Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Germans Come Clean

Our car is elderly now so when the MOT and insurances come round and we have the information its emissions have been on the high side compared to others, to our cost.  But it has a small engine and has not been driven hard or far.

So when I have looked at the figures for much bigger and powerful cars I have supposed that the reason for our higher figures is that the technology and design of cars has advanced so much that ours rather than being among the lowest is at the higher end.

What I did not realise was that the technological advance has been to the effect of disguising the true emission level.  So they, cars for the wealthier, have been paying less than my little runabout that does have good petrol use figures.

My reaction is that the so and so's should be hammered.  But they are not British cars they are German.  Which raises issues at the highest level.  This, sadly, means government, the EU and other things.

It is Lombard Street to a China Orange, to quote Chancellor George Osborne's favourite saying, that the Bullingdon Club of old, and maybe, more recently, during their jollies sang rude songs.  As well as doing the tiresome NSDAP impressions that became common in younger generations of students, but not mine for obvious reasons.

One of these is singing the impolite version of the German Anthem, "Deutscheland Uber Alles".  It is very simple to learn and sing, even for the Bullingdon.  When Ms. Merkel next visits Downing Street perhaps a crew of old Bullingdonians can be lined up to sing it, their sort of emissions.

There are only three words, repeated and repeated.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Rent Man Cometh

On our patch recently, I have realised that there are few sale boards outside the houses.  It is an area that has had a steady turnover of properties, as many as you might expect.  In the past a sign would go up, be there a little time with a period while the sale was agreed, the money put in place and then finalised.

Now any house for sale seems to be gone in days and possibly many are changing hands without the need for boards.  The reason has become clear.  There is a firm of local major property owners big in buy to rent who have become large enough to snap up anything cash down and in days.

This is great for anyone selling and that prices seem to be rising strongly makes existing owners happy, so not many people are grumbling.  The ones who lose out are the ordinary people at the margins and the many now finding it difficult to find a house of their own to buy freehold.

The other losers are locals who cannot afford to buy and have to rent.  The rentals have risen sharply and the property company is fussy about who it lets to.  It prefers migrants with jobs. They are willing to pay the higher levels and are a lot less trouble and if necessary are easier to get rid of.

An additional factor is the amount of office and other space vacated recently which now has planning permission to become flats and rental properties.  We are losing jobs but gaining more who need benefits to afford housing.

Like most people, I once assumed that the future was owner occupiers in property and the markets and politics would ensure this was the basic provision along with some social housing needed for particular groups of people.

The last thing I would have predicted is the resurrection of the landlord class and it becoming a major, indeed key, element of housing provision.  This is a gift for the Labour Party, the one time scourge of the landlords of old. Even the Tories had given up on them.

But now they are back and in force.  There are now many property companies and management services for whom buy to rent has been a gold mine.  Also, as in the deep past, many with modest wealth, rather than save in a low interest world, are going into buy to rent on a small scale.  The rise in prices seems to guarantee they cannot lose, although it can happen.

The world turns, we have a Tory party now increasingly beholden to the property owning and rentier classes and a Labour Party claiming now to tackle the problems arising from buy to rent and to target the landlords.

When I was young this did not end happily for anyone.  The picture above is one of Stanley Spencer's "Resurrection" works.

Here we go again.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Football Crazed

Bubbles come and bubbles go but none go on forever.  This basic law of finance and complex dealing etc. has universal application.  It may even apply to football, that is the soccer variety, which has engulfed the media world with all its ramifications.

In recent years its expansion and presence has been fuelled by TV money in huge amounts forced by the bidding of a select groups of providers with what seemed a captive audience.  Add to that the money piled into clubs by large scale "investors" out to join what has seemed to be an elite.

Apparently, there has been a reduction in bidders for English clubs available to buyers and from the look of many grounds it may be that apart from some big clubs attendances are on the way down.

It does not take much watching to realise that our football fans are not entirely the sort of diverse group that reflect the urban hinterlands that the clubs allegedly represent.

There is the football itself.  What happens on the pitch these days is so orchestrated and organised that it is almost predictable.  Not just that but defence is far better than it once was which is  creating a predictable that is boring game to watch.
Then, alas, there are the players, managers and owners.  To be perfectly prejudiced there are few of them I would care to invite to dinner or even to deliver the milk. Watching many of the players is often looking at charmless thugs only there for the loot.

