Latest OCTOBER 3rd 2011
MAY 25th 2010
Here is what is going on. Under the guise of attacking the deficit early and hard, the Tories/Liberal leadership is getting rid of some of what they oppose politically. In some cases the economic and political goals may indeed coincide. It is possible that because some jobs and expenditure is not being effective it can be classed as 'waste', but don't think for a moment it will have any serious effect on the deficit. These actions may even initially increase it. But it will appear to be what it claims to be.

Whether it will help beneficial growth (sustainable growth both green and friendly to the balance of payments in the medium and long term, which alone can tackle the deficit progressively and maintain our credit rating and borrowing costs) remains to be seen. I shall have to reserve judgement.

Interestingly, the only actions that might immediately save some money, to do with immigration controls, are presumably being done over Mr Clegg's still alive body. As a reward, he is being allowed to claim victory on some other fronts, though these will take time to come into effect and are subject to votes and referendums which might well cause their abandonment.

On the education front where Labour had learned lessons and taken some good actions from time to time and at last, the Coalition may not succeed in doing any better than Labour would have done now. On the employment front, as I see it, a lot more young people are soon going to be unemployed.

On the European front, how can this Coalition government make any sense whatsoever? Strangely, possibly, it can in a negative way. 'Thou shalt not kill but needst not strive officiously to keep alive' may be the policy of the UK now with regard to the EU and the Euro and toute cette sorte de chose. That's a pity, as the EU right now could do with a lot of solidarity, imposing a policy on the world with regard to quite a number of issues, with climate change and various resource and environmental factors at the heart. To do this it needs to show financial solidarity. That means initially sharing some pain and then finding a way to move to a shared system of financial accounting. There is NO WAY Europe can go back to a mix of currencies, so just forget it. That does not mean it has to be a total political union.  Other comments on recent actions are in the previous file on the election.

MAY 26th 2010
I have frequently disagreed with John Redwood's position in the past (mainly on Europe) but he is clearly right now in the matter of Capital Gains Tax. Short term gains should be treated as income, but the tax should be tapered after 2 years to pass a very low level indeed by 10 years. This is because long term investment in and management of every sort of asset, including housing and business property in some cases, is what the infrastructure of any country depends. It is the backbone of the economy. This careful investment and management is what builds and maintains healthy infrastructure and employment, as opposed to one that degrades and which we suddenly find out is in need of impossibly expensive repair or replacement on a widespread and significant scale. A healthy balance of international payments depends on our understanding of this. The abandonment of the 'taper' by a former Labour government should be reversed, while at the same time a tax to discourage speculation and raise some tax in the process is essential.

To clarify:
The reward for devising, investing in and building up an asset whose increased real value is realised in future years should be the most highly rewarded economic activity there is. Borrowing money to make a killing by buying cheap and selling higher short term, because the investor has the means to do so, is very far from being so useful to the community, national or international. Could we have some help here from, say, Adair Turner (if he agrees) on getting the Treasury to see sense? Perhaps they already agree. Michael Forsyth has, I believe, made some points in the same vein.

1:18pm BST - Naturally the profile of the 'taper' must be sensibly set, or we run into the objections raised by Will Hutton and the plan fails on all counts, but surely that is obvious!

MAY 28th 2010
Cameron says to all: "Calm down, you don't even know what Government policy will be on this!" Quite so, as I have said above most people probably understand the issues. However if Vince Cable is heeded and the 'taper' abandoned as too difficult to design, then the initial base rate of CGT will be hard to fix at an appropriately high level to do the job. It is also not a case of just looking after the pioneering entrepreneurs. The proper maintenance and improvement of all assets can only be done if the added value or even the whole asset is not going to be lost to the owner through a high CGT many years in the future on inestimable values. Absolutism must be avoided in this. A taper that applies to all is perfectly reasonable. Special categories can be superimposed on that quite easily and deliberate smart-alec tax-avoiders can be outsmarted.

The next gem of wisdom from Cameron is that 'the economy is unbalanced'. As if we hadn't noticed!
Yes the economy was badly unbalanced, because progress is made by moving forward one leg at a time. After years of neglect of the entire infrastructure and the failure in education by both political parties, huge investment was needed, so the financial sector build up was vital. That was the area we could grow and had to to generate the wealth, as our out-of-date industries and globally uncompetitive labour had to be partially outsourced and replaced with imports. The financial services wealth should have rolled through to a new green industrial growth if the US had not blown up the whole system. Are we really to forget what happened with their sub-primes and wall street crooks and that it was Goldman Sachs who encouraged and enabled Greece to fiddle its entire budget?

Brown's steady city-led growth led to investment in the railways and the rolling stock, and schools and hospitals and London Underground all of which were neglected infrastructure, neglected by Tories throughout my lifetime. The PFI with all its flaws was needed because serious tax collection in the modern global world needs more international law to make it possible and the UK needed infrastructure investment fast. Without the build-up of financial services there would be no investment in new industries and no educated Brits to work in them. We had to grow at what we could, try to educate our population, and then build industries that can compete with e.g. GERMANY and tourism to compete with e.g. FRANCE. Clearly our universities turned out rather a lot of bland administrators and media wonks and not enough scientists , mathematicians and technologists and entrepreneurs, or at least not quick enough. However, the strategy of the last government was no different in fundamentals to what Cameron is suggesting now, though he will try to take credit for any progress. I wish him luck, I am sure there are some networks of sinecures he can clear out if he can spot them, but I remain to be convinced he has a grip on the realities or appreciates what actually happened over the last 10 years and why.

MAY 29th 2010
What the bloody hell is the reason why this man Laws should not get his allowance for living in London simply because for some reason he has been, he now tells us, 'intimate' with his landlord? What in God's name is a 'Partner'? To the extent that some crazy attempt has been made to define this, the man in question of whom he has been an intimate friend for a few years is certainly not one.

But further than that, why should it make any difference? Unless there is some contractual arrangement that means Laws was really the wrongful beneficiary of the payments, why should he not be allowed them? Mr Laws could have cost the taxpayers a damned sight more and in any event he is relatively underpaid and overworked like most active MPs.

Why do we have to be bothered with the sexual peculiarities of these people at all? Sex and economics don't mix in a political context to produce any significant result and should be ignored. There is no reason at all why MPs should not employ their wives, marry their secretaries and fuck their land-ladies frequently and none of that should be cause for complaint or penalty. It is time for the British Public to grow up and just worry about whether their MPs do the job and give value for money.

Now the wretched man has had to resign, a waste of everybody's time. I am increasingly persuaded that our investigative media, far from being a useful watchdog are. combined with the part of the public that follow their lead, an interfering bunch of ignorant busybodies.

JUNE 3rd 2010
Now, Cameron claims that by STOPPING the National Insurance rise he can afford to supply MORE expensive drugs to prolong people's lives. Pigs are actually flying. The medicine world is very, very murky, globally and in the UK, NICE, the institute that controls what the NHS can offer patients, is the only hope we have of keeping uneducated politicians out of the loop that could strangle us all.

