Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Employment Figures

Above are pictures of three vessels.  One is the new "Edith Maersk", registered at Roskilde, Denmark, a place once used by Viking longships, and one of the biggest, if not the biggest, cargo ship in the world.

It is said to have a crew of 13. The "Edith" will certainly require and have a number  of shore based back up staff monitoring and advising but limited in numbers.

The second is the "Lady Lilford", 1838-1851, which for a period was in the hands of a Master Mariner ancestor, who did well out of it.  We wish that one or more of the Kashmiri shawls he imported had been kept in the family.

By my highly advanced rule of thumb on the back of an envelope calculations, it would need 285 or so "Lady's" to shift the same amount as that of the "Edith".

This would mean not just 285 Masters and 285 Mates etc. but a total crew count in the order of 8,500 according to my recorded crew lists.

As for, third, a Viking longship now preserved at Roskilde in Denmark, by the same method of calculation you might need over 1500 to 2000 or more vessels and say between 60 and 120 thousand men.

On the other hand if consumer demand does collapse in the near future we may not need any "Edith's" at all.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Carry On Europe

There is a political row going on at present involving the leading lights in UK politics and in the EU over what may or may not be done and the laws involved.

Necessarily the media has to keep it simple.  There are some blogs, notably EU Referendum, who say it is very complicated and too few, if any, of our UK political leaders either know or understand the legal basis of the EU.

This link may help you fathom the nature of some of the complexities, if you have a year or more to spare trudging through it all.

This is but one academic department.  Out there must be dozens, if not hundreds of them.  If you want specifically a Barroso take on things there is a 2011 thesis to help you.

The download for the thesis by Luis Barroso on The Problems And The Controls Of The New Administrative State of the EU is here giving you 175 solidly written pages of text about the joyous and fun lifestyle of EU administrative law.

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper.  How did we get into this?  How do we get out of it?  How on earth can you run economies on this basis?  How on earth can you run anything?

Come back King Philip II of Spain, all is forgiven.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cargo To Move

The weather is fresh, wet and windy and takes me back sixty years to an October morning when the Sergeant told us to wear our fatigues (denims) for morning parade and to lay out our kit first to be checked.

The reason for the departure from mindless bull and square bashing was simple.  We were on standby to go to Southampton Docks to take over the work of the striking dockers.  This meant that what might have been the worst part of our national service became a strange interlude of relative sanity.

Churchill and his cabinet had run out of patience with the London dockers who were looking to a national dock strike.  The far Left and men like Jack Dash (see Wikipedia) were seeking to exert control over crucial parts of the economy to bring about a Stalinist revolution.

It was about four years later that I met Jack Dash after one of his talks.  We had things in common.  He was the same age as my father.  Both had been useful boxers and dock work was in the family.

The point of our brief discussion was that had the Army gone in and been allowed to do the work in the way it wanted the result might have been that they would have shifted twice as much cargo in half the time. Jack Dash had been in the Army at one time and knew the risks.

Had the strike lasted a lengthy period instead of ships queuing for berths there would have been berths ready and waiting for them.  It would have laid bare the inefficiency, inadequate facilities, the bane of demarcation issues and the antique management and administration of the docks at that time.

Much of the paperwork was 19th Century in form and function.  Across so many areas of work Britain was slow to change not just in working practices but in supervision, management and many other ways.

It was in this period, 1955, that Anthony Eden became Prime Minister, called an election and increased the Tory majority from a marginal figure to a working one.  At the time there was a strong modernising group in the Party relating to the domestic economy and society and their message appealed to many of the electorate as did concern over trade union power.

But Eden's interest lay in Foreign Affairs and it was here that he blundered into the Suez Crisis by which he came to be known to history.  Whether it was fully his idea or the benzedrine he was on at the time is now a matter of debate.  He failed and we had Macmillan, another Foreign Affairs man who avoided difficult decisions in home policy.

What is striking is the way much of Tory domestic policy in the brief time of Churchill's later period running into the time of Eden prefigured that of Margaret Thatcher twenty and more year later.  After it was the lost generation of British politics when we failed to admit, recognise and deal with the changes that were under way.

Hugh Gaitskell, for a short period Leader of Labour after Attlee, recognised it but he died too soon and we had Wilson, a numbers man who fiddled the figures and sincerely believed that a statistical plan would work.  Heath took us into Europe as the answer and now we realise that Europe is the problem.

