Saturday, 31 March 2012

George Galloway - a flawed hero
He has been responsible for two of the more toe-curling cringeworthy events on t.v. in the last decade. Nonetheless he is still something special. In an age when politicians do not say what they mean and do not mean what they say, he shines out as beacon of clarity. His values are good and his assessment of what is wrong with our governance is usually spot on. He is also consistent, being a strong supporter of the Palestinians and anti-war. 
It comes to something when the official labour candidate at the Bradford West By-election would not appear on the same platform as him for fear of being shown up. 
His assessment that the astonishing result was a vote against all three main parties resonated with this voter. Recent events amplify his case.
The Tories? Where to begin?
Cash for Cameron with its its ‘Inquiry’ to be run by Conservative Lord Gold? You could not make it up. 
“Don’t Panic! Break out the Jerry cans?” Mancis Fraud has not had a good week. Good. He is an egregious bastard who should have been slung out years ago. The poor woman in York setting fire to herself will not have gone down well with the twinset and pearls brigade.
Pastygate? Osborne being briefed by Treasury Officials that a pasty was rather like a bigger version of boeff en croute...Or avoiding Sun journalists dressed as Marie Antoinette trying to give him pasties.
How about the NHS bill? The Tory party have had over 300 donations linked to private health care companies totalling £8.3 m over the last 11 years; and there are 141 Tory members of the House of Lords and 13 Tory MPs who have a financial interest in private health care. How dare you suggest they influenced policy?
The Labour Party? Who opened the door on privatising the NHS? Who also admitted they would have had a programme of severe cuts? Who were involved with ‘Cash for Honours?” And who entertain their wealthy backers at private dinners...?
Or the LibDems? With their craven acceptance of, and collusion with, the worst Tory excesses? Or their ‘little difficulty’ with Michael Brown the convicted fraudster and party donor?
All in it together? You bet they are. 
It would be terrific for our failing democracy if George’s message was taken up and a couple of hundred reforming radicals were elected at the next General Election throwing out the expenses cheats, the corrupt and the incompetent. They could then work to bring our governance into the 21st century. 
It will not be easy. The media - many of whom came from the same background and inhabit the same bubble as our political elite are already at work pointing up George’s errors and ignoring his message. 
“The status quo must prevail - no matter how corrupt or how crap - because it is our gravy train”

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mancis Fraude
Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Not been the best of weeks for the unconvicted expenses cheat has it?
First he was the chosen stooge to go onto the Today programme and defend the indefensible Tory fundraising dinners. He did not do well. Dismissing the issue as ‘having a few friends round for a kitchen supper’ revealed the depth of his lack of insight and just how out of touch these Toffs are.
Later that same day he stood in for Cowardy Cameron who would not face the Commons.
He did not do well. He tried to blame Labour and only mentioned the disgraceful allegations as an afterthought. Hoots of derision all round.
Yesterday he was a spokesperson put up against the tanker drivers strike. He did not do well. He came out with the astonishing idea that we should all get jerry cans and fill them up with fuel thereby maximising panic buying. He also managed to alienate and disgust the Fire Service as storing petrol is very dodgy. 
Today he had to come out and announce that his storage idea was not a good one. He did not do well. As an unconvicted expenses cheat he had zero credibility with rational beings before this week. His idea for storing petrol in cans makes you wonder if has a vested interest in either jerry cans or in a petrol company.

Not to mention the pasties.....Steve Bell sums up the sorry state of affairs. 
His week was bad - as bad as Cameron and Osborne’s. They are not only venal - they are also risible and for a politician, being laughed at is dangerous territory. 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Wonga Government
The lid has been lifted on the feculent pit that is the Conservative Party. The way they make policy to suit the whim of their wealthy backers. Since the revelations in the Sunday Times there has been a renewed scrutiny of their policies. Typical is this report in the Independent.  
“Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist who has given £593,000 to the Conservatives since Mr Cameron became leader in 2005, recommended companies be allowed to sack unproductive workers at will. The businessman, whose interests include payday loans company, argued that "coasting" workers inhibit economic growth and deter employers from recruiting.
