Friday, 16 March 2018

Movers And Shakers

History is full of twists and turns and what might be and should be and what the background is often unexpected. Ms. May, who we take to be a vicar's daughter fallen into sin, that of politics, we know has a part of her family history in Scotland and in mining.

Under current policies and proposals she is alleged to be scrapping the welfare state and structures said to be owed to Lord Beveridge and his Report which became a major plank in Labour policy and structure and retained by the Conservatives, if only to catch enough floating voters to put them in power.

Beveridge, however, has his family history in the direct male line from Scotland. Not far from that of Ms. May's Paterson's his are in and around Dunfermline and would you believe it with some in the mining industry at the same time as that of Ms. May's people.

There is a difference, however, in that while Ms. May is of more ordinary and suburban life in England, Lord Beveridge was one of the Sons Of The Scottish Raj.

He was born in Rangpur and his father, Henry, a judge who had taken advantage of all that Scottish education denied to those in England. Henry was an expert in the history of Jahangir, the great Mughal ruler of an Empire.

I have pointed out before the major influence that the Sons Of The Raj have had on Labour policy making, not least via the library of the LSE. Direction from an elite at the top, central planning, rule by bureaucratic multi-layered structures, endless and complex rule making and decision, you name it and there it is, often in the name of nationalisation.

The consequence is that few know what they are really doing and why, decisions, when made are hit and miss, usually the latter, the data selective and inadequate, the analysis based on presumptions that often are badly wrong and the administration if not lacking then prone to corruption and criminality.

But this kind of thing is found in the 21st Century not only in governmental bodies but has been translated to corporate finance in the "global" context. This is fueled by state spending and money creation that allows "markets" in the ownerships of sectors of the economy.

When a company structure crashes these days it is very often the product of greed and folly and fancy financial games. When what seems to be an ordinary business goes bust, how often do we find that it is simply the bottom layer with not one or two above but half a dozen or more, mostly engaged in swapping paper and created money?

What is more, via political directors, money movement etc. the Conservative Party is at the heart of this group of shakers and movers. In the Labour Party they are also to be found, although cheek by jowl with those of the antique Left who look to Beveridge as their prophet.

When is Empire Day this year?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Health Matters

As we know the National Health Service is one of the leading if not the leading item on the political agenda.

Most of us have a personal interest and if we haven't we will at some time. Yet all has not been well; with the NHS that is.

This article titled "Using Management Consultancy Brings Inefficiency To The NHS" from the LSE perhaps tells us things that we already know. It is short and to the point.

Or as a surgeon might say; cuts to the bone.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Restore The Tsars

A lady I knew in the past, called Aunty Katy had once done a spell as one of the governesses to the daughters of a Russian Grand Duke of the family of the Tsar's. She wasn't really an aunt, but a single cousin of grannie's and the Aunt a sort of courtesy, picked out by the nuns for higher things because of her gift for languages.

It was her view that the murder of the Tsar and family by the Bolsheviks could have been avoided had the British Government acted to rescue them in time.  It had been the fate of the Tsar that essentially he was the wrong man in the wrong job, something that too often happens with autocratic regimes with inheritance.

Historians may refer to Russia as an enigma wrapped in a riddle, but that simply means it is and has been a very complicated place. Between West and East, with faiths demanding loyalty albeit very different faiths and rulers who are supposed to be autocratic but all too often incompetent it is difficult to deal with.

One feature of the various forms of government it has endured has been the coming and going of factions warring with each other and dangerously carrying on their conflicts elsewhere in the world where they also seek allies. The British Communist Party in the first half of the 20th Century was notorious for the divisions between the supporters of the different elements in the Comintern.

A curse of British government has been the talent of the Foreign Office to pick the wrong side when dealing with other nations. Driven by a desire to be seen to have some kind of influence as well as seeking out the money elements for the various party backers in UK politics we get what they pay for.

Along with these people, nowadays big in money and property and media, come the usual suspects in their train. The fixers, the deliverers and inevitably the thugs and the criminals. When you allow them to operate in the drugs trade for our young ones, launder their money via political parties then nasty things can happen.

The nerve gas poisoning tells us just how bad these people are and the lengths they will go to either in pleasing their masters or playing their own games. Our government decides to react by challenging Russia with empty threats.

Probably, reading the internal situation in Russia wrong they hope for some concessions. They are not going to get them and all they will get is a souring of relations that may make it impossible to deal with the UK situation sensibly.

This will not happen because too many Russians in the UK are putting too much money into too many pockets among our politicians and the financial markets.

If only one or other British naval commander had decided to ignore the Foreign Office and government and rescue the Tsar and his family.

Then we could all be singing.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Slipping Down The Slope

When the Beast From The East was forecast and then the snow began to fall, it was clear that many people were in for a bad time and there would be a variety of scares. Dredging my long memory for spells of very bad weather in the past and the disruptions entailed it occurred to me that one consequence was on the cards.

The government are getting the blame and the criticism. I have said before that it was the severe conditions of 1947 that did for Attlee and Labour especially given the struggles of the post war world. the Labour vision of the future did not seem so good in the queues for basic rations.

Today, I read that Labour are moving ahead in the polls. True, there are other major issues that give the electorate pause for thought, even although it may not run much further than prices and the pound in their pockets. The trouble with being in government is that avoid it if you can, there are decisions to be made.

Decisions involve choices and choices mean options and several opinions, often in conflict. There are winners and losers. The losers do not like losing and the winners may not be as grateful as they might be. Especially on an icy morning where getting about may be compromised by little or no gritting due to reductions in council spending.

