Monday, December 29, 2008

War in Gaza

I have to say that this article by Iain Dale on the subject reads a bit like a press release from the Israeli embassy.

For example at one point Iain writes this:
The media seem to think these rockets are fairly harmless. They are not.
Well, no, they are fairly harmless, just look at the number fired compared to actual casualties and damage.
They are weapons of terror.
This on the other hand is bang on. They certainly are weapons of terror though by no means as terrifying as the weapons that the Israelis use.

Now lets get this clear, no matter what you think of the rockets, and how effective they are, it is clearly ridiculous to keep firing them, especially during a ceasefire. It is also clear that Israel can't actually sit on its arse and watch the fireworks. Mostly harmless rockets are not always harmless, they do kill and injure from time to time, even if it is more luck than judgement which has led them to the target.

Iain then goes on to say:
People blame Israel for the terrible state of living standards in the Gaza Strip. They are wrong. Hamas is to blame for keeping its people in abject poverty. Israel handed over the governmental administration of the Gaza Strip in 2005 to the Palestinian Authority.
Cobblers. Gaza is a large prison camp where the inmates may have complete control, but have no control over the borders* or airspace so they can't get the local economy going and sell produce to either Israel or the outside world.

The other point is that Israel is the author of its own troubles here. Iain says that Hamas is funded by Iran, which is true, but its major benefactor is much closer, in Israel. Israel helped Hamas in the early 1980's as a counter balance to Fatah and the PLO and since 2000 has relentlessly bombed Fatah and Palestinian Authority security infrastructure because it claimed that they were not doing enough to reign in Hamas. Well, since then Hamas have been able to take over, so well done Israel, you have helped Hamas yet again.

The Israelis are now doing roughly the same thing again, which is to bomb the security infrastructure. Civilians are dying which is wrong, but it seems at a rate of 1 civilian to 3 Hamas "security" people, so there is a bright side.

Iain also seems to confuse Hamas with the Lebanon's Hezbollah. Lets be clear, Hamas are no Hezbollah. They have not got the men, training, armament or fighting ability of Hezbollah.

It also has to be pointed out that whilst Israel's bombing in Gaza is disproportionate it is clear who started this. The word on the street in Gaza apparently is that the average Palestinian knows this also, which is clearly bad news for Hamas as they will become about as popular as a rattle snake in a lucky dip. They are also stopping the wounded being treated in Egypt, citing having to make up lists of the wounded! (I thought you just looked at someone, and if they had less than a full set of limbs and/or were bleeding profusely they were wounded and so should be sent for treatment). That will not play well either.

The BBC also has this.

*They do have control over the tunnels.

Benefit Madness!

Well, that is the headline in the Express and the Daily Mail carries a similar story with the headline "boom-time on benefits".

What the article in the Mail highlights is that about 140,000 families get more than £20,000 a year in benefits. The numbers in the Express are 20,000 households claiming more that £30,000 with a further 12,000 claiming more than £20,000 which does not seem to make a lot of sense.

The reports stem from parliamentary questions asked by Chris Grayling, the Conservative party's Work and Pensions shadow minister.

So there are a lot of people living on benefits that are better off than people on the average wage. The average wage being £25,000 a year, and curiously you would have to earn £27,000 before tax to get £20,000 in take home pay.

James Purnell's response? Well he and his department claim that a lot of these families are on benefits for disability. Really? How many? Does he know? Karen Mathews was on £400 a week in benefits, which amounts to just over £20,000 a year and I do not recall any of her children suffering from a disability (other than her mother that is).

This is clearly a patently ridiculous situation which seriously demoralises those of us who do work, have families and pay our own way on less.

The other bit of drivel that James Purnell came up with is that we do not 100% support the governments welfare reform plans. Specifically we don't think it is a great idea to start lone mothers training for work as soon as there children are 1 year old. No of course we don't that is nuts. We also don't support removing benefits from drug addicts if they are not attending treatment. I see. I wonder what they would do if they were not attending treatment and did not get benefits? Answer; crime. So James Purnell is clearly a bit of a pratt.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Just thought I would wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

I am especially thinking of our soldiers who are serving overseas away from their families.

Well done to the National Grid!

Well done to the National Grid for their hard work in trying to get gas reconnected to as many people as possible.

All the staff are doing a sterling job.

Well done and Merry Christmas!

The BBC have this.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

TV station sends Christmas cards!

According to Iain Dale here a TV station has sent him a Christmas card.

How horrific!

Should they not be sent on diversity training? After all we don't want to offend Muslims, Jews, Hindus or any one else.

If you wish to complain about this politically incorrect travesty you should complain to the President, for it is he who is ultimately responsible.

Letters should be addressed to ..

President Ahmadinejad of Iran, for it was Press TV an Iranian owned TV station.

(And no, for the humourless, this was tongue firmly in cheek!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bob Quick's retraction should draw a line under the affair

As Iain Dale says here, Bob Quick's retraction and apology should draw a line under the tragic affair of his somewhat odd outburst.

He also clearly has many enemies elsewhere, so if any one does want to get at him, they need to join a queue it seems.

It does seem odd though that his wife has the business dealings that she does. A police officer needs to be totally impartial. If you lived in his police area and had an accident with one of her chauffeur driven cars could you be confident of an impartial investigation?

The BBC also has this.

Bob Quick has clearly lost the plot!

I have been watching this story unravel over the day. It is clear to me that the man has lost the plot.

The Mail on Sunday did some digging and found that Bob's wife Judith ran a chauffeur service from their family home using a number of vintage cars.

If you read the article you get the clear impression that someone in the met gave the story out but that did not stop the soon to be in civy street, Mr Quick from blaming the Conservative party.

In part he has eaten his words, but clearly he is not a man you would want in an under pressure position, like er.. the head of anti terrorism.

The BBC also has this.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Government to become loan sharks!

In what has to be the strangest policy move in history, James Purnell, work and pensions secretary, who has proposed controversial reforms to benefits, broadly supported by the Conservative party now wants to charge interest on loans from the Social fund at a staggering 26.7% APR!

After all the guff about banks cutting interest rates they want to raise theirs from 0% (for those on benefits in emergencies such as the cooker has just blown up and can I buy a second hand one) to nearly 27%!

Needless to say both Conservative and Labour and Liberal Democrat MP's think this is nuts!

The Mail on Sunday has this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Pound drops to a new low against the Euro!

Well, this is a headline I could use every day this week.

The Pound dropped to a new low against the Euro yesterday. The worst it got was £1 to €1.10800.

Oh dear.

Whilst Yvette Cooper (AKA Mrs Balls) can't quite see the significance of this as they target inflation... it does mean that all we buy from the Euro zone will become more expensive so pushing inflation up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chris Hoy wins BBC sports personality of the Year!

Well done to Chris, the British cycling team and indeed our whole Olympic and Paralympic team as well.

Lewis Hamilton came second.. which just goes to show that he should not have won the Formula one World Championship in the same year that our Olympic team did so well, and he should not have left it to the absolute last second to win! Still, better luck next year Lewis, that prize will one day be yours!

The Pound to slump to low against the Euro

Well, all last week the pound plummeted to new depths against the Euro, and will do so again this week. It finished the week at £1 to €1.11880 (In my last article on the subject I made a typo :( )

You have to wonder what low it will hit next week. People travelling abroad are already getting less that €1 to the pound (see this on the BBC). Will it hit as low as €1.05 or even parity?

So what would Gordon Brown say about it? Well, in 1995 he said:
A weak currency is the sign of a weak economy, which is the sign of a weak government
How true. (Hat tip to Iain Dale for the quote)

Of course Yvette Cooper, Chief secretary to the Treasury has said that this government does not watch what is happening to the currency and instead looks to keep inflation under control claiming that they have done well over the last 11 years.

The reality is that this government had kept the wrong measure of inflation "under control" and that was not in fact the government but the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England. Had this government (or indeed the MPC) kept the right inflation under control we would not be in this mess.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The pound continues to slide against the Euro

The government were warned that the Pound would slide, and it continues to do so against the Euro hitting yet another record low today of 1.2330 Euro's to the Pound. Currency exchanges are already trading at parity and some say we will reach parity by the end of the year.

What this means is that there will be inflationary pressures around the corner. Far from cuttting interest rates further and making it harder for our banks to raise cash, we need to raise interest rates and reduce public spending.

The latest rate is available here on the BBC, and the BBC has this.

Woolworth's to close in a sale of the century!

