Sunday, September 20, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The only downside is Leeds United are matching Charlton's pace. Now Leeds, with apologies to the good citizens of Leeds, are not Britain's best loved team. In fact they are way up there with ManU, Chelsea and Arsenal. This maybe truer for those of a certain age who remember the Don Revie years, which admittedly were a long time ago. So we need Leeds to drop points before we do if we want to keep this heady feeling at the top of the division.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
This season has started with a bang. Three wins with two of those on the road. There was our usual loss and early exit from the league cup, but it was a ManU style second team playing. The first game was a 3-2 win at home against Wycombe Wanderers with an encouraging sixteen and half thousand crowd. Next came a 2-0 win in Hartlepool and round off our first three wins (four if the last match of last season is included) three thousand supporters took the short trip over the river to see Charlton beat Leighton Orient 2-1.
Can this keep up. After the last few years it makes a pleasant change.
Well I have still kept up walking new klongs although far from regularly but the next post will cover the last two Sundays east of the new Bangkok airport. With football Charlton are having a great start to the season so I will start posting results again.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
This changed with New Labour. They no longer wanted to be reminded of the past, the history of the party. Red stood something. It was the colour of the worker's flag. It was the colour of the blood shed by generations of activists going back to the Chartist and before.
As the various Blairites and Brownites start to creep away from their previous positions I wonder if the red tie will make a comeback. We are now seeing them dump the 'New' and just calling themselves Labour and even the banned word socialism cropped up today, so maybe we will. (And yes Ken Livingstone, I noticed the yellow tie you have been wearing. A little bit of tradition please!)
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Recently I have begun to feel we were out doing the Americans at their own game. It’s the increase of twenty-something potential and actual election candidates who have moved directly from university to a political career. This isn’t only happening with our own party, but also with the Tories and Liberals. Although I don’t always agree with him the Ken Livingstone interview on the Labourlist blog does highlight what’s going on. See two of his answers below.
Q. “Do you mean Old Labour with a capital O and a capital L or…”
KL. “Both! The main weakness of the so-called New Labour project was that it was too young and too graduate middle class. I was surprised how many old right-wingers who had spent their lives trying to stop me ended up supporting me because of how bad things had got.”
Q. “You know you can be young and graduate and working class and on the left of the party…”
KL. “I’m sure there is one somewhere. But in the run up to the 1998 Borough council elections in London, they introduced al these tests. Instead of being selected, you had to write statements of your values and management experience. But it wasn’t just the left wing that was stripped down by that; it was the working class people, black and white. I thought that was absolutely disgraceful. Blair and Brown between them took a functioning, broadly working class party, but one that was also strongly middle class, and reduced it to a shell. They closed down all the channels by which working class people could express themselves, through their unions and their local parties. If they hadn’t closed down the Labour party in that way, they might not have made the catastrophic mistake in carrying on Thatcher’s ban on council house building, And they’re now surprised that working class people are angry? What fuels the anger of those working class voters is that their kids have got nowhere to live.”
We haven’t really seen this since WW2. Before that there were rural seats that were passed down through aristocratic families, but by the 1945 election many of the new MPs had been in the forces before. Even those who wanted a political career like Churchill 40 years before that started with another job.
These new members of the political class are the evil spawn of Blair, Cameron and Clegg. Blair had a pretend job in law while attempting to get into parliament. Cameron didn’t even do this, going straight into the Conservative Research Department. Clegg looks like he saw the opportunity to enter UK politics via Europe.
But what do these and the new crop bring to the table; what experiences have they had which will help the country move forward? I try to see something positive in the youth of these people and New Labour’s parachuting in the likes of Georgia Gould, but it’s not working for me. Just look at the photos of the posters in the left column of Labourlist’s home page. It scares me that these are our next Labour Party representatives. (Apologies to those who don’t feel they fit my description.)
