Friday, 26 July 2013

Baby Madness

Well I wouldn't be doing my patriotic duty if I didn't write something about the arrival of young Prince George. So natually I tried to think what the grumpiest slant was. Should I point out how utterly ridiculous the streaming news saga was that showed us "live pictures" of a door in a wall for about 2 days? Or that "news" had been reduced to asking someone with no possibility of the actual relevant knowledge whether the baby would be a boy or a girl or what said baby's name might be and seemingly placing some weight on said conjured guess? Or that mid-afternoon the day following the royal birth, BBC News were still running the "Breaking News" caption followed by the baby's weight? A nice bit of information, but 24 hours on, rather struggling to still be 'breaking' by definition.

No, I decided panning the hysteria was a little pointless. I'm very happy for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and as a fairly new father myself, I wish them luck. I am rather an ardent monarchist, but thought we might have gone slightly OTT on the coverage. Plus, as you see from the pic above, Private Eye got to the punchline first. It was a shame some rather important other news stories barely made a dent (the charging of a man with the murder of PC Blakelock during the Broadwater riots was deemed far less important than an interview with the cab driver who drove Michael and Carole Middleton to the hospital from Paddington). Indeed I look forward to finding out in a few months time which God-awful news piece the Government's head of communications smuggled out just as they saw the door to the Lindo wing opening. Surely the Coalition must have some A4E stats that needed burying?

I decided instead I should briefly talk about the great baby rip-off. There is nothing special about baby clothes. They are very cute and all that - I'm quite partial to one my boy has which is festooned with little helicopter motifs. But they don't require any technique more complicated than those employed to make children's or adults' clothes; yet they cost the earth. As does anything with the word 'baby' in front of it. Now I think Will and Kate will probably be ok - there should be some hand-me-downs around and they seem to rub along ok without getting to the end of the money before the end of the month. Not having a nanny will save some money too.

However, for the rest of us, it is ridiculous. Now I should confess here to being in the privileged position of having barely had to purchase a thing for my son (thus far). My wife and I both have older sisters with young children and we have been inundated with their bits and bobs that in the majority still look brand new. At times our dining room (read: store-room) looks like a pop-up showroom for prams and buggies. We seem to have about 40 (this may be a slight exaggeration) different "travel systems", each with its own useful USP, and none with all of them. But not everyone is this lucky.

If you have to go out and buy a brand new "travel system", and it is important you know they are called that, make sure you call your bank manager first. Clearly some bright spark realised nobody was going to pay north of a grand for "a buggy" or "a pram", but a "travel system", well that sounds like it could take you to the moon. And it should for that money. They're just a baby-sized bucket, some wheels and a frame. How on earth can they cost so much? Perhaps it is because the producers know most sane people will try to find a second hand one that due to the rate babies grow out of their stuff, will likely still be in pretty good nick. So they have to get their pound of flesh from the initial purchaser.

Either way, NCT sales and generous hand-me-downs and share-arounds aside, the prices for most of this mini fare is astounding. Same products but aimed for the baby market which just multiply in price. Small water bottle? £5. Oh, it's for a baby - you should have said. Now it's a small baby bottle, and it's £10. Random piece of patterned cotton towelling? £1. Oh you want to use it to mop up sick. Welll in that case it is now a patterned baby muslin - just £5 a pop. It's airplane prawn sandwich mentality. You have a captive audience so charge them what you want. And we seem to just suck it up.

Weddings are no different. I remember a friend of mine did some research when he got married. He called various companies asking for products/services/hires and then got his fiancé to call and ask for the same items but with the word "wedding" inserted. Everyone increased their prices. A ballroom at a hotel hired for a party? 20% less than the same room when hired for a wedding reception. A DJ to play at the venue for the party? 30% less than he quoted to cover the identical wedding. Worst of all the baker who tripled their charges when the 3 storey cake became a 3 storey wedding cake. Overpricing in this country and our seeming passive acceptance. It's enough to leave you, like the cake, in tiers.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ed's Clause Four Alarm?

As my euphoria at the spectacular sporting summer was finally dampened yesterday by an abject batting
display from England, I noticed so wrapt have I been this past month with the Lions, Wimbledon et al, that I have been rather remiss with my blogging. There are a few worthy candidates for centrepiece of July's first rant...

