Tuesday, 31 July 2012

WAG, delusion or deceitful or just ...

... plain incompetent, it's a question to ponder.

Devolution is very simple when the rules are followed, and although there are many aspects to devolution in Wales, there is a simple fundamental rule for Carwyn Jones and Co, devolution has distinctive bounds ...
"The Government of Wales Act is clear that the assembly cannot legislate to modify the functions of a minister of the crown without their consent, unless such a modification is consequential or incidental to other provisions in the Bill."
...in simple English, Cardiff Bay cannot legislate Westminster out of Wales, no-matter how seemingly inconsequentially, without the approval of Westminster.

So what's it all about ?
Carwyn and Co, and the company is the whole assembly, voted to pass the Bill that is said to "tidy up and streamline the way council bye-laws in Wales are made", it all happened on 3 July with no members objecting.  The link and the link.
That seems straightforward, except it cuts out of the local government loop the Secretary of State (SoS) for Wales, it has modified the functions of the Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan.  So has WAG been delusion or deceitful or just plain incompetent, there can be very little doubt that the Assembly members collectively are pupils before the headteacher whilst the SoS exists, they have an obligation by virtue of the conditions of Government of Wales Act 2006 to protect her ( it could very well be a him in the near future ) very existence. 

So did this very Welsh Assembly decide behind closed doors with its very secret civil servants to attempt the removal of the SoS from part of Civic Wales by stealth ?

I'm inclined to believe so, Carwyn and Co have tried to disfranchise the SoS of a function, this would have been the very thin end of a democratic wedge, a precedent that future legislation could build upon to divest Wales of the links to Westminster by stealth.

The rules of engagement are changing, it is a short journey from stealth to deception ... neither of which produces Justice for the little people no-matter where they exist.  If the Assembly and its administration at Cardiff Bay wish to cut the links to Westminster the question should be put to the electorate ...
Do you want independence, Yes or No.

... else the Assembly should draw in its neck and stick to the rules that the peoples of Wales have approved through their endorsement at the ballot box.

Returning to the question ...
... delusion or deceitful or just plain incompetent

I'll leave you to decide ....

Monday, 30 July 2012

How does Mitt Romney sell ...

... it to the peoples of the USA, when he speaks of a nuclear-armed Iran, will his words ...

"The threat it would pose to Israel, the region and the world is incomparable and unacceptable," 

he added that the US had ...
"a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions".

Are they empty words designed to garner support for his political ambitions, or do they represent a deep seated conviction that would be the foundation of his foreign policy were he to be elected to the Presidency on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 ?

The words that seem to underpin his feelings concerning Iran are ...
... there doesn't seem to be a diplomatic imperative amongst them, more a declaration of war !

... will the electorate of Ohio or Oregon vote for a Romney war, or is he another FoS politician ?

Sunday, 29 July 2012

This weeks FoS award goes to ...

... a most miserable politician the Conservative Robert Halfon MP for Harlow.

Friday last ...............

.................. Shami Chakrabarti , director since September 2003 of the British civil liberties advocacy organisation Liberty,was amongst 8 people chosen to carry the Olympic flag during the opening ceremony.  Introduced to the audience with quite profound words ...
"We salute her integrity"

...  she certainly stands out as a person who represents peace, democracy and social justice.

Now Halfon thinks otherwise, he described her as a "pressure groupie Chakrabati", the paltroon couldn't even spell her name correctly.  Fortunately for the little people of the UK and the World Shami Chakrabarti has more influence than Halfon, we prefer the search for Justice to the grandstanding of a right wing non-entity politician.

So to the FoS politician, the FoS award ...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Breathtaking in its beauty and ambition ...

... the only way to describe the Olympic flame, the Olympic ceremony ...

... a celebration of everything British !


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Blind, deaf and dumb, pathetic ..

... politics that has a system where regimes that suppress its people are allowed to condone the genocide of the Syria people by applying a veto on civilization.

... student Zaher Shehab has watched, helpless, as the uprising in Syria has torn his country apart. Then came news of a devastating attack on his family, writes Laura Pitel for today's Times

It was a Friday afternoon at the end of term. He should have been working in the university lab. Instead Zaher Shehab was standing in a corridor of the pharmacy faculty, following his mother’s funeral on his mobile phone. He had just lost seven members of his family in a single attack in Syria. His mother, Mayssa, his younger brother, two uncles, one aunt and two cousins had all been killed. They were working in their fields in a suburb of Damascus when they were hit. Two thousand miles away, the Bath University student could do nothing but try to absorb the news, powerless to help. “I can’t remember what I felt because really at that moment I couldn’t feel anything,” he says, his voice calm. “My brain stopped thinking. I couldn’t imagine what had happened. All of them together: my mother, my brother. Everything changed on that day.”

The polite, gently spoken 28-year-old arrived in Britain in 2010 to study for a PhD in pharmacy practice. A top-class student, he came on a scholarship paid for by the Syrian government, and was planning to return to Damascus to teach. But in November, Syrian intelligence snooped on his online exchanges and found anti-regime messages to friends. His funding was withdrawn. The university hardship fund and the Wellcome Trust stepped in. Without them he would have been forced to drop out.

His last trip home was shortly after the start of the uprising, which erupted in Syria last March on the back of turmoil across the Arab world. It was a surprise visit that delighted his parents, particularly his beloved mother. But a brush with the security forces, when he came close to being arrested, has left him unable to go back. Instead he found himself following developments in Syria from the incongruous setting of a West Country spa town.