As for the managers they seem to me to be people who have been put through the mill in the most severe kind of interrogation training.  This is not surprising when there is a rare vision of the owners, mostly men doing Godfather impressions.

Beyond this has been all the bad publicity reeking out of the major bodies supervising the sport.  Even if the accused are innocent, there is now the feeling that all is not well nor honest.  More risky, however is the increase in the number of competitions adding and competing for the fans and casual watchers.

The key marker to suggest that the bubble is about to burst is when leading politicians pay homage to the whole caper.  We have had this in our Chancellor George Osborne handing over £3million of our money to Chinese football to train 5000 coaches because of the intense interest in China in English Premiership games.

George only forgot to add, "Can you hear me Mr. Murdoch" when telling us, in that Sky TV has football as one of its major sales features.  There is a lot of Sky money in football, almost as much as in politics.  It is possible that after two decades plus of this the viewers are now at saturation point and the only way is down.

One way to make it more interesting is perhaps rule changes to open up the game more and increase chances and goals.  But by the time the football authorities get round to this it may well be too later.

We cannot go back to 1857, see Sheffield FC above, nor even the I960's.

Is there any golf on tonight, or failing that, netball?

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Singing For Their Supper

The Labour Party is in Conference this week, if only to entertain and inform us.  Quite what will happen or why are mysteries yet to unfold.  It is at Brighton.

One song that will not be sung I suspect is "Brighton Camp".  Those watching the Movies For Men film channels will be familiar with it from the John Wayne Cavalry films, "Fort Apache" and "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon".

It is one of the most played tunes in the British Army, features in the film "Waterloo" and a favourite in the US Army.  The words can be found online.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

It seems that Science has proved we are never alone, but always have our very own companions with us all the time.

The story is here to the effect that we each have a personal microbial cloud about us wherever we go and whatever we do.

Another view is taken of the same story by Science Daily which suggests that we are all our own pig pen.

Given that pigs are now at the centre of British political debate about how our politicians gained their insights into life, it is not good news.

It leaves rather a smell behind it.

I Think Therefore I Don't

We have all had drummed into us that we need to be rational and that our modern science and society and alleged enlightenment are the result of such thinking and the application of this mental design to most of our activities.

On the other hand there is now a case being put that being irrational can indeed be scientific thought but of a different order.  This article in Science Daily seeks to persuade us.

Perhaps I'll think about it.

Friday, 25 September 2015

It Was Green Squat And Noisy

The story of  the German VW motor firm and the emissions that never were according to their method of calculation had taken the headlines and allowed other nations to indulge in more than a little Schadenfreude.  Don't mention the War, cough cough.

Much has been made of VW 1930's NSDAP origins under the Fuhrer, whose name you know.  But there has been barely any mention of the man really responsible for VW as we know it today.  The Local Germany has rushed to tell us.

It was the fault of the British in the shape of Major Ivan Hirst of Oldham, Lancashire, who recreated a defunct VW company after 1945 in the cause of making cars and vehicles for the British Army which was short of them with a British motor industry working flat out on exports to pay for our food.

Perhaps it is David Cameron who should be apologising rather than Mother Superior Merkel.  After all, he is lot better at it than her, at least he has had much more experience in this field.

Knock Knock Who's There?

We are told that there is a migrant crisis in Europe.  How did that happen?  Whose fault is it?  Why did nobody warn us?

This longish article  from Standpoint by Douglas Warner is easy to read and to understand.  It is not so easy to try to work out what happens next.

From what we know of human history people have been on the move for many and various reasons throughout time.  Some have been relatively peaceful but some have not.

As humanity extended its reach across the world and increased in number then the movement would be more extensive and in a global form more complex.

The increase in human population in the last century has been greater than in the past so any movement was going to have to go somewhere.

Why is it impossible for our governments to understand the basics and to work out the potential implications?

Thursday, 24 September 2015


Years ago we found ourselves standing behind that George Osborne sitting at Covent Garden gazing at the spectacle of "Sleeping Beauty".  He, like us, was transfixed at the richness and impact of the staging.  We were grateful for the public subsidy which has helped to retain this kind of thing, but we did not ask George about it.

Now, seriously, I wonder if George was so affected by it all that he has gone into some sort of deep sleep himself where he is in a dream of permanent fantasy where style, effect and drama and all that reign supreme.  If so, we are all paying for it and the paying will never end, simply become bigger and bigger.

