Friday, 4 May 2012

Brand preferences

Yesterday was the day for Britons to express their brand preferences. The North East, North West, industrial Midlands and sundry places North of Watford restated their preference for Pepsi, The South East and Anglia stuck with Coke and Scotland reaffirmed it's preference for Irn Bru. London went for Red Bull (despite a strong challenge from a Halal zero-taste Pepsi) and some in the extreme South West remained loyal to their local brand, a sort of Dandelion and Burdock. "It's what you're used to, innit" said one commentator explaining the ingrained and tribal demarcation of the nation. 

Sales of Coke were significantly lower than in 2008 and this has been attributed to an 'Omnishambles' marketing campaign for a new recipe that saw several traditional ingredients reduced or removed to taste more like Pepsi, at a time when Pepsi had modified its own recipe to taste more like Coke. All the key brands are in discussions to raise their retail prices in concert by a substantial amount this year in order to fund marketing campaigns.

Political blogging will resume shortly.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Gordon Brown triggered global recession, says King

I had to re-read Mervyn King's words in the Telegraph this morning to believe them. Yep, couldn't be clearer.
"From the start of the crisis, central banks provided emergency loans but these amounted to little more than holding a sheet in front of the emperor to conceal the nakedness of the banks. They didn’t solve the underlying problem – banks needed not loans but injections of shareholders’ capital in order to be able to absorb losses from the risky investments they had made. From the beginning of 2008, we at the Bank of England began to argue that UK banks needed extra capital – a lot of extra capital, possibly £100 billion or more. It wasn’t a popular message. .........That bold action (to nationalise RBS and Lloyds) in October 2008 could have happened sooner; bailing out the banks came too late to prevent the financial crisis from spilling over into the world economy. The realisation of the true state of the banking system led to a collapse of confidence around the world and a deep global recession. Over 25 million jobs disappeared worldwide. And unemployment in Britain rose by over a million."
One can actually hear the dripping sarcasm in the words 'That bold action..' in describing Brown's dithering, panic and confusion, and the accusation is clear - if Brown had acted quickly, and boldly, then the global recession may have been averted.

Two things. Up until now we've been told it was the Septics wot triggered it - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lending to junk people for junk real estate. Now it seems it was our dear banks, mired in greed, rapacity, obfuscation, fraud and balance sheet distortions. 

Secondly, Brown didn't cause recession. His stupidity may have triggered it, but it was the same greedy, rapacious etc. bankers as above that caused it. 

As Bob Diamond contemplates his £17m bonus this morning, I hope he thinks that 25m jobless around the world is good value.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Our dilettante government

Nigel Farage characterises them as 'college boys' with no experience of the real world; elsewhere they are 'rich kids' loyal to their frat club, lightweights, dillettantes, and no match for the mandarins. Cameron is fast discovering that the corollary of taking the credit for everything when things are going well is taking the blame for everything when the reverse holds true. Their only saviour is Ed Miliband, a politician so comically incapable, so bereft of charisma, that if he entered the hustings against a dog that said 'sausages' the serious money would be on the dog. 

And as Richard North points out this morning, the public are almost completely indifferent to those things that excite the political class and their dags. The 'Sun' will sell not one copy fewer this morning, 'Sky' lose not a single viewer. It's disassociation rather than apathy - Helena Kennedy's 'Power' enquiry demolished the myth of voter apathy once and for all - as people just can't relate the doings of Westminster and Whitehall to their own lives.

The only flickering interest right now supports the truth of 'Tip' O'Neill's aphorism that All politics is local. The London Mayoral election has been decided by Livingstone's obfuscation of his tax affairs as both candidates have become detached from their parties, and a grass-roots revolt in Tower Hamlets against electoral fraud and corruption by the Bangladeshis is giving a robust rejoinder to those who claim that Localism is a doomed concept where Johnny Foreigner is concerned. 

Typhoons. attack helicopters, snipers and drill missiles filling London's airspace today, along with HMS Ocean's stately presence and swarms of black RIBS buzzing the Thames, in either a singularly ill-timed or deliberately provocative security exercise the day before polling day (depending on whether you go for cock-up or conspiracy) will add the only frisson of excitement to an otherwise uninspired local election campaign.

Monday, 30 April 2012

No austerity for the EU Oligarchs

Whilst the Greeks starve and one in four Spaniards are workless, whilst Portugal's young talent is draining to Brazil, and the Irish hunker down into shameful penury, Europe's new oligarchs are treating themselves to a new fleet of private jets. Ashton, Von Rumpy, Barroso and the corrupt fat cats of Brussels can sip chilled champagne as they fly in their Falcon 7Xs  (below) and 737s over the heads of elderly Greeks collecting roadside weeds for the pot. 

