Tag Archives: gordon brown

THE CUTTING EDGE

28th January 2014

SOUTH KESTEVEN DISTRICT COUNCIL (SKDC) – THE COUNCIL FROM HELL

I posted some weeks ago about this evil and utterly incompetent council. Arguably they have now surpassed themselves, but at what human tragedy. The development they undertook here in Wherry’s Lane, Bourne,  is running very much over its sheduled completion date. The site foreman, Carl, was facing tremendous problems in trying to get the development finished on time, or even anywhere near time. In the event its completion is well over a year overdue. I have it on good authority that he would email his bosses at 2 or 3 in the morning informing them of these.  Last year, but a few months ago now, his wife and a son found him; he had hanged himself. They cut him down, but it was too late. He was dead! Whether this was the reason for his suicide, or whether there were other contributory reasons, remains to be determined. I find it odd, however, that this has not been reporterd in the local media. Are the council putting pressure on them not to report this matter? I would not be surprised.

There had been so many problems he faced. I have already mentioned the fact that the seven shop units built cannot accommodate eateries. This is due to a design flaws in the shops, and these cannot apparently be corrected. Given that it is shops selling take-away foods which are the only likely ones to take up a lease, this demonstrates South Kesteven District Council’s (SKDC’s) total incompetence. Gregg’s had shown interest in a shop, but pulled out, due to the company’s current financial difficulties. Subway also showed interest, but could not proceed forthe reason stated above.

I found out recently that the council in their wisdom had installed energy saving electrical fittings. The electrician refused to supply the light bulbs for these as they cost £75 a shot, a grand total of over £2000, which had not been costed in. May the Council leader Linda Neal and her acolytes be brought to justice over this utter mismanagement of a matter in which they should not have involved themselves in the first place, ie property development.

CENTENARY OF THE BEGINNING OF WWI

Why celebrate the beginning of WWI? If anything we should surely be celebrating its end in a few years time. I find this quite perverse. Those poor bastards who died in their millions were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have no doubt whatsoever that they would now be turning in their graves when they see how the current leaders of this country are selling it to the highest bidder.

ED BALLS

Ed Balls is a moron masquerading as an imbecile. While I have a certain sympathy for taxing those exceedingly wealthy more than the rest of us, I do come out against this. I don’t subscribe to the argument that increasing the top tax rate to 50% will lead to an exodus of wealthy people from this country. They are here for many reasons, largely in London and the Home Counties, reasons other than the level of taxation in the UK.

And yet I feel a tax rate of 50% is not equitable. I myself have been a recipient of tax rates very much higher than 50% in the days of the Labour governments in the 70s, so cannot forget this easily. How much better, and how more revenue can be obtained, by closing down loopholes for tax avoidance, coming down on tax evasion, and making double taxation agreements more difficult to enter into. This would bring in a substantially higher amount of money; various figures have been given and I won’t go down the road of citing these, but significantly higher they will be.

UKIP

UKIP are not doing themselves any favours at the moment. I have the greatest respect for Nigel Farage, a man who calls a spade a spade, and recognizes the fundamental issues relating to our economy, society and much else, and most importantly shares the concerns of ordinary people. And yet UKIP are badly organised, a point I have made for some time. Too many of their election candidates in the past have been what I can only describe as flaky. David Campbell Bannerman is no doubt an idiot, but too many such idiots have been admitted to UKIP over the years. As for the ranting of David Sylvester, a councillor of Henley-on-Thames – I am lost for words.

Farage’s weather forecast of a few days ago was a damage limitation exercise, and quite funny and clever I thought; but it should not have been necessary. Let us hope no further disasters await them.

DAVID CAMERON

I read in the Mail on Sunday  ‘PM: I drive Sam so crazy with the TV remote control that she walks out of the room.’ What would a psychologist make of this? I am no psychologist, but it occurs to me that he is scatter brained, does not have staying power, and demonstrates a lack of concentration. Quite apart from that, he shows an uncaring attitude towards his wife. I’m not sure that these are good traits to have in a man who is meant to be running this country. As for his views on British history, the less said the better. The man is an idiot, Jeremy Paxman is right.

UKRAINE

What is happening in the Ukraine is disturbing, and yet the Brussels Facista have a lot to answer for. That useless woman Kathy Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, and the then German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle did nothing to help the matter by visiting the Ukraine at the end of last year. If anything it fuelled the already smouldering situation.

DRONES

Listening to Cameron speak is even worse than listening to that consumate drone Gordon Brown. Gordon who? You may well ask. And who on earth invited him to Davos? I’m astonished it has not dawned on them yet that he has no financial acumen whatsoever.

JUSTIN BIEBER

The poor guy has had to endure such a wholesome lifestyle for most of his life, it is not surprising that he is rebelling against it. It is very refreshing to see, given his recent arrest, that he is after all a normal young man. Will it harm his career? Well, it’s not going to go down too well with his Christian following, but then God is forgiving, let us see what wonders he can work.


THE CUTTING EDGE

17th September 2013

FREE SCHOOL MEALS

I am delighted that free school meals will be offered to all 5 – 7 year old school children. Not only will it help hard pressed parents financially, but will provide many of these children with healthier alternatives to what they are eating at present.

VINCE CABLE

Vince Cable as leader of the Lib Dems? I don’t think, despite his blatant posturing to that effect. He has not a chance in hell. There is no one else to take over realistically from Clegg, at least not until the next election is over. Even then it very much depends on how well the Lib Dems do. I don’t think this will do Cable much good, other than the obvious appeal he has to the those on the left of his party.

MERKEL

I gather in a beer cellar in Athens a cocktail called Bloody Merkel is selling well! It appears to be popular. I haven’t a clue what its constituents are, but gather it is rather bitter. I expect her to win a majority in this coming Sunday’s election. The opposition parties, speak principally the SDP, are very disorganised. It is somewhat reminiscent of what is happening here, although in the UK we still have quite some time to go until the next election. A lot can yet happen.

US MASSACRE

I never cease to be amazed at how useless the US military is in providing security for its own, both in the States and abroad. Apparently Aaron Alexi had psychological problems, more than that, he had several brushes with the law, yet he was allowed to continue in his employment, all put down to PTSD!

PLASTIC BAG CHARGE

A good idea; I have been used to this for many years on the Continent. I use them liberally, but I dare say I will reuse them more, or take long term shopping bags with me. However, the following came to my notice.

I had a number of plastic bags filled with rubbish lying in an open space on some property I own. They had been exposed to the elements, rain, snow, frost and heat for some 5 – 6 years. When I cleared the site I discovered that the plastic, when I tried to lift the bags, disintegrated into small pieces. So what is this nonsense about plastic not degrading for so very many years? These were not bio-degradable bags, yet such bio-degradable bags have been around for a long time. Why were they not introduced years ago?

But of course it is those who dispose of such bags where they should not, be it on land or at sea, against whom I would like to see draconian measures taken. Of course, much of the time such dumpers cannot be identified, but they often can and fines are quite inadequate.

12th September 2013

ECONOMIC RECOVERY

The economy is recovering, and why shouldn’t it. It has been in the doldrums for some years now. Let us not forget, however, it is recovering from a low base. Whether Osborne can take any credit for this is doubtful. His qualifications to be Chancellor of the Exchequer are more than dubious. He, and the Tory party, can however take comfort from this. The game plan is of course to have a recovering economy and feel good factor in place for the next general election. That they will probably have and, given the lack of a credible opposition, should win an outright majority. That will be disastrous for the country of course.

A FORMAL EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN

I am following the debate about when children should start a formal education. It does rather depend how one defines formal. If a structured education is meant, then I am very much against it beginning until a child is 7 years old. Let our children be children, they have little enough time to be so.

Yet there is no reason why reading and basic arithmetic, for example, cannot be taught at a very much earlier stage, but so as it is fun for the child. I did so with my son. He wanted to be able to read the the text contained in the books he had, there was no pressure exerted by me. This of course means that children from a deprived background may very well not be offered this opportunity by their parents.

JUST WILLIAM

I heard Just William make a statement in Parliament earlier which is farcical in the extreme, even by his standards. The emphasis on the use of chemical weapons is quite sickening. The fact that innocent civilians, men women and children were killed, hardly gets a mention. Then to hear him say when speaking of the Syrian government ‘ given their track record any commitment made by them must be viewed with caution’, well…. any commitment made by HM government over the past three years could certainly and demonstrably not be taken seriously.

BOB GELDORF

I read a couple of days ago that Bob Geldorf has been given a ticket for a space flight next year. The Space Expedition Corporation hope to have 100 people sent into space then. We can but hope that in Bob’s case it is a one-way ticket. I am sure Midge Ure shares this opinion. It would be ironic if they send him up on a Monday!

