Thursday, 31 March 2016

Land And Deliver

There has been coverage in the press about the way the government sneaked out the information that the Land Registry could be up for privatisation.  This is an office of state that fulfills an essential function both as a basic source for government and a vital part of our legal system.

Also, it charges for its services and said to make a profit, perhaps not much of a one, but it is not in the same cost category of other types of government record or activity.  But the margins of profit or loss are not the major consideration in this.  It is a key service and has been for a very long time.

There are one or two questions.  If it is made private then who eventually will own it, a few financial operations later?  If the recent past is any guide it could be, probably will be, in foreign hands for whatever purposes they might choose.  If they could not make it work they might close it down.

The information in this service is critical to the property market.  This currently is one of the key parts of the UK economy.  If there was a major foul up or disruption to the Registry or problems and it was beyond the government to deal with it, what then?  Not least is the scope it could give for corrupt or criminal activity.

Has anyone in Westminster ever hear of something called "unintended consequences".  If you are looking at anything then the Land Registry must rank as one of the most vulnerable to misuse and outright perversion of function.

If this can be done, why not other features of government?  HMRC might well get a good price from a Chinese consortium.  The Foreign Office might gain some valuable insights after being taken over by Russian oligarch's, never mind free tickets to Chelsea games.  Gulf State rulers would like to run the Department of Transport.

This is not a question, as Macmillan once put it, of selling the family silver.  It is selling the key to the safe at a scrap price.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Honour Where It Is Due

Another anniversary, another plea for a statue to go up in memory of a figure of the past central to the politics and policies of his time.  In November it will be 25 years since Cap'n Bob, that is Robert Maxwell, full name Ian Robert Maxwell, a Scottish name in place of his original Czechoslovakian one, died after falling from his yacht.

Perhaps his memorial should be outside the Treasury building looking towards Parliament.  He did six years there as a Labour M.P. for Buckingham in the late 1960's but on losing the seat in 1970 failed to gain nomination for a safe seat.  In those days of Trade Union power and large Labour local memberships the sons of toil looked askance at high rolling financial men.

Nowadays the serious end of the media and internet discussion on economics and finance goes deep into complicated analysis of the various schools of thought and how far this one or that one are critical to the thinking of those who make, shape or nudge policy.

After trying to get my head round this I have come to the conclusion which others may agree with that all those very busy people in politics and in government do not have the time, or maybe even the interest to study it.  So we have to look back at what or who may have been crucial to their thinking.

Looking at the Osborne or Osbrown or Brownian budgets etc. of recent years, instead of all the high theories that are suggested as the basis, I have concluded that the central influence on policy has been the ideas and actions of Robert Maxwell.

When Major, Blair and Brown and then Darling entered Parliament, not forgetting Jeremy Corbyn, the Main Man of the Media and the big dealer and operator was Maxwell.

They were not the only ones, a great many new M.P's of that period could not avoid knowing about him and the scale and power of his financial operations.

Often they would try to gain his favour and good opinion in the pursuit of their own careers.  Peter Mandelson's paean of praise to the filthy rich might have been a testament to the Maxwellian Theory and Practice of looting the public.  The Wikipedia page gives the complex history of his forty years of high powered business and financial activity.

In 1971, the Department of Trade and Industry had an enquiry which reported " We regret having to conclude that, notwithstanding Mr Maxwell's acknowledged abilities and energy, he is not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company."

In some ways he was only just beginning.  There were complicated structures of interwoven companies with money being moved and accounts not telling full stories.  There was tax avoidance for certain and very likely a good deal of evasion.

There was secrecy, complicate dealing difficult to explain and all the rest.  But the media and too many politicians loved him, if only for the cash he handed out.

He did after all achieve the pinnacle of society.  He bought a football club, Oxford United, and took it into the top division of the English League.  It did not last long, the money needed to keep it there did not happen.  It then had money problems.  By then he had moved to Derby County, they went bust.

He was big on borrowing and spending, claiming to be good for British business.  He did not tolerate criticism, his manic pursuit of "Private Eye" did have some success.  But how far that was due to teams of expensive lawyers and sympathetic judges is a question.

There was one great project after another, too many either never completed or if achieved at costs vastly greater than estimated or accounted for, all in the name of growing the business.

