SPEAKER'S CORNER

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 28 Apr 2014, 03:50

I suspect you're right Tiz because I enjoyed Strobes' programmes on 'The Olden Days' but it's an article that has been nagging me for a while. David, your modern inventions definitely don't come under the cosh because there is an honourable tradition of town cryers and beating the bounds. What I am against is the use of tradition and heritage to bamboozle people. P is dead right on the need for a constitution, the present system of historical precedent based on what are often old lies gives the establishment too much latitude to preserve unearned privilege.
We had a prime example over the weekend, the creation of two 'saints'. I've never found any sound theological evidence for this practice. Could it be simply religious hocus pocus.....?
Pleasantly surprised by the fact that I have not had a rougher ride. I expected protests!
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

Bruff
Avid User
Posts: 822
Joined: 24 Jan 2012, 08:42
Location: Hoylake, Wirral - for the moment

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Bruff » 01 May 2014, 14:49

Just might be worth clarifying that there is nothing sudden about the European Convention on Human Right (or the European Court which is quite distinct from the EU and wholly separate, not that you'd know it from the media here). This convention was largely written by the British almost 70 years ago and we have long been able to 'take our case to Europe'. The Human Rights Act in this country simply enables folk to have their case here and not in Strasburg, though one can appeal to Strasburg who very rarely indeed overturn National judgments (which once again, you wouldn't know from the media here). I think you can count them on two hands.

I'm not sure this is really a 'constitutional' matter but it may be, but I recall the hysteria in the usual media rags when Mr Brown remained in Downing Street in the period between the election and the formation of the coalition. Some of the media were going beserk at him. But I struggle to see what he could have done as I understand the procedure for him to leave would have been this:


HM The Queen: Good afternoon Mr Brown

Mr Brown: Good afternoon Ma'm. I wish for Your Majesty to dissolve this Parliament

HM The Queen: Very well. And are we in a position to form a new Parliament with a new Government?

Mr Brown: Well I'm rather afraid we are not, Ma'm. But The Sun and Mail want me gone so I'm off.

HM The Queen: But who will ensure the continued running of the country?

Mr Brown: Good question Ma'm


I'm also continually surprised how many folk think they elect a Prime Minister.

Richard Broughton

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 02 May 2014, 04:45

I love the short sketch Richard. As for what people 'think' as regards the selection of Her Majesty’s First Minister of the Treasury, I'm afraid the reality is the thinking bit. (How many people know that we don't actually have a 'Prime Minister'?) Not enough of it done! I read the section on 'frameworks' in Stiglitz, 'The Price of Inequality' yesterday and he identifies the setting of the frame in which electoral decisions are made as one of the major political weapons in the effort to persuade/mislead the electorate using ambiguous statements funnelled through the media who also have an axe to grind. Those of us who do think recognise this and allow for it. We know the techniques, dodgy statistics, implied connections, innuendo and in some cases bare-faced lies. Take on case, benefit recipients: Most voters think that they are lazy, dishonest and often immigrants because of the way the present government discusses the problem. All of these 'facts' are wrong or at best partially correct but overblown. That's why I love Private Eye, they get closer to the truth more often than any of the other majestic organs of the media! And of course, one can always do the unthinkable, find a reliable author and read all about it!
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

plaques
Donor
Posts: 2188
Joined: 23 May 2013, 22:09

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 02 May 2014, 10:07

Following Bruff's theme of possible conversations here's one between David Cameron and George Osborne.
DC, "Thought up any good wheezes lately Ossie?"
GO, "Working on one to put all the unemployed on zero contracts. We could then say that they are hardworking entrepreneurs".
DC, "Good idea, do you think it will work?"
GO, "well we've got 1.4 million on it using the backdoor method".
DC, "But won't we have to pay out all the same?"
GO, " I've got Dunky and Eggy working on that. We're thinking of putting a cap on weight and tattoos to encourage them to change their lifestyles. This should spike Faggie's guns on dress code and Britishness".
DC, Well done Ossie, that should keep their minds off the economy for a while".

User avatar
Tizer
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 7795
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 19:46
Location: Somerset, UK

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Tizer » 02 May 2014, 10:18

All this talk of laws and then Plaques phrase "putting a cap on weight" reminded me of something I've just read - in the reign of Elizabeth I the cap makers were doing badly so a law was passed making everyone were a cap instead of a hat. It was all so simple in those days! (But I don't know what the hat makers said about it.)

