Thursday 31 March 2011

Who Rules The UK?

In Open Democracy today is a long article by Anthony Barnett over the matter of the way LSE got into bed with Gaddafi and the objections made by Fred Halliday.

The first part is about the people involved but if you scroll down to the sub heading Gaddafi’s Calculations it will tell you how and why the Libyan regime was able to insinuate itself into a major UK institution.

The moral here is that not only was it very easy to do this but that so many of our political leaders and businessmen could not wait to take the money and hand over access and to a degree control.

So what else and where else have people with money and access laid there hands on or put themselves into controlling situations in UK politics, business, academia and the civil service?

Whoever rules, it is not the Parliament we elect nor those appointed under the Crown who are in charge of and managing our futures, it is those they go begging to for favours.

1n 1999 I was at the LSE for the occasion when JK Galbraith was given his Honorary Doctorate for services to economics and government. That there should now be a need for a formal enquiry about how the School makes its awards tells us a great deal.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

When In A Hole Stop Digging

In the “Telegraph” James Delingpole presents a succinct case for why we should not be in Libya and why it may be a very bad idea to continue.

A post from November 2009 reminds me that this one has been brewing for a little time now and guess who we might have to thank?

It will all end badly because there is no other way for it to end.

Cutting A Night At The Opera

The Arts Council has delivered its verdicts. We shall all hear a great deal about it. The Royal Opera House has been whacked for 15%.

In the spirit of the times I believe that a great many operas being on the long side could be shortened and the appropriate reductions made in staging. So here are a few recommendations:

CARMEN The tobacco factory has relocated to China.

THE MAGIC FLUTE Papageno really does get lost.

EUGENE ONEGIN Tatiana is out of writing paper.

THE LOVE OF THREE ORANGES The man from Del Monte gets there first.

LA TRAVIATA Alfredo decided to go to a better party.

TURANDOT The Prince of Persia wins.

OTHELLO The Ottoman fleet arrives first.

LA BOHEME Rodolfo skips work and goes to the bar early.

TOSCA Cavaradossi falls off the scaffolding.

RIGOLETTO Gilda get the hots for Sparafucile

PELLEAS AND MELISANDE The midges are biting, so they stay at home.

FAUST He is offered a tenured post.

THE TROJANS The Greeks have monthly return tickets.

MANON LESCAUT Des Grieux takes an instant shine to the barmaid.

FIDELIO Leonora decides she likes the job of Prison Officer.

JENUFA Singles culture comes to the village.

KATYA KABANOVA Mother-in-law retires to a houseboat.

CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN The Quorn pack gets the scent.

DER ROSENKAVALIER The Marshal gets home early.

ELEKTRA She decides Clytemnestra makes a good role model.

MADAMA BUTTERFLY Pinkerton’s ship puts back to San Diego with boiler problems.

SALOME John the Baptist escapes.

RUSALKA The water company drains the lake.

LUISA MILLER Wurm turns.

MOSES IN EGYPT Moses has vertigo and passes on the Mount Sinai visit.

ATTILA The lads decide on a package holiday to Ibiza instead.

CAPRICCIO A quickie divorce is less trouble.

LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR Lucia decides that Greenock has more to offer.

THE PEARL FISHERS The tenor and the baritone decide to ditch the bitch.

NORMA She opts for single parenthood.

IL TROVATORE Manrico checks with the Registrar of Births.

KING ARTHUR Merlin has a change of heart.

NABUCCO Baal offers the Israelites a better remuneration and benefits package.

DIE FLEDERMAUS Eisenstein gets probation.

TALES OF HOFFMAN The students tell Hoffman they have heard it all before.

ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD & ORFEO ETC. Eurydice wears protective clothing.

BARTERED BRIDE Market forces prevail.

COSI FAN TUTTE The lovers decide group sex is more fun.

THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO Figaro goes to an Industrial Tribunal.

DON GIOVANNI The Commendatore wins the fight.

LA CLEMENZA DI TITO The Emperor calls in consultants.

SERAGLIO The Sultan makes Constanza an offer she can’t refuse.

THE ITALIAN GIRL The Sultan prefers curry.

LA CENERENTOLA The Prince is a breast man.

THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT She transfers to a Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit as a masseuse.

L’ELISIR D’AMORE The wine is corked. BORIS GUDUNOV The Boyars decide to have a Democratic Republic and vote in the Simpleton.

PETER GRIMES After a couple of pints in the pub, Peter opts for retailing.

THE TURN OF THE SCREW Miles is given a football.

NIXON IN CHINA Kissinger has a better idea.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM Puck’s flight is cancelled.

THE VILLAGE ROMEO AND JULIET The Land Registry has a copy of the Deeds.

THE MIDSUMMER MARRIAGE A garden makeover team arrive.

AIDA The UN sends in a peacekeeping force.

SAMSON A lifestyle adviser arrives before Delilah.

JULIUS CAESAR He reads his horoscope.

UN BALLO IN MASCHERA The Gypsy persuades them to try group therapy .

THE QUEEN OF SPADES They play snap for fun.

DIALOGUE OF THE CARMELITES The Mother Superior misreads the Holy Word as “celebrate” and not “celibate”.

AEMILIA DI LIVERPOOL There is a plague of beetles.

DON CARLOS He prefers a young chick to his stepmother.

L’HEURE ESPAGNOL They have wristwatches.

DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NUREMBURG Walther drowns his sorrows and misses the audition.

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE The boat sinks and the couple drown.

LOHENGRIN Lohengrin drowns.

PARSIFAL Parsifal drowns.



Tuesday 29 March 2011

Power From The People

Just how would we in the UK cope with the scale of power reductions and outages that are occurring in Japan at the present time? My view is not very well at all.

With a hat tip to Some Assembly Required of today linked in the item The Road this is a story from The Seattle Times illustrated the effects on the ground:

There has been a lot of informed comment recently, largely ignored by the main media about how close the UK is coming to the margins in the productive capacity relative to increasing demands.

Few of us have experienced large scale power problems that last many days or longer.

Could we be about to find out?

Saturday 26 March 2011

Cherry Ripe

BBC4 last night put on “Anna Nicole” the new opera from Covent Garden, based on the life of the late celebrity Anne Nicole Smith. It is a story of modern times and a tragedy. It is intended to bring Opera into the 21st Century and by all accounts is quite a show.