JUNE 14th 2010
The Defence Review now going on is, it would seem, necessary; mainly because the fundamentals are not publicly understood quite apart from any confusion at military, parliamentary and government level. The claim that there is some alternative reality that can be conjured up or pursued depending on which political party or coalition is in office is frankly absurd. The UK nuclear deterrent will remain for reasons made clear on this web site for some time. The rest of our armed forces are a vital contribution to UN, NATO and European security operations carried out as, when and where required. In a globalised world, the defence of all nations is interdependent and has to be based on alliance. Such alliances provide traditional defence by deterrence against the invading armies of recognised legal regimes and increasingly the more important means of enforcement of minimal adherence to international norms of behaviour. That entails the prevention of the growth of rogue states with toxic assemblies of forces outside the manageable political structures and the control of piracy on sea, air and land. The UK contribution to the armed forces of the UN, NATO and the EU is vital and provides the global security on which the security of the British Isles depends. The current Battle of Britain is therefore being fought daily and will continue to be fought daily long after we have withdrawn most of our troops from Afghanistan which happens to be the current trouble-spot.

There is no way Dr Liam Fox will make any significant difference to the future one way or the other unless he manages, as a politician, to satisfy and speak for the electorate of the UK in such a manner as to connect their brains with the world in which we live and support the political positions that from time to time require military means of enforcement and, unfortunately, some casualties. There is no way in which we can be militarily prepared for the future, there never has been and there never will be. Any serious attempt to so prepare leads to inevitable arms races with appalling consequences to either the environment or the economy or both, or pre-emptive random terrorist attacks. We therefore have to prepare to prepare, to research and develop defences to the various forms of attack on the systems on which depend, while building on the disciplined structures of the armed forces that we possess. A balance must be struck between the hardware and human resources we field now and will be able to field in 5, 10 and 20 years time, and the powder we keep dry in terms of researched but not yet applied technology and construction. In the past, we have expected our military specialists to set out requirements and private companies to come up with competitive bids. Economic changes to the global model now bring some aspects of this into question when it comes to very large projects which have to proceed to pre-production full construction before real assessment can be made. This is no bad thing; not that it was the wrong approach, just that times are changing.

We can no doubt find ways to save money on defence procurement, but there are decisions that are fundamental such as does the UK need carriers, aircraft to fly from them and the full complement of backup that goes with that. The answer to that is undoubtedly yes without waiting for any defence review. I will not insult the reader's intelligence by explaining why, the reasons are so many and any two would be enough.

The UK defence budget must be based on what we can and should contribute to conventional and advanced defence to our home territory, internal and borders, and what we can and should contribute to global security within the UN, EU and NATO. A fashionable term these days is 'Sovereign Debt'. Only a few months ago 'Sovereign Wealth' funds were seen as a threat to commercial stability. Now, Sovereign Debt is seen as a threat to the contribution of nations of the alliances and the UN  to the means to carry out global directives and imperatives. Competitive growth has given way to competitive cost-cutting. If this cost-cutting is healthy it is to be welcomed, but that it should be competitive is absurd. If it is healthy, it does not even have to be balanced coordinated (unlike quantitative easing which needs to be in order to avoid artificial exchange-rate changes). Indeed effective, healthy cost-cutting should affect exchange rates. But we need not reduce the numbers of personnel in our armed forces. In my view, not even the paper pretence of efficiency should be used to reduce the human resources of our army, navy or air force. They should all be increased, for the simple reason that the demands of the international community for well equipped and well trained personnel with a reliable command structure, available for internationally approved tasks, will increase, not diminish. Necessary reductions in the short term will have to be reversed later. This is not necessarily easy if a culture has been run-down or lost in the roots of society at local, educational or even epigenetic level.


I have no reason to believe all this is not understood by those now on the front bench, it would just be better if they stopped pretending they would have done any better than the previous government in carrying out our defence duties or carrying the country with them as far as the Afghan operations are concerned. As far as the current economic situation goes,
Stephanie Flanders is much the best economic news for years, highly recommended. She doesn't bother with the politics unless they are truly embedded.

Unfortunately Cameron seems no more capable of explaining Afghanistan to the British public than was Gordon Brown. Just repeating we are fighting in Afghanistan to prevent attacks on us here in London does not work for the many who think our presence in Afghanistan is what causes terrorism in the UK. The misunderstanding is compounded when Cameron and Dr Fox talk about scaling down our military to the minimum for the protection of the UK. Until they make it clear that only the allied forces of the civilized world can protect any country against the dangers of the future, by the means I have set out in many places on this web site, will this futile misunderstanding cease to confuse the public and bedevil all discussion. The UK must contribute to this allied effort the collective skills and capability that it has developed over the past centuries.

JUNE 17th 2010
The Government announces its first major cuts. I cannot for the life of me see the point of most of them. The money saved is piddling, the effect on our borrowing, which is what they claim is essential to stop the interest payments rising could only be realised if for some reason the international moneylenders see these cuts as part of a meaningful programme with a positive effect on our balance of payments. Can't see it myself in the case of Sheffield Forgemasters, maybe there is something I don't know though. Either this work for our nuclear energy programme was not needed or it was. If it is, now is the time to get it going.
I still have not the slightest confidence that the coalition and its advisers have a grip on global economics.

JUNE 18th 2010
On the other hand if Cameron makes his cuts in the public sector by cutting the salaries, pensions and benefits of the top earners and stopping wag rises of all those above £100,000, that would be a great idea. But if he goes for a VAT increase instead of the National Insurance rise planned by Labour, that will be a mistake. Extending VAT to areas where it is not applied in the UK but is elsewhere in the EU would make more sense. More tax, unavoidable and widely spread amongst those in work, shared by employers is what is needed. The most effect with the least damage. "A tax on jobs" is one of the most deliberately dishonest claims ever dreamed up by those with form in this area.

JUNE 20th 2010
A distinguished former Labour minister, John Hutton, has joined the coalition in an advisory capacity. A bit more, effectively, as he is to draw up recommendations on how to cap salaries and pensions in the public sector. Just the man for the job, intelligent, qualified and experienced. It is essential to construct a future funding formula which can be, and be seen to be, commensurate with the economic realities, whatever these turn out to be. We do not have to compete in salaries and pensions with other countries that are themselves living in cloud-cuckoo land. Just because a job is important and needs doing does not mean the individual who does it should be able to live high on the hog just because they have clout in the system that decides these things.

This brings me, however, to cuts in the military. Here I am of the opinion that huge mistakes are about to be made. Our military capability is not be treated as a competition in international prestige or a matter for domestic cheeseparing. Here again, as with the civil service, are jobs that have to be done; but in a system of alliances they are done increasingly on behalf of global stability and not on defending UK against its neighbours. There is loose talk about not needing 'to be at the top table' and 'having armed services we can afford' by people who are just not up to speed on globalisation or even on the role Europe must play in providing the security of regions and the planet, on land and sea.