While fellow students worried about deadlines and grades, over the past year and a half he has watched his country descend into violence. As the movement against President Assad has accelerated, he has seen protests sweep through his town, Daraya, and friends and neighbours killed. As the turmoil has dragged on the bloodshed has grown, with children massacred, whole districts destroyed and the estimated death toll topping 17,000.

Then, on July 6, the conf lict knocked on his family’s front door. He had just that is to blame. “We don’t know the kind of rocket or shelling — if it came from tank fire or helicopters,” he says. “No one could tell me if the rockets came from this side or that side. But for sure, 100 per cent we know that it is the Assad regime that owns these rockets and these tanks.”

Were they targeted deliberately or unlucky victims of random fire? It’s a question he will probably never be able to answer. The family were not politically active — they spent all their time working on the farm where they lived a simple life, growing tomatoes, aubergines and salads. “But in Syria there is no grey, only black and white,” he says. “If you are not with the government, they consider you against them.”

Friends and colleagues have been supportive and kind, putting him up in their homes so that he does not sleep alone. But they cannot compensate for being so far from Syria. “It is a hard time,” he says. “I can’t say anything else. It’s hard because I’m here, far away. I couldn’t do anything to support them. It’s difficult when one person dies ............

I guess we have to send a big thank you to Russia and China ......

...... and a big sigh of hopelessness when we see the antics of our world politicians unable or unwilling to say NO to the tyrants, thanks to the rump of civilization, UK, USA, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, Australia .... et al.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

... morally wrong ?

This is Treasury Minister David Gauke who said in newspaper interviews that the practice of paying tradesmen in cash is morally wrong and came at "a big cost" to the Treasury and meant other people had to pay more in tax.

This man needs a reality check, this obviously biopic poltroon of the highest Order of the Bathwater has definitely been promoted above his abilities.
Could someone at the treasury explain that Bankers who screw our economy were morally wrong.

Maybe someone could explain that not paying taxes on $21 trillion (£13tn), squirrelled away in offshore banks is morally wrong.

Then there is the poor widow of Anglesey who finds it difficult to pay her energy bills whilst suppliers are awash with surplus cash, morally wrong.

And what about HSBC, I watched their executives on C-Span answering questions as to their incompetence dealing with money laundering, morally wrong.

... I could go on, morally wrong is morally wrong, but for scummy politicians it is easier to play with the little people, the little people don't have pressure groups with buckets of money to fund a lobbyist ...

... is the lobbyist morally wrong ?

... so David Gauke if you are not morally bankrupt you might start by putting your house of blind eyes in order before chasing the little people ......

Monday, 23 July 2012

... Catalonia, an example why separatism is bullshit ...

... in the 21st century.

There is no accounting for failure, businesses fail, politics fail, people fail, but when you fail to the tune of ...
... 48 billion (£ 37 billion)
,,, and there are only 7.5 million people it gets tricky !

A report by Iain Dey of the Sunday Times paints a very bleak picture :

WORLD markets are set for a rocky week after it emerged yesterday that a second Spanish region is on the brink of asking Madrid for help.  Catalonia, the region that includes Barcelona, is said to be days away from requesting an emergency loan. It is unable to pay the interest on 48 billion (£ 37 billion) of debts, according to reports.
Markets tumbled on Friday after a rescue deal for Valencia — site of some of the worst excesses of Spain’s property boom — was unveiled.  An emergency loan of an undisclosed size will be made by the Spanish government via an 18 billion rescue fund set up two weeks ago to deal with struggling regions. Spanish reports claim that six other regions may need help.
Spanish shares suffered their biggest one-day drop in two years on the back of the news, falling 5.8%. Germany’s Dax dropped 1.8% and France’s Cac plunged by 2.1%. The FTSE 100 closed more than 1% down on Friday at 5,655.04. The interest rate on Spain’s 10-year bonds jumped to 7.28%, a level that most economists say is unsustainable.
News of the Valencia bailout came as eurozone ministers ratified a bailout worth up to 100 billion for Spanish banks. The final figure will be known only after a review of the loan books is completed by the auditors PWC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG.
And the corruption that is politics ...
Sources close to the review claim that Spain’s central bank is pressuring the auditors to ensure that they produce nothing that could even hint at the possibility that Spain’s three main lenders will need capital. The government has insisted that Santander, BBVA and La Caixa are sound.
I wonder if similar words were used in Greece when they were preparing to join the Euro ....

Fortunately for the poor saps of Catalonia the Spanish people as a whole nation, all 47 million of them, will pool their resources, and go without during the hard times, to pay the exorbitant 7.28% interest rate and bail out the devolved administration, and there are another six other regions needing help, poor Spain .......

So when the separatist agenda talk the talk that small is best, think of Spain, we all share the incompetence that is politics, and when we have to share the legacy of incompetence, the more the merrier is a better clarion call, think of Catalonia.  To see the illusions of Grandier, look no further than the Welsh Assembly!

behind every ...

... great fortune lies a great crime, Honoré de Balzac.

And what a crime, $21 trillion (£13tn) crime, a crime as big as the combined economies of the USA and Japan.  Fortunes created on the backs of populations pushed beyond the reach of taxation, beyond the reach of the societies that created these buckets of coin hoarded by such a very few people.

