One of the selling points of P2P lending is that fewer borrowers
would defraud real individual people than would defraud a public
Father of Punk dies, aged 88
Geoffrey Howe is most remembered by a generation who where young and jobless during his headlining budgets in the early 1980s.
As an MP, Howe joined the Stooges, a group of loyal cabinet ministers who enforced the ideas of their boss's american economic advisors. Front page news of base lending rates in the teens or twenties would flank a picture of Howe and his red dispatch case. The policies appeared to designed to close-down UK manufacturing by subsidising cheap imports, as indeed they were according to current bank of england guides to monetary policy. On the other hand, if you stretch the meaning of words beyond what is credible, the policy was designed to increase employment by reducing inflation. The three chord trick was to pay a shade over the minimum for government debt, bring-in overseas investors to buy it for that reason, and so raise the exchange rate because of this inflow of money.
As industry was under-cut, a new interest in angry music spawned the punk era among the new wave of young unemployed, and punk became a UK export where shoes or ships had been a few years before. For years, there was a slot on the TV news for the day's largest factory closures. It was a great backdrop to 1980s music.
Howe was not the first or the last chancellor to close-down large areas of UK manufacturing by fiddling the exchange rate - Churchill had joined the gold standard in the 1930s depression - but Howe was unusual in doing it sane and sober. Winston Churchill, was known for doing some of his work while drunk, and successors have been known as "speedball", but Howe and some of his colleagues wrecked the economy with some sense of doubt about what they were doing. Sadly, few of them were or are ever asked by interviewers why they did it. Questions from journalists tend to be about Europe, and their attempts to drop an apology into the interview go un-noticed because interviewers do not probe further. In Howe's resignation speech, he mentioned an idea about the European Monetary Union, and referred to Bank of England advice, rather than talking just about "Europe" as summerised later. He also mentioned "trying to stretch the meaning of words beyond what is credible", and "that tragic conflict of loyalties which which I have myself wrestled, for perhaps too long".
Trying to comment on TheNews.Coop I discovered that my email address was already in use; I could not register.
Trying to recover my username and password I discovered that my email address was unknown; not in use.
Anyway, if you are interested enough in the Co-Operative Group to want to find out if John Lewis bigwigs have said anything about them, you find these "thenews.coop" pages where nobody has commented and I discover that I am not allowed to comment.
I googled these pages to see if there was a comment by Andy Street of John Lewis about The Co-Operative Group. None. I notice that nobody else has commented on the few thenews.coop pages that I've read, and that some have robotic "commented .... added ... commented ... said" lines in them to suggest being thrown-together in a PR office.
Personally, I think staff co-ops are a good way fo running big organisations and consumer co-ops can be good for specialist organisations where the customers have a reason to be loyal, like a village pub or a football club.
That's it! If anyone is interested I am a co-op bank customer,
a watitrose customer, and have never been on the staff of any
The Guardian's previous article on the same subject had quotes about "happy chickens"; "I want chickens to be happy", said Lord Myers, but not to have someone on the board table spending dis-proportionate time on the subject. At the same time, the shops are likely to loose customers and warm-fuzzy-feeleing because of a decision to ignore one of the interests that's represented among enthusiasts on the non-executive board.
By the way there is a great headline on one of the Guardian pages: "Co-Operative Group Pays Official £2,000 a day to examine why it is in debt". Obviously it is in debt for three reasons:
The headline might say more than the article. If the group used minimum paid executives for five years and took no expensive decisions, how much would it save as a proportion of the debt?
I am such a clever boy. After writing something rude about the co-op a few years ago...
...now, everybody acknowledges that the Co-Op, with its heritage spanning-back ten years or so to a group of vein MPs who used the word "modernise", doesn't make sense and is hard to work in. If your are the boss, you have to manipulate the non-executive directors who think they run the place, by appointing ones who are very polite and always try to say the right thing about governance like Rev. Flowers.
Meanwhile there are no non-executive directors who tell you to concentrate on groceries and what keeps people buying their washing powder at your shop rather than another shop; they are all people who would rather talk about anything else but groceries, funeral care, chemists and farms. A bit like when I worked for a voluntary sector social work agency paid by government to run community alcohol services, with managers and directors who would talk about anything but the A-word, whether about training or selecting the right staff or measuring performance, until people on the board of trustees who might come from a narrow background and not know how the thing worked decided to start sacking the lot of them, including me in a way, all the way down the management line.
There is some subtle point to make about the relationship between trustees / governers / non-executive directors and directors, but I don't yet know what it is, despite being a clever boy who has been rude before other people were rude. Two articles recently show that the Co-Op has lost its Compassion in World Farming badge for happy chickens by giving them less space, while a comentator is reported in the Guardian as saying how badly it is run because people on vital board meetings talk about this. They are right to do so but wrong not to be good at running supermarkets undertakers chemists and farms (although one of them is a farmer apparently). The dragon comentator is right to be interested in mainstream corporate management but wrong to loose customers by loosing a badge about happy chickens. There is some subtle point to make about how big business needs a betters supply of applicants who are good at happy chickens and good at getting repeat customers at supermarkets, but I don't quite know what that subtle point is.
Scotland and the sterling area. A speech by an ex BBC economist makes out that England is not better-off without Scotland, but that there is a problem about who pays for Northern Ireland and the North East if they get any worse. The chances of North-eastern manufacturing doing badly under a long period of Conservative government are high.
Why can't Scotland share the subsidy to Northern Ireland, at least?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqGGriEJac8 The bit I mentioned is near the start.
So many things in the world I do not know about...