My reservation is that life of the lady is a “soft target”. It is a pity that the Royal Opera could not be braver and tried a target nearer home and still alive. So here is a scenario for an Opera, “Cherry Ripe” which could be a hit, in more ways than one.

“Cherry Ripe”

Overture – “The Leaving Of Liverpool”

Act One

Scene One

It is outside Lime Street Station in Liverpool, in the background is the Liver Building and a Yates Wine Lodge.

Cherry appears, dressed simply as one of the Legion of Mary and carrying its banner appears walking slowly followed by others telling their rosaries. In the background is a chorus of nuns singing “We Know Where You’re Going” with watching angels praying hang from the flies.

Archbishop Beck steps forward and sings the aria, “Pray for Cherry, Everton FC and God” joined by a group of weeping priests. A group of shawl clad women wearing clogs prostrate themselves on the ground to touch the hem of her frock.

A grinning man outside Yates Wine Lodge is drinking from a pint glass. Cherry sings “Oh my benighted father” gives him a ten shilling note and he goes back inside. Cherry hands her banner to a nun and enters the station alone.

Scene 2

Houghton Street, London. A large dirty grey building with filthy windows. There are two letters above the door L and S, a third one has fallen off and painted in its place is “D”.

A large group of young men and women are sitting on the pavement and in the road holding banners with slogans of the period. They sing a rousing chorus of “Tories Out Out Out”. Cherry replies with the aria “Law will find a way”. They respond with a haunting chorus of “The Law’s an Ass”.

The stage darkens and when lit again Cherie is dressed in her graduate gown and wearing a mortar board hat. Her father emerges from the student bar at the back to sing “You’ll be lucky”, she gives him a pound note and he goes back inside.

A few figures move about aimlessly waving placards with new slogans, they sing “Wilson Out Out Out.” Cherry raises her rolled degree parchment and they all sing. “’Ere we go, ‘ere we go.”

Act Two

Scene One

The interior of the top deck of a London Bus. Cherry is with a young man with a big mouth and big ears. It is Tony, her new friend and they are alone. He sings, “What about a quickie?” and climbs on top of her. While this is going on she sings “Oh where are my briefs?”

They separate and she pulls down her skirt. The conductor appears, sings “That will be two to the terminus” and gives them tickets. Cherry pays. As Tony and Cherry begin to move, her father comes up the stairs. She gives him a five pound note. He sings “There’s Whiskey In The Jar”. Tony gives him the “V” sign as they leave.

Scene Two

Downing Street 1997. The entrance to No. 10 is flanked by a large chorus of people with police officers. The policemen sing “A Policeman’s Lot Is Not A Political One.” The chorus, who are carrying placards, respond with “We Are The Masters Now”.

Four TV news presenters sing a quartet “A Human Rights For Me”. As Tony and Cherry enter, the BBC presenter kneels weeping and sings “Anything You Say.” Tony and Cherry sing a duet “Who’s Sorry Now?” and all join in a rousing final refrain.

As Tony and Cherry enter, a large number of suited men and women talking into mobile telephones appear and stand outside No.10. They reprise the “’Ere We Go, ‘Ere We Go” of the first Act. Then they enter.

Cherry’s father appears, a police officer grabs him by the scruff of the neck. Cherry appears at the window and sings “Let Him Go, Brother” and throws down a handful of ten pound notes. In the scramble her father grabs two and runs off waving one in each hand. The chorus follow him singing “Money, money, money”.

Act Three

Scene One

A large room with bare blue tinged walls. They have portraits of Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. There are three sofa’s, one facing with two at slight angles. Tony sits on one, Cherry on the other and a man with staring eyes, Big Al, is on the other moving ceaselessly and twitching.

They sing a trio, “I Feel An Election Coming On”, a woman comes on to join Cherry and they begin to do Yoga. Standing on their heads they sing “The World Turned Upside Down”. President Bush appears with aides bearing a world map. Big Al hands him a set of darts. The others hum, “A Little Bit Of What You Fancy”.

Bush throws the darts at the map, the first two times Big Al shakes his head, the third time Al looks and sings “Stranger In Paradise”. A group of Liverpool fans cross the stage bearing a banner “Don’t Nuke Iraq Nuke Manchester” singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Big Al then leads a team of generals and civil servants in a dance sequence singing “Hey Diddley Dee A WMD For Me”.

All rush off the stage except for Cherry who begins to count on an abacus.

Scene Two

The same room, again with Cherry, Tony and Al on the sofa’s. Civil Servants, ministers, generals and advisers enter. A picture of Monet’s field of poppies is projected on the wall. They all sing “The Bells Of Hell Go Ting A Ling Ling”. John Reid tap dances across the stage and with Big Al, a general and an adviser sings “Without A Shot Being Fired.”

Cherry walks about with a placard stating “Human Rights Are Rights For Lawyers”. Then there is a general chorus of “We Are All Getting Re-Elected In The Morning” and they dance together.

Scene Three

The stage is bare with only a packing case in the middle with documents. Tony and Cherry appear and sing “When This Lovely Reign Is Over”. They pull out one document and a Queen Anne Country Manor is projected onto the wall behind them and then one of a large London house.

They embrace and a picture of the Pope appears, Tony kneels and an off stage chorus sings the “Ave Maria”. They return to the packing case and as their children come in one by one they are handed documents with pictures of various properties appearing. They all sing “This Old House”.

Pictures of Gaddafi and Mubarak appear, then George Bush to the music of “Strawberry Fields”. Cherry’s father comes in pushing a trolley of champagne bottles, helped by Silvio the butler accompanied by a troupe of lap dancers.

They are joined by a chorus of financiers and hand maidens and characters from the past. Tony and Cherry sing “We’ll Meet Again” and are then joined by all in “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” then “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” finishing with the reprise “’Ere We Are, ‘Ere We Are, ‘Ere We Are”.

During this showers of fifty pounds notes come down and pictures of tax havens are projected behind them finishing with Monaco.

The stage clears and there is a silence. Karl Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao appear, look about them, and shake their heads. They sit down at a table and Marx begins to deal the cards as the curtain comes down.

Friday 25 March 2011

Cheesy News About Coopers Hill

When my nearest and dearest went cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill in the late 1950’s it was never like this.