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 03 May 2014, 05:35

Quite right Tiz. The Sumptuary Laws were an early example of the market being distorted by those in power who were getting kick-backs from the hat-maker's guild. Nothing new under the sun.
P, your sketch would be funny if it wasn't so tragic, it's too near the truth. How did we ever let ourselves be persuaded that zeo-hours contracts were a good thing? Another good example of the framework being distorted.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

plaques
Donor
Posts: 2188
Joined: 23 May 2013, 22:09

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 08 May 2014, 19:06

Reading the latest round of EU electioneering from one of our political parties we hear that the deficit has been reduced by 30%. Fantastic, another 70% at this rate and we won’t owe anybody anything. Well, not quite. Wait a minute, what is meant by “the deficit”.
Well it could be what you owe to everybody else less what you have in your piggy bank. Sorry try again that’s “debt”.
Let’s try current budget deficit. Getting nearer. That’s the difference between what the Government gets in against what it spends. So when the two are in balance there will be no “debt” will there? Again, not quite. The overall debt will continue to increase all the time it is out of balance. So all it means is that if in 2018 we achieve a surplus the debt will stop rising. By then we shall owe £ trillions.
What about structural deficit then? Well its actually the current budget deficit tweaked with some mathematical jiggery-pokery to smooth out economic performance factors. Not easy to understand but sounds good.
We must get borrowing down so we don’t add to the debt pile. Isn’t this the same as deficit or debt? I’m getting confused now. Join the club! But a lot of what we borrow goes towards assets and infrastructure which are necessary to get the deficit down. So if you stop borrowing you will start to go backwards on the deficit.
Is that all clear then? So when you see the comment that “we have got the deficit down” you will know what they mean.

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 09 May 2014, 03:22

Or somewhere near.... These statistics are a wonderful opportunity to snow the electorate. I could quote Piketty at you but it wouldn't help with the problem. I had to revise all my estimates of population increase yesterday after reading his section on demography, his information is correct up to 2012 and is quite surprising but as he says, don't trust projections. That applies to Ossie as well!
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

plaques
Donor
Posts: 2188
Joined: 23 May 2013, 22:09

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 11 May 2014, 18:55

In the business world there’s much talk of the takeover of AstraZeneca by Pfizer. Initially Mr Cameron appeared relax about the take over but then asked for robust assurances. Now we hear that both his and George Osborne’s attitudes are hardening. Could this be because Pfizer are the worlds leading manufacturer of Viagra?

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 12 May 2014, 03:45

Very witty... More likely because they want to convince people during an election that they are fit to run the shop. Pfizer have a bad reputation, I wouldn't trust anything they say. Remember Cadbury?
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 14 May 2014, 06:56

The appearance of the CEO of Pfizer before the Parliamentary Committee didn't do much to reassure the cynics amongst us about their eventual intentions. They are quite open about the fact that one of their main goals is to reduce tax liability. This is bad enough but there are other considerations, the export of capital and tax liability from the UK. The damage that will be done to the training and availability of home-grown skills and the long term effects on the national psyche. Piketty is very clear on the downside of foreign investment and god knows we have enough experience already of foreign firms manipulating costs and interest charges to make sure that no, or very little, tax is paid here. Think Centrica, Heathrow airport and the numerous other examples. The bottom line is that there is much to be said for a degree of self enlightened protection here and sod what world trade regulations say. Look at how the Asian shipbuilders subsidised their industries and eventually virtually took over the global market. When will we learn?
I am reminded of a more local example which I have cited many times. In the days when the cotton industry was growing on profits and capital owned in the town, Barlick had enough financial clout to transform not only its infrastructure but the housing and industrial building stock. Ask yourself how much of the profit generated in the town stays here now and then reflect on how different it would be if we were still working on the pre-1914 model. This is an exact analogy for what we see now in terms of the national structure and foreign investment.
The latest reports on the interest rate make interesting reading. I get the definite impression that given complete freedom the rate could start to go up immediately to counter the building bubble in house prices. I also get the impression that this is such a frightening prospect, because of the damage it could do to 'the economic miracle', that they are going to go down a different course and encourage banks to make mortgages more expensive and difficult to put in place. This of course is music in the bank's ears. They are being encouraged to, in effect, raise their charges. Apart from the fact that this is bad economics it does nothing to address the real root of the problem, that the housing market is being overheated because of under-supply. The years and years of neglect to build, particularly of social housing, is coming home to roost. Yet another example of short term political policies, often driven by party dogma, having an effect further down the line. It would be ironic if failure to address the interest rate problem triggered an even bigger bubble and the inevitable increase in interest rates caused widespread defaults and a collapse of the mortgage market. Mark Carny himself described the 'boom' as unbalanced and unsustainable. Meanwhile, Cameron and Ossie bombard us with the 'good news' as they fight to make a case for re-election. This is lousy economics and governance.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 16 May 2014, 05:32