Agreeing with The Guardian is not a regular habit, often it is a rare event, but Simon Jenkins on "Squandermania" is something I liked and a great deal.  It is a word that says it all. Cameron is taking a lot of flak at present for being a "Prime Minister Lite", all fine words and fine spin but no substance and while he might get the picture he does not know how to paint it.

But is this a characteristic of too many in the Cabinet line-up.  A few ministers may be grafting in the way they should but they are not typical.  Most seem to be keen on the media work but not on the real.  How far does this apply to George?  Why, with a City of London said to be a centre of world finance does he go running to China whenever a big deal is on the table?

What Cameron and Osborne seem to share with their lightweight colleagues is a distaste for complex and difficult long term issues relating to many areas of policy and of finance and investment.  Because they are in big government they only relate to big projects and big money and cannot see beyond the spending.

Could someone give Osborne a kiss or perhaps better a kick in the pants and wake him up?  It is Cameron's job to do this but he can't.  He might be leaving it to Boris Johnson, in which case it will not be high culture so much as low farce.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty

The Bank of England blog, I think relatively recent, has put up some intriguing and informative items in recent months.  Often, lateral thinking along with data and comment throw new light on many aspects of our economy and its function.

This one about debt and mortgages will be close to the interests and heart of very many people. Its conclusion that Britain currently is not a good place to be young and hopeful of gaining wealth and housing in the way of past generations.

It points to the fact that this has policy implications and I suspect many of them will be very uncomfortable for the kind of people that our governments have been throwing money at when buying votes.

If it is among the young that the support for Left Labour and the SNP is growing the issue is not going to go away.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Bagpipes At Dawn

The shrieks of rage have been heard in the mountains and glens as well as the political ghetto of Edinburgh.  Nicola Sturgeon has been rending garments and wild eyed at the appalling insult to Scotland.

Kelvin Calder MacKenzie, an Englishman to the bone in his head mentioned the word "Jockistan" in public.

The event was on the BBC programme, "Daily Politics" and she has called for the BBC to grovel as only the BBC can. MacKenzie has form on failures of his brain to connect with his mouth and other parts on subjects which are sensitive.  One I can think of seems to me to be a lot worse.  But is it as simple as that?

This item on the web is from 19 March and the site is Bella Caledonia, a distinctly Scottish one with extensive coverage of many matters.  Notes From Jockistan is the title.

Later it appears again on 28 April, "Jockistan And The Boat People", this time referring to Kelvin.  So when and where did it originate.  Has it been one of those words used now and again and has been for a little time?  Kelvin is a journalist so may not have dreamed it up himself.

Lurking around the darker parts of memory is the idea that the word was used in the past to refer to a part of Scotland where the Socialist politics of that period were alleged to be corrupt and not nice in any way.

In fact just like some of the places to the East of Europe formerly of the Soviet Empire.  It would be utterly wrong to say where it might have been, only to hint that it was not far from Greenock, also began with "G" and has a much larger population.

But it was around in 2010, appearing in "Rear Party" a services web site and goes back to 2006 on the Army Rumour Service at least.  So there you go, blame the Army again.

Tonight is one for a restful evening, a wee dram of ancestral Islay perhaps and the DVD of "Brigadoon".

The Sins Of The Express

The post of yesterday 21st, "Sins Of The Fathers" has the link to the story in The Express about Jeremy Corbyn's ancestors.  It deals with James Sargeant, Workhouse Master at Farnham in Surrey in the mid 19th Century.

You are led to imagine that this was the result of skilled journalism researching the past and to take it on trust.  Having a few minutes to spare between tea breaks I had a look at the Workhouse in question.

This is very easy.  A first class historical website is Workhouses dot org. which is a treasure house of detailed research and information.

The Farnham page is here.  The Express story is a direct lift from this, which is not admitted and which does not need much in the way of added effort to round off.  But the text of the Workhouse site has more information which is omitted and is instructive.


Following the establishment in 1856 of the army camp at Aldershot, the number of syphilitic cases entering the workhouse increased ten-fold and part of the aged men's block used for their accommodation. In 1864, the aged men were moved to the front building of the workhouse, formerly used as a tailor's workshop.


Sixty odd years ago I was in those very barrack blocks built in the late 1850's, then Cavalry.  I still shiver in memory of the winter spent there.  But between those at the Workhouse in 1861 and those in 1871 there is a radical change both in numbers and the origins of the paupers.