POOR OLD ALEX BRUMMER

Our basket case economy will take years to fix. This a headline statement made by Alex Brummer, chief financial journalist with the Daily Mail. Truly the man is a bummer! I recall him over the years fawning over Brown and Blair, how excellently they, most particularly Brown of course, were managing the economy. He was not alone, the entire financial establishment backed these two idiots. One of the very few exceptions was Richard Littlejohn, to his credit, and of course I predicted this and wrote about it as early as 1997-8.

ID Cards

I have always been vehemently opposed to ID cards being carried by the British. Now, much to my regret, I have been forced to change my mind, it has become an absolute necessity. This for many reasons, but largely for trying to control levels of illegal immigration. For this we have Blair and Cameron to blame and, oh yes, the one in between.

SUAN BOYLE

I read that Susan Boyle is to release a Christmas album in which she duets with Elvis Presley. Can she not have the decency to wait until she is dead?

ROLF HARRIS’S PORTRAIT OF THE QUEEN

Given Rolf Harris’s current predicament the queen has understandably returned the painting he made of her. I say returned, but no, rather curiously she sent it to the BBC! They, even more astonishingly have ‘lost’ it. Come on, own up, who there has nicked it?

PORN SITES IN PARLIAMENT

Appraently porn sites were accessed 300.000 times last year from within the houses of parliament. Wow! This together with extensive cocaine usage in parliament – is it too late to become an MP?

FEMALE MUSLIM IN BRITISH COURT

I am delighted at the action of judge Peter Murphy in ordering a female Muslim woman to remove her burkha in court. I am astonished that this should even be an issue. If this woman has a problem in complying, then she should not be in this country. Quite simply, that’s not how it is done in this country. And yet it has gone rather quiet about this issue, the government’s hand at play no doubt.

And subsequently we have female Muslims wanting to wear headress at Birmingham Metropolitan College, who to their credit have refused this to be permitted. This trend has to be nipped in the bud.

SYRIA

I don’t know what Cameron is thinking of. He lives in another world, yet the proposed bombing of Syria is taking on a new dimension. Britain, for the time being, will not be party to it, but I have no doubt assistance will covertly be given. I would not be surprised if Special Forces are not already on Syrian soil. Whether it proves successful or not, I for one do not wish to see this. It is for those around Assad to realize that enough is enough, just as happened with Saddam Hussein, who was ultimately betrayed by one of his circle. I suspect he will be deposed in the hope that negotiations with those opposing may be conducted. The long term ramifications in the Middle East will be significant, there are too many players involved. I am intrigued by the fact that Israel has kept very quiet about the whole matter.

Will Syria retaliate to such an act of war on the part of the USA, Britain and possibly others? If they are capable of doing so, I am sure they will attempt it. A statement could be made by sinking some American ships in the Mediterranean. As well protected as they are, I can think of at least two unconventional ways of sinking the aircraft carrier Harry Truman. Of course, that would lead to the USA invading Syria, and one has to ask where it will all end.

As for the UK, why is it we continuously want to fight wars overseas, when the real battles that need to be fought are on our home turf.

Since writing this we have seen the smart initiative by Russia. Putin is certainly running rings around Obama, but then that is not difficult to do. Will it succeed? Only if Syria plays ball, and if they have any sense, they will. An interesting development.

THE CUTTING EDGE

15th November 2012

AFGHANISTAN

I have wondered for some considerable time (in fact it is some 10 years and more since I first wrote about this), when the Axis powers would admit to their failure in trying to turn Afghanistan into a country based on a western model. Slowly but surely such concerns are now being raised in the public domain, although they have long been held in private. One is now trying to put a good gloss on the whole affair. The question ‘what if…’ is being asked ever more frequently.

The probability that this country will have a happy ending to yet another adventure on its soil, this time by the USA, the UK and a host of other countries, is very low indeed. The Taliban and other malcontents have long been preparing for the day foreign when troops leave their country; they have been patient. But now they are flexing their muscles, and have let their intent be known by a number of green on blue attacks over recent months. The Afghani Army and Police are without doubt infiltrated with those unfriendly to the current regime and are waiting for the day when they can destabilize the country and attempt to take it over. I say attempt, because there are so many different factions with different agendas I doubt whether it will be clear immediately who will succeed, but someone will, I am sure of that. To state that the Afghanistani forces are capable and competent to take over from Axis forces is a nonsense. Hamid Karzai’s days are numbered, for sure. I have long thought he will go the way of his predecessor Mohammad Najibullah, a not particularly pleasant end for a failed leader.

So what has it all been for, a question many are asking, all the sacrifices on the part of our young men? It’s been for nothing. Yes, after the 7/11 attacks on the USA military action should have been taken against elements in Afghanistan. It should have been taken, enemies destroyed, and the country left to its own devices. This procedure should have been repeated as and when necessary

To try and impose western culture and values on a medieval tribal society in the space of a decade and more is puerile, it was bound to fail. That’s not to say that there are not some who would happily embrace western culture, but they are largely in Kabul, and Kabul’s writ does not run in most of the rest of Afghanistan. In any event, the ultimate power broker in that region is Pakistan and they have enough problems of their own to contend with. I believe that country may end up as a fundamentalist Islamic state, the risk is  ever present, the efforts of the USA and others notwithstanding.

POST OFFICE – ROYAL MAIL

I didn’t realize how little our post office charge other carriers to deliver mail until I met an ex senior Royal Mail employee from a large post office in the Home Counties (now closed) a few days ago. It is as little as 25P per letter. And yet all correspondence etc carried by companies like TNT is ultimately delivered by our postmen. Now, given that the post office have to all intents and purposes a monopoly here, why don’t they increase charges to such carriers rather than lower the service they offer to the rest of us.

DOESN’T HE TALK FUNNY!

It’s William Hague I’m talking about – yet again. I just heard him on radio and have to laugh. His intonation and inflection are appalling. No doubt there are some who regard him as a brilliant speaker (largely in Yorkshire!), but it all depends with whom you compare him.

STARBUCKS ET AL

As far as Tax avoidance is concerned,  I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Arguably book keepers are there to keep your books and accountants are there to advise you on how to minimize your tax liability, in other ways how to avoid paying tax. Tax evasion is quite another matter. Morality does not strictly speaking come into it – or does it? The fact that some major corporations, US ones for the most part, as it happens, are not paying much tax in the UK on substantial turnovers, leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. Presumably they are paying tax on their profits somewhere, but not here. The USA has much stricter laws relating to this than we have, but then this country was made a ‘do anything you please’ economy by Blair many years ago. I do find it somewhat perverse that nothing is done to remedy this situation. Significant sums of tax revenue can be obtained by coming down on these people and all it requires is a change in the law. What are Starbucks, Google and Amazon et al going to do? Quite this country? Of course not. I also find it obnoxious that HMR are coming down on the little people, tax payers who can ill afford to pay their tax basically. But that is typical of this government, who use bully boy tactics on those least able to withstand them.

DAILY WAIL

I have been writing blogs since about 1999, a number of them under different names. I have become rather bored with the idea. There is little to be said that I didn’t say 10 years ago! Nor am I any longer flattered to see something I wrote about being written about by the Daily Mail, just a day or two later.

POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONERS

I am not surprised that the elections for Police Commissioners have not gone well. It was another bad idea of this hapless government. I did not vote. I fear that having candidates stand on political lines was a bad idea. Yes, many independents stood, although it has to be said that a number are less ‘independent’ than at first may appear. Any incumbent appointed to the post will have political views, of course, but to wear such colours in order to be elected was unsound. The English electorate are patently disillusioned and take a cynical view of most ideas put forward by this Government. Who can blame them.

WATER METERS

We are to be forced to have water meters in due course. And why not! Water is a most valuable and potentially scarce commodity and usage should be accounted for. Too much water is wasted in households; it will concentrate the user’s mind. The wastage through leaking pipes is a matter for the suppliers and needs to be addressed more urgently than it is. Speaking for myself, I had meters installed in my last two properties and was amazed by how much my bills were reduced.

HISTORIANS

We have a new wave of historians, quite dissimilar to those of years gone by. These rely almost entirely on information to be gleaned from the internet; and why not. And yet what many don’t realize is that most information is not available on the net, which will come as a surprise, although it should not. No doubt in years to come the bulk of it will be accessibly this way, but that will take some time yet. I am referring here of course to original source material, not books. Many advances are taking place in the online publication of books long out of print, and that is to be welcomed. But to write books whilst being totally reliant on books written by other people is a little disingenuous. Of course, there are many excellent printed primary monographs, well worth consulting, but to rely on other people’s interpretation of history, or to be unkind their unfounded opinions, is not ,in my opinion, the way forward. That apart, there is nothing like handling old manuscripts in order to get a feeling for ones subject matter. It imbues one with a true relationship with history.