In the USA there is the Apple Corporation that holds its wealth offshore, it avoids paying the taxes that could pay for healthcare for the poorest in its society, in the UK we have similar crimes where companies and individuals establish off-shore vehicles to avoid passing back to society a share of the wealth created by the little people in the form of taxes.

The misconception is the owners of capital are wholly entitled to every penny of the surplus (profit) a business makes, this conveniently avoids any responsibility for poverty level wages that require redistributed government expenditure (taxes and borrowings) to pay for subsidised housing, healthcare, education ....... the list is endless.

All profits, as with income, should be taxed at source where it was made .... that way every fortune will have avoided the stigma that ...

... "behind every great fortune lies a great crime".

... and the taxes will help the little people that they might live without the poverty that seems to accompany great fortunes !

These crimes are not restricted to the USA and the UK, the people of Germany, Canada, France, Australia, Japan, China, India ............ are all losers in this great crime of "cheat the people of their dues".

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The BBC staff who cheat ...

... the little people of the taxes they refuse to pay, and the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) who have turned a blind eye to this new class of cheats, when decades ago they prevented the carpenter or mason of Manchester or Glasgow from doing exactly the same.
The story of the week is from The Sunday Times written by Dipesh Gadher
TWO BBC managers earning six-figure sums could have avoided paying thousands of pounds in income tax by being kept off the corporation’s books for up to three years.

The managers, who are involved in training other BBC staff, were left off the payroll and instead received more than £100,000 a year through personal service companies (PSCs). 

They were added to the Paye system only this month — days before the BBC’s finance chief was questioned by an influential committee of MPs. 

Workers who are paid through a service company can legally minimise their contributions to the exchequer. Instead of paying income tax at a rate of 40-50p, they can be liable for corporation tax at 20% on profits of up to £300,000. 

The arrangement also means that the BBC does not have to pay National Insurance contributions for the worker. 
Last week the BBC admitted that 467 of its broadcasters — including 148 news presenters — were paid through PSCs. Many are kept off the payroll even though the corporation is their main employer and they are regarded as the “face” of the BBC.  Presenters who have set up companies through which they are believed to channel their earnings include Jeremy Paxman, the host of Newsnight, and Fiona Bruce, the newsreader. Joanna Gosling, a newscaster who is married to Craig Oliver, the prime minister’s head of communications, is paid through a PSC. There is no suggestion that any of the stars have avoided tax. Among the 25,000 freelance contracts the BBC signs each year, 3,000 involve behind-thescenes workers being paid through companies. Margaret Hodge, the Labour chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, which examined the practice last week, said the tax arrangements used by the BBC did not seem “morally right”.
The BBC says that, like all other workers paid through PSCs, details of their fees and companies would have been passed to HMRC.
Those people who make their money from outing the tax avoiders are no better than those other wealthy people who decide not to pay their legal share of taxes.

Pot calling the kettle black, scum every one of them, time for a British Tax Spring ...........

........... or time to turn away from the programmes they host !

If it is not allowed for Mr Jones the carpenter of Cardiff or Belfast it shouldn't be allowed for anyone else !

Friday, 20 July 2012

What would Kier Hardy ...

... have thought about our wannabe emperor's new clothes lectern ?

Carwyn Jones needs a ...
... £1800 podium and the £4500 Welsh slate emblem on the wall together with flags, missing were the trumpets and soldiers at attention when he made a grand entrance ... 

... he, is it Mr President or Carwyn Jones these days, was reported by Betsan Powys as saying "We kept costs to a minimum".
On the other hand, a century ago Kier Hardy speaks to the people with little more than relevance ....

... whilst Carwyn Jones needs a lectern to speak to the press ( are they children to pump up the numbers in the audience I wonder) , he needs to grip the sides to stop himself from falling in excitement ...

... but he just doesn't cut it like President Obama, relaxed, at ease with himself and the world that knows who he is, with or without a lectern ...

... there can be no doubt our First Minister, how soon before he calls himself Prime Minister or President, has illusions of grandeur, to the little people of Wales he is the King who wears no clothes ...

What's next I wonder, maybe a limousine but to keep up with President Obama Wales would need its very own ...

... Secret Service Presidential Protective Division ...

It's a bit too much over breakfast ..........

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Freedom of Information ...

... (FoI) can be denied by politicians and their civil service familiars, the most recent undemocratic democratic is none other than Alex Salmond, our "Separatist in Chief" of those who would destroy a country.

Those who favour the separation of Scotland, have built their case on several foundations to reassure the gullible of Scotland that it would be business as usual following a "Yes" vote in favour of independence.  One such fallacy is a relationship with the European Union that would be guaranteed, a by-blow of the UK's membership, Salmond has expressed a certainty that membership would follow independence as night follows day.

There are those that are very sceptical of Salmond's certainty, one is Labour MEP Catherine Stihler who made an FoI request last May, asking the Holyrood administration for any legal advice it had received on the issue.

Ministers refused to reveal whether the information was held.

