. Peter’s square to mark a symbolic path so other survivors might know they have company in their suffering.

The candlelit protest was the first significant demonstration in the shadow of the Vatican by people who had been raped and molested by priests as children, and organizers said it would be repeated until the Holy See takes decisive action to ensure children are safe.

“Today what began as quiet whispers are whispers no more,”organizer Gary Bergeron told the crowd, which included about 55 deaf Italians from a notorious Catholic institute for the deaf in Verona where dozens of students say they were sodomized by priests.

Organizers had tried to stage the march on Vatican soil but were forced to hold it nearby after the Holy See denied permission. It is standard Vatican practice to ban non-Vatican-sponsored events from St. Peter’s Square.

Sunday’s protest kicked off with the unexpected arrival of the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, who said he had wanted to greet the organizers and had prepared a statement he hoped to read. He beat a hasty retreat to his office after a protester shouted “Shame, shame” in Italian.

Lombardi said later he left when he saw “it wasn’t going to be easy” to meet with the organizers.

Bergeron met with Lombardi later inside his Vatican office and told him that abuse survivors had been “waiting a lifetime to be able to stand up and speak out.”

After the demonstration, Bergeron accompanied several other survivors to speak with Lombardi and tell them their stories. They said they asked Lombardi to pass along their request to speak with other Vatican officials; Lombardi said he listened to their concerns and reasons for gathering.

The event, which aimed to show survivors worldwide that they are not alone, was organized by Bergeron and Bernie McDaid, who were abused by the same Boston priest starting when they were in the sixth grade. The two became some of the most prominent victims to speak out in the United States after the clerical abuse scandal erupted in their native Boston in 2002.

McDaid was the first victim to meet with Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff visited the United States in 2008.

Bergeron and McDaid organized the rally after the scandal erupted anew on a global scale earlier this year, with revelations of thousands of victims in Europe and beyond, of bishops who covered up for pedophile priests and of Vatican officials who turned a blind eye to the crimes. They are seeking to have the United Nations designate systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity.

About 100 survivors from a dozen countries — Italy, Britain, the United States, Ireland, the Netherlands and Australia among others — took part in Sunday’s protest, although they seemed outnumbered by journalists and police.

After Bergeron and McDaid spoke, large torches were handed out to the other survivors, many of whom wore T-shirts that read “Enough!” in English, Italian and German. The crowd, some toting signs that read “Hands off children,”approached a line of carabinieri police, who blocked them from marching toward St. Peter’s.

Eventually, Bergeron and another protester were escorted by police as they carried thick candles to the edge of the square. Vatican security guards accompanied them to the foot of the staircase leading to the Apostolic Palace’s bronze entrance doors.

According to Bergeron’s account, the two deposited the sealed letters from survivors addressed to the pope at the foot of the stairs, and after their passports were examined they were accompanied to the obelisk in the middle of the square. There they left a dozen stones in a pile — in the same way hikers leave piles of stones along mountain paths to show others that someone has been there before.

“The journey of a survivor is one step at a time. This is one step,”   Bergeron said after he had deposited the letters. “Today was very powerful for many survivors. This is the first time that a group of survivors this large has come together, and people have listened in Italy. In Italy! That’s success to me.”

At a briefing before the march, participants stood up one by one to tell how their lives had been destroyed by the abuse they suffered as children. Many recounted years of drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders and other psychological and emotional problems.

“For 50 years I thought I was the only person in the entire world that had been abused by a Catholic priest,”said Sue Cox, 63, from Warwickshire, Britain. She clarified herself: “Raped by a Catholic priest, not abused, because what he did was rape me and rape is different.”

“It’s taken 50 years for me to find my voice. But now I’ve found it, I want to continue to speak on behalf of people who maybe aren’t able to speak or have not yet been able to face the fear and the guilt and shame that survivors feel.”

Cox said she was raped in her bedroom when she was 13 by a priest who had been filling in for her parish priest and had been staying at her parents’ home. Her mother discovered what had happened immediately — her nightgown was torn, she was bleeding — but did nothing, and instead told Cox to pray for the priest.

“I felt sacrificial,” she said. “I wanted to die.”

By 15 she was an alcoholic, by 17 she had entered into a violent marriage. By 30 she was clean, and now at 63 is confronting what she calls the final piece of her recovery — “the hardest bit” — speaking out about her abuse.

The pope has admitted the church failed to take sufficient measures to stop the abuse and has apologized to victims during several foreign trips. He has said victims were the church’s top priority, although the Holy See itself has not initiated any wide outreach programs.

Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said in the statement he had intended to read to the protesters that, while he didn’t share all of their positions, there were points for consensus. He said he hoped the demonstrators could see in the church an ally in the broader fight to end child sexual abuse wherever it occurs.

“Of course, we must continue to do more. And your cry today is an encouragement to do more,” he said. “But a large part of the church is already on the good path. The major part of the crimes belongs to times bygone. Today’s reality and that of tomorrow are more beckoning. Let us help one another to journey together in the right direction,” he said.

 

Class of ’87 Bullers squabbling

 

“No-one left to vote for”

Boris Johnson speaks from the heart and in spite of the fact that he has been ordered to say that his comments about “Kosovo-style social cleansing” were taken out of context – they were NOT.

I stood as a Conservative when everyone was voting Labour, I have trained people at both Conservative Central Office (as was) and that dreadful All Saints Centre near St Albans where the Conservatives used to deliver a lot of their internal training BUT I am afraid that on this occasion, I have to say that Dave and George have got it badly wrong.

While Dave is in Europe, spraying testosterone, Boris is speaking the truth and reflecting the views of not-only poor people but those politicians who have retained a modicum of social conscience.

DC and his Cabinet chums seem to think that everyone who is claiming benefits is on the fiddle. Not so – any more that every toff who speaks as if he has two hairs up his ass tied together is a moneyed, inbred twat.

There’s no point in Clegg and his new-dyed hair going-off on one because a Labour politician has said something that we’re all thinking. Clegg’s head (and hair) have been turned by power and its trappings, so current Liberal views are irrelevant because they are a compromise delivered by the compromised.

Social engineering via the tax system and the withdrawal of  social benefits will not work because it will NOT be allowed to work. 

Social cleansing is unacceptable.

Boris – very soon you should make your move and help to remove these yaboo jokers from office.

They are using the sorry state of the nation’s finances (” We have no choice”) as an excuse to bully the weak. We must not allow it to happen. Conservatism with a shrinking  social conscience is the first goose-step to fascism.

What’s next?  What will be the Final Solution? What are the Tuck Shop Boys planning?

The old and the handicapped are SUCH a drain on the economy, aren’t they. Perhaps we should put a Berlin-style wall around Brixton?

The strutting and preening pseudo-aristos currently running the shop will be stopped so let’s hope that the Liberals soon wake up from their Brave New World’s Soma-holiday and more people like Boris come forward to pick up the pieces.

Pensions? Bored –itless!

WARNING: IF YOUR ATTENTION SPAN IS NORMAL OR IF YOU ARE OPERATING MACHINERY, PLEASE DO NOT READ-ON. THE FOLLOWING SEVERAL HUNDRED WORDS ARE ABOUT PENSIONS AND THEREFORE CAN INDUCE DROWSINESS.

There is one group of unfortunates that you definitely would not want to go for a drink with – primarily because they are soooooo boring – accountants and of course their close relative the actuary. However, there is yet another growing group. They don’t get a hard-on at the sight of a column of figures or moan when touching a spread-sheet. This lot is turned on by just one word. If you want to excite this one  just say “Pension”. Yes, the Pension expert.

Many years ago I have to admit that a small part of my job was to train people in the dark arts of pension provision. The rule was simple, no matter how little I knew about pensions, it was 100% certain that there would be no-one in the room who knew more than me.

I am quite confident when I say that there isn’t a single person (or expert) in the land who knows everything about pensions. Pensions experts are usually expert in only one or two damp corners of this huge subject.

Even nowadays I go quite misty-eyed at the thought of the good old Section 226 pensions which were introduced in the 1970 Income and Corporation Taxes Act. Since those days, pensions have become over-complicated and improvements to IT systems have allowed them to become almost incomprehensible for all except just a few “chosen ones” – most of whom could bore for England. 

But before I become over-excited you may wish to know the reasons these sudden admissions and reminiscences.

It’s because pensions are once again on the political agenda and pensions experts are  being revived and  brought blinking into the daylight as they are hustled into television and radio studios to dispense opinions. Pensions are once again being discussed at the highest political level. We are going to see more changes because the government thinks that it will be a good idea to reduce its costs by abrogating its responsibility towards the retired by putting the onus on employers and the employed to arrange their own pensions. Various “carrots” have been tried over the years without too much success so, as we seem to have entered  the Age of the Stick, there is no reason for pensions to escape punishment. 

The government’s pensions pronouncement looks suspiciously  like a half-baked idea, put-together on the back of a Malborough packet after closing time in some seedy Westminster hostelry. 

Let me give you some background.

One of the phrases you always hear is that pensioners are “entitled” to X amount of pension and exactly how much they receive is somwhow linked to their National Insurance contributions.

As recently as twenty five years ago, National Insurance was quite a simple idea which worked and there is no real reason why it should not be working today.The concept of a National Insurance Fund was created in the post-WW2 Beveridge report. Employees, employers and the self-employed contributed to the fund through National Insurance Contributions and the fund was used to pay the old age pension to men over 65 and women over 60. There is one further important  point  –  NI contributions are not a tax and therefore are not available to the government for day-to-day general expenditure.

Contrary to accepted wisdom and government hysteria “The trouble is that we are living too long” etc., the National Insurance Fund achieves an annual surplus (about £2 billion) and by next year (2011) that surplus will be well over £100 billion. The month-by-month balance of the National Insurance Fund (NIF) used to be available HERE but the figures seem to have disappeared.

The government is NOT supposed to plunder either the NIF nor the surplus as a result of the GOLDEN RULE. The Golden Rule was adopted by Chancellor Gordon Brown and is meant to be a guide to fiscal policy (how the government’s expenditure influences a country’s economy). The rule is simple: A government will borrow money only to invest and not in order to fund expenditure. Investment is money which will benefit future generations and expenditure is that which benefits the current population. The latter  must (should) be paid for with taxes.

 The National Insurance Fund surplus should NOT be used by a government to fund current expenditure

National Insurance is not a tax and was designed for a specific use which was  (and still is) the payment of  pensions. It is widely suspected that Gordon Brown ignored the Golden Rule because the Labour Government’s expenditure was such, that more and more government borrowing was necessary and everything, including the National Insurance Fund became fair game.

In short, there is a pensions shortfall only for one reason. Government over-spending driven by misplaced ideology resulting in the plundering of the National Insurance Fund.

The NIF was totally distinct from the Treasury’s taxation income but now it would seem that every goverment revenue stream is “up for grabs” as a potential amount of cash to be used for any purpose whatsoever.

In short, there IS enough money to pay UK pensions and if there isn’t,  it is because the government has behaved improperly. Even if the government has squandered the National Insurance surplus, the Fund is what is known as a “put-and-take” fund, so there will always be enough to pay pensions. The fund is constantly being “topped up” by NI contributions and then the money is withdrawn to pay pensions.

If there is not enough to pay pensions to the retired, the only adjustment will be an increase in National Insurance contributions. In short, we’ve been robbed and once again we are being asked to pay the price.

Anyway, back to the pensions bores who are being wheeled out. They are asking the wrong questions and one wonders whether either they don’t know which questions to ask or whether they have been pre-programmed.

One government pensions adviser who will be on our screens for a few weeks is the same adviser who advised Gordon Brown. She should know what is going on but even she has not asked any questions about the National Insurance Fund.

Post-Maxwell, all pensions are held in trust so that employers cannot plunder the pension funds for their own purposes. It’s time that similar rules applied to the NIF.

One presumes that the Government new MM Pension (yes, that’s Mickey Mouse) is portable, i.e. transferable between trustees – or is the new pension not to be held in trust? Can you imagine the admin if someone moves jobs several times in a short space of time?

….and the pensions experts will drone on.

I’ll stop now because I’m bored – but outraged.

(The concept of a trust is an old one, dating from the times when wealthy families would leave their assets under the guard of someone they trusted, with clear rules about the release and distribution of the funds. Trusts are commonplace nowadays, not just for pensions, but also for inheritance purposes, or to provide for children when they are older. A trust is a way of protecting funds and is essentially the vehicle that moves the money from the giver to the beneficiary. Well-off people use a trust as a device to keep money out of a will so that it is not subject to Inheritance Tax. Ask any Cabinet member)

Osborne hacked giving phone!

“Pater?”

There has been some negative publicity for Google and the fact that while they were zooming around the country, photographing, they somehow managed to hack into our unprotected routers and glean personal information from our PCs. A few weeks before, we had the scandal of reporters hacking into mobile phone signals and snooping on private phonecalls made by celebrities and politicians. Here is the transcript of one such conversation:

George: Hello, is that you pater?

Sir Peter: Who is this?

George: It’s George. ….Your son

Sir Peter: Oh, is that you Gideon? How are you?

George: Pater – Please don’t call me that. You know that I prefer “George”.

Sir Peter: OK GEORGE. What can I do for you. What about ” Gidders”. Your chums used to call you that. “George ” sounds a bit common these days.

George: “George” is fine. Funny you should mention that because that’s what I want to ask you about. I can’t ask anyone at the office because they’d laugh at me.

Sir Peter: Well….erm… George….If… it’s about the birds and the bees – I thought that we had that conversation when you were 26.

George: No, Pater. It’s about the working classes.

Sir Peter: What about the working classes.

George: Have I ever actually met one?

Sir Peter: Have you ever met what?

George: A working class? I think that I’d recognise one if I saw one but I’m not quite sure what one is. What exactly is it? Is it a person? For instance is it to do with being poor? Is everyone who earns less than £100,000 a year “working class”? Do they wear caps and suffer from consumption? Where do they gather?

Sir Peter: Forgot to ask you George – what are you up to these days? Still writing jokes for that northern bloke who wrestles with Sebastian Coe? Now what was his name? William? William Bushmill?

George: Hague! It was William Hague!

Sir Peter: I knew it was some sort of whiskey. Hague. That’s right. Wasn’t he Leader?

George: Pater! I’m the Chancellor of the Exchequer!

Sir Peter: (LAUGHTER) Chancellor of the  (SNORT) what? Did you say Exchequer? Do you mean Ken Clarke’s old job. What’s Ken up to these days? He’s a right laugh. He’s working class but he’s managed to do such a good accent that we almost treat him like one of our own. Anyway – what do you mean Chancellor? You did History at university, didn’t you? What is it about history graduates and the Chancellor’s job. You were never good with numbers. Wasn’t that Commie Gordon Brown another History boy?

George: David asked me to do it, so I’m having a go. Didn’t you see me on the television? I wore my best suit and when I finished my speech, Dave and the rest of them patted me on the back and then we went for some fizz cocktails. It was brill!

Sir Peter: That was you, was it? Your hair looked so black. Have you been colouring it Gideon? You naughty boy!

George: It’s George. Fucking GEORGE!

Sir Peter: Calm down, Gideon. What would your mother say if she heard your potty-mouth. You sound SO working class.

George: Working class? Do you really think so? That’s cool.

Sir Peter: What is cool? What’s that mean? Have you been at the Colombian nose powder again. You promised ………Gideon?

George: For fuck’s sake, pater. I’m Chancellor of the fucking Exchequer. I’m an important politician……There’s a big Jag that goes with the job!

Sir Peter: Do you still keep in touch with those Buller Boys? Such a nice crowd. Still having a good time with that nice Nat? Always liked him.

George: Pater…That fucking Rothschild wanker tried to drop me in the shit by grassing me up about a visit to a yacht and trying to bum £50k off his Russian employer. He’s supposed to be an adviser to the Russian but I reckon he’s no more than his fund- bitch. A hedge whore!

Sir Peter: Gideon! I’m afraid that I didn’t understand a word of that. You are definitely sounding common.

George: Really? Thanks, Pater. Our GDP growth is up. 0.8% up.  We’re having a party later but Dave says that we must be careful in case we’re spotted by poor people. Those working classes.

Sir Peter:  GDP? What’s that?

George: Not quite sure, Pater – but I have lots of advisers. Some of them know.

Sir Peter: Why is 0.8% a good thing? It sounds pretty crap to me. 0.8% in a month is only 9.6 per year…..I read that the Chinese managed that is the quarter between July and September

George: Between you and me…it IS crap. But we put the word out that it was going to be much worse and the surprise is keeping everyone happy. Even those zombie  economists. By the way, the 0.8% wasn’t for the month. It was for the quarter between July and September. The same quarter during which the Chinks managed 9.6%. Really crap but we’re getting fed up with blaming those Labour tossers so were making it look as if we did it! The most exciting bit is that Standard and Poors have increased Britain’s credit rating. Reeesult!

Sir Peter: Standard and Poors? Isn’t that a bisquit? Gideon – why don’t you come back and help us with the wallpaper. For the moment we’re doing really well. As you are Chancellor – can we put “By Appointment to the Chancellor” on our van?

George: No pater, you cannot!  I have to go now. The First Secretary to the Treasury is being beaten up again. He gets beaten up more times than an adopted cross-eyed ginger kid. I don’t think you’ve met him. We call him “Beaker”. You know, Beaker from the Muppet Show.

Sir Peter: I really have no idea what you are talking about. You are such a disappointment to your mother. Osborne and Little  is so well-known and yet you go off to Westminster and become Chancellor of the Exchequer when there’s a REAL job waiting for you. Right here.

George: Have to go now, pater. My chauffeur has just turned up and is taking me for a ride.

Sir Peter: You have a chauffeur? Still drinking, eh? You asked about working class. A chauffeur is working class. Talk to him.

George: He’s not working class. He’s quite clever and used to be an existentialist.

Sir Peter: An existentialist chauffeur? How do you work that out? What made him an existentialist?

George: He used to sleep on his sister’s kitchen floor with his  gay boyfriend and claimed Jobseekers Allowance. He helped me with the Spending Review.

Sir Peter: Still mixing with a bad crowd I see, Gideon.

George: There’s nothing wrong with the Bilderbergers. Even Ken Clarke  goes to the meetings. It’s just like Round Table but without the Estate Agents and Dentists.

Sir Peter: I have to go now, Gideon. Your mother needs to go to Homebase. We’ve run out of wallpaper paste and I still have no idea what you’re talking about.

George: Bye pater and love to mummy.

Sir Peter: Goodbye Gideon. Please pass on our good wishes to that Derek Cameron and his friend Sam.

The Broad Sunny Badlands

“Do you know what THIS means in Italy?”

 

Since the Chancellor’s spending statement you may have noticed that we are being fed the occasional snippet of information which was not mentioned in the original speech.

For instance, the government is in severe danger of damaging its hard-won “green” credentials by allowing DEFRA to sell-off half of the land currently looked after by the Forestry Commission. Publicly-owned forests may soon be turned into golf courses, holiday villages and other little-needed leisure facilities. They are planning the sell-off for two reasons. The first is the obvious one – to raise cash and the second is the over-simplistic belief that such a move will create jobs.

As usual, the government is planning a sell- off when prices are at a historic low. Margaret Thatcher did it with our oil, Gordon Brown sold our gold to the Chinese after he had driven the price down and now, the obscenity that is the coalition is about to dispose of our heritage – some of which protected by laws enacted in the Magna Carta.

Zac Goldsmith MP headed David Cameron’s environment task-force says that he is in favour of Forestry Commission land being disposed of.   Not-only content with vandalising our economy, this government appears to be readying itself to destroy our green belt. In twenty years’ time, are we going to enjoy driving through the New Forest ” housing and golf” estate or the Forest of Dean  caravan comple? Perhaps we should hand the lot over to Centre Parks and be done with it.

The clowns in government are once again demonstrating attempts at politico-entrepreneurship bycreating economic havoc and in the long run,  costing the nation a fortune.

The government is once again meddling in things that it does not understand and by playing at business, it is surely beating the economy into the ground just as effectively as Labour managed to do from the nineties onwards.

It was announced today that not-only  is confidence at an all-time low within the public sector but also in the private-sector.  When private sector confidence takes a bashing, it tends to suggest that those in charge are not in a bullish frame of mind and are waiting. Currently none of us is sure what anyone is waiting for but this week there will probably be announcements that we are about to be visited by what we have all been expecting – another hard-earned dose of recession. The famous “Double-dip” – but that is still no excuse for flogging-off the country’s assets.

Any State which is thinking of selling assets is no different to  the strapped-for-cash individual who convinces himself that he doesn’t really need his TV or computer and sells it on ebay. OK, he then has money in his hand but he spends it and…….? It’s back to square one. He can continue to dispose of assets until he has none left. Then what?

A report published today says that the average UK  household-debt is approaching £9000 – and that excludes mortgages. At the end of August , the total UK personal debt stood at £1,457 billion.

Between us, we owe more than the whole country produces in a year but what is most surprising is that personal debt in the UK is still  on the increase. Sadly, some people are now  borrowing in order to eat and to keep a roof over their heads. This is the atmosphere in which our coalition government seems to believe that business is about to expand and thus create jobs  which will offset those lost as a result of their decimation of the public service industry.

They appear to believe that Government rhetoric is all that is needed to convince us all that they have the formula for a miraculous economic recovery. Meanwhile, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility put the chances of the government’s strategies working at no more than 60%.

George Osborne is about to announce a £200 million investment is many government’s favourite word – TECHNOLOGY. Oooooh! Harold Wilson used the technology scam first and since then, whenever a government is in trouble, they roll-out the T-word. There will be Innovation Centres which will help “connect business to new technologies“. George, dear, we already have Innovation Centres and they are populated by ex- bankers who dispense advice to “budding entrepreneurs” on how to find their way around a balance sheet and how to prostrate themselves when they visit their own bank to beg for development capital.

Talk to real entrepreneurs and we will tell you that rather than waste another £200 million, the government should use that money to repay a day’s interest on the national debt and not attempt to recreate what are in essence talking shops and luncheon clubs.

The Chancellor talks of a “New Economic Dynamism”. Nice phrase, well constructed but without a coherent plan, there will be no New Economic Dynamism. Economic recoveries are notoriously fickle mistresses and are  certainly not to be relied-on to happen just at the time when you wish that they would.

It’s no good looking at the Germans and the incredibly fast upturn in their economy.  They are still  the world’s top mechanical engineers – that’s why, for instance they are China’s main supplier of industrial machinery.

In February 2009, Gordon Brown said that Britain’s recovery from recession can be helped by doubling  exports to China. George Osborne said the same thing three months ago.  The only problem is – what can we export  that the Chinese want? Call Centres?

That’s an important question because there is no point in producing goods without there being a demand. Currently, every economy in the world is looking at China as its next main market – as China moves from being a pure producer to major producer-consumer .

In his  address to the CBI this morning David Cameron managed to avoid the “broad, sunny uplands of economic recovery” phrase – but the might as well have used it – because that was his overall message.

If that is what is in his mind, he ought to beware. Winston Churchill took the United Kingdom through its darkest hour and look what happened to him.

He lost the 1945 General Election.

Mind you, it was different then.

He had been at the head of a dodgy coalition government.

Here are some statistics: CLICK HERE

I feel like a right banker.

 

Public sector employees, the unemployed, those on benefits and students did not cause this country’s economic woes. They were the fault of incompetent  politicians and  insatiable bankers.

So who is now going to bear the burden, as the Chancellor attempts to dig us all out of a hole by….well….digging.

In spite of the Government’s protestations, it will be the poor who suffer the most. The poor were put on this earth to hurt and in the past, it has  always been the most disadvantaged who were made to feel the real pain. Today is no different.

Good Conservatism is a very straightforward concept. It is about giving the individual and family the means to provide for themselves and at the same time making sure that society’s most disadvantaged are looked after. Good conservatism is fair and compassionate.

The present mutation of a government is anything but compassionate – on the contrary, it appears to be revelling in the dreadful measures which are about to place a stranglehold around the taxpayers’ collective neck. 

There is a “faux” triumphalist air and false bravado, as a young and inexperienced Chancellor continues to exhibit the youthful arrogance of someone who believes that he is right and all dissenting voices are wrong. This is beginning to look suspiciously like the beginnings of a totalitarian state. The Prime Minister said that politicians should learn that they “serve”  and do not rule the people.  Once again – empty soundbites.  

Remember the Nanny State? That was the main criticism of the last Labour Government. Somewhere between last May and now, the Labour  Nanny appears to have morphed into a strict Conservative Governess  –  a Miss Whiplash. It seems that we have a Miss Whiplash State. Do as you’re told.

The government has also made a point of saying that it welcomed “independent” assessments of its work. Transparency and all that. Well, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that the Chancellor’s Spending Review is NOT fair and that on “every measure” the poorest households will be worse-off.  They will be the ones bailing out the banks.

Let’s get one thing straight about the banks. They do NOT make anything. They are a service industry and their primary function is to move and redistribute money. That is all that they do. They are very good at “creating” profits out of what is effectively thin air and every now and again, they will be exposed because their sums can never add up. Creating more money on paper than exists in an economy is not a difficult accounting exercise but it is of course, a con trick.

Go into any bank and add up all of the money that their clients have on paper and then ask to see it. You will be told that the money is not there because it is “invested” in property, shares, gilts etc. Another con. Go to the funds and ask to see the money and you will be told that it is held by the banks. What about property? That sounds like a good solid investment.

In 2005 RBS moved into new premises which cost £350 million. No doubt that over the last few years, this head office has been revalued to increase its book price in line with inflation but think about this: An asset is worth only what you can sell it for. How many people do you know who need a £350 million head office? So how much is that building really worth? Nothing. Another con.

There was a time when banks could (and did)  operate on the margin between what they paid their investors and what they charged their borrowers. Their cost base is now so high that they are forced to gamble in a vain attempt to make the books balance. The money which they ran out of in 2008 was their clients’ money as well as a very large slice of “smoke and mirrors” fictitious money which never really existed and was used to con governments into very rash handouts.

The Chancellor’s new Bank Levy  (which, unlike us,the banks were briefed about a couple of months ago) will raise about £2.5 billion a year from 2012. The levy will apply to the global balance sheets of UK banks and the UK operations of overseas banks.

The Treasury said that the legislation will encourage banks to take fewer funding risks. That is arrant nonsense. How the Treasury makes the mental leap from  Bank Levy to having created some sort of deterrent which will encourage the banks to be more prudent in their investment strategy in anyone’s guess. It is a con.

There is only one way to encourage the banks to fall into line and that is by legislation which limits their ability to invest  in commodities, shares and derivatives and which requires them to invest a set proportion of their investments in the comparative safety of government gilts.

Meanwhile, the banks are already moaning that any additional tax burden placed on them may undermine the attractiveness of the United Kingdom as a financial centre. Another con. £2.5 billion is such a comparatively minuscule amount  that it will be totally unnoticeable to the banking industry – especially as the government will soon be handing them yet more money through the medium of Quantitative Easing

 Mark Hoban is  financial secretary to the Treasury and said that he HOPED  that the legislation would. “Firstly, ensure that banks make a fair contribution in respect of the potential risks they pose to the UK financial system and wider economy.”  A con. The 1.5 million  children who lose their Child Benefit will contribute almost exactly the same amount as the banks.

 Mr Hoban continued:“Secondly, the final scheme design incentivises banks to make greater use of more stable financial sources, such as long term debt and equity.”  The bank levy will have no effect at all in steering the banks to more responsible investment operations. Why should it?

The British Bankers’ Association, which is the bankers’ attack dog, has  warned that  the levy would have an “significant impact” on  more than 200 overseas banks operating here. Their main argument appeared to be that some overseas banks who would be asked to contribute may be taxed several times in different jurisdictions. Tough.

The banks have already spent several years  avoiding their  tax obligations by offsetting losses during the financial crisis against their current and future tax bills. The banks made losses, offset those losses against their corporation tax, then were bailed out by the taxpayer to the tune of trillions of pounds. They will continue to use those losses to their advantage for many years to come.

Effectively, the banks  are  profiting from their  losses  by withholding tax revenue. The amount? Banks may avoid £19 billion tax in future years by offsetting profits against  losses sustained during the financial crisis.

Chancellor George Osborne said that he wanted “to extract the maximum sustainable tax revenues from financial services”.

“We neither want to let banks off making their fair contribution, nor do we want to drive them abroad,” “Many hundreds of thousands of jobs across the whole United Kingdom depend on Britain being a competitive place for financial services.”.  Those are the words of a Chancellor running scared before the banking industry and who is willing to distress vast swathes of the British population rather than even fluster one banker.

Mr Osborne also made it clear that he expected the major banks to sign a new code of practice on tax avoidance.

So far only four of the 4 out of 15 leading banks operating in the UK have signed up but the Chancellor says he wants all of them to do so by the end of November. Again a measure of the disdain in which politicians are held  by bankers. George may have to beg the banks to sign the code of practice but no doubt there will be a price to pay. Let’s hope that he can disguise the carpet burns on his knees.

Britain’s government still owns large stakes in Lloyds and RBS , which together with Barclays and HSBC dominate the country’s banking landscape. That means that the government has lots of “clout” within the banking industry but is still afraid to use it. The government has been comprehensively out-negotiated and out-maneuvered by the banking fat-cats.

The government bailed out the banks with £200 billion of taxpayers’ money. That added to the deficit  which means that once again, it is the taxpayers’ money which  is required for a bail out – only this time, we’re bailing-out the government itself. Then the government will once again bail-out the banks etc etc.

PLUS, while they’re awaiting the next handout, the banks remain custodians of our money and as a bonus, are allowed to rip us off on charges. To add insult to injury,  they are making it near-impossible for the small businessman to borrow development capital – except at eye-watering interest rates which  are designed to ensure that although funds “are available”, no-one can afford them.

Fair? Fairness has nothing to do with it.

No, George!

“Oooh! Yesss!  That WAS good! I was SO good”

Jobs , jobs, jobs. There is no doubt that the coalition government is gambling on jobs suddenly reappearing Phoenix-like  as the economy awakens from its present inanimateness. Make no mistake, it is no coincidence that the Chancellor’s Statement was delivered towards the end of October. Christmas is on the way. We all tend to spend a little more in the run-up to Christmas and that buys any government a little more time as underlying consumer figures are distorted by the abnormal pre-year-end activity. Traditionally, there is even a small upswing in the employment figures as retailers and producers hire temporary staff.

However, it is still  fair to say that the jobs market has become markedly more difficult over the past few months.

Of course it’s going to get more difficult as the government’s austerity programme to address the country’s debt mountain begins to kick in. How will it affect the economy?  Of course, if there are people losing their jobs or are fearful of losing their jobs, they tend to save more and spend less. That has a very significant impact on final demand which is expected to remain under pressure. All the boarded-up shops in our towns are testament to the continuing downturn in demand for all non-essential goods.

The negative job-market and consumer demand predictions will ensure that economic activity will become even more becalmed than many commentators believe.