James Sargeant, the 1861 Master and Corbyn's ancestor was a former cloth worker who with his wife and some low paid servants were left to cope with the expansion of numbers and far greater demands arising.  Once a rural backwater Farnham and Aldershot became a busy mixed community and garrison town.

Jeremy Corbyn is known to be anti-military.  It is ironic that two of the most disastrous military actions in our warrior and imperial history were in the 1850's, The Crimean War and The Indian Mutiny.

If the problems in the district arose in part from these events as well as all the new building it would have put severe stress on what were the unreformed local authorities at the time.

The past is a different place and it is useful to check the facts, something, alas, that the Express failed to do.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Snort Of The Day

"I'd love a slice of the Bullingdon rump.  Has it been properly cured?"

The Sins Of The Fathers

In the play "The Rivals", written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, is the line by David, Bob Acres servant, "Our ancestors are very good kind of folks; but they are the last people I would choose to have a visiting acquaintance with."

Most, if not all, of us will have persons in our ancestry who do not fit the way we identify ourselves and who we do not like to have there.  I confess to a choice and extensive collection.

That Jeremy Corbyn has one is simply par for the course.  One of his sixteen great great grandparents has been picked up by that journal of academic learning, The Sunday Express, to tell us what a rotter he was.  Given the period and the nature of society at the time he may have been more typical of much of it rather than a special case.

As it happens, I had already taken a look and in the limited amount I saw his ancestry is quite ordinary, although in the further past inevitably there will be some who are different.  Some will have picked the wrong side.  If during the Civil War he has both Royalist and Parliamentarians, quite possible, then it is certain.

Sometimes the pattern can be intriguing.  This blog has already noted that Mrs. Thatcher has an ancestry of the plebian classes and at odds in the way she is perceived and regarded by many of her critics.  Rather than being one of the elite she was a gate crasher extra ordinary in many ways, right or wrong.

In the same generation as Jeremy's above, one of mine, a seaman, was convicted at Greenock for violent assault.  Another did time in Carrickfergus Gaol.  Another was potboy at a illegal beer stall with his sister the barmaid and run by his father, a veteran of Corunna.

Welcome to the club Jeremy, but I think I will take a look at those workhouses and trawl the names.  You never know whose ancestor may have been in one of them at the time.

As for previous generations a fiver of quantitative easing says he could have had an ancestor serving in the Army, Navy or Militia during the Napoleonic Wars.  They lasted a long time during which a remarkable proportion of the male population were involved.

Very recently I have discovered one of mine, the sole high status family, a local businessman and Militia officer whose wife's family was close to Sheridan, was called out with his unit to deal with local strikers and political demonstrators.

Jeremy might be just as lucky.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Pick A Pocket Or Two

A few days ago Lynda Blackwell, head of mortgages etc. at the Financial Conduct Authority rose from the deep to suggest that older people in bigger properties should move out to smaller ones to make room for those who need them.

This was a little rich coming from that body given that not long ago our financial regulators botched investigations and prosecutions involving money men who had made billions in ripping off residents in retirement housing and who are still happily engaged in the trade.

In theory, markets should take care of this issue but our "market" in property has been subject to so much government and other action to rig it in many ways that it is not surprising that the housing we need is not what we get nor at sensible prices.  Moreover both major parties were firmly on the side of the money men.

Parallel to this the Bank of England chief economist, Andy Haldane, said in Northern Ireland, and this summary is taken from Tax Research blog of Richard Murphy,


Let’s summarise his thinking (as I see it).

First, we’re in for tough times. Second, there is no case for increasing interest rates now.  Third, conventional QE has run out of road.  Fourth, any alternative to conventional QE has to be monetary policy.

Fifth, this means potentially relaxing the inflation target to 4%.  Sixth, even this, to allow sufficient headroom for monetary policy, will require that we have negative interest rates.

And, seventh, that might require the abolition of cash in the economy so that people will be forced to hold money in banks and see its value deteriorate.


Well, I suppose this is what you might get at Threadneedle Street if you work in an unventilated room with the heat full on in high summer.  This is the most rational explanation I have.

Cash is a means of exchange necessary to many forms of economic activity.  If the state does not issue reliable cash or if it is in short supply people use other things to replace it.  You might take away the banknotes and coin but you cannot take away other things.

During the War my grandfather had a nice line in eggs, high in exchange value.  An uncle in a cold stores was able to get meat classified as bad but was better than in the local butcher's.  My father's engineering works had a good supply of cigarette lighters.  The lady down the road who welcomed all those Yanks bringing food was said to be able to make proper coffee, or so I was told.