As Leo van der Pas says in the introduction to his genealogical site, there are hunters and gatherers. Hunter search out information from original sources. Gatherers collect this information and hopefully present it in a user friendly format. Leo is one of the latter. I have always been both.

HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS

Never mind Santa Claus, but here comes Christmas once again. It only seems like yesterday when we last celebrated it; a sure sign of old age approaching. Call me an old softie, but I do look forward to Christmas. Perhaps it is purely for psychological reasons, as I had wonderful Christmases as a child and occasionally reminisce about them. No matter what the reason, I enjoy Christmas. I do treat it as a spiritual experience. I think we all can, no matter what your religion is, or indeed isn’t. It is a time for goodwill to be shown to all – thankfully only for a few days!

11th November 2012

BBC

The consensus of opinion on George Entwistle’s resignation seems to be that it should have taken place, although many are sorry to see him go. He is described by all as a decent man, and I have no doubt that he is just that. And yet he should have known what was going on within the BBC, and especially have been apprised of the content of the forthcoming Newsnight report; this most particularly in the wake of the Savile revelations and the BBC’s apparent involvement in these. I am pleased that two more heads have rolled, and I suspect there may be more; there should be more, for I don’t see why Entwistle should solely carry the can for this.

Then there is the matter of Chris Patten. I have seen and heard a number of interviews with him and quite frankly find his responses to question raised quite distasteful and at times evasive. He is patently jockeying for a position where he can remain in office. A grubby little man; we shall see what happens. Where are the men (and women) of stature? I remember being introduced to Duke Hussey and his wife some years ago.  Whether you liked him or not, he cut a figure and had stature – in more ways than one, of course.

But of course it is, as I pointed out some weeks ago, more the fact that Mark Thompson has questions to answer. He was at the helm for some nine years. I had little time for him. I can never forget how, immediately after Cameron moved into Downing Street, he was to be seen shuffling along to see Cameron to protect his interests in view of the animosity between the Tories and the BBC..

But all this is but a reflection of a deeper rooted malaise within the BBC, an organisation run somewhat like the civil service, and that is no renomme. I have been a fierce critic of the BBC for many years, well over a decade.

The corporation has not reported and broadcast impartially. It has for several decades displayed a pronounced left-wing bias, especially during the Blair years. Now, I don’t particularly like the terms left and right wing, waters have become much more muddied over the years, but I will use them for simplicity’s sake.

The problem has been that heads of department, and producers, have for far too long been ensconced in their own little worlds, regarding these as their own little fiefdom, in which to promote their own views, their prejudice,, their biases at will. This in respect of news coverage, but much more as far as all else is concerned, I will loosely call it entertainment. This applies more to radio than television, but both have become infected.

WIKIPEDIA

I see Wikipedia are seeking donations again. Thankfully they don’t advertise and I hope they get further funding from someone somewhere; it won’t be from me.

In the first few years after its foundation, I treated it with great suspicion, deservedly so. Run by geeks at the time, the objective was not to make it as all inclusive as it is now. I started contributing to it in then, but was told that what I was writing about was not of interest. I prevailed and indeed biographies are now one of the most viewed topics. But it was the standard of writing and research done that worried me in many instances. This has now improved dramatically over the years, although there is, by their own admission, still room for improvement. I use Wiki a lot, but have very often to consider who wrote the piece and the sources used to compile it.

GORDON BROWN

What is this idiot talking about when he said in an interview on BBC Radio 4 yesterday that we have been intolerant of girls’ rights in Pakistan for hundreds of years. I wish he would just get back into his coffin again.

JESSICA ENNIS

I am so happy that she has received many accolades as sports woman of the year. They are all well deserved. Having listened to her during a recent interview, I find her a charming and intelligent woman. Well done!

ARSENE WENGER

When did I first suggest he was well past his use by date… three years ago? The saving grace is that, in comparison to earlier years, he has so far whinged relatively little this season about Arsenal’s poor performance. I guess he knows such never-ending complaining no opnger goes down well with the fans – or the rest of us, come to that.

VALKYRIE

A good family friend is the son of General Wilhelm Keitel’s adjutant, Colonel Ernst von Freyend. Keitel was executed at Nuernberg as a war criminal, but Colonel von Freyend completely exonerated. My friend and his two brothers were none too happy with the film made about the attempt on Hitler’s life, and suggested I see it. I did yesterday, on TV. Personally I found it an OK film, but nothing special. I shared their opinion that their father had not been well portrayed, but then he doesn’t put in much of an appearance. I thought Keitel was a good look-alike, and von Staufenberg too, but Goering and Himmler were rather different in appearance in real life. But then, it was a Hollywood film, that says it all I think.

8th November 2012

PAEDOPHILIA IN TOP TORY CIRCLES

A lot of rumours have been floating around the internet in respect of paedophiles in the Tory party, who were active in the 1970s and subsequently. I have no doubt whatsoever that they existed, and do to this present day, not only in the Tory Party, but in all political parties. It is after all but a reflection of an unwelcome activity within our society; after all, much else that is unwelcome, antisocial or downright criminal is found among the political class who believe they can walk on water. To have named individuals , however, without any evidence to substantiate this, is completely and utterly wrong.

The media too have been remiss. It cannot be too difficult to get to the truth of the matter. I have from time to time run across rent boys, both under and over-age in West London, not as a client of theirs I hasten to add. Many of them will have interesting stories to tell. Prostitutes also, a few of whom I have got to know – I am a personable and friendly sort of chap – will open up to one under the right circumstances and divulge much information. I well recall one telling me that she has a number of clients among the most senior judiciary of the High Court in the Strand; and why not. As my grandfather, who was Political Agent in Yemen said in his book ‘Kings of Arabia’, and that surely not without reason, boys and dancing girls are the best source of information. And yet I find David Cameron’s  frantic efforts to dismiss this whole matter a little curious. More than that. to have played the homophobic card I find quite pathetic; it gives me the impression he is trying to protect someone. Let us see whether this will all out.

OBAMA VICTORY

The Democratic Party are to be congratulated on their Victory, even if it came about for all the wrong reasons. But once again they have shown the Republicans that they are better at electioneering. I am not a supporter of Obama. I find him a weak president, devoid of the ability to take firm and decisive action in any matter, and that even if his hands have been somewhat tied by the House. Seeing and hearing him on television I got the impression that there is a man who has lost all faith and confidence in himself, and he knows it. And yet the alternative was not any better. I won’t criticize the loser, there’s no point. But where does that leave the USA? I fear in a dangerous position, not only in respect of itself, but of the rest of the Western world. Firm, decisive leadership is required, and I won’t even commence a dialogue on what policies should be adopted. It does not auger well I fear.

INSIDER BETTING ON ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

That was so funny, William Hill closing its book on betting on who would be the next Archbishop a few days before the name of the new incumbent was announced. Then, of course, there was a rush to publish it. Obviously we had some insider betting going on by members of the political class in the know, as also members of the church. Naughty.

THE CUTTING EDGE

27th August 2011

THE HOUR

The last episode was a couple of evenings ago. I thoroughly enjoyed this mini-series. Oh, I know it has come in for a lot of criticism. It was accused of being too slow, ponderous, the script a little lack-lustre, and so it was, characteristics I don’t normally associate with a good program. And yet I enjoyed it. It took me back to the early days of television. I was but a youngster, but well recall the almost amateurish efforts of both the BBC and ITV in their programming. It was an innocent age, at least for a youngster such as me.

Set in 1956, during the Suez Crisis,  I found the plot quite riveting. The writer, Abi Morgan, created an ingenious mixture of fact and fiction. The director general of the BBC at that time was a relative of mine, Sir Ian Jacob. I wonder why Anton Lesser was cast as Clarence Fendley, as  he is almost a dead ringer for Ian, whereas the DG, who I believed appeared but briefly in one episode, looked nothing like him. It was in fact Sir Ian Jacob who insisted that the BBC show impartiality in their news coverage of the Suez Crisis, notwithstanding that immense pressure was put on the BBC by the Eden government to suppress and limit the same. This did not endear Ian to his old comrade Winston Churchill, who stated that in this respect he was disappointed in him.