I have to say that it is very sad to see Wolworth's looking like it will close.

I frequently shop in Woolworth's, and they often have useful things for sale as well as having good offers on toys.

It is very sad for the staff as well.

The BBC has this.

German finance minister shoots Gordon Brown's fox!

For a long while Gordon Brown has been able to get away with the lie that everyone else is planning some huge "fiscal stimulus" and everyone the whole world over agrees apart from the Conservative party.

Well Germany's Social Democrat Finance minister, Peer Steinbr├╝ck has truly burst his bubble in this interview with Newsweek.

Here is a key quote:
The speed at which proposals are put together under pressure that don't even pass an economic test is breathtaking and depressing. Our British friends are now cutting their value-added tax. We have no idea how much of that stores will pass on to customers. Are you really going to buy a DVD player because it now costs £39.10 instead of £39.90? All this will do is raise Britain's debt to a level that will take a whole generation to work off. The same people who would never touch deficit spending are now tossing around billions. The switch from decades of supply-side politics all the way to a crass Keynesianism is breathtaking.
Ouch. It appears that not everyone agrees that Gordon Brown has saved the World!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Flash Gordon Brown claims to have saved the world!

The Crown blog has this fantastic clip of Flash Gordon Brown claiming that he saved the world at Prime ministers questions today!



Very amusing.

Labour; Do as I say, not as I do!

I have to say some things amuse me.

This Labour government has cut VAT (for a year) but fails to pass on that cut to those who purchase from its website, as you can see from this story by Iain Dale.

Ridiculous surely?

No. That is perfectly ordinary.

What makes this ridiculous is that the Labour party's official credit card has very high interest rates, something which this Labour government are criticising credit card companies for!

You can read about Labour's current credit card scam here, but you will belly laugh about how they were ripping off their supporters in 2004 here, compared to a Northern Rock credit card!

It gets better, though, if you read both, they screw the less well off harder into the ground than the wealthy!

You just could not make this up!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What Labour MP's don't understand about Greengate

And, to be fair it seems, Bob Spink and Chris Paul, is this:

Labour will not always be in government. It is true that many on the Labour benches have not known opposition, and also will never know it on those benches because when Labour eventually do lose power, many Labour MP's will have had to have lost there seats. What they need to realise is that many Labour MP's will be left and will need to hold the government to account.

They will find that very difficult to do, if as now, the police and civil service are politicised to the point where they will not only hunt down leakers (fair enough) but seek to intimidate and prosecute not only the leaker but the MP.

They will no doubt witter on about police operational independence, in which case they ought to read this, or indeed that MP's are not above the law, in which case they ought to read history.

Pound continues to slide against the Euro.

Rather sadly I have been comentating and indeed watching the pound against the dollar, which, whilst it has during the last week hit another 52 week low, is trading between $1.44 to $1.50 to the pound. On the other hand the trend against the Euro is relentlessly down, reaching new depths on a regular basis. In fact it has hit as low as 1.14 Euros to the pound.

The reasons for this are simple. Gordon Brown wants to borrow hideous amounts of money to buy his way out of a recession and it appears that if that does not work he will try printing his way out. Similar ideas seem to abound in the US whereas Germany contrary to Labour and Gordon Brown's spin think this policy is nothing other than nuts.

You can see the rate against the Euro here (current £1 buys €1.15 Euros as opposed to a year ago when it brought €1.40). On the other hand it buys $1.48 dollars against a 52 week high of $2.05. Current price is here.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Conservative Mole in Labour's cabinet?

The Mail on Sunday carries news that the Conservatives not only have a mole in Gordon's Brown's cabinet, but that the mole has been leaking over the Smith Institute (Guido's favourite subject) and Chris Grayling has written to Gordon Brown about it!

Explosive stuff!

Politicalbetting has this.

Mandelson to wring blood from a stone!

Apparently Lord Peter Mandelson will be meeting with bank executives on Monday to try and get the banks to lend.

Well, this will be like wringing blood from a stone. They have no money to lend. Our banks have lent £700 billion more than they have on deposit since 2001, and that money has been borrowed short. As I pointed out in my articles on Bank of England interest rate cuts, banks are trying to buy money from consumers at as much as 6%.

Clearly the government are in cloud cuckoo land and may even let the presses roll.

Andrew Rawnsley has this in the Observer.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Why did the police investigate this leak?

I, as Iain Dale also did, listened to The Week in politics on Radio 4 earlier.

Lord Butler was being asked about leaks. He was of course a permanent secretary. He said they often had leaks and looked for the moles though their own internal inquiries seldom found the moles.

The police had better resources for the job.

The thing is that most of the time the police when asked to investigate refused to do so on the grounds that the offence complained about was simply not serious enough.


So why now? We already know that national security was not involved because Jacqui Smith has said as much in Parliament. She said that they feared they might become involved at some future date!

That is the nub of the question that Iain asks.

The answer is of course this:

Sir David Normington will be on the panel that does initial vetting of candidates for the job of Chief Constable of the Metropolitan police. So if you can't get passed him you can't get the job. he is also of course permanent secretary of the Home Office and the person who made the original complaint to the police.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Let the presses roll!

I have been hearing many people talking about "quantitative easing" including on Newnight last night. It appears that the government and treasury are considering it and indeed modeling it.

Of course "quantitative easing" is a nice bit of jargon, but what it actually means is printing money. It is as simple as that. On the upside at least there will be no chance of deflation, on the downside, the value of the cash and savings you have will fall through the floor.

Well Guido has noticed an odd clause in the banking bill before parliament. It removes a clause from the 1844 Bank Charter act. That clause requires the Bank of England to tell government how much money it has printed, and also to publish that information. It makes the Bank of England transparent.

The only reason I can see for removing that clause is so that the Bank of England can let the presses roll and try to print our way out of this economic hole.

It won't work, it will be dire. What is more, the mere fact that that clause will be removed will damage confidence in the pound even if the Bank does not print any new notes.

Lebanon's banks fine shocker!

Apparently the fact that Lebanon's banks are in fine financial order is some kind of shock.

I was not born in the Lebanon, nor am I Lebanese, but I grew up there, and I can tell you I am not surprised.

There are various articles in the media, like this in the Financial Times, and this on the BBC and Robert Fisk here, who asks this:
But someone needs to explain to me how this little Middle Eastern cabbage patch is bouncing along so happily amid the cyclones ripping through the world's economy.
The answer is of course simple. The Lebanese have been engaged in the business of banking, both national and international, contracting, both national though more frequently international and trade for something like 4,000 years. After a while you get the hand of it, and avoid tulips, radio shares, the dot com bubble and so on.

The Lebanese banking sector has been both strong, and trusted in western markets for as long as western markets have existed, even in times of war. I was there when people tried to rob banks of there cash and gold reserves. It didn't work.

Yet the Lebanese banking system works on few rules, like adequate liquidity and not buying into risky investments.

In fact the reality is that the Lebanese banking rules are so short that anyone could understand them, to the point where they can't be got around.

Crucially also Lebanon's banks are regulated by their central bank, like ours were until Gordon Brown became Chancellor of the exchequer. With 0 years experience at banking as against 4,000 years he handed over the regulation of our banks to the Financial Services Authority who look after insurance and assurance, and came up with 8,000 pages of regulation.

Brilliant.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Bank of England's pointless interest rate cut

Many people have been calling for the Bank of England to cut interest rates, even after last months massive shocker of a 1.5% cut which I said was pointless when it happened.

Well, they have done it again, and cut interest rates by 1% to an all time low of 2% which has not been seen for 57 years. If it goes any lower it will be lower than since the creation of the bank.

It seems some people think that what the Bank of England does on interest rates is relevant.

It isn't. Not even a little bit.

If you don't believe me try lending money to a bank, offering good terms for how long they keep it, and see how much they are prepared to pay. You will find that it is considerably more than 2%, or even 3%. In fact it is more likely to be at the range of 4.5% to 6%.

It is also clear that the Bank of England has absolutely no intention of lending money to banks at 2% either, so where is this money going to come from?

It should be noted that UK lending institutions have since 2001 lent £700 billion more than they have in domestic deposits. Non domestic lenders must think we are mad if we think they are going to buy a rapidly devaluing pound with high inflation to lend at a very low rate which will see their original capital devalued. In essence we are asking for people to give us money on a non commercial basis.

What is more savers are being savaged.

Here is a thought, going against just about every other commentator.

Put interest rates up, so that people are prepared to lend to inflation + 1%.