UK inflation continues to remain above  near-term projections but the medium-term outlook is for inflationary pressure to fall back. That’s according the Bank of England’s  own quarterly inflation report. Then, it believes that inflation will rise because of the impact of VAT hikes –  because the tax increase will most certainly be passed onto consumers by every retail outlet still in business.  

However because the bank judges the risks to  inflation to be high both on the upside and on the downside and given more general economic concerns, then economic policy, monetary policy and  interest rates in particular will remain where they are for a considerable period of time. It follows therefore that  there won’t be  a huge amount of pressure to unconventional monetary policy either. 

Currently, the Bank of England is showing signs that it believes that it is best not to touch anything – with one notable exception. The only fiscal stimulus that they know. The Easy One. Quantitative Easing.

If you take the view that we might have a double-dip depression, then you are presupposing that we have already  had some sort of recovery. Some of us take the view that although the data shows that the we’ve had a recovery, it is no more than a statistical anomaly associated with the earlier substantial fiscal stimulus enacted globally to try and kick-start economic activity.

If you strip-out that stimulus, the underlying figure is very much more pedestrian and much more in keeping with a prolonged period of very subdued or zero growth. Technically, we appear to be out of recession but actually we are not. That alone is a very good reason to suppoose that the Chancellor’s timing is very wrong.

Of course whether an economy experiences +0.1% or -0.1% growth,  it won’t really really feel like it to the man or woman on the street because  conditions remain remorselessly tough as they have done so several years now. 

Measures such as those outlined by the Chancellor always have consequences. For instance, an increase in petty crime, strikes, absenteeism, a decrease in productivity are just a few. The United Kingdom already has one of the world’s worst shoplifting records. To the year-ending June 2010, retailers lost £4.4billion to theft. That’s well over £12 million per day! That will increase.

It seems that the Coalition government is attempting to clear-up the inherited economic mess  by sapping the very foundations of United Kingdom society. The Welfare State and the Public Sector will be undermined as never before and judging by yesterday’s reaction of the entire Parliamentary Conservative Party, it has all been done with a mixture of social sadism, joy and vain hope. They should remember one thing though – this is a first. This type of extreme “slash and burn” has never before been attempted and could easily plunge our economy into depression.

There are some (Price Waterhouse Coopers among them) who say that there is a real possibility that for every Public Sector job lost, a job will be lost in the Private Sector. That does not bode well for the Chancellor’s hopes for an entrepreneurial upswing in the SME community.

The preening Chancellor’s performance was not for the British public, it was for the international financial community and others. He was showing-off to the IMF, the World Bank, his Bilderberg chums, his family and friends. It was a “Hey, look at me now” curtain-raiser to a potentially short Front Bench career.

His irksome performance during yesterday’s Spending Statement was not a particularly edifying spectacle. The post-“I commend this statement to the House”  backslapping and whooping on such a sombre occasion was sickening.

One suspects that in the months to come, we will see a chastened, more contrite and wiser George Osborne at the Dispatch Box.

Spending Review review

“Rehabilitation my arse! We’re going to hang the fuckers”

The Chancellor says that the economic measures that he has listed in today’s Spending Review will not endanger the United Kingdom’s economic recovery. The reality is that he doesn’t know what the effects of his course of action will be.

The phrase “Global Economy” is usually saved by politicians for the time when their plans take a battering and they need a “Get-out-of-Jail” card. The best that any government can do is to take a 50:50 punt as to whether or not its economic measures will produce positive outcomes.

However, if other economies flounder – especially those which spend money with us, then we will be in real danger of recession and depression. We have absolutely no positive control over other economies and we remain as vulnerable this afternoon as we were this morning. As draconian as the Chancellor’s measures appear, in the grand (global) scheme of things, they could be irrelevant.

It is still seems  bizarre to some that decisions are still taken on a micro (national) level, rather than on a macro (international) level. Not what you would expect in a fully interdependent global economy.

The Coalition government is relying on private sector growth and the theory is that private sector companies should provide employment as order books swell and revenue increases. Unfortunately, here within the UK, we are not spending as much as we should and our international clients (people we export to) are not buying either.

More and more people will soon be appearing in the dole queue which will “up” the government’s unemployment benefit bill and offset many of the savings that are being engineered as a result of today’s spending review.

The  unemployed will not be spending and those who are in employment, simply awaiting the inevitable will not be spending either – out of fear. That means that demand for goods will come down.

There are other possible sources of increased revenue for the government but it appears to be half-hearted in their pursuit. The Chancellor has announced that HMRC will go after an additional £7 billion in “avoided” tax. The latest figure for tax evaded and avoided adds up to  between £20 billion and £40 billion per year.

Who is being blamed for the deficit? The consensus appears to be Bankers and/or the Labour Government.

George Osborne said that the government will make the largest cuts to public spending since World War II  by  slashing benefits and public sector jobs in a five-year austerity plan.

Osborne confirmed that over the next five years there will be £83 billion in government spending cuts .  That’s approximately £15 billion per year.

In that time, many as 450,000 public sector jobs will be lost, welfare payments will be sharply reduced and dozens of scheduled government projects will be halted. He added that even Queen Elizabeth II will take a hit, cutting her royal household budget by 14% over four years.

“It is a hard road, but it leads to a better future,” Osborne told a lively House of Commons in his hour-long statement.

After spending billions bailing out indebted banks, and suffering a squeeze on tax revenue plus a hike in welfare bills, he said it would take “time to turn around the debt supertanker.”

Osborne said that a temporary levy on banks which is set to be introduced in January will be made permanent, potentially raising billions of pounds.

“We will extract the maximum sustainable taxes from the banking system,” he said, being mindful of the fact that if there was an attempt to “skin” the banks, they would be very capable of “upping sticks” and operating from offshore. Another Chancellor tiptoeing around the banking industry.

He said the state pension age for men and women will reach 66 by the year 2020, four years earlier than planned, potentially saving £5 billion per year.

Osborne told MPs that cuts would fall in almost all areas of government spending.

The police budget will fall by 4% each year, while the Justice Ministry will cut its budget by 6 percent per year through a combination of redundancy and a more lenient prisoner-sentencing policy.

But Osborne explained that spending money on tackling terrorism would be maintained to help Britain guard against al-Qaida and dissident Irish republicans and to ensure the safety of the 2012 London Olympics.

Hundreds of London-based diplomats will lose their jobs under a 24 percent cut to the Foreign Ministry’s budget, while the BBC must take on the full costs of running the World Service. Previously, the World Service was funded by the Foreign Office and that used to raise questions of its impartiality.

However, Britain will meet a U.N. target to spend 0.7 percent of gross domestic product on overseas aid  despite budget constraints.

“Britons can hold their heads up high and say even in these difficult times we will honour the promise we made to some of the poorest people in the world,” the Chancellor said.

Members of the public have been  anxiously awaiting  details of Osborne’s plans for a few weeks and through a mixture of “spin” and carefully choreographed leaks, the total impact of the expenditure cuts was greatly lessened.

Recent surveys and protests suggest that many British voters are uneasy about the cuts and economic opinion is divided as to whether or not this government has made the correct decision to deliver such swingeing cuts to public expenditure.

The following assertion was made by George Osborne: “Today, Britain steps back from the brink”. That was an excellent speech writer’s sentence but the line was delivered more in hope than fact.

These days, world economics owes more to Chaos Theory than Keynes, therefore it seems a little premature to think that we have stepped back from the brink. We are still standing on the edge. If we have distanced ourselves from the brink there is always a good chance that the step back has been into the double-dip starting blocks of recession.

The next few weeks will be crucial. There is a real likelihood of more quantitave easing which would explain the Chancellor daring to suggest that he intends to clobber the banks – especially if they have been pre-briefed by the Bank of England.

On the down-side, the next two weeks will also be remembered for the endless debates between politicians and economists as to the efficacy or otherwise of the Chancellor’s initiatives.

The fact is that no-one really knows because the Coalition and its Chancellor are assuming and not guaranteeing economic growth.  Economic growth figures were noticeably absent from the chancellor’s statement.

p.s. It has been announced that the Hubble Telescope has identified the most distant object ever seen. They should name it Gordon Brown. He did not attend Westminster today.

Public Sector Perspective


 

Q: “How many people work in the Public Sector?”

A: “About half of them”

The United Kingdom workforce numbers about 29 million. Six million work in the Public Sector.

When Labour came to power in 1997,  the number of Public Sector employees was fewer than 5.2 million and had been falling for several years. The downward trajectory continued for another 12 months but from 1998, the number began a steep climb – as the Labour Government expanded its spending.

When the present Coalition government reduces the number of public servants by 500,000, they will only in fact, be returning to the numbers of 10 years ago.

The fastest rates of accelerated employment have been in Education and the NHS.

It would seem that because there are high concentrations of public servant at the United Kingdom’s extremeties, the worst-hit will be Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Liberal-Democrats are fully behind the Chancellor’s Public Sector “slash and burn” but here’s an extract from their May 2010 election manifesto:

“We have identified £3.1bn of public spending that can create 100,000 jobs.”




Strategic Defence Review 2010

SOON-TO-BE NOSTALGIA: The Ark Royal with Harriers


Today we have been treated to yet another “on the hoof” bit of Coalition Government policy. David Cameron is lucky. We are all so stunned at the sheer speed of change, that there’s hardly time to absorb one “slash” when another “burn” is thrown at us.

It looks suspiciously as if someone wrote policies before the last General Election – without having seen the books. Is this all a triumph of policy over pragmatism? Why the hurry? Where are the consultations? Does this leave our backsides exposed? Are we handing Defence of the Realm to the United Nations?

This is the full text of the Strategic Defence Review delivered by David Cameron a few hours ago: CLICK HERE

You’ll need a pdf Reader.

You’re in this together

“Air hair lair there” (You’ll have to read it out loud.)

By the end of this week, after we have heard all of the government’s pronouncements on slashes in expenditure, perhaps we may not be as sure as we were about the principle of Self-flagellation Economics.

The Brown-Darling method was the softly-softly approach which combined slow growth with a slow decrease in public expenditure. The major flaw in what they achieved during their 13 years in power was their unbridled expenditure and their total lack of negotiating skill. There are government armaments contracts which have the taxpayer “done up like a kipper” for a generation to come. The various government contracts were negotiated so well (by the suppliers) that it would cost more to unravel the contracts than it would to honour them.

The best example is the farcical situation of having to build two aircraft carriers which will not have any planes landing on them.

The Labour government has left a “Gordian Knot” expenditure legacy which will potentially plunge two generations into poverty.

The coalition government – or should we say, David Cameron and George Osborne know that they are past the stage of papering over the cracks of a broken economy and like Alexander the Great, they have been more-or-less forced into taking the sword to the problem.  Potentially that’s the economics and Conservative ideology taken care of. Unfortunately, they have forgotten the politics.

The “We are in this together” mantra which has been continually boomed out by DC and his disciples is beginning to sound a little thin and unconvincing. Agreed that most of us will be well and truly “in it” but the majority of the Cabinet is immune from the upcoming economic trials and tribulations because they are rich and/or have a Trust Fund or two. That is not the Politics of Envy – just  straight fact which is harming the coalition’s plausibility.

The government is beginning to lack credibility for two reasons. The first is that many members of the government belong to the high-end of socio-economic Group A. The rest of us tend to be Group B-down, with the majority C1 and C2. That very conspiquous disparity has signalled the potential rekindling of the Class War. The Cabinet is connected at the stratospheric levels of business, commerce and banking and appears to be increasingly detached from the ordinary voter.

The other grounds for the government’s lack of credibility are found in the uncomfortable shotgun wedding that was the Lib-Con coalition. Make no mistake, the Liberals are there purely for the head-count. Had it not been for Gordon Brown refusing to vacate the sand-pit, the Liberals would be building sandcastles with Labour. The coalition was a triumph of duplicity over decency.

After this week, the government will enter the most difficult part of its short tenure. The Federal Reserve has announced QE2 ( Quantitative Easing – The Sequel) and where Uncle Sam goes, we are sure to follow.

It was pointed out yesterday that the proposed reduction in Child Benefit (which will really clobber the C1s and C2s) will contribute more to government savings that the banks.  Very soon, the Treasury will be handing more money to the banks so that they can “tidy up” their balance sheets and lend more money to small businesses. Or more accurately, the government will hand banks more pretend money which will be used to buy shares and government gilts which in turn will create profit and bonuses – for the banks.

Somehow, this all feels like a recipe for a very unhappy electorate, so don’t be surprised if very soon you find yourself, Frenchman-like, standing outside somewhere-or-other, holding a placard after having withdrawn you labour (that is if you have any labour to withdraw).

Prepare for a long hard winter.

Message for Wayne Rooney

Piss off. You’re beginning to make Jordan look interesting.

Speaking of socio-economic groups – here’s a “Z”

Another one of those ugly pikey women who looks like a pink Shrek with a ponytail has made the papers. This one has put her 2 year-old daughter on a diet “so that she doesn’t end up looking like me”. She will.

These were her words of wisdom: “With an eating disorder, you can get through it with therapy. But when you’re fat, you’re fat for life”. Not a good excuse to make your young child go hungry – or is she doing it so that there are more chips and fishfingers for her?

By the way, does anyone know why nowadays, women in their early twenties have cultivated such fat wobbly rear-ends – usually accompanied by a ponytail, a Maclaren buggy, arms like a docker and terminal stupidity – you know, the ones who are a TV interviewer’s favourite Vox Pops. They always say either “I think it’s disgusting” or  “Words fail me. I don’t know what to say.”

And where can you buy stretchy size 30+ jeans and those plain short-sleeved tops?

In the old days, at least women waited until their 40s before they enjoyed the comfort of accelerated below-the-waist growth.

The French.

Spanish Air Traffic Controller:  “Tango Yankee Bravo 141 is just entering French air space. I am handing him to you. Over.”

French Air Traffic Controller:  ” I spit on your plane.”

I love the French.

Hot Chile?

The Giant Hand of the Atacama

The heroics by and around the Chilean Miners in the Atacama Desert have provided us with very inspiring television and news. Let’s face it, we were surprised. Why were we surprised? Because they were all well-dressed, articulate people with an obvious sense of community and extremely high regard for one another. Furthermore, the miners looked, felt and acted equal to their politicians and the most endearing aspect of the whole affair was the informality and ease between all the participants. We were given the sense of a really egalitarian and confident society.

The people looked proud but they have good reason to feel proud. Their economy is one of those which is underpinned by assets deep beneath the ground. As a result, they have reduced the country’s poverty rate from 45% of the population in the late 1980s, to under 14% in 2010. Surprisingly, Chile now has one of the most developed mortgage markets in Latin America, representing 20% of GDP. In 2002, the figure was 8% of GDP.

One of the great indicators of a country’s confidence are retail sales. When a population feels affluent, it spends. Chile’s retail sales are increasing by approximately 15% per year.

It is expected that not only Chile but all South American countries will double income per capita within 10 to 15 years whilst Europe is looking down both barrels of an economic depression.

According to a recent UN report, over 30 million people moved out of South American slums in the last 10 years .

40% of the formerly impoverished population climbed out of poverty. Consequently,  South America has an expanding middle-class.

They are all beginning to aspire to the six “C’s” : casa, carro, cellular, computadora, cable y cinema (a house, a car, a mobile phone, a computer, cable or satellite television and the cinema.)

You may have noticed during the coverage of the Chile mine  rescue that several of the wives had what appeared to be iPhones.

The impact of conspiquous spending on the South American economies will appear to be very sudden because there is always a ‘tipping point’ in growing economies when demand for everything from cars and houses to mobile phones seems to explode.

There used to be a saying in business: ” Brazil is the country of the future-and always will be”.  The good news is that the future has finally arrived – not just for Brazil but for the whole South American continent. Admittedly Brazil is slightly ahead of the South American economic game but here are some figures. They represent the South American economic template:

Currently Brazil is producing  nearly 3.5 million cars. That represents an increase of over 40% in five years. In the same period, in the USA,  car production fell by well over 50%.

Retail sales in Brazil were up by over 11% in the first six months of  2010, compared to the first half of 2009. Over 85% of Brazil’s population now lives in urban areas. That has created an extremely robust house-building market directly as a result of the massive demand for new housing.

Although Brazil is the largest economy in South America there are three others who are outpacing Brazil. They are Argentina, Peru and Chile. The IMF projects 6% GDP gains for these countries in 2011.

Here in the UK, most of our concentration has been on the still accelerating financial crisis and quite frankly we had not been aware of the massive economic and building boom which is occurring in these emerging countries.  While we ponder on how to repay our debts with borrowed money which we don’t have, these countries are building roads, bridges and ports to connect their new megacities and to facilitate shipment of minerals and goods to places like China and India.

The Panama Canal is undergoing a massive $5 billion expansion to enable these outward looking countries to leave us inward looking Euro states in their wake.

Mexico’s government recently announced an infrastructure plan worth $50 billion. The flagship project is Punta Colonet, a $5 billion project to build a massive port in Mexico’s Baja California. The idea is to rival the strategically-important Long Beach port in neighbouring California.

Brazil has already allocated more than $500 billion to infrastructure project development  and the Chinese have already claimed the inside lane in many of these countries through the medium of heavy cash investment.

Argentina is rebuilding its railway network with $10 billion of Chinese money.

The copper and gold being mined in the Chilean Atacama desert is bound for China.

South America has finally planted itself on the world economic map and is attracting huge investment in the same way that the Middle Eastern states were the focus of world investors when oil was first discovered.

Speaking of big money, the biggest money of all from banks and investors all over the world  is flowing into commodities such as grain, livestock, meat, energy, precious metals, industrial metals, rare metals and minerals.

South America has the lot.

They say that South American and Latin American Hispanics refer to us as “Gringos” because our soldiers used to sing “Green Go the Rushes Oh”. Well they will be able to continue to call us Gringos because we are going to be green with envy over the next two or three generations as they take their turn to swan around the world (as we used to). They will be waving wads of South American and Chinese currency.

There is a group of future economies which between them are going to be the economic “main men”. The so-called BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Soon, Peru,  Argentina and Chile will be added to these former sleeping economic giants and we’ll all want to do business with the BRICPAC.

Currently, the  Advanced Emerging markets are:

Brazil Hungary Mexico Poland South Africa Taiwan

The Secondary Emerging markets are:

Chile  China Colombia Czech Republic Egypt India Indonesia Malaysia Morocco Pakistan Peru Philippines

Russia Thailand Turkey UAE

Two Close Shaves.

Chile Miner Rescue


The 33


This was one of those heart-warming events which made us cheer and cry plus it reaffirmed man’s infinite ingenuity and fierce regard, love and admiration for his fellow man. It also showed that we all still crave that rapidly fading commodity – the hero.

It also demonstrated the power and futility of blind faith. God was mentioned several times but none of the miners or their families saw the irony or  illogical reasoning of God somehow watching over the rescue and therefore meriting their eternal gratitude. God, as usual had nothing to do with the miners’ entombment but he did respond to their prayers and facilitated their rescue. He does like to play silly games, doesn’t he?

Can you imagine such a quick rescue here in the UK?

UK Health & Safety are probably still pursing their thin lips over the many breaches of health and safety which were evident during the rescue process.

Oh yes, there would of course be an inquiry with at least 33 witnesses, more than 33 lawyers and an open-ended budget, not to mention a miner’s strike.

When Chile’s President, Sebastian Pinera visits the United Kingdom next week, perhaps David Cameron can pick up a few practical tips on how to rediscover the secret of being a nation of “doers” and not the hamstrung administrators which we have become.

Ed Miliband

“PMQs

“Fair does” to the boy – he was good. By the time young Ed had got into his stride during PMQs yesterday, it had become a classic Flashman/Tom Brown encounter. One may even  have been forgiven for expecting a stink-bomb planted under one foot of the Dispatch Box – that’s how naughty  and mischievous Miliband Minor looked. A stenchful Chamber would have provided a really welcome  jolly jape which  would have  rendered bossy headmaster Bercow incandescent. With a bit of luck, he may well have self-combusted.

Flashman had entered the Chamber in a very good mood and even allowed his fag, Clegg to sit next to him.

Ed started quietly but showed Flashman his determination as he adopted the Paxman technique of asking the same question more that twice. Flashman was clearly rattled and there would have been a lively meeting of the Tuck Shop Boys yesterday afternoon.

Perhaps young Ed will be summoned to the Senior Common Room for a jolly good  slippering.

From Slime to Saville

Legal Profession: TOOLS OF THE TRADE

The Red Slime.

Did you notice how, in the last few days, news coverage of the Red Slime all but disappeared from our TV and newspapers? Mind you, he wasn’t too bad when he turned up for Prime Minister’s Question Time today and appeared to give David Cameron a very good run for his (our) money.

Chile Mine Rescue

Marion Sepulveda, one of the rescued Chilean miners said today: “I was with God and I was with the Devil, they fought me but God won.”

Apart from just one word, that is my own motto. Ask the Vatican.

Saville Inquiry

Q: Why does the Law Society prohibit sex between lawyers and their clients?
A: To prevent clients from being billed twice for essentially the same service.

When Tony Blair appointed Lord Saville in 1998, he expected the inquiry into the Bloody Sunday Massacre to be completed within two years. The inquiry was completed this year  and cost the British Taxpayer in excess of £190 million. It has also proved to be yet another government-inspired “Lawyer-Benefit” event.

More than £100 million of public money was spent on lawyers, with two being paid more than £4 million and at least 14 earning £1 million or more.

Sir Christopher Clarke QC, who stunned onlookers with his marathon 42-day(!! WTF!!) opening statement, collected nearly £5 million.

The lead counsel for the British armed forces, Edwin Glasgow QC trousered up over £4 million for his work.

Solicitors  Madden & Finucane who represented victims’ families and several IRA members – received almost £13 million. Rather helpfully, the Madden &Finucane website states that the victims of Bloody Sunday “were murdered by British Army paratroopers”

Another solicitors’ firm collected over £12 million.

Gerard Elias QC, representing the armed forces was paid nearly  £2 million.

Three other high-profile legal figures also earned significant sums from their work on the inquiry:

Michael Mansfield QC  collected fees exceeding of about £750,000.

Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC was paid £587,000.

Sir Allan Green, a former Director of Public Prosecutions received more than £1.5 million.

Lord Saville himself was paid £2million. That was ON TOP of his £207,000 salary as Supreme Court judge.

Our government is looking around for savings.

There are several clues above.

Too Much Class

It’s all going terribly pear-shaped. Lord Brown of Madingley, the former BP chief executive has compiled a report. The report is a Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance and was commissioned last November by the then Business Secretary, (the Dark)Lord Mandelson. Now, there is a tsunami of spluttering because the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition has confirmed its intention to adopt most if not all of Browne’s recommendations.

Vince Cable, our Business Secretary has the martyred look of someone who would never deny his faith but, because of a slight misunderstanding, is about to be burned at the stake. That is one explanation of his permanently pained expression but there are others. Either, someone nicked his tube of Preparation H or he’s  thinking about or is about to lick a cat’s arse.

Yesterday he gurned to the House, “The roads to Westminster are littered with the skidmarks of political parties changing direction.” The only skid marks were in the back of his own Y-fronts from being “wedgied” by the Conservatives into  once again making university education the stomping ground of the rich.

Mr Cable spent an hour and a half making a statement about the proposals contained within the Browne report and  has never looked less thrilled or sounded less convincing. It was painful. Meanwhile, students and soon-to-be students up and down the country , protested.

Students should attend university because of ability and not their parents’ bank balance. Unfortunately, it is difficult for modern students to play the Ability Card, mostly as a result of the fact that, thanks to Labour, the qualifications for entering university these days are ostensibly no more rigorous than the ability to steam-up a mirror with the optional benefit of a functioning pulse.

St Vince told the House that  the magic figure is £21,000. After completing studies, any graduate earning less than that amount will not be required to repay his or her student debt to society.

So, is that gross income or income net of tax? Will there be a sudden increase in ex-gratia payments? Is the government inadvertently encouraging the Black Economy?  What about medical students and their seven years’-worth of fees? Once again, the Law of Unforeseen Consequences will kick-in.

The well-off will not bother with loans because they will continue to pay university fees in advance.  The poor will remain poor with yet another incentive to remain on the dole. The middle-classes will continue as everyone’s favourite target.

What about the first-time buyer and the housing market? Here  is another example of how a seemingly clever government policy, designed to save taxpayers’ money will have an unforeseen effect.

When , in a few years time a shiny new graduate sits in front of a bank manager and asks for a mortgage on a small ” bijou” that he has found, the banker will sink back into his soft leather exec chair, clasp his hands behind his head and, with a knowing twinkle he’ll ask : ” I see that you have a degree. Do you have any other debts?” The graduate will splutter, “Well, there is the small matter of a student  debt of £45,000 which I am paying back but I’m hoping it will be paid back by the time my own children start university.” The banker will then sympathetically hold his hands in front of him, fingertip-to-fingertip and sigh,” So you , at the age of 24, you already have massive debts and you want me to lend you MORE?”

The banker will then walk to the door and hold it open………and he (as usual) will be right!

However, the Browne recommendations may produce some positive outcomes. Only very clever people will dare attend University. The thick-poor will no longer apply to red-brick former polytechnics in order to be taught third-rate subjects by second-rate lecturers………. but the thick-rich will carry-on regardless.

Eventually, regional accents will no longer be heard in academia and the phrase “We know our place” will fall back into common usage.

It will all have been the fault of the 2010 Liberal Democrats and their “flexible friend” – formerly known as their principles.

Currency Wars.

I have been predicting the collapse of the dollar followed by the collapse of the pound sterling for about 12 months. the phrase ‘double-dip recession’ has now gone into the language but again is one of those phrases which is quite meaningless because I do not believe that we ever came out of recession.

Economically speaking, we have all been whistling in the dark.

Today the US dollar plunged to its lowest level against the Japanese yen in 15 years and fell to its lowest level against the Swiss franc in 27 years.

The world currencies which are going to do well in the next 5 to 10 years of those which belong to countries who have something to sell, that is to say countries which have minerals and metals in the ground and/or any sort of manufacturing. Australia is such a country and today the American dollar fell against the Australian dollar to its lowest-ever level.

Again about 12 months ago I predicted that gold was headed for $2000 an ounce. Today it is already at $1360 an ounce. That’s what happens when the dollar plunges and  investors start to buy gold by the ton!

World governments are plugging the odd financial hole here and there but, in the grand scheme of things, they are impotent to stop the meltdown of the dollar.

Apart from accelerating the value of gold, what else is the demise of the mighty dollar achieving?

There are only THREE major asset classes. Gold, commodities and currencies. As investors dump the dollar and rush for the exits marked gold, commodities and other- currencies-as-long- as-it-isn’t- the- dollar, there are two certainties. The first is that very soon the US government will have no choice but to devalue the dollar. The second is that  the dollar’s plunge has put incredible pressure on the price of food as investors rush to invest in wheat, corn, soya etc.

By the end of this year, the United States and the United Kingdom will be leading the Western world in unemployment statistics as both economies  are losing jobs at a greatly accelerating rate. In 10 days time,  the British Chancellor will give the British unemployment statistics  even more momentum by declaring thousand more public sector job losses. In the past four weeks, the United States has declared another 95,000 job losses.

Both the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are inking the printing presses – ready to print even more dollars and sterling.  That will inevitably lead to currency devaluation which in normal circumstances would inflate an economy . However, after the United States and United Kingdom, there is a long queue of countries also wanting to down-value their currencies. That way (if such a thing were possible), they could all default on each other’s debts. Never mind, perhaps the banks will bail them out.

As recently as two days ago, both the IMF and the G20 admitted that this is not the end of the world’s economic troubles but the beginning of something truly terrifying:

Currency Wars.

It is simply a question of who blinks first and which economy can print money the fastest.

So what of the investors? They will produce what is known as a self-amplifying problem. That faster governments print money, the faster the investors will dump any currency they hold and the faster they will invest in gold and commodities. That will inevitably give rise to chronic  inflation and a very unpleasant end-game.

Will all these shenanigans affect the pound or dollar in your pocket?

Before you ask that question, make sure that you still have pockets that haven’t been picked by your government.

(THIS is from just over a year ago)

The return of the hooligan.

It looks like it’s back to the future because a species which we had thought extinct is rearing its ugly head again.  We thought that it had disappeared forever, back into the swamp of life  but teenage football hooligans are beginning to be more and more visible in the media. As usual, there are experts, commentators and social scientists who have theories.

“Lack of discipline!”, “Flog’em!”, “…..a spell in the Army. Never did me any harm!”, ” I blame the parents!”. The platitude-mongers are being ferreted-out of blue-brick universities, pubs and bus queues. Once again to they are being invited to pontificate and shake their heads by an increasingly hysterical media machine. Even moronic football pundits who are not usually known for their knowledge of behavioural psychology have opinions.

So what is going on?

Yes it is a social problem and the reason why an old-phenomenon is making a return guest-appearance is because the social environment is once-again reaching the optimum conditions for the football hooligan to re-flower and flourish. As usual, the clues are in history.

Football hooliganism was at its height in the 70s and 80s. It reached its peak in the early 1980s and then gradually disappeared.

It was in 1982 when the government announced that for the first time since the 1930s, unemployment had achieved a number in excess of 3 million. Fast-forward to 2010 and we’re there again. The new hooligan- crop consists of the new unemployed, many fathered by the old unemployed. Social outsiders. On the bench of life.

THAT is where the clue is. A gang of hooligans is made up of arousal-seeking males who have no social identity. These are men and boys who are “nobodies” is real life and  who achieve excitement and recognition during otherwise empty and boring lives. That is what unemployment can do to a male. No job, no money, no future and possibly the most important – no “esteem in the eyes of others”. That simply means that they have no-one in their shabby lives who looks up to them for the usual (and normal) reason which is achievement. Theses are not achievers – they are the ones who took the piss out of “swots” and “geeks” at school but now they need the confidence and psychological sanctuary that is afforded them by a herd (or pack).

These are pack animals. They are not solo hunters. On the contrary, they need the psychological duvet of a crowd.

Hooliganism ( “Hooligasm” would be a more accurate description of what they are attempting to achieve) is most certainly NOT confined to the unemployed underclass. There are those in  boring jobs who lead mundane lives, those who feel that their existence and employment are way below what they deserve. They too are ripe for a spot of football hooliganism.

Here’s some psychology:

There are four sets of what are known as metamotivational states: telic-paratelic (goal seeking behaviour and its opposite), conformity-negativism, mastery-sympathy, and autic-alloic (concern with oneself against concern for others).These “states” are four pairs of opposites and are the basis of what is known as Reversal Theory.

It is possible for an individual to “flip” from one state to another but he  does not flip between the two states within a pair randomly.

Reversal theory suggests  that some individuals have a tendency to spend more time in one metamotivational state than another. These people can be categorised as paratelic dominant, conformist dominant etc.

Research has shown that the above states are felt through the emotions which they produce  – especially when combined with arousal level and how good the individual feels (the so-called hedonic state).

