Brexit to where?
The attempted Brexit is a prime example of the saying ‘A Camel is a Horse designed by a Committee’. We were sold the promise of a graceful and sleek thoroughbred ready to jump out of the starting gate but what we have instead is a broken-down old camel with nowhere to go.
But our Brexit comedy hasn’t been all bad because we have learned a great deal.
Firstly, we have learned that Westminster is too big. Too many MPs with too many opinions and too much pathological self-interest.
Secondly, that ghastly Westminster mélange of lawyers, councillors, teachers, union men, media people, public school retards, political researchers, hedge fund managers, celebs, graduate socialists and professional nationalists is no longer fit for purpose….and forget that ‘Parliament has to reflect Society’ mantra. If that is indeed the case, we have to bear in mind that the average UK citizen is a knuckle-dragging thicko who cannot calculate percentages and struggles to put together a sentence (in English). Just watch any vox pop on the evening news.
Thirdly, we have learned that leadership is not an option. It is a necessity and parliament does not have it (on any side).
Fourthly, it has once again been confirmed that Analyticals rarely make good leaders. Our Prime Minister is a Geography graduate and ex-Bank of England wonk who finds it impossible to create a consensus. Gordon Brown was the last analytical leader and his decision-making and leadership credentials are equally legendary.
Finally, the most overused phrase in politics is ‘We need to……’ as in ‘We need to show some consensus’ or ‘We need to do something about knife crime.’
What the United Kingdom really needs is a new cheerleader, some joined-up management and an urgent cull in and around London’s SW1A postcode.
It was Cameron wot done it!
There is a very important question which no-one is asking: “Why did David Cameron’s government do nothing about Britain’s Exit from the European Union?”
All that Cameron managed to achieve was several months in a very fetching hard hat/high- viz jacket combo, doom-mongering whilst being ably assisted by his sidekick Chancellor Osborne. Gideon’s job was to spout highly coloured statistics and fictitious numbers which were designed to frighten the country’s lame brains (Britthicks). The gruesome twosome were convinced that we would vote to remain within the European Union rather than seek independence and remove ourselves from beneath the velvet jackboot of Brussels bureaucracy.
In fact ‘remainers’ Dave and Gideon adopted exactly the same tactics as those who were promulgating our exit. They too lied and treated us to even more outrageous comedy statistics….but the Brexiteers had xenophobia on their side, coupled to the electorate’s rabid dislike of the Cameron-Osborne double-act.
The referendum result achieved something that many of us could only dream of. It was the sight of Cameron’s rapidly disappearing flabby backside as he headed for the hills because he could not cope with the bitter taste and shame of defeat. His own hubris had shown him the door.
That and the fact that he knew the game was up because he had not even considered that the British public would vote for Brexit.
Consequently he had failed to prepare for the eventuality of us leaving the EU and….. as the very model of a modern fair weather manager….. he had to go.
The Conservative Party then launched into the process of choosing a new leader – an operation that had been manifestly unsuccessful since 1990 when John Major became the compromise leader – and that was only because Hesteltine had too many enemies and had shown the sort of burning ambition that only ‘new money’ is brazen enough to exhibit.
John Major was a bit ‘flattered’ as an election winner and leader, purely because the Islwyn Prattler, Neil Kinnock was the very scary Labour alternative. That situation lasted until 1997 when Tony Blair arrived to create the new ‘socialist’ Camelot.
Subsequent Conservative leadership elections are far too depressing to describe in any detail but here is the list of who they chose: William Hague, Iain Duncan-Smith, Michael Howard….followed by Cameron in 2005. He is noted for not having been able to win an overall Conservative majority until the 2015 General Election. That majority was 12 – and that was with the terminally gauche Ed Miliband as Labour leader!
Once Cameron saw that the British people had voted to exit the EU, we were treated to a hissy fit and his resignation – with the added bonus of Gideon flouncing off in the direction of the Evening Standard. That created another shambolic leadership election with candidates who were all eminently suited to fight a Parish Council election but this was for the leadership of the once-great Conservative Party!
Enter Theresa May and her advisers.
As they watched the Labour Party begin its once-a-generation process of digesting itself from the inside, followed by the election of a truly hopeless leader, Mrs May was advised by her (former) advisers to announce a snap-election in June 2017.
She managed to negatively optimise (lose) Cameron’s majority of 12 and convert it into a hung parliament…..and she was allowed to get away with it because as usual, there was no obvious successor. (There never is.)
Since then, we have been waiting for another General Election but unfortunately before that can happen, the Conservative Party has to launch the next leadership battle.
All the obvious candidates are in the Lords, dead, sectioned or in prison ….so the likelihood is that the next Conservative leader will once again be a Home Counties lame duck with an imminent sell-by date …….and because the vast majority of MPs are terrified by the prospect of an election, the cycle of incompetence and excuses looks set to continue ad infinitum.
That’s a crippling shame because it is today, during probably the most sieismic sideways shift in British History, we need a leader …………….and I don’t mean Boris, Gove or even the power behind the drone – Sarah Vine.
It is an age where Plutocratic Incompetocracy has become the norm and the current abysmal standard of MP suggests that it is here to stay.
Government Strategies For A Dead Horse
I have been studying the decision-making and initiative delivery record of Theresa May’s government and as far as I can see, she manages by delivering statements of intent , plus a very clever device which appears to be problem-solving action but in fact, is totally meaningless.
It begins with three words: “We have allocated…..” This phrase is followed by a large number.
Grenfell? “We have allocated……….”
NHS? “We have allocated…..”
This muddly and often protracted management method can be explained by analogy and the wisdom of those without PPE degrees, MBAs and other letters after their names.
The well-known and slightly modified analogy below should also be studied carefully by the real experts in dead horse flogging – Tory High Command – especially when choosing Party leaders.
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from one generation to another is that if you find yourself riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
However, in modern government, because of the heavy
investment and re-election factors to be taken into consideration, other strategies
need to be tried with dead horses, including the following:
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Threatening the horse with termination.
4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
7. Appointing an intervention team to re-animate the dead horse.
8. Creating a training session to increase riding ability.
9. Re-classifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
10. Change the form so that it reads: “This horse is not dead.”
11. Hire outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
12. Harness several dead horses together for increased speed.
13. Donate the dead horse to a recognized charity, thereby deducting its
full original cost.
14. Providing additional funding to increase the horse’s performance.
15. Do a time management study to see if the lighter riders would improve
16. Purchase an after-market product to make dead horses run faster.
17. Declare that a dead horse has lower overheads, is therefore more-cost-effective and therefore performs better.
18. Form a quality focus group to find profitable uses for dead horses.
19. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for horses.
20. Say things like, “This is the way we have always ridden this horse.”
21. Increasing the standards to ride dead horses.
22. Comparing the state of dead horses in today’s environment.
23. Declaring that “No horse is too dead to beat.”
24. Do a Cost Analysis study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.
25. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory or Ministerial position.
26. Create a government subsidy to retrain dead horses
27. Appoint a dead-horse ‘Czar’ in order to return to 4 (above).
28. ‘Allocate’ a large amount of money so that the dead-horse goes away.
29. Highlight the shameful historical treatment of dead horses by the Opposition in an attempt to win the dead-horse argument.
Remember Hale and Pace when they were funny? This isn’t about them – but it is about Management, Organisation and Decision Making – with maybe a quick nod to Leadership.
The context? The ramshackle mélange of lawyers, doctors, local government employees, lecturers, teachers, journalists, farmers, political organisers and city types which makes up the UK Parliament.
Some of them even end up running Departments of State with massive resources and budgets which are measured in tens or even hundreds of millions. Many are unsuitable for management and even less suitable for leadership but………. with a system which promotes from within a very limited talent pool, the strangest of people rise to the sort of power which those of us who grew up in a mostly meritocratic and competitive corporate environment can only marvel at.
Four out of our five most recent Chancellors were either Lawyers or History graduates! Our present Prime Minister studied Geography. Our Foreign Secretary is an Oxford Classics graduate (that’s Latin and Greek to you and me) and our Defence Secretary has a degree in Social Sciences!
There are English graduates and Philosophy degrees. There’s a medical doctor and even a media person. There’s a statistical sprinkling of those ubiquitous Politics, Philosophy and Economics graduates but some say that PPE graduates never quite learn enough about any one subject…….ideal MP fodder!!
But you may ask ‘What has a degree got to do with anything?’
On the face of it – nothing at all….but it is Organisation and Management which run departments with Leadership showing the way…..and if there is no leadership and an inability or unwillingness to take decisions, there is a lack of progress with decisions being consigned to investigations, reviews, inquiries and commissions – which in reality are no more than misused government devices which cleverly disguise intransigence and moribund passivity into action.
The only other place I have seen such a disparate band of individuals attempting to act as a team was a motley crew of so-called ‘middle management’ in a very well-known company’s marketing department. There were graduates of every flavour imaginable – but they neither had to lead, manage nor take decisions. The corporate damage that they could inflict was negligible.
The clue as to the unsuitability of many (most) MPs to administer billions of pounds on our behalf is to be found in the type of individual who chose to study a particular subject…..but there’s more…..
So-called ‘Communication Skills’, exemplified by an ability to talk whilst being insulted is certainly not related to any ability to lead or manage and yet, it is the skill which is prized above all others.
Currently, (as always) there is talk of future reform of the House of Lords reform and hopefully that is where any reform will remain….in the future.
Before training its beady eye on the Other Place, the House of Commons would do well to pause and think about its own fitness for purpose.
Q: How many MPs work at the House of Commons?
A: About 10% of them.
Kim Philby achieved the professional distinction of being ordered to catch himself. Theresa May is the only politician to have achieved the same status through her fumbling of the Windrush mess. The only difference is that non-one knew about Philby but everyone knows that Mrs May has been the root cause of the government’s current difficulties but no-one is saying it.
Unfortunately, Bunter Soames has been told to express the Conservative Party’s unconditional backing for the punch-drunk and inept Amber Rudd who is taking a media beating on May’s behalf. That usually indicates the beginning of the end.
From Windrush to Bum’s Rush.
Are you 100% sure that the Russians are lying?
Many (including several of the United Kingdom’s most senior Government Ministers) may be surprised to hear that Новичо́к or as we say ‘Novichok’ is NOT the name of a substance.
The word itself means ‘New Kid on the Block’, ‘New Guy’ or even ‘Newcomer’.
‘Novichok’ refers to a series of highy toxic so-called V-agents with the generic formula CnH(2n+4)NO2PS with comparatively minor variants.
For instance, Novichok Nerve Agent VE has the formula C10H24NO2PS.
This particular series of nerve agents was developed by Russia over 20 years (1971-1993) and are collectively considered as the New Kids on the Block because they are Russia’s Second Generation agents with the first attempts having been produced in the Soviet Era – just after WW2. Read More
Boris Johnson and the Dark Lord.
One of the great constants in recent Tory leadership elections has been the sudden emergence of Michael Hestletine from his earth-filled coffin.
The man who shafted Margaret Thatcher and who by doing so, not-only failed in his own ambitions to become Prime Minister but single-handedly established the modern dynasty of ineffectual Conservative Party leaders: Major, Hague, Duncan-Smith, Howard and of course, latterly, the toff’s toff, David Cameron.
As a result of Hestletine’s treachery and blind ambition, he consigned the Tories to almost perpetual Opposition and it took until 2015 for them to achieve a parliamentary majority, the last one having been under John Major in 1992. That is TWENTY THREE YEARS – and it was all thanks to Hestletine.
There’s little point in The Bitter Lord accusing Boris Johnson of creating “the greatest constitutional crisis in modern times”.….and that BoJo has “ripped the (Conservative) party apart.”
EU lies? Like S***to a Blanket……..
Listening to many of the Brexit-related vox pop on the news, especially from the older generation makes you realise that not only are many of the interviewees a bit thick , but that many do not appear to read past the headlines…… and that is exactly what Cameron and Osborne are tapping into.
They fully realise that all they have to do is trot out a few memorable short sentences containing lots of “Could” and “Probably”, in the knowledge that all the audience will hear is “job losses”, “recession”, “lower house prices”, “self-destruct” etc with the latest suggestion being that leaving the EU would be “immoral”.
Heavy shit! Of course, that is exactly what it is….Shit.
We are listening to two guys whose prediction record matches that of Dr. Dionysius Lardner who said in 1830: “Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.”
Or as recently as 1977, when Ken Olson, chairman of The Digital Equipment Corporation predicted: “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
Neither Cameron nor Osborne has any idea what is going to happen next month. Never mind in twelve months’ or five years’ time.
Because of their tactical rather than strategic mentality, they are predicting what they think will happen to the British economy in the year or so following Brexit.
Proper leaders would be thinking very long-term but of course Dave and Gideon only have to frighten this generation of voters and will not have to apologise to future generations who may find themselves unable to escape from the economic and sociological straitjacket of EU membership.
The fact is that neither Cameron nor Osborne is capable running the United Kingdom without the reassuring comfort of Brussels and its rapidly mushrooming and already considerable population of commissars.
We should also notice that no one who is in favour of remaining within the EU club is even attempting to describe the socialist utopia which is being created right under our noses.
Where is the talk of increased incomes, a recession-free United Kingdom, more employment, a prospering NHS – all the things which are the corollary of the doom-infused nonsense which we are being fed?
Is it because negativity, doom and ruination are not-only more memorable but stick in the mind like s*** to a blanket?
Another BREXIT myth?
Always beware of any sentence uttered by a politician which contains the word “percentage” – especially if that politician is Chancellor Gideon.
The latest bit of statistical fantasy saw Osborne suggesting that if we leave the #EU, “house prices COULD fall by Up TO 18 %.” (!)
Obviously, he has a plan!
Does he intend to stop dodgy Russian oligarchs, newly-minted Chinese billionaires, corrupt African despots and tyrannical Middle Eastern potentates and politicians from driving-up UK house prices by buying up London properties and paying silly money for the United Kingdom’s historic country houses and estates?
Mind you, it’s all a great distraction from the NHS, the tanking economy and our unmeasured, out-of-control immigration.
The Ugly Spectre of EU Self-interest……
A recent survey has indicated that most companies based in the eurozone believe a British decision to leave the European Union would hurt the region as it struggles with a sluggish economy and a migration crisis.
79% of firms based in the eurozone said a Brexit would be bad for the area, with less than 4% saying it would have a positive impact, according to the report from accountants Grant Thornton.
“What’s abundantly clear from our research is that European business leaders overwhelmingly view a Brexit as a negative development for the EU,” Francesca Lagerberg, a senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, said.
She said business confidence was strong considering the various potential threats the region faced from low growth, high unemployment, migration and a potential Brexit.
“Any one of these flaring up over the next few months could see that optimism wobble if the economic shocks undermine business leaders’ ability to plan and invest,” she added.
The survey was based on interviews with more than 2,500 senior executives conducted in January and February.
The result is in keeping with the view of senior business leaders in Britain who are largely in favour of Britain staying in the EU. Most economists expect an exit would deal a blow to Britain’s economy in both the short- and longer-term.
The Grant Thornton report showed 68 percent of British-based firms believe Brexit would have a negative impact on Europe.
Parts of the eurozone have struggled with a debt crisis in recent years which, on the heels of the global financial crisis, has stifled growth and left many unemployed. Unfortunately, quite a high percentage of Europe’s unemployed appear to be headed for the UK.
In addition, many recent migrants to the EU stated their first choice of refuge as the UK. Many of those will be arriving here in a few years….when Germany and other states hand them EU citizenship.
The region as a whole remains at odds over how to contain the continuing flow of migrants to the region.
It is regrettable that neither the UK political leadership, nor the Brussels Commissars have any idea about Managing Change on a macro scale because the sociological change within the #EU is probably they biggest issue that will need to be addressed within the next five to ten years.
Both sides are doing their best to frighten the electorate into voting for their point of view. There has also been an attempt at what can only be described as The Blackmail of a Nation – especially by the IN camp and the leadership’s foreign banking and political friends..
The fact is that BOTH sides have valid arguments but instead of helping the average UK citizen to make a reasonable choice whilst at the same time preparing for change, BOTH sides prefer to persuade through the medium of fantasy rhetoric, insinuation and slur.
Meanwhile, mainland Europe, surrounded by the Ring of Chaos, which encompasses Ukraine, then east to Turkey and south to North Africa, sits and waits for more handouts and UK opportunities for its unemployed.
No birds in Muirfield!
If you’re lucky enough to travel to Muirfield to play golf, make sure that you remember to set you watch back 200 years. Forsooth!
A favourite quote
Albert Einstein was asked how he thought that World War 3 would be fought. He said that he didn’t know but that he knew how World War 4 would be fought – with sticks and stones.
|“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe”
– Albert Einstein
Superbugs and #Brexit
After two years of detailed statistical analysis, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance has been published and concludes that superbugs will kill someone every three seconds by 2050 unless the world acts now.
The rather alarmist review sets out a plan for preventing medicine “being cast back into the Dark Ages.”
The report calls for a revolution in the way antibiotics are used and a campaign to educate people.
The battle against bugs which are resistant to antibiotics has been described as “as big a risk as terrorism”. because we are simply not developing enough new antibiotics and we are wasting the ones we have.
We now await a statement from the Prime Minister to confirm that if we retain our #EU membership, the risk will be greatly minimalised “because together, we are stronger!” and a counter argument from the #Brexit camp that increased EU migration will doubtless contribute to even more infection ! 🙂
Brexit – Summary , so far……
Cameron’s ‘in crowd’ has expanded offshore to include the foreign senior banking community. Here in the UK, the ‘IN’ conspiracy has now recruited some senior corporate ‘suits’.
Meanwhile, Boris is looking increasingly shambolic and isolated plus, he does not appear to be appealing to the great unwashed.
The two main messages are either “Watch out for hordes of migrants and we could do it alone if we wanted to” or, more worryingly: “The UK is effectively imprisoned within the #EU with no way out without damaging EVERYTHING!”
Both messages are negative – especially now that it would appear that the Cameron camp has admitted that even if we wanted to leave – we can’t. We’re trapped!
Today it was the turn of Spain’s 800,000 permatanned British residents to have the fear of God put into them…..as if the Spanish economy would even think about risking the loss of such a vast slice of revenue!
The one aspect of the debate I cannot agree with and that is the perceived danger from millions of low-level migrants. Once the UK economy collapses, no-one will want to come here.
Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the ECB’s Mario Draghi to pontificate.
Brexit Fun with Statistics
Good to see the Cameron #EU ‘In-Crowd’ adopting the official government policy of spouting meaningless and spurious statistics in order to try and prove that being a member of the European Union is compulsory if one is to maintain economic success , which, incidentally, is something which continues to elude the United Kingdom – in spite of Chancellor Gideon’s creative use of percentages.
Here are some more numbers:
- Six out of ten of the world’s biggest economies are not members of the EU. If the UK Brexited, SEVEN out of ten of the world’s most powerful economies would not be members of the EU.
- According to Bloomberg , of the world’s top ten fastest-growing economies, not one is a member of the EU.
- If we look at real GDP growth rate, the highest performer within the EU is Ireland and is placed only 44th(!) in the world.
What Cameron is REALLY saying is very simple: He does NOT believe that he, Chancellor Gideon and the rest of the current crop of Westminster PPE and History Grads have the collective ability to run an economy without the bureaucratic and legal crutch of the Brussels Commissars.
Lagarde, Brexit & Panic
It was the IMF’s Christine Lagarde’s turn today.
She says that Brexit would have “assez mauvais to très , très mauvais” consequences but was not particularly specific.
“Pretty bad to very, very bad” is once again a judgement and not a prediction….and if she wants to see “very, very bad”, she should keep a closer eye on Greece’s problems!
Make no mistake, just like Mark Carney before her, prior to issuing her predictable statement, she would have been on the phone to Chancellor Gideon or David Cameron for approval of this latest piece of the well-choreographed scaremongering pro-EU referendum jigsaw. So WHO is next to have been recruited by the ‘IN’ camp?
One suspects that either this weekend or possibly on Monday, it will be the turn of the ECB’s Mario (il Papa) Draghi to instil a bit of ‘panico’ among us gullible Brits!
It started with Obama and they’re travelling East……..
Carney in the Cameron Corner?
The (hired by Chancellor Gideon) totally impartial Governor Mark Carney of the oh-so independent Bank of England said today that if the United Kingdom left the Bruderschaft of the oh-so economically-stable #EU, the risk of leaving “could possibly include a technical recession”……….which by implication suggests that if we stay firmly wedged in Bundeskanzlerin Merkel’s ample #EU cleavage, the risk of recession will be gone! Good news !!
David Cameron then said the warning amounted to “a very clear message” of the dangers of Brexit.
