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UK housing crisis: how did owning a home become unaffordable?  Edited and Posted by Robert Cook April 13 2021

Buying a house is off-limits to many thanks to rising rents, pay freezes and a lack of affordable homes. But it hasn’t always been this way. What went wrong?

Lydia McMullan, Hilary Osborne, Garry Blight and Pamela Duncan

Wed 31 Mar 2021 08.00 BST Last modified on Thu 1 Apr 2021 15.37 BST

The UK has a housing crisis: in recent decades the cost of buying a home has risen faster than wages, leaving many workers priced out of the market.

In some parts of the country, low-deposit mortgages are no help, because would-be homeowners cannot afford the monthly repayments on the mortgages they will need, leaving them in the position of needing to save large sums to put down.

High private sector rents make this difficult – and also mean that in some areas 40% of tenants need state help to pay their monthly housing bills. Affordable social housing has become scarcer, leaving many households with no choice but to rent – often paying more than they would for a mortgage.

Here is a short history of how we came to this point:


Year 2020

Average UK house price £238,211

£200,000

1970s

Things weren’t always like this …

At the beginning of the 1970s almost a third of homes across Great Britain were affordable social housing provided by local authorities, according to government data. This provided a decent alternative to home ownership. For those who could buy, the average price in the UK was £4,057. By the next decade things were beginning to look different.

The distribution of housing stock in Great Britain has changed significantly since 1970

Housing stock in Great Britain, by type of tenure 1970 – 2018

The right to buy is bad news for social housing – see More of Milton Keynes Building on the Vision by Robert Cook

The right to buy is a good place to start unpicking the current housing crisis. The scheme, which enabled council tenants to buy their homes for a reduced price, had existed for years, but the Thatcher government turbo-charged it with big discounts introduced in the Housing Act of 1980. Over time, the sums of money councils could keep to create new homes was reduced, and the number of replacement properties fell.

The number of council homes in Great Britain has declined steadily since 1980

Right to Buy

introduced

This led to a big leap in the number of homeowners in the UK

Within five years, in England alone half a million council homes had been sold under the initiative. Between right to buy sales, demolitions and the later transfer of properties to housing associations, the availability of council housing has plummeted since the 1980s.

1980s-1990s

Mortgages become more widely available … but the system gets riskier

At the same time as council housing stock was diminishing, something else was afoot. The financial sector began a large-scale deregulation that continued throughout the 80s. Mortgages became more readily available and lenders could charge what they wanted. The days of having to prove you could save before you could borrow were over, and more money came into the system.

1987

1988

The 1988 Housing Act further dents councils’ ability to house their communities

The 1988 Housing Act enabled housing associations to source private money to build new homes and repair existing ones. These independent not-for-profit organisations were originally funded by philanthropy, but in the 1970s were granted access to public funding to build homes. This new act gave them powers that councils did not have, so many transferred the ownership of homes to the associations. A quarter of a million houses had been transferred by 1997, and this practice continued under New Labour.

The act also introduced assured shorthold tenancies, which made owning a rental property more attractive to individual investors – another factor contributing to the rise in house prices.

Late 80s, early 90s

The housing market crashes

House prices rose significantly from 1983 onwards, but crashed at the end of the decade as interest rates rose to almost 15% and the economy fell into recession. The subsequent fall in the early 1990s led many borrowers into negative equity – their mortgages were bigger than the value of the homes they were secured on.

Some borrowers handed back their keys to their lender, others fell behind on payments. Repossessions rose, peaking at 75,500 in 1991. These homes went back on the market, depressing prices further.

Repossessions rose dramatically between 1989 – 1991 in England and Wales

1989 80,000

1990 60,000

1991 40,000

The big supply and demand problem rolls on

Fewer controls on mortgage lending meant more people could buy homes, but this was offset by the fact there were not enough homes being built. In 1992, the number of new homes completed in the UK was 179,100 – just over half the number built 20 years earlier. The growing demand drove up prices.

The yearly supply of new homes in the UK has declined since 1970

House prices rebound … but wages don’t keep up

From the end of 1993 house prices began rising again. Within 10 years mortgage payments went up from about a fifth of the average pay packet of a first-time buyer to approximately a third, according to the Nationwide affordability index.

1996

Buy to let goes mainstream

In September 1996 the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and four lenders launched a “buy-to-let initiative”, making it easier for individuals to invest in property by offering specialist mortgages that take into account rental incomes. Over the next two decades falling interest rates and rising house prices persuaded more and more people that the property market was a good place to invest. In 2014, almost 200,000 buy-to-let mortgages were approved. Not only did this expand the rental market but it was another element driving house sale prices up.

1999

Northern Rock’s ‘high-risk mortgage’ signals madness in the market

Northern Rock launched its Together mortgage – a home loan that offered borrowers the chance to take on debt equal to 125% of the value of the property they were buying. The same year, the total number of new houses built by councils in England stood at a mere 50.

There are warnings over ‘liar loans’

Among the other innovations in the housing market were self-certification mortgages – these were designed to help the self-employed and other borrowers with incomes from multiple sources to get mortgages without showing payslips. But as the housing market took off in the early 2000s they became more commonplace, along with “fast-track” loans where incomes were not verified. Regulators and politicians started to become concerned about this part of the market.

Interest-only mortgages also became more common, as borrowers who could not afford to pay off some of their home loan each month took the cheaper option – and a gamble that house prices would continue to rise and they would be able to pay off the loan eventually. After the banking crisis strict rules were put in place to curb these kinds of lending.

The average UK house price reaches eye-watering levels … and then the credit crunch hits

House prices soared in Britain … and then the US firm Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, triggering a global financial crash. UK lenders took riskier mortgage products off the market and significantly cut their lending. As a result, it became more difficult to get a mortgage, particularly as the recession hit people’s jobs and savings. Against a backdrop of dwindling social housing provision and out-of-reach mortgages, more people were pushed into private renting. The percentage of owner-occupied properties began to fall.

The average house price almost tripled between August 1990 and August 2007

A period of hardship for many is an opportunity for others

As the impact of the credit crunch rippled across the country, repossessions were kept in check by historically low interest rates and rules forcing lenders to do their best to help people keep their homes.

As well as helping people stay in their homes, this cheap credit made property look a good investment to those with spare cash, and over the next few years fuelled some parts of the market.

2009

The proportion of people living in council housing has shrunk

The percentage of homes provided by councils fell from 32% in 1977 to a mere 9% in Great Britain. The figure continued to fall the following decade, hitting 7% in 2018. For those who qualified for a mortgage, interest rates had never been lower – the base rate was slashed to just 0.5% and the cost of home loans fell too.

2010

The number of new homes built hits a new low

The number of new houses completed in the UK dropped to 135,990, the lowest figure since 1946. In 2013 it fell even further to 135,590. The population, however, continued to grow, increasing housing demand.

The UK’s population has risen by nearly 8 million since the turn of the century

The same year, the coalition government introduces ‘affordable rent’ … to raised eyebrows

The coalition government introduced a new form of tenure, called “affordable rent”. The hope was that making tenants pay up to 80% of the market rent – far above social housing rates – would enable more new houses to be built. These prices were far out of reach for many low-income earners in some parts of the country: Westminster council warned in 2013 that at 80% of market rates, households would have to earn £58,000 a year to afford a one-bedroom flat.

2013

Help to buy is born

The housing market outside London struggles after the banking crisis, construction is sluggish and first-time buyer numbers fall as lenders still demand large deposits. Then the government makes “a dramatic intervention to get our housing market moving” with the launch of two help-to-buy-schemes – one offering loans on brand new homes, which builds on an existing scheme for first-time buyers, the other offering mortgage lenders government guarantees so they can start providing 95% mortgages again.

A week after the budget economists from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility warn that help to buy will push up prices and have little impact on demand.

George Osborne raises tax bills for landlords

For years landlords had benefited from cheap borrowing – made cheaper by rules allowing them to claim tax relief of up to 45% on their mortgage interest.

The then chancellor, George Osborne, surprised many with his spring budget when he announced this tax break would be cut to 20% in 2017, and that there would no longer be an automatic right to claim relief worth 10% of the rent for wear and tear. In November 2015 he delivered another hit – announcing a 3% surcharge on second homes to be introduced the following April. The moves meant landlords no longer had an advantage over first-time buyers.

The then prime minister, Theresa May, gets rid of the cap on what councils can borrow to build homes. The hope is that this will increase council housing provision – but only by an estimated 10,000 new homes a year. A year after the announcement was made, research found that some councils had already started building, and until the pandemic hit they had been expected to reach the government’s target.

The housing market went into lockdown in March, but despite a deadly pandemic disrupting most areas of the economy, once it reopened business boomed. UK house prices climbed by 8.5% during 2020, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The price rise was partly fuelled by a rush to buy during the stamp duty holiday in England and Wales that is set to end in June 2021, with rates returning to usual after the end of September, and partly by a “race for space” with larger homes becoming more prized.

House prices rose steadily from May 2020 despite the pandemic


Years of selling off social housing followed by more than two decades of a property market fuelled by cheap credit have put households who do not own homes in a difficult position. High rents make it hard to save enough for mortgages that would cost less each month. Runaway house prices mean that for some it is impossible to ever save a big enough deposit to raise a mortgage. Low interest rates make property attractive to investors, and help those who can afford a deposit raise big sums to buy – but they are no help to those who are saving up.

Putting things right will not be simple, but there are things that can be done to improve the situation.

*Note: The UK yearly average house price shown is a calculation of the mean value of the HPI UK monthly averages.

NEED TO BE ECONOMICAL WITH LANGUAGE AND TRUTH IN THE NAME OF EQUALITY BUT TO HIDE UGLY TRUTH OF AN OBSCENE ECONOMIC SYSTEM WHERE RICH GET EVER RICHER AND MORE POWERFUL – THE LOWER ORDERS TAKE THE BLAME – April 13th 2021

The harmful ableist language you unknowingly useShare using EmailShare on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin(Image credit: Alamy)

(Credit: Alamy)

By Sara Nović5th April 2021Some of our most common, ingrained expressions have damaging effects on millions of people – and many of us don’t know we’re hurting others when we speak.I

I like being deaf. I like the silence as well as the rich culture and language deafness affords me. When I see the word ‘deaf’ on the page, it evokes a feeling of pride for my community, and calls to me as if I’m being addressed directly, as if it were my name.

So, it always stings when I’m reminded that for many, the word ‘deaf’ has little to do with what I love most – in fact, its connotations are almost exclusively negative. For example, in headlines across the world – Nevada’s proposed gun safety laws, pleas from Ontario’s elderly and weather safety warnings in Queensland – have all “fallen on deaf ears”.

This kind of ‘ableist’ language is omnipresent in conversation: making a “dumb” choice, turning a “blind eye” to a problem, acting “crazy”, calling a boss “psychopathic”, having a “bipolar” day. And, for the most part, people who utter these phrases aren’t intending to hurt anyone – more commonly, they don’t have any idea they’re engaging in anything hurtful at all.

However, for disabled people like me, these common words can be micro-assaults. For instance, “falling on deaf ears” provides evidence that most people associate deafness with wilful ignorance (even if they consciously may not). But much more than individual slights, expressions like these can do real, lasting harm to the people whom these words and phrases undermine – and even the people who use them in daily conversation, too.

Not a small problem

About 1 billion people worldwide – 15% of the global population – have some type of documented disability. In the US, this proportion is even larger, at about one in four people, with similar rates reported in the UK.

Despite these numbers, disabled people experience widespread discrimination at nearly every level of society. This phenomenon, known as ‘ableism’ – discrimination based on disability – can take on various forms. Personal ableism might look like name-calling, or committing violence against a disabled person, while systemic ableism refers to the inequity disabled people experience as a result of laws and policy.Sara Nović discusses writing with students at the Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Colorado, US (Credit: Sara Nović)

Sara Nović discusses writing with students at the Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Colorado, US (Credit: Sara Nović)

But ableism can also be indirect, even unintentional, in the form of linguistic micro-aggressions. As much as we all like to think we’re careful with the words we choose, ableist language is a pervasive part of our lexicon. Examples in pop culture are everywhere, and you’ve almost certainly used it yourself.

Frequently, ableist language (known to some as ‘disableist’ language) crops up in the slang we use, like calling something “dumb” or “lame”, or making a declaration like, “I’m so OCD!”. Though these might feel like casual slights or exclamations, they still do damage.

Jamie Hale, the London-based CEO of Pathfinders Neuromuscular Alliance, a UK charity run for and by people with neuromuscular conditions, notes that the potential for harm exists even if the words are not used against a disabled person specifically. “There’s a sense when people use disableist language, that they are seeing ways of being as lesser,” says Hale. “It is often not a conscious attempt to harm disabled people, but it acts to construct a world-view in which existing as a disabled person is [negative].”

Using language that equates disability to something negative can be problematic in several ways.

First, these words give an inaccurate picture of what being disabled actually means. “To describe someone as ‘crippled by’ something is to say that they are ‘limited’ [or] ‘trapped’, perhaps,” says Hale. “But those aren’t how I experience my being.”

Disability as metaphor is also an imprecise way to say of saying what we really mean. The phrase ‘fall on deaf ears’, for example, both perpetuates stereotypes and simultaneously obscures the reality of the situation it describes. Being deaf is an involuntary state, whereas hearing people who let pleas ‘fall on deaf ears’ are making a conscious choice to ignore those requests. Labelling them ‘deaf’ frames them as passive, rather than people actively responsible for their own decisions.

Ableist language crops up in the slang we use, like calling something “dumb” or “lame”, or making a declaration like, “I’m so OCD!”

Hale adds that using disability as a shorthand for something negative or inferior reinforces negative attitudes and actions, and fuels the larger systems of oppression in place. “We build a world with the language we use, and for as long as we’re comfortable using this language, we continue to build and reinforce disableist structures,” they say.

Say what?

If ableist language is so harmful, why is it so common? Why might someone who would never purposefully insult a disabled person outright still find ableist expressions among their own vocabulary?

Ableist language as colloquialism functions like any other slang term: people repeat it because they’ve heard others say it, a mimicry that on its face suggests use is undiscerning. However, according to University of Louisville linguistics professor DW Maurer, while anyone can create slang term, the expression will only “gain currency according to the unanimity of attitude within the group”. This suggests ableist slang is ubiquitous because, on some level, the speakers believe it to be true.

It’s possible for individuals to be truly unconscious of these biases within themselves, and unaware of the ableism couched in their own everyday sayings. But the fact is, discussions about the negative effect of a word such as “dumb” – a term originally denoting a deaf person who did not use speech, but which now functions as slang for something brutish, uninteresting or of low intelligence – have been happening in deaf and disabled circles for centuries.

According to Rosa Lee Timm, the Maryland, US-based chief marketing officer of non-profit organisation Communication Service for the Deaf, these conversations have remained largely unexamined by the mainstream because non-disabled people believe that ableism doesn’t affect them, and ableist language perpetuates and justifies that belief.

“Ableist language encourages a culture of separation. It defines, excludes and marginalises people,” says Timm. She adds that this allows non-disabled people to be bystanders in the face of ableist culture infrastructure at large.

A boomerang effect

Although these words and phrases are obviously harmful to the groups they marginalise, non-disabled people who casually use ableist language may be negatively impacting themselves, too.

“What happens to this group of hearing, non-disabled people later in life – be it hearing loss, an accident, a health issue, aging or any number of things – when they transition to the disabled community?” says Timm. “The ableist language they used has created an oppressive environment.”One of the most effective ways to move away from ableist language is understanding the disabled community, having conversations and listening to their concerns (Credit: Alamy)

One of the most effective ways to move away from ableist language is understanding the disabled community, having conversations and listening to their concerns (Credit: Alamy)

Timm notes this ‘environment’ includes an impact on their own self-worth. “Beauty standards are a good comparison, in terms of language’s psychological power,” she says. “As a parent, if I say, ‘wow, that’s beautiful’ or ‘that’s ugly’, my children see that and internalise it… This can have a profound impact, particularly if they examine themselves and feel like they don’t match the standard… The same goes for ability.”

Hale seconds the idea that nondisabled people who experience disability later in life will be harmed by the rhetoric they use today. They also note that the divisive nature of ableist language can even have a negative impact on people who will never experience disability.

“It hurts all of us when we de-humanise ways of being, and construct them wholly in the negative,” they say.

Dismantling ableist structures

Given how ingrained ableism is in our society, rooting it out may seem an overwhelming task. Being aware of the words you use each day is a necessary step in the process. “Dismantling disableist structures doesn’t start with language, but building a world without them requires that we change our language,” says Hale.

Examining your own go-to phrases and attempting to replace them with less problematic synonyms is a good start. “Think about what you mean. Don’t just repeat a phrase because you’ve heard it, think about what you’re trying to convey,” says Hale.

Often avoiding ableist euphemisms just means choosing more straightforward and literal language – rather than “fall on deaf ears”, one might say “ignoring” or “choosing not to engage”.  

Language is ever-changing, so eliminating ableism from your vocabulary will be an ongoing process rather than a static victory. You may stumble, but checking in with disabled people is an effective way to find your footing and continuing to build a more inclusive vocabulary. “My advice is always to listen,” says Timm. “Ask questions, avoid assumptions, and start by listening to the people who are impacted the most. Think about whether your own word choice is contributing to their oppression.”

It may feel uncomfortable, but discomfort and vulnerability necessitate introspection, which Hale points to as keys to dismantling ableist attitudes. “According to [disability equality charity] Scope, two-thirds of the British population feel uncomfortable talking to a disabled person,” says Hale. “Why? If you can work out why you’re uncomfortable, you’re well en route to changing it.”

The Following Makes A Mockery Of Gender In Fighting On The Spurious Equality Issue. Equality Is About Wealth & Power Not Genitals. R.J Cook March 18th 2021

The very private life of Sir Chris Hohn – the man paid £1m a day Posted March 18th 2021

The hedge fund manager earns Britain’s biggest salary. He also avoids meat, likes yoga and supports Extinction Rebellion

Sir Chris Hohn with singer Katy Perry

Sir Chris Hohn, far right, pictured with singer Katy Perry, is one of Britain’s most generous philanthropists. Photograph: British Asian Trust/Twitter

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent@RupertNeateFri 5 Mar 2021 18.03 GMT

Hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn once made a point of telling a high court judge that he was an “unbelievable moneymaker”. This week Hohn proved his point – definitively – when it was revealed that he paid himself just shy of £1m-a-day last year.

Hohn collected $479m (£343m) in annual dividend payments from his The Children’s Investment (TCI) fund in the biggest ever personal payday in the UK after doubling profits at his Mayfair hedge fund, run from an office a couple of doors down from Louis Vuitton’s flagship store.

The payout – which works out at £940,000 for every calendar day of the year, and is nearly 11,000 times the median UK full-time salary – has shone a fresh spotlight on Hohn, a billionaire who goes to extraordinary lengths to protect his privacy after receiving regular death threats.

Read more

As well as making money and picking boardroom fights, Hohn, who was once chancellor Rishi Sunak’s boss at TCI, is one of the nation’s biggest philanthropists.

He has pumped more than £4bn into his personal children’s charity. And in recent years he has taken on a second cause: the climate crisis, promising to use his fund’s $30bn of investments to “force change on companies who refuse to take their environmental emissions seriously”.

Well known in the City and on Wall Street as one of the most aggressive activist investors, it came as little surprise to Hohn’s friends that he was not prepared to wait for governments to take action on climate change.

An Extinction Rebellion protest by the elderly

An Extinction Rebellion protest by the elderly in London 2019. Chris Hohn is the group’s biggest donor. Photograph: Richard Baker/Alamy

Instead he has pumped money into Extinction Rebellion (XR), the “respectful disruption” campaign that has staged high-profile sit-in protests around the world. When Hohn was revealed as XR’s single biggest donor, he said: “Humanity is aggressively destroying the world with climate change and there is an urgent need for us all to wake up to this fact.”

Hohn, who has only given a handful of tightly controlled media interviews throughout his career, pleaded with the high court judge overseeing his 2014 divorce from Jamie Cooper-Hohn to ban the media from the courtroom.

However the request was denied, giving the public a glimpse into the billionaire’s surprisingly modest lifestyle, his motivations for making so much money, and why he didn’t view his wife of 17 years as worthy of half the family fortune.

Although he was in a fight over a huge amount of money, Hohn said his life’s mission was to give money away. “My life is actually about charity,” he told the court. “I learned very early on you cannot take money with you. It does not bring you happiness.”

He said he lived a “very simple lifestyle”, avoids meat and practises yoga. On hearing the evidence, the judge noted that the couple lived a “Swatch lifestyle” not a “jet-set lifestyle”.

Hohn grew up in Addlestone, Surrey, the son of a Jamaican car mechanic and a legal secretary. He first decided to give money to charity, he has said, while working in the Philippines, where as a 20-year-old he saw children living on a rubbish dump.

“I considered being a doctor and working in a caring profession,” Hohn, 54, told the court. “[But] a dream or aspiration without resources is just that.” He compared his ambition to become a philanthropist to other young people who set their hearts on being able to “play for Chelsea or be a top QC”.

Hohn studied accounting and economics at Southampton University, where a tutor suggested he go on to study for a masters in business administration at Harvard. He took their advice, and graduated in the top 5% of his class.

It was at a Harvard dinner party that Hohn met Jamie Cooper, who was studying for a masters at the John F Kennedy School of government. They married soon after and took each other’s names officially, but only Jamie used both surnames. They have four children, including a set of triplets.

Hohn worked for the private equity firm Apax Partners, before moving to the Wall Street hedge fund Perry Capital. Perry’s partners then posted him back to London where he ran the UK division.

He struck out on his own in 2003 setting up his own $500m fund TCI, which quickly attracted investment from some of the world’s top foundations and endowments including the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jamie Cooper-Hohn

Jamie Cooper-Hohn leaves the high court after a divorce hearing in 2014. It was one of the most high profile divorces in British legal history. Photograph: Reuters/Alamy

The fund appealed to charities and foundations because it was structured so that one-third of management fees would go directly to the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, a charity set up by the couple and run by Cooper-Hohn.

In an interview with the New York Times to promote the newly launched charity in 2008, Cooper-Hohn dismissed suggestions it had been set up as ploy to soften Hohn’s image as an activist investor unafraid to fight the boards of companies he had invested in.

Werner Seifert, the former chief executive of the German stock exchange

Werner Seifert, the former chief executive of the German stock exchange, wrote a book about a boardroom battle with Chris Hohn called Invasion of the Locusts. Photograph: Martin Argles/The Guardian

In a new year card to family, Hohn once wrote he had had an “exceptionally exciting year overthrowing German CEOs”. One opponent – former Deutsche Börse boss Werner Seifert – was so angry after losing a boardroom battle with Hohn that he wrote a book about it entitled Invasion of the Locusts, where he described Hohn’s style as “poison”.

Hohn’s TCI was also instrumental in forcing Dutch bank ABN Amro into the arms of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2007 – a deal which just months later, when the banking crisis hit, was a key reason RBS had to be bailed out by the UK taxpayer.

Cooper-Hohn said the foundation “not about putting a warm and fuzzy face” on TCI. She said knowing that a share of the management fees went to the fund was “very much about keeping Chris motivated” to produce the highest returns possible.

Both TCI and the foundation flourished. The hedge fund now manages $30bn of investments and is regularly listed among the world’s best-performing funds. Last year’s mega payday was not that exceptional for Hohn. The previous year he was paid £200m, and accounts filed at Companies House for TCI Fund Management (UK) Limited, which is 100% owned by Hohn, show that it holds total shareholder funds of almost $2bn.

The charity holds almost $6bn of assets and gave away $386m in 2019, according to the latest available accounts. However, the foundation no longer collects one-third of TCI’s management fees, following the couple’s divorce. Instead, Hohn can give to the charity at his discretion.

The divorce reached the high court after Hohn refused to give Cooper-Hohn half of their assets, arguing that the extraordinary wealth he had generated constituted a special contribution to the marriage. He claimed she was only entitled to 25%.

Her lawyer said the marriage was “what most marriages are: a partnership. How can it be possibly be fair that a couple who have agreed how to run their lives together for the wife to only receive a quarter of the assets?”

After weeks of arguments – which included Hohn calling Goldman Sachs bankers “idiots” and describing former Spain and Chelsea striker Fernando Torres as “worthless” – the judge awarded Cooper-Hohn 36% – or $530m – of her former husband’s fortune.

Cooper-Hohn later won another court battle forcing Hohn’s CIFF charity to pay £270m to a charity set up by his ex-wife.

Women are not inherently good Posted March 13th 2021

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Published 7 years ago

on October 1, 2013

ByForbes Woman Africa

Some race reductionists have argued that black people cannot be racist. According to this argument, black people are so dominated by whites in every sphere that they could not possibly be racist, even if they tried.

To be racist, goes their argument, a group must possess state or economic power to collectively subjugate those of a different group, those who do not look like them.

At best, blacks can despise whites for all the pain they have caused since their ancestors first left Europe in search of new lands and resources some 500 years ago.

As you might imagine, such an argument has the ability to raise passions, regardless of which side of the debate one chooses. It is also, of course, a nonsensical premise. Blacks are human, and from time immemorial, human beings have had prejudices based on all sorts of things, from which side of the river one hails to the color of their hair.

There is an equally flawed theory, based on more or less the same sentiments, held by the ‘blacks cannot be racist’ brigade. This time, it is led by women, who think that by merely being women, they possess the magical skills to manage people.

Women bosses are allegedly more compassionate, consensus-orientated and, unlike their male counterparts, not overly competitive.

Really?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me hasten to add that I have no doubt that there are women leaders out there like that. By the same token, however, there are women leaders who are everything but.

To assume, therefore, that for no other reason than they are blessed with

more X chromosomes, that they bring to boardrooms, the shop floor and wherever else they manage people, a divinely ordained insight into how to get human beings to be more productive, get on with each other and go home to be excellent partners and parents, is ridiculous.

It is no better than the delusion that blacks are incapable of racism simply because they are black. It may make women feel better, but it is bigoted, for it attributes to women, characteristics that they acquired by mere membership of a group they had no say in joining and therefore cannot escape.

Anyone who believes that the biological factors they possess – the color of their skin, eyes or the dominant hand they use – give them special powers and advantages over other human beings, is on the road to nowhere.

One would think that people with some experience in the workplace and the boardroom have seen that both great and lousy leaders come in all shapes, sizes and genders.

Political correctness demands that we believe women bring a ‘softness’ and more ‘heart’ to the boardroom, as if women in business are recruited from the convent rather than the coalface where business leaders are made. We are told that their maternal instincts (and goodness knows what else) gives them the abilities that their peers around the boardroom table do not share.

As is the case with black people, by now women should refuse to be treated as if they are monolithic judged on the performance of those who look like them. They should not only refuse this association when it is negative, but should reject it altogether when told they are the better species for no other reason than they are women.

To accept, as some women have, that their gender gives them some advantage is to deny their own humanness and the effort and skill it takes to climb the corporate ladder.

The ‘I am a great boss because I am a woman’ brigade denies the role of training, mentoring and old-fashioned hard work that makes excellent bosses excellent. It tells men that kindness and empathy are feminine traits and they should therefore play them down, lest their masculinity be questioned.

It is up to women to correct this ever-growing misconception that it is something to do with gender and not abilities and skills that makes them excellent leaders.

If the women’s movement has learnt anything from centuries of patriarchy it should be that sooner rather than later, those who imagine themselves to be virtuous because of who they are rather than what they do, are eventually caught out and put in their place.

It is women who must call the likes of Margaret Thatcher to order for saying: ‘if you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman’. It may be a great quote, but it brings with it seeds of counterarguments and examples of how the opposite is true.

Nature and nurture have provided men and women with different ways of seeing the world. That, however, is no excuse for allowing how we have been socialized to determine what it takes to be an excellent business leader.

With lives and livelihoods still at risk, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget is focused on short-term support for people’s jobs and finances. Posted March 3rd 2021

With lives and livelihoods still at risk, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget is focused on short-term support for people’s jobs and finances.

Maragaret Thatcher made her government and politicians so hated by so many – not the 40% of the 60% who bothered to vote them into power- she had to have iron railings and gate across Downing St with Met police B Division guarding it.

But there are signs of what will happen next and how this will affect the money in your pocket.

1. Paying the wages of those on furlough

Although it was announced in advance, like many other key measures, the extension of furlough is significant for millions of people.

The scheme – which pays 80% of employees’ wages for the hours they cannot work in the pandemic – has been extended until September.

Young and lower-paid people have been among the most likely to have been furloughed during the pandemic.

While this is designed to protect their jobs from redundancy, many will have found that their income has been a fifth less than they had anticipated over the course of 18 months.

The National Living Wage will rise to £8.91 from April, from £8.72. That is a 2.2% rise and will be for people aged 23 and over.

National minimum wage will rise to £8.91

2. Jabs, then jobs

Money promised for the vaccine rollout does not directly affect the amount of money that goes into the pockets of individuals.

But the extra £1.65bn to help vaccinate every adult by the end of July should mean people can get back to work and the economy can start to recover.

Quicker jabs mean more jobs protected, which means that incomes can recover or be maintained.

3. Support for the self-employed

Furlough supports employed people. The equivalent for the self-employed comes in the form of grants through the Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

From next month, claims can be made for a fourth grant worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, up to £7,500 in total.

Bar manager

This will then be followed by a fifth grant later in the year, covering May to September.

However, the amount paid will depend on the amount of turnover lost. People whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a grant that is equivalent to 30% of average trading profits.

While many self-employed people remain ineligible – the source of considerable debate – those who can show they were trading in 2019-20 from their tax returns will now be eligible for the first time. They can receive the fourth and fifth grants.

4. Extra £20 a week on universal credit continues

Another source of speculation for months has been the future for a £20-a-week top-up to universal credit.

This has been described as a financial lifeline during the pandemic for many of those who have lost jobs or whose finances were already stretched.

The chancellor said this would continue for another six months, but would then be withdrawn.

Those on working tax credits will receive a one-off £500 payment.

Number of universal credit applications

5. Pay rises may bring a tax shock

The government pledged in its manifesto not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT.

Although income tax is not rising, the tax bill that people may face in future years could go up.

payslip

At present, people start paying 20% income tax when they earn £12,500 a year. The starting point for paying the higher 40% rate is £50,000.

These thresholds will go up to £12,570 and £50,270 in April, but will then be frozen for five years.

With these thresholds maintained at the same level until April 2026, many people receiving a pay rise may find themselves in a new tax bracket and having to pay more.

The government’s official forecaster said this would mean 1.3 million more people paying income tax and one million more paying the higher rate of tax.

Income tax freeze will raise £8bn by 2025-26

That will raise a significant amount of money for the Treasury, estimated to be an extra £8bn a year by 2025-26, compared to what would have been the case if thresholds rose in line with the cost of living.

Scotland has some tax-raising powers of its own.

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6. Finding the deposit for a mortgage

The chancellor confirmed that a government guarantee means first-time buyers should get a wider choice of mortgages that require a deposit of just 5% of the loan.

This will be available when buying properties worth up to £600,000.

Houses

However, some potential homeowners may still find it hard to get a mortgage if they do not have a regular income, while getting into negative equity if house prices fall is a threat.

The new products will be available from next month.

However, while there is support for homeownership, there are no specific policies to help those behind on their rents.

7. Stamp duty holiday extended

This tax break for homebuyers in England and Northern Ireland – as well as similar relief in Scotland and Wales – was due to finish at the end of March. This created a rush, as well as difficulties for some buyers to complete in time.

The chancellor has now said that the current stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland – which means no stamp duty is paid on the first £500,000 of a property purchase – will be extended until 30 June.

Number of property transaction impacted by Stamp Duty Holiday

This relief will be reduced to the first £250,000 of a purchase until the end of September, before returning to its pre-pandemic level of £125,000 from the start of October.

In total, 46% of sales would be exempt from stamp duty as a result of this policy, according to property portal Zoopla.

8. Wine and beer duties frozen

All duties on alcohol will stay as they are, for a second year in a row. These had been earmarked to rise.

9. Cost of petrol duties unchanged

There has been a freeze on fuel duty for a decade and this will continue for at least another year.

About 60% of the price you pay for fuel is tax – a mixture of fuel duty and VAT.

10. Saving green

There will be a new savings product designed to raise money for environmental projects.

This “green bond” will be issued by the government-backed National Savings and Investments (NS&I), which has been criticised by savers and MPs for its customer service performance during the pandemic.

It will be issued in the summer, but there are no details yet on the interest rate that will be paid to savers.

Banner saying 'Get in touch'
With lives and livelihoods still at risk, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget is focused on short-term support for people’s jobs and finances.
But there are signs of what will happen next and how this will affect the money in your pocket.
1. Paying the wages of those on furlough
Although it was announced in advance, like many other key measures, the extension of furlough is significant for millions of people.
The scheme – which pays 80% of employees’ wages for the hours they cannot work in the pandemic – has been extended until September.
Furlough to be extended until September in Budget
Young and lower-paid people have been among the most likely to have been furloughed during the pandemic.
While this is designed to protect their jobs from redundancy, many will have found that their income has been a fifth less than they had anticipated over the course of 18 months.
The National Living Wage will rise to £8.91 from April, from £8.72. That is a 2.2% rise and will be for people aged 23 and over.
National minimum wage will rise to £8.91
2. Jabs, then jobs
Money promised for the vaccine rollout does not directly affect the amount of money that goes into the pockets of individuals.
But the extra £1.65bn to help vaccinate every adult by the end of July should mean people can get back to work and the economy can start to recover.
Quicker jabs mean more jobs protected, which means that incomes can recover or be maintained.
Tax on company profits to jump to 25%
Stamp duty holiday extended to end of June
3. Support for the self-employed
Furlough supports employed people. The equivalent for the self-employed comes in the form of grants through the Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
From next month, claims can be made for a fourth grant worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, up to £7,500 in total.
Bar managerimage copyrightGetty Images
This will then be followed by a fifth grant later in the year, covering May to September.
However, the amount paid will depend on the amount of turnover lost. People whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a grant that is equivalent to 30% of average trading profits.
While many self-employed people remain ineligible – the source of considerable debate – those who can show they were trading in 2019-20 from their tax returns will now be eligible for the first time. They can receive the fourth and fifth grants.
What extra help will the self-employed get?
4. Extra £20 a week on universal credit continues
Another source of speculation for months has been the future for a £20-a-week top-up to universal credit.
This has been described as a financial lifeline during the pandemic for many of those who have lost jobs or whose finances were already stretched.
The chancellor said this would continue for another six months, but would then be withdrawn.
Those on working tax credits will receive a one-off £500 payment.
Number of universal credit applications
5. Pay rises may bring a tax shock
The government pledged in its manifesto not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT.
Although income tax is not rising, the tax bill that people may face in future years could go up.
payslipimage copyrightGetty Images
At present, people start paying 20% income tax when they earn £12,500 a year. The starting point for paying the higher 40% rate is £50,000.
These thresholds will go up to £12,570 and £50,270 in April, but will then be frozen for five years.
With these thresholds maintained at the same level until April 2026, many people receiving a pay rise may find themselves in a new tax bracket and having to pay more.
Million more set to pay income tax by 2026
The government’s official forecaster said this would mean 1.3 million more people paying income tax and one million more paying the higher rate of tax.
Income tax freeze will raise £8bn by 2025-26
That will raise a significant amount of money for the Treasury, estimated to be an extra £8bn a year by 2025-26, compared to what would have been the case if thresholds rose in line with the cost of living.
Scotland has some tax-raising powers of its own.
Budget banner top
Million more set to pay income tax by 2026
Sunak: Tax rises to follow Covid spending spree
Budget 2021: Key points at-a-glance
Budget banner bottom
6. Finding the deposit for a mortgage
The chancellor confirmed that a government guarantee means first-time buyers should get a wider choice of mortgages that require a deposit of just 5% of the loan.
This will be available when buying properties worth up to £600,000.
Housesimage copyrightGetty Images
However, some potential homeowners may still find it hard to get a mortgage if they do not have a regular income, while getting into negative equity if house prices fall is a threat.
The new products will be available from next month.
However, while there is support for homeownership, there are no specific policies to help those behind on their rents.
Low-deposit buyers to get mortgage boost in Budget
7. Stamp duty holiday extended
This tax break for homebuyers in England and Northern Ireland – as well as similar relief in Scotland and Wales – was due to finish at the end of March. This created a rush, as well as difficulties for some buyers to complete in time.
The chancellor has now said that the current stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland – which means no stamp duty is paid on the first £500,000 of a property purchase – will be extended until 30 June.
Number of property transaction impacted by Stamp Duty Holiday
This relief will be reduced to the first £250,000 of a purchase until the end of September, before returning to its pre-pandemic level of £125,000 from the start of October.
In total, 46% of sales would be exempt from stamp duty as a result of this policy, according to property portal Zoopla.
Stamp duty holiday extended to end of June
8. Wine and beer duties frozen
All duties on alcohol will stay as they are, for a second year in a row. These had been earmarked to rise.
9. Cost of petrol duties unchanged
There has been a freeze on fuel duty for a decade and this will continue for at least another year.
About 60% of the price you pay for fuel is tax – a mixture of fuel duty and VAT.
10. Saving green
There will be a new savings product designed to raise money for environmental projects.
This “green bond” will be issued by the government-backed National Savings and Investments (NS&I), which has been criticised by savers and MPs for its customer service performance during the pandemic.
It will be issued in the summer, but there are no details yet on the interest rate that will be paid to savers.
Banner saying 'Get in touch'

What Debenhams’ demise reveals about the future of fashion Posted February 3rd 2021

Department stores have been replaced by fast fashion e-commerce brands. But they, too, may face stiff competition from a new force By Abigail Jubb   January 31, 2021

Our shopping habits are not as modern as we live to believe. Image: Pixabay

This week, the British multinational Debenhams was reduced to a website. The liquidation of the department store chain saw it become the latest victim of the changing fashion world, taking away thousands of livelihoods in the process.  