See this LINK for a report on the Swiss referendum on an increase in the Minimum Wage. There are the predictable screams of outrage from the people paying the wages and counter views from the workers. All standard stuff but..... those agitating in favour of an increase have a very powerful ally in Thomas Piketty (I know, I bang on about him!). Piketty has gone deeply into this subject and has come to the inescapable conclusion that hard evidence shows that raising the minimum wage never reduced the overall number of jobs, neither did it lower profits for the employers even in the short term. On the contrary, it raised worker satisfaction and productivity, reduced labour turnover, reduced the need for continual training of new employees and reduced the demands on welfare funds. In other words, modest increases in the minimum wage are a win-win situation all round. It will be interesting to see what the result of the Swiss referendum is......
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 16 May 2014, 06:58

Someone at the BET has a nice sense of humour. On page 5 there is an article headed 'Shock 777% increase in housing benefit claims'. Even I was surprised by this figure and immediately thought it must be over a long period, but no, it's over the last four years. This is a shocking figure and highlights the paucity of information in our Dear Leader's weekly 'News from the House' never a mention of this.... The humour comes in because next to this piece is an article headed 'MP welcomes funding boost' urging charities to put in claims to Pendle Council's Small Grants Fund. Worthy but not earth-shaking. Then if you turn to the letters page there is a coruscating article by Lord Greaves on the financial position of the Council and the reasons for it. He is quite right and I suspect his conclusion is correct as well, that we haven't really noticed the cuts because the Council is doing such a good job managing the downturn.
All told, an interesting group of articles which point clearly in one direction, as Lord Greaves says, there is no noticeable evidence that Andrew Stephenson is aware of the parlous state of the borough, if he is he is keeping quiet because it doesn't fit in with his relentless paean of praise for his party. You can fool some of the people all of the time. you can fool all of them for some of the time but you can't fool all of them all of the time. These pigeons will come home to roost and perhaps sooner than anyone thinks.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

David Whipp
Senior Member
Posts: 2875
Joined: 19 Oct 2012, 18:26

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by David Whipp » 16 May 2014, 07:19

Stanley wrote: 'MP welcomes funding boost' urging charities to put in claims to Pendle Council's Small Grants Fund.
Shades of 1984.

Three years ago, Pendle Council had various funding pots for local charitable, cultural and sporting organisations etc. The total amount provided was well over £100,000.

Last year, this was cut to £40,000.

This year, it's been cut again to £20,000.

How can this be presented as a 'funding boost'?

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 17 May 2014, 04:38

Same way they can trumpet the fact they are against potholes! See yesterday's BET. Don't worry David, some of us can see through them.... I shall be voting Whipp on Thursday on the grounds that you are the most active councillor in the town.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 18 May 2014, 06:41

THOMAS PIKETTY. CAPITAL IN THE 21ST CENTURY

I finished reading Piketty yesterday and have had a think so here are my thoughts on the book.