An uncle of mine, the late Alaric Jacob, worked for the BBC after he had retired from journalism. Alaric can only be described as an armchair socialist, whereas his wife Iris Morley, an author, war correspondent and journalist, had been a member of the Communist Party. Notwithstanding this, she has graduated to a deserved place in the Dictionary of National Biography. Both appeared on Orwell’s list of suspected communist sympathisers, which is rather curious, as the list had been drawn up by George Orwell, a  friend of Alaric’s and whose literary executor he had been. Alaric was denied all BBC pension rights because of his inclusion on the list and his wife’s stated sympathies. When Alaric confronted his cousin Ian about this, he was told that  there was nothing that could be done for the time being. Alaric wrote an article in the New Statesman about this some years later. It was titled ‘Padlocked into MI5′s bosom’. However, after Iris died, prematurely, Alaric was again given BBC pension rights.

So you see, this is perhaps where my empathy for this program springs from. That apart, I find both Romola Garai and Anna Chancellor absolutely gorgeous!

DOMINIQUE STRAUSS KAHN

I have no feelings for this chap, either way. I would almost, but not quite, argue that he got what he deserved. And yet the manner in which his arrest and subsequent imprisonment and then release on bail has been handled is totally disgraceful. No doubt the US authorities will argue that no one in the USA is above the law, it applies to all and sundry, no matter who it is. We know of course that this is not so. There are few countries in the world where people are less equal than in the USA.

To release him now because there appears to be no credible evidence, or rather the sole witness to the affair is also the plaintiff and victim and her evidence is deemed untrustworthy, is ridiculous. That should have been established before the man was imprisoned, and initially refused bail. No, I feel it may well have been a set put up job . The conspiracy brigade will have their hands full.

ANDREW ROSENFELD

We had a brief bit of news about Gordon Brown having obtained finance for the Labour Party from this fellow – and then it was stifled. Curious. But wasn’t Andrew Rosenfeldt the same chappie who was investigated in the cash for Honours scandal some years ago? It makes you wonder.

CAMERON: I have won the war

A ridiculous pronouncement of course, but I would not put it past our man. When the riots broke out in England a couple of weeks ago David Cameron was slow to return to this country from his holiday. After all, this was bad news and he is loathe to face up to bad news. But hark, the ‘rebels’ in Libya appeared to have won the day, so on this occasion he breaks off his holiday post haste and returns to London. No doubt he was hoping to cash in on some positive PR. Thankfully – for him – his advisers cautioned against declaring his colours until it was quite clear that a victory by forces opposing Gaddafi had been gained. Quite frankly, thankfully Gaddafi is finished, there is no hope for him. And yet our man is still waiting for the right moment to declare his success in defeating him. Regime change, which is what it has been all about almost from day one, has been effected. And yet I feel that across the water Napoleon will claim the victory. How perverse is this I ask.

It seems to me that all our leaders need a war in which to be victorious, no doubt to take the electorates mind away from what has gone and is going wrong domestically.

And as for Big Ears suggesting we might contribute funds to the rebuilding of the Libyan state, this is outrageous. Libya is a rich country. Not only that but funds withheld from the ancient regime can now be released. There is more than enough money in Libyan coffers. So, no money from the UK or the EU should be gifted to Libya.

KIDNAPPED IN SOHO ( a sequel)

Not a great deal to say on the earlier post relating to this, other than that matters are progressing smoothly.

It is astonishing how reports of corruption within the Metropolitan Police surface, and yet the news is quickly suppressed. There are obviously those in Government and elsewhere who do not wish to have such further unpleasant revelations brought to the public’s attention, but I have little doubt more will be forthcoming in due course.

PLANET MADE OF DIAMONDS

Given that a second attempt is being made to establish a futures market in diamonds, will some bright spark sell forward diamonds from this source? After all, the planet is but 4000 lights years away from us.

WHO DOESN’T ENJOY A GOOD CURRY?

I do from time to time. I am no aficionado of curries, but once a month I cook one for myself. I say cook although I have to admit that due to lack of time I have tended for some years to buy ready-made curry sauces. And here’s the rub. I think I have tried most of them, but none, as far as I am concerned, taste particularly good. No matter which supermarket I get them from, no matter what brand I buy – they taste bland.

Many years ago, in the 70s, when I worked in the city of London, I had an Indian male secretary. In those days, in India, men tended to be secretaries, and Sam had arrived in London some years previously. Of course, that has all now changed, female secretaries have taken on a much more important role in India. Sam was in his 50s, widowed, and he cooked for himself. Quite apart from being an excellent secretary, he was a damn good cook. I got a couple of curry recipes from him, and excellent they are two. The problem is, they do take some time to prepare, notwithstanding the fact that, but in my opinion a curry tastes much better a day or two after it has been first made. It gives the ingredients time to be infused with the spices.

So there we are. I am at a loss what to do. Is there a decent curry sauce, ready prepared, that I have not come across? Any suggestions?

INAPPROPRIATE CONVERSATIONS?

Something I meant to post some weeks ago. David Cameron stated he did not have any inappropriate conservations with any of the Murdoch media gang, with whom he has had meetings on any number of occasions this year. Of course he bloody well did. What was the point of having a conversation with any of them if they were not going to discuss the proposed take over of B Sky B. No point whatsoever.

SNAKESKIN

Taking out the contents of a letter written by one of my cousins to a sibling in 1878, I found several small pieces of snakeskin contained in the envelope. On examination it looked very much like the skin of an Adder, although the markings were very faded and the skin dried out and delicate. After some investigation on the net, I discovered that the skin of an Adder was regarded as cure for rheumatism and headache, and indeed the letter itself referred to the former. I think we would look rather daft were we to attempt that now, I mean hordes of people walking around with adder skin on their foreheads – the mind boggles. But then, when told ‘not tonight Darling, I have a headache’ it might prove useful to have a piece of skin by one’s bedside. The shock effect would dissipate any headache!

18th August 2011

SIMON HEFFER

In the Daily Mail of 17th August 2011 there is an article by Simon Heffer titled the Rise of the Fourth Reich, billed as ‘in a provocative yet penetrating analysis a formidable Mail voice agrees that, where Hitler failed by force of arms, modern Germany is  using   the financial crisis to conquer Europe’.

This is utter nonsense. I made the suggestion myself some years ago, but changed my views shortly thereafter. It was posted in an earlier blog, but in a couple of paragraphs, unlike Heffer I am not paid a fortune to pad out such an article.

Germany is the most powerful economy in Europe and one of the strongest in the world. This is well deserved, Germans have worked hard to achieve their Wohlstand, which is not what it used to be I might add. They are looking after their own interests in the actions they take now, interests garnered to maintaining their viability in export markets and protecting their banks, which have a great exposure to those countries in the EU who are currently in trouble.

This is not with a view to seeking world domination. In essence, they can never achieve that aim. They have a number of weaknesses, the most fundamental of which being that they have still have not got over their guilt complex in relation to the Second World War. It has long been time to put what happened behind them, not to forget, or for the world to let them forget, but for them to discard this complex, and become involved in world affairs. Their approach, rather than being one that seeks world domination, is one of an insular nature. The present generation for the most part do not share the views of their leaders and many of the older generation. They say, quite rightly, they were not around in the 30s, 40s and 50s – what has this to do with them. You cannot tarnish a whole nation with the misdeeds of their forebears.

So, I fear this is the Mail at its worst, gaudy headlines and leaders, but first and foremost it is, as ever, too little too late.

UNIVERSITY FEE NONSENSE

I don’t see what the fuss is about as far as university fees are concerned. Many universities will triple them in a year’s time. In the same breath we have government ministers saying, ah yes but there will be nothing to pay until a student earns a salary of….. whatever it is. Much more importantly I have  heard ministers suggest that a good number of students will ignore paying the fees in later life, so there is nothing for them to worry about. I mean, what arrant nonsense is  this. Then of course we may well have another government which changes its views entirely on this matter and fees will be revoked, perhaps even in retrospect. This government really has got itself in one hell of a mess, and there are no signs of it extricating itself from it, and this in so very many respects.

ANDY COULSON

It transpires that Andy Coulson may be guilty of…. well, you name it – lying, perjury, dishonesty… You heard it here first of course. But hacking and bugging was the thing to do. It was the thing to do because you got away with it. This issue will not go away and will prove to be a heavy burden for David Cameron. Nor will the matter of police corruption go away. I have my little part to play in that.

BLOG COMMENTS

Having your own blog which invites comments has its perils. I get any number of comments sent to me daily, which are suspended in a file pending my decision whether to publish them or not. I don’t publish them. I could put in a plug-in which would automatically deny them access, but I have so far found it quite amusing reading the nonsense people bother to send. I say people, the majority are sent by bots, although occasionally it is apparent that someone has read the particular post as they refer to it. Some are flattering, others contentious, the majority totally nonsensical. The vast majority of course are doing nothing but looking for back-links.