He knew how to play and pay the media, they were remarkably tolerant and supportive.  He stripped out pension schemes, he stripped out reserves, he borrowed high and lent low, he quickly moved from one thing to another leaving others to clear up the mess.

As I look at the course of the economic and financial control of
government in recent decades more and more they resemble the Maxwell years of business and action.

There is activity for the sake of activity with the bodging and deceits of the figures.  There is one tale after another which never stacks up.  There is financial disaster time and again in the handling and management of so many activities.

He deserves his place at the centre of affairs.  Subscriptions, cash please, for a special account in somewhere I can't reveal and I regret that receipts will not be available.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Blow The Wind Southerly

As we hunker down for Storm Katie there is a puzzle how the mind might be occupied.

Contemplating this future and what could be the results of such a leap might be one thing.

On the other hand watching the DVD, given that the fizz is chilling in the fridge, might be better.  We have glasses like that.

Yes, we did see that one and with that cast.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

O Ye Of Little Faith

The top picture above is of teachers, allegedly, demonstrating about education policy etc. 

They are an untidy bunch and one placard suggests a naughty word, you at the back there, giggle with the rest.

The building behind them is Westminster Cathedral, the Roman Catholic chief place of devotion in England. 

One Catholic prelate who is buried there is Cardinal William Godfrey, 1889-1963, see Wikipedia, a man of great learning and wisdom.

One of the other two pictures is of William as a schoolboy in the Senior Class at the Elementary School in Liverpool he attended before going on to the seminary. 

He is on the second row up and third from the right, the tallest of the boys on that row.  His class teacher, who taught him basic Latin, is the one standing, the Headmaster is seated.

The other is the census return of 1901 for William, clearly of humble origins.

What I wonder does this say about the teachers of that period?

Friday, 25 March 2016

The MBA Will See You Now

From time to time this blog has suggested that the present fashion for management education based on financial imperatives has led to distortions that are damaging, can lead to short term thinking only and in fact mean that capitalism today is not about capital, or real investment or delivery of goods and services, but financial churning.

This piece about Big Pharma in "Naked Capitalism" gives a leading example of what can happen.  Given the context of this activity, the provision of medication for the sick via health services based either on public funding or varied means of private funding, often insurance, it could be dangerous in real ways.

Companies need profit and a surplus for real investment, reserves and to counter cyclical movements in the markets generally.  But extraction of monies at this level runs counter to what should be the real purpose of the production of drugs and medications.

What we see here are the complex company structures, emphasis on accounting above activity and sleights of hand that are now all too common across many sectors of the economy.  All too often the result of extractive rent seeking of this kind leads to failures in provision and a collapse of services or production.

It is possible that health services are particularly vulnerable to this kind of financial operation.  Is this what doctors are for?

Thursday, 24 March 2016

A Little Learning

As the demon of Austerity stalks the land wherever he or she does their worst, if not then at least some light trimming, those who might or will be affected are moved to plead their cases.

Almost invariably they will claim that that the money they want to sustain or expand their activity will be good for economic growth, honest, look at the figures.

This bleeding heart is at the LSE where it is claimed that increasing the number of universities will do the trick.  It begs the obvious question that if the money was deployed elsewhere whether the growth increase might be greater or more sustained or benefit more people.

There is the other obvious point is if you corral more bodies into a sphere of activity that requires major outlays, public or private or both, high levels of staff ratio's and extensive buildings, takes people out of the job market or unemployment it is bound to have some financial and economic effect.

Whether this might be useful or not is another matter.  How far it can be called "investment" is another, for many it might well be a form of consumption if what they do is unrelated to what the broader economy requires.

When spending money on teachers is a question the Welsh are often to be found leading the way.  The nub of this is the proposed four years for the first degree and two years of teacher training.  That is six years in all.  Add on the gap year and it means that you only start real work at 25 or so.  There is a question here that if the time were more fully spent on study and concentrated is this needed?

Fifty years and more ago those in teacher training colleges and some specialised institutions might do only two or three years.  But they were intensive and with disciplines alien to modern students.  At their best they were of high standards and the teachers emerging were capable of doing the job with larger classes and fewer facilities.

Graduates had a year's course and some did not take them. The picture above is of the teachers who taught David Attenborough and Richard.  Almost all had just a first degree, most honours  They seemed to manage very well on just that in a demanding job where their pupils were expected to reach the highest standards.

