Thursday, December 11, 2008
What I can't imagine is ever catching up with Gordon's rightward shift. Am I mistaken in thinking he was once a socialist? I don't think so because this man wrote a sensitive biography of Scottish socialist James Maxton in 1986, although admittedly for his PhD. Maxton's whole life was built on his defense of the poor, the unemployed and low paid workers, especially in Glasgow.
So how can Brown support James Purnell, his public school educated Minister for Work and Pensions, in his attacks on those on benefits. This 'work for benefits' sounds fine but look to the position of the poor and the inner cities in the US to see what we will be getting. The reasons we have a problem with large-scale long term unemployment is that Thatcher's government dismantled so much industry and took away the dignity of labour for many. To New Labour's shame they made no attempt to repair the damage so they must accept some of the blame.
I do wish Brown would read his own Maxton book again.
Friday, October 24, 2008
"I don't believe what has happened is market failure in the financial sector. I believe it is a regulatory failure."
It might sound good but it doesn't bare much inspection. If the Thatcher/Reagan economics that New Labour followed was the reduction of government interference in the economy and allowing market to regulate itself, then the statement is obviously flawed. If you remove regulation to leave it to the markets and there's a failure, how can you blame regulations that don't exist.
In the end if you believe in a mixed economy, which I suspect most of us do, then it's time the mix was moved away from what are now discredited policies, and that does mean those that New Labour and Thatcher before them pushed.
The grass roots of the Labour Party need to revolt against the leadership in bringing back this man and maybe the best way would be to replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber as New Labour promised.
I suspect that, with the poor results from last season and so far this one, a new manager would have been the first signing of the new owners if the take-over had gone ahead. Maybe a few of the players will also feel a bit safer now.
As for the club's future, it doesn't seem very bright. The existing board is obviously trying to get out of the money hole that football clubs not in the Premier League now are. Can they find a buyer in the present economic climate? We have to hope so, but it is a shame that British football grew into the Limited or Public Company format it now is. I wish it had gone along the lines of non-profit social clubs like Australian Rules clubs or Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Before the Republican convention it was beginning to look like a win-win situation for anyone to the left of Attila the Hun. Of course there is no real left in US presidential politics, something that we have followed in the UK since New Labour. Since the convention McCain has been trying to appeal to the more extreme right base of his party.
Even so I was surprised during the last debate with a couple of the views he stated. First was his obvious dislike of the UK and Sweden's health systems. He considered comparing these with Obama's policies was an insult. I thought the only people who could believe this, for all the NHS's faults, were the health industry and millionaire doctors.
Also the idea of using taxes to what he called 'spreading the wealth' was not only wrong, but far worse, it was socialism. Now if you have to say this to get the religious right on your side, there must be something wrong with Christianity in the US for all their Sunday church-going. Haven't they read about what Jesus told the rich man in the New Testament? (OK, so neither have I but I'm sure it's to do with giving those riches away.)
Let's live in hope, for a while at least, that Obama is a new FDR as it looks like we might need one.
Friday, October 17, 2008
From Woody Guthrie's Pretty Boy Floyd -
Some will rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen
And as through your life you travel
Yes and through your life you roam
You will never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home
This was written in the thirties during the depression which hopefully the politicians will not let us fall into again. I think it would be a good guess the guilty men will not be punished. The politician will let the guilt slide off them onto the bankers. Below are a few lines pulled off Google which shows why they make such easy targets.
HSBC - Stephen Green, who earns a basic salary of £1.25m a year, will not benefit from the bonus scheme. The bank's chief executive, Mike Geoghegan, could earn as much as 4m in bonuses, on top of his £1m-a-year salary, and up to £7m as part of the bank's long-term incentive plan, according to the proposals.
RBS - Sir Fred Goodwin, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, earned £4.1m last year, including a bonus for the bank's acquisition of ABN Amro, which the bank now admits it overpaid for.
HBOS - Andy Hornby, the boss of HBOS, earned £1.9m in 2007 but his bank was forced to sell itself to Lloyds TSB last month to avoid going bust.
Lloyds TSB - Lloyds own chief executive, Eric Daniels, was paid £2.4m last year.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
For some reason UK TV is going through a period of re-examining Doctor Richard Beeching's destruction of the postwar nationalized British railways. It's about 45 years since his first report that started the axing of so much of the railway infrastructure. The Wilson government of 1964 continued his policies although in their election statements they said they would save the axed lines.
Beeching was a appointed as the highest paid UK civil servant of the time, 1961, by the conservative Minister of Transport and crook, Ernest Marples. Marples had interests in road building companies that he moved into his wife's name while as Minister of Transport, he did his best to increase road transport and decrease that on rail. He had to live the last few years of his life in the tax shelter of Monaco on the run from the UK tax authorities and various court cases started against him. He was a typical Thacherite conservative long before Thatcher's takeover of the party came about.
The person who most resembles Marples today is actually the US vice-president. I wonder if Dick Cheney will spend the last few years of his life in the tax shelter of Dubai, the new head office town of Haliburton, on the run from the US legal system?
The lesson from the Beeching reports, which led to the closure of 25% of the UK's railway mileage and 50% of the stations, were not learnt by governments up until this day. If you close basic infrastructure for purely economic reasons without taking any public need into account, it is very hard to get it back later. Whether it's railways or national health services, profit should not be the governing force. The needs of the public should have the highest priority.