There is a discussion on whether we can 'afford' aircraft carriers. The discussion should be whether carriers are needed and who is going to build, own and operate them, on what political and command structure. Some people are assuming we must cut the number of soldiers, sailors and airmen on the basis of the UK budgetary problems, not realising that in the coming decade our military will be equivalent to an export commodity more than a domestic liability. Efficiency can be gained of course, and significant savings in research, development and production by more cooperation with our allies in Europe. But calling on accountants with minds in the corner shop or the last century is not helpful and In fear the coalition is infested with both.

We can look at the domestic angle of course. It was amusing to hear that the French military had found it easy to slim down because they had, for instance, their own military bakeries. No doubt it was easy to show an instant and considerable saving on paper by just scrapping them. I wonder if, should a complete national audit be carried out, if this has saved any money at all. Maybe yes, maybe no. My money would be on no in the long run. To achieve the same efficiency a subcontracted supermarket chain would need to install a bakery on every military base. I doubt there will be any savings and there may well be considerable dietary downside. When it comes to out-sourcing catering in the UK military, my impression is they have been taken to the cleaners on the costing. In the past, in house RAF catering did not, on most stations, produce good food. Over the past recent decades this has changed, and standards have risen while costs have been held. The service has been a good training ground from where individuals have gone on to valuable careers in civilian catering, an undoubted benefit to the UK economy and tourist industry.Yet there have been recent cases of outsourcing which have achieved nothing other than dubious savings due to non-use, and even that is contractually limited.

There is an astonishing assumption that armed services are a luxury paid for by 'tax payers' who are engaged in a part of the economy that what is ignorantly referred to as 'the private sector' which is taken to be the source of all wealth. Other than the production of healthy food, affordable housing and civil security, most of this private sector is taking much of the planet to hell in a handcart via high-definition wide-screen television. It is perfectly possible to regain control of the situation after some very unpleasant experiences over what promises to be quite a few years, but during those years the last thing we need to do is cut back on our military personnel. On the equipment side, we have to be more efficient and cooperate with our European and other NATO allies and that is where savings can come.

How much individuals are paid, on the other hand, is another matter. When we have been at war in the past, vital jobs requiring extraordinary talent were frequently carried out by individuals whose salaries were at the subsistence level. We have also had Prime Ministers whose finances have been on the rocks and who have died broke. If we are really facing the problems I believe we now do, it really is time to stop basing our actions on either personal pecuniary profit or national accounting systems that confuse sweetshops with continents. Transparency can come when we face up to reality. At the moment, organisations and individuals are playing financial games with chips of their own invention.

JUNE 22nd 2010
Comments on the budget are here. More in due course.

JUNE 24th 2010
I do not believe the coalition is about to disintegrate. The budget is certainly not particularly 'fair' in that it will hurt a lot of the poorest, but it has to be seen in the first stage in reshaping and restructuring some major parts of the economy. I will not rush to judgement here. But I do think a recession might re-occur if all of Europe cuts back in the hope that the rest of the world will  buy its goods and feed its tourist industry. China and India and Russia cannot quickly replace as consumers the trade that should flow between the EU countries, the EU and the USA and other traditional trading partners. Its a close calculation on timing. I remain unconvinced on the VAT hike.

JUNE 25th 2010
"It's simple", says Cameron today. "Countries with a bigger deficit have to move faster to correct it". He also implied that with a bigger relative economy this was even more the case. I'm sorry, but either we have a very silly man here or one who takes others for fools. It is not simple, it is an interesting and somewhat complex situation that requires him to listen to what people have to say. He never did that in opposition and never once picked the right option. It may well be that he is cleaning out some Augaean stables that could do with his heft, Thatcher did some of the same without understanding it either, but we need more than that. This time Cameron understands the goal, which is to manage Global Economics and stabilise it into very gentle growth, but countries with big deficits, structural and temporary, must move in very considered ways. At the moment, the cuts he has decided on will take time in some cases to take effect, so they may not be so risky to growth as some think. But he is certainly managing to frighten the horses and, in so doing, get the worst of both worlds, not much real re-balancing and a lot of slow down in the economy.

He is in Canada, and he probably believes that a Canadian solution can apply to the UK. No way. Canada can fall back on all sorts of things to create exports in a global economy where there is any demand and growth worth the name. We have to regain our old strengths or build new ones and it will take longer.

On Afghanistan, the less he says the better until he has found out what not to say. Same goes for the doctor.

JULY 21st 2010
Dear God! Will you guys, Cameron, Hague, Clegg and the doctor, just SHUT UP about Afghanistan and stop trying to placate those parts of the British public who haven't a ****ing clue about anything. I include those who don't understand why their children are in the army. There is, as you point out, no contradiction in having a target for stages of draw-down and making it conditional, but if you think you are going to explain that to a public many of whom can't read, write, speak or think in English, and many of those who can are badly misinformed, you are sadly mistaken. I never thought I would say this, but I long for the taciturn silence of Gordon Brown, a silence I always understood only too well and deeply respected. See also the Afghanistan file on this server. Pushing the exit date will cause more, not fewer casualties

Today, Cameron is brown-nosing the folks who live on Capitol Hill. So far he has succeeded in telling them he thinks the Scottish Minister of Justice didn't know how to apply Scottish law, and that Britain was the 'junior partner' to the US in 1940 in the war against Hitler. Quite apart from the fact that the US was not even in the war in 1940 and we had to help Roosevelt get them in by cleverly misrouting the intelligence on Pearl Harbour through Hoover, Britain had an Empire at the time, the combined forces of which made us far from a junior partner. I could add quite a few British inventions without which the partnership as a whole could still have failed to defeat the Nazis. Every time I get round to thinking Cameron is not so bad he says something to undermine his credibility.

Now we have all this stuff on The Big Society - just try explaining that! Actually you might if you listen to John Bird (the sociologist, not the comedian). On second thoughts the comedian might have something to offer as well..... my thoughts yesterday were:

Getting John Bird and the Big Society initiative on the same page could make a very big difference.
This man has serious ideas, great insight and experience.

We must give the initiative a chance, and it can succeed as long as it is not just another additive, but one to get organisations working together. This applies to both government and NGOs, voluntary and funded.

We have an immense amount of waste at the moment. Waste of people, waste of time, waste of space. Turf wars are responsible for much of this and unless we are very careful the Big Society initiative could add to the turf war.

So the jury is indeed out, it could go either way.

I see some immense problems with health and safety and legal liability and, unfortunately, abuse of the initiative which may even be encouraged by those opposed to it with nothing better to do. So it must start with particular local level examples which are well managed, not by an attempt at national implementation. This is one way to avoid turf wars, in that until these are resolved locally on a small scale they will not get off the ground. The Big Society must start with the Little Society.

When it comes to prisons, this is quite a challenge. "Support your local prison" would put quite a strain on the locals who may be few and far between. This needs a really new policy with coordination across all government departments.