His report, submitted last autumn, remains shrouded in mystery. Unusually for a Government-ordered study, it has not been published. Downing Street is coy about who commissioned it. The driving force is believed to be Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron's strategy adviser, who is leaving No 10 in May.
Ministers believe the report has not been published as it is too sensitive. Ideas are said to include watering down maternity rights, which would have jeopardised Mr Cameron's goal of making Britain the most "family-friendly" country in Europe. Another official said: "His report was full of the Tory millionaires' philosophy that government should not interfere in anything."
Mr Beecroft's plan for "no fault dismissal" was taken up by Mr Cameron and George Osborne, the Chancellor. It would allow a company to fire unproductive workers without the right to claim unfair dismissal, but they would receive statutory redundancy pay.
He (Beecroft) conceded a "downside" of his main proposal is employers could be accused of firing staff they "did not like," but said: "While this is sad, I believe it is a price worth paying for all the benefits that would result from the change."
Good to know that Gradgrind is alive and well. 
Beecroft makes lots of money from poor people. He lends money to them in payday loans at very high interest rates. Such loans are banned in many countries including the US. In those countries he would be done for loan sharking. However, in our Tory Boy government he is given status and the opportunity to propagate his anti- worker claptrap.
As that well known Tory ‘MP’ Alan B’Stard told his dim mate Piers, “It is not about the money, I am simply very, very greedy.”
Wonga man would have sympathy with that.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Cash for Access - some more points.
Cruddas - the pariah - made his money ‘spread betting’ on the financial markets. He is a non-dom based in Monaco so he avoids paying much tax on his winnings. 
His comments about circumventing the financial rules should be of interest to the plod - or they would be if they had not had their fingers burned trying to get evidence from the bag of vipers involved in ‘Cash for Honours.’
Cameron did not show up in the Commons to face the music. This is the second time he has done this when his judgement has been found wanting (or corrupt depending upon your viewpoint...)The first time was the occasion was when his chosen communications chief Coulson resigned. This is the PM who praises our boys in Afghanistan for their courage...
He relied upon well known expenses cheat Maude to speak on his behalf. Not a good choice. There are many of us in this country who believe this man should have been charged - along with quite a few more. He has zero credibility.
Labour went from a four point lead to a seventeen point lead in two days.
Among the ‘guests’ have been property tycoons, financiers and his best mate. The best mate was appointed chairman by Cameron immediately after the election. His appointment has been described as a ‘crony chairman’ - by Tory activists and party workers! They are not impressed.
Eric Pickles was almost indignant when challenged on the World at One about today’s  planning reforms and whether they had anything to do with cosy chats over the consomme. Every policy they introduce from now on should undergo the ‘batman’ test: dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner dinner - fatcatman! 
Listening to a selection of Tory mouthpieces over 48 hours shows they really do live in a different world. They see nothing wrong with these ultra exclusive dinners. The thought of such access being unavailable to the remaining 99.9% of the electorate does not figure in their thinking. They think £50,000 is small change.
Coming after the Tory papers were unimpressed by the budget and with local council elections to come there are some big chickens clucking their way to the roost. The Tories are deeply toxic again. 
Steve Bell sums up the situation:

The last time they were in such bad odour with the electorate Thatcher went to war against Argentina. 
Watch this space.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Cash For Access
It is a sign of how much of a mess the tories are in when they have to rely on unconvicted expenses cheat Maude to defend ‘cash for access.’ In case anyone has forgotten, Maude bought a flat in London a few minutes walk from a house he already owned. He then rented out the other property (to Tory Boys apparently) and began claiming on the new flat: the taxpayer has since covered over £50,000 in mortgage interest payments. He owns several properties and is a multi-millionaire.
On the Today programme he said it was perfectly reasonable for very wealthy people to have dinners with Cameron and Osborne. He also denied that this would give the donors any special access. A small tremor was recorded across the nation as a million households cried ‘bollocks’ in unison.
John Harris, writing in the Guardian Online has this take on the scandal..