Cigarettes were a real currency and I confess being a non-smoker I did very well out of my ration when in the British Army of the Rhine, it paid for my first year at University.  I could go on with examples from down the centuries.

It seems to have escaped Mr. Haldane that in the real world people do not hold much in banks in fact debt levels are very high.  Quite how you force people to hold accounts that fall in value by 4% or more annually is an interesting question.  Basically, they take the money out or take on debt to counter it.  This is why we have are having hyper-inflation in the property market.

He is suggesting that we try to run an economy in Keynesian terms when according to my vast document on Keynes savings are a critical element in the functioning of his view of the economy  What Haldane is saying is that government spending based on debt and central planning, will replace savings and real investment.

Perhaps the Bank of England is planning to replace the statue of Britannia in Bullion Court, above, with one of John Law, see Wikipedia under John Law (economist) and other links.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Setting An Example

This post is not for persons who are sensitive to bad medical news, especially relating to human conduct.  In the media there has been a co-incidence of reports that taken together may be a source of worry.

This is the basic one from The Independent and from The Mail this fuller and more gruesome  reporting that there have been a small number of cases of the STI gonorrhoea found in the north of England that are resistant to the antibiotic that is normally used to deal with it.

The question that arises from this is how many other cases there may be where infection is not realised, treatment not sought or cases not reported.  This is a loose estimate at best.

The other story going around the web is the one based on the old human contact theory that if you are in contact with, say, six people, in the course of a year as they are in contact with others, what might be the total figure of interactions.

The answer is that it might be very large, going into seven figures.  Again, this is a loose estimate but given the scale and nature of human movement these days a high figure is probable.  The question then is how high?

These days in The West there are now in the younger and to a degree in the older generations fewer people who are celibate or restrict themselves to either a single partner or within the bounds of the limits of formal partnership, e.g. within marriage, allowing  for those whose beliefs permit more than one.

I understand from reports about the social media and others that many are happy to declare their "bonk" count and the extent of it both in terms of partners and geography.  There are a range of these but the figures for possible interactions do become large.

Perhaps the members of the Houses of Lords and Commons might set an example of voluntary testing and publishing the figures, although sparing the details.  For the USA it could give a whole new meaning to the House of Congress.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Labour's Lost Great Leader

In the media excitement about the new leadership in the Labour Party, mindful of the fact that it has managed to get most things wrong this year when it came to the major issues, has been how long Jeremy Corbyn might last as leader and how much actual leading he will do.

We remember the names of those of the past that did last and who have forced their way into all the history books.  But there are others whose period at the top was all too short.  Some made major contributions to our politics but are now forgotten.

One such notable is John Robert Clynes, 1869-1949, born in Oldham, very much of the working classes, who is interesting in many ways.  This Wikipedia link is not too long but sets out the chief features.  In this period we recall Ramsay Macdonald, but Clynes was certainly a major figure, actually leading Labour to their major breakthrough in 1922 to then lose to Macdonald as Leader.

The biography has some reminders of our present debates, on austerity, economic policy and not least an interesting matter about a prominent refugee, who Clynes refused to admit when Home Secretary.

It is a familiar name and in this long and discursive, not so say woolly, item around half way down he complains about Clynes in forceful terms.  It is Leon Trotsky, on the leg from Soviet Russia and looking for somewhere to go.  In the end he went to Mexico where he was later assassinated.

If Ramsay Macdonald and others had been willing to admit him, what might have been the consequences if Trotsky had settled in London and become a leader of a revolutionary movement of the Left?  Another of one of the great "ifs" of history.  Trotsky was never one for the quiet life would have been all too active.

Eighty five years on the thoughts of Trotsky are still alive and part of what is now the Labour front bench politics, he is still with us in spirit.  But Clynes is forgotten and disregarded.  Another "what if" is if he had been re-elected as Labour Leader when Macdonald returned to the Commons and had managed to hold on to the job.

Had he won a Labour majority in 1924 Churchill might never have become Chancellor of the Exchequer and allowed to fiddle the bullion and currency valuations.  Clynes was Deputy Leader until 1932 until succeeded by Clement Attlee, often thought of as a "nowhere man" until 1945.

There are times when the past seems always to be with us.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Annie Get Your Gun

The picture above is that of the front page of the "Independent" for today, 15 September.