When I was a little lad, before I was ten years old, I used to sit on the top deck of the tram between Hazel Grove and Manchester and wondered who owned all the buildings, the houses, shops and factories. I couldn't imagine there being that much money in the world. I knew that the people in them would be like my parents and would owe money to the bank or building society but of course that triggered off the thought that I couldn't imagine where they got their money from. Very early I developed my slice of cake theory for wealth, some people seemed to have bigger slices than others but there was only so much cake to go round. All this, and as I grew older, associated questions, nattered me and I gradually understood more but only had opinions, not proof.
Here we have the beauty of Piketty, he explains all these things, gives formulae for calculating them, shows the relationships between them and backs all this up with seriously comprehensive use of data from the 18th century to the present day (2013 in some cases). I think that over the years I've got pretty good at assessing how reliable my informants are and Piketty gets full marks, I trust him completely. There is also the fact that none of this is presented as dogma, he always gives (and assesses) opposing views and disclaims any responsibility for that elusive concept 'The Truth'. Another nice touch is that whenever he describes the actions of a single but anonymous person he always refers to her as 'she'.
So, he has me hooked! The question is what is the message I have brought away from his book and how has it helped my understanding. The nice thing is that he confirms what I had already worked out but fleshes it out with explanation and evidence giving me renewed confidence to extend what I have learned to current events. Here's an example: This morning the Sunday Times publish their 'rich list' of UK capital owners. As Piketty warns us, these lists are not always perfectly researched and should not be taken as sound evidence but despite this we should take note of them. The main conclusion of the list this year is that the combined worth of those on the list is 15% up on last year. The difference between what my reaction pre-Piketty would have been and what it is now is that I know why there has been this rise. It is dead in line with Piketty who says that whenever the return on capital is higher than the growth rate, capital will suck in money from lower down the income scale and increase overall inequality. He also predicts that the trajectory of these increases is set to rise inexorably during this century as growth rates have dropped back to historic averages and global competition for capital is forcing interest rates up. This improvement in my understanding is matched in other fields where Piketty has given me a proven road map.
It would be boring to list all the areas he covers, you'll have to read the book but it's comprehensive, covering the basic economics, the relationships between capital, wealth, growth and income inequality. He flags up political interference by the rich because they can afford it, the evils of tax avoidance schemes made by employing expensive lawyers and accountants, the role of off-shore funds and tax havens and the built-in inertia that opposes any change in these regulations and rules. He is scathing about rapacious bankers and executives who manage their own remuneration. If I've missed anything out, it's because I have omitted to mention it, he covers all the bases.
So what's his conclusion, is there one basic problem which overshadows all the others? Yes. It is the inexorable growth of the return to the top capital holders due to the fact that they can command interest rates (rents) on their property higher than overall growth in the economy. This is immutable, as long as the present conditions pertain the capital will grow until it reaches levels as high as 90% of the total wealth of a nation and this presents dangers. He only sees two possibilities, either the political economy has to change radically or there will be massive social unrest. In this respect he follows Marx but for different reasons. He lays out his suggested reforms starting from a Utopian Global Wealth Tax which he thinks impossible, through adjustments via the tax system, the introduction of progressive taxation on wealth and similar slow acting measures. During the time this adjustment takes to install and take effect, total wealth of the top 10% will continue to increase, worsening income inequality.
It's a bleak picture and he is not optimistic, he sees the present policy of austerity bearing hardest on the poorest classes as useless. Incidentally he points out that the 'middle classes', the percentile between 50% and 90% as suffering equally badly.
Not the most cheerful book but one which gives us ammunition to use against the economic myths that we are presented with as universal truths, wealth doesn't 'trickle down' it only trickles up, hence the efficacy of increasing the income of the bottom 50% instead of reducing it because these classes spend their money injecting it into the system and gaining the benefit of the multiplier effect as it rises upwards.
It's a great piece of work and deserves the Nobel Prize. Thanks to my mate Martha for alerting me to it. Incidentally it is already having an effect. I am seeing features by journalists who, though not mentioning Piketty, have obviously taken his ideas in.
The saddest thing about this work is that if the top 10% of capital holders read and understand it they would realise that the present trajectory has only one conclusion, a disaster which will affect them as much as the poor. If they had any sense they would immediately volunteer for a tax rate of at least 40% on rents. Something like this is the only thing they can do to defend their present position. Will it happen? I doubt it, it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
So my advice is get the book and read it, and then go out and evangelise!