To give some examples:

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That came from Bed Liners of Houston. Why do I want to give you a back-link boy!

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Do you think that your struggles with manic depression have made you a better person? Do you think that if you had a more traditional. upbringing, you would be a different person? show more show less

What does this idiot know about me? Bugger all.

I simply adore your site! I couldn’t find a contact form so I hope you don’t mind me posting here. Wow, I had a great idea for your interesting little blog

Are you for real?

To which I did reply in the affirmative.

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Excellent review of the film. Thanks to you I will not be tortured in the cinema. The film is not completely in my taste and theme.

Obviously a bot, I never reviewed any film.

Hey did you steal this article because its also posted on this website word of word.

A real person wrote in:

Please tell me that youre going to keep this up! Its so great and so important. I cant wait to read more from you. I just feel like you know so a lot and know how to make people listen to what youve to say. This weblog is just too cool to be missed. Wonderful things, definitely. Please, PLEASE keep it up!

Hemorrhoidal inflammation have grown frequent, especially while pregnant and just after pregnancy. They are the result of significant pressure from the blood vessels of the rectum. The pressure will cause the blood vessels to get bigger, making them very painful, mainly when you are seated.

The writer obviously is unaware of the fact that I am not pregnant.

Enough of this nonsense!

TO BE CONTINUED SHORTLY

THE CUTTING EDGE

Monday 25th October 2010

PUBLIC SECTOR REDUNDANCIES etc

So cuts have been announced and now articulated, with no doubt further details to follow in due course. If, and I say if, these are fully implemented it will certainly raise the unemployment figures to a classic high. We already have over 9 million people of employable age not in employment. Another what, 500k – 1000k to add to this figure! And yet cuts have to be made, there can be no doubt about that. Whether as Labour say it is best to stretch these out over a longer period I doubt is advisable. Get it over and done with.

And yet this Government desperately needs to do something about creating employment. Labour of course created employment by creating jobs in the public sector, especially the so-called non-jobs, which obviously is a non sequitur, and it is these we must rid ourselves of more than anything else. But new jobs?

David Cameron has just announced that this will be the age of the entrepreneur; he wants to encourage a culture of entrepreneurship! Well, of course such a statement is to be welcomed, and yet it is but idle talk; we’ve been here before. It is existing businesses, especially the medium sized ones that need to grow.

I stated before that we as a nation have the propensity to export a great deal more than we do. The world is, as it has always been, a large market place, tariffs in some countries notwithstanding. I speak as someone whose background initially was in exporting, and very successful exporting at that. This brings me onto one of the fundamentals that is not being addressed – education, or rather the lack of it among university leavers, but equally importantly that generation that now represents middle management, no matter in which industry or business. Few of my generation would disagree with that other than some deluded left wing fantasists.

Nor can we rely on our embassies and high commissions abroad to sell UK Ltd., they, for the most part, are quite simply not up to the job. There are notable exceptions and I think back a few months when I was invited to the Pakistani High Commission in London to attend a business seminar and networking reception. I have nothing but the highest praise for our representative in Karachi, who gave a very effective presentation, with energy levels most 20 years olds can only dream. Well done! But this is I believe the exception rather than the rule.

Nor do we need another Quango or NGO to further our interests in this respect. Get rid of the ineffective civil servants and replace them with those who have ability to act. It needs those in power to push our interests overseas given the framework within which they now operate; the activity of the ECGD should be notched up a gear or two.

Times have not changed that much since I last exported. One speaks of competition from China, well, that existed then. One speaks about price being the b all and end all, it is not. Even with very basic commodities and manufactures, feedstock chemicals for example,  price is important for sure, but so are the price, at the right time, efficient delivery, good after sales service. With value added products, which are what we should be concentrating on, the above apply even to a greater extent. This is where Germany scores so well.  I often hold Germany up as an example to follow, and quite rightly so. Apart from being the EU’s major economy it is, next to China, the world’s leading exported. To get back to education, it is our schools, and more importantly our universities who should spend more time and effort educating pupils for a business and manufacturing environment. Forget MBAs. I think it is now universally accepted, apart from within the USA, that they are not the panacea to a more efficient company operation. For sure, they offer the student a higher income, that is without doubt and has been researched ad nausam. But actual knowledge gained? MBS, and they are but one example, of qualifications that are past their sell-by date, are incestuously used within the fraternity that gain them. I should like to see a great deal more vocational education being offered, such as in, dare I say it, Germany. The idea of turning the Polytechnics et al into universities was a nonsense. What for? So that we now have  proliferation of students doing soft subjects such as Media Studies, Complementary Medicine, Celebrity Journalism, and other Mickey Mouse courses…. I could go on. I would like to see hard sciences studied much more once again. They are in countries around the worold who are our major competitors in international markets, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India etc. It does presuppose, readily admit, that the quality of teaching in our universities is significantly improved, but that takes us back to the fundamental issue of education, good education. At the end of the day I do believe Marcus du Sautoy can make Mathematics sound interesting, he can for me and I loathed the subject at school! Withdraw their funding I say. Crass, harsh, but go for it. Nor do I see any reason why Labour’s target of having 50% of the youth been able to go to university was a good thing.

Perhaps also the Government can financially assist companies in offering apprenticeships in those sectors of the economy that are useful, I don’t mean media or banking either.

Then there is the matter of standards in degree courses. I hear from academics I know that the standard of business education has gone down dramatically. There are a number of reasons for this, one being the influx of so many foreign students, some of whose knowledge of the English language is very poor, and that has resulted in the dumbing down of standards. After all, these people pay and universities are dependant on income derived from them. It wouldn’t do if too many failed their exams, would it.

It needs someone to travel the country, speak to businesses, big, medium sized and, yes, even small, and educate them on the ability to expand into export markets. It is extraordinary how many regard this as beyond their ability. Too many negative attitudes prevail.

We import far too much in this country. I have never been a fan of unfettered free trade, as more and more people in the USA are coming around to thinking. They, and the EU, are hostage to China’s ability, and policy, of exporting to developed markets on the basis of a  currency exchange rate fixed in their favour. We have to take steps to remedy this. Will it lead to a trade war? I doubt it very much. Will China stop financing the USA and EU profligacy? They may try, but it is a game of who will back down first. We need to show strength here and call their bluff.

What disturbs me most is that this Government, and both constituent parts of it, Conservatives as well as Lib-Dems, are intent on seeing growth in the financial sector. By that I mean they wish to let the banking sector, or at least the flaky end of it, go back to their bad old ways of gambling to make profits. I have written at length about this elsewhere and won’t go into details here, but positive action needs to be taken to curb the power of, I won’t say the banks, but those within the banks and other financial institutions who are guilty of this. This Government is more than happy to see profits in this sector rise, and in the process a few more jobs created in the City. That is a very bad strategy. We will end up again where we were a couple of years ago. But of course, as with so many other decisions of this governments, action will be deferred. At present we have a non-sensical policy announced of taxing banks. They will do their best to avoid taxation and this government will do nothing to prevent them. In any case, who basically cares what will re-occur in 10 – 15 years time (or earlier) if one does not have to face up to this important problem now. As it happens the UK Government will find a great deal of sympathy coming from both France and Germany, were they to act decisively in this matter; and if they are on board the rest of the EU will have to follow.

As for the bigger picture – there are some who say Brown had an economic model for the economy, more than one perhaps. I have always treated it as a Labour Ponzi scheme which over the past 13 years all but destroyed the UK’s economy, its society, its culture, and a Ponzy scheme it was, and I fear this coalition is about to continue with it.

RING TONE

I was at the British Library recently doing some research in the Manuscript reading room. To my horror my handy rang (mobile phone to you). I had forgotten to turn it off. To make matters worse I could not immediately get it out of my jacket pocket. A good four dozen pairs of hostile eyes were directed at me. The saving grace was that my ring tone is me singing Colonel Bogey in German. As much as people were annoyed, they could not make head or tail of it and showed a certain curiosity for this idiot.

JACQUI SMITH

What is it with Home Secretaries of recent. We had  Jacqui smith who was a disaster, who typifies the semi-literate, brainless, vacuous Labour female politician. I remember well standing outside the French having a drink with a couple of well known Labour luvvies just after she had been appointed. They were praising her virtues suggesting she was an excellent choice as Home Secretary. I suggested she was a bimbo who would  prove to be a complete disaster. In fact Labour’s female intake is comprised of far too many Bimbos, Yvette Cooper heading their list at present. But now I find myself thinking the same about Teresa May. She is not cut out for the job of Home Secretary.