The theory postulates that  when a person is aroused and feels good because they have a fulfilled life, we may say that they is in a telic (goal-seeking, forward-looking) state with low arousal and high hedonic tone, i.e  a goal-seeker who is chilled out and happy.

( The term “aroused” is not in the sexual context. It is more on the Chilled-Angry Scale).

For football hooligans, hooliganism is fun. The football hooligan is paratelic dominant, so that when there are discrepancies between preferred and actual levels of arousal, primarily caused by boredom and consequent feelings of futility  his behaviour leads to hooliganism as a means of compensation. He feels useless, insignificant, undervalued,  and frustrated. This , given the right circumstances, will “flip” to anger (Reversal Theory) and so generate the search for excitement through dangerous and delinquent behaviour.

There is no real difference  between the bungee jumper and the football hooligan. Both are attempting to compensate by generating excitement. The hooligan neither has the focus nor means to dissipate his feelings through any other activity than violence or, more often, the promise of violence. For most, it is the anticipation of violence which is the driver.

So why football? There is a powerful association between masculine sport, masculine identity and affiliation which is provided by the football club. Hooligans will not affiliate with a political party, a chain of shops, a pub, a badminton  or  rugby club.

Association Football is a working class activity and the largely working-class hooligans will only herd with their own ” species”. The obvious question? “Why are there no Rugby League hooligans  or American football hooligans?” In those two sports, the violence on the pitch allows the potential hooligans to sublimate their violent urges. One could argue that  if Soccer rules were modified to make it a more violent sport, there would be no football hooliganism.

It is unlikely that there was any hooliganism associated with the Circus Maximus.

Soccer is a metaphor for the sad lives of the disaffected minority which morphs into hooliganism.

Soccer and hooliganism are both games where (usually) expectation exceeds reality, where bonds are formed through false parochial affiliation and identity (“WE (?) scored in the last minute”) and both games consist of two herds in conflict whose weekly forays intersperse a life of abject boredom.

Foreplay & the Donkey Voter.

Tory Foreplay?

David Cameron’s conference  speech has definitely confirmed one thing and that is that the art of oratory is well and truly dead and buried. This was no “This lady’s not for turning”, “Rivers of Blood”, “I have a dream”, “We shall fight them on the beaches”, or even an “Ich bin ein berliner”. This was a leader going through the motions. The tone and delivery were spookily similar to Ed Miliband’s.

It wasn’t quite down to the Gordon Brown standard. His speeches were only memorable for the fact that they tended to induce an irrational desire to cut off one’s own ears.

DC was always going to have to strike a difficult balance. He was the first Conservative Prime Minister for 13 years to  address a Conservative Party in power, just 5 months after fighting a General Election.There should have been balloons, cake, drink, merriment and general ribaldry – or the Tory equivalent thereof. Mind you, he didn’t actually WIN the election and perhaps remembered that he is  being propped up by that rag-tag band of opportunist Liberals, led by Clegg the Duplicitous. Perhaps out and out triumphalism was not appropriate – but then again, neither was Marvin Gaye’s “It takes Two”. That was about as subtle as Eric Pickles brandishing a shovel in a pie factory.

He knew what we were all really waiting for and he more-or-less bottled out. Yes. Child Benefits. His inexperience as a policymaker shone through once again.  By now someone should have told him that before introducing new policies, he should prepare the ground – and that does not necessarily mean the “slash and burn”. All that macho nonsense may well produce an odd cheer and the clap that he so richly deserves but it does look as if the headline-grabbing announcements are made too soon. Policies are  published or leaked  in advance of being thought through and without  the electorate being properly prepared and put in the right “mood” through the traditional and well-tested mediums of leak and spin. Not enough political foreplay.

We all like a bit of foreplay before we’re screwed.

Donkey Voting

 Donkey voting is a well known phenomenon in all electoral systems. It is when a voter chooses candidates near the top of the list presented to him. If a voter is presented with an alphabetical list and is asked to select a number of candidates, those candidates near the top of the list are advantaged because as the donkey voter ticks the list, he will select candidates  top-down. He will stop selecting when he has chosen the required number.

This phenomenon has reared its ugly head in the election of Ed Miliband’s  (new) Labour Shadow Cabinet.  Below  is the full list.

Notice that no-one with a surname below the letter “M” was elected!

Perhaps on this occasion, the term “Donkey Voter” is more appropriate that usual and further focuses on the stupid principle of a political leader not being able to hire his own team.

We should also point out that no Welsh MPs were elected.

Douglas Alexander – 160 votes

Ed Balls – 179 votes

Hilary Benn – 128 votes

Andy Burnham – 165 votes

Liam Byrne – 100 votes

Yvette Cooper – 232 votes

Mary Creagh – 119 votes

John Denham – 129 votes

Angela Eagle – 165 votes

Maria Eagle – 107 votes

Caroline Flint – 139 votes

John Healey – 192 votes

Meg Hillier – 106 votes

Alan Johnson – 163 votes

Tessa Jowell – 152 votes

Sadiq Khan – 128 votes

Ivan Lewis – 104 votes

Ann McKechin – 117 votes

Jim Murphy – 160 votes


Screw the children.

“Remember….walk!”

The Law of Unforeseen Consequences has slapped David Cameron and the Conservative Party at exactly the wrong time.

Politicians are yet to learn that there are certain things which have , like the Steve Wright Show and alcoholic teens, become a  part of the fabric of British Society. They are the Pensioners’ Heating Allowance and Child Benefit. Any politician who fiddles with either DESERVES to be clobbered hard because he is demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of the British psyche.

DC is having to fight a rearguard action because a clumsy Chancellor has taken that dangerous forbidden step into “making it personal” by picking the near-threadbare purse of one of our major social icons – The Young Mother.

Child Benefit has been going for so long that it has become a fixture – a tradition –  and you do not mess with tradition. Plus, the way that Child Benefit is going to be ripped from that  poor mother’s hand, is plain brutal. Emotive language? Yes it is, but this is an emotive topic.

In the current tax year, if your taxable income is less than £37,400, you pay tax at 20p  in the pound so you will be allowed to keep your Child Allowance. However, if your income is £37,401 and above, you will lose it because that is the level from which any income between £37,401 and £150,000 is taxed at 40p in the pound..

So where’s the problem? The unfairness arises if a household has two or three people earning and who between them produce a taxable  income which is in excess of  £37,400.

If a husband and wife are both working, and they each have a taxable income of say£30,000, they are both paying tax at 20p in the pound. So, if they have children, they will retain their Child Allowance in spite of the household income being £60,000.

However, had the government said that any household with a TOTAL TAXABLE INCOME  in  excess of  say £35,000 would lose its Child Allowance – there would have been fewer mascara-smeared young mums on the TV and those Mumsnet harpies would have remained in Cyperspace where they belong  and not descended into television studios like latter-day Dementors.

The clumsiness with which the LibCon, ConLib or ConDem coalition is setting about their version of the economic  “slash and burn” is not necessarily a symptom of social insensitivity – although there are those who are already pointing to the lack of understanding of the privileged “few” who currently  have the reins of British economic power in their beautifully manicured hands. The apparent maladroitness is more likely to be a result of trying to impress the foreign financial  community by running, well before they have learned to walk. Too much too soon.

You may be familiar with the story of the old ram and the young ram standing on a hill looking down on a field of ewes. The young ram turns to the old ram and says. ” Let’s run down the hill and f**k  a few of those ewes.” The old ram replies   ” Let’s walk down and f**k  the lot.”

The shiny new government’s enthusiasm and impetuosity are being interpreted as a lack of “understanding” and is resulting in  a subsiding  empathy with the voting public. That is certainly not what was intended.

David Cameron is now fighting a rearguard action in trying to excuse the inexcusable. Over the last two days he has been running for the well-trodden political cover of prosaicism and statistics.  What might (and should) have been a celebratory Tory conference has deteriorated into the media equivalent of a duck-shoot by many senior political commentators.

The solution? Slow down, boys. Think it through.

The organogram.

This is a simple analogy, specifically designed for those new to management. The message is simple:

When top level people look down, they see shit. When bottom-level people look up, all they see are assholes.

This applies to every activity which has the benefit of a hierarchical structure – from politics and the army to manufacturing and the service industries.

(Our sister site, www.retraining.info is undergoing a name-change and a revamp.)

Oh Brother! Brains or Charisma?

We used to feel just a tiny bit sorry for Ed Miliband.  OK, he was a Cabinet Minister, had a barrister “partner” (Justine is an environmental lawyer), an Oxford education and all the other “bolt-ons” that the majority of 40 year-olds can only dream of. So why did we not envy him ? His career was mapped out for him, he was comparatively well-off and yet there was a “niggle”. That niggle  or career speed-bump has now been removed and is somewhere in North London licking his wounds. Big Brother, David.

Ed certainly does not possess his brother’s intellect, brooding D’Arcyesque presence  or sharp suits. In fact, compared to David, he is more of Wallace (Wallace & Grommit) with a silly haircut and the sort of annoying voice which begs a prompt visit to an ENT man.

Luckily for him, as usual, the Labour Party has managed to allow the potential runner up to shine and then try and convince itself that this was the right decision. Michael Foot defeated Denis Healey, Neil Kinnock defeated Roy Hattersley, Gordon Brown defeated himself and once again the potential silver medalist has won the Gold.

However, on this occasion, it would seem that more by luck than judgement and a combination of disaffected unions and the Party’s irrational addiction to high drama, Labour has elected the right man for the job.

So what was the path that ultimately led to the collision in Manchester? The collision that some commentators have been reporting as cunningly premeditated  fratricide.

The paths that the Miliband brothers took were practically identical. The same influences, the same education and the same career path. That is why the Labour Party’s decision was almost too close to call.

The boys are a reasonably common post-war product.  In 1940, their father, Ralph (nee Adolphe) managed to scramble aboard the last boat from Belgium to England. He and the Milbands’ grandfather Samuel settled in London. Ralph had been born in Belgium although the family was Polish-Jewish.

In 1961, Ralph married  a Polish girl called Marion Kozak. She was one of Ralph’s former students at LSE where he taught Political Science. David was born in 1965 and Ed in 1969.

The two boys were totally immersed in Socialism – their father was not-only one of the most influential socialist thinkers of his day but the house always buzzed to the sound of socialist discourse and debate. For instance, one of the regular visitors to the Miliband household used to be Tony Benn  and it is rumoured that he used to help the boys with their homework. From a very early age, the Miliband  sons were encouraged to discuss and argue politics with the constant stream of left-wing intellectuals  who’d pitch up to their London home on a daily basis.

It is said that in spite of their socialist home influences, what really shaped their views was their time at Haverstock school. The young Milibands saw that this comprehensive school (in which over 60 languages were spoken), created a background-driven disparity in pupil performance. Both brothers perceived the inverse link between social class and educational performance. The recognised that children who were far more intellectually able than they were, did not always perform to their potential. Those children did not have the benefit of their warm, intellectual middle-class existence.

To put it simply, poor children did not perform as well as well-off children. That is now accepted as a self-evident truth.

The experience fused the brothers’ political views. Not for the first time, ideology had shaken hands with harsh reality.

In spite of below-par A-level results, David went up to Oxford where he read PPE at Corpus Christi. Unsurprisingly, Ed followed a couple of years later. Same University, same college, same subject.

Their times at Oxford were similar, except that Ed is remembered as having been the more militant and has said on a number of occasions that politics motivated him more than academia.

There is a simple way to describe the difference between the Miliband brothers using the Merrill-Reid Social Styles model. Ed is more of an “expressive” while David is the  “analytical”. The “doer” versus the “thinker”.

Ed deals in emotions whilst David prefers  facts.

For instance, this week you may have noticed that there has never been any question of Harriet Harman NOT continuing as Deputy Leader. One of the reasons for that is the very strong emotional bond between Harriet and Ed. His first political job was as Harriet’s researcher.

One suspects however, that had David won the leadership election, he would have been more concerned with candidates’ previous form rather than be driven by sentimentalism.

After university, Ed worked as speechwriter and researcher for Harriet Harman and for Gordon Brown, then the Shadow Chancellor. He followed Brown to the Treasury as one of the “two Eds” (the other is Ed Balls) who steered the Chancellor and the Treasury through the ten Blair years. Ed has the very great political advantage of having been very close to the economic shenanigans of the last  fifteen years.

There are those who cannot understand why the Unions gave Ed the ticket to the leadership. David Miliband is still perceived as a Blairite – after all, he used to be Tony Blair’s Head of Policy. The Unions have long memories and they DO hold a grudge.

Both brothers were in the thick of the Blair/Brown feud but it was Ed who became the non-elected nuncio who was the buffer between the two camps. He was dubbed (rather eloquently) as “the ambassador from Planet Fuck” – primarily because he was the only member of the Brown team who did not tell the Blairites to “Fuck off”.

So, the two brothers were gradually being squeezed apart  by the Blair/Brown in-fighting and in spite of the fact that it has become transparently obvious that Brown’s tenure at No 10 was a disaster and that Brown was arguably the worst leader since John Major, Ed Miliband does not appear to have been tainted by his closeness to Brown and he achieved that by his comparative anonymity.

There is little doubt that Ed Miliband is regarded as the warmer of the two brothers and his natural ability to “connect” makes him a very popular speaker. He should not be judged solely on his 2010 conference speech!

His leadership potential is there but still largely untested. He has not had David’s experience of comfortably striding the world stage  as Foreign Secretary but by all accounts, he is a fast learner and what he may lack in natural physical grace, he compensates for in political guile and a profound doggedness.

Had David remained  as part of Ed’s shadow team, there would always have been a real danger of the soap opera that was the Blair/Brown feud having been reprised with a younger (Miliband) cast.  The Tories were looking forward to David being elected as leader because there was little doubt that Ed would have been part of David’s shadow team. That would have created two distinct camps within the party which would have suited the Conservatives very well. There is nothing as agreeable as watching your enemies (once again) publicly digest themselves from the inside.

The election of Ed Miliband has averted a potential disaster for the Labour Party.

Many predicted that the Milibands would work as a team and rebuild the car-crash that is the current  Labour Party but on reflection it seems that the right Miliband is in charge.

In the leadership game, charisma always wins over intellect.

Ed “Seagull” Miliband’s Speech

There will be many analyses of  Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour faithful in Manchester. This is the only analysis which you will need. It is the speech “Worldcloud”.

Macro-message (from Wordcloud): 

” New Generation Must Change Country. “

Now you know what was on his mind.

No surprises. He disagreed with some things that he had previously agreed with and vice versa.

The delivery was more Aldi than Audi and the speech was a triumph of Cut over Paste delivered to an audience which had nothing left but  faith.

Why “Seagull”?

Anyone who flies in, creates  a lot of noise and disturbance, eats the food, shits on his brother and then flies off again, deserves to be called “Seagull”.

(Thanks to SP Bain for the WORDCLOUD)

Vince Stable?

“Global warming? It was the Bankers.”

“Lino” Clegg  has firmly embedded himself in our psyche as the Spiro Agnew of British politics. Lino? Liberal In Name Only. It could have been worse –  if they were still known as Whigs.

Meanwhile Vince Cable continues to carry the air of either Stadler OR Waldorf from the Muppet Show balcony. Vince’s face looks more and more tortured by the day – as if someone was trying to unblock his catheter by jumping on it. 

It is increasingly apparent that in spite of the fact that the ConLib coalition is being promulgated as a “partnership”, it is an unequal union. They are not Joint Tenants but Tenants in Common and the Liberals are looking more and more like political ballast with 99% of the political tenancy being owned by Cameron and the Bullers.

Clegg’s obvious earnestness remains endearing, although one does have the feeling that an old-fashioned delivery bike may be a more appropriate mode of transport than a ministerial Jag.  DC is using him as .a messenger/delivery boy and so far it looks as if “Lino” is quite happy “in the national interest”– his favourite phrase.

The “downside” is that DC has a price to pay for Lino Clegg’s innocuous presence. That price is the Business Secretary.

Ever since Vince Cable’s crack about Gordon Brown having mutated from Stalin to Mr Bean , he has worked very hard on his soundbites. In politics, there is nothing more powerful than a well-rehearsed ad-lib. Vince’s Ministerial Jag has given him more and more confidence to create increasingly colourful and outrageous metaphors – especially those directed at the soft target which is British banking.

He claims to be pr0-business but continues to take great delight in banker name-calling. It seems that it is OK for him to refer to bankers as “spivs and gamblers” but when he does that , he is only referring to a very small percentage of those who work within banking. It confrims the old-fashioned view that those who like to make money and flaunt it are ALWAYS bad people and figures of fun. That’s the British Way.

According to Old Man Cable, Capitalism is “killing competition”. Capitalism creates competition . Competition is only killed when capitalism mutates  into monopoly – whether State monopoly or Private monopoly, the effect is the same. Although our banking system appears as a collection of separate businesses, the way that they are regulated and administered has just about removed any remnants of competition between them and the industry is now acting as a multi-headed monopoly.

Where is the competition between banks? They certainly used to compete but not any more. Because of the State’s intervention, they can now  buy money at about 1% and sell it to the consumer for whatever they want. Worse still, they are now givenmoney by the State and then sell it to us for more-or-less what they please.

Not quite what Adam Smith had in mind and one feels that he would have been miffed by being quoted out-of-context by a Business Secretary who has a clearly perceived, self-inflicted “use-by” date.

Our collective appetite was whetted by the customary pre-speech leaks which suggested that the Business Secretary was to “attack the banks”. Why attack the banks for doing what comes naturally – something that few politicians understand – delivering profits for shareholders and rewarding those who delivered the profits?

Short-term profits are NOT damaging the economy. What has damaged most economies in the last two years has been the global con-trick  of  Goldman-Sachs spivs designing the Credit Derivative. Everything flowed and  grew from that one fiscal spawn of Satan. The bankers were both victims and slack-jawed observers.

There has been a lot of criticism of Vince Cable  delivering an “emotional” speech. The speech was not emotional per se – it was a contrived speech, designed for the front pages for the glorification of Vince Cable and to please his rapidly diminishing band of groupies.

The Business Secretary’s bleating about “restraint” in the payment of bonuses was pointless because all that he will achieve is to increase bankers’ salaries.  

“I make no apology for attacking spivs and gamblers who did more harm to the British economy than  Bob Crow could achieve in his wildest Trotskyite fantasies, while paying themselves outrageous bonuses underwritten by the taxpayer.” 

That’s an easy one to sort-out, Vince. Keep Mervyn King’s trembling finger away from the printing-press “START” button because if you don’t watch him, he’ll do it again.

In actual fact, Vince Cable’s posturings were no more than a touch of “wind-and-wee”with  a seasoning of badly conceived and amateurishly executed metaphors. All that he’s trying to do is to blackmail the banks into lending more at lower rates. Then he would be able to beat them up for “irresponsible lending” .

He also took the opportunity to call for the banks to be separated into Retail Banking (High Street) and Investment Banking (which isn’t really banking).

The Business Secretary has obviously forgotten that companies are created in order to deliver profits for the shareholders and the shareholders have the right to reward their executives however they wish. The shareholders are NOT social workers.

If your economic theory is more Trotsky rather than Keynes, you may be silly enough to say something such as: ” I am shining a harsh light into the murky world of corporate behaviour. Capitalism takes no prisoners and kills competition where it can, as Adam Smith explained over 200 years ago.” 

NO you’re NOT and NO he didn’t. However, it has been noted that Vince’s ideas are 200 years old and second hand.

He continued: “I want to protect consumers and keep prices down and provide a level playing field for small business, so we must be vigilant right across the economy… Competition is central to my pro market, pro business, agenda.” 

That rant is more bovine than Keynes.

 He carried on to say that it is not easy for the Liberals to be Tory lackeys but added that  “It’s necessary for our country that our parties work together at a time of financial crisis. It is an opportunity for the party to demonstrate that we have the political maturity to make difficult decisions and wield power, with principle.” 

He has clearly demonstrated that he is attempting a brand new political trick – which is to be in Government (when DC is listening) and Opposition (when his Leftie Liberal chums are listening) . As Business Secretary, he should be seen to be a pro-business champion and leader. As a flabby very Left wing Liberal, he has to be seen to bash the banks and regurgitate Labour’s populist slogans. Every dawn sees him sounding more and more like Alistair Darling.

Was Vince Cable too high a price to pay for coalition and can he steer business and commerce through the rapidly approaching choppy waters of  recovery within the context of a falling pound, collapsing market and high unemployment?

Ratz deserts the sinking shi*s

The Popejet has finally left this green and pleasant land. As predicted, thanks to a the combination of Pope-propaganda and tens of thousands of infatuated flag wavers, droolers and the intellectually stunted, Pope Ratz has morphed.

Whereas a week ago he was a cross-dressing pantomime villain in a white zuccetto pixie hat and magic red slippers, today he is perceived as the sainted love child of Mother Teresa and Santa Claus.

He arrived in Edinburgh as   gatekeeper and guardian to  an   evil worldwide, out-of-touch misogynistic, inflexibly autocratic paedophile ring and left as everyone’s favourite grandad.

What happened?

There is a saying “never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”.On that basis, the Roman Catholic Church has (and has always had) the most powerful congregation in the world. But when push comes to shove, members of any club will close ranks. Last weekend, British Catholics closed ranks around Pope Ratz.

The press were at their obsequious best and seemed to be raiding their Patience Strong Annuals for inspiration. Tough hairy-arsed journos adopted the narrative style of Valentine card poets. They wimped-out.

The crowds lining the streets became “Ecstatic worshipers cheering their hero”. There was “a sea of followers clutching Rosary beads.” The crowd was chanting ” We love you Benedict , we do.” whereas others “wept with emotion.”

Even that hard-nosed “no shit” Scouser and  ace Daily Mirror scribe Brian Reade  forgot what a great writer he is and offered:  “…the pontiff wore a glow brighter than the autumn sun.”. Thankfully, he stopped there because it looked as if we were about to be regaled with “Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels……….”

A collective madness seemed to grip our best commentators. A miracle? No – just the Ratz PR machine and the sort of propaganda that Dr Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of.

Here is a short extract which explains the thinking behind the application of any type of propaganda.  It shows how our collective perception can be changed when emotion triumphs over reason:

“Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (…) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (…) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (…) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning.”  (from “Mein Kamp”  by A. Hitler)

There isn’t another nation in the world which is ruled by sentiment more than the United Kingdom. We were easy prey.

Remember what the Pope said on Day 1 of his visit? He started quite badly because the most memorable Ratzphrase was “aggressive secularism”. That short phrase suggested that we are a nation of religion-bashers – which we’re not. When questioned about that particular phrase, almost every “interpretation” began with the phrase “What  His Holiness meant was……..” That was the beginning of the German Pope’s rehabilitation in the eyes of a sentimentally compassionate nation.

What was overlooked is that conflict has never been caused by aggressive secularism. On the contrary, it is religious fundamentalism which divides us – the sort of religious fundamentalism practiced by mad Mullahs and  infallible Popes.

The Pope is being hailed for “apologising” to FOUR victims of sex abuse and then publicly acknowledging that the Catholic church does have a paedophilia problem. However, he still will not sanction the release the Vatican’s case papers on the HUNDREDS of the church’s victims who have been abused over the years and whose abusers continue to offer Mass to their god and who remain a constant danger to children.

The Pope promised to rid the Catholic church of paedophiles. While he’s at it, he might as well have a go at getting rid of gravity, rain or Vanessa Feltz.

His final act was to beatify 19th century Cardinal Newman. That was another message – this time to the Church of England’s senior clergy. Newman was an Anglican vicar who converted to Catholicism. The very flaky evidence of a Newman-related miracle which is required to create a saint, suggests that this was even more propaganda. A nod-and-a-wink to the growing number of disaffected Anglican priests.

On the last day it  emerged that Pope Ratz enjoyed roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. You may be thinking ” Lumee guvnor…he’s one of us…fancy that!”

Remember…..PROPAGANDA.

(I”m of to play my Popemon game on my new Sony Popestation.)

Pope Benedict – Mile high!

The Vatican crossed-keys emblem is already casting its wide, bigoted and bloated shadow over the United Kingdom – and that was before Pope Ratz had been lifted onto the Popejet clutching his maximum allowance of Holy Water.

A member of the Vatican’s German  High Command has unfortunately been laid low with  a sudden attack of unspecified diplomatic illness. Cardinal Walter Kasper’s indisposition is well in keeping with the Vatican’s policy of avoidance over confrontation. All that Herr  Kasper is suffering from is a mild case of “foot in mouth”disease. He shouldn’t be afraid to accompany Pope Ratz on his junket – we Brits are a forgiving lot,

So what was Kasper’s sin? In a careless moment, he revealed the true slimy underbelly of the Vatican’s views which, as we Brits knew all along, continues to fester in the concrete theological strait-jacket of the Dark Ages.

Britain today, said Kasper, is “a secular and pluralist country. Sometimes, when you land at Heathrow, you think you have entered a third world country.”

He then went on to make remarks about the Church of England , its married priests, ordained women and the Vatfact that the CoE is in just as much trouble as the Roman Catholic Church in spite of its liberal approach.

Yes, Herr Kasper, we Brits are an increasingly secular society and real democracy, does make us pluralist. It’s no good hankering after the good old days when the Roman Catholic Church was the overwhelming power in the “civilised” world.

Let’s get another thing straight with the Vatican Men in Frocks. Here in the United Kingdom, barely 9% of the population is Roman Catholic – that makes the Catholics a minority Christian Sect. We view the old men from the Vatican as an amusing curiosity from a bygone era – a relic.

What really upset Cardinal Kasper is our British tolerance and sense of fair play. A few weeks ago there was unease which soon developed  into whispers.   Then there were dark murmurings which finally morphed into  a very vocal crescendo of opinion directed at the Vatican and its intensely unfair treatment of those poor young people sexually mutilated by what can only be described as Vatican-sanctioned Institutionalised paedophilia.

It is our collective compassion which forces us to speak-out. Not atheism or pluralism.

Make no mistake, Cardinal Casper was speaking for the Vatican, probably under the mistaken impression that we Brits would somehow cower before the Papal red slipper of Catholic oppression – but the Vatican is so out-of-touch that our collective outrage has genuinely stunned  Pope Ratz and his cross-dressing lackeys.

There are three things that we want to hear when Pope Ratz speaks to the assembled great at good in the draughty cave that is Westminster Hall:

1.  He should announce ZERO TOLERANCE  of clerical paedophilia and other Catholic depravities.

2. Confirm that Homosexuals are NOT evil

3. Agree to turn over to the Police all papers relating-to sexual crimes committed by priests. That’s at both Diocesan and Vatican level.

Then go.

STOP PRESS: The Popejet has just taken off!! Unusually, I have opened a comments box on this page so that if you wish, you can express your support and love of Pope Ratz.

 

Pope’s visit.Why?

“Look on the bright side. Jesus loves you.”

It is estimated that the number of Roman Catholics in the United Kingdom is near 6 million – about 9% of the population.  That number has been greatly boosted by various Polish migrations during the last 100 years-or-so.

Catholic Polish immigrants first arrived in the UK during the 19th Century – after the partition of Poland.

250,000 more Poles were allowed to settle here after the end of the Second World War.

It is estimated that in the last few years, since Poland’s membership of the European Union, up to a million more souls have arrived from Poland and settled here.

Without  the latest inflow of Polish Catholics, the number of British Catholics would be of the order of 7% of the population.

Compare that with 45% of us not admitting to any religion, 20.9% Church of England and 17.7% other Christians.

Contrary to popular rumour, only 2.7%  of the population is Muslim.

Most denominations have been pretty stable but in the last 20 years, the Catholic congregation has halved and currently, depending on the “in-out” nature of Polish immigration  to the United Kingdom, the overall number of Catholics is going up and down like a seminarian’s shorts.

This is NOT a Catholic country  and so the £20 million four-day visit of Pope Benedict is shaping up to be not-only a monumental waste of time and resources but  a Public Relations disaster.

Education and free-speech are enemies of Catholicism. We have lots of both over here. Perhaps the Holy See should concentrate on countries where the Fear of God is still a weapon and where the uneducated, hungry and desperate  NEED the Catholic Church to give them their own brand of hope.

We certainly do not.

Pope Ratz? Seemples!

The Polish Pope Jean-Paul ll was universally loved and respected from Day1 – even before he’d spoken to the world. Contrast that to the scary Pope Benedict who pontificates and looks like the bastard child of Heinrich Himmler and an albino meerkat.

His image is that of a rodent-like weirdo in a white dress, silly hat and red buckled shoes.

He neither looks nor sounds pleasant which means that  whatever his message, the static produced by his poor image is so loud that it just about swamps his words.

Pope Benedict  is suffering from Brown Syndrome and it is preventing him from making any real emotional and spiritual contact with his worldwide Roman Catholic flock.

So what is Brown Syndrome? It is a complete dissipation of charm when placed in a public or stressful situation. There are two main symptoms. The first is the adoption of an aggressively autocratic attitude and the physical manifestation is often an inability to smile except by contorting the mouth into a grotesque grin-facsimile.

It has been shown and demonstrated on many occasions that real leadership is not a trick which can be pulled off by anyone.  Those who theorise about “leadership” will trot out the usual stuff about a leader having to be a great communicator with an ability to convey a vision etc etc.

What is very often missing  – and it is often the difference between a great leader and a wrongly-promoted manager  – is charisma or just plain simple charm. It is the only attribute that is impossible to fake.

The goal of any leader  is very straightforward: It is the ability to inspire others to follow. Without charisma, it is an impossibility.

A leader needs to have the ability to inspire. In Pope Ratz’ case, it is too late – even his God would be hard-pushed to help him.

There is also a small element of acting involved in the leadership matrix and that is for the leader to always stay (or act) positive – especially in the face of adversity. Acting positive is a comparatively easy trick.

Unfortunately for Brown Syndrome sufferers,  adversity and pressure both produce negativity and autocracy in equal doses and they certainly will not act positive when feeling negative. It is not in their repertoire. 

If any leader is suffering from Brown Syndrome, no amount of coaching and training will give them charm. They are genetically programmed to be a charisma-free miserable bastard and that is how they remain. There may be moments where the lack of charm is forgotten but when placed under any kind of pressure, they will  always  revert to type.

Observe Pope Benedict. When he smiles, his eyes do not move. They do not move because he is not really smiling. On the contrary,  he looks even more like a meerkat who’s just about to devour a particularly tasty-looking lizard or larva. A “smiling ” Gordon Brown tended to look as if he was on the receiving end of a poorly administered cavity search.

The Pope , like Gordon Brown in his heyday(!) is faking it and because of the telephoto lens and  television close-up, we all know. 

Because a charmless leader is NOT a persuader, he has to rely on a dictatorial approach. Pope Benedict leads by papal pronouncement. Gordon Brown led by skulking behind the curtains of  self-created dogma and intransigence. ” Do what I say….or else!”

Witnessing the emergence of two such similarly ineffective leaders more-or-less simultaneously is a very unusual event. It is the religious and political equivalent of the appearance of Halley’s comet.