Some have declared that the Governor was spouting unwarranted and unmitigated bollocks with several calling for him to be sacked.
In reply, the Governor’s spokesperson said the Bank had “a duty to make its judgments known.”
As the Bank of England has been so incisive and accurate in all of its previous economic judgments and predictions – the 2008 economic collapse, the subsequent recession and the collapse of RBS, to name but a few – I cannot think of any reason why we should not take Governor Carney’s latest prophecy (it’s NOT a prediction!) VERY seriously. 🙂
Believe it or not, I have no particular view as to whether or not we should remain within the European Union but if we are minded to believe the sharp suited Westminster Europhiles (and Jeremy Corbyn), we should not take what is looking increasingly like the foolhardy and dangerous option of Brexit………. Of course, the other team is busy painting a picture of an economic Utopia, unencumbered by the tyrannical drag-chute of EU integration.
The only unsurprising phenomenon about the whole debate is that because we know of no other way, two teams were hastily put together and, as is the case with every other debate, confrontation has been the order of the day.
I would have considered David Cameron far more statesmanlike had he addressed the nation in a far more neutral way, outlining the pros and cons for both possible outcomes. Unfortunately, we only know one way and that is through the medium of opinion-fuelled conflict. Hence the Boris and Cameron camps both treating the debate more like a prizefight rather than what could have been a comradely discussion.
The most outrageous claims have come from the ‘stay in’ camp.
‘Each family will be £4300 per year worse off’, ‘mortgage rates will increase’, ‘house prices will fall’, ‘we are safer within the European Union.’ etc. are all no more than conjecture.
The fact is that whether we are in or out will make little difference to the average man in the street and given the politicians’, pollsters’ and economists’ track records on any sort of prediction, we should all be wary of all the nonsense which has been produced as implied ‘fact’.
Sadly, most of the United Kingdom’s voting population is not very ‘politically-bright’ – hence the outrageous claims made by both sides. It is the only way that they are able to communicate with the slack-jawed Mr and Mrs Average because proper economic and sovereignty arguments are far too complicated without being reduced to single sentence soundbites.
If only the government had had the foresight to produce a single ‘for and against’ document, clearly showing that the argument is largely opinion rather than fact-based, Mr and Mrs Average would not have to be subjected to the increasingly hysterical rhetoric of the Westminster wide-boys.
However, tell someone that their property value is going to fall and contrary to world trends, interest rates are mysteriously going to increase, you begin to understand that scaremongering by both sides is the only way forward.
What is it that we are being asked to keep or abandon?
What is in place at the moment is a self-amplifying bureaucracy which has arrived at the stage where it exists to perpetuate itself rather than be there for the good of the European Community. We have a European legal system whose main function appears to be to impose itself on EU member states plus a European economy which continues to be in terminal decline. There is a massive migration problem-without-end, with the prospect of an increased internal EU migration issue as a result of the proposed future membership of Turkey and Albania. That is the organisation of which we are currently a member.
The question is very straightforward: Do we want to belong to a totally unaudited association of failing and near bankrupt economies, overrun by unwanted (yes!) migrants and presided over by an inwardly-focused, self-amplifying bureaucracy – or should we be looking outwards to the rest of the world whilst maintaining relations only with the European states we can and WANT to do business with – without worrying about regulations governing what we eat or the amperage of our hairdryers and toasters!
The MOST frightening aspect of leaving the European Union is no more than a quite natural fear of CHANGE.
With very few exceptions, politicians have clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of preventing crises and they are certainly very frightened of being accused of creating a crisis such as they imagine might occur if we left the EU.
They surmise, quite correctly, that they would not be able to deal with it, and it is no accident that both David Cameron and George Osborne are at the desperate forefront of trying to keep us in the European Union because they would be the ones expected to deal with any Brexit fallout for which they are not professionally equipped.
Their motivation is fear, whereas the leaders of the Brexit campaign are driven by no more than a misplaced ambition to rule.
The stakes within the EU debate have very little to do with pragmatism or principle. They are to do with power and we as voters would do well to remember that.
The subtext of the Brexit debate is a battle for the leadership of BOTH of our main political parties.
BURIED Steel News.
This is what is happening while #Cameron dispenses platitudes:
German newspaper Rheinische Post has reported that Tata Steel is in advanced talks to buy a stake in Thyssenkrupp’s Steel Europe, sending shares in Thyssenkrupp 5.2 percent higher to the top of Germany’s DAX index …………Thyssenkrupp declined to comment, as did a European spokesman for Tata Steel.
Tata Steel wants to dump Port Talbot and get into bed with our German friends.
So much for DC’s negotiating skills.
Cameron deploying his “We’ll do everything we can to help” mantra. This time it is aimed at the British steel industry. Certain commentators have suggested that Dave is probably thinking about re-nationalising steel! He’d rather be rogered by a pig wearing a red rosette….It won’t be long before we’re importing steel from China. Remember, this government does NOT have a long-term plan – only fine words. Time to say ‘tata’ to our steel industry.
#Cameron – a first assessment.
Every government is remembered by its Prime Minister and just a couple of headline achievements and policies. So far, David Cameron has built quite an arsenal of happy memories to be remembered by. Here are 20……..and they’re beginning to look very worrying.
- Very dodgy Statistics with the Ministry of Statistics (ONS) admitting its over-reliance on surveys.
- A Prime Minister incapable of completing a negotiation. (EU)…..Don’t believe me? Wait and see….
- All issues requiring an executive decision being farmed out to Planet Inquiry.
- Food Banks.
- Giving a totally believable impression of being comprehensively out of touch with the ordinary man.
- Nepotism and Cronyism…..referred to as “patronage”.
- The most appalling political speeches.
- Watching the Steel Industry’s final death throes.
- A flat economy with 95% of everything expressed in percentages.
- Too many incomplete undelivered promises and confusion between decree and action.
- The Gatwick v Heathrow saga.
- The inability to motivate Chilcot to complete his Iraq Inquiry.
- A pointless involvement in Syria.
- 2-Nation Politics and the return of toffery.
- Meetings – especially the pointless COBRA ritual.
- Fictional Economic claims.
- Fictional National Security claims – reminiscent of #Blair.
- 2015 Election win by default…Because the alternative (Miliband) was TOO ghastly to contemplate.
- Watching the entire NHS fail.
Sharm el-Sheikh Sabotage
It’s a great shame that even when Cameron makes an absolutely CORRECT decision in halting flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, people still complain. As evidence accumulates, it looks increasingly likely that the Russian Airbus 321 was brought down by a catastrophic event which occurred inside the plane. DC is taking no chances – and quite right too!
No Syrian conflict for Dave.
An influential Commons committee has urged David Cameron not to press ahead with a vote on UK air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria.
The Foreign Affairs Committee – which has a Conservative majority – said the Prime Minister should instead “focus on efforts to end Syria’s civil war”.
The committee also raised concerns about the legal basis for any UK action.
Downing Street has strongly denied reports Mr Cameron has abandoned plans for a vote altogether…….but Oh YES, he has!
There’s no way that he can risk another Commons defeat, Lords humiliation or be seen doing to Syria what Blair did to Iraq.
He has taken the line of least resistance.
George Orwell may have been 30 years out, but he was right. Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill must not be allowed to pass into Law. I certainly do not want to traumatize some innocent Plod as he or she scours my web-browsing history…(It was for research purposes!). Rewind 20 years and we have the equivalent of the government saying: “We want to steam-open your letters before you read them but we’ll only have sneaky little peek. Nothing to worry about. It’s all that terrorism y’know! It’s for your own good!”
Hopefully, once again…the House of Lords will protect us from a government which is becoming far too prescriptive and self-important.
Another case of Big Brother is Botching?
Camron and Karney the Head Banker – A Fable
(A government FAILS to persuade bankers to lend to the common people.)
The Gates to Economic Recovery and New Prosperity were being guarded by the Bankers.
A tired and bedraggled band of travellers stood before them. They were led by Camron, the legendary economic illusionist and Prime Minister of the Ukshire.
The Chancellor Gideon, the Cabinet and other Uks were busying themselves with trying to appear invisible – an ancient trick modeled after the mythical Bank Elders.
Camron raised his pink chin so as to appear less terrified than he really was. He tried one of his famed rictus-like smiles. “Please let us in! We have cleared The Mess!” .
After he had spoken, he looked round to his band of followers for their approval – for that was their job. They made the customary grunting and “Hear! hear! The Mess! The Mess!” noises of approval.
The Bankers were confused and even a little frightened but nevertheless, were obliged to follow their elders’ orders.
“You have to pay to come in,” oozed the Banker as he counted heads and flicked at his abacus. His fingers were a blur as he remembered: “…then there’s the insurance…..and other charges”. The abacus was smoking.
“But we have already collected and given you all the gold that we could find. And you did promise than when our coffers were empty, we could come in. It is getting so cold out here. We are tired and hungry and we can see that behind the gates there is sunshine and the New Prosperity. If you will not let us in, would you please lend us a little of our own gold back, so that we can eat . Many are dying – even the hard-working people”
” That is not our problem. WE hear that there are Food Banks for the poor! You enjoyed the Old Prosperity when we gave you more than we had and now, we have no more to lend. Anyway, you look as if you would not be able to repay it.”
” But who are all those smiling happy people who I can see through the gates?”
” They are the Bankers. It is the time of the Feast of Bonus and they are celebrating and making merry. Are you a Banker?”
” No I am not but there are occasions when I am speaking to an audience – I imagine that I can hear a whisper in the audience.”
” And what is this ‘whisper’ ?”sneered the Banker.
” It seems that there are some who think that I am a Banker – because that is the sacred word that imagine I hear. On some occasions, I can hear it several times. There must be many who think that I am a banker. Can I at least come in? Just to see?”
” Why should anyone think that you are a Banker? Do you receive a bonus? Do you have large expense account? How big are your share options?”
” I have none of the Sacred Trappings – I am merely the Prime Minister of the Uks but there are those who see me nearly as important as a Banker. In fact, sometimes I hear whispers which make me think that the people wish me to be in charge not only of the Cabinet, the country but of even …………………the Bankers.”
Camron immediately looked down at his feet because he sensed that he may have gone too far. His entourage cowered.
The Chancellor Gideon tried to make himself even more invisible and only just stopped himself from laughing by biting so hard into the back of his own forefinger that blood flowed from the wound. As you would expect, it was a clear liquid.
Shocked, the two Gatekeeper Bankers took a step back. They had never heard such a preposterously outrageous claim. “In charge of the Bankers???? Who? You?!!”
They knew in that instant that they were dealing with a “Dangerous” but decided to continue the dialogue and try to learn more.They didn’t usually have contact with people.
They had heard the legend that one day, a simple creature would come to the Gates and become “In Charge”. No-one quite knew what this strange phrase meant but they wanted to be sure.
Was this “The One?”. They doubted it because the legend of the god Euro suggested that the one who would one day be in charge, was to be a red-headed female called Merkil from the Land of the Goths.
But the pink-faced stranger had just used the sacred “In Charge” words!
It was a joke among Bankers because they knew that no-one but a Banker could be “in charge”…… They were the chosen ones. They used to serve the people but now the people served them.
” Are you ill? What are the people saying?” The Banker took out his Magic Blackberry and punched at some buttons. His eyes did not leave Camron’s pink face, who continued:
” Sometimes when I am speaking in riddles to the people of The Deficit and suchlike – I seem to hear not just “Banker” but also “King” Banker. That is the phrase! They call me a “Right King Banker”. That is the phrase I hear.”
” But can you talk in riddles? Can you make money disappear? Are you so self-serving, selfish and thick-skinned that you can ignore the criticisms of all those around you? How good are you at offering help to those who do not need it? Were you unpopular at school? Have you ever given money and then changed your mind and taken it back? Well…… have you. Do you have the Gift of Sneer ?”
It was like a bolt of lightning. Camron knew! He was The One !!
He tried his smile once again. Some recoiled in disgust but there were those within earshot who were also beginning to believe that perhaps Camron was “The One”.
Camron certainly believed it. He would ask for an Inquiry – just to be sure. He liked an Inquiry – that most holy of Ministerial Sacraments. Meanwhile, he decided to take the bull by the horns – he would assert himself.
” Bring the Head Banker to see me here at the Gates. Tell him that David of Camenor (for that was his real name) wishes to see him!”
There were gasps. Humans, Uks and Bankers looked at each other. For what seemed like an eternity, there was a cold, dark silence – just like the one which would follow a joke made by the Prophet Milibrand the Younger!
Just as suddenly, the beyond-dead atmosphere was broken by a commotion inside the Gates. Word had been sent to the Head Banker. There was no going back!
Eventually, a short man in a black silk pinstriped suit appeared at the gates. His gold tooth and diamond in his chunky gold pinkie ring flashed as he removed his Fedora. The black overcoat remained draped over his shoulders as he approached Camron.
Camron noticed that the Head Banker’s white silk tie matched the handkerchief tumbling out of his breast-pocket. He briefly imagined his own finger in the Head Bankers chunky ring!
They stood toe-to-toe. It was the Banker who spoke.
Camron felt more resolute than he had ever done in his life. This was his destiny! He would be the saviour of the people. This was his time. He cleared his throat.
” On behalf of the people, I command you to lend them the money so that they may enter the Gates of Prosperity.”
It was the briefest and most “to the point” statement that Camron had ever made – and he’d managed it without an Inquiry! He felt quite exhilarated and just in case someone was sketching this historic moment, he struck a heroic pose and focused his bloodshot piggy eyes on the horizon.
Karney the Head Banker moved even closer. They exchanged knowing smiles, although the Head Banker’s eyes retained all the charm of two bullet holes .
Almost imperceptibly, as Camron leaned to wards him, the Banker’s expression changed.
Swiftly, he brought his knee up.
Blue or Red corner?
We are constantly being reminded that that the May General Election, rather than being an ideological battle between the two usual suspects, it is much more open…..but is it?
The main two protagonists have been standing toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring for some months now…but it is is the Blue Corner’s “second” who is twitching on the slab, hoping for a last-minute crumb of absolution from the electorate. The mauve circus continues to be led towards that mythical New (EU-free) Dawn by their gurning ringmaster…hardly spilling a drop as he marches through town…always steering towards the Main Event but aware of the fate which befell the man on the slab. There are the tree-huggers flitting in and out like Noddy’s goblins…but there will always be tree huggers. The REAL Green Controller is staying well out of this Rumble in the Westminster Jungle.
The UK 2015 General Election IS a Beauty Contest but with only two contestants. No matter HOW many votes go to the Mauve Circus, the Man on the Slab or the Green Goblins, it is (and always has been) either the man in the Blue Corner or the Man in the Red Corner who will become Champion.
So which one should our money be on?
Very light on his feet (No! NOT in that way!), trains hard by performing endless U-turns and making vague promises about the future. Puts on a brave face but beginning to suffer mild stabbing pains between the shoulder blades. He likes to start fights but rarely finishes them (see European Union) but likes to say that everything will improve, if he wins his next fight. His “previous” as a former speechwriter to John Major (really?) and special adviser to Norman Lamont (in 1993!) does NOT look too good on paper but his shouting skills at the Despatch Box have become legendary…plus he has perfected the art of giving the same answer to every question! For example: “Good afternoon, Dave” “It would have been a much better afternoon if we didn’t have to clear up the mess..left behind….etc” Invented but unfortunately mislaid The Big Society.
Although youthful, his face looks as if he’s been in many fights but apparently, it’s his natural look. He suffers from the same stabbing pains as the other guy but always gives the impression that he is very thick skinned….as you’d expect from someone who once shafted and humiliated his own brother in public. His general “look” has been described by some as “weirdo chic”, as has his voice, face and hair. His “previous” is as impressive as his opponent’s…his main claim to fame being a very long-standing association with the Old Charmer himself, Gordon Brown…as an adviser and then as author of his party’s last election manifesto. A 2011 Ipsos Mori poll found him to be less popular that Iain Duncan-Smith when he was Leader of the Opposition.
THIS is going to be very close but my money will be on the Blue Corner……Purely on political guile, leadership qualities, contacts and presentation skills. However, they ARE reasonably well-matched with the main issue for both of them being the quality of the people they have surrounded themselves with.
(Who would YOU rather see across the table from Putin?)
#Islamic State – Cause or Effect?
After the mess left behind in Iraq, Libya and Syria, Western leaders appear to have realised that the days of a “good shooting war” being good for political image have gone forever. For most political leaders, heroic speechwriter-polished phrases and Churchillian posturing are a remnant of a past when the words ” honour” and “bravery” still had currency.
Today, war is recognised as a filthy misery-spawning industry which, like an appalling Grand Prix Circuit, moves from country to country, leaving no more than a legacy of destruction and death. There is no honour in war – there is only pointlessness, rubble and refugees.
The most bizarre aspect of the whole Middle East circus is that the leader of a small cluster of damp islands in the North Sea is always the one who makes the most noise, always hiding behind his younger but much bigger American cousin’s skirts…..and unsurprisingly, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minster is at it again. This time, from the safety of the White House.
Historically, the West feels that its job is to dispense the universally therapeutic remedy of “democracy” – even to those who don’t really want it.
Democracy is not an emollient to be force-fed in the same way that 18th and 19th century missionaries (from exactly the same damp islands) delivered Christianity to the world’s natives.
The Arabs are not even remotely interested in our special brand of democracy. Democracy used to be THE excuse because they knew that as soon as they shouted “Freedom!” or “Democracy!“, the usual suspects would come riding in, dispensing guns with notions of rescue, egalitarianism and ballot boxes.
THAT didn’t work so now it’s Muslim Fundamentalism and not democracy which needs to be spread! However, the Root Cause remains the same. Only the excuse is different.
Can you imagine revolutions in the Middle East if the family businesses masquerading as governments, distributed their oil billions as they should? Would the average Muslim be interested in getting shot in the name of “regime change” , “democracy” or even “Islam” – if he had a job, enough food, decent housing, a car, TV set, free hospital care for his family and a bit left over? Of course not.
Exactly the same economic argument applies here in the West . Would as many young Muslims fly to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State if they had a career, a home and a future? Would they blow-up magazine offices and fly planes into buildings?
With horrific levels of Muslim youth unemployment and social exclusion, their “Islamic revolution” is primarily based in economics….. not religious idealism.
Once Western leaders accept that, instead of constantly citing “Radicalisation”, we may be a step nearer to finding a solution.
The Paris Love-in.
The Summer of Love, Woodstock and now Je Suis Charlie…….. Love-ins are doubtless very motivational, inspirational and emotionally regenerative but unfortunately, they carry with them a large dose of exponential decay.
Other demonstrations such as Solidarność worked because they were not-only inclusive but they also hinted at revolution and violence……..undercurrents which are (by definition) always missing from love-ins.
Make no mistake, the events in Paris yesterday were wonderful and uplifting but regrettably, not transformational. They were no more than a herd coming together after a few of its members had been attacked and killed by predators. We were all looking for emotional warmth, safety, reassurance, a feeling of belonging and motivation of the sort which only a herd can provide.
It was all terribly emotional but in time, emotions grow dim.
Words of love and respect were spoken by members of all denominations and class. Politicians delivered their obligatory words of defiance. Social and Political commentators provided analysis and words of caution as well as optimism. Mothers brought their children for that “I was there” moment….but feelings will pass and memories fade.
We are currently watching the emergence of a rogue herd which is not yet ready for the pragmatism of rubbing along peacefully with all the other herds. The Islamic State will be “l’étranger” for some time to come. Showing it love and respect is impossible for the rest of us because for the moment, in spite of our numbers, it is they who are the predators and we are the hunted.
However, looking at the magnificent sight of two million individuals sweeping slowly through the streets of Paris reminds us that it is not only time which is on our side but that it will always be a numbers game.
Yesterday, the human herd grew….both in numbers and stature.
Beware – especially #SMEs
Whether you provide a service or whether you make something and no matter how GOOD you are, you need to tell the world about what you produce. THAT means that a large part of your job is Selling!
Whenever I train people to sell, I tend to major on how to get your product or service in front of people and how to turn value into hard cash. A good Sales Presentation IS useful but as MOST entrepreneurs who fail, do so because they don’t distribute or sell their product effectively, I thought that on this occasion, I would cut to the last bit……the very end of a pitch, presentation or meeting – so that you recognise the signals which tell you that you have hit a brick wall and have made an error during your pitch.
I have many years experience of pitching my company to senior management – usually the Chief Executive and even though I’ve completed hundreds of pitches, presentations etc, I still find myself making the occasional mistake – usually by simply misreading my prospect’s signals.
Here are some phrases which you may have already come across….ALL of them indicate that somewhere along the line, you have made a mistake. It’s by no means irredeemable but you DO have a bit more work to do:
” Leave me your card, I’ll get back to you.”