It is one of the "What If's" of history.  Overall the Eden cabinet had a strong bias to Foreign Affairs.  There was still the view that the future lay in being a "Great Power" and the economy was a secondary priority.  Had he structured his cabinet to provide a better balance and to realise  and grasp the greater need for far attention to domestic issues it might have been very different.

For some time Jack Dash and others had their day.  But the world had begun to change more radically than any of them knew or might understand.  Containerisation of cargo had begun, which transformed transport costs and capability and now the old docks have gone.

And so have the dockers.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Demos And Demographics

One of our more respected and better regarded persons, David Attenborough, the naturalist, thinker and broadcaster, in that order, took some heavy flak when he suggested that global population growth at present rates was bad for the planet and for many other forms of life therein.

It indicates that we are at a stage at present when any attempt to look at population in terms of demographics, economic history or statistics risks the wrath of the racism lynch mobs and the ideologues determined to quash rational discussion.

So when there is an election in which migration and movement have become questions and the politicians are involved it all becomes very confused and emotional.  Also, there are consequences.

One of the latest ones is that it is suggested that we need to build 45,000 properties a year in London to cope with expected inflows.  This would cater for about one to two hundred thousand people a year in that area alone, perhaps a few more.

Once upon a time it is claimed we humans existed by hunting and gathering alone.  Whether it was some Garden of Eden or nasty, brutish and short is one of the debates. However, if we look at The Atlantic Isles alone what does this mean in terms of the numbers?

Again, we are in intricate and argued areas of academic debate based on limited evidence.  But if we take the thesis that an extended family then needed around fifty square miles to sustain itself, this means something like 2500 of them amounting, say, to between one and two hundred thousand across the whole area, perhaps a few more.

As humanity grew in numbers, clearly something would have to give and it did.  We changed to cultivation of crops and animals.  This enabled a continuing and rapid growth of numbers, curbed by periods of conflict, climate and weather pattern variations, diseases, and shortages in foot or water supply or in forms of energy needed to power systems.

If the academics who study all these things are correct there have been many times in the past when either locally or more generally events and happenings have impacted not simply on population growth but size.  With this has been movement with its own consequences.

At the moment we have a number of pots on the boil.  In the USA we are told that in California the San Andreas has been stuck in parts now for too long and could glitch.  There are overheated volcano watchers secretly hoping for Yellowstone to blow with the big one.  Others think it is time for a volcano series to bring about global cooling or a mini ice age.

There are those who watch the seas and extreme weather.  In the UK at this moment there is a hurricane out there, Gonzalo, which could knock out the power over large areas. And so on and so on, never mind long term energy, water and other matters.

The key one is food.  The Atlantic Isles has to import a great deal of it and does not hold large stocks.  It depends on complex and highly organised logistical systems for the mass of the population.  We who go down to the farms are but a very small minority.

Food has to be paid for, as well as being transported.  Food prices can vary.  As a lot of food supply and provision is governed in the last analysis by financial speculators and operators it is also dependent on sound credit and finance.

The more people and the more they are concentrated into crowded urban areas the more we are all reliant on the money systems as well as all the other facilities, few of which we have much control over.  And as we see time and time again these are neither reliable nor certain.

We have the pre-conditions in place for either problems or worse.  If it has happened before it can happen again and it has happened before very many times and it is all down to the numbers.

But let's not talk about it.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Chewing Over The Previous Post

For completion; yesterday in the post "Return of the Raj" the question was posed "Anyone for mutton curry" and here is the answer.

The recipe above derives from the 1830's and an officer in the 39th Madras Native Infantry.

The persons named in that post from that time may well have enjoyed the dish in that the officer commanding the 39th was the brother of one of them.

You will need proper and younger mutton at least, and hogget would do well.  Lamb is not sufficiently robust.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Return Of The Raj

It may seem strange to post a picture of the LSE Rugby Club of 1936-37 at a time when some of its latest successors are under the cosh for crass teenage behaviour but the point of it is the man who is at the centre.

This is William Henry Beveridge, then Director of the School, who had transformed its work and status and built an empire of social studies with an international range and reputation.

Later was he the man who delivered the crucial Beveridge Report (see Wikipedia) in December 1942 setting out the kind of society and state provision that many envisaged for the post-war future of the UK.  He was made a peer in 1946.