As for other means of training and educating, those will military experience with its added disciplines and demands will recall just how much could be done in short periods to require people to meet high standards of performance in spheres that were demanding.

There is also the matter that in the digital world with all the new technology at our disposal why should it take almost twice as long to prepare adults to function in a classroom?  Is this more a comment on the way our society is now and the limited experience of life that most of our youngsters have?

The answer may not be to allow longer and longer for someone to become a teacher in forms of education that now spend less and less time on the central learning needed.

It may be that shorter, more demanding, intensive and practical work but with longer hours of study and greater disciplines might be better and cheaper.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016


There is little more that can be said.

This is in memory of those lost.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A Note Of Music

The BBC did an hour on Friday 18th March, repeated on Sunday 20th, on "John Williams at the BBC", the master guitarist, with clips from some of his performances on screen.  It is on I Player.

One not included was at the Last Night of the Proms in 2005, playing the Rodrigo, "Concierto de Aranjuez".  A pity, it was very good.

This video of the performance is on Youtube at 22 minutes if it would be a treat.  We were on the front row with a full view of the guitar by the camera as in the picture above.


Monday, 21 March 2016

What's In Store?

Throughout my life one of the fixed, immutable, features was the Woolworths in town.  It provided my socks, other items and helped to rot my teeth by the sweets on offer.

One large city centre one had a cafeteria of choice with well cooked, serve yourself meals I could afford.  It was there, the always shop for many things.

A few years ago it was all gone.  The story is a complicated financial one that is related to the many other changes in retailing, money and other things.  There are many other features of the past that are gone, but for some reason, Woollies going was a surprise.

This is the story in broad terms.  What it did tell me that nothing is forever, or sacred or what else you might call it.  But although this will seem strange I have this image as the EU as the Woollies of the international polity.  Once desired and admired, then thought to be the future, it started to stutter and crumble.

Its markets no longer began to function or compete properly, the financing began to fail and the accounts no longer added up.  People found more and more to complain about and the management went from short term stop gaps to shorter ones.  Then we no longer wanted it or needed it.

Are any of our major gambling firms taking bets yet on the year of the EU collapse?  Or don't they want to run a book on a certainty?

Friday, 18 March 2016

Clicking The Future App

Invitations are received for occasions I might once have attended.  But time and the net mean that a good many subjects of interest can be followed online instead of trailing up to London at some cost to find out something that now takes fewer hours or might take only minutes.

This means that the patterns of life, including spending, organisation, contact methods and systems etc. have changed, some aspects quite radically.  Had I not been willing to do this, the word "disruption" might be applied to what has happened.

Think of this on a much bigger scale and applied to many economic activities then if this is general the implications can be imagined, if not predicted or understood.  This invitation, therefore, was interesting:


In the last decade, London has become a digital powerhouse. Just five years after the launch of Tech City the UK's digital economy already makes over 10% of the country's GDP, employing over 1.5M people and growing 30% faster than the rest of the economy.

Digital companies are thriving across specialisms, displacing incumbents, disrupting industries and reshaping markets.

Steering this transformation, UK digital leaders have harnessed the power of technology to meet ever-raising customer expectations.

The LSE Banking and Finance and LSE Entrepreneurs Alumni Groups bring together four industry leaders from the UK digital economy to explore the path from City employee to global disruptor.

Join founders Zia Yusuf (Velocity), Nikolay Storonsky (Revolut) and Jules Coleman ( as they revisit their experiences, struggles and achievements in a conversation chaired by Philip Salter (Director, The Entrepreneurs Network).

This event is kindly sponsored by Prodigy Finance.


It is my opinion that over the decades when I have been sentient, up to a point, the speed and extent of change has increased.  How far it might or might not continue to increase at this rate is difficult to work out.

This popular song from 1955 on Youtube not only is an interesting example of how things can change, but if you replace the word "Pretender" by the word "Disrupter" it might be a good comment on the present day.

The worrying issue is how many or how few people in charge of our affairs and major economic activities fully understand what has happened and what is going to happen?

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Pass The Shovel

Today is St. Patrick's Day which usually means some comment.  It is all out there if you are interested.  Around fifty odd years ago The Dubliners issued a long playing vinyl record with a good selection of songs.

This is one I particularly enjoyed about Paddy on the railway.  A reason for this is that one of four great grandfathers was Irish and a working man.

It is only very recently from digitised archive records that I found that he was in the boiler room when the Inman Line "City of Berlin", see above, took the Blue Riband of the Atlantic.

