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Unite Left launch meeting: new name, same fiddle. Going bust in different countries they involve staff over there. Unable to work for spin doctor political officers off sick. £13.4m "gift" from a union with an overdfraft Coping with bullying at Unite It's hard without good advice
Cheerleeders & guards, Cuba two leaders spill the beans Inadvertant scanning error how unions run elections. Friends of Tony Woodley please make cheques payable Bucking the system independent candidates
MPs expenses: one party machine funds another How to run a ballot: not so hard.


P2P legal insurance

One of the selling points of P2P lending is that fewer borrowers would defraud real individual people than would defraud a public company.
One of the selling points of a trades union is that fewer users of legal services would make-up a fake case against an employer if the insurance is partly pooled with other members of a branch, still working for the employer, and the first step has been to ask for help from one of them as an unpaid rep.
Neither points works entirely, but both might work a bit. A surprising thing about lending on sites like Funding Circle and Zopa is how blatent some of the loan requests first where when the sites set-up, dispite the organisers turning-down something like four fifths of requests to borrow. On the trades union side, it is the union which rips-off the member by providing a no lawyer, or a no-win no-fee lawyer with no time to do any more than claim a procedural fault in the dismissal process and then ask the other side to settle for neusance.

If P2P insurance takes-off, there is a chance that the system will work a bit to keep down premiums. In the UK, a system called Guraverra car insurance attempts to set-up cells of car insurers among mutual interest groups in the hope that they will feel some loyalty to each other and watch-out for faudsters. The system hasn't taken-off as far as I can tell; I couldn't get insurance that way. In Germany, someone has tried selling legal insurance to pools of customers. That's all I know, but the web site is


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".

Maria Miller.

  1. (a)
    How much is it fair to charge for the expense of using a parents' house in London as a base near work?
    How often did the MP sleep there?
    What rules and evidence exist from the time?
    That's a question that a lot of us have come-up against in different versions, on the right side or the wrong side, winning or loosing, inspector or inspected. Like whether I have breached conditions of bail at a bail hostel in a significant way, whether I am actively seeking work while claiming benefit, whether my muddled accounting justifies a VAT or income tax return, or whether I was a double agent russian spy for much of my brilliant career at MI5. We have all been in these situations, on one side or the other, and talking about "attitude" is the worse thing that anyone can do to collect fair evidence for a decision: talking about "attitude" is wrong and emotive. Some of us had school teachers or parents or bosses who talked about "attitude", sometimes while we are vulnerable and would prefer justice; to talk about "attitude" is to say "I am an emotional cripple, not just, and have no idea how this sounds to others".
  2. (a)
    How is it reaonable for MPs journalists and the public to talk about someone who might have been the MP who was an arrogant dishonest shit on one TV documentary about fiddled expenses? - I don't remember if it was this one. So discussing detail is important. This might be the person who has already been exposed as unemployable and unelectable, but somehow has a safe seat and the support of the bosses.
    Reasonable, I think, to report confirmed detail and compare with the other situations that us constuents have been in. Compared to making a tax return or a dispute with a bail hostel or a benefits agency ruling or the teacher who seemed to represent all that was wrong with the world and an obstical to life experience at age 16. Or being the tax official or hostel worker or benefits agency worker or teacher of teenagers. Reasonable to report the details in those terms. What would a constituent do? Shouldn't the rule be the same? Obviously yes.
  3. So: MPs and the people who make a living reporting MPs are digging themselves into a pit for spitting-at, if that makes sense. MPs will lament how the actions of one minister continue the trend of non-MPs becoming know-alls who are cynical about the whole process, but they contribute to the process, as do the journalists who surround them.
    MPs, journalists, and editors need to concentrate on the small print of each case.
    MPs, journalists and editors need to avoid the argy-bargy team sport of whether someone can be accused of "attitude" or "full support" or "disrepute" or "resigning to clear her name and spend more time with her family". These are all codes for nothing-much, and discussion of an alien nothing-muchness team sport brings-out the worst and most cynical in electors like me. A program or an article about what other people would have done - whether it's Paul Flowers or a passer-by in the street - would be much more fun to watch.