I know lots of people will howl, but the problem we have right now is less that banks are charging lots for money, and far more that they just do not have the money to lend, especially as lenders can get a far better rate lending to our government which is about to swallow a massive amount of cash.

The BBC has this
.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Harriet Harman refuses to back speaker Martin!

I have just watched a clip of an interview from tonights News Night where Jeremy Paxman asked Harriet Harman if she had confidence in the Speaker Michael Martin or the Sergeant at Arms Jill Pays.

She refused to do so!

Oh dear!

I shall of course be watching at 10:30!

Greengate, Jill Pays, Speaker Martin and the Police

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin made a statement in the house of commons today which as Iain Dale notes tends to lead to more questions than it gives answers.

Lets look at the arguments.

No body is above the law!

Rubbish. How is the archery practice going, and how many hackney carriages carry a bale of hay? Further more the police and other emergency services get away with speeding when on an emergency.

Clearly there are circumstances where the law is not applied because it is ridiculous or overlooked in the public interest.

Firstly many parliamentarians, and indeed many journalists and commentators have cited parliamentary privilege, and its breach in this case. This is not some antiquated old rule that allows members of parliament to do what ever they want, it is a protection that parliament has so that it can do its job of protecting people and their liberties from an over mighty state. The following resolution is passed before each session of parliament:
Any action taken by either a Member of Parliament or a stranger which obstructs or impedes either Parliament in the performance of its functions, or its Members or staff in the performance of their duties, is a contempt of Parliament. Examples of contempt include giving false evidence to a parliamentary committee, threatening a Member of Parliament, forgery of documents and attempting to bribe members.
This law clearly protects parliament and its members, not in all circumstances but where they are carrying out their duty. The main duties of an MP are to represent their constituents and to hold the government to account. The later is what concerns us here, and that is what Damian Green was doing. Alas it is frequently the case that a department that is not fit for purpose, such as the Home Office does not try to fix it self but hide its failings instead. This is where leaks come in.

The crime it is alleged has been committed is that of misconduct in public office, or aiding abetting conspiring to cause misconduct in public office, defined in CPS guidance as:
a) A public officer acting as such.

b) Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.

c) To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.

d) Without reasonable excuse or justification.

Now where do we start? If you read this article on the subject here on wikicrimeline and this case here where the Attorney general sought the advice of the court, it is clear that no crime has been committed, further more that the police would have established such by merely asking what had been leaked and where it had turned up.

In order for the crime to be committed it has to in effect injure the public interest as well as falling well below the standards of the office holder. Rather obviously the leaks which are complained about are in the public interest and in fact have caused to government to fix things which it knew were broken but sought to hide.

Even if you could accuse Chris Galley of the offence (which you can't because you can't show he injured the public interest) then we have the question of parliamentary privilege. This protects an MP from interference in his job as an MP amongst other things, and in this case the job of holding the government to account. Clearly if the government is trying to hide its failings then the only way to get hold of information is via leaks. It is the legitimate business of parliament and there have been leaks for as long as there has been government.

It gets worse for the government because the cases involving leaks to the press have all either been lost by the Crown on appeal or thrown out before the jury trial started.

Some say "Ah but that does not put him above the law!" well, I say cobblers. It does not put him above the law as in he can ignore it, but laws apply differently to different classes of people. The order which states parliamentary privilege gets passed every year by parliament and so one would have thought it superseded the common law offence which we are talking about.

Then some even cite the case of Lord Cochrane who they say was arrested whilst sitting on the government benches supposedly to prove that parliamentary privilege does not make you immune from the law. The argument is sophistry at its very best. Lord Cochrane was arrested after having escaped from prison having been found guilty of fraud. It can't be said that the criminal act of which he was accused was part of the legitimate business of a parliamentarian so obviously the question of parliamentary privilege did not arise for it to be put aside.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Greengate, Harriet Harman plans a secret meeting!

Apparently Harriet Harman, Jacqui Smith and Speaker Michael Martin (along with Jill Pays sergeant at arms and others) are having a secret meeting tomorrow to discuss Speaker Martin's statement about the arrest of Damian Green.

Needles to say that is highly irregular as it includes no members of opposition parties.

All this we know from a leaked email sent to the Conservatives.

Iain Dale has this.

Sharon Shoesmith sacked!

Sharon Shoesmith, Haringey head of children's services has been sacked with immediate effect according to Ed Balls the children's minister, after what he has described as a devastating interim report into the death of baby P, who as you will know died of persistent horrific long term abuse.

Makes you kind of glad she did not resign. I do hope she does not get some kind of massive payoff.

I am also pleased, that unlike Gordon Brown, Ed Balls has not tried to use this case for party political advantage but seems to have done the right thing.

The BBC has this.

More later when the situation is clearer.

The Political implications of the arrest of Damian Green

I note that the political implications of the arrest of Damian Green are growing by the hour.

It started as outright horror on the opposition benches, with both David Cameron and Nick Clegg coming out strongly, followed by people like Tony Benn (Viscount Stansgate as was).

Well over the weekend whilst there has been briefing by the police against Damian Green (who is going to investigate that leak?) and cobblers talked by the Alleged Home Secretary Jacqui Smith we have had some interesting cover been broken by members of the cabinet.

We have had Harriet Harman, Jack Straw coming out against, whilst the speaker Michael Martin will make a statement on Wednesday. Now even Gordon Brown the Prime minister has come out and said there may need to be an inquiry.

The police are looking very bad as is Jacqui Smith.

The BBC has this.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Damien Green and the Police's contempt of Parliament

In order for Parliament to hold the executive to account it needs to operate without fear and also needs to be given information which the executive does not want it to hear. In other words leaks. They are part and parcel of parliament holding government to account.

There is an offence of Contempt of Parliament which is defined as (Also see here):
Any action taken by either a Member of Parliament or a stranger which obstructs or impedes either Parliament in the performance of its functions, or its Members or staff in the performance of their duties, is a contempt of Parliament. Examples of contempt include giving false evidence to a parliamentary committee, threatening a Member of Parliament, forgery of documents and attempting to bribe members.
Clearly as getting leaks and using them to hold government to account are part of parliaments daily business then interfering with that is contempt of parliament.

The police officers involved need to be arrested and brought before parliament.

The speaker, Michael Martin also needs to be relieved of his position as he has clearly failed to protect parliament.

Labour bloggers are apparently talking all sorts of twaddle on the subject. Consider this from Daniel Finkelstein on what was leaked to Gordon Brown when he was in opposition and ask yourself the question; would you want that stifled? Would that be in the interests of democracy?

Iain Dale also has this, Dizzy has this and Guido has this. The Guardian also has this.

Stasi arrest Damien Green over telling the truth!

After in sheer disbelief looking around for a bit and reading various reports it appears the East German Secret Police (Commissioner, New Labour Commissar Comrade Ian Blaire) have arrested Damien Green the Conservative Shadow immigration minister for the heinous crime of having proof the government are telling lie after lie after lie after lie shoved in his hand and quite possibly telling people about it in an attempt to hold the executive to account.

The speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin allowed the police to search his house of commons office.

This is all unheard of stuff in this country and is reminiscent of all sorts of totalitarian regimes, such as Hitler's, Stalin's or indeed East Germany's/ (Oh, and of course, the EU).

Be afraid, very afraid. Or just stand up and say NO!

The BBC has this, the Telegraph has this. Iain Dale has this and Guido has this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Woolworths to be saved?

Last night we received news that Woolworths was being put into administration, broken by the burden of excessive debt.

I felt very sorry about that, not least because up to 30,000 jobs could be lost, but also because I regularly buy things there and always have. Last night I was fitting an external draught excluder in the dark. I used a battery powered rechargeable fluorescent lamp bought from Woolworths several years ago. Still works fine!

The good news is that Woolworths might well be rescued! Good.

The administrator will keep Woolworths open until after Christmas, but with a bit of luck it will be rescued by then.

The BBC has this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I could have done with an extra £100 a month!

It is I have to say fascinating talking to real people of all parties, including those running businesses, middle and low earners and hard bitten old Labour types.

None of them can see much point in what this government is proposing to do with VAT.

However, looking at the relative costs, both Bob Piper (not new Labour, not old Labour, just Labour), the Adam Smith institute, Iain Dale and indeed I agree on is that it would be oh so much better just to raise personal income tax allowances, for the same cost as the VAT giveaway to £10,000 per year giving every wage earner £66 per month, or for the cost of the whole package over £100 per month.

