Friday, 18 February 2011

Politics before people

Bad financial management is not confined to the Public Sector. Some years ago a major company in financial difficulties 'economised' by doing away with the ladies who toured their offices with a tea trolly! The number of Directors remained unaltered. What on earth justifies a Council Chief Executive being paid more than the Prime Minister? At the risk of being accused of assorted phobias and discrimination one has to ask if a Council REALLY needs THREE separate Officers, costing upwards of £30k each to deal with Gay Men's; Lesbian and Ethnic issues? During the week there have been a number of declarations from local councils about how they are going to organise their budgets to meet reduced income. This is so varied that getting a general picture is near impossible. But there are some trends. A number of Labour controlled Councils have decided to make front line cuts for their publicity value to doubtless make a political point. A number of Councils of all persuasions have striven, not always successfully, to protect front line jobs & services. Some Councils have looked at Lollipop Ladies [and men] and Meals on Wheels as an option. What should happen is a serious cull of senior management & posts which are 'political', like a 'Nuclear free coordinator' disguised as a 'service'.

The Merlin Agreement

The 'Merlin' is a bird of prey and it certainly seems that the Banks have successfully preyed on the Government. The Banks did agree to extend more credit to particularly small & medium sized businesses but there is no sanction if they fail and nothing about the simplicity and competitiveness of the loans (or lack of it) that they can impose on the borrowers. Also in the small print this is based on 'gross lending' so that banks can call in existing loans as quickly as they make new ones so it's not really an 'extension' at all. Nothing significant about bonuses – like they should only be a reward for success. It still seems that a top banker's salary is just for turning up at the office. Everything else is 'extra'. The 'Observer' [Editorial 13th Feb 2011] says: “ The goal [of Merlin] should have been a long term settlement that changes the culture of the City so that it honours its debts. The British Taxpayer saved the banking sector and in return got unemployment, tax rises, and deep cuts to public services. It was the swindle of the century”

Monday, 14 February 2011

Undeserved bonuses

Five years ago Rolls Royce had a share price of £4.5 which fell to £ 2.4 but it is now back to £6.60. It has consistently paid a dividend of between 2% & 4%.. By contrast RBS [Royal Bank of Scotland] five years ago had a share price of £6 which during the crash fell to 10p & is now 44p. It hasn't paid a dividend since 2007 & doesn't expect to until 2012. Even HSBC, which avoided the debacle of RBS, had a share price five years ago of £8 which fell to £3 & is now only back to £7 with a dividend of 3%. Which Chief Executive, past and present is worth a seven figure salary plus an obscene bonus? Certainly not the Banks. On the measure of shareholder value so often trotted out as the the principal objective of a business the banks are a miserable failure deserving of nothing.

Friday, 4 February 2011

What is the point of parliament?

Vince Cable is caught expressing his view that the Rupert Murdoch empire is more than big enough & he, Vince, is prepared to take it on. He is immediately stripped of the task of deciding if that Empire can be allowed to get bigger. The decision is given to Jeremy Hunt who had already expressed the view that allowing Murdoch to have the rest of BSkyB would not make a substantial difference to the plurality of the British Media. So disagree with Murdoch & be relieved of your duties. Agree and be given them. How impartial, especially when David Cameron & James Murdoch were apparently guests of Rebekah Brooks - Murdochs right hand woman - at Christmas. And the Government allows the Banks to carry on unpunished whilst the rest of us pay for the greed & stupidity of people who think that their 'talent' deserves obscene reward & we should stop bashing them [Davos]. Why don't we just shut down parliament & recognise that we will continue to be dumped on by the rich & powerful & save ourselves the expense of politicians.