Both were (and still are) basically decent men but their very poor image, caused only by their lack of charisma, has ultimately made them figures of fun.

The final nail in Pope Ratz’ coffin will hit us when and if he tries to communicate with us Brits in English.

Countless war films and British actors’ very poor (but funny) attempts  at a German accent mean that as soon as he opens his mouth, we will think of Herr Flick and the Madonna with the big boobies or “Ve haff ways of making you talk”

Let’s hope that his personal advisors are more effective than his publicists.

“Bless you all – except all those gaylords who wrote to the Times”

I’m a Celibate. Get me out of here!

Religious organisations are notoriosly bad at marketing and Pope Ratz’ visit to the United Kingdom is no exception.

There is the usual collection of Ratz tea mugs, T-shirts and Rosaries.

Below is a selection of major missed opportunities which, with the right publicity could have generated MILLIONS!

WARNING: IF YOU ARE RELIGIOUS AND HAVE BEEN ENTERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OR ANYTHING ELSE CATHOLIC, PLEASE DO NOT SCROLL DOWN ANY FURTHER. YOU MAY BE  WILL BE OFFENDED.

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THE SPORTS EQUIPMENT:

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THE WATER:

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THE BOOK:

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THE ACCESSORIES:

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THE ART:

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THE SNACKS:

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THE CARDS:

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THE POPEMOBILE:

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THE POSTER:

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THE TOUR T-SHIRT:

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THE FAST FOOD:

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THE TURIN SHROUD DUVET SET:

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THE TV SHOW:

 

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THE CONFECTIONERY:

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THE CONDOMS:

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THE COSMETICS RANGE:

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THE ELECTRONICS:

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FOR THE YOUNG CATHOLIC: 

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SOMETHING ELSE FOR THE YOUNG CATHOLIC:

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THE ORIGINAL “HOLY SHIT!”: 

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THE MOVIE:

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AND FINALLY:

The Pope and the Dollar

Later this week, many of the faithful will be flocking to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and London to bask in the holiness of…… His Holiness and maybe to indulge in a bit of mild Holy-Spirit-induced crowd hysteria. The Pope is coming to town.

The Pope is an elected head of state but the difference between him and other dictators is that he is infallible – and it’s official. He is infallible on all matters of faith or moral teaching because anything that he says on either topic is assumed to have been handed to him by Divine revelation.  When the Pontiff pontificates – you had better listen because it’s coming straight at you from Big G himself!

The infallibility of the Pontiff was not formalised until the First Vatican Council of 1870. That might be a surprise to many but we have to remember that Roman Catholicism, in common with all other doctrine-based belief systems is constantly (and ironically) evolving its theology.

There are over 2 billion Christians in the world and about half of these are baptised Roman Catholics. Coincidentally, there are about 1.1 billion individuals who belong to the Secular non-religious Agnostic/Atheist group.

There are as many unbelievers in the world as there are Catholics. Each group represents just over 17% of the world’s population. So the argument  ” One billion Catholics can’t be wrong” does not really stack up, especially that as well as over 1 billion non-believers, as there are also  1 billion Muslims and nearly 1 billion Hindus who are  in a “not wrong” group of their own.

Having heard  all the sex-related scandals that seem to have been plaguing the Vatican over that last few years,  we may also be forgiven for thinking that Catholicism is somehow a diminished force and that very soon it will become an irrelevance.

The Pontifical yearbook, “Annuario Pontifico” (think papal Whittaker’s Almanac) states that the  that the world population of Catholics increased by nearly 20 million in 2008/09 .  In that year, the world’s population also increased (to 6.7 billion) but nevertheless, the percentage of Catholics stayed ahead of the game and their proportion  rose from 17.33% to 17.4% of the world’s population.

In that time, the number of Catholic bishops rose to over 5000 and the number  of diocesan and religious priests rose to over 410,000. Interestingly though, nearly half (47%) of priests remain in Europe.

The main increases in the Catholic population have been in Africa and Asia but the overall worldwide number of professed woman Catholics continues a  sharp decline, having fallen from over 800,000  in 2000, to 740,000 in 2008.  In spite of the erosion in women members, the Vatican continues its tradition of misogynistic attitudes and pronouncements. For instance the gravity of the “crime” of ordaining women has been put on a par with clerical paedophilia and both offences are enshrined within the same Vatican statutes.

The most notable declines in women believers were in Europe and America whereas the  greatest increases have been in Africa and Asia.

The global number of candidates for the priesthood rose by about 1% in the year 2007/08.

So Pope Ratzinger is running an apparently  healthy religion, although financially , the Vatican would have benefited more if the “flock-decrease”  had been in Africa and Asia rather than the donation-rich Euro and American states. 

The Vatican’s  income is primarily derived from donations, the most generous donors being United States Catholics. They  contribute nearly $20 million annually to the pope’s coffers but the weak dollar has created a shortfall. This has meant a couple of years of deficit for the hard-working bishops and cardinals.

The Holy See   is a major Rome property owner and luckily, its losses from American donations were largely offset by increased profits from their property portfolio. However, there was some criticism when the Vatican not-only raised rents but also threatened to evict many tenants who could not afford their rents.

Christianity tempered by economics.

The Vatican has a great advantage over its Italian property rivals in that it is exempt from paying any property taxes. This very substantial tax exemption is as a result of a deal put into place in 1929 and continues to be very unpopular with the competition.

The total value of the Vatican’s  assets is estimated at between £4 billion and £5 billion and its annual profit is usually between £10-15 million.

In spite of the relatively healthy state of the Vatican’s accounts, the British taxpayer will be donating up to £20 million towards the Pope’s 4-day visit to the United Kingdom.

Tickets to the Pope’s United Kingdom appearances are between £20-£25, which is  roughly equivalent to a seat at a Premiership football game.

Last year, the Vatican released their latest list of mortal sins which included “Accumulating excessive wealth”.

Blood Diamond.

“WTF?”

I am not a great fan of the banking industry but the reaction of the terminally ignorant to the appointment of the extremely talented Bob Diamond as Chief Executive of Barclays is  well…….annoying.

If an executive has been branded as the “unacceptable face of banking” by Peter “unacceptable face of politics” Mandelson, we should embrace, hug and welcome him.

Bob Diamond has just been appointed chief executive of the retail arm of Barclays Bank. Even our old favourite, Vince Cable – who himself has morphed from our favourite Opposition spokesman to Homer Simpson’s grumpy father has expressed unease at Bob’s appointment.

Since the phrase “Casino Banking” was coined, it seems that management, administrative and motivational skills have taken a back seat to name-calling,  politicians’ prejudices and sloganism.

Let’s get one thing straight – Barclays Bank belongs to its shareholders – (Bob Diamond has £65 millions’-worth of Barclay’s shares) and it is up to the shareholders to decide who runs the business on their behalf. Not a has-been grubby politician such as Mandelson who has spent his entire political life aspiring to be all the things that Diamond is and he isn’t.

As I have said many times before, banking used to be a business populated by uneducated functionaries with the imagination of  retarded isopod.  The revolution came in the mid-80s when a new breed of executive landed on Planet Bank. The MBA generation. They were (and still are) men and women who know their way around a balance sheet and are trained to run a business which makes money. They are what are called “Drivers”. They drive a business forward but in doing so, they do not take prisoners and they most definitely shoot the wounded.

By definition, they would make lousy Social Workers and rarely or never go into politics because they are far too clever. Good business executives rarely enter politics because they are too bright. Even Asda’s Archie Norman only lasted a few years at Westminster before realising that he was out of everyone’s league.

It is too late to whinge because the revolution has already taken place. Deal with it.  Starting in the 80s, the pipe-smoking old duffers with double-barrelled surnames who ran the banks quickly became an endangered species. Now (thankfully) they are almost extinct.

The so-called “old school” banker is dead.

Eddy Weatherhill, the former shopfitter and well known “bank victim” who is chairman of the self-established Banking Advisory Group has said  (referring to Bob Diamond’s appointment) that “the lunatics are taking over the asylum.” Mind you, he is always ready with a pre-prepared quote since he tried (and failed) to sue Lloyds Bank for £1million.

Vince Cable, the (Business Secretary) has dutifully been trotting out tired and worn-out phrases from his lexicon of banker insults as have many other politicians who themselves could not run a sweet shop.

So who is Bob Diamond? He has many attributes which we Brits do not appreciate but which many envy. He is American, he’s clever (Connecticut MBA), he has had an exceptionally successful career in the finance industry, he is rich (£100 million in the bank) and he has a very happy family life and most important of all, he is an excellent golfer (8 handicap).

Bitter  British politicians have presented Bob Diamond as some sort of dodgy American snake-oil salesman and not the cerebral corporate entrepreneur that he undoubtedly is.

He has a reputation as a great manager and motivator of Barclays most important asset – its people.

I have spent much of my professional life in banking and have met several Diamond-types. They are the management equivalent of a roller-coaster. Sometimes terrifying but ALWAYS exhilarating and if you do your job, they are the most generous bosses that you could ever work for.

Twenty-odd years ago, when I was  Citibanker, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Selander. He had been assigned to a small area within Citibank – EMEA – Europe , Middle East and Africa.  He was responsible for retail banking , Diners Club and insurance.

What did he know about British insurance? Nothing. What did he know about another Citibank acquisition, Scrimgeour Vickers which was a tired old stockbroking company operating out of a condemned building in the City. Nothing. There were many other aspects of his job that he had no experience of – and that is the whole point!

Firstly NO-ONE is ever really ready for that next promotion and secondly, if you are a good manager and leader, the actual product that your business is distributing is irrelevant. Whether it is pink teddy  bears or retail banking, the management skills that you need are   identical. Don’t let any ex-councillor, ex-barrister, ex-lecturer or ex-shopfitter Member of Parliament tell you otherwise.

Bob Diamond will do well. He’s a member of a very small and exclusive club of corporate leaders that SHOULD be running  a modern  bank. (We’ve had cheap British imitations of this rare breed but where are they now? All that  they have left is an exceedingly large pension and a knighthood).

The Perverts’ Club

 

The Vatican has revised its in-house rules to deal with clerical sex abuse cases , targeting priests who molest the mentally disabled as well as children and doubling the statute of limitations for such crimes.

Abuse victims said the rules are little more than administrative housekeeping since they made few substantive changes to current practice  and what is needed are bold new rules to punish bishops who shield paedophiles.

Women’s ordination groups criticised the new rules because they included the attempted ordination of women as a “grave crime” subject to the same set of procedures and punishments as those for sexual abuse.

The Vatican-issued rules, which cover the canonical procedures and penalties for the most serious sacramental and moral crimes,  confront  one of the worst scandals in recent history: The revelation of hundreds of new cases of priests who raped and sodomized children, bishops who covered up for them  and Vatican officials who stood by passively for decades.

In 2003, the Vatican streamlined its 2001 procedures for disciplining abusive priests, allowing them to be defrocked without a lengthy canonical trial if the evidence against them was overwhelming. The new rules codify those procedures into church law.

“That is a step forward, because the norm of law is binding and is certain,”  Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor  told reporters .

“It does not solve all the problems,”Scicluna said. “It is a very important instrument, but it is the way you use the instrument that is going to have the real effect.”

While the bulk of the document codifies existing practice, some new elements were introduced: priests who possess or distribute child pornography and those who sexually abuse developmentally disabled adults will be subject to the same procedures and punishments as priests who molest minors. (One little publicised aspect of priestly depravity is the sexual abuse of the mentally ill).

The new rules extend the statute of limitations for handling of priestly abuse cases from 10 years to 20 years after the victim’s 18th birthday. The statute of limitations can be extended beyond that on a case-by-case basis. Such extensions have been routine for years but now the waivers are codified.

That simply means that if a victim did not report abuse within 10 years of the event, they forfeited their rights. That time limit has now been extended to 20 years. There are those who say that there should be NO  statute of limitations in these cases.

The new rules make no mention of the need for bishops to report clerical sex abuse to police, provide no canonical sanctions for bishops who cover up for abusers and do not include any “zero tolerance” policy for paedophile priests as demanded by many victims.

“The first thing the church should be doing is reporting crimes to civil authorities,” said Andrew Madden, a former Dublin altar boy who filed the first public abuse lawsuit against the church in Ireland in 1995.

“That’s far, far more important than deciding whether a criminal priest should be defrocked or not,” he added. “The church’s internal rules are no more important than the rules of your local golf club.”

Scicluna defended the absence of any mention of the need to report abuse to police, saying all Christians were required to obey civil laws that would already demand sex crimes be reported.

The Vatican noted that bishops were reminded of this duty in a set of informal guidelines issued earlier this year and that its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex crime allegations, was working with bishops’ conferences around the world to develop more “rigorous, coherent and effective” guidelines.

“If civil law requires that you report, you must obey civil law,”Scicluna said. He added  “It’s not for canonical legislation to get itself involved with civil law.”

Victims’ groups and others have accused the church’s internal justice system of failing to deal credibly with abuse allegations, allowing bishops to ignore complaints in order to protect the church and keeping its canonical trials secretive. So secretive that victims believed they couldn’t go to police.

Barbara Dorris, of Survivors’ Network for Those Abused by Priests, said the new guidelines “can be summed up in three words: missing the boat.”

“They deal with one small procedure at the very tail end of the problem: defrocking paedophile priests,” she said. “Hundreds of thousands of kids, however, have been sexually violated (by) many other more damaging and reckless moves by bishops and other church staff.”

“Pope Benedict XVI should have taken the opportunity to threaten bishops who shield abusers and tell bishops to stop lobbying legislatures against extending the statute of limitations on abuse cases, “ said Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, which compiles data on clerical abuse.

“Of course it’s right that the viewing of child pornography be recognized as a grave crime inside the church,” she said in a statement. “But practically speaking, no child will be safer because a secret church tribunal finds a priest guilty of viewing pornography.”

But Bishop Blase Cupich, head of the U.S. bishops’ child protection committee, said the new instruction brings a clarity to the process that will allow church leaders around the world and Vatican officials to resolve abuse claims more quickly. He said he was encouraged that lay people with expertise in church law can serve on church tribunals for accused priests.

Cupich rejected complaints that the instruction didn’t go far enough. By including offences involving child pornography and victimizing mentally impaired adults, the new document will help dioceses worldwide confront abusers, he said.

“It’ll send a very clear message to the bishops around the world that this is the way it’s going to be done,” Cupich said. “It makes it clear and also provides more resources for the quick adjudication of these cases.”

But with so few real changes, Scicluna said he didn’t expect a flood of cases to come forward as happened in 2003-04 .

The congregation was headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger from 1981 until he was elected pope in 2005.  Its procedures call for canonical trials or administrative punishments which can result in a priest being dismissed from the clerical state.

Recent efforts by civic authorities to investigate abuse allegations have again cast a spotlight on the Vatican’s in-house penalties for acts that are criminally prosecutable in most of the world: Just last month, police raided the Brussels archbishop’s residence and seized boxes of documents as part of an investigation into clerical sex abuse amid concerns the Belgian church was protecting paedophiles.

Ordination of women.

The rules list the attempted ordination of a woman as a “grave crime” to be handled according to the same procedures as sex abuse – despite arguments that grouping the two in the same document would imply equating them.

“The idea that women seeking to spread the message of God somehow defiles the Eucharist reveals an antiquated, backward church that still views women as unclean and unholy,”said Erin Saiz Hanna, executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference which is an organisation that works to ordain women as priests, deacons and bishops.

The hard-line conservative Pope Benedict has said the question of ordaining women – often raised as an antidote to the priest shortage and to bring about more gender equality – is not up for discussion.

The Vatican in 2007 issued a decree saying the attempted ordination of women would result in automatic excommunication for the woman and the priest trying to ordain her. That is repeated in the new document, adding that the priest can also be defrocked – a permanent punishment, whereas an excommunication can be lifted if the person expresses sorrow for what he or she did.

Scicluna defended the inclusion of both sex abuse and ordination of women in the same document as a way of codifying two of the most serious canonical crimes against sacraments and morals that the congregation deals with. Also included are other sacramental crimes, including desecrating the Eucharist and – for the first time – heresy, apostasy and schism.

Clerical abuse is “an egregious violation of moral law,”Scicluna said. “An attempted ordination of a woman is grave, but on another level: It is a wound, it is an attempt against the Catholic faith on the sacrament of (holy) orders. So they are grave, but on different levels.”

However, it still apears that the Vatican views the ordination of women to be as grave a crime as paedophilia. It also reinforces the view that the Catholic church is administered by  misoginystic and (theoretically) virgin old men.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the dean of Germany’s bishops conference, welcomed the new guidelines as a clear signal stressing that cases of sexual abuse of children and youths have to be thoroughly investigated and punished.

“The injustice of the past is being cleared, and the conclusions for the present and the future are being drawn,” he said in a statement.

Benedict’s native Germany has seen a flood of abuse allegations surface and even his own tenure as archbishop of Munich has come under scrutiny since a paedophile priest in his archdiocese was allowed to resume pastoral work while being treated.

In spite of all the rule and procedural changes, it still seems that the Vatican is unable to acknowledge the fact that it is running an organisation which has been infiltrated by paedophiles. Many of its transgressors are not (as the church believes) priests who have  “given-in to temptation”.

These are predatory paedophiles who are masqueradingas priests, that is to say, they are priests in name-only. They have chosen the sanctuary of the Catholic church for two main reasons. The  first being a steady stream of potential victims and the second being a deperate organisation which has just about reached the stage when it will recruit anyone who tells them that they want to “serve God”. The real bonus is that because of a rapidly decreasing priestly population, the Catholic church  will go to almost any length to protect its employees. They continue to regard damaged children as no more than collateral damage.

For a paedophile or even an average sex maniac, this is truly heaven.

Revised Vatican rules: http://www.vatican.va

 

God’s Word and Selective Belief

Brian:  “All right! I am the Messiah!”

Followers:  “He is! He is the Messiah!”

Brian: “ Now, fuck off!”

[silence]

Arthur: How shall we fuck off, O Lord? …”

 

In her American radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger, an observant Orthodox Jew, said that  according to Leviticus 18:22  homosexuality is an abomination and cannot be condoned under any circumstances.  

The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a distinguished US resident :

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law.  I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.  When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination … End of debate.

 
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations.  A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.  Can you clarify?  Why can’t I own Canadians?
 
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.  In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
 
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24.  The problem is how do I tell?  I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
 
4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9.  The problem is my neighbors.  They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.  Should I smite them?
 
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
 
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.  I don’t agree.  Can you settle this?  Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
 
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight.  I have to admit that I wear reading glasses.  Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
 
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27.  How should they die?
 
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
 
10. My uncle has a farm.  He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend).  He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot.  Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
 
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
 
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
 
Your adoring fan,

 
James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and SpecialEducation University of Virginia.
 
(It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian )

Where did it all go wrong?

THE OLDS.

Let’s put the seniors in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.  This way the seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks. They’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they’d receive money instead of paying it out. They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance. Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them. A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education. Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ’s and legal aid would be free, on request. Private, secure rooms for all, with an  exercise outdoor yard, with  gardens. Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls. There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly monitored. 

The “criminals” would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8 pm, and showers once a week.  Live in a tiny room and pay £900.00 or more per month and have no hope of ever getting out. Justice for all we say. 
  
 

COWS

 

Does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Lincolnshire? 
And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow. 
 
 
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS


The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or Parliament, is this :

You cannot post ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’, ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery’ and ‘Thou Shall Not Lie’ in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians ….. It creates a hostile work environment.

Public Sector Pensions Fun!

My main interests have always been politics and financial services. I have had many messages reminding me that I have  not indulged in any “bank bashing” for some time. I predicted the 2008 collapse of the banking industry and once current “stress tests” have been applied to our banks, I anticipate the collapse of yet more of the little darlings – but only those  who are truthful and who are not continuing to hide their potential and actual bad debts. The banker’s favourite phrase ” We are rebuilding our balance sheets” has become almost meaningless – probably because it has no real meaning. The banks continue to play games with the politicians as well as with  their customers. (I use the word “customers” advisedly.  An old prof of mine once told me that only prostitutes have “clients”). However………

 Notwithstanding all that, I thought that I would temporarily leave the poor bankers alone and take a look at a current “hot topic” which here in the United Kingdom is the conundrum that is the Public Sector Pension.

The Government is making increasingly strangulated noises about the Public Sector “pensions deficit”. More and more experts are confirming that we cannot afford to continue paying these pensions,  we will need to retire later, the Final Salary pension would be best-based on an average salary rather that the salary in the last year of service etc. etc.

All very boring and totally incomprehensible to the average person with a life (who is not a pensions expert).

We (the taxpayers) are constantly being encouraged by the government to set-aside an amount for retirement. The sad fact is that many of us are not able to save at all  for our retirement. One of the reasons being is that United Kingdom plc is  being managed by people who are not really fit for purpose – politicians.

It has become increasingly noticeable over the last thirty years that the current model of politician is finding it increasingly difficult to deal-with what has become less of an administrative function and much more a business role. That’s irrespective of their particular shade of politics.

“Pensions”is one of those  very technical subjects which is totally incomprehensible to most.  To put it simply: Pensions to the average politician are what Credit Derivatives are to the average bank board member. A mystery.

Let us try and shed some light on Public Sector Pensions.

Every family in the United Kingdom is already  setting aside about £900 per year towards a pension. Unfortunately it is not for themselves – it is for retirees who once worked in the Public Sector.    We are funding Public Sector  Retirements and will continue to do so for ever.

Since 1997, an additional 650,000 taxpayer-funded jobs were created under the New Labour Government and it has been calculated by Neil Record, a former economist to the Bank of England that within 30 years, the cost of  pensions for those who have retired from the public sector  will be over £75 billion per year.

There is another misconception – which is that somewhere, there is a fund or “pot” which provides pensions for retiring public sector employees. There is no such fund.  Hence the panic.

Public Sector pensions are a “put and take” scheme. We taxpayers put in the taxes and they take their pensions out of those taxes. There is no huge pension fund. 

That’s acceptable for as long as sufficient tax revenue is filling the Exchequer coffers every year. But with more and more people retiring on higher and higher pensions, we could reach a situation when the country (taxpayers) will not be able to sustain such a large pension expenditure.

A similar thing happened with the State (or Old Age ) Pension. As recently as 25 years ago, the State Pension was funded purely out of National Insurance contributions – it was a “put and take” scheme. In fact, that is what National Insurance was designed for. The millions collected in National Insurance were immediately paid-out to Old Age Pensioners. 

Similarly, Road Tax was designed to provide revenue for the upkeep of the highways – another example of a simple “put and take” scheme.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, everything became destined for the Exchequer and the accounting system became just about unmanageable. Instead of many small “targetted” buckets, everything was destined to the one very large Exchequer bucket.

The average annual public sector pensioner receives  £4000 but there are  those within the system who manage to extract very substantial amounts. The so called “Final Salary” Pension is quite simple but very open to abuse – and I am aware of several acquaintances who have abused the system to great effect.

This is how it works. A final salary scheme is one where you retire on a certain proportion of the income in your last year of service – the year just before you retire.  There are several variations but here’s how what  a “60ths scheme” looks like:

You receive a 60th of your final salary for every year of service. So, if you worked for 40 years and remained in the same scheme, you will receive 40/60ths of your final salary. That’s two-thirds.

So, if you’re a senior civil servant on say, a £100,000 salary in your last year of employment(your final salary), you will retire on a pension of two-thirds of £100,000 which is £66,666 per year.

However, there is a very easy way to fiddle the system. Many working in the public sector (and this applies mostly to senior management) are given inflated salaries in their final year of service, purely in order to boost their pension.

For instance the civil servant on £100K may be given an additional title and (on paper) more responsibility (on paper) in his or her  last year and given a £20,000 pay increment for that one year. That would make their salary £120,000 and the annual pension £80,000.

Simple and it happens on more occasions than you can imagine.

It would be very useful if the government carried out an audit of how pensions and corresponding salaries have been calculated in say the last five years but one thing is for sure – the Final Salary (or Defined Benefits) Scheme has reached the end of the road.

That is why many pensions experts are recommending pensions which are based on average income rather than final income. Cheaper and less prone to abuse.

An alternative pension is what is sometimes known as a Money Purchase Scheme. That is when your money is invested on your behalf – usually on the stock market. You take the risk because you have no idea how much that investment will be worth when you retire. These schemes are always good in a rising  market but nowadays in a volatile, soon-to-fall-again market, they do not look as attractive as they used to.

So how did we end up in this pensions mess?

Governments allowed the stock market to become a gambling medium instead of a barometer of the economy. That produced a massive disincentive for many to invest into  pension plans.

Secondly  – and this is a very recent development – we elected a Labour Government in 1997.

They dispensed unsustainably generous pensions within the public sector in the vain hope of garnering several million easy votes.

The only solution now is to decrease the number of public servants and scrap all final salary schemes – or possibly amend them in such a way as to make them sustainable. 

You may also now begin to understand why the government is so keen to raise the retirement age to above 65.

Finally, here are some figures:

There are 6 million Public Sector workers: 30% NHS, 25% Education, 20% Police.

17% of the Private Sector workforce is in a Final Salary Scheme , as opposed to 76% of the Public Sector workforce.

Popetastic Visit!

Cardinal Newman

The Popiscopalian plane will be landing in Scotland on 16th September 2010, so we only have about two months in which to absorb all the generally accepted Catholic mumbo-jumbo, concepts, ceremony and prejudices. So much confusion and so little time.

This will be the very first State visit by any pope. That is why Ratz will be met by the Queen and why the originally estimated cost of £4 million will be nearer to £12 million. The pope is so popular that he will be paraded in the bullet-proof popemobile whilst being protected by an army of police, Special Branch and night-club bouncer types wearing overcoats. The overcoats will be hiding (rather appropriately for a German pope) Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machine guns  and Glock 17 semi-automatic pistols.

After he has met Her Majesty at Holyrood House, he will celebrate an open-air Mass at Bellahouston Park near Glasgow. During the Mass, the will perform the same trick which is performed by thousands of Catholic priests every day. No –  not that trick, it is the miracle of Transubstantiation.

“What’s that?” I hear you ask. Quite simple really – it is the section of the Mass where the pope will  turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is the clever bit: During transubstantiation, although the bread and wine are changed to the flesh and blood of Christ, they ” appear ” to remain unchanged! It’s a comparatively simple trick requiring no special equipment. I’ve tried the trick myself by transubstantiating my Blackberry into a cheese and pickle sandwich. It seemed to work, except that the sandwich tasted of plastic.

The changing of a slice of Warburton’s into JC may seem a bit extreme and some say that they do it as a result of what Matthew reported in the Bible (26:26) While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

The transubstantiation concept was not actually part of the Mass until it was adopted by the Lateran Council of 1215.

Ever since, certain Roman Catholic priests have been using Matthew 26:26 as a chat-up line to their own (sometimes very) young disciples. “Take, eat; this is My body. Yes, yes  yesssss!”

After the pope has gorged  on the flesh and blood of Christ, he will be driven to the airport and another pope-plane will take  him to London.

His first scheduled meeting on Friday 17th September will be with some schoolchildren to celebrate Catholic Education. We’re not sure how meeting young kids helps  but everyone should have a hobby and children are very popular with priests.

There will then be the inevitable meeting with Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The meeting will take place at Lambeth palace and no doubt there will be the usual orgy of ring-kissing and dress-envy. The Church of England is viewed by the Vatican as a small breakaway sect which is mostly populated by the English middle classes, whereas the Catholics still specialise in the illiterate and poor of the world.

Perhaps Dr Rowan will give Ratz a few hints on how to attract the right sort of person into the Catholic congregation. After all, we do live in a credit card society, so there is little point in attracting the poor and those whose credit rating prevents them from having the benefit of a credit card with a decent limit. A major line in the Vatican Budget spread sheet is the multi-million rapidly-rising  “Compensation” line so the pope will glean all the marketing tips that he can.

Once again the pope will remind the Archbishop that it was a pope who gave Henry Vlll the title od “Defender of the Faith” and that it could always be withdrawn – especially as the Queen’s eldest, the mad Prince Charles was talking about calling himself  Defender of the FAITHS (plural) in order to be “inclusive”. The Pope is very aware that including Jews and Muslims  and other false faiths would only spell trouble and a possible decrease in revenue.

The faith which the English Royal family is supposed to be defending is, in fact the Roman Catholic faith. The young king Henry Vlll invaded France and   defeated the  Scottish forces at the Battle of Foldden Field (in which James IV of Scotland was killed).  He then  wrote a treatise denouncing Martin Luther’s Reformist ideals. The pope was so impressed that he awarded Henry the title “Defender of the Faith”.

Pope Ratz will then be wheeled away to the great stone barn that is Westminster Hall and will address Britain’s great and good. Let’s hope that his lectern isn’t placed under that roof-leak in the middle of the hall. Hopefully, the organisers will decorate the walls of Westminster Hall with tapestries and murals of something inappropriate. Maybe  deck the whole place out as a facsimile of the 1938 Nuremberg Reichsparteitag – but that will no doubt depend on whether or not Germany wins the World Cup.

The administrators at Westminster are not known for their subtlety. Who can forget Jacques Chirac cutting his Westminster Hall speech short as he noticed the walls bedecked with dramatic images of France’s greatest military defeats at the hands of the British.

Perhaps the pope’s visit will produce works of art depicting the various beheadings and stabbings of British Cardinals and Archbishops.

The pope’s final duty after addressing both Houses of Parliament will be the celebration of evening prayers at Westminster Abbey.

The pope will not be travelling very far because his first gig on Saturday 18th September will be Mass in Westminster Cathedral followed by an open-air vigil in Hyde Park. That will give the poor people as well as protesters the opportunity to make themselves heard and these will probably be the hours when the pope is at his most vulnerable.

Sunday 19th September is the highlight of his visit and he will be celebrating yet another Mass – this time it will be at Cofton Park near Birmingham The Mass is scheduled to start at 10am and last approximately two hours and be attended by  70,000 or more pilgrims from many countries.

The only item on the Mass agenda is the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman who was a 19th century priest who worked among the poor . He died in Oratory House, Rednal (which is very near Cofton Park) on Tuesday 19 August 1890.

After the Mass, Cardinal Newman will be “Blessed” which is just one level below that of a full-blown saint! In order to achieve sainthood, it has to be shown that a genuine miracle occurred as a result of the particular saint’s intercession. Newman was declared Venerable in 1991, he will become Blessed on September 2010 and will be declared Saint at some time in the future.

 There are three stages to sainthood: Venerable, Blessed and Canonisation to the rank of Saint are similar to our own system of reward: MBE, OBE and CBE.

There has been a long-standing campaign for the Canonisation of Cardinal Newman and the miracle which is being cited as evidence of his sainthood is Newman’s miraculous healing of Deacon Jack Sullivan from spinal stenosis. Unfortunately, there are many who argue that there was nothing medically inexplicable in Sullivan’s recovery, especially as he had received medical treatment, specifically, a laminectomy.