But, when it first arrived on the high street, Debenhams and other large-scale retailers like it were dubious but irresistible businesses of their day, much like the ruling e-commerce conglomerates of ours. Émile Zola’s 1883 novel about a fictional Parisian department store, Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies’ Paradise) captures the ruthless business as it undercuts specialist shopkeepers and made-to-order craftspeople.  

Now, that dynamic repeats once more, but it is the former predator who is the prey. Brick-and-mortar retailers are now being swallowed up by e-commerce brands. The demise of Debenhams has prompted nostalgia for department stores of the past—but what can it tell us about the future of fashion? 

Debenhams’ past is not so different from its present. From its origins as a London draper’s shop in 1778, Debenham & Freebody had become a sizeable retail and wholesale business with three department stores by 1872. That year, it released its Fashion Book, a mail-order catalogue that offered remote shoppers the chance to purchase products from the entirety of their stock for the first time. Anticipating online shopping by over a century, its pages provided customers with the convenient option to shop at any time from the comfort of their own homes. With the help of the post office, the catalogue offered an international delivery service so shoppers could have orders delivered all over the British empire, from Doncaster to Delhi. There was even the opportunity to acquire “goods on approval” and return them for a full refund. 

Early department stores were among the first fashion retailers to specialise in the communication of misleading, or outright fabricated, messages about manufacturing. They would claim that all stock was made within in-house workrooms. But such smoke and mirrors obscured department stores’ outsourcing of “sweated” labour to the poor, as uncovered by the Victorian social reformer Henry Mayhew. His reports, published in serialised form as London Labour and London Poor, included stories of needle workers working for scant pay in shocking living conditions, leaving some reliant on prostitution to supplement their income. The garments they produced, however, were often sold at high prices to wealthy consumers who had no idea about their origins. At one such workplace, Mayhew observes one needlewoman saying to another: “I daresay the lady who this dress is for knows nothing about how it is made. She pays a very high price.”

Viewed centuries later, our shopping habits then do not seem so modern. The online shopping website functions as a repurposed “Fashion Book” of sorts, where purchases are also selected from pages of abstract visual representations. It isn’t such a stretch to compare the experiences of Victorian mail-order patrons and those of today’s clickers in cyberspace. Perhaps our predecessors too felt the keen disappointment that comes when the visual representation of a garment, purchased from behind a screen, seems to have been lost in material translation (or merely lost in the post). 

But more importantly, what remain too are the smoke and mirrors about where our clothes really get made—and the working conditions of those who toil over them. Mayhew was disturbed by the realities of the Victorian sweatshop. Now, such labour has been merely been taken offshore or concealed through subcontracting, as seen by the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza garment factory and the revelations about Boohoo’s factories in Leicester (revealing, too, that exploitation is still happening on home turf). Fast fashion e-commerce brands have beaten the department store at their old game, offering consumers more products at minimal prices while their workers lose out. 

Still, fast fashion retailers are only one side of the story. The demise of Debenhams could also be attributed to an alternative force: the rise of conscious consumerism and increasing awareness of the unsustainable reality of fashion. True, consumers continue to prioritise the convenience of remote shopping. But there is also a growing public desire to bridge the gap between the garments we buy and the places, people and processes behind their production. A study has shown that 70 per cent of Britons and Europeans believe it is important for brands to share detailed information about the wages and working conditions of their employees. Meeting these demands for transparency may be difficult for large-scale corporate retailers, with their principle interest in profit. Instead, it is smaller, independent brands that are rebuilding relationships between consumers and manufacturers and finding alternative, ethical forms of production. 

So perhaps things will come full circle. The approaches of these new independent businesses echo those of the Victorian tailors and dressmakers who were pushed out by the department store. The recent demise of Debenhams undoubtedly reflects the challenges faced by today’s struggling high street, and, most worryingly of all, its diminishing workforce. But it also signals the changing concerns of consumers. Like the cyclical concept of fashion itself, the future of how we purchase our clothes appears to be predicated on the past. So it would be wise to reflect on the lessons, good and bad, to be learned from our fashion retail predecessors. 

City Centre Shopping Centres are dying for the New World Order. This is Portsmouth November 2019. Image Appledene Photographics/RJC

Married to Work Posted January 29th 2020

Employment today is atomised, casual and unequal, argues US author Sarah Jaffe in her book Work Won’t Love You Back. Here she discusses why the way we look at work needs to change

Tim Adams

Tim Adams@TimAdamsWritesSun 24 Jan 2021 13.00 GMT

Last modified on Mon 25 Jan 2021 11.31 GMT

If the past year has made us ask one question, it must surely be: how is it that our society so often chooses to place the least value on the work it needs the most?

One effect of the pandemic has been to strip away some of the mythologies of the labour market to reveal its bare essentials, what we have come to know as our “key workers”: that extraordinary frontline army in the NHS, the indispensable “caring professions”, the teachers who have tried to manage their children at home and our children on Zoom, the refuse collectors and transport workers and shop assistants and delivery drivers who have risked their health to keep it all going. How can it be that these jobs, that none of us can do without and not all of us would be able or prepared to do, are routinely among the lowliest in terms of reward? Should it really only be the market that decides what work is worth? How can we continue to justify a world in which Dido Harding’s management consultants pocket in a couple of days what an ICU nurse might earn in a month or where Jeff Bezos makes many, many times more in a second than one of his warehouse workers takes home in a year?

Sarah Jaffe’s book Work Won’t Love You Back is an extremely timely analysis of how we arrived at these brutal inequalities and of some of the ways in which a deliberately atomised workforce is beginning to organise to challenge them. Through a series of detailed case studies of modern “labourers of love” – the unpaid intern, the overburdened teacher, the 24/7 domestic help, the NGO employee, the fixed-term academic, the discarded Toys R Us worker, the working single mother – Jaffe, a New York-based journalist, examines two of the most damaging philosophies of our times.

Lockdown Greed & Hypocrisy January 26th 2021

Admiralty House , student accommodation , Portsmouth, built on old naval land, empty of the students on which the local economy depends in the New World Order.

The number of people out of work in the UK has continued to rise, with those aged 25 to 34 facing the biggest risk of losing their jobs.

In the three months to November, people in that age group had a redundancy rate of 16.2 per 1,000, a fivefold increase on the same period a year earlier.

Unemployment rose to 5% from 4.9% as Covid continued to hit the jobs market.

Some 1.72 million were jobless, the Office for National Statistics said, the highest level in five years.

That was 418,000 more than in the same period the previous year, the biggest increase since late 2009.

Abigail Ward, 27, freely admits that she was “a bit naive” when she began her latest job hunt after being made redundant as a store manager at J Crew in London last September.

Having spent the past five years since graduating in retail management, she has a passion for bricks-and-mortar retail and “the value of face-to-face customer interactions” – and it’s an area she wants to stay in.

“I knew it would be hard, but I’ve been in this position before,” she told the BBC.

“Back then, it only took me three or four weeks to find a role and maybe 10 job applications, so it all happened quite seamlessly, whereas this time around, it’s definitely been a lot more difficult.

“I’ve probably sent off around 30 to 40 job applications in the last six months, the majority of which just go into the abyss. You never hear a word.”

However, Abigail has managed to get to the final interview stage for a job – “with me and just one other candidate” – on four separate occasions.

“Unfortunately, I’ve missed out on each of those occasions,” she says.

“There are so many hundreds of applications and it’s so competitive,” she adds. “It’s definitely been a big challenge.”

Southampton City Centre , the U.K Retail sector has been dying for years due to the one sector of the internet billionaires will never sanction to be regulated or tax , Amazon . Add to that extortionate High St rents and now Covid 19 elite lies who are all for asset stripping, and we have an end to the world as we knew it. R.J Cook
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Which sectors are worst affected by unemployment?

The hospitality industry was worst hit by the rise in joblessness, followed by manufacturing.

In both sectors, the number of people unemployed was up by more than 50,000 on the previous year.

Across all age groups, redundancies rose to a record high of 14.2 per 1,000 people.

However, job vacancies also rose, with 81,000 new openings reported in the three months.

Unemployment rate

Is there any precedent for this?

ONS deputy chief executive Sam Beckett told the BBC that the UK had not seen such rises in unemployment since the global financial crisis.

“Payroll numbers show the number of workers on payroll have fallen by over 828,000 since the pandemic began,” she added.

Employment was still at “relatively high levels” compared with other countries, Ms Beckett said, but workers aged 16 to 24 were suffering some of the biggest falls in employment.

However, she added: “We’ve currently got over 4.5 million people on the furlough scheme, so that does complicate the picture when you’re trying to interpret what’s going on in the labour market.”

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Brexit plot: Bitter EU draws up 18-page blueprint to snatch business from London Posted January 19th 2021

THE EU has put together an 18-page blueprint for bolstering the euro by clawing back financial services business from the City of London.

By Joe Barnes, Brussels Correspondent PUBLISHED: 09:16, Tue, Jan 19, 2021 | UPDATED: 15:18, Tue, Jan 19, 2021 227 Copy link

Brexit: City of London backed to thrive by Daniel Hodson

The European Commission is under pressure after Brexit to produce plans to end the bloc’s reliance on London as the Continent’s largest financial hub. Senior politicians have demanded a “master plan” to expand the EU single currency’s role across global markets in response to Brexit and post-Trump America. Eurocrats are set to publish their first plans tomorrow for ending the reliance on the City of London.

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“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted vulnerabilities in the solar-dominated international financial system,” the Commission paper says. 

“The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU strengthens the need to further deepen the Union’s capital markets.”

The document could pave the way for Brussels eventually phasing out the UK financial services sector’s access to EU markets.

The UK has been allowed to continue clearing European trades through the City until the middle of next year.

Brexit news Ursula von der Leyen and City of London

Ursula von der Leyen’s EU Commission will unveil plans to snatch jobs from the UK (Image: GETTY) Sign up for FREE now and never miss the top politics stories again

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Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Image: EbS)

The paper said: “A related source of risk is the excessive reliance of EU banks on foreign exchange swap markets.”

It will set in motion a blueprint for the Commission, ECB, the bloc’s banking watchdogs and industry to assess “possible technical issues” related to moving derivatives positions from the City to the EU.

The Commission will also recommend tougher enforcement of EU sanctions, as well as making the EU’s financial services market less susceptible to sanctions.

Related articles

City of London

The City of London is Europe’s leading financial services business hub (Image: GETTY)

The move comes after European securities depositories Clearstream and Euroclear were hit hard by President Donald Trump’s sanctions against Iran.

The EU also needs to end its “excessive reliance” on foreign investment banks and funding in foreign currencies, the paper says.

Brussels and Britain are set to conclude talks on a new financial services relationship by March.

MUST READ: Scottish fishermen protest Brexit red tape at Number 10 – ‘Carnage!’

Brexit timeline

A Brexit timeline of Britain’s divorce talks from the European Union (Image: EXPRESS)

A comprehensive pact could see the City of London maintain its position as Europe’s chief financial services hub.

German MEP Markus Ferber demanded a “master plan” to ensure the EU is no longer dependent on third countries for vital financial trades.

In a statement, he said: “We need a clear step-by-step master plan that helps key financial sector businesses move from the United Kingdom to the European Union.

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“A mere ‘wait and see’ approach will not do to bolster European financial markets.

“One of the key strategic priorities in the years to come has to be strengthening the Capital Markets Union and moving the strategically important clearing business to the EU.

“If the EU wants to play in the geopolitical champions’ league we need a financial system to match it.”

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Anteroom of Our Own Extinction Posted January 18th 2021

John Steppling

If you want to deprive citizens of freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and the right to family life, there should be written reasons. They ask the department why they can hardly find such anywhere since the intervention was introduced in March. It is a mystery that hardly any Norwegian journalists have thought of asking this question. { } …that should be every journalist’s first instinct when the government shuts down the country.” Øyvind Håbrekke (Candidate for Krk in Trondelog, Norway)

I. Decrees the expulsion of Jews from the colony. { }
XXXII. The runaway slave, who shall continue to be so for one month from the day of his being denounced to the officers of justice, shall have his ears cut off, and shall be branded with the flower de luce on the shoulder : and on a second offence of the same nature, persisted in during one month from the day of his being denounced, he shall be hamstrung, and be marked with the flower de luce on the other shoulder. On the third offence, he shall suffer death. Louisiana Code Noir, 1724-1803

Any person who wilfully enters or uses any public premises or public vehicle or any portion thereof or any counter, bench, seat or other amenity or contrivance which has in terms of sub-section (1) been set apart or reserved for the exclusive use of persons belonging to a particular race or class, being a race or class to which he does not belong, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.” Reservation of Separate Amenities Act. Parliament of South Africa, 1953

And by doing so, these devices are constantly reinvented as masks: as apparatuses of categorical transformation aimed at allowing humanity to persist at the brink of the end of the world as this is embodied by the spectre of the “next pandemic.” Portrayed as the last barrier between us and the killer virus to come, “plague masks” ultimately transform us into a species inhabiting the anteroom of its own extinction.
Christos Lynteris (Medical Anthropology,Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness Volume 37, 2018 – Issue 6)

*

One of the most important aspects of aesthetics, of the study of art at all, is that it teaches the viewer or reader how to see and experience more deeply, with more sensitivity, and this in turn (among other things) leads to the ability to recognize the fraudulent. In other words you come to recognize propaganda. It is almost the cultivating of a sub clinical intuitive skill, a sense when a narrative or an image seem counterfeit.

Along with this comes the ability to, at least partly, resist marketing campaigns and advertisers’ manipulations. I have always felt the reading of the classics serve as a teflon shield for advertising.

Art and culture have more profound gifts than just a finely tuned ‘bullshit meter’. But given the events of this last week, and of the entire year, as well, the loss of cultural education keeps coming back to me. The least-enrolled post grad program at U.S. universities is the study of the classics. History is very low, too, for any era. Business management is the most popular.

I often have thought that the loss of such studies today has had a genuinely deleterious effect. Certainly most big search engines, if you google post graduate programs in the classics, will return a variety of links about how such a degree has nearly zero economic reward attached.

This is now about a year into the pandemic and there have still been no debates, no public roundtables and no referendums. Nothing. Just decrees by the government. I honestly have given up trying to make sense of statistics, really. But a couple of things have not changed; the fatality rate if you catch Covid 19 is under 1% (and yes, case fatality is different than infectious mortality and that in turn is different from mortality rate). And depending on how it is being counted, it is often a good deal less than that. And yet the entire planet has been subjected to severe restrictions on travel, and coerced to follow pseudoscientific behaviour like mask wearing and social distancing. Today in many places there is what amounts to martial law. Police or national guard patrol the streets after dark. Many countries have banned public events, closed restaurants and nightclubs, and limited any public gatherings. Many schools remain closed or only partially open.

The economic consequences of these non-debated government policies have been catastrophic. In the U.S. something like 60 million jobs have been lost, many never to return. A hundred and fifty thousand restaurants have gone bankrupt. Only one in three museums will ever reopen. In San Francisco they decided NOT to count the numbers of new homeless. No reason was given but one can guess. The homeless situation in the U.S., in big cities in particular, was critical even before the pandemic. Now the numbers are unprecedented. Not even during the ‘Great Depression’ was there anything like the current level of those without basic shelter.

Food insecurity is at a crisis level. Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the US, estimates over 50 million people go hungry every night including something close to twenty million children.

Since mid-March 2020, numerous surveys have documented unprecedented levels of food insecurity that eclipse anything seen in recent decades in the United States, including during the Great Recession. Over the past five years, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates of food insecurity in the United States have hovered around 11% to 12%.

As of March and April 2020, national estimates of food insecurity more than tripled to 38% In a national survey we fielded in March 2020 among adults with incomes less than 250% of the 2020 federal poverty level (based on thresholds from the US Census), 44% of all households were food insecure including 48% of Black households, 52% of Hispanic households, and 54% of households with children. American Public Heath Association (Dec 2020)

And yet, congress just passed another defense budget increase. According to Defense News

the final version of the 2020 defense appropriations bill, part of a broad $1.4 trillion spending deal to finalize federal spending for 2020 and avert a government shutdown. The defense bill would provide $738 billion.

Almost one in three households suffers hunger, regularly. Almost half of black and hispanic households. Households with children are most vulnerable to the government policies. So half of the kids in the U.S. have inadequate nutrition. Half will suffer long term developmental problems, almost guaranteed.

So, given that there are countless medical professionals around the world who question the effectiveness of Covid policy by government, who questions the World Health Organization and CDC? One would think there would be a heated and exhaustive discussion about how to proceed. Once it was clear that this was not a particularly fatal virus, there should have been wide and far-reaching debate. But there was none.

And who are the authorities who dictate these policies? This also remains unclear. The head of the WHO is Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. But the face of the pandemic is Anthony Fauci. Now his role is also a bit unclear.

Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He has held that position since 1984. It is unclear why he is the official advisor to presidents.

But, the point is that Bill Gates controls forty percent of the WHO. So, take Norway, where I live. Who advises the PM? Or advises her health minister? And it’s worth noting that the health minister is Bent Høie, from the ruling party, a conservative business-friendly party.

Here is the wiki entry on Mr Høie…

Høie was born in Randaberg. He studied law at University of Bergen in 1991 and also attended the Norwegian School of Hotel Management from 1991-93.

Well, I guess Hotel management is as good a background as any to make life and death decisions about pandemics. One assumes the WHO and/or the CDC send advisors to talk to the Minister of Health. But I am only guessing.

My point is that the decision-making process is utterly opaque. Nobody seems to have a clear idea from where, exactly, the policy of lockdown (the quarantining of healthy people is, as far as I can tell, utterly new) originated, or where the marketing and obvious fearmongering came from.

For there has been a clear marketing apparatus in play, with all the mask adverts, the social distancing, etc. And worth mentioning is that the eco outcry about plastic straws, a genuine issue, really, suddenly receded and now, in the hysteria of mask wearing, the environment has had to absorb 9 billion single-use cloth and plastic masks.

The entire global economy is teetering on collapse. And this was intentional. This is because of governmental actions, not because of a virus. Of course, western economies have been teetering since 2008, if not before.

I’m not an economist, but this is the point where one must look at “The Great Reset”.

Most of you have heard of it, its been on the cover of TIME magazine, and that photo of Klaus Schwab and his Vulcan unitard suit has cropped up across all social media platforms. The short version (for a long and exhaustive and insightful version see Cory Morningstar here) is that Schwab and his friends at the World Economic Forum have this idea, clothed in perfect green attire, to “reset” the economies of the West (or of the world).

The word ‘reset’ is interesting. Who came up with that I wonder? It feels very computer-ish and futuristic, and optimistic! And while much is made of certain aspects (natural capital, social capital, a new deal for nature, social impact bonds, etc) the reality is that the capitalist system, in the hands of the richest at any given moment (or we can say the ruling class), drive corrections to the market. This helps consolidate wealth at the top, or transfer more to the top.

And that is what this is, with the difference being that the plan is more about the destruction of markets, the destruction of competition, and the hyper monopolization of nearly everything. It entails a good deal of AI fantasy, but it also means a digitalization of currency (so no grey economy, no borrowing from friends, no under the table work) and a massive increase in surveillance and tracking. All of this is helped by the lockdown policies, the so-called ‘Reset’ would likely be stillborn if not for the reaction to Covid.

Allow me to insert HERE a European Commission statement regarding Covid19.

Now the new head of the European Commission is Ursula von der Leyen. Remember that much of the Reset is driven by the ruling elite of Europe and North America. And these people share common values and goals. Here is a brief biographical sketch on Ms von der Leyen…

“Von der Leyen’s father’s grandparents were the cotton merchant Carl Albrecht (1875–1952) and Mary Ladson Robertson (1883–1960), an American who belonged to a plantation owning family of the southern aristocracy from Charleston, South Carolina.

Her American ancestors played a significant role in the British colonization of the Americas, and she descends from many of the first English settlers of Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Barbados, and from numerous colonial-era governors.

Among her ancestors were Carolina governors John Yeamans, James Moore, Robert Gibbes, Thomas Smith and Joseph Blake, Pennsylvania deputy governor Samuel Carpenter, and the American revolutionary and lieutenant governor of South Carolina James Ladson.The Ladson family were large plantation owners and her ancestor James H. Ladson owned over 200 slaves by the time slavery in the United States was abolished; her relatives and ancestors were among the wealthiest in British North America in the 18th century, and she descends from one of the largest British slave traders of the era, Joseph Wragg.”

I will return to why this has relevance. But I will only say here that all of the faces fronting for the Green New Deal, and the Reset, are wealthy, from lineages of extreme wealth and position. Today’s theme is ‘class’.

I can tell you only what I think Schwab and his colleagues want from this project. Let’s look at what is not going to return to normal after the lockdown.

Commercial airlines are going bust, and those that are still alive have drastically cut routes and have limited their service. The days of cheap flights to warm beaches is gone, I suspect, for good. Vacations will be limited and travel limited (well, unless you are very rich like Gates and Schwab and Ms von der Leyen and Prince Charles and Jeff Bezos et al).

There are now sixty million people out of work in the U.S. The inevitability of the Universal Basic Income is pretty clear. The question is how much does one mean by basic?

Here I think one might do a quick history overview of apartheid South Africa, of the sugar plantations of the 18th century in the Caribbean or, well, the Nazi work camp system. The new capitalism that is imagined (and look, feel free to call it post-capitalism , or woke feudalism or whateverthefuckever you want) has more in common with the aforementioned systems of servitude and slavery than it does with anything else. It is class struggle, as Marx emphasized. Jobs won’t be coming back. There will be a gigantic surplus population.

And already one sees the gradual coalescing of a new caste system. People deemed ‘important’ are allowed to go places and few questions are asked if they violate social distancing or mask wearing. The new social apartheid, which began as a pseudoscientific method for disease control, has now, in the brief span of a year, become a defacto class segregation. The rich are exempt. Here is an article from the New York Post (Aug 15th):

Meanwhile, billionaire David Geffen has been hanging on his yacht, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are cruising Greece in another yacht after receiving “honorary” citizenship, Facebook overlord Mark Zuckerberg has been trolling the waters off Hawaii in a $12,000 surfboard, Jeff Bezos and his lady friend have been (multiple) house-hunting, buying up millions of dollars in property in Los Angeles to build a compound while traveling via private jet to several cities around the country, former Mayor Bloomberg splashed out $45 million on a Colorado compound (joining a host of other billionaires buying in that state as well as Montana and Wyoming); and others are spending millions to buy citizenship in “safe” countries like New Zealand.

That ‘compound’ remark is worth noting. For this is the future for much of America. Gated compounds for the aristos and the dirty, squalid, infected world for the proles. And look, gated communities with private security have been in existence for forty years. Only now the separation has deeper implications.

Of course, football can continue in both the US and UK, though basketball has been more strictly limited (the perception is, of course, that basketball is an urban game and in a league over 70% black).

It is amazing how these strictly-enforced behavioural rules are relaxed for the amusements of the court. The rich can pretty much do whatever they want. Literally none of the rules apply to them. There is a middle tier of affluent, those deemed necessary, for the moment anyway, who get to move around more easily. For the millions now without income the restrictions will be quite acute.

So, back to the Reset for a moment. I keep returning to the slave economies of times past because this is increasingly what capitalism has been trending toward. The sugar plantations of the Caribbean used slave labour. Imported from Africa. They sold that raw product in markets of the metropole, to world markets. But on the plantation only master and slave relations existed. And this is, in one sense, what is being normalized today. Slave relations. And like the gulf Monarchies who use ‘guest’ workers (slaves, literally), Americans are close already to being guest workers in their own country.

And like the Apartheid laws in South Africa, certain castes (replacing race in this case) cannot go to the private beach of Mark Zukerberg. Or these days, often, any beach at all.

It’s worth noting that the old 19th Century industrialist tycoons eventually became huge philanthropists. Carnegie, Mellon, Peabody, Rockefeller even. They endowed education, built libraries and hospitals. Today’s tycoons create deceptive Green projects that are really just more wealth-amassing schemes to displace indigenous people, steal land and property, and help sell and normalize the police state.

Students throughout California are now stuck at home in hot, crowded rooms that occasionally fill with wildfire smoke. 19% of these students are English language learners and almost 13% of them have disabilities. Every day on Zoom they fall more and more behind both academically and socially. In Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, students are receiving 90-170 minutes of daily live instruction (depending on their age), after which they are expected to do independent work. Compared to the traditional six or seven-hour school day, online education is laughably inadequate. In real time, teachers and families are watching important developmental windows close for vulnerable children. Meanwhile the California Democratic Party and its affiliates tout virtual schooling as a solution for mitigating COVID-19 transmission” Alex Gutentag (The Bellows)

Gutentag also notes that the California governor sends his kids to a private school with in-person learning. Caste.

Not to mention that many children in the U.S. now live in highly-stressed homes. Over forty million people are at risk of eviction because of unpaid back rent. None of these homes can afford adequate food. They certainly cannot afford health care.

What happens when a child gets sick in today’s America? I suspect for hundreds of thousands they will, at best, get inconsistent attention from volunteer medical workers — unless there is a lockdown in effect. Then they get nothing.

As I say, this brutal reorganization of the economy bears no small similarity to a slave economy — but it is being sold to the public by pretending it is this new, technology-driven Reset. (Own nothing and be happy).

What exactly does the government plan to do with those sixty million unemployed Americans? What does the UK plan? or Germany or France? Or anywhere? The stimulus package went mostly to big corporations. And media and state propaganda continue to provide endless distractions (see assault on the Capitol, and anything to do with Trump).

There is a clear belief in and emphasis on technology in all this. On AI and robotics and transhumanism (sic). This belief in AI to solve almost everything is reaching levels of delusion that many people, even critics of the Reset, seem to ignore.

So how is it that people have so passively surrendered their rights? The answer is complex.

First, the idea of cooperation and grass roots organizing have been relentlessly disparaged in the media for decades. When unions were effectively destroyed under Reagan, along with them went the last vestiges of collectivity. Hollywood has always made films about individual triumph, almost never about revolutionary organizing. I think a large number of people today, even those skeptical, suffer from a kind of inertia. And this too has been built into the system. And it may well be an aspect of screen habituation.

But before that, people are afraid. The unseen enemy, the invisible virus, the plague, an enemy that brings fevers and suffering, sickness and death. But that is only a part of the problem. The Reset is presenting a future of total control for the ruling class.

Why would anyone support this madness? Well, first, because they are being sold on the idea that it’s green, and that THEY, themselves, will be in control. Sort of. And second, they have limited options.

In a way the long shadow of the Reagan years are evident here. The destruction of unions, coupled with the loss of real public education, has allowed for the rootless, lonely and isolated ‘individual’ of contemporary America. And the utter absence of a real leftist party.

But it’s true for much of Europe, too. Here in Norway the wearing of masks is prevalent in ‘high risk’ red zones. And one still can’t drive across the border to Sweden. I see enormous stress indicators in children. Even in my children. And they are young. Nobody feels happy. Isolation does not promote happiness.

Still, how likely is it that this Reset works? I think this question is ignored somewhat and therefore we need to ask ‘for whom does it work’? While there has been enormous amounts of great stuff written about Schwab and the WEF I must digress a moment (although its not really a digression, but only appears to be):

There is a basic problem with AI, deep learning, and natural language and, while it is about language, it applies to other fields as well. This is the Frame problem. And the Frame problem is intwined with the problem of time.

NOTE: The Frame problem “is the challenge of representing the effects of action in logic without having to represent explicitly a large number of intuitively obvious non-effects. But to many philosophers, the AI researchers’ frame problem is suggestive of wider epistemological issues.” – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – ed.

The Frame problem is about relevance, and that the outlier issues, while statistically rare, are actually what distinguish ‘smart’ people from ‘not smart’ people. Machine learning, AI, can do a lot of things, but to over-applaud its achievements without admitting its profound limitations is going to lead to some catastrophic mistakes and, no doubt, human tragedies.

And then there is this.

AI works great in labs, with toys and controlled environments, but a lot less well in the real world.

So far the solution for the new AI cheerleaders is to make the real world like a lab. In one sense, Singapore, with extensive use of AI via a very authoritarian state apparatus, has already done this. China is a more complex discussion, and wanting to avoid any idea of an ‘Oriental plot’, I’m just going to take a Mulligan.

The ruling class anywhere is exempted in all such examples. The majority of humans will be treated as rats in a lab test. Not even rats, but toys. In other words, highly, if not totally, expendable.

But the problems with the Reset, and with all of the Green New Deal projects, are that they operate in a computer model-based world that is rather significantly divorced from real life, and certainly, intentionally, disregards class (and caste).

There are also new ideas like ‘human capital bonds’. It sounds complex but this is just a more draconian loan arrangement where, if you default, for example while going to medical school, even if you graduate you wont be allowed to practice. Everything in this new economy gives people less power and less autonomy.

The issues with all AI and with the advanced technology praised by the Reset are philosophical more than scientific. Part of the problem is that the real world is enormously complex. Like weather prediction, anything more than six or seven days out is all but impossible. There are too many unknown factors and variables. This truth can be extrapolated to just about any real world problem. But for all the growing skepticism about AI, the proponents (who know these problems) continue to propagandize the benefits and the infinite possibilities of an AI-dominated future.

The most absurd are the transhumanists. Given how little is actually known about consciousness, and considering that all AI is just math, it seems almost infantile to think we are going to learn better with implants, or work more efficiently. Alongside that is the issue of prediction. Perhaps this was built into the Enlightenment, but what Adorno and Horkheimer came to call ‘instrumental thinking’ is now embraced unquestioningly by the new peddlers of AI.

Back to the philosophical issue. Wittgenstein famously said:

If a lion could speak, we would not understand it.

Language is part of a shared horizon of the world (as Steven Gambardella put it). Computers can simulate thought, but only up to a point. (See Chinese Box experiment)

The whole modern conception of the world is founded on the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the explanations of natural phenomena. Thus people today stop at the laws of nature, treating them as something inviolable, just as God and Fate were treated in past ages. Ludwig Wittgenstein (Tractatus)

AI is the Alchemy of the 21st century. The new Reset, driven by the high net worth figures from Wall Street, Silicon Valley, or the Royal Houses of Europe, is a fantasy. But a fantasy that is part of a long class struggle.

And at a certain point it doesn’t matter, not totally, if AI works.

If errors occur in computation, or in facial recognition, or in food allotments to the projected new slave class, the billionaires on their yachts wont mind. If the implant in my brain crashes during a scheduled update, that’s just one less servant to feed.

And there is also a clear de-population agenda at work in all this. Certainly David Attenborough and Baroness Goodall are big on getting rid of the indigenous people in Africa. Nearly all of the pro-Reset leadership believe in depopulation. Prince Charles, another who prefers he keep his privilege. It is not an accident that an Ursula von der Leyen is running point for the EU now. A descendent of the biggest slave trader in Europe at one time. It speaks to exactly why a Hugo Chavez, for example, so offended these people. Or an Evo Morales. Remember it was not so long ago that the U.S. worked to control and neutralize African independence movements. While Cuba and the U.S.S.R. helped to support those movements. Dick Cheney until the 90s called Mandela a terrorist.

This intentional demolition of capitalism, as we have come to know it, is designed to enclose populations via surveillance, digital tagging, health passports, and no doubt much more. Again, if the digital tag doesn’t work, so what? I happen to think much of this ruling class dream is doomed to fail on the technical level. The problem is that it quite possibly will work on a political and control level.

Depopulation is rebranded eugenics, and nothing else. The royals of Europe have always longed for a return to what, for them, was colonial grandeur. The fantasy future is nostalgia for the ruling class. The dream can be traced back to what the Empire has always done. They destroy anything democratic and/or socialist. They support any dictator at any time because they believe they deserve more and more of what is better. Let them eat cake.

They have crushed independence and autonomy for all of the 20th century and now into the 21st. The Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, the assassination of Lumumba, Vietnam, Indonesia and Suharto, El Salvador ( U.S. support for Roberto D’Aubuisson, a fervent admirer of Hitler), or Nicaragua, or Chile, the former Yugoslavia. One could go on and on and on. The U.S. support for Papa Doc in Haiti, for Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Nowhere, at any time, has the Imperialist and colonial-loving ruling class EVER supported democracy or equality. Never, nowhere, not once.

The problem is about perception. Take one of the biggest NGOs in the entire New Deal for Nature; Conservation International. These people work with the WWF, with Club of Rome, and We Mean Business. These are very wealthy business ventures. Now, Conservation International also finances the Greta Thunberg films.

HERE is their board of directors, from their web page.

Perception. But Northrup Grummon… and Riverstone Holdings. The first is a major player in the defense industry, the industry that just got a trillion dollars, give or take, from the U.S. Government. The second is a private equity firm focused on leveraged buyouts. Arnhold LLC is an investment management company. Banco BTG Pactual S/A is an investment management company and consultant to corporate trading. You get the idea. These are the people who have helped further inequality, aided environmental destruction, and helped plunder the assets of countless countries. The cynicism is jaw dropping, but many people just see Greta, see Green New Deal and assume this NGO is an innocent well-intentioned and ‘woke’ eco-venture.

WHY would anyone think that suddenly these people are out to save the planet?

Well, they might think they ARE saving the planet, but not for you and me. For themselves.

John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwrighting. He’s had plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. He has taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. Plays include The Shaper, Dream Coast, Standard of the Breed, The Thrill, Wheel of Fortune, Dogmouth, and Phantom Luck, which won the 2010 LA Award for best play. Film credits include 52 Pick-up (directed by John Frankenheimer, 1985) and Animal Factory (directed by Steve Buscemi, 1999). A collection of his plays was published in 1999 by Sun & Moon Press as Sea of Cortez and Other Plays. He lives with wife Gunnhild Skrodal Steppling; they divide their time between Norway and the high desert of southern California. He is artistic director of the theatre collective Gunfighter Nation.
The Conservative Woman

Despite Brexit, Britain is an occupied country

By Daniel Miller

– January 11, 2021

IN THE aftermath of the surprise victory of the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union, the question immediately turned to what the result would effectively mean: whether a soft Brexit or a hard Brexit, a ‘Brino’ or Prime Minister Theresa May’s phenomenal ‘Brexit Means Brexit.’

If a gain for understanding has been made in the ten months since Boris Johnson’s government incinerated a thousand years of British liberty and launched a psychological and economic war against the nation, it is that this question has been settled: Brexit means nothing.

Brexit means nothing because the enemy of liberty and human dignity was never really the European Union, which is ultimately only a kind of branch office administrating Eastern Oceania, but the semi-visible spider’s web of foundations, corporations, criminals, academics, oligarchs, intelligence agencies and opportunists which dominate global power. What the rapid roll-up of power which characterised 2020 has shown is that the failed elite of the United Kingdom offers no alternative at all.

Johnson’s actions over the last twelve months have made his position clear. At the moment when President Trump was withdrawing support from the fatally compromised World Health Organisation, an institution under the control of China, whose director is currently being investigated for involvement in war crimes, Johnson joined Bill Gates in increasing its funding.

In October, doubling down on corruption, the WHO altered its official definition of herd immunity in line with the priorities of its pharmaceutical industry sponsors to the medically illiterate claim that herd immunity is achieved only through vaccines. According to YouTube’s official policy of censoring information which contradicts the WHO, this cynical lie cannot now be questioned on their platform.

In early November, with nothing yet officially decided, and evidence of procedural and statistical anomalies continuing to accumulate, Johnson rushed to join the US media in congratulating the Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden, the politically compromised dementia patient whose installation in the White House would mark the end of the American republic.

As the apocalyptic Cardinal Carlo Maria Vigano, the former ambassador of the Vatican to the United States, has noted, Biden is a figure ‘who does not have his own identity: he is only the expression of a power that does not dare reveal itself for what it truly is and that is hiding itself behind a person who is totally incapable of holding the office of President of the United States’. Johnson no doubt saw something of himself.

Johnson’s theatrical Christmas Eve conclusion of a 1,200-page withdrawal agreement was greeted with predictable applause from a sycophantic British media, which showed no indication of having scrutinised it. This casual corruption is endemic in post-Brexit Britain and it has nothing to do with the EU.

