Sunday, 20 May 2018

Venezuela - when Socialists take power

There's an election today in Venezuela, but don't get excited. We all already know that the Socialist dictator Maduro will win by an estimated 8m votes - his cronies have been forging ballot papers and stuffing ballot boxes all week. Corrupt elections are one of the first changes that Socialists make to democracies. Little Owen Jones would no doubt rationalise electoral fraud as legitimate just so long as it's to cement Socialist power - anything, including genocide, is OK for lefties.

On that subject, can you imagine Pete Waterman, for example, making a comedy movie about the extermination camps, with Hitler, Goebbels, Jodl, Ribbentrop and the rest of the scum Nazi gang played by comedic actors? Yet Armando Ianucci, a man of supposed talent and intelligence, takes great pride in doing so about Stalin. It's part of the Socialist rehabilitation of Stalin's Soviet Union. Thirty millions exterminated? It's fine, it's OK, they were killed by Socialists, not Nazis, we're told. I'm showing it to my young German chums next week and I'll let you know their reaction. 

On social media, on the streets, and now even on mainstream broadcasts the spite, vituperation, hate and sheer nastiness of the left is in the ascendant. It's chillingly reminiscent of the early days of the NSDAP. Bullying opponents, intimidating democratic debate, shouting down contrary views are all becoming normalised.

Today Venezuela, tomorrow the United Kingdom.   

Friday, 18 May 2018

Teds and Target 2 - the coming news agenda

Slang is fascinating. A bottom-up generated change in language reflects a substantial forming or modification of outlook. I'm surprised we don't have chairs in Slang at the new universities. I write this as I found this week two new slang terms for the Germans, both words born of common parents here in the trans-Alpine region. The first is Italian. Tudro is not a kind word; it means oafish, unimaginative, lacking feeling or sensibility and is pure Italian. The second is from the British army stationed in southern Austria at the war's end, guarding hundreds of thousands of broken, dispirited, rumpled, at-heel German troops. A score could be herded by one man with a loosely carried Lee-Enfield. They were no longer Huns, Krauts or Jerries - the swagger, the insolence, the arrogance had been beaten out of them in battle. So for their British guards they became Teds, from the Italian Tedeschi. I like Teds.

With the news agenda swinging round like an oil tanker at bow-anchor to Italy, AEP starts the move with a piece in the Telegraph (£)  on how the new Italian government's finance proposals have 'enraged' the Teds. It's all about Target 2, or T2 as we shall say. There are some useful papers on T2 about - Here from FT Alphaville, and Here from Forbes, if, like me you need a crash course. I suspect over the next year we'll all be hearing a lot more about T2 in the news. The headline is that the Bundesbank is owed nearly a trillion Euros by the rest of the Eurozone, whilst Spain and Italy have heavy T2 debts. Martin Selmayr is turning his death-gaze from West to South. A couple of interesting points, if I've read the briefings right -

- National banks are given an allocation of Euros to print. Printing more than the allocation creates a debit with the ECB. Germany's Bundesbank has been printing hundreds of billions of excess Euros possibly to offset their trillion-Euro T2 credit with the ECB 

- QE money created by the Bank of Italy has been substantially invested by the Italian market in, erm, Germany, substantially increasing Italy's T2 liability and Germany's T2 credit

- Germany's huge T2 credit now forms by far the biggest asset of the Bundesbank, having overtaken in the early noughties the previous biggest Bundesbank assets of loans to German banks. 

- Germany is not quite alone in having a substantial T2 credit; the Netherlands and Luxembourg are also in the creditors club. So expect some commensurate alignments. 

Right. Off to the Herrenfriseur, then.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

MPs get it right on Carillion - now we need action

I can find no redeeming behaviour on the part of the venal and hubristic directors of Carillion in the Commons select committees report. Greed, recklessness, irresponsibility, immorality - directors, in the words of Frank Field, more interested in stuffing their mouths with gold than with their fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities. 

As I've written previously, I've seen this culpable recklessness time after time in the Construction industry - loss leading bids for contracts with a naive hope that profit can be screwed from contract variations, a prioritising of turnover over profitability, a childish drive for size. It's unforgivable and I don't forgive it. 

Those who suffer are the trades, workers and sub-contractors - working people, living from contract to contract, often at the slenderest of margins strained by late payment or settlement of accounts, ordinary grafters with families and mortgages and car leases to pay. Men and women I know and like and will always defend. And those fat carousing bastards at Carillion thieved millions without compunction. Shame on them. 

Equally culpable are the crooks at the big 4 audit firms - KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and EY - also excoriated by the Commons report. In return for fat audit fees, these crim bastards send in teams of juniors and trainees to test-check documents, interrogate computer systems and generally to record time spent and accumulate fat box files of dross to demonstrate due diligence, whilst happily ignoring a global picture of impending failure. Shame on these bastards, too. 

