Thursday, 14 March 2013
Monday, 11 June 2012
Gordon Brown has been hauled in front of the Leveson Inquiry to give his version of events in the ongoing saga. He is in the unusual position of making some political capital out of his failure to woo the Murdoch Empire. He has been mindful to still champion freedom of speech but strenuously denied Rupert Murdoch's statement that he had declared war on the Murdoch empire. However he has had his moment in the sun to avenge the rather cruel way in which Rebecca Brooks forced them to reveal their 4 month's son cystic fibrosis on the front page of The Sun. Brown in what was an emotional testimony clearly carried the whole courtroom with him by ridiculing Brook's sworn testimony that he had given permission for the story to be run. He claimed that he had wanted a general statement to protect his son's privacy but this was 'unacceptable' to the then Sun editor. The picture Brown paints is one of an extremely powerful media, wholly unaccountable to any press complaint mechanism with any muscle.
The volley of Ad Homonym attacks he suffered adds some weight to Brown's testimony and has surprisingly done more damage to the News International than any other witness.
Where Brown sounded less convincing were on areas of data protection where immunity was granted if a public interest case could be presented. He argued that on areas where he had appeared to be leaned on i.e. Data Protection immunity, he was a captive audience whereby he was already of the views which matched the press Barons' agenda. On the issue of Brown's notorious tendency to use his special advisers to brief against his political enemies, Brown flatly denied all allegations. However Alasdair Darling's reading of the situation that the special advisers were given an unspoken blessing to carry out the then PM's agenda seems far closer to the mark. In conclusion Brown was quite adept at protecting himself from a legal standpoint while using a scalpel to help the unravelling of the Murdoch mafia. When asked for his conclusion Brown made the rather erudite point that quality journalism needs championing in the age of the internet with falling advertising revenues. The insinuation was that a BBC type model was needed to replace moguls which essentially prop up failing papers in exchange for power and influence.
Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Monday, 10 May 2010
Sunday, 9 May 2010
The offer of PR is a deal breaker for any Clegg-Cameron alliance. Without this, Clegg will have missed a once in a generation opportunity to bring the two party system to an end. The other factor is that the only person that doesn't mind tarnishing his political brand during this temporary and most austere of parliaments is Gordon Brown. So while Clegg and Cameron are tanning themselves during this permutational merry-go-round of potential power, they will learn that any heir to Blair has to live with the immovable sun blocking shadow of Gordon.
Friday, 18 December 2009
All it seems is not well in the state of Denmark. 192 countries with competing interests getting together to come to an agreement on our planet's existential
future always had the makings of a Shakespearean tragedy. Unfortunately for the
audience the seriousness of the issues at hand has been lost on the characters that
waltz the world stage with the whole meeting descending into farce. The pantomime protagonists China and the USA are mainly to blame. The Chinese for their part
don't want any agreements to be validated by inspections and the Americans and Europeans don't want to recognize and pay for their historical ecological debt. After all it is the not the newly emerging countries but the US and Europe which have benefited the most from polluting the world.
In President (at least i showed up) Obama we have a leader who is shackled by the senate to effect any substantive change. If we want to reduce pollution we have to subsidize the poor countries in Africa and south America to keep the planet's lungs, the rain forests, away from corporate harm. However given that none of the communiques or agreements forged are legally binding all of this political theatre is meaningless particularly given the record of the richer countries on sticking to targets. Given this set of circumstances whatever self congratulatory draft agreement is read out by the prince of Denmark in a few hours time the ending for the world's poorest nations,one fears, will be as tragic as that in Hamlet.
Gordon Brown has cut somewhat a lonely and insignificant figure in Copenhagen. This is certainly one area where a lack of a United Europe policy damages all of us. His
failure to highlight the ridiculousness of the Tories green aspirations outside the framework of the European Union unfortunately has made him look weaker still.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Alistair Darling is having a great time one upping the former chancellor by telling anyone that will listen(usually Jonathan Sopel on the dreariest politics show on uk tv)that he was right to predict that we wouldn't come out of recession until the turn of the year. Amidst all this new found glee in punditry prowess the fact remains that we are behind both Germany and France in coming out of the recession. On the one hand surely that was to be expected as we have a bigger financial sector. On the other hand-Wait a second- the financial sector includes the institutions which have been deemed 'too big to fail' and aren't they the ones that are once again turning in record profits? So this must leave us asking the question 'how badly is the rest of our economy performing?'. Has bailing out the worst performing sector of the economy left behind a flawed incentive structure with
a permanent effect on the rest of the economy. Time will tell. But it does seem in the light of the new round of bank bonuses that it is not the leanest but rather the 'biggest' businesses which have best survived the recession. It is almost as if evolutionary capitalism has reached such an apex of greed that it has turned to feeding on itself. Once the reward/punishment system breaks down so does capitalism.
