Tuesday 30 June 2009

Is China Going For Broke?

So now it is China. Having written off the Ottoman, Tsarist, Austro-Hungarian, British, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Soviet, soon the USA, and sundry other imperial entities in the last century, it is time for a new one.

China has been running a surplus on the foreign exchanges for some time, so has money, more or less in the bank, as opposed to the old style developed nations. China is central to the new BRIC grouping. Brazil has timber, water, a lot of other things, but not much idea of financial or economic controls. Russia has energy resources, substantial industry and armaments, a rudimentary modern structure, but a system of government that more or reflects the days of Ivan The Much Misunderstood, and financially is in difficulties. India is India, too complex to summarise, but unpredictable. The consequence is that China, with the money, a centralised and dominant government, a skilled and active population, and a rapidly expanding economy is at the centre, and is using its influence abroad.

But we have been here before with China. Emperors have come and gone, some great, some disastrous, and some damaged by climatic or population events they could not control. There have been times of Warlords, of foreign invaders, and others of periods of relative stability. There have been times when China has looked to the wider world, and times when they have kept to themselves and their own troubles at home. Which way is it going in the near future?

We are told that China’s banks are not as well structured or financed as we have always assumed, and that a lot of the credit given recently given has been unwise and will involve losses and retrenchment. Also we are told that China may now stop stockpiling commodity reserves, in a way that will impact on foreign supplies. The Chinese it seems have been buying land abroad in a way that has left them open to allegations of a new colonialism, never mind the food supplies for the growing populations of the countries in question. There has been a huge property boom that is said to be never ending. Well they always are, according to the experts. What might trigger a cascading set of problems is impossible to predict.

Our assumptions of China’s internal stability are questioned because of the firm hand of control on what stories emerge from the interior. Externally, we gather that some in China want to expand into the relatively less populated areas in the region to give space for its own growing population. One area, it seems, is Siberia, despite this being a part of sovereign Russia. Russia made the mistake once of selling Alaska, in 1867, but I do not see them making the same mistake again.

Perhaps we have all been gulled by all the media hype and delight at the Big Show of the Olympics of 2008, without enquiring about the cost and the manpower entailed. China is a very large, very complicated, intricate and interdependent polity with an authoritarian government reluctant to change course as eventualities arise. It will go blundering on whatever circumstances arise that suggest more open government and more flexibility of movement. It is putting too much trust into money men and too little into what severe issues could arise. Amongst them could be many of its peoples running out of patience with the dereliction and destruction around them.

An old Chinese curse is “May you live an interesting life” so when might matters and events in China begin to become very interesting? The Chinese love betting, but what numbers will they draw next?

Sunday 28 June 2009

Scottish Economics - A Fable

Evelyn Waugh writes to his wife Laura, 31 May 1942;

No. 3 Commando was very anxious to be chums with Lord Glasgow, so they offered to blow up an old tree stump for him and he was very grateful and he said don't spoil the plantation of young trees near it because that is the apple of my eye and they said no of course not we can blow a tree down so it falls on a sixpence and Lord Glasgow said goodness how clever and he asked them all for luncheon for the great explosion.

So Col. Durnford-Slater DSO said to his subaltern, “have you put enough explosive in the tree”.

“Yes sir, 75lb.”
“Is that enough?”
“Yes sir I worked it out by mathematics it is exactly right.”
“Well better put a bit more.”
“Very good sir.”

And when Col. D Slater DSO had had his port he sent for the subaltern and said, “Subaltern better put a bit more explosive in that tree. I don't want to disappoint Lord Glasgow.”

“Very good sir.”Then they all went out to see the explosion and Col. DS DSO said you will see that tree fall flat at just that angle where it will hurt no young trees and Lord Glasgow said goodness you are clever.So soon they lit the fuse and waited for the explosion and presently the tree, instead of falling quietly sideways, rose 50 feet into the air taking with it 1/2 acre of soil and the whole of the young plantation.And the subaltern said “Sir, I made a mistake, it should have been 7 1/2 lb, not 75.”

Lord Glasgow was so upset he walked in dead silence back to his castle and when they came to the turn of the drive in sight of his castle what should they find but that every pane of glass in the building was broken.So Lord Glasgow gave a little cry and ran to hide his emotion in the lavatory and there when he pulled the plug the entire ceiling, loosened by the explosion, fell on his head.

Friday 26 June 2009

I Know Where I'm Going

I believe that the Government has embarked on a “scorched earth” policy in anticipation of an electoral defeat together with a substantial clear out of the present Labour Party in the House of Commons. It is the only rational explanation for its present course of action and behaviour.

Government is about choosing priorities, allocating resources, and dealing with legislation, along with other duties and obligations. The intended effect is to wreck the ability of any new administration to determine any independent decision for the UK. It is to enable the effective decisions in major areas of policy to be put into the hands of the EU. Financially, the budget options will be predetermined by a disastrous fiscal situation and related international commitments that will be impossible to be freed from in the short term.

If the EU gets its way in Ireland and Denmark, the Lisbon Treaty will be in force by this Autumn, and the problems arising for a new government trying to make changes in the way they affect the UK will be intractable, whoever is in charge in Europe. I would not be surprised if during the Parliamentary recess, the moves necessary for the UK to enter the Euro currency will be under way, and may proceed rapidly, given the willingness of the Government to agree terms and make concessions. Perhaps 1st January or 1st April 2010 is already pencilled in for the vesting date.