It will have come as a massive shock to everyone I am sure to find out the jobs-for-your-leftie-mates wonderful public service (which a recent survey shows is less well-regarded than a decade ago) that is the Beeb has been throwing your tax pounds around like a drunken student on loan day. Or like the public sector in general, really. Overly generous compensation packages for those leaving the BBC have been hitting the headlines of late, and no wonder. It appears the fat cats at the Beeb, who they insist have to be paid so generously to lure them away from the private sector (well, thank God we are paying them so well - they've been so good recently; think Saville, Hall, McAlpine scandals to name a few), have been stuffing the pockets of their chums with wads of cash as they leave.

Presumably this is so it becomes generally accepted practice so when they next make an enormous balls up themsleves, nobody bats an eyelid when they walk away with a cool half million of so including pay in lieu of work they were actually paid for in the first place. It would almost be funny if it were a private company that would obviously only be hurting itself by depleting its cash reserves rewarding failure (or the quite magnificent compensation given to Caroline Thomson to make up for her not being considered good enough for the top job - what's the point of getting promoted when you can fail to get promoted and still get the higher salary to make up for your hurt feelings?). But it's not funny because we are forced to pay for them, whether we like them, watch them or not. Rather like having to donate to the Labour party regardless of your political persuasion... more on that in a bit.

There has been some totally expected politically correct quota-based nonsense over company recruiting. It is unsurprising in today's climate in which where you come from isn't your fault, unless of course you come from some degree of deemed 'privilege'. Yes, we are back beatng the class envy drum again and making sure we socially engineer our workforce. A study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters shows one in six leading companies are vetting the socio-economic status of their applicants, and predict it will soon be a quarter. Why? So they can make sure they have the 'right' mix of poor kids, rich kids, kids from state school, kids from private school, kids with university-educated parents, kids with barely-educated parents (vast tracts of the last two of which will in years to come merge together the way we are going). Apparently we have a 'need to diversify our workforce'. Yup, it is not just our universities that shouldn't any more have anything to do with meritocracy, but companies too. The best companies aren't run by the 'best' people, they're run by the politically correct 'right' people. Everyone knows that.

Under what banner is this positive discrimination taking place - "social responsibility is becoming higher on the HR agenda, so professionals are pushing this forward more". I know we've been here many times before, but imagine for a moment a world where this exact thing were happening but instead of saying we didn't want well-educated rich kids of well-educated parents, we had companies actively discriminating against better candidates on the basis that their parents didn't go to university, they don't earn much money and they sent their children to a state school. There'd be riots. But of course, as ever, class discrimination is ok as long as it harms the supposed higher echelons. Two wrongs apparently make a right. Absolutely barking.

The human rights fiasco barely needs touching on because it has all been said before. The laws are written in far too loose a way which thereby fail to recognise that firstly there will obviously be cases where different articles are competing on opposite sides of an argument (e.g. freedom of speech vs. right to respect for family and private life), and secondly it fails to fully elaborate on the caveats which allow for the limiting of human rights (e.g. fair imprisonment and the knock on effects). Clearly the most recent judicial horror show where the European Court of Human Rights have somehow sunk lower in eveyone's estimation is their ruling that whole life tariffs breach the human rights of the convicted multiple murderers and rapists in question. Utter horse shit. Illogical judges trying to be controversial to gain a name for themselves twisting the wording and interpretation of the poorly scripted laws to justify an obviously incorrect decision. Nothing more. What should we do?The same as we should do with the rulings over prisoners voting, or conjugal visits so prisoners might be allowed to father children. Ignore it, tell Europe to go hang and if they kick up a fuss, take our ball and leave. Same thing the French do with every ruling they don't like. We just need to stop being so British - stop being the only ones who queue at the great European ski lift.

But the winner is Red Ed and his 'Clause IV moment'...

The Tories have had a lot of fun this last week of so with the embarassment that is the Union stranglehold on the Labour party. Everyone knew it, as everyone knows the only reason brother Dave's taking his banana and heading off to America is that the Unions also choose the Labour party leader, and they wanted push over lefty Ed. Milliwho is doing his best shot at righteous indignation over the underhand tactics he has undoubtedly known about forever. The Falkirk scandal has brought the dead hand of the unions to the fore and with it their funding of the Labour party.