When it comes to the 'money saving' aspect, this is a long term result. However, in the short term the initiative should cause little additional expense and could get some immediate results with medium and long term results of great significance. The key fact is this: there are people who will give of their time and experience, but cannot give or spend money. A small amount of money to cover overheads, coming from government, can engage a vast amount of work by volunteers - effective work which can bring amazing results. This is where the saving comes. At the moment all this talent is being wasted.

Of course the cynics will not hear of it and they think the coalition is out to lunch. It is true they have been out to lunch for some time....opposition is so easy - and such fun!

JULY 28th 2010
Some very welcome news.  David Cameron is making quite a lot of sense in spite of his gaffe in calling UK the 'junior partner' to the US in 1940. Big mistake there, not just on the dates. We were then and remain now the senior partner, how ancient and feeble we may be economically. There is no way the USA could ever be the senior partner - they are still an extraordinarily immature, emotional collection of chancers with a great deal we can admire and some have a great deal of can-do and courage, but others an extraordinarily mistaken idea of their own importance position in the wider scheme of things. It is in treating them as the 'senior partner' that we have caused so much trouble for us and for them.

I am pleased to say we are not taking part in their political PR shenanigans concerning the Lockerbie bombing. I was reassured by Cameron dealing with John Humphrys this morning on a number of issues, particularly India, trade and immigration, in a cool and rational manner in spite of Humphrys' desperately trying to prevent Cameron from having time to answer his clever-schoolboy type questions, which Cameron did with knobs on so yah-boo-sucks to you. No, actually he answered them with a dignity, clarity and accuracy they scarcely deserved.

Finally I am delighted by the news that  Dept of Health (or whatever we call it these days) has told the Science and Technology committee and the Doctors lobby to take a running jump on the issue of Homoeopathy in the NHS which they wanted to ban, on the grounds that it was not 'evidence based'. What a joke. It is entirely evidence based precisely because their is no scientific theory to explain it other than the placebo effect. So who cares, as long as it works effectively and cheaply and frequently in cases where allopathic remedies fail. Let's just go with the evidence. It saves us all money and keeps millions off more expensive drugs with addictive side-effects. God save us from people who think they are scientists just because the have a certain mental agility and facility and learned the orthodoxy and the current fashionable thinking. They might as well join the Catholic Church, or any other club the choose in which to try to make their mark and collect some points. And what to points mean? That's right, prizes.

AUGUST  8th 2010
Today we have rumours of swingeing defence cuts, mainly in the RAF, published in the Daily Telegraph.

My comments:
I am not sure the current government has a clear perception of globalization and how it affects national economics, global security and the role of Britain in alliances and the international community. We do need to re-organize, but not on the basis of cutting expenditure or the human resources employed in our armed forces, though there could be some hefty cuts on the non-productive side just as the civil service needs a cull - but not at the real coal-face or necessary admin. There could on the other hand be an increase in intake and training where there is a need. We must estimate the need in the foreseeable future, building in flexibility and making sure skills and experience in critical streams are not broken.

The defence of these islands is now based on different criteria to those of previous eras. We are not a target for invasion by any recognised state. We are a target for the violent or insidious actions of the citizens of failed states and nations in civil and political disarray. The role of our military must be in its vital contribution to the stability of the EU and NATO and as part of any coalition of the willing able to act on behalf of the UN. Our defence is based on global stability, not on stopping the Dutch sailing up the Medway or Russia achieving air superiority prior to buying our football clubs. George Osborne has defined our national position as liability, not an asset, so nobody wants us other than refugees fleeing war and destitution compared to which our credit crunch and crime level is luxury.

There are roles we can carry out at sea, in the air, on land and in combined operations in which the above mentioned international organizations must have a leading a capability if they are have to be in a position to play any meaningful role in maintaining global stability and any civilization worth the name. Unless we intend to delegate not only what we do now but what we could do should it be required to others, we cannot and should not reduce our capability in any way. Before we delegate to others, they must show they are capable, ready and agreeable to accept the role.

France and the UK hold a nuclear deterrent which serves all of Europe. This is what we call a nuclear umbrella. Somebody has to hold it because these weapons exist in the world. Nuclear umbrellas prevent proliferation. No European nation wishes to take it on or for us to give it up, though a massive global reduction in the nuclear stockpile is a very important item on the international agenda.

Trident is the cheapest way to maintain a credible deterrent. In deterrence, credibility is all. Other suggestions always welcome.

The UK should definitely have a top class Navy, with carriers and the aircraft to go with them. I don't think any further explanation is needed, though a study of maritime piracy should add to the argument

The RAF is a more complicated issue. While we do not need air superiority to prevent a conventional invasion, we most certainly need air superiority over these islands and in alliance with our EU neighbours, over Europe, for a great many reasons. Aerial attack is at the moment the greatest vulnerability of every nation. We also need to impose air superiority in any theatre where we operate from time to time at sea or on land over the globe on alliance or our own legitimate interests. One of the complicated factors that make our calculations of air power requirements so difficult is that modern aircraft are the product of a huge industrial process spearheaded by the major aircraft manufacturers. This cannot be wound up and down at the whim of government ministers or the treasury.

There is no rational solution to the economic problems associated with UK's defence budget without a realization that security is based on our alliances and on regional responsibility and interests being realized and accepted. Public support is required in democracies, but pragmatism must replace ideology and nationalism. It does not help having people such as ex US UN Ambassador Bolton shouting that he doesn't give a toss about hearts and minds, just achieving and enforcing goals, when it is obvious that it was hearts and minds everywhere, at home and abroad, that brought victory in WW2 every bit as much as equipment.

When it comes to the Army, recent experience should give us a very good idea of what we can do, can't do, should do and must be able to do. Personally I think some form of military training should be part of every UK citizen's early life, with a civil alternative version available for conscientious objectors. This will give a basis on which to have a pool to draw on. At the moment, the reason people join any of the services is not based on anything rooted widely in the community. When it come to equipment we need to decide what we should develop, build, buy or borrow.

There is more confusion over cuts in government spending. So called scientists are still arguing for the banning of homoeopathy (in spite of the considerable savings it encourages and provides - see entries above) and a minister who proposed stopping universal free milk for young children on the grounds that it did not cause any child deficient in its nutrients to drink any more than they would anyway apparently failed to explain the working, and her cuts were overruled by the PM as being 'unpopular'. If this coalition is going to decide policies on the basis of popularity, they might as well run public polls in the newspapers and on-line. Can we not have policy based on reason, logic and progress towards some stated goals? Or was the minister's working faulty in the first place?

AUGUST 13th 2010
More cheeky stuff from Dr Fox today.
He came out with an excellent analysis of the position, very clear and sensible descriptions of how he was going to go about the defence review and what the aims were, then claimed that the problems were the financial deficit, the over commitment on defence programmes in the pipeline, and that these were the fault of the past government. So far there is nothing in Fox's plans that were not part of the previous government's plans, and from what he has now said it looks like there is nothing on the horizon that had not either been already in progress or bound to have been put in hand.