My only solution is the American one. We don't need any more regulations, any more accounting codes, any more restrictions on doing business, any more restraints on responsible capitalism. What we have are adequate. We must not make business any harder or more onerous or burdensome. No, what we need are post-hoc retributive measures - that if a firm fails, as Carillion did, and if that failure was due to the malfeasance of directors and auditors, as it was at Carillion, it should mean long jail terms. Twenty years and more. And not for the junior trainees at the Big Four but for the directors. These bastards must face real penalties.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Miliband the Bottler crawls back - the first of many

David Miliband, the man termed a 'coward' by journalists for getting the press all excited about challenging Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership and then bottling it, has crawled back to the UK from his 'charidy work' in the US hoping no doubt to win a place leading a new left-centre party without having to fight anyone for it. Their rallying point is to reverse Britain's democratic decision to leave the EU. But then he was a man scorned as a popular brand of seedless orange - a reference to his lack of fertility rather than his faith, I gather.

Meanwhile, those on the exit side who currently have no option other than voting Conservative or not voting at all are watching carefully for the emergence of a new pro-Brexit party before 2022 for whom to cast a ballot. Nothing too right-wing - neo-Thatcherite would do nicely. With a little clear water between the new party and the politics of race-hate that characterises those scorned as 'Gammons' by the new left (who in return, it's fair to say, are termed 'Soy-Boys'). Racists in need of a home can always try one of the far-right clones on offer - I think there are currently two, but I may be mistaken. Neither will win anything, but their members can console themselves with the racial purity of their votes or something.  And I know some of you will give me a kicking for that - but I feel obliged to re-state from time to time that I support a distinct British identity open to anyone of whatever colour, creed, sex or faith, that I am utterly hostile to ideologies inimical with Britishness but welcoming to any minority persons wanting to join the club.  

New parties of left and right may rise, but they will also become subsumed into our parliamentary duopoly. Or rather 2½ party system. It all comes down to votes - the blue party now needs to consolidate Hovis-land and the red party needs quinoa-chewers and Waitrose-shoppers. 

Does this mean the poles are about to flip? That the Conservatives, traditionally the party of the South-East of England, becomes the party of the Midlands and North, whilst Labour deserts its Northern heartlands and settles-in within the M25? Interesting.

So of course we'll see all the dags, liggers and chancers such as Miliband drifting back; prepare for names and faces you haven't seen for a decade or more suddenly doing interviews on 'Today' or popping up on 'Newsnight'. We're in for another of those major political re-alignments. Now is the time for the millionaires and billionaires to place their stakes and buy their players, currently on options contracts of course until Brexit pans out a little more.  

One thing is certain; those of we polemicists who subside on a mix of satire and cruel invective won't be short of targets for a year or two.  

Sunday, 13 May 2018

The technocrats who hate and fear British democracy

David Runciman, the owner of a first rate pedigree but a second rate mind, uses space in the Observer today to convince us that we don't need democracy any more. The core of his argument is that the 'wrong' people keep winning democratic elections, so democracy must be broken. How much better if things were decided by savvy, opinionated, metropolitan young things swiping their i-phone screens rather than we 'confused' voters.

This is just the latest in a series of establishment campaigns to undermine democracy in favour of direct technocratic rule by an establishment elite - and few scribblers can be more elite than the Honourable David Runciman, Eton and Trinity, heir to a Viscountcy. 

I really won't waste either your time or mine demolishing his feeble arguments one by one. It's thin, pissy, jejune stuff and you can do so yourselves. 

The differences between congruent, stable nations with stark electoral processes such as the UK and weak, unstable, fractured or dangerous nations with electoral systems designed to impede, dilute, mediate or limit the effect of democracy such as Italy and Germany have evolved in reaction to specific conditions prevalent in each nation. For all the admitted 'unfairness' of FPTP for UK Parliamentary elections, it works here.

Runciman completely neglects to mention the surpranational body that does very well with hardly any democracy at all - the EU. And it's probably just as well that the treasonous authors of the FCO EU strategy document (FCO 30/1048) from 1971 are all dead - though that would not prevent future governments, like that of Charles II on Restoration, from digging them up and re-purposing their remains. 

Runciman's musings are by no means original. "The operations of democracy seem decreasingly fitted to control the all-embracing regulatory activities of the Civil Service" wrote this dangerous mandarin with an easy acceptance that assumed technocratic rule to be inevitable, with the more 'democratic' front-dressing the EU adopted the greater and faster the bleeding of British sovereignty.  

Well, I hate to puncture the little bladders of these self-obsessed elitists, but they're wrong. Deeply, utterly, absolutely and irrevocably wrong. They're themselves only only here and free to express their deviant views because the British people fought for democratic freedom over centuries of struggle - and two aspects of that freedom, universal suffrage and the secret ballot, are not and will never be up for trade or replacement.  

The votes of the British people may appear an inconvenient impediment to these technocratic elitists, but we're not giving them up.