What the expense scandal should tell us is that we can’t afford to have this type of candidate. The political class must know that eventually the public will revolt and not just by not voting, or by voting BNP. Maybe a study of the French revolution will give them some warning. The people are very angry.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Why has it become such a dirty word. Roy Hattersley tells of it being a non-word in the early days of New Labour after Blair had gained the leadership. One of Blair’s groupies told him off for using it. How strange, but then again how strange that Hattersley found himself ending up to the left of the leadership.
What got me thinking about this was seeing the BBC management’s salary and expense figures being released under the freedom of information laws. On top of this we hear of another million pound plus package for the new boss of RBS.
Sure New Labour bought in the minimum wage but at the same time we saw the gap between the poorest in the UK and the top wage earners widen to levels it hasn’t been before. GPs are pulling in six figure salaries which also seems the norm for whole layers of management through the public sector. In the corporate world even failing companies pay top management seriously high salaries and bonuses. At the same time the vast majority of the population is now falling further behind.
Part of Labour’s business used to be attempting to iron out these differences but since New Labour this is no longer the case. They say follow the market forces, it’s no sin to be rich. We no longer look to politicians to be altruistic and working for the public good. Instead why shouldn’t they get as much out of the expenses as they can? After all as Gordon Gekko said “greed is good” and as Maggie said while be very honest, “there is no such thing as society.”
So before the usual Tories start adding their comments, let’s look at the downside of trying to engineer a little equality.
First then, “if we don’t pay these people the fat pay packets we will lose them to other companies or countries”. Not sure if there are that many of either ready to pay Mark Thompson his 600,000+ and if there are banks willing to hire away some of our senior management then good to luck to them. If all our GPs want to go private, fine, but how many will be able to pull in 100,000+ in a saturated private market. Go to the US by all means, but you may not find the health industry there is willing to pay quite like it did in the past.
Second, “we would hurt entrepreneurship in the UK”. Sorry these people are not entrepreneurs. They are corporate and public sector bureaucrats. Successful entrepreneurs will always find a way of making the big money. You only have to look at Mandelson’s mates among the Russian oligarchs. Anyone who has ever dealt with the corporate world will know that talent seldom rises to the top. Instead a level of mediocrity reigns as higher levels worry about competition from below.
For Labour to get back on track and offer the public something different to the Tories we need to be using words like equality again. If we leave it to New Labour we will be trying to prove we are nicer Tories than the real Tories yet again.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Show me the money!
I need some expert help. OK, I know that the current financial crisis was caused by lack of regulation and allowing the markets to govern themselves. And I know that because we had to bail out the banks with jillions of pounds we are in terrible debt, so much so that we have to cut social spending and our children's children will still be paying it off long after we are dead. I'm told that if we hadn't done this the financial system for the entire world would have crashed and we would all be very poor.
What I don't know is where did all the money we gave the banks end up. I've asked this on a number of sites and nobody seems sure. I mean if we say to a bank, "Here's a couple of billion, Fred", where is that money now? It can't still be in the bank vault surely. Neither Brown, Darling or the civil servants have really told us.
So the banks were going broke and their customers were saying, "We want our money back". The banks didn't have the money as they were sitting on sub-prime mortgages or suchlike. If we didn't give the banks money then they would have defaulted and these customers would have lost their money.
Of course the small customers were already covered by government bank insurance so I suspect that most of the readers of this blog would still have their money. Some of the money would probably belong to pension funds, charities and local authorities but one has to suspect that much of it has gone to very rich people. You know people that have far more money than would be covered by the small depositor insurance. I'm thinking of Russian oligarchs, oil rich sheiks, Swiss bankers, hedge fund managers and people like David Cameron and the other 16 millionaires on the Tory front bench.
I smiled when someone told me that Michael Caine was saying he would leave the UK because of the 50% tax. I wonder if some of his deposits were saved by the rest of the tax payers. See Michael, "Not many people know that".