At the highest political level the country is being governed by Sage, a body dominated by behavioural scientists directed to suppress what Cioran called ‘the virus of liberty’ through psychological warfare. Hence masks, symbols of subjugation to the pseudo-reality that Sage and their functionally identical European colleagues have created, continue to be mandated, and policies of lockdown continue to be imposed, despite no convincing evidence demonstrating that either policy has any positive medical effects.

What is being implemented is a policy of intimidation designed to terrorise, demoralise and atomise the British population with the aim of augmenting globally centralised ‘expert’ political control over national economies.

The extent to which this policy is entirely conscious remains a complex question. As anyone who has ever worked with heavy machinery knows, a clever plan is not required for disaster.

In the first place, one can wonder whether the current pseudo-elite of global leaders, TED talk-tier intellects, glorified spreadsheet managers, and halfwit politicians possess the icy competence to orchestrate an international conspiracy, in lieu of entertaining, with attendant risks of a complete abandonment to fantasy, Disraeli’s famous claim that ‘the world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes’.

Second, even where collusion is undoubtedly occurring, and plans are being hatched, clearly a broader orchestration is unfolding through the recursive combination of compliance, madness, and self-interest which now is being generated by the pandemic narrative itself. Nobody can now escape what has been summoned, and this condition is particularly acute among the current institutional elites, individuals who have ‘reached their positions though surrender of self, calling in experts to tell them what buttons to push’. As Arendt observes, it is difficult to lie politically without beginning to believe the lies oneself, and Western institutions are today controlled by individuals who have been lying their whole lives.

Hundreds of millions if not billions of people are now heavily invested in the narrative of an exceptionally lethal plague, and as everyone who has attempted to restore balance to this question already knows, these people cannot easily be disabused of their beliefs, either because they’re intellectually unable to process what is happening without it, psychologically unwilling to concede their own mistakes, or interested in profiting from the situation.

Globally, tech oligarchs have been able to seize vast wealth and expand their markets. Nationally, narcissistic politicians, journalists and charlatan scientists such as Neil Ferguson have gained attention and power. Locally, petty bureaucrats have seized on opportunities for sadism, or sloth. Most of these people are not being remote-controlled from Davos, but are responding to incentive structures, in a situation in which incentive structures were already fundamentally misaligned.

As with World War One, arguably the closest historical analogy to this current position, a systematic disconnection between power and accountability is fuelling the continuation and the deepening of the crisis. Lockdown is now a button that an infantile Western elite can push to increase their power. Hence in Scotland, Sturgeon, in an effort to demonstrate her independence from Westminster, initiates a draconian lockdown and in London Johnson is compelled to follow suit because he does not want to look weak. Or teachers’ unions, cynical from teaching in a useless system, exaggerate the threat posed by reopening schools, and the convictionless Keir Starmer deploys it as a weapon against Johnson, with no consideration given to the consequences it will cause.

This is a monkey trap in which the beguiling kudos of ‘defeating the virus’ now functions as an object of intra-elite competition, which the egos and ambitions of a class of delusional and sociopathic politicians prevent them from relinquishing, even as ‘their’ countries are destroyed.

Through motivated reasoning, individuals will always tend to seek out justifications supporting their desires, and over the last twelve months, the spectre of the virus has become a catch-all explanation, deployed by everyone, and swelling to monstrous size as a result.

Where the exercise of reason isn’t controlled by higher principles, this can expand into psychosis, and there is some evidence for concluding that this has occurred. Apart from the pathetic case of the Prime Minister himself, exemplary in this regard are Bill Gates, probably the most important single individual in the pandemic, given his political domination of global medical science through the Gates Foundation, and the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, an exceptional embodiment of the mediocrity of the elite.

On the one hand, an obsequious and incurious individual of below average intelligence, almost the Peter Principle incarnate, and on the other, a messianic oligarch whose favourite philosopher is Steven Pinker. Both demonstrate disturbing body language and odd, inappropriate outbursts of laughter whenever they appear in public. Taken together, they represent the defining axis of contemporary Western power, no less visible in post-Brexit Britain than elsewhere: shallow, delusional, hollow.

Hancocks exist in every Western European government with superficial regional variations, as in the overpriced menus of tasteless fast-food chains. There is a Spanish Hancock, a German Hancock, an Italian Hancock, and a French Hancock, the latter of whom studied at the ENA, instead of PPE at Oxford, before proceeding directly to national government, without passing through concrete reality first. Hancock embodies the generic form: servile, cynical, unintelligent, and ambitious.

Gates, on the other hand, has a particular psychology, but his individuality is secondary to the vision which he shares with other members of his class. An Ivy League dropout who made billions by selling software, before spending the next several decades surrounded by yes men, what defines this elite isn’t only their incredible wealth, but the frictionless virtuality of how they acquired it, their lack of taste and culture, and their desire to think of themselves, not only as powerful but as spiritually advanced precisely through their distance from corporeal reality. The transhumanism articulated by global spokesmen such as Klaus Schwab, together with the anti-essentialist, social constructivist doctrine that in the last ten years has gained the status of a crypto-religious dogma are both aspects of this paradigm, and lockdown, which reinforces the virtuality of social life, is yet another.

The distinction with President Trump, a developer, with experience in managing construction projects and dealing with many different types of people as opposed to screens, is striking. Britain will need a figure, if not a thousand figures, of evidently even greater mettle before it can dare to dream of sovereignty again.

As things stands, Brexit or no Brexit, Britain is an occupied country, controlled by a clique of bagmen, inadequates and fantasists, hypnotised by numbers, indifferent to the welfare of the nation in the service of their own agendas, and insulated from the destruction they are enacting.

‘We have taken back control,’ Johnson declared as he returned to a country now under indefinite house arrest, with the complicity of a legal system which has failed to challenge the liquidation of constitutional rights, a press which has abandoned its duty to hold the government to account, and a parliament which has submitted with a whimper to its abolition.

Do you feel in control?

Poles will return east to higher wages and jobs, and UK will lose out Posted January 9th 2021

This article is more than 1 year old Richard Partington

The post-Brexit continuation of rights for EU citizens pledged by the prime minister rings hollow. Photograph: David Pearson/Alamy

A perception had built up over the decade leading to Brexit that Britain was a country out of control. Brussels bureaucrats controlled our lives and money. Migrants were stealing jobs and sponging benefits, or so went the shock doctrine of the tabloid press, manifested among the myriad reasons 17.4 million people cried out from the ballot box two and a half years ago: “Enough is enough.”

But as the countdown on Brexit approaches its chaotic finale in little more than 30 days’ time, it’s worth remembering that, until recently, that perception hadn’t travelled far overseas.

Britain was held in high esteem among migrant workers, particularly from the former eastern bloc. Our economy offered them better pay, greater opportunity, higher living standards and more rewarding work than at home.

There was a special view of Britain in Poland in particular. Our nations had stood shoulder to shoulder through some of the most significant moments of the last century. Britain welcomed the Polish armed forces during the war.

After Poland joined the EU in 2004, the number of Poles in Britain surged to reach almost a million. Polish became the second-most spoken language in 2013 (coincidentally, the year David Cameron promised the in-out EU referendum to placate the Blukip surge in his party; only to see the purple populists usurp him), while Poles replaced Indians as the largest diaspora in 2015.

Britain benefited from the arrival of these workers. Community tensions may have been very real at times, but it was austerity that stretched public services to breaking point, not migrants. EU workers helped to grow the British economy out of the last recession. The research from economists is clear: migrants contribute more than they extract.

Theresa May might argue that the UK–Poland relationship matters greatly when attempting putative trade talks with the Polish prime minister before Christmas, but she happily tells her base that freedom of movement is a red line that cannot be crossed. Anna Soubry, the former Conservative MP and ardent remainer who quit her party last week to join the Independent Group, was right when she said the PM has a “problem with immigration”.

Britain’s old reputation now lies in tatters. The message is clear: we want your money, but not your people. Eastern Europeans no longer flock to Britain; quite the reverse.

Figures last week showed that 76,000 EU workers left last year, while the number of non-EU migrant workers rose by 159,000. Fresh statistics expected on Thursday are likely to show the decline continuing.

Among those contemplating their future is Maciej Artur, a 51-year old engineer in the energy industry from Nottingham. Britain’s reputation as a dear old friend rang true when he brought his family here in 2007. He now has mixed feelings after receiving abuse, which has intensified since the launch of the referendum campaign.

“Why did I have to explain to my younger daughter why people in her class started to call her a Polish bitch?” Artur asks. “I’ve been told I was a foreigner and I could get the fuck off.”

Like many, Artur is considering moving his family back to Poland. But while the xenophobia he and other eastern Europeans have experienced is among the biggest push factors for leaving, economic reasons also colour the decision, as the gap closes between the dwindling British economy and the emerging strength of their home nations. Artur says he has plenty of job offers in Poland or elsewhere in the EU as alternatives.

“Looking on the economic conditions in Poland, I would say that over the 12 years since I left until now, the overall prices maybe increased by 30% or 40%, but wages are much, much higher.”

The post-Brexit continuation of rights for EU citizens pledged by the prime minister also rings hollow. Artur was incensed by May warning that migrants would no longer be able to “jump the queue”. He plans to visit Poland next month and is worried that he might not be allowed to return. “Until it is made law, it’s still her words. Look at what she’s promised before and now how things are. My level of trust in her word is not very high.”

Read more

Much has been made of the reasons why Britain is now less attractive for EU migrant workers since the Brexit vote, from rising intolerance to the drop in the value of the pound making British wages less appealing. Less has been said about the improving economic conditions in the countries many migrant workers came from.

According to EU figures analysed by the accountancy firm Grant Thornton, real pay in Poland has risen by about 22% in the years since the financial crisis, while other former eastern bloc nations have also seen rapid pay increases as their economies catch up with the rest of the EU.

Over the past 25 years, Poland’s economy has doubled in size. GDP per capita has gone from 32% of the western European average to 60%. There are jobs shortages and the government is encouraging emigrants to return.

In Britain, meanwhile, average real wages have fallen by 9.3% over the same period, amounting to a lost decade for workers, standing as the worst since the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815.

How the high street has changed in 2020 – the stores we lost, and what the future might hold Posted January 3rd 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has left the future of the UK high street more uncertain than ever before. Fionnula Hainey reports on some of the biggest losses of the year.

It is no big secret that high street retailers battling to stay open have been facing significant pressures over the last decade. 

But today, amid a global pandemic caused by a virus that was barely on the public’s radar this time last year, the future of the UK high street has never looked more uncertain. 

On March 23, non-essential shops were forced to close their doors to customers in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, which, by that time, had taken the lives of 335 people in the UK – just a tiny fraction of those to come. 

Brits were ordered to stay at home, leaving city and town centres eerily empty for weeks.

While some stores were lucky enough to see sales pick up online, for others, a global pandemic was the final nail in the coffin. 

Shops had little idea of when they may be able to reopen – and some never did.

The Centre for Retail Research  predicts  nearly 19,000 stores have closed in the UK so far in 2020, and more than 170,000 retail jobs have been lost, a figure that the think tank expects to rise to more than 235,000 by the end of the year. 

If the estimate proves to be correct, job losses will have risen by nearly 65 per cent since 2019, in a year that will likely see the high street suffer its biggest economic downturn since the financial crisis of 2008. 

While some big name brands have been lost completely, others have had to severely rationalise their portfolios – leaving some town and city centres lined with empty units. 

Often, it is the loss of a large department store that will change the face of a once bustling shopping district the most dramatically. 

Once admired for their stature and shine, it looks as though the department store, a stalwart of the British high street for the last 150 years, could soon become a thing of the past.

Shoppers on Market Street on the last Saturday before Christmas (Image: Adam Vaughan)

Beales became the first to fall in January. 

The 139-year-old business announced plans to close all of its stores by mid-April – a move that came sooner than expected when shops were forced to close for lockdown. 

While only 23 Beales stores remained when the company entered administration, history has proved that even the more dominant department stores are far from safe. 

Following in the footsteps of its competitors BHS and House of Fraser, it is now Debenhams that looks to be facing the most bleak future after entering administration for the second time in 2020.

After 242 years, Debenhams stores will disappear from the high street completely unless a last-minute rescue deal can be agreed.

The loss of Debenhams would result in 124 store closures and 12,000 lost jobs.

Meanwhile, John Lewis will be closing nine of its stores next year, including its brand new Birmingham Grand Central store, which only opened in 2015.

M&S axed around 7,000 jobs, mainly in its stores, during the second half of the year, but is yet to announce further store closures.

The demise of the department store has likely been fuelled by a wider trend affecting fashion outlets.

More and more shoppers have been turning to online retailers for their fashion needs, with big names like Boohoo and Missguided becoming popular choices.

But with staying in becoming the new normal, the whole of the fashion industry has had to switch its attention from parties to pajamas this year, and it has been a struggle for many.

Debenhams stores are set to close across the country after the retailer went into administration for the second time this year (Image: Adam Vaughan)

Most notably, in the same week Debenhams announced it was going into liquidation, Philip Green’s Arcadia also collapsed into administration.

The groups owns some of the high street’s best-known brands, including Topshop and Dorothy Perkins among others, and is Debenhams’ biggest operator of concessions.

Administrators have now struck a deal with an Australian company to buy its plus-size clothing brand Evans, but it will not be buying any of its brick and mortar stores.

The future of the rest of the brands remains uncertain – but the potential bust of the fashion empire puts at least 13,000 UK jobs at risk.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said those losses alone threatened to “rip the heart out” of many high streets across the country.

The news followed a string of tough cuts for similar businesses this year. 

Women’s fashion chain Bonmarche, which has 225 shops nationwide, entered administration for the second time in just over a year.

The EWM Group also collapsed into administration putting thousands of jobs at Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks and Jaeger at risk. 

Oasis and Warehouse closed all stores but managed to keep trading online after being snapped up by Boohoo, while Ann Summers, Laura Ashley and TM Lewin were among many other to announce severe cuts. 

But is is not just a decline in shop numbers that is changing the face of the high street. 

The coronavirus pandemic has delivered a devastating blow to the restaurant trade, with many food outlets in our town and city centres still closed due to the government’s latest tier restrictions. 

While the initial lockdown saw many local fast food businesses able to quickly get on board with delivery, thanks to apps like Deliveroo and JustEat, a ban on dining-in left many feeling hopeless at first.

Despite the government encouraging customers to ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ over the summer, some of the UK’s most well-known chain restaurants ended up taking the tough decision not reopen branches when lockdown lifted. 

Some of the closures announced in 2020 include The Restaurant Group (TRG), closing 125 restaurants across its portfolio, which includes Wagamamas, Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquitos; the Azzurri Group, which owns Ask and Prezzo, closing 75 restaurants; Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge owner Casual Dining Group closing 91 restaurants with 1,909 job losses; and Byron permanently shutting 31 sites.

Entertainment businesses suffered too, with cinemas up and down the country taking one of the biggest hits.

Cinemas were forced to close during lockdown, while many studios pushed back release dates or turned to online streaming. Cineworld has been forced to shut the doors to every one of its UK cinemas, leaving its future uncertain.

The loss of such major names this year has been a devastating blow for towns and cities, and it is likely more are on the horizon.

The closure of bricks and mortar retailers is “scarring our high streets and communities”, according to Paddy Lillis, the general secretary of Usdaw.

The union is calling on the government to “level the playing field on taxation” between online and high street retailers, reform business rates, and encourage councils to “breathe new life” into town centres.

“We have a choice here”, Mr Lillis said. “Do we want to see the high street go to the wall, or do we want to save it?

“Retail is an important feature of our towns and cities, it employs three million people across the UK and we need a recovery plan to get the industry back on its feet.”

Retail guru Mary Portas thinks the key to saving the high street lies in a revamp of philosophy.

She suggests businesses need to focus on the ‘kindness economy’ – contributing something to the high street that will make people’s lives better.

“We’re looking at a whole new generation who aren’t going to prop up the likes of Philip Green any more,” she told the Guardian.

“They’re not supporting businesses who don’t prioritise people or the planet. We’re moving away from that: there is a new value system at play.”

Near empty high streets are a stark reminder of the hold coronavirus has had over towns and cities for nearly a year, and the livelihoods it has taken.

But while the pandemic has certainly made us reassess our shopping habits, it is hard to deny that nostalgia for the once bustling high streets of years gone by remains.

Events like Black Friday and the Boxing Day sales continue to see customers eager to get their hands on a bargain.

Online shopping may have kept Brits going during lockdown, but many clearly missed their trips into town.

As for the future of the high street, only time will tell, but the struggle for many will continue into the New Year and beyond.

UK May car sales collapse by 89% to 1952 levels as lockdown devastates industry Posted December 24th 2020

Author: Will Beacham

2020/06/04

BARCELONA (ICIS)–UK new car sales collapsed by 89% year on year in May to levels not seen since 1952 as the coronavirus shutdowns and closure of most automotive production devastated the country’s market.

Figures published on Thursday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers show that just 20, 247 vehicles were sold in May 2020 compared with 183,724 a year earlier.

The fleet business fared worst, falling by 93% whilst private sales dropped by 84%. Sales of all types of cars fell except for battery electric vehicles which grew by 21.5% to 2,424.

The Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle was the top-selling car in the UK in May 2020, demonstrating how quickly consumers are shifting away from conventional vehicles.

With the coronavirus lockdowns only kicking off in March in the UK, year-to-date figures look better. From January to May car sales fell by 51% to 508,125.

The society is pinning its hopes on a recovery as the lockdowns are eased and car showrooms reopen.

Mike Hawes, CEO of the trade group said: “After a second month of shutdown and the inevitable yet devastating impact on the market, this week’s re-opening of dealerships is a pivotal moment for the entire industry and the thousands of people whose jobs depend on it.”

Early reports from showrooms suggest good business is being done, but it is too early to tell how demand will change over the coming months, according to the group.

Hawes added: “Restarting this market is a crucial first step in driving the recovery of Britain’s critical car manufacturers and supply chain, and to supporting the wider economy.”

On 4 June Aston Martin said it would cut 500 jobs, a fifth of its workforce.

Used car sales are performing well since showrooms reopened on Monday, as people seek alternatives to public transport, reports the Financial Times.

In April, EU passenger car sales fell 76.3% year on year, the sharpest decline since records began.

CHEMICAL VALUE CHAINS SUFFER
Chemical supply chains feeding the automotive sector have been particularly badly hit by the virus. Key polymers used for the automotive sector include polypropylene, polyurethanes, and polyamides.

Front page image source: Shutterstock

Comment What is it with the self interested money grabbing morons behind the lockdown con that they think the cosnsequences are not oulling apart the social fabric. Yesterday a mn tried to sell me a second car for £400 more than he originally asked for. Obviously I didn’t buy , excellent as it was. I am now going after my bus pass.

At this moment I am collecting my thoughts on a message to my local council. This is the opening paragraph :

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write with reference to your council tax reminder.  It amazes me that you assume the right to an income when the same is denied to me. The latest lockdown extension is the last straw: when or will it ever end? I was relying on my work in now dead publishing world and as an agency truck driver in the devastated hospitality sector. Thanks very much Covid lockdown. At least I expect to die before it gets me ! Thanks Government and all the relevant public sectors.

There is something very odd about the earnestness, self righteous enthusiasm of our pseudo democratic rulers , their experts and lackeys have for lockdown.

The scaremongering figures involve guesswork, dubious tests and repeated calls for more lockdown because infections and Covid related deaths among various permutations and mixings of obese, very poor, elderly. those with pre existing illness, and BAME are rising. Another remindeer, death rates of infected are less than 1% and average age of death is 82, with other key fatal factors.

For this, the rest of us, outside the elite, must risk losing our livings, homes and families. Especially considering lockdown obviously doesn’t work and there is no reason to suppose more would do anything other than wreck more lives, why do it ?

I wish I thought the elite were stupid. Though many of their lackeys may be, they are not. They are very very dangerous. So that is why car sales are falling, and the knock on effect through Keynes Acclerator, The Multiplier and Fisher’s Velocity Circulation of Money Theory will devastate those outside of the servics, money, and asset grabbing elite, including the bankers.

This is what happened in 1930s Germany, the Jews being scapegoated because Jews monoplised banking and money lending – Britain and France’s elite having blamed and screwed Gerrmany for World War One. It is happening again . Flooding europe with BAME and the BLM movement is not a solution. It is making matters worse. That is why the elite want more police and are terrified of the far right. R.J Cook

Wine Tariffs Follow Aggressive Pattern December 4th 2020

Wine Tariffs Follow Aggressive Pattern

China’s relationship with Australia keeps hitting new lows.

After threatening Canberra with a list of 14 demands, Beijing imposed heavy tariffs on Australian wine—a key export—last Friday, following a range of unofficial trade restrictions in recent weeks. Afterward, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, who is well known for trolling other countries on social media, tweeted an image of an Australian soldier cutting a child’s throat—a reference to allegations of war crimes against several Australian soldiers. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has demanded the tweet’s removal.

This behavior is not new for Zhao, but it’s now clear that the Chinese state backs his trolling. In previous times, the tweet probably would have been quietly deleted. But under the current environment of ultranationalism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the quote. Some Chinese advisors attempted to rein in the so-called wolf warrior diplomacy earlier this year, but the wind is clearly against them. Other Chinese media, including the People’s Daily, came out swinging for Zhao, and thousands of Chinese bots expressed their support on Twitter.

Jake Sullivan, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security advisor, has already offered a strong statement of support for Australia. China hawks in Washington closely watch Australia’s experience, as they see the country as being on the front lines of attempted Chinese influence efforts. Biden has also stated that he doesn’t plan on giving up outgoing President Donald Trump’s trade war tariffs until a “coherent strategy” is in place.

Australia is particularly vulnerable to Chinese pressure because its decadeslong economic boom has been driven in large part by exports to the Chinese market, especially minerals. One-third of all Australian exports go to China, and politicians such as former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd once saw the country’s future as inextricably linked to China.

But the combination of the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s increased aggression has turned Canberra against it. Stronger defense ties with the United States—prompting further Chinese retaliation—are more likely than concessions.

Covid Lockdown plays especially on female fears. making the obscenely rich ever richer December 2nd 2020

How private equity fat-cats who rub shoulders with A-list celebrities and royalty triggered Debenhams’ downfall by selling its stores and leasing them back before taking £1.2BILLION in dividends

  • The root of Debenhams’ woes lay in its 2003 purchase by private equity firms
  • A consortium bought the company, sold off its stores and leased them back
  • The move raised money but crippled the retailer with high and long-lasting rents
  • Consortium then sold the firm in 2006, collecting huge dividends of £1.2 billion 
  • Debenhams has now collapsed with retailers pointing the finger at the legacy of the private equity firms 

By Danyal Hussain For Mailonline

Published: 15:43, 2 December 2020 | Updated: 16:00, 2 December 2020

7 shares 185 View comments

Debenhams was doomed long before the coronavirus pandemic struck, experts have claimed, with the retail chain never recovering after being bought and sold by fatcats who stripped its assets and collected over £1 billion in dividends. 

The department store collapsed yesterday and will be liquidated in the New Year after rescue talks with JD Sport fell through, drawing a line under 242 years of trading and jeopardising 12,000 jobs. 

It capped a bruising year for the retail sector amid the pandemic with Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group also collapsing.

However, experts have now claimed the popular department store was doomed long before the virus, pointing fingers at a private equity consortium that took control of Debenhams in 2003. 

The retailer was taken over by a trio of funds in a £600 million investment deal. TPG, CVC Capital and Merrill Lynch made huge returns, despite owning the company for less than three years, collecting £1.2 billion in dividends.  

Under their ownership, they stripped Debenhams’ assets, including the £450 million sale of 26 properties. 

Debenhams then leased the stores back, for extremely high rents and, in some cases, 35-year-long deals. The deal involved all of Debenhams’ freehold properties including its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street.   

Among the bosses of the firms who bought Debenhams are TPG co-founders David Bonderman and Jim Coulter, US billionaires among the country’s richest people.  Bonderman is well known for a lavish personal life, spending millions on booking the likes of Robin Williams, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney for birthday parties. 

CVC Capital, meanwhile, is perhaps best known for its near £2 billion purchase of Formula One, a deal which saw it get huge dividend payments, earning up to $14 billion in 10 years of ownership. Forbes described it as the ‘sports deal of the decade’. David Bonderman (far right) with James Bond star Daniel Craig at the premiere of Casino Royale in 2006. He is an American billionaire and co-founder of the TPG group, one of the three funds that bought and stripped Debenhams between 2003 and 2006+15

David Bonderman (far right) with James Bond star Daniel Craig at the premiere of Casino Royale in 2006. He is an American billionaire and co-founder of the TPG group, one of the three funds that bought and stripped Debenhams between 2003 and 2006CVC co-founder Donald Mackenzie in Abu Dhabi with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. CVC is known for having bought Formula One for nearly $2 billion, a deal which saw it get huge dividend payments+15

CVC co-founder Donald Mackenzie in Abu Dhabi with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. CVC is known for having bought Formula One for nearly $2 billion, a deal which saw it get huge dividend paymentsSimon Mackenzie-Smith  with the Duchess of Cambridge in 2018 as she opens a mental health charityin London. Mackenzie-Smith has been the Managing Director of investment banking for Merrill Lynch, one of the firms who bought Debenhams, since 1996+15

Simon Mackenzie-Smith  with the Duchess of Cambridge in 2018 as she opens a mental health charityin London. Mackenzie-Smith has been the Managing Director of investment banking for Merrill Lynch, one of the firms who bought Debenhams, since 1996

The sale-and-leaseback deals saddled the store with expensive overheads and store leases just as shoppers were increasingly moving online 

Debenhams owed around £100m when it was taken private but, by the time it returned to the stock market, that debt had increased to more than £1 billion. 

The consortium was also accused of ‘cheapening’ the brand with its use of ‘megasales’ and promotions to flog items. 

The period under equity fund management has been described as the ‘root’ of the retail chain’s collapse yesterday – though the funds responsible and the billionaires behind them have gone from strength to strength in the years since. 

TPG Capital is a US investment firm that has more than $100 billion in assets. 

2.6 Million Low Class Workers Face Unemployment, but migrants still welcome for Humanitarian Reasons Say Middle Class Charity Workers and Politicians. November 27th 2020

Here in the websites Portsmouth office we proudly report record business failures, homlessness and unemployment. But we take heart and pride that all those dying from lockdown here will be in the true Pompey spirit, reminiscent of D Day, of acting like Lemmings jumping off a cliff in a good cause. We will die safe and feeling good in the knowledge that our deaths will eventually kill Covid 19 because it will have nothing left to feed on. E.M P T Head.

Topshop owner Arcadia on brink of collapse

By Howard Mustoe
Business reporterPublished24 minutes ago

Sir Philip Green’s retail empire Arcadia, which includes Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, is understood to be on the brink of collapse.

Sir Philip had been in talks with potential lenders about borrowing £30m to help the business through Christmas.

However, these talks have failed and administrators could be appointed on Monday, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.

Arcadia said it was working on “contingency options”.

Is this because of the pandemic?

Arcadia admitted that the coronavirus had had “a material impact on trading across our businesses”.

“As a result, the Arcadia boards have been working on a number of contingency options to secure the future of the group’s brands,” it said.

“The brands continue to trade and our stores will be opening again in England and the Republic of Ireland as soon as the government Covid-19 restrictions are lifted next week.”

However, even before the pandemic, Arcadia’s best-known names – like Topshop – were struggling against nimbler online-only fashion retailers like Asos, Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing.

And rival High Street chains like Zara have invested heavily in their digital business while Topshop has been slow to catch up.

In its most recent accounts for the year to 1 September 2018, Arcadia reported a £93.4m pre-tax loss compared with a £164.6m profit in the previous 12 months.

It also said sales fell 4.5% to £1.8bn.

Presentational grey line

The ‘King of the High Street’s’ biggest challenge

Sir Philip, model Kate Moss and Edward Enninful,
image captionSir Philip Green, model Kate Moss and Edward Enninful, now editor-in-chief of British Vogue, in 2017

Sir Philip Green – once known as the “King of the High Street” – is facing his biggest challenge yet.

With his Arcadia retail empire teetering on the brink of collapse, it is the latest saga in a colourful career that once saw him branded as the “unacceptable face of capitalism”.

The retail tycoon’s life story to date is rich in character and anecdote, from his failed attempts to take over M&S, to a lavish lifestyle that has attracted accusations of tax avoidance.

But questions now swirl over the fate of his empire.

Read more about Sir Philip’s career here

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Richard Lim, chief executive at Retail Economics, said that while all clothing shops had been adversely affected by the pandemic, Arcadia’s “demise has been accelerated because of an online proposition that falls way behind that of their competitors”.

“Years of underinvestment in the digital channel has severely restricted their ability to trade successfully through this hugely difficult period,” he said.

What happens next?

“Arcadia would be the biggest British corporate collapse of the pandemic if it does enter voluntary liquidation,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“It would hollow out huge swathes of the High Street, if its huge footprint of stores were forced to close.”

If administrators are called in, the shops will continue to trade as buyers for the company – or more likely its well-known brands – are lined up for sale.

Arcadia currently has about 500 shops.

There is some speculation that Boohoo could emerge as a buyer for some of the brand. This year it bought the online businesses of Oasis and Warehouse, adding to Karen Millen and Coast, which it acquired in 2019.

Mike Ashley, the billionaire founder of Sports Direct, is also understood to be among those interested. He has been buying up struggling High Street chains such as DW Sports Fitness and House of Fraser over the last few years.

What about the rest of the High Street?

Non-essential retailers in England have been forced to close for four weeks until 2 December to contain the spread of Covid-19. This followed a longer lockdown earlier in the year.

It has meant that other retailers with ties to Arcadia – such as department store chain Debenhams – are also struggling.

SDP - The Social Democratic Party logo

The official blog of The Social Democratic Party. Posted November 24th 2020

identity politics

Black Lives Matter: how should we respond?

Black Lives Matter is a sort of political protection racket, following a well-trodden path of agitating and shaming us into providing money and support.

By: Ben Cobley

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a masterpiece of political marketing.

It’s a slogan with a campaign attached, linked to some pretty heavy racial ideology and propaganda.  None of it can be criticised without appearing to oppose the idea that black lives do indeed matter.

BLM is a classic and effective piece of rhetorical blackmail. Either get on board or you’re a racist: that is the logic of it – a logic driven by fear.

It’s the perfect slogan, as befitting the powerful alignment between progressive liberal-left politics and the PR, media and advertising industries across the Anglophone world. There’s an immediate and powerful social block on even questioning this movement just from its name.

One of the great successes of the campaign is how it has got many institutions in our society applying this block themselves, promoting the organisation and even punishing insiders who publicly question and criticise any activities carried out under the BLM branding. Manx Radio suspended presenter Stu Peters for responding to the movement with the phrase ‘all lives matter’ and questioning the idea of ‘white privilege’ live on air. Literature Wales removed Western Mail journalist Martin Shipton from the Wales Book of the Year judging panel for comments criticising BLM on social distancing. In the mainstream broadcast media, the group has barely been challenged.

It appears that institutional Britain has broadly accepted that political support for Black Lives Matter is compulsory, seemingly without questioning it or being able to critically assess its goals.

There’s a sort of totalitarianism about this but not a totalitarianism of the state. Rather, we see a largely voluntary gathering of non-state and state actors to push its slogans and talking points using their public relations functions and broadcasting ability. This reflects a longstanding ritual in our society of ‘giving-way’ to progressive identity activists who present themselves and the groups they claim to represent as victims in need of special protection or favour.

It’s likely that very few people in institutional Britain have a clue what they are supporting when they back BLM, as the England football teams did before the weekend’s protests and as Yorkshire Tea has done since, despite the rioting and attacks on police.

However, as David Goodhart tweeted, if you check out the Black Lives Matter UK GoFundMe page (which has raised a remarkable £775,000 in just seven days at the time of writing), what you find is disingenuous “far left nonsense”.

The BLM manifesto, seemingly copied and pasted from previous far left campaigns, tells us,

“We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.”

It says it will spend the funds on political lobbying, “Developing and delivering healing practices in black communities”, whatever that means, and “Developing and delivering training, police monitoring and strategies for the abolition of police.” It also talks about wanting “reparations of black people dealing with generational trauma and institutional racism”.

It’s drivel, but dangerous drivel: trying to stir up grievance among their target groups and shame governments, business and individuals into giving them and other activists money: a kind of political protection racket.

I think our major institutions – and indeed many of us as individuals, let’s be honest – give way to this sort of stuff because we are weak and what we really stand for is not easily condensed into a simple slogan.

Supporting progressive identity activism gives us a quick ‘hit’ of that meaning and purpose we lack, making us appear in a positive light to those who dominate our public life and those who go along with this domination. The identity activists exploit this for all its worth.

Superficially this ‘virtue signalling’ makes life easier, while thinking for ourselves and going against the grain makes things harder.

However, going along with it doesn’t ultimately protect us. The demands keep on coming. For BLM is a campaign with no possible limits and no end in sight. They always want more and always have accusations of racism in their back pocket to use if you choose to resist.

Repeatedly giving way to activists has led to their domination of our major institutions, in which many now hold gatekeeper positions and are increasingly moving into top jobs where they can direct money and power to their own groups and away from others.

This is the way it’s going. We can see it in America with the New York Times and other media outlets. We can also see it in our own BBC, many of whose presenters now openly propagate radical identity politics, seemingly not bothered by the damage they are doing to one of our country’s greatest creations and its reputation for impartiality.  The BBC routinely gives BLM activists a platform to voice nebulous claims – claims which the corporation apparently lacks the inclination or the will to scrutise. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish activists from BBC presenters.

As they demand more and more favouritism (normally via the apparently harmless idea of ‘representation’), those taking on an activist role do immense damage to race relations. It may work for them personally in the short term, but it is a disaster for the cause they claim to be advocating for.

After all, racial favouritism in the form of conventional white-on-black racism is what this movement is meant to be opposing.

Favouritism is ultimately toxic for trust in organisations and society as a whole. By promoting more and more of it, to the extent that they and their causes appear untouchable, BLM activists, their celebrity fans and the weak and naive institutions that indulge them are creating the conditions for resentment to thrive.

Social Democrats must resist this and patiently explain to people what is going on whenever we get the chance – and encourage people to think for themselves rather than be browbeaten by activists.

Perhaps the saddest irony of BLM is that its programme, if implemented, would unite black and all other lives in the harm done to them.

We’re up against it – but that’s all the more reason to try.

Billionaires back Black Lives Matter

Gabriel Black
11 October 2016

The Ford Foundation, one of the most powerful private foundations in the world, with close ties to Wall Street and the US government, recently annouced that it is overseeing the funneling of $100 million over six years to several organizations that play leading roles in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We’re eager to deepen and expand this community of social justice funders,” the foundation’s announcement reads. “We want to nurture bold experiments and help the movement build the solid infrastructure that will enable it to flourish.”

Fortune Magazine wrote that the foundation’s announcement “would make anyone sit up straighter if they read it in a pitch deck [a presentation for startups seeking investor capital].” The contribution of such an immense sum of money is a gift from the ruling class that will allow Black Lives Matter to construct a bureaucracy of salaried staff and lobbyist positions. The influx of money will bring the movement greater influence through campaign contributions and integrate it even more closely with the Democratic Party and the corporate media.

The Ford Foundation will also provide various forms of consultancy and advisory assistance to a consortium of 14 groups associated with Black Lives Matter. Both the financing and the auxiliary services are to be organized through a fund called the Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), which is being overseen by a firm called Borealis Philanthropy.

The Ford Foundation receives the bulk of its endowment from corporate contributors and very wealthy donors through trusts and bequeathments. Established in 1936 by Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, it today boasts the third largest endowment of any foundation, valued at roughly $12.4 billion.

The Ford Foundation has for years maintained close ties to US military and intelligence agencies. A British historian of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Frances Stonor Saunders, described the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in her book The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters as “conscious instruments of covert US policy, with directors and officers who were closely connected to, or even members of American intelligence.”

Today, the foundation is not formally connected to Ford Motor Company, but its board of directors is a “who’s who” of powerful corporate players, including CEOs and Wall Street lawyers. The chairperson of the board of directors is Irene Inouye, widow of deceased Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye.

The $100 million gift is an acknowledgment by a powerful section of the ruling class that the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement are aligned with those of Wall Street and the US government.

In an interview with Bloomberg News in 2015, the Ford Foundation’s current president, Darren Walker, an ex-banker at UBS, spelled out the pro-capitalist perspective underlying the foundation’s decision to bankroll Black Lives Matter:

“Inequality in many ways undermines our vision for a more just and fair world,” he said. “Indeed, the American people, and it’s not just the Trump supporters, are feeling increasingly vulnerable, increasingly insecure, and what that does is it drives wedges in our society, in our democracy. Inequality is bad for our democracy. It kills aspirations and dreams and makes us more cynical as a people… What kind of Capitalism do we want to have in America?”

The foundation’s support for Black Lives Matter is an investment in the defense of the profit system. Black Lives Matter portrays the world as divided along racial lines, proclaiming on its web site that it “sees itself as part of a global black family.”