Any more thoughts of Gordon Brown turning back to old Labour ideals must be now forgotten. It will be unlikely that any real change will be made in the party until he leads them to a terrible defeat, which he is on course to.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Doncaster Rovers 0-1 Charlton Athletic
Nottingham Forest 0-0 Charlton Athletic
Charlton Athletic 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Crystal Palace 1-0 Charlton Athletic
Of course, it's the last one of those that hurts as we lost to our local rivals for the first time in the best part of a dozen years. Rivalry like that between Charlton and Palace would be very hard for some of the media yuppies, or foreign owners, to understand. When a few seasons back the Charlton crowd cheered as they sent Palace down to the Championship some reporters couldn't understand it. It was because they failed to understand the basic tribal nature of our football in the UK.
Why are Palace so disliked by the likes of Charlton and Millwall? Many would point to the ground-sharing which Charlton did with Palace after they lost their own ground. I suspect it goes a bit deeper. Palace was always more middle class, more suburban, in fact more Croydon than it's more working class neighbours like Millwall in New Cross or the Charlton's Woolwich area.
Let's hope we are playing a bit better on the 27th. January when the reverse fixture takes place. I wonder why both these games are midweek evening games and not at least one over the Christmas and New Year period. I guess the Met need an easy life now.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Why should we think that the market force of competition should give us better railways, cleaner hospitals or more efficient school exam markings? There were no guarantees except short-term cost savings. Why should we think that unregulated competition was the best way of running the housing mortgage system? Now the failure of market forces is going to give most of us a decrease in standard of living.
It was good in a way to see two recent articles on the BBC website with market force believers beginning to doubt the truth in the idea. First a couple of weeks ago was an economist looking at the failures of market forces in light of the present economic difficulties and now we have the Stephen Green, taipan and chairman of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, bankers to the opium trade, calling for regulation of banking executive pay to stop the reliance of the banking industry's management to short-term profits and big bonuses. (OK it should be called HSBC or something and the opium bit was a long time ago. I wonder if they have any rich Afghan farmers as clients.)
"Laissez-Faire" or a reliance on market forces is just an excuse for lazy government whether it's Gordon Brown's New Labour or David Cameron's Tory.
How it's dealt with is by using the "Dunkirk spirit". No matter how bad it is today and how much worse it will look tomorrow we know we will win in the end. Just look at supporters of a team like Leeds. As they dropped through the divisions through no fault of their own, but by mismanagement, they still turned out to watch a game.
Have to admit I looked up on the Wolves website whether they were wandering or wondering. Neither are particularly good things to be doing and I'm happy with our teams athleticism.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
So in a way it's no surprise that government archives just opened to the public dating from WW2 should show old Etonians hiding the activities of one of their number whose meeting with the Germans at the beginning of the war would have caused embarrassment to another of theirs in a high cabinet position.
The story is on the BBC website, click here. Old Etonian James Lonsdale-Bryans went to Italy at the beginning of the war to talk with a German diplomat about possible peace terms. Although he was known for his pro-German views he went with the backing of the Foreign Office. He proposed to the Germans that they should have control of Europe while Britain should have the rest of the world. No action was ever taking against him as a security risk and unlike other German sympathizers he was never interned.
The person that, in this case MI5, were really protecting was Halifax, the Foreign Secretary and pro-appeasement colleague of the disgraced Neville Chamberlain. In fact, although Halifax had made a mess of virtually every job he had ever been given, he would have become Britain's war time prime minister if the Conservative Party had been able to control the succession after Chamberlain resigned. It was the Labour Party that insisted on his rival and fellow conservative Winston Churchill as a reward for joining the government. Their fear was that Halifax would make peace with the Nazis and bring Britain under this evil influence.
This is what you get with old Etonians controlling the country.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Now Phil doesn't seem to be one of the worse of the New Labour Blair groupies. Well at least he isn't public school and Oxbridge, being grammar school and Manchester. But Phil when you find fault in Charles's biased views on GM food be aware that some of us are a bit suspicious who you represent in the argument.
Phil, when you say, "But government ministers have a responsibility to base policy on science and I do strongly believe that we have a moral responsibility to the developing world to ask the question: can GM crops help?", do you get your science input from government scientist or from the lobbying GM companies like Monsanto? (Click here for the Wikipedia article on Monsanto)
I know from the blogs that Charlton fans say we didn't play that badly yesterday and that the officials were 'homers', but having listened to an old (1992) Danny Baker 606 radio program I downloaded last night and hearing a Norwich fan looking for the silver lining after losing 7-1, I'm a bit suspicious on these reports.
I miss not seeing the football more now, when we are in what was the old Division 2, than when we were in the Premier. This isn't only because there are no games on TV out here, it's also because the mood swings are so much better in the lower leagues for a team like ours. In the Premier it was just a struggle every week to keep our heads above water. Now we can go mentally from being championship material to relegation prospects in a week.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Reports suggest Charlton played well enough to deserve the 3 points but will have to get better rather quickly. Here's hoping for a good season. I have a feeling we will be challenging for automatic promotion this season which is a feeling I didn't have last.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Last season was disappointing with a 11th. place finish when the hope, if not belief, at the start was for a return to the Premier League or at least a playoff spot. Charlton doesn't have a rich foreign owner so money is tight and players have been sold. It has a young team and this season's hope must be that they make good. This is the time of year I do miss being back home.