It is prompted by this article on the LSE web site about the current links and relationships between the UK and India and how they are moving on from the issues of recent decades.  At the centre now is trading and as in the past as is who gains and who gives.  Today the news that Mata Steel of India is selling on its European and British mills raises questions.

We forget that Beveridge was a child of the Raj and of the 1936 students some may well have been hoping for a career in the Colonial and perhaps even the ICS, the Indian Civil Service. His father, Henry Beveridge, of Scots origins, was a senior judge but more to the point a leading Orientalist in sympathy with Indian nationalism.

Henry, born in 1829 was a young man when the Mutiny broke out which led to the demise of the old Honourable East India Company Service, HEICS, and the takeover of authority by the British Government.   Change had already begun in the attitude and policy to India before this.

The new regime was different in many ways from that of the late 18th and early 19th Century and similarly how rule was conducted and how the British society in India lived changed too.  The old India had seen people like Charles Hindoo Stuart with Charles Metcalfe and not least James Skinner.

William Beveridge was born in 1879 and grew up in an India in which Auckland Colvin was a major figure shaping the Raj that we are more familiar with.  The old was not far away.  Colvin's mother was half sister to one of Skinner's closest officers, Ralph Henry Sneyd, who was also close to Metcalfe, naming a son after him, had been nominated to the HEICS army by Stuart and for good measure ended his service as Commander of the Governor General's Body Guard, later the Viceroy's and now the Presidents.

Sneyd ended his days in Hampshire across the fields from the Duke of Wellington, the former Sepoy General, and next door to Elizabeth, widow of Colebrooke Nesbitt, one of the HEICS Nesbitt's in The City named for the Colebrooke family so prominent in the early Raj.  It was Sir Henry Colebrooke who founded the Royal Asiatic Society in London in 1823, modelled on the 1784 Asiatic Society in Calcutta.

Beveridge was brought into the Civil Service in 1908 by Churchill to add some intellectual bite to the projects of the then Liberal Government.  He did key work during World War One before going to the Webb's LSE in 1919 to promote his ideas on social administration derived from India and Eugenics.

Because the Raj had been run by an Indian Civil Service on a centralised and greatly planned basis with tight controls over subordinate authorities, using agencies and controlled private sector commerce.  It was always that Calcutta, and later Delhi knew best and where all authority lay.

It is commonplace now for it to be argued that the central direction of affairs from London in the UK arose from the two world wars.  This is true because of the demands of those wars.  However the Raj had been born out of many wars and was always at risk of others.

It was the Raj and it's many senior men in politics, government, law, education and administration that bestowed on changing Britain the basic attitudes, mind sets and principles of state control and how to do it.  I can recall from around fifty years ago the number of former colonials in senior jobs in central and local government.

In this way we are all children of the Raj.  But in the 21st Century it is not going to be the British who will be in charge and cracking the whip, it will be the children of our former subjects.

If there is any consolation, in the early Raj it was the practice of many British men to maintain regular local households akin to marriage but not recognised as such by Britain. The result down a number of generations means we have many cousins, distant and unknown perhaps but still sharing our ancestry.

Anyone for mutton curry?

Monday, 13 October 2014

Belief And Beggary

We are now hearing a lot about the distancing of the political leadership from what was once its core votes.  In the UK referring to a Westminster inward looking elite.  In the USA, it is Washington DC with lines to New York and California.  In France, as always, Paris, etc. etc.

This book review in "Spiked" by Sean Collins of Joel Kotkin's "The Tyranny Of The New Secular Priesthood" argues that we now have a caste, he calls it "Clerisy", who dominate debate and dictate an ideology that is reducing living standards and life opportunities for the middling and lower orders.

The word "Clerisy" is not a new one but used by Samuel Taylor Coleridge early in the 19th Century to describe the new evangelical mission of the Anglican Church to exert control over the lives and thinking of the lower orders.

There is a touch of irony here in that Coleridge was closely connected to one of the chief figures of the world of science in his day who employed Humphrey Davey.

Thomas Beddoes was supported by Georgiana, Duchess of Cavendish, among others, and also involved were the family of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, including Maria, and the Greys of Howick.

Yet our new Clerisy is said to take its reasoning and dogmas from modern science, albeit selected and presented to support their view of our world and how it should be.  It seems that not a lot changes, as ever.