It would have lifted millions out of tax and really incentevised work.

I could really do with the money. I wont see any of the VAT decrease, but i would see cash in my pocket, to do with as I want.

Now wouldn't that be good?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VAT cut wont work and wont help the poor

Alistair Darling's pre budget report is out and it is nothing of the sort it is an emergency budget as the debt bubble comes home to roost.

The VAT cut wont work in that it will not sufficiently boost spending.

It crucially will do very little for middle and low income earners whose budgets are already stretched as they already have little spare to spend on items on which you pay VAT that has not also been clawed back in duty raises.

Consider the average family budget. What is it spent on at the moment and why is it squeezed? Well lets look at the top items.

  1. Housing costs (rent or mortgage) no VAT.
  2. Food. Mostly no VAT (Special cases luxury foods such as biscuits not essential ones like cakes, go figure.)
  3. Gas and electricity. No VAT reduction as VAT is only charged at 5%.
  4. Transport costs. Fuel VAT cuts will be made up for by increases in duty.
  5. Beer, wine and cigarettes. All VAT reductions to be more than clawed back.
So there you have it. Any presents most of us can buy this Christmas will be priced at something like £9.99, or some variant there of. Can you imagine that dropping to £9.77? No, me neither. (That said all praise to those retailers who do use those sort of numbers o show they are doing there bit!)

What is more as massive shop discounts have not brought about nirvana what will a paltry discount do?

Now, what will help. Well when lower household gas and electric bills turn up they will relieve the pressure on hard pressed households and may even make them feel good. Rises in tax credits will help for those who claim them as well.

All in all it would have made much more sense to cut income tax though.

The BBC has this.

Monday, November 24, 2008

National Insurance and Fuel to rise!

Is Alistair Darling having a laugh?

National insurance to rise again and petrol and deisel duty to rise to take account of drop in VAT!

National insurance is in effect a tax on jobs!

What a git!

Pound set to fall as government promises to borrow out of recession!

The pound will fall during the course of the day as the markets work out that this government is going to try to borrow its way out of recession.

Ignore the comments about all governments around the world doing the same, its tosh. The Chinese have stacks of cash so are not borrowing and no serious country is looking at budget deficits as big as ours.

Expect the pound to hit a 52 week low today, and for the record it would have to go below $1.45.5 to £1.

The BBC has this on the current rate of the pound.

A Super Tax for the rich at 45%!

Apparently the Pre Budget report (or really a mini/maxi budget with brown pants) will say there will be a new super tax rate of 45% to be brought in after the next election.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Is that the best they can do?

Obviously they will be playing this as "making the tax system fairer" except it won't. If you get get the super rich to pay 20% tax that would make the system fairer, but in fact they avoid it. (more on that later).

So it will make a challenge in the politics of the next election. Labour will go down the Old Labour lines. The reality though is this, this tax increase will bring in £2.5 billion a year compared to a budget deficit that will have risen to an eye watering £150 billion a year notwithstanding the fact that we appear to have guaranteed the banks to a level of 400% of GDP.

Expect there to be pressure on the pound tomorrow.

The BBC has this and the Times has this.

PS.

Had this been an honourable government someone would have resigned over these leaks. They won't, it is not an honourable government.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

VAT cut to 15% but will it work?

The broadsheets today are filled with "speculation" that VAT will be cut to 15%, the lowest that being in the EU allows.

Of course were this true, any chancellor with honour would resign, but then new Labour chancellors have been leaking budget information since 1997 and have no honour so don't expect that.

However moving on the the substantive point. Will it work?

No.

Well, what it may do is drive up consumer spending, mostly on imports, but only for a while. It will be a bit like waking up in the morning with a massive hangover then having a large glass of whiskey to get drunk again. That may get you over the hangover for a bit, but you still have to get over the hangover.

The hangover here of course is massive debt. Consumer debt has tripled under New Labour, with our banks lending £700 billion more in loans than they had in deposits. That deficit is a massive problem.

On top of this government is borrowing hand over fist in some kind of weird attempt to have a bit of a sobering drink. It won't work.

The fact is that we have a millstone of debt that has funded an asset boom around our necks. This will need to be paid off and this will take an age. During that time we will face lower growth than we otherwise would have done.

The Times on Sunday have this, The Observer has this, the Telegraph has this, the BBC has this and the Spectator Coffee House blog has this.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

John Sergeant forced of Strictly come dancing

I have to say I am gutted that John Sergeant has been forced off strictly come dancing, and it is clear to me that it is the shows loss not his.

John is popular with the public.

Some people say he is his own man, but it is clear from what he said that he is feeling the animosity of both the judges and other contestants, and that is his sole reason for leaving.

That is wrong. The rules are that the public get a say. Thats it. If the judges and other contestants don't like it they should go.

The BBC has this and this.

The BNP members list leak

This has been making big news. The BNP have expressed concern whilst Labour are expressing some delight as BNP activists get witch hunted out of jobs.

I do not approve of the BNP, but this is wrong and smacks of McCarthyism.

What is worse though is that Labour are very wrong if they think it is good for them. It will in fact grow support for the BNP which, as the BNP is a left wing party, is strongest in Labour areas.

The BBC has this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tax cuts should be for life, not just for Christmas!

It has to be said that is one hell of a soundbite, and indeed David Cameron has a point.

Here is the scenario:

You work, you get given a tax cut. It will last one year or maybe two. Taxes will rise after that. What would you do?

What is more what will the money markets do? They will know that there will be but a temporary boost to the economy and crucially they will know that nothing is yet being done to solve the debt bubble both private and public that there is in the UK economy.

In short the markets will tank. They are currently in headless chicken mode already.

The BBC has this on the debate.

Monday, November 17, 2008

So what is happening to the pound?

So what of George Osbourne's reckless undermining of the pound that Labour were so concerned about?

Well as Guido points out, the pound has rallied. When I wrote yesterday the pound was at $1.47, and had in the last few days hit a low of $1.45. Now it is currently trading at $1.50325 up some 3 cents since yesterday. (Current price is here)

Quite impressive and clear proof that Labour were talking rot in saying that George Osbourne's comments may damage the pound. In fact the way the reporting went over the weekend changed and started to highlight both the drop in the pound over three months and the level of the current budget deficit in such a way as to force to government to stop saying they will borrow and spend, replacing that with affordable borrowing. In many ways that tone change may have helped today's rally and would not have happened without George Osbourne's efforts.

What will sink or save the pound though is the pre budget report next Monday. Then we will see how the markets view the government.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baby P and the dangers of a knee jerk reaction

Whilst it is clear to me, and no doubt all of you, that with the benefit of perfect hindsight, baby P should have been protected, what we have to remember is that we do not want a knee jerk reaction. Children brought up in care have very low life chances, (for a whole number of reasons) and we do not want to condemn children to that fate without good reason.

It does, however seem to me odd that alarm bells did not ring. If you read this from the Independent on Sunday, you will see what I mean. It is clear that there were plenty of warning signals.

I am a bit concerned about the involvement of Baby P's father and indeed the father of his three sisters.

Baby P spent a night with his father in late July according to the Independent report.

Did his father not notice? If not, why not? If so why did he not act?

Did the fact that you can no longer get legal aid in family matters on a routine basis mean that he could not afford to ask the courts to give him custody?

One thing I have learned in the British courts is that we have the best justice money can buy. Did that contribute to killing baby P?

George Osbourne, the pound and Labour's mendacity

In an interview in Saturday's Times, George Osbourne expressed concern that the pound could face a proper sterling crisis, a run on the pound.

In fact the article says:
There is also a more immediate risk. “We are in danger, if the Government is not careful, of having a proper sterling collapse, a run on the pound. The danger of that is that it pushes up long-term interest rates. The more you borrow as government the more you have to sell that debt and the less attractive your currency seems.”
Rather obviously there already has been a run on the pound, in the last four months it has collapsed from a value of $2 to the pound to $1.47, from €1.25 to €1.17 against the Euro (though in January £1 bought you €1.40) and against the Yen we have gone from £1 in July buying 205 Yen to 140 now.

To some extent this all helps our exports, except that no one is importing much right now so it doesn't. What it will do is raise inflation again suddenly forcing interest rates up.

What is worse is that Gordon Brown is looking to borrow even more hideous amounts of money for an electoral bribe. George Osbourne is right to say this will hammer the pound. We will be paying for the last Labour government for years to come. With a bot of luck there will not be another one.