SCG/18/05/14
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 20 May 2014, 05:57

You may remember that during the expenses scandal I said that there were vague signs that the tectonic plates of politics were shifting. Leaving aside the rise of the anti immigration and EU parties there are some other cracks appearing. Mainly these are closely connected with the loss of trust in the political process but have you noticed of late the number of journalists increasingly addressing the flaws in the economy? I'm pretty certain now that many of these have their genesis in the grenade that Piketty has lobbed into the field of political economy. He has clearly demonstrated the dangers inherent in the present trends by pointing out that the period of high growth we experienced from 1950 to 1980 was a product of good government policies on tax and the rise of the new technologies. This is over now and there is no prospect of seeing those rates of growth again in this century. This means that capital at the top is sucking out wealth from the lower 90% and the lower you go in the scale the worse it is. This is beginning to dawn on the commentators and who knows, when the massage gets down to the electors they may start to demand improvements like a progressive tax on wealth. In the 1950s it was taxed at rates up to 90% in the UK. It is no accident that the high rates of growth occurred in a period of strong fiscal regulation, progressive taxes and innovative technology. There may be a road map here! Problem is, how do we persuade the wealthy to accept their share of the common good? See Bob's Bits today for a good American example.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

plaques
Donor
Posts: 2188
Joined: 23 May 2013, 22:09

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 26 May 2014, 18:33

I have heard from reliable political sources that next years general election is to be cancelled. In line with the current austerity measures the normal voting procedure will be replaced by sample surveys. By popular demand the proposal is to be master minded by Lord Ashcroft who will take a sample poll from 100 people from each constituency. It is estimated that there will be a saving to the country of several £million. The results are forecast to be accurate to +/- one sigma from the mean value of a standard full election voting system.
I expect that we shall be hearing a lot more about these surveys now we have got the European voting out of the way.

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 27 May 2014, 04:09

What a splendid idea! And if the sample 100 was taken from within the top 10% of capital holders no doubt a satisfactory result would ensue.....
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

plaques
Donor
Posts: 2188
Joined: 23 May 2013, 22:09

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by plaques » 27 May 2014, 20:02

The Financial Times have recently published articles questioning the validity of Piketty's trend in wealth ownership. Much of the argument against his book is based on possible minor data errors or the choice of data source and relative usage. Naturally, the Financial Times's case has itself come under scrutiny, One of the more immediate assessments can be read here.Piketty Link.. A part conclusion is show below.
The fourth question is whether the book's conclusions are called into question by Mr Giles's analysis. If the work that has been presented by Mr Giles represents the full extent of the problems, then the answer is a definitive no, for three reasons. First, the book rests on much more than wealth-inequality figures. Second, the differences in the wealth-inequality figures are, with the exception of Britain, too minor to alter the picture. And third, as Mr Piketty notes in his response, Chapter 10 is not the only analysis of wealth inequality out there, and forthcoming work by other economists (some conclusions of which can be seen here) suggests that Mr Piketty's figures actually understate the true extent of growth in the concentration of wealth.

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 28 May 2014, 03:27

One of the best indications of the value of a new approach like Piketty's is the volume and quality of the criticism. Your last point is good, wherever possible Thomas erred on the side of conservative interpretation of the data.
A straw in the wind, look at this LINK for a report on 'Inclusive Capitalism' as discussed in London yesterday.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 10 Jun 2014, 07:23

Reading Richard Crossman's diaries and looking at the predominance of devious behaviour in the Westminster Bubble has triggered me off once more into wondering just how much we actually know about what is going on. How much of the 'news' is objective truth and how much is manipulative guff? At the moment the prime examples are the news about the economic recovery and the current ill-concealed spat between two egotistic politicians hell bent of personal gain in any leadership contest but hiding it in an argument about schools in Birmingham.
I can't put a percentage figure on a situation where I am not sure of the facts but I have enough evidence to know that quite a large proportion of what we are told conceals hidden agendas. I'm adult enough to realise that politics can't be run in a totally transparent manner, that is the nature of the beast, but what I really object to is when the attempt to pull the wool over our collective eyes is so blatant. It's almost as though some politicians have such a low opinion of the intelligence of the electorate that it is a given that they can get away with it. Unfortunately this is perhaps correct in that the level of political awareness in the general population is abysmal.
So where does the basic fault lie? Is it in education of the public? Is it because apathy is rampant? In the elections of the 1950s described by Crossman the vote never fell below 50% and was often higher. What is it today? About 30%? Perhaps the old saying is right, we get the government we collectively deserve.
I can't do any more than I do now but I still find it very depressing. The only bright spot on the horizon at the moment is the rise of UKIP and further afield, the protest vote in Europe. I don't necessarily support either of these but they are, at least, a sign of independent thinking and electoral revolt. Could things be changing? Reading Piketty convinced me that his thesis is correct, that the present trend of economics is best typified by the movement of capital into the hands of the highest 10% and under present regressive taxation and austerity this can only get worse. How high does the stress have to go before society snaps. Piketty himself does not rule out a reaction leading to a revolt against the present ethos and says that the only way to prevent it is by progressive taxation similar to the regime that saw working class incomes rise between 1950 and 1980.
As I write this Nick Clegg is being quizzed by John Humphrys on Today and his answer to the question of how the tax burden can be moved to reverse the present trend is adjustment of Council Tax or a Mansion Tax. This is fiddling about on the edges and typical of the dependence of politicians on the good offices of the wealthy who are rich enough to be able to use their money to influence policy.
Eventually there will have to be change and the ironic thing is that this change, if it happens, will benefit the very rich just as much as the very poor. We simply have to persuade them.....
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 11 Jun 2014, 07:55