“....Questions bound up with wealth, privilege and a disquiet about Cameron and George Osborne have been building for months, were heightened by the budget and now threaten to turn critical....
....This fiasco fits so snugly into recent political events that it surely represents the perfect Conservative nightmare.
Five days after Osborne delivered the most butterfingered budget in living memory, it's worth reflecting on its ongoing aftershocks, and how neatly they fuse with the Cruddas affair. The questionable idea that the rich would somehow end up paying five times as much tax as they did pre-budget has vanished. Instead, the cut in the top rate is the prism through which every controversial aspect of the budget is now seen, from the ubiquitous granny tax, through the prospect of an extra 1.3 million paying the 40p rate, to Labour's under-reported claim that £500m has been taken out of the NHS. Note also the unsolved question of which senior Tory politicians stand to gain from the end of 50p, talked up most frantically by those two renowned wagers of the class war, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.” 
One of those probably benefitting from the 50p tax cut is of course Maude. He may well have his finances in such good order that like our estimable Chancellor he did not pay the top rate. Either way these venal creeps lose in the public opinion stakes. They are either very rich and avoiding tax or they are very rich and benefitting from a tax cut.
Cameron will eventually be forced to publish his guest list. His credibility is on the floor. He will do what he can to avoid this because he will know the embarrassment factor for him and the government will be immense. This issue goes to the heart of our democracy and will outrage many tory activists who already feel marginalised and ignored by the leadership.
As for who is on his ‘Guest List?’. How about Charlie and Rebekah Brooks? James Murdoch? Sir Philip Green?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tory Club
The first rule of Tory Club is you do not talk about Tory Club. The second rule of Tory Club is you do not talk about Tory Club. The third rule of Tory Club is that if you do talk about Tory Club you will be marginalised, disowned, denied and turned into a pariah. You will also be described as a lone rogue operator (sound familiar) with aspersions cast as to your mental health. 
It has not been the best of weeks for the cesspit of slime known as the Conservative party. Killing the ‘N’ in the NHS followed by rewarding the rich at the expense of pensioners, the poor and the squeezed middle. And now this...
The sting operation run by a Murdoch paper (yes, a Murdoch paper!) exposing payment for access at the top of government lifted the lid on the way corruption is endemic within our system. It is hardly a surprise when the political class are nearly all from public schools and are skilled operators of the old boy network. Who you know is more important than what you know. It is a small step to selling influence and access.  
The video footage of Co-Treasurer Cruddas (what a great name for a sleazeball) offering access to Cameron and or Osborne has featured across the media this morning. The Observer pays due respect to the Sunday Times.
“Cruddas, the founder of online trading company Currency Management Consultants, is heard discussing how much access different-sized donations would get, during an undercover operation run by the Sunday Times.
In the footage, he is heard to say: "Two hundred grand to 250 is premier league … what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners.
"You do really pick up a lot of information and when you see the prime minister, you're seeing David Cameron, not the prime minister. (my italics)  But within that room everything is confidential – you can ask him practically any question you want.
"If you're unhappy about something, we will listen to you and put it into the policy committee at No 10 – we feed all feedback to the policy committee." Observer 25/3/12
The remark about seeing David Cameron, not the Prime Minister is important because it means that there will be no record kept of the meeting. Nice!
The revelations contradict previous claims by the Tories that their high-value donor groups, such as the "leader's group", ‘are for genuine supporters who do not seek to influence policy in return for their cash.’ (Oh Yeah). 
It costs £50,000 to have a meal with Dave or Gideon. The sort of small change out of reach of everyone but the 1% who currently rule the world. 
They also raise huge questions about the honesty of the prime minister. Months before taking office, Cameron warned that this type of "secret corporate lobbying" was the "next big scandal waiting to happen". The Sunday Times claims the meetings, at which Cruddas claimed "premier league" donors could lobby the prime minister directly, have not been declared to the public. But they were not meeting the prime minister - they were meeting David Cameron - off the record. Stinky. Stinky. Stinky.
And just in case anyone thinks Labour and the LibDems are much better just remember ‘Cash for Honours’ and the convicted fraudster Brown.