He was not the only great grandfather in the boiler room of ships, because my Scottish one, a Greenock man from The Clyde, was at work parallel to the Irish one.

It might explain a lot.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Is Everybody Happy?

There was once a time when the annual Budget presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a solemn national occasion ranking with either a royal birth or funeral depending on the contents.  As most of the births turned out to be bastards on inspection after a time the response was more of derision than dutiful attention.

In the second decade of the 21st Century it has become more of a political pantomime, now you see it, now you don't, is everybody happy, those who say no kindly leave the theatre.  The raising of the antique box provokes the same reaction as when Widow Twankey lifts her skirts to expose her baggy bloomers.

As some in the media point out, the inflation in the number of statements, added budgets, variations akin to budget switches and the rest betray the influence of the modern world.  Between globalisation, the EU, a number of other forces at work on the economy etc. the nation's finances are in a state of constant flux and change.

Also, there are all the technical factors in the shape of the way accounts are handled, analysed and presented in a digital world.  We may well be at the point when as with many wage earners, each monthly situation needs attention.  In some cases it is almost each weekly situation.

Given uncertainty, all the variables, all the changing flows and the way markets now operate, the Annual Budget has become only a ceremonial occasion which provides the chance of major media coverage to allow the Chancellor to put a spin on the way the latest figures appear to be going, that is if our government computers are really up to it.

Sir Stafford Cripps, see Wikipedia, pictured above is one of the many might have been men who did not become Prime Minister.  It was health problems that led to his early death but his spell as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late 1940's led to him becoming disliked and distrusted.

This happens with Chancellors, but now and in the future not just the decisions they have to make will be unpopular with voters, but the charade they are stuck with in explaining the public finances of a much changed world to a much changed electorate is a liability to all of us.

Monday, 14 March 2016

By The Left, Quick March

One of those odd coming together of items in the news.  There was the parade of the Gurkhas in Aldershot, being given the Freedom of the District of Rushmoor.  The other was the attempt to slag off Dan Jarvis, Labour MP for Barnsley, a former military man and contender for leadership of the Labour Party.

Barnsley is famous for many things, lesser known ones being that the Light Dragoons and The Yorkshire Regiment both have The Freedom of the Borough, inherited from the former 13/18 Hussars and The York and Lancaster Regiment.

The latter was one of the two regiments in 1968 that disbanded rather than being merged with another.  The other, for whom honour mattered more than civil service practicalities was, of course, The Cameronians.

In the first World War Barnsley had two Pals Battalions, 1st and 2nd,  the 13th and 14th York and Lancaster's who were as good as any.  They were at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and in the same sector as grandad.

This day in 1916 from a war diary spells it out in detail.  The Labour Party in Parliament these days has very few with military experience and arguably even fewer from the old working class.  The Party of Major Attlee, a brave and gallant soldier, and many others are ghosts of the past from whom their successors shrink.

It is 200 years this year since the Gurkha's first swore loyalty to the King of England in the shape of King George III, then sadly in the grip of dementia and via the offices of the Honourable East India Company.

This was after a military expedition had gone into Nepal in 1815 to stop the raiding of the tribes and to extend British authority.  The Quartermaster to the force was Edward Cairncross Sneyd whose younger sister, Harriet, who married well, turns up often in Burke's Peerage.

Today The Gurkhas are an important part of our defence capability, and the leaders of any part ought to recognise this and of the many implications.  While there is an outside chance that Cameron may be dimly aware, albeit being very confused about Cameronians, but the present high command of the Labour Party will know and care little.

Perhaps Dan Jarvis can spell it out to them.  If a parade ground could be made available for the occasion it might give them a taste for the military.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Adblocking, Bleating And Bias

A few months ago, becoming fed up with having to negotiate a dozen or more pop up advert's and video's in trying to read routine web sites and becoming puzzled about why some of them reflected other interests, even for disused railway stations, I took advice.

A kindly software engineer who has been in the business for over a couple of decades, was involved in designing the first pop up things and who owed me a favour was happy to explain and advise.  He too was unhappy at the extent and use of this feature.  The original idea was for helpful and useful content but that's the way it goes.

He suggested that I should install ad' blocking software onto the machine and to be very careful of what you might allow.  This was because they were not just about peddling a product they were up to other things.  They were profiling, recording and storing information for all sorts of commercial and perhaps other uses.  It might even explain some junk in the post box never mind the emails.