The BBC has been angling on Labour criticism of George Osbourne's comments in such a way as to indicate that they would really like to have the BBC charter withdrawn altogether and be thrown to the free market.

Fraser Nelson has this on the Osbourne row, whilst Adam Boulton has this and John Redwood has this on Labour mendacity.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baby P and Gordon Brown

I don't want to make this party political, because clearly it isn't. Instead I want to make this personal.

Gordon Brown is a tit.

I have just watched yesterday's Prime ministers questions, in which he failed to agree with Ed Balls, the children's secretary, that it was not good for a department head to investigate whether their own department had failed.

Gordon Brown was crash in suggesting that David Cameron was making a party political point.

Gordon Brown kept saying that the executive summary of the self report or Haringey council had said that there were failures in the system, and those would be looked at.


The problem here is that the head of the department that potentially messed up not only commissioned but was heavily involved in a report which said her department did nothing wrong, and that there is a problem with the "system".

Is there? How come despite 60 visits over 8 months, no one spotted the abuse? The missing fingernails, fingertip, gauge to the head, broken ribs and broken back?

What system can there be that is so fool proof that if individuals fail to spot these things the system can be blamed?

The report also highlights the difficulties of "lying parents".You jest surely? If a parent abuses a child they will first of all lie to themselves, convincing themselves that what they are doing is not abuse, after that they will obviously lie to anyone else. very seldom will an abuser confess to a social worker.

At least Ed Balls has some balls and has called for an urgent inquiry. That said on Channel 4, whilst Michael Gove was broadly supportive of Ed Balls, Ed did refuse to answer the question, "are children safe in Haringey tonight?" Rather obviously no one could confidently say they were.

The BBC has the full PMQ's here, comment here and news of Ed Ball's inquiry here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The sad case of baby P

We do not even know his name, apparently for legal reasons, but we all share the horror at hearing how baby P died.

He had 8 broken ribs, a broken spine, was missing fingernails and a fingertip and had bruises all over his body.

I pray for him.

However we have to ask why this happened?

The government has ordered a review of child protection. This, whilst well meaning is ridiculous. The faults are clear, that the existing rules were not followed and people did not do their jobs.

No amount of procedure can compensate for not following procedure.

What is needed is not so much a general review but a close review of who did what and did it meat the procedure.

The other issue of course is Haringay council. They seem to have cropped up too often here. Is there a systematic problem.

The BBC have this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For the fallen

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.


For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon

Remember Armistice day, and the millions who have given their lives to keep us free, from this country and throughout the Common Wealth.

Please also support the Royal British Legions appeal to mark Armistice day.

How to cut spending, and tax without affecting public services!

Here is a quick "How to" or "howto" cut public spending by 5% without hurting so much as a fly, or making one nurse, doctor, teacher, police person or indeed diversity officer redundant, and therefore pass this on in tax cuts.

It also has the great benefit of allowing the various departments of government, local government, quangos and all to plan more responsibly whilst getting better value for money for our cash!

Its a bit of a win win all round, but with one small catch which I will come on to later. Here is the plan;

End the hideously stupid rule that any budget needs to be spent by the end of the budget period or else not only will that money be lost but the next years budget will be lowered by the underspend.

This will stop government departments year end blow outs, incentivise them to look for value and allow them to roll over budget surpluses to spend on larger projects.

The one downside is that private companies that look to grab March spending splurges will be hit and that will have a knock on effect.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tax cuts now!

There has been a debate in the Conservative party ranks for a long time, about tax cuts, or rather their timing.

I think we all agree that there should be tax cuts, and I think we all agree that the burden of taxation is too high. The problem was, and to some extent still is how do you pay for them?

If you intend on cutting public expenditure by £1 billion by say, losing people with ridiculous job descriptions, Labour will try and paint that as axing hundreds of nurses, doctors or teachers. That is a narrative that needs to be broken.

We, as a party have promised to promised to "share the proceeds of growth". That was fine. Times have however moved on. The car crash that is Gordon Brown has happened, the economy is hitting a brick wall at great speed and we need to look afreash at what we do and what we propose.

Firstly we need to cut taxes, and at the low end first, by reversing the increase in taxes on small companies and by reducing taxes on lower incomes by upping personal allowances or other similar moves.

The second thing the Conservative party needs to do is nail the idea that spending money equals results. It doesn't. This government is looking to raise spending on education, per child, to that spent in private schools. As a policy objective that is nuts. It also wanted to, and indeed has achieved, raising spending on health to the average across Europe. That is the policy objective, rather than looking for results.

This is where we need to attack Labour. If you can buy a car for £10,000 spending £20,000 on the same car does not make it a better car.

Yet another poll lead for the Conservative party

According to the Telegraph on Sunday an ICM poll reports a 13% lead for the Conservative party.

This is good news, and points to a Conservative overall majority of between 76 and 80.

You have to wonder if that will burst Labour's bubble and change the media narrative? It ought to as the media narrative was made up anyway.

Politicalbetting.com has this and Iain Dale has this.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Government controlled banks

Dizzy has gone off one one here, about the government control of banks and how bad an idea that really is. Quite right to.

Some banks did pass on the rate straight away like Lloyds TSB who's deposits are similar to its lending. Others have not, primarily because their deposits don't. They are trying to improve their books by reducing their mortgage books.

Cutting interests rates will also have a severe perverse effect and that is to reduce the amount of savings people put away, possibly making the banks deposits worse.

Having said all that the pound has not tanked badly as a result of the cut in bank interest rates though it is not as stable as I would like. Libor rates have dropped which is good. However what will happen as Dizzy points out, is that banks will just tighten their lending policy. They already have. They now will not lend to people who have nothing or little in the way of a deposit. That is still a constraint on lending and that position will not change until house prices start to rise which in turn will not happen for for some time.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bank of England's pointless interest rate cut of 1.5%

The Bank of England has cut interest rates by 1.5% to 3.0% which is below the Eurozone interest rate which has also dropped today to 3.25%.

This cut is pointless. British banks for the most part don't have enough deposits to cover there lending by a gap of some £700 billion. They have to borrow from the Libor markets which ultimately means from people who do not care what the Bank of England base rate is.

The net effect of course is that banks who have to honour tracker deals will have less money available to lend on new deals.

In other words Gordon Brown has lost complete control of Tue economy, unless he can replace the £700 billion the banks have got from overseas.

The BBC has this and this.

Congratulations to Senator Barack Obama, President elect

It would be churlish to start with anything else.

He has ran a very good campaign, and at least he is not Hilary Clinton.

That said I am still concerned that he may be an American Tony Blair, though a Liberal Democrat friend of mine has pointed out that he does not have Tony Blair's punch me in the face insincere smile that both he and I have seen since day one but few others noticed.

I am also concerned that Barack Obama may be a bit of a protectionist which would be a disaster if that really is the case especially in these economic times. Protectionism deepened and lenghthened the great depression and what we do not need is a great depression.

Many people think that all of a sudden American foreign policy will change.. it won't. What it will do is come from a more palatable tongue. That is a good thing. For too long American politicians have used a domestic megaphone in foreign policy which causes problems. As Theodore Roosevelt once said "Walk softly with a big stick" or to put it another way, have the means to do what you want, but talk nicely, it might work.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Is America about to elect its own version of Tony Blair?

I must say I am amused that so many British Conservatives seem to like Barack Obama. To me he is exactly like Tony Blair. I could just see a victory rally for Obama featuring the song "It can only get better", except that as we have learnt here it didn't.


That said Carl Rove seems to be predicting a landslide for Obama according to Channel 4 news. This is not good news.

McCain or Obama; Who is going to win?

Well, personally I don't care, as I had this down as a McCain/Obama race from the beginning of the primaries and placed my bets accordingly (bar a chicken bet on Hilary Clinton just in case).

I did not get on as early on the Obama betting bandwagon as Mike Smithson of Politicalbetting.com who tipped him as a runner at 50/1, which gave Mike a fantastic trading position, so he also will probably win either way.

However I still think McCain is in it, for a number of reasons; firstly he has been dead and buried before, secondly there appears to be an almost Sheffield style victory party for Obama on Monday (USA time), thirdly the polls seem potentially to have a systematic errors and lastly the breaking news in Pennsylvania that Obama wants to bankrupt the coal industry. If that gets traction in the last hours could it swing it?

Well, we may know soon, I hope so, or it could go to endless litigation!

There is one certainty though and that is that this American election will see the highest turnout for many many years. I predicted that as well. It is good for democracy.