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 "" 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 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 co-operative organisation.

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:

  • It can't sell voting shares (and has defaulted on bonds), so, like John Lewis, it relies more on borrowing than other big firms, often linked to property deals and so hard to un-ravel
  • It makes grandiose take-over bids and then
  • It looses the customers gained and has "now lost all the customers gained by taking-over Summerfield", according to Lord Myners, so that the take-over doesn't pay for itself. That makes the debt, which would look big anyway, look very big.

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..., 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.

15.03.14 is the url of some people who turn-up in search results for this site. It's a new union of a few dozen people based in Derby who pay £5 a month, according to accounts at the certification office.

Just felt the need to blog in ignorance about the late Bob Crow.
He appeared on Have I Got News For You and mentioned that he had something in common with people from the other end of the political spectrum, because they were both working class and realised that the welfare state is what's important. So the idea of him being at one end of a political spectrum seems an idea imposed by others. As for getting a good deal for his members at nearly all costs, he did it; members wanted it. When I told a taxi driver that I'd been ripped-off by a trades union that refused to represent me (or did but was worse than useless) on a reasonable adjustment to disabilty case, the taxi driver said that the RMT did a good job for their members. When I googled the cheapskate cashback solicitor Edwardes Duthie, I found a page saying that RMT had sacked them and apologised for bad service, signed Bob Crowe.

Just felt no need to blog about the Police Federation and the way it provides a social group for the odd one or two people who get carried away on the pleb thing, rather than being as democratic and transparent as modern technology allows, and doing what members want. Hopefully not getting police constables to be above the law and get £50,000 a year, but at least to be transparent and democratic. I know nothing about the detail so shall stop typing.

25.02.14 - Co-operative group survey on what it should do.
...includes a comments section under the article

Oh I've just seen that Handelsbanken is quoted as an employee-owned bank on this page or I didn't know there was one. Its website mentions shareholders. So I am still in the dark - are they employee shareholders? - or non voting? - or minority?

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? 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
It's a site done by some very lean cats - very slow and full of ads - but 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 , 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.

  • shows Grangemouth's owner to be more intersted in union-bashing than refining oil. They might to go and do union-bashing somewhere else and leave refinery the size of a town for the highest bidder. It is making a loss. Current staff might be the only people who can take the refinery over, and be sure of running it at a long-term profit because a staff-owned refinery would be trusted to raise wages again if possible, after emergency pay cuts. A shareholder-owned company has to ask for an unlikely amount of trust when asking for pay cuts: it has to say "trust our figures and analysis; trust us to cut your wages, and trust us not to pay shareholders and senior staff if there is ever money available again". Sadly, nobody has suggested a staff-owned management company and nobody has built-up towards one over time. Not even Unite.
  • George Osborne's background is in de-industrialisation. That is what his hero in politics was good at.
    He is reported as saying that UK perception of China as a sweatshop should be changed, and how helpful it is to have Chinese investment in UK airports. This is worrying. If I remember, airports had to be sold quickly because BAA was ruled to be a monopoly. Airports, like oil refineries, are large things to buy and sell; a sudden demand for capital can lead to international deals and ministers popping-up in odd places. If I remember right, nobody at BAA put-together an offer to make any of their airports into a staff-owned mutual, raising money in the traditional way which is to find people willing to forego current earnings in hope of a slightly better deal later-on. That is how a market stall is funded; that is how people buy most large domestic appliances, I guess, with finance deals coming second. But slightly larger appliances like oil refinaries and airports have to be sold to corporations based a long way away, who are told that they are buying them as a favour. That way, there are fewer bidders and business people about when the next airport is on the market; capital gets hard to find.
    Oh, Unite is a commonly used union among airport staff.
  • Co-Op business bank managers are redundant soon while their plc employer turns-out no-longer to be controlled by a consumer co-op, as described in the cifwatch link above. The bank is majority-owned by US venture capitalists and managed by a new Co-op boss who has ceased all business lending, so, whichever big boss makes the decisions, the business bank managers at Co-op bank branches are unlikely to be in post for long. It's a bit late now, but if their co-op had been a proper co-op run by the staff, would they have merged with Brittania and risked their jobs on dodgy mortgage selling that had been reported on Panorama? I guess not. Their union is Unite.