” I need to discuss this with my partner/directors/ wife/ HR Director/ Purchasing Manager/ Accountant/ Solicitor etc etc.”
” Call me in a week’s/Month’s time.”
“Let’s get Christmas/ Easter/ Summer Holidays etc out of the way…then we’ll talk again.”
“Write to me.”
“We’re reorganising/moving premises/installing a new system.”
“At the moment, everything is a bit ‘Up in the air’….I’ll call you when we’re ready.’
“We’ll definitely go ahead in the New Year/ next month/next financial year etc.”
If you look carefully, ALL of the above are stalling statements from someone who has not been persuaded that he or she has a NEED or that YOU are the one to satisfy their need.
So, if after the first one or two follow-up phone calls, letters or emails, you are still being stonewalled…..move on and maybe come back in a few months.
Remember: There are NO reasons…only excuses and bad sales presentations!
A concept which Western negotiators would do well to get to grips with is “MASKIROVKA”…something Russia is very good at! http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/maskirovka ……….. Humanitarian Aid ? OK…if you say so! That scamp Putin is still running circles around everyone. Sanctions? I still remember years ago, the USA quietly asking Russia to please stop printing dollars. For the moment, the contest between Russia and the West appears very uneven. A good starting point would be for the West to LIFT all sanctions and force Putin to make his move 🙂
Ebola, Famine and fighting in Africa………. Rape, murder, racism, religious oppression and high explosives in the Middle East….. On the brink of war in Ukraine……..HE certainly DOES move in mysterious ways!
The IMF’s austerity conditions for #Ukraine, in return for cash handouts will prepare the country for membership of the EU’s “Indentured Servitude Club”.….alongside near-neighbours such as Greece……. The short to mid-term future looks very bleak for members of the ISC……..Nowadays, the population-at-large paying for the crimes of its politicians and bankers appears to be the generally accepted norm!
#MH370 : What if…..
The red mark on the map is the location of the American Military Base on Diego Garcia, which is is a coral atoll and part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.
The disappearance of the flight has been the subject of many conspiracy theories……ranging from alien abduction to an on-board bomb.
A couple of days ago, INMARSAT, a British company completed some very subtle calculations and announced the most likely resting place of flight MH370….somewhere near the bottom of the above map, to the west of Australia.
We have all taken Inmarsat’s calculations at face value but the discovery that a recent addition to this company’s Board was General C. Robert Kehler, United States Air Force (Retired), puts a slight “spin” on the facts.
Until November, General Kehler was Commander, US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).
So, we have a heavily-protected US base which has nuclear rockets pointed a several targets on the Asian mainland.
We have a (possibly) deranged pilot who is rumoured to have Diego Garcia programmed into his home-built aircraft simulator.
What if the pilot had decided to crash Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 into the Diego Garcia Base? Remember that he didn’t disappear from radar by accident. He disappeared at the point where he knew that the plane would be “invisible” to radar.
There was absolutely NO reason to fly South and crash into the ocean.
Last question: WHAT would the USA Military do if they became conscious of what looked like a rogue plane with communications switched off heading towards them at a height of a few thousand feet?
They would blow it out of the sky.
The only issue remaining would be to lay a false trail in order to put the “crash site” as far away as possible from where it was “killed”.
One cannot blame the passengers’ families for being sceptical.
One Christmas morning a few years ago, an army chaplain decided to join some squaddies in their armoured vehicle for a routine patrol in downtown Baghdad. As they drove through the dry dusty streets, they were only too aware of the possible dangers that they either saw or imagined in every person or pile of rubble that they came across. As usual, they drove at walking pace.
Within about ten minutes, they found themselves surrounded by a silent crowd.
They soon realised that there was nothing to fear because the “crowd” consisted of about 20 skinny-looking, shabbily-dressed young children. They had that beige monochromatic look that we are all used to seeing in television reports – thin dusty faces, sand-matted hair , barefoot with beige and white ripped clothes. These were street kids.
The chaplain signalled the driver to stop. The children came closer and closer, until some were actually touching the hot metal of the vehicle’s bodywork. The chaplain, being the good man that he was, always carried sweets – not chocolate, because that tended to melt in these temperatures – just a paper bag full of ordinary boiled sweets.
He leaned out of his window, held the open bag of sweets and smiled at the kids.
The children all held their hands out – obviously not quite trusting the smartly-dressed British Officer, but gradually, one-by one they started to come towards the chaplain and his sweets. Eventually, there was a bit of a rush and within a minute, all the sweets (and the bag) had gone.
Gradually, the laughing children dispersed and their excited chatter left with them.
The armoured car remained parked until all of the children had disappeared and the street was back to the familiar grown-up adult bustle of diggers lifting the rubble of bombed houses, squeaky wheelbarrows and arguing workers with shovels and picks.
The chaplain had enjoyed the moment. The sound of childrens’ laughter reminded him of his own children back home. He imagined his young son’s and daughter’s squeals of delight that very morning as they opened their Christmas presents without him. He felt sad but at the same time, he felt warm inside and felt that he had just been given a small taste of Christmas.
Then, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a girl of about 11 sitting on a pile of rocks, just a few feet away from him. He waved at her – but nothing. She just stared. He felt his pockets but he had no more sweets to give.
He decided to be silly and started to pull faces at her. He rolled his eyes, stuck his tongue out, stuck his thumbs in his ears and wiggled his fingers. His driver remained “eyes forward” – he knew that it was best not to look at an officer – chaplain or not- who was making a prat of himself.
Gradually, the skinny little girl began to relax, became a bit more confident. Soon she smiled began to look a little bit more animated. After a few more minutes of the chaplain’s silliness, she was laughing.
Two minutes later, the girl stood and walked slowly towards the vehicle. The chaplain noticed that she had both arms down by her sides – as if she was trying to conceal something. For a brief moment, the chaplain felt a slight “frisson” of alarm, having heard of child bombers being told that they could detonate a bomb without any harm coming to them.
Nevertheless, he stepped out of the vehicle and stood – waiting for her to approach.
She stopped only an arm’s length away and looked him straight in the eyes and continued to smile.
The chaplain could now see quite clearly how underweight and probably very hungry she was. He thought about two things simultaneously. Firstly, whether she was a bomber and whether there was anything to give her to eat on this Christmas morning – but he had nothing useful to give. She continued to stare.
Her cheeks were hollow but her eyes shone like diamonds.
Slowly, the girl stretched both arms towards him with two clenched fists turned downwards. Her gaze never left his face. Then she turned her clenched fists so that they were pointing upwards.
Then…she opened her hands, palms-up.
As she opened her hands, he was surprised to see that there was a boiled sweet on each palm. She smiled the broadest smile and nodded, indicating that he should take one of the sweets.
She didn’t move or flinch as he reached out and took a sweet. “Thank you,” he said.
She didn’t understand what the English soldier had said to her. All she knew was that ten minutes previously, he had given all of his sweets away to the other children and she had accidentally taken two sweets.
She thought that she would give one back to the soldier, so that he too had a sweet.
That small, simple act of generosity by a hungry little Muslim girl reminded the chaplain of what we call “the Spirit of Christmas” is all about.
The Inequality and Iniquity of Growth.
This Christmas there will be millions of puzzled and sometimes hungry people staring at their televisions. Their hunger is easily explained – they are poor but what will confuse them will be the newsflashes showing smiling people shopping and talking about ‘Tablets’ at £500 each, Champagne, and a million other expensive items and yes…even Christmas turkeys!
Then they will see celebrity chefs cooking Brussels sprouts with pancetta, more champagne, the perennial debate about goose fat versus oil on roasties and how we’ll ALL be ‘over-indulging’ and falling asleep on the sofa! An alien world which some will have tasted but sadly, too many – especially children, will never inhabit.
This (to them) is a ‘make-believe’ world of plenty. They know it exists somewhere near them but it is like the parallel universe of science fiction….there but impossible to access.
They see shiny, smug politicians saying words about ‘the recession being over’….something the poor haven’t been too acutely aware of because what the politician calls ‘recession’ and ‘austerity’, they call “LIFE”.
‘The economy’ appears to be doing very well! …………..By the way….what is that?
The disparity between the most affluent Brits and the rest is hurting the economy. This chasm between rich and poor appears to have become an unacknowledged issue, primarily as the result of too many of the Cabinet belonging to ‘the Affs’. It is apparent that few understand that everyone (up to middle class) has seen their income stagnate, whilst wealthy households have really thrived.
Note: I propose to dispense with euphemisms such as “the well-off” and “society’s disadvantaged”. Let’s stick to rich and poor.
Bonuses, higher salaries, higher profits and exceptional stock market gains are flowing almost exclusively to the already-rich. Proportionately, however, the affluent household ‘spend’ represents much less of their money than that of low and middle-income consumers.
One of the priorities of this government should be to engineer a much broader spending base – one which encompasses the poor……allowing them to actually participate in the economy.
Currently, there is a very distorted picture of consumer spending because it is driven by the rich. The poor and the poorer are doing their best to keep up but inevitably need to borrow in order to spend – thus making themselves even poorer. Meanwhile, many rich are gaining profits from bank or lending company shares which are fueled by the poors’ accelerating poverty….but the rich have something else which the poor have never had: OPTIONS or CHOICE!
One very profitable option this year has been the stock market – but once the markets have calmed down (which they will!) and gains are no longer eye-wateringly high, the affluent (As and Bs) will stop spending or at least, cut back dramatically.
THAT will have an immediate and devastating effect on this virtual economic recovery. SO, it is in the government’s interest to sustain the recovery illusion by keeping interest rates low and Quantitative Easing flowing to the banks so that , from an investment point of view, the equity markets (stocks and shares) remain the only game in town, so that the rich retain their mega spending power for as long as possible – at least until May 2015!
That is a very dangerous game for any government to play.
This is the phenomenon which has created and is sustaining the ever more bitter ‘CLASS’ debate and is in danger of feeding Populism and ultimately, major unrest.
Income Inequality and not airports or trains should be the government’s priority.
There is now little doubt that in spite of government policy, the United Kingdom’s economic growth is picking up….as it is everywhere else (Global Economy!)
NOW, while the mini-recovery lasts, would be a good time for the government to tackle the INEQUALITY OF GROWTH which is not an iniquity but the iniquity of modern times.
THIS is from China’s state news agency Xinhua: “As US politicians of both political parties (fail to find a) viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world. Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated. A new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing. Instead of honouring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas.” ………….Xinhua added: “Regional tensions amid territorial disputes, fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies…..”
Heads I win, Tails I….er…win?
The American Dollar is on its way up because everyone has woken up and is rushing towards it as fast as they can. Why this sudden (but expected) reaction? Because no matter what happens in the USA as a result of the battle between the Republicans and Obama, the dollar is the one world currency which will always trade and will always bounce back.
Never mind that hundreds of thousands of poorly-paid American employees aren’t being paid, never mind that America is quite likely to default on its debts as a result of Congress possibly blocking the raising of the $17 trillion debt ceiling. Those things just DO NOT matter. Why? Because of the numbers.
To every other country on Earth a debt ceiling of $17 trillion seems beyond huge! It appears to be beyond management…but you have to remember that the USA’s annual economy is worth approximately the same amount! In addition, the worldwide trade in the American dollar is about $4 trillion PER DAY and even though much of the trade is by algo-trading, such vast volumes mean that there is little chance of business suddenly drying up!
The dollar trading volume every FOUR DAYS is roughly equivalent to America’s entire debt! So, even if the USA defaults on its debt, the worldwide dollar trade will continue.
A very high percentage of these trades will be in derivatives and high-speed meta trading. Whatever the views are on this modern equivalent of the three-card trick (blink and you’ll miss it), as the owner of the world’s reserve currency, America can get away with economic choices and techniques open only to it.
Whatever happens in the States, the global economy, especially within the Eurozone, will remain fragile.
The American economy has given a very good impression of having been in recovery for several quarters but the maximum collateral damage that the current Washington crisis can cause, will be to make the ersatz recovery look even more unconvincing. That’s unlikely to give the Fed, Obama or even the Republicans too much of a headache.
The whole affair will not be dealt with by means of finesse or any subtle change in policy. It will be the equivalent of a fiscal sledgehammer! Uncle Sam’s customary solution to any issue!
We live in a “meta-money” driven financial system which sits above (and below) the “real” economy. It manages to both influence and to be driven-by the real economy which gave birth to it (that’s the old-school economy which is based on profits derived from either manufacturing or providing a service).
Stockmarkets, whose original purpose was to raise capital to fund business are now no more than piles of gambling chips to be plundered (mainly) through the medium of high-frequency trading – a mutation of “simple” capitalism.
The goings-on in America will generate billions – no matter what the outcome, because bets are currently being placed on all scenarios and outcomes. In the main, it will be Republicans or, strictly-speaking Republican-supporting business placing the bets.
That’s because Washington’s political agenda is being driven by right-wing business because it is they who are funding the Republican right-wing and ultimately, their agenda is very straightforward. They want Obama out. The Republican left-wing has to go along for the ride.
The outcome will be similar to that which has developed in the United Kingdom over the last few years – big business (specifically Banking) and not the electorate will drive the political agenda.
They have the chips AND the cash.
(The IMF’s Christine Lagarde has just made the customary panic announcement that the Americans should sort themselves out. “Vite! Allez!!” ….Calm down, love…let them finish the game.)
#SYRIA: Does the increasingly isolated Obama, with his barking-mad, cigar-chomping generals, not realise that an attack on Syria will cause markets to tumble, wipe BILLIONS off share prices, accelerate the failure of the “propped-up-by-the Fed” American economy, damage the BRICS countries’ economies, raise oil prices, accelerate the collapse of the Eurozone and probably cause the deaths of thousands more innocent people? There are times when principle has to give way to pragmatism. #Callmehysterical!
SYRIA: The Pope, spotting an obvious bandwagon, has urged world leaders to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution”. He has also invited 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and people of other faiths to join him in a day of prayer and fasting on Saturday “to end the civil war”. He obviously does not realise that to the millions of displaced victims of Syria’s violence, prayer and (especially) fasting, come quite naturally!
What you see in the mirror is never what other people see. Let’s hope that there’s a massive reality check before the s*** hits the fan.
#SYRIA: I hate to pee on America’s parade and spoil the day for all those self-important politicians and generals sitting around over-sized mahogany tables… but here’s a warning: Bashar al-Assad will shoot back. Big time.
John Kerry – his full statement on SYRIA
President Obama has spent many days now consulting with Congress and talking with leaders around the world about the situation in #Syria. And last night the president asked all of us on his national security team to consult with the leaders of Congress as well, including the leadership of the congressional national security committees. And he asked us to consult about what we know regarding the horrific chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs last week.
I will tell you that as someone who spent nearly three decades in the United States Congress, I know that that consultation is the right way for a president to approach a decision of when and how and if to use military force. And it’s important to ask the tough questions and get the tough answers before taking action, not just afterwards.
And I believe, as President Obama does, that it is also important to discuss this directly with the American people. That’s our responsibility: to talk with the citizens who have entrusted all of us in the administration and the Congress with responsibility for their security.
Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and rereviewed information regarding this attack. And I will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. Accordingly, we have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people, who can judge for themselves.
But still, in order to protect sources and methods, some of what we know will only be released to members of Congress, the representatives of the American people.
That means that some things we do know, we can’t talk about publicly.
So, what do we really know that we can talk about? Well, we know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons program in the entire Middle East. We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year, and has used them on a smaller scale but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last Wednesday’s attack happened.
We know that the regime was specifically determined to rid the Damascus suburbs of the opposition, and it was frustrated that it hadn’t succeeded in doing so. We know that for three days before the attack the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons personnel were on the ground, in the area, making preparations. And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. We know that these were specific instructions.
We know where the rockets were launched from, and at what time. We know where they landed, and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas, and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.
And we know, as does the world, that just 90 minutes later all hell broke loose in the social media. With our own eyes we have seen the thousands of reports from 11 separate sites in the Damascus suburbs. All of them show and report victims with breathing difficulties, people twitching, with spasms, coughing, rapid heartbeats, foaming at the mouth, unconsciousness and death.
And we know it was it was ordinary Syrian citizens who reported all of these horrors.
And just as important, we know what the doctors and the nurses who treated them didn’t report: not a scratch, not a shrapnel wound, not a cut, not a gunshot wound. We saw rows of dead lined up in burial shrouds, the white linen unstained by a single drop of blood.
Instead of being tucked safely in their beds at home, we saw rows of children lying side by side, sprawled on a hospital floor, all of them dead from Assad’s gas, and surrounded by parents and grandparents who had suffered the same fate.
The United States government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. Even the first responders — the doctors, nurses and medics who tried to save them — they became victims themselves. We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger.
This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people.
We also know many disturbing details about the aftermath. We know that a senior regime official who knew about the attack confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime, reviewed the impact and actually was afraid that they would be discovered.
We know this.
And we know what they did next. I personally called the foreign minister of Syria, and I said to him, if, as you say, your nation has nothing to hide, then let the United Nations in immediately and give the inspectors the unfettered access so they have the opportunity to tell your story.
Instead, for four days they shelled the neighborhood in order to destroy evidence, bombarding block after block at a rate four times higher than they had over the previous 10 days. And when the U.N. inspectors finally gained access, that access, as we now know, was restricted and controlled.
In all of these things that I have listed, in all of these things that we know, all of that, the American intelligence community has high confidence, high confidence this is common sense, this is evidence, these are facts.
So the primary question is really no longer, what do we know. The question is what are we — we collectively — what are we in the world going to do about it.
As previous storms in history have gathered, when unspeakable crimes were within our power to stop them, we have been warned against the temptations of looking the other way. History if full of leaders who have warned against inaction, indifference and especially against silence when it mattered most.
Our choices then in history had great consequences, and our choice today has great consequences.
It matters that nearly a hundred years ago, in direct response to the utter horror and inhumanity of World War I that the civilized world agreed that chemical weapons should never be used again. That was the world’s resolve then. And that began nearly a century of effort to create a clear red line for the international community.
It matters today that we are working as an international community to rid the world of the worst weapons. That’s why we signed agreements like the START treaty, the New START treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which more than 180 countries, including Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, have signed onto.
It matters to our security and the security of our allies. It matters to Israel. It matters to our close friends Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, all of whom live just a stiff breeze away from Damascus. It matters to all of them where the Syrian chemical weapons are, and if unchecked, they can cause even greater death and destruction to those friends.
And it matters deeply to the credibility and the future interests of the United States of America and our allies. It matters because a lot of other countries whose policies challenge these international norms are watching. They are watching. They want to see whether the United States and our friends mean what we say. It is directly related to our credibility and whether countries still believe the United States when it says something. They are watching to see if Syria can get away with it because then maybe they too can put the world at greater risk.
And make no mistake. In an increasingly complicated world of sectarian and religious extremist violence, what we choose to do — or not do — matters in real ways to our own security. Some cite the risk of doing things. We need to ask what is the risk of doing nothing.
It matters because if we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity, even after the United States and our allies said no, and then the world does nothing about it, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will.
This matters also beyond the limits of Syria’s borders. It is about whether Iran, which itself has been a victim of chemical weapons attacks, will now feel emboldened in the absence of action to obtain nuclear weapons. It is about Hezbollah, and North Korea, and every other terrorist group or dictator that might ever again contemplate the use of weapons of mass destruction. Will they remember that the Assad regime was stopped from those weapons’ current or future use, or will they remember that the world stood aside and created impunity?
So our concern is not just about some far-off land oceans away. That’s not what this is about. Our concern with the cause of the defenseless people of Syria is about choices that will directly affect our role in the world and our interests in the world.
It is also profoundly about who we are. We are the United States of America. We are the country that has tried, not always successfully, but always tried to honor a set of universal values around which we have organized our lives and our aspirations. This crime against conscience, this crime against humanity, this crime against the most fundamental principles of international community, against the norm of the international community, this matters to us, and it matters to who we are. And it matters to leadership and to our credibility in the world.
My friends, it matters here if nothing is done. It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.
America should feel confident and gratified that we are not alone in our condemnation and we are not alone in our will to do something about it and to act. The world is speaking out, and many friends stand ready to respond. the Arab League pledged, quote, “to hold the Syrian regime fully responsible for this crime.” The Organization for Islamic Cooperation condemned the regime and said we needed, quote, “to hold the Syrian government legally and morally accountable for this heinous crime.”
Turkey said there is no doubt that the regime is responsible. Our oldest ally, the French, said the regime, quote, “committed this vile action, and it is an outrage to use weapons that the community has banned for the last 90 years in all international conventions.”
The Australian prime minister said he didn’t want history to record that we were, quote, a party to turning such a blind eye.