The Catholic church needs that positive outcome because it is through the medium of a miracle that a saint has  ‘literally proved his or her influence with God by persuading the Almighty to perform just one ‘testable’ miracle.’

It’s all very silly and yet another exercise in finding evidence AFTER the verdict – but then again, that is the way the Catholic church has always conducted itself.

So, lots of ceremony, words, man-dresses, incense-burning, gold thread, chanting, pointy hats, general merriment and fun (or what Catholics perceive as fun). But….. there remains a very “Grand elephant dans la salle”.

There is no delicate way to put this but the Number One question whenever there is a gathering of priests is invariably the matter of priests sodomising young boys, rape, assault and mental torture – inflicted over very many years.

The pope has agreed to a private meeting with people who have suffered sexual abuse by Catholic priests and will “fit it in”  sometime during his visit.

Let us hope that these sad people who have been buggered and beaten by the Vatican’s employees are still not so Catholic-brainwashed that they believe  an “afterthought”  meeting with this odious little  man is in any way an honour.

The honour is all his.

 

 

Too much F*****g Democracy!

“Where was I?”

Listening to Nick Clegg bang on about Proportional Representation is marginally less interesting than the door-step rant of a Jehovah’s Witness, an article about the England football team or a Ricky Gervais “comedy” show.

By the fifth minute, I had the urge to cut-off my ears and nail my scrotum to a Rottweiler’s food bowl. Enough!

Why don’t we just stop pussyfooting about, vote and then divide the votes among the candidates. I don’t care who represents me, as long as he is honest, sensible and can he can string a coherent sentence together. If it’s a lady, a hefty pair of breasts is always a welcome bonus. Most of us don’t vote for policies – just people.

Shallow? Yes, we all are. Why? Because I and many millions  of others are tired of the various colours and flavours of democracy. In addition, we are bored witless with the many corresponding hues of economics which are constantly pushed down our already gagging throats.

The United Kingdom is not for steel-hard political decisions or “definites”. As far as the decision-making process is concerned, we are flabby. The announcement that there will be a referendum next May which will give us the opportunity to decide how we are going to vote , will be nothing more arousing than a measure of the apathy-level of about 50% of  a near-comatose electorate.

Imagine the spoiled ballot papers! No point in giving instructions because many (those who cannot complete the Sun Crossword and think that Sudoku is a Japanese fish dish) will be concentrating more on the biscuit and cup of tea that they were told to expect after they’d voted. ” Oh….. that’s when you give blood is it….?”

It’s no good Clegg saying,  “We have a fractured democracy, where some people’s votes count and other people’s votes don’t count”

That’s a finely-crafted soundbite but the fact remains that electoral voting of any kind can never be  fair. For instance, the vote of an economics professor or political expert carries exactly the same weight as that of a moronic 18 year old who votes for a candidate who has a nice face. The vote of an Oxbridge graduate carries the same weight as that of an an illiterate. What’s fair about that?

The old dears who can only just manage a cross should not be expected to choose more than one candidate because to them, that’s meaningless and far too complicated.

We already have an imperfect system – so what should we do about it? Yes, lets give it to the Liberals and make it really complicated.

The first-past-the-post two Party system is fine for us Brits. Proportional Representation is for tofu-munching, tree-hugging continentals. Successive coalition governments push politics further and further towards the centre. Politics should not be about compromise – it should be abour principles and beliefs.

Here in the United Kingdom we have enjoyed generations of class warfare and the entire political system is as divided and tribal as our society. That’s the way we like it. It’s not perfect but it works for us.

We don’t want all the colours of the rainbow – we want just two: Red and Blue, Labour and Conservative, Democrat and Republican…,.. whatever you like to call it. Both parties have already moved well into the centre of national politics and we already have our token Green. That’s enough to satisfy most members of the of the electorate – and they’re the ones who matter.

We already know that our Labour Party is excellent in Opposition but useless in Government. That has been proved many times. The converse is true of the Conservatives.

The United States enjoys exactly the same situation. There, the Republicans are the natural party of government.

Currently, we have the ugly spectre of Liberals shacked up with Conservatives. Most politicians – including many Labour, would have formed an alliance with Satan himself if it meant throwing that posturing deluded pompous ass out of No 10 Downing Street. The collateral damage to Labour (and a price worth paying) was a lost election and the unedifying spectacle of a Lib-Conservative “arrangement”.

Let’s just leave it at that.

Cameron and his Conservatives will be campaigning for First Past the Post with redrawn boundaries and the Cleggites will continue to bleat about Proportional Representation, which also comes in many delicious flavours. The current Liberal favourite flavour of PR system is the Alternative Vote – but there are many others. 

I am certainly not going to rank candidates in order of preference. An election is an opportunity to vote for the candidate that I would like to represent me.  I am not remotely interested in voting or “ranking” someone that I know nothing about and I certainly would not be able to choose between a Liberal or a Labour candidate, or a BNP or Monster Raving Loony candidate.

Fixed-term parliaments? Fine. 600 MPs? Fine. Similarly-sized  constituencies? That’s OK too as is the new rule that 66% of MPs will have to agree to a dissolution of Parliament.

But please do not frig about with the voting system and certainly do not hold the referendum on the same day as elections for the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies.

Pupil Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister (narf! narf!) has been given a project by Cameron the headteacher. It will keep him busy and out of the way of important matters of State and will make him feel important. 

Next May, When the country votes to retain the First Past the Post system, the Liberal-Conservative coalition will twitch several times before being kicked into touch.

Then the Conservatives will be able to govern properly. It may be a struggle at first as they will be in a minority. Nevertheless, after the Libs have switched off their top-of-the-range laptops, handed back the keys to their palatial offices and Jaguar limos, then are once-again consigned to the corner of politics,  their short adventure will have ended.

It will have  inconvenienced the Conservatives for a short time but it will all have been worth it.

Marcial Maciel – Catholic extraordinnaire!

“Do you want to love God, boy ?”

You may be forgiven for not knowing the name Marcial Maciel but when you hear just a few facts about him, you may make a pretty accurate guess. It is the fact that you will be able to guess this gentleman’s profession that makes it all the sadder.

He was   unmarried  but had affairs with several women and fathered at least one child. There were reports that he fathered at least six children. He was found guilty of raping underage boys and abused two of his own children. In addition he was a drug addict and accusations of financial irregularities and sexual abuse followed him all his adult life.

Yes,  Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado was a priest and one of his greatest admirers and supporters was Pope John Paul ll.  It wasn’t until  2006 that the present pope sacked Maciel from the priesthood. Maciel died in 2008 after a life of child-rape, homosexual incest, drug addiction, fraud and scandal.

Official reports of his sexual predilections first surfaced in the fifties but as early as 1938, there was a report of the “noise” that he was making with children when as an 18 year-old seminarian, he was teaching them religion in his own home.

Maciel was the grand-nephew of  the Mexican saint, Bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia andit is said that the episode of the screaming children contributed to the Bishop’s death because he had been heard shouting at Macielabout his conduct with the children the day before he died.

In 1936, at the age of only 16, Maciel had received a “calling” to form a new religious order and by 1941, he had formed the Legion of Christ. This order developed over the years and eventually its lay companion Regnum Christi was formed.

In 1944, Maciel was finally ordained as a priest and over the next sixty four years, he continued to rape and abuse young pupils and seminarians under the cover of the cover of the Legion of Christ (LoC) which recruited young boys to the priesthood and thus was able to generate a steady flow of victims.

There is little doubt that the Vatican was aware of Maciel’sactivities but their judgement may have been affected by the fact that both the LoC and Regnum Christi made substantial monetary donations to the Vatican as well as gifts to its high-ranking officials.

The sexual abuse cases within the Legion of Christ were generally known and investigated but more often than not, either proof was lacking of accusations were withdrawn.

In 1956, Macielwas accused of drug abuse but after a Vatican investigation, he was found innocent. At the same time, two young seminarians had accused Macielof  sexual abuse but later withdrew their allegations because of an oath that they had sworn in which they promised never to speak ill of Father Maciel.

Subsequent accusations were made against him – from the 1970s onwards. He was accused of abusing young children, seminarians and congregation members. Eventually,  nine accusers  dared to come forward, all  of whom had  become respected professionals . At the time, the allegations were investigated by the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Their leader was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The allegations of sexual abuse which the future pope investigated  took place over at least three decades. The original investigation was closed and wasn’t reopened until 2004 as a result of an increasing number of victims coming forward plus a media campaign. In 2004, Maciel was forced to step down as General Director of the Legion of Christ.

It wasn’t until 2006 that the Vatican published a communiqué which confirmed that Maciel had been instructed to retire to a life of  “prayer and penitence”.

Maciel died in 2008 but the Vatican investigation into his and the Legion of Christ’s activities continued.

The Vatican department which was tasked with that investigation was headed by Cardinal Rode who is not-only a friend of the Legion but has received gifts from them. The Legion has also paid for several of his holidays.

However, finally in May 2010, the Vatican denounced Maciel and confirmed that Macielhad surrounded himself with a culture of subservience, obedience and silence and a double-life “devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment.”

The story of Maciel may haunt the Vatican for many years to come as it is an example  of how the Vatican has consistently ignored evidence of child rape andabuse. Even from beyond the grave, Maciel still has connections within the Vatican’s virginal walls.

Pope Ratz investigated him very half-heartedly and only renounced Maciel after irressistible pressure and overwhelming evidence – but even that was done somewhat ungraciously. Maciel was never excommunicated or in any way censured – he was merely stripped of his priestly duties and told to “go and pray”. That seems terribly lenient – especially as after Maciel’s death, the pope more-or-less said that Maciel had been masquerading as a priest.

The ongoing relationship between Maciel and the Vatican has recently been highlighted by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. He is probably the most outspoken Catholic priest on the subject of priestly abuse.

He has accused the Vatican’s former  Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano of “stonewalling”  and causing “massive harm” to victims of  several  priestly sex abuse scandal – especially during the reign of pope Jean-Paul ll.

For instance, Sodano’s attitude towards sex and the Catholic church was recently examplified when he dimissed reports and accusations of clerical abuse as “petty gossip”.

Sodano used to be pope  John Paul ll’s  No. 2 and both  of them were great fans of the pervert Maciel.   Sodano who is still a great centre of influence within the Vatican is accused by Cardinal Schoenborn of purposelly hampering an investigation of the Legionnaires of Christ.

This week, Cardinal Schoenborn is to attenda private audience with the pope – probably for a carpeting.

Pope Jean-Paul’s fascination with Maciel now makes it difficult for Pope Ratz to carry out one of his first promises to the Catholic world after his election. He promised to canonise John-Paul.

The pope has to produce a very finely-balanced judgement. Drug-addicted pervert Maciel was so highly thought of that he accompanied Pope John-paul on his Mexico visits in 1979, 1990 and 1993. 

In 1991, Maciel was appointed by the pope to the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, The same year, Maciel was appointed a member of the Interdicasterial Commission for the just Distribution of Clergy. The following year, the pope asked Maciel to attend the General Conference of Latin American Bishops and in 1993 he became a member of the Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life and their Mission in the Church and the World.There were many other appointments until 1994, when the pope asked Maciel to serve in Rome as Chancellor of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.

Pope Jean-Paul ll was almost in awe of Maciel and collaborated and sought his counsel on many occasions.

For 50 years Maciel had been constantly accused of abuse and misappropriation, yet through bribery of many high-ranking Vatican officials, his friendship with Pope Jean-Paul ll and his donations to the Vatican, he was protected. He became untouchable.

There is little doubt that he had cast a Rasputin-like spell over the pope  and his sidekick Cardinal Angelo Sodano (who is now Dean of the College of Cardinals).

Pope Ratz really has a conundrum wrapped in an enigma when he decides on whether the former pope is a fit person to be elevated to sainthood.

The evil Maciel is probably sniggering  from wherever he is and the sound of his laugh will continue to clatter and reverberate against the Vatican windows for years to come.

Over the years, the Vatican has  hoped that the ongoing Maciel affair would finally fizzle-out but this week has seen the emergence of yet another Maciel-related case.

A fresh  lawsuit has been filed against the Legionnaires of Christ.  The legal action claims that  Maciel used the Legion’s funds to support his family and that for many years, Maciel sexually abused a  boy  from when theboy was aged only seven. The boy would be his travelling companion over the years when Maciel travelled on the church’s and the Vatican’s business. The boy was raped many times.

The boy is named Jose Raul Gonzalez Lara and is the offspring of one of Maciel’s mistresses. 

Maciel’s own son.

 

 

 

 

 

They KNOW it’s all over.

WHERE HAVE THE HEROES GONE?

 

Collectively, we are the rheumy-eyed liver-spotted old duffer who gazes wistfully into his pink gin and sighs to his companion, ” Yes. Those were they days. You know, I used to cut quite a dashing figure then.  By god, I was one for the ladies. Couldn’t keep them away……..”

The companion nods sagely but feels sorry for the tired old man who has nothing but his memories to sustain him. An old man whose future is now in the past. The threadbare collar on his shirt, the shiny knot on his Guards tie and worn jacket all tell you that his future has already expired.

When the future disappears, it is the out-of-focus memories of a once vividly-coloured past which will sustain him. Every time the old man recalls the good old days, they become more intense, more in-focus and more embellished.

The summer of 1966 has passed into legend but every now and again, we try and re-ignite THAT football game against Germany which, over the years, has acquired a mysticism which we often despondently refer to as the “Spirit of 1966”.

Just like the old duffer, we are beginning to re-draw those days to suit ourselves. The trouble is that anyone with the vaguest memory of that day in now at least 55 years old and has spent the intervening years as a spectator of  that now-traditional English football cycle:  

1. Media outcry leading to sacking of the England manager.   

2. New Manager (Messiah) is hired.

3. England wins lots of friendlies creating national hysteria and media frenzy indicating that we’re going to win and that this is our best chance since…..wait for it……1966!

4. We’re dumped out of the (any) footnball competition to the accompaniment of another media frenzy but this time there is the added vilification of the incumbent manager.

5. Go to 1.

Why is 1966 is always our benchmark? Because we haven’t won anything since. Yet we perpetuate the myth and because we’re English,  we somehow keep captive that arrogance which tells us that we are the rightful winners – even though ALL the evidence is to the contrary.

Here’s a bit of perspective: 1966 was just twenty years after the end of the World War 2. The Sound of Music beat Dr Zhivago to the Oscar. Four  giants of the 21st Century were born: Teddy Sheringham, Rick Astley, Gordon Ramsay and David Cameraon. Walt Disney died and Strangers in the Night by Frank Sinatra was at No 1 in the Charts. Alan Ball was signed by Everton for a record fee of £110,000, Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and it was  the year of the Aberfan disaster. John Lennon announced to the Evening Standard “We’re more popular that Jesus now.” Petrol was 5.3p per litre and the average weekly wage was about £23.oo. You could buy a detached house for £5000.

The sainted Alf Ramsay was England manager and the average footballer’s wage was £100. His Holiness Bobby Moore earned just £140 per week. Although that was about six times the average wage, today’s  Premier League footballers  earn more than 15 times the amount earned by the real “Golden generation” of 1966 who lifted the World Cup, which is nearly 50 times the present average wage.

We’ve had THIRTEEN England managers in the 45 years since 1966  but only FIVE in the 45 years leading up to 1966. It is as if post-Alf Ramsay, our football authorities imagine that a change of manager is all that is needed for success. Once again, there is no evidence to support that theory.

Very soon, the England Manager will be sacked, the media will adopt a favourite – this time it will probably be Harry Redknapp and the overriding cry will be for an ENGLISH manager. (Remember the  Sven Goran Eriksson to Steve McClaren changeover?). This  is the interval during which we move from patriotism to jingoism. 

The Football Association, however, will probably appoint someone called Carlos Fandango or Pepe le Pew and the cycle will recommence.

So what do they lack –  those prancing prima donnas who masquerade as the England football team? What is missing? There are clues. France and Italy appear to be suffering from the same disease.

Call it motivation, call it lack of direction. In fact, we can call it what we want.

None has the HUNGER to win and there isn’t a manager on the planet who can change that.  Here’s the double whammy: Our overindulged footballers are not proud to be representing their country and are paid disproportionately.

Footballers now earn more in a week than the average person earns in a YEAR. The average annual wage of an English footballer in the top flight is now in excess of £1 million.

Take John Terry’s wage as an example. His pay shows an eye-watering 100,000% increase from Bobby Moore’s £140 per week.  Inflation from 1966 to 2010 has been approximately 1300%.

In 1966, when Moore and his Band of Brothers pulled on those red England shirts and stood majestically in the July sunshine as  the National Anthem played, they had tears in their eyes. Those were tears of pride in their country and tears of joy for having been given the opportunity.

The current shambles of no-hopers just doesn’t care. Half of them don’t know the words to God Save the Queen and they certainly do not feel any incentive to win.  Their tears are the snivelling crocodile tears of self-pity as they slink from the pitch without removing their shirts in case someone notices the yard-wide yellow streaks up their spineless backs.

The team of 1966 earned their celebrity on the Wembley turf and we should hang our heads in shame in allowing acknowledgmant of their glorious achievment to go unrecognised for so long – some of the 1966 squad did not receive winners medals  until June 2009. Five members of the actual team which played in the 1966 World Cup final  (Cohen, Ball, Wilson, Stiles and Hunt) were handed MBEs in 2000 – 35 years  after their triumph.

There’s no such problem for the current assemblage of Muppets. They are already celebrities and know that in two weeks time the media will continue to regale a gullible public with photographs of them sunning  themselves on a West Indian beach while they tell   interviewers what an over-long season it’s been and how “tired” they are.

The illiterate overpaid prima donnas will once-again be forgiven while their manager is thrown to the dogs, still wondering what happened.

 

 

Belgian shockolates!

 

 “Time for your penance”

“Germans have no sense of humour”, “Americans don’t understand irony”, “Italians will shag anything with a pulse”, “English are uptight and constipated”,  ” French have an unwarranted  superiority complex” .

National stereotyping is often neither pleasant nor accurate but  always contains a grain of truth and is always based on something  concrete and very often  represents a topical view.

Belgians, for instance used to be known as maybe a bit lacking in culture and are still regarded as stupid by the French – in the same way that we in the UK have Irish jokes and Americans have Polak jokes, and the French have Belgian Jokes. 

There is a comparatively recent semi-humourous aphorism:  “All of Belgium’s  famous countrymen are either imaginary or sex-offenders.”

That saying is there for two reasons:  Hercules Poirot and Belgian child rapist Marc Dutroux.

Dutroux was known as the Beast of Belgium and is now serving a life sentence for a series of child kidnappings, rapes and murders between 1995-96.  The Dutroux story is the most horrific example of child rape and murder in Europe since the war.

He kept his victims locked in a dungeon which he had built in his basement. While Dutrox was in prison for a motoring offence, two  eight-year-old girls starved to death in the dungeon.  The girls, who had been raped and tortured perished because  his wife (who knew the girls were there)  could not be bothered to feed them.

The Dutroux case may not have sealed the Belgians’ reputation but for the incompetence of the authorities in catching him.

The Belgian authorities’ mismanagement of the hunt for the rapist and murderer was  heroically ineffective. As a stream of young girls were kidnapped and murdered, there were numerous tip-offs to the police that Dutroux was selling girls. However, he remained free and continued his kidnapping spree.

The Judge in charge of the investigation was finally forced to resign in disgrace because of his gross incompetence. His name  was Wathelet and he has since been appointed as a judge to the European Court of Justice.

Dutroux was finally captured in 1996 and convicted in 2004. He is currently serving life imprisonment for the kidnap, torture and sexual abuse of six girls – four of whom he murdered. There may have been many more.

The case caused such an outcry in Belgium that the judicial investigation system was changed after a protest by over 300,000 citizens and  several high-profile resignations.

Dutroux claimed that he was part of a much larger Belgianpaedophile ring but no further arrests were made.  Meanwhile, the Belgian nation hung its head in shame. 

Subsequently, Luxembourg magazine  THE INVESTIGATOPR wanted to publish a list of 50 Belgian paedophiles but was prevented from doing so by an emergency injunction served by the Belgian authorities. They had   persuaded a Belgian court  to agree that a decision to publish was an  abuse of human rights and that there should have been a presumption of innocence.

Paedophilia is still a particularly sensitive issue in Belgium, following not-only the Dutroux case but a string of other high-profile child abuse cases in recent years.

When Madeleine McCann disappeared, there were several sightings in Belgium and the police were working on a tip-off that a Belgian paedophile ring had ordered the kidnap of Madeleine.  It has been reported that someone connected to this group saw Madeleine and took a photograph of her. The purchasers agreed that the girl was suitable and Madeleine was taken.

Dutroux  had links in both Gent and Bruges which is where there the several reported sightings of Madeleine McCann occurred. In total, there have been over 100 reported sightings of Madeleine in Belgium.

However, in  Beyond the Dutroux Affair, it was described how a cabal of highest level players, including judges, lawyers, top bankers, prime ministers, priests and aristocrats were involved in child abuse  networks and because of their networking and power, they found it simple to hamper any investigation.

Deservedly or not, Belgium’s reputation as a paedophilia centre was established.

In April 2010 , the Roman Catholic church reported the resignation of Roger Vangheluwe, the bishop of Bruges. He had admitted sexually abusing a young boy.  In a letter read out by Archbishop Mgr. André-Joseph Léonard he said:

“Before I was a bishop and for a certain time afterwards I sexually abused a young boy close to me…………The victim is still scarred mentally.”

He added, “This has marked the victim forever. The wound does not heal. Neither in me nor the victim.”

 Vangheluwe , 73, was Belgium’s longest serving bishop. The Vatican accepted his resignation.

Yesterday, the headquarters of the Belgian Catholic Church were raided by the police after more accusations of child priestly sex abuse.

The cleric at the centre of the police investigation is disgraced Bishop Roger Vangheluwe’s close friend, Cardinal Danneels.

The police action is doubtless as a result of  Archbishop Mgr. André-Joseph Léonard urging abuse  victims to take their cases to the authorities – after they had been persuaded that the authorities would take their complaints seriously.

30 officers sealed-off the former Cardinal’s palace. Embarrassingly for the Belgian authorities,  this took place just as a meeting of bishops was taking place in the presence of a Vatican’s Ambassador to Belgium. 

Simultaneously, the police raided raided not-only central church offices yesterday but searched the home of Cardinal Danneels, who resigned in January 2010. They took away papers and a computer. In 2005, Cardinal Danneels was mentioned as a possible future pope.

Daneels who was well-known for his very liberal views on paedophilia. He was Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium from 1979 until 2010. His views and the views of other Belgian bishops are best demonstrated by his tolerance to a  catechism textbook entitled  Roeach.

Roeach contained a  drawing which showed a naked  girl saying: “Stroking my pussy makes me feel groovy,” “I like to take my knickers off with friends,” “I want to be in the room when mum and dad have sex.”

The book also shows a naked young boy and girl who are “playing doctor” and the little boy says: “Look, my willy is big.”

The textbook caused outrage and a press debate but it was nevertheless tolerated by the Belgian Catholic church and its liberal bishops.

It would seem that the depravity of the Catholic church is not limited to priests but reaches right into the church’s hierarchy. It could well be that the Vatican’s conspiracy of silence is beginning to make more sense after the gradual unravelling of the Belgian Catholic abuse story.

Hopefully this will be an occasion when obstruction, silence,obfuscation and denial (the Catholic church’s very familiar tools of choice) are not allowed to be deployed and that secular law is finally brought to bear. 

It will all be thanks to one man:  Brussels’ Archbishop, Andre-Joseph Leonard who has publicly stated that there must be zero-tolerance towards cases of child abuse.

Finally!

RIP English football.

Capello and Friend

We football fans need heroes, we need supermen to represent us and to show the world what we’re made of.  We believe that we are the chosen ones. So where are our English heroes? Where are the latter-day longbowmen of England? What happened to them? Have they become too lazy and spoiled? Have they had it too easy? They have to be found before it’s too late.

I have loved football all my life and many of my early memories are of  playing not on well-drained and manicured lawns but on pitches with penalty areas so boggy that it was an effort to lift ones boots out of the ground. The stinging sensation on a frozen thigh as a water-logged ball smashed into it – and the less said about heading a wet ball, the better. Chilblains as you stepped into a hot shower after 2 hours running about in horizontal sleet.

There was a sliding tackle in the 60s which I remember so clearly to this day.  I only remember it  because I snapped my thumb in an iron-hard frozen rut as I tried to slide-tackle the opposing team’s too-fast centre-forward. Our trainer rushed onto the pitch, grabbed my thumb and decided that it was maybe just dislocated. He then proceeded  to manoeuvre it as you would a gear lever on a non-synchromesh gearbox.

Once my screaming had died down, he told me not to be a pussy and to carry on. By the time the game was over, the pain had gone because luckily, I had lost all sensation right up to the elbow and my hand had turned greeny-grey through a combination of frost and pain. By the end of the game, my concentration was solely on my long-gone stomach muscles which were aching from the forty minutes-or-so of non-stop pain-induced retching.

Half-times used to be  spent in the middle of the pitch.  Even when the temperature was sub-zero. there would be orange segments, sometimes so sour that your scrotum would involuntarily contract in the  genetically-programmed  “flee” reflex.

The changing rooms always smelled of feet, piss and disinfectant and there were many occasions when we sat after a game, our hands so frozen that we could not even begin to untie our laces. I even recall occasions when we would stand in the shower fully clothed in our football strip, shivering as we waited for the thawing process to kick-in.

Another memory which still makes my teeth itch, took place on a sloping, frozen pitch somewhere in Leicester. I was running very fast towards a left-back who had the ball at his feet. I had already  realised that there was little chance of me stopping because the stopping distance on a frozen field a 15 mph is more-or-less infinite.  My purple legged adversary took two quick steps back and hoofed the 2-lb water-logged semi-frozen mud-spattered ball, presumably in a vain attempt to hoist it over my head. Whatever happened, I knew that a collision  was inevitable.

That’s the last thing that I remember until I found myself supported by two team-mates who’d dragged me to my feet and were holding me under the arms. The trainer then proceeded  to pump me up and down as he screamed into the gale:  “He’s only winded. He’ll be OK in a minute!”

When the ball had hit me it clobbered me in the testicles so hard that I had temporarily blacked-out. However, the momentum had still carried me full-on into the full-back and I was indeed winded by the impact – but it was the excutiating pain between my legs which was making me puke.

I spent the next few days lying on my side with one of my mum’s very nice embroidered cushions between my legs with nuts the size of hand-grenades.

The faces of my old team mates are still there in my head and I can still remember goals that I scored decades ago. Sometimes there were tears when we lost but most of all I remember the wins. THAT is why football can be so addictive and such joy. The “ups” are so intense that you want to take them home to bed.  The “downs” cause intense pain. They hurt so much  because when you lose a match and lose it properly, you are spent. The energy has been burned off,  you self-esteem is nowhere and you can hardly lift that pint as you drink to forget.

The young prancing English prima donnas with their silk suits, hotel-houses, large fish tanks, orange wives and Ferraris know nothing of the “coarse” football which we played and which even professionals played a version of, until quite recently.

They have become a freak show, an obscenity, a band of pampered illiterates. Many were plucked from their schools before they could write properly or construct a sentence (and it shows) because they could kick a ball – because they had “talent”.

Nevertheless, youngsters still look up to them because they are heroes. There was a time when I imagined myself pulling on a white shirt with three lions on the chest. Why? Because I too wanted to be a hero, a superman – a god. I wanted to feel unashamed pride in my country of birth.

Unfortunately, our present  footballing heroes are men of straw with hollow insides. The whole country is trying to decide why. We don’t understand – even now,  after the queue of media psychologists has given its last TV and radio interview.

Why do Englishmen “choke” at the slightest hint of success. The answer is surprisingly simple.

The overpaid ball-kicking thickos are mostly working-class scumbags who have retained the world-famous English class-inferiority complex – added to which, they are stupid. ( Don’t believe me?  Listen to any post-match interview)

The mock-Elizabethan mansion, electric gates etc are there because these are essentially working-class dunces who need to show-off. It is exactly the same principle which turns a lottery winner from a normal well-balanced factory worker (remember those?) into a raving Ferrari-driving nutter.

They are all seeking esteem from others. They need that esteem because their own real self-esteem is so low.  They cannot elicit esteem from others through the force of their intellect because they have none. Neither can the majority enjoy the admiration of others because of their sparkling personalities. The trappings of wealth are all that they have.

Their confidence flows from their self-esteem, which needs the esteem of others as a catalyst.

The present England team in South Africa looks lost and totally lacking in confidence.  Add to that the fact that they have been celibate for a few weeks and all you have left (for all intents and purposes) is a bunch of depressed eunuchs wandering around a field in their underwear kicking a ball – when they can get hold of it.

If  the incomprehensible Gerrard, thuggish Terry, drooling Lampard  et al could arrive and be greeted like heroes as they are at Wembley, if they were  confident that everyone knew them and possibly seen their photo-spread in Hello magazine or read about them crashing their Lambo into a tree  somewhere in Cheshire – they would be happy and they would have their self-esteem intact and firing on all twelve designer cylinders.

Unfortunately  the Vuvuzela-toting South African crowd doesn’t know most of them from a bar of soap. Here, they are just footballers. The small pink, beer-bellied contingent of English fans cannot make itself heard, it cannot cheer its heroes and so the life-blood of the English players egos has been temporarily interrupted.

Ah, you may ask – but what about all the others? What about the Brazilians, the Koreans and the rest? Why are they not “choking”. Well, strangely enough, many of the over-pampered ones have choked. Just look at France and Italy. It is the ones who had to fight for their football, the ones who came from the stench of  the slums , shanties, favellas  and townships who are playing with both their hearts and minds.

They do not need the mental crutch of adoration.  To them the B-flat of the Vuvuzela is a clarion-cry and not a distraction.

The English manager and Postman Pat impersonator, Fabio Capello is floundering. He cannot massage his charges’  egos or deliver a Churchillian address because he cannot speak English.

Can you imagine Fabio doing a Henry V – mind you, rent-a-moron wouldn’t understand what he was talking about anyway:

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

The solution? Stop believing that England can ever win the World Cup. We don’t deserve it.

p.s. Just to demonstrate the “sprit” off the English team: Did you notice how many English players put their arms round Robert Green or consoled him in any way after he’d made that dreadful goalkeeping error against the USA?  That’s right.  None. They all walked away and left him to suffer on his own.

Halliburton, BP, Obama?

 “This is what you call milking an oil spill”

The first thing that our television companies do when there is a disaster somewhere in the world is to send a team of reporters, maybe set up a studio and pump bulletins at us. They search for human interest stories to titillate us as we “ooh and aah!” at the tragedy of it all.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill , if the American version of events is to be believed, has affected thousands of inhabitants, ranging from fishermen  and hoteliers to whores and oil rig workers. So where are their stories? Why aren’t the BBC , ITV and all other Media outfits over there interviewing and filming? Is there a news blackout? Is there really a “no-fly” zone over the spill? Are the rumours of people with cameras being arrested really true? Why has it been assumed that BP was responsible – because for all we know, this could have been an act of sabotage which would automatically affect BP’s liability? Why does the Goldman Sachs name keep popping up?