Now I for one think it's absolutely fine for the unions to try to influence policy - surely much of their raison d'être. As I have written before, I don't want politicians to exist in a bubble. They are meant to be being lobbied - which means trying to influence (the key word is 'trying'). We are then meant to pick the ones who we think respond in the best and most upright manner to said lobbying and produce votes, decisions and policies designed to help the country. People campaign for more attention (and normally more money) to be directed towards things they hold dear to themselves; it is human nature. People with relations with rare diseases form charities and pressure groups and lobby Government to get more funding for research. Communities lobby Government to say they don't want a massive power station built in their green fields. Business lobbies Governments to make business easier ahnd cheaper to do. Workers unions lobby Government (supposedly) on behalf of their workers to get things their workers would like. This also extends to funding political parties who they think will in general promote policies their interest group will like. It is barmy to have an issue with this.

What Miliband is trying to do though is make it seem he is breaking from the Unions and cleaning up political party funding. He is not. All he is proposing, at some unidentified future date, is that he will stop mandating anybody whjo joins a worker's union (which offer various benefits and are generally not a bad idea whatever your political leaning) paying money direct to the Labour party. It's one hell of an assumption to make and it is good that it will stop. What won't stop is the unions donating vast sums "on behalf" of their members (who don't vote on this - it's down to their self-important Gernerally-Thick-Secretaries). So union influence won't stop, nor will the money. However, because Ed has apparently cleaned up his side of the house he can now apparently assume the moral high ground and demand that political party donations from individuals be limited to £5,000.

Ridiculous. As everyone knows, the vast majority of donations Labour gets it gets from the unions who will still not qualify as 'single donations' despite it being a donation from a single entity generally run by a single person. The Tories differ in their funding, with far more coming from large individual donations. So Ed thinks he can somehow trade removing a disgraceful forced stealth donation for slashing the funding of the Tories. Not a chance. Anyone is free to give as much money as they want to poitical parties. All you need to do is have a system which mandates you to declare it all properly so the electorate can make a decision whether the party in question is being overly influenced by said donors against the best interests of the country. It is the same check against a millionaire oil tycoon donating millions to the Tories and naturally wanting less tax on oil as it is against the enormous workers union donating millions to Labour and naturally wanting more pay for its workers.

The other bizarre mandate from Ed, all pumped up from his showdown with Big Len is his stance on second jobs for MPs. Apparently not having checked that it might affect some of his senior MPs too, Ed has declared no Labour MP can have a directorship or consultancy by 2015, nor earn more than 15% of their Parliamentary salary elsewhere. Another barb aimed at the Conservatives who have many more MPs who have outside interests of note, it is a pathetic attempt to ride the swell of public opinion against MPs. It is the same swell that sees those in handsomely paid ministerial roles denouncing Ipsa's proposed basic salary increase. Easy for Cameron, Miliband and Clegg  (paid around £400,00 between them and each worth millions) to say that backbenchers on £66,000 shouldn't get another £6,000 or so; it's peanuts to them.

You can't have your cake and eat it boys - you wanted an independent body to set pay; you've got one. Yes, it is poorly timed but the grown up response from all of them should have been that the correct level of pay should be some degree higher. In comparison to similar public sector roles, their pay really is rather low - think about the Beeb, think about NHS managers, think about civil servants, hundreds of whom get more than the PM let alone a lowly backbench MP. They should acknowledge what everyone knows - that there have been years of refusing to increase headline pay because it is bad press but stealthily increasing benefits in lieu. It was what in part caused the expenses scandal. I'm not advocating a "pay them more so they don't have to steal" concept but you have to see on a basic level their salary is relatively low. It is better to have ourselves rid of the obfuscation of the expenses system and just pay them an appropriate upfront salary.