I can't argue if people tell me that if we hadn't bailed the banks out we would have far larger problems than if we had let them fail, covered the small depositors, and then cherry-picked the best bits for nationalization. They would say, "Les, if we had done that then the reputation of the City of London would have gone down the tubes." Sure I know that since we no longer have any manufacturing or industry in the UK, we have to have all these financial geniuses in the City bringing in the money we need to pay for bits and bobs from China.
I accept all this as all three major parties say it's so, but will someone please show me where the money went. If Michael Caine, David Cameron and Fred Goodwin have some of it, I might go and ask for it back.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Maybe another leader who has show Stalinist tendencies, not least in internal Labour Party affairs, Gordon Brown, could use the same tactics with the LDV closure in the UK. If he's not sure where Oleg is at the moment, he can ask Oleg's friend Peter Mandelson.
Oleg Deripaska is well known to the UK because George Osbourne leaked the story that Mandelson was having a free holiday on Oleg's yacht off Corfu. This caused suspicions because actions taken by Mandelson when he was an EU commissioner over the tax on imported aluminium increased Deripaska's already great wealth. (There is no proof that Mandelson or those close to him gained financially from these actions except for this luxury holiday in Corfu. Peter Mandelson lives in a £2.5 million villa in London.)
George Osbourne didn't get away unblemished by the affair as he knew Mandelson was there because he also visited Oleg on the yacht. The yacht was moored off of Osbourne friend Nat Rothschild's villa and it was Rothschild, a rich hedge fund manager, who introduced them. Rothschild considered that Osbourne had broken a confidence so then made public that Osbourne had been there to ask Oleg for a donation to the Tory Party via his ownership of LDV.
What a complicated corrupt little world these people live in.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
"The Clydeside Brigade* travelled to Westminster as a group. With salaries of only £400 a year, and no travelling expenses paid, most travelled down sleeping on the seats and floors of third class compartments."
Back in a time when to be a Labour MP was a vocation not a career choice. There are still Labour members who would do this for their beliefs, but they don’t get on the shortlists. I hope Blears, Purnell and the rest read this and feel shame, but I doubt they will do either.
* This was the group of Glasgow Labour MPs, including James Maxton, elected in the 1922 election.
Is the experiment coming to an end?
In 1994 the biggest experiment in British politics since the Second World War began. 15 years down the line it looks like it’s coming to the end. Back then the Labour Party made a deal with Blair, Brown and those about them like Campbell and Mandelson. The deal was Labour would be electable if it gave total control of the party to these people and dropped its old ideals, traditions and ways of working.
Now before we all berate ourselves it should be remembered that at the previous election Kinnock had led the party to defeat against Major, and prior to that Thatcher had been punishing every Labour attempt to regain power. In hindsight we could say we didn’t really need a Blair to win the next election as the Tory government was in meltdown, much like the present Labour one.
What should be said is that Blair went on to win two more elections, but again it could be argued that the Tories were still in a suicidal frame of mind during this period. Looking back on this deal between the Labour Party and its new leadership we see the latter mostly lived up to their part. One part of the deal that they didn’t though was the promise of more party democracy, which has since been curtailed so much by the leadership. What activist hadn’t reckoned on was how little would be achieved in 13 years of Labour power. Trying to find progressive policies amongst the many conservative ones is quite hard. Compared to the six years of Atlee’s first government they have done next to nothing.
As with any experiment, we are testing a theory to see if it is correct. When the New Labour idea was finally tested it failed miserably. First test was whether it could hand over power to a new leader. From this we ended up with a PLP coronation. Next was its first financial crisis and recession while in power and it had no policies for the situation. The only answer was to dump the free market policies it had been following, shore up the banks and return to Keynesian ideas the party had followed before they came along. The third test was the trust that Labour MPs are basically honest. This was destroyed as the expenses scandals came out and one after another Blair follower was found with their hands in the till.