The Tory Club revelations heap more fuel on the revolution bonfire.

Friday, 23 March 2012

George Gideon Oliver Osborne
George apparently was once known as Gideon but didn’t like it so he changed it to George. It wouldn’t have anything to do with Gideon being known as ‘The Destroyer’ in Hebrew would it? His revelation that he does not pay the 50p tax rate astonished many and confirmed what many others already knew, that he was one of the children of Thatcher who are selfish, greedy bastards. Not sure what the ancient Hebrew is for that. 
Even the right wing Daily Wail were not impressed. This is from their online site.
“I'm not wealthy enough to pay the 50p tax rate' claims George Osborne (who earns minister's salary, rents out £2m Notting Hill home and has £4m stake in the family business)
  • George Osborne earns £134,565 as Chancellor - just over £15,000 short of 50p tax threshold
  • He rents out Notting Hill family home while living in 10 Downing Street flat
  • Osborne has 15% stake in family wallpaper business which is worth an estimated £4million
  • It is believed that he last year sold £600,000 property in his constituency in Tatton, Cheshire
  • Osborne stands to inherit £4million from a family trust fund - dodging £1.6million inheritance tax
  • Chancellor faced claims he 'flipped' his second home at height of the expenses scandal” Daily Wail 23/3/12
One of the advantages of online news is that it allows for almost instant feedback from readers. There has been a deluge of comment from Wail readers, the massive majority up in arms and outraged. Comments include ‘He has just lost the next election’ and ‘These Tory Toffs have not got a clue what it is like to live on an average wage.’
The reaction to the Budget did not go quite to plan either. Having assiduously managed the news beforehand, the one unknown element was seized on by the media and portrayed as ‘Grannies paying for millionaire tax cuts.’
This was beautifully portrayed in today’s Independent by Dave Brown.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Two days in the life of the Tory Boys
On Tuesday the NHS Bill crawled over its final hurdle. As Mark Steel put it, “At last this bill has been passed, to enable our Health Service, the envy of the world, to become more like the American system, universally derided as a chaotic disaster. Now they can introduce bills to make our ferry service more like the one in Italy, and our record on child abuse more like the Vatican's. It takes inventive thinking to hear that in the US, drugs companies spend twice as much on advertising as they do on research, and say, "That's MARVELLOUS, why can't WE do that?" Because instead of expensive anaesthetics and medicines, which no one can be sure make a difference, there's nothing like a cheery advert with a smiley  to ease away your leukaemia and get you running about.
 One of the strange facts to emerge is that nearly all the medical side of the NHS has opposed it, but those who stand to make money out of it have supported it. Isn't it strange, these statistical quirks that no one can explain? 
No wonder ministers banged their fists on the table as the bill was passed. They can't believe they're getting away with this stuff.” Independent 21/3/12
On Wednesday it was time for the much-leaked budget. Despite all the preparation the Treasury are reported to be shocked at the negative coverage it has had. An extract from the Leader in the Herald gives a clue.
“Coalition ministers sought to portray this as a "Robin Hood Budget" that would sting the rich and help "hard-pressed families", at the same time as softening up the public for the abolition of the 50p top tax rate.
Instead, it merely served to emphasise the central contradiction of this Government's political philosophy: the premise that the rich will only work harder if they are made richer while the poor will only work harder if they are made poorer. This will be remembered as the Budget that handed a £40,000 tax cut to millionaires, while imposing a stealth tax on hard-up pensioners and flagging up £10bn extra cuts in benefits. For the Government's critics, the most delicious moment of the day was Ed Miliband's invitation to the Government front bench to raise their hands if they had just been handed a big tax cut. (Even after Chris Huhne's unscheduled departure, the cabinet contains more than a score of millionaires.)” Herald 22/3/12
“This budgets gives tax cuts to the top 1% while the squeezed middle lose thousands in tax credits and the minimum wage fall in real terms.” ibid
The Tory Boys did have the grace to look abashed at Miliband’s attack but they are a pretty thick-skinned bunch. Any lingering misgivings will be swiftly washed away by copious amounts of champers. 