"Independent review for BIS, by Graeme Nuttall, on employee ownership. Explains the obstacles to promoting employee owned companies, and sets out a framework for knocking them down. Makes recommendations to government on how to promote employee ownership. "
If I understand right, Brittania will cease to be a brand and has ceased to be a separate organisation.
That leaves an opportunity to set-up some kind of specialised building society with the purpose of flogging it off.
I don't know how you sell-out to a not-yet formed group of members, so that may be an insolvable problem; maybe it's possible to sell to bondholders or to voting shareholders with some kind of legal set-up to say that they have to sell-out over time to their staff or customers. Maybe co-op staff and costomers can be polled to find out if any see a gap in the market that they would like to fill.
Brittania is a well-known name; there are dozen or so others names on Brittania's wikipedia page, with opportunities to specialise by area as before or niche market, or to set-up a low-cost online society with no branches, or combinations of the two.
The Observer reports a firm of management consultants advising schools and councils to clear money out of Co-Op business accounts.
I'm still trying to work this out. Co-op group claims to have found enough vulture capitalists to buy 70% of the bank, and thinks it can sell Co-Operative Insurance Services to raise a bit more cash. Meanwhile at the last accounts, Co-Op Bank including Brittania had assets of 47 bungles and the predicted hole was only 1.5 bungles.
The hole is caused by
(a) claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance which Reverend Flowers never asked about
(b) new government requirements to keep more money in the till effecting all banks. Co-op would have passed except-for
(c) skeleton debts found in the cupboard at Brittania. Mis-sold buy-to-let mortgages were known about, but not loans from a commercial department that Brittania bad. Nobody knows what loans these are; they're said to be a handfull of large ones.
The 1.5 bungle hole is to be filled by
(a) selling-out & flogging-off as above
(b) lending no new big formal loans; reducing card limits, waiting for lent-out money to come back-in. I didn't watch the full Project Verde videos on the parliament channel or the members' meeting video at all; I don't know if Brittania is still lending for mortgages.
(c) paying no interest
(d) reducing staff - where offices & branches of Co-Op and Brittania are in the same place or do the same thing. Reducing the ratio of branches to customers.
My hunch is that this is more than enough to fill a 1.5 bungle gap from assets worth 47 bungles from the odd scraps of video I've seen, and retail customers seem happy to hang-on to their accounts too. That leaves small business acounts, often aquired via a special offer to Federation of Small Business members or free banking and a £25 bonus for paying FSB membership starting at £120. FSB now encourages business to go to P2P lenders like Rebuilding Society and Thincats rather than banks, and savers should do the same.
As for larger account holders, there is still £85,000 protected for these organisations which is probably enough to protect a school's account.
If an organisation has more than £85,000 in the bank, why aren't they lending it on Thincats, Rebuildingsociety and the rest anyway, rather than leave it sitting there?
This 10-year-old idea of finding non-executive directors from amongst a few activists and paying them more than a lot of executives sounds wierd. I've lost my co-operative membership card but saw it around recently and hope to become an activist soon in hope of promotion. Meanwhile googles of co-op events reveal a lot of people from another side of politics being rude. Why? One headline, that I did not click on, from Conservative Home suggested that Co-Operative members ought to be balloted on their donation to the Co-operative Party (or Labour Party: the distinction is unclear - it's not much in favour of worker co-operatives). A fair point, but can I vote on my donation from Fidelity Worldwide Investment going to the Conservative Party? I seem to be donating to both. I know that companies like Fidelity are usually bogus shareholder co-ops with the voting rights in practice resting with a few fund managers, the ebbs and flows of the stock market, and a self-perpetuating management. As an invester in tracker funds and a small pension I probably ought to have voting rights in this Fidelity donation to the Conservative Party and my vote is for both financial institutions to give less until the parties share their pollsters, cut their poster adverts, and come clean about where the rest of their money is spent so that it can be cut or spent from some shared public sector institution.
As for big merged consumer co-operatives and big merged shareholder PLCs, I wish I knew how more of them could become staff-owned and raise money with non-voting shares if needed.
Reverend Flowers is not in the same video as Mr Tootle, who does a great job of saying that the bank was being asked for more cash in the till by regulators and more cash to cover bad debts by the Brittania, so it pulled out of a rather audacious bid for surplus Lloyds branches. He does really well. I'd employ him to run a bank. The MPs are odd - like children in some documentary about a difficult school, but worse. They can't sit still, some of them, without playing with their mobiles or going to the loo, luckilly not on screen. The one on the chairman's right makes himself out as a master of rudeness and accuses Mr Tootle of smirking, but when the chair shuts him up and gets a proper reply this MP is playing with his mobile again. Silly man. I hope to work-out which MP he is.
Videos of Co-op executives, including the Reverend Paul Flowers, giving evidence in parliament. Apparently he thought the assets were £30 bn instead of £47bn
If I ran the Co-Op bank, I would introduce this new account option: shared money would be a good name for it.
The option would allow an account holder to show the detail, line by line, to any member of a group on the net. A spouse. A tax collector. A member, shareholder, partner, co-operator: anything like that. Within the account I would add the chance of categorising each line as Barclays does, so that any onlooker could see how much is spent line my line and category by category. Co-Op doesn't have teh money for bespoke software, but there are several writers of applications that read bank account data and maybe one or two of these could be re-badged and incorporated into the existing set-up (also allowing download of account data but that is another thing).
So all the clubs and societies and branches of unions and parties can have a good reason for keeping their Co-Op account: it makes them accountable and saves work for the treasurer.
About the Co-op bank. I was going to link to a video of one of the finance brokers that finds borrowers on Justin.tv/thincats
It's a site done by some very lean cats - very slow and full of ads - but http://www.justin.tv/thincats/b/477510807 seems to be the one.