As for the argument as to whether the Treasury is directly responsible for the spending over the years on Trident or delegates this to the managers of the Defence budget, this makes not one iota of difference other than putting the responsibility for certain annual priorities into different hands. We should do whatever makes most sense from the point of view of operations, consistent with cost effectiveness.

This government talks a lot. They need to. They were crap in opposition so they had better do something to explain now that they have discovered a bit more about how the world works and that none of it is their fault.

AUGUST 17th 2010
Some sense from George Osborne: "It's no how much government spends that is the issue, it is how they spend the money".
Yes, if he gets that right, things can eventually get better. The trouble is that when he was in opposition he never gave the slightest indication of spotting the Labour Party's errors, but opposed them on the many occasions they got it right.

SEPTEMBER 9th 2010
Osborne holds forth again on reforming the welfare system. I have to say that, if he gets this right, it will be a turning point. But the way to do it while at the same time cutting a lot of jobs is far from obvious. Money saved from welfare reform could and should be used to make sure there are not just jobs but jobs society needs done available for those who move from welfare to work. It would be great if the private sector supplied these. Unfortunately some of the private sector has grown where the pickings were easiest and the worth of the work the most dubious. It has to be remembered that a lot of these changes will not take effect for 2-5 years, so critics should look at this carefully. Reform is a long term strategy, but it has to be announced and started. In the past, all governments have found it difficult, just have they have found it difficult to educate enough UK residents to supply industry with the skills it needs to retain a globally competitive position. We have very few raw materials on these islands and not a lot of room, but expect to maintain a standard of living that exceeds many others. Not a lot of wiggle room. A lot of the business by which we live can, with modern communications, be done elsewhere.

OCTOBER 4th 2010
The Coalition Government, now in Conference, are beginning to firm up the details of their welfare reforms. I have to admire their efforts and the radical approach. Every government has ignored this problem in the past. There are to be some cuts, and the headlines refer to these, but these are not the important part, necessary though they are as part of a policy of cutting government expenditure across the board. The cuts are not even sufficient to pay, in the early years, for the increased expenditure that is part of the vital restructuring to cease the practice of removing all unemployment associated benefits the moment the citizen manages to get a job, however lowly paid.

The system and levels chosen are not perfect. There will be complaints and even some remaining anomalies, but seeking perfection would bring complexities and means-testing beyond the manageable.

OCTOBER 5th 2010
This government will stand or fall, finally on whether or not it can achieve growth which is both green and export oriented rather than import consequent. It is a colossal challenge and the key is to link the greenness and the export element, and to make it a growth in EARNINGS for the UK and UK tax-paying entrepreneurs and their employees. This has to be done in the teeth of other countries attempting the same. A few brain cells can compute that this requires global cooperation to quantitatively ease, and qualitatively ease, global green growth. I await with interest the announcement that this is understood. Otherwise growth will just grow our national and global problems.

OCTOBER 7th 2010
This man talks sense.

IMF chief's warning of currency war 'real threat'

Dominique Strauss-Khan on 'rebalancing' of the global economy

OCTOBER 16th 2010                             BONFIRE OF THE QUANGOS

 What is this all about? The phrase 'Bonfire of the Quangos' was coined by Gordon Brown. The coalition are trying to set it alight.
The designation 'Quasi Autonomous Non-governmental Organisation' is used to mean only certain bodies that fall into this category linguistically. The BBC for example is not a quango even though its funding is entirely a matter for government., thereby rendering its autonomy 'quasi'.

Quangos were created progressively over the years by governments, both Conservative and Labour. The aim was usually to put committees of technically qualified people in positions of responsibility for taking policy decisions in some areas that were judged to be best removed from any political prejudices based on the historic, often simplistic electoral stirrings of the UK social pot. Politicians of limited technical expertise finding themselves having to retain popularity with voters and fend off the attacks of the popular press (in hock to their readers), were finding themselves not always equipped for the task. Repeating the technical recommendations supplied by civil servants didn't always cut it either. Civil service generalists for their part were one level removed from the specialists in the areas involved.

If hot-potato issues along with long-running not-so-hot but complex matters were removed from political debate, ministers were then able to take responsibility by signing approving the quango in charge, its terms of reference, and formally accepting their recommendations when these called for parliamentary approval. Conservative governments were particularly fond of creating quangos which enabled them to be at arms length from unpopular decisions, whether they were unpopular amongst Conservative, Labour or Liberal voters.

Quangos grew in number and in popularity in government circles and in professional circles from which they drew their members. Whereas in the past people would often have given their service as advisors for free, as volunteers, the arrival of the formal quango went along with the payment, in terms of very respectable fees to the permanent members of quangos, commensurate with their salaries and qualifications in the specialities drawn on.

If we look at the Tory claim as presented by the Daily Telegraph, the situation is like this:

New Labour has presided over the creation of a quango superstate that spends nearly £170 billion a year - more than five times the budget of the Ministry of Defence.

The figure has been revealed by an investigation into the accounts of nearly 900 agencies, advisory bodies, monitoring boards and other public bodies that are all termed "quangos".

The study also shows massive pay rises over the past decade for those running a slew of agencies, including the Coal Authority, the British Waterways Board and British Nuclear Fuels.

Last year, Ken Boston, the head of the Qualification and Curriculum Authority, received £273,000 in annual pay and benefits in kind.

In 1998, his predecessor received £43,563. Trevor Beaumont, head of The Tote, was paid £369,000 last year. In 1998, an official received £115,000 to do the same job.

Two years before Labour came to power, Gordon Brown spoke publicly of the need for a "bonfire of the quangos". His party's 1997 General Election manifesto sharply criticised the Tories for allowing their number and cost to soar.

But the study reveals that almost 200 new Government agencies have been created in the past two years alone

The full list and possible future of the quangos if the planned reforms go through is well set out here:

Some problems in lighting the bonfire are looked at here:

So, what's the real story?

A number of these quangos are due for abolishment anyway as they have done their job, or the task is no longer a priority. Keeping them in being in case the need should arise can no longer be justified. Their demise will save the treasury some money.

The coalition government is also about to attempt a political manoeuvre with respect to some quangos. Their bonfire will not be the same as Gordon Brown's was going to be. There are some quangos where it is not the cost of the quango which is the issue but the cost of the policies which are the result of the quango's recommendation. There are quangos where the coalition may not be convinced that the members or the chair are politically neutral. There are quangos where the policies they recommend, based solely on the matter they have to consider and judge, cannot be judged in isolation.

The last of the above reasons is, of course, likely to be valid in some instances. However, it should not be the reason to abolish quango even if it's recommendation is overruled by government. A perfect example of this along with the decision on its future:

Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

Retain - Retain on grounds of performing a technical function which should remain independent of Government

You may recall, dear reader, that the recommendation of this committee has been on occasions take and on others not. Not so much as it was wrong but that some of its policy recommendations were not always timely. They required coordination with other policies on prisons and how they are run, on sentencing and the parameters within which judges and magistrates operate and on public understanding, education and behaviour.