For more on American elections see here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross: Who thought that was funny?

I see that Russell Brand has resigned from his show on BBC Radio 2 and Jonathan Ross has been suspended.

This all stems from phone calls to Andrew Sachs' answering machine giving details of a liaison between Andrew Sachs' granddaughter Georgina Baillie.

This does leave some strange questions, like just who thought that was funny? Has Russell Brand no manners? After all he should not have discussed his relationship with Georgina Baillie in such terms with anyone, let alone use it to taunt her grandfather and then broadcast it.

Who at the BBC thought this was fit to broadcast? Why have they not been sacked yet?

The content of the BBC is becoming increasingly worrying, especially that aimed at children and the younger audiences. The latest CBBC logo animation features farting. Why? Dick and Dom is puerile and vulgar as well. Perhaps the attitude that allowed Russell Brand's show to be broadcast is endemic in the BBC.

The BBC has this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

EU: Mandelson did nothing wrong!

Apparently the EU has insisted that Lord Peter Mandelson did nothing wrong as far as his relationship with Oleg Deripaska is concerned.

The question is; Does this say more about Peter Mandelson, or the EU which has failed to have its accounts signed off for years?

The BBC has this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bank Bailout looks OK so far.

Markets around the world look very positive over the frankly massive bank bailouts world wide.

However we have two issues.

The first is excessive debt in the west, particularly in the USA and UK, and excessive savings in places like China all leading to massive trade deficits funded by fiddling currency rates and the savers lending us the money to buy what they produce.

Expect tight times ahead.

The BBC has this.

Government admits defeat on 42 days?

The government admits defeat on 42 days, but wants to keep a bill in its back pocket to bring out at a moments notice to blackmail parliament into passing it at a moments notice.

You just could not make it up.

As a previous Lord Chancellor, Lord Cheerful Charlie Falconer has pointed out, its not needed because if the prosecuting authorities have a reasonable belief that the evidence will become available, they can charge someone much earlier then gather the evidence. The bill as it now stands includes provisions for post charge questioning as well.

So where is the problem?

This is obviously just political posturing, and trying to look hard.

The BBC has this.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No more boom and bust!

Prudence is our watchword.

I knew it was claptrap at the time, and I screamed it from the rooftops. I, and indeed anyone with a brain, could see we had a looming problem built on a debt mountain, joyless economic growth built on immigration and so on.

I won't say I told you so, because even I did not think it would get quite this bad.

Last year I had a building society account. This year it appears I own ten banks. Bizarrely they probably will not lend me my own money. Quite amusingly they won't borrow from me either.

Our banking institutions seem to me to be schizophrenic. They will throw money at people who they know can't repay their credit cards, or they will not lend at all. There seems to be no sensible middle ground. The reasons for this are obvious. Whereas a junior member of a bank had a final say over a certain size of lending, and a bank manager much larger, now a bank manager has to do what he is told by a computer operating on a model built by a mathematician who has never lent money to anyone. The system is simple in its wrongness. The more money you have available, the more victims you seek, the less, the harsher your lending criteria. At no point in this is there the opportunity for individual judgement. That is what is missing from the system.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Big Bank Bailout: Will it work?

That is of course the £500 billion question.

I suppose the answer depends on what you mean by "work".

Will it bring on days of endless economic sunshine?

No. Emphatically no.

What it may do, and by goodness I hope it does, is stave off a depression. It will not stave off a recession, I am afraid for reasons I will state below.

You have to start by asking where we are. We are a debt ridden country with a debt ridden government. Money supply has been out of control. We may as well have been printing the stuff, but we haven't, we have been borrowing it from the Chinese and the OPEC countries to buy their exports. This is the fundamental root of the problem.

We have hideous amounts of private debt, something like £500 billion on credit cards and unsecured loans, let alone what we have in mortgages at horrific income multiples and/or self certified housing debt quite a lot of which was based on what now seems very optimistic valuations.

The bottom line is that we have to pay back at least £500 billion in foreign debt. We also need to encourage local savings. That will hit the economy hard for many years to come.

Still, at least we can bank on our banks, but with a bit of luck we can reduce the number of regulations they have to comply with whilst making them more effective. Less can definitely be more here.

The irritating thing about all of this is that both the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats have been pointing out this car crash for years, though none expected it to be either this bad or this costly.

The BBC has this.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sir Ian Blair resigns!

My position is clear. Sir Ian Blair should not have resigned. That is a tragic error.

Left leaning twits have accused the Conservative party of making things party political. This is tosh.

Sir Ian Blair should have been sacked, long ago for dragging his office into politics, and indeed so should have this government, for dragging the police into politics especially over various bits of anti terrorism legislation.

The fascinating thing was watching Chris Huhne's comments. he basically said that if Blair did not have the confidence of London's mayor, he should go. The reason for this approach is obvious. It distances the Liberal Democrats from a direct link to the ousting of a pratt, whilst supporting it, because Liberal Democrats have also been irritated by Ian Blair dragging his office into politics.

So when New Labour freaks (and anyone who is still new Labour is a freak) shout about us Conservatives dragging the police into politics, perhaps they might consider how they have dragged them in first.

For my first article on why he should go see here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Labour meltdown continues, latest poll is dire!

The latest Ipsos Mori poll in today's Telegraph is dire news for Labour.

It reports the shares as follows; Conservatives 52% (+4), Labour 24% (NC) and the Liberal Democrats on 12% (-5).

On this basis the Conservatives would win 481 seats, and give them an overall majority of 312. This would be a landslide of staggering proportions.

Ouch.

Political betting also has this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Labour meltdown

It is at times like this you do have to wonder, as a spectator, if it can get any worse.

We have ever increasing calls for a Labour leadership contest, and much gnashing of teeth. Curiously this has bumped the Liberal Democrat conference of the news agenda a bit which is bad manners, bu then they don't have much to say of significance anyway.

The big question has to be; Will there be a Labour party in 2015?

The answer is of course yes, as the Liberals suffered a massive prolonged wipe out and have to some extent made a bit of a comeback. The lesson here is not that Labour will be here for ever, just that it takes a long time to wipe out a party, for the Labour party has never delivered its promises to its base and now has alienated its base with its current message and awful leadership.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September the 11th anniversary.

Well, we are 7 years on from the 11th of September 2001.

I remember popping next door to the TV shop and watching the second plane hit on many TV screens.

It was so hard to take in.

Doubly so as I watched the towers collapse.

May they rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Do the BBC hate the disabled?

I am growing increasingly incensed at how much it seems the BBC do not care for the disabled.

The coverage of the Paralymics is derisory.

I have just watched the sport report on BBC News 24.

The lead item was very brief, Lance Armstrong making a comeback.

Then football news.

Then the very briefest mention that we may have a passing interest in an event involving some cripples.

Well, cheers. F*cking cheers you useless mindless bunch of ignorant left wing useless w*nkers.

I, and several other able bodied friends are actually quite interested in the paralympics, our team our doing us proud thank you very much though they would be doing very well to beat their performance last time, when they came second in the medal table.

I mean, for pities sake, we have a one legged cyclist who's record beats the Los Angeles Olympic record of 1984, and is but 5 seconds behind Chris Hoy's record. I would love to be able to tell you his name, but alas it is not clear on the BBC's website, nor is that fact noted there that I could find.

The medals table is not there in an updated form either.

Mind you, the BBC has form for hating the disabled. You may recall the other day seeing a blind correspondent. He stuck in my mind because I had never seen one on TV before. He was not the best looking of people, and his obvious all white eyes were striking, but then so what? The BBC has plenty of not that good looking male reporters, (though now I come to think of it, not that many not so good looking women ones, are they sexist as well?) who cares if he is blind? His name was Gary O'Donoghue. His report seemed fair enough.

Well according to Private Eye, and indeed his wikipedia entry he was the man on the scene about to break the news of the political fallout over foot and mouth last year. He is after all an experienced political correspondent and was the on duty man at the time.

So there he was about to broadcast to the nation on the Friday night 10 o'clock news, a blind man, and as an observation, the first one to do so that I can recall, when, according to both Private Eye and Wikipedia, an hour before he was due on air the deputy editor, Daniel Pearl decided he did not want a cripple on TV.

The BBC has had to pay lots of money for that, as they were sued. Daniel Pearl looks set for promotion.

So there you have it. The BBC promotes those who discriminate against the disabled, and treats the paralympics as so second class it can't be arsed to give it air time, outside its good coverage on BBC2 for 1 hour in the evenings. (The Olympics had the same but on BBC1).