That it should be cancelled in this way is very sad.

In those days it was much more of a local event and all quite fun.

I blame climate change.

Double Gloucester is still on the menu.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Returning The Census

Having been reminded, several times, about the 2011 Census Return, I thought it was about time to see what many are complaining about. After three minutes careful study, my suggested use being rejected on hygiene grounds, I realised that the thing could be done on the machine.

Being inclined to do more daft things online, like so many others, I fitted it in between the analysis of the day’s cartoons and the latest forecasts of the TEOTWAWKI to lighten the mood. So now I am listed forever as a hunter-gatherer sun worshipper.

This is probably more reliable than most of the returns they will get. I suspect that the scale of bad returns this time is likely to dwarf those of previous years and those seemingly sound will be littered with errors or falsehoods. As in 2001 in some districts the size and nature of the discrepancies will be very large indeed.

Also online are the old Census returns up to 1911 which have radically reduced the time and cost of looking into the past and not only for personal family history. It means that it is possible to do other things quickly and simply.

On my travels yesterday I picked up an Evening Standard, the weekly one which also had the property pages. Flicking through them to wonder at the figures, I saw a property in Twickenham not far from a place I know and the station. A three bedroom terrace house, no garage, good condition, is priced at fifty quid short of £600,000.

It is not exactly posh by any means, under the flight path for Heathrow and with a traffic system in the area that is very congested. The local shopping is not very good and other facilities very average, unless you like attending Rugby internationals or support Harlequins.

Days before I had seen a street in Liverpool on the TV, one I knew well but this one was boarded up for demolition apart from a couple of properties occupied by aged pensioners with nowhere to go and no money. Those houses had zero value.

Thank you Lord Prescott and all your chums in the property trade for creating all those wonderful schemes for “urban regeneration” that have ruined the lives of so many. These houses were very similar in type to the one in Twickenham and arguably the local facilities were better.

So I look at another place, Jarrow, for those with an interest in Labour history. It was not difficult to find another house of the same type. This one is still in a functioning residential area, modernised and costs around £120,000, possibly a top price for that sort given the work done on it.

Then I check out the 1911 Census for those streets and look at the entries of the inhabitants. There are many people listed in that Census that I knew well. Also, unlike the bare descriptions of trade because of this I am familiar with the nuances of status and income that are implied. Some I knew will have been in their forty’s so well on in life and work.

In both Liverpool and Jarrow the families living in the streets were of the lower middling/upper working orders, essentially supervisory and higher skilled. Most will have had regular or reliable incomes. Most I suspect will have been in the Senior Classes of the then Elementary Schools and with the others had some kind of trade training or apprenticeship.

Down in Twickenham it was not the same. They had decent working class jobs and varied in type but their income level and skills would have been a little below those of the others. This would fit with the economic structure of the period. Also it suggests that the rentals may well have been lower.

Moreover, I knew these districts in the 1950’s and can recall the situation then. By that time the shift in favour of values in the South had begun to appear. But to look at the divergence now in 2011 is to ask the obvious questions about just how wide the difference is and why?

One is that the dead hand of government mingled with high finance has wrecked the centre of Liverpool. In Jarrow they have not got around to that patch but the values still reflect housing for the more middling orders. But why have the costs in Twickenham gone so very high in comparison?

What it tells me is that there is something very unstable and wrong about the UK economy and Osborne’s budget is not going to do much about it.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Silver Threads Amongst The Gold

Reports recently that many women of much younger ages are finding grey strands occurring in their hair have excited some of the media almost as much as the loss of hair in certain prominent males.

The reasons suggested are various. The stress of modern living is a favourite theme. That grannie’s experience of raising eleven children and losing three, in a world that did not have central heating, fast food, or modern appliances on her husbands wage of £3 a week, about good average, did not have it’s stresses is an interesting implication. And she had her widowed mother to take care of as well.

Another theory is dietary, somehow there is a lack of a particular vitamin in the modern diet. But in previous generations with seasonal limitations on many foods and often a limited choice of cheap options must have been the norm.

Also, science at the time was pointing to major vitamin and diet deficiencies amongst the population. These were caused by poverty on the one hand and eating the wrong foods on the other. It might be strange to suggest this, but those who could afford the white breads, tinned foods and manufactured products could have diets that were not healthy.

The answer may in fact be complex, with several interacting factors. One thing that has changed is that many women in the past covered their heads as the norm. This was because workplaces were dirty, housework was dirty in the age of coal and in towns the air was dirty as well. Moreover, in the countryside it was usual for all those working outdoors to have their heads covered.

Also, in that period hair was washed far less often, typically only weekly, and with a small range of products that were of limited strength and capability. To dye the hair was an expensive business and high maintenance. All in all, the hair took a lot less punishment and had much less exposure.

Contrast that with today. The air in towns and workplaces is no less polluted, although very much by petro-chemical particulates and their derivatives. Very few women work in the fields. In the home the effects of coal and ordinary dust have been replaced by a wide range of other substances that fill the air.

In addition, the range of cosmetic and personal products now even in the poorest homes would have staggered the women even of the upper middle class in the past. Moreover, daily washing and the application of strong colours, fixatives, other treatments and brighteners is almost the norm.

Add to that the strong chemicals embodied in clothing, detergents and fabric conditioners and the hair now has a daily battering of strong substances that much affect the natural pigmentation of the hair and the ability of the body to keep the feeding of the hair in balance.

Another consideration is that today a much higher proportion of women have access to and use the services of hairdressers who themselves function essentially by applying cocktails of chemicals. Yet they have limited knowledge or training in chemistry and in particular biochemistry.

As grannie used to say, you get what you pay for and if you cover yourself with muck then you become muck. With eleven children to wash down by the kitchen sink, she would have known.

But to modern eyes this would not be as stressful as catching up with the twitters.

Monday 21 March 2011

Libya Has A Lot Of History

On January 30th this year I posted “The Scramble for Africa Mark Five” and ended the post:


Now that cheap oil is coming to an end and food prices and other essential commodities are rising in price the fat is literally in the fire. It may not be long before there is a Scramble Mark Six as existing states begin to collapse and all the old tribal, ethnic and religious differences begin to take hold.

And the mass migrations will begin again.