The airwaves today have been full of Tory Boys sliming their lies. As they lie, lie and lie again remember the NHS and “No Top Down Re-organisation.” 
We cannot trust a word these bastards say.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Banging the NHS
‘No.10 reveals there was 'banging of desks' as Cabinet told NHS Bill set to become law. "It was cross party banging".’  Guardian Online 21/3/12
So that is it then? Are the Hooray-Henrys in the Cabinet home and dry? Not quite. If health care is seen to be better over the next couple of years then the Hoorays will have achieved their aim. If health care is seen to be worse then they will pay a big price at the next election.
Crucially, how will we know? Good question. The Tories have lied and lied again with their “No top down reorganisation” rhubarb. They will massage and cherrypick statistics to help their case using a compliant media to get their propaganda across. They are proven liars as are the power-crazed LibDems. 
There are some considerable hurdles to overcome. The budget for the health service will be at best static and may even be cut. Static is in effect a cut with an increasingly aging population and inflation rising. As each ward/hospital/clinic closes there will be a constant reminder that it was ‘the coalition wot dun it.’ Holding back the rapacious toe-rags who run private medical companies will not be easy. They are arrogant and loud. One or several will be caught on camera crowing about the cash trough now open to them. The Bill has been amended so much it is deeply flawed and incoherent.
The way the whole thing has been managed politically has been a disaster for the Tories and even more so for the LibDems. They have alienated millions of people. These citizens will not forget and will make their presence felt from now to the election. Be prepared for a very dirty and very angry campaign at the general election. Sacrificing the repugnant Lansley will do little to reduce the anger.
Cameron and his cronies can smugly perform their ‘Eton Thump’ on the desk of the Cabinet. They may well believe they are home and dry. But in the place where normal people have a heart they will be more than a little worried.
The electorate could give them a good thumping at the next election.
Here’s hoping the Hoorays rue the day.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Catholic abuse and castration
On the same day that a Catholic report into the abuse of children in Ireland was described as ‘farcical’ by a victim, there came further revelations of just how evil the Catholic church is. Evil is a strong word which may put some people off from continuing. Anyone in the slightest doubt should read the following article 
“The revelation that a number of minors, who were abused in Dutch Roman Catholic institutions, were also forcibly castrated has shocked the Netherlands. It casts grave doubt upon the recent findings of a commission set up to look into abuse in the church.
We now know that former Dutch cabinet minister Wim Deetman did not meet the expectations he raised when he chaired the commission of inquiry into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church. He spoke of tens of thousands of abuses when he announced his findings in December last year, abuses which continued unabated throughout the famously liberal period of Conciliar Reforms in the Dutch Catholic church of the 1960s. But he did not get to the bottom of the abuse scandal or reveal all of the horrors that took place behind church doors in the Netherlands.
We know this thanks to investigative journalist Joep Dohmen of the newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Dohmen wrote about a boarding school student who had been sexually abused by a Dutch monk. When the former student reported the abuse to the police in 1956, he was brought to a Roman Catholic psychiatric ward, declared a homosexual and then castrated. The same surgery was probably performed on at least 10 other schoolmates of his who tried to blow the whistle on abuse. The main abuser in this case was "Gregorius", the brother superior of the Roman Catholic Harreveld boarding school in the east of the Netherlands.
We cannot yet say for sure why the Deetman commission left all this information out of its voluminous report on sexual abuse in the church that was published just three months ago. The commission received a clear complaint detailing the castrations in 2010, which it now says it did not investigate "for lack of sufficient leads".
This explanation looks shaky at best, seeing as Dohmen was able, in just a few months' time, to find irrefutable evidence of one such illegal castration and strong indications of 10 more.
But Dohmen found something even more important. He discovered that the Deetman report failed to mention a certain political figure who tried to secure a royal pardon for Gregorius and other convicted Catholic brothers from Harreveld. That was Victor Marijnen, a former Dutch prime minister and leading member of the Catholic People's party (KVP). The KVP later merged with Protestant parties to form the Christian Democrats (CDA) – the political party of inquiry commission chairman Wim Deetman.