    I hope some of them put their money into P2P finance sites (which are Wordpress with and Ebay-like plug-in I guess, if you want to set one up) and find new jobs as finance brokers, putting deals together for the same sites like

  • PS I have just remembered that my personal bank account is with Co-Op's Smile Bank service; I joined the Co-Op. Who would have thought it? I haven't heard anything from them about the future of the bank - maybe I opted-out of rather sickley member mail as there is some kind of video message online here.

    So here is my customer review among others
    It works. You can log-on via e-wise and services like that, or directly. One years' statements are kept free online
    Account details can't be downloaded without obscure work-arounds that other people have invented a a favour to cusomers; maybe you can cut-and-paste. Co-op was slow to make and take BACS payments; I think it might just be quickening now. Online reviews state that they are not lending, which is embarassing if you expect a credit limit and don't check often. There is zero interest paid, which saves insult, and the best telephone contact is via the lost-card line which can put you through to others. You can pay money in via rare branches, post office counters using a special envelope, and Brittania branches. Not a bad free bank account if you don't want to use it for much - just like the rest of them but with a more interesting history.

    Brittania counter staff have a slower system for taking a cheque than the ones at Santander, who just run a cheque through a reader, type-in the destination account and amount, then ask "do you want a receipt?". Brittania use a system of quill-pen ledgers and tally-sticks which are balanced every night by candle light. There used to be a mortgage discount for Unison members.

    The phone co-op is a much more recently formed company that shares branding and membership discounts. I have an 0800 number with them that has no standing charge; this is unusual. Staff seem very highly skilled.
    I get annual invites to an annual general meeting in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, or you can dial-op over the phone in some way apparently.

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.


"for lawyers ... there will be a one-off registration fee of £25; a 2.5% charge based on the quote provided by the lawyer, with a minimum charge of £5; and fixed fees of £25 and £99 for conveyancing matters and ‘no win, no fee’ cases respectively. There will be no charges for legally aided matters as part of the site’s corporate responsibility."

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. is worth checking alongside, from a client's point of view, because it makes no charge to lawyers. On the other hand it is less easily edited by them; it doesn't allow them to cancel their link in August, nor to say much about their fees within a speciality. It does say whether a firm offers fixed-fee first interviews, and whether they specialise in employment law.

I don't know if this is important or not. The "Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration
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 higher education Chinese factories that might want to make things for UK businesses and designers. The scheme, called Creative Capital World Cities and then Creative Connexions worked alongside funding from the Euroepan Regional Development Fund for regional development Chinese factories that might want to make things for UK businesses and designers - typically fashion designers at London Fashion Week. You can read more about the first scheme here.
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

"After leaving Oxford, I worked as a Researcher for Philip Hammond MP before joining an international firm of Management Consultants, where I specialised in projects designed to improve the Criminal Justice System. I helped to deliver a large number of projects, working closely with government departments such as the Home Office, Cabinet Office and the Department of Health, as well as the NHS. I also did a lot of work with Police Forces, helping them to become more efficient and effective,"

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 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. Apparently there 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.

An employer-paid union job is a rare one, that could be used to promote some experiments. If the person is properly elected and does a fair share of the organisations' work, then maybe it's a good idea. Or if the organisation doesn't allow a little time-off for union duties by ordinary reps - jobs like witnessing a disciplinary meeting for example. On the other hand it could be a terrible idea. Some hospitals employ patient reps and the same questions apply.

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....