There have been observers who have noted that Libya is a relatively recent addition to the Nation States listings. It was formed in 1951 by bringing together Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, territories in which differing tribal groups and others reside. Earlier in the mid 20th Century the area had been under Italian rule.

Around the cities of the coast a number of people are descended from slaves brought from one place or another including the Atlantic Isles. Many of us will have distant cousins amongst the population. It has a long and complicated history and war and upheaval have happened many times.

Over two millennia ago The Romans took over from the Carthaginians after a series of major wars. It was Cato The Elder, 234-149 BC who liked to say words to the effect that “Carthago delenda est” that is that Carthage should be destroyed. Then the Romans were displaced by the Vandals who were equally vigorous in their pursuit of wars.

Later others came along bringing with them Islam and The Ottoman Empire which collapsed in the early 20th Century. The USA has been here before in the Barbary Wars 1801 to 1805 and in 1815, not long after British troops torched Washington DC in August 1814. In that British Expedition to the USA, slavery was also a difficult issue and the original documents from The Horse Guards show confusion of thinking.

In 1943 my Uncle Jim broke a leg playing football in Tripoli which was lucky because he avoided invading Sicily and Italy. He was certainly a “Lucky Jim” because as a “Shiner” with the 10th Royal Hussars he had been driving one of the first tanks into Tobruk after El Alamein. A while after the War I was with the 7th Armoured Division for National Service along with a few remaining veterans.

This military intervention is going to be a difficult business to resolve. My first thoughts that the immediate use of Gaddafi’s tanks will have run them to the limit that their tracks could take and leave them sitting targets for air strikes has seemed to be correct.

But I am not making many prophecies. Unless we are very lucky it could result in an even more complex and difficult situation than either Iraq or Afghanistan and with even direr consequences.

One early effect could be that George Osborne’s budget could go up in flames as well as the former state of Libya.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Another Gulf Oil Spill?

There are reports of a possible new major oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Let us hope that this is not what they think it is.

Frying Tonight

In the picture above of the old Fry’s Chocolate Cream advertisement in the modern world perhaps the five descriptions might be reversed and have a different meaning.

You will know that Fry’s became part of Cadbury’s, had its production moved from Bristol to Poland and now Cadbury’s has become part of Krafts after some debate.

There were vague promises made to safeguard the UK part which do not seem to have been fulfilled and some of our Parliamentarians are not happy.

They have asked Irene Rosenfeld, the boss of Krafts, to explain things, but Irene has many other more important commitments to fulfil. Spending a dreary afternoon in a mucky part of London chatting to a bunch of nobody’s doesn’t do much for the bottom line.

To reinterpret the old advertisement.

“Realisation” now means that UK workers and consumers never mind their elected representatives can go whistle. Krafts is about money and not Big Societies.

“Acclamation” is the hoopla in The City and amongst some of our national leaders when Krafts took over Cadbury’s. This was the inevitable course of economic need and we should all be grateful for the beneficence of Krafts; at least those with access to the profits.

“Expectation” is the fine promises made by both Cadbury’s and later Krafts to the Fry’s workers and those involved with the old plant that they might be treated decently.

“Pacification” is all the heavy duty spin originally used by leading politicians, much of the financial media and others to justify the purely financial grounds for all the takeovers and manipulation of markets.

“Desperation” is for those who have lost their jobs and futures and for any who believe that it is possible for the UK to retain any ownership of its assets or ability to manage its own affairs.

As for Irene The Indignant Investor perhaps Baroness Orczy has the right idea:

“They seek her here, they seek her there,
Our M.P.’s seek her everywhere.

Is she creating heaven, or is she creating hell?

Does it matter if the products sell?”

Chocolate is still on the menu but only from certain suppliers. Also, cocoa futures have risen sharply in price.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Cameron's Marconi Scandal

When a major issue appears to arrive from nowhere it is often the case that it was there all the time under the nose of those involved and you could not or would not want to see it or to deal with it or to admit that it could become serious.

Cameron now has a major financial blow out on his hands that is not going to go away and may become impossible to avoid. A casualty could be Baroness Hanham, CBE, at present Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DECLOG, I shall call it).

On 14 February 2011 (see picture above) in reply to a letter of 4 October 2010 from Nick Gibb M.P. expressing contrition for a Departmental oversight (there seem to a lot of them about in the government these days) she asserted that the “pro-active and professional and positive approach by professionals in the sector” meant that there was no need for the government to look at what was going on in the leasehold part of the property market.

By implication despite other requests for meetings from Carlex, The Campaign Against Leasehold Exploitation, they would not be necessary as clearly in they eyes of DECLOG, all was for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Within days two of the principal financiers in that sector have been arrested by the Serious Fraud Squad, together with others, and a major property company owned by them, Peverel, has been taken into administration causing mayhem.

That is not all, the Baroness was and perhaps still is prominent in her local Conservative Party as the former leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, one of the central local parties in the whole Conservative Party organisation and very influential.

Amongst the local population are members of the same family within whom arrests have been made. Moreover it has been reported that they are contributors to Conservative Party funds in a way that allows access to the great and good.

Additionally, given the complex web of connections amongst many people arising from the financial and celebrity culture of this part of London it would be difficult to avoid contact if only at a basic social level. Quite how far that extends around the Conservative and New Labour parties can only be guessed at.

As the laws relating to privacy combined with the protection allowed to those investing in secrecy jurisdictions (see Nicholas Shaxson “Treasure Islands” and Tax Justice Network web sites) anything is and will remain a mystery. We can never know who has interests in who else and what.

Baroness Hanham must wish that she had listened to those who have serious anxieties about what is happening in the leasehold property sector and instituted a review of the state of the law and its application. Is it too late for her to do so?

Moving on, both she and others may not be aware of the implications of any disaster in parts of the leasehold sector. The current arrangements under the 2002 Leasehold Act were instituted by lawyers, of lawyers and for lawyers, one of the defining characteristics of New Labour.

One striking feature is how the appeal etc. and regulation was loaded in favour of the big companies with their legal teams against the ordinary person. This system is no longer working.

The headlong redevelopment schemes of New Labour have resulted in extensive flat developments across the country. But the rapid rise of service and other charges may well impact on sales where incomes are tighter. In many places there seem to be a good many flats unoccupied. According to some reports there are instances of them being impossible to sell.