Friday, August 8, 2008
In these more modern times I suspect that most UK citizens would rather base the punishment of criminals on the harm they do to others rather than the amount of money involved. I remember the 30 year sentences given to the Great Train Robbers when I was a child. I think many thought they were too hard and although the judge tried to justify them with the hurt caused to the train driver, there was a suspicion that this was a little overdone by both the judge and the railway man. The judge did of course talk about the amount of money taken.
So on Wednesday when I read that 5 burglars from a family of travellers were jailed, BBC story here, for up to 11 years each over a series of burglaries with no violence involved, I suspected it must be to do with the amount again. And so it proved, but not only the amount was the cause. There was also who had been the victims.
These thieves specialized in large country houses. We had amongst others property tycoon Harry Hyams, Formula One advertising tycoon Paddy McNally and Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire Sir Philip Wroughton.
Judge Critchlow said "Cases of this gravity must attract heavy sentences because of the deliberate criminality, organisation and sophistication of their planning and the effect on the occupants."
It does ask the question, "Should rich people get more protection from the law as they have more money"? For causing harm to others who does the most, these guys or someone turning over some little old lady's house. Let us get down to the dirty bit of the justice system. Should the pedophile or the rapist get a lower sentence than the 11 years these men got?
Interesting thoughts and a politician could ride a populist train by bringing the subject up, although it wouldn't go down with some of the 'conservative club blue-rinsed hang them all brigade'. Maybe the next Labour leader could try it on for size.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Now I don't want to throw cold water on that idea but I have a much better one. How about a new national holiday instead. We could have this on the first day of May. If the first was either a Saturday, Sunday or Monday we could then have an extra Tuesday off to add to the May Bank Holiday making a very long weekend.
Now what to call this new holiday? Depending on your political allegiances it could be Thatcher Day, Bloody Maggie Day or just plain May Day, its old name before she changed it.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
This blog in March gave the head of Shell, Jeroen van der Veer, the title of "an unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism" first awarded to Tiny Rowland by Edward Heath. My argument then was that van der Veer was trying to fight off any talk of a windfall profits tax. Big oil knew it had friends at the very top of the US political system in Bush and Cheney, but must have been a bit nervous in the UK of some of the Labour backbenchers.
A windfall profits tax on the oil companies was introduced in 1980 by Jimmy Carter on the oil companies who were gouging the public after the OPEC oil embargo. Now it seems that even some cabinet ministers in the UK are talking about it. See the BBC story "Ministers 'consider' windfall tax". Now the chances are that Brown will be against it, but for the next Labour leader in the Autumn it is important to get some basic Labour ideas across and this is one. Even Barak Obama is talking windfall taxes.
So will it be John Hutton who leads the first revolt against Brown in the government. Much as it doesn't taste very nice, the next Labour leader will be one of the Blair groupies, male or female, but it's not the person that's important but the policies that must change from the Blair/Brown Thatcherite ones in present use.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Today we have union leaders Paul Kenny and Tony Woodley calling for change, one for a new party leader and the other for a return to more traditional policies. In reality one without the other will not save the party from a terrible disaster in the next election. So what has gone wrong?
I suspect it all started with Kinnock. The moment the party lost the balance of three power centers in the party, the constituency party, the parliamentary party and the unions making decision and gave instead the parliamentary party absolute power in all but words the rot set in. Of course it looked so good when Blair could win elections after years of Tory governments but it was based on policies without principles.
In 1997 Labour just had to be there. The Tories were committing suicide over Europe and with sleaze, and the public wanted them gone. In 2001 and just about in 2005 Blair could show that New Labour made better Tories than the Tories themselves. Now it looks like the Tories are back to being the best right wing party in the UK.
There was a hope that Brown might change direction after Blair went, but this was a false hope as it was Brown who had been inventing the policies of the Blair governments. For the leadership contest only 29 of the 356 Labour MPs had the courage to try and force a leadership election which included the other sections of the party. This was 16 shy of the minimum needed.
Of course most MPs are pretty selfish individuals who will do what is best for themselves but now they must realize they have not only hurt the party but also put those, even with what had been regarded as safe seats, in danger of not getting re-elected, even as opposition MPs next time.
This year there must be a leadership challenge and it must go out to the whole party. Are there 45 MPs who will do the job? Here's what the union bosses are now saying.
Tony Woodley - "The change people want - in Glasgow and around the country - is a change of political approach. Blairism should finally be buried in Glasgow's East End."
"For too long the government has put all its eggs in the free-market basket. People are now looking for more support and protection from government as we face serious economic difficulties rooted in City excesses."
Paul Kenny - "The MPs have got to make a strong decision as to whether they want to go into an election with Gordon Brown or have a [leadership] contest."
Monday, July 21, 2008
The reason a reformist government needs to be the opposite of a laissez faire conservative one is that we need central economic planning to take on the likes of big oil, the drug companies and the banks. Instead we get in today's news a story that really sums up the Blair/Brown policies.
We have some lickspittle in Brown's cabinet, James Purnell, regurgitating the old Tory attack on social security claimants, a work for your benefits and end disability payments diatribe.
David Cameron quite rightly accuses the government of stealing Conservative Party policies regarding the proposed benefits changes. Are there any brave souls left amongst the Labour MPs to stand against the Thatcherites that control the party.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
We are told that private companies are more efficient than public ones, so why is it that every time we hear a public service in trouble we find a private company not doing the job. Brown pushed for his public-private partnership to do the London Underground maintenance and it was a disaster. The latest is the school kids exams are not getting marked. According to the BBC website the problem is caused by a private company called ETS Europe.