John Whittingdale, now Culture and Media Secretary in our government, has popped up in the media to tell all, that I, that is a user of adblocking, am a threat to the viability of the media as we know it, I am worse than the music and other pirates of recent times, I am a thief in the night and I am depriving our worthy advert's industry of its bread, butter and jam.

Whitter's is one of the corporate lobbyists main stuffed dummies in the Cabinet.  You may think this view is biased and unkind, but if he can be unkind and insulting, then so can I, and I have been at it a lot longer than he has.  Bluntly he is wrong and only interested in doing favours for his financial friends.

A careful and informed case for the use of ad' blocking is made in this article in Open Democracy, if you read it then you may be scared out of your wits.  If so, and the writer does know what he is talking about, then you may consider your options.

The first might be to get the ad' block on as soon as possible.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Harold Wilson At 100

Today, 11th March is the centenary of the birth of Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister in the 60's and 70's.  Wikipedia has a full article about him.  A bright Grammar School boy who went to Oxford and did well, becoming an academic close to major figures, then moving into Civil Service and then embracing politics.  After History and PPE he later took to statistics and these became almost, if not all, his credo.

This brief clear article from The Guardian puts the case for what he did do that many today regard as for the good and seeks to claim for him the status of a PM who did quite well and who may be wrongly written off as one of the losers of history.  To revert to figures, albeit not statistics, if a PM is involved in 250 major decisions, not all will be anathema to history and similarly he will not get them all right.

It is not just a numbers game.  It is the big decisions and those which will create major turning points of history that matter, rather than the shoal of many minor decisions and issues.  Then there is the degree to which he is involved and who was chiefly or critically the person or persons that mattered.

As it happens although I was only at the same time and place as Wilson barely a handful of times and did not know him, I did once work with a man who was his election agent for a few years and had a high regard for him personally.  So criticism does not arise out of personal dislike but of what he did or did not do.

The question of his "failing" as a PM another matter.  But in the period 1951 to 1979 it is arguable that all of them were failures.  Some were better able to shift the blame and get away with the deceits, some were not.  It is curious that those who were more decent as people  are often labelled the greatest failures.

In this period what was in the mindset of many of our leaders etc. was the experience of World War 2 and Wilson was at the heart of government.  We liked to think that we had won the war by virtue of joint national effort centrally directed, planned and organised.  If we could invade Europe and beat the Germans by these means, surely dealing with the economy and finance etc. was easy in comparison and only to be expected to achieve the goals.

Looking over the Wikipedia page however, two things are striking.  One is the scale, the complexity and the sheer weight of work in the critical problems across the whole field of government.  The other is that the Labour Party believed that Westminster could deal with it, control it, organise and run it.  The planning that was supposed to be "indicative" too often was meddling and intrusive.

We were said to have a "two party system" as though each party was coherent in its ideas and essential policies.  The reality was that each was a coalition of groups that were often seriously opposed.  Wilson, certainly spent as much, if not more time, fighting his internal battles than fighting the Conservatives.  The liability that Wilson had was that the Trade Unions were too often his enemies.  The Conservatives may have had that problem but that was part of their attraction for many voters.

In the Labour Party it is the convention that the Left elements of the day were of importance and so they were, but my view is the element that is forgotten and was at the centre of much of Labour government ought to be remembered for their damaging effect.  The Conservatives may have been the party of Empire, but Labour's elite and intellectuals had many of The Children of The Raj who believed in the rule of the wise elite of their time.

We were in Scarborough in 1967 and when the Labour Party held its conference there that year I went into some meetings.  One was a talk given by Lord Gardiner, Lord Chancellor, about the legal nature of constitutional issues.  During questions he was asked one about the North of Ireland and inadvertently blew the gaff on the lack of policy.  The rest of the conference I saw as people who lacked faith determined to convince the party faithful.

This brief Pathe clip sums up the overall media attention to the bean feast.  In the broadsheets there was a little more analysis and thought, but in general little about what we now know to be the things that mattered.  We were all being told what and how to think and how the way on offer was the only way.  Yet across the board and especially in the economy the changes in the world were radical and extensive.

