Tuesday, 14 May 2013
On 13th April 2012 the Daily Mail published an article [extracted from Britain For Sale: British Companies In Foreign Hands by Alex Brummer, published by Random House Business Books ]. It pointed out that we’ve lost our taste for ownership of our own economy and public services — from once-great manufacturers such as ICI to most of the companies that deliver our electricity, water and gas. The Government is even happy to consider letting a Russian firm, the one behind the Chernobyl accident, run some of Britain’s next generation of nuclear power stations. In fact, to date, we’ve sold off more than half our assets to foreign owners. Boots, Cadbury, our steel industry and much much more. In the face of political indifference, foreign companies acquired £30billion worth of British enterprises in 2009. In 2010, that rose to a value of £54.5 bn. Less than half of our Premier & Championship football clubs are British owned. 52% of all office properties in London's main financial district and 60% of all new homes in central London are owned by foreigners. There have been disastrous consequences for UK employment & skill base. No other country is quite so stupid. India has bought UK enterprises such as Jaguar Rover but it won’t allow British firms to take full control of Indian companies. Most other countries, including the USA have restrictions on who may own key assests. YET ALL UKIP & THE TORY RIGHT CAN DO IS BANG ON ABOUT THE EU. Do we still have any brain cells?
Sunday, 5 May 2013
What justifies the extravagant hype all over the media about UKIP causing a 'Sea change' in British politics and all the rest of the exposure of Nigel Farage on TV and Conservative panic? So UKIP have a bigger share of the popular vote but under our crazy electoral system that is nothing new. It is 'seats' that matter. Plenty of Tory & Labour Governments have been elected on a minority popular vote. So let's look at some facts:
- 9836 candidates competed for 2360 seats on 35 English Councils on 2nd May 2013
- Liberal Democrats fielded 1756 candidates; UKIP fielded 1734
- Liberal Democrats won 371 seats; UKIP 147
- Liberal Democrats are represented on every Council except Staffordshire; UKIP have no representation on 12 of the 35 Councils
- More than half (80 in fact) of UKIP's seats are in just six councils: Cambridgeshire 12; Lincolnshire 16; Norfolk 15; Hampshire 10; West Sussex 10; Kent 17. Note that these Councils are in just two geographic clusters in the South.
- In Cambridgeshire (14) and Hampshire (17) Liberal Democrats have more seats than UKIP
So there is very little to justify the fuss. Just a protest group in localised pockets with no responsibility.
Sunday, 21 April 2013
This is all very complicated but let's not worry the fine details. The issue is very simple. The UK government has imposed (all by itself – no input from the EU) a new carbon floor price, which came into effect on 1st April 2013. Firms will be charged £16 per tonne of CO2 for fuels used for power generation this year. Europe's emissions trading system (ETS) is the largest in the world and can claim to be driving down CO2 emissions from power stations by 1.74% each year. The European Commission wanted to make adjustments to the ETS. This was expected only to raise the carbon price to the €8-10/tonne figure that existed last September. Note that even with this increase the price is MUCH LOWER than the UK and this puts British firms at a financial disadvantage. Nowadays this sort of thing has to go to the European Parliament. It should be a no brainer that UK MEPs would vote FOR the proposal thus helping UK firms to be more competitive. What happened? The no- brainers in UKIP and the Tories helped DEFEAT the proposal thus harming British industry, and, in the case of the Tories, going against the policies of their own Government. The ETS Carbon price promptly fell to €2. Well done UKIP & Tories – such patriotic action deserves obliteration at the polls.
Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has been leading the development of the Government's industrial strategy which is aimed at placing the whole of government behind support for British business giving it the confidence to invest, hire staff & grow. Speaking recently Vince said that there are worryingly high disparities between economic performance and employment prospects in different parts of the UK. Even after the major crisis and contraction in London's banking sector, the south-east maintains a more buoyant economy than most other parts of the country. He said: "Sustainable private sector growth is not going to occur spontaneously but will need support through infrastructure and training.I do not believe in managed decline for regions that are underperforming”. He said rebalancing was not just about switching to exports and manufacturing, but was geographical as well insisting that English regions need a strong voice to attract investment and employment, suggesting a parallel at some level with the devolutions driving growth in London, Scotland and Wales.The success of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and the LibDem Manufacturing initiative are real economics. Not the fantasy land inhabited by UKIP.
Conservatives are claiming credit in some of their local council literature for the rise in Tax thresholds which is putting some £600 into the pockets of the lowest earners. Labour has suddenly developed an enthusiasm for the mansion tax. Both are Liberal Democrat ideas or policies but we don't mind. We are used to it. The important thing is to get it right. What would be good is if the Conservative part of the coalition thought a bit harder before rushing off to do , usually, the wrong thing. Think of the so called 'bedroom tax' & the nonsense of how can you move when there is nowhere to move to? Note also that Communities Secretary, Conservative Eric Pickles, has had to modify his policy on home extensions. In far too many cases the implementation of the policy has not been thought through and it is duff implementation that is causing most of the grief
Sunday, 14 April 2013
“Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope”. So said Thatcher as she stood on the steps of No10 Downing St for the first time. If she really meant that as her political goal then she was either uttering a monumental lie or her reign was a monumental failure. That most particularly applies to the 'bring harmony' bit. The enormous disharmony that she created we can still see all around us this very day. To many millions she didn't bring much hope either.
Thursday, 11 April 2013
An Ipsos Mori analysis for the Financial Times of a years worth of opinion polling reveals that female support for the Conservatives in the C2 socio economic group [ skilled manual workers such as hairdressers, factory workers etc] has slumped by 12% to its lowest level for 16yrs. Even worse news for the Tories is that in all other groups, except the very top such as lawyers, doctors etc., their female support has also fallen between 7% & 4%. Can this be because it is largely women who confront the shake up in the benefits system against disproportionately large rises in the costs of essentials? An objective scrutiny of the welfare structure as it was in 2010 clearly indicates that something had to be done but the Conservative ministers responsible - especially Duncan-Smith & Osborne have completely bungled it. There are blameless claimants losing money they cannot afford whilst (for no better reason than vote grabbing) rich pensioners remain coddled & the wealthy get a tax cut they don't need.