In preparation for this the Government has been proposing actions around the “Regions”, those historical remnants from the early years of the Cold War assumed by political laziness and administrative stupidity to be an easy way of dividing up England for Whitehall, and then EU purposes. We are going to hear a lot more about the need for the regions in the recession, given the parallel need to find jobs and places, preferably with generous expenses, for all those displaced Labour MP’s and lost cause candidates.

As for priorities, the financial problems a new administration will have to deal with will be not just difficult, but plain nasty. In the NHS it will a question of who dies, and in social security who goes hungry. Commitments will be made in Defence that will bear no relation to requirements, but to job creation, and our forces will become little better than a peripatetic militia. As for education, how many universities will be closing, and other colleges going to the wall after January 2010, because of decisions made by the outgoing Labour administration?

The most dangerous consequences of all this arise from all the uncertainties and the uncontrollable matters that can arise in the world economy. Where the oil prices might go and by how much is a matter of bitter debate. The movement and interplay of currencies is currently a game of liars poker. Where interest rates may go in relation to the sovereign debt of too many badly extended countries, and whose credit might fail is still unknown. But the UK and the USA are both much too high on the list for comfort. If the government leaves the UK with junk bond status, it effectively means goodbye for the independence and coherence of the UK.

Quite a number of the prophets of doom out there are talking about the end of the nation state and the end of the industrial world as we know it. The Government are embarked on a course which could mean that the UK which began the Industrial Revolution will be the first to relapse into urban predatory tribalism.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

A Man's A Man For A' That

Long ago, I knew an incorrigible who regarded himself as something of a wit, even although it was not shared by those he exercised it on. Inevitably, he was dismissed as something of an unreliable nuisance and a fool. When introduced to a banker at a function, one of his favourite jokes was to ask them when the banks were going to sell booze to their customers, and then lend them the money to buy it at a decent rate. Another was to ask them why they didn’t make up their own money instead of relying on governments or gold diggers to provide it for them.

Perhaps he was just forward thinking and a man ahead of his time. We have learned in recent years what happens when governments allow banks to invent money as and when they feel like it. Now, his other prediction is close to fulfilment.

The supermarkets are going into banking, seeing a gap in the market. They are in the retail business, and retail banking is there for the taking. The Governor of the Bank of England; with a good many other trying to work out a more secure future for the UK finance industry might think that separating retail from investment banking would be wise. But many of the top men in the Banks and their doormen and clerks in the government are still craving for the big time hoopla of the global money markets using assets from retail banking as leverage, especially if they can keep on fooling ordinary people with fake and expensive credit.

The bankers need to be careful. They should wonder where all the small local retailers have gone from the towns and countryside. They should realise that when it comes to the internet anything goes. The supermarkets are big brands, and have worked very hard to create the illusion of security and customer concern. They are not contaminated, yet, with images of thieves and conmen. They do not have to pursue millions of overdrawn customers who have had bad experiences recently.

The media, which has turned on the bankers in a feeding frenzy, is very kind to the supermarkets, their marketing spend on advertisements is enormous. Programmes critical of the sourcing of some products will be tucked away into the darkest recesses of More 4, and barely hinted at.

Above all, the supermarkets sell booze, are now becoming bankers and will be able to lend at competitive rates. How soon will there be a “Poosie Nancies” brand in your local store, between the delicatessen and the supermarket's in house bank?

Saturday 20 June 2009

Tax Havens Again

Returning to the subject of tax havens http://taxjustice.blogspot.com/ on 19th June in a post "Tax Havens and Development - A Damning Report" deals with the complex effects and distortions arising from the movement of monies through these banking locations. Further down the listing is another item "Tax Havens - Macro Relevant" dealing with the general economic impact across the globe. They take a little study, but are another insight into what has been going wrong and why. A gentleman on the beach above, a local preacher, told me firmly that the sand grew on trees far below the waves. The local bankers must have been listening to him.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Der Fliegende Voorzitter

Apparently, President Obama has been criticised by insect liberationists for swatting a fly dead and worse still taking pride in the speed of his reactions. It is good to see the vital issues of the USA gaining some attention in the UK media. Perhaps we could dress up some rogue financiers as flies and chuck them through the windows of the Oval Office. Who needs regulation?

Tell Me No Secrets, I'll Tell You No Lies

The unveiling and denunciation of “Nightjack” the prize winning blogger police officer is a warning to us all, up to a point, Lord Copper (do I win an award for the worst internet joke of 2009?). Although quite why the fuss is occurring I do not know. Isn’t it an ancient police ploy to set up a honey trap to reveal “fences” and others engaged in moving stolen goods about?

My guess is that if someone in the relevant trades really wanted to know who it was that was speculating whether Alastair Darling was in the pay of the bankers, or the trade unions, or foreign types with lots of money, or indeed all of them, they should be able to manage it if the blogger in question was possessed only of ordinary skills. If the blogger was able enough to cover the tracks, then that might tell them a lot more, and perhaps cause greater concerns.

Then there are the more basic skills of textual analysis, and divining truth from hints that are designed to send people astray. Also, there is the natural urge of people to boast, especially when anonymity is assumed. There are only so many people who have climbed Mount Everest on a unicycle. The skilful use of a picture can throw the searchers off track, given the modern weakness for believing anything pictured either as a still or indeed in film.