Ed is as plain wrong on this second job ban as he is on individual donations. MPs should be encouraged to be actively involved in the country they run. We don't want canned professional politicians, believe me - there are enough already. I want doctors, soldiers, teachers, lawyers, businessmen. MPs whose sole life experience is of politics is a recipe for disaster - political spin, survival over achievement, zero subject matter expert knowledge in policy making or on committees. I could go on. Earn what you want, declare it all and let the public decide. If they think an MP spends too much time in their private hospital surgery and not enough in their constituency surgery, boot them out. If they think an MP spends too long writing articles for papaers and magazines and not long enough writing replies to their constituents' letters, boot them out. If they think an MP is making decisions on his defence sub-committee based on the whims of his masters at a defence firm, boot him out. The answer is not banning influence, it is not banning our MPs from the right to earn more than their parliamentary salary, and it is certainly not banning them from having any interaction with the society they are meant to represent.

Milliwho's announcements this week have sought to impress some kind of leadership upon the unions who elected him and tried to turn the tables of debate onto donations to the Tories and their outside interests. It is not as Blair and some commentators suggest, a defining moment of leadership, though it might be a defining moment in his leadership. Ed has highlighted the overbearing influence the unions have on his party and picked a fight with McClusky he cannot afford to lose. With the IMF upgrading the economic outlook, the Labour lead slimmed to mid-single digits and still no coherent policy other than 'we'll copy the Tories plans but be really miffed about the unfairness of it all' there are better odds on Len still leading Unite after the election than of Ed leading the Labour party. This looks less like a Clause Four moment and more like a c(l)ause fo(u)r alarm (sorry, best I could do)...

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

He'll Go Waltzing Matilda Back Home...

Well it has been rather too long, but a wonderful bit of news on Monday inspired me to launch back into the
blogosphere. Trenton Oldfield is being deported. He of Boat Race ruining fame. Good.

Now today's post is not particularly about his barmy political view, but we may as well touch on it. Oldfield decided that elitism is an entirely bad thing, and is fully represented in the annual Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race. One assumes he was protesting against Oxford and Cambridge in general as institutions rather than the sportsmen and the race itself. If the latter were true, I assume that Mr Oldfield was also planning on demonstrating at all the Olympic events last year too. And the final of Countdown. That is because what the Boat Race itself encapsulates is the success of those who have striven. Like the Olympics. Or indeed Countdown. All the participants have dedicated themselves to being better at something than almost everyone else, whether it be rowing, modern pentathlon or getting to 977 in 30 seconds using 3,4,5,7,8 and 9.

They wish to become champions - the elite. In the case of the Boat Race they have scaled two summits simultaneously - that of academia to be be selected to study at world-leading universities and then also to be selected to row in highly competetive crews usually dripping in past, current and future world and Olympic standard athletes. Protesting at this type of elitism is what is making us uncompetitive in the world. It creates sports days where there are prizes for all lest children find out than in life there is a near constant hierarchy in play in one way or another. No, best protect them from the idea that failure is the other side of the coin of success. That'll prepare them nicely for life.

It is too what drives the constant bilous outpouring against the private education system and the Russell Group universities, most notably Oxford and Cambridge. We don't like people doing well and like to confuse equality with equal opportunity. We've been here before. I doubt Oldfield has ever had a look at the admissions system at Oxford or Cambridge, looked at the ways those institutions try to see through results and pick those with the best potential to make use of the education they have to offer them. Very few journalists or politicians have ever bothered themselves with actual investigation here. They tend to look at one statistic - percentage of state vs private admissions and pin all their arguments on that. They conveniently ignore the failures of large swathes of the state system in either encouraging pupils to apply or educating them well enough to stand a fighting chance at selection.

But that's not really the point. The point is that Oldfield broke the law. He knew he was going to break the law. He knew he was going to ruin the race for those competing, who had worked so hard for so long to compete. He knew he would ruin it for the crowds. He knew he would ruin it for the sponsors, who I think have shown enormous restraint in not suing him for every penny he is worth. He knew what he was doing and he knew the potential consequences. So, I was very happy to hear the arrogant moron has had his visa renewal application rejected.

His wife, however, "accused the Government of politicising the immigration process" say the Evening Standard. Nope. You are, love. Read the rules on visas - it appears this country is still able to close its doors to some people it finds not "conducive to the public good" as the Home Office put it. There is an interesting comparison to be made here with our inability to remove convicted criminals from other countries, either EU ones or those outside the EU where they apparently are also not that popular if we sent them back. It's also not the main point here (we've touched on the 'human rights' farcical argument many times before), but probably worth pondering why it isn't always this simple - or more importantly, shouldn't it be.

