POLITICS CORNER

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 17 May 2018, 04:16

I totally agree P. Every time a franchise is taken back temporarily into public care performance and profit improves but time and time again political dogma forces them back into another flawed franchise. Meanwhile the taxpayer and the travellers pay the fat salaries you refer to and make up the shortfall. I have a lot of sympathy with Labour proposals to allow these franchises to wither on the vine and take them back into state control as they die.
As for Grayling, he has the reverse of the Midas touch, everything he is associated with goes wrong. Look at his record......
May makes announcements and pledges on non Brexit matters while crossing her fingers behind her back.... We sink slowly into the 19th century, the Grand Plan is working!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 18 May 2018, 06:09

See THIS for the latest fluttering in the dovecote at Westminster. John Bercow is in trouble again for calling Andrea Leadsom a 'stupid woman'. I don't condone this but have to admit I do not have a high opinion of her.
Meanwhile T May gets another lesson in Irish politics, she is told in no uncertain terms that her proposed solutions won't work.
Does anyone else get the impression that THE ROYAL WEDDING is being used as a diversionary tactic?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 18 May 2018, 07:02

There seems to be a bit of doubt what Mr Bercow actually said. The alleged comments are reported by a Tory MP. Mrs Leadsom apparently didn't hear them although she was sat a few feet away. The Commons microphones should be able to settle this matter.
Prince Harry is playing a blinder. Wedding in the early afternoon, then off to the footy match, then a booze up at night. Get this man in parliament we can do with someone who gets their priorities right.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 19 May 2018, 04:00

M y house is a nuptial free zone......
I don't think Bercow is a nice man anyway but have no interest in yet another Tory spat. A symptom of a party on borrowed time.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 20 May 2018, 04:09

Yesterday was a politics-free day apart from T May elevating nine Tory peers. The Romans used bread and circuses to divert public attention and I reckon that yesterday's shenanigans at Windsor were seen as handy by the government. However, I always listen to the Westminster Hour on R4 on Saturday and yesterday was instructive. Reading between the lines the situation is even worse than we thought, apart from the internal troubles in the Tory Party the two 'solutions' that are being debated are both anathema to the EU and it looks as though May is relying on the "Be reasonable, see it my way" principle. A very weak reed.....
We live in interesting times, the next few months are going to be a rocky ride in Parliament and there is no clear outcome. It's a bit of a bloody mess. Let's not forget the bloke who was the architect......
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 22 May 2018, 04:01

In the absence of any hard information all we can do is examine the runes and try to work out what's actually happening. These vary from warnings that Italy is heading for the EU escape hatch and mutterings from Scotland and Northern Ireland about secession.
Things have not been made any clearer by THIS intervention by that master politician, Michael Gove. He warns about 'identity politics' but denies that the Brexiteers are guilty of this. Really? I was under the impression that as far as he, Johnson, Rudd and Hunt are concerned it was all about identity and who would be the next Leader of the Tories. It appears I have been mistaken......
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 22 May 2018, 07:06

I've been listening to Michael Gove being interviewed on Today..... It's no secret hat I dislike this man and don't trust him but you have to hand it to him, he is an expert at managing to speak seemingly with complete authority and convey absolutely nothing concrete! On air pollution he was asked why independent questions to the ministry responsible reveal that virtually all that is being done is to tighten the regulations on the sale of new stoves. As for other high levels of pollution, simples! They have passed the buck to local authorities without mentioning any funding for enforcement.
On Brexit he was asked how long any 'settling in period' would be under whatever the new customs arrangements would be. He completely dodged the question. Truly, the very essence of modern political communication.....
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 23 May 2018, 03:10

Any guesses what the next distraction will be that's presented to us to keep our minds off Brexit?
This caught my eye in the Telegraph..... Environment Secretary Michael Gove has accused Chancellor Philip Hammond of being "short-sighted" over Brexit in a letter to Cabinet colleagues, the Daily Telegraph reports. The prominent Brexiteer has blamed the Treasury for a defeat in the House of Lords last week which could force the government to retain EU environmental protections after Brexit. No evidence of consultation but plenty that hostilities inside the Cabinet are alive and well.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 23 May 2018, 07:22