My chief concern, however, is not that I might be uncovered, but that nobody at all might be interested. So I must now try to dream up something really good. But for the time being, my identity remains securely hidden.

Yours faithfully,
Bertram Wooster,

Could you mail me Jeeves, I’m having trouble with the updates again.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

God Bless The Prince Of Wales

My Lord Rogers of Rackrent, one of the Very Venerable and Great Panjandrums of The London Mediocracy who hold all, apart from themselves, in utter disdain, has let it be known that he is peeved with the Prince of Wales. He has demanded from the Prime Minister, one of his office juniors, the Secretaries of State, his office cleaners, and others that the Prince be subject to discipline, nay extirpation (that will cause a run on Wikipedia). The grounds for this are that the Prince has behaved like a common Nimby (not in my back yard) factionalist in expressing dislike for Lord Rogers concept of a huge heap of metal and glass piled up at random on a disused military site in London, that overlooks a Royal Park, central Royal properties, and one of the few attractive patches of central London.

Oddly, these Royal places, despite occupying a fair amount of space do not intrude on, nor dominate the sky line. Lord Rogers wants to do just that, and in line with past and future plans wishes to ensure that for the next century or more it is his buildings or those put up with his imprimatur that will define London as it enters its period of terminal decline. Yet he calls the Prince arrogant. I have called His Royal Highness a few things in my time, but that word is not amongst them.

Even more strangely, Lord Rogers is amongst the most active and intent of the political wheeler dealers within the London elite. His pursuit of authority and influence is relentless. Much of it is unseen and unreported, understandably, the wrath of Lord Rogers is to be feared. So when the Prince, faced with a major development in his patch which he dislikes and fears, decides to have a quiet word with an old contact, Lord Rogers goes into transports of rage, plays the anti-royal card at the highest levels in the media, demands that he be silenced forever, and hurls jibes and insults at a chap only trying to keep the DIY obsessive next door from wrecking the view and the value of his property.

The trouble is that it is not just HRH The Prince of Wales that Lord Rogers wants to silence, it is anyone and everyone who either questions or wishes to debate what he and some of his closest cronies are doing, and for their own profit. My interest is more simple. One way or another I am one of the poor mugs who at the end of the line have to pay for Lord Rogers, and for that matter the Prince of Wales, flights of fancy.

If Lord Rogers cannot stand the heat he should get out of the kitchen, but then does any architect really understand kitchens?

Monday 15 June 2009

Figures For A Change

Soon I am due at the dentist's and the old fingers tremble above the keys. It is not for fear of the man, he is a very capable decent professional. It is the size of the bill that worries me. So I thought that the only consolation would be to worry everybody else. The debt figures were taken from The Economist of 13th June, via Financial Armageddon. The tables come from Economic Road Map (When Giants Fall). Both sites are by Mark Panzner.

Saturday 13 June 2009

Hurry On Down

We are all very worried about our transport costs, personal, public, and those supplying our food and essentials. But historically, even if oil prices do move up a good deal, they are very much cheaper than in the past. When you look at the historical dramas on TV and see all the coaches, horses, and the rest, much of it is flights of fancy, for the vast majority of people it was all a lot simpler. Basically, you walked, unless you were possessed of a good income.

If you look on the four in hand coach used for Stage or for private purposes, necessarily four horsepower and run down the potential costs they are very high. A two horse rig would be for lighter and shorter distance work, and six horses is really at State Coach levels or magnate display purposes.

So restate say 1830 prices at 2009 levels, by calculations that relate to labour costs rather than price comparisons of identifiable consumer products.

Cost of coach new: £250,000 or more.
Cost of horses: £15,000 each, good quality horses cost a lot more than others.
Annual forage cost: £5000 at least for four horses.
Annual maintenance: £50,000, given the rate of contemporary wear and tear.
Labour costs for driver, guard, postillion, ostlers, and boys, plus stabling and incidentals, then probably up to £300,000 a year or over.

For that you would get 0-6 mph in five minutes. You might need a full service (that is change of horses) at every 15-25 miles

Commercial Operation Seat Prices for London-Bath (100 miles)
Inside - £1500; Outside rear - £1000; Outside top - £750
Partial refund for winter outside passengers freezing to death on journey

Now for freight an example is a ten ton log going from a woodland to the boatyard for the shipwrights to make a mast would need a team of 16 heavy horses, plus a full complement of drivers, minders, and labourers and ten miles a day would be good going. Try working the cost of that out in modern money.

A single horse and cart would cost much less than a stage coach, less that half, and need less support labour etc., but carry only as much as an average size van.

So why complain about motoring and transport costs today? Because the future; all too soon, may become much more like the past. At least we will all have free compost deposits in the streets.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

The End Of The Peerage Show

What is the House of Lords? Who are they? What do they do? Please send your entry, using your skill and judgement and no more than 100 words to the Cabinet Office, 10 Downing Street, postcode withheld on security grounds. Both the Government and their pilot fish of advisers and lobbyists are still paddling around trying to make sense of the constitutional muddle they have created in the last few years. They want the new system to be staffed by reliable and like minded people who will deliver the message and not intrude on the smooth and co-ordinated course of executive action. The suggestion of cronyism is fiercely rejected. The trouble is that the elements of the British Constitution, and indeed the old Empire, were born of rampant favouritism and its consequences.

