Only deep and heroic surgery, what arboriculturists would call 'crown reduction', has any hope of salvaging a working civil service from the rubble of Labour's scorched earth retreat from power.
The true story is that Gordon Brown seems to have corralled fellow leaders into perpetrating a gigantic collective fraud on world public opinion.
It is a sign of the degradation of the civil service over the past ten years that senior British government officials were happy to throw their weight behind what was little more than a lavishly funded PR stunt.Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Jeremy Heywood - the senior Downing Street official who was deeply implicated in Tony Blair's sofa Government ahead of the Iraq War, when Britain was run by a close-knit cabal, when Cabinet government collapsed and normal procedures such as note-taking were ignored - should have been heavily complicit.
Saturday, 4 April 2009
Seriously Botched Economies (SBEs) are serious, sometimes painful ailments that can cause damage to your nation if not treated. Some SBEs affect only one part of the economy, others can damage the entire nation. Don't let this happen to you - get a confidential diagnosis
Don't be embarrassed!
It is important to know that many countries like you get SBEs. As many as 10% of the World's nations suffer from some sort of SBE. If you feel embarrassed, the most important thing to remember is these problems are very common amongst economically active nations. Getting treatment from the IMF is the most important thing, to ensure it doesn't spread to other countries.
The IMF will prescribe an appropriate course of treatment. This may involve removing the source of the illness such as a Socialist government as well some nasty medicine. Don't be tempted to use another country's medicine; it may not work. Don't stop the medicine when the symptoms start to clear up; you need to see it through to remove all traces of the Socialist virus.
What are the signs and symptoms?
You may not show any symptoms, but if you do, you may have the following:
- Pain in your purse area, or difficulty in passing cash
- Loss of interest in opening letters
- Pain and irritation caused by Socialist politicians
- Lethargy or enforced indolence as the virus attacks your income
- A drip or discharge from your wallet that you cannot control
- Burning or pain when viewing still or moving images of ministers
- Increased time spent in the Jobcentre Plus
- Loss of house or other accomodation
The easiest way to avoid an SBE is not to vote Labour. If you must vote Labour, take the following precautions:
- Only vote Labour in seats where another party has an unassailable majority
- Vote Labour then write 'HOON' on your ballot paper to ensure it's spoiled
- Wear a blindfold when marking your ballot paper
- Try voting Lib Dem or Green rather than full Labour; this can be just as satisfying for many people, but at far lower risk of catching an SBE.
(Britain should not be embarrassed in going to the IMF, says Cabinet Minister)
Friday, 3 April 2009
The Wisdom of Crowds allows for far better decision making on this issue. If all the guesses at the weight of a pig are averaged, the result will be closer to the actual weight than individual guesses.
So open the issue up to the entire nation; let every voter pick a figure for a new MPs' basic salary after the abolition of all the 'allowances' including second homes, communications and the rest. Then average them. The result will be absolutely right.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Reader, October may seem like recent history to you and I. When the hard-pressed stores were putting up the Christmas decs. Before the January bad news. Perhaps your own tinsel and baubles, despite the spousal reminders, have still to be returned to the loft. A score or so of weeks have passed. And now Open Europe have revealed Ashton's leaving deal from the EU.
She will get a 'resettlement allowance' of £18,700. She will get three years of 'transition payments' valued at over £89,000 per annum. And she will enjoy a pension of £9,600 a year. These rewards are much reduced, of course, from what she would have got had she spent more time in the job.
Brown now needs to find a new job for this handsome and capable woman. Could I suggest that Catherine Ashton should be Britain's first Porn Tsar?
I'd urge readers therefore to respond to this Local Government consultation.
The proposals are to require councils to name senior staff and provide a full breakdown of their salary, pensions and rewards. The consultees on the government's official list will mostly have an inbuilt bias against disclosure; they will lobby for their continued anonymity on the basis of Fred Goodwin's windows, and seek to restrict the information made available on the grounds of the risks of information and identity theft. I shall be responding as follows;
- Support fully the disclosure of all the reward elements listed at the level of detail proposed
- Would support extent of reporting at Chief and first-tier officer levels, and would encourage government to widen this to include any permanent or contract staff earning over £100,000 at 2009 / 2010 value (i.e. fully identified and full details given)
- Support fully anonymous banding of other staff earning over £50k in £5k bands subject to above (i.e. anonymous reporting from £50k to £100k)
In other words, they're inviting every senior council fat cat in the country to write in on an individual basis to object to the proposals.
So please send your own (polite) signal. Our voices will make a difference.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
I got no reason it's all too much
You'll always find us
Out to lunch
Brown's robotic, charmless address in St Paul's was a dirge not a speech. Wooden, clumsy and emotionless it was an artless collection of spin words and phrases delivered with all the passion and panache of a lobotomised Sloth. Public speaking does not come easily to Gordon Brown; fluency, cadence, pitch and balance elude him and every speech sounds like Mr Brown the actuary giving a talk on the road signs of America to the local Rotary club.