If you want to get a better understanding of what is going on in Iraq at the moment, take a few minutes to look at this LINK to a Wikipedia article on Gertrude Bell. Then follow up some of the references and learn how we stitched three separate kingdoms of what was Mesopotamia, together to make modern Iraq. This is as long as a piece of string, you could spend months reading and following what was happening. The bottom line is that as in so many cases, nations were created with no regard for history, tribal allegiances, ethnic difference and religious conflict. In other words we built in stress lines that sooner or later were bound to crack. This is what is happening in Iraq at the moment and you can expect it in Afghanistan as well in the near future. Remember that we did it in our own interest with one eye on possible Russian expansion towards India and the prospect of profits from oil exploitation.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 02 Jul 2014, 07:42

I'm watching events in Iraq and thinking about what the results could be. Not surprisingly, my mind goes back into history to look for parallels.
Many years ago I was given the essay subject 'The Thirty Years War' and I asked my tutor who was playing. He gave me a big grin and said that I was on the right lines! Historians still argue about this and the problem is that even after 400 years it is still difficult to sort out the relative importance of dynasty, territory, religious difference and economics. How much more difficult to sort out these matters as the events unfold.
At first the role of ISIS was characterised as an internal feud with Al-Qaeda. It then became a straight fight between Sunni and Shia. When ISIS announced they were re-establishing the Caliphate a different dimension was introduced, it seems their ambition is domination of the whole of Islam. All this is complicated by the shortcomings of the official Iraq government in Baghdad. Not surprisingly the first Western reaction to all this has been the 'Not me Guv' statements from the original progenitors of the incursion in 2003. (Incidentally, I still hold that one of the major factors then was the way Saddam Hussein ran rings round the West's diplomatic efforts to rein him in. We became so incensed with him that it triggered the tipping point.) Not a good basis for executive action.
So, I have tried to simplify my view, strip away the wood so that perhaps the trees become visible. We have to accept that all the factors which applied in the Thirty Years War are present now in the insurgency. We can go on as long as we like about the historical actions which led to the conditions where a tipping point could be reached and concentrate on what the possible consequences could be. I must put in a disclaimer here, I am looking at worst case and not a firm prediction of what is going to happen.
We all know from experience what 'mission creep' is and in terms of the West's involvement this is a clear and present danger. 'Limited precise action', 'military advisers' and 'shared intelligence', where have we heard this before? There should be some very careful thought on this matter and the 'hawks' must be kept in check. It's not fashionable to quote George Galloway but I remember him saying that as long as the West regarded the use of armed force as a tool of diplomacy we were doomed to fail. I hold no brief for George but in this he was dead right.
Looking at the map, the odds are that we are seeing a new Islamic division being created stretching from Syria in the West almost to Iran in the East. An independent sovereign territory of Kurdistan in the North looks certain with the possibility of the same happening in the South where the original kingdom of Basra may be an end result. This is approximately the old Mesopotamia before we reorganised it into modern Iraq, a situation I
have always considered a runner.
The basic question is, how is the middle territory annexed by ISIS going to develop? By declaring the Caliphate and claiming pre-eminence in Islam they have given themselves a religious base to call for volunteers from across Islam to help them establish a new entity. ISIS adheres to the Sunni persuasion, Iran and the South of Iraq are mainly Shia. This 1400 year old schism has never gone away but at the moment seems to be gaining strength. Think of the Thirty Years War and the divisions between the church of Rome and the Protestants. Remember the brutal actions in 'defence of the faith' that both sides were guilty of. Transfer this to the Sunni/Shia conflict and recognise that there could be a parallel.
At the moment ISIS seem to be regarding their actions as something very close to an end-game to decide who is predominant in Islam. If this is the case, at best there can only be a long period of unrest, collateral damage and erosion of present political boundaries. At worst, the map of the Middle East will have to be redrawn and spheres of influence adjusted with obvious implications for Western economic interests in the area, mainly in the field of energy.
That's as far as I want to go at the moment. It may be that I am totally mistaken and this kite won't fly. On the other hand.....