Have  the current CEO and Chairman of BP been set-up?

Let’s rewind  to the beginning and attempt to establish some links, unusual behaviour patterns and personalities.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill happened as oil-company and BP contractor Halliburton which is the world’s second-largest oil services company was completing the final cement work on the exploratory well beneath Deepwater Horizon. 

As we know, there was a failure, gas escape, explosion , followed by the ongoing oil spillage.

Halliburton has not had the same volume of publicity as BP, although the whole failure happened on Halliburton’ watch.

What has not been publicised is that just over one week before the Deepwater Horizon spillage, Halliburton had negotiated the purchase of Boots and Coots , which is the world’s largest oil-spill cleanup company. The company deals with fires and blow-outs on oil rigs and oil wells. You may recall that it was Boots and Coots which extinguished a large number of fires in Kuwait at the time of the first Gulf War. Currently, the Halliburton/Boots & Coots deal is under scrutiny for “possible breaches of fiduciary duty and other violations of State Law”

Coincidentally, in the week prior to Halliburton’s acquisition of Boots and Coots,  investment bank Goldman Sachs sold 44% of its BP stock. There is a strong rumour that Goldman Sachs is now heavily invested in Halliburton.

It may also be worth mentioning that former US Vice President Dick Cheney is a former CEO of Halliburton and that the company also has links to the Bush family.

It is Halliburton’s name which appears on the majority of the lawsuits filed since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.  Many  businesses affected by the catastrophe claim that Halliburton is responsible for the disaster.

Halliburton has been awarded many “no bid” US Government contracts in the Middle East and the Balkans and has the distinction of being the only company to be referred to by Osama Bin Laden as a  a major company benefiting to the tune of  “billions of dollars” from the various Middle East conflicts.

Currently, Halliburton is under investigation after the serious oil spill in the Timor Sea off Australia in August 2009. The investigation is in respect of   “improper cementing.”

Yesterday we heard the rather clumsy statement from the current BP chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg as to how he sympathises with the “small people”. Nothing sinister there – only a language problem. Mr Svanberg’s appointment was announced on June 25th 2009 but he did not fully take up the reins as BP chairman until 1st January 2010. His predecessor was Peter Denis Sutherland.

Peter Sutherland was chairman of BP from 1997 until 2009 and is also chairman of Goldman Sachs. He is also on the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group.

His most surprising role however is as principal financial advisor to the Vatican. He is known as the Consultor of the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Apostolic See. Unsurprisingly, it is investment bankers Goldman Sachs who steward the Vatican’s billions.

There are two more players in this saga, one of whom may help to explain what is effectively a media blackout in the Gulf of Mexico. 

PNFYC (the Partnership for New York City) is the the world’s leading petrochemical-pharmaceutical-biotechnology consortium. LLoyd Blankfein is co-chairman of PNFYC, together with Rupert Murdoch who is  founder, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation. 

Oh yes, Loyd Blankfein is CEO at Goldman Sachs and holds shares in both BP and Halliburton. President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign received $994,795 in donations from Goldman’s political action committee and Blankfein has been a regular visitor at the White House.

The rather over-zealous attacks on BP by Obama appear to mirror a degree of panic among the movers and shakers in the global oil village and in financial circles close to the American government.

There is blame to be apportioned for the Deepwater Horizon spill but currently it looks as if  mysterious and powerful people are pulling the politicians’ strings and are simply using the American President as a mouthpiece for the unacceptable, shady faces of politico-capitalism and the  American establishment.

Obama compared the Gulf of Mexico spill to 9/11 – and he was right.  Too many unanswered questions and early talk of some kind of conspiracy.

 

 

 

 

 

14 deacons? That’s a net 9.

” For what I am about to receive……..”

Next Sunday (June 20th), in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Ratz will ordain 14 deacons for the Diocese of Rome  announced the The Vatican Information Service .

The ordination Mass will begin at 9:30 a.m.

The Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, as well as the auxiliary bishops of the diocese, the superiors of the seminaries, and pastors of the deacons will concelebrate the Mass with the Pope.

Meanwhile, four priests from the Gallipoli area of southern Italy had been suspended by their bishop monsignor Domenico Caliandro following claims of abuse. Another priest from Caravaggio near Cremona was also suspended.

Monsignor Dante Lafranconi, bishop of Cremona, confirmed that the priest had been suspended and asked to attend a “rehabilitation course” and also pointed out no official police complaint had been made.

Perhaps other states which have paedophile problems should contact the Catholic church and ask them to what a paedophile rehabilitation course consists of and whether they have a similar course for gay priests. It would also be interesting for them to say why child rape is not considered to be a crime worthy of police involvement.

The increasing reportage of clerical paedophilia  and subsequent priest defrocking must be worrying the Vatican Human Resources department. They really will have to “up” their recruitment. The current average age of a priest is 60.

Earlier this month the Vatican’s chief prosecutor, in dealing with abusing priests, warned that they “faced the fires of Hell for their sins.”

That’s all right then. We’ll leave it to Satan and his crew to dish out the punishment. 

Mind you, if all rapists and child defilers are going to be spending an eternity enjoying the fires of Hell perhaps we shouldn’t bother even trying to catch them. We couldn’t ever match that sort of punishment.

Funny though that when a priest is screwing a child, he feels that the experience is worth an eternity of burning in Hell.

Presumably, these priests do believe in Hell and er…. um…. God?

World Cup depresssion

“The (round) Jabulani ball”

The way that the  World Cup is shaping up for England does not look too good. You know, the West Ham goalie with a ball-catching problem, a centre-forward who does not score goals, ITV presenter Adrian Chiles who has the air of  a garage mechanic who’s waiting for the Samaritans to call back and thick football pundits who are in permanent cliché mode:

 “It’s a big ask” ;  “Watching Brazil play is just like watching Brazil play”; “Only just offside”; ” It’s their usual passing game.”; “Set their stall out”;  “Clinical Finish”; “The referee was right on that occasion”; “Spirit of 1966″;  ” He’s facing a fitness race”;  “All credit to the lads;  “Quality; “That’s what the World Cup is all about”; “At the end of the day”;  ” The ball hits the back of the net” (Actually – it’s the front of the net. If it hits the back, it isn’t a goal!  etc. etc.

Let’s hope that the pundits don’t run out of clichés half-way through the tournament – otherwise, we’ll be in real trouble.

I could lip-read Rooney referring to an American opponent as a “boundah and a popinjay” and on another occasion I’m sure that he said that their goalkeeper was “a thoroughly bad egg” and “not quite the sort”. However, it was amazing how he made each phrase look as if it started with the letter “F”!  Now that’s real talent.

During interviews, Jamie Carragher still appears to be speaking Swahili.

So the new Jabulani ball is too round, is it? Robert Green, the England goalkeeper would probably benefit from a Velcro ball with corners and a couple of handles on it.

They say that he was so depressed after the USA game that he threw himself under a train. Unfortunately it went under him.

Lastly – the Vuvuzela , a  plastic trumpet which plays B♭(admittedly not everyone’s favourite note)  has come in for a bit of unnecessary criticism from both players and spectators. They have obviously forgotten the good old days of the wooden football rattles, which made the fillings in your teeth resonate and fall out by half-time.

During the England-USA game, I found the constant buzz of the Vuvuzela quite soothing. It helped me to sleep.

If the definition of a cliché is a word or phrase which has become stale though overuse, here are some racist examples which pundits and commentators use to stereotype: Germans- efficient; Latin Americans – temperamental; Black players – panther like; Asians-  industrious; English – shite. 

 

“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Someone shut Obama up.

“Oil – an American addiction”

President Obama is  on a 2-day visit to Mississippi, Florida and Alabama and thanks to his speech-writers, he has brought a new “angle” with him. In between talking tough and hoping to disperse oil with generous sprayings of testosterone, he struts  between  oil-covered Louisiana beaches   in no-nonsense-macho display mode.

He limbered up with “In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11, I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come.” 

He wants to  to  “Move forward in a bold way in a direction that finally gives us the kind of future-oriented … visionary energy policy that we so vitally need and has been absent for so long.”

“One of the biggest leadership challenges for me going forward is going to be to make sure that we draw the right lessons from this disaster,” he said.

It’s all  “Me, me, me, I, I , I.”

All that his audience needs is someone to clean up the f*****g oil and hand them some cash.

Never mind the musings and politico-philosophical ramblings of a president regretting that he ever said that the “buck stops here”.  When he uttered that phrase, he obviously had no idea that the oil would still be gushing  weeks after the original accident.

So,  has he  only just realised that the United States is a hopeless oil junkie?

Obama said he could not predict whether the nation would transition completely from an oil-based economy within his lifetime but that “now is the time for us to start making that transition and investing in a new way of doing business when it comes to energy.”

We cannot blame him for taking this opportunity to pre-empt what will not doubt be a tranche of  populist  pseudo-environmental legislation designed to take everyone’s mind off  the moribund state of the US economy, the unemployment, the poverty, the sliding dollar and the continuing debate about his proposed (and unsustainable) healthcare system.

“Mainlining” crude has been an American problem for years. Perhaps regular visits to Petrolheads Anonymous might do the trick but there is absolutely no chance of the USA weaning itself off oil and its products . When the Earth has been sucked dry, they’ll grow it.

9/11  – or as I prefer to call it, 0.818181  is becoming a great symbol for American politicians – especially when they need a shortcut to their electorate’s emotions and outrage. Personally, I don’t understand the reference because I’ve found them all to be very friendly. Oops! Sorry! I was thinking of 7-11! But for those who are interested, July 11th is America’s 7-11 day!

Obama is showing himself to be a “talker” and not a “doer”. The fact is that he is 100% dependant on BP tackling the problem.  He can stand on the shore bull*******g while BP sorts the problem out but all that his misinformed words  achieve is to bite the BP hand that feeds crude oil to a very confused nation.

If he imagines that the risk of bankrupting BP will somehow speed the process up, then he knows even less about economics than we all suspected.

As a matter of interest,  an American economist pointed out this evening that the colossal value of the reserves that were being accessed by BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, relegates the cost of any Gulf of Mexico clean-up to  minor collateral damage. The value of the oil reserves is measured in TRILLIONS.

So please Mr President, cut the crap and show some support for  your BP Americans who are trying to solve your problem.

Obama – Oil spill is Cameron’s fault.

 

Q:  What do you call something black, thick and  crude which ruins lives?

A:   Mr President.

The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has now cost BP £1.1bn ($1.6bn) and the pressure on the oil giant is likely to intensify over the next few days.

Over 51,000 claims have been submitted since the MC252 oil well blew up in the Gulf of Mexico in April, and more than 26,500 payments have already been made, totalling over £42 million ($62m).

Meanwhile, the REAL (American) culprits appear to be playing possum and allowing BP to take all the publicity and blame.

The Build-up of methane in the Deepwater Horizon rig which caused the explosion , fire and subsequent out-of-control spillage  could have been prevented if the valve which had been installed to cut-off the oil flow, had operated properly. The explosion-prevention valve was manufactured and (supposedly) maintained by American oil contractor Cameron International and it was reported to have sprung a leak several hours before the explosion.

BP has not been known as “British Petroleum” for over 10 years, since its merger with Amoco but President Obama still continues his anti-British rhetoric.

The companies standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the dock alongside BP will all be American but meanwhile it continues to suit this misinformed President to mud-sling at the British people.

Cameron International has halted all of its oil exploration activities presumably because there are other such valves on other rigs which now present a danger.

The Cameron BOP (Blow-Out Preventer) is not new technology as it was first designed and produced in the 1920s.

BP’s senior vice president for the Gulf,  James Dupree has blamed the Cameron BOP for the explosion on Deepwater Horizon which killed 11 people and continues to spill 40,000 barrels per day into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Last month,  Democrat member of the Congressional Committee,  Bart Stupak  reported that the blowout preventer “apparently had a significant leak”. He said that the BOP  had also been modified in “unexpected ways,”  and may not have been strong enough to shut the well.

Meanwhile Jack Moore, the Director, President and CEO of Houston-based Cameron International says that until the BOP is properly examined, it is “too early” to blame his company for the catastrophe.

It seems that Obama owes someone an apology and would probably benefit from some coaching in order to learn to engage his brain before opening his mouth. Sadly, he, like BP is beginning to look a little accident-prone.

The most effective thing that he could do would be to adopt a positive stance and invite BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward to the White House and not  try to make a martyr of him.

Finally, I bet the CIA is currently working hard to establish a link between Cameron International and our Prime Minister.

Holy Homo!

There has been another mealy-mouthed apology from Pope Ratz. Another apology without acceptance of either liability or accountability.

Satan wasn’t mentioned but the Vatican  has already   indicated that he is implicated. Otherwise, how could the Vatican possibly accept the well-established fact that Catholic priests  have been buggering children for several hundred years. It seems that “vulnerable” priests succumbed to Satan while god wasn’t looking.

Below is the latest apology offered and recited by the pope. The apology offered was for the “little ones” with the addendum of a rather ambitious promise that “such abuse will never happen again.”  Such extravagant words  seem to imply that Satan has been defeated so, in effect none of us need worry.

Pope Ratz has tamed Satan. Job done.

These are the words spoken by Ratz during last Friday’s mass which was attended by about 15,000 priests who were marking the end of the Roman Catholic Year for Priests.

“We, too, insistently beg forgiveness from god and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again…………In admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey,”  pledged 83-year-old man of the world and geriatric virgin, Pope Ratz. 

“Accompany priests along their journey”?  It always helps if you have someone alongside to hold your cassock – prevents it from becoming too creased.

No-one has yet put-forward any indication how the Catholic church intends to weed-out any paedophiles or rapists during the priest-selection process. Young men who attend a church school, followed by a seminary are unlikely to be assessed accurately before they celebrate their first mass  and are  then let loose into communities containing all that irresistible soft young flesh.

You never know. There have been occasions when  that Satan has shown himself to be a pretty crafty customer and theoretically could put temptation before them.

This is said to be the pope’s most direct apology for the many thousands of cases of clerical abuse. However, surely it would put everyone’s mind at rest if the Vatican told us what the problem is. Is it a poor selection process? Is it the unnatural state of celibacy? Perhaps a predilection to homosexual paedophilia is compulsory?

Whatever the problem is, it is time for the Catholic church to acknowledge it. Otherwise, it will continue to treat the symptom and not the root cause.

Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) have said that  they aren’t buying the latest apology.

“We’ve heard apologies over and over again. It’s not a credible apology until you’re  willing to do something about it,” said SNAP   coordinator Peter Pollard.

SNAP says they want to see more responsibility from the Catholic hierarchy.

“Accountability helps a lot, when someone is accountable it’s a lot easier to forgive,” Pollard said.

Meanwhile a Catholic spokesman has said,  “We agree words aren’t enough and that’s why the Catholic church has put in comprehensive programes to make sure abuse doesn’t happen again.”

However, the Vatican has not indicated what those “programmes” are. Furthermore, the Vatican, Pope Ratz and his band of men in dresses and pointy hats need to let us know how many perverts are still celebrating mass every Sunday. Perhaps a register of priests who have offended would be a good start. A sex offenders’ register is good enough for the laity – let’s have one for the priesthood. The United States has Megan’s Law, the United Kingdom has Sarah’s Law, so why not a Benedict’s Law?

Whatever the effect of the Pope’s words, some Catholics are hoping they’ll at least see some action. One would have thought that by now, the pope and the Vatican would have already received some sort of word or guidance from their god. They have to understand that the Catholic hierarchy cannot be allowed to continue to lurch from inquiry to inquiry whilst young children continue to be molested and screwed senseless by  institutional depravity supported by management misinformation and intransigence.

The general consensus seems to be that something needs to be done and it needs to be done NOW. 

Obama and his jingoist morons

The REAL face of American BP

This is directed at all Americans who (obviously) can read and those whose computer screens are not too obscured by their own drool or by greasy Big Mac smears as they run their finger along the screen while they read.

American have an image of the Brits as an  “arrogant” race which thinks that it is always right. Our image of the Americans is much kinder. We think of them as uneducated, fat, loud, opinionated and parochial – for instance, only 20% of them have passports.  

The REAL American mentality is now coming to the fore as a result of the BP oil spill. The primary American reaction to anything is anger and aggression. We are currently seeing their aggression directed at the Brits as the result of an oil-accident. There were no English present when the accident occurred. In fact, there wasn’t an English oil-worker present within 3000 miles. The oil  spill was caused by American corner-cutting and stupidity. 

American aggression is a way of life – just look at the wasteland that was Vietnam. That was preceded by Korea and before that the Yanks were very happy to sit on the fence and watch Europe being raped by the Nazis. That is until that slight misunderstanding when the Japanese bombed their fleet at Pearl Harbour. These days, chasing terrorist ghosts and drinking Coke in Afghanistan are their chosen pastimes. 

Because of their crassness, Americans do not think or deal in facts – just the headlines. (It must be the big writing). For instance, the latest piece of misinformation that their slavering mouths have been fed is some nonsense about British pensions. This is a fact: The maximum that pension funds invested in BP will suffer by is about 0.5%. That’s it.  We have all been the victims of hysterically deluded and fact-lacking editorials in British Newspapers – notably the Daily Express.

While the misguided and uneducated Yanks are baying for British blood, the value of BP assets in the States is effectively zero. That suits us fine. It’s not our fault. It is the fault of their big-mouthed president who is currently busying himself papering over the cracks of his own shabby administration. To him, he BP “scandal” must seem like the cavalry which has suddenly appeared on the horizon in order to draw the attention of the drooling masses away from the difficulties that he’s having in pushing any legislation through the cumbersome and racist American political system.

President Obama has the attributes and makings of a great President of the United States – in spite of his politics. More reason therefore for him to stop behaving like a dick in respect of the BP oil spillage. He appears to be relishing the fact that he is dealing with a wounded BP CEO. His White House ivory tower affords him the opportunity to take on the mantle of the playground bully who is happy to insult the weakened adversary because he has the buffer of (temporary) public opinion on his side.

For a change, he and his people have a common enemy. Currently  his PR people have him flip-flopping backwards and forwards to the oily sea – for what reason? It’s a  pity that the previous administration could not show the same enthusiasm after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. It is nearly five years since the hurricane devastated New Orleans on 29th August 2005. Believe you me, as it was an act of God and  if there was a heaven, the USA would have bombed it by now in retaliation.

So what are the facts?  British Petroleum merged with AMOCO in 1998. I won’t explain what “AMOCO” stands for but let’s hope that at least some Americans can work it out. The merger between British Petroleum and Amoco resulted in a company named BP – although it could quite easily gone the other way. BP is listed on both the United Kingdom and U.S. stock exchanges. Some parts of the company are even owned by Russian billionaires.

BP is no more British than Obama is  a full-blooded “African American”.

Obama is “summoning” the chairman of BP. What is he going to say to him? “Bring your flippers and a bucket of concrete.” ?

Oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico have increased dramatically under the Bush and Obama administrations. The federal Minerals and Management Service has recorded some 330 significant spills – those over 2,100 gallons – since 1964.  Nearly half have taken place during  past 10 years.

Walter Hang head of the American Toxics Targeting has said ” There have been thousands of spills from 1990 to 2009. While many were small, the sheer number of incidents is mind-boggling”

The spills  include scores of oil platforms and rigs that were destroyed by hurricanes, wells that “lost control”, deep-sea risers that became detached or severed, boats that collided into oil platforms and sank. The Deepwater Horizon spill was a major accident just waiting to happen.

America has 5% of the world’s population and uses 25% of  the world’s oil.  One could argue that it is America’s  hopeless addiction to crude oil which is the root cause of the latest spill.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig was built in 2001, in Korea. It is  is owned by a company called Transocean registered in the Marshall Islands.  The Marshall Islands are a Pacific Archipelago which was added to the U.S.  Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands during WW2. In 1979, the islands became independent and in 1986,  signed a Compact of Free Association with the U.S.

The Marshall Islands are an Associated State of the United States of America. (Somewhere along the line, the United States indulged in another of its traditional activities and tested a few nuclear bombs in the vicinity.)

In 2008, the Deepwater Horizon rig was leased by BP until 2013. The rig flew the Marshallese flag.

When the accident occurred on April 20 2010, the well was in its final phase. The drilling had been completed and American company Haliburton, based in Houston, Texas  was cementing the final casing into place.  A geyser of sea water erupted from a riser on the rig, followed by mud which contained methane.  The methane ignited, causing a fireball which killed eleven people. The Deepwater Horizon eventually sank on April 22nd. The oil-flow was not stopped before the rig sank.

The final player in this saga is the American Minerals Management Service (MMS) . There is now much doubt as to whether they  exercised adequate control of the drilling rig.  Previously, this organisation is also reported to have said that   BP would be able to respond to this kind of disaster “to the maximum extent practicable”.  The MMS has obviously fallen asleep at the wheel but needs Obama to continue the blame-game in order to conceal or at least postpone the full exposé of their own grubby part in the affair.

Yes, BP has made mistakes. The most serious ones appear to be their various associations with incompetent and “not-fit-for-purpose” AMERICAN COMPANIES.

 

p.s C0ngratulations to all Americans who did not need to refer to a dictionary for the word “jingoist” .  You probably represent no more than 0.001% of the population.

Praise is the Motivation.

I published the story below about a year ago but make no apologies for repeating it:

Three eminent gentlemen were on the 18th green -just about to complete an afternoon  of golf. There was an eminent architect, an eminent surgeon and their Member of Parliament. The men were accompanied by their dogs.

The architect said to the other two, ” Watch this!” as he called his dog. ” Sliderule! Here boy! Sliderule! Go boy!”

Sliderule was a solid Black Labrador and he spent a few minutes rummaging in the undergrowth picking up sticks and within five minutes he had built a perfectly-stressed cantilevered bridge across the stream adjacent to the green. The surgeon and the MP were impressed.

Then the surgeon called his dog – an elegant Saluki. He commanded his own dog ” Scalpel! Here boy! Scalpel! Go boy!”

Scalpel also ran around and foraged in the undergrowth – occasionally he did a bit of digging  and within four minutes, he’d laid out a perfect facsimile of a human skeleton on the 18th green.

The others were even more impressed.

The politician then said “That’s nothing  – watch this.” He summoned his dog. ” Bullshit! Here boy! Bullshit! Go boy!”

Bullshit was a clapped out old Bulldog but he still had a few moves left.  On his master’s command, Bullshit ran around aimlessly for a bit. Then he knocked down the bridge, ate all the bones, fucked the other two dogs, pissed up the surgeon’s leg, had a half-hearted attempt at humping the architect’s leg, claimed some expenses and took the rest of the day off.

There is a serious point to the story:

We tend to think that the tools of the trade for a politician are just words and an ability to communicate.  However, recent events have clearly shown that nowadays, management ability and leadership skills are as important – especially motivational skills.

Our former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown developed a reputation as a shockingly bad leader – so bad that his underlings were motivated by nothing more than fear.  It seems that Brown did not possess any motivational skills The usual motivators such as wanting to do a good job in order to be given the occasional crumb of praise or  pat on the back were totally absent.

Management by Praise is a simple technique which is not in any textbook because it has never had any formal acknowledgement yet it is THE SINGLE MOST POWERFUL  management tool available to any leader, manager or anyone in a relationship.

The simple fact is that we do not praise one another enough. Most of you reading this have had so few compliments during your life that you probably remember something complimentary that someone said to you 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Why? Because it was a monumentally exceptional event in you life.

Children should be constantly praised – even when they are screwing up.

A few years ago, I was telling a friend of mine how my young son was making absolutely no effort with his schoolwork and that after the last set of grades, I had grounded him and told him that he had to study at least an hour per day – even during his holidays. However, in spite of the draconian regime, his academic performance continued to  slide.

My friend said, “Richard, you fly all over the place, training executives, motivating salespeople, yet you cannot motivate your own son. Think about it. Why do you think that he isn’t performing.”

I have to admit that I was not sure but I decided to try an approach which at the time seemed totally counter-intuitive.

The next time my son came home with an end of term report, the grades and teacher’s comments were still appallingly bad. I read through the school report and as he was watching me reading, I could sense his tension. He was preparing himself for another onslaught and was probably wondering how else I was going to damage his already broken social life.

I closed his report , looked at him and said: “Well done son. You’ve obviously worked hard to improve. Let’s forget the teachers’ remarks. Carry on the good work.”

What was interesting was my son’s reaction. He said, “Thanks dad, but I think that I can do better.”

He’s just finishing his first year at University.

So if you’re a manager, husband, wife, parent or Prime Minister, compliment, praise and appreciate. That is how to motivate those around you to perform to their full potential.

A five year-old child will show you a painting which looks like an explosion in a paint factory. Nevertheless, you say “That’s fantastic! Well done!” What happens, next? Ten minutes later, you are presented with another painting, probably even more horrific than the first one. Why? The child wants and needs  another “Well done”.

A wife spends two hours getting ready to go out. She comes down the stairs and presents herself to her husband. She shouldn’t even have to say,  “How do I look? Do you think these shoes go with this skirt.”

By the same token, if you’re a wife or girlfriend, when was the last time you told your partner that they looked really good.

Someone you know writes a book, builds a wall or cooks something that they’re proud of  and says to you, ” Have a look at this. I’d really appreciate your opinion.” What does that tell you? Maybe it tells you several things. Firstly, they may be lacking attention , they are lonely, they feel unfulfilled or they need some sort of affirmation. Whatever it is, they have a need. They need some sort of  esteem   – probably because their own self-esteem is down.

“Esteem in the eyes of others” is what drives the majority of us.  Your bank account is below zero, you know that your wife or husband is cheating and you think that you may be alcoholic and you are desperately unhappy. Yet when someone asks you “How are things?” without hesitation, you reply  ” Great, fantastic. Never better.”

Why do we exaggerate our level of responsibility at work? Why do our houses need “kerb appeal”, Why do we want to change our car every year? Why do we lie about how successful we are? Why do we lie about the level of our academic achievement?

It is our need and craving to be admired  so that we can feed our egos. But we tend to forget that we are not the only ones who possess those motivators.

Take an interest and be positive about those around you.

When an office junior presents you with those presentation handouts, appreciate that fact that they completed the task so quickly and say, ” Thanks. My word that was quick! Well done.” The next time, you’ll receive the handouts even faster!

It’s not the money that people earn which is their primary motivator – it is acknowledgement and voiced appreciation that is their “turn-on”. Women leave their husbands because someone else shows interest and voices appreciation. Career people move on because their boss is an inwardly-focused moron.

Ronald Reagan is widely regarded as one of the best-ever Presidents. Why? because he delegated but also appreciated what his staff did – but more importantly, he told them so. Gordon Brown is widely regarded as a leadership failure. Why? Because he berated, insulted and did not have the strength of character to voice his appreciation – even if he felt it. That is why he is yesterday’s man.

The new British Government feels and sounds positive and therefore appears competent because it is making positive noises and appears inclusive. The old Churchillian trick  “We are in this together” still works. A government can compliment a nation and the nation will believe .

THAT is why the British people stand shoulder-to-shoulder in adversity. The Dunkirk Spirit will bring us through this crisis. The Brits are at their best when their backs are to the wall. Together we will show the world.

Are any of the sentences in the previous paragraph true? We don’t really know – but by God, we want to believe them. Each one is a compliment!

The Conservative-Liberal coalition will be applying this simple principle to us by the bucket-load in the months and years ahead. Today , the new Chancellor is asking us for our help. Now THAT’S a compliment.

The Management by Praise principle is simple:  “Tell  anyone that they are good and they WILL become good.  Tell someone something positive and they will BE positive. Ask someone for their opinion and you have a friend for life.”

Father M would like to see you in his office.

There is little understanding of the word “grooming” when applied to predatory paedophiles. We imagine a gradual increase in emotional pressure on innocent young people and their eventual capitulation to the vile attentions of a pervert. The article below explains one boy’s experience and unease at being singled out for “special attention”.
This  is a real-life account by  Rand Richards Cooper.

This is a story about a priest I knew, and what he did to me. I was not molested, exactly. But something happened.

The setting is a Catholic grade school I’ll call Saint Crispin’s, in the early 1970s. I was not a Catholic, but my parents, displeased with the public schools, sent me anyway. In the seventh grade at Saint C’s I was an outsider, and not only by religion. I lived in the doctors/lawyers/accountants part of town. My classmates lived in the welders/policemen/coaches part of town. Their houses were smaller, their attitudes tougher. Saint C’s was their place–a dark and antediluvian building that squatted behind the church like a big brick toad. The school grounds, a half-acre of fenced-in blacktop, resembled a prison yard. There was a hole in the fence where, if the teacher on patrol wasn’t watching, you could escape at lunch, then hustle up the block to the pizza place, cram down an Italian sub, and make it back by the bell. This routine wasn’t about the sandwich. It was about the transgression. It was about the escape.

The schoolyard pastime at Saint C’s was a rough game that combined tag and tackle. A lone boy would stand in the center of the yard, facing a line of thirty or fifty on one side. At a shout of “Go!” the line raced to the other side, and the one in the middle tackled someone; the next time the wave crossed, those two tackled two more, and so on, until at last a few fleet, desperate crossers faced a mob of gang-tacklers. The game was knees-on-pavement brutal; vendettas and grudges of every kind were enacted in the scrum. Girls, those merciless arbiters of manliness, stood watching on the sideline. You had to be tough, or at least act tough.

But I couldn’t; I wasn’t. I was secretly sensitive. My memories from this time in my life are full of smothered, shamed bursts of crying. My grades were too good. I had a baby face. The girl I had a crush on was also a good student, and when I walked her home from school, tough boys followed us, murmuring obscenities. There was a boy’s frank cruelty at Saint C’s that I would recognize a few years later in the stories of James Joyce. It was merciless, in a casual, normal kind of way.

The school was staffed mostly by lay teachers, plus a handful of nuns–like the decrepit Sister Catherine Mary, who sat statue-still in the world’s tiniest library, a converted janitor’s closet, and was said to be long dead and mummified. Academically, Saint C’s was not exactly achievement-minded. A blunt anti-intellectualism joined teachers and students alike; I did a term paper on the Attica State Prison uprising, and Mr. Pagano accused me, falsely, of plagiarizing. More hot secret tears. In the classrooms the wall clocks were the antiquated kind whose seconds ticked off the minutes discretely. I remember watching the big hand tremble, as if it might move backward, and feeling a surge of terror until it finally clicked ahead.