Cronies of the Crown and Cabinet, placemen, purchasers; sundry royals, their spouses, offspring and the luckier bastards; a few public servants and war leaders who could not be ignored; and the occasional oddity, have been the basis of recruitment to the House of Lords ever since The King of Scotland, James VI, stumbled onto the throne of England in 1603 as King James I by the grace of the homicidal tendencies of his Welsh Tudor and French Plantagenet predecessors. The remnant of the hereditary peerage still left can offer a history with enough blood and guts to make even Steven Spielberg blench. Now the House of Lords is lost to them, perhaps they should try to cash in and appeal to the growing youth market in gruesome celebrity.

In the old days most of them had style, which is more than can be said for some of the rum coves ennobled in recent decades. Labour’s actions have exchanged merely the municipal for the magnates, the suits for the sycophants, and added a higher proportion of the risible and the rogues. The rich can still buy their way in, as did the landed magnates of the past. In modern times the House of Lords has people who once had power and have lost it and whose awareness of the ordinary business of getting and spending is remote. The realities they represent are limited in scope and narrow in interest.

Even those put into the Lords to speak for interest groups or minorities come from those groups, limited in number, which are the largest, the noisiest, and who tend to have a power base in urban areas with marginal constituencies. Others are left to rot. There is a risk that the House of Lords, once the bastion of the landed class and rural interest, may have no connection with the countryside at all. Our food supply will be entirely in the hands of the big manufacturers, the major supermarkets, and an air and road based distribution system that is oil dependent, to keep the party funded.

Essentially, what is the Second Chamber for? If there is broad agreement about this, and the functions can be clearly established, then one can proceed to methods of recruitment that serve those needs as well as possible. If the debate on the basic questions is incoherent then it will be difficult to have arrangements for the membership that make much sense. The trouble is that the question cannot be asked without taking account of the other institutions of government. The issue of who should be Head of State, a Royal mustering blood and tradition, or a burnt out politician shoehorned in to do a greeter’s job; is one matter. Will the next Labour Government run Prescott for President?

The real problems lie in the inability of the House of Commons to fulfil its proper role, the atrophy of its representative nature, and its inability to control the increasing waywardness and arrogance of the various administrative entities that both legislate and administer. Looking at the present situation, it seems that because the Government is unable to address the issue of a full and effective reorganisation of the House of Commons beyond tinkering with timetables and committees. Consequently, it cannot make a proper job of reforming the House of Lords and has settled for putting in a few of its own people and establishment side kicks to try to keep a low key show on the road until either the next asteroid impact or when the European Union re-invents itself.

Academics and the more learned journalists have been quick to remind us of the ancient Athenian system of drawing lots. This has its virtues, especially for computer hackers. There are other, more political solutions. If we are to be saddled with regional councils, based on antique middle 20th Century boundaries that have no relation to modern Britain, as a means avoiding the inconveniences to others of giving England its own parliament or standing committee of the House of Commons, perhaps the House of Lords could be a Grand Committee of all the devolved assemblies, councils and parliaments of the islands, and such like. Alternatively, it could be a committee composed of members of the European Parliament for the United Kingdom. Either would have a small logic related to the developing structural framework of governmental and executive institutions, and would have the benefit of economising on full time politicians.

There is an electoral option beyond the Government’s proposals. The present parliamentary constituency is a very old-fashioned notion based on the premise that the great majority of the electorate live and work in the same district and enjoy a bond of community and common loyalty. The difficulty is that if it is assumed that there should be an arithmetical parity between constituencies and this does not relate to the apparent geography of communities, the result is ugly and almost inexplicable compromises in drawing the boundaries.

In today’s world this assumption of community simply is laughable, and together with our present electoral system has produced gross and damaging distortions in the body politic for a long time. For the Second Chamber elections each voter could be asked to define or choose their chosen primary group for the purpose of casting a vote for the Second Chamber. Any primary group, either established or voluntary, would have an elected member of the House of Lords for every hundred and fifty thousand voters on its section of the register.

Once we had University M.P.’s. It is unlikely they would return, but who would be the first Lord for a football fan club? There are better ideas for a primary group (ferret fanciers?), but the priority should be that the electoral arrangement for the second chamber should compensate for the failures inherent in that for the Commons and able to operate on broader terms.

If full election by the people on the basis of interest and functioning identity is too scary for the Government then there is a simple solution. The old peerage lasted for almost one millennium. The Government should call another peerage into being to redress the balance of the old, and call it the Third Millennium Peerage. In Vanbrugh’s play “The Relapse”, Lord Foppington claimed to have paid £10,000 for his title of Baron in 1696. What an equivalent price today is arguable, and a new scale will have to be devised. My personal figure for modern times suggests £10 million for a Baronage rising to £50 million for a Dukedom.

At least money would talk. Any takers?

Monday 8 June 2009

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

LDV has gone into administration, the potential buyers having withdrawn. So what do we do about Vauxhall Motors? Never having bought one, I have no sentimental attachment to the marque, nor has my interest ever strayed in that direction. But there are difficult decisions to be made. At one time the economic planning of the UK government entailed redistributing the manufacture of cars, vans, engines, and parts from the engineering heartlands to all those districts which were alleged to have development needs.

Many of these needs were far more political than economic, with the result that too many firms for whom policies of concentration and strengthening were needed ended up weakened and scattered. Vauxhall was one, sent to Merseyside to compete with Ford on the other side of the Mersey in a race to reduce productivity and enhance labour requirements.