Is this important? Yes, it is. An ability to speak effectively in public - to an audience or to the Commons - indicates a suppleness of mind, an intrinsic understanding of others, a melding of the man and the message. The fact that Brown can't communicate effectively may not only be at the root of his petulance and rages but reveal a man who subconsciously doesn't actually believe a word of what he's saying.
The generous system of salaries and allowances has ensured that people with a vocation tend to avoid politics, and those who seek a career – with all the cynical manipulation of the electorate it entails – are drawn to it like maggots to rotting flesh. It has also meant, on both sides of the House, that the inexperienced and unqualified predominate. Is there a link between that and the terrible state of our country's finances? Of course, as there is a link between a second-rate political class and our poor schools, our bloated public sector, our sporadic health service, our demotivated police force, our cruelly exploited Armed Forces, and so on. The worst sort of politician is the professional politician, and the present system of remuneration ensures we have them in abundance.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
And so several million Africans are moving north on foot, on the back of trucks, on cycles or mopeds. From Niger, Mali, Burkino Faso, the Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria, the Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. Morocco turns thousands back to Algeria. In Libya alone there are up to 1.5 million irregular immigrants from the south. They are gathering to find a way into Spain or Italy, and from there very often to Calais, and England - the holy grail of an economic migrant.
Tens of thousands have died on the journey; in the Sahara, or at sea, or casually murdered for their cellphone or credits. Another 300 are reported drowned today in an attempt to cross to Lampedusa in open boats. And still they come.
Calais has a backlog of about a thousand. Maybe a hundred more arrive each week, as a hundred manage each week to slip into a truck or bribe the driver to carry them across the channel. Maybe more. Who knows. And through Hull, Felixtowe, Newhaven, Southampton. At every leaky point they come.
The government could do far more, of course. The drift is fuelled by tales of our largesse; if that largesse turned to parsimony, if housing, healthcare, education and welfare were restricted, word would soon travel back to Accra and Bamako. We could fund an advertising campaign in those nations demolishing the myth. We could deport more economic migrants more rapidly; a journey that may have taken them a year or more could be reversed in a flight of a few hours. We could check freight more rigorously. But these measures alone will not stem the human tide moving north into Europe.
The EU's agricultural policies are unashamedly protectionist. To give Bertrand, Cristophe and Adelbert a decent living from their uneconomic crofts we beggar African agriculture and enterprise. The price of Bernard's new Renault is a trail of bleached bones. As the G20 meet this week we will see more protectionism, and not less. Africans will suffer economically very quickly. The migrant tides will grow, and will take increasingly more of our national wealth to turn away. Giving aid to African nations isn't the answer; opening free markets is.
Back on 9th October last year, Radio 4's 'In business' ran a special programme with a panel of experts (the podcast seems to have disappeared from the BBC's website) that predicted exactly this situation; a short-term period of deflation, printing money, then rapid inflation.
Guido also points out that the Bank is expecting this.
Monday, 30 March 2009
A Travel Lodge in central London at short notice is about £100 a night. Add £20 for dinner and £10 for breakfast and a cab fare and I'd guess £140 a night would be a fair allowance. The House sat for 165 days in the 2007 / 2008 session, so this would come out at £23,100 a year.
But of course it should only be payable for each day an MP attended; those only attending 100 sittings a year would get £14,000 and those only attending 60 sittings a year would get £8,400.
This actually seems fair to me. Where's the snag?
The Standard has just published its exchange of letters with ex-Livingstone crony Lee Jasper a couple of weeks ago. It's a brilliant rebuttal of Jasper's new line that he wasn't mates with the men whose cases are now with the Crown Prosecution Service, and contains the mirth-making counter-charge from the 'Standard':
May we remind you that you were forced to resign after we published leaked emails in which you proposed to “whisk away to a deserted island beach,” “honey-glaze” and “cook slowly before a torrid and passionate embrace” a lady friend to whose projects you had granted at least £450,000 of City Hall money. You declared no such personal relationship with the woman in question, whom you addressed as “darling,” or with her organisation, as GLA rules require.If only Jasper had filmed as torridly as he wrote; Labour spouses such as Jacqui Smith's would no doubt have paid top-dollar for the DVD.
I spent more than three years commuting into London. I had to get up at 4.30 a.m. to catch a 6.00 am train, then another 40 minute trip across London. It was often nine or ten at night before I got home. Eventually I moved here, and luxuriated in the benison of having time, just having time. I was a lot further away than Eric's 37 miles, and had to work five days a week and not three, and for 48 weeks a year and not 30. Every day at Liverpool Street station you can see tens of thousands of commuters spilling into London from further than 37 miles away. Eric's attempt to justify his second home on these grounds went down badly with the audience.