Didn't the mafia say "let everyone wet their beaks". That's what has happened as we sell off bits of education, health, railways and other services. The gangsters in the City make fortunes and the public service workers have to strike to get more than a two and a bit percent pay rise.
Maybe the unions should only contribute funds to MPs who are prepared to dump Brown.
Monday, June 30, 2008
The London Evening Standard's coverage of the London Mayor's election was one-eyed, vicious and untruthful as they fought to get Boris Mugabe Johnson elected that maybe they, Associated Newspaper and their editor, Veronica Wadley, should get this Liverpool treatment. It's the economic equivalent of a Liverpool kiss I guess.
I know you will not get that almost total boycott that has occurred in Liverpool but it wouldn't take much to put this rag in deep trouble. They are already up against the freebies, including one of their own. So Boris supporters heading back to the suburbs after a hard day at their city desk will still buy it. The horse and dog followers will still need it - I take it the paper still has good form guides. But if just fifteen or twenty percent of Standard readers stopped buying it there will be real trouble. Unlike the Sun that still has a market outside of Liverpool, the Standard is a London local paper and has nowhere to run.
Come on Londoners, how about a boycott of the London Evening Standard?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Reading the both the blogs and the comments made me think a little deeper on what did happen back then. Of course just one year didn't change the world as we know it. What made the change was something that had already started by then. When people criticize the often flawed heroes of sixties youth they are missing the point. Probably Alexander Dubček was a better man than Ho Chi Minh but it was Ho's name being called out in the protests that year. Che probably did end up with a blood lust that caused the executions of good people.
The revolution in 1968 wasn't based on class, although it was certainly against the ruling class. The communist party had no leadership role in it. In fact the French Communist Party spurned the chance of really taking on De Gaulle. Those involved were looking for alternatives to the old Stalinist ideas of the traditional communist parties, hence the explosion in Trotskyite and anarchist parties.
So what was 1968? It was the political side of the youth movement that had really got going earlier in the decade. If there was a class part to it, you would have to say the political side was predominately middle class. But the 1968 students had a connection to the Mod movement and the beginnings of the hippie movement much more than any political party or ideal. This was the first time I know of that a generation was in revolt against another mainly on the grounds that the older could no longer be trusted with running the world.
If there was no 1968 there could be no Tony Blair, no Bill Clinton, no Barack Obama and, sorry to say, probably no David Cameron in leadership positions at their age. The cultural changes that have happened since then would have been fewer. Why? Because the older generation found that, just like Charles 1st., they had no divine right to rule. So for all their mixed up political thinking, we should thank Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Rudi Dutschke, Bernadette Devlin and Tariq Ali. Problem is that we are now that older generation. We sowed the seeds of our own destruction;-)
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
On plans to bring private companies in to run NHS trusts - link to the article.
And Geoff Martin, head of campaigns at Health Emergency, predicted there would be an "almighty row" over the plans. He added: "The government's suicide mission to alienate core supporters takes another leap with this effort to privatise the NHS on a scale that even Margaret Thatcher would have balked at."
On Imperial College having its own entrance exam - link to article.
Rector Sir Richard Sykes told an independent schools conference that all applicants had "four or five A-levels". He said it was "frightening" that 40% of his undergraduate intake came from the 7% who were privately schooled.
It's quite possible that whoever leads the Labour Party will not be able to stop a Tory victory but my message to the Labour backbenchers who are in danger of losing their cozy jobs is at least go out with your heads held high. What will these New Labour years be remembered for - Thatcherism with a human face and the Iraq war? Look back at the 1945 Labour government which is remembered for the NHS, Social Security, nationalising the coal and railway companies and so much more even though they were governing in tough times.
So Labour backbenchers need to find a new leader. Don't go for a Blairite because that's what Brown is. The only difference was he fell out with the gang boss and replaced him. Come up with some policies that you will at least be remembered for. Below are two you still have time to do.
One, invest a massive amount in council and low cost house building. Finance it by pulling the troops out of Iraq and taxing the city fund managers, oil companies and suchlike. (Do you remember how all the candidates for the deputy leader post jumped on this council housing bandwagon last year.)
Two, bring in laws, similar to what the US has, to break up the media empire of Murdoch. Make it so he has to get rid of Sky and one of his daily newspapers or keep Sky and lose both papers. He isn't going to back you in the next election anyway so why let him decide it.
I will try and think up a few more over the next couple of weeks.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
It was when the communist party started to lose the leadership of the left in France and also in the UK. New leaders were popping up. Danny the Red (Daniel Cohn-Bendit) in France, Rudi Dutschke in Germany, the Black Panther leaders in the US and people like Tariq Ali in the UK. Not all travelled the same path. Some like Andreas Baader moved towards terrorism.
The world was in trouble. The Tet offensive was on in Vietnam, a civil war in Nigeria, Russian tanks in Czechoslovakia, the ongoing cultural revolution in China and the beginning of the most recent period of troubles in Northern Ireland. Although a lot has changed I think we all thought it would be far more changed than it is.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Now Boris didn't say it was economic reasons so we have to guess it was for political reasons. That is that Chavez was far too left wing for him. Boris says there are better ways of helping both poor Londoners and poor Venezuelans, but quite how you help the latter by withdrawing London's experts and the former by not having a supply of cheap diesel I don't get.