Her statement is what I found so ridiculous and made me want to blog again. She laments the deportation order; "the impact would be devastating for us and for our child, She will have to spend her first year without her father as it would obviously take time for me to emigrate. The Government want him out and they have given no thought to the consequences of this decision." I would be surprised if the offspring in question makes it into Mensa with the combined genetic idiocy of these two parents. The reigning Countdown champion can probably sleep easy in his or her bed (unless they don't sleep and just stay up all night trying to make a 9 letter word from the word 'carthorse').

This is what we have come to. It seems we have relinquished all responsibility for our actions. It is apparently up to the Government to consider its actions rather than Oldfield to consider the potential fallout from his idiotic behaviour. What total cock. Unfortunately the lady of questionable intelligence is not alone here. Her argument is no different essentially from prisoners who claim that the Government is responsible for stopping them having children after they have been incarcerated for various heinous crimes.

To quote the Iron Lady. No. No. No.

It is not for the Government to consider your circumstances and how being deported or imprisoned might be a touch inconvenient. It is for you to realise this potential ramification and decide not to break the law. You put yourself in this situation, Trenton, with your misguided sense of self importance. You reap what you sow. I might also point out that he must have known this was likely, yet still decided to have a child well after his arrest, knowing this very situation might occur. It has nothing to do with the Government's (completely correct) decision, and everything to do with Oldfield's (totally stupid) one.

We must stand up for responsibilities over rights. Cases like this just illustrate how far we have fallen as a society, how selfish, irresponsible and lazy we are. Everything is about what can you do for me, what am I owed and putting the responsibility for all your actions on others. We must stop pandering to it. You broke the law? Enjoy prison - if your man tadpoles are all dried up when you get out, perhaps you should have thought of that first. You want 10 kids? Pay for them yourself - because I sure as hell can't afford that decision so I'm buggered if I should pay for you to absolve all responsibility. You want to stay in our country? Obey the rules - it shouldn't be too much to ask.

Oh, and it's (9x7x5x3)+(8x4) and 'orchestra'. Took me an hour and a half...

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Magical Money Tree

I saw a little article in the paper last Monday that I thought illustrates very well Labour's attitude towards
other people's money. Labour MP for Dundee West, Jim McGovern has taken Ipsa to court over their refusal to reimburse him £23.90 for a train ticket to a Labour Party meeting. He lost. The judge decided each side would be liable for their own costs.

Ipsa's share of the cost of the lawsuit will be borne entirely by the taxpayer, naturally. It comes to some £27,000. McGovern's costs are said to be only £740 but will be borne entirely by the GMB union. He told the Sunday Herald that he didn't know his costs. He simply stated "To be honest, I doubt very much if I could afford it. I imagine it would be expensive. Ipsa are using public money. I don't use any public money for representation."

There are two main points here…

First, McGovern decided to take a (proven) frivolous case to court. He knew that the taxpayer would be forced to pick up the defence bill just a Ipsa is forced by its mandate to not let MPs claim party political expenses as Parliamentary ones. As they rightly say, if Ipsa cave in every time someone appeals one of their decisions, there's no point in their existence. The rules may not be the most logical, they may have been soon to change and Ipsa certainly appear to have spent more than they needed to (we've talked about their inefficiencies before). However, when submitting a claim an MP agrees that he understands the rules and is abiding by them. McGovern didn't abide by them. So he lost. He knew this would happen. The cost borne by the taxpayer regarding this case is thus entirely of his own choice.

Jim - stop claiming for things to which you aren't entitled, and when correctly advised why you have no entitlement, don't get on your moral high horse and charge to the taxpayer the price of your hubris.

Second, note the disdain with which he holds those general workers part of whose wages settle his legal fees. It is disgraceful that he can't even be arsed to find out how much the cost would be before deciding to pursue litigation or even find out after the fact so he could try to defend why this was good use of contributions from the general public (for that is what trade union coffers contain). I should like to see him settle his bill himself and if he so desires he can attend the next GMB AGM and ask the members (not the general secretary) - boilermakers, shipwrights, blacksmiths, tailors, clerical staff, and manual workers to name but a few - for them to reimburse him. Because that is where the money comes from - the public. He did use public money. He simply either doesn't realise it or care to consider it.