When there was still growth and expansion in prospect the ensuing problems were met by the globalisation of the car industry, and the UK government were happy to see any foreign investment, and therefore ownership and finance taking the strain, and the responsibility for decisions. As time went on, other countries entered the market with new plant, new models, better engineering, and much cheaper labour.

In the world there is now more car making capacity than needed, and if there is any expansion it will not occur in the UK. All we can do is to hang on to what we have, and hope maybe to be able to supply parts to any of the survivors, if any want to source from us; I suspect only if they are cheap enough. But it looks as though to do this will entail massive subsidies. So we will be subsidising foreign car makers.

If the UK government saves Vauxhall, it means supporting US and German car makers one way or another. If it does not save Vauxhall, then there will be fewer cars being made in the UK. If the people of the UK buy far fewer cars that matters less, but if pushing taxpayers money into the consumers pockets keeps the demand for cars going, again we are subsidising other countries manufactures.

Then there are oil prices. My pet theory is that these are now in a pre-chaotic state; that is unpredictable and wildly variable. So staying in the car industry may be a bad move for any government.

Where’s my train timetable?

Saturday 6 June 2009

HMS "Boadicea", D-Day, Normandy and Loss

To the memory of those lost on 13th June 1944, when HMS “Boadicea” was sunk by an enemy aerial torpedo off Portland Bill, having taken part in the Operation Neptune, the Royal Navy part in the Normandy Landings. There were only twelve survivors, as she sank within minutes.

“Boadicea” saw action at an early stage of the war in late 1939 in the Channel. In February 1940 she carried Winston Churchill from Boulogne to Dover. In June of that year she suffered severe damage and losses in the attempt to rescue the remaining troops of the 51st Highland Division from Le Havre and Dieppe. After repairs she then was involved in hunting the “Scharnhorst” and went on to the Russian convoys.

Later she escorted the RMS “Queen Elizabeth” on Atlantic crossings. From there she moved in October 1942 to the North Africa landings “Operation Torch” rescuing 425 survivors from the sinking of RMS “Viceroy Of India”. After more Russian convoys she moved to West Africa for other convoy work, rescuing survivors of MVS “Incomati”, then returning to Russia again.

In the Spring of 1944 she was moved to the Channel to prepare for “Operation Neptune”. On 6th June 1944 she escorted 31 tank landing craft of the 8th Armoured Brigade, the first main battle tanks to land, those of B and C Squadrons of the 4/7 Dragoon Guards. On 13th June she was returning to England for more escort duties, when she was attacked by a single German aircraft.