In the interests of Democracy ...
... the Salmond administration cited Section 18 when it refused to reveal whether the information was held. This can mean the information would be exempt from release or the authority considers its release would not be in the public interest.
... but Rosemary Agnew, the country's Freedom of Information Commissioner, said ...
... In the commissioner's view, the role of [the FoI Act] is important not only in ensuring transparency in information held by public authorities, but also in enabling transparency in information about process.  
In this case, the commissioner considers that it is in the public interest to know the type of information that the ministers were taking into account in developing policy in relation to such a significant issue as independence
Salmond is under the impression that the electorate should believe his word, the Freedom of Information Commissioner thinks otherwise, myself ...
... together with every other citizen of the UK, is more than capable of coming to a conclusion when given sufficient information, we are not illiterate peasants of a medieval society, and as there is nothing of national security involved there can be no reason to hide the information.
Of course, if Salmond wishes to pursue his illusions, his political smoke and mirrors with kilt, then he needs to keep the electorate in the dark .......

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Contrite or what !

"We will apologise, acknowledge these mistakes, answer for our actions and give our absolute commitment to fixing what went wrong."

... a commitment to change,possibly, but how long before it all happens once again.

Another banking scandal, this time HSBC has been caught with its corporate trousers (pants in the USA) around its ankles over :
... a report into HSBC, released ahead of a Senate hearing on Tuesday, that says huge sums of Mexican drug money almost certainly passed through the bank.
This is another case of "compliance gone wrong", I read recently ...

"We did our best, the right boxes were ticked, how could we know?"
Is 21st century compliance more about giving cover from culpability than rooting out bad behaviour ?

... could it be that compliance in banking should be an external organisation.

For those who hold Adam Smith in high regard I humbly remind you of these words :
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
  • Book I, Chapter X, Part II, p 152
... a great mind with a crystal ball tuned into 21st century markets.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Don't blame us for not dying.

A letter from Jane Reed of London in today's Times.

I got old by not dying. And now, with all this talk of the soaring costs of caring, how elderly demographics are reversing the improvements in public financing, of job-hogging, I feel “not dying” may have been an irresponsible choice ( £ "Time to target over-60s’ benefits") written by David Budworth.

My generation grew out of the aftermath of war. We lived through two major recessions where income tax soared to 85 per cent for some and we worked by candlelight. The houses we saved for became valuable — an inevitable result of supply and demand economics in a small island. The pension I built up over 50 years is quietly diminishing. My savings produce little or no growth, and I am happy where possible and when called upon to be the family banker, like so many of my contemporaries.

I feel for younger people suddenly faced with back-sliding living standards, but we are where we are and blaming my generation for not dying is not the answer.
Is this a line in the sand that politicians fear to tread I wonder.

94% of us ...

...believe there should be an investigation ...

It's not a small majority, it's overwhelming, and the topic is ......... oil.

The problem seems to be another distortion of facts to manipulate the market price for oil, and who is in the frame :
  • ... banks
  • ... hedge funds
  • ... energy companies
I expect the political left wing to assign blame to Capitalism, but like the Libor scandal it is a failure of morality and ethics of individuals.  In fact this particular markets is unregulated, it relies on the most basic of traits we expect of those in positions of responsibility, "honesty".
This is one of the major concerns raised in the G20 report, published last month by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
In the study for global finance ministers, including George Osborne, the regulator warns that traders have opportunities to influence oil prices for their own profit.
It points out that the whole market is “voluntary”, meaning banks and energy companies can choose which trades to make public.
IOSCO says this “creates opportunity for a trader to submit a partial picture in order to influence the [price] to the trader’s advantage”.
In an earlier report, the regulator concluded: “It is open to companies to report only those deals that are in their own best interests for the rest of the market to see.”
The price reporting agencies, Platts and Argus, argue they employ journalists to weed out false data submitted by oil traders
Could this be a reason why we are paying such high prices for fuel at the pumps ......

In fact this is another example of a need for a regulatory body that is divorced from the industry under scrutiny.  The public needs protection.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

... can you fool all (update) ...

... the people all of the time ?

... this politician seems to think so.

... if there were such a thing as Justice, then Carwyn Jones would remove her.

... if there were such a thing as honour, then Griffiths would go,

Update, the British Medical Association say the report is discredited.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Hibbert’s rules, ...

... Old girl returns as head and saves sinking school. 
A former pupil has transformed her old school from one “ruled by children” to an “outstanding” primary.  Hollin Primary School in Middleton, Rochdale, near Manchester, was placed in special measures after being castigated by Ofsted for inadequate teaching and leadership, and erratic attendance. Elaine Hibbert, 57, who first joined the school aged 5, returned five decades later as a “super-head” and last week it was rated outstanding. 
Mrs Hibbert, who turned around two failing schools before returning to Hollin, describes the culture of struggling schools as akin to Lord of the Flies. 

“Nearly all my headships have been in schools that have failed or are about to fail, schools that are usually in very damaged communities,” she said. “My first was in 2000 at a primary school in Oldham. Expectations were low. It took just under two years to come out of special measures.” 

Her second was in Rochdale. “The head teacher had gone off sick, and when there is no leadership at the top the teachers batten down the hatches and become very insular. It’s a broken regime and the children get hold of the school and forge their rule on it. Pupil presence in failing schools is always very strong.” By the time Mrs Hibbert left in 2009, it was rated outstanding. 
She arrived at Hollin Primary in the same year. Once she set out her plans, half the staff decided to leave. In the 1950s there had been an “immense amount of pride” in the new council estate where she grew up. It now has endemic unemployment. “The aspirations of many parents were very low but they still wanted a good deal for their children,” she said. “One of the issues was the lack of trust parents had in the school. In modern schools you have to try a lot harder to earn respect from children and parents.” 