So now that we know what we know, the question we must all be asking is what we will do. Let me emphasize President Obama, we in the United States, we believe in the United Nations. And we have great respect for the brave inspectors who endured regime gunfire and obstructions to their investigation. But as Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general, has said again and again, the U.N. investigation will not affirm who used these chemical weapons. That is not the mandate of the U.N. investigation. They will only affirm whether such weapons were used. By the definition of their own mandate, the U.N. can’t tell us anything that we haven’t shared with you this afternoon or that we don’t already know. And because of the guaranteed Russian obstructionism of any action through the U.N. Security Council, the U.N. cannot galvanize the world to act, as it should.
So let me be clear: We will continue talking to the Congress, talking to our allies and, most importantly, talking to the American people. President Obama will ensure that the United States of America makes our own decisions on our own timelines based on our values and our interests.
Now, we know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about.
And history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’s wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency. These things, we do know.
We also know that we have a president who does what he says that he will do. And he has said very clearly that whatever decision he makes in Syria, it will bear no resemblance to Afghanistan, Iraq or even Libya. It will not involve any boots on the ground. It will not be open-ended. And it will not assume responsibility for a civil war that is already well underway.
The president has been clear: Any action that he might decide to take will be limited and tailored response to ensure that a despot’s brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable. And ultimately, we are committed, we remain committed, we believe it’s the primary objective is to have a diplomatic process that can resolve this through negotiation because we know there is no ultimate military solution. It has to be political. It has to happen at the negotiating table. And we are deeply committed to getting there.
So that is what we know. That’s what the leaders of Congress now know. And that’s what the American people need to know. And that is at the core of the decisions that must now be made for the security of our country and for the promise of a planet where the world’s most heinous weapons must never again be used against the world’s most vulnerable people.
Thank you very much.
SYRIA: On April 14th 1986, Ronald Reagan ordered a series of bombings directed against Libya under “Operation El Dorado Canyon”. This was in reprisal for the “Libyan” bombing of a Berlin nightclub. It is now generally accepted that the “evidence” against Libya had been fabricated. Reagan subsequently gave the CIA “Regime Change” orders for Libya. THAT goal took 20 years to achieve. Both Clinton and George W Bush openly talked about regime change in Iraq. One may be forgiven for wondering whether the CIA have ever been given similar orders in respect of Egypt and Syria.
#SYRIA: The embers of discontent have been glowing ever since the previous owner of the family business that is Syria, President Hafez al-Assad, quelled a Muslim Brotherhood uprising in 1982. Thousands were killed with little reaction from the West……Then in 2011, in the southern city of Daraa , his son and heir, Bashar al-Hassad had 15 children arrested for painting anti-government graffiti on the walls of their school. Small, seemingly insignificant events such as this can often change the course of history. The present killing, propaganda and destruction are just another example. The rest of the world has turned a blind-eye to Syria for too long and much irreversible damage has been done not only to its people but to the country’s infrastructure and culture. There is little doubt that the West wants to see a regime change… but the means to achieve that – whether right or wrong, are not to be found in the navigation system of a Cruise missile, the trigger-finger of a jet pilot or a politician’s vanity. There’s still time to talk.
#Syrian U.N. envoy Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari says that U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry Kerry has “adopted old stories fabricated by terrorists based on fake photos from the Internet.” …..and based on Uncle Sam’s past record of relying on fabricated “evidence”, who is brave enough to argue with him? The Ambassador has also written to U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Cristina Perceval, asking them to “to shoulder their responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria and pushing forward reaching a political solution to the crisis in Syria” …..Now that both Obama and Cameron have bared their teeth and convinced everyone that they still belong to the “Peace through Bombing” style of international politics, they should now do the right thing: Sit down with the Russians and Syrians and talk.
For the last 70 or 80 years, in spite of their oil billions and flash skyscrapers, most Arab States have clearly demonstrated that sociologically and politically they are firmly anchored in the Dark Ages. On many occasions, they have also demonstrated that all despotic dictators have a limited shelf-life which invariably ends in violence. For a long time, we have been trying so hard to tell them all about Democracy and its advantages. and in recent years, we have even tried to install it for them. This week, the vote in United Kingdom Parliament which prevented us from bombing Syria, has done more to demonstrate real democracy than any action of the last 50 years – and we should be proud. We do not go to war on the whim of a single individual. We debate…then whatever the outcome, we respect the Democratic Process. Half of us may be “pro” a military strike and half of us may be “anti” but in the final analysis, we respect each others views, accept them and move on. From now on, we can go to a politically primitive state such as Syria with our heads held high…NOT because we decided against adding to their pile of dead.. but because we have finally shown the world (in a very public way) that we Brits practice what we preach. It isn’t the romanticised French version of “Liberté” or the still largely theoretical American notion of “Freedom”: It is in the astonishingly mature demonstration that it is possible to disagree – but with acceptance and mutual understanding. That’s the real lesson for the bad guys.
#SYRIA: Looking forward to William ‘Rambo’ Hague and maybe DC read out the Churchillian stuff currently being written for them…….as yet another North African state prepares to be molested……… Methinks that we may need to reappraise our self-image. We have been binning ships, armaments and soldiers but, just because we won the World Cup in 1066 and WW2, we think that, along with Uncle Sam, we’re still the world’s policeman and everyone’s conscience!
#Syria All those years that we were shooting Irish people and the IRA were bombing in Northern Ireland as well as the mainland….I don’t recall Assad’s old man (Assad Snr.) either condemning the United Kingdom for “killing its own people” or threatening to invade or bomb us. Mind you, the USA was raising funds for the IRA (remember NORAID?), so nothing really changes. http://noraid.homestead.com/
SYRIA Nerve Gas Attack: Foreign Secretary William Hague: “The perpetrators of this atrocity will he held accountable.”…..Frank Gardner (BBC) “It’s doubtful whether those responsible will ever be found.” #AgentContagentHague
Egypt: another Iraq or Libya?
After the mess left behind in Iraq and Libya, Western leaders appear to have realised that the days of a “good shooting war” being good for political image have gone forever. Heroic speechwriter-polished phrases and Churchillian posturing are a remnant of a past when the words ” honour” and “bravery” still had currency.
Today, war is recognised as a filthy misery-spawning industry which, like an appalling Grand Prix Circuit, moves from country to country, leaving no more than a legacy of rubble and death. There is no honour in war – there is only pointlessness.
The most bizarre aspect of the whole circus is that the leader of a small cluster of damp islands in the North Sea is always the one who makes the most noise, always hiding behind his younger but much bigger American cousin’s skirts. Collectively, the West feels that its job is to dispense the universally therapeutic remedy of “democracy” – even to those who don’t really want it.
Democracy is not an emollient to be force-fed in the same way that 18th and 19th century missionaries (from exactly the same damp islands) delivered Christianity to the world’s natives.
The Arabs are not even remotely interested in our special brand of democracy. Democracy is their excuse because they know that as soon as they shout “Freedom!” or “Democracy!“, the usual suspects will come riding in, dispensing guns with notions of rescue, egalitarianism and ballot boxes.
Can you imagine revolutions in the Middle East if the family businesses masquerading as governments distributed their oil billions as they should? Would the average Arab be interested in getting shot in the name of “regime change” or “democracy” – if he had a job, enough food, decent housing, a car, TV set, free hospital care for his family and a bit left over? Of course not.
There is no such thing as absolute freedom or unbridled freedom of speech – and that is NOT the product which interests the Egyptian population.
With 77% youth unemployment, their revolution is based in economics not idealism and whatever the West’s response, it will be based on exactly the same criteria.
AFGHANISTAN: Another political case of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Over 10 years ago, the Americans exported hundreds of thousands of tons of wheat to Afghanistan in order to feed the poor and hungry. That resulted in the local price of wheat to collapse to about 20% of what it had been. Afghan farmers were forced to plough-in their worthless wheat crops and move to a more profitable crop: Opium Poppies. Was it all worth it? That once again begs the question – do politicians EVER carry out any sort of Risk Analysis when they take decisions?
Immigrants – we NEED them!
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the UK needs SEVEN MILLION migrants over the next 50 years to help keep down national debt levels.
The OBR warns that the UK’s ageing population was squeezing public finances and said there was “clear evidence” that migrants, who tend to be working age, have a “positive effect on the public sector’s debt dynamics”.
The OBR has also warned that increasing pensioner numbers and a strained healthcare system means an extra £19 BILLION of spending cuts or tax increases are needed to combat an “unsustainable” pressure on the nation’s public finances.
It IS possible that while we continue to live too long and not produce enough, those much maligned immigrants could be the solution to our economic problems.
That should please UKIP!
HERE’S the Executive Summary of the OBR’s Fiscal Sustainability Report.
Winston S Cameron
David Cameron on yesterday’s barbaric murder in Woolwich: “On our televisions last night, and in our newspapers this morning, we have all seen images that are deeply shocking. The people who did this were trying to divide us. They should know something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger.”
Sorry Dave but this was a numbingly tragic murder of a young soldier by a psycho. It was not the Blitz or the Battle of Britain.
This was a nutter dispensing uber-violence to an innocent serviceman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time – so please do not imbue the crazy bastard with any higher motive such as “.…trying to divide us”, followed by a shockingly bad speechwriters “counterpoint” : “…bring us together”.
DC’s short “speech” outside No.10 was scrotum-shrinkingly embarrassing and inappropriate. It was “Speechwriting by Numbers” at its very worst.
In future, can we please dispense with the pseudo-Churchillian platitudes and soulless “sincero-talk”. Thank you.
p.s. Either hire a decent speechwriter or next time, ask Boris to do it.
Crushed Nuts 2.
Earlier this week, I promised to print the opening of the sequel to “Crushed Nuts on the Cote d’Azur” which is still on Amazon HERE.
In the original novel, Ermwright swore to kill Dudley (who had absconded with Ermwright’s daughter, Candy) marinade him and have him served up as pâté at a European Union leaders’ banquet.
In the sequel, the à la carte insanity racks up with special appearances from Merkel, Cameron and all the usual Euro suspects.
(For older readers….Apologies to the Fred Emney Estate).
Ermwright pursed his lips, narrowed his piggy eyes, dropped his guts and thought: “There’s nowt as champion as t’smell of yer own fart!”
But as he staggered up from the worn leather wing-chair, he felt a slight stickiness and was immediately glad that he’d worn his mid-brown elephant cord trousers. Just for luck, he let go another one.
Several copies of the Times, Telegraph and BDSM gently rippled in the toxic Ermwright-breeze as he clopped loudly through the forest of Chesterfields on his way to the counter next to the porter’s chair.
Luckily, the other eight-or-so members present were dozing under their newspapers. If they hadn’t been asleep, the Ermwright equivalent of a radioactive stench-cloud which the Chairman of Ermwright Black Pudding International had deposited, would doubtless have bleached their nasal hair, induced extreme projectile-vomiting and ultimately put them into a coma.
Ermwright continued to carpet-bomb with a staccato array of wet farts as he approached the “Club Slave” (his own little joke!).
He could feel the wetness in his underpants – “Ne’er meend,” he thought, “They’ll dry….”
The Club Slave, or Craggs the Butler as he preferred to be known, always appeared to be looking into the distance – except when dealing with Ermwright.
“Sir?” he tipped his head forward as he spoke to the purple-faced apparition leaning and drooling on his highly-polished counter.
“Craggs yer bastard, cannee goo art and gerrus a pair o’ skids. Ah thing ah’s shit mesel’.” offered Ermwright as he pulled at the back of his brown Cords.
Luckily, Craggs was tuned into “Ermwright-speak” and so understood the request as: ‘Mr Craggs, would you please go out and buy me a pair of underpants. I do believe that I have shit myself.’
Craggs was not a snob, even though his father had been a bankrupted baronet. He, along with all the other club members hated Ermwright with a passion and Craggs felt (quite rightly) that as this was the most exclusive London gentlemens’s club, there was no room for a low-life such as Ermwright within the walls of such an august establishment. (To Craggs, the term lowlife’ is applied to anyone who had not attended either Eton or Harrow – preferably the former). The only exceptions were moneyed homosexuals. Craggs liked those!
Speaking of moneyed homosexuals, his happiest time in London and at the Club had been during the good old Cold War days when every operative was either an alcoholic queen working for the KGB or a politician working for the CIA. In those days, the Club was full of them.
Craggs was (and is) what used to be known as a ‘confirmed bachelor’. A childhood at prep school from the age of five, followed by eight years at a well-known public school being beaten and buggered senseless had served to form his extravagantly quirky character.
Although he worked in the West End, home was a tiny but very neat one-bedroom flat above an Estate Agency in Brighton’s Kemptown. There he would spend weekends-in with young friends. Some he’d meet in Brighton clubs, whilst others might be fellow enthusiasts of the more vigorous and often painful indoor pursuits.
Although no-one at the Club was aware, Craggs had met Ermwright in Brighton. To Craggs’ eternal shame, he and Ermwright had “previous”.
After his difficulties with the French president and the Mafia, Ermwright had voluntarily booked himself into an institution which catered to those with major personality defects. Ermwright was, shall we say, overqualified.
The ‘hospital’ happened to be somewhere between Brighton and Eastbourne so that when another inmate invited Ermwright to a ‘soiree’ in Kemptown and it had happened to be in Craggs’ flat – the ‘friendship’ between Craggs and Ermwright was born.
Even on that first meeting there wasn’t much between them – merely a smidge of KY and an inflatable sheep…………..
Dave Camenor and the Banker – a Fable
The Gates to Economic Recovery and New Prosperity were being guarded by the Bankers.
A tired and bedraggled band of travellers stood before them. They were led by Flashman, the legendary illusionist and Prime Minister of the Ukshire. The Chancellor, the Cabinet and other Uks were busying themselves trying to appear invisible – an ancient trick modeled after the mythical Bank Elders.
Flashman raised his pink chin so as to appear less terrified than he really was. He tried one of his famed rictus-like smiles. “Please let us in!” .
After he had spoken, he looked round to his band of followers who made the customary grunting and “Hear! hear!” noises of approval.
The Bankers were confused and a little frightened but nevertheless, were obliged to follow their elders’ orders.
” You have to pay to come in,” oozed the Banker as he counted heads and flicked at his abacus. His fingers were a blur as he remembered: “…then there’s the insurance.”
” But we have already collected and given you all the gold that we could find. And you did promise than when our coffers were empty, we could come in. It is getting so cold out here. We are tired and hungry and we can see that behind the gates there is sunshine and the New Prosperity. If you will not let us in, would you please lend us a little of our own gold back, so that we can eat . Many are dying”
” That is not our problem. You enjoyed the Old Prosperity when we gave you more than we had. We have no more to lend. Anyway, you look as if you would not be able to repay it.”
” But who are all those smiling happy people who I can see through the gates?”
” They are the Bankers. Are you a Banker?”
” No I am not but there are occasions when I am speaking to an audience – I imagine that I can hear a whisper in the audience.”
” And what is this ‘whisper’ ?” sneered the Banker.
” It seems that there are some who think that I am a Banker – because that is the sacred word that imagine I hear. On some occasions, I can hear it several times. There must be many who think that I am a banker. Can I at least come in? Just to see?”
” Why should anyone think that you are a Banker? Do you receive a large bonus? Do you have ridiculously large expense account? How big are your share options?”
” I have none of the Sacred Trappings – I am merely the Prime Minister of the Uks but there are those who see me nearly as important as a Banker. In fact, sometimes I hear whispers which make me think that the people wish me to be in charge not only of the Cabinet, the country but of even …………………the Bankers.”
Flashman immediately looked down at his feet because he sensed that he may have gone too far. His entourage cowered.
The Chancellor tried to make himself even more invisible and tried to stop himself from laughing by biting so hard into the back of his own forefinger that blood flowed from the wound. As you would expect, it was clear liquid.
The two Bankers both took a step back. They had never heard such an preposterously outrageous claim. “In charge of the Bankers???? Who? You?!!”
They knew in that instant that they were dealing with a “Dangerous” but decided to continue the dialogue.
They had heard the legend that one day, a simple creature would come to the Gates and become “In Charge”. No-one quite knew what this strange phrase meant but they wanted to be sure. Was this “The One?”. They doubted it because the legend suggested that the one who would one day be in charge, was to be a red-headed female called Merkin from the Land of the Goths.
But the pink-faced stranger had just used the sacred “In Charge” words!
It was a joke among Bankers because they knew that no-one but a Banker could be “in charge”. They were the chosen ones.
They used to serve the people but now the people served them.
” Are you ill? What are the people saying?” The Banker took out his Blackberry and punched some buttons. His eyes did not leave Flashman, who continued:
” Sometimes when I am speaking in riddles to the people – I seem to hear not just “Banker” but also “King” Banker. That is the phrase! They call me a ”….King Banker”. That is the phrase I hear.”
” But can you talk in riddles? Can you make money disappear? Are you so self-serving, selfish and thick-skinned that you can ignore the criticisms of all those around you? How good are you at offering help to those who do not need it? Were you unpopular at school? Have you ever given money and then changed your mind and taken it back? Well…… have you. Do you have the Gift of Sneer ???????”
It was like a bolt of lightning. Flashman knew! He was The One !!
He tried his smile once again. Some recoiled in disgust but there were those within earshot who were also beginning to believe that perhaps Flashman was “The One”.
Flashman certainly believed it. He would ask for an Inquiry – just to be sure. He liked an Inquiry – that most holy of Ministerial Sacraments. Meanwhile, he decided to take the bull by the horns – he would assert himself.
” Bring the Head Banker to see me here at the Gates. Tell him that David of Camenor (for that was his real name) wishes to see him.”
There were gasps. Humans, UKs and Bankers looked at each other. For what seemed like an eternity, there was a cold silence – just like the one which would follow a joke made by the Prophet Milibrand the Younger!
Just as suddenly, the beyond-dead atmosphere was broken by a commotion inside the Gates. Word had been sent to the Head Banker. There was no going back!
Eventually, a short man in a black silk pinstriped suit appeared at the gates. His gold tooth and diamond in his chunky gold pinkie ring glistened as he removed his Fedora. The black overcoat remained draped over his shoulders as he approached Flashman.
Flashman noticed that the Head Banker’s white silk tie matched the handkerchief tumbling out of his breast-pocket. He briefly imagined his own finger in the Head Bankers chunky ring!
They stood toe-to-toe. It was the Banker who spoke.
Flashman felt more resolute than he had ever done in his life. This was his destiny. He would be the saviour of the people. This was his time. He cleared his throat.
” On behalf of the people, I command you to lend them the money so that they can enter the Gates of Prosperity.”
It was the briefest and most ” to the point” statement that Flashman had ever made – and he’d managed it without an Inquiry. He felt quite exhilarated and just in case someone was sketching this historic moment, he struck a heroic pose and focused his bloodshot piggy eyes on the horizon.
The Head Banker moved even closer. They exchanged a knowing smile.
Almost imperceptibly, the Banker’s expression changed.
Swiftly, he brought his knee up.
NRA:A pointless and ill-judged pro-gun campaign.
NRA, rather inappropriately targets the Obama girls:
Merkel Gives No Ground on Demands for Oversight in Debt Crisis
(Bloomberg) — Chancellor Angela Merkel gave no ground on Germany’s demands for more European control over member states in return for joint burden-sharing as she conceded that the bloc has yet to master the debt crisis.
The German leader said yesterday she hadn’t softened her stance at last month’s summit in Brussels and that a so-called banking union involving a bloc-wide financial overseer will have to include joint oversight on a “new level.” She chided member states who had sought to slow moves toward greater central control “since the first summit” in the 30-month-old crisis.
“All of these attempts will have no chance with me or with Germany,” Merkel said in an interview with broadcaster ZDF in Berlin.
Two weeks after a European Union summit aimed at bridging differences over crisis resolution, euro leaders are still squabbling over details of how to lift the bloc out of the turmoil. Merkel hardened Germany’s position that any attempt to share burdens in Europe — such as jointly issued euro bonds or common banking bodies — must first be met with greater cooperation and a handover of some sovereignty to Brussels.
The euro fell to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in more than two years last week, sliding to as low as $1.2163 on July 13. Europe’s most credit-worthy government bonds climbed, with German two-year note yields down to a record minus 0.052 percent, as investors sought havens from the euro crisis.
Diverging rates and capital outflows within the 17-member monetary union signal that the single currency is “slowly unraveling,” Stephen Gallo, senior foreign-exchange strategist at Credit Agricole SA in London, told Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse” in a July 13 interview.
“The whole project is unraveling, that’s what’s essentially happening now,” Gallo said.
While Merkel said that Europe is on the “right course” toward putting an end to the crisis, euro-area leaders “haven’t solved the problems conclusively.”