This is wrong. So very very wrong.

And whilst I am at it, I listen to the very good correspondent Peter White on BBC Radio 4, why don't we see him on TV?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Is the economy about to turn the corner?

Well, there is good news about, or at least better than the utterly dire news we have been getting.

The US government has effectively taken over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who cover half the US mortgage market. Although leaving shareholders severely out of pocket, it seems the US government is going to make mortgage cash available helping the US housing market.

Markets around the world have reacted positively to this news. Had either or both of those institutions collapsed things would have been very grim indeed.

Also oil is down, as are raw materials prices leading to lower output figures.

Make no mistake, it will take quite a while for confidence to return to the market, but we may now be moving along the bottom and up again, in terms of confidence.

The BBC has this on the US and this on factory output prices.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Kevin Keegan not resigned or sacked shocker!

The whole world of journalism was thrown into turmoil last night after it emerged that Kevin Keegan had not been sacked and had not resigned.

Several journalists who had banked on a good lunch by making something out of nothing were completely dumbfounded.

One journalist who did not wish to be made said:
I don't know what's going on! We spend years talking to people, then take one unguarded comment completely out of context, misquote it, make a story and ruin someones life, sells lots of news papers and so on, but this time, it seems not to have worked. I am shocked!
Another older and wiser journalist intervened saying:
Yes, but if we keep this rubbish up long enough, and tell each side lies about each other, you never know what might happen. There are legs on this story yet.

So there we are then. A story journalists have made.... or what?

The BBC has this.

PS sorry for not posting for a while.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Northerners: Leave your homes and all move South!

Well, that is not actually quite the message of the Policy Exchange report released today but it sure does sound like it.

Iain Dale has his take here, with a helpful extract from the introduction. The full document is here, I no I have not as yet read it.

The premise seems to be that regeneration money has not actually kept the cities of the north with growth of the south. Obviously you would have to ask just how bad would it be had the money not been spent.

The point is well made, and the reports introduction does scream the answer, alas the report seems to miss the answer it is screaming on page one and prefers the answer that John Prescott obviously feels a bit insulting and David Cameron thinks is mad, which is that people should move to the same corner of the country. Is anyone going to ask us southerners if we want to take all this internal migration? What of the cities of the north now denuded of all their aspirational talent? Is this not just going to make some very bad situations worse?

As Iain points out above, Cardiff is doing well in its regeneration.

So what is the answer? Well the introduction of the report states:
Places that enjoyed the conditions for creating wealth in the coal-powered 19th-century often do not do so today. Port cities had an advantage in an era when exporting manufactured goods by sea was a vital source of prosperity; today the sea is a barrier to their potential for expansion and they are cut off from the main road transport routes.
Just re read that several times. Particularly "and they are cut off from the main road transport routes."

If you look at every deprived area of the country, and they exist in the south east as well as the north, you will note the lack of proper transport links. Hastings is an example of relative deprivation as is Weymouth.

The short answer is to build better road, rail and air transport to all these areas. Build the transport links and the business will come, its basic O level geography. What is more, the person representing the report on the news today seemed to know that transport is what built these cities, he just has not worked out that if those modes of transport have moved on, we can build new ones.

Something that is clear to me though, is that if the Conservative party wishes to build a prosperous Conservative country it needs to build road and rail like never before.

The BBC has this
.

Russia withdraws from Georgia!

Russian troops have throughout the day been withdrawing from Georgia in accordance with statements made by President Dmitry Medvedev.

This would normally have been treated as good news, however there is a problem, and that is that either their navigational equipment is broken, or that their definition of "withdrawal" is a one with which we are not familiar with.

It beggars belief that Russian troops have been filmed by both Channel 4 and the BBC in and around Gori.

Iain Dale laments the tales of Georgian refugees in this article here. I have not been there, but I can tell you that I have been to the former Yugoslavia when it was at war, and this sort of things happen both ways. That is of course no excuse for anything, but I will say this: I suspect that if you went to Tshinvali* and sat and had a coffee with a few local Ossetians you would come away with the impression that these were good solid honest hospitable and above all friendly people. You would feel exactly the same way having spent the afternoon in the company of Georgians in Gori. You would however, as I was in the former Yugoslavia be dreadfully shocked at the bestial violence they seem to meet out amongst themselves.

I have heard much about the atrocities the Russians claim have been committed and those committed by them and the Ossetians. With regret I can believe and disbelieve both at the same time. What is of course needed is hard evidence and in war that is hard to come by. Is that dead child a Georgian killed by the evil Russians, and Ossetian killed by the evil Georgians, or just a casualty of war.

Two things are clear though, Mikheil Saakashvili is not the sort of person I would want to be able to declare war on my behalf, and Russia needs sorting out.

*Please note that a correct transliteration would probably spell that Tsinvali though other alternatives are Tschinvali. It is pronounced roughly as Shinvali but try to imagine a T being there, at the front, but just a bit.

The BBC has this.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What was Georgia thinking of?

You do have to ask, don't you.

It is true that at this time of year that the separatist parts of Georgia kick off. Conspiracy theorists might suspect that Russians are advising this is a good time of year to act as international leaders are on holiday. Such skirmishes happen every year it seems.

Yet this time Georgia responded.

I am not saying that Georgia does not have the right to defend itself or its citizens and so on and so forth, but the people threatening them are, at heart a super power of sorts.

So why now, and why like this?

Good question. I have no idea why now.

Why like this? It was nuts. There are Russian troops in Georgia and it must have been obvious that they would be reinforced if there was any sort of threat. Georgia is separated from Russia via a fairly defensible mountain range. The only rational thing to do would have been to only "go for it" if they could seal all mountain roads before reinforcements could be sent. That rather obvious part of the plan seems not to have made it on to the plan.

Georgia was provoked, and was aware of the large build up of Russian troops. It does beg the question what were they playing at?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

War in Georgia: What do we do?

This is a question that Iain Dale poses on his blog, quoting some interesting articles including some from Cicero's songs. I like Cicero and find him pleasant company and very knowledgeable on Russia and its former imperial possessions of which Georgia is one. Cicero's songs has this and this. One of those articles says that Russian troops have turned up in Abkhazia, Georgia's other break away region which shows Russia's true intentions.

So what do we do? Well, I would not start from here.

Cicero makes the point that this is a bit like the Rhineland. For those who are not as well versed in history that refers to Nazi Germany sending in their army into the Rhineland breaching the Versailles treaty of 1919. You might ask what is wrong with the Germans stationing their troops in Germany. Well, it was the first test of international resolve and lead to ever greater ones until the invasion of Poland in September 1939 which led to war.

However the problem is this: Whilst we would have had trade with Germany which we could have stopped with sanctions (but did not) we can't do the same with Russia. Firstly we have too much money there but more crucially Europe is reliant on Russian oil and gas. The only other way of getting the stuff out of central Asia is.. yes you guessed it, via a pipeline in Georgia the Russians have just bombed. In short the Russians have us by both out wallets and our heating and lighting.

We do seriously look at the way we have taxed our oil companies out of our own oil fields. Europe also needs to do no important trade with Russia, because frankly we can't trust their government.

The BBC has this.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Government dithering smashes housing market

Government dithering over stamp duty is set to cause an even worse crash than we were headed for.

The problem is this: Some journalists got the idea that Alistair Darling was going to introduce a stamp duty holiday in a similar way to that introduced by the Conservative government in the last housing crash.

The problem is that now we have uncertainty. Buyers who have to pay the tax may wait until they know because there could be a few thousand pounds in it.

This could all be a story cooked up by the media but the problem with that thesis is that we know that this Labour government (including the Tony Blair years) likes to manage news. Whereas in years gone by if a budget measure was in the press before it was announced to parliament, the chancellor resigned New Labour's news management has gone to such levels that we know about most of the budget from well briefed journalists long before hand. In other words this government has form for this sort of thing.

However no actual announcement has been made so the housing market is in limbo. The Conservative party have rightly asked for an end to the uncertainty and rightly so. We can stymie the housing market until October's pre budget report.

This is of course the problem with Labour and indeed its news management. It has no idea why things are as they are so sees no reason not to change. It sees no boundaries in common conventions. Frankly they have not got a clue and never had one either.

The BBC has this and the Daily Mail has this.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Woman's place is in the home: Official!

Hold on, don't shoot the messenger, I am only commenting on this survey conducted by Professor Jacqueline Scott of Cambridge university.