This organisation is run on a voluntary basis by people who work in both the public and private sectors, outside of their normal work hours. Just as trade unions should be. Who are we? Chairman: Aidan Burley MP Member of Parliament for Cannock Chase. After leaving Oxford University, Aidan worked as a researcher before joining an international firm of Management Consultants, where he specialised in projects designed to improve the Criminal Justice System. He also helped to deliver projects working closely with government departments such as the Home Office, Cabinet Office and the Department of Health, as well as the NHS. Chief Executive Mark Clarke’s business background has spanned the industry and consultancy working for Procter & Gamble, Mars, The Boston Consulting Group and now works in strategy consultancy in the City of London. He is also a Director of the Young Briton’s Foundation and President of the League of Friends of St George’s Hospital. While standing in for Parliament in Tooting for the Conservative Party he stumbled across the infamous Jane Pilgrim who abused her well paid taxpayer funded trade union position. Press Officer Andre Walker has a wealth of experience working in Press for the Greater London Assembly, Westminster Council, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Windsor and Maidenhead Council and various Members of Parliament. Social Media Adviser Harry Cole is a journalist and blogger. He is currently the News Editor of Guido Fawkes and the UK Political Editor of The Commentator. He has actively campaigned against publicly funded trade union officials through his work. He is a regular broadcast commenter on politics and social media. Director of Operations: India Brummitt [pictured - no explanation beyond the made-up job title].

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.

14.08.13 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?

  • Glasnost. If union members are allowed to go to labour party meetings and say "my union is crap and the legal system doesn't work in putting it right", right in the centre of self-deception vested interests and denial, then other people can't avoid the subject.
  • Maybe unions can be compelled to have contracts with their members in the same way that legal insurers do.
  • Maybe unions will be compelled towards internal democracy on local budgets, numbers of officials per member or workplace issues.
  • Maybe democratic votes will compel trades unions to provide plausible accounts, unlike my union's accounts which said they spent a tiny bit of money on legal help to members, while they also admitted using no-win no-fee lawyers who paid them commission.
  • Maybe democratic votes will encourage unions to provide other useful services and useful suggestions. is a union that already provides employment training. Transport and General used to be keen on John-Lewis like worker co-ops. Nowadays, they just send junk mail about buying pet insurance on commission (the pet gets a contract to FSA standards but the member doesn't).

    Member votes aren't an excitement in other mutuals like Equitable Life of building societies, but it's not always a failure, and building societies' elections share the same faults as current union ones, with one vote on a national committee membership that individual members know nothing about. A better system would be for trades unions to consult individual members are about an individual workplace or an individual budget, as well as the committee at the centre.

What might change for party hobbyists and managers?

  • non labour voters will get more mail with "labour" written on it in red. Ballot papers. Invites to meetings. This is good. Some conservative local parties invite non-conservative voters to come and help choose candidates. It discourages nutters from becoming candidates with the support of small minorities (like faith groups or Thatcherites). It's nothing to worry about, but a good thing that a party defines itself by being a broad party of union members.
  • non labour voters might opt-out more. There is already a tick-box on some Unite ballots asking (with no authority or reason) for members to confirm that they are labour supporters before voting, and the tick-boxes might continue. On the other hand, a party of union members and people who have joined individually sounds a more attractive thing to join, so more people might opt-in.
  • people who don't know or care about the welfare state or the world of work will go to labour meetings. No change there then. But as these will be trades union members, I think the average will shift towards people who are down to earth.
  • organised groups of non-labour voters might be more common within the labour partorganised groups of non-labour voters might be more common within the labour party, such as a Conservative-voting Labour Party Members' group, or some of the embarassing small parties. Again: no big change. At the moment, party grandees have to make-up some kind of internal message in order to have a conference motto like "one nation" or "onward and upward", so a bit of genuine division is OK. The only danger is that they will carry-on spending money on events and PR which can't be afforded, and that's an area where a party within a party might be useful: a faction asking them to stop having big conferences.
  • journalists will have to change their conventional wisdom. I guess that students on journalism courses are given a list of cliches to learn by heart. One is that left-of-centre people oppose Trident, but that the centre prevails. That cliche came-up in reporting of the liberal party recently - it is a cliche that has survived the end of the cold war and so has no relation to defence, as far as I can tell.