It claims that black people are “extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, and especially ‘our’ children…” It explicitly rejects the notion that any other section of society has the right to raise grievances of its own. Its group history page notes: “Not just all lives. Black lives. Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too.”

The petty-bourgeois leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement are now poised to exercise a significant degree of political influence directed at securing privileges within the political elite. A quick look at the founders of Black Lives Matter gives a sense of the opportunist and self-promotional character of the group as a whole. The official Black Lives Matter organization was founded by three people: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. The three met as members of BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity). BOLD is one of the 14 organizations now being funded by the Black-Led Movement Fund.

One of these founders, Garza, runs an organization called the National Domestic Workers Alliance, on whose board sits Alta Starr. Starr oversees a fund at the Ford Foundation. She is also on the board of a foundation backed by billionaire George Soros, the Open Society Foundation’s Southern Initiative.

Patrisse Cullers is the director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. This organization was founded by Van Jones, a Democrat who worked under Obama as a special advisor on “green jobs, enterprise and innovation.” He is also a long time contributor to CNN. This organization also receives funds from the Open Society Foundation.

A leaked document from an October 2015 board meeting of the Soros-funded US Programs/Open Society revealed that the organization provided $650,000 “to invest in technical assistance and support for the groups at the core of the burgeoning #BlackLivesMatter movement.” The document notes that the board planned to discuss the difficulty of dealing with a de-centralized movement: “What happens when you want to throw a lot of money at a moment[sic], but there isn’t any place for it to go?” It was also raised that the Soros name could discredit Black Lives Matter if the public became aware of his financial support.

Many of the organizations on the list of Ford recipients are also members of the newly-formed “Movement for Black Lives,” which has published a policy agenda document centered on demands for greater government financing of black-owned businesses and institutions.

In an earlier period, nationalist movements such as the Black Panthers, however politically disoriented, had a genuine element of social struggle and conflict with the state. While their political program was of a petty-bourgeois character, they had a significant base of support among the oppressed. This was the period of the mass civil rights movement against Jim Crow segregation in the South and the urban rebellions in the North.

In response to the upheavals of the late 1960s, a section of the ruling class sought to cultivate a base of support among the more privileged sections of minorities that would be loyal to the status quo. As a result of policies such as affirmative action, social inequality among African-Americans has soared, with a small elite holding positions of power in corporate America and the state. This found its apotheosis in the election of Barack Obama to preside as president over a historic transfer of wealth to the financial aristocracy following the Wall Street crash of 2008.

These social transformations are reflected in the political outlook of the Black Lives Matter movement, which is devoid of any genuine element of social protest or democratic struggle. The agenda of these organizations, as underscored by the support of groups like the Ford Foundation, has nothing to do with the real social and economic grievances of millions of workers and young people of any race or ethnicity. They speak for highly privileged sections of the middle class who are fighting over the distribution of wealth within the top 10 percent of the population.

In the face of rising popular opposition to war, police violence and social inequality, the decision to advance the racialist program of Black Lives Matter is aimed at dividing the working class and preventing the emergence of an independent and unified working class movement against the capitalist system.

Summary

More UK businesses struggle to make ends meet

19 November 2020 00:00

  1. UK high street chains Peacocks and Jaeger have gone into administration, putting 4,700 jobs at risk
  2. Cineworld is looking to arrange a rescue deal that could mean UK cinema closures
  3. A third of hotels and restaurants have little or no confidence they will survive the next three months, ONS survey suggests
  4. Early trials of the UK’s Oxford coronavirus vaccine show a promising immune response in elderly people
  5. Covid was the third most common cause of death in October in England and Wales – behind dementia and heart disease
  6. Brexit trade talks are temporarily suspended after a member of the EU team tests positive for Covid-19
  7. The US records more than 250,000 deaths from Covid-19 and nearly 11.5 million cases, as infections soar across the country
  8. Japan is on ‘maximum alert’ after recording more than 2,000 daily cases, with nearly 500 in Tokyo alone

The Great Replacement November 10th 2020

The above article was published in Britain’s ‘The Economist‘ magazine back in February 2006.

Yesterday’s RT Channel featured , on their ‘Renegade Inc‘ segment, a woman of the international chattering classes pontificating about her book on the lonely future. At no point did she talk about the poisonous atomising effects of feminism, driving the sexes apart, women’s career and power mania, blaming and isolating men, thus reducing the white birth rate and creating dysfunctional, mentally ill, over sexualised and drug addicted children . It is noticeable about Britain’s ever expanding mental health so called care services that they only do labelling – from the DSM- pills or sectioning. Honest analysts they are not. Cause and effect is not part of the remit. It seems kinder, using feminine or effeminate men with ‘nice voices’ they still send folk to Bedlam or suicide.

Like any avalanche or volcano, you don’t see it coming, its happening under the surface. China is differenent. It has one dominant culture, keeping religion in perspective, not confusing it with being a source of fact , truth and salvation. It says it all about Islam and Christianity that they offer only freedom and salvation in death – while they have all the fun on earth. Their twisted leaders got a lot of wars and wealth from this nonsense.

So how does a big business or finance house manage an ageing workforce / economy ? It brainwashes the young natives, panders to and flatters the old with longer working lives, then makes a case for massive imports of cheap religious minded labour from the old third World where they have stirred up so much war. It finances our fake democracies, passes ever more constricting laws via its political elite placemen, with dire punishments to anyone organising protests.

Only yesterday, a man who organised a protest against lockdown was fined £10,000. That is because of the hidden agenda for a lockdown that obviously makes no difference to exaggerated Covid, but does atomise people. Anti racism is back as a political device because the British elite proved that is how the rich build and sustain an empire.

The nasty minds behind all of this do not care about statues, they were only ever put up as pap and fakery to make the masses feel they are part of something great, however small and easily crushed they actually are. Now the same elite pander to BLM by allowing them to be torn down. Only desperate white working class people care about that, because they are losing their identity and must not be allowed a new one that might threaten the ‘new normal’. That is why Trump had to go by whatever means it took. R.J Cook

What Did Max Weber Mean by the ‘Spirit’ of Capitalism? 

November 9th 2020

To start, he would have been dumbfounded to find that it was being used as an elementary introduction to sociology.

Peter Ghosh

Max Weber’s famous text The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) is surely one of the most misunderstood of all the canonical works regularly taught, mangled and revered in universities across the globe. This is not to say that teachers and students are stupid, but that this is an exceptionally compact text that ranges across a very broad subject area, written by an out-and-out intellectual at the top of his game. He would have been dumbfounded to find that it was being used as an elementary introduction to sociology for undergraduate students, or even schoolchildren.

We use the word ‘capitalism’ today as if its meaning were self-evident, or else as if it came from Marx, but this casualness must be set aside. ‘Capitalism’ was Weber’s own word and he defined it as he saw fit. Its most general meaning was quite simply modernity itself: capitalism was ‘the most fateful power in our modern life’. More specifically, it controlled and generated ‘modern Kultur’, the code of values by which people lived in the 20th-century West, and now live, we may add, in much of the 21st-century globe. So the ‘spirit’ of capitalism is also an ‘ethic’, though no doubt the title would have sounded a bit flat if it had been called The Protestant Ethic and the Ethic of Capitalism.

This modern ‘ethic’ or code of values was unlike any other that had gone before. Weber supposed that all previous ethics – that is, socially accepted codes of behaviour rather than the more abstract propositions made by theologians and philosophers – were religious. Religions supplied clear messages about how to behave in society in straightforward human terms, messages that were taken to be moral absolutes binding on all people. In the West this meant Christianity, and its most important social and ethical prescription came out of the Bible: ‘Love thy neighbour.’ Weber was not against love, but his idea of love was a private one – a realm of intimacy and sexuality. As a guide to social behaviour in public places ‘love thy neighbour’ was obviously nonsense, and this was a principal reason why the claims of churches to speak to modern society in authentically religious terms were marginal. He would not have been surprised at the long innings enjoyed by the slogan ‘God is love’ in the 20th-century West – its career was already launched in his own day – nor that its social consequences should have been so limited.

The ethic or code that dominated public life in the modern world was very different. Above all it was impersonal rather than personal: by Weber’s day, agreement on what was right and wrong for the individual was breaking down. The truths of religion – the basis of ethics – were now contested, and other time-honoured norms – such as those pertaining to sexuality, marriage and beauty – were also breaking down. (Here is a blast from the past: who today would think to uphold a binding idea of beauty?) Values were increasingly the property of the individual, not society. So instead of humanly warm contact, based on a shared, intuitively obvious understanding of right and wrong, public behaviour was cool, reserved, hard and sober, governed by strict personal self-control. Correct behaviour lay in the observance of correct procedures. Most obviously, it obeyed the letter of the law (for who could say what its spirit was?) and it was rational. It was logical, consistent, and coherent; or else it obeyed unquestioned modern realities such as the power of numbers, market forces and technology.

There was another kind of disintegration besides that of traditional ethics. The proliferation of knowledge and reflection on knowledge had made it impossible for any one person to know and survey it all. In a world which could not be grasped as a whole, and where there were no universally shared values, most people clung to the particular niche to which they were most committed: their job or profession. They treated their work as a post-religious calling, ‘an absolute end in itself’, and if the modern ‘ethic’ or ‘spirit’ had an ultimate foundation, this was it. One of the most widespread clichés about Weber’s thought is to say that he preached a work ethic. This is a mistake. He personally saw no particular virtue in sweat – he thought his best ideas came to him when relaxing on a sofa with a cigar – and had he known he would be misunderstood in this way, he would have pointed out that a capacity for hard work was something that did not distinguish the modern West from previous societies and their value systems. However, the idea that people were being ever more defined by the blinkered focus of their employment was one he regarded as profoundly modern and characteristic.

The blinkered professional ethic was common to entrepreneurs and an increasingly high-wage, skilled labour force, and it was this combination that produced a situation where the ‘highest good’ was the making of money and ever more money, without any limit. This is what is most readily recognisable as the ‘spirit’ of capitalism, but it should be stressed that it was not a simple ethic of greed which, as Weber recognised, was age-old and eternal. In fact there are two sets of ideas here, though they overlap. There is one about potentially universal rational procedures – specialisation, logic, and formally consistent behaviour – and another that is closer to the modern economy, of which the central part is the professional ethic. The modern situation was the product of narrow-minded adhesion to one’s particular function under a set of conditions where the attempt to understand modernity as a whole had been abandoned by most people. As a result they were not in control of their own destiny, but were governed by the set of rational and impersonal procedures which he likened to an iron cage, or ‘steel housing’. Given its rational and impersonal foundations, the housing fell far short of any human ideal of warmth, spontaneity or breadth of outlook; yet rationality, technology and legality also produced material goods for mass consumption in unprecedented amounts. For this reason, though they could always do so if they chose to, people were unlikely to leave the housing ‘until the last hundredweight of fossil fuel is burned up’.

It is an extremely powerful analysis, which tells us a great deal about the 20th-century West and a set of Western ideas and priorities that the rest of the world has been increasingly happy to take up since 1945. It derives its power not simply from what it says, but because Weber sought to place understanding before judgment, and to see the world as a whole. If we wish to go beyond him, we must do the same.

Peter Ghosh is an associate professor of history and Jean Duffield fellow in modern history at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford. He is the author of Max Weber in Context: Essays in the History of German Ideas C. 1870-1930.

Comment A tendentious long winded piece of writing, intended to pull punches regarding the reality of capitalism. Weber was not an economist. Among other things, I studied his work at the University of East Anglia in the early 1970s. Weber was a depressive who wasted 11 years not speaking or writing.

He invented the concept of verstehen, meaning understanding in German and empathy in the context of Weberian sociology. Weber notably decided that bureaucracy was the order of the world he lived in, and to become increasingly significant. He considered this the most rational form of organisation, overlapping with an economist, Marshall, who founded his theory on the concept of rational economic man.

Marshall’s views, part of classical economics, expounded by Professor Pigou, were categorical but discredited by John Maynard Keynes in his ‘General Theory of Employment Interest & Money.’ By contrast Weber was not so confident in the notion of rationality, a doubt much influenceing his depression.

Economics, as those of us old foggies trained long ago, relies on ex post facto analysis. He did not invent capitalism and didn’t justify it. He was rightly depressed about the future. It was clear that the English 16th century religious reformation smashing the stultifying influence of the Roman Catholic Chirch masquerading as Christianity, opened the floodgates for innovation and enterprise. It also fuelled rampant colonialism.

I don’t take the self righteous pseudo liberal view that colonialism was wrong. It just was because humans are animals not mini Gods. Ghosh’s work is apology for the vile greed and perversion of modern economies which divide and exploit the masses, use the nerds to develop technology, then fight over the spoils. So this article is long winded tosh, but needs to be read because politicans are full of tosh, they feed off and use it as lackeys to the 20 % of the world’s population who control 95 % of the world’s wealth while the rest fight, kill and lie for a bigger share of the pathetically small remaining 5 %.

R.J Cook

China is back to normal — the US and Europe are not. Here’s how it succeeded. Posted October 30th 2020

Bill Bostock Oct 19, 2020, 11:11 AM

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 30: Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Naohiko Hatta - Pool/Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping toasts at a banquet in Beijing, China, on September 30, 2019.

China has put the coronavirus pandemic behind it, and life has returned to largely to normal. During its Golden Week holiday, from October 1 and October 7, China saw 637 million people travel across the country without any surges in cases. On Monday, it also said its economy grew 4.9% in the third quarter of 2020, compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, the US and many European countries are still struggling to quash their outbreaks and experiencing new surges as the winter approaches. Experts say China’s fast and comprehensive testing approach, lockdowns that ran their full course, and simple, clear messaging helped it solve the problem. Meanwhile, the US and Europe struggled to control their outbreaks due to mixed messaging, incomplete lockdowns, weak contact tracing, and a lack of experience with epidemics.

When I began studying economics in the late 1960s, my first teacher- Mr Nussey- gave us the definition that economics was the rational application of scarce resources.

The factors of production were defined as CELL- Capital Enterprise Labour and Land. The object of the exercise was to eliminate waste, which could occur as IDLE FACTORS or because FACTORS ARE UNRELATED TO WANTS.

I went on to learn much more, including that Professor Marshall’s ‘rational economic man’ does not exist, and that Keynes’ pretty theories can’t withstand lying ego mad politicians like Margarhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlYSSF2nz1ghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlYSSF2nz1get Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph. So I never really took economics seriously as an academic subject- I would be much richer if I had.

Comment This article misses the point that China has one culture and is not ethnically diverse. Mainstream media, doing the elite’s work, does not care to mention that Covid 19 is predominantly affecting BAME, with lip service paid to the idea of caring for the elderly. High density ethnic commuities, with rigid religious practices, along with a health service that cannot cope with mass open door immigration and asylum seekers, is something we are not permitted to hear, let alone think about. R.J Cook

The Gravy Train October 25th 2020

A few years ago I was out truck driving with a very well qualified Polish fellow.  I am not referring to his driving licence for buses and trucks.  We were on a long run, so he told me how he came to be a driver.  Architects like me were not well paid or much needed in Poland, he said.  So I asked him how anyone could design a massive tower block or shopping centre. ‘Very easy’ he said, then questioned, ‘Can you do a 500 piece jog saw puzzle ?’ I said that I could. Well in that case let me explain that a big building is like a 500 piece jig saw puzzle done 500 times.

He was using the concept of reductionism, though he may not have realised.  I used a similar way of explaining music to my guitar pupils many years ago, before malicious police records made me unemployable in that connection.  I would ask a young pupil how many notes do you think there are ? The answers extended from thousands to hundreds because if you look at a guitar or piano there seems to be rather a lot.

As a teacher, it was my job to make knowledge easily digested.  So my young pupils were relieved to know there are only 12.  How can that be when there are so many tunes and symphonies ? They would ask. So how many letters are there in the alphabet ? Only 26 but millions of words, intonations and stories, are there not, and more to come ? So with music, so many tunes, chords, inversions and rhythms. Then they would ask, How do you play fast ?  Answer is always, by starting off slow.

This reductionism can just as easily be applied to politics and economics. Start with what people need – more than other animals.  How do people get rich ?  By taking more resources than you immediately need. What are the basic needs ?  Food, clothing and shelter. Then there is strength in numbers, so we eventually have tribes and leaders.  The concept of power complicates the simple definition that economics is the rational application of scarce resources.

So come the endless wars, inventions to kill, ever larger tribes and technology to kill and control the environment. When we get to the last Great World War, there was the fantasy that equality could be achieved by one great European Union, creeping towards a political union.  This would be good for peace and as a counterweight to Soviet Communism – which had been a response to the cruelty and neglect by a monarch closely related to the British royal Family and their elite interests.

How the mighty are fallen. Germany took on the whole world and nearly won because its people had been driven to desperation, the boffins were brilliant but their leaders were mad. People haven’t changed, power is just more insidious.

Now that European fat cat elite styles itself as saviours of world freedom, with a duty to teach Russia a better way by sanction and undermining its allies.  Here we are in Covid 19 land, the age of the new normal where protests are banned in the name of ‘keeping us safe’ , with bankruptcy and poverty on a massive upward arch.  Of course this means that Europe can say to Britain, ‘You can’t really mean to leave ?’  

Britain’s fat cat elite always expected the masses to vote to stay in in 2016.  they have made obstacles ever since.  Below is an article back from 2016, where a top banker was offered a top French medal , and possibly more, to scare monger about Britain leaving the European Union.  It is all about money.  It all comes down to understanding how one 500 jig saw puzzle fits together, the rest is repetition.

The elite don’t want the masses to understand. Posh media politcal experts have the job of making matters all so very complcated and confusing. Obfuscation is the order of the day. I summed it all up in a punk song years ago in 1980, as a young schoolteacher . Here is an extract : ‘They limit our horizons and fit us for a task/ Dressed in blue overalls and carrying a flask,/ ‘Left Right, Left Right the headmaster roars / And mind you don’t stand talking and blocking up the doors. / All runnin’ round in circles and marching up and down/ Preparing for a life drifting round the town ‘.

 R.J Cook

Fat Cat Banker offered a top French medal for propaganda against Britain leaving the European Union. R.J Cook

The pain is coming – Look out for Rishi Sunak to raise taxes in 2022, says PATRICK O’FLYNN

NEARLY everyone has been keen to praise Rishi Sunak for propping up family incomes during the crisis when so many people faced lay-offs and business shut-downs. But the Chancellor knows that he is not going to be nearly so popular when he asks people to start paying the bill for all that extra spending.

By Patrick O’Flynn

Lobby groups are getting their pitches in early, with some suggesting he cuts tax to let economic growth generate extra revenues. The Institute of Economic Affairs wants lower corporation tax, and a cut in the top rate of tax from 45 to 40 percent. It reckons that would amount to “going for growth”.

  • Tax rise warning: Rishi Sunak says it’s ‘sacred’ duty to balance books

But Sunak will know cutting tax does not always increase revenue – and helping high earners after national debt soars would be a high-risk move economically and politically.

His predecessor Sajid Javid wants a “zero-based” review – basically more public services cuts.

But Boris Johnson has already ruled that out.

Rishi Sunak presents his mini budget in July (Image: PA)

There is speculation the Chancellor will pick the pockets of pensioners by failing to uprate the state pension in line with the “triple lock”.

But that would be a manifesto breach that may backfire, especially among older “Blue Wall” voters.

More palatable would be to target mainly US-owned internet giants that avoid paying tax in Britain despite high sales here.

An end to the petrol duty freeze must also be in prospect, along with a modest rise in VAT which raises a lot of money in a not very visible way.

A national insurance rise cannot be ruled out, nor can tougher tax treatment of the self-employed.

Given his rhetoric about the crisis being a collective responsibility, the chances are Sunak will look to raise cash in a variety of measures.

The good news is he will probably be in no rush as many economists warn an early tax squeeze is likely to choke a fragile recovery.

Yet he will want to get the pain out of the way well before the run-in to a general election expected in 2024.

So we might get a reprieve next year – but brace for a tax onslaught in 2022.

Related articles

Comment Mass Immigration from the old Third World and open borders are the reason for this Covid problem, along with the serious possibility that Covid 19 was an elite made bio weapon for their purposes.

The global elite are getting richer and are absolutely powerful, which is why we see so much riot police activity in our so called ‘western style democracies.’

The super rich and the states of the western world own and control the media. They set the agenda and want social media shut down or controlled. Starmer of Britain’s Labour Party, wants RT shut down as part of the war on and blame Russia routine. Charles Close.

Invisible Hands R.J Cook October 12th 2020

Millions of jobs have been lost world wide because of the Covid Lockdown conspiracy – which is all about making the rich richer and shutting down Europe wide protests long term in the name of keeping us safe.
The WHO says 88 million are facing life in extreme poverty. In Britain, BAME, due to lifestyle. high density communities and Third World connections, are hgh risk – hence Northern lockdown.
Lockdown cripples the economy and is opening the door to worse life threatening forces. The NHS is appalling, hence all the silly clapping and thanking, to divert attention. It is also overwhelmed by Third World Immigration amplified by all of the Anglo U.S led greed wars that have used demcoracy as the excuse. The planet and soecity have never been more at risk.
Through Covid effects, the world’s top 1% have increased their global wealth by $10 trillion. It is the people with all this money who will rig elections, as they intend to do to stop Trump because they don’t like his appeal to the impoverished white working classes. Populism is a dirty word to the comfortable media and rich who are not all white.
Trump is not allowed to appeal to poor white Americans because the Democrats have fooled them into believing Trump hates them. To coin an old U.S phrase, the shit is hitting the fan and it is going to get even worse – not just in the U.S. Pandering to Islamic delusions will just make things worse, but that is the fake Democrats thinking of votes. Today, even Lincoln had his statue toppled. The Classical economist Marshall in his ‘Principles of Economics’ told folk to trust in ‘rational economic man’. Adam Smith came before him, saying to trust
‘the invisible hand of the profit motive.’ Covid helps and acts to atomise the masses. They have an increasing sense of loss, not profit. The profit motive is putting too much money in too few hands, and those few hands are not rational, they are ruthless selfish, greedy and increasingly dangerous. R.J Cook
This is a good book.

A world built on bribes? Corruption in construction bankrupts countries and costs lives, says TI report Posted October 11th 2020

First Published 16 March 2005

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report 2005 shows how corruption in the construction sector undermines economic development, and threatens to hamstring post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq and beyond

“Corruption in large-scale public projects is a daunting obstacle to sustainable development,” said Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International (TI), launching the TI Global Corruption Report 2005 today. “Corruption in procurement plagues both developed and developing countries,” Eigen added. “When the size of a bribe takes precedence over value for money,” he said, “the results are shoddy construction and poor infrastructure management. Corruption wastes money, bankrupts countries, and costs lives.” TI is the leading international non-governmental organisation combating corruption worldwide.

“Funds being poured into rebuilding countries such as Iraq must be safeguarded against corruption,” Eigen said today. “Transparency must also be the watchword as donors pledge massive sums for reconstruction in the countries affected by the Asian tsunami,” he added. The Global Corruption Report 2005, with a foreword by Francis Fukuyama, includes a special focus on construction and post-conflict reconstruction, and highlights the urgent need for governments to ensure transparency in public spending and for multinational companies to stop bribing at home and abroad.

“The unfolding scandal surrounding the UN sponsored oil-for-food programme in Iraq highlights the urgent need for strict conflict-of-interest rules and transparent and open bidding processes,” said Eigen. As Reinoud Leenders and Justin Alexander write in the GCR 2005, much of the anticipated expenditure on building and procurement in Iraq has not yet been spent. “If urgent steps are not taken,” they write, Iraq “will become the biggest corruption scandal in history”.

To mark the publication of the Global Corruption Report 2005, today TI launched its Minimum Standards for Public Contracting, setting out a blueprint for transparent public procurement. According to Juanita Olaya, TI Programme Manager for Public Contracting, “international donors and host governments must do more to ensure transparency in public procurement by introducing effective anti-corruption procedures into all projects. Tough sanctions are needed against companies caught bribing, including forfeiture of the contract and blacklisting from future bidding.”

The TI Standards call on public contracting authorities to ensure that contracts are subject to open, competitive bidding. Other measures include maintaining a blacklist of companies caught bribing; providing public disclosure of the entire process; and ensuring monitoring by independent oversight agencies and civil society. The TI Standards also advocate the use of a TI Integrity Pact, which commits the authority and bidding companies to refrain from bribery. The Integrity Pact is a tool that has already been successful in reducing corruption and cutting the costs of dozens of procurement procedures around the world, and most recently has been agreed to be deployed in the EUR 2 billion development of the Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport in Germany.

TI also urged the private sector to do more to curb bribery. “Companies from OECD countries must fulfil their obligations under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and stop paying bribes at home and abroad,” said Eigen. “With the spread of anti-bribery legislation, corporate governance and anti-corruption compliance codes, managers have no excuse for paying bribes,” he said. A promising sign, he said, was the addition of a tenth anti-corruption principle to the UN Global Compact, signed by close to 2,000 international companies, and the endorsement of a public anti-corruption pledge by 63 companies from the energy, metals and mining, and engineering and construction sectors at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2005. The challenge now for companies is to enforce tough anti-bribery policies.

The costs of corruption

The scale of corruption is magnified by the size and scope of the construction sector, estimated globally at some US$3,200 billion per year. The Global Corruption Report 2005 presents detailed case studies of large-scale infrastructure projects that have been plagued by corruption – including international bribes paid to secure contracts for the Lesotho Dam, and the implication of politicians in corruption concerning the purchase of a waste incinerator in Cologne, Germany.

The Global Corruption Report 2005 finds that a lack of transparency in large-scale projects can have a devastating impact on economic development. “Corrupt contracting processes leave developing countries saddled with sub-standard infrastructure and excessive debt,” said Eigen today. Corruption raises the cost and lowers the quality of infrastructure. But the cost of corruption is also felt in lost lives. The damage caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes is magnified in places where inspectors have been bribed to ignore building and planning regulations. Corruption steers money away from health and education programmes towards large capital-intensive infrastructure projects. Corruption can also have disastrous environmental consequences – the Yacyretá dam in Argentina, the Bataan nuclear power plant in the Philippines and the Bujagali dam in Uganda have all been subject to allegations of the improper diversion of money.

Taking action to prevent corruption

To coincide with the publication of the Global Corruption Report 2005, Transparency International is launching an international initiative aimed at preventing corruption in construction projects. Neill Stansbury, Project Director for Construction & Engineering at TI-UK, who is leading the initiative, said that “corruption in construction projects can be avoided if all parties put into place the necessary preventive measures. This requires coordinated international action by governments, banks, export credit agencies, project owners, contractors and other relevant parties.” TI has produced a series of risk assessments, action plans and anti-corruption tools for this sector, and it will use these to lobby relevant organisations to take action to prevent bribery.

The Global Corruption Report 2005 also includes detailed assessments of the state of corruption in 40 country reports written by Transparency International’s national chapters and other experts. The book contains the findings of the latest research into corruption and ways to combat it, including studies on the links between corruption and issues such as pollution, gender and foreign investment.

‘Monuments of corruption’ from the Global Corruption Report 2005:

  • The Lesotho Highlands Water Project, in which US$2 million were allegedly paid in bribes by Acres International and 11 other international dam-building companies.
  • The Cologne incinerator project in Germany, where US $13 million was allegedly paid in bribes during the construction of a US$ 500 million waste incineration plant.
  • The Yacyretá hydropower project on the border of Argentina and Paraguay, built with World Bank support, is flooding the Ibera Marshes. Due to cost overruns, the power generated by Yacyretá is not economic and needs to be subsidised by the government. According to the head of Paraguay’s General Accounting Office, US$1.87 billion in expenditures for the project ‘lack the legal and administrative support documentation to justify the expenditures’.
  • The reservoir of the Bakun dam in Sarawak, Malaysia, which will submerge 700 km2 of tropical rain forest. The mandate to develop the project went to a timber contractor and friend of Sarawak’s governor. The provincial government of Sarawak is still looking for customers to consume the power to be generated by the project.
  • The Bataan nuclear power plant in the Philippines, built at a cost of more than US $2 billion. The contractor, Westinghouse, admitted paying US $17 million in commissions to a friend of former president Marcos. The reactor sits on an active fault line, creating a major risk of nuclear contamination if the power plant ever becomes operational.
  • The Bujagali dam in Uganda, which is currently being investigated for corruption by the World Bank and four different governments after a British subsidiary of the Norwegian construction company, Veidekke, admitted paying a bribe to a senior Ugandan civil servant. The cumulative environmental impacts of Bujagali and other dams on the Nile have never been assessed.

Transparency International’s Minimum Standards for Public Contracting Public procurement authorities should:

  • Implement a code of conduct that commits the contracting authority and its employees to a strict anti-corruption policy. The policy should take into account possible conflicts of interest, provide mechanisms for reporting corruption and protect whistleblowers.
  • Allow a company to tender only if it has implemented a code of conduct that commits the company and its employees to a strict anti-corruption policy
  • Maintain a blacklist of companies for which there is sufficient evidence of their involvement in corrupt activities. Debar blacklisted companies from tendering for the authority’s projects for a specified period of time
  • Ensure that all contracts between the authority and its contractors, suppliers and service providers require the parties to comply with strict anti-corruption policies.
  • Ensure that public contracts above a low threshold are subject to open competitive bidding
  • Provide all bidders, and preferably also the general public, with easy access to information about all phases of the contracting process, including the selection and evaluation processes and the terms and conditions of the contract and any amendments.
  • Ensure that no bidder is given access to privileged information at any stage of the contracting process, especially information relating to the selection process.
  • Allow bidders sufficient time for bid preparation and for pre-qualification requirements when these apply.
  • Ensure that contract ‘change’ orders that alter the price or description of work beyond a cumulative threshold are monitored at a high level, preferably by the decision-making body that awarded the contract.
  • Ensure that internal and external control and auditing bodies are independent and functioning effectively, and that their reports are accessible to the public. Any unreasonable delays in project execution should trigger additional control activities.
  • Separate key functions to ensure that responsibility for demand assessment, preparation, selection, contracting, supervision and control of a project is assigned to separate bodies.
  • Apply standard office safeguards, such as the use of committees at decision-making points and rotation of staff in sensitive positions. Staff responsible for procurement processes should be well trained and adequately remunerated.
  • Promote the participation of civil society organisations as independent monitors of both the tender and execution of projects.

The Global Corruption Report 2005 is published in London by Pluto Press (ISBN 0 7453 2396 0). The book can be ordered (£19.99 / $29.95 plus postage and packing) through online booksellers, local bookshops or the publisher ( www.plutobooks.com). The report is published in French by Economica (ISBN 2-7178-5025-2).


For any press enquiries please contact

Berlin:
Jesse Garcia
Tel: +49-30-3438 2019 / 45
Fax: +49-30-3470 3912
press@transparency.org

Gerard Waite
Tel:: +49 (0) 30 3438 2040

London:
Sarah Tyler
Mobile:+49 -1624196454

Diana Rodriguez
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7610 1400

The West is a War Economy October 1st 2020 R.J Cook

Kidron argued in this book published in 1968. that the Westrn Economies, espcially the U.S & U.K were war based economies.
I bought and read this book during my three years majoring in economics at the University of East Anglia 1971-74
R.J Cook in the family’s tiny back garden, 1963 Image Appledene Archives/NGC

More to come.

Wealth tax on rich should aid UK’s Covid-19 recovery, says Labour Posted September28th 2020

Shadow chancellor says low- and middle-income people should be supported during crisis

The shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, with the Labour leader Keir Starmer during a visit to the town centre regeneration project in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in late June.

Anneliese Dodds (left) with the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, during a visit to the town centre regeneration project in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in late June. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PAPA MediaFri 3 Jul 2020 13.51 BST

UK ministers should look at imposing a wealth tax on the rich to aid the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the shadow chancellor has urged.

Anneliese Dodds, in her first major speech in the role, told the government on Friday “to not increase taxes or cut support for low and middle-income people” during the crisis.

She said a “new settlement” was needed to address the injustice of the worst-off paying more tax proportionally than high earners, while the richest derive a significant part of their income from wealth.

Dodds criticised the prime minister’s “muddled, confusing” and “much too slow” response to protecting the nation’s health during the Covid-19 outbreak.

She called on the government to adopt a “targeted strategy” in extending the furlough scheme to avoid a “flood of redundancy notices”, particularly for areas forced into local lockdowns such as Leicester.

But she said Labour would not back extending the job-retention scheme – in which the government has been meeting up to 80% of workers’ wages – indefinitely, insisting it should be used to shore up specific sectors.

“These support schemes should serve as economic sandbags, ensuring localised second waves of Covid-19 don’t wash away businesses and jobs in their wake,” she said. “The reward for months of sacrifice cannot be a redundancy notice.”UK risks missing net zero target in Covid-19 recovery, Labour warnsRead more

Her intervention came after Boris Johnson said it would not be “healthy” for the economy or workers for the furlough scheme to continue beyond its scheduled end date in October.

With Rishi Sunak due to set out his latest update on the economy next week, Dodds called on the chancellor to deliver a “back-to-work budget”.

Dodds also said the government should consider imposing a wealth tax, which would target assets rather than income.

“I think the government does need to look at this area, I don’t think we’re in a fair situation,” she said, arguing that the tax paid by the rich was a smaller part of their income proportionally than the poor. And of course for the very, very best-off people quite a bit of their money coming in is derived from wealth.

“I think we do need to have that new settlement and actually much of the opinion data has indicated that has a lot of support among the UK population as well.”

Labour under Keir Starmer has aimed to take a “constructive” approach to opposition, backing measures the party believes to be valid while critiquing areas in which the Conservatives are failing.

Dodds was clear that she believes the government dithered over the lockdown, increasing testing and getting protective equipment to frontline workers as the death toll soared.

Along with accusing ministers of being “completely divorced” from the scale of the looming unemployment crisis, she said “we still do not have a functioning” test and trace system to prevent a second wave of infections.

Covid Conomics September 24th 2020

The ruling international elite are encouraging and facilitating re writing history as literally black and white – there is little if any mention of the illustrious Chinese and Egyptians whose culture is sidlined.

Britain’s role as the first industrial nation based on an empire which was an accident of history, sparing an account of the brutal class who emerged to define and dicate its development up to the present Advanced Police State.

I have lived through the decline of the British Empire, the war of attition between workers and bosses, Thatcher’s destruction of British Industry, with the rise of finance and services – along with a credit based consumption of ever more consumer goods produeced by the likes of Chinese cheap labour etc. Thus we have the global economy and wonderful free movement of Third World slaves – many bombed out or countries plunged into chaos by the 5Is led by the Anglo-U.S.

Consequently, Britain like the rest of the Western World, has turned in to a giant warehouse. the masses, -on the receiving end of PC brainwashing. masqueraading as education, have their moments of protests- but they have no chance against the power of the state and its police state Nazi style officialdom who prosper even in lockdown. The Amazon CEO and entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos, has grown his vast fortune by a further $24bn so far during the coronavirus pandemic, a roughly 20% increase over the last four months to $138b. Bezos owns an 11% stake in the company and has been the world’s richest person since 2017

IOne should hope for hope for a big yellow “Slow” sign on home-buying in a pandemic. The housing market may be soaring because of bad information and short-term thinking. You don’t know whether bosses will make work-from-home permanent or who will be targeted for downsizing. You may come to rue buying at a time when inventory is so low and prices so high.

Regret is already in the air. LendEDU, a financial information website, surveyed 1,000 mortgage holders in August and found that most people who bought houses after March 2020 already regretted taking out a mortgage. The survey is not scientific, but the results make sense. Record low mortgage rates enticed new buyers, while urban hotspots for the virus drove people out of cities. In July, there was a 56% drop in Manhattan property sales and a 44% increase in the city’s neighboring suburbs. Home prices in nearby New Jersey counties increased over 11% while New York City prices fell 13% compared to last summer.

Buying in a sellers’ market is not a good move. Home sellers are taking their once-in-a-lifetime moment to sell their house substantially over asking prices, asking prices that were connected to rental prices in the neighborhood. Conventional financial advice suggests if a home costs more than 20 times the annual rent the home could fetch, the house is probably overvalued — a $400,000 home should rent for $1,667 per month or more. In times of low mortgage rates, the breakeven ratio can be a bit higher. But in this K-shaped recovery, rents are falling, occupancy rates are down, and your house might remain overpriced.

Because homeownership has always been messaged as a mandatory part of the American Dream and subsidized by the federal government, homeownership is always a bit overrated. Owning a home might be beneficial over the long run … if the house price appreciates more than a diversified financial portfolio, or if people don’t have to move for their jobs or family, or if marriages last, or if neighborhoods and financial situations don’t change much. In some areas, rental stock can be lower quality for the same carrying costs as homes. And some people list home repair as a hobby.