What Wilson failed to do was what others failed to do and that was to realise and recognise how much the world had changed and how Britain had declined in relative status and what the realities were.  Whether they knew this but had to lie and pretend otherwise, I am not sure.  But in failing to understand they took on too much and created an economy and polity that was never going to be the real future.

Because in a sense they were trying to live in a past that had gone and had never really existed and trying to reward those of the past by taking from those who might have provided a better future.  Wilson may have been good with the figures, the pity is he did not realise that the figures were neither accurate nor reliable for future policy.

He was not a success but was not alone in that period.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Strike Up The Band

With the agreements and involvement with Turkey, quite simply it means that now the European Union is no longer European, it is something else.  The move to the East into what were parts of the Soviet and earlier Tsarist Empires pushed out the margins.  Taking on Turkey is going beyond.

Have any of those involved in Europe and the UK ever read or studied anything in history about the Ottoman Empire of old, it's reach, it's purpose, it's ambitions and it's endless greed for power and authority over other people?  This Empire was taken apart in 1919 and new entities created that are now failing in turn.

For a time Turkey was the part that was left after it's disintegration.  A century further on it is getting back into business and it means it.  Also, it does not operate in the same way that other states in Europe like to think is right.  Beyond Turkey it raises questions about the states of the North African littoral and Egypt as well as others in the Middle East.

The result is that we are facing a new Union, of a different kind, where it is likely that this new member, big and centralised, will have more authority than any other recent arrivals and most long standing members.  The ambition of Brussels to build a bigger Empire to overcome the problems of the existing one may mean that they have found a new master.

With Turkey now given entry to Europe this will be a powerful incentive for any in the areas connected to the Ottoman's in the past to renew their links now to Ankara in order to take advantage of this "back door", which may become the open gateway.  It may take time and it will not be easy but it is possible.  My guess is that for the Turks they see it as probable.

Perhaps the leaders in the present EU have addled notions that bringing in Turkey will help us exert some sort of control over those from North Africa, the Middle East etc. who are already here and establishing major communities.  It is not likely, it does not work that way and never has.

When Brussels takes over the UK Armed Forces, which may well be part of a Government future big deal for a mess of Euro pottage we will need to find bands for our ceremonial occasions, such as Trooping The Colour etc.

I am sure the Turks will be happy to oblige.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Capitalism In Warp Drive

While we are arguing about what Socialism is and ought to be about it is often forgotten that it is intended to address Capitalism and all its many, alleged, evils.  Therefore in order to know Socialism we have to know Capitalism.

But what is it? At this stage we come back to Star Trek, that basic guide to philosophy etc. that has informed most of us.  The answer is perhaps "It is life Jim, but not as we know it."  Except that the line was never used.

A useful quide to this is in the link which suggests several lines that related to this question and the answers are not all quite the same.  On the one hand it depends what you are looking at and on the other it depends what you think, repeat think, you see.

Given that so much of what we think of as capital today is in fact pieces or paper or digital figures mostly created and representing only themselves we could be in for some surprises.  One is that the globalisation dependent on capitalism and on which capitalism is said to depend may not be working as we think.

Globalisation may have its limits according to this article in This  Finite World and there is a case that it might have a peak and that is now about to be reached.  From here it is all downhill however much increased population and the peoples of the world might demand from their governors.

If history is any guide long major down turns do not go equally for all and are more rapid in some places and less so than others.  This is the cue for and cause of many troubles, conflicts and wars.  Prolonged declines make matters worse.  If our media and leaders do not understand this or do not want to this does not help.

Beam me down Scotty.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

President Juncker Go Home

We are told that President Jean-Claude Juncker, currently top shape shifter, of the European Commission, instructs those in favour of Leave in the Referendum on Europe, should visit war graves because it would change our minds.

The inference is that any Leave voter is ignorant of the sweep of European history, I suspect that this is far from being the case.  My own may not be entirely typical but there are certainly many, very many, in favour of Leave who are better informed than he thinks and perhaps than he is.

The Memorial above is at Thiepval.  There are remembered and buried many of my grandfather's comrades who fell in The Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916, good decent working men.  I knew him well, he survived, just, but could not know them, but I did know some of their widows and other family.  I have been there and to many other War Grave locations.

Also, I have read through many of the War Diaries of the units in question as well as formal study of the War and its consequences.  There is nothing like the detail and the primary sources to make sure that you understand the bigger picture and can judge what later historians and people have to say.