Anyway, he said he was an ex bank manager who was now allowed to try and understand the business as well as just the numbers, as he'd been forced to do at Nat West. He made a point of visiting each client, deciding whether he could do business with the individual if the firm went bust, and paying a receiver to work out what capital was available if the business did go bust. During the loan he would keep in touch with the borrower about once a year and monitor through credit reference agencies. Hopefully he lends to sensibly because he's visited the site and checked all he can. Then if a borrower does go bust - he quoted a roof rack manufacturer in Birmingham - it does so in an organised way because he's able to work with the debtors and they're thinking about their personal guaruntees. Everyone is as happy as circumstances allow.
Anyway, if I were the Co-op, and had read the news about bank executives asking for multi-million pound payments to run the larger banks, and had no money to lend anyway (whatever the ethical policy) and no money to run 50 of the branches, I would try to think of ways to economise.
I would try to find the best business finance brokers and offer them vacant office space in Co-Op branches, because banks are where customers traditionally seek business loan. Not an obscure P2P lending site or a broker with a stall at a Business Finance trade show. With luck, some of these brokers could take-on Co-Op managers to save redundancy pay.
If I could find a way of linking a Co-Op savings product with the performance of P2P loans, that would be good as well, because savers, like borrowers, traditionally check what their bank can offer. So I would be directing savers and borrowers towards the same sites, using finance brokers that I don't have to pay, and I wouldn't be making any money out of it but it's still better than loosing money.
I suppose I would try to turn the retail banking part of the business into a staff co-op like John Lewis. None such exists. How to get to that point from a 30% controlling stake in an obscure de-listed PLC is above my head: maybe there is a way.
That leaves another problem: what is a bank branch for? If they don't have a purpose, maybe they can be converted into hot-desking places - somewhere like a reference library with a coffee machine where people can rent somewhere to work. What to do about the customers who still come-in wanting to cash a cheque is a problem. If every customer were allowed free time on a mobile contract, and offered a smart phone, then maybe the withdrawal of bank counter services could be a virtue rather than a vice but I don't quite see it.
I have posted a version of this on http://saveourbank.coop , where the forum mentions other mutual banks and one or two calls to action.
At what point did the Co-op cease to be a co-op? Probably when television became more attractive than going to meetings, as the note about the co-ops subsidy for user groups among its members shows. I have not read about the rights and wrongs of what one user group did, but notice that the cause overlaps with what users of a similar system in the old Transport and General Workers' union funded.
Moving-on to the mainstream, it's easy to sound well-informed when you hope to hear a bit of news, there's some news coverage, and your hoped-for bit is not reported. That is why I can sound expert, because the Co-Op bank re-structuring, the Grangemouth oil refinary management, and the means of raising money for new nuclear power plants are all missed opportunities for staff ownership.
Co-op legal services still offer free "initial advice" by phone to any co-op member, and membership is free. Worth reading the comments under this article before taking them too seriously though: apparently the paid services they like to refer-to aren't cheapest or best.
The current government have more-or-less ruled-out access to justice via employment tribunals by charging a lot to use a court.
If this happened to people who call the police (which are free) or magistrates courts (which cost £80 last time I looked), people would think it unjust. But something about how employment disputes are seen rules-out an outcry. Often the ministers making decisions have never had a normal job, which might be the problem.
It's not obvious whether Mr
Lawyer's and Mrs Lawyer's referral system can help more than
it hinders in employment cases, because the cost of the work,
compared to the small win, makes employment law barely economic.
Any economy helps. On the other hand, a service like Mr Lawyer
puts a client
in touch with a willing lawyer for the right speciality for
free. This may be a lawyer with low overheads, saving time and
effort on both sides.
I don't know if this is important or not. The "Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration
Bill" has various parliamentary stages ahead of it. One problem is that the only way to catch an un-subtle MP will be removed. In the past, you or I could pose as a new lobbying company and offer money on video to MPs that had been turned-down by the main lobby groups, because they were a bit desparate and un-subtle as viewers see on the video. If there is a register, these MPs will learn to be as subtle as their colleagues. They will check the register. There will be no way of catching them out as a (pretend) inexperienced lobbyist talks to an inexperienced MP on video.
I do know, even before reading the bill, that it will say nothing about transparency for ordinary members who sign-up for something like the AA and get something like Hezbullah, or Hammas, or Hummus, or whatever it is called, or more likely just an empty office block and a stream of junk mail about discount pet insurance rather than help at work.
Talking of which, you can mash chick peas with a little peanut
butter to get slighly cheaper hummus than the ready-mixed tubs
in supermarkets, but so far my recipe does not taste so good.
Boston Consulting once employed another Mr Purnell, later an MP, who had the job of allocating £5m a year of higher education funding money to
You can read about Mr James Purnell's £295,000 a year next job here
16% of MPs have a consultancy background according to Medano Partnashiop.
Just googled some of the people in the Trades Union Reform Campaign. I don't know what to make of their CVs, except that they are similar strange and worrying. I thought that successful management consultants were people retired from senior jobs and paid for that reason, but I was wrong. Take this one who worked for Accenture and later Hedra/Mouchel
Just googled a reference to Jane Pilgrim, UNISON organiser paid £40,000 by St Georges Healthcare NHS Trust.
I had some experience of this before, from the patient side. St Georges Healthcare managed Roehampton clinic that covered-up a mistake in the early 2000s, leading to slight brain damage. Nobody on the staff team said anything as the situation got worse, like "you could get a second opinion". If they had done, and got the sack, it's unlikely that Unison would have backed them; the union did not even bother to respond to management proposals on staff conditions or whistleblowing. Complaints, years later, lead to lies. Suggestions made in the same meeting, about making the clinic safer and a union fit for the purpose of protecting whistleblowers were listened to politely, but not even minuted. Maybe I do have more to do with this TURC bunch than I realised.