She added: “I’ve found, quite sadly, that parents challenge teachers as a matter of course. There’s no point challenging a teacher if the child is not at the expected standard or if the parent has not made sure the child is at school every day, or isn’t doing homework. 

“Teachers would never criticise a parent for challenging them about the curriculum or the progress their child is making, but what frustrates teachers is being challenged over how they deal with behaviour, and sanctions they have put in place.” 

Parents and children reacted with disbelief when they heard she was from the estate where they lived. She said: “We didn’t have a uniform in those days. The parents were all really hard-working but when you see old school photos we look like ragamuffins.” Teachers were treated “like gods” and dinner ladies ruled with a rod of iron. 
Since she became head, results in the Key Stage 2 tests taken by 11-year-olds have risen from the low 40s to 100 per cent in reading, writing and maths. Mrs Hibbert said: “The whole ethos of the school has changed.”
The Times 9 July 2012.

Hibbert’s rules, ...

... as modified for life thereafter :

Have clear principles, a moral code, a sense of purpose,recruit or retain staff who want to make a difference and embrace the local community.


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sour grapes or ...

... the reason we produce such poor leaders.
Are too many of our Olympic athletes from private schools, as the prime minister suggested last week? Only about 7% of British children attend independent schools — whereas one third of the British Olympic team was privately educated.
However, this figure looks positively egalitarian when you compare it with the percentage of Cameron’s cabinet ministers who went to private school (67%), or judges (70%) or the chief executives of big businesses (54%) or journalists (54%). It seems a bit rich to pick on the athletes.
Rod Liddle The Sunday Times

It seems that by ignoring the 93% we are failing to raise our game at every turn ...
... our cabinet ministers (don't ignore the last government) seem devoid of morality and logic.
... our Judges sit in judgement over a system that is weighed against the little person.
... Big Business, banks that collude, where are the judges, you and I would be in prison if we did similar.
... journalist, so much to say, so little time, why are you not calling these wastrels to account.
Is there a John Ball out there, we promise not to let them hang you ...........

How can we expect the UK to do well when the vast majority in the game of life we cherish are put to one side in perpetual game of chance with dice so corrupt ...

...a different pair of dice for those born outside the walls of privilege, a dice that tells the user ...

You Loose

Saturday, 7 July 2012

IDEA from Harvard ...

... that Carwyn Jones and Co. could adopt;  the "IDEA" brand developed for non-profit sector at Harvard, it stands for ...

... brand "integrity"
... brand "democracy"
... brand "ethics"
... brand "affinity"

The Labour Party certainly has the pedigree, and then there are the deeds, no-one can deny them the deeds that helped shape social justice in Britain.

A Welsh IDEAL, a Welsh Labour IDEA ........

First posted at the BBC David Cornock.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Things are seldom ...

.......................  what they seem,
Skim milk masquerades as cream. **

In today's Times ...
... the story:
Legislation will ban ‘Pravda-style propaganda’
Council-run newspapers that offer householders a rose-tinted view of their local authorities are to be outlawed, the Government has pledged. The papers, called “town hall Pravdas” by critics, are distributed free and are said to be undermining independent local newspapers by competing for advertising.

The Government’s local authority publicity code stipulates that councils must not publish newspapers in direct competition with the local press and that council publications should not appear more than four times a year.

Tower Hamlets Council in East London spends £1.2 million a year on East End Life, a weekly paper that competes directly with the independent, 150-year-old East London Advertiser. In March, one edition published six articles with pictures of the mayor, Lutfur Rahman, and more than 1,000 words of his comments and views.

The Newspaper Society, the trade body for local newspapers, said that at least 45 councils were publishing newspapers in defiance of the code. Of these, 21 are Labour-controlled, 15 Conservative and three Liberal Democrat.

The Government said that legislation proper newspaper. “You don’t have to have your own Pravda to get the message across,” he said.

The Newspaper Society welcomed the plan but suggested that it might be too late for some independent papers struggling to survive. “It is vital that this unfair competition be stopped as a matter of urgency.”

Tower Hamlets council said that it raised £1.18 million in advertising income from East End Life last year and aimed to run it at “net nil cost”. A spokesman said that the legislation “might be considered disproportionate government action and not in the spirit of localism”. “to protect local commercial newspapers from unfair competition from municipal publications” would be introduced in May next year and become law by April 2014.

Bob Neill, the Local Government Minister, told The Times that some council papers seemed to be deliberately trying to drive independent local papers out of business, and described East End Life as an “objectionable use of taxpayers’ money”.

Mr Neill acknowledged that councils had a duty to inform residents about local services, but said that some authorities were using that as “a smokescreen” to publish pro-council material in the guise of a proper newspaper. You don't have to have your own Pravda to get the message across he said.
The Newspaper Society welcomed the plan but suggested that it might he too late for some independent papers struggling to survive, it is vital that this unfair competition be stopped as a matter of urgency. 
Tower Hamlets council said that it raised £1.8 million in advertising income from East End Life last year and aimed to run it at "net nil cost". A spokesman said that the legislation "might be considered disproportionate government action and not in the spirit of localism".
 ... by Ben Webster Media Editor (6 July 2012).