The combination of "Feminists Are Fighting The Wrong Enemies" along with "Britain Faces Gun Control Crisis" is intriguing.

Whatever could it imply?

There is only one answer from Betty Hutton.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Leaning To The Left

Given the interest at present in the apparent shift to the Left in the leadership and running of the Labour Party, I thought this retread of a post from Thursday 8 October 2009 has incidental interest.


There was a strange symmetry in the Daily Mail today in two stories concerning sons of that once great city, Liverpool.  One concerned a Mr. James Larkin Jones, better known as Jack Jones, boss of the TGWU the Transport and General Workers Union in its heyday of power, who has now been identified as being in the pay of the Soviet KGB, and a source of information and advice to it.

The other is a Mr. Curtis Aloysius Warren, who has been convicted in Jersey of alleged sundry crimes, and will spend some more time in prison.  Jack tried to corner the market in political influence over government, Curtis (aka “Cocky”) tried to corner the cannabis market in Jersey to take advantage of the relatively high prices there.  Both were and are men of their time, from whom we have much to learn.

It has always puzzled me why the KGB and the Soviets failed to realise that most of their informers did not actually need paying, and in fact a golden marketing opportunity was lost.  If like many Arts and similar organisations they had set up a “Friends” or “Patrons” membership, many of the furthest Left of Britain would have formed an orderly queue to join.

For example had there been a “Friends of the Lubyanka” there might have been Premium Friends, entitled to personal tours of the detention facilities, and invited to vodka binges with the chiefs, Senior Friends, given courses in interrogation techniques to sharpen up their committee skills, and basic Friends, who would get newsletters, the occasion cut price tickets for this and that, and priority bookings for open days.

As so many of the potential members are still alive, I will refrain from naming names, but you can have fun making your own guesses.

Jack Jones life was in parallel with my family in my father’s generation, and it was their view, all fellow Scousers, many in ordinary jobs, including dock work, that so far as the working class and the docks were concerned he was a disaster.  During a period of major and rapid change in the 1960’s and later, with the containerisation of shipping, developments in communications, and the rapid rise of competition in Europe and beyond, he led his union in entirely the wrong direction.

In association with Hugh Scanlon of the AEW, Amalgamated Engineering Union, who also resolutely impeded progress and investment in much of the engineering industry.

Their Soviet inspired ideas of mega planning of state controlled large industrial units, contributed much to the distortions and obstacles to development of most of the industry and commerce which had the potential for the future.

It was they as much as anyone who ensured that a large proportion of the investment money in the private sector that was available went into financial and property speculation.  Whilst Jones and Scanlon, with others held the reins over government and private investment in industry and transport, there was no point in investing in the British “Mittelstand”.

Hugh Scanlon later accepted a peerage.  Jack Jones on the other hand refused both a knighthood and a peerage, but I wonder if he ever ranked as a Colonel in the KGB?

Mr Warren, on the other hand, is an entrepreneur of the modern age.  He has been engaged in globalised trade, has been active in offshore locations, and no doubt has invested his profits in a way that has legitimately minimised tax and other liabilities with the help of advisers.  The difficulty is that his trading has been in products that are illegal in some places, but not in others.

In the mid 19th Century some of Britain’s great commercial personages did exactly that, and ended up with peerages, great estates, and often titles.  Mr. Warren seems to have erred over the detail.  Perhaps he should have thought of political contributions.

His application of force has differed little from some of those magnates of the past, and indeed some of Mr. Jone’s or Mr. Scanlon’s more fervent followers, who were not shy of physical threats and action, indeed for some it was almost routine.

In essence Mr. Jones and Mr. Warren are both Scousers of their time, on the make one way or another, and to hell with the critics.  After all it takes one to know one.

Now who else is a Scouser fascinated with money and power?


Purely out of academic interest, of course.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

A Little Hungarian History

One of the deep ironies of the present migrant crisis is that Hungary is at the centre of the issues of debate as it attempts to deal with the problems it faces.  It is near fifty nine years ago that the Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest and Hungary to deal with the Uprising.

Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians, mostly young men active in the Rising fled and crossed the borders before they were closed.  The major outflow was into Austria where they had an unhappy winter in tented fields with basic food rations.  Austria had barely recovered then from the War.

In Britain, around 20,000, perhaps a few more, arrived.  The story is that they were welcomed and the British as a whole regarded them as refugees needing help. My memory is not quite like that.  It might have been the great majority view but there were others.

