Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Promises Promises

Bro Ed Miliband was keen on the subject of broken promises in his conference speech taking care to bash the LibDems on this matter & saying he would never make a promise he wouldn't/couldn't keep & the going onto make a fair few such promises. We might also recall David Cameron pledging to make Britain the most "family friendly in Europe" and of course Duncan-Smith "making work pay" - which is why 58% of children in poverty are in families where at least one parent works. Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show that UK households have experienced the biggest fall in disposable income for 30yrs. The LibDem problem is that people expect the Conservatives & Labour to dump their promises at the first excuse - they've been doing it for decades. People thought the LibDems were different without realising the impossibility of remaining so pure when you are a minority party in government. If voters, & particularly disillusioned supporters really want the LibDems to pull out of coalition & preserve the purity of their soul then recognise that the Tories would call a General Election which they would win. Well done the LibDem bashers. Enjoy.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Labour mystery

My IT skills are very very limited. In advance of the events I could go to the LibDem & Conservative Party websites & readily find the content of their forthcoming Conferences. Not so Labour. Even now that their Conference has started I can't find out the timetable from the main Labour Party website. I can see an advert for a free app for a choice of devices non of which I have. So recent is this that when you click on it it says "This app is to complement the Labour Party Conference. It will be made available very soon. Check again after 5th September". It is now the 25th & this text has not been updated. I did click on ipad (even though I don't have one) & lo & behold there was the 'Timetable'. Obviously I couldn't check if it was real or just illustrative. And Labour thinks it is fit to go on governing & should have won the last election? I'm not convinced they could tell the time & get it right.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Banking reform is a LibDem priority

According to Bank of England statistics [FT 17 Sep 11] lending from UK Banks to private sector businesses has dropped by £64bn since Sept 2008. SMEs have been particularly hard hit. Governments are rightly criticised for trying to micro manage but what can they do when a British based entrepreneur, who has won a contract to provide hydroelectric power to Windsor Castle, cannot find a bank willing to lend the money to get the turbines built in Britain? He's had to get them from Holland.[Observer 11 Sep 2011]

Meanwhile the Federation of Small Businesses has launched a campaign setting out six steps to help real life entrepreneurs. Vince Cable's Department has responded: " The Government is committed to creating the long term environment to help people start & grow a business. We announced measures in March 2011 to transform the enterprise experience of schoolchildren and students and we are transforming business support ". Labour's Ed Balls, leading as usual firmly from the rear, calls for [Blackpool Gazette 23 Sept 2011] children to be given compulsory lessons in finance. Some Primary schools have been doing that for years. Even the normally LibDem bashing Nick Cohen [Observer 9th September 2011] comments that 'Ball's inability to learn from the past has left the Liberal Democrats as the only political party campaigning for banking reform'.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ask a silly Question

Do news presenters,commentators and other general pundits ask George Osborne & other senior Tories if they now agree it was wrong to support Cecil Parkinson's deregulation of financial services? Of course not. Do they ask Ed Balls if he thinks it was a mistake for Gordon Brown to sell large chunks of our gold reserves at a price one sixth of its present price? Of course not. So why do they go on asking Nick Clegg whether he is glad the LibDems failed in their policy of joining the Euro? Is it just trying to discredit the LibDems by any means available? It is a silly question anyway. In reality no one knows what the present state of the Euro would have been if the UK had adopted it and worked as hard to make it a success as we have in carping & undermining the EU on every possible occasion.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The House of Peers

Mark Pack speaking at the LibDem Conference today urged Liberal Democrats to lobby any members of the House of Lords known to them to encourage such Peers to support a fully elected upper house. Mark pointed out that we were the Liberal DEMOCRATIC Party. Well I'm sorry Mark. I can see nothing relentlessly democratic in electing a replica of the Commons. Whatever form of proportional voting is used - and the experience of AV is still a raw wound - one might expect a re-run of the tribal voting that has characterised our so called democracy for decades. It was pure fluke that just this time the General Election result led to the Coalition. Also my limited exposure to Hereditary Peers is that a significant number have much more empathy with the ordinary people than many career politicians, ex-politicians, business men & such like. I would like to see a house of Lords - call it a Senate or whatever - with a maximum number of 600, (like the revised Commons) made up of 20% Hereditaries elected, as now, by themselves; 20% nominated for their expertise and/or service to the Community by a majority of the Upper House - NOT the Government; 60% elected as proposed by the Bill. I do agree that there should be no place as of right for religious leaders - some might of course qualify as nominated members based on what they've done - not their rank in whatever religion they might espouse. In my opinion such a mix would lead to an Upper House that knew what it was talking about and could mount a real challenge to the Commons in the situation that prevailed until May 2010, & is likely to prevail again, i.e an elected dictatorship.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Taking on the culprits

Alan Beattie writing in the FT on 3rd September 2011 discussing the Italian state finances says: " Mr Berlusconi's plans rely heavily on better tax collection, a wearyingly familiar magic pony traditionally brought out when more substantive fiscal measures have been discarded.". In the USA the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is preparing to sue some of the biggest US & European Banks over their role in the 'securitised mortgages' disaster. The FT Editorial (3rd Sep) sees this as welcome. They state " The perception that Banks have walked away from their pre-crisis incompetence ( to use a generous word) in loan origination and bundling is justified. Moral hazard helped cause the meltdown. Institutions must be held accountable for errors & malpractice". Strong stuff from such a source.

What is the response? According to Mark Kleinman writing in the same edition of the FT individuals such as the Chairmen of BP; Rio Tinto; Unilever; Bob Diamond CEO of Barclays Bank; the CEO's of Lloyds & Santander ( and no doubt others) have been having assorted meetings with Cameron & Osborne warning of the dire consequences of implementing what is believed to be in the Independent Commission (IBC) report. Kleinman doesn't specifically use the word 'threats' but you don't have to be a genius to suspect the drift.

Meanwhile in the fine print of 'Project Merlin' which was the deal that the Banks struck with the Government about, amongst other things, lending to small business. there is the loophole that the reported lending to business - which is on target, ignores the money which the Banks claw back from businesses that are repaying their debts. If you take that into account the amount the Banks are lending to stimulate the economy is way below what it should be. Banks claim that is because there is little demand from business. That has to go down as one of the most untruthful statements of the century so far. From personal experience of a world leading small business the business claim that the banks are setting onerous conditions for lending and seeking to charge exorbitant interest and fees is absolutely true.

Thank goodness for Vince Cable who is still doggedly chasing after ways of increasing transparency of executive pay and is expected to unveil proposals later this month. Earlier Vince used the phrase 'spivs & gamblers' which earned him many detractors. A fairly sure barometer of the fact that he was right.

Even Kleinman says: " The ludicrous complexity of many executive pay schemes has been fuelled by an army of remuneration consultants interested mainly in self-enrichment"