This man and his Etonian cronies are as much a danger to the UK as Bush and the right-wing think-tanks were to the US. Isn't there some legal means of taking any financial loss to London caused by Boris's stupidity from his personal wealth like Maggie was doing to those various city councilors in Liverpool and suchlike.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The US and the UK were quick enough to go into oil rich Iraq. I don't expect them to do this in Burma but the least they could do is support the opposition groups with money and even arms if asked for. This is the real pariah state in Asia.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
It's not too soon for the party to make plans in case the worse, a Tory landslide, happens. New Labour won power on the back of Tony Blair's charisma. They dropped their ideology in an Americanisation of British politics. They have tried, and succeeded for a long time, in being a better Conservative Party than the Tories themselves, a sort of Maggie with a human face. I'm not sure either Neil Kinnock or John Smith thought that was what they were starting, but I suspect not.
The Tory, and now the Liberal, answer is to find young, good-looking leaders with charisma. Gordon Brown's problem is this is an asset he doesn't have. If Labour is going to continue being New Labour they will need to find a competitor in the charisma stakes to take over from Gordon and then hope the Tories make such a mess of it they lose their support. But... there is another answer.
Get back to having an ideology. Modernise it if necessary, but stop trying to be more conservative than the Conservatives. By its nature the Tories have no ideology, no new ideas. They are there to conserve the status quo, always have been, always will. Fight charisma with ideas. Remind people that some of the worse dictators in memory had fantastic charisma but ended up doing their people no good in the long run.
Monday, May 12, 2008
So yesterday I drove with my youngest daughter to the National Museum. It gave us a chance to try the GPS on the new top of the range Nokia N95 8GB she had given me. We parked on Sanam Luang, the royal fields used in the yearly rice ploughing festival. While walking to the museum we passed 20 plus large coaches all without passengers and with their engines running. They carry the tourists who visit the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. They keep their engines running so the air-conditioning is on when the tourists return.
If one of those Bangkok Metropolitan Authority cops was to walk up and down the line of coaches getting them to turn off the engines there would be very few losers. Apart for the tourist having to wait a few minutes for the bus to cool down everyone's a winner. While the city cop is checking on the coaches he isn't picking on poor street hawkers. The coach company saves on fuel. Most importantly we don't have the diesel pollution around this historical area.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
After the walk we drove towards Chachoengsao trying to follow the klong but it does get a bit complicated as it splits, rejoins and changes name before it reaches the Ban Pakong River. I think we were getting lost when we found a new temple building under construction at Wat Prong Arkard (this spelling is probably wrong but comes off a ThinkNet map). The size of the building is massive and the construction techniques are similar to building a shopping mall but the design is all traditional Thai temple building. I have no idea of the cost but it's many millions of Baht.
From there we drove into Chachoengsao and stopped off at the old city fort walls by the river. Had a closer look at the old cannon there and took some pictures of the marks on them. The date below is interesting. This fort dates back to the early 19th. Century and the interesting bit in Wikipedia is of it being used in the mid 19th. Century during the Angyee Rebellion. This is something I know nothing about. I have found a reference to fighting Chinese opium dealers in Chachoengsao and another to a Chinese coolie revolt in Phuket. I will try to find out more.
I suspect this is the end of any progressive London policies on public transport and pollution. Boris really is a throwback to a much earlier time. In a way it is before Thatcher, even back to before the Second World War when Old Etonians knew ruling Britain and much of the world was their job.
So well done Ken. Shame about this one. It might have been better to get expelled from the party again. If you had won I think we could have seen a bit more courage from the left of the party in pushing for changes in government policy.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I wished I were religious but I'm not. I can only hope when I go that someone will say that I made their life a little bit happier at sometime. So to an old friend, 'Tim, you made my life a little happier.'
Friday, April 18, 2008
I suspect both of these women are to the right of where I stand on many issues. One will be remembered for taking on the party leadership while the other will have to pull something out of the bag to not be remembered as yet another MP who backed down to Gordon Brown.
What is it with Gordon, does he batter people or what? Angela, if the change in the lowest tax rate is against your principles then go. Don't back down. Go to the police if he threatens you.
In 2001 the Labour leaders tried to move Gwyneth Dunwoody off of the chairmanship of the parliamentary transport committee as she was too independent for them. The Labour backbenchers rebelled and put her back. A bit more backbone today wouldn't go amiss.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Now he is in with a chance Cameron has problems. Does he keep Boris quiet and hope to win on an anti-Ken vote, but then face a year or so of extreme embarrassment as Boris is allowed to speak again as London's Mayor? Or does he let him speak and lose London? Maggie lost London and disbanded Ken's GLC so maybe that's his answer.
"Round about Westminster, there hung nearly 800 years of hoary tradition. The rule driven into them from the day they arrived there was 'never mind about your political principles. Never mind about the suffering of the people you represent or your ideals, but for God's sake mind the etiquette of the place.' "
Who was writing about whom?
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
We see it over on this side of Bangkok also. At times when water could be let through to the river at low tide it isn't and areas upstream are flooding. Even on my own housing estate the pumps should be used to lower the lake levels before the rains start rather than after the roads are flooded. Many government departments are decentralising and maybe the Irrigation Department needs to as well. If the watergate workers became more like English lock-keepers and could control their gates it would be better. We might even get some klong tourism like they do in England with the narrow boat tours.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
That second bit hasn't changed - he is a clown. God help London if he wins. This would be our own version of George Bush. How could this man ever have run a magazine? I'm not sure what his connection is with London, but running the city isn't on.