One was the Communist Party, which wanted the Hungarians repatriated to be dealt with by the Soviets.  Also there were the UK Fascists, perhaps a comedy turn in many ways, but still an embarrassing nuisance, also favouring repatriation.  Both had their premises trashed by LSE students.

There was Prime Minister Eden and the UK government, mired in the Suez Crisis, in deep trouble with rumblings from Moscow while seriously out of favour in Washington, frantically looking for ways out.  One to shut the Soviets up was to repatriate the Hungarians. LSE was tipped off.

So the group that triggered the Suez riots that caused chaos in Westminster and had gone for the Commies and the Nazi's had Conservative Central Office in their sights.

The Metropolitan Police were said to have told the Home Secretary they were vulnerable.  Many of the LSE group were ex-service some of whom had seen action.

The risk that Conservative Central Office might have to be defended by the Brigade of Guards was too much, so the Hungarians stayed.  At the time and since it has been minor history and forgotten.

Fifty-nine years is a long time and a great deal has changed.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Book Of Jeremiah

It appears that against all odds Mr. Jeremy Corbyn has won the vote and is to be Leader of the Labour Party, along with Tom Watson as his Deputy.  This could be very interesting.

This clip from "My Fair Lady" maybe the best way to mark the event.  Now all he needs is "a little bit of luck" (see Youtube again for this from the show) to see him on his way.

My last remaining nine bob note is for him to win in 2020.

Driving To Distraction

There was a time when quite often we would visit one or other public houses either in our home area or where we were visiting in the UK.  Nipping out to the 'pub was a norm and one way of missing TV or domestic duties.

This Science Daily article is about driving and distraction to the effect that having had alcohol increases the effect of other distractions when at the wheel of a car and so the risks.  This seems to confirm views I have held for a little time now.

We did not drink a great deal, if only for financial reasons, and our level was considered modest at the time.  But with the coming of breath tests and the crack down on drink and driving, even our levels might approach or go over limits.

What worried me was that if caught and convicted what the hit would be on insurance costs and worse if a license suspension occurred the difficulties arising because a car was required for work as a condition of service.  Either walking or taking taxi's was not the same.

In any case pub's were changing.  They needed people to eat meals etc. to survive and the casual passing pint or two customers were less welcome, especially on a busy evening when tables were needed.  Later there were families and children uncontrolled.

One of the major worries about driving when having had a drink or two was other drivers.  In the event of a prang because of another driver, they might well claim to be innocent with the hassle etc. involved.  Having had only a pint might be enough to lose the case.

But cars now are not the same as the cars I have driven of old.  When using a courtesy car from time to time I find it a strange business as ours is now elderly and even then was a very basic model without the latest gizmo's.

It like being cocooned in a sound proof shell but with an interior equipped with many and various fiddly things for this and that, not all necessary.  Moreover even the basic cars now have performance standards and capability of those of earlier decades.

Given a cultural change of many more high risk drivers, lane hopping, weaving about, bumper sticking as well as doing other things with personal gizmos let alone all the car's facilities it is no surprise that shunts and bumps are on the increase and the pileups are now a daily feature of our local motorways.

As well as the alcohol there are other substances now more common and more powerful that affect the reflexes and thinking processes.  So it will not take much alcohol to have perhaps only a marginal effect.

But with the crowded roads and many more drivers pushing their skills and cars to the margins of performance it can only get worse.

Friday, 11 September 2015

To Take Pills First Find Them

David, Lord Owen, a Labour leader that never was after he went Social Democrat long ago, has issued a warning about the EU and the effects that TTIP and other policies may have on our National Health Service.  That is it will no longer be National, be concerned primarily with health or a "service" in the terms we understand it.

A full but readable article is here on the Open Democracy web site to see what he is saying.  It does not make for happy reading for all those of us with the aches and pains and other problems of age and infirmity.  It is bad enough at present.  Local hospitals are no longer local.  National has become international and bad luck the locals.

More to the point funding is no longer funding, it is churning the financial markets to secure returns on investment for corporations endowed with unhealthy titles as Private Equity, Limited Liability Partnerships, Trust Funds you cannot trust and the whole array of financial manipulation in a difficult to understand world.

This is going to become the rule if the EU has its way.  If you want to know how good or bad it gets just look at our rail services and try to find or buy the cheapest ticket.

If we are getting rough rides on the railways it could be a whole lot worse riding the hospital trolleys of the future.