You see this is the problem the left have - they don't understand that cash doesn't grow on a magical money tree.

They have little care for where money comes from (unless there's some mileage to be had in the politics of class-envy punitive angle of taking from 'the rich'), they just rejoice in spending it all on "fair" and "worthy" causes. They are hooked on spending other people's money - it is an addiction. Tony and Gordy loved the adulation they got from spending. It's like someone who keeps buying presents for people to make himself feel and look good. All of a sudden the boiler burst and not only were there no funds to fix it, but all the credit cards were maxed out.

This is a small case in point of the contempt with which your rights to your money is held by Labour. As far as they are concerned it is there for them to spend however they wish. You have no rights over it and certainly wouldn't know how to spend it anywhere near as well as they do. Will they never learn?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Divisive and Conquering

So after having the Masters sweepstake in the office this week and one on the Grand National not long
before it, I've accidentally become addicted to gambling on things about which I know very little. Every horse I backed appears to be on the Pathway to Findus and most of my stellar golfers either didn't make it to the weekend or appeared to be genuinely aiming at the water.

So I have found myself wondering what to waste my money on this week. I thought I could just burn £5 but where's the fun in that? Plus I imagine there are laws against it dominated by phrases like "desecration of the image of the Sovereign" and "legal tender". I'd imagine (I have to imagine because I can't be bothered to spend 15 seconds checking on Google) that burning a Lady Godiva quietly sits in the apparently still extant set of crimes that warrant a death sentence, which if folklore be believed include treason, and perhaps killing swans. So instead I have started a new sweepstake - how many times will the BBC manage to say the word "divisive" during today's coverage of Baroness Thatcher's funeral?

Answers on a postcard - For My Attention, Ranting Towers, Little Ravingdon, The South.

I did a little light checking and confirmed my suspicion that no party had secured 100% of the vote in any general election on record, where 100% of the eligible population turned out to vote. Not even close I was astounded to learn. You see I was surprised because I thought from the press that this was the case in almost all elections in which Margaret Thatcher did not stand as leader of the Conservatives. This is because apparently this woman was uniquely "divisive". Not everyone agreed with her. There was dissent at the direction of some of her policies. You can imagine my horror.

As it turns out, that's rather the idea in a system the isn't North Korea or China, say. People get to say what they would do if in power, other people are free to agree or disagree and the one who gets more votes (Lib Dems: let's not get into the specifics but you get the point) gets to do those things for a while. This process is repeated every few years as a check on whether people still agree with those in power or whether they have decided they aren't really coming good on their promises. We call it democracy. Been around a while.

Human nature all but guarantees that there will be discord and difference of opinion. Democracy allows those differences to be represented and compete for public support. Every politician in a democracy where there isn't one party supported by everyone is therefore, by definition, divisive. They say one thing, lots of people will disagree with them. As it turns out, of those who voted in her three General Elections as party leader, Maggie secured 44%, 42% and 42% of their support. Blair's New Labour in 1997 managed just 43% in their landslide, the highest other post-war share of the vote.

So at the polls, Thatcher was one of the most supported Prime Ministers the country has seen since the advent of genuine three party politics. Divisive - of course: the stats also show that nobody in living memory has received over half the vote (even of those voting, let alone those who can't be bothered to vote). Which means no Prime Minister, the Iron Lady included, could claim to have a real majority of support - they are all therefore "divisive" - lots of people clearly disagree with them.

So why would the Beeb and others be constantly pointing out the obvious norm as if it was an anomaly?

Because it is their way of saying they don't like her. They mean the people who, like them, don't like her, are making lots of noise. These are the minority of people who have chosen to use the death of a frail 87 year old woman as a cause for celebration. Regardless of the illogical nature of their hatred of a Prime Minister who did more for this country than any others in the last hundred years bar Churchill and perhaps Attlee, they are displaying a disgusting lack of tact almost unique to the vitriolic left.