It should have been so easy for the two other candidates to attack Ken Livingstone on his record as he is the incumbent but instead neither could really get to him on anything including crime and the bendy busses. I think the reason is Ken is a good city administrator and fairly non-corrupt compared to most politicians.
The Liberal's Brain Paddick came across as bit too much of 'a plague on both your houses'. He will suffer I suspect with voters of my age group. Those who would vote for a policeman won't vote for a gay, and those who would vote for a gay won't vote for a policeman.
They have a bad record on human rights within their present day borders with both political opposition and minorities. Outside China their support for brutal regimes like Burma and Sudan upsets many. One of their problems is they have a tendency towards racism. 91.5% of China's population are ethnic Han according to Wikipedia. The government and many other Chinese often have a superior attitude when dealing with minorities in China and other Asians. It comes across as the elder brother or cousin to the smaller ethnic groups. You can see it going on in Tibet. In fact they behave in a similar way as the Brits did when we were a colonial power.
I wonder if there were no Beijing Olympics how many more Tibetans would be dead?
Friday, April 4, 2008
For those who don't know, Max Mosley is president of something called the FIA which governs Formula 1 motor racing and other motor racing competitions. Oswald Mosley was of course the head of the pre and post WW2 fascist party in Britain. He was married to one of the Mitford sisters. Both of Max's parents were from the British aristocracy and friends of the rich and famous, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Max was bought up in the world of public (UK private) schools and Oxbridge universities.
I thought at first it was just my ignorance in not associating Max with his father. The two people I called after I found out also did not know, although they had seen Max's name in the papers many times and knew what he did. They were sensible people who usually have a better knowledge of current affairs than me.
We only found out because one of Murdoch's UK papers discovered a sex scandal involving Max Mosley, some prostitutes and Nazi uniforms. The paper, News of the World, is an embarrassment, with years of titillating the public on Sunday with sex scandals.
We shouldn't blame a son for the sins of his parents. That isn't fair. But if, say Ronnie Bigg's son became head of the FA how often would the papers be able to resist printing, "Joe Biggs, son of the Great Train Robber". Most that follow UK sport probably know that snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan's father is in prison for murder. So how come myself and the next two people I telephoned didn't know about Max Mosley.
On top of all this Max was, as a young man at least, and maybe still is a fascist. He went out on the streets campaigning for them. So why isn't it general public knowledge.? Usually I try to avoid conspiracy theories, but to me it looks like the old school tie and aristocrat networks at work.
What scares me about this is we could well have both an old Etonian London Mayor and a Tory cabinet filled with 'chaps' from the leading public schools in the near future. Everything will be decided behind closed doors and corruption will be on par with a banana republic. Don't trust these people.
Monday, March 31, 2008
So first the Jesada Technik Museum. This is a place for grown up boys to go look at cars from their youth. I've talked about this place before and it's definitely for boys not girls. The owner, Jesada Dejkulrit, is a millionaire who has built a museum any 11 year old boy would dream of. It's pure collecting for the sake of collecting and I'm really jealous. I wish all millionaires spent their money as sensibly as this.
I took 277 pictures and my friend a similar amount. They are of old cars, some just wrecks, motorbikes, scooters, trucks, helicopters, a DC3, rice barges, old fire engines and even a tank. The new museum building looks like it is getting close to being finished inside. Another trip would be in order when that happens.
We had a walk through the well kept grounds of the Sanam Chan Palace. This complex of Royal residences is 101 years old and features a building that would pass as a castle in a Disney movie. Click on the picture below.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Well you would have to go back to 1981 with British Airways when Maggie Thatcher put John King, later Lord, in as chairman of the company to set about privatising it. Two years later he brings in Colin Marshall to run it and from then on you have a history of job losses, bad labour relations and crooked dealings. While the Tories held up British Airways as what could be done by privatisation, experienced travellers avoided the airline like the plague. If it hadn't had its sinicured atlantic flights out of Heathrow it would have died years ago.
I suspect I could make a similar case about the now Spanish owned BAA. How did British Airways hope the move would work out when the staff-management relations are so very poor. Where was the needed enthusiasm from the labour force meant to come from. The whole Thatcherite policy on privatisation needed a beaten labour force to make these companies succeed without state support. The chairmen of these companies were picked to do the job. You only have to think back to bringing Ian MacGregor in as head of the coal industry.
So which of the many companies privatised have worked out as successes. Sure there has been some success for asset strippers and those that hold a near monopoly position in their industry, but for the customers and staff there has not been an overall benefit. Will train commuters in the UK claim they are better off. I suspect not many of the remaining small shareholders feel particularly happy. Those in British Airways should demand a change in management at the very least. How about those who invested into the Channel Tunnel. I guess the then Tory cabinet didn't put anything into that one.
Read Diamond Geezer, he was there.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
We went over there for a walk yesterday. I found this about year ago by following signs which took me to a guarded naval base at the mouth of the river. Apart from the fort we found a museum naval ship, a fine seafood restaurant and wood decked pathways through preserved mangrove swamp. Yesterday with a friend we walked around them all, playing with the six inch guns that were fired at the French Navy in 1893 and walking through the dry-docked corvette, HTMS Maeklong, which was built in 1935 in Japan.