Eric got it in the neck because he represented a political class increasingly out of touch with ordinary voters. Little turds like Maclean. Bent MPs like Harry Cohen and Derek Conway. Naive and stupid MPs like Jacqui Smith and Harriet Harman. With the combined membership of the three main parties down to just 1% of the electorate and both State funding and MPs' increased pay and perks unacceptable to the country's voters in a recession, there's really only one way for the political class to go; a massive clean-up. Imposed from outside, as no-one trusts MPs to do it themselves. A Royal Commission.
She could, of course, spend the same amount as she will on acquiring and maintaining this one infant on paying local Malawi families small stipends to adopt and care for many of their nation's orphans, and thus improve the sum of human happiness many fold. But this is not about them, it's about Madonna.
Fine. The pay gap is currently rather stubbornly stuck at about 18%; a very small part of this is due to taste discrimination against women. The proximate reason for the difference is the amount of time women spend out of the workplace having and caring for babies. One of the consequences of introducing equality of parental leave, which will also act to catalyse fathers taking career breaks to look after the kids rather than (predominantly) mothers, will be that the pay gap will shrink.
One of the other consequences will be that employers will tend to employ men and women beyond their childbearing years, or those who can be classed as confirmed bachelors or spinsters. Half a percent of GDP may be peanuts in this age of fiscal profligacy, but the costs of parental leave to a small enterprise can often be crippling. The public sector will take the proposals up willingly, but with the longer term consequence that single men will earn more and occupy higher positions than married men.
In other words, the changes are likely to improve overall the employment conditions of every group other than young would-be parents.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
My father served in Palestine during '45 to '47, and some of the murders and terrorist acts committed by the Jewish terrorist groups, including the hangings of kidnapped British sergeants Clifford and Paice, were felt to be particularly below the belt.
In return, we hanged many of Robowitz's fellow Irgun and Lehi terrorists; Olei Hagardom, Shlomo Ben-Yosef, Dov Gruner, Yehiel Dresner, Mordechai Alkahi, Eliezer Kashani, Moshe Barazani and Meir Feinstein (who both cheated the hangman by killing themselves), Avshalom Haviv, Yaakov Weiss and Meir Nakar. Robowitz avoided the gallows and met his end in unclear circumstances.
The anti-Jewish riots in Britain following the murders of Sergeants Clifford and Paice damaged 300 Jewish properties in Liverpool in five days of rioting; a synagogue in West Derby was burned to the ground, Jewish gravestones were uprooted and synagogues across the country had their windows smashed and Swastikas daubed on their walls. The Times reported that in Eccles a group of 700 'cheered each hit' as Jewish properties were pelted with bricks and stones.
The past, they say, is another country. That water has long passed under the bridge, and former Jewish terrorists have been rehabilitated. The dead are dead, and will be so for a long time. There's nothing to be gained by raking over these ashes.
There is an emerging allied analysis that casts the 60s not as a left-wing social revolution, but a right-wing libertarian societal shift. Robert LeFevre has long been held as the guru of modern libertarianism, and the Mises Institute helpfully reprints online his influential 'The Nature of Man and his Government', published in 1959. Prescient in parts, such as this:
In our own time we have seen one curious variance occurring to this otherwise monotonous and easily predictable routine. The "ins" and the "outs" have performed a merger. The party in power has now scarcely a discernible difference from the party out of power. And the reason for this merger is self-evident. The government has in itself grown so large and so formidable that it tends to absorb any and all politically interested persons, regardless of party affiliation. And since, in the main, there is no real difference in political parties, each party desiring only to rule — each party adopts an advertising program consisting of those public statements which each party leader feels will win an election — the merger is that of blood brothers and constitutes no betrayal.In which he predicts the rise of the political class, the whole when re-read now foreshadows the find-yourself self-help communitarianism that underlaid the 60s:
You can grow with the growth of your family and your home. You can grow with the growth of your business or your work. But you cannot grow with the growth of your government. You must shrink, and from the shrinkage the government grows. You are on the threshold of a new world. This is true every day of the year and every year of your life. Can you and will you discipline yourself so that you will not employ an agency of coercion and affliction to compel others to support you in your fondest hopes and dreams?
Interesting that in the week in which Curtis' new romcom 'The boat that rocked' is released to question whether the north sea pirate radio jocks were not lefty anarchists but libertarians seeking to break the shackles of an overweening State. The mantras of personal growth and realisation that I listened to for years from Radio Caroline now seem to owe far more to LeFevre than Kropotkin. Discuss.
That his wife has claimed for his onanistic stimulus on Parliamentary expenses is quite another matter. Even lonely executives on expenses have the grace to ask to be billed separately for their adult videos.