Our principal was a priest, Father M (note: I have changed the names and disguised identities). He was young–thirty at most, dark haired, bearded and handsome; he had flair, that rarest of priestly attributes, and was something of a star. In the schoolyard, however, lurid rumors swirled. The idea was that Father M liked boys. He had a summer cottage on the shore, where boys were invited for spaghetti dinners said to end in naked group chases through the woods. Ask Scarlatti about M, someone would say. He and Murray went out to his cottage. Father M chased them through the freaking woods. He was waving his pecker like a wand.

There was a Bacchanalian free-for-all to these narratives–a feast, then a mad romp. You half wanted to be invited. Like the schoolyard game of crossers and catchers, the spaghetti dinner was a rite of passage at Saint C’s; the ultimate manly escape, with Father M playing a kind of mad tackler. The thought that there might be boys among us Father M had actually victimized–such eventualities lay beyond rumor, beyond the thinkable. And who knew what to believe, anyway? People like Ronnie Scarlatti could say anything in the schoolyard. Stories were not acts of truth, but assertions of status.

As for me, Father M had been attentive, taking pains to make me feel welcome in my new school. In the hall he might stop to offer a word and a pat on the shoulder. I welcomed these attentions; they brought celebrity.

One day a messenger came to class with a note and handed it to Sister Helen. “Father M would like to see you in his office,” she said, looking my way.

His office sat in a labyrinthine passage beyond the auditorium. There was some renovation going on, and scaffolding draped with sheets of plastic created a tunnel effect that made it feel more isolated.

“Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble,” he said as I came in. He gestured to a chair. “I like to invite students in now and then to see how they’re getting along.”

Actually, he said when I’d sat down, he wanted to compliment me. My teachers reported I was an outstanding student. “Now, tell me about Mr. Pagano. About your paper.”

“He said I copied it,” I said. “But I didn’t.”

Father M nodded. Teachers at Saint C’s, he explained, weren’t used to high-quality student work. Mr. Pagano had made a bad assumption, a mistake. And what was my opinion about my classes generally? “You can speak frankly,” he said. “I want your opinion.”

Saint C’s was not the kind of school, the kind of education, in which your opinion mattered. But I told him, and we talked for a while. “I appreciate your candor,” he said when I left. “And keep up the good work.”

I left feeling a grateful thrill. Father M had recognized something in me, something praiseworthy, and rewarded it by letting me skip class. Sure, running a school like Saint C’s might require certain strict policies, but there was another, hidden school behind it, one that would be more humane, more enlightened, smarter–if only it were filled with boys like me.

A few days later, a messenger again showed up in English class, and again Sister Helen looked my way. Children don’t understand things in the conscious way adults do. But they do understand things, sometimes less as ideas than as feelings, even physical sensations; and I knew–from a certain tingly anticipation as I made my way back through the labyrinth–that Father M’s calling me down again so soon was risky.

“Nice to see you again,” he said. “How did your test go?” We’d had a quiz in Mr. Pagano’s class.

“Easy,” I said. “I got an A.”

“I don’t doubt it at all.” He gestured to the seat. “I wanted to thank you for coming in the other day, Rand. I value your input. You’re smart, and as a non-Catholic you probably can see things around here that I can’t.”

Running a Catholic school wasn’t easy, he went on. Parents in particular didn’t always react the way you’d like them to. He gave a rueful toss of his hand. “When it comes to the curriculum, they oppose anything innovative. It’s a real pain in my neck, to tell you the truth.”

“Input,” “curriculum,” “innovative”–to have an adult use these words, assuming (correctly) that I knew them, a sensitive twelve-year-old with a secret life as a reader: it was immensely flattering.

“I know what you mean,” I said, and nodded.

Father M leaned forward, tiny crucifix dangling from a silver chain around his neck. “For instance,” he said. “This year I planned a course in Family Life and Human Sexuality. But the parents are fighting me tooth and nail. I’d be interested in how you would handle this in my position. What would you do?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Well, let’s imagine you’re the teacher, and today’s topic is–nocturnal emissions. How would you teach that?”

My ears burned. But there it was again, that intellectual flattery.

“That’s easy,” I said. “A nocturnal emission, it’s when you have a dream in the night. You dream about sex, and in your sleep you ejaculate.”

Father M gave a shrug of utter simplicity. “You see?” he said. “If I had a few adults around here like you, my job would be a lot easier.”

From there we went on to other “teachable” topics–masturbation, intercourse. I don’t remember how long the session lasted. What I do remember is how it ended, with Father M sitting back in his chair and smiling. “You’ll have to come out to the shore sometime this summer,” he said. “We have terrific spaghetti dinners. It’s a lot of fun.”

I nodded. A silence followed. And then I asked him: “Do you think you would ever get married someday?”

“Married?” He stroked his beard and looked intently at me. “As priests we can’t do that. We have to be celibate.”

“I know. But do you think you ever would? You know–fall in love with a woman and stop being a priest?”

Father M gave me a look that in retrospect strikes me as utterly knowing. He smiled, and nodded ever so slightly, as if to say, “Touché!”

He had made a move and I had countered, blocked it. Check and checkmate.

“No,” he said, still smiling. “Somehow I don’t think that’s very likely.”

After two years at Saint C’s, my parents decided not to send me on to the Catholic high school. I went to private school, later college and grad school; I left that part of the country, and of my life, behind. I never went back to Saint C’s, and today my time there seems like some Dickensian fantasy: the antique clocks and hissing steam radiators; the rough give-and-take of the schoolyard; my abiding unhappiness. As for Father M, not too many years later he was transferred, out of the area and out of education; years later I heard he was doing hospice work in another part of the state. His career bears all the hallmarks of one derailed by accusations of misfeasance. Until recently, this wasn’t a thing people talked about.

Some months before the current scandals besetting the Catholic Church, I heard from Father M–a letter, out of the blue. “It must be close to thirty years,” he wrote, “since I interviewed the perky young man with the longish blond locks who was seeking admission to Saint C’s.” He had followed my career, he wrote. He himself was working as a fill-in parish priest while waiting to retire. His letter rambled reminiscently, describing his occasional return trips to town–driving by my parents’ old house (“I never pass the place without thoughts of you”), visiting with Sister Helen to chat about favorite students. “I just wanted to let you know that I do think of you,” he finished, “and that I am understandably happy that our school played some small part in your formation.”

The letter startled me, so reckless in betraying an impulse one can only call pedophilic–unable to refrain from stroking the memory of a little boy’s looks. If Father M was this blatant now, I wondered, how must his behavior have looked back then? Why hadn’t someone done something?

Of course, someone obviously did do something, something that resulted in his being shifted out of education and out of the diocese. But why hadn’t anyone gone public? For the church right now, this is the billion-dollar (and climbing) question, a habit of covering up that is being paid for–literally, in legal settlements, and figuratively, too, in lost faith and allegiance. Garry Wills has written recently about the church’s obsession with “preserving the priestly aura.” He blames “an elaborate framework of interconnected pretenses…involved in maintaining teachings from Rome that have lost all credibility.” A mutual hypocrisy, he claims, served both sides. “The laity ignore the ban on contraception. The priests ignore the forbidding of homosexual acts.” Everyone gets his free pass.

It seems farfetched to ascribe the decades of silence about priests like Father M–including the silence of children and parents–to something so elaborate. My own sense is that the silence reflects first and foremost a different era’s deep, instinctive relation both to institutional authority and to sexuality: the instinct for deference in one case, and for avoidance in the other. This wasn’t just a Catholic Church thing. A few years ago my own father, raised Episcopalian, took me to visit the lower-middle-class neighborhood in Philadelphia where he grew up. Near his family’s house was the church they’d attended. The building had a recent addition, identified in engraved gilt letters as The Father Penders Wing. My father stood on the sidewalk, looking at it with the ironic grin he saves for certain facts of life he considers darkly amusing. Penders, he told me, had been notorious in the 1930s and 1940s, when my father was a choirboy. “He got his jollies by talking dirty to us. He’d boast about how he was having his way with someone or other’s wife in the congregation. How he’d ‘given it to her’ right in the sacristy.”

“Did you tell Eunice?” His mother, my grandmother, a person of avid conventional piety and propriety, fond of saying that she lived for the church.

“Actually, I believe at one point I did.” My father couldn’t keep the sick grin off his face. “I can still hear her. ‘Go on with you!’ she said. ‘I don’t want to hear that kind of filth!'”

He took a last look at the church. “Father Penders Wing,” he chortled. I felt the continuity of schoolyard mirth joining his boyhood to mine. That game again. Crossers and catchers. The incorrigible priest as bogeyman.

Was Father M an active pedophile at Saint C’s? I don’t know for certain, but it seems likely. Assuming he was, should he and others like him be held to account? Of course. The church’s task is clear. Make amends, hand over the lists of names, set an institutional course for zero tolerance. Learn transparency–not easy for the church, but doable.

What’s harder, perhaps, is to grasp the complexity of a time we now so clearly see as benighted. Retroactive outrage simplifies, necessarily; the demand for redress squeezes the real, lived ambiguity out of events, leaving only the bare bones of the actionable, and in some cases the criminal. In fact, my encounter in Father M’s office was anything but simple. So much was going on, at so many levels. Yes, Father M was taking advantage; but I was gaining advantages, too. For instance, he had invited me to one of the infamous spaghetti dinners, a fact I couldn’t wait to retail to my peers in the schoolyard: a story to bolster my status; a usable asset.

I knew what he was doing was wrong; I understood, in that inchoate way, just how cleverly he had seduced me. But how can I say this? It felt good to be desired, to be admired and delighted in. Father M wanted me–and that meant there was a me there, one he had seen into, with some insight. As for my body, I wasn’t going to let him touch it. That much I was sure of. Possibly this certainty came from my not being Catholic. Mid-century American Catholicism, Wills points out, cast the priest as “an especially holy figure,” a person of “numinous supernatural power” whose domain was the altar and the confessional, “special places marked off from the ‘profane’ and explicable.” Mystery is power, and to the victim, the priest spoke and acted with an authority “sanctioned by all the accumulated culture of Catholicism.” But I was not of that culture. My parents hadn’t brought me up revering the figure of the priest, and thus, perhaps, my freedom from the sway of symbolism. In any case, I knew that if I got up and walked out of his office, Father M would be powerless to stop me.

I knew I didn’t have to answer his questions about sex, either. But the truth is, I wanted to answer. To a twelve-year-old, breaking a taboo carries a thrilling anticipation of the hidden, brimming, all-but-unimaginable adulthood to come. You become, for a moment, a player. I understood Father M was taking a risk, talking about things that could get him in trouble in the world outside. I knew this, and the knowing gave me weapons: I could parry and dodge, even hit back. Do you think you’d ever get married some day? To a woman? Uttering those words was my first conscious experience of dealing with adults from a position of strength; of having leverage; of wielding power. It was intensely pleasurable. He was victimizing me, but I felt powerful.

As for what transpired in that tiny office hidden in the labyrinth, it’s important to note that it could have been much more–could have extended from talking into showing, and from there into touching, and onward. Sexual victimization exists on a spectrum; and I wonder–in my case–how much farther up the scale it would have to have gone for its primary meaning to me, these decades later, to be one of damage. Would I feel more damaged, more hurt, if Father M had crossed the line into touching? Presumably, yes. Yet short of physical intimidation or force, I suspect the same troubling and confusing dynamic would have been in play–the same gratification and thrill of intimacy; the same sense of advantage given and taken.

This is not at all to support the pedophile Father Paul Shanley’s notorious and grotesque claim that the child is the seducer of the adult. The narrative of sexual victimization casts the child–appropriately–as helpless, terrorized recipient of the pedophile’s advances. And yet as things actually happened, my impressions were, and remain, somewhat less simple. A priest’s transgression brought me through a door into a room where I saw things and understood. Desire. Deception. Power. Strategy. Sin. The insistence of need, and the deeply mixed nature of all personal transactions.

I am understandably happy that our school played some small part in your formation, he had the audacity to write.

The irony of it–the awful, impossible, sad irony.

 

 COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

Say it again, Sam

Samantha Cameron will certainly be useful to DC in providing him with much-needed street-cred. Our Sam sports a dolphin tattoo on her right ankle and as a Bristol art student she used to hang-out in the same pub as trip-hop artist Tricky. 

An old neighbour of the Camerons from their Notting Hill days recalls saying to Samantha a few years ago that the next time the removal trucks arrived at their address it would probably be to take their stuff to No 10 Downing STreet.

Sam replied “I fucking hope not.” 

Our kind of girl.

Pope’s Nine Virgins.

“Do I look like a pervert?”

It’s good to see that the Catholic clergy is not just a preening whoopsie band of pederasts and that they also employ some heterosexual paedophiles.

Two days ago,  the Vatican announced that the pope had accepted the resignation of the  Irish-born archbishop Burke who had led the Benin City diocese in Nigeria. Burke is facing accusations that he carried on a 20-year relationship with a woman which began when she was 14.

Officially, Burke has resigned for  “his failure to observe his oath of celibacy.” Apparently, the “oath of celibacy” takes precedent over the alleged rape of a 14 year-old girl named Dolores Attwood.

Unfortunately, the local investigator in Nigeria never found evidence that Burke began having sex with the woman when she was 14. Burke said the sexual relationship began only after she turned 21, while he served as a priest in Warri, a city in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Dolores Atwood said she was standing by her claims the archbishop touched her and kissed her as she lay in a hospital bed in Nigeria when she was 14 and had full penetrative sex with him one month later.

Archbishop Burke has repeated his denial that he did not begin having sex with her until she was 21  (reports vary – some say 18).

Mrs Atwood (41), now living in Canada, said the archbishop did not use a condom when he had sex with her, despite the high rate of HIV in Nigeria.  Of course he didn’t – he’s Catholic and the use of a condom is a sin.

A statement said:  “Burke has apologized to all those whom he has hurt by his actions and has taken full personal responsibility for what he has done wrong.” 

Burke served in Warri for about a decade before heading back to Ireland. In 1996, he returned to Warri and later became bishop, sometimes serving as a negotiator between Nigerian militants who kidnapped foreign oil workers and the oil companies.

Burke became archbishop of Benin City in 2007.

The evidence against the gross naughtiness which has occurred among Irish priests and in Irish Catholic institutions is overwhelming and should already been handed over to the authorities. However, Pope Ratz has appointed nine prelates to investigate child abuse  by Irish catholic clergy. It seems though that some of the appointees have themselves been involved in cover-ups and scandals.

The pope has  urged the Irish church to support the investigation, saying it could be a chance for “hope and renewal”.  However, we can also be sure that an inquiry carried out by nine bishops will take much longer that a straightforward police investigation and imprisonment of the guilty. Perhaps the pope is hoping that be the time the inquiry concludes its business, he’ll be sitting in his heaven next to his maker and his successor will clear up the mess.

Earlier this year, the pope promised an investigation about chronic clerical child abuse in Ireland. Decades of cover-ups and denial by church authorities will not make the job of the nine Vatican virgins either straightforward of enable them to reach any swift conclusions.

Finally, the pope is ridding the church of bishops who have either admitted they molested youngsters or covered up for priests who did.

Child-abuse scandals have caused exceptional trauma in Ireland, a once-devoutly Catholic nation. An Irish government collapsed in 1994 amid arguments over its failure to extradite a paedophile priest to Northern Ireland. Since 2002, a government-organised compensation board has paid out more than  800 million euros to 13,000 people abused in Ireland’s church-run residential institutions for children. Yes 13,000!

The investigation in Ireland will deal with the handling of abuse cases  and the provision of assistance to victims. It will begin in four archdioceses, including Dublin, and then be extended to other dioceses, the Vatican said. It will also look at seminaries and religious houses.

The nine investigators will look at the procedures currently in place to prevent abuse and seek ways to improve them. The Vatican should recognise that fact that there are no “procedures”which will ever stop a paedophile from molesting children. There seems little doubt that all you need do if your tastes are in young boys is to join the Catholic church – whether or not you are a Catholic or even whether you believe in God. The Catholic church is a paedo-magnet and an institution which provides not-only the opportunity but does not apply any sanctions if you are caught.

The only price to pay is a few years in a Seminary and when you are qualified, you are also provided with free acommodation. If you’e a paedo, you cannot lose.

The pope invited “all the members of the Irish Catholic community to support this fraternal initiative” and hoped the investigation will be “an occasion of renewed fervor in the Christian life, and that it may deepen their faith and strengthen their hope.”  That is the usual bland brand of Vatican statement, whose only practical use is to fertilise a field or two.

The investigators named by Benedict include the archbishops of  Westminster , Boston, Toronto and Ottawa. Two nuns have been  appointed to investigate religious institutes for women.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston will investigate the Dublin archdiocese. O’Malley was brought in to Boston after a priest sex abuse furore erupted there in 2002, prompting Cardinal Bernard Law to resign.

“The Church must be unfailingly vigilant in protecting children and young people,”O’Malley said in a statement posted on the Dublin archdiocese’s website. “It will also be important to respond to the concerns of the Catholic community and the survivors in the manner that will promote the process of healing.”

In keeping with Vatican tradition, nothing wasd said about the guilty priests or the manner of their punishment.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin praised O’Malley’s appointment, saying his “experience and personal commitment render him particularly suited”  for the task. Martin, who has been trying to root out abusive priests, called the investigation an “important element” in the purification and renewal of the Dublin church, which “addresses the truth of a dark moment in its history.”

Some victims of clerical abuse were not impressed by the pope’s selections, saying that some of the bishops themselves had “troubling” records on confronting abuse.

“We must look outside a largely complicit church hierarchy for real solutions to this devastating ongoing crisis,” said Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the U.S. victims’ group Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.

“For an apostolic visitation to have any chance of success, the participating bishops cannot be guilty of the same offences they are investigating,”said BishopAccountability.org, which conducts research into the abuse crisis. Given the worldwide extent of priestly child abuse, it is very unlikely that there is a single bishop or archbishop who has not been tainted by scandal. That certainly would add credence to the argument for outside investigators.

The pope apologised for the chronic abuse in his unprecedented letter to Ireland, rebuking church leaders for “grave errors of judgment” and appealing to priests still harboring sins of child molestation to confess.

The pope and the whole band of innocents are missing the whole point. They are harbouring individuals who are paedophiles disguised as priests. The Catholic hierarchy persists in its blind belief that they are dealing with holy men who have strayed. They are dealing with predatory paedophiles who have infiltrated their organisation. No amount of confessing, “regret” , absolution or forgiveness will ever change perverts who are hard-wired to sexually abuse.

Three Irish bishops have stepped down since December and there have been calls for the country’s top prelate, Cardinal Sean Brady to resign because of his handling of a notorious child rapist.

The Vatican has been reluctant to allow priests to leave the church since Pope  John Paul made it tougher to leave the priesthood after assuming the papacy in 1978, saying that a priest’s vocation was lifelong. At that time, the church was still recovering from a substantial exodus of heterosexual priests who wished to marry.

A consequence of that policy was that, as the priest sex abuse scandal grew worldwide, bishops were no longer able to sidestep the lengthy church trial necessary for laicisation. Catholic priests were no longer able to simply leave their calling, they had to undergo a “trial” before they were released from their vows to become members of the laity.

New rules in 1980 removed bishops’ option of requesting laicisations of abusive priests without holding a church trial. Those rules were ultimately eased two decades later amid an epidemic of child abuse cases.

At that time, the future  Pope Benedict XVI refused to defrock priest who confessed to molesting children and had even served a prison sentence.  That was because the convicted cleric would  not agree to the discipline.

The case provides the latest evidence of how changes in church law under Pope John Paul II frustrated and hamstrung  bishops struggling with an abuse crisis that would eventually explode.

At the time , Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, following contemporary church law , turned down a bishop’s plea to remove the priest for no other reason than the abuser’s refusal to acquiesce.

“The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself,”  Ratzinger wrote in a July 3, 1989.

Campbell’s bishop had requested that he be quickly defrocked, in part to spare the victims the pain of a trial, but Ratzinger’s response was in keeping with church law at the time. Bishops retained the right to remove priests from ministry or to go through with a trial and recommend to Rome a cleric’s defrocking.

The Vatican has since argued that  nothing prevented them from reporting such crimes to police as they should have done. By the same token, nothing prevented the Vatican from reporting the crimes – especially as they had been made fully aware of them.

Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s U.S lawyer has said “Nothing in the new code prevented a bishop from exercising his discretion to restrict ministry or to assign a priest to a job where he was out of contact with the public.” 

This is still a church administered by old men who believe that all their priests are good men with  a calling. They STILL do not appear to have fully grasped that they have been infiltrated by paedophiles and perverts who are being administered by hamstrung bishops who are living in constant fear of both worldly and heavenly retribution.

Next batch of Peers

Published by No 10 Downing Street  28 May 2010

Peerages, honours and appointments

Number 10 door: PA copyright

The previous Prime Minister (the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP) undertook a process to recommend to the Queen new party-political life peerages. This consisted of working peers from each party and, as is customary at the end of a Parliament, a dissolution list for former MPs.

The Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention of conferring Peerages of the United Kingdom for Life upon the undermentioned:

Working Peers List

Conservative Party

  • Guy Vaughan Black – former Director Press Complaints Commission, Executive Director Telegraph Media Group
  • Dame Margaret Eaton OBE – Chairman of Local Government Association
  • Edward Peter Lawless Faulks QC – barrister, leading practitioner, crime and personal injuries practice
  • John Gardiner – Deputy Chief Executive of Countryside Alliance
  • Helen Margaret Newlove – campaigner against anti-social behaviour
  • Dolar Amarshi Popat – businessman, Chief Executive of TLC Group, specialising  in healthcare and hospitality
  • Shireen Olive Ritchie – Local Government Councillor, specialises in areas of adult and children’s social care
  • Deborah Stedman-Scott OBE, DL, FRSA – Chief Executive of Tomorrow’s People, national employment charity working in deprived areas of UK
  • Nat Wei – founder of Teach First and also a founder of Future Leaders
  • Hon Simon Adam Wolfson – Chief Executive of NEXT plc

Liberal Democrat Party

  • Floella Benjamin OBE DL – actor, presenter and campaigner for children’s issues
  • Mike German OBE AM – former Deputy First Minister (Wales)
  • Meral Hussein Ece OBE – Local Government Councillor in Islington, advocate of equality issues
  • Sir Kenneth (Ken) Macdonald QC – former Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Kathryn (Kate) Jane Parminter – former Chief Executive of Campaign to Protect Rural England
  • John Shipley OBE – leading Local Government Councillor in Newcastle upon Tyne

Labour Party

  • Sir Jeremy Hugh Beecham DL – senior figure in English local government and first Chairman of the Local Government Association
  • Rt Hon Paul Boateng – former Government Minister and MP for Brent South
  • Rita Margaret Donaghy CBE – former Chair Conciliation and Arbitration Service
  • Jeannie Drake – former Deputy General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union
  • Dr Dianne Hayter – Chair of Legal Services Consumer Panel
  • Anna Healy – former Government and political adviser, serving in numerous government departments
  • Roy Kennedy – Labour Party’s Director of Finance and Compliance, long serving member of the Labour Party
  • Rt Hon Helen Lawrie Liddell – former Secretary State of Scotland
  • Roger John Liddle – former Special Adviser on Europe
  • Rt Hon Dr Jack Wilson McConnell – former First Minister of Scotland
  • John Stephen Monks – General Secretary, European Trades Union Confederation
  • Sue Nye – former Director of Government Relations, Prime Minister’s Office
  • Maeve Sherlock OBE – former Chief Executive of the Refugee Council and Former Special Advisor to Chancellor
  • Robert Wilfrid (Wilf) Stevenson – former Director of the Smith Institute and Special Adviser to the PM
  • Margaret Wheeler MBE – Director of Organisation and Staff Development for the public service union UNISON
  • Michael Williams – former Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs

Dissolution List

Conservative party

  • Timothy Eric Boswell – former Whip and Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • Angela Frances Browning – former Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • Rt Hon John Selwyn Gummer – former Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and held other senior posts in government and opposition
  • Rt Hon Michael Howard QC – former Home Secretary, and held other senior posts in government and opposition
  • John Craddock Maples – former Economic Secretary, and held other senior posts in government and opposition
  • Sir Michael Spicer – former Government Minister for Housing and Chairman of Parliamentary and Scientific Committee

Liberal Democrat Party

  • Richard Allan – former MP for Sheffield Hallam and Chair of the Information Select Committee
  • Matthew Owen John Taylor – former MP for Truro and St Austell, Chair of National Housing Federation
  • George Philip (Phil) Willis – former MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Former Chair of Science and Technology Select Committee

Labour Party

  • Rt Hon Hillary Jane Armstrong – former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Social Exclusion, and held other senior posts in government
  • Rt Hon Desmond (Des) Henry Browne – former Secretary of State for Defence and held other senior posts in government
  • Quentin Davies – former Government Minister, Defence
  • Rt Hon Beverley Hughes – former Minister of State, Children, Schools and Families
  • Rt Hon John Hutton – former Secretary of State for Business, and held other senior posts in government
  • Rt Hon James (Jim) Philip Knight, Former Minister of State
  • Rt Hon Tommy McAvoy – former Government Deputy Chief Whip
  • Rt Hon John McFall – former Chair of Treasury Select Committee and MP for West Dunbartonshire
  • Rt Hon John Leslie Prescott – former Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, and held other senior posts in government
  • Rt Hon Dr John Reid – former Home Secretary, and held other senior posts in government
  • Rt Hon Angela Evans Smith – former Minister of State, Cabinet Office
  • Rt  Hon James Donnelly (Don) Touhig – former Parliamentary under Secretary of State (Minister for Veterans), Ministry of Defence
  • Rt Hon Michael David Wills – former Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Democratic Unionist Party

  • Rt Hon Ian R K Paisley – former First Minister and DUP Leader

Crossbenchers

The Queen has also been graciously pleased to signify Her intention of conferring a Peerage of the United Kingdom for Life upon Sir Ian Blair, Former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Knighthoods

The Queen has also been graciously pleased to signify Her intention of conferring a Knight Bachelor upon the undermentioned:

  • Rt Hon (Trevor) Keith Hill – former Minister of State, ODPM and held other posts in government
  • Mr William (Bill) O’Brien – former MP for Normanton 1983-2005
  • Rt Hon Ian McCartney – former Minister of State, FCO and DTI and held other senior posts in government

Privy Council Appointments

The Queen has also been graciously pleased to approve that the undermentioned be sworn of Her Majesty’s most honourable Privy Council:

  • Dominic Grieve QC MP – Attorney-General
  • Greg Clark MP – Minister of State, Department of Communities and Local Government
  • Alan Duncan MP – Minister of State, Department for International Development
  • Chris Grayling MP – Minister of State, Department of Work and Pensions
  • Nick Herbert MP – Minister of State, Ministry of Justice and the Home Office
  • Baroness Neville-Jones of Hutton Roof DCMG – Minister of State, Home Office
  • Grant Shapps MP – Minister of State, Department of Communities and Local Government
  • Theresa Villiers MP – Minister of State, Department for Transport
  • David Willetts MP – Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • David Mundell MP – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Scotland Office
  • John Randall MP – Deputy Chief Whip (Treasurer of Her Majesty’s Household)
  • Mark Francois MP – Government Whip (Vice Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household)
  • Nigel Dodds OBE MP 
  • Joan Ruddock MP
  • Baron West of Spithead GCB
  • Carwyn Jones – First Minister for Wales
  • Alex Fergusson MSP

Vatican perverts ride again!

“Mark 10:13-16. THAT’S what I’m talking about!”

Today the Vatican  will make its most robust defence yet against claims that it is liable for U.S. bishops who not-only allowed their priests to molest children but were then complicit in hundreds of cover-ups.  The Vatican will continue to say that bishops are not its employees and that the 1962 Vatican document “Crimen Sollicitationis” did not require or encourage priests or bishops to remain silent.

 The Vatican’s  arguments are designed to persuade American Courts to   dismiss a federal lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds but it could also affect moves to sue the Holy See.

The Vatican’s U.S. attorney, Jeffrey Lena said yesterday that there is no evidence the 1962 document was even known to the archdiocese in question — much less used — and that it certainly did NOT prevent bishops from reporting priestly buggery and other crimes to the police

 Lena also said that the confidentiality imposed by Crimen Sollicitationis did not supersede civil (secular) law and was designed to be applied applied only in formal canonical processes. However, it was also implicit that bishops had the discretion to suspend church law if there was a conflict with criminal law. Lena said: “It is important that people — particularly people who have suffered abuse — know that, contrary to what some plaintiffs’ lawyers have consistently told the media, the canon law did not bar reporting of these crimes to the civil authorities.

The 1962 document describes how church authorities should deal procedurally with cases of

1. Abuse of children by priests.

2. Cases where sex is solicited in the confessional. 

3. Cases of homosexuality and bestiality (sexual congress with animals).

Looking at the very short list above only gives a small insight into the depravity of some clergy and how difficult it must be for the Catholic geriatric virgin men of the Vatican to both come to terms with and understand the scale of the issues that they are being asked to deal with. It is very likely that  for instance, the concept of a priest shagging a goat or dog is totally outside the mental capabilities of the Catholic men-in-long-dresses Vatican hierarchy. After all, even the highest levels within the Catholic hierarchy have difficulty understanding condoms, so the concept for instance, of a priest wrapping a hamster in gaffer tape and then having sex with it  must be a bit “out there”. Their coping mechanisms are probably at breaking point. There are few references to “Pet Shop Boys” in the Bible.

Others see  Crimen Sollicitationis as “a smoking gun”.  Some say that it is evidence of a ‘written’ policy which  demands that no mention of priestly sex abuse  be made by a bishop to “outsiders” such as police .

The contra legal case is going to be about nothing less than  holding the Vatican accountable for the bishops’ repeated failures to report to civil authorities   The Vatican  is trying to fend off this first  case to reach the stage of determining whether victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself for negligence. The negligence  for the failure of bishops to alert police or the public about Roman Catholic priests who assaulted and molested.

The  case was originally filed in 2004 by three men who claim that decades ago,they were abused by priests  and they claim negligence by the Vatican. The case is being observed by many thousands of victims across the United States and the Vatican’s fear is that if the case against the Vatican is proved, the floodgates will open and many thousands of other claims will surface worldwide. In effect, the Vatican is attempting to disassociate itself from its administrators and managers (the bishops).

In 2003, 243 sex abuse victims  settled with the Archdiocese of Louisville for $25.3 million. The Vatican is now seeking to dismiss the suit before Pope Benedict XVI can be questioned or documents subpoenaed.

The Vatican is expected to assert that bishops aren’t its employees because they aren’t paid by Rome. In addition, it is claimed that they don’t act on Rome’s behalf and aren’t controlled day-to-day by the pope. These are the same parameters  which courts use to determine whether employers are liable for the actions of their employees.

The major stumbling block for any court is likely to be  the religious nature of the relationship between bishops and their pope as a basis for civil liability because it entangles the court in an analysis of religious doctrine that dates back to the apostles. Many also believe that the relationship between the pope and his army of administrators may be based on a fiction. That, however is another argument which may jeopardise the relationship between church and state.