Just googled a reference to something called the "Trades Union Reform Campaign", mentioned in the Telegraph online.
Their web site now has blank white pages, but a look at the
cache on archive.org shows that there were speeches quoted on
the site from annoying politicians, spin doctors and wannebe
politicians, and that there was a wishlist about how the law
and how government departments should deal with unions. It was
a wordpress site, neater than this one. For all that work, it
as a disapointing list. The people who wrote that defunct web
site do not seem to have read this one. Not all of them seem
to have had normal jobs. They liked to write about whether union
offices are sometimes let to them at below market rent, or collection
of dues by payroll departments is sometimes offered too cheaply.
are some public sector employers where "time off for
union duties" extends to an entire full-time salary
for an official, but that official isn't working for the
organisation as a qualified human resources worker. Lack of accountablity
in union structures allows the person not to work for members
as a qualified human resources worker either. The person could
be like the union folk mentioned
in Unison v Jervis.
There's nothing on the TURC's front page about the union members' need for a good organisation, or the chance of saving money on human resources staff if good elected officials are in place. Nor the possibilities of unions saving the stress and cost of bad things in the workplace - whistles not blown; unfair dismissal patterns repeated over-and-over again. Suggestions not made. Training not provided. No-wonder nobody read the site and it is now a set of blank pages. For the record, this is what they had to say about themselves....
The bunch don't state where their funding comes from, despite
a question on their web site from a reader. They could afford
to register a limited
company and get a logo designed. Maybe their jobs as "consultant"
have been real paid jobs, got without other experience.
labour.org.uk/tulo list of unions that pay the labour party.
I haven't read this stuff but it looks like a rare shaft of sunlight in a gloomy room.
If trades union members, who do not opt-out, fund a political party, then they should vote or be consulted as individuals by that party; their union should not be allowed to vote for them. This is such an obvious solution that it seemed impossible, after generations of labour leaders missed the point. It is a mystery why they missed the point, but as most of them are dead we will never know. The idea of union leaders having a bloc vote within an electorial college was a particularly bad and stupid solution to a simple problem.
What might change for union members?
What might change for party hobbyists and managers?
Why is Unite The Union reported in the press as a trades union?
Chuka Umunna MP was on the radio today defending trades unions as bodies that represented people of all parties. They don't. The one I belonged too ripped-off its volunteer reps, by leaving them caught between desparate members and paid services that were worse then useless. It ripped-off its members by allowing branches to spend political money regardless of any opt-out. It consulted none of its members for suggestions or votes, and so could not possibly be said to represent those suggestions or votes. It was a disgusting scam that exists because the politicians and journalists who cover trades unions have never had to use their scam trades union services. The failure of unions like Unite to represent anything but their own slogans and office politics allows employers to remain bad places to work, and parties to remain unaware of this part of peoples' lives.
Oh, the story this time is about the Falkirk constituency and arbitarilly turning union membership data into ghostly labour members with forged votes. Just look at pictures of union bosses. Their side of the story is different but I haven't read it; their computer couldn't even print-out a list of members in a particular branch without a months' wait when I was a member. Their bosses would not answer a letter of complaint. They were not capable of telling the truth. If you look at pictures of them, would you believe a word they said, if you didn't know who they were? Or if you'd heard that they ran financial services companies that would fail any financial services authority test? The scam is not that they behave as expected; the scam is that they are still referred to as trades unions at all.
MPs in other commonwealth countries sometimes sing their national anthems, which is embarassing.
Broadcasters today have been covering a lack of news, which is embarassing. People in Boston stay indoors. Thank you for that. What news on the ground? Well, people in Boston are staying indoors. One has been in his closit. None gives recipes or gardening tips, or anything but stories about staying indoors. Nobody from more interesting or newsworthy countries is interviewed. I have been indoors all day and been to the loo. There is little to say but the news values of USA + World Stage + Violence dictate the time to fill, and reports of Bostonians staying indoors and going to the loo have to fill this space. Explanation from ex-nutters about why they were once in sympathy with the idea of blowing-up a marathon ceremony might be interesting, but no.
Back to MPs of commonwealth countries, I am afraid there is a subject I am patient to hear about that was covered in New Zealand. You might be interested just for the rhetoric: if you to see the best speech in the world about nothing much happening, click here: it starts after the singing:
As many national insurance benefits are cut in scope and rate, Dead Prime-Ministers' Funeral Grant has shot-up to £10,000,000 in one case even though no claim has been made: the ex prime minister did not want a state funeral. She is in no position to benefit. Most state funerals are paid by councils when a body is found with no relatives available to charge. Environmental health laws require some action. Sometimes the body is in a public place, or council housing, or a hospital demands some action. None of these factors applies: this funeral is pomp designed for people who think it is their duty to do the right thing by attending, and a very few who think it gets them on telly and brings the nation together at the same time. An even smaller number might want to go. In Mrs Thatcher's younger days she might have said (not asked - it was a rhetorical flourish):
"Yes: but where is the money coming from?"