    The relevant cliche here is that Labour depends on un-popular trades union funding; that unions somehow twist the arms of Labour politicians and force them to do some bad thing or other, like talk in a fake regional accent or eat chips. I don't know where to look-up the book of cliches, so I can't give your detail an maybe none exists - it is just something un-said.
  • union scandals might be reported. People might ask: "if these union folk ripped-off their members on a massive scale for decades, why are they now in the House of Lords or a committee or a council?". Sir Fred Goodwin didn't go to prison, so I doubt that ex union leaders will. Unless someone finds-out where the money goes.


Why is Unite The Union reported in the press as a trades union?
I don't see a union.
I see an paid organisation that

  • has no proxy voting for the vast majority of committees and elections - so it's no more democratic than a PLC or a building society
  • hires too few officials to read members' cases or attend their disciplinary meetings
  • cons aggreaved members by sending them, without warning, to no-win no-fee lawyers who have to pay referral fees to Unite
  • has no system for promoting employee-owned companies as its TGWU part was set-up to do, nor other detailed ideas for improving work at the unionised workplaces I've worked at
  • chooses not to use contracts with members that would pass a Financial Services Authority inspection
  • charges £12 a month
  • gets its members by referral from employers.

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.

...looks an interesting debate three years ago about why employment tribunals don't work. The pattern of a big organisation flinging funders' money at lawyrs to cover-up, and a tribunal un-equipped for balanced judgement seems a common one.

The Clothing Works is a new company set-up to run a vast Aquascutum cut-make-and-trim works in Northamptonshire. I don't know their minimum order, price range or lead times but they are looking for customers for "a wider range of garments, including soft tailoring, trousers, dresses and skirts".

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?"

The Thatcher family have paid themselves for a quiet cremation which costs £540, but state funerals can be £340 in the 9-9.30 morning slot before the organist arrives. Jose Matada might get either, in the same crematorium if cremated here. An official from Richmond Council would attend. The council is paying itself for this service so I doubt they mind whether the organist is included in the fee. I doubt the ashes are often mixed-up, but if I worked in a crematorium and there were some ashes to swap-around I would choose these two. The Thatcher family have also paid their own costs for getting a death certificate, moving the body the first 50 miles for emotional reasons, and £700 towards ordinary undertakers' costs like a coffin and hearse. Funeral costs are vague and varied but if the Thatchers are on certain benefits, their national insurance could have covered this. They paid privately, which is also good. In the woods by the river you sometimes see a few cut flowers were someone has distributed some ashes. There is a good pub nearby with wheelchair access where funeral parties often meet after singing a song or listening to a speech at the cremy. It would be nice if had a £340 late slot for mourners to save the organist and spend some of the money perhaps on beer. That is all there is to be said about a private funeral from outside. Even from inside, it is hard to know what to say, and that is why people have little ceremonies like scattering flowers with the ashes or drinking alcohol in a pub later.

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.


09.04.13 - no state-funded funeral for Mrs Thatcher.

Forces of evil. What are they?