CLAIRE RAYNER

May she rest in peace. A wonderful woman. She spoke her mind and, as far as I am concerned, a lot of sense for the most part.

THE COACH AND HORSES

I was in Soho some weeks ago, sitting outside the Coach, minding my own business and taking a couple of calls on my handy (mobile to you). A chap who had been standing nearby came over and asked me whether I was an actoooor. I had such a nice voice. I told him I was not, but if he had any parts for me I would consider them. We chatted; he was off to the Groucho, would I like to join him. I declined, as I had to get a train back to Bourne. I should have realised by the minder and pretty blond PA who were hovering nearby who it was – Richard Desmond. Oh well, you can’t win them all. I should have twigged when he told me tongue in cheek he produced tacky, saucy films for TV, having just bought Channel 5.

MUNGO JERRY

I got a call from Ray a few months ago, May I think it was, telling me his autobiography is coming out in June. “I’ve said some nice things about you”, he told me….. Well, why not, many people do. I thought I had better order a copy though Amazon. Delivery in June was deferred to September, then again October. I fear I have cancelled my order. It may be a good way of flogging your book, phone all your mates and get them to order a copy… but it goes against the grain buying books written by friends – I expect an inscribed copy for free; but Ray is renowned for being tight-fisted. Perhaps he may now delete me from the book. Oh well, never mind.

ON YER BIKE – TRAVEL TO WORK

I don’t see what the problem is travelling to work for an hour or more. In my younger days I used to commute typically 4 hours a day, 2 hours each way, to work in London. Later I well remember moving to a town near Peterborough and commuting by rail from there to the City of London. In those days I was considered mad mind you, there were but a handful of people doing this from Peterborough. Now, of course, one finds it difficult getting a parking space at the station. No doubt that is why a number of buildings to the north of the Great Northern hotel have been demolished to make space for more parking facilities. Car parking is where the money is obviously. So indeed, let them get on their bikes.

As for the Great Northern Hotel, I was sorry to hear some time ago that my old acquaintance Peter Boyzot lost control of it. He still owes me a bottle of champagne mind you, but I won’t be badgering him for that. He should have hung onto Kettners where I spent many a happy night in years gone by in the Champagne Bar; it’s not the same any more. As for investing in Posh – madness! But there you are. We can all be wise after the event.

STEM CELL RESEARCH

This is on the cards again in the USA. One facet related in a way to this has been around for a long time. As long ago as in the early 1980s, and for all I know a hell of a lot before that, at least one well known German actor at the time went regularly to Switzerland to have blood transfusions using cord blood (blood from the umbilical cord after birth). It seems to have done him some good, he lived to a ripe old age aging  very slowly and was in relative good ahealth till the very last.

ARMS FOR SAUDI ARABIA

So one of the biggest arms sales the USA has made has been done with the Saudis. It is a vicious circle. On the one hand they are mad arming these people to the teeth with the very latest equipment. It was arguably Harry St John Philby, father of the notorious double agent Kim Philby, who first established good relations with the Saudis enabling US oil interests in the country to take off; this in the 1930s. However, I firmly believe in the not too distant future we shall see a Saudi Arabia  inimicable to theWest. And yet the Americans have gone too far down this road to stop now. In any event, both Russia and China would step in. It will come back to haunt them in years to come. Oil, its exploration and marketing rules the roost.

BLACKPOOL FC

I was asked some months ago by an old mate whether I wanted to put out a single by a Blackpool based band of which he is a member. They were doing a cover of Dave Clark’s ‘Glad All Over’, the Tangerines main battle song, and had some backing from the club.  Their version was not half bad either. I decided against it however, but wish them the best of luck, especially as it is in aid of a good charity. Now if that had been Man U…. keep dreaming, Kenneth. I just heard that the Pet Shop Boys are doing a concert in Blackpool shortly and have done a cover of the song themselves, so there will be some competition, although it is but a bonus album track.

THE CUTTING EDGE

25th July 2010

LOVE PARADE

I am saddened at the news of the deaths at the Love Parade in Duisburg, by the last count standing at 19. That is a terrible tragedy. I have fond memories of a number of the Love Parades I attended in Berlin in the mid/late 90s. They were always well organised by Dr Motte and his crew, including Westbam, Willhelm Roettger and Sandra Molzahn (should you read this Sandra please get in touch). It has been announced that the Love Parade will be discontinued. Nevertheless, I hope that decision will be re-considered in due course, it is such an iconic event.

Post Script

I heard that this Love Parade was not organised by the above. I don’t know why it is not held in Berlin any more. After the Kuhdamm it moved to Strasse Des 17 Juni, which runs from the Brandenburg Gate through the Tiergarten west towards Charlottenburg. That was an ideal venue, in that there was ample space and the sort of accident that happened in Duisburg would be difficult to imagine there. No doubt the City fathers and the Love Parade organisers had their reasons.

TALIBAN CAPTIVES

Whilst it is regrettable that two US soldiers have been captured by the Taliban, they only have themselves to blame. What fools to enter Taliban controlled territory. Then again, it is revealing that the Taliban control territory so near to Kabul. This whole affair, apart from being a great embarrassment to the US authorities, will accelerate its departure from Afghanistan. It has taken US commentators all these years to ask the question what the hell their troops doing over there, a question being increasingly asked. To zap the country after 9/11 was to be expected, it was unavoidable and necessary to assuage US public opinion, and to damage the Taliban and other terrorist factions; but they should have got out thereafter. The option to attack them again was always there. So now one is looking for an elegant way to exit. There is no elegant way unfortunately.

BP and LIBYA

Call me a cynic, but this is really bad timing for BP. To have the announcement made that deep sea drilling rights have been conferred on BP by Libya after the release of  Al Megrahi is bad PR. Was this is quid pro quo? I believe it was. I don’t believe the arrogance of oil companies will be reined in by this however. The departure of BP’s chief executive was to be expected.

HURRICANE HIGGINS

Another premature demise and again, what a shame. I remember him well years ago, a great character!

IAIN DALES DIARY

I’ve heard this fellow on the radio a few times, thought he was incredibly boring, and felt I ought to look up his blog. He is indeed nothing but a mouthpiece for Tory propaganda. Thankfully he has shelved his ambition to be considered a Tory candidate. Mrs Dale’s Diary on the other hand was good….lol.

I find Guido Fawkes’ blog good, even though one is assailed by advertising.

SOUTH KESTEVEN DISTRICT COUNCIL

This is the council from Hell! What is happening on their patch? Well, as far as this post is concerned it is something that is to be fair happening around the country.

I did not realise that it is illegal for a pub to sell alcohol to anyone who is drunk. How do you define drunk? If it is ‘being in a temporary state in which one’s physical and mental faculties are impaired by an excess of alcoholic drink’, then most pubs in the country are breaking the law. There is also the indisputable fact that a very great many people arrive at their pub or club already drunk, largely younger people.

The aim of public houses etc is to make a profit. This they do by selling food (where the mark-ups are high) and alcohol. They compete with one another by offering the most ridiculously low priced deals, often advertised as being able to get you paralytic in the shortest space of time. A pub here in my locality will sell a pint of Guinness at just under £2. That is not for altruistic reasons I can assure you.

Then there is the matter of under-age drinking. This is one of the easiest ways for a pub to lose is licence, or at least to have it suspended for a time, and many publicans do make an effort not to serve under-age drinkers. Others do not. Let’s not kid ourselves, many of us had a drink in a pub when we were under age; I know I did and that’s a long time ago. But times have changed and it is not so much having a sly drink whilst being under-age, but it is the inability to know when you have had enough – no, of trying to get out of one’s head with alcohol (and drugs) that is disturbing, and the concomitant ramifications of doing so.

It is very difficult to tell, especially with girls, whether someone is aged 18 and over. Bar staff do not always have the time (or inclination) to ask for proof of age. The again, a group of under-age drinkers sitting in a beer garden may well have their drinks bought by someone of age. So what should one do, if anything? Lower the age to 16? Why not 15? Why not raise it to 21 as in many US states? It is a minefield.

The point is that once drunk far too many people quite obviously behave in obnoxiously. Were they all to go to bed and sleep it off then it would only be a problem for the NHS. But it is a matter of anti-social behaviour, and this is only too apparent on my patch here, where every Friday and Saturday many are let out of their cages to get drunk and roam the streets.

GORDON BROWN

So the old financial terrorist is back from the dead. I am irritated that he should even now get the praise from some quarters for having being a good chancellor. He will surely go down in history as one of the worst chancellors this country has ever had.

