Monday, 16 July 2012
"The problem facing western democracies is doubt about the ability of government to deliver rising living standards" so wrote George Osborne in January. He went on " My argument is that the way to address this doubt is not to run away from capitalism but to run towards it". Since when George has blundered into one mess after another, one might argue the most spectacular of which was his reduction of the 50p tax rate which blew out of the water the myth that "We are all in it together". He (& a lot of other Tories) seem unable to grasp the extent of the general anger at there being one set of rules for an incompetent group of money men an another set of rules for the rest of us.
I've just been told by a message on this site that 'my browser is no longer supported,please go to one on the list". My browser is Mozilla Firefox - one of the most popular I believe but not one from the Google/Microsoft stable. I'm not well up on these things but to suddenly decide NOT to support it (I've been in this blog regime with this browser for some years) smells like an unpleasant business practice to me.
Thursday, 12 July 2012
Martin Arnold wrote in the Financial Times: "Yet what investors want is to link pay more closely to performance".But this is the nub of the problem. For a long time, & especially now,there has been a total disconnect between pay & performance. There has also been a total disconnect between rewards to senior staff & rewards to shareholders. It seems quite clear that the leaders of the financial services industry see themselves as guiltless in the mess that the rest of us find ourselves in and thus are entitled to carry on exactly as before. As long as that attitude persists no solution using existing 'business' mechanisms such as Martin Arnold discusses are possible.
Monday, 9 July 2012
This was sent to Charles Kennedy on 7th May 2002 Dear In the last few weeks I have been reading and listening to scores of commentators about the rise of ‘the far right’ and voter behaviour, both in UK & France. None of them get the point. Of the 60million or so men, women & children in the UK more than 95% , from all ethnic backgrounds – even those who are third generation and longer English –go about their daily business trying to improve their lot and not be a bother to anybody. What reward do they get? ABSOLUTLY NONE. Not even a miserable thank you from main stream politics for trying to look after themselves. What a contrast when we get to a) the rich and powerful; b) any kind of minority group that can capture media attention and put up a ‘spokesperson’; and c) the professional criminal - to identify just three ‘special interest’ groups. It is perfectly OK (apparently), within main stream politics, for senior executives, either through deceit or incompetence, to cost the jobs and ruin the pension prospects of thousands of ‘ordinary’ people whilst feathering their own nest. And wash your mouth out if you dare to suggest that they might contribute their fair share of taxes. We mustn’t be ‘unfriendly’ to ‘big’ business. It’s OK to mouth platitudes of support towards small business but by and large, in terms of real support , small business can go to hell. Nor must we tax fairly the overpaid, and all too often talentless, prima donnas of the entertainment world. They threaten to go and live abroad. I’d be happy to contribute a one way ticket from my pension. If you can get your ‘cause’ (grievance) in front of the, ( particularly tabloid), media, and if you become a spokesperson for that cause, then, as that spokesperson, you have vested interest in not finding a solution to your grievance because the solution is not ‘news’ and you will sink back into obscurity. Main stream politics seems to be so terrified of the media that no one will blow the whistle on this nonsense. Contrary to the apparent belief of the ‘power elite’, largely concentrated around London, the general public are not total idiots. We know that a really serious criminal has to be very unlucky or make a stupid error to get caught, and that most of the people in prison do not need to be there for the protection of society but are in prison because we can’t think of what else to do with them and lack the courage even if we did know. We know that the police concentration on certain offences is to massage the statistics and help the ‘spin’. Try living in those bits of Burnley and Oldham & Preston that see street violence and then try and agree with the priority of Lancashire Police in their recent blitzkrieg on motorists. Joe Public has cottoned onto the idea that the private sector, (and privatised industries), is not inevitably more efficient – except at making lots of money for its executives - than the public sector. It has also realised that the endless ‘reforms’ – virtually every Secretary of State for Health and Education in the last 50 yrs. has ‘reformed’ those services – is just a recipe for another layer of management so now seven managers are needed to do that which previously took but one. We may not understand PPP and PFI but we do see that they are a ‘fat cats’ charter. We remember the Labour Partys bitter opposition to these when in Opposition and we see the Labour Party now and then politicians wonder why, if they told us the time, we’d think they were lying. We hear main stream politics banging on about consumers of public money being ‘accountable’. But we never hear politicians make the same noises about themselves. Everything must be ‘reformed’ except the House of Commons. Parliament was supposed to protect the ordinary people from the excesses of the ‘Executive’. Sick joke. We hear words like ‘accountable to Parliament’ and we see Vice President Blair take us to war without a Parliamentary debate on the subject. Parliament manifestly does as the Labour Whips tell it. We, the great unwashed 95%, are comprehensively ignored by main stream politics except when we are required to elect a fresh dictator into No10. AND WE ARE FED UP WITH IT. Consequently we vote for the ‘Apathy’ Party, or the BNP, or a bunch of people trying to get some common sense into a Hospital strategy, or a man in a monkey suit, - anybody, thank you, except mainstream politicians. As a Liberal Party supporter for almost 50 yrs I have tried briefly to articulate the disillusion. Please believe that this letter is not just a personal view, nor is it the view only of a politically active circle of friends. It may not be a scientific poll, but I have tried to extract from my children (ages 25-40) and their friends and others – including some who are living on social security and find it virtually impossible to get off it even if they wanted to – why they have no interest in politics. Their overall consensus is, that only those who are greedy, or selfish, or a pain in the backside, or a noisy minority, or crooked, or any combination thereof, get any attention paid to them and ‘help’ from ‘politics’, so it’s only when there is an opportunity to give politicians a poke in the eye without doing serious damage that they will bother to give a squawk of protest if there is a ‘protest’ candidate available. Now of course one can, and should, produce cogent arguments, based on facts, to show that the majority is not as ignored as it believes itself to be, but the perception will take some shifting. You have personally identified the need to engage more people in the political process but I am not convinced that the Party has understood why there is such disaffection with the entire process of politics, hence this letter. I would personally like to see much more aggression and passion and a lot less caution from those members of the Party who get media space. Then we just might inspire those who have no time for politics to get interested. The present low key approach is successful in favourably re-distributing the vote amongst those who still bother but does not attract the rest. Softly softly might catchee monkey but it was the wrong monkey. Yours sincerely,