  1. Borderline personality disorder
    as in the Philpot case are important. I should but don't know if there's any use in distinguishing betwen psychopath and borderline personality disorder, or whether it is possible to separate, or whether there is anything to do to help people who might take up so much of their own and taxpayer's energy in crime and courts and prisons to do something more fun.
  2. Undiagnosed slight brain damage.
    Philpot was so cross during interviews that he punched the air. Anyone would in frustration when their head doesn't work properly, and gets tired & flustered in ways that nobody else can guess and is hard to interpret and explain to them. So fights, bad medical treatment, accidents or whatever can cause slight brain damage and the victim is a menice and tail of woe for the rest of their lives. Addiction agencies for example are no good at helping their clients measure any brain damage and make sense of any need to act differently (compulsively, an outsider would say but there is no choice) when information comes slower from the top-of-the-head for reacting or back-of-the-mind for planning a to-do list.
  3. Nerdyness in religious form
    as in the Taliban case are important. Apparently some people are religeous; they are genetically prone to asking silly questions like "will by body be compost when I'm dead?" . Obviously so. But some people are like that; they worry. And a preacher who says "all you have to do is believe XYZ and you need no longer worry" can have un-deserved and un-welcome effects. Particularly if the religious bod is gay. One or two religeous loyalty cults are anti-gay but welcome gay peope into their midsts like the two boys who loved each others' company and failed at dealing with anybody else's company except when learning to fly a hijacked plane into the world trade centre on 9/11. There's another bunch who have userped President Obama's usual role as the person most reported for doing least on the BBC news. They're the bunch who are against condoms and abortions because they want more people to be poor and unhappy and catholic and so increase their market share.
  4. Pointless urge to compete
    happened in two forms for the Greater London Authority recently.
    The need for variety and randomness in how things can be done is worth recognising, and it is good that there are different organisations providing olympian activities or financial services such as easy get-into-debt deals or mis-sold payment protection insurance and mis-sold fuel contracts signed-up door-to-door. My worry is that people compete for the wrong reasons and impose bad competition on their subordinates with systems of commission in the private sector or general comformity to hold down a job in the public sector so that nobody, even now, says on telly that taxes are for essential services and not for a silly sports event that reduced trade and tourism in London for a month or two.
  5. Big. The urge to be part of something big.
    I think this is another force of evil which counters human beings' instict to pull-out of something like a media organisation or a political party or a government department when, really, the thing is beyond help and needs exposing so that it gets a quicker end. Other factors mix-in. I know that I was shy for decades and doubted my ability to get another career path outside the mediocre one that I had started. This was rational. But we see every few months how people paid far more money than they can ever spend in their lifetimes clinging to careers doing something like forcing RBS HBOS staff to increase market share far too quickly and so probably make the company go bust and rip-off customers. Why? Probably the same urge that makes people want to join the territorial army: the urge to show-off in a big organisation.

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: . - put a note under the windscreen wiper to say that you might hire the car and provide your own insurance through Topcashback and if you think you can find the right car.

As a guide to the UK for visitors, I offer this information.

Decades ago, 8-year-olds and 7-year-olds were sent to very expensive boarding schools by selfless parents in order to be toughened-up for jobs like surgeon or judge or government officer in India. The ideas was that you needed to be tough, physically and emotionally, to survive the responsiblity and travel. In the forces, you would know what squaddies and able seamen were going-through if you had done it yourself before beginning your management career at 21 or 24.

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 ones.
I've just asked for the list again to transcribe but have lost track. 28 are Italians apparenlty. A cardinal in Mexico claims that there are no sexual abuse cases but has defended a very large number. A cardinal in New York has spent more than anyone could expect on settling abuse claims because it is cheaper, he says. A cardinal in Mexico claimed that protostants (maybe including atheists and other religions - we don't know) are shameless; women who do not cover themselves up increase the rape statistics. Meanwhile there is a nice cardinal in South Africa [Argentina] who uses buses go get about and urges people not to go to Rome to stand outside the Vatican window but to give any such spare money to charity instead.

People have to go on the air and talk about bye-elections: are there lessons to be learned from a process that allows voters to say arse to the usual process, but not why? Obviously not. It would have been easier if the governing party were not wierdly against the alternative vote system and had not put-up posters paid-for from Belize to say it is not understandable. Not even with two inflatable horses to demonstrate that the current system is a two horse race: apparently the governing party financed a pink and a blue horse to show just how bad the voting system they voted for really is, and one of the inflatable horses sprung a leak. Another reason for low tory votes may be the neighbouring tory MP who was interviewed on the radio. According to her there are groups, and feelings, and a need for groups to "tune-in" to each-others' feelings. The groups need not be well-defined. So "leadership" in a party should "tune-in to the feelings" of a disparate group who do not share any mailing list but are vaguely the conservative protest votors of a constituency. I imagine that dousing-rods are called-for. Or emotional antennae. If the feeling of anger is identified, action must be taken without reference to whether it is wrong or right. MPs have suggested that wind farms, for example, are a distraction from causes of anger. It's not stated whether cheap energy and construction jobs are a counter-distraction, which somehow bring the feelings of the ill-defined group of people who can't be contacted back to a voting choice. No-wonder people didn't vote for a party with such a nutter as a neighboring MP. I forget her name.