Let’s look at what New Labour bought us. Of course we should have been suspicious when Blair and Mandelson started their campaign before John Smith was in the ground. It was a pointer to the total lack of principles of this new movement with many more to come. It was to Americanise politics in the UK. To have two main parties with no basic policy differences, just a difference in compassion. To make elections almost presidential with the charisma of the leaders the main vote catcher. (Aren’t Cameron and Clegg just Blair clones?) To have people like Campbell to spin, lie and create the sound-bites instead of sensible discussion. Was it any wonder that the MPs that signed up to this new deal with no principles or ideals ended up stealing from the public through their expenses?
So when the experiment ends what will come next? If the Labour party ends up as some European style Social Democrat party that Roy Jenkins wanted it will fight for the same ground that the Liberals now have, as Jenkins found out. Was the party under the leadership of Kinnock and Smith a better place to be? I suspect so, even with all the infighting, it still had some of that broad church feel. Is there another place we should be heading; is there another ‘new’ experiment to come? Maybe, but we had better be a bit more cautious this time.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The truth is once tested New Labour failed. The reason I think is it was always a grouping that turned its back on Labour's history and traditions and had no real principles to replace the old ones with. What Blair and Brown were offering the public was a better Tory party and while the Tories were committing suicide with sleaze and right wing policies it left a space for New Labour. As the Tories moved back to a center right position, this spot got crowded. We find the Liberals to left of the Labour Party which just shouldn't be.
The lack of principles gave the Parliamentary Labour Party a yuppie careerist look that Cameron's Tories now do better. I feel it was this lack of principles that sees so many of these New Labour MPs in deep expense trouble. The lack of internal party democracy will for a time support the New Labour leadership but eventually it will have to be replaced.
We need to look at why Blair and Brown managed to take over the party because there were reasons that allowed this. Michael Foot was a disaster and Neil Kinnock not much better. We must also not forget that Militant gave them an excuse to curtail the internal democracy. If we acknowledge what went wrong before it makes it less likely it will happen again.
What we should learn is we must never trade principles for power and hopefully the experiment is coming to an end.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The Standard allows Georgia to whinge about how she was smeared during the selection process without any questions from the Standard's 'reporters'. In fact it looks like a celebrity press release from Max Clifford rather than an interview. Were reporters David Cohen and Joe Murphy actually there.
Let's read a paragraph in her 'own' words as she does her poor little rich girl act. "I was the victim of a well orchestrated and vicious smear campaign," she said. "Every day, I'd wake to articles in the media, and they came from both the Left and the Right, assailing me for being too rich, too young, too inexperienced, but mostly — too well connected. There were days the flak got so bad that I became quite depressed, which is really quite unlike me, and I never wanted to get out of bed."
What she doesn't mention is that in order to help her the local constituency party chairman was removed and her helpers started a campaign to misuse postal votes so she could win without having to get the majority of those who actually turn up for the party selection meeting. (The rules on postal voting at this stage are they should only be used when there are good reasons for not being able to attend the meeting.)
I love this bit. "It's not about Old Labour or New Labour, or Blairites or Brownites any more," she said. "These are old divides, a false split, a dead language, and they speak of a moribund politics that totally misses the point." So I guess Georgia doesn't work for the Blair Faith Foundation then and the papers got it wrong. Who was it that got her on the shortlist one wonders?
Whatever the aims of this piece of New Labour spin, and whether it was done by Alistair Campbell or not, the outcome was it didn't work. Just look at the comments under the article. It seems to be running at 90% against poor Georgia. (A note to the spin doctors - it just doesn't work any more. With the MP expenses scandal people just don't believe in you. They won't clap their hands to bring back Tinkerbelle, or Campbell, or Mandelson.)
Sadly where the article is correct is that Georgia Gould will probably turn up again as a candidate for a Labour seat at the next election and it will probably be through a women only shortlist in a 'safe' Labour seat.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
"When I was a member of Labour's national executive, Tony Benn would make long speeches about the plot to transfer all power from party members to the parliamentary leadership. Neil Kinnock and I shook our heads in bewilderment and mumbled about the need for Tony to lie down in a darkened room. I now realise that, far from being demented, he was prescient. The prime minister no doubt congratulates himself that it has become virtually impossible for Labour party members who disagree with his policies to make nuisances of themselves at the annual conference. But the complaint that it is no longer possible to express dissent is why so many members have left the party. In the short term the changes guarantee a quiet life. But when the pendulum begins to swing there will be too few members with enough long-term loyalty to defend an increasingly unpopular government."