LINKS

I daily get any number of silly messages on my comment pane, just so links can be established to other sites. Please don’t bother, they are immediately trashed. I suspect bots are supplying these.

THE CUTTING EDGE

28th April 2010

GREEKS UP CAREY STREET

Notwithstanding the tactics Angela Merkel is adopting in respect of whether the German Government will bale out Greece, this given the forthcoming Laenderwahl in Nord Rhein Westfalen, the most populous state in Germany, and the most important from an industrial perspective,  bale out Greece it will. It will cost her coalition Government dearly, it could potentially even bring it down. The German people have no wish to support Greece, and quite rightly so.

An ever growing number of Germans are unhappy with the Euro and hanker back to the heady Deutsch Mark days. They won’t see those again, but a fundamental re-assessment and re-alignment of the countries making up the rapidly expanded EU and the way this functions, with particular emphasis on the joint currency is, I believe, a real possibility.

Germany, in the face of a world economic downturn of unprecedented proportions in recent times, has rallied well, her economy out-performing all others in Europe.  The German people don’t want to prejudice this and there is every likelihood that Greeks problems will surface in other European countries. There is talk of it happening in Portugal; but the danger is that the very perception that this is happening can spread like wild-fire.

I am also very wary of the USA pushing for further EU integration. Is it really because they feel the area needs to speak with a united voice in world political and economic affairs, or is perhaps that inherent problems associated with achieving this, the patent current disintegration for example, play well into the hands of US business interest globally.

I would suggest that the Greek people epitomize what is wrong with the southern EU states, and indeed some of the more recently joined members from the East. The strength of the Common Market in its initial years was that it was a European club formed of those countries who had both economic and political strengths prior to World War I –  Italy notwithstanding.

If David Cameron has any sense he can use that country’s problems well in tomorrow’s three leaders debate, especially in respect of the Lib Dems who seek further and more rapid EU integration by Britain. It could well be, if used effectively during the remaining week prior to the elction, spell the beginning of the end for the Lib Dems. If he plays his cards right he can get back to a position where the Tories without doubt win by a working majority. We shall see.

On a lighter note, there is a way out for Greece, out of this spot of bother. Just imagine that we had returned the Elgin marbles to them. They would well now have to flog them off to the highest bidder. So why don’t they sell off some of their antiquities, what’s left of the Parthenon for example. With modern technology the ruin can be dismantled and re-assembled elsewhere, perhaps in the back garden of some Russian oligarc, Abramovitch springs to mind. Alternatively it could be sent to Dubai, well perhaps not Dubai, they are in a spot of bother as well, but elsewhere in the Middle East.

Finally, it was interesting to hear UKIP’s leaderLord Pearson advise voters in three constituencies to vote Tory. Such tactical voting is sensible. Does he know something we, including his candidates, don’t? He may see the distinct possibility of the EU unravelling, something that would make the very existence of UKIP redundant.

BP OIL SPILL

The oil spill in the Mexican gulf is threatening to be one of the most severe ever in that region ever. More importantly, given the US’s litigious frame of mind BP may well end up footing an enormous bill. Arguably they can afford it, but it also leaves a bad taste with countries, especially the USA, given the problems they had in Alaska.

THE POOR OLD POPE

I find the comments made about the Pope rather funny. I have seen a lot worse over the years. Had it appeared in Private Eye, not an eye-brow would have been raised. But of course it didn’t. It was rather stupid of the chav in the Foreign Office to commit this to writing. Times have changed and there are too many about who are only too happy to see an international issue made out of this. All involved should laugh it off and brush it post-haste under the carpet.

GERMANY RAIL EFFICIENCY

I don’t know where we get the idea that German railways are ueber efficient. They run on time, more or less, less in recent years if you ask the average German. I have used them quite a lot over the past 40 years or so and have seen a decline in their efficiency. But, and this is the big but, it is all relative. Compared to the service offered by the vast majority of British rail companies they are very efficient.

It has to be said that the infrastructure for rail in Germany is much better, it is a very much larger country. Furthermore, what London desperately lacks is a cross rail facility. This does not present a problem with any major German cities.

We have nothing to compare with the excellent ICE trains in Europe. Having said that, I heard from a German friend last week that one ICE train door became detached recently and ended up on another train! No matter, Arriva trains have enough doors to go around.

DIE PARTEI

Further to my blog on the German political party ‘Die Partei’, I see that one of their leading members is a certain Peter Mendelson. It can’t be…. surely. But then…….

THE BANKING WORLD

I suspect Sue Nye will be relieved when she can give up her post as aide to Gordon Brown, or when she gets the sack – whichever happens first. Married to Gavyn Davies (see my earlier blog) I must admit I find it difficult to see how she remained in that position. She can’t need the money – or can she. It was on 14th December 2006 that there was an article critical of Driss Ben-Brahim, a Goldmann Sachs trader, who had picked up a Christmas bonus of £50 million. In 2004 he got £30 million. Of course such bonuses have been dwarfed since. At the same time the workers who cleaned the company’s city offices were deciding whether to strike. They had been reduced in numbers while their pay had remained the same. New Labour of course condoned such bonuses, at least until the shit hit and stuck to the wall.

Brown appeared on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 an hour ago. For once Vine asked some pertinent and direct questions. The disaster that befell most UK Banks was an issue. Brown of course said that unless tough regulations are adopted world-wide, there is  nothing that can be done unilaterally here in this country. Such measures will never be adopted world-wide, there are enough rogue nations who will want to benefit from such gambling operations. And yet it is imperative that Britain set an example and initiate extremely tough measures. Yes, it may well be to the detriment of the City of London in the short term, and hence the economy, because Brown is so dependent on taxes raised from this source. If such banks move elsewhere – let them.

By all means let people deal in financial instruments, but if these in any way impact in a detrimental way on the UK’s, or any other country’s economies, the companies should suffer massive fines, and the individuals concerned imprisonment. Some may argue it would be difficult to enforce; nothing could be easier, if the will is there. Of course it is not, certainly not on the part of Labour, nor I fear the Tories. I have argued for some many years that banks should go back to their basic purpose, that of taking in funds and lending money. By all means let them lend for a diversity of reasons and clients. By all means let them diversify into other areas, insurance for example, but they should quite simply not be permitted to gamble on the scale the likes of Goldmann Sachs have been. Who the hell do these people think they are undermining economies world-wide! Countries that encourage such companies and individuals should face trade embargoes – no matter who they are, even countries such as China, in fact that would not be a bad thing in itself.

Getting back to the Jeremy Vine show, Brown was on the ropes. He has come across now for some considerable time as a spent force, a veritable plonker, to use Del Boy’s words. How many times did he say ‘let’s be honest’, just a few times too many for my liking. It tells me he is being eminently dishonest.  His incessant talking people down to stop them asking awkward questions, hoping the interview will soon end, the man disgusts me; he is an idiot.  To think he has been Chancellor all these years, better even to have a twit like George Osborne as Chancellor, although I suspect that if the Tories do win a majority it may be Ken Clarke who gets that job. What to do with George? I am sure some suitable appointment can be found.

Then of course, and it is that that seems to be picking up the head-lines, was the publication of the recording made of him, unknown to him, of his banter with a woman who had approached him with a question. ‘A bigoted woman’ he called her, a big mistake. No doubt had his aide Sue Nye any balls she would have felt his boot laid on them. Labour are trawling new depths of despair.

GORDON BROWN

I cannot think of a greater own goal. ‘There is no place for unemployed people, if they are unemployed they must find a job” he says. What jobs is he talking about. There are no jobs other than low paid part-time jobs and jobs paying below the minimum wage. This will cost Labour dearly. What was said about the woman when he did not realize his radio mike was still on will haunt him and Labour for the next week. ‘He is mortified, there was a misunderstanding” he said, there was none. He misunderstood some of the words she had said, he had not. The man’s a complete idiot. Apologies simply won’t wash on this occasion.

THE CUTTING EDGE

23rd April 2010

GORDON BROWN – The Weakest link

For what it’s worth, yesterday’s performance by Brown and Cameron was very much better. I say for what it’s worth, because one should not forget that the majority of electors did not view the TV program or indeed listen to it on the radio. It is something for the media to get their teeth into and talk about.

Second, the vast majority of people have decided for whom to vote. Having said that, there is the floating vote and of course those who have not voted before, for any number of reasons.