In the middle of this complex issue we have Francis Maude attempting first to base quango reform on saving government expenditure, only to see the ground fall away from beneath him on short term expenditure (which will rise as a result due to a number of factors) and long term expenditure (which may be no different than if their was no 'bonfire' other than what Labour had planned anyway).

So Maude switched grounds for the bonfire as 'taking back ministerial responsibility and democratic accountability', which is a bit strange as the quangos do not take away either of these, they just take the work and reduce the exposure of ministers. Ministers and the government still carry the can 100%. What a quango does is help the minister to show that he or she took the best advice from the most appropriate sources before accepting it or, in rare cases, rejecting it on grounds that might transcend the terms on which the quango considered the issues.

Shot down on his first two justifications, Maude said it was to 'bring transparency' to government. Given the incessant discussion on the actions and deliberations of various quangos this could possibly apply in the case of quangos whose discussions are kept very private in the interests of national security, national economy or commercial sensitivity or legal liability. In these cases, going for transparency is probably pretty stupid.

Conclusion: The Bonfire of the Quangos coalition-style is mainly to make the point that government has to be seen to be being done, and this particular bit of spin is part of an overall cost-cutting theatre to convince international investors we are serious about balancing the budget and they can keep lending us money until we turn the corner on our balance of payments. If we had more natural resources we could allow the Pound to sink gracefully till we became competitive in exports and as a tourist destination and service provider. Unfortunately our natural resources are few and we even have to import not on;ly raw materials but human resources to help our key industries. Nevertheless there are many other countries in a similar or worse position. Collectively we can pull through if we avoid ABUSE of all the systems, materials and assistance that is available to us. In a world where so many people are tempted to look after number one when the going gets tough, this is our greatest challenge. It is a duty to look after 'number one' adequately in order not to be a liability. Making it an obsession is counter-productive.

OCTOBER 17th 2010
Today we are digesting a few more details of the cuts in the Defence Budget. These have been moderated, particularly in view of a black hole of 3-4 billion that needs to be filled anyway. The carriers stay (they had to, see comments elswhere on this site) though what planes will fly off them in their early years is not certain. That's not such a problem as some people are making it.
The Severn Barrage is scrapped - I imagine this is because it would be a national project that for one reason or another is not being bid for by private investors and represented a pure government funded project. I will have to look into this. There may be a number of reasons. New Nuclear is now a serious priority. I wish I could share the faith in wind but without energy storage systems to get the best out of that I can't see it as a reliable investment.

Meanwhile the core argument about what the rate and size of the cust will do the economy rages on. It all depends how much the rhetoric and the plans are reflected in reality. I suspend judgment, but it seems to me a lot of clever, profitable green employment needs to be magicked up to keep the show on the road.

Looking into the Severn Barrage it seems it is a case of the Government taking the easy option. Misinformed environmentalists would have been a pain in the arse and investors hard to find right now without a commitment from the govenrment on a purchase price  for electricity they are not ready to fix. A pity, as it is a brilliant project and the wildlife would have adjusted easily and quickly to any changes it brought about. The barrage would harness water power using a hydro-electric dam, but would be filled by the incoming tide rather than by water flowing downstream. Very clever stuff, but robust, simple and reliable. What a terrible waste of time and opportunity. How typically English. How typically Conservative. I understand also it is because Huhne has faith in Carbon Capture and Storage as an exportable technology. If he is right, OK, that makes sense, but I would do both. CCS is far from a clear-cut possibility. The expenditure on the barrage can be extended over more years. Take it easy. The thing is to start NOW.

OCTOBER 20th 2010
, 14:28, Wednesday 20 October 2010

Half a million public sector jobs will go, the welfare budget will be slashed and the retirement age will rise under Government plans to cut spending

OCTOBER 21st 2010
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that the reforms will hit the poor hardest. The government says it is the rich who will pay the greater shared and bear the greatest cuts. Naturally anyone with a brain can see that both of these statements can be true and to some extent it is obvious. However, given that this is accepted, amongst the poorer members of society who feel the effects the most, while there will be some who may well be helped to readjust their lives and find work, keep a home and their health, others may for a variety of reasons slip between the theoretical supporting systems that the government claims to be preparing. We shall see. If it is a matter of cutting waste and the misallocation of resources then there is no argument against the measures. This is a complex situation and it is not until we see how judgement is exercised in its implementation that any estimate of the fairness can be made.

At least we can expect that in the UK we may avoid the meaningless protest amongst the student generation that is taking place in France, where people in their teens are rioting because the retirement age is to be raised from 60 to 62! A young femail student said it was difficult to weigh the rights of the individual against the needs of the country. I hope before long that it will be explained to her that if she has that difficulty, her country does not need her. She should piss off to China or wherever - not that they will need her there either.

OCTOBER 27th 2010
There is absolutely no doubt that the Housing Benefit system was never thought through beyond the era in which it was set up and has not been reformed over the years to be appropriate to the 21st century. The most absurd abuses have built up which make reform now very difficult. Nevertheless it will have to be done and the sooner the better. To do it humanely will require something that governments have increasingly tried to avoid and the public incresingly been unwilling to accept: judging individual cases on their merits. These days it is called descrimination if any pattern other than complete randomicity can be detected that revealed those most affected as old, young, black, white, rich, poor, etc. ad infinitum. When the cut comes and the limit to which the state will go to purchase or rent a home in any district however much demand may have driven up the price, there will be those for whom the move will be a penalisation of considerable proportions. They will need adminsitrative help and advice and in some cases temporary financial assistance. This should be given. It will be impossible to devise a set of rules to fti all cases so it will require judgment on the part of local authorities and government. It will not be a picnic for anyone. Why should it be? Government requires authority and decision making at many levels.  Fairness is a worthy aspiration and goal. Satisfaction is in no way guaranteed.

OCTOBER 28th 2010
Since writing the above paragraph Boris Johnson has stirred the pot in a confused way. It is unclear as to whether he was supporting the government's reforms or not. I think he chose his words badly, bigging up his role in ensuring the reforms would be implemented in such a way as to avoid 'social cleansing' on ground of ability to rent high-priced accommodation in central London. Well, one way or another it will become clear that fairness and equality are two different words with different meanings which can work in different contexts. There are massive contradictions at the heart of modern societies, based on extraordinary assumptions on matters unsupported by evidence. The position of those on all sides of the arguments that surround concepts of affordable housing, tied housing, council housing, subsidised housing etc. are shaky in the extreme and therefore the best we can expect is the painful correction of errors that grow to absurdity.

NOVEMBER 3rd 2010
The Cameron-Sarkozy love-in has upset the Tory Europhobes a bit along with the 'little Englanders' in other parties but it represents the public political acknowledgement of some sensible work in the backrooms of the Foreign Office, the MOD and their equivalents in France. Those who are really knowledgeable of the social and political realities in both countries and the history too will appreciate that this progress is practical, necessary, overdue and will lead to a rational and effective plan for our two countries to contribute to NATO and UN defence and security requirements. These requirements are REAL and comprise the continual defence of the air, maritime and surface civil transport operations on which global society depends, as well as the capability to intervene where necessary to avoid or alleviate regional crises. The objections by those who claim France's interests could conflict with those of the UK, drawing on historical examples (often incorrect in their interpretation) are living in dreamland. There could well be arguments and discussions, but a conflict of interest in the current circumstances is not possible for those who understand the circumstances, and a shortfall on the intelligence front is not one we have to worry about here.