In the post below I commented that one would need to buy Mount's book to find his comments on the EU - Cruddas being unlikely to include such passages in his review for the Indie. Well, it seems Charles Moore gives us a good hint in this morning's Telegraph;
Mount does recognise that oligarchy is not a late deformity of the EU, but essential from its beginnings. The founding fathers believed that union could never come about if the people fully understood what was happening. They therefore devised a system by which the European Commission — a bureaucracy in the precise sense of the word, and wholly unelected — initiated the laws. The one‑way doctrine of “ever closer union” effectively forbade the politicians of any member state to disagree. And now we have the euro, in which a central bank tries to enforce austerity upon a continent. It is, as Mount himself says, “the oligarch project to end all oligarch projects”. Perhaps we should take that expression literally: perhaps the euro really will end the project that it was intended to crown. What is certain is that, so long as the EU exists in its present form, the power of oligarchy will grow. Which makes it equally certain that the risk of revolution will increase.
Following Booker's succinct summary of this 'treason by stealth' approach in yesterday's paper, it astonishes me that any Briton of any degree of intelligence can support this evil empire unless for personal gain.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Ferdinand Mount - The New Few

From the reviews, Mount seems to echo exactly what this and similar blogs have been saying for the past few years; if consensus is now emerging on the cause of the sickness (and one will need to read Mount's book to see how he describes the effect of the EU) there is little will amongst the Big Three to do much about it. From John Cruddas' review in the Indie;
The New Few then races through some corrosive examples. The still-shocking £9bn HSBC takeover of sub-prime vultures Household, culminating in £53bn set-aside to sweep up this folly; the "festering morass of bad debts" that was HBOS; vainglorious Fred the Shred, and many more. The central concern is the arbitrary power of the CEO and decline of the active shareholder, interlocked with the rise of the fund manager with their top-slice off every transaction: a "croupier's take". In short, there was systemic collusion between the two dominant groups. "One set of oligarchs- the fund managers - approve the size of salaries, bonuses and pension pots for another set of oligarchs - the CEOs, board members and senior managers".

Why so little appetite to confront these excesses? Mount identifies three basic reasons- or excuses, or illusions - that sustain the system. "The market is always right"; "big is beautiful", and "complexity equals progress": they echo the dominance of neo-liberalism, of a system too big to fail, due to the sheer complexity of financial products with no appreciation of moral hazard. A brief history of oligarchy follows, and the forces that shape it: war, technology, bureaucracy, forms of ideology - the links between money and power.

Part Two offers a coruscating analysis of how political elites have emasculated democratic structures to facilitate oligarchy. Checks and balances have gone - at conferences, or over candidate selection - in favour of the party head office. Declining membership and turnout follow, as does the stripping-away of local government and decline of the parochial: the loss of that "freestanding quality". Regulation from the centre appears all-pervasive. An inverse relationship between the empty Commons and a rise in "sofa government" culminates in a "dodgy dossier" and war.

Flawed Olympic missile strategy

During the Nazi V1 offensive, British Intelligence did an excellent job of feeding false information on the location of V1 hits back to Germany; in essence, large numbers of hits were reported in areas to the north of London. The Nazis subsequently adjusted the drip-feed engines to cut out earlier, to hit central London, and thus in reality most V1s fell to the south of central London on low-rise residential districts that could afford to take hits, rather than on our most important civic and religious structures. It was one of the hard decisions that wartime governments have to take. 

This pusilanimous government's docile pandering to every whim of the grossly corrupt and self-important Olympic shambles is now to include the siting of batteries of Rapier missiles at elevated locations in East and South London. The Rapier is an anti-aircraft missile, and contrary to some MSM reports, will not shoot down other incoming missiles such as the sort of home-made rockets perfected by Hamas in Gaza. But it will shoot down, say, a hijacked aircraft coming in from the West. 

Now if there's one large area of London that can take crashing aircraft it's the ghastly and meretricious 'Olympic Park' in East London; the thought of shooting down an aircraft over central London in order to preserve a cabal of worthless IOC Olympic D-listers and their Lithuanian tarts to the East defies rational belief.

Let's rather site our Rapier batteries in central London, and let the crashing aircraft fall plumb on the new Olympic stadium, the Zil park, the VIP 'cocaine' suites and the brown-envelope lounges; all of these will be missed not a whit, but a 747 falling on the Abbey would be an irreplaceable loss.