MPK – Missing Presumed Killed

ABBEY, Samuel, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 648840, killed
ABBOTT, Eric, Stoker 1c, C/KX 595708, MPK
ALDRIDGE, Joseph A, Ty/Petty Officer Cook (S), C/MX 56877, MPK
APLIN, Walter S, Able Seaman, C/JX 206070, MPK
AVERLEY, Roland E, Ty/Act/Petty Officer, C/JX 171380, MPK
AYRES, William S, Signalman, C/JX 270008, MPK
BABB, Henry J, Assistant Steward, C/LX 623694, MPK
BAILEY, Basil, Ty/Supply Petty Officer, C/MX 69370, MPK
BAILEY, Walter, Electrical Artificer 2c, C/MX 47686, MPK
BAINBRIDGE, Robert, Able Seaman, C/JX 171168, MPK
BAINES, Cecil C, Able Seaman, C/JX 203299, MPK
BARLOW, John E, Ordinary Signalman, C/JX 360509, MPK
BARRETT, Charles, Ty/Act/Leading Stoker, C/KX 112565, MPK
BARRETT, Norman F, Able Seaman, C/JX 172342, MPK
BATES, Isaac, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 547920, MPK
BATTY, Leslie W, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, C/JX 203439, MPK
BAYLEY, Leonard, Ty/Petty Officer Steward, C/LX 25120, MPK
BEARD, Alfred C, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, RNVR, C/LD/X 4594, MPK
BEST, Ronald S, Act/Able Seaman, C/JX 545708, MPK
BONSER, Leslie, Telegraphist, C/JX 172085, MPK
BOOTH, Ernest, Able Seaman, C/SSX 32825, MPK
BRADSHAW, Maurice, Able Seaman, C/JX 279253, MPK
BROCKBANK, Arnold R, Coder, C/JX 220450, MPK
BROWN, Roy, Assistant Steward, C/LX 614156, MPK
BROWN, Walter J, Able Seaman, C/JX 130753, MPK
BROWNE, Colin F, Able Seaman, P/JX 387837, MPK
BURNS, James, Stoker 1c, C/KX 115193, MPK
CAIN, George, Able Seaman, C/JX 255632, killed
CARTER, Antony A, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 566194, MPK
CARTWRIGHT, James S, Ty/Lieutenant, RNZNVR, MPK
CASWELL, William C, Stoker 1c, C/KX 533255, MPK
CASWELL, William L, Ordinary Telegraphist, C/JX 310590, MPK
CHEAPE, Robert, Stoker 1c, C/KX 141871, MPK
CHRISTIESON, Robert J, Ordinary Telegraphist, P/JX 574858, MPK
COCKER, James A E, Stoker Petty Officer, C/K 55218, MPK
COGHLAN, William F, Ty/Stoker Petty Officer, C/KX 88967, MPK
COLBY, Victor G, Chief Petty Officer, C/JX 129625, MPK
COOPER, George W, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 547160, MPK
COOPER, Jack, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 375785, MPK
CROOKS, Joseph, Able Seaman, C/JX 229961, MPK
CROSS, James L, Signalman, P/JX 221536, MPK
DARTON, Basil J, Able Seaman, C/JX 264027, MPK
DAVIS, Arthur, Able Seaman, C/JX 351712, MPK
DAYNES, Ronald G R, Petty Officer (Pens), C/J 91531, MPK
DIXON, Roy, Able Seaman, C/JX 1896084, MPK
DOBBIE, Charles, Canteen Assistant, C/NX 583911, MPK
DONALD, William H C, Ty/Surgeon Lieutenant, RNVR, MPK
DRAYCOTT, Albert E, Stoker 1c, C/KX 133409, MPK
DUNLOP, Thomas, Canteen Manager, C/NX 703740, MPK
DUROSE, Thomas R, Able Seaman, C/JX 302767, MPK
DURRANS, James, Coder, C/JX 356923, MPK
FARRER, Albert, Seaman, RNPS, LT/JX 255936, MPK
FEATHERSTONE, Leonard, Ty/Act/Sub Lieutenant (E), RNVR, MPK
FIELD, Albert, Able Seaman, C/JX 153660, MPK
FINDLAY, William H, Stoker Petty Officer (Pens), C/K 58306, MPK
FOX, Victor A, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 409101, MPK
FRAKE, Harry, Telegraphist, C/JX 343097, MPK
FRAZER, Richard A, Act/Able Seaman, C/JX 374362, MPK
GAMBELL, Arthur E, Stoker 1c, C/KX 528302, MPK
GARBUTT, George W, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 642297, MPK
GIBSON, Ronald E, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, C/JX 238783, MPK
GILES, William, Ty/Stoker Petty Officer, C/KX 85268, MPK
GOGEL, Charles E, Petty Officer, C/JX 126789, MPK
GOLDING, Henry, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 96118, MPK
GREEN, John H F, Ty/Stoker Petty Officer, C/KX 84242, MPK
HALLIDAY, James A, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, C/JX 174038, MPK
HARDIMAN, Reginald T, Stoker 1c, C/KX 528920, MPK
HARRISON, Rain, Able Seaman, C/JX 377747, MPK
HAWKES, John D, Able Seaman, C/JX 548007, MPK
HAWKINS, Frederick W, Lieutenant Commander, MPK
HEMINGWAY, Brian, Ordinary Telegraphist, C/JX 572114, MPK
HENSHAW, Albert E, Able Seaman, C/JX 279347, MPK
HEPTON, John C, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 657768, MPK
HERON, Thomas, Able Seaman, RNVR, C/TD/X 1897, MPK
HINKSMAN, John H, Stoker 1c, C/KX 112583, MPK
HISCOCK, Roy A S, Able Seaman, P/JX 324133, MPK
HOLLANDS, William J, Ordinary Seaman, P/JX 628972, MPK
HOLLICK, Charles G, Able Seaman, C/JX 349598, MPK
HOYES, Eric, Lieutenant, MPK
HUDSON, Albert E, Ty/Petty Officer, C/JX 149695, MPK
HUGHES, Wallace E, Engine Room Artificer 5c, V/1805 (RCNVR), MPK
HUNTER, George R, Able Seaman, C/JX 248353, MPK
HURLEY, Henry F G, Able Seaman, C/JX 182708, MPK
INCE, Claude A, Cook (S), C/MX 122241, MPK
IRELAND, Eric F, Stoker 1c, C/KX 595754, MPK
JEFFREYS, Sydney J, Able Seaman, C/JX 172162, MPK
JOSEPH, Jack, Stoker 1c, C/KX 142822, MPK
KENYON, Harry, Able Seaman, C/JX 299418, MPK