Marijnen was in an extraordinary position in the 1950s. Not only was he a rising star in his political party and a high-ranking civil servant in the agriculture ministry (then and today, a Christian political stronghold in the Netherlands), he was also vice-chairman of the Dutch Catholic child protection agency, and – most pertinently – director of Harreveld boarding school. The Deetman commission was aware of these connections and the potential conflicts of interest they represented. The commission was aware of Marijnen's letter to the queen on behalf of sexual abusers, too, but omitted these facts in its report.
Reacting to Dohmen's revelations, the Deetman commission explains that it did not mention Marijnen because it did not detail any cases that could be traced back to an individual, for the sake of protecting privacy. However, elsewhere in the same report we see numerous mentions of cases that can be traced back to individuals, even highly-placed figures such as Cardinal Ad Simonis and the former bishop, Philippe Bär. The commission did not shy away from slapping these men on the wrist.
It's not unreasonable to conclude that the Deetman commission refrained from investigating the castration because it knew this would inevitably lead to closer scrutiny of the Harreveld situation, exposing the role of Marijnen and showing Deetman's own political party in a very negative light indeed.
But this may be too narrow a view. The bigger picture is this: Marijnen was just one member of a wider elite of Catholic notables who wielded vast power in the 1950s. They were captains of industry, chairmen of commissions, judges, high-ranking civil servants and politicians. They could reign supreme in Catholic circles thanks to the rigidity of Dutch society back then.
All of public and private life was organised around the church you belonged to. If you were Catholic, you married, shopped and voted Catholic. You knew, unquestioningly, what school you would attend and what clubs you could join. Dirty laundry was never aired in public, certainly not outside your religious community. And in this setting, a small group of men, the old boys' network that Marijnen belonged to, could hush up the abuse at Harreveld and other Roman Catholic institutions. In short, the Harreveld castration story reveals collusion between institutions, bishops, politicians, the police and the justice system that enabled sexual abuse in the church to continue unpunished for decades on end.
It's now clear that the critics were right when they complained that a church-installed commission of inquiry could not, or would not, get to the bottom of the abuse scandal. There must now be an impartial inquiry whose integrity is beyond doubt. Only parliament can fulfil this role. And perhaps the first witness called to testify under oath should be Wim Deetman himself.” Guardian Online 20/3/12
The abuse is bad enough but the cover up and collusion from ‘the authorities’ is so much worse. Imagine the anguish of a young boy who has been abused, plucks up the courage to tell someone and then finds himself described as a homosexual and then castrated. And while this is going on the abusers carry on and the colluders cover up. 
Such an approach is positively medieval. The Catholic Church is stuck in the Middle Ages. It will not emerge from this time until it becomes totally transparent and those who actively engaged in the cover up are sent to jail. 
That means those at the highest level in the church - including the Pope, ex-Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers. 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Thatcher and Murdoch
Thanks to the thirty-year rule it has emerged that Thatcher had a secret meeting with media tycoon Murdoch at Chequers in January 1981. The meeting cleared the way for Murdoch to take over the Sunday Times and the Times. He already owned the Sun and News of the World so the deal should have been referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. But it wasn’t. And despite pressure at the time, the government denied any such meetings had taken place.
In exchange for handing the papers over to Murdoch on a plate, what did Thatcher get out of the deal? For a start she had the support of four major papers in the UK. The Sun and the NoW had the biggest circulations in the country. These papers not only lauded her achievements, such as they were, they also poured scorn and bile onto Labour, the SDP and the Liberals. How much this affected elections is open to debate - it certainly did not do her or her party any harm. 
Murdoch has since been exposed as a mafia-style media boss thanks to the revelations about phone hacking, police bribery and computer hacking. His stock has diminished somewhat, but only thanks to the indefatigable efforts of journalists such as Nick Davies with the support of the Guardian. He was a shoe-in to control BSkyB until all this broke. It is sad to report just how much sucking up was done by NewLabour - particularly Tony Blair - when they must have known how much of a malign influence Murdoch was.
