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Friday, 13 January 2012

IDS reforms start to show cracks

IDS' much vaunted Welfare reforms have always been regarded with huge disappointment by this blog. With all the best intentions, he has merely replaced a centralist, bureaucratically moribund, top heavy, expensive and inefficient system with an alternative centralist, bureaucratically moribund, top heavy, expensive and inefficient system. Like a Great War general, Duncan-Smith has sacrificed billions for an advance of a few inches. 

Toynbee almost tells the truth this morning when she states "Voters think two sensible things about benefits: citizens needing help should be well cared-for and the healthy should be deterred from malingering". You just need to modify the word 'well' to 'adequately'. The cracks appearing in IDS' reforms result from a sensible assessment that they will achieve neither aim. 

You simply cannot design a universal Welfare system from the top, as IDS has tried to do. You can't do it. 

Welfare, above all things, must be local. IDS would have done better to throw the 10,000 page benefits manuals out of the window and simply allocate the entire benefits budgets to local offices with total discretion to distribute it as they thought fit. Seriously. Welfare recipients also need to be more 'visible'. Currently, the person who gives them money is a vague 'they' completely unconnected with their neighbours, their local traders or the driver of the bus that takes them to the Post Office. Administering Welfare payments and benefits at the most local level would target resources to those truly in need, be flexible enough to vary with changing circumstances and above all eliminate free riders. A fraudulent IB claimant may fool the benefits assessors but they can't kid their neighbours for very long. 

IDS had his chance and he blew it. 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Directors' pay

The pay of directors of public companies is no business of government. It is very much the business of the owners of those companies - you and I, anyone with a pension pot. Currently directors' pay is determined by a remuneration committee, whose members are appointed by, er, the directors. 

It is a simple matter to change membership of the remuneration committees to persons appointed by the shareholders, or in the case of institutional investors (often themselves also plcs) their own investors. This will result in bonus structures where bonuses are paid where the return to shareholders is good, and withheld when it is not. It will go far to end the culture of obscene and unwarranted levels of pay amongst those at the top of public companies.  

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Miliband refuses to tell the truth. What's news?

As Miliband's sulky, petulant face stares out at us from the front pages today, a picture of privilege, cosy as a comfortable member of that Political Class so alien to the British people, we learn that he refuses to tell the truth and admit that the Labour party was largely responsible for the basket-case economy that the UK must now bear. Why is this worthy of coverage?

But whilst the Political Class is unwilling to shoulder any of the blame it is doing very well. The economic crisis is leaving MPs untouched  For as long as they blame their chums the Corporates, and as long as the Corporates blame their chums the Politicos all is well for both groups. As Jeremy Warner writes in the Telegraph today  
There is no hardship for those seen to have caused the slump. Bankers and company bosses are paying themselves even more than they were during the boom; the wealth divide continues to widen. Bankers are one thing, but the situation has become equally repellent at many of Britain’s leading companies. Ben Gordon of Mothercare and Manny Fontenla-Novoa of Thomas Cook are just the latest among Britain’s elite of corporate bosses to receive humongous rewards for abject failures in performance. What makes cases like these particularly galling is that the CEOs of publicly listed companies are not, generally speaking, wealth creators, but mere hired guns paid to manage established organisations.
The problem for Miliband is that Labour is the Big State, corporatist, centralist, tractor planning party. Labour can no more embrace Localism than it can reject Rousseau. So we get to look at Miliband's sulky petulant mug instead. Some choice. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Campaigning against the Big Three

Christopher Kelly's tax funding proposals will establish the current big three parties as the official "parties of State", grossly unfairly advantaged by incumbency, crowding-out new parties from a chance to enter Westminster and stiffling much needed political reform of these cosy private metropolitan clubs that between them have a membership of fewer than  1% of the electorate. Their take from the tax-pot may start out as modest, but once established there will be no control over their subventions from the public coffers to build their private organisations. Kelly's myopic and timid recommendations, intended to achieve a weak consensus rather than guarantee democracy, will lead this nation along a path on which lurk the most dangerous threats to our national democracy.  

It is time for the ordinary people of Britain to act, not in forming a new political party, nor in supporting an existing fringe party (though we can do both of these as well) but simply by campaigning as individuals against the hegemony of the Big Three. Please note these points; they will keep your campaigns legal.

  • The regulated period for the next election starts in May 2014. As an individual voter, you can spend up to £10,000 in that year to May 2015 without having to register with the Electoral Commission.
  • Whatever you spend, you should record all expenditure. Guidance on what counts can be found on the Electoral Commission's website.
  • DO NOT try to co-ordinate or form groups or reproduce graphics and slogans from a central source. This will lead the EC to aggregate all your electoral expenditure. 
  • DO deposit copyright clear material at Wikimedia that can be used or incorporated by other individual campaigners
  • Consider setting up a website separate to your blog for the NO campaign that bears your identity as promoter; any newspaper ads or posters you place will also have to declare your identity
Full guidance can be found on the Electoral Commission website HERE, but don't get bogged down in detail. Start saving now for 2014 - we can all afford a grand for a newspaper advert, and once more people get the idea the thing will spiral. 


Monday, 9 January 2012

Players and gentlemen

Apologies for the light blogging recently. The demands of work are curtailing even my usual ability to take advantage of each waking hour. At the moment all we most experienced old hands are back to 12 hour days in turning a very challenging corner. It's not without benefit. The HR people have been told to get back into their suite, close the door and keep very quiet. The marketing people are carrying out an inventory of their fonts with orders not to disturb us with silly requests, and the IT people have been told that unless they fulfill our ad-hoc requirements within 48hrs we can implement our own solutions. In other words, managers are back to managing.  It's the very English solution of sending in the gentlemen and bringing on the players when there's a hard job of work to be done. We're back to leadership and skill rather than system and process, flying on manual. And I have to say it's not without some pleasure. 

So please bear with me, as normal service will be resumed just as soon as I accommodate all the demands into a re-organised day.