KING, Alexander B, Ty/Act/Ty/Stoker Petty Officer, C/KX 83691, MPK
KNIGHT, James A, Able Seaman, C/JX 318013, MPK
LANG, William G, Able Seaman, C/JX 199928, MPK
LANGFORD, Leonard, Able Seaman, C/JX 317451, MPK
LAYTON, Kenneth C, Stoker 1c, C/KX 144027, MPK
LINDSAY, Thomas, Able Seaman, C/JX 237569, MPK
LLEWHELLIN, Edward J, Able Seaman, C/JX 372431, MPK
LOADER, Francis C, Able Seaman, C/JX 316619, MPK
LONG, Peveril S, Stoker 1c, C/KX 526066, MPK
LONGMORE, Frederick A, Telegraphist, C/JX 301586, MPK
MAGEE, Thomas, Able Seaman, C/JX 378086, MPK
MARSH, Ernest W, Able Seaman, C/JX 296482, MPK
MARTIN, Edgar, Able Seaman, C/SSX 32736, MPK
MAYES, Ernest G, Act/Able Seaman, C/JX 159703, MPK
MCMUNN, Robert, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, C/JX 169655, MPK
MCNAB, Alexander, Stoker 1c, C/KX 576734, MPK
MCNICHOL, John F, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, C/JX 259804, MPK
MESSENGER, George W, Able Seaman, C/JX 189828, MPK
MIDDLETON, Derrick L, Able Seaman, C/JX 318033, MPK
MILLS, Wilfred J, Able Seaman, P/JX 324132, MPK
MILNE, William K, Act/Stoker 1c, P/KX 178881, MPK
MOORES, John, Able Seaman, C/JX 352463, MPK
MORRISON, Bruce, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 549477, MPK
MOULTON, Eric, Able Seaman, C/JX 177791, MPK
MUMFORD, Cyril J, Engine Room Artificer 5c, C/MX 622056, MPK
MURRAY, James, Engine Room Artificer 3c, C/MX 53877, MPK
O'CONNELL, Robert, Able Seaman, C/JX 253994, killed
OKEY, John S, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 640140, MPK
PARKER, Edward, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 657192, MPK
PARKER, Samuel, Able Seaman, C/JX 240616, MPK
PEACH, Derek G H, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 547020, MPK
PECKHAM, Geoffrey S, Ty/Act/Chief Ordnance Artificer, C/MX 59291, MPK
PETTER, Ernest A W, Chief Electrical Artificer, C/M 39392, MPK
PHILP, Warren J, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 542203, MPK
PICKSTOCK, Francis J, Ty/Act/Petty Officer, C/JX 127028, MPK
PIKE, Grayham W J, Stoker 1c, C/KX 112588, MPK
POWELL, George W, Cook (O), C/MX 71156, MPK
PRESTON, Ralph E, Ty/Leading Supply Assistant, C/MX 95277, MPK
PRICE, Gerald J, Ordinary Seaman, P/JX 515835, MPK
QUINLAN, Leslie B, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 549510, MPK
RAMSAY, Robert L, Sick Berth Attendant, C/MX 557042, MPK
RAYMENT, Laurence V, Able Seaman, C/JX 153300, MPK
REES, John R, Ordinary Signalman, C/JX 361273, MPK
RENNIE, John A, Ty/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR, MPK
REYNOLDS, Walter C, Able Seaman, C/JX 300420, MPK
RICHARDSON, Alan, Able Seaman, C/JX 353996, MPK
ROBINSON, John E, Leading Writer (Sp), C/MX 621804, MPK
ROBINSON, Keith, Ty/Sub Lieutenant, RNR, MPK
ROBSON, Thomas W, Able Seaman, RNVR, C/TD/X 1808, MPK
ROGERS, Sydney, Able Seaman, C/JX 299186, MPK
SAGGERS, Vivian G, Stoker 2c, P/KX 596983, MPK
SAMPSON, James E, Chief Petty Officer Stoker, C/K 62282, MPK
SCHRODER, Frederick J, Act/Lieutenant (E), killed
SEGGAR, John D, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, C/JX 251844, MPK
SELBY, Wilfred H T, Able Seaman, C/JX 208640, MPK
SHAW, Dennis R, Able Seaman, C/JX 353099, MPK
SIMPSON, Donald A, Able Seaman (Pens), C/J 21934, MPK
SMITH, Alexander, Ty/Leading Stoker, C/KX 83513, MPK
SPENCELAYH, William McM, Ty/Yeoman of Signals, C/JX 138686, MPK
STEVENS, William, Able Seaman, C/JX 318082, MPK
STEVENSON, Reginald D, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, C/JX 308148, MPK
STUBBINGS, Leslie F, Stoker 1c, C/KX 135233, MPK
SUMMERELL, Roland, Able Seaman, C/SSX 24948, MPK
SUTCLIFFE, Arthur, Able Seaman, C/JX 386616, MPK
TANNER, George W, Ty/Leading Seaman, C/JX 262802, MPK
TAYLOR, Alfred, Ordnance Mechanic 4c, C/MX 92966, MPK
TAYLOR, Dennis E, Act/Petty Officer Radio Mechanic, P/MX 116699, MPK
TAYLOR, John W, Ty/Act/Petty Officer, C/JX 226637, MPK
TENWICK, William J E, Able Seaman, C/JX 320246, killed
THOMSON, Alexander, Able Seaman, C/JX 321070, MPK
THOMSON, Robert W, Able Seaman, C/JX 373084, MPK
TONKIN, Ronald J C, Engine Room Artificer 3c, C/MX 51286, MPK
TORKINGTON, Joseph H, Ty/Act/Leading Seaman, C/JX 196736, MPK
TUCKER, Frank W, Ordinary Seaman, P/JX 425767, MPK
TUCKER, John A, Stoker 1c, C/KX 137810, MPK
TURPIN, John H, Able Seaman, C/JX 354263, MPK
WARDBY, Thomas E, Ty/Act/Leading Stoker, C/KX 121224, MPK
WEDDERBURN, John, Petty Officer Telegraphist, C/JX 132489, MPK
WHITE, George W, Able Seaman, C/JX 213275, MPK
WHITE, Sylvester, Ty/Chief Ty/Petty Officer, C/JX 127568, MPK
WHITE, Thomas C, Able Seaman, C/JX 372496, MPK
WHITTAM, William, Stoker 1c, C/KX 107360, MPK
WILSON, Lewis L M, Ty/Sub Lieutenant (E), RNVR, MPK
WRAIGHT, Frederick J W, Stoker 1c, C/KX 596340, MPK
WRIGHT, Leonard, Act/Stoker 1c, C/KX 137319, MPK
WYNNE, Norman, Able Seaman, C/JX 375552, MPK
YOUNGER, Walter S, Stoker 1c, C/KX 135279, MPK