Brown's failure to jail key protagonists in the political and financial arena will cost him the election. It is only sad that he is handing over to a political class
which has for years championed the rights of those who would live off the fat of the land. A political class that at each stage of this recession have suggested policies that would have led to a deeper and more prolonged recession.
At the fast food check out of the modern ballot box our choice is limited and it would seem that our politics like our industry is infected with the same malaise: where the biggest parties rather than the emergent best policies gain the vote.
Could there possibly be a better example of 'demeritocracy' than the suggestion that Tony Blair should take over as the president of Europe simply because he is 'a big name.'
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
As Gordon Brown took to addressing the Trade Unions today one feels the real powerhouse that controls the Labour Party today is actually the huge Banking
Lobby. Having somehow explained away how the invisible hand stole so much and why
we had to bail them out it seems that they have come up with a new ethos 'Quid No Pro'. No-one is denying that they had to be bailed out (apart from the Tory party
of course) but the payback was that they would start lending 'sensibly' as soon as
feasibly possible. Instead banking bonuses are back in the headlines because it
turns out that the banks have realised that with credit your business can return to profitability! The very situation all their small business customers desperately want to be in.
There seems to be complete confusion on how to deal with these institutions.On the one hand the Government doesn't want to force their hand, on the other the government wants institutions to take it upon themselves to lend. Institutions that have shown themselves hopeless at any form of self regulation. The end result
is that NO decisions are being made. The overall effect on the economy will be mass unemployment with the unemployed becoming increasingly unemployable. If banking bonuses
were based on the number of businesses brought back to profitability this could kick start the economy in a positive way. Cuts alone won't reduce this massive deficit and if they are done as a matter of dogma or political bullying it may harm any recovery. We need bold and brash state intervention to kick start this economy (Apparently it works for the Chinese!). That will probably mean uncomfortable decisions politically on ID Cards and Trident.
However if the stranglehold the City has on government isn't broken by brave politics and if greater financial ingenuity isn't used to correct the incentive schemes for mostly state owned Banks then the UK won't make it through the recession, but London, as some type of Monte Carlo for the very rich,perhaps will.
A more fitting Ethos By Those in Power should be Quid non pro patria?( What would not one do for his country?)
Monday, 8 June 2009
As Gordon Brown was forced into keeping the cabinet largely unchanged, the electorate it seems had already made up their minds a day before that they would vote almost anything other than labour. The big winners were the single issue parties such as the Greens, the BNP and most notably UKIP. Even tiny parties such as The Christian Party picked up 3% of the vote in London alone. Whilst the Labour vote
was expected to collapse it seems that in the light of the Mp's expenses scandal people have registered their disdain by voting for the party that most closely reflects their particular area of concern. The blow for Gordon is that they do what he has been incapable of doing; namely getting their message across. These European elections have only been given significance in the context of a General Election given the scope of Labour's defeat. However a more subtle point, that will be troubling for all the main parties is that people will no longer be voting strictly
along party lines. As people can get information online on a specific candidates
detailed voting intentions on every issue they will refuse to vote for prospective Mp's put up by mainstream parties. They will instead opt for independents or single issue parties. A Euro-sceptic Tory will not vote for a pro-European Tory put up in his or her constituency. Information which in previous years the voter either didn't have or didn't bother with. The power of the political whip will decline as the information age ushers in a new era of micro analysis for each candidate.
Brown will remain safe as long as the premiership is seen as a poisoned chalice by any potential plotter. A year is still a long time in politics, but Labour will
be kicked out 'big style' if they cannot communicate the simple fact that they have the best policies to deal with the recession. Tory failure to have any policies
of note on the economy meant that in real terms their share of the vote increased only by 1% in these European elections even amidst a Labour meltdown.
Monday, 25 May 2009
"It is high time for Me to put an End to your Sitting in this Place, which you have dishonoured by your Contempt of all Virtue, and defiled by your Practice of every Vice;
Ye are a factious Crew and Enemies of all good Government; Ye are a Pack of mercenary Wretches and would, like Esau, Sell your Country for a Mess of Pottage; and like Judas, betray your God for a few Pieces of Money; Is there a single Virtue now remaining amongst you?
Is there one Vice that you do not possess? Ye have no more Religion than my horse! Gold is your God: Which of you have not bartered your Conscience for Bribes?