Who will not get any say in deselection are the constituencies these people represent via their constituency parties (CLPs). The power to choose Labour Party candidates was taken away from the local parties years ago, but Kinnock, Blair and company made it even more difficult as a way of stopping entrists like Militant choosing. That may or may not have been correct at the time, but now there is no need to guard the central leadership's power quite so closely. This power has been misused badly with shortlists and cronies parachuted in.
Let the CLPs decide if they want to deselect these and other expense thieves in the party. If the party feels it necessary they can have the right to refuse a prospective replacement but they must stop the forcing of favourites on the local parties. Even Blair had to go through this process. No more shortcuts! No more Georgia Goulds.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Now it might be too much to ask for that wowser Phil Woolas and his boss Jacqui Smith resign. (She has quite a few issues she could resign over.) It's certainly too much to ask Gordon Brown to make way for a leadership contest. But the numbers are there. Of these 110 MPs surely enough know that it's time for a real change if they are to have any chance in next year's election.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I read on the BBC website that Mandelson said soundbites are not dead. How about this one then? Following on from Tom Cruise's "Show me the money" in Jerry Maguire, "Follow the money".
Now I'm sure there are good reasons for keeping the banks solvent, bailing them out so they can repay the people they owe money to may be a good thing. Maybe the future earnings and tax income of the City investment banks justifies paying off the present investors in them and keeping London's reputation untarnished among the rich and powerful. If this is the case shouldn't Darling show us the maths?
Now don't confuse saving the banks with small depositors savings or even bank workers jobs. Deposit insurance protects the former and nationalization after bankruptcy would take care of the latter. All I am saying is there was an alternative, bank failure, to throwing billions at the banks. It might not have been the best option but it would be nice to know why not.
So where did the money go? Who had invested in all these failing funds and bad investment instruments at the banks? I wonder whose names would come up. For sure from the UK would be the pension funds. So we have indirectly bailed out some pension funds but that doesn't stop Mandelson talking about the problem of funding the Post Office workers pensions needing outside money. Who else? Must be some UK based hedge funds I guess but then I would be looking overseas. How about the Russian oligarchs, the oil rich Arab sheikdoms and the money that the Chinese have been putting out on the world markets instead of raising the standard of living of their own people. On top of that we would find the rich and famous both from the UK and overseas. Probably find we bailed out the Blairs and the Camerons.
Wouldn't it be nice to know?
Saturday, April 25, 2009
So what is going through the mind of Immigration Minister Phil Woolas? He says that in a worse case it would mean 100,000 immigrants coming in if he allowed ex-Gurkha servicemen to settle in the UK. I just saw him on TV saying that if he allowed in the Gurkhas it would open the door to other groups to go get a court ruling. Are there other groups that the UK owes as much to as the Gurkhas? If so we should let them in also.
Woolas shows all the worst in New Labour. He's the man behind the counter at the dole office, the petty bureaucrats that run our health service, and all those well paid administration jobs that Blair and Brown have created. What they can't see that everyone else in the country can, is they are shooting themselves in the foot every time they open their mouths. The tabloids couldn't have made it up. We have a wheelchair bound, VC wearing, Gurkha next to Joanna Lumley protesting outside parliament.
You wouldn't mind as much if it was just one New Labour groupie, but like the Mandelson Post Office statements, Gordon Brown jumps right behind with support. Brown must go and better before the election than after.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
As much as the Tories would rather not get tied down on policies before the election, and many of the voters will let their dislike of New Labour control their vote, the election will have an enormous effect on the standard of living of most British voters. Now I cannot pretend to be an expert on economics, but seeing that the experts have got it so wrong recently I will try and explain what I feel is the difference between the parties policies and the results this might give.