Mrs May's proposal for some 'back stop' deal to keep the Northern Ireland border problem quiet in the event of a hard Brexit has bit the dust. Her proposal was total nonsense, It was supposed to only be in place until something better came along. A bit like only waiting for a bus until the next one came. Anyone with half a brain wouldn't accept an open ended proposal like this as the basis for an international agreement. Never mind she has another 10 months to sort it out. The clock is ticking.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 24 May 2018, 03:08

Never mind she has another 10 months to sort it out.
My understanding is that this has to be sorted by the EU minister's meeting in October as one of the three pre-conditions for the actual talks to get under way. Also, the June White Paper is only a proposal for a basis for talks, not a substantive proposal to be voted on. General opinion seems to be that both propositions are administrative nightmares and need infrastructure that can't possibly be in place in time. Did you see the man from HMRC who told the Brexit Committee that Max Fac would cost industry between £17billion and £20billion a year? This isn't looking like the Bojo/Gove vision of the resurgence of Empire, more like the Fall of Rome!
Since 2010 there hasn't been a single successful policy in any area of governance and this is looking like the biggest disaster of them all.
I note that our new Home Secretary tried to convince the police yesterday that he was on their side.... Their response was to say that when May was Home Secretary she told them to stop whingeing and that the melt down in policing they forecast under reduced budgets was nonsense. Now it turns out the police were dead right. Despite all protestations to the contrary, the cuts have led directly to an overall rise in crime and lower rates of investigation and detection.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 24 May 2018, 08:01

Headlines today. 'The NHS will require an extra £2000 per year from each household to meet the future commitments'. Link. These costs appear to be end values in 15 years time. But meanwhile we have to increase funding by the 'Battle Bus' promises (£350M / week) to maintain standards. The crunch is that as people live longer their likelihood of being hospitalized also increases. The question is are we being buttered up for more privatization?

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 25 May 2018, 02:54

That's my fear as well P but I have an idea May has realised that if the Tories go down in history as the party that killed the NHS they will never hold power again. Of course it needs funding! We will never notice the extra tax. We've survived austerity so far which is equally damaging to domestic incomes.....
Trump and Kim are not going to meet. So what's changed?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 25 May 2018, 06:36

Later, after reading the BET..... Local politics... I see the new Tory controlled Council (Because they reinstated a councillor under investigation and suspended for racial comments) is shouting about selling off the family silver. There's a good letter from Tony Greaves pointing out why it would be a very expensive policy.
Stephenson's report from the house which, on the basis of one dodgy statistic from a Tory controlled think tank, informs us that the economy is booming and there are less low paid workers. Really? How does he explain the other evidence on the rise of use of food banks, homeless families and rough sleepers? He lives in a parallel universe where 'the truth' lies in the 'news' he is handed from Central Office.
See THIS Guardian report on the EU saying that current proposals re breaking the log jam in the Brexit negotiations are 'fantasy'. Oh dear.......
Also see THIS breaking news in the Guardian about Mark Carney, the BofE and the impact of possibly dire GDP figures this morning. But Mr Stephenson says everything is fine......
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 26 May 2018, 03:28

Many experienced diplomats warned Trump he was moving too fast with North Korea but he ignored them. He is realising now that diplomacy and deal-making are different beasts.
I noted yesterday that our local MP tells us that the economy is booming..... Immaculate timing! See THIS for a Guardian report on yesterdays growth figures which as I predicted are dire and the worst for five years. A combination of shrinking of consumer spend as austerity bites and uncertainty in business and manufacturing caused by you know what is the cause and these are systemic. This decline can't be explained by one-off factors like bad weather. Remember also the role that domestic debt has here, it can't rise for ever. Some economic boom..... Tin hats on lads!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 26 May 2018, 07:24

Westminster rumour machine is talking about a snap election later this year. This is apparently not because Mrs May thinks she will get an increased majority but perversely because the Tories may lose a lot of seats. The possibility of a trip to the job centre is intended to focus the minds of all those trouble makers within the party. There you have it. The thinking behind it is they are not in government to fight their corner about what is good for the country but what is good for their pockets. Safe in their hands? I doubt it.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 27 May 2018, 03:42