The lawyers will  invoke religious authority to construct a civil employment relationship. That will make it inappropriate for the court to consider religious doctrine but courts tend to avoid constructing civil relationships out of religious materials.

The clear allegation is  that the Vatican had clear and direct control over bishops, mandated a policy of secrecy and is therefore liable for the bishops’ failure to report abuse.

Previous rulings may mean that the lawyers  do no need to   prove that bishops were employees of the Vatican but merely “officials.”

Bishops take an oath of office. The pope appoints, disciplines and removes bishops.  If a bishop wants to spend more than £3.5 ($5million)  he must ask permission from Rome and if he wants to take a three-month sabbatical, he needs the Holy See’s approval. All these factors point to an employer/employee relationship. In addition, it can be argued that the Catholic church provides its bishops and priests with the tools of their trade, clothing and accommodation.

The Vatican is claiming that Day-to-day monitoring has to be proved in order for it to be shown to be responsible.  That should prove to be a fatuous argument. For instance,   the chairman of BP is ultimately responsible for the oil spillage off the US coast. He is also responsible for the consequences and Barack Obama has said that BP will be held to account and will have to bear 100% of the cost of any clean-up and subsequent law suits from those who have lost their livelihoods.  The Vatican should also stand up and be counted and graciously accept their responsibility for its rogue priests and bishops.

 The Vatican’s wriggling doesn’t stop there. They are also invoking the  Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which protects sovereign states from being sued in U.S. courts except under certain circumstances. There is also the argument that Crimen Sollicitationis did not appear at diocese level.

All bishops knew about the document, even if they had not read it. The fact that they had not seen it is just another example of the Vatican’s culture of secrecy which has been perpetuated for many centuries and which is the root cause of their present problems. The fact that the document was not publicly known is not any way evidence that it was not a viable piece of ecclesiastical legislation.

Let us hope that the “just” Catholic god continues to play by the book and has abandoned not-only the perverted priests but their incompetent (or scheming) masters.

The paradox is that the Vatican geriatrics and their advisors have no doubt prayed for guidance and so it would seem that their god has told them to contest all legal action.  If he is still backing his boys, they must be doing the right thing. Plus, as we are often reminded, the pope is infallible. That could also mean that thousands of degenerate priests will go unpunished.

Is that the Will of God? Or is the the will of frightened old men who have solicited God’s guidance but always with  one eye on their bank balance.

 

People were bringing little children
to Jesus to have him touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this,
he was indignant.
He said to them,
“Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God
belongs to such as these.
I tell you the truth,
anyone who will not receive
the kingdom of God
like a little child
will never enter it.”
And he took the children
in his arms, put his hands on them
and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16

ONLY 100 clerical sex abuse cases in Italy!

HEALTH WARNING! 

PLEASE DO NOT VIEW THE ABOVE VIDEO IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC OR IF PEOPLE EVER REFER TO YOU  AS  “YOUR HOLINESS”

There have been at least 100 cases of clerical sex abuse reported in Italy in the past 10 years, a top ranking Italian church official has said.

However, Mariano Crociata, the second-highest ranked official at the Italian bishops’ conference, declined to say how many of the cases resulted in any action against any of the priests who had been  investigated. ‘It’s a number that gives you an idea of the situation,’ he said yesterday.

The Catholic Church has been engulfed in a scandal involving sex abuse accusations by paedophile priests in countries including the US, Germany, Austria and Italy.

The Vatican has also been accused of covering up sex abuse charges by not taking action against suspected paedophile priests or turning them over to police.

Crociata said Italian law did not require the Catholic Church to report the suspected priests to police.

Portuguese Ratz Ass.

Pope Ratz has blamed the Catholic church’s “own sins” for the worldwide outbreak of Ratz Ass  and  not a campaign mounted by enemies of the church. He has  called for “profound purification” (WTF?) and so  end what he called the “greatest persecution”  that the church has endured. He didn’t mention whether or not  he considered the “persecution” as justified.

He is a Pope bending (sic) to the inevitable and this all seems like a too-late dose (sic) of self-preservation by an old man who still has to explain both his and his brother’s involvement in the abuse of a German boys’ choir. Still, let’s not dwell on negatives.

His comments placed responsibility for the pervert-priest crisis squarely on the sins of paedophile priests, repudiating the Vatican’s initial response to the scandal which  blamed the media as well as pro-choice and pro-gay marriage advocates for mounting what it called a “campaign against the church and the pope”. Paranoid paedo perverts have never presented a particularly edifying  or rational argument and one assumes that the Vatican’s initial response has to be considered as the Pope’s response.

Speaking on the Popejet en route to Portugal, Benedict said the Catholic church had always suffered from problems of its own making but that “today we see it in a truly terrifying way.”

“The greatest persecution of the church doesn’t come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church,” the pontiff said. “The church needs to profoundly relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness but also justice.”   As usual, he made no direct reference to the shagging or other forms of violation of young boys.

The comments, although bland, marked Ratz’ most thorough admission of the church’s guilt. Previously he has blamed the abusers themselves and in the case of Ireland, the bishops who failed to stop them.

He was responding to journalists’ questions, submitted in advance aboard the Popejet as he flew to Portugal. His four-day visit will take him from Lisbon to the   Fatima shrine and then  to Porto.

It is not known whether Ratzwould make further remarks about the sex-scandal during the trip, but there have been no reported cases of sex abuse in Portugal, unlike in Malta, where last month, Ratz  met abuse victims.

Despite the Vatican’s initial defensive response to hundreds of clerical abuse reports in Europe, Pope Ratz  has promised that the church would take action to protect children and make abusive priests face justice. He has already started firing pervs and  accepting the resignations of a few bishops who either admitted they molested youngsters or covered up for priests who did.

The real question is how does a church populated by virgin geriatrics and perverts go about “protecting children”. Are the Pope’s statements yet more PR crap or is there a plan?

Critics say that he still hasn’t done nearly enough to repair the damage or protect children from a culture of secrecy that allowed priests to rape and molest children for decades. Some have noted that while Benedict has accepted some bishops’ resignations, no bishop has been  punished or defrocked, even those who admitted molesting children. Neither have there been any prosecutions which suggests that the Catholic church still puts church law above secular law.

“Many are tiring of hearing about his ‘strong comments.'” They want to see strong action,”said David Clohessy, director of  U.S. victims’ group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Portugal has not experienced the surge in reports of abuse by priests which has emerged in other European countries, including Ratz’ native Germany. Portugal is about to be plunged into a financial crisis at least on the scale of the current Greek meltdown, so its mind is on other things.

Perhaps that is why Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva referred to the financial crisis in his speech greeting Pope Ratz at Lisbon airport. He said that the Pope  was “visiting at a time of uncertainty that had tested Portugal’s strength as a community”.

“In these times, men require someone bearing a message of hope to meet their thirst for justice and solidarity,” he told the pontiff.

Church bells rang out as the pontiff proceeded through Lisbon from the airport in his Popemobile. Several thousand people lined the streets on a rainy day, some shouting, “Viva o Papa!”   However, some stretches of the route were very thinly attended.

Ratz  said the crisis demonstrated the need for greater moral responsibility in running the global financial system and noted that he outlined his vision for more ethics in finance in his 2009 encyclical “Charity in Truth.”

He called for greater dialogue within the financial system about ethical considerations. Obviously, a financial crisis and the opportunity for the head man from the Vatican to comment is very useful but the “elephant in the room” remains the unpunished sexual excesses of the Catholic clergy.

Ratz also called for “greater dialogue between faith and the secular world”.

Portugal is approximately 90 percent Catholic but only  2 million of the country’s 10.6 million people describe themselves as practicing their faith. The rest are probably using their Sunday mornings to sit in a bucket on calamine lotion as they speak to their therapist.

Joking apart, the Vatican and its reps have a lot to deal with in what used to be a totally pro-Vatican Catholic country.

In 2007, the  Portuguese  government passed a law allowing abortion. In 2008, it introduced a law allowing a judge to grant a divorce even if one spouse opposed. In January, Parliament passed a bill seeking to make the country the sixth in Europe allowing same-sex couples to marry.  It seems as if the Vatican’s influence is waning.

In his airport remarks, das Pope sharply criticized Portugal’s abortion law, saying public officials must give “essential consideration” to issues that affect human life. Nothing like an 80-year old Catholic unmarried German virgin giving advice to pregnant women.

“The point at issue is not an ethical confrontation between a secular and religious system, so much as a question about the meaning that we give to our freedom,” he said. Clear as mud, as ever.

Benedict also praised Portugal’s Catholic heritage, saying it was a “great force of faith” in spreading Catholicism around the globe, from Brazil to Africa, during colonial times. Those far-off days must have been Manna from heaven for the missionary priests as they got stuck into virgin territories.

Despite the country’s increasingly secular bent (oops!), religious sentiment runs deep.

At least 500,000 people are expected to attend the Pope’s Mass in Fatima on May 13th. It’s  the anniversary of the day in 1917 when three Portuguese shepherd children reported having visions of the Virgin Mary.

Such happenings have always been enough for the Catholic church to stake a claim.  Plus the bonus of children!

A match made in Heaven.

“I’d walk a million miles……”

” Gaffe-prone? Me? Not at all. By the way, why do you hold your hands like this when you sing Mammy?”

Gordon Brown waited 10 years for a crack at the top job. During that time, the United Kingdom enjoyed the fruits and prudence of Ken Clarke’s final Conservative budget. The posturing Iron Chancellor gave no nod either in Ken’s direction or even in the direction of the Global Economy. Both had made him look good and deserved his acknowledgement but the Global Economy would not come to prominence in his mind until the country was beginning to “benefit” from his personal brand of  “overdraft” budgeting style. Then it was a case of “Nowt to do with me mate, there’s a Global recession.”

Those 10 years also saw Brown set-up his own “virtual” government at the Treasury  as he waited for Blair to hand over the reins of power. He craved a shot at being Prime Minister to such an extent that it became an obsession which yesterday finally ended as  abdication – and about time too.

He could have “walked” yesterday but has managed to squeeze another four months as leader (and possibly Prime Minister). He is not exercising his constitutional duty, he is hanging on at all costs.

Both his tenures as Chancellor and as Prime Minister have ended in failure and today he probably feels that extremely keenly. History will judge his tenure at no 10 Downing Street as that of an unelected interim administrator and not as the great statesman that he undoubtedly imagines himself  to be.

There will be no “Brownists” as there are “Thatcherites” and “Blairites”. Brown will soon be forgotten as a hastily scribbled footnote in the pages of our political history. Sadly, he has become a figure of fun and caricature with a total lack of leadership qualities or public social skills. Those who know him personally say that he is urbane, witty , funny and extremely good company. That doesn’t matter because what we see is a clumsy social inept who would have difficulty in motivating a gaggle of  orgasming American Cheerleaders.

It is sad to say but during the last few years the once-great Labour Party has had trouble finding a decent leader. Callaghan? Foot? Kinnock? Blair? Brown?  Brown was the ultimate “wrong man in the wrong job”. Some may think of him as a delusional who thought that Blair’s famous “hand of history on my shoulder” was always meant for him.

He has not been helped by a Labour Party which under Blair became a pastiche of pseudo-Conservative thinking with the mad-aunt of Old Labour having been  locked  away in the attic. New Labour was embarrassed about its family background. The weak Callaghan did nothing to help the Unions when they were being butchered by Margaret Thatcher. That was the moment when Labour became observers and not shapers of events. Their current legacy is two shooting wars and a wrecked economy. Brown has been at the centre of both.

Whenever a  modern Labour leader has attempted to be a co-shaper of events, there has been tragedy – as the frequent flights into Wootton Basset, broken British businesses  and evicted families will testify.

As far as the latest General Election is concerned, the rather insipid result is as a result of insipid politics. Every Party has planted iteself in the Political centre, giving the electorate little choice. The Conservatives are afraid to appear too Right-wing. That has resulted in the creation of the Loony Right and the emergence of the BNP and UKIP. Had the Conservatives been honest and encouraged internal debate, voters would have seen that there are Conservatives who make the BNP look like left-wing pinko softies. However, that is not politically correct nowadays because everyone in mainstream politics has to be packaged as a moderate.

Likewise, New Labour was driven into the political centre by Blair and it has remained parked there ever since. By default, Brown sees himself and his party as champions of business  as well as the unions. Friends to both management and worker. There is a saying that you cannot run with the hare and the hounds. Labour has  been attempting that impossible trick and consequently, left the electorate totally confused. The question is “Who do you stand for, boys?”  The answer is that all parties attempt to  represent EVERYONE, the only difference being that the Socialists wear cheaper suits than the Conservatives and don’t have moats, trust-funds or offshore accounts. Liberals have dodgy haircuts.

There was a time when the Conservatives represented business and commerce, Labour was the party of the workers and the Liberals were……..well,  liberal. Today, they are practically indistinguishable. Consequently, we the electors have to rely on the Punch and Judy exhibition that is the televised Political Debate in order to reach an electoral decision.

To add to our confusion, Brown never did tell us which way he was leading us because he did not seem to care. He just wanted to be Prime Minister and that is one fact of which we were all very conscious.

Blair had John Prescott  riding shotgun. Brown has Harriet Harman. Blair knew that he needed a Prescott to keep the Unions sweet. Brown’s lack of leadership and personality means that he could only stand to have people around him who agreed with him – and woe betide anyone who gave him bad news. Like a banana republic dictator, he only wanted the good news, compliance, obedience and adoration.

He imagined himself as a world statesman. He deluded himself into thinking that he had saved the world. (Remember that famous  Freudian slip in the House in December 2008 when he said “We have saved the world”?  The Rochdale gaffe was by no means his first.)

Brown’s tetchiness belies his extreme vanity and enjoyment of the trappings of office. His self-image is of the great statesman looking far into the distance, an enigmatic face refusing to give-up his secret visions of a Socialist Utopia where all men are born equal and have the same opportunities and advantages in work, education and care. Student politics in an M&S suit.

Will we miss him? No.

Cameron Sizzles

What a show it was! David Cameron all shiny and polished in his Saville Row suit and spanking brand new Shakin’ Stevens hairdo. Nick Clegg (in the middle again) looking like a Polytechnic student who’d been dressed by his mum for  his very first Work Experience interview. Gordon Brown appeared to be leaning on his lectern like a supergrass who’d spent the day having the shit kicked out of him by Gene Hunt.

David Dumbledore was the evening’s host and question-master.  The Shaun of the Dead audience leaned on each other as the ceremony began. The moaned quietly because thay had been told by the BBC  “No laughing or clapping. Breathe quietly.”

From the beginning it was easy to see that Brown’s strategy was to ignore Clegg and attack Cameron. The trouble was that his technique is so bad as to make it totally transparent and ineffective. He simply appeared like a minor irritant to Cameron –  a Jack Russell puppy taking the occasional gummy snap at Cameron’s hand-made Lobbs.

At the start of a debate, which was primarily focused on the economy,  Gordon Brown was expected to shine because he is the only one who knows all the numbers and where all the economic bodies are buried. But in his single-minded uni-dimensional attempt to discredit Cameron and his policies, he did not make any use of his insider knowledge.

The run-up to the debate was overshadowed by a blaze of bad publicity for Brown after he had been caught by that lapel microphone calling Mrs Duffy of Rochdale , “bigoted” .

Earlier polls yesterday suggested that the incident had not seriously dented Labour support ahead of the May 6 election but for many it was still the “Elephant in the room” and weren’t we all dying for a reference to Gillian Duffy!

Although Brown swiftly acknowledged his mistake, it is debatable as to whether he should have mentioned it at all.  He had probably been advised to do so in order to pre-empt any barbed remarks from Cameron and Clegg but they, quite rightly had decided to ignore the whole amateurishl- handled affair. 

Brown began by mocking himself in an oblique reference to Mrs Duffy and then stressed his record, trying to convince voters he was the man to secure future growth.  He did this so many times as to make it as ineffective as his attacks on Cameron.

“There’s a lot to this job and as you saw yesterday I don’t get all of it right,” he said. That remark was followed by his trademark scary grin which he should have left behind in Rochdale. In fact, there were occasions when the camera panned across to him when one of the others was speaking and he appeared to be either practicing his grin or auditioning for “The Shining 2”

“But I do know how to run the economy in good times and in bad. When the banks collapsed I took immediate action to stop the crisis becoming a calamity and the recession becoming a depression.”  That seemed to be  a written and practiced paragraph which was “full-stopped” by a raising of the chin and a Benito Mussolini-type puffing out of the chest and brief stare into the distance. Dumbledore was caught out by that one on a couple of occasions , not realising that Brown has stopped.

Clegg once again tried his “rose between two thorns” party trick and would occasionally step-back from the lectern gesture left and right  to Cameron and Brown and attempt to bracket them in the voters’ minds as “the usual” and “the OLD parties”. This time it did not work because we saw it coming. At best, Clegg was competent but maybe crossed the line to “hippy management” by overdoing the “we” should get together and “we” should sort this out. He forgot that there comes a time when the electorate needs to be led by a strong character  who is willing to take charge and not someone who is trying just that little bit too hard to be “right on, man”.

Cameron contrasted the Clegg inclusive approach by once again alluding to the time in the not too distant future when he would be running the show:  ” If I am elected Prime Minister…..”

Brown  warned that the Conservatives’ plan to cut a record budget deficit this year risked plunging the country back into recession. That was not a particularly sound tactic , especially as most of the electorate still needs to be convinced that we are out of recession.

Brown, Cameron and Clegg clashed on a range of economic issues, including taxes, the banking sector and the decline of British manufacturing industry, but all three largely repeated their respective well-trodden party lines.

Consequently, this final debate lacked shine and spontaneity. Most of the time, it seemed like the same old script.

By far the most lively exchanges of the night were prompted by a question on immigration, a topic which has surfaced in each of the three debates and which had triggered Brown’s Rochdale outburst. 

Cameron repeatedly attacked Brown’s economic record.

“This prime minister and this government have left our economy in such a mess with a budget deficit that this year is forecast to be bigger than that of Greece,” he said. When the camera panned to Brown, he appeared to be shaking his head. That was confusing because that particular statement by Cameron was 100% accurate.

Yet again bidding to end 13 years of Labour rule, Cameron promised Britain a brighter future.

“If you vote Conservative , you can have a new fresh government making a clean break and taking our country in a new direction and bringing the change that we need,” he said – although he omitted to specify the direction in which he would lead us. Away from Brown would be a good start.

Normally that would have guaranteed a round of applause but the audience’s enforced silence and torpor coupled with our conditioning to expect audience reaction gave us more than one slightly uncomfortable moment.

Clegg (again) told voters not to return to the two parties that have dominated post-war politics.

“When you go to vote next week, choose the future you really want. Together we will really change Britain.” was Clegg’s parting shot. More of the “together” stuff which by this time had become a bit yawn-inducing and made him sound a bit like a Customer Services trainer rounding-off a week-long residential company course. Whoever gave him that final line should be shot.

Ostensibly, this final debate was about the economy which is the key election issue as Britain struggles with sluggish growth and a deficit running at more than 11 percent of GDP. However, there appeared to be tacit agreement between the three leaders not to frighten the electorate with any of the huge figures which were being bandied about just a few short months ago. It seems obvious that no party wants to be the first to tell the electorate that for instance, the next Parliament may see increases in Income Tax of up to 6% or that another 500,000 jobs may be lost.

All three leaders tempered bits of bad news with lots of positivity – much of it unfounded.

The overwhelming feeling was that this had been one debate too many. All three protagonists seemed to repeat themselves, especially Brown. That was probably because in the previous two debates, he had made a point of running for the cover of what he understands best which is economics. By yesterday’s debate, he’d already blown all of his best lines. 

A Yougov poll for  the Sun comic asking respondents who they judged had won the debate put Cameron on 41 percent, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg on 32 percent and Brown on 25 percent.

A ComRes poll for ITV found 35 percent thought Cameron had won, against 33 percent for Clegg and 26 percent for Brown. A Populus survey for the Times newspaper put Cameron and Clegg neck-and-neck on 38 percent and Brown on 25 percent.

An ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper was the only one not to rank Brown in last place, putting him second behind Cameron.

“It was Cameron’s best performance of the three debates and he won it narrowly from Nick Clegg,” said Simon Lee, politics lecturer at Hull University.

 In spite of the bad news, Gordon Brown has no choice but  to “up” his fight in order  to retain power, with less than a week to campaign. For Clegg, the election cannot happen quickly enough because it seems that his popularity has tended to peak during and immediately after the debates but decayed quite alarmingly during the weeks following.

David Cameron finished the debates on a “high” and has visibly improved week-on-week.  Clegg started strongly but peaked as early as Week 1. Gordon Brown was flat-lining when he started and has since deteriorated. 

The one thing that these debates have shown is that whereas in the past, a Party’s policies were of paramount importance , our gradual decline into superficiality and the deification of “celebrity” has moulded an electorate which is now firmly focused on the cult of personality.

At last politicians have realised what we PR , sales and marketing boys have known for years. You don’t sell the sausage. You sell the sizzle.

Currently, it is DC who is sizzling.

Gordon the Goofer Part 2

” So how about a Damehood, a ride in the Jag AND new double-glazing?”

Even before it all kicked-off, this mini-tragedy had the all edgy qualities of Borat at a W.I meeting.  The Prologue  had it all. We witnessed not-only  the social skills of Borat, the communication skills of an accountant-farmer, the smile of a tomcat regurgitating a fur-ball and the dress-sense of a demobbed Albanian but there was a co-star!  The co-star was an  opinionated grandmother in a bizarre red-lapelled coat. This was the accident waiting to happen. AND.IT.WAS.GOOD!! 

The electoral campaign was just one week too long for Gordon Brown. He had made it so far. Admittedly by this stage, the Labour Grandees’ fingernails   were even shorter than  Brown’s but it did look as if he may just fall over the line without too many  injuries or accidents. Then Rochdale happened. Brown  blundered into the first major gaffe. 

 An open microphone captured him being dismissively rude about a voter who had expressed an opinion.

Brown, apparently forgetting that he’d left a television microphone pinned to his chest, called 66-year-old Gillian Duffy a “bigoted woman” as he was being driven from a public meeting where (he imagined) she had needled him on immigration.

Within minutes the bad-tempered aside had exploded across the media and within a couple of hours Brown was rushing back to Mrs Duffy’s home to beg her forgiveness and emailing his supporters to make clear he’d apologised.

The subsequent 24 hours have seen the cringe-inducing drama replayed on television, radio and  the Internet .  Murdoch’s Sky appears to have the whole thing on a loop. The debacle has dealt Brown a big setback on the eve of the last TV debate ahead of the May 6 vote.

Mrs Duffy, a retired widow and lifelong Labourite from a long line of Labour supporters  met  the prime minister at a campaign stop in Rochdale. She  questioned him about the influx of eastern European immigrants.  Nothing wrong with the question but Brown does not have the spontaneity to answer any question which does not afford him the opportunity to list Labour’s meagre achievements. Consequently, he was rattled. He was also aware that there are immigrant voters with television sets.

He attempted to answer her potentially emotive question with figures and statistics and began his customary sleep-inducing stumble through “facts” such as “X-number of immigrants had arrived”  but “a large number of Brits and Immigrants had  left“. He forgot that she was only interested in her own environment – Rochdale and not in UK statistics. In fact, one wonders whether he had been briefed at all about Rochdale.

He effectively brushed her question aside when he explained that Britons were also working in Europe. His aides sensed that Brown was running out of steam so he was quickly ushered into the ministerial Jaguar. As soon as he was cocooned in the Jag he relaxed and began to complain to an aide about the encounter from Hell.

“That was a disaster, they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It’s just ridiculous,” Brown is heard to say.

When asked what Duffy had said to upset him, Brown told the aide: “Everything. She’s just a sort of bigoted woman.”

Mrs Duffy  had questioned Brown on taxes, university fees and Britain’s record deficit of £152.84 billion. She had displayed no bigotry whatsoever and her question on  immigration was just that – a request for information. She had expressed no personal view about immigrants.

Brown’s negative reaction was much more to do with his own shortcomings as a communicator rather than Mrs Duffy’s robust questioning.

Brown’s gaffe was immediately broadcast and he was then grilled about it by Jeremy Vine on his Radio 2 show. The show was televised. Slumped over with his head in his hand, Brown said he realised he had made a mistake and regretted the remarks.

“He’s an educated person, why has he come out with words like that?” Duffy said. “He’s calling an ordinary woman who’s just come up and asked questions … a bigot.”  It is still not clear whether Mrs Duffy, her interviewed relatives and all the other Rochdale Vox Pops know exactly what a “bigot” is but they all seem to think that it is a “bad word” – and in this context is is a very bad word – especially for Gordon Brown.

Duffy said Brown had initially appeared receptive as they discussed policy. “I thought he was understanding but he wasn’t, was he?” said Duffy, who said she had planned to vote Labour but would now most likely abstain.

Brown later telephoned Duffy to apologise, then unexpectedly showed up at her home. Damage limitation time.

Smiling broadly but awkwardly, Brown emerged 40 minutes later and said “Gillian” had accepted his apology. Mrs Duffy remained indoors and refused to face the cameras. Overnight, the Red-tops have been pushing envelopes with financial offers through her letter-box and it is rumoured that she has agreed to a deal with one of them.

“She has accepted that there was a misunderstanding and she has accepted my apology,” Brown told reporters through gritted teeth. “If you like, I am a penitent sinner.”

It seems that a statement such as ” She’s just a sort of bigoted woman” is quite unequivocal and Gordon Brown has not yet explained where the “misunderstanding “ occurred. The fact is that he was caught bang to rights and no amount of mealy-mouthed excuses will help him.

As to whether he should have gone back to Mrs Duffy’s house for the 40-minute grovel is debatable. There is a saying that when you have dug yourself into a hole, sometimes  it is a good idea to stop digging.

The political consequences of Brown’s blunder could be severe since he already is third in opinion polls and desperate to show his supposedly statesmanlike credentials to dispatch his less experienced rivals. David Cameron and Nick Clegg  could never have dreamed of being presented with such a luscious target so close to polling day and it will be interesting to see what their speech writers have prepared for tonight’s final televised debate.

In an ironic twist, Brown’s campaign team had even overhauled its election strategy this week — betting that more contact between their leader and ordinary people would revive his flagging election hopes. Had they consulted ANY Public Relations company, they would have been advised to keep Brown in a box until after next Thursday’s vote.

Brown had a previous gaffe last year when he sent a handwritten note to a mother whose son was killed in Afghanistan. He had misspelled the soldier’s name and once again, was forced into an embarrassingly grovelling apology.

Brown’s foes could barely disguise their delight at his high-profile cock-up. “The thing about general elections is that they reveal the truth about people,” said George Osborne in a remarkably restrained statement.

Charlie Whelan, a former aide to Brown, used Twitter to defend the former leader. “Who has not let off steam under stress and strain of a campaign?” he wrote. “He’s apologized, move on.” No surprises there.

Chancellor Alistair Darling offered,  “This is something that he knows he shouldn’t have said.”

Even the reptilian Lord  Mandelson briefly stopped his tongue-flicking  to say  “Gordon didn’t mean it. Ssssssssss. Trusssssst in me.”

Bookmaker William Hill said the gaffe could dent Brown’s election chances, immediately lengthening the odds of a victory for Labour to 16/1 .  William Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe said.  “It could prove to be a very damaging blow to his chances of retaining power.”  The bookies are seldom wrong.

Many commentators say that in order to recoup credibility and votes, Gordon Brown will have to produce a bravura performance at tonight’s debate. Prepare for smiles and statistics.

 

p.s. The open microphone was transmitting “pooled” sound to the media, i.e they all had access to it and they all heard Brown’s remarks. The company which released Brown’s words was Sky.

 

Commie Credibility

After last night’s debate between our political leaders, it was good to see David Cameron, stepping up to the mark and looking and sounding a bit more of a leader. We were all expecting great things from him because of his performances at the Dispatch Box and his “note-free” speeches to Conference.  However, the Dispatch Box only demands short paragraphs, delivered at machine-gun speed. The relaxed atmosphere at Conference, with a “tame” audience is a million miles away from close scrutiny by the nation  and its press through the medium of  TV debate.  The TV “game show”  format demands a subtly different skills-set.

Cameron is not a “natural” but  yesterday, he seemed more at ease and remembered his training. There were only a couple of lapses where it was obvious that he had forgotten to look directly down the camera lens. On the whole, though, it was an accomplished, workmanlike performance which will have won the Conservatives votes.

Nick Clegg is a natural. That was a surprise to us all and possibly most of all, to Nick Clegg himself. The camera loves him, he was the most telegenic of the three  but all that he delivered was more of the same. The surprise factor had gone but at least he did not crumble under a bit of scrutiny from Cameron and Brown. We expect our leaders to be focused on the horizon and Clegg looked “up” a lot which instantly gave him the air of a politician who is fearlessly looking forward. Clegg’s facial expressions were always open, friendly and appropriate. It is unlikely that he has notes in the margin saying “smile”  – unlike Gordon Brown.

Gordon Brown remembered his coaching some of the time but when he was under pressure, he reverted to type and ran to his notes for cover . He is not a natural performer but his biggest drawback is that he does not “look” like a leader. His face had the “hang” of an individual who seldom smiles and who may be suffering from sleep deprivation. There is little doubt that he has sincerity but that is about all. All of his quips seemed over-worked and over-rehearsed and it was obvious that he was determined to use as many as he could. We could have done without “Get real, Nick!” and “They remind me of my two sons squabbling at bath-time”. He appeared to be reading both of those “ad libs” and his random “Hammer movie” smile also looked “inserted” rather that spontaneous and natural.

The great “positive” is to see what used to be quite respected Socialist commentators and journalists  willing to sacrifice their own credibility by claiming that somehow, Gordon Brown was the “winner”. There comes a time when it is prudent to gracefully admit that your man is third-best  and that the only way that he can win is to come out for the final round next week and deliver a double-knockout.

Elliot Morley has more chance of becoming Chancellor.

Send out the Clowns

Your Prime Minister

Gordon Brown and the New Labour inepts are very fond of statistics. Most of the time, their statistics are “weighted”, “massaged” or wrong. Their presentation is often designed to mislead. Here are some simple numbers which clearly show New Labour’s main “successes”.

They came to power in 1997 and that is probably the best starting point:

1. INFLATION.  1997 2.5% ,  2010  3.5%

2. UNEMPLOYMENT.1997 2million ,  2010 2.5million

3. NATIONAL DEBT. 1997 42% of GDP,   2010 53% of GDP

4. LITRE PETROL. 1997 50p , 2010 £1.20

5. BUDGET DEFICIT. 1997 ZERO, 2010 £170 BILLION

Needless to say, there are many other such comparisons. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that New Labour has destroyed the British Economy and that we have completed the journey from economic superpower to third-world economy.

Time is running out and we should waste no time in running this bunch of posturing clowns out of town with Gordo the Clown leading the way.

The Labour claims that they led us out of recession through their fiscal policies is a lie. They did it by printing money and postponing the inevitable collapse.