German lawmakers will interrupt their summer vacations and return to Berlin on July 19 to vote to approve 100 billion euros ($122 billion) in rescue loans to Spain. After Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last week announced 65 billion euros in welfare cuts and tax increases, Merkel reiterated yesterday that financial assistance would not be doled out without conditions.
“Whoever receives assistance and where liabilities are taken over, there has to be control,” Merkel told ZDF.
French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Spain’s Rajoy have pressed for faster action, including joint liabilities, while Merkel has called jointly issued debt the “wrong way” to fix the crisis. Merkel last month castigated a blueprint for the summit by EU President Herman Van Rompuy as too focused on “collectivization.”
Euro officials this month have also sparred over the timetable for establishing a euro-wide bank supervisor, a benchmark required before they implement one of the decisions from the June 28-29 summit — direct bailout funding for banks. Investors have viewed such a step as a way to sever the link between banking debt and sovereign debt.
Euro-area finance ministers will confer on Friday, July 20, to complete an agreement on Spain’s bank bailout. On July 10, the minister’s announced 30 billion euros of aid would be made available by the end of this month.
Klaus Regling, who heads the euro’s bailout funds, told Welt am Sonntag yesterday that governments could avoid liability for bank rescues under proposals for a regional supervisor. That contradicts German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said July 9 that he expects governments to guarantee loans even if they go directly to banks, Welt said.
Merkel said leaders hadn’t yet reached an agreement on the terms for bank rescues.
German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said euro leaders had caused damage by failing to define more clearly their conclusions at the summit. He told Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad on July 14 that euro nations “should discuss giving up sovereignty with the same openness as the question of how to resolve the debt problem collectively.”
As governments in Spain and Italy struggle under the burden of higher borrowing costs, Weidmann, Germany’s chief central banker and a European Central Bank GoverningCouncil member, told Boersen-Zeitung that Italy’s higher yields don’t justify a request for bailout assistance. Euro bailout funding should be deployed only as a last resort, he said.
“If Italy stays the course on reforms, it’s on a good path,” Weidmann told the newspaper in an interview. Asked whether the euro area’s third-largest economy needs to tap the fund, he said, “No, I don’t see Italy in that situation.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has sought a “debt shield” against spillover from a Spanish banking crisis.
Euro-area leaders have given Spain an extra year, until 2014, to drive its budget deficit below the euro limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product, a concession that may foreshadow leniency for other indebted states in the bloc.
In Greece, an MRB poll published in Athens-based Real News newspaper showed that almost three-quarters of Greeks want Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s coalition government to insist on a renegotiation of the country’s international bailout.
Seventy-four percent in the survey said the government should insist on discussing the terms even if negotiations steer toward the prospect of Greece leaving the euro; 15.5 percent said the government should stick to current conditions.
Volker Kauder, the parliamentary leader of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told Welt am Sonntag that he doesn’t want to give Greece more time to meet economic targets.
Merkel, asked the same question during the ZDF interview, said she would await a report by Greece’s international creditors, known as the troika.
With assistance from Tony Czuczka in Berlin, Paul Tugwell in Athens, Guy Johnson in London and Fred Pals in Amsterdam. Editor: Dick Schumacher.
To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at firstname.lastname@example.org
House of Lords farce……..
Before MPs vote on whether or not to continue with the reorganisation or reformation of the House of Lords, with the ultimate intent of a totally elected Upper House, they should first consider a few things.
For instance, how many in the House of Commons are de facto “hereditaries”? That is to say, how many have fathers, grandfathers etc who were politicians?
What’s good for the goose…etc!
Will we be given the opportunity to elect The Lords Spiritual? Surely nowadays, a belief in Jesus is not enough of a legitimate credential to be handed a seat in the House of Lords, in spite of our mutant God-Monarch Constitution.
Will retired Members of the House of Commons, or worse still, those who lost an election, were rejected by the electorate, be allowed to contest another election for a seat in the Lords? A seat in the Upper House should NOT be a consolation prize.
Do we REALLY need political parties in the Lords? Is it democratic for both the Commons and the Lords to have the same political majority – because that is exactly what WILL happen if both Houses are elected under the same political banners. Inept bully-boy politicians such as the current crop would automatically wield power totally out of kilter with their ability and mandate.
Why don’t we start small. For instance, by ridding the Lord’s of their fancy dress. You know – the Lords’ Spirituals pretty frocks and the Lords’ Temporal “ermine” robes. The rabbit population would be ever so grateful.
My own suggestion? Leave it. There would only be a problem if they all turned up at once…and, oh yes……increase their daily allowance to at least £500. The present £300 per day is embarrassing. Leave the hair-shirts and ridiculously low wages for the Commons to deal with. They deserve it.
Make no mistake, today’s vote could be the straw which broke the Coalition’s increasingly splintering back.
(By the way, guys. While you’re playing at Lords, the economy is still burning. ………Just thought I’d mention it)
Some may be wondering about the timing of Bob Diamond’s decision to “walk” from what is the best-paid and most high-profile banking job in the UK. Some may believe that he was hounded out by the banking establishment.
I reckon that he walked in order to free himself-up ahead of the ridiculous inquisition by the Treasury Select Committee. I sincerely hope that they leave their briefcases on the table in front of them and remember to wear tin hats – because Barclays Bob is going to give them hell. They will be forced to listen to a few home truths about the conduct of not-only Barclays but the entire politico-banking establishment.
Believe me, Bob knows where ALL the bodies are buried and he’s the first guest at the Wake.
As usual, we’ve had the puerile Punch and Judy exchange between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Both have diminished themselves through their conduct over the last wee. (If that was at all possible)
Meanwhile, the media (and I include the Social Media) have seen an outpouring of hysteria by individuals who hadn’t heard of Libor before last Wednesday. Mob hysteria at its worst.
Mind you, that is so typical here in the UK. First we “denounce”, then the Inquisition, followed by the Inquiry and then it’s back to normal as we look for the next victim.
If there have been transactions which have inflated profits, I hope that in their haste, government Ministers have not forgotten that there may be billions in the Exchequer which will have to be repaid if tax has been generated on illicit transactions. Inflated bonuses have also been subject to millions in taxation.
It’s not only the banks who are going to have a lot to unravel – but of course, these days no-one thinks before they act.
Starting with the baying politicians and media, a breathtaking lack of understanding of complex banking processes has clearly been demonstrated. The same lack of understanding which was exhibited by the Directors of Banks prior-to, during and certainly after the last bank crisis.
Make no mistake both the Bank of England as well as the Financial Services Authority have been complicit. Those pre-Lehmans LIBOR deals, probably saved the British Government from having to bail out Barclays and as other banks have also doubtless been guilty of the same misdemeanours, the Government will have saved billions on the 2008 bailouts.
(What I mean to say is that the banks were bailed out – but they weren’t bailed out enough. The last four years of “rebuilding balance sheets”, non-lending etc have clearly demonstrated that as usual, the government only did half of the job)
It is the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority and the grubby British Bankers Association which should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the dock and hopefully after Bob Diamond has said what he really thinks and knows, they’ll be lined up and taken down.
Today, Mr Diamond, I’m on your side.
Show them Hell!
Syria: Usually in a Civil War, the model is pretty straightforward: The Good Guys versus the Bad Guys.
In Syria, they appear to have adopted to European Union Organisational model with LOTS of Chiefs and even more confused “Indians”.
These are some of the various flavours of Syrian good and bad guys:
The Assad Government, the Syrian National Council,the National Co-ordination Committee, the Syrian Patriotic Group,the Free Syria Army, the Free Officers Movement, the Syrian Liberation Army, the Military Council, the Shabiha, the Martyr Hisham Brigade, the Ibn Malik Martyrs Brigade, the Maarratt al-Numan Martyrs Brigade, the Salhauddin [Saladin] Brigade, the Fallujah Brigade.
There is only ONE ultimate solution:
Arm the lot of them.
Then, when it REALLY kicks off, send in William Hague to “condemn” and “deplore” them.
As usual, the West has allowed the situation to develop too far, creating yet another insoluble problem.
Cave In Assad!
Νύχτα των Κρυστάλλων ?
“Greeks are lazy, Greeks are corrupt, Greeks are dishonest, Greeks refuse to obey the rules……”
Are they? Do they?
Hearing that certain countries are already thinking about “doing something” about future Greek immigration sent a shiver down my spine.
The Eurozone states and their limp politicians are beginning to treat Greeks like pariahs – in the same way that the Nazis treated the Jews in the 1930s.
What will be the the natural conclusion? Make no mistake – it could be tragic.
Is there going to be the modern equivalent of the 1938 Kristallnacht ?
Will Greek-owned shops and businesses all over Europe be vandalised because of negative anti-Greek Eurozone propaganda?
Kristallnacht was the starting point for intense economic and political persecution of Jews – with the end game being played-out during WW2. No further reminders needed.
Then, as now, it all started with an excuse. In 1938, it was the assassination of German diplomat by a Polish Jew.
The 2012 excuse is nothing more than an anticipated refusal of Greece to comply with over-strict German-inspired ” necessary” austerity rules.
Propaganda is a very powerful device. Let us hope therefore that the gradually amplifying and insidious vilification of the Greek people does not result in yet another European catastrophe.
Greek Texas Hold ‘Em
The Greek Syriza leader has the measure of the Eurozone sheep.
You may not agree with his politics but Alexis Tsipras is THE ONE that Eurozone leaders do NOT want to negotiate with.
They have been bluffing that they’re “ready” for a Greek Euro exit. It’s all talk!
They are NOT ready and Tsipras KNOWS IT . He also knows that a Greek exit (forced or otherwise ) would not-only create economic and banking havoc but that the after-shocks would be felt all around the world.
He’s willing to call their bluff because he realises that countries such as China & Russia are standing-by and would immediately move in with investment.
German Hypocricy knows no bounds – especially in respect of Greece!
Twice during the 20th Century, Germany left Europe in a mess. Now, in the 21st Century, it is their intransigence rather than their high explosives which may once again create European chaos.
Germany had to pay reparations after WW1. However, after its defeat in WW2, reparation payments were NOT resumed. In addition, there was another outstanding debt comprising of what the German Weimar Republic had been using to pay reparations. They had to borrow to pay.
In 1953, an international conference decided that Germany could could defer some of the debt until East and West Germany were reunified – although because a reunification was though to be unlikely, this was effectively a debt write-off.
By 1980 West Germany had repaid some of the debt although the remainder (according to the 1953 agreement) would be serviced for another 20 years.
The final payment was due on 3 October 2010 which was the the 20th anniversary of German reunification.
Over 10% of this debt, about 20 million euros, has never been paid.
So please Germany, remember that Europe has shown you mercy on more than one occasion.
Time to return the compliment and defer the WHOLE of Greece’s existing debt for – what shall we say? 30 years?
….and YOU can pick up ALL the interest payments.
(THAT, my Greek friends, is how to negotiate with the Germans.)
It’s Different Attitudes……….
American father to his son: ” See that man son? That’s Stephen Hester. He’s Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland. That’s a VERY big bank and the British government hired Mr Hester to put things right after it was left in a bit of a mess. He’s very successful and if YOU study and work hard, perhaps one day you can be as successful and as well-known as Mr Hester.”
English father to his son: “See that man son? That’s Stephen Hester. He’s a fat greedy capitalist bastard who thinks he’s better than us. It’s hard-working people like me who pay his wages. We work and he just sits behind a big shiny desk and gets millions. Make sure that you don’t turn out like him.”
Central Bankers – The Fifth Estate.
Nowadays, the bank to government to Central Bank and back to bank cross-border flows of money (both real and imaginary), the constant borrowing and re-borrowing , the bond auctions etc. appear to be behaving as if controlled by a separate, non-governmental , non-economic entity.
Sovereign bond auctions have now become a weekly sport, generating the sort of interest formerly reserved only for TV soap operas.
European banks gather around the European Central Bank like pigeons at feeding time.
Rather worryingly, this new pseudo-economic essence behaves as if it is more-or-less dislocated from what we call “the Global Economy”.
It is the Macro Banking System. The FIFTH ESTATE.**
It is behaving as a totally separate, self-perpetuating, high-level mutant economy which exists for its own sake and is presided over by senior bankers and financiers with politicians merely fetching and carrying.
One of the symptoms which we are currently witnessing is the demise of democratically-elected officials. Their status seems to be diminishing day-by-day, to the extent that their job is simply to row the boat according to the drumbeat set by very senior bankers – the New Rulers.
The very people who created this financial crisis four years ago have gradually created a brand-new debt-fuelled edifice which has become anchored both in the economy as well as in our collective psyche. We have come to see the Debt Mountain as our Saviour with Central Bankers in the role of its High Priests.
The concept has become so embedded, that we have grown to believe that only they (the High Priests) can save us.
This new entity appears divorced from the old-fashioned concepts of growth, production and distribution and now only needs sovereign economies to feed it occasionally.
This gradual power-shift has only occurred in the last year-or-so and so, imperceptibly, we have entered an age where politicians have finally become subservient to the bankers.
The jury is still out as to whether the development of this new ruling financial class is good or bad or even sinister. The Conspiracy Theorists have notions of Bilderbergers, a New World Order and all sorts of other conspiracies – I do NOT subscribe to that view.
Politicians have shown that they do not have the intellectual or technical capacities to deal with a multi-causal, multi-faceted, vastly complicated economic crisis, borne more out of greed-conceived chaos, rather than the usual rules of Keynesian economics.
We have to take a leaf out of the politicians’ book.
Heads bowed, we wait.
** First Estate – Clergy. Second Estate – Nobility. Third Estate – Commoners. Fourth Estate – the Press.
Greece points the way.
Many have said that the defining photograph of 2011 was taken earlier this year, somewhere in or near Tahrir Square. I disagree.
For me it is this image .
It represents the normally stoic Greeks shouting “Enough!” and trailblazing in a way which points to the inevitable and over-postponed conclusion to the fast-failing Euro adventure.
Eventually, while the politicians and bankers play their increasingly convoluted monetary games, the people WILL have their say.
John Terry – white c***
Apologies if you find what I’ve written below offensive but I find both racism and moronic soccer players offensive.
John Terry allegedly called Anton Ferdinand, brother of Rio Ferdinand who replaced Terry as England captain, after Terry been shagging someone’s wife, a “fucking b***k cunt”.
Of course, Terry claims that he has never aimed a racist remark at any b***k cunt but nevertheless still finds himself in deep water.
However, if he finds himself in real trouble, perhaps he can ask Wayne Bridge for a character reference.
The alleged phrase which Terry aimed at Ferdinand has only one unacceptable word (B***K).
Neither Anton nor Rio appear to object to the other two words used by Terry, possibly on the grounds of accuracy.
Bizarrely, had he omitted the colour reference, Terry would probably be in the clear and the whole episode would have been considered no more than normal footballer banter – even though the phrase would have blown at least 25% of Terry’s vocabulary in one instant.
Furthermore, on consulting the Dulux colour chart, it seems that Terry’s assertion was chromatologically inaccurate anyway!
Hopefully, if found guilty, Terry will be stripped of both captaincies and sentenced to several days in a sun-bed.
Kim Jong Ill-judged?
Kim Jong Il’s death in North Korea will inevitably shift the focus of Western disdain to his son and president “elect”, Kim Jong Un. Here in the West, his PR will very soon become as colourfully sneering as that enjoyed by his dead father.
Through no fault of ours, we have never really understood either the dead dictator or his people but, the North Korean cult of uber hero-worship appears to be so infused into Korean Society as to look totally genuine.
To us, Kim Jong with his bouffant hair and pigeon posture was a comedy figure but to his people, he was a god. Did EVERYONE really love and revere him? Was he REALLY, like the Catholic Pope Ratz – an infallible near-deity?
We may well have mocked the small man with the big ego whose pronouncements were sacrosanct – but was he really any different to the Man from the Vatican with his pointy hat, red slippers and gold dresses? Was he any more ridiculous or ridiculed? Was he any less dangerous?
At least he didn’t claim to have a hotline to God or to perform miracles or accept the ramblings of the feeble-minded who believed that by simply being touched , they had been cured.
We would argue that you cannot fool ALL of the people ALL of the time but the fact remains that we do all need our heroes and the North Koreans’ hero was their leader.
Some may say that he was a “manufactured” hero – but doesn’t that apply to MOST heroes? Our own heroes are sportspeople and singers – in fact anyone who can have the word “celebrity” appended – no matter how tentatively.
Kim Jong was a political and spiritual celebrity. He gave his people focus.
OK, so he had bought into his own image and had travelled the well-worn celebrity route of believing his own publicity but so what?
Was the publicity of his making?
The sad fact is that he presided over a beaten-down, brainwashed nation where dissent results in Stalinist-type reprisals. The Gulag Culture is alive and well.
Perhaps the comparison with the Vatican was NOT altogether fair. After all , the Vatican does not have Nuclear weapons. North Korea is now a potentially unstable country with REAL weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them. Even its neighbour China will be hoping that the North Korean Generals can return their country to comatose and malnourished stability as soon as possible.
There has always been some suspicion that Kim Jong Il’s personality cult was mere window dressing for a sinister totalitarian military administration – just as Iran’s Ahmandinejad is the fluff and window-dressing for spiritually malevolent turbaned puppet masters of his own.
Today, there was footage of North Koreans wailing in their “grief” for their lost leader. Two things were very striking – there were no real tears and every single frame contained at least two military people in uniform, apparently standing about to ensure acceptably adequate grief.
Here’s a fine example of Korean “sincero-grieving” as practiced by the Korean Central News Agency:
Pyongyang, December 19 (KCNA) — Leader Kim Jong Il, the great father of the Korean people, passed away too suddenly.
The DPRK is overcome with bitter sorrow at the demise of the father of the nation who had energetically worked day and night for prosperity of the socialist homeland and the happiness of people all his life.
Its army and people’s loyalty and sense of obligation to him are now growing higher than ever before.
They are resolutely rising up to change their sorrow into great strength and courage with the noble sense of moral obligation and immovable faith and will to hold Kim Jong Il in high esteem forever and glorify his feats for all ages.
The hearts of all servicepersons and people are replete with the pledge to hold in high esteem the great Kim Jong Il forever and make neither concession nor delay on the road of the Juche revolution, the Songun revolution true to his behests.
The Korean people have suffered the great loss but are decisively rising up as they have Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche and prominent leader of the party and the army and people of the DPRK who is standing in the van of the Korean revolution.
He is another great person produced by Korea who is identical to Kim Jong Il.
Quote Source: Korean Central News Agency: http://www.kcna.kp/goHome.do?lang=eng
There may be trouble ahead….
In my predictions for 2011, I suggested riots and civil unrest. Many said that I was being too pessimistic but Italy, Greece , Portugal and the United Kingdom have clearly shown that civil dissidence is on the increase. Tents may be pulled down, arrests can be made and demonstrators dismissed as “trouble makers” but the mind-set cannot be destroyed – just look at the current goings-on in Egypt. Potentially 2012 could become the MOST crucially important year in world history. It could be THE year of change but also the year of homelessness, poverty, hunger, civil unrest, violence, crime and martial law .
THAT’S where both Europe and the United States of America are currently headed, unless the politicians act NOW.
Both the unemployed as well as the overstretched taxpayers will join forces and destroy governments during 2012. It is not something that anyone really wants to either think or talk about but the sad fact is that ALL the components for a nightmare scenario are already in place with citizens EVERYWHERE moving towards a militant mindset. Politicians would do well to take note.
Meanwhile in Europe, politicians within the Eurozone are once again sitting back and observing the Greek, Italian and Spanish regime changes, in the vain hope that a simple change of administration will somehow have an effect on tumbling markets and crumbling economies. The Americans appear to be in denial as well as out of leadership and ideas.
The only possible explanation for the politicians’ intransigence is that there has already been an acceptance of catastrophe and that the only device remaining is damage limitation after the event.
The principle of keeping the management of a national economy away from politicians and handing it to technocrats is very sound – as has been proved over the last THREE years by the procrastination and ineptitude of Euro politicians.
However, handing-over a sovereign economy to technocrats could be considered counter-democratic because technocrats tend to be unelected.
The “unelected specialists with focused knowledge versus elected generalist know-all politicians “ argument is set to explode in Italy where the new government is expected to be made up of mostly non-political, unelected technocrats.
Both the Italian Democratic Party and Berlusconi’s PDL are seeking Cabinet representation – even though they have shown that they will be able to add little to the issues.
This should prove an interesting time and possibly a template for other democracies with elected politicians who have absolutely no idea how to deal with a failing multi-faceted and complex modern economy.
The August riots and looting in London are being described as having “spread”, with references are being made to “copycat crimes”. The reason why the rioting “spread” from London to other cities is because it was advertised on BBC, ITV and SKY. A total news blackout would have contributed greatly to containing the crimes.