The leasehold retirement flat sector is one where existing and potential buyers are already under serious pressure arising from the current situation. These flats, many of which were originally intended for “active retired” are now housing large numbers of the very elderly many of whom need care and support.

In the meantime, hospitals want to end bed blocking and reports of so many deaths from malnutrition and dehydration make disturbing reading. There are many care homes that are struggling; one report has a major company in trouble. The number of places in care homes has fallen significantly over the last decade for a variety of reasons.

Add to this the rising number of dementia cases for whom there are few places and in some parts of the country virtually none and what has happened is that many retirement flats have become almost partial quasi care homes serviced by a rapidly changing band of peripatetic carers.

In NHS establishments, care homes and amongst carers for a variety of reasons there are simply not the skills amongst many to deal with very real problems. Also we will soon be at the point where there are not enough people to meet the demands that will be made.

If sales of retirement flats collapse because few can afford the rapidly rising annual charges and the extras now demanded by their property service management companies then just where are all the retired who can no longer cope going to go to? Just what demands will fall on all the agencies involved?

This week “Private Eye” argues that there is a comparison with the BCCI Affaire, my guess is that there is more of the smack of The Marconi Scandal.

Choose your own, there are enough of them in the history books.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Cox And Box

Professor Brian Cox is annoyed that the BBC has turned down the sound effects on his latest series run “Wonders of the Universe”. As a former musician turned science professor turned guru turned celebrity presenter he feels that the decision is an affront to his personal vision of TV presentation.

The Prof’ may know lots about outer space and the relevant sciences but it seems that he knows little about the inner ear and the neurological implications of sound attrition. He complains that as only 118 complained to the BBC this is a derisory minority dictating to the masses.

However, in other space programmes I have watched on TV I am told that it could take only one largish lump of solid stuff coming in fast to obliterate the planet. Only we would not hear it coming because our sound needs an atmosphere and out there not far away in space there is not an atmosphere.

It might need only one well constructed and informed complaint to make the BBC realise that there could be a problem. Then some elementary research and reference to those organisations concerned with hearing problems and their implications might alert them to a real issue.

Amongst the various gadgets I have is a decibel counter. It is easy to use and instructive in the information it gives. Sound impact is not a simple matter and to assume that all people react in the same way or at the same levels of sound is wrong. Some are more vulnerable than others and many do have real problems when the sound is at levels lower than those indicated by current regulations.

In TV and radio there are real problems nowadays with much of the sound. The sudden and unexpected lurches into loudness can cause physical pain for some. For many it makes watching difficult and often impossible. To set the sound at a normal speech level means taking a bad hit when for impact or what this is overtaken by either effects or music at a level up to ten decibels louder.

Quite often this is compounded in visual terms by rapid and aggressive cutting. One programme that did this I began to check on with the watch. It soon became clear that the “mean” level of takes was around 15 seconds only. Long takes were rare and often there was a run of takes only at 3 to 8 seconds. Coupled with the CBW effect (crash bang wallop) it made a total nonsense of the documentary.

There are a lot of people out there with real hearing problems who depend on aids of one kind or another. I suspect that a large majority will have problems with the fancy sound techniques imposed by engineers and producers desperate for effect. How often is the speech lost by “realistic” sound effects.

Yes I know that when I am walking down a street the passing traffic makes noise. But if I am watching a drama where dialogue matters or a presenter explaining something I want to hear them. And if the scene is a dance do we need to have the thump of feet on the floor drowning out the conversation?

I have been here before on this subject:

Professor Cox, perhaps, does not know his cochlea from his comet.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Before Spending First Raise Your Revenues

What Thin Ed’ and Fat Ed’ do not grasp and what Dive and Nack cannot get together is that having strategies for this and initiatives for that as well as Big Things and New Things may be all very well for your cheerleaders in the media but they are not much use in dealing with government finances.

Getting the money in is more complicated and quite intricate so we are spending the time arguing about what goes out. At present we have “cuts” that are rather less than real in that much of them are reductions in the insanely optimistic spending plans created in the last few years of New Labour.

We have reforms that are call “drastic” that are merely winding the clock back to telling the accurate financial time. Essentially, we have give up all the “advances” bought with borrowed or non-existent money and go back to something like what we had a decade or two ago.

However, the getting of money is the aspect to this where a real debate seems to be missing and such mentions that we have are to do with stray items that catch the media eye. It is tax, assuming a broad and not too legalistic a definition and by this I mean all the ways and means of raising the tax revenues which will be the basis now and in the future of all government activity.

Also, we have to grasp that borrowing now is not an alternative and is one part of a complex pattern. Debt on which interest will have to be paid at whatever levels will be the case in the future represent charges on future taxes. So if you make serious errors in taxation policy now, fail to put them right and then borrow to make up the deficiency as time goes on any mess becomes a much bigger mess later.

Not long ago I suggested that we have to start looking at taxes in a different way that we have in the past and adjust our conceptual vision to meet what is the reality of the early 21st Century. We are now in its second decade yet we ramble on in 1980’s terms on the basis of the ideas of that period.

It accounts for the loud screeches of “Thatcherism” from the Left and cries of “added value” from the Right. So far as I am concerned being one of those miserable creatures that have to fork our whether I like it or not and without any escape there are three categories of taxation and non-taxation economy.

I have suggested these before but they need to be repeated. One is the Illegal Economy which is free from tax for the most part and for many whose economic activity is largely in that area any tax paid is either voluntary or unavoidable, like filling the fuel tank or buying at the supermarket.

It is my contention that for a variety of reasons this part of the economy has undergone spectacular growth in the last couple of decades. It is not necessarily all “criminal” in the common understanding of that word but includes a good deal of routine tax evasion, dodgy accounting and marketing.

Then there is the Alternative Economy which embraces activity where taxes are either limited by government policy or the regulations give scope for legal avoidance. Also it might include legal activity that does not attract tax such as ordinary barter, DIY, growing your own veggies etc. and a lot of things quite normal in human exchange.

However, as tax avoidance has grown from being a cottage industry in the corporate world and amongst a few wealthy and well connected people, it is now a large part of the UK financial sector. Some of the way money is moved and the amounts that go is astonishing and this has grown hugely and is expanding rapidly.