There is a display of various guns in small park and it includes a ex-British WW2 vintage 25 pound artillery piece. The two pathways through the mangrove swamp were interesting with plenty of birds, a couple of large water monitors and some mud-skippers which are fish that can breathe out of water. An 11 AM stop at the restaurant gave us some coffee and another stop outside the gates for a soft drink let us watch the guys fishing off the bridge over one of the large canals in this area. It really is a good place to visit if you haven't been before and great if you have kids. For foreigners you should have your passports and for Thais your ID cards to get through the navy guards.
From there we headed back along the riverside road until a left turn took us out to Ban Sakhla. The road ends after about 8 kilometers in the car park of Wat Sakhla. From here we could walk through Ban Sakhla village where access is only by the pathways or by canal. Of course now-a-days everyone has a motorbike, but most houses also had long-tailed boats of various sizes. From this village boats go to Klong Sapphasamit which joins the Chao Phraya River to the port of Samut Sakhon to the west.
Wat Sakhla is lively place, being the center of village life, and the car park for anyone visiting. There was quite a bit of karaoke and eating going on while we were there. At the northern end of the temple is an old leaning stupa that I suspect dates back many centuries. I think this is in the Mon style of temple building.
Going back down Ban Sakhla road we stopped at another old temple hall at Wat Pounwanaram. This old building, although not as old as the stupa at Wat Sakhla, was interesting as the walls were wood planks, I guess teak. The last stop and walk was on the river at Wat Traimit Wararam. Most of the buildings here are more recent although I suspect there has been a temple on this site for a very long time. There is a great river view here and just behind the temple an old large wood hulled and decked river boat is moored. A man came over and offered us the boat for 200,000 Baht, but I supect that's a bit like buying Tower Bridge in London.
The only upbeat football story to come out of the weekend was in Frankie Valley's new blog where he stood next to the great Garry Nelson, footballer and writer. Shouldn't have peed on his shoes though Frankie.
Friday, March 21, 2008
I don't believe anyone thought that economically we would continue just to see growth with no downturns. There might be wishful thinking that the downturns can be moderate, but not that they will not come at all. So why were the banks not ready?
I think pure capitalism works on a very short term view of the future. Plans don't seem to be made for that far ahead. With socialism with see the attempt at long term planning with the disastrous Soviet five year plans. Up until the 1930s both America and the UK had almost pure capitalism. This probably explains why the Great Depression was so bad.
With Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, the Second World War and the 1945 Labour Government we see the beginning of a mixed economy. This mix should give us hopefully a little more forward planning. To me Thatcher and Reagan represented one last throw of old style capitalism but even they couldn't turn the clock back that far.
So what's the answer? We live in a economic balance between capitalist growth and socialist planning. Getting the balance right should let us have a moderate growth with a lack of recession, but one thing that will be needed is reduce the power and independence worldwide of the banks and oil companies.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Good to see Diane Abbott in the list - I enjoy watching her and Portillo with Andrew Neil on the BBC. Not surprised that ex-post office worker's union leader, Alan Johnson, isn't on the list.
Here's the full list - thanks to the BBC website.
Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington)
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)
John Cummings (Easington)
Andrew Dismore (Hendon)
David Drew (Stroud)
Frank Field (Birkenhead)
Paul Flynn (Newport West)
John Grogan (Selby)
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North)
John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington)
Eric Martlew (Carlisle)
Alan Meale (Mansfield)
Gordon Prentice (Pendle)
Alan Simpson (Nottingham South)
Geraldine Smith (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Sir Peter Soulsby (Leicester South)
David Taylor (Leicestershire North West)
Mike Wood (Batley & Spen)
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
The walk covered an section of the canal going east from the watergate called GP8 on the eastern side of Minburi town. I had pleasant company so spent a great deal of the walk in conversation but there was still plenty to see. It is mainly a Moslem area with at least three mosques on the route. The paths were pleasant and lots birds and fish and other animals to see.
The stand out location on this walk was the Kamalulislam Mosque for a number of reasons. A BMA history notice board told us that the mosque is also known as Sai Kongdim which is the name of the small canal joining the Saen Saeb next to the mosque. We walked a few hundred metres along this canal until the path run out but have a fairly spectacular picture of a lizard on a water hyacinth from the end. (I didn't take this picture or the one of mosque.)
The board told us that the King Rama V, (Chulalongkorn), visited a mosque on this site by boat in 1907. Again it would be interesting to know the history of these Moslem communities east of Bangkok as this shows they were here at least 100 years ago. The path along the klong next to the mosque has a frame with a climbing plant growing over it. The path becomes a tunnel as on the klong side it has dropped roots down to the water. It's gives a beautiful shade from the sun.
There wasn't that much going on in the canal but in the houses on the side there seemed to be a few places getting ready for some sort of celebration lunch. We were invited into one but by then we needed to get back. See the map below for this walk. There are also a few pictures from the walk. Minburi is just to the east of Bangkok.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
These were longish hour-and-a-half walks through almost entirely Moslem rural communities. The growing of grass turf was something I hadn't noticed before and I got some good pictures of this farming. The pathways were in fairly good condition and clean although one area I found where there obviously was not too much human traffic had become a good perch for the little brown herons. I have never seen so many together and their guano is far better than the dog mess I find in other areas.
35 years I would like to give that title to the boss of Royal Dutch Shell, Jeroen van der Veer. While we are giving out this title let's give honourable mentions to the US oil companies and the pharmaceutical industry who are all doing so well by being so bad.