Is there a Man amongst you that has the least care for the Good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes! Have you not defiled this Sacred Place, and turned the Lord's Temple into a Den of Thieves by your immoral Principles and wicked Practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole Nation.
Your Country therefore calls upon me to cleanse the Augean Stable, by putting a final Period to your Iniquitous Proceedings in this House, and which by God's Help, and the strength He has given Me, I now come to do.
I command ye, therefore, upon the Peril of your Lives, to depart immediately out of this Place;
Go! Get out! Make haste, ye Venal Slaves, begone!"
Oliver Cromwell 1653
Friday, 8 May 2009
If Gordon Brown is to maintain any semblance of authority he needs to analyse these expense claims, separate the petty from the fraudulent and sack those that have crossed the line. The real tragedy is that the quite sickening greed of a few may jeopardize the confidence in government that is so necessary at a time of fragile economic recovery. If he doesn't have the political strength to let a few heads roll then he cannot have the political authority to lead us through this recession with all the deep sacrifices that it will entail for the vast majority
of the British Public. Gordon Brown's cleaner is not the issue here. We are talking about the immeasurable cost to the nation if we do not have a cleaner political system. Please see the Open Letters section to see the level of public outrage.
Friday, 24 April 2009
One of the most surprising aspects of the budget was the fact that people seem to be surprised at the scale of the borrowing. Almost as if the enormous bank bailouts were somehow not going to be factored in. Yes, this was the budget that would expose how severely we have to pay for the extent of corporate greed. No it hasn't made those responsible pay for the bulk of the damage. The 50% bracket as has widely been reported can easily be bypassed by those who got us in this mess because they are experts in financial engineering. They can easily convert their gains to stocks which would pay the much lower rate of corporate tax. As a nation, this is the moment we realize that the guy who had promised us free drinks at the bar all night was a con artist and has done a runner. Since no-one was keeping tabs its no point having a massive argument about who drank what and when etc. this seems to be the Tory position. They offered many criticisms but no solutions and I still don't understand how without a significant fiscal expansion they would stop this recession
turning into a depression.
TWEET: Labour Bad-tories worse-alternatives non-existent
Friday, 3 April 2009
Usually confined to the open letters section it would be amiss not to post one of the many letters of anger and frustration concerning Mp's expenses. Making us pay
for her husband's porn has touched a very raw nerve at the most inappropriate of economic times. perhaps if she had id monitored her husband this scandal may have been avoided! Below is one of the letters emailed
Dear Gordon Brown,
I am absolutely disgusted that tax payers are paying for MP's husbands "porn" - had it not been for the mole inside Government, we would never have known about this - what I would like to know is who / what else have we been paying for ... hopefully the "mole" will not be caught and we will be allowed to see the full extent of what we are paying for.
I say sack J Smith !!! and get some decent staff in.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
There are many 'ifs' facing Barack Obama and Gordon Brown if they are to succeed in seeing us through the global economic crisis but one thing is for sure, cool heads and decisive action have served both polticians well over the past couple of months. Make no mistake the fundamental challenges are immense but they can be overcome:
If the fiscal stimuli in an increasingly interconnected world are coordinated between countries in their implementation.
If they get the timing right so that they have the maximum impact.
If we can marginalise the views of those who are against borrowing now for a classic Keynsian expansion to kick start the economy (Cameron's position is analagous to a doctor not wanting to use the defribillators on a patient whose heart has stopped for fear of future electricity bills.)
If we realise how deep this international crisis is and how very interdependant we are as nation states such that no country retreats into isolationism and no country is hampered by oppositions who delay action for political gain.
If we can force the banks to lend to small busineses with pre-crisis elasticity as a price for the huge public bailouts we granted them.
If we accept that economics is a science as well as an art and the decisive manner in which policy is implemented can be equally as important as choosing the correct policies.( Thatcher was against the ERM, Lawson for it.Its not that either position could have been characterized as right or wrong but it was the appearance of a weak government that led to the markets being bold enough to bet against the pound and lead to its collapse.) Statements by George Osborne that there may be a run on the pound are highly irresponsible and can become self fulfilling prophecies. Our politicians must close ranks as they would in a time of war.
If we believe enough in the soaring rhetoric of our politicians such that they can instill hope; a 'rational exuberance' if you like to counterbalnce 'the irrational
exuberance' that has driven us into this wilderness.
If the media can check their cynicism without comprimising their judgement and 'act as men' in seeing their role as leaders too in this battle as guardians of our morale
If we do not neglect the poor;an action which so often leads to revolution and war,
Then indeed as in in the words of Kipling in his great poem 'If' ,the earth can be ours 'and everything that's in it.'