I've said all along P that the main motivation in the Tory Party since 2010 and before is self interest. That was the real reason for Cameron's control issues and the route to his Disaster. None of the moderates dare rock the boat by asserting themselves. May is tarred with the same brush, a weak leader assuaging everbody's angst by mollifying them instead of cracking the whip and acting as a real leader.....
Just think, if she said bugger Brexit and called a referendum on staying in she'd get a majority in any snap election. Even their supporters are sick to the back teeth. The only ones who are in favour are the members who are barking mad!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 27 May 2018, 11:30

Yesterday I mentioned a problem making our national statistics and economic forecasting no longer fit for purpose. It was raised by Philip Aldrick in a Times article just before I went on holiday. I'm not giving a link to the online version because it's only available to paid subscribers but here are two images from his blog. The first in the intro paragraph, the second is an example using GPS...

Image

Image

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 27 May 2018, 17:47

Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarfs are not Happy.

Given that we are told that there is no such thing as a 'free lunch', stuff that becomes 'free' under one count is usually built into the price of something else. If we carried on with Philip Aldrick's logic, the free items should reduce inflation making stuff more affordable but since wages are lagging behind inflation then wages must not be increasing at the headline rates that are being quoted. Also, very rarely mentioned, if the working population is increasing, ie: more people in the UK and more at work then the overall GDP should automatically increase but the GDP per head is dropping. As a country we are going backward. Lies damned lies and statistics. Perhaps Mr Stephenson MP for Pendle could explain all this for us. Don't hold your breath.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 28 May 2018, 02:52

Good posts and this has always been a problem. It's the myth on which the consultancy firm McKinsey's was founded, 'If it can be measured it can be managed'. Statistics do not tell the full story. In addition there is the problem of taking a broad average, applying it to the whole and ignoring local hot spots where they are completely different. This is the nub of Charles Webster's lecture 'Healthy or Hungry Thirties' (on the site) in which he proves that in the 1930s the government used statistics to show that things were improving but deliberately ignored the examples that gave the lie to this. Then you can add in variation, the margin of error in all statistics. When you start measuring .1% of GDP you have no idea whether it is plus or minus.
P is right, 'lies, damned lies and statistics', never a truer word........
Later after a walk and a bit of thought..... I am reminded of Harold's dictum "Events Dear Boy) and Sir Walter Scott... 'Oh what a tangled web we weave....'. This has been triggered by the fact that the Irish referendum has highlighted N Ireland as on of the most repressive regimes in the world and ripe for relaxation of the ban on abortion. Problem is of course that there is no effective government to react to this and so it falls to Parliament. That raises another problem in that the pressure for immediate relaxation of the ban from the majority of MPs means that T May is being forced into supporting this. I think you can see her problem, the DUP contingent which supplies her slim majority is 100% opposed. Oh dear....
Add to this credible reports that all planning for 'Hard Brexit' has ground to a halt because the outlook is so dire and if that happens that there is nothing that can be planned to alleviate it. Where does this leave the hard-liners?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 28 May 2018, 09:27

Another aspect related to Aldrick's article is all the stuff that's bought and sold on Ebay with only the professional sellers reporting for tax purposes. I guess we can add into that many of the `Amazon Associates' sales. Then there are people swapping stuff on the Internet and buying things from overseas. The more you delve into it the more you realise we really don't know what's going on as far as buying and selling is concerned. It gets even worse when you try to take price of goods into account. Most items sold don't have a fixed `true' price any more, the price of any one good is continually changing and even that `floating' price is often disregarded by people asking (and getting) a discount. The upshot is that you can't judge how rich or poor we are as a nation, or how productive we are by counting or measuring stuff bought and sold and by pricing it; the only meaningful option is to take a holistic view of our happiness and health and the stability or instability of the UK. Perhaps we should re-task economists and send them to work as nurses in the NHS! :smile:

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 28 May 2018, 12:10

I agree entirely Tizer. GDP as a measure of a countries performance has been used to placate the masses to tell them how much better they off they are. As you mentioned no one really knows where all this so called wealth is going. Even in the current times of austerity the top 1% are still doing very well and are quite happy to keep quoting GDP as the ultimate measurement. I think most people an now see that this is all smoke and mirrors especially when the downward stream has stopped trickling. Another load of con is the tired statements that if we don't make these profits then your future pension fund will suffer. If this was so then current pension funds should be awash with money and pension payouts should be increasing but reality their payouts have been going downhill for years.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 28 May 2018, 14:27

I think what prompted Aldrick to do this article was the fact that while the ONS tells us personal income versus inflation is the worst its ever been they also tell us that the `happiness index' (or whatever they call it) is continuously increasing year on year. I wish he published his articles openly on the Web, say a month after they'd been in The Times but I suppose they won't let him.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 28 May 2018, 18:26

As you know scientists first postulate a theory then back it up by measured experiments. This is followed by other scientists independently repeating the experiment and getting the same results. Measuring something that belongs to some psychological state of mind in never going to be repeatable. If I dare quote my own tinpot probability survey of two groups of people in Colne. The first group were well dressed and arrived in cars but were very unhappy. The second group were obviously a lot poorer and stood chatting without a care in the world. The surveys were carried out outside the Cemetery gates and outside the Red Lion. A more concrete observation was in Russia just after Boris Yeltsin had gone totally capitalist free market. Prices had rocketed, people savings had disappeared, nothing in the shops to buy even if you had money. People thought that they had been far happier under the dictatorial communist regime and would have gone back to it if they could. All this is a bit reminiscent of our 'good old days' that never actually happened. Today's 'spin' on numbers and false facts is just to keep people confused and to do as they are told.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 29 May 2018, 03:46

Good posts..... One of the problems is that the people who produce the 'evidence' of the statistics are financed by big capital who also control the media. They have a vested interest in 'steady as she goes' because the capital owning classes are making money hand over fist. Piketty spent a lot of time in his book explaining how this worked and the advantages to be gained. It explains the increasing gap between the haves buying super yachts and the have-nots patronising food banks. Did you see the report from York university yesterday associated with the Rowntree Foundation? I rate opinions from those sources.
Two things from history. Seebhom Rowntree founded his research foundation in the late 19th century and over the years they have produced regular reports on poverty. If you go back and read them and then compare with the present day you'll find that from the start, they illustrated the same problems and showed the same social mechanisms that operate now. Nothing has changed and at the root of it is the problem Piketty addresses now in the 21st century, the movement of capital wealth upwards. As P wryly points out, there is no trickle down, a rising tide does not float all boats.
Tiz is right when he points out the impossibility of measuring some things that are a key part of social mechanisms. One of the big puzzles of the early 20th century was the problem of establishing a link between poverty, malnutrition and ill health. So obvious there is a link but how do you prove it? The Medical Officer for Stockton on Tees was a man called Dr George M'Gonicle (LINK) who, with a man called Kirby and supported by Harold Macmillan published a book called 'Poverty and Public Health' in 1936 in which they proved the link and showed that the root cause was low wages. The evidence is there and is as relevant today as it was then but how many people have read the book or know about the work?
Meanwhile.... see this LINK for a BBC report on the meeting of Nicola Sturgeon and Jacques Barnier in Brussels. They both agree that the negotiations are stalled and the UK attitude at the moment is fantasy. Not surprisingly the Scottish Tories attack her for 'attempting to make political capital' out of Brexit. Funny, I thought that was what it was all about!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 29 May 2018, 07:46

Roman Abramovich the billionaire Russian oligarch has become the centre of attraction since the Skripal poisoning. Suddenly his links with President Putin has become a problem. Its worth remembering that Abramovich has always been one of Putin's financial advisers even before he became President. Putin's logic was that although he had made billions from Yeltsin's share hand outs he was only interested in making money and not in Russian politics like the other oligarchs. It also gave Putin a backdoor into what the other oligarchs were up to. The question to be answered is are we attacking Abramovich because of his Putin connection or because he may lift the lid on what the others are up to?

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