During a period in office governments will have a lot of decisions to make. In general they often avoid them as much as possible, or as in recent decades have signed up with an international body who will make them so the a government can plead, not me squire, it was the foreigners what done it.

The other ploy is to create a non elected organisation and pass over a chunk of the government to it. These are alleged to be independent and making decisions on the best possible evidence. Also, they are convenient places to park redundant politicians, civil servants on the make and financial and lobbying friends.

The government should do something about it.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Hitting The Bottle

Sometimes, the media has a story comes up which is out of the way and reminds us that our activities around the planet may not be quite the same as we are told.

This story in the web site titled "German message in a bottle takes 132 years to be found, smashing world record", is about a lady in Western Australia strolling along the beach, seeing an interesting bottle and discovering a piece of long lost history.

The picture above is the ship from which it was thrown in 1886 and the message inside gives its position in the Far East oceans at the time. The German Hydrographic Office asked ships to report their locations for its research on currents etc. Imagine the sea acting as the broadband of the past.

The part of Germany, Elsfleth, from where the ship came is on the upper Weser north of Bremen. Who were in the crew of the "Paula"? Is it possible to find their families, either in direct descent or related? If any were found in that region they would consider themselves to be German.

But the crew of 1886 might well have not seen themselves as "German" in the sense that we do, because before 1870 Elsfleth was in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg and separate from the other parts. This history of the Duchy is intricate and complicated with much coming and going of rulers.

The "Paula" was built in 1876, said to be at the Luring Shipyard in Hemmelwarden, possibly one of a number in the Bremen area just to the south. Bremen has long been a major shipbuilding centre. At the time of WW2 it was a centre for submarine building and before then warships as well vessels for commerce and passengers.

The creation of modern Germany in 1870 led to an immediate policy of the new Empire to take part in the colonisation of Africa and the Far East and a major role in their futures but initially by avoiding armed conflict with other European powers.

In 1884 it was a conference in Berlin which parcelled up territories between the European empire builders. In that year Germany took control of much of New Guinea and later gained footholds in China.

Soon after 1886 this began to change when Kaiser Wilhelm I died, his successor lived only days which brought Kaiser Wilhelm II to the throne, Little Willy himself.

He promptly dumped Prince Otto von Bismarck who had headed the government since 1861 and his careful foreign policy for a much more forward and aggressive one. Eventually, he did change the world, Germany turned out to be the loser.

There are libraries full of books about this. But I suggest following the money. This was a period when hordes of men ran round the world digging wherever they could. In a few cases they turned up precious metals and stones, the magic money trees of the times.

It was quite simple, the more you owned of the lands of the world, in theory the better your chances, think Cecil Rhodes. Geology was still in its infancy at the time. Another question was where was the money centre for all this? We had London, but the German's and the American's had other ideas.

Where was the "Paula" coming from and going to on this voyage? What was its cargo? Given its location it could be anything. We might have some surprises.

Meanwhile in the present we have a river flowing through the town. After the weekend it is full of bottles, but sadly no messages and for that matter no gold, you no longer get tuppence a bottle on return.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

What A Day

The media are telling me that it is International Women's Day.

I asked Wikipedia but it had a long thing which went on about politics and all that going back to 1909. The other stuff was not easy reading.

I think I will stick with what Grannie taught me, it was simple and to the point.

But we are supposed to celebrate. So how about a cup of tea?

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Get On Your Bike

Sir B. Wiggins, late of this parish, had become famed for riding his bicycle better than others. His achievements are to be respected as he has out ridden the best in the world to win races that are both physically highly demanding and require not only individual skills but the ability to one of a team.

Quite why sportsmen and women of this ilk are given one of HM honours is a puzzle. The UK honours system is recognised as one of the most corrupt and questionable in the world, just look at Parliament and the Houses of Commons and the Lords. Sports should have their own honours system, as do some states, with an equivalent ranking in society.

The reasons why Bradley, oops, Sir Wiggins, is now under the cosh are twofold. One is his medication caught between the upper and nether millstones of the rules, or rather the gear changes. It seems he is asthmatic, as are many, for which medication is needed. This under the rules is legitimate.

But as this is cycle racing where breath control etc. is critical, it means that he does not race in his natural condition, coughing and wheezing, but with his pipes cleared. A three week race, such as the Tour de France, or the shorter ones over fewer days demand that the rider needs a clear chest.

So he is damned if he does not take medication but according to some damned if he does. In the meantime in recent years we have been going to a lot of trouble to create the chance for the disabled to take part in sports, one way or another. There is no simple answer to this.

A sportsman's time for fame and fortune is usually a short one. You have to stack up the money, curb your expenses and make sure the right investments are made. For cyclists there are few major areas of media interest in the sport to give ongoing high pay and rewards.

So Sir Wiggins, not having a Ph.D in commodity trading etc. has to rely on others is making sure that his forty to fifty years of retirement can be in comfort and secure. Which brings the tax man knocking at the door, in the case of high paid sportsmen with a big stick.

What will he be advised to do? If they are doing the job they are paid for he will be told to set up a series of business arrangements based in places with low tax regimes.

Some may be islands you could ride a cycle round in a couple of hours or so in hot conditions. Another may have a lot of mountain passes that would make any cyclist wince and do in the cycling season.

The rights and wrongs of this, currently a major debate, lead to people suggesting that Sir Wiggins shrug his shoulders, cough up to the UK Treasury and fork out at the highest rates possible.

Think of the benefits that would give. It would pay the expenses of the members of the House of Lords, all those financiers, for up to several days.

Must go, time to call for a taxi.