Sailing through an economic hurricane by Charlie Close. August 25th 2019

Chapter One How the Mighty are fallen

There is no doubt that Britain is in deep trouble, economically and socially.  Politics has become about spin. Today’s politicians have perfected it into an art form.  As the political editor of www.miltonkeynes.com, I received a lot of hate mail because I consistently doubted the consensus that Gordon Brown was the best chancellor that Britain had ever had. His advisers filled him with jargon, most notably the ‘golden rule’ that he always broke. As for his apparent boss, Tony Blair, it was never clear just how much of the spin he made up himself. He was certainly a far better actor than his chancellor.

By the time New Labour came to power, in 1997, the Thatcher years had changed the basis of the British economy from heavy industry and manufacturing to financial services, public services and rampant house building. The ‘big bang’ of the 1980s internationalised the financial markets. This meant that any crisis would accelerate across the world and be duly amplified when it came.

Gordon Brown took matters a stage further when he gave control of interest rates to the Bank of England and made the City of London the most deregulated financial market in the developed world. Old ways of thinking about economics were thrown out of the window. There would be no more stop go economics or credit squeezes. Without male dominated trade unionised industries, the world of work was a whole new female dominated landscape. The changes were remarkable – the old Britain died. Britain was, apparently, in for an everlasting feast.

I was a part time local newspaper reporter and full time school teacher in the very Conservative dominated County Town of Aylesbury Bucks during these formative years.

In both occupations, I chose to swim against the tide of change and nearly drowned several times. In my struggle to survive, I learned many lessons.

Oddly, though Bucks was generally a blind supporter of the new version of Toryism, it’s leaders never seemed to realise the dangers that the new force of politics was taking us all into. As I commented in the ‘Aylesbury Plus’ newspaper, Bucks voters would choose a monkey so long as it wore a blue rosette. Now that the hurricane is blowing, one of the biggest problems is getting people to believe that there is a serious recession. The other is helping them to understand it.

In the old days, times like this were called a depression. In the years between the two World Wars, people at the top were just as blind to the truth as they are now. It seems that whatever political disasters or scandals rock the nation, it is just water off of a ducks back to the majority. But in spite of the almost regular scandals created by the last three New Labour Governments, British people are apt to think that the politicians are doing a good job.  In this respect they are very much at the mercy of the state controlled BBC and newspapers owned by magnates or giant groups, even at local level, as demonstrated by Johnston Press. Interestingly, I was sacked by Thompson Free newspapers for upsetting the readers.  In fact it was only a certain type of vociferous reader that achieved this outcome.  There is no absolute truth in the social world.  Complex societies constantly struggle for some kind of compromise as technology and time sweeps us into history.  If one powerful group decides to abuse its power and command of resources to assert its ends, then there will ultimately be a storm that could blow us all away.  In the modern world, it is impossible for folk to know just how bad the current storm might be.  This is because the media has become too much a part of the establishment.  Its’ journalists are either too close to the seat of power or afraid of losing their jobs. They have become, in many cases, self-censoring.

A young Thames Valley constable commented on the use of police for political ends in the Police Gazette.  This was at the time of the mid 1980s Miner’s strike.  He wrote about aggressive Metropolitan officers waving their overtime pay slips at hungry miners facing pit closures and an end to their way of life.  He deplored the police cavalry charges into the ranks of protesting pit -men. At that time, there were so many officiers drafted to support the political objective of switching the country from coal to nuclear power, that there were only five officers covering Oxford City centre’s night shift.

All of this happened not long after the government had deployed the police to deal with the Brixton Riots. The police operated like para – militaries to deal with a situation of urban squalor and deprivation that had been building up for years.  Since then there have been other riots, like Oldham.  But by this time it was practice to curtail news coverage of a nation in social and economic decline anywhere outside of the City’s Square mile..

In this author’s view, the situation is getting worse. The case of Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bob Quick, April 2009, is further illustration of just how politicised the police have become. demonstrates the disturbing structure of Britain’s contemporary police force. An elite of officers have dedicated themselves to climbing the greasy pole of promotion. They have done this in a style that would do credit to any top politician. It is, unfortunately, behaviour highly inappropriate for a police force that should be committed to the public good- and the people who pay their salaries. 

The notion that university graduates have something unique to offer the world of crime fighting is erroneous. It is, though, commensurate with a politicised organisation. Jack Straw recently commented that he didn’t think the Met were institutionally racist, but that it may contain pockets of racism. This is nonsense. Institutional racism means that it permeates the culture. Therefore Straw would have been contradicting himself unless the racist pockets were at the top. 

In reality, the debate about police racism is a red herring. They are just not interested in everyday crime. The police justify themeslves through the manipulation of targets and alleged crime solving rates. I offer one example, from thousands, to make my point. South Worcesterhire division of West Mercia Police have a 40% clear up rate for sex offences. In reality this is a detection count of 87 out of 218 crimes in 2008. It is a small number of crimes judged against the whole picture, yet the figures sound impressive because there is a government induced fixation with sex crimes. By contrast there were 865 domestic burglaries. Only 208 of these led to detection of the criminal- a clear up rate of 24%. Living with burglary has become a way of life and we are not supposed to worry about it. 

Meanwhile, West Mercia’s top brass hob nob with politicians fretting about a terrorist situation which they have caused. Thus it is not in the least surprising that the appropriately named Bob Quick has his eye on pandering to the government rather than the real crime problems that threaten Londoners. If he had, he would never have made the top brass. In a climate where the Government have used the terrorist threat to justify snooping onto peoples PC’s without warrant. this is very worrying.  We already have more security cameras watching over us than any other country in the developed world.

I have absolutely no doubt that any determined terrorist could get away with whatever they want to do. The cover up and justification of Charles deMendez’s killing shows just how incompetent and politicised our police forces have become. However, it is important to remember that it is the politicians who are behind all of this.

The nature of modern politics is best summed up in the joke about the man who lay bleeding to death after being mugged on St Stephen’s Green outside the Palace of Westminster.  A New Labour MP rushes up to the doomed body and says: ‘My God, you are in a terrible state- whoever did this to you needs help.  I must go and find him.  As the earnest New Labour MP rushes off, up comes a Tory MP.  He says: ‘My God, you are in a terrible state.  You need help.  I must go and find help.  As this MP rushes off, along comes a Liberal Democrat.  He bends down to the dying man and whispers: ‘Before I say anything, tell me what did the other two say.’ Politicians were much more respected in the good old days.  Now we wait with baited breath to see how they deal with the economic and social hurriacane that has already hit us.

The 1930s are so far the worst example of an economic slump in modern history. Those years were a consequence of several things, but the whole down turn hit the world because of international trade. Germany was punished with repayments- called reparations- having been blamed for causing World War One. Germany had much in common with Britain and there was no natural hostility between the two countries.  Christmas at war, in 1914, inspired a song about the Christmas Truce, by Mike Harding.  The following extract gives the gist and says a lot about what was, essentially, a war involving two first cousins leading opposing sides- Germany and Russia.  Just to make it even more bizarre, Britain was led by the other two’s first cousin, Edward VII.  France was the outsider, a republic hell bent on revenge for Prussia humiliating their vain leader, Napoleon III in 1870. The pampered life styles of these leaders was world’s away from the minions who fought for them.  

Just for a few moments, it looked as if the common men on either side were going to spot the con, as Glaswegian Arthur Johnstone sang, evocatively, on his album ‘North by North.’:

‘Christmas Eve in 1914, stars were gleaming, gleaming bright

And all along the Western front guns were lying still and quiet

Men lay dozing in the trenches, in the cold and in the dark

As far away behind the lines a village dog began tae bark.

Some lay thinking of their families, some sang songs to others quiet

Playing brag and rolling fags to pass away the Christmas night

As we watched the German trenches, something moved in no man’s land

Through the dark there came a soldier carrying a white flag in his hand

Then from both sides men came running, crossing into no man’s land

Through the barbed wire, mud and shell holes, shyly stood there shaking hands

Fritz he brought cigars and brandy, Tommy brought corned beef and fags

And as they stood there quietly talking quietly talking, the moon shone down on no man’s land

Then Christmas Day we all played football in the mud of no man’s land

Tommy brought some Christmas pudding, Fritz brought out a German band

And when they beat us at the foortball we shared all our grub and drink

Then Fritz showed me a tattered photo of a brown-haired girl back in Berlin

For four days after no side fired, not one shot disturbed the night

For old Fritz and Tommy Atkins, they’d both lost their will to fight

So they withdrew us from the trenches, sent us back behind the lines

They brought fresh troops to take our places and told the guns, Prepare

To fire.

The next night in 1914, flak was beaming, beaming bright

The orders came, Prepare offensive! Over the top we go tonight

And men stood waiting in the trenches, gazed out across our football park

As all along the western front the Christmas guns began to bark.

The whole cruel absurdity of the wealth and power induced carnage is put further into persepective by Danny Doyle, in ’20 Years A-Growing’. He quoted a letter from a German soldier:: ‘ The night was cold.  We sang, they applauded.  Our lines were only two hundred feet apart.  We played the mouth organ, they sang, then we applauded.  They produced a set of bag pipes and played their poetic tunes.  Men were waving torches and cheering.  We had prepared grog and drank a toast.’  Another quote comes from the diary of a British army captain: ‘Every sort of souveneir was exchanged, addresses given and received.  A German N.C.O with an Iron Cross for conspicuous skill in sniping, started his fellows off on some marching tune.  I set the note for the “Bonnie Boys of Scotland”, and so we went on and ended up with Auld Lang Syne which we all- English, Scots, Irish Prussians and Wurttembergers- joined in.  From some old rags and cord a makeshift football was made, and by the light of flares the two sides played a game of soccer, their previous activities forgotten.’

That so called Great War ground on until November 1918.  It was a war of attrition.  Sir Douglas Haig was in overall command, gaining his position on the grounds of who he knew.  He worked on the principle that in the last analysis, the British Empire had more men than the Gerrmans.  Therefore he knew he could afford to loose tens of thousands of them.  He, and his staff officers, did this very well at the Battle of the Somme.  Wilbur Smith captured the battle’s atmosphere, in ‘The Burning Shore’: ‘In the forward trenches they waited below the parapets.  With each man in full battle-dress, his equipment burden was almost sixty pounds in weight.

‘The thunder of the bursting high explosives rolled away from them, leaving them with dulled senses and singing eardrums.  The whistles of the section leaders shrilled along the trenches and they roused themselves and crowded to the feet of the assault ladders.  Then like an army of khaki lemmings, they swarmed out of their burrows into the open, and peered around them dazedly.

They were in a transformed and devastated land, so ravaged by the guns that no blade of grass nor twig of tree remained.  Only the shattered tree stumps stuck up from the soft faecal- coloured porridge of mud before them.  This dreadful landscape was shrouded in the yellowish fog of burned explosives.

‘Forward’ the cry passed down the line, and again the whistles trilled and goaded them on.

The long Lee Enfield rifles held out before them, the fixed bayonets aglitter, sinking ankle and knee deep into the soft earth, slipping into the overlapping shell holes and dragging themselves out again, their line bulging and lagging, their horizon limited to a mere hundred paces by swirling nitrous fog, they trudged forward.

Of the enemy trenches they saw no sign, the parapets had been obliterated and flattened.  Overhead passed the continous roar of the barrage, while every few seconds a short shell from their own guns fell into their densely packed lines.

‘Close up in the centre!’ The gaps torn in their ranks by the guns were filled by other amorphous khaki bodies.

‘Keep the line!  Keep the line!’  The orders were almost drwoned out by the tumult of the guns.

Then in the wilderness ahead of them hey saw the glint of metal through the smoke.  It was a low wall of interlocking scales of grey steel like those on the back of a crocodile.

The German machine gunners had had the benefit of seven days’ forewarning, and as the British barrage rolled away behind them, they carried their weapons up the shafts from their dug outs to the surface and set them up on their tripods on the churned muddy lip of the ruined trenches.  The Maxim machine guns were each fitted with a steel shield to protect the crews from rifle fire, and the guns were so closely alligned that the edges of the shields overlapped each other.  

The British infantry was out in the open, walking down on a wall of machine guns.  The front ranks yeleld when they saw the guns and started forward at a run, trying to reach them with the bayonet.  Then they ran into the wire.

They had been assured that the barbed wire would be cut to pieces by the barrages.  It was not.  The high explosive had made no impression upon it, excpet to tangle and twist it into an even more formidable barrier.  While they floundered and struggled in the grip of the wire, the German Maxim machine guns opened up on them.

The Maxim machine –gun has a cycle rate of 500 rounds per minute.  It has the reputation of being the most reliable and rugged machine gun ever built, and that day it added to that reputation of becoming the most lethal weapon that man had ever devised……..

‘Then with another grand offensive on the western Front decimated almost as soon as it began, the German force holding the ridges opposite Mort Home counter attacked jubilantly.’

One might wonder how Germany lost the war. their policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, aiming to starve the British Isles population into submission, led to the sinking of the Lusitania passenger liner in 1915.  A lot of U.S citizen’s died.  Reluctantly the U.S ended up supporting the allies. Facing overwhelming opposition, the German leadership helped smuggle Lenin, by sealed train, from his Swiss refuge, back home to Russia. Here he gave leadership to disparate anti Tsarist forces, whilst Rasputin had persuaded the Tsar to show his incompetence by assuming overall command of the Russian armies fighting against Germany and Austria-Hungary.

This ploy by the mad monk did nothing to help the monarchy. The Russian Revolution, in 1917, brought the communists to power and killed most of the Russian Royal family. Strangely the British Government refused the revolutionaries’ request to give them exile in Britain. Knowing that they could offer inspiration to counter revolutionaries, they were executed at Ekateringberg- children as well. A source of world wide dread and uncertainty was born. The Russian Revolution would change the world

It all started with the insult to Austria’s Royal family, when the heir to their throne was shot, along with his wife in Sarajevo in July 1914. Germany felt obliged to defend its only ally and France eagerly whipped up Russian ambitions to look after fellow Slavs in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is hard to fathom what the mass killing of Europe’s prime male breeding stock and work force had to do with the original problem.  

But the decision was made by the rich and powerful as it always is. For the troops trapped in the nightmare, there was little relief beyond smoking, getting drunk and going with French whores. Most of them thought they would never have a chance of sex again and eagerly sort it. Some soldiers even did it with each other in the hours before going over the top. The writer and poet Robert Graves captured this youthful agony in ‘Goodbye to all that.’  He felt the longing but had noticed that those of his fellow officers who gave way to biological instinct seemed to be amongst the first to die. He also added some powerful descriptions of military incompetence, notably the tendency to launch gas attacks when the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. It seemed that if High Command had planned it the night before, then the gas attack had to go ahead regardless of whether it was going to kill British troops- after all, Haig had plenty of them to dispose of thanks to Kitchener. The call to arms, ‘Your Country Needs You’ was evocative and answered by thousands of men and boys across the country.

Any soldier who refused to fight, or went AWOL- after months in the trenches, in filthy flea ridden and stinking clothes- would be court martialed and shot by firing squad. In the film ‘King and Country’ Dirk Bogarde and Tom Courtenay’s performances make the tragic brutality of how contemptuously British soldiers were treated very powerfully’ Meanwhile, their newly liberated wives of soldiers might be among those seeking comfort and extra cash by meeting troop trains bringing soldiers on leave and selling them desperately needed sexual relief from the sight of death at its worst.

.

Before that war, Britain had a very large empire to trade with. The aftermath would set in motion a train of events that would tear it apart. In the US, the 1920s were called the Roaring Twenties. They stopped roaring in 1929 when the US stockbrokers began to realise that their shares were hideously overvalued. When they started to sell them off mass panic set in. So many brokers were doing this on one day, that the day went down in history as Black Friday and the Wall Street Crash went into history.

A major problem for the people who had been buying stocks and shares on Wall Street was that they had bought them without spending money. They bought ‘on the margin’. That means they could buy them and sell them two weeks later without having paid any money. They then pocketed the profit. People still do it. Rich lifestyles came crashing down in 1929. Brokers jumped from high buildings and luxury cars went for 10 a penny.

The song ‘Buddy can you spare a dime’ became famous.

Hollywood did its bit to relieve misery by making glamorous films, wafting people away from reality. Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan’s inspiration, helped cheer people up with his songs, offering the sound of a fighting spirit..

It would be a while before Franklin D Roosevelt and his New Deal got the economy moving again. He did so in accordance with the theories of the English Cambridge economist, John Maynard Keynes. As the old saying goes, a prophet is not welcome in his own land.  Even before Keynes wrote his masterful ‘General Theory of Employment and Money’, Keynes had issued warnings about the madness of the 1919 Versailles Peace Treaty.  He did so in a small book called ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace.’  No one in authority noted a word of it.  Later on he wrote a similar book called ‘The Economic Consequences of Mr Churchill.  Sir Winston Churchill has gone down in history for fronting Britain’s efforts during World War Two.  However, it was not without reason that he became something of a pariah in the Tory Party.


After a brief and colourful army and journalistic careers, Churchill traded on his aristocratic father’s name to take a second shot at the Oldham Parliamentary seat.  He won by a small margin in 1900. It marked the start of a political career which would last for sixty-four years.  Fighting for his father’s causes, he ‘crossed the floor’ in 1904 over the issue of protective tariffs. His gung-ho melodramatic personality made him a liability during world war one.  He helped draft the disastrous Gallipoli landings, gratuitously disposing of the ANZACs. He even suggested chemical weapons be used “against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment”. He said, “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.’  

His thinking was in the tradition of true aristocrats.  He became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924 and kept up the tradition of letting his mouth do his thinking. Thus he oversaw Britain leaving the Gold Standard in 1924. This mistake paved the way for the first Labour Government, led by the equally incompetent Ramsay McDonald. Labour’s Chancellor was Viscount Snowden.  What little advances toward a welfare state that Lloyd George’s Liberals had made toward a welfare state were soon undone by Snowden. He slashed the dole, plunging unemployed workers into greater misery.  That was no worry for Churchill.

He actually suggested the use of machine guns on coal miners during the 1926 General Strike. Some might give him credit for his honesty – a quality not normally associated with politicians of any persuasion.

In Britain lots of ex- servicemen were tramping the highways and by ways in search of employment when the Great Depression hit home. It is no wonder that equally distressed ex soldiers in Germany rallied behind Corporal Hitler. He offered hope to those who had none. The ruling classes of Great Britain had no idea or interest in the suffering of ordinary people during the interwar period.  Working men who got into the police crossed the divide.  

The late Hugh Birrell was coming home from work in a Birkenhead’s ship.  He had been helping to make ship’s blowers- injectors for big steam engines.  He worked for C J Parry who supplied Cammel Laird. As he made his way to cable car that took him back across to Liverpool, he passed a cake shop.  The window had been broken and bare footed children were running away with bread and cakes in their dirty hands.  A policeman saw them.  Grabbing an empty milk bottle that had been put out for collection, he hurled it front of the escaping urchins. The ran straight across the broken glass leaving a trail of blood behind them.  Hard working people were powerless to do anything to improve their terrible lot.  The rich, meanwhile, lived of their wealth and cut back on investment in the British economy.

The United States accounted for 80% of world trade and they closed the door. Britain, their major trading partner, reciprocated  This presented the U.S giant, General Motors( GMC) with a problem. They got around this by using the back door. They bought Vauxhall and Opel Motors at knock down prices in order to avoid trade barriers on the trucks they wanted to sell. They put stickers on the back of their Chevrolet trucks that said ‘All British Bedfords’- re naming them after the county town close to the Vauxhall works.  Vauxhall was folding anyway because it had been building luxury cars and they couldn’t sell enough of them to make a profit.  GMC had wanted to buy Austin, but they were too dear- having cornered the market in cars for the lower middle classes with their Austin Seven.  Ford had also been doing well with its T type Ford at Dagenham.  The depression was selective and there were new markets.  Southern England was not feeling the pinch half as much as the Midlands, and South West.

Electricity replaced gas for street and domestic lighting in the mid 1930s. By the early 1930s, the American Hoover Company had established itself as a leading brand of vacuum cleaner manufacturers internationally, and as domestic residences were increasingly being wired up to mains electricity, demand grew for the new appliances.  This opened up the market for the kind of domestic appliances the United States already had.  

Thus, all was not doom and gloom in the 1930s. Road numbering started after World War One, to prioritise road funding from central government.  The road west through Perivale was designated the A40.  It was here that Hoover, built their first factory outside the United States.  It was a potent symbol of new forces at work. Western Avenue was a symptom of suburban sprawl, but tastefully lined with trees.

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The plant was designed by the architectural firm of Wallis Gilbert and Partners, and just one of several spectacular Art Deco factory buildings that lined Western Avenue. Their different styles befitted their prominent locations on this new highway, and it would not be inaccurate to claim that the factories themselves formed a type of advertising for their owners.

  

The main building at Hoover was opened and manufacturing vacuum cleaners by 1933, and although the building is relatively restrained in comparison to other examples of this architectural genre it proved to be a striking landmark, both then and now. The factory was built in steel-reinforced concrete, which was formulated to stay pure white in colour and referred to at the as ‘Snowcrete’. This kept the building looking clean at all times, especially after rainfall.  Seeing such a sparkling and modern building would have led to a positive association between it and its products to the passer-by. Work was not completed at the site until 1938.  As befitted the mother country of a great empire, the Hoover building had aspects of the Egyptian about it.

But the new light industries of the south could not mask the overall reality of Britain’s sad state. With trade in decline, shipbuilding collapsed. Clydeside built a couple of ocean going liners, gaining temporary benefit and giving the retrenching rich means of getting a break form their country mansions and town houses.  But it was cargo that counted and the ships just weren’t needed.

George Orwell immortalised the suffering of people up north. The people of the North East of England, mainly miners and shipworkers, were suffering even more than the rest of the country from unemployment. On 5th of October 1936, 200 men, known as the Jarrow Marchers, set off from Jarrow to London to lobby Parliament. The march was a desperate attempt to find jobs to support Jarrow men and their families. It was also a bid for respect and recognition, not only for the people of Jarrow, but for others in a similar situation all over the country.

The marchers had no resources other than their own determination, and some good boots supplied by the public. During the march, wherever the marchers stopped for the night, the local people found them shelter and provided them with food.  Looking back on it all, one wonders why working people, men or women, ever bothered to campaign for the vote.  Politicians are in charge, but they don’t have to pass exams for their jobs.

It no doubt takes certain qualities to become one. Thus it is not at all surprising that Stanley Baldwin, the leader of what had become a coalition government to deal with the crisis, refused to see any of the marchers’ representatives.  

The march achieved nothing. Therefore it was inevitable that fascist ideas vied with communism as alternatives to the British convention. Given the choice, fascism was preferable to the rich. This even extended to the Royal family. Edward VIII was having a tough time trying to get his marriage to the sexpot Mrs Simpson accepted.  In the end he was forced to abdicate and go abroad.  When the Second World War started he was dangerously associated with the Nazis who saw him as a potential restored monarch after they had beaten Britain.

Prior to Hitler burning down the Reichstag, blaming it on the communists and being appointed Chancellor in 1933, the Germans saw no point in working when most of the profits went to France. Their currency crashed in value and people used barrow loads of cigarettes instead. The British ruling classes cut back investments and lived off their massive reserves. Because world trade had shrunk, British shipbuilding went into decline. Two Labour Governments were elected, in 1924 and 1929. They merely papered over the cracks and did nothing to help the miserable shipyard workers who marched all the way from Jarrow to London, to show their misery and plight. Labour said they could do nothing. They had no money and a small majority. They were a working class party, built on self-improvement at public libraries.

However, there were upper class and upper middle class amongst them. Quite often, these better educated people were relied upon for leadership. One was Sir Oswald Moseley. He was a Labour MP. He offered ideas based on the economic ideas of John Maynard Keynes. His words were not welcome. He left the party and started his own. It was the British Fascist Party. Members wore brown shirts. Miserable and desperately poor working class people were often drawn to it. Others supported communism as their only hope. Drowning men will clutch at straws.  Moseley, like the rest of his class, wanted to stifle the threat of Communism which had taken root in Russia and was rapidly spreading across the continent. It was a threat to the established social order.

Because of this fear an MI6 plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler was dropped. Hitler was the personification of Germany’s disgruntled ex servicemen. He was also the front man for the suffering business classes of Germany. If he hadn’t led the Nazi movement, someone else would have done. Hitler’s party came to power after setting fire to Germany’s Parliament building, the Reichstag. The Nazis promptly ignored all the constraints set upon them by French, British, German opposition or anything else. Most people lacked the education or interest in complicated explanations for the hidden powers that controlled their lives- they still do. Consequently, the Nazis had little trouble persuading enough of the German population that rich German Jews lost their country the First World War by depriving them of funds to go on fighting it. The Jews became their scapegoat, while the Nazis set about pumping the new Reich Mark into rearming and rebuilding the German economy.

Britain was not unaffected by the Keynesian idea of spending to get out of the slump.  But its government had an eye on the rich who did not want to pay too much of the bill for improvement. Rail travel was expensive and inflexible. Aspiring entrepreneurs like Londoner EM Cain saw a gap in the market. He started a pirate bus service in London to rival London General’s monopoly. Then he had the idea of running express coaches out to Aylesbury where his aunt and uncle lived. Others did the same, on routes radiating out to the Home Counties all around the capital.  

All went well until 1933. Then the National Government decided to nationalise them all and create the Greenline coach network, making it a part of London General- and ultimately London Transport. Many Greenline coaches were requisitioned as tropp transport and ambulances during World War Two. The system was rationalised and provided hard working families with an affordable alternative to railways. They used this for holidays or to visit relatives. This scheme was also a sign that the government’s interest was very focused on the south.  Apart from the Special Areas Act of 1934, little was done to alleviate hardship in the Midlands and the North. The pattern of concentrating development and congestion in and around the south-east was begun.

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Lessons from Chapter One

Disaster doesn’t knock, but sometimes it sends extremely loud messages.

We are very dependent on other people and higher powers.

Economics is not a precise science.

Politicians do not always know, let alone tell the truth.

There has been a lot of misery and suffering in the past.

Misery loves company

Most people have no idea what or who rules their lives and get taken by surprise when things go wrong.

Losing everything you took for granted hurts badly and can drive folk to suicide.

The system is impersonal.

Only the very rich can be sure of surviving the storm and it is their willingness to invest more of their wealth or to pay taxes that will get things going again.

Chapter Two Eat Your Greens

My late cockney father used to try scaring me into eating my vegetables. His incentive was: ‘If you don’t, they’ll take yer ter horspital and cut yer open wiv knives.’  The picture he painted of hospital seemed to come from a Hammer Horror film, but in fact came from his life experience. He was born in 1919, the year that the Versailles Peace settlement was imposed on Germany. This settlement assured that there would be another world war. Britain’s leader Lloyd George didn’t care too much about Germany. This country’s great ally, the United States didn’t care either. Only France cared, and all they wanted was revenge because Prussia had humiliated their vain and stupid leader, Napoleon III in 1870, when they occupied Paris- showing their strength to all the other

German states in the process and uniting that great country.

The mess that was the 1920s led to mass misery across Europe and the US in the 1930s. My father grew up in poverty on the streets of Islington, North London- long before that neck of the woods was yuppie land. In the 1950s, when I was young, he told me all about the starving kids he had seen, and how his hard working and hard drinking father had put food on the table for his weary wife, him and his three brothers. He told me that if I didn’t eat my greens, I would be taken to hospital and doctors would cut me open with knives.

Women were mostly still women in those days, unless they had the good fortune to be born into the upper or upper middle class.  If they were, they would be prancing or dancing around in short skirts, having fun and calling for the vote. Men were also still men. The harsh lessons my father tried to teach me came from his childhood. They were dad’s way of toughening me up for the hard business of being a bloke. Life on North London streets wasn’t yuppie then. He had three brothers. They all had to leave school at 14. Dad went to work for C & A modes. It was a Jewish outfit. Jews aren’t a race. They are historically an Arab tribe. Hitler made them famous as a race, and a nasty one at that.

We should not don’t need a load of ranting PSHE teachers, police officers, politicians, social workers or anyone else to tell us that Jews are as good as any one else. But tell that to the arty brigade who are happy to see Israel blown off the map. I digress; my point is that when times are hard, even the establishment looks for scapegoats.

MI6 had a plot to kill Hitler before he did any damage. But the British Government chose to hedge their bets because Germany was in danger of following Russia toward Communism. The same looked like happening here because working people had too little hope. They didn’t even have free medical treatment at a time when all manners of illness, diseases and accidents afflicted them.

If Germany hadn’t been wrongly blamed for starting World War One and been sucked dry afterwards, by jealous hate filled France, there wouldn’t have been a World War Two. A lot of young men wouldn’t have died. Most of us post war baby boomers wouldn’t have been born. That wouldn’t have mattered because a lot of people, who could have been born, haven’t been born. It’s the living and the dead, who we loved, that matter- not the unborn.

When I was an aspiring military pilot, I was full of images from ‘Boys Own’ comic, where frightening looking uniformed men were cartooned shouting ‘Achtung Englander’ every time they saw a ‘Spitfire’ fighter plane. Englanders and British Tommies were always the good guys. The myth that Germans were all rapists and baby killers lived on. My late mother believed it and so did my dad. She said that he had said, during the war: ‘God knows what will happen to the women if the Germans ever land. We blokes will all get sent of to labour camps.’

Truth is Britain was no bed of roses for working people in the years leading up to the Second World War. It was the land of Larry Meath in Walter Greenwood’s ‘Love on the dole’. It was the land described by George Orwell in ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’. The latter opens up with something I was familiar with, the ‘piddle bucket’ on the little landing, because poor folk didn’t have hot water or bathrooms. It was a time when the best that a working class boy could aspire to was a job with the police. The next best thing for British ex servicemen, between the wars, was joining the hated Black and Tans and helping to keep the hopeless Catholics and Protestant working classes apart in Northern Ireland- a place otherwise known as Ulster.This very Scottish part of Ireland was also known as the six counties. Tiny place that it was, it caused a lot of trouble.

An accident of history on the part of King Henry VIII led to England’s breach with Rome in 1536. Up until that point King Henry had been best mates with the Pope, earning the right to put defender of the faith on his coinage.  This followed upon Martin Luther’s protest against the corrupt Catholic Church. Henry didn’t really care about that until the Pope was unable to give him a divorce from his Spanish wife Catherine of Aragon.   This was because Catherine was the powerful Spanish King’s niece and the Pope was virtually his prisoner.

The lustful king could not wait to get his hands on the young and pretty Catherine of Aragon. The Church of England was created to solve the problem and Catholic property was confiscated for the enrichment of the English monarchy. Whatever Jesus Christ’s origins and motives, His church is quite clearly a political set up. Unfortunately, the people of Ulster have not noticed this. Religious bigotry and discrimination have been appalling. But between the wars, the opposing sides never noticed the deception. This was because they were all too busy starving.

In 1921, most of Ireland got Home Rule, thanks to the leadership of Michael Collins and wisdom of Lloyd George.  Unfortunately, mainly Protestant Ulster wouldn’t accept the agreement. Collins agreed a compromise with Britain. This left Ulster to make up its mind about joining a united Ireland in due course. Collin’s rival Eamon deValera made sure it didn’t happen. He was behind an ambush which left Collins dead.  He took over and made sure that there would be no united Ireland because hatred of the beastly Brits was what kept the ignorant voters behind him. But for a short while in the hard up 1920s and 30s, it looked like the poor workers, many occupied in Belfast’s shipyards, would overcome their religious differences. The Black and Tans were instructed accordingly, to use real bullets on Catholics and batons on Protestant protestors. It was the British elite’s classic divide and rule tactics that helped to rule an empire.

Meanwhile the rich Brits were living high above it all in Agatha Christie land, taking boat trips up the River Nile. They got to Egypt on the new fangled flying boats, taking off from Southampton Water. Living in their clay tiled houses- probably like Enid Blyton- playing tennis in the nude, should they want to explore pre war Europe and hob nob with their aristocratic cousins, they could motor down to the ferry ports and take the car abroad. Rich ladies took their female companions with them. Many of the suffragettes had joined the Tory Party by this time and politics was not their main concern.

The uncertainties of war, and spending time away from their menfolk, also helped women explore their sexuality. “Abortion must be the key to a new world for women,” wrote the British feminist Stella Browne in 1935. Browne believed that the public emancipation of women in such areas as politics and the economy demanded and was dependent on their emancipation in the private sphere of sexual and reproductive practice: “freedom of choice and deliberate intention are necessary for [women] in their sexual relations and their maternity, if they are to make anything of their status and opportunities.” Toward this end, she advocated abortion as an “absolute right” spanning public and private realms.11 Browne evoked modern visions of femininity through abortion and emphasized the issue’s liminality between public and private

A major problem that still bedevils Britain is social class. Ironically it was William, the bastard son of the Duke of Normandy, who laid the foundations for the country’s class system when he established feudalism in 1066.  The same elite descendants of the Norman invaders still represent what is affectionately called ‘old money.’  Others have profited from changes in agricultural and industrial technology.  Like the printing family of McCorquodale, they married into old money to establish their roots.  McCorquoldale bought Winslow Hall which had been built for Queen Anne’s Chancellor, William Lowndes.  Over time, gambling upset their fortunes, but the old name still has kudos and there is a road named after them in Winslow.  When New labour’s first prime Minister was pushed out, he eyed up the Hall as a replacement for nearby Chequers.

Unfortunately, the lower classes have few opportunites to develop or express their feelings and opinions. So when Stella Browne spoke about women, she spoke about women of her class.  She may have seen working class women at a distance and heard of their efforts making wartime munitions.  She could not have known or survived the hardship of life as a working class woman as my late mother did.  The difference in reality of life experience for working class girls and women persists and feminism goes over their heads.  Even if they caught it in their hands, there would be little they could do with it.  What poor women needed during the hungry 1930s and beyond, was a husband.  This would preferably be a good bread winner and someone who was kind to them.  But I know from first hand, growing up in a poor working class family in the 1950s, that low pay and little say at work, made my father bad tempered.  Parental rows were frequent.  They started about money and were his way of letting off steam in a world where the common man had no voice.  In his original ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’, George Orwell warned that the ruling elite would use its old divide and rule tactics to drive a wedge between men and women.

Britain still doesn’t want to face up to the class antagonisms that trouble it.  Karl Marx made it a dirty word.  Now it is almost eschewed from the sociology text books as a new brand of academics prefers the country’s schisms in terms of sexism and racism. Class discrimination is the unrecognised truth.  With it goes its friend snobbery. This comes in two varieties, normal and inverted.  The former looks down while the latter looks up.  Britain  was and still is all about knowing one’s place. The closest this sad reality comes to public recognition is as a source of comedy, but it is far from funny.

Only the Suffragists fought on for a more equitable world. Britain’s first MP was rich Tory wife, Nancy Astor. Her main interest in politics was herself -not down trodden working class women- like my maternal grandmother who died in childbirth like so many others. If the rich wanted to visit the United States, they could catch the boat train down from town and pop on an Atlantic Ocean liner, like the Queen Mary. That great ship, in common with so many of Britain’s ocean going wonders, was built by hard working and skilled men of the Upper Clyde shipyards. In those days there was 30 miles of shipbuilding, all the way from Glasgow to Greenock. By the time this writer visited that place, it was becoming a wasteland, destroyed by restrictive practices, the decline of empire, backward yard owners and vindictive trade unionists.

The trade unions thought they were protecting their jobs with all their demarcation disputes- looking up and down at one another according to skill, self importance and wages. Not even workers take over, led by Jimmy Reid, could save them, I recall Jimmy Reid as a smooth talking well meaning socialist, but Scotland was not Poland and he was no Lech Walesa. Also, by this time British shipbuilding was rotten to they core. Worse still sons and grandsons of the once great industry were rotting on dead end city streets. For the country’s long standing underclass the coming recession will make little difference to their lives. The drug trading and addiction will live on, in the land of the Glasgow kiss. Violent Scottish criminals turning into award winning artists and marrying their psychiatrists, like Jimmy Boyle did, are a rare breed. Like me, Boyle was a child of the 1950s. We only had two ways out, crime or education.

For a long time, our leaders thought that war was avoidable. When they finally had no choice, they were ill prepared. At once the propaganda machine went into overdrive. The myth that the war was about saving the Jews from Hitler was propagated. That was not at all true. Britain had known the misery and plight of the Jews as scapegoats for German misery in the 1930s.

Appeasement was British policy. Our leaders didn’t even care about the misery and squalor that its own workers were living in. Just like the run up to World War One, there was a big shortage of A1 sacrifices for the war machine and mass education was so lacking that recruits had trouble handling a lot of the new war technology. Worse still, the average public school boy’s education was lost back in a time warp. The in-bred toffs who ran Whitehall saw aeronautical geniuses like R J Mitchell and Barnes Wallis as cranks. Their response to advancing airship technology in Germany was to support the embargo on safe gas with which the Germans could fill theirs. Even so, the Germans probably wouldn’t have had their big Hindeburg disaster if it hadn’t either been for bad weather or sabotage.

Britain didn’t need any of that to create the R101 disaster in France. To help reduce unemployment and promote quick cheap travel to the empire, two great airships were built in hangars- that are still there- near Bedford. The R101 was old technology backed by the government. Barnes Wallis built the other one, assisted by, among others, the famous part time novelist Neville Shute Conway. Like the Spitfire, it was built by a division of the groundbreaking Vickers Company- most famous for the ‘Spitfire’ got its name from the company boss’s daughter’s nickname.