In short the UK has lost a great deal of its tax base and is losing more. Also, as ownership of so many UK assets and key economic sectors is going abroad the essential structure for taxing in these sectors is deteriorating quickly. To add to this the increase of indebtedness of the UK population is creating more stresses.

So when we come to the Taxable Economy this is shrinking steadily in real terms leaving more to be extracted from the those who cannot avoid payment or do not have the choices available to others in the disposition of their monies.

At the same time, the financial sector has been very busy extracting money large scale from the same pool of people but their money goes into the Alternative Economy resulting in a reduced tax take that takes a large chunk out of it. Again the notion of The Economics of Extraction is one that I have been peddling.

There are others around who argue that the present UK business model is simply unworkable and unsustainable, especially with some serious policy issues due for resolution which will add to government costs. If the government fail to find a policy then what will happen will happen and it will still entail huge costs.

If we do not have a proper debate and the issues are not publicly discussed but avoided then it will be very very difficult. But our real problem is that almost the whole of our political and media class now have their money at least in the Alternative Economy.

The picture above is by Quentin Massys titled “Suppliant Peasants in the Office of Two Tax Collectors”. Something like this has happened before in History in one place or another. It always ended very badly.

Monday 14 March 2011

Japan Aftershocks And Nuclear Implications

One of the routine sites I look at is the USGS earthquake listings. This arose from reading around some history which pointed to geophysical events and their impact on human history. This was something that did not appear much when I was at school.

One aspect of this that fascinates is that it is highly complex and whilst we may know this or that may well or will happen predicting events is very difficult and experts are right to be wary. Moreover those who do make an accurate prediction of a disaster rarely get much in the way of thanks.

The catastrophe that has unfolded in Japan has shocked the world by its severity and intensity. The Japanese are faced with an almost unlimited range of problems. Yet of all the countries in the world Japan was probably one of the, if not the, best informed, prepared and organized to meet the challenges.

At present it is the nuclear dangers that are amongst those commanding the most attention. Automatic Earth has a long, well informed and thorough look at the implications and what is involved and its article has also been posted on The Oil Drum.

The “Black Swan” reference is to the recent work by Nassim Nicholas Taleb that dealt with complex financial and other matters where fixed thinking tended to exclude any consideration of unknowns or ideas outside conventional thinking.

It refers to the belief in The West once that swans could only be white. Then Australia was found to have black swans. Just as once science believed that bacteria could not exist in the human stomach until a backwoods Australian scientist found they could.

To add to the concerns is the “what happens next” question, one opinion on this is that beyond the present heavy and continuing aftershocks that are doing so much additional damage there could be another impending.

Despite my regular watch on earthquakes and having seen the past medium sized regular events off Honshu in the last few years I did not expect anything on this scale until it happened. So while I am looking round the whole Ring of Fire of the Pacific Ocean and wondering I have little or no idea what will happen next. One can make guesses, but that is no good at all.

But if the whole Earth has had a jolt then where else might a vulnerability exist that needs only a small shift to trigger a major event?

Saturday 12 March 2011

Keep Right On To The End Of The Road

In the strange world we live in things can only get stranger.

Apparently, hat tip Naked Capitalism link to itworld, it is possible for hackers to take control of a car via the stereo music system:

What, I ask, would Sir Harry Lauder have made of it? More to the point which song would he have chosen?

They don’t make them like that any more.


When a certain person, whose Christian name is that of a famous Yorkshire and England fast bowler and whose surname that of a highly dangerous sand bank in the English Channel that has destroyed a vast amount of valuable cargo said he did not want his name to be associated with something there was confusion.

Because when he rang the judge from his gold plated bath in a far away place frequented by the very rich the connection was not too good. He said that he did not want to be called a "tanker" and typically the judge and the media got it badly wrong.

One can understand this. To be compared to something that is oversized, an environmental liability, slow, difficult to deal with and full of crude oil is most hurtful and people should indeed be protected.

So there.

Friday 11 March 2011

Thoughts For The Day

Just in case you were trying to make sense of anything in the news a few items to remind you that it is not as simple as that.

Try any or all of the links below.

Buy your own slave at current low prices to cut energy costs from Raw Story via Some Assembly Required:

Europe debate and industrial “strategy” from The Slog:

The Chinese housing bubble (will it collapse?) from Market Oracle:

World water supply issues from Automatic Earth:

The food we might eat from The Oil Drum:

Who is really getting the big subsidies in the USA from Tax Justice Network:

And lastly, forget all those TV series about The Tudors its just in the blood from ArchNews:

Its being so cheerful as keeps me going.

Thursday 10 March 2011

Public Sector Pensions The Accidents Waiting To Happen

This blog has gone on at length before on the subject of pensions and the issues arising in the public sector. Put “pensions” into the search at the bottom and all will be revealed.

Lord Hutton has reported that it is necessary now to take radical action on public sector pensions because of the way the system and the world have developed. What he means is that it is no longer a simple accident but more like a major motorway shunt.

The media are giving us the effect on the futures of some ordinary middling and lower paid employees. It is a pity that have not paraded all those at the top who have been treating themselves to substantial pay and pensions packages that have added significantly to the problem.

When I began work those in the public sector who had schemes mostly expected to work until they were 65 (often 60 for women who were on lower pay) with some exceptions, to do their forty years or as many as possible and to have a fixed pension without any adjustments for rising prices.

However, often they were able to afford to buy a home at a price which they could afford on the basis of a mortgage at two and one half times income over twenty five years. Also, they tended to save and not to expect to continually re-mortgage for “improvements” or to attempt high consumption levels that were debt based.

When “inflation protection” was introduced, this was seen as necessary and a consequence of governments following a “Keynsian” (it wasn’t) policy of allowing persistent low level inflation as a means of maintaining employment and reducing the burdens of government debt.

We all know where that ended in the late 1970’s and the consequential reductions that had to be made. This led to a number of “early retirement” schemes that should have been temporary but were left in place.

Down the following years it was often the case that pay increases were curtailed with some improvements at the margins for future pensions. The “classic buy now pay later” approach to politics. Almost it became routine for a pay negotiation to include some favourable treatment of pension conditions.

The effect to all this was that schemes that were essentially solvent at the end of the 1970’s and only needed minor tinkering as the expectation of life rose became vulnerable to deficit and major liabilities as all the improvements became “rights” and employees expected to have much better pensions on the basis of rather fewer years of service.