Even if you ignore all the many positives of Thatcher's tenure, the time to celebrate the fall of a political opponent is on their political fall - the Tory party's "et tu Brute" moment, or indeed the 1997 removal of Tories from power. It is not when they shuffle their mortal coil. That is the moment when humanity is meant to be united. Death, though it comes to us all, is a sad thing. It is when we are meant to put aside differences, no matter how large. It is why Everton fans observe silent tribute to the fans of their arch enemies Liverpool who died in the Hillsborough tragedy. It is why there are graves tended in England of WWII German bombers who crashed and died here on a mission to kill those who now are their guardians. It is why we pull together when a bomb goes off and human helps human, dividing lines forgotten.

It is a source of great shame that there are people in this country who cannot see this, though as Voltaire said, I will defend their right to state their misguided bile. There will be no Blair parties when the man who sent us into Iraq has passed away. There will be no Gordon parties when the man who bankrupted the nation in preparation for the global crash has loosed the surly bonds of mortality. This tastelessness is a problem seemingly only of the left. They simply cannot take that they were beaten, and so there will be a few protesters today, finally having found an occasion where they believe they have no chance of losing the argument because the object of their attack cannot defend herself.

They will wave placards or turn their backs, as is their misguided right. And the Beeb will give them disproportionate coverage like it has in their reports this week for poll tax rather than the Cold War and miners strikes rather than returning economic prosperity. And they will justify it by telling you how "divisive" this woman was. Whilst she may be disappointed, she would not have minded, as she said, "I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left."

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Spare Subsidies?

A brief look at the ridiculous furore over "the so-called 'bedroom tax'". Only "so-called" because the BBC and the left media immediately picked up Ed Milliwho's illogical soundbite and ran with it, "so-calling" it from the rooftops. Immediately it was announced, the BBC was trailing "bedroom tax" across its News 24 screen and hasn't stopped referring to it since.

No chance of calling it what it is, which would require some neutrality from those we pay nearly £150 each for the pleasure of their supposedly apolitical views. As Cameron stated in the Commons, only Labour (and its propaganda wing) could think a reduction in benefit (read "free, unearned money") could be called a tax.

Also only that same group of innumerate, economically moronic people could happily pretend there is no problem with social housing. The bill is astronomical. A large part of this is that successive Governments have failed to build more housing stock and instead the taxpayer is paying private landlords a king's ransom to make up the deficit. This failure to build was exacerbated by housing being removed from the system through the admirable intent of the right-to-buy scheme. More housing still has been removed by stealth over the years through the far less admirable home-for-life policy that the Tories are trying to change, but people on the left (like Bob Crow) think absolutely fine.

In fact, this is really just an extension of one of the first Coalition policies - to stop needy families on the social housing waiting list being kept on the list because individuals or couples wish to continue to live in a house that was built for more people. In the private sector, if you want an extra bedroom, you pay more rent or a higher purchase price. In the public sector, Labour think there is no reason why these basic principles should be even vaguely considered. The left see nothing wrong with complaining one day "granny evicted from house she has lived in for 70 years by heartless Tories" and then the next "heartless Tories fail 5 million poor, hard-working families on social housing waiting list".

The two concepts just run around different parts of their teensy little brains, and ne'er the twain shall meet to discover their contradiction.

It's pretty simple. If the state has been generous enough to lend you a house, it seems only right that you don't take the piss by having one bigger than you need. This would be true even if there weren't 5 million people on the waiting list. Which there are. These are the needy people the left pretend to support, but singularly ignore for political convenience.

If you live in a council house that's bigger than you need, you have no right to stay, regardless of how long you've lived there, or indeed if you are now wealthy enough to pay your own way. There are people who need that space more than you. If you live in a privately rented house that the Government is paying for because there aren't enough social houses, and it too is bigger than you need, you have no right to stay there and charge the taxpayers of this country (many of whom would love a spare room but can't afford to pay for one of their own, so don't have one) full whack for it. It stands to reason that if you are in this position, you can help pay the bill. If you want your spare room that much, pay for it like everyone else. Otherwise, remember that you are living at the generous largesse of the taxpayers and stop whining.