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.

Mock newspaper advert: Pontiff. € Excellen + benefits. Rome based with some international travel. Our leading international client in the faith sector are urgently seeking a highly credulous and experienced spiritual leader to lead the organisation backward into the Dark Agesm Would suit dogmatic individual with a flair for ignoring impirical evidence. Any experience of covering-up sexual abuse scandals would be highly desirable. Homophobic and mysogynistic applicants welcome. Bullet-proof ice cream van, silly hat and red slippers supplied. May be required to work some weekends and bank holiday. Fallible candidates need not apply. The Holy See is *NOT* an Equal Opportunities Employer.02.03.13
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.

David Burrowes MP at a three party dog 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.

I am rude but never typed onto this page that the catholic church is a loyalty cult at the top. I thought it but did not think anyone would be intersted in my opinion. Maybe about the Moonies or the Scientologists, but a bigger donomination is more something that should be left to sort itself out, surely? Now Mr Ratzinger had said what I did not think polite to say, pledging cultish loyalty to his successor. What is his successor is wrong? This bunch at the top of their heirachy have never been good at moral decisions: as Mr Ratzinger and perhaps his boyfriend and papal bankers said: they pledge loyalty.

As this strange faith group with 11% of polite survey tick-boxes and huge public subsidy begins to unravel, it's sensible to wish it the best. Maybe a former pople will come-out as gay. Maybe priest staff pensions will not depend on sucking-up to the nonce-o in future, or conditional pensions will become illegal. Or the electorate will expand more widely than eight. Or the Italian government will end Mousoulini's independence for Vatican City and encourage ordinary police to go about ordinary business of preventing crime there. Maybe senior clerics will marry. Maybe they will recognise the role of condoms in reducing poverty. Not many people in the UK are much interested, but it is good to see signs of positive change.

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.

A vicar who poured boiling water over a homeless man before stabbing him after he took shelter outside his church, has been jailed. Reverend Friday Archy, 51, screamed at his victim: 'I told you to go. If you stay here you will die,' before plunging the knife into his neck, armpit & chest. The holy man claimed the injuries to Ben Donetus were karma for being a sinning homeless person. The 25-year-old, who suffered severe burns and four stab wounds, spent two days in hospital with a collapsed lung.

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: ;
'I have been sleeping rough for the last two years.' About two months ago a friend told me of the Penarth Centre and that it was a safe place to sleep. I have now been sleeping at the centre for the last two months. 'I sleep there every night, on the landing outside the door leading to the Christ Choosing church of God. I believe this is on the first floor of the centre. There are two other rough sleepers who also sleep there every night. 'I see the reverend at least three nights per week. He used to talk to me and tell me to go away and sleep elsewhere. 'Recently he has stopped talking to us. Last night I arrived as usual at about 11pm.' Mr Donetus discovered one of his friends had joined him on the landing because his usual spot was flooded. 'I rolled out my bedding and went do sleep,'
said the homeless man. 'The next thing I remember was waking up, feeling wet. I felt my back and it was wet. I could feel it was also hot. 'I turned over and saw the reverend standing over me with an electric kettle in his left hand. 'He was shouting: "Get out, get out". I tried to get up, but the reverend pushed me to the ground. As I fell I saw he had a silver knife in his right hand. 'I turned away to protect myself, then felt myself being stabbed. I could see the reverend was standing over me, stabbing at me. 'He was shouting: "I told you to go, if you stay here you will die". 'I was really frightened he was going to kill me. I yelled for help.'The reverend then stopped stabbing me. He just ran back in to the church, closing the door behind him.'