It seems that attitudes to working mums has begun to change back to thinking that perhaps it is better for women to be at home.

That is an interesting change and what is more it has begun to swing as more parents put their children with minders and go out to work.

From a personal point of view I can see why attitudes are changing and in some ways that is no bad thing. There seemed to be a building disdain for women who stayed at home to look after kids and it is also a job which is under appreciated.

However it would be a very bad thing if people started feeling constrained by others. After all people do need to make their own decisions. In quite a few cases it can make more sense for the man to stay at home for example. I am not sure it does make sense for both parents to work full time at the same time thus having their children in full time care though sometimes that is necessary.

Any way, I think I ought to shut up now before I did an even deeper hole for myself!

The BBC has this.

I have just bought £130 of Northern Rock Shares!

I know, I know, you must think I am mad, and I have to say I see your point, but I have just bought £130 of Northern Rock shares anyway.

The transaction was easy and fairly painless as far as I was concerned. I did not have to sign any papers, call any stock brokers or anything like that.

In fact coming to think about it, I wasn't even asked. Someone just dipped their hands in my pocket, just took the money and bought the shares.

Still the paper work is easy. No share certificates or anything like that.

On the upside its not like there will be any profits to pay tax on, on the downside I will not be able to write my losses of against the already murderous tax I pay.

The BBC has this.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Richard Dawkins and the non existence of God

I have to say I have heard a few snippets of what Richard Dawkins has had to say on the subject of religion, but never quite realised what a plonker he is.

Channel 4 have just screened a documentary billed as being about Charles Darwin whereas it was in fact about Richard Dawkins using the Origin of Species as an attack on religion. A bot of a shame really as Charles Darwin was a clever fellow, whom I would have liked to hear about. Richard Dawkins on the other hand I can live without.

His theory on the non existence of God seems to go along the lines of:

Christianity says the world was created in 6 days.

Evolution says it wasn't, ergo God does not exist.

Needless to say with thinking like that, it is no surprise to find h is a biologist rather than a mathematician or physicist.

The problem with Dawkins proposition is that he us taking the bible far too literally. For example what about the earth being created in 6 days? Well who's days? Ours? God's? Where is the evidence to say?

Further more, the bible and others like it have not only been passed down for generations often orally, but also crucially is not supposed to be a scientific treatise which is why it does not mention quantum theory, but a treatise on the way people should interact with each other and with God.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Gordon Brown declared Bankrupt!

You will not have read this in any of the national news papers but Gordon Brown has been declared bankrupt.

Personally I feel sorry for him. I don't know what is worse. Being declared bankrupt or having as a namesake the most unpopular Prime minister in history.

Curiously though it was in the High Court which is an odd place to make a window cleaner bankrupt. I wish him luck, he is going to need it.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Whatever you do, don't catch an unfashionable disease

Please don't.

There are fashionable diseases, like AIDS or breast cancer, then there are unfashionable ones like prostate cancer, malaria or Alzheimer's.

If you look at how many people who are going get a given disease and how much is spent on research and treatment there are clearly fashionable diseases and unfashionable ones.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Barry George guilty! but not of murder...

Well, the worst you say say about Barry George is that he is a bit odd, which combined wit the fact that he lived near Jill Dando about sums up the prosecution case against him.

I am very pleased he has been acquitted because last time I looked being a bit odd was not a criminal offence.

I wonder of the police will investigate the murder properly. Somehow I doubt it.

The BBC has this.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Record house Price drop reported by Nationwide.

The Nationwide building society has released their latest price survey indicating the largest drop in house prices in a single year since their records began in 1991, during the last housing collapse. Prices fell by 8.1% back to levels last seen in mid 2006.

Grim news indeed. So what happened to no more boom and bust?

The BBC has this.

Labour at War!

The Labour party is at war, according to this article in today's Daily Telegraph as bitter recriminations fly after David Miliband's Guardian article and yesterdays press conference (The BBC has this on the conference).

Well, if they are fighting like rats in a sack, all I can say is pass the popcorn, I am enjoying the spectacle!

Money grabbing Vultures circle over Methylene Blue wonder drug

According to a comment by greygeek77 (who alas does not allow viewing of his profile and so I can't find his blog to link to it) on a previous article on the subject:
A little Googleing will show that Methylene Blue, a coal tar dye, was first synthesized in 1875, and was used by the famous French scientist, Ehrlich, in 1861, to treat pain and neuropathy because he noticed it had an affinity for neural fibers. A typical dose is 100 mg per 100Kg of body weight as a pill, or 1 to 2 mg per 100Kg as an injection.

Bulk price for MB is $42/Kg but pharm grade is now going for $285 for 250mg!! The greed has begun.

A patent was filed in 2004 for a "new" way of making the compound because MB is too old to patent itself, and hence wouldn't be profitable enough. It appears that the prescription price will be about $5/day.

This is one "drug" that the US government should nationalize in order to HELP the elderly, most of whom are on limited incomes, and to prevent their exploitation by the pharmaceuticals for unearned profit.
So the bottom line is this:

Methylene Blue has been known for 127 years to be good for neurological problems, and is cheap.

Drug companies seem to have realised this and are rushing to shore up profits by applying for new patents on an old remedy.

The price has spiked, probably due to a sudden interest. I bet that as soon as things settle down generic drug producers will be producing this stuff like it is going out of fashion.

Gas bills taxed at 75%!

Just in case you were wondering why left wing Labour MP's were calling for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, consider this:

We now import 40% of our gas, which is why it costs so much, but crucially when British gas draws it off the North sea it pays 75% over in tax to Gordon Brown. This explains two things:

1. Why gas bills are so high.

2. Why
no one can be bothered to bring new capacity on in the North sea. After all it is hardly worth looking if you can't make any money out of it.

In fact this government, egged on by very ignorant left wing MP's and unions, has taxed the North Sea oilfields to the point where no matter what is down there it is hardly worth a look.

So the next time you look at your gas, or indeed electricity bill, and lament the VAT on it, please remember the hidden 75% tax.

The figure of 75% jumped out at me as I was listening to an interview with the MD of British Gas who pointed that out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Methylene blue: The new wonder drug?

After having published this article on Methylene blue and its affects on Alzheimer's I have been doing a bit of reading about this blue dye.

It seems that according to this article on a research paper it also repairs defective memory.

The great thing is that it is already administered as a medicine and crucially is cheap.

The interesting thing about the memory repair is that it works in a different way to the way it cures Alzheimer's in that it deals with some problems in mitochondria. You do have to wonder what its affect would be on errant proteins in cancer mitochondria as well. I suspect no one has tried this though as there will not be any money in it.

This does lead to some serious questions about how medical research and drug research is funded and what results it produces. There is no money in finding out that the cure for some ailment is something that is cheap as chips already. More on that later.

Police use terrorism acts to cover up their own criminality

Police in Portsmouth have tried to use the 2000 Terrorism act to cover up their own criminal breach of motoring laws.

A passer by noticed a police car illegally parked (Motoring offences are a criminal offence) so took a picture.

They then questioned the passer by, David Gates, under the terrorism act, citing security concerns.

We have to get seriously concerned when police cite "security concerns" when people are gathering evidence of specific criminal offences, even if they are only road traffic offences.

Let us be clear: If you can see it from a public place, you can photograph it, and if it is the police breaking the law you certainly can.

The local Portsmouth paper has this, whilst the BBC, appearing to have lost its bottle, had a brief news report at 6 but has dropped it since, showing such post Hutton courage, has nothing at all.

Doha trade talks collapse in rubbish!

I do not intend on slinging mud at any one in particular, but more at everyone in general.

The Doha trade talks have collapsed because, it seems people want to argue over how much of the cake they will get rather than looking at the obvious solution, making the cake bigger, much much bigger.

We have the primary issue of agricultural subsidy and agricultural trade.

The current position is that all blocks try to maximise there output at the cost of their tax payer whilst reducing the output of others as much as possible then imposing tariffs of all sorts to suit which ever lobby they want.

The net result is that you and I subsidise people to reduce world food output and keep food prices up, which does not seem like a good idea to me.

Just to move the position on though, consider this: You are a jobbing TV maker in Wales, a jobbing banker in London, a jobbing consultant in IT or some other possibly exportable service.

How many Africans who's economy has been destroyed by your taxes and can't afford to eat are going to pay for your services?

It is a no brainer really. There is no fair trade other than free trade, and like charity it starts at home. If you want a job, you have to allow others to have one too.

The BBC has this.