Barnes Wallis invented the very strong geodesic airframe- later used on his great Wellington bomber. The R101’s captain, Flt Lieu H Carmichael Brown, knew that his airship had leaky gas bags. He wrote to his wife about his fears for his craft making it to Imperial India. He decided to go with it because it was his duty. The airship didn’t get very far into France before it crashed, Just north of Paris, in flames. But like the RMS Titanic, passengers swallowed the myth that it was uncrashable. The government had hoped to prove that their state sponsored R101 was superior to the R100. After the crash, they ordered the R100 to be broken up before it could take to the air. Fortunately Vicker’s farsighted designers went on to help save the nation when it slept its way into major warfare.

The R101 lacked what experts called disposeable lift and this was very obvious during test flights..  That didn’t stop it setting sail. All of R101’s passengers died and relatives had to live with bereavement. Barnes Wallis went on to get some more of his ideas across to the authorities, but only after disaster had struck. Years later he came up with the very radical swing-wing design employed in Britain’s high tech TSR2 fighter. Penny pinching Labour killed the project off, opting for an American project that had pinched the British idea and which eventually proved unaffordable. Barnes Wallis also predicted that Concorde would be a disaster. His idea was for planes that left the earth’s atmosphere, flew against the speed of the earth’s rotation to get to its destination. With appropriate research and development, such a plane could fly slower, use less fuel and get there quicker.

The best that can be said for World War Two is that it got people off the dole and boosted business. It established a philosophy that building weapons and war was good for economic growth- see Michael Kidron ‘Western Capitalism since the War.

If Hitler hadn’t been a shell-shocked and bitter lunatic from World War One’s brutal battlefields, Germany’s struggling industrialists would never have used him as front man to scare the pants off the rest of Europe. In this way, his country- I know he was an Austrian- ignored all the constraints that France had put on it via the League of Nations.

Even so, Britain had a great empire and far more resources than struggling Germany. For all of Britain’s resources, Germany could have won- because, as they had said during World War one, Britain’s troops were lions led by donkeys.’ The US didn’t want to know much about the new war. Lend Lease was a poor offering to Britain and cost the country massively. Churchill mortgaged the nation’s future.  All the advances of its war time boffins had to be given to the U.S afterwards, along with an agreement to give up its empire.  The debt was not fully repaid until the twenty first century and without British Lend Lease money the U.S would never have come out of recession.  The ‘Special Relationship’ was born. Only Hitler’s madness and love of his fellow Aryan Anglo Saxons, combined with paranoia over the USSR, enabled Britain to hold on until the U.S got dragged in. Dunkirk was a disaster that nearly killed my father and many others. Britain was so ill equipped to face the conflict that it had to make inflatable weapons to try to fool the enemy.

Lessons from Chapter Two

Governments fail when they interfere and fail when they don’t.

Our fates are often in the hands of idiots, lunatics and egomaniacs.

Movements that aim to help particular groups, like ‘women’ are often disingenuous.

Just doing your duty for Britain isn’t necessarily the best course; it can harm you and others.

Wars are not fought for high ideals.

Clever people often attract jealousy and their ideas are either ignored or stolen.

People and whole nations often get blamed for starting things that others have.

Racism is all about finding scapegoats.

People who make a fuss about caring often only care about themselves.

The British establishment is an elite who is too out of touch with the average person’s life and problems.

Chapter Three New Moral Order

There are very few adult survivors of World War Two left. I first learned about it from my parents. My father became a military policeman after Dunkirk. He met my mother, a munitions worker while on guard duty. She had just lost her boyfriend, a tail gunner in the Royal Air Force. As Churchill warned Hitler, after the Blitz, ‘He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.’

For young working class people who had endured the 1930s, the war offered the prospect of excitement.  Martin Blane from Bletchley rushed to join the airforce.  This was to avoid being conscripted into the army. The closets he came to death was when his troop ship was torpedoed en route to India. Many drowned, but Martin eventually got to sit out the war as an airframe fitter in India.  He even found time for a spot of gardening, with his own allotment and vegetable patch.  According to him, it was more fun than learning to mend shoes, as he had been doing at the local Co-op.

Pip Brimson also joined the airforce.  Having enjoyed the early months of war going to dances at Buckingham Town Hall, in dresses her grandmother made, she decided that she could not possibly date any young man who was not sporting an RAF flyer’s brevet.

The youth of World War Two had something their counterparts in World War One didn’t have.  It was music and dancing to big bands, like Glen Miller’s.  When the Americans arrived, with better uniforms and more money, all hell broke loose. The Yanks, as they were disparagingly called had time to kill, whime British servicemen were sent abroad.  There was much illicit sexual behaviour, bastard children and broken marriages. No doubt  the men’s raised prospects of an early death heightened the sexual urge to reproduce.  Their was a joke about a modern style of quick release bra: ‘One Yank and

it is off.’

The RAF and USAF flattened Germany during the war, but it was the Russians who won it. The U.S airforce soon earned a reputation for firing from the hip. They invented the perverse term friendly fire. Their planes flew high and were not known for the accuracy of their bombing.  One even bombed a grocer’s home in Granborough in Bucks.  The U.S denied responsibility for the damage and the British said it was nothing to do with them. Bill had been loading his van when he heard the B29 overhead.  He looked up and saw a cigar like object falling to the ground.  He rushed back into his house to save his wife.  They sheltered under the Inglenook fireplace while his home and van were blown apart.

One in three aircrew- all volunteers were killed in action.  Oxford undergraduate Richard Hilary was in the university air sqaudron when the war started.  Struggling to bail out of his doomed Spitfire, the canopy jamming, he was badly burned.  He wrote a memoir whilst convalescing, called ‘The Last Enemy.’  He recalled walking through a blitzed street where a badly injured woman was being stretchered away.  She looked at his damaged face and said: ‘I see they got you too.’ Hilary returned to flying and was shot down over the North Sea.  He was reported missing, presumed killed, like so many of the nation’s young men.

Country folk got their first sight of inner city folk when mothers and children were evacuated away from Hitler’s blanket bombing blitzkrieg (lightning war).  Poorly paid as they were, farm workers and their families lived in a reaonably paternalistic environment, with a lot of fress air and room to move safely.  Angus Calder summed up the contrast in his study ‘The Peoples’ War.’  He recalled the tale of an East end Londoner and her tribe of uncouth urchin children to a country billet.  It was with a vica and his wife in their Suffolk village.  The vicar’s wife served tea ona silver tea service, along with cakes.  While these inhabitants from almost another planet tried to communicate, one of the urchins stood up and peed on the Axminster carpet.  The vicar’s wife asked what on earth her boy was doing.  The boy’s mother joined in admonishing her son, with the words: ‘Yeh Johnny, yer know better than that, go and do it in the corner.’

The war was won on the ground and more Russians were killed than any other nationality. Half of Europe then came under Soviet communist control. The Cold War began. America and Russia divided the world up with little reference to its old master.

The arrival of U.S troops also brought racial tensions. U.S blacks had to serve in all black units.  White working class Americans were inclined to get very angry at dances if they saw blacks dancing with English girls,  Many of the white Americans had been on the breadline during the 1930s.  Because all most British people knew about the U.S came from Hollywood’s glamorous views of their country, british girls were easily fooled.  For the young Americans, who had been plucked off the dole queues, they were now living the high life, with little thought to the carnage they would face on D Day.

My parents were married on the day peace was declared in Europe. There were mass celebrations. But war still raged in the Far East. A German submarine, U234, loaded with 560 KGs of uranium- much more than the U.S Manhattan Project had- along with scientists, and two ME-262 jet fighter kits, tried to get to Japan. If it hadn’t been captured and brought into Portsmouth Harbour, history would have been much different. Life is about chances. Survival is never guaranteed however comfortable we may feel.

The U.S got the chance to nuke Japan and so stopped the Russians getting there. They then pumped in massive investment. Mitsubishi started by selling ex U.S Army radios. Britain was closely allied to Japan before, during and after World War One. It taught them how to make cars, which is why they drive on the left. Much to Japan’s surprise, Britain changed sides, forcing them into friendship with Germany. Everyone needs friends, even nations.

The U.S also pumped a fortune into Europe through Marshall Aid. But poor old Britain was left out in the cold. At the 1951 Great Exhibition in London, the famous Skylon had no visible means of support. It was taken as a metaphor for the state of the nation.

U.S support in World War Two had to be paid for under terms of Lend Lease. The U.S also forced Britain to make a rapid retreat from its empire, opening up a power vacuum and leading to lots of bloodshed and natives fleeing for their lives. Many came to Britain to make up for all the dead men, rebuild Britain and do jobs no one else wanted. Racial tension was born.

The very rich of this country probably didn’t notice unless they really had a conscience. Labour won the first post war general election. Churchill was angry and thought them ungrateful for what he had done leading them in World War Two. In truth Britain’s survival had more to do with Hitler’s insanity and halfhearted hatred of Britain than anything Churchill did. The help of Russia and America was also useful.

There was also the matter of old resentments. Communism and Fascism had worried Britain’s ruling elites in the late 1920s and 30s. The Beveridge Plan, combined with Keynesian economics, had done something to plan for Britain’s post war stability. The theory was that if the government raised money through borrowing or printed extra, people would have money to spend on other things, making business progressively more viable. Nationalisation of industries added impetus to this idea by creating and controlling public sector jobs. Full employment was taken for granted.

When Labour won the election the initial success of the Beveridge Plan was assured. The 1944 Education Act opened up grammar schools to scholarships open to all comers. The idea was to promote the talent that had been sadly lacking at the start of World War Two. Inevitably the middle classes still had the advantage at schools where places were limited to 20% of all school-aged children. Intelligence tests can never be culturally fair.

Basic industries, including steel, coal, road and rail transport were nationalised in order to remove waste and an obsession with profit for a few while the workers slaved for a pittance. Gradually things started to come together. New homes were built, but inner city bombsites went to property developers. Ordinary folk were uprooted and forced into heartless tower blocks and dreary overspill estates and towns, miles from what they knew. It was obvious that ordinary people had little say in their lives. Of course there were the very few exceptions. Criminals, wide boys and those who got lucky with education had better lives.

But hard poverty was going to endure for the many- it is still a problem. Two of the 1945 Labour Government’s new MPs would make names for themselves in the 1960s. They were Dennis Healey and Roy Jenkins, both Oxbridge educated and wartime army officers. By 1950, the public had grown tired of post war rationing and Labour’s austerity chancellor, Sir Stafford Cripps. Important changes to the voting system had been made by the Representation of the People Act of 1948. These included abolition of plural voting, redistributing seats, abolishing six of them and creating eleven new ones in England. The post war consensus was beginning to show signs of unravelling.

The Tories said this in their manifesto, signed by leader Sir Winston Churchill:

The policy of the Conservative Party, expressed in “The Right Road for Britain” is to restore to our country her economic independence and to our citizens their full personal freedom and power of initiative. Unless Britain can hold her place in the world, she cannot make her full contribution to the preservation of peace, and peace is our supreme purpose. Britain, wisely led, can bring together the Commonwealth and Empire, Western Europe and the Atlantic Powers into a partnership dedicated to the cause of saving world peace and of preserving democratic freedom and the rule of law.

PRESENT DANGERS 

We can only import the food and raw materials on which we depend by paying for them in goods, services or cash. For the first few years after the war every country wanted all that Britain could make, almost regardless of price. That time is passing. Now Britain can sell abroad only if her goods are high in quality and competitive in price.

Since 1945, Britain has received in gifts and loans from the United States and the nations of the Commonwealth the vast sum of nearly £2,000 millions. But Marshall aid will end by 1952. From that time forth we must pay for all we buy from overseas or suffer the consequences in low standards of living and high unemployment.

The duty of the Government from their first day in office was to husband the national resources, to evoke the greatest efforts from all, to give every chance to enterprise and inventiveness and above all, not needlessly to divide the nation. Labour thought the difficult foundations it had been building were about to be undermined. They said, among other things: 

THE NEW MORAL ORDER 

Socialism is not bread alone. Economic security and freedom from the enslaving material bonds of capitalism are not the final goals. They are means to the greater end – the evolution of a people more kindly, intelligent, free, co-operative, enterprising and rich in culture.

They are means to the greater end of the full and free development of every individual person. We in the Labour Party – men and women from all occupations and from every sphere of life – have set out to create a community that relies for its driving power on the release of all the finer constructive impulses of man. We believe that all citizens have obligations to fulfil as well as right to enjoy.

In contrast, the fainthearted feel that only fear of poverty will drive men to work for the nation. ‘Empty bellies’. one Tory has said, ‘are the one thing that will make Britons work.’ Labour for its part declares that full employment is the corner stone of the new society.

CHILDREN FIRST 

Labour has placed the needs of our children in the forefront of national policy. Never before have our babies been so healthy; our youngsters so well fed, clothed and shod. Labour has raised the school leaving age. New schools are being built. The door to higher education is being opened ever wider by the provision of scholarships and grants to Universities. More teachers are being trained so that the size of classes – often still too large – can be reduced. Fees in secondary schools have been abolished. 

At a glance, the Tories offered a sense of energy and freedom. Labour offered more order and control. The reality was that neither party was in a position to offer very much at all. Another war was coming and getting out of the empire was costing a fortune and necessitating national military service for all men over 21 years old. The election was a close run thing.

Turnout– 83.9%

PartySeatsVotes% ShareCandidates
 Labour31513,266,59246.1617
 Conservative29712,502,56743.5620
 Ulster Unionist10   
 Liberal92,621,5489.1475
 Irish Nationalist2   

The size of the turnout shows how seriously this pre TV age election was taken. But the results were too close for comfort. Labour called another general election in 1951, and so began the Tories alleged thirteen years of misrule. For the time being, many of the old pre war attitudes continued, especially among the wealthy.

They were the ones who expected the masses to adapt to their needs. In the days of empire this had been easy to make happen. Export markets were guaranteed. Britain’s science and technology proceeded apace during the war. Afterwards, this country was obliged to give secret research to the United States. But at least the home of the jet engine saw its efforts take to the skies in the form of the deHavilland Comet airliner. At least the boat train was still running and the Cunard Queens ruled the Atlantic route. But the railways were nationalised and there would soon be quicker and cheaper ways of crossing the Atlantic.

I was born in the winter of 1950 and this is where my own story begins. Exactly what I am prepared to say about myself, I am as yet unsure. It is the tale of struggling against adversity, with a modest rise and dramatic fall. Since I am anxious to preserve my anonymity, I will proceed with caution.

Lessons to be learned from Chapter Three

Survival is a matter of chance, luck or perseverance.

Politics is the art of the possible.

The poor are always with us

What goes up must come down.

The rich are different

It’s hard to get rich unless you get lucky, through crime, talent and the reformed state education system

There is always another war

When someone helps you in an hour of need, there will always be pay back time.

Life was different before television

Be careful what you say about yourself- bluffing is important.

Chapter Three  Hoping to see Father Christmas

The England that I was born into was rife with poverty and snobbery. After five years of Labour Government, there was little sign of a changing social order. George Orwell once described England as a family with the wrong members in control- ‘The Lion and the Unicorn, 1940.’ Orwell also thought that Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ was the most stirring battle poem in British history, even though they went charging off in the wrong direction and were slaughtered.

The British spirit is accurately summed up when Captain Mainwaring, of ‘Dad’s Army’ fame says to the captured German submarine captain: ‘you can’t win this war, see the kind of men we breed!’ The inscrutable German replies: ‘Rather stupid ones.’

My late mother and father spent their early-married life in Islington, where they were both born. My mother, however, had been raised in the Home Counties countryside. Her father had come from just outside Dublin. He loved horses and worked as a groom for a wealthy landowner. He married a local bricklayer’s daughter and had three children and his wife Ellen was pregnant with my mother when he had to move his family to London in search of work.

The 1930s caused the rich to retrench. Prior to that time, fox hunting was a mainstay of the rural economy. Even the Price of Wales hunted with the man whose horses my Irish grandfather looked after. Now the man who loved horses had to go and live in a London slum. He and his wife are burred and forgotten in the cemetery that Lady Porter wanted to sell off to developers for five new pence during the Thatcher 1980s.

My maternal grandmother died of milk fever two weeks after my mother was born. Her new baby was sent to her grandparents to be brought up in a little country market town. After my father was de mobbed, my parents set up home in what was euphemistically called a flat. It was in fact two attic rooms in a large tenement building owned by two kindly Jews. My father returned to his job at C&A Modes. They lived for nearly five years in a tiny hovel infested with mice, just around the corner from my father’s parents.

My mother bonded with her Welsh mother in law. They went shopping together in the West End. Her mother in law had her bag snatched by a pickpocket. The thief cut it off from its handles. They were about to buy something off of a street trader (a spiv) with his suitcase open on the pavement.

All of a sudden the trader shut his case and ran away. Seconds later a police constable ran past them blowing his whistle. The man had been breaking the Labour Government’s laws.

This was the world of Dixon of Dock Green, but violent crime, gangsters and murder still had the power to shock. I recall an episode of 1950s Dixon of Dock Green.  In this, a bright young constable, played by Paul Eddington is befriended by actor Jack Warner playing his famous role of the Met’s ‘ordinary copper’ patrolling Dock Green. George never wanted promotion because he wanted to stay in touch.  He left that to his bright young son in law Andy Crawford who was in the CID.  

All the men and one woman at Dock Green nick called their avuncular boss, not Guv, but father.  ‘Father’ was a big grizzled no nonsense chap and had seen it all.  But in those days, the worst any of them had seen was bombs exploding, doodlebugs, bomb sites and victims of the Nazis. None of them, not even the villains, had seen a bent cop.

War, however, had encouraged the black market and opportunism.  It is also put overt sexual behaviour on the agenda.

In November 1947, my sister was born. She was born in St Bartholomew’s Hospital- a proper cockney, as my father often reminded me, because I wasn’t. Mother recalled the wonderful young Irish doctor who attended her in the new free National Health Service. She said he was always whistling or singing: ‘I’ll take you home again Kathleen, across the ocean far and wide. For most people, London was a dull place.  Sex was had gone back to being a secret.  Nude reviews were allowed at the Windmill Theatre so long as the models didn’t move.  Ex servicemen like Rex Harrison, Max Bygraves and Jimmy Edwards were cutting their post war teeth.  Edwards was renowned for his lustfull performances and was at home performing comedy, surrounded by the Windmill’s beauties.  It must have been a relief to know that music hall smut still had its place.

Life became harder. My father made money on the side using a skill learned during convalescence from wartime injuries.  He wove carpets.  My father’s mother became very ill, but left it too late to get treatment. When she died, my mother was heartbroken. She always missed having known her mother. Her grandmother had died when she was only 14 and had taken a job as a cleaner- her grandparents having been unable to afford for her to go to grammar school, even though she passed the entrance exam. If her grandparents had had the money she wouldn’t even have needed to pass the exam.

With her mother in law dead, my mother became a mother figure to her hard drinking cabinet making father in law and his other two sons. A third son had left the army to become a rep for a Brighton Brewery Company. All of her brothers in law drank a lot and so did my father when he was with them. My mother always feared drinking working class men because they tended to become angry, all their sense of failure and doom coming to the surface.

Only one of dad’s brothers lived at home with his father by the time I was taken to Islington in the 1950s. Mother said this brother had been in the RAF and was a Brylcream boy. He worked in an office. He hadn’t had a girlfriend since the war. In hushed tones she said: ‘He might be one of them because he went out only with his friend Les.’ I didn’t know what one of them was. All I knew was that he was a nice uncle who sent me ten shillings every Christmas.

In 1947, my parents decided to move back to the country town where she was brought up. She had an uncle who had houses for rent there. At first my parents lodged with my mother’s grandfather and the two of his five children who had never married, Florence and Charlie. In 1949, they managed to get one next door to the house where her grandfather still lived with Their humble furniture was brought down from London on the back of a little lorry owned by another one of her country relatives, Uncle Fred. There was no room in the cab for her grandfather, so he sat on the top. They were off to a new life.

My father started doing odd jobs for my great grandfather’s building relatives,

Then he got a job on a local army camp, driving an officer about. Haulage was nationalised to form British Road Services (BRS) and a depot was opened on the old RAF airfield where the army camp was. Father had learned to drive a lorry in the army. He managed to get a job driving for BRS.

My father had to drive long distance. He drove a big red eight wheeler. BRS lorries were painted in the socialist’s government’s favourite blood red- the colour of sacred worker’s blood. They carried the same emblem on the side as British railways mainly steam locomotives.

Father parked his BRS lorry at what is the bottom of the drive where I am typing this. It is a narrow lane and this house was not there then. My family lived in a little house just a little way from where the lane joins the main London road. I can remember being held in my mother’s arms to wave to him as he drove his lorry down the lane and off into the night, probably going up the Great North Road with his cargo. He didn’t like being away such a lot. Luckily there were driver’s jobs going at the nearby London Brick Company works in Blecthley. He was one of the lucky ones and went on short hauls around London and the Home Counties.

All year round I looked forward to Christmas. My parents would show me the Marshall Ward catalogue, winter edition. I liked the winter edition because it had lots of toys in it. On Christmas Eve, I would lay awake in our cold little house that was heated only by two open fires downstairs. I hoped to see Father Christmas. My sister and I slept in the same room off of the little landing where the piddle pale stood. My parent’s room was on the other side of the three and a half-foot square.

I never saw Father Christmas, but my pillowcase was always bulging with presents by the time I woke up early on Christmas morning. My sister and I would rush into our very tired parent’s room, shouting: ‘Look what Father Christmas has brought us.’

Lessons to be learned from Chapter Three

London was a horrible place for most people after the war.

Londoners were being forced out of their home city by money grabbing developers and urban squalor.

It helps if you have a family to back you, however poor.

Some people might be ‘one of them’.

Drunken working class men are frightening, even if they are relatives.

Working class men drank and still drink to escape their miseries

Every child needs a mother and father.

Children think toys and Christmas are wonderful.

Before the war, working people, especially women had little opportunity to get on.

Poverty is pretty horrible and sets people back when they are born into it.

 

Chapter Four

The North Bucks market town where I grew up in the 1950s was rife with snobbery.  My mother was raised there by her Victorian grandparents.  For her own protection, she was brought up to know her place.  Home was a three up and two down terraced house, with no bathroom and an outside toilet.  It was a house built at the start of the twentieth century, for farm labourers.  The whole street took its name, Sheep Street, from the town’s agricultural roots.  Mother’s uncle owned the property and had once been the second biggest property owner in town, after McCorquodale.  She was the daughter of a wandering Irish groom, and very much the poor relation, brought up with values outdated even by Winslow’s standards.

My father was a misfit, being a cockney.  But he had his won way of deference, being a working class Tory.  He had enjoyed army life.  Mother married him after her airman boyfriend was shot down and killed over Minden in Germany.  He was a tail gunner and had only feared being burned alive.  Mother met father when he was an MP on guard duty at the famous Firs munitions factory where she worked.

My father frightened me. It was perfectly legal to beat children in those days and he did it often to me, but never to my sister. He could be so cruel that I was not very old before I wondered if he really was my father. It would have been less disconcerting if there had not been times when he was really nice to me.  As a result, I had little confidence about myself or place in the world.  Fortunately, lorry driving kept him away from home a lot.

Before I started school, I used to go to the post office with my mother when she collected the family allowance. I could read before I started school and remember there was a poster on the wall there.  It showed the mushroom cloud of what I later learned to be a nuclear explosion.  It had something written under the picture about living with the

fear of the H Bomb.

Worse happened when I went to school, in the September before my fourth birthday. My great granfather,who lived with his two remaining unmarried offspring, Flo and Charlie, during the war.  I loved him very much.  My mother and great aunt told me he had gone away, but might come back someday.  It was my first experience of losing a loved one and it hurt.

School frightened me.  It was in a Victorian building at the top of the hill in our street. The windows were set up high in the brickwork so that we could not see anything, except the sometimes blue sky.  We sat at our desks afraid to move. It was a church school and often visited by the local vicar who was on the board of governors.  Our first teacher after infants was Miss Green.  She was a fearsome wrinkly creature who punched miscreants in the back and gave serious trouble makers severe beatings on their legs, with a ruler.  It was always boys who got punished.  The girls were sweet little things with flouncy dresses and ribbons in their hair.  I got beaten by the teachers as well, just for being me, it seemed.  

One time Miss Green was going on about how the bible was written from a lot of ancient texts that had been dug up and translated into English.  I put my hand up to tell her that when I was little I used to read and believe in Noddy.  I said I also used to like burying my things in the garden.  I asked, innocently, if I had buried my Noddy book and there was a nuclear war that wiped everything out, and someone dug up my Noddy book 2000 years later, would it mean that they would believe in Noddy.  Miss Green nearly had a heart attack before sending me out into the corridor, where I listened to the clock ticking, knowing that at the end of the lesson my exposed legs would be beaten by her ruler.

At play time the girls played at being princesses and fairies, while the bullies picked on me.  Somehow I managed to learn the basics. Ours was an all age school, except for the ones who passed the scholarship and went to grammar school.  The leaving age had only recently been raised to fifteen. Part of the school grounds had been filled with HORSA huts.  HORSA stood for Hutting operation for Raising the School Leaving Age.

Lessons had hopefully been learnt and the Tory Government was building on the best of what Labour had offered as a new moral order- or at least that is what they said.  Our town was in the heart of Tory countryside.  

The local Tory squierarchy was benevolent up to a point.  A few years of Labour government had made for a few changes.  The old Bell coaching inn’s owners had slammed the front door and nailed it shut when the Tories were beaten.  They couldn’t believe defeat any more than old Winston Churchill could.  Very ungrateful, they thought, after all he had done beating the Germans.

Mother used to tell me how much better it was now that the National Health had come in.  We had two doctors in town, both had seen wartime service, one as a Royal Navy doctor and the other in the merchant navy, on Russian convoys.  The former was a terrible snob, and lay preacher, with a penchant for affairs with posh women.  The latter had a real bedside manner and I would only ever see him as a child.

We had nitty Nora too, checking for head lice, and school medicals with a female doctor.  I hated stripping to my underpants for her.  As I got older, it proved even more embararrssing.  But this was all part of the nation’s drive to make future generations more healthy than they had been before the war.

The Tories closed lots of BRS depots and wrecked plans to create an integrated transport system.  This had much to do with many who were losing out on long distance haulage work and were Tory voters.  My father found alternative work delivering bricks.  It was a fateful move.

North Buckinghamshire was still a world on its own, but television was bringing outside images into more and more homes.  We got ours in 1957.  Father bought it on installments.  I loved ‘Childrens Hour.’  But it was the impact of old films, new drama and eventually, pop singers that gave the locals new role models.  This was particularly important in respect of the town’s youth.  We were the baby boom kids.  Compared to their up bringing, we were spoiled.

Hire purchase meant homes had new furniture and electrical goods.  National Service was still in place.  Ostensibly it helped make men out of boys.  In reality, it provided manpower for Britain’s efforts to leave the empire with minimum bloodshed.

By 1959, the Prime Minister, Harold Mcmillan, was talking on TV about the winds of change blowing across Africa.  The United States was eyeing up the markets that Britain would loose out on. The U.S made Marshall Aid withdrawal conditional.  This withdrawal, even though it empowered overnight despots in what had been a stable environment.  Meantime Britain had struggled to fund Labour’s social reforms and old industries were in massive decline.

Macmillan managed to look calm in a crisis.  His predecessor had been, Anthony Eden, had been destroyed by one- Suez.  This crisis was orchestrated by Eisenhower who threatened to destroy the British currency if they joined France in protecting their joint interest in the Suez Canal.  The Special relationship was getting better and better.  MacMillan and his young sidekick, Edward Heath saw redemption in a belated attempt to join the European Economic Union.

He won the 1959 General Election on a simple message to the British people: ‘You have never had it so good.  Given the miseries and hardship of what the common folk had put up with for years, that was not a high hurdle to clear.  But what was left of Britain and its empire was built on shifting sands.  Country people were by nature conservative and the newcomers flocking into the expanding south east had aspirations.

I saw a parallel world, during my childhood, We never had what would normally be called holidays, but we went every year to visit my father and mother’s family in Islington, London.  As a young child, I wondered what all the open spaces and rubble were about.  My mother told me about the bomb sites, the bombs, the blitz, the doodlebugs and rockets.

My paternal grandfather’s home was in a tenement.  Down below the block was what they called the area, approached through railings and down steps..  It was really a basement.  My paternal grandfather fell down into it once, and nearly died.  He was drunk, which was normal for him.  

The tenement building was divided into flats.  Inside it was grim and hard to keep warm.  The grease stained little gas stove helped grandfather out in this respect..  The majority of the tenants at 110 Newington Green Road, were foreigners, many Greek Cypriots.  They were the first foreigners I ever met. They stared at us blankly and talked in gibberish.  My mother did not like them.  Then I saw something even more amazing.  I was riding back to this grim home that my father and his three brothers had grown up in at the time, and was about five years old.  I was with my parents on the upper deck of a trolley bus- a great wonder to a country boy.

In the back seat was the most amazing man I had ever seen.  He was not at all like the rest of us.  He had a black face and wore a trilby hat.  I said nothing to my parents.  But the following day I was playing with my half German cousin Ronnie, in the street when I saw the man again.  I told Ronnie, who was two years older than me, that the man was following me.  When he asked why, I told him about the man on the bus.  He laughed mockingly.  Then he told me there were a lot of black faced people in London, and it wasn’t just there faces that were black.  They were black all over and a lot of them worked on the buses and in the hospitals.

Ironically it was Enoch Powell, as Tory Minister of Health, who visited the West Indies, exhorting young people to come to Britain to replenish a labour forced reduced and demoralised by years of war. There was a lot of rebuilding to do. There was also a desire to use them to keep wages down.  The arrival of the ‘Empire Windrush’ in 1947, marked the beginning of this epic immigration.

There is a false picture of everyone pulling together during World War Two. The sense of a common enemy helped to create a certain spirit of co-operation.  However, there was a lot of looting after bomb raids and stealing from the sleeping hordes taking refuge on the London underground.  After the peace, old rivalries re emerged and new ones were kindled.  Trade Unions took arms against the bosses in the time  honoured tradition.

My father died as a result of a stack of bricks falling on him in 1960.  He picked up an infection during the operation at Harefield. Problems like MRSA were not identified then

We were plunged into poverty.  Without her beloved father figure, my sister went hunting for another man.  She got pregnant in the sixth form of grammar school.  My mother was shamed and my sister spent time in a home for unmarried mothers.  It was run by nuns and they wouldn’t let men in there.  One of the other young mums had had her father’s baby and spent hours staring at her naked body in the mirror.  She couldn’t understand why her father was in prison and they wrote frequent letters to each other.  The year was 1967 and England had begun to swing.

To know why England swung, we have to go back to the early 1960s.  MacMillan won the general election but he couldn’t get Britain into Europe.  The country was still a very stuffy place, riddled with hypocrisy.  The British Commonwealth helped its trading situation, but that would have to go if the EEC was going to be the way forward.

By comparison, Europe was more liberated and culturally different.  For all of Britain’s wartime sacrifices, deGaule was no Anglophile.

Libertarian Labour MP Roy Jenkins introduced The Obscene Publications Act in 1959. Now it was time to liberate literature. The test case for the Jenkins Act was ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover.’ The point of law was whether or not the book had literary merit.  The prosecution were ridiculed for asking the jury if it was the sort of book ‘you would wish your wife and servants to read.’ Like much of the legal profession today, he was way out of touch.  It went to show just how frustrated the population were when the verdict was announced in November 1960. The book sold out on the day it was released. Literary experts like Richard Hoggart had argued eloquently that the book was not really about sex.  It was about the wholeness of being.  Unlike the posh women that Lawrence fraternised with and tried to teach about love, Lady Chatterley wasn’t really obsessed with rough sex.  She just wanted to be whole, they argued.  Mellors the gamekeeper represented male brutish behaviour, but was helping with her sense of being whole.  I am sure that is why the  book sold out on the first day of publication.

It couldn’t have had anything to do with the titillating concept of a rough man taking an upper class woman off her pedestal and giving her a good seeing to.

At the time murderers were still hung and murder shocking.The closest things to wayward behaviour were Teddy Boys having fights wielding bicycle chains.  I saw it first hand, sitting with my parents outside Clissold Park in North London in that year.  Rock and Roll had hit the nation, with Bill Hayley and the Comets. in 1955.  Youngsters went mad, ripping up seats in a Bognor Regis cinema, while Hayley- sporting kiss curl- did his thing.. Sociologist Mark Abrhams produced his study of the potential of youth spending power and business was starting to pander to the youth market.

Motorbikes became a symbol of rebellion after the 1953 film ‘The Wiild One’ hit British cinemas.  U.S Culture had never ceased to impress the parent British culture, ever since the cool dudes of their armed forces hit the shores during World War Two.  London’s North Circular Road became a testing ground for would be Brandos .  A young priest by the name of William Shergold was running an East End youth club. It was called the ‘59 Club’- and was started by Rev John Oakes.

Shergold got involved. He rode a motorbike because it was all he could afford on his humble pay.  This interest gave him a natural point of contact with the disaffected youth.  The club was held at Eton Mission, Hackney.  It was popular with local teenagers.The Queen’s popular culture loving and racey sister Margaret visited.  So did pop singer Cliff Richard and it inspired his first screen role as a mixed up rebellious kid who gets saved by God.  Richard, aka Harry Webb, was hailed- though he was nothing like him- as Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley.

Rev Shergold was far more shocking to pre Swinging England. This was never more so than when he started livening the club up a bit. This was at a time when sociologists were suggesting that the country was becoming a secular society and that Royalty, as head of the church, was going out of fashion.

As a seasoned biker, he was in with respected ‘Triumph Motorcycle Club’.  One of them suggested he held a church service for the rocker motorcyclists in 1962. Shergold was 42 at the time and had been ordained in Poplar, East London, during the Blitz in 1942.

These were the disaffected ton-up youths who raced around London at night, stopping off at the ‘Busy Bee’, and the notorious ‘Ace Café’, among other places- where they struck fear into the more sedate patrons and drove them away.  

For the down to earth ‘Father Bill’ as he was known, making contact was simple.  One Sunday he just got on his ‘Triumph Speed Twin’ and rode out to  the ‘Ace Café’.  The place was a rough  house and Father Bill rode past twice before plucking up courage to stop and go in.  He hid his dog collar behind his scarf.  To his surprise the bikers did not call in on Sunday.  Wisely he made his next trip a few weeks later, on a Saturday night, when the youngsters would be letting off steam after a dreary low paid week in factories, warehouses or maybe on better paid building sites. Then they would have money, as well as rubber to burn.

Dog collar on full view, he strode in just like Brando. They didn’t humiliate him, as he had expected and were thrilled at the thought of riding on mass to his Hackney Church, where the media pack were waiting. It’s easy to forget that these young riders were of the same stock who had fought in two world wars.  With the right words and motives, they would see the light- though it needed a good man to communicate with them.  These were also the days of Braithwaites ‘To Sir with Love’, educational Priority Areas and dead end jobs, in a country badly led for years and offering them few prospects and good reason to rebel.

Shergold compared the rockers to knights of old, suggesting that they uphold the same virtues of courage, courtesy and chivalry.  And so the 59 Club became a haven for them. Bikers started coming there from all over the country and a parish house was provided to accommodate them.  

One wonders sometimes why this country is not run by creative and imaginative people.

Why are our leaders a mixture of indifferent and exploitative, the mealy mouthed and the dull ladder climbing bureaucrat? I guess it is just horses for courses.  The controlling petty dullard is rather a British tradition and someone has to do it, even though they often make the underdog and creative ones’ lives a misery.  Creativity is a volatile essence in any case, and too explosive a substance upon which to build a society.  The challenge for a society is to seek out, challenge and channel that creativity.  It is there in all walks of life and should not be regarded as something only a few super stars have with which to make their fortunes.  Too often in our snob ridden and hierarchical Britain, this essence is stifled.  It was an attitude responsible for wasting peoples lives in two world wars and in many other twists and turns of its history.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing two very different and highly creative architects.  They were two very opposing personalities, from diverse backgrounds.  They were an explosive mixture.  Together they created one of the most iconic and controversial buildings this country has ever seen.  They were Owen Luder and the late Rodney Gordon.  The building was the Portsmouth Tricorn.