SCG/2 July 2014
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 39240
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: SPEAKER'S CORNER

Post by Stanley » 06 Jul 2014, 08:27

WITCH HUNT OR DELAYED JUSTICE?

I'm watching the developing news of sex scandals in the higher echelons of politics in the UK. Today the national newspapers have named two peers, Lord Brittain and Lord Janner as being under active investigation. One thing is certain, when this happens they have cast iron information that leads them to feel safe from libel accusations and we are only seeing the tip of a very large iceberg.
My interest isn't so much in the details of the cases but in the reasons why, of late, we have seen an avalanche of court cases and convictions for historic sex abuse. Something in society has changed over the last few years and subjects which were formerly considered taboo have been dragged into the spotlight of judicial scrutiny, a dam has broken. It used to be said that the last great taboo was incest but I am beginning to think that there was another area, wrongdoing in high places and covering up the evidence.
Added to this are things like the renewed inquiry into the Hillsborough Disaster following the realisation that the police were guilty of a systematic cover up to hide what they saw as their culpability. If this can happen inside what should be one of the pillars of transparency and honesty in society there is reason to suspect it can happen in other places.
There has also been a complete change in the way that children and older complainants are regarded when they come forward to make allegations. It is a sad fact that historically, these informants were dismissed as unreliable. Not now, every case is investigated in order to avoid subsequent allegations of bad practice or worse still, covering up evidence.
The result of all these factors is that these historic allegations are opened up to public scrutiny. Old cases like Cyril Smith in Rochdale are currently under active investigation and arrests are expected imminently. In my days working in Rochdale during the Satanic Abuse furore I heard plenty of gossip about Cyril Smith and other local public figures but dismissed it as simply that, gossip. It would appear now that it was something rather more serious. The local MP Simon Danczuk wrote a book about Smith making specific allegations and has since widened his investigations. This is one of the triggers for the current investigations in Westminster.
If you want to learn more, Google any of the names above and follow the trail. It doesn't look good. My interest is in what is actually happening in response to the new 'revelations'.
When the Parliamentary Expenses row broke over politics I speculated that this revealing of historic abuse of the parliamentary system might be a sign of movement in the tectonic plates of society. Questions were asked which would hitherto have been unthinkable. Ordinary voters were dismayed to find that some of their representatives were guilty of behaviour which, if the perpetrator had been a benefit claimant, would have brought down the full force of the law. The level of trust in politicians has since sunk to an all time low. We have seen the rise of a completely new party, UKIP. The imminent referendum in Scotland on independence could lead to another seismic shift, at the very least, even if Scotland stays in the Union, their position will never be the same again.
So, my question is; are the present investigations in Parliament another sign of a shifting of the tectonic plates of society? For myself, I hope they are. For far too long we have been lacking transparency in public life. I have been reading Richard Crossman's diaries from the 1950s and 1960s and he believed that our 'democracy' was a mirage. He averred that we are actually governed by an oligarchy controlled by the shadowy figures in the higher reaches of society who hold the financial and political power. This was why he wrote his diaries for publication, he wanted to expose the system for what it was, a huge web of manipulation and secret agreements in back rooms. Earlier I can remember how surprised I was when reading Harold Nicholson's diaries and learning how much high political policy was decided round Lady Astor's dinner table at Cliveden.
Of course we are getting cries of 'Witch Hunt'. This is nonsense. It is a healthy appraisal of the way we function as a society. It will be a rough process and occasionally innocent people will be damaged by implication but this is a price we have to pay. It is nothing compared to the suffering imposed on the victims. If they exist they have been denied justice for far too long and I hope that at least some of them can achieve a degree of closure. We can never wipe out the past for them but we may be able to bring them some peace.

SCG/06/07/14
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

Post Reply

Return to “Current Affairs & Comment”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users