By the end of the 1990’s it was apparent that there could be troubles ahead for many schemes. However, New Labour instead of addressing the problem both continued to buy off public sector employees with further concessions and fooled itself into believing that the “Goldilocks” economy would wondrously pay for it all forever and a day.

At the same time the public sector was visited with the full burden of increased regulatory and employment costs, added expensive “duties” whilst pay at the top in most sectors, together with pension deals for individuals, went totally out of control.

Also there were a range of other added costs, notably PFI, agency costs and the armies of consultants and accountants with their botched computer plans.

Do not blame Lord Hutton nor the Coalition. This one has been coming, it has been seen to be coming and if the economy ever was to experience problems then it was certain to come.

And the longer it was allowed to go on the worse it was going to be.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Arresting News

It is reported on Wednesday 9th March 2011 that a number of arrests have been made in relation to the financial operations of the Kaupthing Bank, the Icelandic bank at the heart of the recent UK financial and banking crisis.

Robert Peston on the BBC has been extremely cagey in his comments as have much of the media. For some reason they express surprise.

As this is now possibly a criminal case I will make no comment.

There is a certain amount of material, however, on the web. This includes


And previously, the last one re Cayman Islands mentions the notion of Iceland on Thames.

Those with a liking for history might study the crash of the Ayr Bank on 10 June 1772 which help trigger the major collapse of financial institutions in London as well as the fortunes of so many leading Scots and other families and then cascading down the social ladder to those of more humble and working trades.

Including mine.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Public Interest Private Profit

Last night, Monday 7th March, Channel 4 hosted a debate on the issue of selling off national assets of one sort or another to raise monies to allow the government to stagger on regardless.

How much it informed people or got to grips with real issues and the complexity of most of the proposals is open to debate.

We have already been discovering in the last few years how PFI schemes in the public sector can result in hugely increased bills in the future.

In the private sector the take over binge encouraged by the government on the basis of insane leverages and the creation of huge finance based entities has inflicted substantial extra costs on many of us for worsening services.

If you do want to see a more thorough account of all this you will be hard pressed to find it in the UK media amongst all the flannel and fluster of their usual output.

For those with an interest in history some of the financial arrangements have the effect of creating mini and localised monopolies akin to those of the past with all the consequences they bring for the services being provided and the pricing.

This article below, although referring to the US experience, gives the bigger picture in a readable form:

As the title says, if it sounds too good to be true then it will be too good to be true.

Monday 7 March 2011

Where Has It All Gone?

Another day, another power cut, mercifully only three hours this one and at a time when it was not so much a problem.

Some hasty rearrangements had to be made but nothing critical. The high point when was I did a return to the past and shaved in cold water at the kitchen sink.

Long ago when this was routine, there was a radio show “Round The Horne” in which a country yokel had the catch phrase “The answer lies in the soil.”

At the moment some of the problems we face may be because of that but for the big question at present just take the “s” off the last word.

For a fuller serious discussion of this The Oil Drum has an item on the situation in four countries, Nigeria, Angola, Libya and the UK. Overall it comes to around 1700 words but the part dealing with the UK situation tells us what we are up against.

It is about half way through and describes it as being “riches to rags”.

Perhaps I could be shaving in cold water at the sink a lot more often in the near future.

Saturday 5 March 2011

Something For The Weekend, Sir?

It seems that our economy is shrinking, our military capability is shrinking, our universities are shrinking, our politicians shrinking in stature and ability and as the sea erodes the land the whole United Kingdom is shrinking.

There are a lot of other things that do but there is one that might be less welcome, especially to our males.

A contact has posted this on a blog:


Perfumed children

Developing brains and bodies are especially vulnerable. Numerous perfume chemicals readily cross the placental barrier, so children are being exposed even before they are born. Breast milk is another source of exposure.

Women’s urine levels of phthalates, chemicals commonly used in perfume mixtures including laundry perfumes, have been linked with genital abnormalities in their infant sons. These include undersized penises and scrotums and undescended testicles (Swan et al., 2005).

It has been found that children’s exposure to polluting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be greater indoors than outside (Adgate et al., 2004). Common sources include household cleaners, room deodorisers, toilet bowl blocks, moth repellents and perfumes.

There is evidence that household chemicals are contributing to the increase in childhood asthma (Sherriff, 2004).

Research reported in 2003 found that infants suffered more frequent diarrhoea and earache in households where there was heavier use of air ‘fresheners’, and more frequent diarrhoea and vomiting where there was more use of aerosols (Farrow et al., 2003).

The public has been persuaded by commercial interests to fill their homes with pollutants which may be harmful as those from vehicle exhaust. Indeed, at least one of the chemicals studied for this article is also found in diesel exhaust, perhaps not surprising in light of the fact that the vast majority are made from petrochemicals.

Vast numbers of children are growing up in a toxic chemical fog, inside homes, schools and even doctors’ surgeries and hospitals places where people are supposed to be healed, not harmed.


But this is where it gets even more interesting from links supplied by the contact. Nervous males should look away now. The first link is the BBC take on the research in question and the second a link to the scientific paper.

But this is not all. The paper refers to largely adult males over a long period. But in the last handful of years the scenario has become a whole lot worse.

Nanotechnology can be a wonderful tool in many fields, medicine, engineering and others. But when consumer products companies now routinely use it in a wide range of their brands in complex synthetic chemicals to get more bang for the buck and this is largely unchecked and untested what is going to happen?

Few people are aware of the strength and impact on the body of the new formulations of the great majority of the major brands yet it is now all about us and because of the technology it is impossible to either wash away or shift.

And it gets to the parts other things do not reach.

Who needs Sweeney Todd when you have Unilever?

Friday 4 March 2011

LSE, A Message From The Director

After a sudden surge of interest in the LSE by the media in just who and what was going on in relation to the Gaddafi family, the Director, Howard Davies, has resigned. There is a grim irony in that he came to LSE from the FSA. There are now serious questions about the School’s conduct and academic standing.

On the day Howard’s head rolled, I suspect to protect others, the Alumni Association, a particular interest of his, mailed all those on its list and the text of the message is below. There is an ethereal beauty about the timing of this in the context.