What upset me was watching Mr. van der Veer go on TV and defend their massively increased profits against any talk of a windfall tax by arguing that most of their profit was made outside of Europe. Does he really think we all fall for that legend they created of their retail operation losing money while the overseas production operations made all the profit. His bean-counters can put the profit where they want and of course they put it in countries with the lowest taxes and most corrupt governments.
What a surprise that Wikipedia tells us that van der Veer was awarded honourary doctorate from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
A new dream - we will get one of the four play-off spots and ten years after we did it at Wembley we do it again. Last time I sat in a bar in Soi Cowboy and watched grown men, Sunderland supporters, crying as Charlton won a match which many describe as the best they have ever seen.
At least this way I will get to see them on TV.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Still it might keep us away from Richard Scudamore, that spin doctor in charge of the Premier League with his £800,000 salary. According to Wikipedia he is a Bristol City supporter though.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
There are quite a few communities living on this klong and as you move north it becomes very rural, with even rice paddy between the klong and Rom Klao Road. There are the usual religious splits with both Buddhist and Moslem communities. The last two canals have had a real excess of bad mannered dogs and it's good when you get to the Moslem areas that there are no snarling dogs and no dog shit on the path.
A quick note on the wildlife I see on these walks. The only dangerous animals I see are dogs. I thought I would see a few snakes warming themselves on the paths but all I have seen is one swimming across the canal and a couple of dead ones in the water. Maybe snakes have been driven out of town now which would be a shame. I have seen a few water monitors, smaller lizards and turtles but mostly birds.
I wish I knew a bit more about birds, but there is always something look at. Today there were swifts catching insects over the water, herons and storks catching fish and the last few weeks I've been noticing the blue and orange of the small kingfishers which never let you get too close.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
(In fact it would be pretty hard to find a pure capitalist economic system now. Even Maggie Thatcher and Ronnie Reagan couldn't put the clock back that far. We now have mainly mixed economies of state and privately owned operations and a timeline through the last 150 years would show the ratio has been moving in the direction of state control in one way or another.)
My thoughts were drawn to the above subject by three events, the elections in Thailand and Pakistan, and the retirement of Fidel Castro in Cuba. In the two elections patronage politics again came to fore. Maybe in Pakistan there was also an anti-military rule vote, but the politicians that have been elected are the same ones that have been involved with corruption in the past. In Thailand Taksin's, (that's the owner of Manchester City Football Club for UK readers), millions have bought about the election of a real rogues gallery. In Cuba an unelected leader hands over to his unelected brother. Any elections that have taken place in Cuba must be shams as no opposition is tolerated.
In Cuba, the lack of legitimacy that a vote would give and the imprisonment of dissenters has taken away from their argument on how the US has isolated them. So even with a good school and health system the people are poor in material possessions and in personal freedoms. Taking Thailand as the democratic example we find a government elected by giving gifts to the mainly peasant farming communities in the north and northeast on a very local level. Now at least when it goes wrong again the citizens have none to blame but themselves and they have the option of removing this government at the next election. (By the way it's hard to disprove the country people are better off after the previous Taksin governments.)
When we look closely it seems most democracies are built on patronage. The more local the government level, the more likely that a politician will get elected on what he promises the community, and this is probably how it should be. The danger in our UK style of parliamentary democracy is that only a minor part of the electorate actually control who forms the next government and these are those in the swing seats. This probably explains why all the political parties are trying to squeeze into the centre ground. The patronage is just for this minority. Ah well, I don't know the answer to this one; maybe it is to go with some form of proportional representation.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
About half-way along I found the biggest and most professional fish raising pens. They were made of lots of small pens tied together. Later when I walked back down KingKaow Road I saw pickups waiting for fish from these pens. It looked like they were breeding small fish for sale to the fish farms so the water must be good here.
Because this area off Kingkaow Road is industrial there are many apartment buildings for the workers, mainly young people from out of town, to rent. Some were painted in pleasant pastel colours and I suspect most people would prefer this than the plain cement buildings. I think some of the London suburbs could be improved by copying these colours.
At the Bangna-Trat Highway end of the canal is a large Chinese temple-like building. Below you can see the canal side of it with the fine ceramic detail on the roof and the view of the front from the road.
This canal isn't very interesting but it did give me a chance to get in some decent exercise. All up over three days walking, always returning to the car, I did about 26 kilometres with the longest day being 12 kilometres. At first I thought the canal might have been part of the airport development but it seems to be a bit older than that. The communities along the canal seem to be mainly buddhist unlike the canals a few kilometres to the north which have a large Moslem population.
Below is a picture from Google Earth which shows the paths with yellow dots. I'm not sure why Google has such a poor resolution view of the airport. Maybe it's a security problem.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Could it be that I am like one of those old testament prophets that are not listenned to? Could it just be my views are so out of kilter with everyone else? Why do I feel like the boy who could see that the Emperor was naked and not in his new set of clothes. I suspect I have at least part of the reason.
I left the UK in 1973 and led a Peter Pan like existence working around the world. I didn't have to grow up again until 1995 when I stopped travelling. I missed the Thatcher years. I missed the rise of Blair and New Labour. In fact it's "Life on Mars" in reverse. I went to sleep in 1973 and woke up in 1995.
A small side note - I saw "Life on Mars" for the first time at the end of last year. I was missing some of the humour as I didn't realize things weren't done that way anymore.