To get a feel for Tower Hamlets newspaper try the link, it takes a few seconds to load the reader, there can be no doubt its a real weekly newspaper, when I compare it with our local weekly in Caerphilly I feel a certain envy.

But the questions raised ...

.. should local authorities be restricted to a statutory maximum frequency of publications.
.. should local authorities be restricted to public service information only publications.

...are irrelevant when we ask the question:

.. should local authorities engage in business of any kind ? 
.. even to the extent of offering subsidies to businesses. 
.. or is it an expression of the will of the electorate when an authority engages in such activities.  
.. and if it is the will of the people then should the Local Government Minister "butt out" in deference to democracy.
I tend to believe he should ..................... butt out that is.

** .... Buttercup to Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Independence and muddy ...

... waters, as the USA celebrate Independence Day we in the United Kingdom have nothing but loathing for banking, and this feeling of disgust is about to spread into politics;  at Westminster our elected representatives should stop and consider why they walk the hallowed halls of government when they consider the words of .....
Sam Fleming, Economics Editor at The Times when he writes of bankers and their political familiars ...
Until now the Libor-fixing saga has been a tale of nefarious dealings within the already tarnished world of investment banking. With the publication of Bob Diamond’s file note, one of Britain’s most influential and respected public servants has been pulled into the scandal for the first time. 

Paul Tucker, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and the most senior set of eyes and ears in the City of London, is the most likely successor to Sir Mervyn King, the Bank’s Governor. As the point man on regulatory reform he is renowned for his impressive contact book and his understanding of the intricate workings of the financial system. 

Mr Tucker is a hands-on player, perpetually scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry when he’s out of the office as he keeps up with developments. While his boss has become notorious for his willingness to lecture the City, often in emotive terms, Mr Tucker has always shown more finesse. The list of potential candidates to succeed Sir Mervyn as Governor is long, but Mr Tucker has always been the heavyweight contender to beat. 

Anything Mr Tucker said from his perch in the Bank of England to a top banker in 2008 — a time of extraordinary stress in the world financial system — would have had massive weight. At the time, Barclays was battling suggestions that it was in financial trouble, and the fact that it was reporting higher-than-average borrowing costs to the Libor panel was making a tough situation worse. 

In Mr Diamond’s brief file note, Mr Tucker appears to hint that Barclays could lower its submissions to the panel. Such a move might have alleviated some of the concerns about its financial position. Senior Whitehall figures were worried about Barclays, Mr Tucker apparently said. While Barclays needed no advice from Mr Tucker, the central banker said that “it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently”. This could be interpreted as a “nudge nudge, wink wink” moment, a case of the Deputy Governor raising his eyebrow. 

To be sure, Barclays has not accused the Deputy Governor of explicitly encouraging any abuses of the Libor system — indeed, Mr Diamond insists that he did not believe that he had received any instructions from Mr Tucker at all. The FSA has reached the same conclusion. The Barclays case is that the words were misinterpreted by Jerry del Missier, a senior figure in Barclays’ investment bank, to whom Mr Diamond forwarded the file note. 

But by putting the file note in the public domain, Barclays have done a superb job of muddying the waters the day before Mr Diamond appears before the Treasury Committee. The e-mail raises serious questions for Mr Tucker to answer. In today’s Treasury Committee hearing it won’t just be Barclays that is under scrutiny but one of the leading lights in the Bank of England — plus “senior figures” in Whitehall, as yet unidentified. 
It seems that the notion of honesty, of public service, of the morality of duties has left these shores. When these disgusting bankers were manipulating markets, the little people were being exploited, my question is ....

... to what end ?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The borrowers ...

... of Wales, no film script, its the real thing, WAG wants to borrow £ billions.

The big question is how do the politicians propose to fund their political "retail" therapy, by repaying from the £15 billion block grant, or by joining the Big Society with a local income tax.

Financially there is little to choose between payment from the block grant and payment from a local income tax, both are the means to an end, but democratically the difference is between night and day, chalk and cheese, it puts final approval of spending where it should be, at the ballot box.

So David Cameron, give them borrowing powers coupled to tax raising powers, let them be accountable via the ballot box.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The FBI will heed the ...

... man within, "one's conscience", whilst the British Government will sit on its hands and fail the people from all over the world.

Guided by its very un-civil service, government breasts will be beaten, sackcloth and ashes worn as a public display of contriteness by bankers, but at the end of this sorry affair unless the police arrest those responsible for fixing the LIBOR rates, and those who supervised the fixing, and those who turned a blind eye to the activities of these thieves.

... and those at the very top, nothing will change !  They rely on false compliance ...
Compliance is much more about giving senior management, and the regulators where they exist, cover from culpability than rooting out bad behaviour. “We did our best, the right boxes were ticked, how could we know?” they are able to say.
... that is not compliance, its a comfort blanket for the complicit.
We need rendition of every one of those involved in this scandal, to the only commonwealth that has both the will and the teeth to send a message of worth to the bankers throughout the world that there is "nowhere to hide".  To do this Britain need Uncle Sam like never before.
And because the British Government is a gutless body when addressing issues of morality and ethics amongst its own, and for Bankers read the Bank of England read British Government (of every flavour), people turn to the champion of law and order in the USA, the FBI.  It is time to repay those little people who rarely ask for favours, help clean this cesspit of banking criminal who laugh at the law, people without a conscience, people who cheated every little person with a bank account ...