Friday, 11 May 2018

David Davis' next trip should be to Italy

There is a sort of universal comprehension dawning that having given Mrs May a chance on Brexit she's cocked up and will deliver no more than a dog's dinner of a mess, that Brexit may take twenty years and that the vested interests of the senior political class from mandarins to peers who have spent their entire lives helping create the EU won't end them by seeing their life work destroyed. So we need a change of tactics. The quick, clean, amicable break and then business as normal is so far off the table it missed the swill bin on its way out. So we must pursue the attritional campaign instead, and the gloves are off. 

David Davis should make Italy his next port of call. Priapic jailbird Berlusconi has been kicked overboard, wrecking the dreams of the Brussels mafia that an old colleague familiar with gross corruption, illegality, criminal governance and fraud would resurrect the old EU-Italian relationship in all its past criminality. They now have to face ideologues M5S and Lega, both committed to their nation more than they are to their offshore bank accounts and their bent chums in the Berlaymont. We should make allies of them, and offer support. The UK loves Pininfarina, Parmesan and Prosecco and there will always be a place here for Italians. We should offer the co-operation of the City in their resurrection of the Lire by the back door and help them to find a way to walk away from their Target 2 debt to Germany. 

Likewise the Visegrad group. Neither Poland nor Hungary are natural fans of Britain (Poland blames us for not intervening militarily either in September 1939 or January 1945, and I don't know why Hungarian history dislikes us, but it does) and we could use a diplomatic push mission. Poles have the lowest breeding rate in Europe and paying a bit of UK child benefit is a small price to pay to help implement the Polish government's plea to its people to 'breed like rabbits'

Elsewhere we should use the Secret Intelligence Service to help destabilise the EU just enough to keep them constantly on the back foot but not enough to destroy the fragile alliance. We need to support all efforts to make Germany explosively excrete her gold and demolish her Target 2 credits. We need to appeal directly to French farmers, giving vehicles bound for farmers' markets in SE England preferential clearance, quietly encouraging cross-border tax evasion and petty smuggling, the sort of thing that the Kermit farmers love but the Quay d'Orsay hates. 

We must also dismiss May with the contemptuous disdain with which we threw out the dilettante Cameron but only when the time is right. And we must prepare to allow Corbyn two or three years of destroying the country and economy.

It's time for the gentlemen to go out and for the players to come in. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Fifty years on, it's time to raise the barricades again and pile the pavé

In 1968, fifty years ago, I was on the cusp of starting Big School. The magnitude of this event was somewhat diluted by a very palpable Zeitgeist around the Vietnam War and what was subsequently termed the Summer of Love. We lived then in the garrison town of Colchester, place of my father's final posting but also home to the newly built University of Essex. One of my lifelong comfort odours is what I call 'army smell' - open the canvas tail-flap of an army Landrover newly serviced and inhale. A mix of storm-proof canvas, paint, gun oil and clean metal. Years later I went to an auction at an army stores and almost missed the event as I stood in the shed just inhaling nasal lungfulls of the glorious smell. It was the smell of my dad's stored kit, the smell of safety and belonging. Colchester in 1968 was a mix of army smell and patchouli oil, of crop-headed lads and tie-dyed hippies. 

In the years that followed, into the '70s, as my social and political consciousness grew, I was a passionate and vocal supporter of what I shall term (with upper-case) Freedom. The Lord Chamberlain had still back then to approve each and every line of each and every stage play - Spike Milligan was almost prosecuted for departing on stage from the officially approved text. Kenneth Tynan's epic battles that led eventually to this censorship being overturned are well documented. We fought against the Establishment, against bent judges, thieving politicians, censorship and repression in every form. We read Private Eye, in those days an anti-establishment magazine, and celebrated the exposure of official cant and hypocrisy. I stood beers all night when Jean, Cardinal Danielou, the church's vocal spokesman against all we stood for, died of a stroke in a French brothel. 

The Pythons and the Cambridge footlights crowd were tame, but played their part. We preferred Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (I have only to ask "What's the worst job you ever had?" these days to see who references Jayne Mansfield and who looks blank) whose samizdat albums were played so often the grooves wore out. 

Fifty years on and the bastards are back. Labour's Noncefinder-General Tom Watson, almost as  repugnant a man as Lavrenti Beria, is seeking today to take us back to those pre-1968 days with a press censorship so draconian that Boris Pasternak would wince. Leveson I was bad enough, institutionalising the private press censor funded by the sado-masochistic sexual deviant Max Mosley but now Watson is seeking to implement phase II. Philip Johnston in the Telegraph (£) calls them the enemies of a free society, and so they are. 

Well, we fought those battles once, fifty years ago, and if need be we'll fight them again. We'll tear Labour's repressive knouts from their brutal fists - our press won't be cowed or beaten by these authoritarian bigots. 

If you've got this far you deserve a prize. Here's Peter Cook satirising the summing-up of the bent judge at the trial of Jeremy Thorpe, the Liberal leader who attempted to murder his gay toy-boy