Meanwhile, commentators tell us that the person changed a lot while in office. A cringing obituary documentary by thatcherites for thatcherites reminded me what they are like; emotionally challenged people who back a show and a leader, partly by showing hostility to other points of view they don't understand. Harry Enfield characters like the "loads of money" plasterer were described as a left wing attack on the class mobility which Mrs T speaheaded or pioneered or sounbited or some such. Evidence was that she presided over an end to market distinctions between buyer and seller in the city of London, bringing-in all the US banking culture which has brought so much wealth with it. I haven't googled "city of London big bang" on Wikipedia, but I think it was something like that. Another of her contributions was privatisation of shares without usable voting rights. British Steel employees could now own British Steel shares, but with a voting system more twisted than the worst trade union, there wasn't much that anyone could do with these shares except make use of the discount by selling them-on.
Mrs Thatcher's character was full of the contradictions of a person who tries too hard to do all the cabinet jobs, gets too tired, and becomes a even more of a hectoring, narrow, cartoon character. She might have been similar to Atlee that way, who was also surrounded by a brain-damaged entourage of party loyalists and believers in sound-bytes, excusing his demolition of town centres for Pollson archetecture, changing the ownership of British Steel again in the name of the workers who again had no say over how it was run, and introducing a national insurance system that someone else dreamed-up for which he got the credit. For example, the thatcher acolyte who made a TV obituary about her believed that thatcher was pro-business. She introduced a monetary policy which flattened business, at taxpayers' expense, by paying a little too much for government debt, bringing-in overseas investors until the exchange-rate compensated, and so allowing cheaper imports from autocratic states. So we paid to put our factories out of work, and paid again for the extra benefits bill. Google "monetary policy transmission mechanism" and look at the bottom row of arrows on a flow diagram if in doubt. So the acts were opposite to the soundbites, in Atlee's case and Thatcher's, but it is the sounbites that are remembered.
Thatcher echoes Macmillan in a separate way. Labour politicians have sometimes been slow to kill subsidies to some lame duck industry (I guess that duck legs can't be mended, as with horse legs and Morris Marina rust patches). Macmillan encouraged the maximum possible dishonesty in order to close too many branch lines rather than too few. He was a shit that way; there's no getting around it. Likewise Thatcher avoided noticing the simple accounting for pensions in coal mine accounts, that made them seem unprofitable when they were profitable, or the effect of her fiddling the exchange rate. Her ministers were much more astute in their choice of lorry convoys to transport imported coal rather than cheaper sea freight. Driving the lorrices through cole-mining areas and sending-in a psyched-up tactical reserve force of police was bound to lead to resentment, breaches of human rights, division and good TV pictures. It did. She won popolarity for being bad and dishonest. She was a shit that way and there is no getting around it, however much she did and said things to like such as "where is the money coming from?".
Some things haven't changed. For all the distrust of silly old farts in politics, Mrs Thatcher employed one as deputy prime minister and he answered a question in the House of Commons about a fire at Windsor Castle. On no particular authority he said that the taxpayer would pay to rebuild it, diverting millions from the benefits system. Likewise, someone in this government has paid ten million pounds from taxpayers' money, on no particular authority, to encourage a lot of leaders from around the world to take time off work and tire themselves out in awkward interactions and boring ritual. They will need more time off work to recover. They will become more like cartoon characters themselves as they get more tired. And they show no shame in doing it on television, lined-up for the cameras on prominent pews like families in the Daily Mail who have a zillion children in order to live off the child benefit.
Broadcast lies haven't changed much. I am too young to remember cringeingly un-critical reporting of town centres being pulled down and industries nationalised for no particular reason. I remember the time when Gay Pride marches in London or Democracy Now marches in Edinburgh could attract thousands, but the BBC would report a small un-connected event in a remote town, or a particularly long cricket match instead. Recently they forgot to show much of Protest the Pople dispite him having near-daily and doting coverage on programs which were officially called news. They report that Mrs Thatcher reformed or "took on" the trades unions, but here act to make them democratic only applied to the top-titled elections and was written for a pre-digital age, asking for elections by marking of ballot papers. Attempts to open-up union finances were half-hearted and have been overturned in case law. Just recently time they chose not to breadcast Ding Dong The Witch is Dead, and happened not to show people at Ludgate Circus with banners saying "waste of money" or "where is the money coming from?", or who turned their backs on the procession. Later we'll see the most dramatic protest, rather tahn the most typical, as with coverage of the miners' strike. Mrs Thatcher did not get rid of old farts and was not pro-business, but would possibly have agreed with the demonstrators against her state funeral.
https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45966 - no state-funded funeral for Mrs Thatcher.
Forces of evil. What are they?
Another grand statement from a TV history of the world's final episode. We are monkeys who like shopping and showing-off. A pity that such innocent instincts somehow become forces of evil.
I would have blogged today but the people under the train at Highbury and Islington weren't pushing hard enough, causing delays. As a member of the political class I imagine that this is how it works.
News of Whipcar's unexpected closure today leaves motorists short of income and short of cheap local car hire options.
Car hire companies tend to have higher costs with charges to match - often concealed by a requirement to return the car in office hours, so that the most advertised and cheapest-looking daily deals are hardly any use to anyone. You have to hire the car for two days.
Locally-run and less well-known firms tend to be better at allowing you to put the keys back through the letterbox after hours.
Whipcar drivers and car-owners might be looking for a whipcar alternative. Tempcover short term motor insurance does the job if used through Topcashback to reduce the price of temporary car insurance by £8.
Whipcar's commercial position is not disasterous, leaving their own explanation puzzling. "...Barriers to widespread adoption of peer-to-peer car rental in the UK. As a small team with limited resources, we have taken a good long look at these scaling challenges". Maybe a shareholder had believed a business plan with "year one, one pound; year two, one million pounds, year three.... etc" and lost patience with reality rather than cutting costs and, perhaps, working from home as whipcar members do when they hire-out their cars. Or maybe an insurer pulled the plug. Sooner or later, news will emerge, but for people who want a whipcar alternative here and now, suggest Topcashback's deal on Tempcover to former whipcar members who own cars. You may know some of them from previous hires, or track them down on the archived version of whipcar: http://web.archive.org/web/20130120161358/https://www.whipcar.com/ . - put a note under the windscreen wiper to say that you might hire the car and provide your own insurance through Topcashback and Tempcover.com if you think you can find the right car.