Before one considers their work, it is important to explain the massive cultural shift that took place in 1964. The upper and upper middle classes have always had a lot of sexual freedom, one way or another. But the mass media was exposing a tradition that was best summed up in the old folk song, with the mournful refrain, ‘It’s the rich what gets the pleasure, it’s the poor what gets the blame  

Lessons to be learned from Chapter Four

  1. It pays to know your place, but ordinary people were starting to aspire in the 1950s, as a result of education and welfare improvements.
  2. Schools were still frightening and constraining pupils, but only boys got beatings for being naughty..
  3. Tories don’t like planning things so they wrecked Labour’s scheme for an integrated road and rail transport system.
  4. It was the age of ‘baby boomers’ so parents were turning from tough to soft love and youth culture was taking hold on the economy and teen behaviour.
  5. Hire Purchase encouraged folk to spend money they didn’t have and the Prime Minister told them that they had never had it so good.
  6. Trade unions were flexing their muscles.
  7. The British Empire was declining and Britain wanted to join the European Economic Community.
  8. Europeans were culturally more sophisticated than the snob ridden and hierarchical British.
  9. A healthy society nurtures the creative and rebellious , but the British struggled with this concept.
  10. The rich and the legal profession had their fun, but were out of touch and patronising toward the lower orders.

 

 

Chapter Five

The Profumo affair was centred on  Dr Stephen Ward’s Wimpole Mews flat, equipped with two-way mirrors and other aids to lubricity.  Ward was a clergyman’s son, from Rochester.  His practice as an osteopath brought him into contact with the very rich and famous, including the Duke of Edinburgh, as members of the hard drinking Thursday Club during the late 1940s.

Ward had a penchant for young lower class women.  Christine Keeler was one of Ward’s glamorous young lodgers in the early 1960s. Born in 1942, she left home at 16 after an unhappy childhood in the Thames Valley, and gravitated to London where she found work at Murray’s cabaret club. There she met and befriended another showgirl, Marilyn “Mandy” Rice-Davies. Soon, both young women had drifted into the racy circle around their pimp Dr Stephen Ward, a fashionable West End osteopath and socialite.

Soon, Keeler and her friend and fellow lodger,Mandy Rice-Davies were circulating in exalted milieux. To these star struck young women, Lord Astor’s country mansion, Cliveden, was out of this world.. It was there that John Profumo first laid eyes on Keeler. Tongues wagged. It probably wouldn’t have mattered half so much if Christine Keeler hadn’t also been having sex with others, including Eugene Ivanov, the naval attache at the Soviet embassy.

Profumo was secretary of state for war. Educated at Harrow and Oxford, he was a quintessential high Tory who had achieved cabinet rank after serving in a number of junior posts. He was married to the film star Valerie Hobson, and moved effortlessly in the highest of society. There was a nasty joke of the day. Rumour had it that Profumo made the glamorous call girl pregnant. She was said to have gone to the doctor with pains in her womb. Exploratory surgery was called for. When she came round, she saw the doctor holding a very large splinter. He looked puzzled, explaining that he had removed it from her womb. Keeler smiled.  Then she said she was not surprised because she had had half the cabinet up there already

In Britain, Profumo’s downfall naturally caused a huge sensation, inflated by the establishment’s crude and cruel attempts to find scapegoats for its own embarrassment. As usual, official wrath was turned on those least able to defend themselves. Stephen Ward was prosecuted for living on immoral earnings. MI5 denied that Ward was helping them to lure Ivanov into a honey trap to turn him.  But that is in the nature of the

security services. Playing with them is like playing with fire- but it is what a lot men do and progress relies on that spirit.  Agents tend to be recruited by the elite for its own ends.  Consequently, when those of their class, like Burgess, McClean, Anthony Blunt and the suspect Sir Roger Hollis get up to things, they don’t get noticed until it is too late. MI5 and MI6 are mainly there to watch the little people.

Ward overdosed on sleeping tablets on the last day of his trial. Keeler was also tried and imprisoned on related charges. Rice-Davies, who escaped prosecution, earned a dubious immortality when, during the Ward trial. Here, she was told that Lord Astor disputed her version of events and replied: “He would, wouldn’t he?”

In the deferential spirit of the 1950s, the rumours may have been restricted to salon gossip. Now, in the new age of iconoclasm, the whispers were amplified in the media. ‘That Was The Week That Was’ scored a telling blow with a splendid parody of the old music hall number, ‘She was Poor but she was Honest’. The words of the new version went: “See him in the House of Commons / Making laws to put the blame / While the object of his passion / Walks the streets to hide her shame.”

The Profumo affair brought down the Macmillan government. In October 1963, less than a month after publication of the Denning report into the affair.  Profumo resigned citing ill

health. There were no party leadership elections in those days, and the mantle passed to the most improbable of candidates, the 14th Earl of Home. This cadaverous relic of a by gone age sealed the Tories fate and so he did his bit to remove the Tories and beget ‘The Swinging Sixties.’

The Tory mandarins helped.  They were known as “the magic circle”  and  were desperate to keep out the obvious successor, liberal Rab Butler. They wanted a proper toff leading them and talking down to the masses. They preferred the Old Etonian, cricket-loving laird,. He was only too happy to oblige, quickly using the recent legislation sparked by Anthony Wedgwood-Benn’s desire to become an MP. Viscount Home thus renounced his renounce ancient title and was transformed into plain Sir Alec Douglas Home.

In October 1964, Sir Alec called an election. Labour’s Hugh Gaitskell had died and been replaced by the wily Harold Wilson giving Labour a more dynamic modern image. Harold Wilson, seen as a pragmatic leftist, first challenged Gaitskell for the leadership, unsuccessfully, in November 1960.Labour had been out of office since 1951. The slogan “13 wasted years” was drummed home again and again, and found resonance with an electorate who knew they were living in a new age; one that was no longer represented by the Tory old guard who had propelled an earl into Downing Street. It took until the 1980s and the Peter Wright’s ‘Spycatcher’ trial to raise some serious and worry questions about the true nature of the Wilson years.  For the time being, the big change seemed to be that England was about to swing, as in Roger Miller’s light hearted ditty perhaps, but it could not hide the continual and drastic decline in what really mattered.  The pretentious retropesctive notion of many of its drug crazed icons, that if you can remember the 1960s, then you couldn’t have been there, is just another example of the countries  tendency to be snobbish about absolutely anything.

The incoming Labour Government’s academic short tongued and bespectacled Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, was an unlikely libertarian. His sexual liaisons were more discrete than action man John Profumo’s.  As Home Secretary, he ensured a steady flow of liberal tolerances, except when it came to pirate radio.  The Maritime Act sunk the pirates, but Radio One was started as a concession to yout, playing non stop pop and DJ banter.Hanging was abolished through Silverman’s Act, probably motivated by the ghastly thought that the system had hung Ruth Ellis, a glamorous blonde, even though she was a murderer.  

The male dominated House of Commons found that hard to stomach. They also found sudden sympathy for the cause of homosexuality was legalised in 1967. Freedom and promiscuity were also incited by the sale of a contraceptive pill and rising hemlines- which made a fortune for designers like Mary Quant and a plethora of new boutiques- which abounded in London’s Carnaby Street

Profumo was unlucky, he was just doing what came naturally to the country’s ruling elite. It would be years before Tory Lord Boothby and Labour’s Tom Driberg were exposed for crawling around the East End of London, where the homosexual gangster Ronnie Kray procured wayward young boys for them to bugger. Censorship laws were quickly eased. London’s police cashed in on corruption, thus the sex and drugs trade boomed and gangsters afforded their first helicopters- some sent their offspring to top boarding schools.

In reality so called ‘Swinging Sixities’ were a commercial distraction for a country that was not coping with loss of empire. It was boom time for pop music and egalitarian love songs, pouring millions into the greedy hands of record companies. Poverty across the country, was dire Now all hell was going to be let loose. The brief and much glamorised time was not just about youth and profit. They were a cover for the still seedy and corrupt world of politics. The generation gap was born and seriously exploited by the world of business, but Britain was still fading away, on borrowed time and with record strikes, into the 1970s. The shipbuilding industry was as good as dead.  

The QE2 was Clydeside’s swansong. Sadly its conversion from steam turbine to diesel in 1987, had to be carried out in Germany.  The British shipbuilding engine had finished.  Gang warfare was the new growth industry around Glasgow by this time, as Jimmy Boyle’s memoirs, ‘A Sense of Freedom’ informed us very well..

Labour knew that their union paymasters were not going to let them tackle the real problems destroying the nation. They harked back to the tricks of nineteenth century Britain and offered bread and circuses. The aristocracy had less worry about discretion now, and the wayward life got easier with each passing year. The difference was that it was being offered to the masses too. Religion went rapidly into decline, remaining popular with old spinsters who still thought sex was the devils work, not God’s.

But Britain was not making a clean break for a better egalitarian future. The election result had been close, though. Labour won 317 seats; the Conservatives got 303, and the Liberals nine. Taking the Speaker and deputies into account, Wilson had a Commons majority of just four, to support him in his promise to deliver Britain into a new age. Profumo was unlucky

The Cold War was raging; the United States would soon be embedded in Vietnam. My father was furious that the new Labour government did not go to help Britain’s old ally fight communism. He had been an officer in the Korean War and would have loved to have made a soldier out of me. I would have been surprised at him wanting to put his son and only male heir at risk, if I hadn’t known his and mummy’s dark secrets then.

Into this turmoil came Owen Luder and Rodney Gordon, driving forces of the Owen Luder Partnership. Luder became famous for The Tricorn and its sister development in Gateshead.  Private Eye cruelly nicknamed the twice president of RIBA, Owen Car Park.  Luder grew up on tough London Streets.  Watching the Battle of Britain as a boy, he wanted to be an aeronautical engineer.  After the war, he was told there was little need for aeronautical engineers.  This was a long time before the sort of popular flying that we see today.  The United States had stolen most of Briatin’s advanced research as further payment for wartime services rendered.  They had also resented the British beating them into the jet travel age, with the deHavilland  Comet and beside themselves with glee when metal fatigue caused crashes that grounded the craft.  This gave them time to catch up, with their Boeing 707.

Luder began his architectural career designing hair dressing salons for Mr Teezie Weasy, the Queen’s hairdresser and the Vidal Sassoon of his day. He teemed up with the more languid and urbane Rodney Gordon when the 1960s presented opportunities for grander designs.

Rodney told me that he thanked God for having had the opportunity to be born and work in one of the last truly creative ages, the 1960s.

Like Charles Darwin, his parents wanted him to be a doctor.  After a brief spell at a London medical school, he left and paid for his own training in Hammersmith. .

He said:I found memory work difficult, and Latijn impossible.  I remember my physics master getting us to draw a barometer on a weekend when there was nothing else to do. I did an ink drawing of a barometer.  My physics master said you may not make a physicist but you’ll make a bloody good architect.  I got talking to architectural students who were fighting because modern architecture wasn’t being recognised,and the school hadn’t  recognised it either.  

‘In1951 I went to South Bank for the Festival of Britain, it was an eye opener, the Dome of Discovery and the Skylon.  This incredible piece of rocket was just suspended in the air it was held up by wires.  I knew then this was what I had to do, it was hitting me from my balls to my guts, but it took me the experience of being at a very large college and the Festival of Britain to realise what I wanted to do.  Father may have been disappointed initially but when they saw my passion they encouraged me, I would have had a comfortable life and I wasn’t going to make millions.  I survive, but it’s what’s in here, my heart, that’s important, not money.

‘It was the Swinging 60s when we designed the Tricorn,, we worked straight through, 3 days and three nights.  There was usually a hi fi wit h usually the Rolling Stones or Beatles being played.  Continuously right through.  There’s a great affinity with that music, Eric Clapton  especially , of the 60s, and the Tricorn.   Listen to some Clapton and the Beatles then look at the Tricorn, hopefully you’ll feel what I feel.  

‘It was an aesthetic movement.  We didn’t realise at the time.  It was a movement.  I grew up in Chlesea, this is where it started in the Kings Road and having been in the King’s Road since 1944 when it was a bit arty, there was a little second hand antique shops, there was this and a Scotsman used to walk along Kings Road with bare feet, Mary Quaint suddenly opened her boutique in the Kings Road, the first  sixties boutique, 235 King’s Road opened, used to be the café, the restaurant opposite the fire station in the Kings Road.  

‘A mate of mine John Hanson decided to open  a little restaurant serving five  bob lunches and he did dinners for a pound. Beeching had shut down all the railway stations and we went round buying up all the bits decorating the place with that and it became the place.  At 12 o’clock on Saturday there were queues outside.  They drove up at one o’clock and that was the first beestro type coffee shop type thing there.  Soho had the expressos.  England was the centre of the world and England and the centre of England was the Kings Road and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that, nor that we saw it the time. Incredible memories.

‘I remember Jack Woburn who looks a bit like Frank Zappa, black curly hair, at the end of the Kings Road- there’s a second hand place there now- he had the whole of the first floor where he had these little girls making  boots in lizard skin and belts in of the in most of it and  there was a big waterbed under lit.  The Small Faces and the Rolling Stones used to come in there and play.  They were rehearsing.  These were just kids playing.

‘The Rolling Stones used to rehearse at the pub nearby. You could hear them.  Then when they did  ‘Granny Takes a Trip’, they stuck this old American car half way out of the building.  Green or pink or something, they changed the paint every month ( 1963 ), all a part of this things are getting better thing.  In a way we didn’t expect it to be like this. with me talking to you today, it was just our job. It wasn’t our job to find out whether the Tricorn was going to be successful,.  That was Luder’s job. Luder’’s job was to find out.  We built several shopping schemes that were very successful all over the country, in Leicester, Coalville, the were little things. They have all gone now.

‘I was working for the LCC when Owen Luder approached me.  The LCC wanted functional and minimalist designs.  I thought the tenants in the new flats that we built spoiled everything, putting curtains on the windows and flying ducks on the wall. Owen was building Tescos in Warwick way, Tescos,  when I joined him.  He was very concerned that The Tricorn would go over budget.’

The Tricorn was built on a wartime bomb site at the top of Commercial Road.  It opened in 1966.  The area in North Portsmouth was on a bombing run into the Royal Navy dockyard.  In consequence it was flattened and many were killed.  The whole triangular area was full of densely packed little terraces, and the people were poor. It was bounded by Charlotte Street to the south.  This was a market street, leading into Commercial Road.  Its’s cheap goods and vegetables were vital to survival.

Developer Alec Coleman asked Luder to provide space for the wholesale fruit and vegetable traders to unload their lorries, and some car parking.  He came up with a scheme, aided by Rodney Gordon and the design team, to build a multi purpose and multi level complex in brut concrete. Concrete was poured into form work which left the pattern of wood on the dried out surface.  When it opened it won a prize for design and innovation.  Within a short time it was denigrated by Prince Charles and others as a carbuncle.

Access from Commercial road was limited and in spite of the vision. There was a big space in the central area, meant to be a focus for markets and social gatherings.

Unfortunately a major retailer, who was to be the main attraction, did not take up the option.  Rents were rising at the time and Coleman held out too long.  There were also problems with the spiral ramps, to be used by wholesale vegetable lorries, to get to high level market area. They couldn’t make the slope in icy weather and lorries soon got too big to fit it.  Other things also went wrong.  The only aspects that thrived were the two pubs and the Tricorn Club. The rest of the giant complex, which included little flats for doctors and nurses in working in the neighbouring Royal Portsmouth Hospital, fell into decline and over the years became a venue for alternative traders paying cheap rents, home for down and outs and those waiting to commit suicide – manly young men from depressed Portsmouth.  It was also a burden on the rate payer because it was on land wholly owned by Portsmouth City Council.

While Rodney Gordon was working on the Tricorn, the young Rolling Stones were getting their act together just up the road from Harrods.  Rodney watched them pratice and dabbled with the guitar. He told me that he smoked a bit of pot at the time and that it influenced his work on the Tricorn..  He was very pleased that the night club he had designed into the brutalist structure, was a roaring success through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.  The BBC’s young DJs, not long out of their rebellious apprenticeship with pirate  radio, did their thing there.  Stories of the manager being stripped bare during a hen night went around the world, all different and variously exaggerated and making Sun headlines.

Over the years a lot of big names played the Tricorn Club, including Portsmouth’s very own Marc Bolan.  The atmosphere had the sort of decadence young folk like.  One Portsmouth woman told Owen Luderr that her fondest memory of the Tricorn was that she had conceived her seventh child there.  The Tricorn even had a resident zoo, until the fire, when the Lion escaped.

The Tricorn was Portsmouth’s contribution to youth culture and its decline mirrored youth culture’s collapse into the dull plastic alienated night club brawling version that we see today.

Chapter Six

The economic reality of the 1960s was harsh.  Britain was nearly bankrupt by 1967.

Throughout the heady days of New Labour we were led to believe that a balance of payments deficit did not matter.  I never quite understood this, having been taught economics in a different age.  The Wilson Government responded to the crisis with a series of measures.  First up was the credit squeeze and the export drive.  Office girls took to wearing ‘I’m backing Britain’ badges and there was even a song recorded.  None of this did much good.  Years of industrial strife and under investment made British products unattractive.  Even the few that were, like the BMC mini, faced huge import taxes in Europe.

BMC was the result of a post war merger between several British motor manufacturers.

Most of the other native car builders were part of the Rootes group, who had relocated to Scotland to boost the north in the days before North Sea oil should have enriched them.  As far as that oil was concernend, and the gas that replaced coal gas, it was a miracle of mismangement that this country did not get seriously rich.  As  always it was the oil companies and executives who benefited from all that.  When I left the Inland

Revenue, I was recruited to help rich oil men avoid tax.

BMC was riddled with industrial strife in the late 1960s and had few good modern designs, beyond Isigonis’s transverse engined and front wheel drive mini.  He set the standard for modern car makers but couldn’t solve the petty divisions and snobberies of the British work place.

Economies of Scale were seen as the way forward.  In 1968 all the major British car, bus and truck makers merged into the British Leyland Motor Corporation, headed up by Sir Donald Stokes.  The other main players in the British car market were Ford and Vauxhall.  Ford was always American.  Vauxhall and their Bedford truck and bus division had started out making luxury cars in Luton in 1903.  They were bought out in the mid 1920s, for £200,000.  General Motors made a fortune during World War Two, building tanks and army trucks for Britain and army trucks for the Germans at their Opel Plant.  The conglomerate, founded by William Durrant, started from humble origins, but with banker duPont behind them, was way ahead in size and technology in the 1960s.  Ford was in a similar position.  Both offered a complete range of products.  

Stokes had learned the motor business as an apprentice on the shop floor.  He could sell ice to Eskimos.  He got the deal to sell new buses to Sweden when they changed the side of road they drove on in the late 1960s.  But the Leyland truck company had similar problems to BMC, with whom it had merged.  It did not have a range of producets, it had a number of merged companies that had a range of products.  These were not state of the art and they were competing with themselves.  Rationalisation was essential to survival.  The workers did not like it and so began years of intense industrial unrest.  The way was being opened for the demise of all but the specialist motor industry.

The year 1966 offered false hope when England won the World Cup.  But it is an index of tribal Britain that it has never been able to forget its history and field a national team.  Most French see the Bretons as foreigners in their own country.  This doesn’t stop them having a national side.  But Britain’s island mentality is conducive to small mindedness.  The divisions are also useful to the descendants of the original Norman invaders who set up an elite system and who still dominate the public schools, the Varsity and power structure.  

England’s victory had some merit, but with a different order of play and Pele or Eusabio on top form, England might not have made it to the final.  They got lucky in extra time.  But it was a much needed boost to a country weak in most sports except the gentleman’s world of Grand Prix racing, and where a Scots gentleman farmer, Jim Clark was the undisputed champion.  British football was in decline like most other things.  The inspirational Charlton Brothers came from another age, along with schoolboy hero and captain Bobby Moore.  George Best was the shape of things to come, a footballng genius, but also a reckless womaniser and alcoholic.  Only in the world of amateur athletics did we see anything of the heroism and dedication required of true sportsmen, like marathon runners Ron Hill and Jim Alder who had me jumping up and won in my seat as they run into Edinburgh’s Meadowbank stadium in 1970’s Commonwealth games.  Hill finished first in an incredible 2 hours and nine minutes.

All of this late 1960s history was identified with a new kind of music. It was the psychadelic era.  Some of the sounds were incredible, but they were often drug induced and not conducive to the health of the nation.  I was never into the superficial sound of the Beatles, though Lennon clearly ahd something interesting to say after he left them.  Even so, most of it was naïve. If it is true that his eventual murder in December 1980 had anything to do with the U.S government who ahd tried for years to deport him, it is not surprising.  It is also not surprising that he did not want to come back to the crowded and grim little country where he had seen his mother run over by the proverbial double decker bus.

As Britain said goodbye to the 1960s, Pink Flloyd’s legendary song writer Syd Barret started wearing a dress and saying he was a homosexual.  Peter Green, the other great progressive rock music maker, and founder of Fleetwood Mac, shared Barret’s fate.  They both experienced mental health problems as a result of drug abuse.  Worse was yet to come as drugs took hold in Britain’s universities and I experienced them first hand, along with the paranoia and mood swings that go with them  

Judging by the way the government behaved at the time, they might as well have been on drugs too. This country triggered the industrial revolution that changed the world and has never been short of talent.  Sadly that seems to be lacking in those who have nothing better to do than stab and cut their way up hierarchies.  In the case of Labour’s cancellation of the TSR2 swing wing strike reconnaissance fighter bomber, there may have been more sinister motives among senior members of Wilson’s tribe.  So far the ‘Spy Catcher’ memoir is still banned in this country.  I had to get my copy in Canada.

If it is true then Wilson and the mysterious John Stonehouse may have been more sympathetic to the Russians than to British industry.  As I have written, MI5 and MI6 are watching the little people.  

However, the reason the Thatcher Government spent £9 million on a 1980s trial to have the book banned, may have had to do with them being anxious to silence disgruntled former agent Peter Wright from revealing the dirty tricks they used to try keep Labour out of office.  Whatever, cancelling TSR2 helped to wither the British Aircraft Corporation.  It’s amazing to think how many different aircraft companies contributed to Britain’s efforts in two world wars.  There is so little left, except as appendages to the European airbus industry and a few military projects.  Even Concorde has gone, through no fault of its own, but rather the laziness of those who should have swept that Paris runway.  But that is probably health and safety for us- a new kind of madness waiting for us in the 1990s.

Going back to the end of the 1960s, no account would be complete without mention of Labour’s finest contribution to town planning. The immediate post war period had seen Londoners either crammed into awful soulless tower block estates or driven out to horrible expanded towns like Aylesbury, or new towns like Stevenage or Welwyn Garden City.  Milton Keynes, which is not a city, was the new town to end new towns.  It needs further mention..  

Chapter Seven

The plan for Milton Keynes was an outcome of the 1959 south East Expansion Plan. Bucks was asked to accommodate a large new contingent of Londoners displaced by developers anxious to buy up old council housing and bombsites to make a killing with new office space and homes for the rich, from anywhere in the world so long as they could afford it..  

The offer of clean country air and recreation space seemed very tempting to ordinary

folk tired of urban squalor. The designated Milton Keynes development area was just up the road from crime ridden Luton, a place that went from making hats to hatch backs

The planners of Milton Keynes seemed hell bent on replicating what came naturally to Luton as the south east’s answer to Dodge City in the 1960s. .

Milton Keynes took its name from one of the North Bucks villages that it engulfed. Bucks County architect, Fred Pooley, came up with a plan for an environmentally friendly super town, influenced by the great Colin Buchanan. It had a monorail system planned in.The year was 1964 and the flambuoyant and controversial Labour candidate, Robert Maxwell had one the local parliamentary seat in that year, after losing in 1959.  Local Tories could not understand why a millionaire was standing for Labour. He used the slogan ‘Let Harold and Bob finish the job.’  I know because I delivered a lot of his campaign leaflets.

Exactly what Maxwell did during his time as an MP is as much a mystery as everything else about him. In terms of promotion, he made it to chairman of the Commons canteen committee and seemed to become disillusioned by not actually being able to do anything,

In 1964, he commented on the super town plan: ‘From what I have been able to gather of the financial and practical feasibility of the Pooley scheme, I should be surprised if the government were to decide in its favour.’ They didn’t. They came up with something far cheaper, with lots of quick build houses aligned along a grid system and a shopping centre.  The first road works started near Stony Stratford on the old Roman Watling Street, on August 26th 1970.  It was many years later that the town planned for 200,000, got its hospital.  The cuboid ciity ( city status as still not been granted, but the local chattering classes like to call it a city ) shopping centre was built in 1979 and wiped out an entire village.  Most of the shops seem to sell ladies clothing.  Overall Milton Keynes was a giant cheap build housing estate, with little solid industrial base, other than that offered by the three old towns of Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford, which the new city overwhelmed.

A few years earlier, in 1967, Labour’s transport Minister and Jack Straw’s mentor, Barabar Castle closed the Oxford- Cambridge railway line.  This would have provided Milton Keynes with an east west link. The government had little money and fewer principles.  Labour may have nationalised the railways, but they continued the crooked Tory Transport Minsiter’s, Ernest Marples, hatchet work on the railway system.  

Marples had been a partner in a road building conglomerate during the early days of motorway building.  He employed his friend, Dr Beeching, to prune the railway system and advance the case for motorways. The M1 was the first one opened in 1959.  It cut close to the designated Milton Keynes development area. With that in mind,  Labour saw not much need for bailing out rail travel. They closed they line that even Beeching wanted saved.

Emblemtaically, Milton Keynes with its grid road system became the new city of the motor car.  As it evolved, it became a haven for modern day boy racers and unofficial competitions.  On a more positive note, it became home to Labour’s Open University.  This was higher education on the cheap.  Under Labour, everything was on the cheap, especially housing.  In the midst of darkest Bletchley is a mini tower bloc named after their housing Minister Bob Mellish.  It is grandly named Mellish Tower, but is a far cry from and stately home.  The best that can be said is that it is not as depressing and dangerous to live in as Redbridge Towers in Southampton.  All over Britain, cheap housing showed just how cheap life was in modern Britain.  As writer and local poet Bill Billings said of Milton Keynes, ‘It was a symbol of the sickness of the whole country.

When I first went there to work on the building roads, with hordes of wandering Irishmen- expoliting Irish family connections to get the high paid work.  I helped lay twenty nine inch sewer pipes in 18 foot unsupported trenches.  It was dangerous work in a settlement being thrown up on the cheap.  It was still very much pastureland  roundabout, but in a state of change. I watched sadly as farmers reaped their last harvests.  Unemployed workers from the Jacobs biscuit factory came down from Liverpool. One of them had been a steam engine fireman, made redundant by electrification.  These men didn’t last long.  We were doing Irishman’s work.

The area had not yet become the haven for modern crime and so attractive to gangsters, especially Scots ones- spilling over from Luton.  Over time it would excel in the production of law breakers, get its own prison and the celebrity prisoner Charles Bronson from the equally awful Luton. Bronson told me that he thought Milton Keynes well built for crime because the road system made it easier to get in and out of.  He may have been right in that respect, but it is a hopeless place to travel around on public transport to this day.

In 1971, I went up to the University of East Anglia, another 1960s icon and the place Sir Kenneth Clark used to record the final scene of his 1960s ‘Civilisation’ series in Norwich.  My mother walked me to the bus stop.  On the way, she looked at me very worried and said; ‘Don’t go having anything to do with those drugs.’  I didn’t know what drugs were, having spent my youth trying t improve my record as a cross country and long distance runner. I used to run twenty miles around Norwich ring road every day.  This was in my quest to emulate my hero Ron Hill. With little money and sheltered in the countryside, I used to spend my leisure time on ten mile training runs.  I didn’t meet much in the way of youth culture and had no opportunity for girlfriends.  I thought I’d never get one, unless I got very rich.

Norwich is still something of a rural backwater, steeped in rural ways, with yokels having their own ways of talking and mispronouncing words.  I chose UEA because it had a high female to male sex ration.  A lot of nonsense was being talked about sex at the start of the 1970s.  Germaine Greer was moving on from the free love days that left her without babies.  This middle class woman who followed a young Australian tradition, had been just a little incoventional when she stowed away on a cargo ship.  She was the only woman on board when she was discovered on her way to Swinging England.  She managed to appease the crew.

Her first and only husband was a hunky building site worker, but she could charm men and found funding for her ‘Spare Rib’ magazine with Rosie Boycott- a UEA contemporary of mine.

Somewhere along the line, Greer seemed to turn into a man hater.  Strangely she remained popular with a lot of men- but then some men like a dominatrix.

During my first year at UEA, I couldn’t help noticing stacks of copies of her book ‘The Female Eunuch’ in the book shop.  Although I had deferred university and spent time in the construction industry, I looked young for my age and was naïve.  UEA had the highest proportion of minimum grants in the country.  I was on full grant through family poverty.  After my father died, mother had added school cleaning to her lollipop duties, but, in spite of the 1968 Equal Pay Act, still earned only a pittance.

The aggressive and confident girls of UEA intimidated me. For the first two years I ran for miles, drank too much beer and watched others live the life.  Class barriers were also an issue.  The predominantly upper middle class students seemed to know something that I didn’t.  It was not until student re unions years later that I realised that upper middle class youth had just as many anxieties and difficulties  growing up as I did, some had more.

Student protest still thrived.  A young science lecturer named Ian Gibson made a name for himself in 1971.  He was defending two American students, facing being sent down for smoking pot.  One of them was the son of a senior U.S army man, and his offspring would face conscription into the Vietnam War if he went back to the United States. Vietnam and the situation in Northern Ireland got students very excited.  I was reading economics, with an economic history minor.  

One of the lecturers, Steve Cherry, sold the Socialist Worker in Norwich on Saturday afternoons.  He told us of an incident in a northern town, where the army was carrying out dummy raids on empty run down neighbourhoods.  He linked it with a  book about low intensity operations in peace time Britain.  Economic collapse was apparently imminent.  The British army were also honing their skills in run down Ulster, keeping the Catholics in place.  It seemed that the Tory government were doing some practice for what was soon going to happen on the mainland.

Margaret Thatcher, Sir Keith Joeseph’s understudy, was also getting attention as Education Minister.  Ruthlessly she slashed free school milk.  I don’t know why students got so worked up about it, as I hated the stuff when I was forced to drink it at primary school.  The thinking then was that 1950s families were too poor or ignorant to give their kids the nourishment they needed.  Studuent outrage was encapsulated in the phrase ‘Thatcher Milk Snatcher’.  The establishment was just as outraged in its response to demonstrators, especially those making a stand against the Vietnam War.  The police were brutal and heavy handed in their responses, according to accounts from my contemporaries.

I never joined in the protest, in spite of radical student John Seabird’s efforts to recruit me in the first year.  It happened at the Societies Mart’ in my first week there.  Having joined the cross country club, run by intrepid public schoolboy Charles Stuart Smith and Tony Corcoran, I was wandering aimlessly in the sports hall when Seabird approached me.  He made me feel very guilty about my good fortune and sheltered life.  But I could never be bothered to get on the bus and go on the rampage in Grovesnor Square. I ahd cross country races to go to anyway.

I did at least attend visits from prominent left wingers, like Arthur Scargill- the miners strike and three day week were on at the time- and Jimmy reid of Upper Cyde shipbuilders.  I didn’t know enough to argue at the time. I found them mesmerising and was just as gullible as my fellow student socialists.

I wasn’t the only student who didn’t protest. There were some seriously mixed up people were.  I never understood why blokes were walking about hand in hand and some wore girls long hippy dresses, to match their long hippy hair and girlish faces.

One day I had a conversation in my Suffolk Terrace room, where one of them explained a dilemma that he tarced back to being buggered at public school. This was in my fianl year, and my Glaswegian friend, little Chris, was busy rolling a joint for us to share.

My personal musical soundtrack was the Dubliners, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, but my £12 mono record player didn’t do them justice and made me stand out when my university residence neighbours had top of the range kit with Wharfedale speakers.  I had to go back on the buildings during my first summer vacation to earn enough money to buy a stereo.

By my final year, I had concluded that I was boring.  I had not got a girlfriend and was still a virgin.  It was time to hit the scene. Once again I spent my summer vacation on building sites.  I had worked for a firm widening a main road.  I always pretended that I was a bona fide navvy when I went for work.  It was important not to sound to educated.

The thinking among building workers was simple.  I recall the closest time I ever came to a political conversation was in 1971. Three Irishmen and my self were in the advance party cutting trenches for sewer pipes, under the route of a  new grid road from Woughton on the Green to Newport Pagnell.  A thunder storm started and we all crowded into the drivers cab of a huge caterpillar tarcked excavator,  Lighting was falshing everywhere across the barren landscape, and the rain poured down outside.  The big steel boom of the digger was pointing at the sky, a perfect lightning conductor for our metal box.

We were so squashed together together, I was actually sitting on the lap of a grizzled Irish man while he held court.  I remember nothing of what he said, other than you could not trust the Prime Minister because he was a homosexual.  I asked why he thought that. He answered that it was because Edward Heath was not married. The thought, along with many others, often occurs to me when I think of how unrealistic students were about raising the political consciousness of the masses.

Looking back o it all, I realise that my radical conntemporaries came mainly from establishment families.  When they rebelled agaisnt the system and organised their sit ins, they were rebelling against mummy and daddy.  When graduation day came, they would be en route to academci careers, or jobs in the city, poilitics, law or public service.

I, however, chose my final year to explore the student sub culture and get laid.

The first thing I did to get cool was to start smoking.  I rather liked the intelligent look people used to have when they smoked Gitaines and Galloise cigarettes.  I had watched the film ‘La Belle de Jour’ at the UEA film club.  I liked the erotic naughtiness of it and the French style.  I had even been to France to run a 1500 metres race and got chatted up by some pretty girls.  I liked the French sense of style, even though they

caused two world wars and didn’t do much of the fighting.  This was the age of peace and love, so I wasn’t interested in fighting.  It’s ironic really, because I wanted my qualifications originally for a career as a fighter pilot, but I ended up feeling very guilty about my military ambitions and had no idea what I wanted to do excpet find a young Catherine deNeuve and lose my virginity.

I graduated from French cigarettes to roll ups when I met Chris, an English Literature student.  Rolling ones own was an essential skill toward rolling joints.  In a nutshell, I was pretty soon addicted to tobacco and enjoyed the ‘hey man’ dreaminess of smoking joints.  I enjoyed it so much that I was almost permanently stoned.  Weith the high wages I had earned from building work, I had already bought my mother’s house off the landlord in Buckinghamshire and had cash to spare.  I stayed up late and stopped attending lectures.  Tutors would have to send me reminders to attend seminras, but I still didn’t turn up.  I can’t recall the price of an ounce of what students called shit, or Moroccan.  Tabs of LSD were about fifty pences each.  I don’t know how long it took, but pretty soon I talked and looked like someone born with brain damage.

I was too far out of it to be surprised at the time, but on reflection I am.  One day, I was sitting in the student bar when a guy long haired sad dog eyed student came into the bar with his pretty language student girlfriend,  long blonde haired Beverley.  The guys name was Steve.  For all his image of rebellion, this guy came from Hemel Hempstead and needed his degree to escape.

I thought I was seeing double when I saw him with tow Beverleys.  The only way I could tell these two mini young Catherine deNeuves part was because the newcomer was wearing glasses.  It was probably the dope I was smoking, but he was such a nerd that I wondered if he had found the formula to make or breed them

Anyway, we vaguely knew each other.  Having bought three drinks, the two petite gitrls in hippy dresses followed him to my table by the window.  I also had long blonde hair by this time but was no way pretty like the new girl.  On close inspection this girl was seriously pretty, with big blue eyes and firey rings around her pupils.  I couldn’t believe it when she sat down on the bench right next to me and said hello.  I don’t know what I said, only that we both fell in love.

It was mid summers day 1974.  The weather was warm.  We ended up watching the film ‘Easy Rider’ together at the students. union.  There was a disco later. After that, completely in love with each other, we went back to the room her sister Beverley had booked for her in Norfolk Terrace.  When she undressed, I couldn’t believe it.  So, in the nick of time, I found my first girlfriend and lost my virginity.. After sex, we wandered in the grounds, I picked the pretty little thing up and twirled her around.  We pledged undying love. It is hard to explain the sense of rebirth and confidence that simple act had giiven me.  I walked back to my Suffolk Room wondering why the milkman couldn’t see the aura that I now felt I had Her name was Helen Thurston and that is how I came to go to Portsmouth.

Chapter Eight Capital Times

Somehow I managed to get a reasonable degree, after some long hours of intensive revision, and reading what I should have been reading instead of Samuel Beckett  and Satre in French. I had no job in mind, and so went on the buildings with Norwich Corporation, still smoking dope and thinking it was a great laugh.  Then I returned home to work on the lorries with Bucks County Highways Department.  My great great uncle Harry had been the Highways engineer and the guy who ran the local depot remembered him.  He promised me a great future, but weekend visits to Helen in the Lovedean suburb of Portsmouth were not enough.

Helen’s father didn’t like me much and kept on asking when I was going to get a proper job.  He didn’t like me smoking either.  Helen smoked secretly.  She was also more worldly wise, having lost her virginity to a sailor when she was fourteen.  Her dad was a scientist who had worked on the U.S space programme and had gone to Portsmouth to work on the old Airport Industrial estate for Marconi.

Helen kept asking me to go to Portsmouth and my widowed mother did not want me to leave her.  I grew bored with the Highways and went to work for a Luton builder, then a paint company laboratory, where they paid for me to study day release chemistry.  I used to skip college to go and see Helen and got the sack.  Just before Helen split with me, I was working in a garage.  University education seemed to have done me no good at all.