I will start with the Tories as this is the easy one. It's now clear that David Cameron will not try and spend his way out of the recession/depression. This is the pure laissez-faire much favoured in the past by the likes of Thatcher and Enoch Powell. Companies and banks in trouble will be allowed to fold. As less people are at work and able to pay tax, social services will be cut. The government will rely on charities to support the weakest. We will start to see deflation and a depression like that of the 1930's will occur. We will see strife on the streets. Those with considerable cash savings will benefit although house prices will tumble as more default on their mortgages. In the end the middle class will be hurt along with those underneath but the very rich will get away without too much pain. This will be explained by Cameron as not allowing future generation to be saddled with the enormous debt.
Now to New Labour. Brown and some of the others seem to have had a road to Damascus moment and are seeing the dangers in a Thatcherite answer to the crisis which following those ideas has led them into. It might be that some of these New Labour ministers can't bring themselves to break from old ideas and there are rumours that Alistair Darling may resign if forced to keep on spending. So what is the Keynesian response to the crisis? Basically it is to spend our way out of the recession. It will need money printed and acceptance of inflation to work. What they are attempting is to buy growth. This was how FDR pulled the US out of the depression, although the war may have contributed also.
What effect would New Labour's policies have? Well because of inflation, unless interest rates rise fast, those with cash savings will see the real value decline. It will be hard to see this policy propping up housing prices, or at least the real property value after inflation, but the fall could be less than that with depression and deflation. If we get the desired growth, then those in the middle class and lower may see a smaller drop in their standard of living than otherwise. Inflation will of course make the government debt smaller in real value. The danger is stagflation where we have the inflation but no growth which is a possibility as the damage to the economy is already so great. That could put us into a pre-war German-like situation. One of the problems that could lead us in that direction would be if the government was forced to protect the exchange rate or get finance for the government debt by raising interest rates.
So we are caught between a rock and a hard place and a decision will have to be made. The Tories would much rather we didn't think about the outcome of their policies while Labour has no guarantee that theirs will work. I know what way I'm leaning, but I suspect that Brown and Blair have created such a bad smell that it will make no difference.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Unfortunately this statements negates the economic policy that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown came in with 12 years ago and followed until the banking system crashed. They worshipped Thatcher's policies and now Brown is going to lead the Labour Party into its biggest defeat since the 1931 post-MacDonald election.
If there really are 120 Labour MPs who are willing to go against the New Labour leadership in support of the Post Office workers then now is the time to be looking at a leadership election that will allow all the party to have a say. Otherwise it's just posturing like Peter Hain and Harriet Harman have been doing. Labour needs a caretaker leader to clean out those who turned their backs on the basic principles of the party. There must be one moderate MP who is not beholden to the Blairites surely.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
James Crosby, pictured right, would be an easy target. He was in charge of HBOS during its most badly managed period and managed to fire the compliance manager who tried to warn the bank of the problems it was getting into. Yes the bankers are responsible but they couldn't have done what they did with the help of the politicians. Both in the UK and the US politicians from Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan through to the Blair/Brown and GW Bush have done all they could to remove regulation that controlled the worst of the financial industry's scams and frauds.
Gordon Brown must carry some of this blame, but I suspect we will never hear him say he's sorry. He will continue to say it was an international problem outside of his control. Crosby was his favourite banker and Brown made him 2nd. in command of the regulators, the FSA, that should have been monitoring what the banks were up to. Now making a poacher the gamekeeper is fine and often works but it does rely on the poacher knowing that poaching was wrong. For the promotion and honours given to James Crosby, Brown should at least apologise.
For being a bad driver you can be sent to prison even if an accident wasn't intentional. Let's see some bankers in prison for the bad management they gave while driving the country into this economic crisis.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
What was this British jobs for British workers meant for; what does it mean. It was just a sound bite to catch the evening news. It was to undercut the Tories by being more to the right of them again. Maybe the trouble with telling lies is when people believe you rather than when they don't.