Grave stones around the world mark these strange aloof and unemotive people who often died of maleria in India in their teens and twenties. Their achievements were to be less corrupt and better at engineering than others. Their emotional retardedness was the problem, from the Amritsar Massicre to thousands of other petty incidents and failures to improve. Noel Coward said of the colonial service thet half of them couldn't run the Hackney Empire, let alone the British Empire. He judged them on their emotional intelligence, politeness, and origality I suppose. The same goes for older judges and generals and hospital consultants now.
Recent decades have shown a change in the system. Instead of denying yourself any luxury in order to deny your children any luxury in a spartan school learning greek and latin, you pretend to be religious and get an exclusive education for your children at other taxpayers' expense just for being a hypocrite. Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats has just followed Tony Blair of the Labour Party in securing a place at the London Oratory school. Meanwhile a comprehensive up the road has among the worst results in the UK because people like Tony Blair and Nick Clegg withdraw their children and put them somewhere exclusive. We know the time bomb that was set-off by the previous system. It's harder to talk like a a grand historian about the current system.
Crap, obviously, and in need of sorting-out. Maybe some nineteenth century Indian army types would have seen the problem and fixed it.
When an autocratic state has, say, 115 votors, european politicians say nothing at all when getting cheap imports and hopes of export sales or inward investment. Then, when things get sticky, european politicians urge respect for human rights and broadening of the electorate as the foreign office now sometimes does about Syria. And a conference with air trips to a destination, sandwiches, cautious speeches to write, policies to draft and press releases for the BBC would be good as well. All these things create employment for civil servants and commentators. Thankfully the Syrian opposition groups have saved UK taxpayers the expense by refusing to take part, even for free sandwiches, hotel accommodiation, and a chance to be on the the telly.
When a faith group has 115 votors the process is much the same but more excruciatingly public and nervous. The UK government has not urged restraint, but the prime minister and main broadcaster have said and broadcast embarrasing things in hope of popularity among cartoon catholics, like the ones they meet in parliament.
I'm better informed than most senior politicians because I
have spent a minute or so trying to google the things my partner
reads out to me. The majority of US catholics are in favour of
same sex marriage but the 115 votors include plenty of dodgy
Queer and Catholic is a video site and such which I have not spent time on, because I am queer an atheist or softer words along those lines. (Gay and from a CofE culture or some such). Apparently, homophobic gays are a significant shaper of what rubbish this faith group talks. I hope the papal emmisory that I met in a backroom in Rome a few years ago is not part of this.
Qadabra is showing ads on this site for fat credulous people who want to know a wierd old tip for a tiny belly. If this applies to you you might be interested on the ad on the left for a pontiff as well. It's different to other voluntary sector job ads in not stating the funders at the end.
I'm no great pundit, but more people look at this site after I have written a post about something, and that helps keep it online, so here goes.
Parliament.tv shows a committee on the same sex couples bill being philibustered, as parliameterians call time-wasting with verbosity, for about two days by the MP for Enfield Mr David Borrowes who looks like someone just walked-out of my old school with a V-neck jersey, neat hair, white shirt & tie over smelly trousers (not him: we used to have quite smelly trousers at my school). A bit less fit. Maybe he went to a special sort of school which is a pity because I am sure a lot of people in Enfield think he just campaigns for dog competitions and more trains or more spending in Enfield and don 't realise that this is what he is up to. Unless they like selective schools paid out of taxes for pretending to belong to a faith group, in which case I guess they want to keep quiet about it and not have someone pretending to believe in the scam a they have to do, and drawing attention. One of his colleagues put similar arguments in defence of biggot teachers but took the precaution to sit just off-camera in the cramped committee-room so that we can only see his hands on TV, just as we can see real sensible MPs twiddling their thumbs, typing and staring into space while special pleading for biggotry continues.
Likewise I am sure that if he went to a proper school or got to think about things again, he wouldn't be wasting taxpayers' money and patience for days in a row and would be more interested in care for the elderly or something related to his constituency in a less dodgy way.
The members are very patient with his time wasting, because taxpayers pay for it not them, because some of them can be seen doing their constituency work on laptops as he speaks, or passing-around a bag of sweets at one point. Many did not return after lunch. Good luck to them: I am sure they will not rise to the bait and say something that can be quoted against them by people with deeply-held religious biggotry and other no-hope MPs who seek publicity. Or to avoid blackmail. Or whatever motivates MPs to talk a load of rubbish for hours at a time in defence of what might be in the head of someone offended by sharing a word "marriage" with different class of people, or what might happen to marriage registrars who apply for a job and as soon as they have got it say "I'm not doing same sex and will take you to court if you make me work my fair share of marriages", or the faith school - surely an indefensible drain on taxpayers - that asks for taxpayers' money to teach crap.
Meanwhile the faith group with 11% affiliation in surveys
and that causes most fuss still gets most free publicity on the
BBC, for example when its leader in Italy looks out of the window
and gets headline news, and is still allowed to gets subsidy,
for example when people seek a selective school for their child
and suddenly start believing and donating in order to secure
a place at a catholic one. The fact that there are more and more
faith schools was raised by one of the MPs opposed to gay marriage,
without any apology or remorese, in front of a very patient committee.