Syria has been suspended from the Arab League. “Suspended” is certainly a word which seems appropriate to apply to certain members the current Syrian regime.
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.
“Song “by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)
October 2011 Eurozone Output
This is what they said:
1. Over the last three years, we have taken unprecedented steps to combat the effects of the world-wide financial crisis, both in the European Union as such and within the euro area. The strategy we have put into place encompasses determined efforts to ensure fiscal consolidation, support to countries in difficulty, and a strengthening of euro area governance leading to deeper economic integration among us and an ambitious agenda for growth. At our 21 July meeting we took a set of major decisions. The ratification by all 17 Member States of the euro area of the measures related to the EFSF significantly strengthens our capacity to react to the crisis. Agreement by all three institutions on a strong legislative package within the EU structures on better economic governance represents another major achievement. The introduction of the European Semester has fundamentally changed the way our fiscal and economic policies are co-ordinated at European level, with co- ordination at EU level now taking place before national decisions are taken. The euro continues to rest on solid fundamentals.
2. Further action is needed to restore confidence. That is why today we agree on a comprehensive set of additional measures reflecting our strong determination to do whatever is required to overcome the present difficulties and take the necessary steps for the completion of our economic and monetary union. We fully support the ECB in its action to maintain price stability in the euro area. Sustainable public finances and structural reforms for growth
3. The European Union must improve its growth and employment outlook, as outlined in the growth agenda agreed by the European Council on 23 October 2011. We reiterate our full commitment to implement the country specific recommendations made under the first European Semester and on focusing public spending on growth areas.
4. All Member States of the euro area are fully determined to continue their policy of fiscal consolidation and structural reforms. A particular effort will be required of those Member States who are experiencing tensions in sovereign debt markets.
5. We welcome the important steps taken by Spain to reduce its budget deficit, restructure its banking sector and reform product and labour markets, as well as the adoption of a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Strictly implementing budgetary adjustment as planned is key, including at regional level, to fulfil the commitments of the stability and growth Pact and the strengthening of the fiscal framework by developing lower level legislation to make the constitutional amendment fully operative. Further action is needed to increase growth so as to reduce the unacceptable high level of unemployment. Actions should include enhancing labour market changes to increase flexibility at firm level and employability of the labour force and other reforms to improve competitiveness, specially extending the reforms in the service sector.
6. We welcome Italy’s plans for growth enhancing structural reforms and the fiscal consolidation strategy, as set out in the letter sent to the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission and call on Italy to present as a matter of urgency an ambitious timetable for these reforms. We commend Italy’s commitment to achieve a balanced budget by 2013 and a structural budget surplus in 2014, bringing about a reduction in gross government debt to 113% of GDP in 2014, as well as the foreseen introduction of a balanced budget rule in the constitution by mid 2012. Italy will now implement the proposed structural reforms to increase competitiveness by cutting red tape, abolishing minimum tariffs in professional services and further liberalising local public services and utilities. We note Italy’s commitment to reform labour legislation and in particular the dismissal rules and procedures and to review the currently fragmented unemployment benefit system by the end of 2011, taking into account the budgetary constraints. We take note of the plan to increase the retirement age to 67 years by 2026 and recommend the definition by the end of the year of the process to achieve this objective.
We support Italy’s intention to review structural funds programs by reprioritising projects and focussing on education, employment, digital agenda and railways/networks with the aim of improving the conditions to enhance growth and tackle the regional divide. We invite the Commission to provide a detailed assessment of the measures and to monitor their implementation, and the Italian authorities to provide in a timely way all the information necessary for such an assessment. Countries under adjustment programme
7. We reiterate our determination to continue providing support to all countries under programmes until they have regained market access, provided they fully implement those programmes.
8. Concerning the programme countries, we are pleased with the progress made by Ireland in the full implementation of its adjustment programme which is delivering positive results.Portugal is also making good progress with its programme and is determined to continue undertaking measures to underpin fiscal sustainability and improve competitiveness. We invite both countries to keep up their efforts, to stick to the agreed targets and stand ready to take any additional measure required to reach those targets.
9. We welcome the decision by the Eurogroup on the disbursement of the 6th tranche of the EUIMF support programme for Greece. We look forward to the conclusion of a sustainable and credible new EU-IMF multiannual programme by the end of the year.
10. The mechanisms for the monitoring of implementation of the Greek programme must be strengthened, as requested by the Greek government. The ownership of the programme is Greek and its implementation is the responsibility of the Greek authorities. In the context of the new programme, the Commission, in cooperation with the other Troika partners, will establish for the duration of the programme a monitoring capacity on the ground, including with the involvement of national experts, to work in close and continuous cooperation with the Greek government and the Troika to advise and offer assistance in order to ensure the timely and full implementation of the reforms. It will assist the Troika in assessing the conformity of measures which will be taken by the Greek government within the commitments of the programme. This new role will be laid down in the Memorandum of Understanding. To facilitate the efficient use of the sizeable official loans for the recapitalization of Greek banks, the governance of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) will be strengthened in agreement with the Greek government and the Troika.
11. We fully support the Task Force on technical assistance set up by the Commission.
12. The Private Sector Involvement (PSI) has a vital role in establishing the sustainability of the Greek debt. Therefore we welcome the current discussion between Greece and its private investors to find a solution for a deeper PSI. Together with an ambitious reform programme for the Greek economy, the PSI should secure the decline of the Greek debt to GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120% by 2020. To this end we invite Greece, private investors and all parties concerned to develop a voluntary bond exchange with a nominal discount of 50% on notional Greek debt held by private investors. The Euro zone Member States would contribute to the PSI package up to 30 bn euro. On that basis, the official sector stands ready to provide additional programme financing of up to 100 bn euro until 2014, including the required recapitalisation of Greek banks. The new programme should be agreed by the end of 2011 and the exchange of bonds should be implemented at the beginning of 2012. We call on the IMF to continue to contribute to the financing of the new Greek programme.
13. Greece commits future cash flows from project Helios or other privatisation revenue in excess of those already included in the adjustment programme to further reduce indebtedness of the Hellenic Republic by up to 15 billion euros with the aim of restoring the lending capacity of the EFSF.
14. Credit enhancement will be provided to underpin the quality of collateral so as to allow its continued use for access to Eurosystem liquidity operations by Greek banks.
15. As far as our general approach to private sector involvement in the euro area is concerned, we reiterate our decision taken on 21 July 2011 that Greece requires an exceptional and unique solution.
16. All other euro area Member States solemnly reaffirm their inflexible determination to honour fully their own individual sovereign signature and all their commitments to sustainable fiscal conditions and structural reforms. The euro area Heads of State or Government fully support this determination as the credibility of all their sovereign signatures is a decisive element for ensuring financial stability in the euro area as a whole. Stabilisation mechanisms
17. The ratification process of the revised EFSF has now been completed in all euro area Member States and the Eurogroup has agreed on the implementing guidelines on primary and secondary market interventions, precautionary arrangements and bank recapitalisation. The decisions we took concerning the EFSF on 21 July are thus fully operational. All tools available will be used in an effective way to ensure financial stability in the euro area. As stated in the implementing guidelines, strict conditionality will apply in case of new (precautionary) programmes in line with IMF practices. The Commission will carry out enhanced surveillance of the Member States concerned and report regularly to the Eurogroup.
18. We agree that the capacity of the extended EFSF shall be used with a view to maximizing the available resources in the following framework: • the objective is to support market access for euro area Member States faced with market pressures and to ensure the proper functioning of the euro area sovereign debt market, while fully preserving the high credit standing of the EFSF. These measures are needed to ensure financial stability and provide sufficient ringfencing to fight contagion; • this will be done without extending the guarantees underpinning the facility and within the rules of the Treaty and the terms and conditions of the current framework agreement, operating in the context of the agreed instruments, and entailing appropriate conditionality and surveillance.
19. We agree on two basic options to leverage the resources of the EFSF: • providing credit enhancement to new debt issued by Member States, thus reducing the funding cost. Purchasing this risk insurance would be offered to private investors as an option when buying bonds in the primary market; • maximising the funding arrangements of the EFSF with a combination of resources from private and public financial institutions and investors, which can be arranged through Special Purpose Vehicles. This will enlarge the amount of resources available to extend loans, for bank recapitalization and for buying bonds in the primary and secondary markets.
20. The EFSF will have the flexibility to use these two options simultaneously, deploying them depending on the specific objective pursued and on market circumstances. The leverage effect of each option will vary, depending on their specific features and market conditions, but could be up to four or five.
21. We call on the Eurogroup to finalise the terms and conditions for the implementation of these modalities in November, in the form of guidelines and in line with the draft terms and conditions prepared by the EFSF.
22. In addition, further enhancement of the EFSF resources can be achieved by cooperating even more closely with the IMF. The Eurogroup, the Commission and the EFSF will work on all possible options. Banking system
23. We welcome the agreement reached today by the members of the European Council on bank recapitalisation and funding (see Annex 2). Economic and fiscal coordination and surveillance
24. The legislative package on economic governance strengthens economic and fiscal policy coordination and surveillance. After it enters into force in January 2012 it will be strictly implemented as part of the European Semester. We call for rigorous surveillance by the Commission and the Council, including through peer pressure, and the active use of the existing and new instruments available. We also recall our commitments made in the framework of the Euro Plus Pact.
25. Being part of a monetary union has far reaching implications and implies a much closer coordination and surveillance to ensure stability and sustainability of the whole area. The current crisis shows the need to address this much more effectively. Therefore, while strengthening our crisis tools within the euro area, we will make further progress in integrating economic and fiscal policies by reinforcing coordination, surveillance and discipline. We will develop the necessary policies to support the functioning of the single currency area.
26. More specifically, building on the legislative package just adopted, the European Semester and the Euro Plus Pact, we commit to implement the following additional measures at the national level:
a. adoption by each euro area Member State of rules on balanced budget in structural terms translating the Stability and Growth Pact into national legislation, preferably at constitutional level or equivalent, by the end of 2012;
b. reinforcement of national fiscal frameworks beyond the Directive on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States. In particular, national budgets should be based on independent growth forecasts;
c. invitation to national parliaments to take into account recommendations adopted at the EU level on the conduct of economic and budgetary policies;
d. consultation of the Commission and other euro area Member States before the adoption of any major fiscal or economic policy reform plans with potential spillover effects, so as to give the possibility for an assessment of possible impact for the euro area as a whole;
e. commitment to stick to the recommendations of the Commission and the relevant Commissioner regarding the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact.
27. We also agree that closer monitoring and additional enforcement are warranted along the following lines:
a. for euro area Member States in excessive deficit procedure, the Commission and the Council will be enabled to examine national draft budgets and adopt an opinion on them before their adoption by the relevant national parliaments. In addition, the Commission will monitor budget execution and, if necessary, suggest amendments in the course of the year;
b. in the case of slippages of an adjustment programme closer monitoring and coordination of programme implementation will take place.
28. We look forward to the Commission’s forthcoming proposal on closer monitoring to the Council and the European Parliament under Article 136 of the TFEU. In this context, we welcome the intention of the Commission to strengthen, in the Commission, the role of the competent Commissioner for closer monitoring and additional enforcement.
29. We will further strengthen the economic pillar of the Economic and Monetary Union and better coordinate macro- and micro-economic policies. Building on the Euro Plus Pact, we will improve competitiveness, thereby achieving further convergence of policies to promote growth and employment. Pragmatic coordination of tax policies in the euro area is a necessary element of stronger economic policy coordination to support fiscal consolidation and economic growth. Legislative work on the Commission proposals for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base and for a Financial Transaction Tax is ongoing. Governance structure of the euro area
30. To deal more effectively with the challenges at hand and ensure closer integration, the governance structure for the euro area will be strengthened, while preserving the integrity of the European Union as a whole.
31. We will thus meet regularly – at least twice a year- at our level, in Euro Summits, to provide strategic orientations on the economic and fiscal policies in the euro area. This will allow to better take into account the euro area dimension in our domestic policies.
32. The Eurogroup will, together with the Commission and the ECB, remain at the core of the daily management of the euro area. It will play a central role in the implementation by the euro area Member States of the European Semester. It will rely on a stronger preparatory structure.
33. More detailed arrangements are presented in Annex 1 to this paper. Further integration
34. The euro is at the core of our European project. We will strengthen the economic union to make it commensurate with the monetary union.
35. We ask the President of the European Council, in close collaboration with the President of the Commission and the President of the Eurogroup, to identify possible steps to reach this end. The focus will be on further strengthening economic convergence within the euro area, improving fiscal discipline and deepening economic union, including exploring the possibility of limited Treaty changes. An interim report will be presented in December 2011 so as to agree on first orientations. It will include a roadmap on how to proceed in full respect of the prerogatives of the institutions. A report on how to implement the agreed measures will be finalised by March 2012.
Ten measures to improve the governance of the euro area There is a need to strengthen economic policy coordination and surveillance within the euro area, to improve the effectiveness of decision making and to ensure more consistent communication. To this end, the following ten measures will be taken, while fully respecting the integrity of the EU as a whole:
1. There will be regular Euro Summit meetings bringing together the Heads of State or government (HoSG) of the euro area and the President of the Commission. These meetings will take place at least twice a year, at key moments of the annual economic governance circle; they will if possible take place after European Council meetings. Additional meetings can be called by the President of the Euro Summit if necessary. Euro Summits will define strategic orientations for the conduct of economic policies and for improved competitiveness and increased convergence in the euro area. The President of the Euro Summit will ensure the preparation of the Euro Summit, in close cooperation with the President of the Commission.
2. The President of the Euro Summit will be designated by the HoSG of the euro area at the same time the European Council elects its President and for the same term of office. Pending the next such election, the current President of the European Council will chair the Euro Summit meetings.
3. The President of the Euro Summit will keep the non euro area Member States closely informed of the preparation and outcome of the Summits. The President will also inform the European Parliament of the outcome of the Euro Summits.
4. As is presently the case, the Eurogroup will ensure ever closer coordination of the economic policies and promoting financial stability. Whilst respecting the powers of the EU institutions in that respect, it promotes strengthened surveillance of Member States’ economic and fiscal policies as far as the euro area is concerned. It will also prepare the Euro Summit meetings and ensure their follow up.
5. The President of the Eurogroup is elected in line with Protocol n°14 annexed to the Treaties. A decision on whether he/she should be elected among Members of the Eurogroup or be a full-time President based in Brussels will be taken at the time of the expiry of the mandate of the current incumbent. The President of the Euro Summit will be consulted on the Eurogroup work plan and may invite the President of the Eurogroup to convene a meeting of the Eurogroup, notably to prepare Euro Summits or to follow up on its orientations. Clear lines of responsibility and reporting between the Euro Summit, the Eurogroup and the preparatory bodies will be established.
6. The President of the Euro Summit, the President of the Commission and the President of the Eurogroup will meet regularly, at least once a month. The President of the ECB may be invited to participate. The Presidents of the supervisory agencies and the EFSF CEO / ESM Managing Director may be invited on an ad hoc basis.
7. Work at the preparatory level will continue to be carried out by the Eurogroup Working Group (EWG), drawing on expertise provided by the Commission. The EWG also prepares Eurogroup meetings. It should benefit from a more permanent sub-group consisting of alternates/officials representative of the Finance Ministers, meeting more frequently, working under the authority of the President of the EWG.
8. The EWG will be chaired by a full-time Brussels-based President. In principle, he/she will be elected at the same time as the chair of the Economic and Financial Committee.
9. The existing administrative structures (i.e. the Council General Secretariat and the EFC Secretariat) will be strengthened and co-operate in a well coordinated way to provide adequate support to the Euro Summit President and the President of the Eurogroup, under the guidance of the President of the EFC/EWG. External expertise will be drawn upon as appropriate, on an ad hoc basis.
10. Clear rules and mechanisms will be set up to improve communication and ensure more consistent messages. The President of the Euro Summit and the President of the Eurogroup shall have a special responsibility in this respect. The President of the Euro Summit together with the President of the Commission shall be responsible for communicating the decisions of the Euro Summit and the President of the Eurogroup together with the ECFIN Commissioner shall be responsible for communicating the decisions of the Eurogroup.
Consensus on banking package
1. Measures for restoring confidence in the banking sector (banking package) are urgently needed and are necessary in the context of strengthening prudential control of the EU banking sector. These measures should address: a. The need to ensure the medium-term funding of banks, in order to avoid a credit crunch and to safeguard the flow of credit to the real economy, and to coordinate measures to achieve this. b. The need to enhance the quality and quantity of capital of banks to withstand shocks and to demonstrate this enhancement in a reliable and harmonised way.
2. Guarantees on bank liabilities would be required to provide more direct support for banks in accessing term funding (short- term funding being available at the ECB and relevant national central banks), where appropriate. This is also an essential part of the strategy to limit deleveraging actions.
3. A simple repetition of the 2008 experience with full national discretion in the setting-up of liquidity schemes may not provide a satisfactory solution under current market conditions. Therefore a truly coordinated approach at EU-level is needed regarding entry criteria, pricing and conditions. The Commission should urgently explore together with the EBA, EIB, ECB the options for achieving this objective and report to the EFC.
Capitalisation of banks
4. Capital target: There is broad agreement on requiring a significantly higher capital ratio of 9 % of the highest quality capital and after accounting for market valuation of sovereign debt exposures, both as of 30 September 2011, to create a temporary buffer, which is justified by the exceptional circumstances. This quantitative capital target will have to be attained by 30 June 2012, based on plans agreed with national supervisors and coordinated by EBA. This prudent valuation would not affect the relevant financial reporting rules. National supervisory authorities, under the auspices of the EBA, must ensure that banks’ plans to strengthen capital do not lead to excessive deleveraging, including maintaining the credit flow to the real economy and taking into account current exposure levels of the group including their subsidiaries in all Member States, cognisant of the need to avoid undue pressure on credit extension in host countries or on sovereign debt markets.
5. Financing of capital increase: Banks should first use private sources of capital, including through restructuring and conversion of debt to equity instruments. Banks should be subject to constraints regarding the distribution of dividends and bonus payments until the target has been attained. If necessary, national governments should provide support , and if this support is not available, recapitalisation should be funded via a loan from the EFSF in the case of Eurozone countries. State Aid
6. Any form of public support, whether at a national or EU-level, will be subject to the conditionality of the current special state aid crisis framework, which the Commission has indicated will be applied with the necessary proportionality in view of the systemic character of the crisis
Gaddafi dead? Or Alive?
We don’t need any more sanctimoniously hypocritical nonsense about whether or not Gaddafi was “murdered in cold blood” or whatever….
Admittedly, because Gaddafi was not taken alive, the legal profession has missed-out on yet another Lawyer Bonanza – this one would have lasted YEARS. So perhaps a gunshot to the head was the best way to have dealt with old Muammar.
The fact is that when, on August 24th 2011, a Benghazi businessman offered a reward of £1 million for Gaddafi “dead or alive”, there was little chance of the Old Dictator ever having an Idi Amin-type retirement in Saudi.
I remember thinking at the time of the reward announcement, that it was a tad undignified and not very statesmanlike of Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Chairman of the National Transition Council of Libya, to endorse the reward for Gaddafi’s head. Especially as Jalil used to be Libya’s Minister of Justice.
Mind you, Jalil had been the very first senior Libyan politician to resign from Gaddafi’s gang (February 2011). That resulted in The Gaddafi regime offering a bounty of $400,000, for his capture.
Two days before supporting the “dead or alive” approach to Gaddafi, Jalil had said that people must “not take justice into their own hands”. He had also said that he hoped the dictator would be “captured alive.”
THAT will be Jalil’s big problem – how to prevent Libyan citizens from taking justice into their own hands.
Most will be pretty neutral on the “Democracy – no Democracy issue”. What they really want are the trappings of Western-style affluence.
So, once the big guns have been unbolted from the Toyota pickups and the AK47s handed-in and all 150 Libyan tribes decided to live in harmony – all will be well.
Otherwise, there will be a quite sudden slide into Iraq-type chaos as fundamentalists in oversized vests start going “boom” in crowded places.
(Looks as if Libya is about to receive its very first lesson in Western-style Democracy. The United Nations Human Rights office has called for an “full investigation” into Gaddafi’s death. Their very first Inquiry! Witnesses, statements, cross-examinations……..not a bad consolation prize for the Lawyers!)
You know when an organisation, government or even a collection of governments is in trouble. The directors, senior management – the leaders – instead of thinking strategically, concern themselves with day-to-day issues.
Some call it Crisis Management.
That’s exactly the zone in which Eurozone politicians are currently operating.