The next and last debate is to be on the economy. This is Gordon Brown’s weakness, but will the other two identify his weakest link? I doubt it. I was going through some hundreds of press cuttings, accumulated over the past 15 years, taken from a diversity of papers. Labours failings were identified again and again, admitted to by them in most instances. And yet these have conveniently been airbrushed out of Hansard and the archives of the media. Failures in Education, the National Health Service, Unemployment, the Economy and so on. Not to raise these is one of the Tories’ biggest weaknesses. One I say raise these, not to squeal, as Cameron does, but to stick the knife in brown’s back with a smile, a benign demeanour. Look at Mandelson, the consummate artist in this respect. The Tories lack someone of his ability.

The main problem, as far as Cameron is concerned, is that he has not in all his time in opposition addressed the issues which are of concern to the electorate. He is not doing so now in this election campaign. He is hell bent on not putting a foot wrong. Why does he not bring Tony Blair into the debate; it should be done in such a way to unnerve Brown.

VOLCANIC ASH

The mass hysteria generated by the volcanic ash is reminiscent of that occasioned by Swine Flu. A cock-up, another cock-up, as far as this Government is concerned. It won’t do them any good.

One has to sympathize with those people stranded in different parts of the world, unable to get back to the UK, and indeed those here wanting to exit the country. And yet it must have been a great relief for those living near airports and in flight paths. When the issue of further additional runways is raised again there will doubtless be an even greater opposition to these.

Shopping at my local Sainsbury’s I was amused to see so many empty shelves in the produce department. They are still not filled as I write. No courgettes, no mange-touts, fewer Tomatoes etc. The shelves that were empty were filled with local produce such as White Cabbage; and why not. It is perverse that we fly in produce from Kenya, elsewhere in Africa and South America, and particularly flowers. Dutch growers must have been rubbing their hands in glee, although they probably could not fill the extra short term demand. But we can grow most of these vegetables and fruits in this country, be it under glass or in Poly-Tunnels, vide the new Poly-Tunnel complex in Kent. We should have self-sufficiency in being able to feed ourselves in this country. No one mentions the balance of payments nowadays; they are in a bad state.

On the farming program this morning I heard a representative of produce importers state it was for the ‘health’ of the nation that we should be able to import such produce. It is by popular demand, it is the peoples choice. What arrant nonsense. It is to protect his members interests.

GOLDMANN SACHS

They epitomize everything that is wrong with ‘banking’ – and I use the word ‘banking’ loosely.

I welcome the attempt, for that is all it is at present, by the US Government to take action against them. It is long overdue. Of course here action man Brown has jumped on the bandwagon in his criticisms of the company and the suggestion that he too is investigating  whether similar action can be taken here. A Goldmann Sachs employee, or that of any other such organisation, looks after his interests first and foremost.; secondly those of the company for whom he works, after all, they pay his or her bonuses. The interests of the country and wider community do not, for the most part, come into his or her remit. That is unfettered capitalism. What’s wrong with that? Well, a lot actually. I addressed this years ago, in greater detail, there is not much more to be said. It’s all depressingly old hat.

En passant, whatever happened to Brown’s old buddy Gavyn Davies? Formerly of Goldmann Sachs, he went on to become the Chairman of the BBC. He resigned in 2004. I suspect he was savvy enough to realize the Labour Government was imploding and wanted to disassociate himself from it.

PLEADING CLERGY

I am glad to see that one can no longer “plead clergy” to avoid prosecution for child abuse.

TOYOTA

It is fast becoming embarrassing seeing and hearing senior Japanese Toyota executives apologise for their companies purported failings. American car manufacturers must be ecstatic. I wonder how much they helped the situation along.

THE CUTTING EDGE

16th April 2010

PROMISES, PROMISES

All three leaders of the main political parties are making promises, promises and yet more promises. Why? We know most of these promises cannot be kept. And yet they feel they have to be in this Dutch auction to appeal to the electorate. I think this is fundamentally wrong. You must have something to say, preferably disguised as a policy, say it simply and directly, in an appropriate manner.

Brown is shot, he has lost the election, and he knows it. His demeanour tells me so, and others in the Labour movement know it. Blair showing his support some weeks ago was very much a matter of flying a kite. I think that kite crashed ignominiously to the ground. I am sure Blair’s heart is not in being involved with a loser, and a lost cause.  After all, the way he believes in himself is refreshing, in these atheistic days when no one believes in God. And for God to have to endure such distain is not acceptable.

Labours years in power can be expressed by one word, one word only, failure, failure and yet again failure. Gordon Brown personally bears so much of the responsibility for this. To blame the recent economic decline in the USA through sub-prime lending is puerile. One should also bear in mind much of this lending went, often via derivatives, through the London financial market. But no, this was just a catalyst to bring down this house of cards, the mirage the fantasy that Brown created over the years. The man is of course too stupid to realize this. And, as I have stated before, for others now, after the event, to jump on the band wagon and state they presaged this years ago  – when quite simply they did not, is quite perverse, not even dear old Vince Cable had a clue. They all suffer from collective amnesia. What is more, no one, but no one, has yet come up with a precise analysis of why this happened. One or two came close, even George Soros, but none have encapsulated it, although it is blindingly obvious, it was 10 years ago. It was obvious this was going to happen and I wrote to Tory Central Office at the last election to put this to them. Of course, this was ignored, although they did ask me for more of my views.

Nor have the Tories pinned on Brown the responsibility for this fiasco. Some have touched on it, but did not ram it home. Their problem of course is that this should have been done years ago, but no one had a clue of what was about to befall the country. Had they had spoken out they would of course have been accused by Labour of running the country down. Their poll ratings would have fallen, but imagine how they would then have basked in their own self-righteousness. Now they find it difficult to over-criticize Brown, they would be seen to be wise only after the event, these dim-witted people are in a no win situation.

The Tory party conference was reminiscent of one Blair might have held, while the Labour one was sadly retro; but they are all yesterday’s men, other than Nick Clegg, he still has to prove his manhood. I might add that for Cameron to call himself Blair’s heir was a folly four years ago. Why be the heir to a man who was becoming universally disliked by the electorate.

And then this nonsense about a 1% rise in social security payments being too the great detriment of the economy, that it would cost jobs. If companies cannot afford the 1% rise then arguably they should not be in business. But of course the signing of a letter by leading businessmen criticizing the increase, which presumably was well orchestrated, has given the Tories some mileage.

Brown has lost the election, but that does not mean the Tories have won it. As things stood yesterday, the opinion polls notwithstanding, I give the Tories a significant working majority. But much can still go wrong over the coming weeks. UKIP have without doubt a much bigger following, taken largely from disenchanted Tories, but also from Labour ranks. If they had any sense they would advise their supporters to vote tactically. The BNP may also do well in certain areas. If ever there was an election where independents can do well, this is it. But the overall dislike of Gordon Brown will determine tactical voting. I will place my bet on the result 5 – 7 days before the election.

The Great Debate was so great that after half an hour I switched off and went off to something else; I found it incredibly boring. Yes, Nick Clegg came over best, of that there can be little doubt. It won’t win the Lib-Dems the election, and of course there are two more such debates to come, but he scored Brownie points. It will make things difficult for the Tories, and to a lesser extent Labour in a number of seats. As for Gordon brown, he suffered from illusions of adequacy. There was not even one flash of silence that would have made his contribution perfectly delightful. His pitch was as it has ever been, accentuate the positive, deny all that has gone before, it never happened. He is the great saviour of the nation and its economy, never mind that he got the country in the mess it’s in in the first place. It was David Cameron, who was the loser – on this occasion. His make-up people went overboard, I must say. I was convinced at one stage his head had been borrowed from Madam Tussauds, but then I saw his lips move. His voice and speech have improved, I could actually listen to it for half an hour. In the past he tended to sound like a bullfrog on speed.

On balance this debate serves little purpose. Most people have chosen how to vote. If it is to target the floating voter, and to be fair there are a number of those, enough to be worth perusing, then it may have an effect. If to target those who have not voted at all in recent election, I doubt it will not achieve much. The main beneficiaries are the media, who have made this a circus event. I don’t think Cameron was wise to agree to do the debate at all. The other two party leaders had nothing to lose.

PLANES GROUNDED IN THE UK

What a relief the grounding of All the UK’s planes must be to those people living near the airports. Let’s have more of this.

THE DEATH OF DAVID GRAY

The Nigerian doctor, Dr Ubani, charged with the death of David Gray, should never have been employed by the NHS. He received a very lenient sentence. Presumably the NHS obtained his services via a recruitment agency, the worst sort of people to differentiate between a good and a bad doctor. Did they look at his website? I did and my immediate impression was who the hell is this charlatan. But of course, it is the fee payable and the commission probably due to the individual recruiter who found him that is paramount.