As  for the Second World War, well, I was there, albeit huddled in the air raid shelters.  Not only were a number of close family involved, but some, much loved and respected, lost.  For a time, a mile away, we welcomed the US 82nd Airborne Division, including the man who hung from the spire at St. Mere Eglise on 6 June 1944, along with Polish airmen, paratroops and army.

Later, for a short time I was part of the Army of Occupation before we became guests of Germany in 1955.  I was on the General's staff of the Desert Rats, 7 Armd Div, working for men who won good M.C.'s in the war.  My second General commanded a Brigade at Arnhem, and dear old Monty, courteous to a fault, pitched up once for a chat where my job was to deal with the files.

Before and after that I was doing History, European and International, an interest maintained.  I fear my reading of the past differs strongly from that of the President.  Then there is the longer past, one trip made was to follow Wellington's line of march in the Peninsular War.  We must never forget Napoleon, even if the President has.

For me many wars occur because power comes into the hands of unchecked and arrogant men who blunder about, lie, deceive, do not go carefully into that dark night of war and seek to hold or gain more power by inflicting damage and misery on untold numbers of others.  All too often, once embarked on their mission of land, wealth and power seeking war becomes inevitable.

In short, systems of rule and authority all too like that of the EU of the present, a corrupt governing authority that does not account for its spending and costs, brooks no opposition, relentlessly interferes where it should not and listens only to the major power and money brokers, many of whom are criminal and few honest.

The President is a fantasist, who with others at his side believes in the strange unreal world that has been created out of the weakness and division of others.  What I see is a Europe in decline, in hock to others who do not like us and open to others who hate us.

Unluckily, in the UK we have some leading politicians who are attracted by the fantasies and believe that they and their financial minders will gain by it and are unworried by who will be the losers and to what extent.

Empires, history tells us, rise and fall.  Some last long others do not.  Normally, long periods of conflict and war, chaos, poverty, disease and misery follow collapse.

Perhaps, the President during his tour of war graves, might take in Poitiers, Crecy and above all Agincourt and then finish at Waterloo, close to home.  We were there.

Advertising Can Be A Pain

Advertising can be a pain.

What is going on out there?

This explains the new and intricate world we are in.  It is longish and closely argued but worth the attempt if you want to be a little wiser.

The real questions are where it is all going and where the big money is going to be made.

If you have the answer, you could get very rich.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Blame The Yanks

It was a nice day today, we did enjoy our trip to the dentist.

Up to a point.

There is too much going on and it is becoming very complicated to work out what is what.

This strange story in Zero Hedge caught the eye.  The Euro, it alleges, is all the fault of the Yanks, albeit the key man was Canadian really.

Stranger things have happened and even stranger ones are happening right now.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Tuesday Tale Spin

It is beginning to get rough out there.  Today, 2nd March The Telegraph carried an article by Tim Stanley titled "Tomorrow Belongs To Trump", which to most simply means that he is on his way to nomination as the Republic Candidate.

Thos with long memories  would recall the 1972 film "Cabaret" starring Liza Minnelli and Michael York set in Germany in the 1930's.  There is a scene in a rural Gasthaus where a young man sings a political anthem "Tomorrow Belongs To Me".

The Youtube clip lasts three minutes but says it all for the period.  Just how it applies to Trump in the second decade of the 21st Century is another matter entirely.  The words "cheap shot" come to mind.  I am not a fan of Mr. Trump but that is another story.

Meanwhile the media is full of our David Cameron's plan to centralise and control membership of the Conservative Party, seeing off all those nuisance locals who have their own ideas about his Grand Projects and Europe.

Yesterday, I mentioned the repeat of the "Yes Minister" series, as it happens the fourth in the first series is titled "Big Brother" and is about Hacker's idea to create a National Integrated Data Base with the names etc. of each and all on it, it will be Tuesday 9th March when it is screened.

I have this vision of a very young Cameron being plonked in front of the new colour telly with a bag of sweets while his parents shove off into the next room for a quiet bottle or two leaving David to watch Prime Minister Heath fool us, along with others, about Europe just being a trade association.

Cameron is becoming a second Heath in a number of ways and if so it is a matter of concern.  I recall the shambles that he left behind him that Wilson could not cope with and led to James Callaghan trying to plug the gaps without much success.

What is a worry is his increasing liking for the "cheap shot" and the easy untruth before moving on quickly to another subject.