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:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook - quoted on various other sites. Events were late 2011.

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 Reform " 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.

  • Faith groups should hold atheist days, for people who want to meet neighbours to sing a song and drink tea or maybe more.
    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.
  • Legislators should remove funding for faith-selective schools, which are basically selective schools paid out of taxes on the excuse of repesenting a faith and give the faith group a power to call-in donations, acceptability, and congregations in exchange for choosing parents. Corruption, in other words.
  • There is something about the false release from troubled thoughts that is given by membership of a nerdy theology group - from Harry Krishna to The Evangelical Alliance to Al Kieda if that's how they spell it. They all release their worries and critical faculties into nerdyness, gain a circule of aquaintances, but upset the rest of us sometimes as a result. Without any apology or recognition of the balls they talk.

  • 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.

    • Debenhams - Paid 22% tax on its profits for 2012.
      Debenhams online offers everything from fashion to furniture.
    • John Lewis - Paid 35% tax on its profits for 2012.
      John Lewis online offers virtually everything that's available on Amazon with the exception of books.
    • Lush – Paid 42% tax on its profits for 2011.
      Lush online offers an extensive range of handmade cosmetics.
    • Marks and Spencer – Paid 27% tax on its profits for 2012.
      Marks and Spencer online offers everything from frocks to food.
    • Next – Paid 26% tax on its profits for 2012.
      Next online offers everything from evening wear to electricals.

    Of course we always recommend that you support your local shops - many of them on - before you hit the big High Street chains. Phone first to order titles.

    In a reversal of Amazon’s 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 a workers co-operative and radical bookshop. 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 and Oxfam Books.

    A note on our research
    While this research isn't an exhaustive exploration of each company's tax affairs, it does go some way to show which retailers are making a greater contribution to the public purse. This is specifically in terms of the percentage of actual tax paid on their profits, provided that profits recorded were a reasonable proportion of turnover.

    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.

    04.12.12 - please sign this petition against genocide President Yoweri Museveni:

    In solidarity with people from across Uganda, we ask that you keep your promise to uphold Uganda's Constitution, and the human rights embodied within it, and veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

    I don't understand this phone hacking scandal but I do understand

    • The hacked including John Prescott MP found that they could not get help from the police and this is not in the news.
    • Debate is about a trade association and various metaphors and details about how it is set-up, as though there is no equality before the law that applies to journalists and everybody else, or if there is, it works prefectly, which it didn't.

    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.

    Oh - just to pretend I understand the phone hacking scandal and have been following it, here is a link to something I have not read:

    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 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:
    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:
    I am also currently the only British Conservative MEP to have signed a pledge to promote an inclusive definition of family in EU legislation:
    Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future, and be assured that I will continue to maintain political pressure on this issue at the European Commission. Yours sincerely, Marina Yannakoudakis MEP, Conservative, London region "

    12.11.12 - 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

    • not a criminal offence [it was a fraud], and
    • reported by the fraud investigators by a bad person.

    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.

    The frauds involved a series of payments to private or unconvincing organisations along the lines of the trades union branch that prompted this site several years ago. I went to complain at lack of a legal service to find that (a) two people had made the same complaint recently (b) the committee were busy paying hundreds of pounds to a list of unconvincing organisations (c) a majority on the committee were not holding employers and central trades union offices to account. In contrast they quoted their employers as as volunteering or working for various organisations such as the Communist Party of Britain, or South East Regional TUC. The treasurer of branch 1/1148 (and of the Communist Party of Britain) told me "we are not the fifth emergency service; the purpose of a trades union is not legal insurance but solidarity". Oh and Mr Ben Stevenson was press officer to the branch and secretary to the exotic political party where Mr Graham was treasurer. It all overlaps in a rather confusing way.

    Who would have thought that the same problem applies in the Royal Borough of Richmond upon Thames as in a little known trades union group that meets in Lambeth.

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