... and in Europe ... France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, and the other countries that have banking links with London, you have been affected by the scum of LIBOR, its time the call to fix this scandal of morality and ethics was pan-European ......

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Better Together ....

.... On 25th June the Better Together campaign finally launched. In this special newsletter we cover the launch and give a few reflections on it.

As we arrived, outside there was a token Nationalist protest – about a dozen demonstrators had draped out dozens of Scottish Flags at the entrance to the launch as if our flag was a nationalist symbol. 

Obviously they had not read ODN’s article from last week where we firmly established that it was a symbol of a Scotland united within the United Kingdom and not a separatist icon. I doubt they realised the irony but they were in fact flying our flag!

It was quite a different type of launch from the Yes Scotland launch of a few weeks past and rightly so. Perhaps lessons were learned from that and a more realistic approach to starting a campaign on the serious issue of Scotland’s future was adopted – placing this in the hands of the real people of Scotland and not just celebrities and political personalities.

Although the interviews with the representatives of the people of Scotland were a little rehearsed they still came over as genuine. These were ordinary men and women, young and old, from all backgrounds and, like us, they were people who believed passionately that Scotland should remain within the UK. It was good to hear this voiced by the actual people of Scotland rather than just the politicians. 

In our opinion, the shipbuilders from the Clyde were the star attraction. They were suitably blunt when it came to their turn to be interviewed - as only Glaswegians can be. “We fight together, we work together and as the slogan says, we are Better Together”. 

There was no way they wanted to leave the Union! 

The politicians were also there of course, but apart from Alistair Darling’s flagship speech, their presence was much more low key, mingling with the crowd and not intentionally making themselves the stars of the show, although they proved a magnet for the press.

Alistair Darling said in his speech that when Scotland votes in the referendum, we will face a historic choice which will shape our country and our families' futures, not just for the lifespan of a parliament, but for generations to come. 

“Chairing this campaign,” he said, “Is one of the most important things I have ever done in politics - the decision we make is the most important we will make in our lifetime."

He also warned that a vote for independence was like buying Scotland's children a one-way ticket to uncertainty.

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem leader gave the closing remarks saying, “Your decision is not really just for you, it's for future generations too - it is a big responsibility to make a decision about what legacy you want to leave for future generations.

“But it is a decision that we will take together - throughout this campaign, you will hear why we are safer, stronger and better together - you will hear from all three parties here today but more importantly you'll hear from individuals like the people here today.

"From every corner and every community in Scotland we will take nothing for granted in the campaign to keep our family together, we will work for every single vote."

Annabel Goldie, the former Conservative leader in Scotland, was a real knockout as an interviewer. She may not have been able to reverse the Tories fortunes here in Scotland, but members and supporters of all political parties have always liked and trusted her. She will be a great asset to this type of campaign where politicians have to reach out in a genuine way to the people of Scotland.

We had opportunity to interact with most of the politicians there, building on previous contacts, and, with some, even grabbing a chat – including Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, Margaret Curran, Anas Sarwar, Ruth Davidson, David McLetchie, Annabel Goldie and Murdo Fraser. 

Most we know already and have had discussions with about ODN – to agree with both how we could support them and also how they could support us as we reached out at a grass roots level to those who wished to preserve the Union, including many with no real political inclination at all.

Not surprisingly, the SNP have commented already on the launch. The main thrust of Alex Salmond’s response however seems to be that Better Together is a “Tory-led campaign, which is intent on conceding nothing to the people of Scotland.”. 

He claimed that Alistair Darling was operating as the frontman for a Tory-led campaign. 

In our opinion, Alistair Darling is no one’s front man as evidenced by his willingness stand up for his views to Gordon Brown in the last Labour government. Hopefully the people of Scotland will see through Alex Salmond’s claim. 

In fact Alex Salmond actually had nothing positive to say about Independence anywhere in his rebuttal to Better Together - only negative comments - which seemed a little ironic as in the past he has often accused the pro-Union campaign of being excessively negative.

I think the most interesting observation on the launch however came from one ODN supporter we dispatched down to Haymarket station early Monday morning, to pick up one of the leaflets being distributed at Scottish stations, as a prelude to the launch. As he approached he saw no sign of leaflets being clutched or even being read by commuters streaming from the station. Indeed he wondered if the information he had got had been wrong. However it was not wrong and a leaflet was soon in his hands although it had obviously not been of much interest to the other commuters.

This does point to a general indifference in the population at large. We suspect that it’s not that they don’t care about the future of Scotland or really want to split from the rest of the UK - but this is no longer exciting new news and the campaign still has a further two and a bit years to run – time enough in most people’s plans to get involved later – if it looks like being a close call. 

It’s very easy to forget this as we mingle and chat to other passionate Unionists involved in the campaign and who want the real push to start now and keep going at a frantic pace til 2014. 

That strategy just won’t work. 

Indeed, if we expect others to share this passion we may be disappointed. The reality is that we are in this for the long haul and the campaign to save the Union must in fact be a long term campaign that is carefully and strategically thought out. 

We cannot sprint for 100m and then expect to have enough stamina to win the much longer and more strength sapping 15,000m

The positive thing however is that with the launch of Better Together a balance has been restored and at ODN we welcome this.

For too long – even before the launch of the Yes Scotland campaign – the SNP have made the debate on Scotland’s future a one horse race. There was no other voice of any consequence!