I share the frustration of many others who have been watching the painfully slow process that Eurozone leaders have embarked upon in respect of the terrible and complex financial mess which currently envelopes Europe. In spite of their rank, it would seem that many high-level politicians are incapable of reaching decisions within an appropriate time-scale. Hence the sudden appearance of the ” kicking the can along the road“, ” into the long grass” and the other modern economic metaphors.
We are all frustrated.
The decision-making processes at National and pan-National level are based on the depersonalised mechanistic value system of bureaucracy-based thinking.
However, we live in a very turbulent environment in which many activities – especially those affecting economies have become both differentiated as well as interdependent. In addition, there has been a subtle change in organisational values which have become more based on humanistic-democratic ideals.
Political decision-making is now lagging behind and, under the guise of “democracy”, refuses to become more adaptive and integrated in order to meet the rapidly changing economic and political environments which, from now on, will remain in a constant state of flux.
To put it simply – by the time politicians have provided a solution to a problem, they have been overtaken by the next issue which makes their initial solution redundant.
Decision-making groups should be thinking along organic rather than mechanical lines and leadership and influence should fall to those who seem most able to solve the problems rather than to pre-programmed role expectations – especially those tainted by various flavours of political dogma.
We need adaptive temporary systems of diverse specialists, co-ordinated through say, non-political civil service link-pins to replace the current theory and practice of political bureaucracy.
Imagine, say our current economic issues being solved by individuals who are differentiated not according to rank or role but according to skills.
Certainly NOT politicians.
Currently, the same politicians who decide how often our bins are emptied or the number of hospital beds, are the same ones who make multi-billion economic decisions.
So, hopefully someone somewhere will have the will and the strength to realise that our present decision-making processes at “Macro (international) level” are outdated and ineffective.
The future is with more “Organic-adaptive” structures.
In addition, a combination of centralised and decentralised control mechanisms needs to be adopted – control mechanisms which recognise that , for instance, the various Euro states are significantly different from each other and therefore require different methods of both management and control.
Half-hearted attempts at control such as the largely discredited occasional bank stress-tests or toothless financial “authorities” are just that – cosmetic attempts.
The solution to the flaky political decision-making process is not intellectual – it is organisational.
Syria and Hilary.
The reason NATO is showing no interest in direct assistance to Syrian rebels is because they have requested NO foreign interference.
They’ve seen the results in Afghanistan, Iraq, Croydon and now Libya. They are obviously very happy to trash their own country without NATO’s help.
Statement from Hilary Clinton:
Morton’s Fork lives!
Post-Saddam-type chaos in Libya will NOT be avoided. That’s nigh-on impossible.
One of the overlooked plans of the Iraq campaign was the Exit Strategy. Well, bugger me, the West has done it again in Libya.
The next major initiative will be the customary “Humanitarian Assistance” which is as good an excuse as any to maintain a military presence to ensure that the fuzzy-wuzzies keep in line.
THAT is going to be the most impossible task. The average Libyan’s loyalties are like this: 1. Family 2. Tribe 3. State Flag…….. In that order.
NOTHING but a totalitarian state can keep tribal factions in line. Government by Brutality appears to be the only way to stop tribes from killing each other. Saddam demonstrated that in Iraq and every other state in the Middle East continues to suppress its people – but for very valid reasons.
Democracy is an anathema to tribal people. It is an alien concept.
In Libya’s case, the theory is that a fiefdom which has controlled many tribes through the medium of suppression can be turned into a democracy. Politicians may not have yet noticed that such a thing has never been done. It’s been tried on many occasions but so far, without success.
The most likely outcome in Libya is either the emergence of another authoritarian leader or the breakup of a country which was a western construct in the first place. It is a politically barren place with no political parties or constitution.
Meanwhile, the rebels are heading for Gaddafi City – SIRTE. One hopes that they all remember that the Tahoura Research Centre near Tripoli houses (or housed) the remnants of Libya’s nuclear programme. There are stocks of nuclear material which could easily be turned into a “dirty” bomb.
There has already been a half-hearted attempt to launch a Scud missile so hopefully, the rebels do not, once again find themselves on the receiving end, should Gaddafi supporters decide to surprise them.
Luckily, the BBC’s John Simpson has finally arrived in Libya – so all should be well. We don’t yet know whether he travelled across the desert with the Tuaregs or whether he is wearing the customary tea-towel on his head but after hearing of his exploits in Afghanistan, it’s possible. He’ll know what to do.
Meanwhile the next battle that into which new Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril will have to lead his people will be the rather unedifying soon-to-be-fought campaign for Libyan reconstruction.
The cue for the Western invasion is the phrase “Humanitarian Catastrophe”. Look out for that one.
p.s. The politicians appear to be surprised by the fact that, in spite of the announcement that the war in Libya had been won, the fighting appears to be continuing. Just like Iraq.
There appear to be more and more self-appointed “GURUS” on the Internet: Finance Guru, Lifestyle Guru, Management Guru….the list is endless.
I used to be one of those but luckily managed to extract my head from my ass before it was too late.
Please don’t do it.
I now prefer the more modest “Messiah”.
Yesterday, I was listening to the BBC World Service when I was surprised to hear a presenter use the word “Asyla” as a plural of Asylum. WTF? People who do that are nothing but pretentious scrota.
Tomorrow, if Ben Bernanke announces that the Fed is going to print yet more “empty” dollars, he will be introducing yet more inflation into the US economy. Markets will recommence their downward slide and investors will all rush-off in the direction of the Bullion Markets.
If however, there is no further printing of dollars and QE3 does not happen, the likelihood is that the American economy will collapse as investors all rush off in the direction of the Bullion Markets.
Either way, gold is the safest bet.
Meanwhile in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is also between a rock and a hard place. If she agrees to fully support lame-duck Euro economies through the issue of the Euro Bond – so that countries such as Greece are able to enjoy unlimited credit at reasonable rates, she risks a rebellion back home from the Christian Democratic Party as well as from an electorate which does not wish to donate any more to broken Euro economies.
However, if there is no mechanism to support poorer Euro states, the Euro could collapse, together with the German economy.
By the way, it is time to start worrying about the world’s Stock Markets. Starting tomorrow.
Today, Liberals are UP(!) 4% in the latest opinion poll. Does that mean that there may be a change of plan in Nick Clegg being handed a sexy European Parliament job as a consolation prize after the 2015 General Election?
In response to emails concerning my dog…
I am sick and tired of receiving questions about my dog who mauled an illegal immigrant, two rappers, a hoodie-looter with hanging-past-the-crack tracksuit bottoms , three Sub-continent customer service clerks speaking broken English, one Member of Parliament, two policemen, three flag burners and a taxi driver.
FOR THE LAST TIME…THE DOG IS NOT FOR SALE !
Press release from HM Treasury: http://bit.ly/oIgJbo
Record results! Congratulations kids – another record year. You must have worked SOOO hard.
Here’s something for the cleverer ones to colour-in:
Survival of the Weakest?
Usually when there is any battle between two factions, the stronger of the two wins. It triumphs because there are more of them, they are better organised or have better equipment.
This is NOT the case in Libya. Without the NATO intervention, there is absolutely NO WAY that the so-called rebels would have conquered Gaddafi’s army. NATO had to provide air support and effectively fight most of the battle as the rebels careered up and down the road in their Toyota pickups firing their guns into the air and posing for macho pictures.
So what happens now? Does NATO continue to hold the rebels’ hands? Once NATO backs off and the Gaddafi supporters wake up, they will soon realise that it would not take much of an effort to overwhelm the former rioters.
There are scores to be settled, relative seniorities to be re-established and government coffers to be plundered.
Tribal leaders will want to make sure that their people are heard at government level. Women will want to continue to be heard and respected.
For instance, it is only since 1969 that women’s rights have been on the agenda. Under Gaddafi’s predecessor King Idris, even the education of women was frowned upon and positively discouraged.
Without NATO, the rebels who appear to have Allah (but more importantly, NATO) on their side are a bit like the bespectacled playground wimp who has been adopted by the school bully. He can say and do whatever he likes to his enemies but only for as long as the bully is behind him. Otherwise, he’s in big trouble.
If , like me, you have always had a feeling that there has been something missing from the whole Get-Gaddafi production – apart from hubcaps – it was a total lack of any expression of idealism, binding ideas, political concepts or the future.
The rebels do not have common political beliefs. All that they have is a common enemy. THAT is what has been holding them together for six months.
Once Gaddafi is gone, the glue which held the rebellion together will be gone. There’s no stronger bond than that provided by fear or hatred of a common enemy. Then, new enemies will be sought. Unfortunately the new enemies will be former neighbours.
As I have said before, this has NOT been about the D-word (democracy). This has been about power.
Power is OK if you genuinely want to do something with it – but it looks increasingly as if the Libyan Islamists are becoming the most influential group within the National Transitional Council. That does not bode well for “democracy and freedom” – especially for women.
It looks as if the school bully may have to stay-on much longer than has been anticipated.
Even post-euphoria, the “conquering” rebels will have over-high expectation levels. Within weeks, we should fully expect to see demands for better living conditions, more income and lower prices. The D-word will be consigned to the slogan drawer from which it should never have been taken and the Mullahs will slowly seep even further into Libyan society.
Those flags that everyone in Libya seems to be waving – the plain green Socialist Arab Peoples Gaddafi-supporters’ flag, versus the rebels’ 1951 Independence tricolor – where have they all suddenly appeared from? It’s as if boxes of flags magically materialised out of thin air!
Now what was it I spotted on one of the flags? It looked like a maker’s name…must have stood for Created In Algeria.
Can’t be! What a coincidence!
They’ll know what to do once the post-Gaddafi explosions start.
Libya: Freedom or Democracy?
Democracy is comparatively easy. Democracy, self-determination, having a say in the decisions which affect your life or whatever else you want to call it – can all be arranged comparatively easily. But there’s the much grander concept of freedom – for citizens of both sexes.
Freedom is NOT a “Pick and Mix”. You either embrace it or leave it alone.
Democratic, educational, secular, political, economic, entrepreneurial, medical, scientific, technological, environmental, artistic, philosophical are just SOME freedoms.
So, apart from being ruled by a self-obsessed maniac, what was wrong with Libya?
Libya used to have a higher GDP than Russia plus free education and healthcare. The oil was about to be nationalised so that the Libyan people rather than the West would profit. Their national central bank operated in such a way so that it could NOT be exploited by the West. As far as the West was concerned, those were all very worrying developments which needed to be controlled.
Yes, Gaddafi was a thug whose main purpose was to amass riches for his own family and yes, there is poverty in Libya. There are hungry dispossessed people who feel that they were being unfairly treated by their rich, privileged rulers. But those people exist all over the world. They still exist in Libya and will continue to exist long after Gaddafi becomes a mere memory.
Poverty, deprivation? Sometimes it would be a good idea for the USA, United Kingdom, France , Germany etc to have the mirror held up to themselves. Just before they lecture others on inequality and deprivation.
Some say that it was the CIA which started the Benghazi unrest as a result of Gaddafi’s proposed economic “adjustments”. Whoever was responsible is now an irrelevance. Suffice it to say that suddenly, Gaddafi went from being rewarded by the West for Libya’s “excellent human rights record” and being practically ravished by Tony Blair, to a despot who “slaughtered his own people”.
(That particular phrase was thrown at us so often that it became fact).
The West’s selective memory, illusion-mongering and propaganda are standard components used to excuse what has just been happening in Libya. It was always meant to be a war-by-proxy.
Gaddafi had to be deposed and no-one from the West needed to get their hands too dirty! (William Hague: “It’s up to the Libyan people”. Yeah. Right! What he meant was “We can get those Libyans in their Toyota pick-ups to do all the dirty work on our behalf”).
Gaddafi was right in one very important aspect of the whole sordid affair. It was all orchestrated for the sake of self-interested domination by others – both inside and outside of Libya.
(Make no mistake – it was right that Gaddafi should “retire” but the handling of the whole affair did not exactly cover the West in glory).
So here we are : 22nd August 2011 – The Libyan people are (hopefully) about to taste democratic freedom – just like ours. They will become proper free taxpayers and voters – just like us.
Eventually, they’ll become voters and taxpayers who pay to carry their economy to the point of mind-numbing distress – but that’s OUR kind of freedom.
When I say OUR kind of freedom, I am of course not referring to those really “free” people who have knowledge of subsidies, tax deferrals, loopholes and non-registered tax havens.
They already have those – just like us!
Usually, that sort of freedom takes a while to develop.
Proper freedom and democracy won’t come to our Libyan friends until their oil runs out.
So much to look forward to!
Looking at the increasingly worrying sentencing discrepancies, it looks as if Judges are sentencing people NOT for the mainly minor offences committed but for the fact that people participated in rioting. Opportunist pilferers should NOT be treated as harshly as those who torched buildings, vandalised or killed.
What is currently occurring is NOT justice – it is retribution.
That does NOT belong in the once fiercely independent British Judicial system.
They are acting like Cameron’s lackeys.
A Southampton 18 year-old who set up a Facebook page which appeared to incite people to riot was kept in custody overnight and then released without charge.
That does not compare well with the two morons who were handed down sentences of FOUR YEARS each in Chester for doing exactly the same thing. Although judges are only given sentencing guidelines, there is far too much variation in sentencing. THAT will generate appeals and once again, we have a multi-million Lawyer Benefit on the horizon.
The Petulant One
“I condemn you, Gaddafi!!”
William Hague briefly came out from behind America’s voluminous skirts a couple of days ago to announce that the Libyan embassy was to be cleared of pro Gaddafi officials and that they would be replaced by rebels.
Has there ever been a more puerile sign of frustration from a grown-up politician?
The thwarted Western powers, represented by NATO have made little progress since the initial Benghazi protests and riots six months ago. The protesters shouted “democracy” and as usual, the politicians came running. Most neutral observers have learned that any Middle Eastern protest is absolutely nothing to do with democracy, free speech or any of the other Western indulgences that we have become used to.
It has always been about power and economics. The poor, the impressionable young and the students riot, whilst the intelligentsia and the military plot behind their king’s back. They are the ones who enjoy the spoils of war. Life doesn’t really change for the poor and the young. Life rarely changes for the poor.
Decisions made by politicians in respect of Libya seem to have been made with one eye on the oil with the other on the opinion polls. In spite of the rhetoric, this has never really been about “The Libyan People”
President Sarkozy of France had hoped to make a victorious announcement on Bastille Day because all that he’s thinking about at the moment is re-election. Hopefully he will soon accept that it is not going to happen for him and that although he somehow made it to the top of the greasy French political pole, his grip has never been that strong and he has been sliding back down ever since. His involvement in the Libya bombing should help him along on his journey south.
William Hague on the other hand has been handed the Foreign Office as a bit of a consolation prize, following the disaster of his leadership and the years spent in comparative obscurity . Rather worryingly though, he remains one of the more talented members of the Cabinet. From the beginning he has looked not only out of sorts but out of his depth when dealing with a soldier-politician as slippery as Col Gaddafi.
Obama has much bigger things on his plate at the moment and his own re-election chances may also have been dealt a fatal blow by Libya – although his advisers seem to have foreseen Gaddafi’s intransigence. A small blessing for Obama is that America went into reverse gear on Libya a few months ago. He had little choice in the matter.
We’ve had sanctions, we’ve had “no fly” zones, we’ve had bombing and we have had strong words. Libya’s assets were frozen, the Gaddafi family’s assets were stolen but still, the mad Col continues to elude all attempts to oust him. Surprisingly, to some, it was predictable from the very beginning. Unlike Mubarak, Gaddafi sees himself as Emperor of Libya – the first of a dynasty. Imperator Muammar l.
One wonders what ever happened to the “that’s up to the Libyan people” mantra? It seems that everything is up to the Libyan people apart from who rules over them. That appears to be in the gift of the West. Even if two-thirds of the 6.4 million population of Libya have abandoned Gaddafi, that still leaves him far more support than Obama, Sarkozy or Cameron enjoy back home.
The propaganda machine has convinced us that Gaddafi is a BAD person. However, it is not Gaddafi who is dropping high-explosive on someone that he does not approve of.
Why is it that whenever we see any sort of conflict, we feel that we (United Kingdom) have to elbow our way nearly to the front of the queue, stand behind the the muscled bully-boy friend that is the United States of America and jump out occasionally to yap like a toothless, castrated old Jack Russell.
This so-called “Arabs Spring” is a headline writer’s nonsense. It is no Solidarność and it is no knocking down of the Berlin Wall. It started with a bunch of vandals and students waving placards believing that the mere act of defiance would be enough to remove Gaddafi. They chanted the “D” word. D E M O C R A C Y!
What they would prefer is a box of food and a TV set.
Yes, they fooled us into thinking and believing that what they want is democracy. In fact all they want is a fair share of the oil spoils, more money in their pockets and a State which cares about them.
There is little doubt that Gaddafi has gone way past his sell-by date and that he’s no longer even fit to run a British Nursing Home. Unfortunately, it usually takes a country a few years to realise that things are better than they were but not as good as they could be.
Gaddafi used to be a hero as he had liberated “his” people from the oppression and the years of Stone Age “nothing” under King Idris. As has been shown in many other states from France to Iran, deposing one set of royals invariably results in a temporary euphoria, followed by the installation another set of unelected “royals”.
Gaddafi ( just like a French President) has developed into their new King, his children are his heirs and his primary method of ensuring the faithfulness of those who matter, is through the medium of the bestowal of money and favours. Nothing unusual in that! That what kings do!
Six months ago, the West’s initial reaction to the Libyan friction was the usual formulaic stuff. It had recently been practiced on Mubarak. Our governments “condemned” Gaddafi’s actions. One day the United Kingdom and others will realise that words such as “we condemn” or “we call upon……” no longer frighten “the natives”.
We fell into a trap similar to the one that Saddam inadvertently sprung (on himself) when he appeared to exaggerate his own military prowess.
Gaddafi, on the other hand, threatened to “kill his own people”.
That is the “Way of the Dictator”!
Dictators always seems to end up behaving just like the has-been heavyweight boxer who craves recognition and needs to reassert his rapidly diminishing masculinity and popularity. It’s “Dictator Trash Talk”. It’s plastic defiance and paper posturing. It’s NOT real!
And we fall for it every time.
Government Pension Scam?
There has been talk recently about the ridiculously high salaries that some Local Authority employees are enjoying. There is another issue which, because of its somewhat technical nature , is not often discussed. It is the way that Local Authority pensions are administered.
Most of us have heard about the so-called Final Salary Pensions – they are also sometimes known as Defined Benefit schemes. They are called that because an employee knows how much pension he or she will obtain or retirement and how it will be calculated.
The amount of pension depends on the salary in the last year of service – the year leading up to retirement. It is paid as a proportion of that year’s salary and depends on the number of years service.
What is not generally known is the fact that pensions are very often artificially boosted by two main methods – the first may be construed as “naughtiness with intent” and the other one seems quite OK but is sometimes abused.
Let us assume that the final year’s salary (in the year before retirement) of the Head of Meetings at Smallville City Council is £150,000 and that his pension, based on service should be £75000. The first scam is that in his last year he is given a couple of spurious additional jobs and job titles which increase his final year’s salary by say, £30,000. His final year’s salary becomes £180,000, thus making his pension £90,000 per annum.
Secondly, an employee can purchase “added years”. That simply means that if he has worked for say 30 years , for a small outlay, he can buy fictitious years which make his length of service look longer for the sake of the pension calculation. That 30 years can become 36 years! If he or she opts to purchase “additional years” and then suddenly retires through ill-health, then that benefit is preserved in the pension calculation even though it has not been fully paid for. There is also the scope to add these years for the sake of a pension calculation when an individual is made redundant.
(Have you noticed the high number of “ill health” retirements among public sector workers?)
The rules are changing very soon but instead of added years employees will be able to boost their pension by as much as £5000 per year.
I think that it would be an excellent idea to look into how public sector executives’ salaries increase in their final year of service.
Strange how private industry is having difficulty in funding this type of pension whereas the Public Sector employees have a seemingly bottomless pit funded by tax and local rates payers.
For all the talk of reducing departmental budgets by 25% or even 40%, the area that will really cripple this country if left unchecked is public sector pensions.
Lord Hutton has produced a report that has given the following recommendations:
Pensions should accrue benefits at one 80th of final pay for every year an employee is a member of the scheme, not 60ths. This would cut the cost by £10bn a year. In fact, some public sector pensions are already 80th schemes.
(Any scheme which is expressed in such fractions is very simple to explain – although it does look quite technical. an 80ths Scheme is one where a member (employee) is awarded a pension of 1/80th of his final salary for each year that he or she has been a member of the scheme. For instance, if the last year’s salary is £50,000 and that person has been in the scheme for 20 years, the pension will be 20/80ths (a quarter) of £50,000 which is £12,500.