There are huge inefficiencies in social housing, which if solved would massively decrease one of the single largest draws on Treasury expenditure - social housing costs. Fuck tinkering with the MOD, its budget is dwarfed by the interest on our debt alone. We spend more on housing than on education and defence combined. If you don't think we could do with finding some efficiencies here, you are mentally sub-normal. Not only are the general populace paying for the huge cost of this over-generous gift, but some of the neediest in society are without proper housing because of it. The left should be ashamed of their intentionally mendacious slurs about a totally sensible policy. Only as we know - just look at Tony Blair - they don't really do shame.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Banking on European Stupidity

There are various reasons behind the EU's decision to limit bankers' bonuses. It's just that none of them is any good. There is the populist angle where politicians in search of votes wish to tap into the envy and vitriolic revenge that are so prevalent in today's society - both at home and abroad; the EU dreamt this horsecrap up but damned if the Libs and Labs don't want to hitch a ride on the bandwagon. Then there is the anti-UK angle, one that the UK-based Libs and Labs have overlooked in their fervent approval of the first approach; we stand the most to lose from our financial sector losing competitiveness. Then there is the 'throwing a dead cat on the table' angle that the Mayor of London mentioned here, disctracting the public with something irrelevant; in Europe from the catastrophe of the Euro and in the UK from the Government who fashioned the economic disaster now seemingly totally pinned on 'the bankers'.

First, it plays well in a recession to bash the rich. It's a shame, but it's true. When people aren't doing so well, it's far easier to look to blame others and demand more from them than to introspect and to do something for oneself to improve one's own position. This is the default setting for much of the country it appears. It plays nicely to the lower financial layers of society mockingly sympathising with those with £1,000,000 wages being restricted to just £2,000,000 bonuses.

The reality, naturally (not a concept Ed Milliwho is too familiar with) is vastly different. What both Eds frame as a great new law to stop high pay does exactly the opposite. All the bank bonus limit does is mean banks will have to increase base salaries. It won't really affect gross pay. It will just mean that their baseline costs, those which they are contractually obliged to pay out every year are higher. The bit they have discretion over, will be lower. So even in the poor years when they could severely restrict bonuses, they will still find themselves vastly overcommitted to their payroll. They will be less flexible, more cautious and have to hold onto more of their funds. Thus not only will they not be able to be as competitive, but thy will likely decrease lending too. It's very, very simple. You can't claw back salary like you can bonus, you can't link it as easily to long term performance, and you can't incentivise working harder as easily.

The problem is as usual, the policy goes after the easy headline win rather than the issue. Nobody is doubting there was a lack of restraint with pay and a failure to link pay to long- not short-term gain. This has been taken in hand though; it was the area needing revision and it has more than received it. Despite the banks having done what we asked, we are now to cut off our nose to spite our face. This is a foolish populist policy that will only do damage when the real problem it pretends to be solving has actually long been addressed.

Second, the production of virulent anti-UK policy at a time when we are rightly making noises about the actual worth of being in the shady underworld that is the EU is blatantly punitive. London is by far the financial centre of Europe, and at the same time, a vitally important contributor to our GDP. This policy will do nothing but undermine all European banks and thus hit us hardest. If you were looking for any current examples of being ruled by moronic people you never did or would vote for in a way that is totally contrary to the interests of the UK, one can only say thank you to the EU for providing one so obviously.

The third reason, which Boris elucidates in his article, is to distract everyone from something more important. As he discusses, the EU is desperate for everyone to focus on these evil bankers and how they ruined everything, when it is increasingly clear the central tenet of a common currency for vastly uncommon economies (size, type, development etc) is completely and fatally flawed. Yes 'the bankers' deserve some of the blame, but nobody should be fooled (yet many are) by this clear distraction act. In the UK, Labour pounced upon this intervention like manna from heaven.

"The Tories are going to have to defend the bankers - number 10 here we come" - you can almost hear Labour's delight. It presented another opportunity to pretend that their tax and spend election buying hadn't placed the economy in such a perilous position that when the bust came, there was no money to deal with it. That and to gloss over their complicit part in lax ragulation and the encouragement of the housing boom that was so important to the crash.

All in all a pretty unedifying affair. A terrible law with petty political motivations and no grounding in financial common sense. It is as disappointing as it is unsurprising that it finds support from the usual suspects like Balls and Milliband, as like most of their previous policies (I don't think they have any current or future ones) it will be nothing but economically damaging.