But there is now a powerful and credible counter to this. We are indeed “Better Together”
At One Dynamic Nation we are committed to working together in partnership with Better Together and will keep you posted on developments and where you can help.

We issued a press release on the day of the launch where we pledged the following:-

“To demonstrate our support and to keep actively representing our own followers, many of whom we hope will also be actively involved in the united Better Together campaign and to avoid duplication of effort, we propose:-

  • · To work with Better Together as a partner contributing to a united campaign in defending the Union.
  • · To offer advice, knowledge, expertise, experience and resource to Better Together.
  • · To support Better Together in a public way including promoting this organisation on our web site and in any material we generate including our weekly newsletter.
  • · To continue to represent those who have no particular political affiliation or who do not wish to be publically associated with an organisation that is a political initiative and to represent their interests
  • · To work at grass roots level and continue to grow by promoting the Union and gathering support for it at this level primarily through social media, word of mouth and our weekly newsletter which now has a credible and steadily increasing circulation.
  • · To work with Better Together on research projects, coordinating efforts, so that resource is not duplicated.”
We would also encourage you to join Better Together at their website:-

 A message for Wales too, "Better Together" ......

Every Brit needs the FBI, because ...

... our Government is not going to remove banking criminals from society, prosecute them, and place them behind bars, as an example to others that crime will not pay, for at least 30 years.

The Sunday Times writers Iain Dey, Oliver Shah and Karl West write today ...
FBI probes Barclays rates traders.

Libor scandal widens as Americans pursue criminal investigations and RBS sacks 10 dealers linked to plot.
FOURTEEN Barclays traders at the centre of the global market-fixing scandal are being investigated by the FBI, America’s top criminal investigation agency. 

Agents at the FBI’s Washington headquarters are conducting an inquiry into the group accused last week by regulators of conspiring to rig international interest rates. 

Barclays was last week fined £290m by regulators in America and Britain after admitting its role in fixing the rates at which banks lend to each other — known as Libor and Euribor — between 2005 and 2009. 

Although the settlement deal ensures the bank is no longer under investigation, the agreement did not extend to the unnamed traders - who are believed to have been based mostly in London and New York. 

The Serious Fraud Office is also conducting an inquiry into the individuals. However, senior financial investigators said that the Americans have greater scope to bring a case to court. The FBI could attempt to extradite any Britons involved in the affair to America if it finds there is a case to answer.
The Libor-rigging investigation extends to 20 of the world’s biggest banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group are also involved.
Regulators and criminal investigators on three continents are examining traders’ activities. RBS has fired about 10 staff as a result. Dozens of bankers at other institutions have been sacked or suspended.
Libor and Euribor are the benchmark rates used to price more than £300 trillion of financial products, from credit cards and mortgages to complex financial derivatives. 

In the run- up to the financial crisis, traders are said to have attempted to manipulate the rates to boost their bonuses or protect their jobs. At the peak of the financial crisis, they artificially lowered rates to disguise the stress on the banks’ balance sheets. 

Barclays is the first bank to strike a deal in an attempt to bring an end to the affair. It blew the whistle on its own traders and agreed to settle at an early stage in exchange for a 30% cut in financial punishment. 

The revelations have left Barclays’ chief executive, Bob Diamond, fighting for his job and provoked fresh anger about City greed. David Cameron called for senior bankers to “take responsibility for the actions” while Vince Cable, the business secretary, said the nation needed to clean up “a massive cesspit in the banking system”. 

Demands are mounting for a full public inquiry into banking ethics and standards. Diamond and Marcus Agius, chairman of Barclays, will face the Commons’ Treasury committee this week. Diamond is expected to push blame towards other banks — and the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the regulator. 

Barclays executives raised concerns about potential manipulation of Libor four years ago, at the peak of the financial crisis. Documents released by the FSA last week quote emails from the bank’s staff stating that the regulator believed manipulating Libor “seems sensible” given the extreme stresses in the financial markets at the time. 

According to the FSA last week, the bank’s submitters — staff who compiled its borrowing rates — thought the Bank of England condoned the practice of tweaking the numbers downwards. This was because of a misunderstanding as senior management passed commands down, the FSA said.
It is unclear how much Diamond knew at the time. Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the Treasury committee, is expected to focus on this in his questioning. 

Several Barclays investors rallied to Diamond’s defence. One top 20 shareholder said: “By the time this chapter of history is written, I suspect there will be other banks that will have got far bigger fines.”
Diamond is “still sufficiently critical to the running of large swaths of this business that to throw him overboard would be to the detriment of shareholders”, the investor added. 

Agius is also under pressure to resign. Some shareholders are still upset with his handling of a row over a £ 5.7m payment to Diamond to cover a tax bill. Investors will not push for his exit immediately to avoid destabilising the bank further. 

Some shareholders are said to want Agius to be replaced by Sir Mike Rake, BT’s chairman and Barclays’ senior independent director. 

Chuka Umunna, shadow business secretary, urged Agius to quit as chairman of the British Bankers’ Association, which compiles Libor. Bob Diamond is Britain’s most hated banker. If the rankings were ever in doubt, the tsunami of opprobrium that washed over the Barclays chief executive last week confirmed his status as public enemy No1.

A big thank you to the FBI ... you might like to make an application to extradite the scum today lest they disappear from the radar, and you need to question the men and women at the top of the fraudulent banking organisations !