There are those who look back fondly on Thatcher’s days and praise her attacks on Trade Unions and her deregulation of the economy. They speak in rosy terms of her as ‘the blessed Margaret’ and ‘the Iron Lady.’ They admire the privatisation of our key services and the selling off of Council Houses. These things are seen as policies which helped modernise Britain and brought about the boom years enjoyed by so many of her Tory chums on the stock market. 
 There are many others who regard her as a venal, corrupt bitch who unleashed the forces of greed which have ruined governance and moral standards in our country. Even some of her own supporters chided her for ‘selling off the family silver.’  We are still paying for her disastrous attacks on manufacturing and public services. And we are certainly paying for her unleashing the financial sector. The seeds of the crash of 2008 were sown on her watch.
And her baleful influence persists. Slobberychops Osborne has leaked the news that he intends to do away with national pay agreements in the public sector. Yet again it is a race to the bottom. So Thatcherite and so unfair. Attack the poor and reward the wealthy. Typical Tory - supported by the south of England - reviled further north.
Meanwhile, what about this revelation about the secret meeting? It was corrupt. Not following the law of the land to give someone a huge business in exchange for political favours is corruption. It is also anti-democratic - but that has never worried the tories. It has taken thirty years for the truth to emerge. 
What will we find out in thirty years time about the present bunch of millionaires masquerading as a Cabinet? Do you think they are all honest, decent and moral? 
Do you?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Build a Bonfire, Build a Bonfire
Put the Bankers on the top
Put the Tories round the bottom
Then we’ll burn the bloody lot! 
Updated children’s song
Anyone with a smidgeon of doubt that the world of high finance is peopled by scum should read the letter from resigning Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith. 
“I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.
It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.
It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth: If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you. It doesn’t matter how smart you are.
These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.” Greg Smith ex Goldman Sachs Executive
The letter has provoked a lot of reaction. 
“Those financiers who had spent the previous 15 years demanding that Washington get off the back of business suddenly found that there was case for government, after all – even if that only amounted to a willingness to write big cheques that would guarantee their annual bonuses. Rightly, ordinary voters were disgusted: privatising gain and socialising losses is not the way American capitalism (or any other form of it) is supposed to work.
To rub salt in the wound, once the immediate crisis was over, Wall Street insisted that the burden of clearing up the financial mess that Wall Street created be shouldered by ordinary voters – through cuts in public spending.” Larry Elliot, Guardian 15/3/2012
We will wait a long long time for the Tories to do anything about this because the majority of their party funds come from these same nasty greedy bastards. Bite the hand that feeds them? Hardly. Which PM set in train the deregulation of the City and unleashed the greedy? Why, the blessed Margaret Thatcher. And which NewLabour PM did absolutely nothing to rein them in? The Reverend Blair. And which NewLabour Minister said he was comfortable with the idea of people being ‘filthy rich?’ Peter Mandelson. 
We cannot rely on our political leaders. We will have to organise and mobilise. Without customers - these companies die.
And it will only be at the point of dying that some of these monsters will realise that they cannot take it with them. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

US Power
Imagine an armed American soldier wandering off from the US Airforce base at Fairford in Gloucestershire. He drives into nearby Cirencester and shoots dead 16 civilians including 9 children. He also wounds several others. He then returns to his base and tells his colleagues what he has done. 
What would happen next?
If the appalling incident in Afghanistan is any guide, he would be detained and flown out of the country very quickly. This happened despite the Afghan Parliament stating that the offender should be tried in Afghanistan. This demeans the Afghan people as being of less worth than a US soldier and denies them justice.
So what would happen here? Despite all the bullshit about ‘Special Relationships’ and the current love-in taking place between Dave ‘n Barrack, it is highly likely that the US would follow the same course of action and remove the offender from the UK. 
At the height of the Cold War the US had more troops on UK soil than we had. Rather like an Embassy, the land holding a US base is regarded as US territory. Once the offender returned to base he would be regarded as being back on US soil. 
Those of you who think this unlikely should consider our craven cringeworthy treatment of the Chagos Islanders who lived on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. They were booted off what is still British territory, to make way for a vast US Airbase. The location helped the US strategic aims.  