Public Sector salaries are too high and people are living too long for the taxpayer to fund this type of scheme.
Lord Hutton recommends an increase of the pension age for all members. That is calculated to save £5billion per year. He also recommends a short-term option of increasing employee contributions. That will raise up to £2bn a year.
The government is also considering hybrid schemes – a mixture of defined benefit and defined contribution pensions. Defined contribution means that a pre-defined percentage of salary is paid into a pension fund and this money is invested on behalf of the member. The amount of final pension depends on factors such as Stock Market performance. Most private pensions are defined benefit (sometimes called Money Purchase Schemes). Monthly contributions are paid into a fund, the fund is invested on the member’s behalf and the amount of pension depends on how much is in the fund on retirement.
The downside is that we are all too aware of what can happen to a pension if you happen to be retiring when share prices have crashed, although Pension Fund Managers are supposed to invest in less risky sectors as a member is approaching retirement. This does NOT always happen.
This is the area of reform which is most fiercely opposed by the Unions.
Some experts believe that the government has been “spooked” into unnecessary action and has announced the proposed changes prematurely. According to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, pensions are set to fall in relation to the size of the economy over the next half-century from 1.8 per cent of national income to 1.4 per cent).
So the “burden” will shrink.
The REAL problem for future governments will be caused by public sector pensions being “unfunded”. That simply means that there is no pension “pot”. That in turn means that the Government must pay the bill however large it gets. In other words, successive governments have not been “saving” in order to provide their employees’ future pensions.
(One question which the Unions ought to be asking the government is “How much of our pensions have you got left?”) The fact is that for years now, governments have been deducting pensions contributions from public sector employees and spending the money.
That is why the government is now asking its own employees to make an additional payment of 3.2% of salary by 2014, with an exemption only for those on less than £15,000, and a rate of 1.5% for the £15,000 to £18,000 salary range.
Everyone will be asked to work longer. At present public servants can retire at 60. This will gradually be brought up in line with the age when people become eligible for the state pension – age 66 for everyone by 2020. The armed forces, police and fire service would, however, be exempt.
Finally, the “Final Salary” will not be used to calculate a pension. Instead, it will be based on a “career average”.
Of course, new pension rules will mean that the government will have to fight hard in order to control public sector salaries because , in order to maintain decent pension levels, the public sector unions will want to ensure higher salaries. That will undoubtedly and inevitably lead to further Union/Government conflicts.
In spite of all of the above, it does seem that the government is in too much of a hurry and appears a little too keen to adopt Lord Hutton’s recommendations without proper consultation.
It has also made the mistake of adopting an over-officious tone and has not bothered to “sell” the changes to those affected.
The British don’t like that. There will be blood.
Recently, military men and politicians have been talking about “mission creep” in Libya. There is a certain inevitability about conflict escalation, yet in spite of tons of historical evidence, politicians ignore the phenomenon – at their peril. Mission Creep occurs when an invading power has only ONE overriding objective. It begins immediately after it has taken that first stride towards its military goal.
That first step is followed by a series of incremental shuffles which are driven by the failure to secure an early result. In Libya, warnings to Gaddafi were superseded by a “no-fly” zone, then bombing, then military advisors, then the deployment of helicopters, then the supply of arms to the rebels. As soon as the first NATO helicopter is shot-down and Gaddafi holds a few NATO hostages, the next step will be justified. “The situation has changed” reasoning will be deployed.
A single focus on just ONE end-game results in the protagonist doing anything to achieve his ambition because politico-military “tunnel vision” kicks-in. Western politicians believe that they have painted Gaddafi into a corner but in having done so, their inflexibility has meant that they have done exactly the same to themselves.
NATO views the Libyan end-game in very simple terms – a dead Gaddafi. Some may say that there’s nothing wrong with that very laudable ambition but there are alternatives. There are always alternatives.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s focus is equally intense – to stay alive. The “big picture”, i.e Libya’s future is largely ignored because there is a dictator to be killed.
President Obama has been advised by his own people to “back off” in order to allow minnows such as the United Kingdom and France take the lead in the Libyan “mission”. Why? Obama is essentially a man of peace and he knows that there are alternative end-games in Libya but it is not politically expedient for him to explore the other options. His and the American government’s stance is further driven by public opinion and the rather flaky state of the US economy as well as the relative unimportance of Libya as a strategic jumping-off point.
Nevertheless, cigar-chomping generals are in the driving seat – and once they have a taste of blood, they are notoriously difficult to control. They do NOT understand the concept of “reverse gear”.
European jets and helicopters are busy dropping explosives over Libya with an abnormal concentration having been dropped on Tripoli – specifically in the vicinity of Gaddafi’s compound – all in the name of peace and protection of civilians.
Their lack of success and increasing frustration caused by the failure of their “Kill Gaddafi” objective will create battlefield escalation and a constant reinterpretation of UN Resolution 1973. That means that the military invasion of Libya is a forgone conclusion. It is merely a matter of “when” and not “if”.
Ratko Mladic, Srebrenica and Lawyer benefits
POSTCARD FROM SREBRENICA
The International Court of Justice sits at the incongruously named ‘Palace of Peace’ at the Hague.
The whole process within the Palace of Peace is controlled by lawyers for lawyers.
Whilst making MILLIONS in legal fees and boosting their retirement funds, the lawyers should investigate Euro Law in order to establish whether the International Court of Justice could register as a charity in order to formally establish its charitable status as a ‘Lawyer Benefit Organisation’.
Currently, it takes YEARS to convict a war criminal. Some of the “accused” die before the end of their trial.
The death of an accused war criminal is no doubt treated as a great tragedy by the legal profession because when the flow of taxpayer ‘big bucks’ ceases, the lawyers find that their regular ‘nice little earner’ has died with the deceased.
Here’s a suggestion: Instead of trying to indict war-criminals on EVERY SINGLE CRIME that the legal profession can think of – they should be tried ONLY on their MAJOR crimes. Forget the minor murders and parking tickets. Try them for the crimes that matter.
Just for starters, Ratko Mladic should be indicted for the Srebrenica massacre. Once convicted, he should be dancing at the end of a rope. If found innocent, the lawyers can move down his portfolio.
That approach certainly will NOT produce the customary lawyer-revenue but will certainly generate a result within the accused’s lifetime.
Adopting the simple approach would mean that war criminals could be charged and convicted (or otherwise) within months, rather that years – or possibly never.
Then, we can show them the mercy that they showed their victims and move on.
That way, scumbags such as Ratko Mladic would not relish a taxpayer-funded future of five, ten or more years whilst enjoying a Holiday Inn living standard which they could only have dreamed-of when they were slaughtering innocent fellow countrymen.
Gaddafi the Dictator-King
Muammar Gaddafi has probably been studied by the West more than any other post-war leader, yet, judging by the way that he is being treated by the anti Gaddafi, pro-rebel Coalition, it is plain to see that to them, he is still an enigma.
Over the years, I have had contact with many corporate dictators and the behaviours which they exhibit bear a striking resemblance to those of Gaddafi and the only other comparable despot within the last few years – Saddam Hussein. One thing that I can report with certainty: they cannot be changed. Their behaviours are hard-wired.
Dictators rule by fear but ironically, they themselves are ruled by their own fears. Outwardly, they appear to have developed the symptoms of paranoia and as their career progresses, they believe (quite rightly) that there are fewer and fewer people that they can trust. Those feelings of universal mistrust eventually put them onto a self-destructive path which always leads to either their death or foreign exile. There is NO retirement home for them!
Gaddafi probably employs food tasters, doubles, sleeps at numerous locations and has all visitors searched. He definitely sleeps with a gun under his pillow because he constantly senses that it is only a matter of time before he is assassinated.
A dictator will do ANYTHING to remain in power – even if it means a diminution is status and financial or power-deals with the opposition. The overriding aspect and driving force of the dictator’s existence is POWER and its trappings. Too often, a dictator gives the impression of a messianic complex but in reality, compromise and compliance are often not too deep beneath the surface – if approached correctly. Having said that, they often genuinely do believe that they are on a divine mission. That belief can be so fundamental to the dictator’s makeup that they are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to preserve their legacy for their descendants.
Whenever the West is upset by a dictator – even a benevolent one, they begin to think “regime change ” and “democracy”. The propaganda machine grinds into gear and soon the stock phrases are deployed: “massive violence”, “murdering his own people”, “he’s mad”, “….but he’s a survivor”, “dangerous if cornered”, “talent for dividing his enemies”, “isolated”, “iron rule” .
Currently, the stock phrases are being applied to Gaddafi but if you think back just a few years, you will recall exactly the same phrases being slung at Saddam Hussein, as they will be to Assad of Syria.
Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, Gaddafi, Nasser and many others all used violence in order to retain power – although they didn’t always kill their enemies. For instance, Saddam would force his enemies to watch videos of their wives being raped or their children tortured. It was rumoured that Idi Amin would cut slices of flesh off his victims or their relatives and eat bits in front of them. Terrorism in its purest form.
Often it is most potent when the victim is not killed but instead given such an appalling story to tell that just hearing the stories keeps others in line.
Middle Eastern dictators are currently in the limelight and their opponents are right to be suspicious of promises of reform because in spite of the fact that they may introduce superficial reforms, their inability to trust anyone makes it impossible for the dictator to work with anyone else apart from close friends and family.
Arab dictators sincerely believe in the moral weakness of the West and tend to reinforce that belief with demonstrations of their own piety in order to create a religious bond and empathy with their own people. Their belief in the superiority of Arab Civilisation is absolute. They see themselves as warriors defending not-only their country but their faith against Crusaders. The same Crusaders who used to raid their lands every few hundreds of years but who nowadays arrive not-only with increasing regularity but with bigger and more powerful weapons.
Arab dictators such as Gaddafi know that the “soft” West will try to avoid the killing of civilians – hence the concept of the “human shield”. Tanks and guns are secreted in residential areas in the sure knowledge that NATO will be too squeamish to risk blowing-up “innocent civilians”.
In many ways, fighting a dictator such as Gaddafi is an unequal struggle. He believes that he holds the moral, religious and “terror” aces. The “infidels”, “Americans and their Zionist friends” or just plain NATO are warmongers who are “acting illegally”. He may have a point. Gaddafi’s style of leadership is nothing new. He has been on the throne for 43 years and his current enemies have been perfectly aware of his methods for all of that time. They have known of his involvement in many atrocities – from Lockerbie to the various IRA bombings. Yet, the West tolerated him to such an extent that he became lauded as one who had made such progress that in 1988 he initiated the annual $250,000 Swiss-based Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights. The first recipient was Nelson Mandela.
Less than one year ago, Libya was elected by a majority of its fellow U.N. members to serve on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.
What he sees is the West siding with a bunch of protesting hooligans and terrorists who have no mandate or alternative to the Gaddafi regime. Protestors who began their campaign as a copycat version of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings and who, by the simple expedient of shouting “democracy and freedom of speech” have managed to persuade NATO to bomb what, until a couple of months ago was a friendly nation.
Many have learned that all they have to shout is “Democracy” and the Americans will come running with the rest of those spoiling for a fight trailing behind them.
Gaddafi knows that when the clarion call “DEMOCRACY!” is shouted loud enough, it distorts during its journey through the ether and take on an altogether different sound:
USA to stop shooting
THIS IS DIRECT FROM ASSOCIATED PRESS:
US to pull out of Libya air attacks
The Pentagon is about to pull its attack planes out of the international air campaign in Libya, hoping Nato partners can take up the slack.
The announcement drew incredulous reactions from some in Congress who wondered aloud why the Obama administration would bow out of a key element of the strategy for protecting Libyan civilians and crippling Muammar Gaddafi’s army.
“Odd, troubling and unnerving” were among critical comments by senators pressing for an explanation of the announcement by Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen that American combat missions will end on Saturday. “Your timing is exquisite,” Republican Senator John McCain said sarcastically, alluding to Gaddafi’s military advances this week.
Mr Gates and Adm Mullen, in appearances before the House of Representatives and Senate armed services committees, also forcefully argued against putting the US in the role of arming or training Libyan rebel forces, while suggesting it might be a job for Arab or other countries.
The White House has said repeatedly that it has not ruled out arming the rebels, forced to retreat this week under a renewed eastern offensive by Gaddafi’s better-armed and better-trained ground troops.
“My view would be, if there is going to be that kind of assistance to the opposition, there are plenty of sources for it other than the United States,” Mr Gates said.
Adm Mullen and Mr Gates stressed that even though powerful combat aircraft like the side-firing AC-130 gunship and the A-10 Thunderbolt, used for close air support of friendly ground forces, will stop flying after Saturday, they will be on standby.
Adm Mullen said this means that if the rebels’ situation becomes “dire enough”, Nato’s top commander could request help from the US aircraft.
As of Sunday, France, Britain and other Nato countries will handle the task of conducting air strikes on Libyan military targets, Adm Mullen said. The remaining US role will be support missions such as aerial refuelling, search and rescue, and aerial reconnaissance.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham suggested the pullback might jeopardise congressional support for the Libya mission.
Copyright © 2011 The Press Association. All rights reserved.
It has just been announced that a NATO plane which was attacking a munitions convoy has killed seven civilians and injured 25. The seven dead were aged between 12 and 20.
The raid which was in Eastern Libya in the village of Zawia el Argobe hit a truck carrying ammunition. The explosion destroyed two houses.
Perhaps it’s time for NATO and its politicians to stop talking about the needless slaughter of Libyan people.
Libyan Arms-for-Rebels Resolution.
WOULD YOU BUY A GUN FROM THIS LADY?
There appears to be a debate as to whether or not UN Resolution 1973 gives the Coalition/NATO etc., currently bombing Libya, the permission to supply arms to Libyan rebels.
The simple answer is “No”.
Below is paragraph 13 from the currently-in-force UN resolution 1973. This paragraph refers to UN Resolution 1970 (which is also still in force).
13. Decides that paragraph 11 of resolution 1970 (2011) shall be replaced by the following paragraph : “Calls upon all Member States, in particular States of the region, acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements, in order to ensure strict implementation of the arms embargo established by paragraphs 9 and 10 of resolution 1970 (2011), to inspect in their territory, including seaports and airports, and on the high seas, vessels and aircraft bound to or from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, if the State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited by paragraphs 9 or 10 of resolution 1970 (2011) as modified by this resolution, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel, calls upon all flag States of such vessels and aircraft to cooperate with such inspections and authorises Member States to use all measures commensurate to the specific circumstances to carry out such inspections”
Please click on the link below. UN Resolution 1970 will open in a separate window. Paragraph 9 is on Page 3.
This is Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970:
9. Decides that all Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from or through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance, related to military activities or the provision, maintenance or use of any arms and related materiel, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel whether or not originating in their territories, and decides further that this measure shall not apply to:
(a) Supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance or training, as approved in advance by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 24 below
(b) Protective clothing, including flak jackets and military helmets, temporarily exported to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by United Nations personnel, representatives of the media and humanitarian and development works and associated personnel, for their personal use only; or
(c) Other sales or supply of arms and related materiel, or provision of assistance or personnel, as approved in advance by the Committee
There is NO ambiguity in the above Section 9.
If UN Resolution 1973 needs to be “interpreted” or if there is any ambiguity, there should be a new resolution. If the USA, United Kingdom and France wish to donate or sell arms to Libyan civilians, they should seek explicit permission .
There have been well-known instances of UN resolutions being “interpreted” by politicians.
The last time this happened, hundreds of thousands of civilians perished in Iraq.
Meanwhile,whether Obama, Cameron and the rest like it or not, Libya continues to be the subject of an arms embargo.
Gaddafi – mad, bad or “fitted-up”
Politicians are pack animals and their chosen mode of transport is the bandwagon. They have now gathered around Gaddafi and individually are beginning to bite lumps out of him and then scuttling back to the pack in order to give the next one the opportunity to rip-off another strip. The name of the game is isolationism.
The United Nations is busying itself condemning Muammar Gaddafi while simultaneously, the UN Human Rights Council is about to adopt a report which praises Libya’s human rights record. The report extols Libya for improving its education and constitutional framework. Several countries have made a special mention of the new legal protections which Libyan citizens now enjoy and the report praises Libyas efforts in making human rights “a priority”.
The report was put together as a result of the Council’s November 2010 session but now, because of recent and ongoing events in Libya, it seems that it was all a collective “mistake” ( by 47 countries).
UN Watch, a Geneva-based quango, is demanding that the report be withdrawn and “the truth” be printed. It seems that in a matter of days, Gaddafi has gone from hero to zero but more importantly, the principle of “doublethink” exposes the United Nations as an organisation which deals in expediency rather than truth.
A few days ago, with encouragement from the United States, the Human Rights Council council passed a new resolution condemning Libya’s abuses in response to the latest unrest. The Council has called for an international inquiry and has recommended that Libya’s membership of the Council be suspended.
We have accepted that Gaddafi is “mad”, “deluded” and “isolated”. But that seems to be at odds with the rather unedifying sight, just a few years ago of Tony Blair trying to get Gaddafi in a clinch and the unbounded joy as BP signed a deal with Libya. Then we had the rather speedy release of Al Megrahi from prison because of his yet-to-be-terminal prostate cancer.
Gaddafi seemed to have been fully rehabilitated and the propaganda machine painted him as maybe a bit eccentric but definitely doing his best towards his people.
Yesterday, when Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor interviewed the Libyan leader, Gaddafi confirmed that the people “loved him” and that his security forces had been ordered NOT to shoot at his people.
Elsewhere, the Americans are talking about Gaddafi “slaughtering” his people.
In propaganda battles of this type, the truth is often the first casualty. So where is the truth hiding?
The reportage from Libya is biased against the Libyan leader and most will say “and quite right too”. However, in the interests of balance, let’s look at another scenario – probably ficticious and purely an illustration of another view.
Imagine a leader who lives an isolated life whilst at the same time, delegating the day-to-day running of the country to his family and trusted aides. He is an ex-soldier and not even remotely interested in the more mundane aspects of administration. He sees himself, not as a dictator but as a figurehead. He is a titular Head of State, such as we have here in the UK . He does not manage – he reigns.
One day, his subjects hear and see demonstrations in adjoining countries and think “We can do that. That democracy lark looks good”.
The street activities in Egypt and Tunisia gave the ordinary voiceless Libyan confidence and resolve, courage and hope. They prepare placards and go out onto the streets because they too want “democracy”. What they all REALLY want is the affluence which so-called democratic countries appear to enjoy and a fair share of the oil billions which their leader mistakenly continues to confuse with his own money.
An air force general and a head of security services both see an opportunity. The air force general orders one of his planes to make a couple of low passes and shoot a few rounds into the gathering crowd. He then orders a couple of pilots to fly abroad and denounce the leader. The air force general then resigns and calls a press conference, blaming his leader for giving orders to kill protesters.
The Security Chief is persuaded by a well-known secret agency belonging to a big Western power. He orders troops to shoot a few more protesters, then resigns and denounces the leader.
Meanwhile, the leader is in his bunker, being fed good news by his flunkeys. After all, people who once gave the leader bad news mysteriously disappeared.
Ambassadors, diplomats and other senior people all over the world suddenly withdraw their allegiance and denounce the leader. They resign for a variety of reasons, ranging from self-preservation to being participants in a bigger oil-conspiracy.
Meanwhile, the leader is wondering what all the fuss is all about. After all, he loves his country and specifically requested that his people should not be harmed. He continues to be fed good news and (not unreasonably) declares that the people all love him.
However, his son (who was once very popular among London’s tosserati) then blows his democratic credentials by waving a gun in front of a crowd and declaring that they will fight “to the last bullet”.
Although it is very likely that the leader’s supporters are still measured in millions, Western media continue to only interview individuals who are anti-leader. Close-ups of burning vehicles and bodies in the streets give the impression that many thousands of the country’s citizens have been “slaughtered”. In fact, the big Western power now openly uses the s-word.
The world’s political pack closes the air-space over the leader’s land and his country’s money is stolen by the politicians who by now, sense that the leader is blissfully oblivious of the fact that he is terminally wounded and has no escape.
He has been totally encircled. The politicians have closed ALL the doors and then paradoxically, tell him to “get out”. Understandably, the leader feels very let down and betrayed because a few days ago, the same openly aggressive politicians used to be his friends.
The politicians are already slavering over the prospect of rebuilding contracts, mining, oil and of course….more oil.
So what of the bruised and battered “truth”? Well, that’s purely relative.
A few days ago, the United Nations were about to publish a report praising the truth of Libya’s new approach to human rights. Now, the truth is that they are dealing with a deluded murderer who kills his own people. A genocidal maniac.
The truth always depends on where you are standing.
….and here are a couple of reminders from the family album:
and of course: