Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Wythenshawe & Sale East by-election not such a great UKIP triumph


Chris Moncrieff reports [An unsettling result as PM shrugs it off Blackpool Gazette 18th February] that the Leader if UKIP, Nigel Farage, ' - - has pointed out , only three weeks ago his party had no presence whatsoever in this constituency [Wythenshawe & Sale East] and had never fought it'. It should come as no surprise that Farage is either ignorant of the facts or economical with truth or both. At the General Election in 2010 Chris Cassidy stood in this seat for UKIP & polled 1405 votes. What can really be deduced from this result? The one unarguable fact is that some 17000 people who voted in 2010 didn't bother this time. Nearly 15000 voters deserted the Government parties of Conservatives & LibDems & it would be silly to pretend that that was not a bad result for them. Approximately 900 deserted the BNP. Did the BNP deserters vote &, if so, who for, one might wonder? Against that background, for UKIP to only pick up less than 3000 extra votes, given all their noise, effort & hype is NOT terribly impressive.

Friday, 21 February 2014

A great piece of British industrial history brought back to life


In 1861, the Peruvian Government of Ramon Castilla, ordered two small cargo-passenger “gunboats” for Lake Titicaca. They were to be built in UK by James Watt of Birmingham and the Thames Ironworks (the origins of West Ham Football Club & its 'Hammers' nickname') .Without a rail link to the lake at that time, all cargo had to be carried up on mule back. Therefore,
the ships were built in kit form, with no piece weighing more than 3 ½ cwts, the maximum carrying capacity of a mule. On 15th October 1862, the “Mayola”, bearing the 'kit' [for two ships]docked at Arica – a Peruvian port before the War of the Pacific – and discharged the packing cases. 2,766 pieces and two crankshafts then had to be transported overland transported to Lake Titicaca,12,500 ft. (3,810ms) above sea level. With the aid of 8 British Engineers, at 3pm on Christmas Day 1870, the First Lady of the Lake was launched. The amazing journey from the heart of Empire Britain to the spiritual heart of the Inca Empire was finally complete. Fast forward to 1982 and a redoubtable lady called Meriel Larken discovered the abandoned & ruined ship, commissioned a Lloyds Condition Survey which found that being in fresh water at high altitude, the iron hull [Note NOT steel] was in excellent condition and it was deemed worthy of restoration. By 1987, The YAVARI Project (Registered Charity No.298904) and La Asociación Yavarí (non-profit making NGO) had been formed and on 17th February the YAVARI was bought from the Peruvian Navy. Now, thanks the heroic efforts of Meriel, and the generosity of hosts of sponsors and individuals, the ship is fully restored to working order and is currently being used as a Bead & Breakfast facility. It needs a further £350000 to be certified as fit to carry passengers on the lake. So come on people – especially wealthy people for whom this is NOT a big sum. Contact by Email: yavarilarken@gmail.com – and make a donation. Type Yavari Ship into a search engine for much more detail of this fascinating story.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Might be the Worlds greatest something but 'Newspaper' is arguable

The Daily Express, never shy about blowing its own trumpet, has a blazing headline claiming that over 150000 have signed an anti immigration petition. Oh Wow !  Its own figures claim a readership of approx 1.2million on sales of 537,743 so it's not such a big number on the petition given the mindset of Express readers. And when you further consider that there are about 42million people over 19yrs old who describe themselves in the census as 'white British' the number becomes insignificant. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Tory lies


Whenever there is an audience George Osborne sounds off about clamping down on unreasonable tax avoidance having brought in the General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR) earlier this year. But it is not true. 'Private Eye No 1349 ' [20th September to 3rd October] devotes four pages to reporting on an investigation jointly with Panorama shows that the UK has now become one of the largest 'tax havens' in the world. What is even worse is that the HMRC has a mountain of evidence on tax evasion – which is illegal – only one very wealthy offshore tax dodger has been prosecuted. But more than 600 builders, plumbers, doctors etc have been nailed for cooking their books and of course all the Tory focus and that of its supportive press is on benefit cheats. No one condones benefit cheats but even handed & cost effective enforcement – no way. And before anyone questions the veracity of Private Eye remember how many times it has been sued. Nowadays it is very very careful. Finally it seems that the Government is trying to pretend it can't afford a scabby 1% pay rise for NHS workers. Perhaps if it tried a bit harder not to lie about taxing the rich such a rise could be more than afforded.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

It's putting policies into practice where the Government really screws up


Conservative Party Chairman , Grant Shapps MP, has barely been able to contain his rage at a UN inspector who criticised the so called 'bedroom tax'. She obviously touched a nerve. Without getting into the argument over the merits of the ' tax' David Cameron told his party conference in 2011 that 'We're bringing back the right to buy and using the money to build new homes'. Fine if it were actually happening – but it's not. The right to buy scheme was re-invogorated in April 2012 by bigger discounts to tenants since when some 8000 homes have been sold but only about 1000 new ones built. Rent is included in the capped Universal Credit. So where are people expected to downsize to? Into a totally unregulated private rental sector? It should come as no surprise that the National Audit Office describes the policy as being over ambitious & badly managed. Housing Minister, Mark Prisk, bangs on about building homes at a faster rate than for many years. Not actually difficult when next to none were built in recent previous years.. He makes less noise about having to call Britains biggest house builders to a meeting [FT 7th Sept] to try & accelerate affordable housing construction. There is nothing wrong with a POLICY of merging six benefits into one but so many of the coalition policies have been wrecked by breathtakingly crass & incompetent implementation. Keeping housing out of it – at least for the time being – and merging six benefits into two would have been good progress & saved a load of grief.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

I'll tolerate most abuse but I do get very angry at being taken for an idiot


UK Dividend payments have risen by one fifth. Chief Executives of FTSE 100 companies saw their median earnings rise by 31% to £3.5million in 2013. This is on top of one in four of them getting a 41% increase in 2012. Archbishop John Sentamu notes that “ The holes in millions of pay checks [for ordinary workers] are being plugged by in work support to the tune of £4bn a year” [of taxpayers money]. He quite rightly asks why is government having to subsidise businesses who don't pay their employees enough to live on. Meanwhile the EU haters & the Daily Express are getting all excited that the EU requirement to give equal rights to temporary employees is costing British business ' up to [notice the qualification] £1.5bn'. That sum is rather trivial I relation to the other figures quoted here. We are being treated as idiots by being asked to believe that this 'imposition' from the EU is harming our businesses? Some might say that if were NOT for the EU, Chief Executives & the Tory Party would be even more gleefully grinding the faces of us ordinary mortals into the dust.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Public pressure on corporate tax can work.

The good news is that public opinion is making several multinational companies adjust their tax avoidance plans. We should also note that Section 172 of the UK Companies Act 2006 requires directors to act in good faith in what is normally understood to be the business imperatives but also to have regard to : " the impact of the company's operations on the community" and " the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct".  So within existing law there is scope for HMRC to get a lot tougher with its approach  & the Government could resource HMRC to allow it to do that whilst the much more long winded & difficult task of getting international agreement grinds on.