JANUARY 3rd 2011
A rise in VAT to 20% is about to kick in.
I repeat what I said befire the last budget, this is not the moment for such a rise in such a tax. Indeed it might never be, but certainly now is not the time. It is marginally mitigated because in the UK we do not have VAT on certain items. However, 17.5% is quite adequate. There should probably be fewer exceptions to it. No child in the UK is going to go without clothes when as a nation we throw out and give to charity enough to clothe us all yearly.
As for the food we throw out, it is clearly bought too cheaply and in excess.

JANUARY 19th 2011
The government is for some reason surprised at the significant rise in unemployment amongst those coming of age. How could it possibly be otherwise? Unless they take extraordinary steps it will continue to rise. Where do they expect the jobs to come from? This has been seen coming the moment the current collection of policies were decided on, and on this website long before that when it became clear that the necessity for a globally coordinated policy of Green Growth had not been fully understood. At least it does at last seem to be understood that fiddling about with the UK Bank rate to stop price rises which are mistakenly called 'inflation' is a waste of time. I am thankful for small mercies.

One in five 16 to 24-year-olds are now out of work, after a rise of 32,000 to 951,000 without jobs, the highest figure since records began in 1992.

We have had so much warning of the current situation it is hard to imagine what more could have been done to draw attention other than walking around with an old fashioned sandwich board.

JANUARY 24th 2011

The outgoing boss of the business body CBI has accused the coalition of failing to come up with policies that support economic growth.

"It's failed to articulate in big picture terms its vision of what the UK economy might become under its stewardship," Sir Richard Lambert said in a speech.

That much, I have to say, is how it seems to me, though the task is not easy. The government is accused of rushing on cuts, as they are easier, and being too slow on guiding and sjupporting 'green, sustainable growth' in the private sector. Lambert must have more inside information than most, so let us hope he is heeded if he is right. The rest of the report is here:

JANUARY 25th 2011
It is hard to credit the absurd thinking behind the reporting of the latest figures on the UK economy from the Office of National Statistics. I am amazed the figures for the last quarter were not worse. The weather is lagely to blame because manufacturing, which showed healthy growth, including good growth in exports due to the competitive exchange rate, is anly about 15% of the UK economy. The rest is services. Anyone resident abroad with a brain who had a choice of avoiding travel to the UK, even for shopping, would have done so in the last month of 2010. A mass of seasonal goods were held up in ships unable to dock at congested ports such as Felixstowe where the roads were blocked. Heathrow caused air travel chaos. The UK economy, we are told, only shrank by 0.5 percent in spite of the fact that the Irish economy to which we are umbilically linked had recently virtually collapsed! I think this is amazing! Yet commentators are expressing amazement that it did not expand!

I have never doubted by own relative sanity in the 73 years I have been alive and I still trust it. All I can say is that if the ONS had reported any growth at all in the last quarter of 2010 I would have advised them to look again. How could it have been possible in an economy so dependent on personal options and possibilities that can vary quite substantially at short notice, when exposed to such events?

FEBRUARY 4th 2011
Readers will know that for the last 2 years I have been calling for a declared policy of 'Green Growth'. Our financial services sector may be important but it cannot be the employer of more than a limited part of the UK population. Nor can domestic market forces give rise to an economic model that can make UK plc a solvent company on the global stage. Government must ensure that we use the legitimate political and financial instruments that have been built up, in the EU and in other international global agreements, to shape our economy progressively so that the assets we have, human and systemic, can be employed so as to sustain and maintain our standard of living. That does not mean, as some naive thinkers pretend, that every generation should find themselves better off than the one before. There will always be waves of apparent and real prosperity and poverty and an ebb and flow that moves across the economic landscape of nations anf the globe. Nevertheless is time for this government to make it clear that regardless of the cuts being made to reduce borrowing, there has to be a plan for growth and it has to be what we call 'green', and it has to be geared to a logical social model with trends that are understandable.

The deputy prime minister outlined the government's ambition to "rebalance" the UK economy, diversifying into sectors other than finance, spreading economic activity across the whole country and encouraging "green" sustainable growth.

There will be the usual comments that this is just blah, where is the beef; but such plans cannot be commanded and laid down from on high. There has to be a strange dance between the partners in banking, industry and academia. At the moment there seem to be a lot of wall-flowers and the atmosphere is not the best.

FEBRUARY 16th 2011

There were 40,000 more job vacancies in the three months to January than in the previous three months. This is often seen as an indicator of the health of the economy and whether companies are creating jobs.

But the ONS said that most of these new vacancies were temporary jobs, working on the 2011 Census. Excluding this, there were 8,000 more vacancies.

Youth unemployment rose to a fresh record high, with more than one in five 16 to 24-year-olds out of work after a rise of 66,000 to 965,000.

I trust the governmentn realises that there is no possible way out of this situation other than an internationally coordinated move to 'green growth' combined with a continued hold, or reduction, in job-creation that is not associated with a balanced economy, a more effcient use of resources, and a sustainable balance of payments. I find it absurd that the Bank of England can say it did not expect the current level of price rises (which it idiotically lumps together as 'inflation' or any of the current symptoms. Here we are floating on our own with half of us rejecting the European solution and the other half rejecting the Atlantic one, with the Irish who had a foot on our shores as well as the others falling in the water as a result after water-skiing at high speed and going arse over tit. We have got to look after each other now and make damnded sure people have a roof over their heads and enough to eat.

P J O'Rourke who after all this time has finally learned that economics lie at the root of all politics and he never bothered to study or get a clue about the subject, might now be of some use with his simple, direct and humourous approach. While 'Eat the Rich' is not the actual solution.he is a wiser man now, not just a smart-arse. There are quite a lot of overpaid people who think of themselves as 'working class' who spend much of their day doing little. There are others who are overworked and not too well paid. There are some making a fortune ut of overtime. No doubt the Coalition gurus are aiming with their cuts to let the pain sort out the anomalies, but the collateral damage worries me. Eric Pickles worries me, as when I analyse his verbal diarrhoea it indicated an inflamed and damaged brain even if his heart was once in the right place. And we still have some who don't think Nigel Lawson is and always was on another planet.

FEBRUARY 17th 2011
Although I was sceptical about the public knee-jerk reaction, I was against the plans to sell of some of the National Forest. My points made (in writing) to the Beeb after listening a phone-in debate on Jan 25th were:

The argument that public ownership will do the best job in all cases is flawed.

However, the argument that those who do not wish to visit or benefit personally should not contribute to the maintenance is also flawed. It is a national duty to maintain the forests and a global one.

The argument that access will not be affected by the plan is also flawed unless specfic conditions are attached.