BBC reporting is different. If the pope comes-out as gay, I guess there is a BBC plan as to how it will be reported. If the cardinals in the USA are arrested on their way to vote, I guess there is a BBC plan as to how it will be reported. And if Mr O'Brian, biggot of the year, is reported as molesting young priests then another story about windbags without much life experience who had trouble fending-off a lecherous liberal advisor will be given far more time than it deserves in the hope that it seems in some way to compare with the what catholic bishops do, in the minds of the audience.
Going off the subject a bit there was a liberal MP here who was quite convinced that I was a "local person" and that "most people are interested in local issues" to the point where she had no idea what was going on in the commons and lobbied for me on some subject that she was also voting against without really knowing or caring. She was voted-out after pretending that a local hospital A&E department was closing in order to campaign for it to stay open, according to an over-heard conversation opposite a tabloid journalist on the London Underground. She has never apologised or explained why she should become a lord after being such a scumbag, other than being a loyal votor for her party and having no ideas and so no inconvenient ideas. So, in a way, the liberal party is a thing to compare on the air waves with an 11% faith group, but only in a real way about how the scum rise to the top rather than become more happy by being more honest.
24.02.13 - from The Observer;
Those involved believe the cardinal abused his position. "You have to understand," explains the ex-priest, "the relationship between a bishop and a priest. At your ordination, you take a vow to be obedient to him. He's more than your boss, more than the CEO of your company. He has immense power over you. He can move you, freeze you out, bring you into the fold he controls every aspect of your life. You can't just kick him in the balls."
This seems a bad way to run a market stall, let-alone the management of a faith group with disproportionate media coverage on the BBC, and a tendency to preach procreation to third world families in order to increase its market share at all human costs.
The BBC simply reported "innapropriate acts" in followed by other "innapropriate acts" by a member of the liberal democrats, without reference to Cardinal O'Brien's Bigot of the Year award for opposing gay rights, nor the strangeness of an 11% denomination recieving disproportionate coverage and from a top-down respectful point of view. The day before, the BBC reported to its UK licence payers that the Vatican criticised the US press for reporting of acts by another of its eight votors who may be allowed by police to travel from the states.
Rev Archy was jailed for seven years after being found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent following a trial at Inner London Crown Court. The green-robed Nigerian, of the Christ-Choosing Church of God in Peckham, southeast London, clashed with the victim after failing to move rough sleepers away.
The victim said from his hospital bed on the day of the attack:
The injured man was taken to nearby Kings College Hospital for treatment for stab wounds, a collapsed lung, a fractured rib, and two 40cm burns on his torso following the incident on May 2 last year.
Archy had two previous convictions for making threats to kill in 1991, the court heard.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1375768/Vicar-jailed-scalding-stabbing-homeless-man-sheltering-outside-church.html#ixzz2Em3FHonc
The church web site states "Our church is part of the Diocese of Southwark and we have connections with the following organisations: Evangelical Alliance www.eauk/org New Wine www.new-wine.org Reform www.reform.org.uk " I have emailed the fundraising email address of the diocese of Southwark to ask them if they will end any connection with this church, which seemed to promote faith healing in a recent sermon. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been recieved.
If any atheists like me who happen to be from a tolerent CofE culture are reading this and wondering what to do for a fondly remembered organisation, I suggest two things.
It seems unfair that a traditional faith, like the CofE, is not allowed to hold tea parties and singing sessions in order to build community, just because some bunch want everyone to sign-up to a load of rubbish.
11.12.12 : quoted from Ethical Consumer
Tax-paying alternatives to Amazon
Once you've decided not to shop with Amazon you'll need to know which companies do pay tax. Otherwise you could simply end up supporting another tax dodging company.We found five well known High Street shops that appear to be paying a fairer amount of tax.
Of course we always recommend that you support your local shops - many of them on localbookshops.co.uk - before you hit the big High Street chains. Phone first to order titles.
In a reversal of Amazons famously unpopular suggestion to browse books first in a High Street bookshop and then buy them cheaper online, it's quite fun to browse for books first on Amazon and then buy them from a tax-paying local bookstore. A good option is newsfromnowhere.org.uk a workers co-operative and radical bookshop. hive.co.uk is another good alternative initiative combining online shopping with supporting local book stores. Search on Amazon Marketplace and then buy the book you want directly from the seller by searching for it elsewhere online. Other good options for second hand books are betterworldbooks.co.uk and Oxfam Books.
A note on our research
Osborne the chancellor's speech talked about "welfare" and the US economics text books that people tend to study from call them "transfer payments" rather than the using the british jargon of "national insurance". The concept of National Insurance in the Lloyd George sense and the Beverage Report sense, I guessed, was that a lot of the paymens make sense over a taxpayer's lifecycle from cradle to grave. It is not a difficult concept. It is not an unusual concept. For a while there was even a National Insurance Fund. It is a concept that politicians pretend to find difficult, or are too lazy to think about. They will say "It's difficult to justify universal benefits to rich people when you are talking to a much poorer person on the doorstep", but it isn't. Everyone understands insurance. Nobody would restrict car insurance pay-outs to a wealthy person, and most people would want a national car insurance scheme if the state could run it cheaper.