Are you passionate about LSE? Have you got enthusiasm and ideas about how the School engages with its alumni? Then why not apply to sit on one of the Alumni Association committees.

The LSE Alumni Association was established in 2005 to give alumni a greater voice within the School. Working alongside a dedicated Alumni Relations team, the Alumni Association looks for innovative ways to:

support alumni groups, of which there are currently over 70 across the world;
engage alumni with the School, across all age groups;
develop our programme of events and communications to ensure it appeals to a wide range of alumni.

The Alumni Association is made up of a number of committees, which each focus on a different area of alumni engagement. These committees are overseen by an Executive Committee which meets regularly with representatives from the School to present the ideas and feedback from the committees’ meetings.

The Alumni Association committees are:

Group establishment, recognition and obligations
Group Leaders' support

Lifelong contacts
Regional ambassadors

To find out more about the work of the Alumni Association and its committees, or for more information about how to apply for a two-year term (September 2011 – September 2013), please see the Alumni Association web pages.

Interested in being involved in the Alumni Association Executive Committee or one of its committees? Apply online today.

Kind regards

The Alumni Association Executive Committee


The picture above is of the LSE Student Common Room either during or close to the period I graced the Bridge and Poker schools while waiting for the bars to open. If the cash was short or my creditors insistent there was always the library which was warm, free and where an interesting book might be found in the section on social anthropology.

There is a hand of Contract Bridge being played and from the rapt interest being shown either a critical one or of some technical interest. Bridge has fallen from fashion these days, but it did teach some useful lessons.

If you do not know the game, put “Contract Bridge” into search and look for the Wikipedia listing. The article explains it all and the “Game Play” section indicates what can be involved.

You need to know the rules and then be able to deal, make contracts and proceed on the basis that you know where half of the cards are but to estimate where the other cards are placed and how they might be played.

It seems a pity that so few of the students or staff these days have time to play and pit their wits against each other. Perhaps they might learn how to avoid making catastrophic errors.

In the meantime, in all the kerfuffle going on there is a name curiously absent from the coverage yet to who might be central to the whole business. Did anyone say “superinjunction”?

All I will say was that the Gaddafi in question seems to have had a very close interest in Human Rights legislation.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Company Will Retire, Company Dismiss

1st Battalion. Queens Own Cameron Jobseekers

C (Cable) Company

Company Orders, Friday 1st April 2011


6.00 Reveille
Bugle Call “Goodbye-ee, Goodbye-ee, Wipe the tear from your eye-ee”

6.30 Non Working Parade, Company Commander present.
Instructions on jobs not to be done and avoidance of fatiques.

7.30 Breakfast, wheelie bins of outdated sell by stock from Tesco.

9.00 Footdrill, Company Sergeant Major.
Company will rehearse queuing, slouching and petomane skills.

1015 NAAFI break.
Outsourced to Osborne Vending Machines Ltd.

1045 Combat training dealing with travelling by rail, mugging techniques and advanced shoplifting.


13.00 Lunch provided by Salvation Army Soup Kitchens
Bugle Call: “Onward Redundant Soldiers Marching On The Dole.”

14.00 Route March
Platoon Officers, covering as little ground as possible with the fewest possible men.

15.30 NAAFI break.
Outsourced to Pickles RU.

16.00 Domestic Economy
Corporals to supervise. Blanket pressing, study of ceiling patterns and learning how to live in filth.

1800 Tea. Leftovers, if any.

1900 Lecture by Battalion Commanding Officer
“Your future, if any, in security, cleaning and refuse collecting.”

20.00 Sunset
Bugle Call: “Buddy could you spare a dime?”

11.00 Lights out (permanent).
Bugle Call: “Anarchy in the U.K.”.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Taking Insurance On TEOTWAWKI

Looking through the documentary channels on TV there is often a repeat of the Discovery Channel programme on the Maya prophecy for TEOTWAWKI, or The End Of The World As We Know It. It is claimed that this is forecast for 21 December 2012.

The ECJ, the European Court of Justice has just made a ruling on the fixing of insurance premiums in which gender is excluded from any criteria. It is claimed that this will affect a substantial proportion of people seeking insurance adversely in the effect of the extra charges that will be necessary. This is due to take effect on 21 December 2012.

Do the judges know something that we don’t? But then insurance always used to be about risk. Perhaps we won’t need it after that date.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Libya, Follow The Money

The suggested figures are coming out for the size of the fortunes of the Gaddafi family. As expected it makes those for Mubarak and the Tunisians look cheap. One quoted on Automatic Earth from the USA is coming in at £170 billion and the post there looks at inequalities with pie charts. We only need to look at the TV to see that all those fleeing Libya know the reality of this.

So who, what, why, where and when? Unluckily the journalists in our media have not been paying much attention to these considerations. In the meantime the end game may be near. When UK politicians start the chest beating and howling along with their US equivalents then you know that the something is nigh.

As we have seen, Cameron had done a Brown in skiving off abroad when the heat was on and then coming back to let us all know how positive he can be when the time is ripe to try for some credit.

As with Mubarak in Egypt the Western powers have given the Gaddafi clan just about enough time to arrange their affairs before retiring. But what may happen to The Colonel? The departure of the nurses may mean something.

If a man has been living close to death his state of mind may consider martyrdom as a preferred option. Especially if it helps protects the family, their genes and their monies.

If the money is anything like the suggested figures then the developed West in its parlous state will not want much disruption and new problems in the markets. These are already looking intricate with a number of increasingly difficult issues to handle around the world in terms of commodities and the solvency of governments.

Indeed, the “freeze” of Gaddafi assets in the UK may yield something. There are bound to be some figures in what amount to local household accounts and transfer funds that can be trumpeted as successes. Even these might amount to “virtual” cash that does not really exist and is essentially a convenient fiction.

Out there however is a lot of investment money and major holdings in a number of companies. So what actually does the Gaddafi clan own and how important is it to either to the states in which those companies function or to their financial systems?

This brings us in turn to which political leaders and groups in which places have found themselves obliged to take account of Libya and its rulers over the last couple of decades.

One country would be one which has its own network of locations around the world through which money and holdings and trusts might be funded and investments made and circulated through the world financial system.

We would be looking for politicians who have either become rich recently or who have already within their substantial family trusts certain types of investments.

Names come to mind, why am I singing quietly, “In the town where I was born…..”?