Friday 5 June 2009

Brown's Little Local Difficulties

We have been here before, in January 1958 a beleaguered Government under a non-elected Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, lost three senior ministers in a row over economic management and fiscal policy. “Supermac” brushed the major policy disagreements and resignations aside by referring to it as a “Little local difficulty”. Despite the howling of the press, and adverse bye-election and council election results, Macmillan carried on with his high spend policies of public services expansion to create employment.

He ignored calls for fiscal restraint and caution. A host of learned economists were summoned to recommend that an annual rate of inflation of 3% compound would be entirely manageable, and would lead to sustainable economic growth, maintain the value of the pound, enable increased public spending, and last but not least keep the UK as a world economic and military power. Well, we all know what happened in the next two decades don’t we?

But do not forget, as I have not forgotten, that Macmillan won the election in the next year, 1959. I recall at the count I attended the astonishment and despair of the Gaitskellite Labour followers when the results were announced. It was clear even at our local level that against all the odds the Conservatives had survived, and Macmillan was clear for another five years. Or so everyone thought he was until the Profumo Affair and his prostate failed in 1963.

But it was Macmillan who when asked by the new President Kennedy of the USA (they were related by family marriages) what the main problems he faced were, answered, “Events, my dear boy, events.”

In the meantime, as Martin Wolf in the FT points out, we have a fiscal problem that is very serious, will not go away, and needs difficult decisions to be taken very soon, and not after the next General Election.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Brown's Cabinet Reshuffle

Well, when it is all finished and done, can we look forward to some new faces?

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Inflation, Expenditure, And Elections.

The CEO was doing the family accounts, and muttering things that no well brought up lady would normally mention. Meanwhile, the soccer and rugger seasons having ended my eyes were now straying beyond the comics and sports pages to other stories. “At least we have had stability of prices in the last few years, and they are coming down now” I said, reading some intern’s interpretation of a Downing Street Press Release masquerading as a lead article in a quality paper.

I was hurled a baleful look, “Not in this house, and not in many others” was said through bared teeth. “But the Bank of England and the government statistics experts all say so, look at the indexes.” I claimed. “Fine,” she said, “so how is it then that in the last twelve years our service charges have nearly trebled, the council tax has more than doubled, the rail fares have doubled, the water bill and the electrical bill has more than doubled, the real food costs have doubled or more in some cases, car running costs have more than doubled, the TV License doubled, and extras here there and everywhere we didn’t have before, and as for the bank…”

I interrupted her, the CEO does not like bankers, in fact her feelings on the subject are stronger even than grandfather’s about the Kaiser, and he was a stalwart of his local Hang The Kaiser Association. “But a lot of things are cheaper, frocks for example!” Another mistake, the CEO does not wear cheap frocks that fall to bits in the first wash, and are made by slave labour. “Well, telecommunications!” She reminded me that while I get a great deal from the net and all that, we still pay a little more, and the mobile charges are far from cheap.

I tried to trump her by telling her about white goods, complex financial products, insurances, and all those lovely items of mahogany, teak, and other timbers in the furniture shops. The sofa shop’s sales are still going strong after thirty years, alright, the sofa’s smell funny and bring you out in a rash, but they are dirt cheap now. She reminded me that it is over twenty years since we bought furniture, the white goods are rare purchases, as is all the stuff marketed in the name of modern lifestyle. In any case barely any of this is made in the UK, and has depended on sterling being sound, oil being cheap, rain forests being removed and all the rest. And if I wanted to eat junk food packed with refined sugars dodgy salts and carcogenic flavourings, that was my problem, and if I started using other stuff that was in the indexes then I must be insane, or something.

She went on to remind me that the council had stopped repairing pavements and clearing out drains, had reduced refuse collections, had cut care for the old and hefted the prices, put money in Iceland, and was now charging to park on the street. We were getting much less for our money. The rail company has cut services, abandoned passenger safety, and rarely cleans its coach stock. We have to read our own electrical meters, and pay more to do so. Were we to take advantage of Direct Debit, the utility would force us to have large credit; that is giving them an interest free loan, and then quietly put the prices up so we would not really notice it on the bill. All in all we are getting much less for our money, even where prices are said to be stable.

Of course she had missed the big picture, and that is what men are for, or so the chaps in the queue at the Social Security say. “Aha, but property prices have all gone up!” As snarls of contempt go, the CEO is Premier League. “That was an inflation, we exported it Europe wide, and it helped create debts we cannot pay.” “Oh no, it was the economic growth that made us all rich and happy, our Prime Ministers have said so.” Oops, “We are less rich than we were, and a lot less happy after we have paid our bills. All the politicians have been playing the property market with our money, and with loans, from amongst others, Northern Rock, RBS, and others that we are now paying to stay open. This wasn’t growth, it was mad bad inflation.” “But all the newspapers said it was wonderful growth.” I riposted, “And now we are all doing our best to support and restore never ending fifty per cent a year property price rises.” I was on the end of a long look, “So when did you last get a present from Santa Claus?” she asked. There was no answer to that.

I tried a last throw of the dice, “At least our pensions go up.” The jeer could be heard down the street. “They go up according to the government indexes, and they hardly go up at all, and I would remind you, our savings interest has gone down a lot more than any pension has gone up.”

What did hurt my feelings was her parting comment that people like me should not be allowed to vote. Just for that I will stay at home for the elections on June 4th. That will show her.

Some of us know how to protest.