But no GENERAL arguments are valid either way other than that the forests must be protected and managed, and there should be specific plans laid within a general plan, for each part of the forest.

The man who wants to 'sell off his [theoretical] chunk' and pocket the cash does not have the right, for historic and constitutional reasons, to do this.

There will be no saving made by the new sell-off plans and improvements can be made without it.

It seems the Government has now come to the same conclusion. I am not sure why this could not have occurred to them at the start.

On the other hand the fact that half a million people signed a petition on the Web to halt the scheme is to my thinking meaningless. Given that there are 38 million active Internet users on the UK and a mjority of these had heard about the project, then unless those who signed were spread evenly between urban and country and political affiliation, age, sex and a great many other criteria, petitions like this should be ignored as a guide to policy but paid great attention to as a guide to strains of political activism, the bad temper of the unemployed along with the feelings of a large number of quite reasonable, ordinary people spread throughout these islands who are more connected with their local environment and society than with the Westminster Villiage and macro-global economics and finance.

It does, however, have little to do with the adoption or not of this policy in ether the national interest or the wishes of a majority or, come to that, an informed minority. Internet petitions and referenda of all sorts should never be used as a replacement of government by the parliamentary system we have developed. The system can of course be continually improved, particularly through the spread of information - that is where the Internet and the Web and even petitions can play a part.

Was this just a failure to properly communicate a plan involving only 2% of forest land that could have been quite reasonable? Was it sold as cost-saving when in fact it was neutral but possibly beneficial?

MAY 14th 2011
The higher economic growth in the Euro zone is good news, not bad.
We do not need the sort of domestic growth that is based on imports and government bureaucracy. Most people do noit realise that the money that went into the NHS was to a significant extent spent on administration to avoid being sued by patients, and this same administration has reduced the efficiency of the NHS hugely, in spite of there being more doctors and surgeons. That is what the current NHS arguments are really about. Some surgeons are doing 2 operations a day instead of 8 with no change to the safety record to make it worth while.

When it comes to electing police commissioners though I think the government could have got it wrong. There's an upside and a downside risk, better leave it.

MAY 17th 2011
This afternoon, as the Queen is touring Dublin, David Cameron is answering questions at the House of Commons Liaison Committee. I have to say it is a very impressive performance. He is defending his economic policy and he is doing it properly. He was next challenged on science an technology policy and again he defended his policies well. Then came GREEN GROWTH. The Green Investment Bank, Green Deal, Green Heat and Power policies formed his main defence. He was then asked to explain the lack of progress toward meeting out Kyoto+ based ambitions. It seems we have to get the EU moving faster on that in order to commit ourselves economically but the PM is optimistic. 

The most astonishing performance was from Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, who appeared to be trying to make a fool out of the PM with his simplistic questions about manufacturing v. service. He claimed not to understand the 'rebalancing of the economy' which it is clear means stopping unjustified domestic growth through unjustified domestic government expenditure. But what an utter pillock Tyrie turns out to be. A total creep, dishonest to his fingertips, pretending to be a knowledegable rigourous economist asking proper questions but just laying tenth rate traps. Cameron did not fall for them!

My respect for Cameron grows!!

MAY 29th 2011
... Only to diminish again.
While I am entirely in favour of the UK contributing through both private and public coordinated aid programmes, David Cameron's presentation of his policy based on emotions rooted in his childhood are the very last way to justify such actions. We need to be straight and think it through. Educating people, even keeping alive on principle those who in natural circumstances statistically speaking would die from hunger or fratricide, is not only revoltingly patronising but wrong if we are not going to be responsible for the consequences. I think we should educate and avoid premature deaths, and should be responsible for the consequences, but at the moment we show few signs of the collective capability or the collective will to follow through.

People on a guilt trip are poor judges of how to act. To many, Cameron comes over (wrongly I am quite prepared to admit) as a rich man deciding to give away other people's money to those he feels the world that bred him has wronged in some way. I have warmed to him since he became PM, having found him worse than useless in opposition, as he seemed to be learning a lot; but if he wants to present his policies on new, advanced problems he has got to do better than this.

June 22nd 2011 I see there are others who agree with me

JULY 5th 2011
Train maker Bombardier, which recently missed out on the £1.4bn Thameslink contract, has said it plans to cut more than 1,400 jobs at its Derby plant.

The illogicality of setting up a bidding process whereby, at the end, the purchaser has no choice because they have so shaped the criteria that the company that hits the bull's eye wins even if the total score on broader considerations is less, stems from our hypocrisy on matters European. We are in the EU, but keep our own currency which we have to defend, so our balance of trade and investment and payments matter very much and they stink. We compete as a workforce, but have decided to beg, borrow and steal that workforce if we don't get round to breeding and training our own, then we complain about over-immigration and not enough British jobs for British workers.

In France or Germany, we are told, such a contract would go to the domestically staffed business. Yet the UK, for very interesting and devious reasons, plays a game it cannot afford. The coalition government is not sure whether to blame the previous Labour administration which set up the bidding process as it knows it would have done exactly the same. Don't try to understand it, dear reader, it is all to do with which particular elements of national character rise to the top in the brains of our noisier citizens, from politicians like Nigel Lawson to trade union leaders like Bob Crowe, and trigger the denial syndromes that enable them to confidently announce that black is white,

SEPTEMBER 18th 2011
There is endless talk of 'plan B' to replace the stringent cuts programme on which our credibility and borrowing depends. This is not realistic. Plan A is always subject to careful adjustment and qualitative easing, but definitely not a return to artificial employment that puts us further into deficit and debt.

SEPTEMBER 21st 2011
Meaningless calls for a plan B are repeated on the air and in the press, with the IMF staff being misquoted in the headlines as being behind such calls. When will Ed Balls get it into his head that there is no 'austerity package', there is a serious attempt to restructure the economy so that employment is created, and salaries paid in a framework that does not make a serious problem (faced by many countries) worse.

It is absolutely true that targetted quantitative easing as part of plan A is called for in the UK and possibly in other countries, but it needs international coordination and an understanding of the 'new economics' and that is thin on the ground in both the public and private sector.

OCTOBER 3rd 2011
A little way into the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and Hey Presto, at last, we approach the moment. QUALITATIVE EASING. You heard it first on this web site many moons ago. George Osborne will not use the phrase of course but that is what he will come up with, six months late (or years late by another criterion). The banks must be the judge on investment chances, but the government and Bank of England can ease the way by buying bonds in a discriminatory way, as well as by legislation that affects planning and investment. Remember, as pointed out often on this site, discrimination is the key to success individually, collectively, nationally and globally. First we have to deal with the national problems for which we are responsible. I look forward to the announcement later today or tomorrow.

OCTOBER 5th 2011
I hate rhetoric, other than the bitter-sweet kind that Winston could deliver. Listening to Michael Heseltine used to really turn me off. But today David Cameron spoke very well and as he finished his address I did feel emotional and I did believe in his message of optimism. It is indeed a time for leadership, and for participation.