It is to the Labour Party’s eternal shame that it was they who struck the deal back in the 1960’s. It was also NewLabour who compounded the cringe by maintaining the deal in their last term with the egregious Jack Straw circumventing Parliamentary process to keep the issue hidden. The equally appalling David Miliband supported the wheeze of creating a marine reserve around the base which would keep the islanders away for ever.  “Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed, as the FCO’s Roberts stated, be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’ former inhabitants or their descendants from resettlingWikileaks
As the PR spin rolls out from Washington, consider the one-sided nature of the ‘special relationship.’ Hundreds and hundreds of our troops have died supporting the Bush regime’s illegal Iraq War. Hundreds more have died in Afghanistan - another fiasco. The extradition treaty is a one-way street. It is much easier to get a British citizen to the States than vice-versa. US secret services monitor business conversations to help US corporations. Wikileaks exposed the way Washington regards the whole world as its fiefdom. 

And what do we get in return? 
Our PM’s get to hang out with the big boys every now and then and strut their stuff on the world stage. 
Er.....that’s it. 
Wouldn’t it be great if the next time the US come knocking asking for support in yet another military adventure e.g. Iran, we told them to piss off?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Initial reactions to the coverage of this story were that the substance was a lot less than the treatment. A niggling suspicion persisted however that there was more to this than met the eye because of the way certain papers - particularly the Torygraph -  kept picking away at the story. Later, watching clips of Cameron defending his involvement was revealing. Normally the smoothest of operators, he actually looked and sounded uncomfortable and ill at ease. Again, this raised the question why.
Yesterday's arrests may go some way to explain this discomfort and unease. Charlie Brooks is a contemporary of Cameron from Eton and is described as one of his best friends. He was arrested and later released on bail on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice. A serious offence carrying the possibility of a life sentence. Hmm.

No wonder ‘Call me Dave’ is looking uneasy. He has not had a good Hackgate. He was far too close to the Murdoch mafia (following in the footsteps of his mentor Mr Blair) and his appointment of Andy Coulson, despite him being under a cloud, reflected this. 
The riding of a retired Met police horse - apparently not supposed to be ridden - exposed to the great unwashed just how cosy and close the Camerons are with the Brooks. As the police inquiries rumble on, the drip drip drip effect of allegation after allegation is extremely damaging to Cameron’s reputation. Many citizens have already sussed out that he is a smooth/slippery/smarmy/arrogant PR operator from a privileged background with a right wing agenda dressed up as a centrist. 
There are many voters still prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. 
The corrosive nature of this story on his reputation chips away at that benefit. No wonder he is uneasy - he will know what else lies in wait.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Gay Marriage, the Catholic Church and abuse
There has been a glaring omission from media coverage of the gay marriage issue. It has been left to comedians to point it out. A bulletin with recent history as its context would sound very different.
‘The Roman Catholic Church, an organisation notorious for its widespread and systematic child abuse practices and cover up, tried to draw attention away from its problems by launching an attack on gay marriage. A Bishop, who asked not to be identified, admitted attending a meeting at which this strategy had been devised. He said the church had lost  credibility over its handling and promotion of abuse. Gay marriage was seen as an issue which most people were not too exercised about. It had the advantage of making the church sound like it was an authority again. He thought it was vital to reassure the dwindling band of followers and arrest the rapid decline in membership. He maintained the very existence of the church was at stake.
A victim of abuse, who had to campaign for twenty years to get his case heard, described the move as a last-ditch attempt to continue their denial of responsibility for decades of abuse. He said that Cardinal Keith O’Brian, among other senior figures in the organisation, were desperate to continue the cover up, and not face up to just how evil they were. Abuse had been widespread and the cover up had gone right to the top of the organisation. “If the Roman Catholic Church ceased to exist that would be fine by me,” he added.’
What would be the impact of such coverage on the status and credibility of the serial abusers masquerading as a church? 

One welcome consequence would be a lot less airtime devoted to pontificating men in frocks. 

Another could be the church finally taking responsibility for its actions .......

Are those pigs flying past the window?