For the first time I have heard George Osborne call pensions "welfare". Sadly, the opposition parties are no better. If they admitted that they were guardians of a national insurance fund or the chance to run one, people would ask: "aren't you like Equitable Life directors, bankers and all the rest of them who spent money on casino risks, sponsoring the Olympics or the Royal Opera House instead of doing your job and staying out of prison?" Oh I forgot: they don't go to prison for spending £9 billion on the Olympics or however many million a year on the Royal Opera. Nor do enough people say they should go to prison. That's another bad thing about the vague"welfare" and "transfer payments" idea: it allows too much power for political types, who are never likely to be short of a pension or unemployment benefits, to decide at whim where the money goes. If you ask for tax to go down they say it's needed for the welfare state; if it stays the same, even in the middle of a recession, they have no shame at funding the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the Royal Opera House that sums it up.
http://www.allout.org/uganda-now/ - please sign this petition against genocide President Yoweri Museveni:
I don't understand this phone hacking scandal but I do understand
I do understand that those who are let-down by trades unions
face the same problem. There should be equality before the law
that applies to bad trades unions, bad legal insurers, and everybody
else. Union members who have been let-down are not likely to
have a crack legal team. The failure of the financial services
authority or trading standards to help is as odd as the failure
of police to help the hacked. There might be some need for special
organisations and one exists, called the Certification Office,
but the main problem is why mainstream judges and journalists
and lawyers tolerate a crap system.
A-level history and a CofE up-bringing taught me a bit about the organisation, although I'm not religious or fully christian.
The C of E was set-up to end a period in which an incoming king could be protestant or catholic, and in the catholic case decide to burn-alive any protestants who happened to be associated with the previous regime. In other countries then and now, religious minorities were forced to flee or convert. So the new protestant church was designed to consider the bible in english, its own traditions, and rational thought. The leadership was bound-up with parliament and the head of state, so that non-religious people like myself could protected against religious intolerance as well as religious people. We all suffer from the deference given to religious organisations and their tendency to get given rights to run schools or social services by their supporters in government, just as people all over the world suffer from religious crackpots even if they are not religious or members of the dominant faith group themselves. Richmond Council plans to use taxpayers' money to fund two exclusive secondary schools managed by the same faith group - which isn't C of E - and will probably get away with it.
This little web site was set-up in anger at a bunch or geeks and odballs from a 400-member political party controlling the budget of a 1,000-strong union branch of Unite's T&G membership in South London, with connivance of paid central office staff who kept the election processes unworkable and the accounts un-accountable. You'll see the kind of outcome on the union failure page.
The same thing has happened with an obscure organisation called the "House of Leity", which historically would have been set-up to feed a bit of morality and common sense into the rarified debates of paid priests. It has done the opposite. It should go. A Mori poll is a much more effective way of finding out what non-christians or people who are not employed by the C of E think. Such polls have already said that exemption from discrimination law is wrong. So the exemption should go, and nobody should be ashamed that they are not christian or not theologans in asking for the law to change. As for the House of Leity, it's clearly some kind of asylum for theology geeks and crackpots and has no purpose.
As the Ugandan parliament's hate-&-faith majority gets ready to pass a genocide bill against gay people, the EU still has no tariffs against Ugandan trade. Will MEPs talk about it if you write to yours? Try it on Writetothem.com But there is one who just might reduce the subsidy to provide social services which the Ugandan government cannot be arsed to provide. The MEPs who just might reduce subsidy are on a different committee to the ones who set tariffs and the two groups don't meet in the corridor apparently.
I wrote after seeing this link about Uganda's genocide plans on Richond on Thames LGT forum facebook page:
"Thank you for your e-mail.
I would like to re-iterate to you my support for LGBT rights across the European Union and beyond. Please see link below which clearly outlines my view on this matter:
On a separate but related issue, I have previously written to the European Commission asking it to take into account persecution against LGBT minorities when distributing development assistance: http://bit.ly/IrIigu.
I have also tabled a resolution through the Women's Rights committee on the situation of LGBT people in Africa with particular reference to intensified persecution of lesbians.
For your information, please find some links to reports
on my work on LGBT rights in the EU:
http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/tory-party-funding/ - it's not just the public sector builders that fund the tory party. Like labour, they're funded by *ankers who rip people off and provide bad financial services. Now I know where Newsnight gets its facts from I can pretend to be knowledgeable after skim-reading the front page from the link above.
"Lack of curiousity" - this is the way dishonest people run organisations, so that their hints and fudges have to be fixed secretly by their middle management. It is clear that Barclays pressure staff to rip-off customers on commission. It is clear that the BBC pressures Newsnight not to report the Saville story by "lack of curiosity" about how it would effect their memorial programs over the bank holiday. Countless employers tell tribunals that they lacked curiosity about how their middle managers are bullying and lying in order to do what their non-curious directors pretend not to know. How do they get the jobs? What do they say in job interviews? Do they say "I will take an overall view and delegate the dirty work"?
Oh bugger. The interview below was with Mr Mark Stevens, human rights lawyer and friend of Mr McShane, not Mr Ben Stephens, spokesman for Unite Against Fascism which was a cause Mr McShane was involved in.
Fraud against the taxpayer is defensible according to a spokesman for Unite Against Fascism, a Mr Ben Stevenson, talking to Radio 4's World At One who justifed Mr Dennis McShane MP's fraud as being
While Mr McShane's statement stated that he was still trying to come to terms with his own motives for fraud, the Unite Against Fascism spokesman sounded to me as though he denied that fraud was wrong. The tape will be available online for seven days from 3rd-10th of November so please don't accept my impressions and have a listen: maybe he's arguing mitigation, and it was just me and the interviewer who thought it "an extraordinary argument".
Mr Stevenson doesn't address the issue head-on of defrauding
for a faith group or defrauding for a political group, or defrauding
for nobody-knows-what because it's un-accountable, or channelling
contracts to one exotic group or another like Richmond Council
channelling contracts to their favourite faith group. The exotic
imported one that passes moral decisions to the management and
is against condoms because they threaten its market share.