When Helen gave me the elbow, I decided that I really had to go to Portsmouth. I tried to get a second chance.  In spite of all the movie slush women rarely give second chances.  They make up their minds and that is it. They move on, especially the upper middle class ones- the lower orders tend to be a bit more desperate.  I recall pleading with her in Frogmore Lane, near where she lived.  I said, ‘So it’s all over now baby blue.’  She looked at me with materialistic contempt and said, disparagingly: ‘You and your songs.’  I never saw her again.

I managed to get a job with the Civil Service. I was interviewed in Portsmouth. Here

They asked me which department I wanted.  I said; ‘The Ministry of Defence please. Definitely not the Inland Revenue.  They posted me to the revenue!  This was no doubt a British establishment sort of joke.  Life as a lodger in someone’s back bedroom, drinking and smoking heavily was not much fun and quite lonely.  I felt like a sad old man and even cut myself off from my mother for about six months, trying to find myself.

Things got desperate and I took an overdose of anti depressants.  Somehow, I survived.

Though I felt old and sad, I couldn’t have looked as bad as I felt.  A young married  woman, with aspirations to paint and to stop me drinking and smoking became a close friend.  Since she was married to the son of a prominent Portsmouth businessman, our association did not go down well with the revenue, especially our district inspector.  I was very opinionated and upset him by pointing out that the system victimised the little people, especially building workers.  He warned me that I would not get my own district if I carried on expressing my opinions and upsetting my colleagues- the revenue doesn’t have the same sort of local offices as it did in those days.  I just thought I was stating the obvious, but that is not often a good idea.

Havant tax office staff had a majority of ex sailors or their wives.  When Jim Callagahan took over from Harold Wilson as Prime Minister in 1977, there was much pride.  Not only was Jim a former Chief Petty Officer and tax officer, he was born and bred in Portsmouth and of humble birth.

His accession did not make much difference to the very punitive Labour tax laws.  Higher rate tax was charged around 89 pence in the pound.  Britain had gone decimal in 1972 and had at last joined Europe, thanks to Euro fanatic Edward Heath.  Still Britain was getting nowhere.  With a tax system like Britain’s they had, it was not going to.  My intellectual approach to the job found no favour, so I diverted ever more energy to women and drinking.  My District inspector, the very upstanding sports jacket clad Fred Eavis, often pulled me over the coals.  I remember him saying one time that he had a batman like me in the army.  He said: ‘He was a college boy like you, never knew whether to polish my trousers or press my boots.  Maybe that seems an insignificant pont, but it is typical of the British hierarchy.

I left there after about two and a half years, going to work for an American defence firm on Portsmouth airport as a progress chaser.  Again it had a lot of ex navy staff.  But the firm, called Selectro, was Amerifcan, with an American MD.  I had four telephones on my desk and they kept on ringing because orders were not being delivered on time.  We had a particular problem with a part for Westland Helicopters.  One day the MD came in to see me.  He said in a soft drawl, ‘Come in to my office.’  

Ever the pessimist, I expected the sack.  Much to my surprise, and rather differently to Fred Eavis, he was smiling as he said to me; ‘This is what you are going to get your arse kicked for this afternoon.’  He then unfurled a plan for a micro component  behind schedule for Westland’s.  As a school science nerd, I found the subject much more interesting than taxes.  However, what was more significant was that he was not talking down to me and putting me in my place.  It is a serious point and was often observed as a difference in the way that United States servicemen were treated by comparison with the British who endured a hierarchy dominated by Eton, Harrow and Varsity types.  In short, the Selectro MD made me feel as if I mattered at a time when I really thought I didn’t- and had often thought of giving up on life.

By this time I had met my future wife. I was under pressure, from my future mother in law, to marry quickly because they wanted to retire early and back to her Cornish roots.  My fiancee was only seventeen, but I agreed.  I was also persuaded to leave Selectro and go to London, where my employment experience taught me more new things.  Between the revenue and Selectro, I had another interesting experience.  My wife had a place to do a two year SRN Diploma course at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington.  Her mother did not want her to give it up.

During my time with the revenue, I served under a management inspector, Mr Vaughan.

Colleagues joked that if you wanted to make improvements to office procedure, it was easy if you made Mr Vaughan think he had thought of it first.  If you presented something as a good idea that he had been thinking about, he would suck on his pipe, lean back in his chair, thoughtfully and say ‘oh yes, go ahead.’

Vaughan must have gone on some of the early management courses.  When he came to Havant, he announced in a management meeting that he was going to bring in management by inception. One of the office’s old stagers replied, with deadpan face, ’Oh that will make a change. We previously had management by conception.’  Vaughan took a moment to suck his pipe.  Casting a quizzical look at the man who had interrupted him, he said: ‘Now I haven’t heard of that one.’  ‘Best not to have.  It means one cock up after another.’

Vaughan told me that I was too aggressive for the revenue and wasting myself there.  He said I should join the forces.  I found out that the Fleet Air Arm had a higher age limit for pilots and made an urgent application. It didn’t work out, but it was amusing to be bawled at in the ear for looking out of the window at aircraft taking off while doing an exam paper in maths and physics.  Apparently NCOs like to give potential officers a hard time because it is the only chance they are going to get to boss them around.

I did my aircrew medical at the famous old wartime RAF Biggin Hill.  I had some daft idea that my old girlfriend Helen would want me back if I wore a naval officer’s uniform.

The medical involved taking off all of my clothes in a little cubicle. A notice said that I would need a chaperone if I were female.  

There was a gown hanging on the back of the cubicle door.  I had to put it on and proceed along a series of corridors, knocking on various doors and on a schedule timed to fit with candidates ahead and behind me.  Behind all of these doors was a medical specialist.  I recall one tubby little chap in particular.  Off came my gown, in front of an attractive nurse in proper old style uniform dress.  I tried not to think of her or my predicament, though for a moment this was difficult. The doctor soon put paid to any amorous and youthful longings I might have been about to reveal, by approaching the space between my legs and hitting me with a little mallet.  I was surprised and asked him why he had done it.  I couldn’t make out all of his mumbled and indifferent reply, only the words that if something or other hadn’t happened I would be no bloody good to them

We found a nice flat at the top of Dartmouth Park Hill in London.  It was the home of Dr Sam Aaronovitch, an economics lecturer at the Polytechnic of the South Bank.  He had broken up with his wife.  She lived on the other side of Hampstead Heath.  His new partner had been his son’s PE teacher.  He lived in the basement and let the substantial top floor to cover the financial difficulties of divorcing his wife.  He drove a very battered old Vauxhall Viva.  His son David went on to do well with the BBC and

His basement flat and the upstairs room he kept for parties with other members of the NW5 chattering classes often rang out with discussions about the evils of monetarism. Sam appeared on television, advocating socialism whilst using sand filled champagne bottles as doorstops.  These were formative days for New Labour and last days of the old.

My first London job with an Oxford Street accountant didn’t last long. The office was over the Athena shop. It had a bow window overlooking the thoroughfare and was directly opposite Bourne and Hollingsworth.  Down on the pavement the Hari Khrishna people were jingling, dancing all day long under the summer sun.

There were four other young men working in the accountant’s tax department.  On my first day they all suddenly stood up and started out of the window, intensely The one who had been singing about how wonderful it was to be young gifted and white, said to me, ‘You haven’t seen our floor show, have you.?’  I asked him what he meant and he invited me to look out of the window with the rest of them.  When I realised what they were looking at, I was quite shocked, but not disinterested.  We could see straight into the ladies fitting rooms,  Because it was a hot summer, the frosted windows were all thrown wide open. I could not believe my eyes when I saw a buxom young blonde come bouncing into the room with a dress to try on in her hand.  In seconds she was down to her bra and panties and I was being a peeping Tom.  

But apart from that, and the generous salary, I didn’t like the job. I had a problem helping rich people to avoid tax in such troubled times. I got the sack and went down to Camden Town Labour Exchange.  It was a terrifying place, full of scruffy dressed and unkempt men looking for jobs at the bottom.  I knew I wasn’t going to find anything there.  I took the tune into the city, then went from one glittering office block to another, getting nowhere.  I thought about us moving back to my hometown, but my wife didn’t want to give up on the career her mother had helped her choose.

I really wanted to be a journalist and write.  One day I was reading the situations vacant in the Sunday Times. An employment agency was offering opportunities in journalism.  I booked an appointment and went to an address in Fleet Street.  Here I met Captain Wriggler.  One of the first things he asked me was whether I was fit. I no longer drank or smoked and was able to answer: Of course. The RAF passed me A1 at Biggin Hill.’

He looked rather excited by this information, exclaiming his delight: ‘you were in the RAF were you, jolly good show.  So was I, before I joined the army.’  I had neither the time nor inclination to tell him that the RAF did navy aircrew medicals. He was on the phone telling his friend, Squadron Leader Watson, that he was with a young man who had definitely got something.

That is how I became an engineering buyer for the Nitrate Corporation of Chile and learned the practicalities of international trade- along with some other peculiarities of this country’s links with what was then a South American dictatorship The word that best sums up that experience would be boring.  The best thing about it, it was a potential job for life in a world, which was not likely to make me unemployed as the British economy carried on going down the pan.

After about fourteen months, I decided that I wanted to do a more worthwhile job.  I checked out the police, social work and teaching.  The Metropolitan Police offered accelerated graduate promotion.  They sent me a booklet about wearing the badge of courage.  This told me how I could be spat on and maimed, but all in a good cause.  I wasn’t sure about social work and so attended an interview for postgraduate teacher training at London’s Goldsmiths College.  At the same time, my wife gave up nursing, following my advice to take a science degree course at Imperial.  It would mean moving to a smaller and cheaper flat, over the river in the cheaper south.

At the Goldsmiths interview, I met the left wing Sally Inman.  I think, coming from a Fascist employer, I was a curiosity.  I was interviewed in a New Cross-basement overspill office, across the road from the college.  I soon sussed out Sally’s politics.

She had a poster on her office wall, with a slogan and gruesome illustration.  It said ‘Say no to the knitting needle.’

In the absence of anything more appropriate to train in, I had chosen to specialise in social studies, with extra courses in maths and PE.  I had two tutors in charge of me.  One was social studies Sally; the other was the very conservative Colin Walter- my education tutor.  My old literary and working class hero Dr Richard Hoggart was the warden of college. I saw him only once. We were standing at the cloakroom kiosk, Like me, he made much of D H Lawrence and I wanted to talk to him about his work.  Basically, I was still the shy kid from primary school days. Thus I did not bother.

Indignation is still about the only thing that makes me say a lot.  Unfortunately, over the years I have found much to be indignant about.  At the time I joined Goldsmiths, in 1979, I was facing the challenge of being a quiet bloke about to attempt teaching in South London Schools.  I had followed Goldsmith’s advice, getting two weeks classroom experience in the Ackland Burghley School, near Tuffnell Park tube station.

I taught my first maths class there’ I asked so many questions during that two weeks , that the head od social studies expressed fears that I was a newspaper reporter.  She needn’t have feared, I soon became so accustomed to the chaos that I didn’t notice.  

However, I did notice an odd poster on the staff room wall.  It had a picture of men in silver suits and strange eye wear. Underneath it were the words: ‘Are we not men, no we are devo.’  I still don’t know what it meant, but it made me wonder whether it meant something about modern men. .  When I asked the head of maths what the secret of effective teaching was, the thirty something Kevin Kegan look alike said immediately: ‘Effortless Superiority’.

That was easier said than done in South London. Forward fifth formers, while teaching maths on a Wednesday afternoon in Vauxhall Girls School touched me up.

But the most challenging part of my training came at Spencer Park Boy’s school near Wandsworth Common.

The snow had been falling and it was very cold when I wandered toward Spencer Park.  I walked past the original Gothic school building- which ahd been a World war Two interrogation centre.  I entered a labyrinth of corridors via a side entrance.  This was a familiarisation visit for my full terms teaching practice in January 1979.  Wondering where the staff room was, I was relived to see a tall thin schoolmaster approaching me, sipping coffee.  When I asked him the way to the staffroom, he didn’t seem to hear a word.  He just glided on past me. I felt very small wrapped up in my duffle coat and scarf, but I ran after him.  He looked down at me scorfully, as I xexplained my predicament.  ‘Oh, sorry, I thought you were a boy.’  Was this effortless superiority in practice, I wondered.

Many things stick in my mind from those days.  It was the time of Jim Callaghan’s call for a Great Debate on education.  Discipline was lacking, he thought.  I had already seen some sights at Vauxhall Girls school, where arguments over boys led to knife attacks.  Now I would see what life was like in an all boys establishment.

That day, I met Frank Neuhoffer and Julie Fortune- Miss fortune to her boys- of the social studies department.  I also met Victor Kinu, head of economics.  I would be teaching in both departments.  Miss Fortune had done her masters degree at Goldsmiths.  She shared Sally’s enthusiasm for consciousness raising about sexism and racism.  Social studies did not apply beyond the fifth form.

Victor Kinu was a different kettle of fish.  He was a Justice of the Peace and Oxford educated.  He could not understand why his fellow blacks were not succeeding in the school.  He told me that there were only two black boys in the A level economics class that I would be teaching.  He wanted me to do my best for them.  Victor explained, in his educated Oxford, high class African tones, that he had worked ahrd to get on at Oxford and couldn’t understand why the blacks at Spencer Park did not.

I thought him rather naïve as the answer to that question was there in the streets, and in the densely packed streets and tawdry tower blocks.  Victor may have sharred a colour with the black kids, but he was as blind to the class system and dynamic as everyone else above the working class masses.  He had about as much in common with them as I did with Prince Charles and I had more in common with them than he did.  He might have been odler than me, but he just could not see it.

Questions came pouring into my head. I found out that the school’s streaming system was based on primary school profiles.  The school might have been comprehensive but it was as good as a grammar and secondary modern on one campus.  Social studies was preached mainly to blacks, with two white apparently thick white boys thrown into each one for good measure.  

I taught 4C1 , 4C2, 5C1 and 5C2.  There were two very effeminate boys in 4C1.  They wore librarian’s badges.  The rest of the class looked like members of the ‘Harlem Globe Trotters.’ As soon as soon as the bell went for break or lunch, the two little boys, one black and one white, rushed urgently to the library.  They would see nothing of the bullying boys in there, because reading was not popular and not encouraged.

One day Frank came in to tell me that the little black boy would not be in my class after break.  This was because he was being seen by the educational psychologist.

 .

This is the change that our dear Mrs Maggie Thatcher, the most stupid woman in history by the way.  She came in to office, the first time the conservatives had a philosophy.  Normally they are pragmatists. laissez faire.

Suddenly monetarism. Normally they are pragmatists, deal with it only when you have to.  Suddenly monetarism.  It destroyed our industry, then she tried something else, and that was a total failure.  Then Regan was elected by Ameriacan business who were pissed off with being controlled, soi the brilliant thing was called deregulation, the biggest misnomer in history.  What it means is that big business can take do what it likes and you must shut down all closed shops like the professions, that’s what she did, she deregulated the professions, which meant you said you were ana architect because you studied for 7 years, and you qiulaified and you are put into a position of trust and you have ethics and morals.  I relaised when I went into the profession that I wasn’t going to make millions but I enjoyed the moral responsibility and ethcial repsonsibility to my client for what I am  doing.  

.  The architect has now become a atardesman paid less than a pluimber.  That’s what’s happened thanks to Maggie Thatcher.  And deregulation, the first thing that’s happened is they ahev top bring in a lot mor eregaulations tro control big business who are looking at purely to make more money.  So I no longer trust it.  Now there are a million times more regulations.

Town centres becoming more alike, Rodeney talking about loss of creativity.  The other thing that has happened, by deregulation destroying the professions, it’s produced a culture of mistrust.  People mistrust their doctors.  Politicians were lways difficult to trust. No one trusts Tony Blair Nobody is trutse snay more, trust has gone out of tehw indow.  I find that a very sad indictment of our civilisation, we achieved som much when we had people who were consicientious, concerened and sober.

It wasn’t even thought about, it was assumed, suddenly we had this incredibly creativity of muisc which was the first time an art form had appealed to people from kids to old age pensioners who loved and enjoyed their music.  It went on getting better until about 74 when we had that first economic crash, and punk music came in.  that was, if you like, the end , the realisation that things weren’t getting better and sinc ethen the people who have grown up have never had that experience of feeling that our society and civilisation is growing and fullfilling itself, since 74. I feel enormously for the kids today, what have they to look forward to?  The only thing to look forward to is making millions out of the bloody lottery and tehn you can survive.  If you don’t make millions on the lottery you’re condemned.  I think this polarisation of capitalisme has won and it is destroying our society.

Society is moving at such a fast pace I don’t know whtehr it will go in a corcle, but I am very sceptical about teha dvance of our civilisation, it has taken an enprmous backwad step through greed.  That’s what it’s all about.  It was the 70s that decided greed was good.  I grew up in the war in a soceity that if I got lost it didn’t worry me because there was soembody who would look after me because there was a feeling ithat we were all one nation and in the early ddays it didn’t look as if we wre going to win it and we all in it  together.

Being trated like cowboys now because you are expected to be cowboys.  If youa re treated like a cowboy.  That’s what’s wrong with our soeciuety, the total destruction of the professional classes.  It was in the nmiddle of the 19thc enturey that Conservative Govt relaised life was becoming very complicated, it wasn’t like just buying a pair of sheos that fitted, thinhggs like mediceine and law were so compliacted that you needed to have professions  in middle of the alst century they set up the Royal Charters.  When I first went to medical school the first lectures were on ethics and morals, basically you had toa ssume if youw anted to do this you ahd to be responsibel and there is a level of acre and concern thatvyou enjoy doing, but that’s gone out the woindow and it’s tragci, no longer do we want to trust anybody because they are conditioned not  to trust anybody, the emdia is debasing soceity all the time, one doctor in a thoudand is going to be a villain, youc na’t stop this, but when you pump oyt the villain in sc oiety all the time, no doctor is trusted.

After standing idle for some years, the site was purchased by Tesco supermarkets in

1989, and although the main manufacturing area at the rear was removed to make way for a supermarket and car parking, the frontage and the canteen were carefully restored by the retail chain, a process which included pioneering use of a re-alkalisation technique which was instrumental in preserving the original fabric of the structure. The future of this remarkable building is now assured, and it remains as one of the best-known landmarks in West London.


By 1986, Greenline had lots of very nice comfortable coaches. The taxpayers put a lot of money towards buying them and running them.  It meant not so many cars on the road.  Then, in 1986, that nice Mrs Thatcher- she was almost as sexy to look at as a bus- had the company chopped up into four parts so that she could sell it off cheap to the rich people who voted for her.  It was a really kind thing for her to do, I think because rich people need money more than poor people because they have bigger houses to look after and have to have yachts and things so that people know they are rich.  

Also it meant a lot more fun for bus spotters like me because I had to hunt to find one and take a picture. Only a few Greenline routes survived. Arriva, which after a few years became the owner the Green Line brand. Arriva also licensed the brand to several other operators.  It was really good fun when they started to disappear because it was like hunting for a dodo- something to do, but completely pointless.

Post Script: The history of Arriva is more amazing than Greenline.  The company is one of the largest transport companies in Europe, employing 34,000 in 12 countries and carrying one billion passenger journeys a year. It started in what is now depressed Sunderland, in 1938.   They started car sales in 1960 when public transport was declining.  In 1980 they bought Grey Green Coaches in London.  The Tories great bus bargain sale of the National Bus Company made the family firm very rich. Unfortunately it dismantled efforts to develop a low price national bus and coach network that had taken since 1933 to build.

Ever Worsening Covid Fallout August 13th 2020

UK
The UK has never endured such a sharp recession, according to the early estimate for second quarter growth

Biggest U.K Depression Ever  

Official figures have confirmed the extent of the UK’s recession – the consequence of lockdown restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released reams of early data, which is subject to revision, covering the record hit to the economy.

1. Deepest slump since 1974

The fall in gross domestic product (GDP) of 20.4% means this was the worst quarterly fall since records began in the 1950s, easily overtaking the hit from the miners’ strikes in early 1974.

They crippled output because a “three day week” was imposed on businesses to conserve electricity.

GDP plunged by 2.7% in the first quarter of 1974 as a result. In comparison, the financial crisis of 2008/9 resulted in a 2% fall in quarterly growth at its peak.

2. UK economy not (quite) worst affected

When our economic performance is compared to our closest competitors, it shows the UK behind Spain only.

The ONS reported a cumulative hit of 22.1% to GDP covering the first half of the year.

Spain’s was higher at 22.7% while France was third-worst at 18.9%. The US registered a fall of 10.6%.

3. Eighth technical recession since ONS records began in 1955

We know this is the sharpest recession to date but how does it compare to the last recession in recent history?

The plunge in output that followed the financial crisis of 2008 continued for five consecutive quarters – with growth falling by a total 6%.

4. Economy is 17.2% down on pre-lockdown level

Output suffered a record slump of 20% in April – the first full month of the lockdown – but recovered some growth in May which accelerated in June as more sections of the economy gradually re-opened.

The ONS says that, as of the end of June, the economy remained a sixth smaller than it was pre-crisis.

5. “Large number of businesses” remained closed

Data showed a significant number of businesses reporting zero turnover in June.

The figures, taken from survey responses, cover the three main sectors of the UK economy and will likely reflect the differing regional lockdown restrictions that saw England start to emerge from hibernation first.

The data suggested that 5.8% of UK manufacturing firms, 17.4% of construction companies and 12.6% of businesses in the dominant services sector remained closed.

6. The greatest pain has been felt by pubs, hotels and airlines

The ONS uses a series of sub-categories to measure growth in the main three sectors of the UK economy.

Within services, which accounts for almost 80% of the country’s output, accommodation and food services saw the greatest decline in output during the three months to June, falling almost 87%. Where have jobs been lost during the pandemic?

Pubs and bars “continued to suffer” from total lockdown in June but forward bookings helped hotels and guest houses register a small recovery.

Air travel is covered through a wider transport category but the ONS said air transport in June remained 95.7% down on February’s levels.

7. There is one winner

If there are parts of the economy to have benefited from the coronavirus crisis, you would be forgiven for thinking about supermarkets or the makers of hygiene and cleaning products.

In the ONS sub-categories governing the early data for the second quarter, there is only one showing growth.

That is public administration and defence. It rose by 0.4% between April and June compared to the previous three months.

Biggest U.K Depression Ever  Biggest U.K Depression Ever  

August 12th 2020  Robert Cook

Jobs and dire consequences world wide don’t matter when you are fighting Covid. The more who die from ludicrous lockdown, the fewer will be alive to die of Covid. Genius.

Lack of or no evidence has never stopped the British police from fitting men up for crimes because they don’t like them and need to meet targets.  But those rules do not apply to Covid19 and ludicrous lockdown.  There is no evidence that lockdown makes any difference to infection rates.  

There is no evidence that the virus kills anyone but the frail, elderly and BAME -BLACK AND MINORITY ETNIC GROUPS who live in high density ‘communities’ , have poor diets, over populate and congregate for compulsive mass worship.  The same groups are affected in the old Third world where poverty, ignorance and addiction and over populate are even worse.  Lockdown is not a sane answer unless their is a sinister hidden agenda and the virus was engineered.

Whatever. This is a terrible situation for the British and global economy where illness, social chaos and deaths from wider issues will really kill, not just create ‘Covid related illness.  The rich elite are in charge, they are benefiting from their vested interests.  Key issues are being ignored.  The global economy has not been criticised.  The elite have sanctified BAME and are hiding the dreadful truth about our appalling effectively privatised dirty badly staffed NHS. Britain’s police state has done and continues to do a very good hiding the truth. Corona virus is an excuse to import more people from poor disease ridden society.  

The elite are weaponising Covid19 for more money grabbing privatisation.  Don’t forget care homes were sold off to money grabbing capitalists under greedy nasty Thatcher, along with privatising cleaning.  Suddenly Boris Johnson, with the Health and Social Care Act, is the ‘Champion of the NHS ‘ (SIC ).  Great stuff for our overpaid elitist doctors who now do their GP work on line, thanks to National Wealth Health Miniister, Matthew HANDCOCK.  So here is an update on a very sick British economy in a sick world’.

Good journalism is doing your best to keep the record straight. We have lost that. We criticise China over Human Rights, we never look in the mirror. Freedom has become privilege, perhaps it always was.’ Trump is a characature of a system. Obama started 7 wars. He put whistle blowers away and ordered drone killings. China is ringed by 400 U.S bases on its doorstep. It has been named the bad guy and is in a state of siege. it will defend itself with the worst of weapons. China is challenging the idea of white superiority, ‘ John Pilger

UK officially in recession for first time in 11 years

By Szu Ping Chan Business reporter, BBC News

The UK economy suffered its biggest slump on record between April and June as coronavirus lockdown measures pushed the country officially into recession.

The economy shrank 20.4% compared with the first three months of the year.

Household spending plunged as shops were ordered to close, while factory and construction output also fell.

This pushed the UK into its first technical recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of economic decline – since 2009.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the economy bounced back in June as government restrictions on movement started to ease.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “Despite this, gross domestic product (GDP) in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.”

The ONS said the collapse in output was driven by the closure of shops, hotels, restaurants, schools and car repair shops.

The services sector, which powers four-fifths of the economy, suffered the biggest quarterly decline on record.

Factory shutdowns also resulted in the slowest car production since 1954.

The economic decline was concentrated in April, at the height of lockdown.

On a month-on-month basis, the economy grew by 8.7% in June, building on growth in May.

Clothes stores, bookshops and other non-essential retailers opened their doors in England on 15 June, while construction work jumped after large declines in the previous two months.

Despite this, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the economic slump would lead to more job losses in the coming months.

Official jobs figures showed the number of people in work fell by 220,000 between April and June.

The drop in the number of people employed was the largest quarterly decrease since May to July 2009, the depths of the financial crisis.

He said: “Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will.

“But while there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this, and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.”

‘Lasting hangover’

Business groups urged the government to do more to support the economic recovery.

Alpesh Paleja, an economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said many companies were struggling to pay their bills on time.

He said: “A sustained recovery is by no means assured. The dual threats of a second wave and slow progress over Brexit negotiations are also particularly concerning.”

The Institute of Directors (IoD) said mounting debts made it difficult for businesses to push ahead with spending plans.

Chief economist Tej Parikh said: “Job losses have been mounting, and may only increase as we reach the end of the furlough scheme. The pile of debt businesses have had to take on could also cause a lasting hangover.”

It’s urging the government to cut employers’ national insurance contributions, which would make it cheaper to hire. It also said further grants for small businesses would help them through the pandemic.

While more recent data suggest the recovery is gaining traction, the Bank of England doesn’t expect the economy to get back to its pre-pandemic size until the end of next year.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, the government’s official forecaster, expects the recovery to take even longer.

UK slump among biggest

The UK’s slump is also one of the biggest among advanced economies, according to preliminary estimates.

The economy is more than a fifth smaller than it was at the end of last year. This fall is not as bad as the 22.7% decline in Spain but around twice the size of declines in Germany and the US.

The Bank of England has noted that social spending such as eating out, going to a concert or watching a football match, is a bigger driver of growth in the UK than in America or the eurozone.

The first official GDP numbers for this period show over a fifth of the value of the economy lost since the beginning of the year, mainly driven by the severe shutdown in April.

The sheer extent and speed of

UK to plunge into deepest slump on record with worst GDP drop of G7

Official measure to be declared this week as coronavirus lockdown shrinks GDP by 21% in second quarter

Richard Partington @RJPartington

Sun 9 Aug 2020 13.29 BST Last modified on Mon 10 Aug 2020 04.37 BST

Shares 2,019

Empty street in Newcastle

An empty street in Newcastle-upon-Tyne at the height of the lockdown in April. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Britain’s economy will be officially declared in recession this week for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, as the coronavirus outbreak plunges the country into the deepest slump on record.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday are expected to show that gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic prosperity, fell in the three months to June by 21%.

After a decline of 2.2% in the first quarter, the latest snapshot will confirm the UK economy’s descent into recession after the outbreak spread in March and the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain it. Economists consider two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP as the technical definition of a recession.

Confirmation of the Covid-19 recession this week will come as the government tries to strike a balance between relaxing lockdown restrictions to kickstart growth, while needing to prevent a severe second wave in infections. After four month of harsh controls, growing numbers of companies are coming under severe financial stress, with job losses steadily beginning to mount. Some localised restrictions are also being launched as infections rise.

The US and the eurozone have already been confirmed in recession as the global economy grapples with the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. However, China, at the heart of the original outbreak, avoided recession after it returned to growth in the second quarter.

The slump in Britain is expected to be the biggest quarterly drop of any G7 economy due to the later launch of lockdown controls and the slower removal of harsh restrictions.

The Bank of England said last week that the economic fallout from the pandemic could be less severe than initially feared, despite sounding the alarm that the bounce-back would take longer. It also warned that lasting damage will be caused, including a sharp rise in unemployment.

Garry Young, deputy director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said it could take Britain longer to regain its pre-pandemic growth trajectory than hoped. The thinktank estimates that GDP will not return to the level recorded at the end of 2019 until the second half of 2023.

Negative UK interest rates were once unthinkable. But tough times lie ahead

Larry Elliott

Read more

“A rapid V-shaped recovery is a possible outcome still, but all the risks seem to be to the downside. If we get another wave of the virus and have to do more widespread lockdowns, that’s going to knock the economy off that V path,” he said.

Britain’s economy was struggling for momentum before the pandemic struck, as Brexit uncertainty and the December general election dragged down business investment and consumer spending. GDP failed to grow in the fourth quarter of 2019, even before the coronavirus outbreak.

Monthly figures for the economy indicate that growth returned in May as lockdown controls were gradually lifted and pent-up demand fuelled a boom in consumer spending. Economists will be looking for further evidence of the recovery taking hold in June; the latest growth figures are published on Wednesday.

GDP is expected to increase by 8% on the month, as factories resumed production and the reopening of non-essential shops spurred consumer spending.

Despite the economy returning to growth, unemployment is beginning to rise as the government scales back its its furlough wage subsidy scheme, while demand for goods and services in the hardest-hit sectors – such as hospitality and leisure – remains significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

UK to plunge into deepest slump on record with worst GDP drop of G7

Official measure to be declared this week as coronavirus lockdown shrinks GDP by 21% in second quarter

Richard Partington @RJPartington

Sun 9 Aug 2020 13.29 BST Last modified on Mon 10 Aug 2020 04.37 BST

Shares 2,019

Empty street in Newcastle

An empty street in Newcastle-upon-Tyne at the height of the lockdown in April. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Britain’s economy will be officially declared in recession this week for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, as the coronavirus outbreak plunges the country into the deepest slump on record.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday are expected to show that gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic prosperity, fell in the three months to June by 21%.

After a decline of 2.2% in the first quarter, the latest snapshot will confirm the UK economy’s descent into recession after the outbreak spread in March and the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain it. Economists consider two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP as the technical definition of a recession.

Confirmation of the Covid-19 recession this week will come as the government tries to strike a balance between relaxing lockdown restrictions to kickstart growth, while needing to prevent a severe second wave in infections. After four month of harsh controls, growing numbers of companies are coming under severe financial stress, with job losses steadily beginning to mount. Some localised restrictions are also being launched as infections rise.

The US and the eurozone have already been confirmed in recession as the global economy grapples with the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. However, China, at the heart of the original outbreak, avoided recession after it returned to growth in the second quarter.

The slump in Britain is expected to be the biggest quarterly drop of any G7 economy due to the later launch of lockdown controls and the slower removal of harsh restrictions.

The Bank of England said last week that the economic fallout from the pandemic could be less severe than initially feared, despite sounding the alarm that the bounce-back would take longer. It also warned that lasting damage will be caused, including a sharp rise in unemployment.

Garry Young, deputy director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said it could take Britain longer to regain its pre-pandemic growth trajectory than hoped. The thinktank estimates that GDP will not return to the level recorded at the end of 2019 until the second half of 2023.

Negative UK interest rates were once unthinkable. But tough times lie ahead

Larry Elliott

Read more

“A rapid V-shaped recovery is a possible outcome still, but all the risks seem to be to the downside. If we get another wave of the virus and have to do more widespread lockdowns, that’s going to knock the economy off that V path,” he said.

Britain’s economy was struggling for momentum before the pandemic struck, as Brexit uncertainty and the December general election dragged down business investment and consumer spending. GDP failed to grow in the fourth quarter of 2019, even before the coronavirus outbreak.

Monthly figures for the economy indicate that growth returned in May as lockdown controls were gradually lifted and pent-up demand fuelled a boom in consumer spending. Economists will be looking for further evidence of the recovery taking hold in June; the latest growth figures are published on Wednesday.

GDP is expected to increase by 8% on the month, as factories resumed production and the reopening of non-essential shops spurred consumer spending.

Despite the economy returning to growth, unemployment is beginning to rise as the government scales back its its furlough wage subsidy scheme, while demand for goods and services in the hardest-hit sectors – such as hospitality and leisure – remains significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

Sanjay Raja, an economist at Deutsche Bank, said: “There are plenty of downside risks to the economy: more local lockdowns, a slower external backdrop, Brexit uncertainty and rising unemployment, to name a few.”

Sanjay Raja, an economist at Deutsche Bank, said: “There are plenty of downside risks to the economy: more local lockdowns, a slower external backdrop, Brexit uncertainty and rising unemployment, to name a few.”

Why Innovators Like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos Embrace This Ancient Problem-Solving Technique

Searching for a new idea, new strategy, or new way forward? Apply ‘first principles’ to the problem. July 24th 2020

By Jeff Haden, Contributing editor, Inc.@jeff_haden

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

When I worked in manufacturing, we worked tirelessly to reduce job changeover time.

Like a Nascar pit crew–the analogy productivity consultants always used–we hunted for 10 seconds here, 20 seconds there…incremental improvements that would hopefully add up to meaningful gains.

Then, one day an operator said, “Instead of trying to find ways to shave off a minute…what if we pretend we can’t shut down at all between jobs, and work from there?”

That simple perspective shift completely changed our approach to solving the problem–and while we never got to zero, we got really close, really fast. 

Without realizing it, we had stumbled on what people like Elon Musk (and Aristotle before him) call a first principle: a basic proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption. In simple terms, it means establishing a fundamental fact or conclusion that you know is true, deconstructing it down to its core elements, and working up from there. 

In even simpler terms, it’s a fact or premise or conclusion that is the only conclusion, regardless of your perspective. 

First Principles: Elon Musk

Or then there’s Musk’s definition of first principles in this 2013 TED Talk: “Boiling things down to their fundamental truths, and reasoning up from there.”

In our case, the first principle wasn’t that job changeovers should be quicker in order to reduce machine downtime. The first principle was that the most productive machine–assuming you cannot increase its speed–is a machine that never shuts down. (Can’t argue with that.)

That approach instantly shifted our mental framework from incremental gain to zero downtime. We didn’t need to become a lightning-fast Nascar pit crew.

We needed to eliminate the need for a pit crew altogether.

For Musk, first principle thinking led to purchasing the raw materials–which cost two percent of a typical rocket’s price–and building instead of buying rockets for SpaceX missions.

First principle thinking also led to designing lightweight, aerodynamically-efficient, electric cars in order to offset heavy batteries–and to building those batteries in-house, too. 

Since the cost of materials was traditionally a fraction of a battery’s price–and materials are, barring future design advancements, a first principle–Musk decided that finding “clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell,” could lead to “batteries that are much, much cheaper than anyone realizes.”

Which is how SpaceX cut the price of launching a rocket by a factor of 10.

And is one reason why Tesla currently has a market cap of over $220 billion, making it the most valuable automaker in the world. If you believe electric will become the standard sooner rather than later, Tesla has the pole position in the electric vehicle marketplace.

Which leads us to Amazon.

First Principles: Jeff Bezos

Amazon clearly has the pole position in e-commerce. an achievement founder Jeff Bezos credits in part to focusing on things that, much like first principles, won’t change. 

Bezos built Amazon around things he knew would be stable over time, investing heavily in ensuring that Amazon would provide those things–and improve its delivery of them.

As Bezos is quoted in the book Bold:

In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection.

It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, “Jeff, I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher.” “I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.” Impossible.

When you have something that you know is true over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.

Focusing on delivering things that won’t change–that always matter, that are always in demand, that will always fill a need or solve a problem–doesn’t guarantee success…but it will provide the best foundation for success you can find.

Which makes focusing on things that won’t change–things that won’t go out of style–a first principle.

First Principles and You

Musk boils things down to their fundamental truths, and reasons up from there. Bezos uses fundamental truths to make long-term decisions.

And so can you. 

Take nutrition and fitness: Cool new diet plans and trendy eating regimens may be helpful (although research shows many provide no benefit at all), but limiting fried and processed foods and eating lean protein, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables and fruits will make you a lot healthier.

Or exercise: You can argue the benefits of HIIT workouts versus CrossFit-style workouts versus cycling versus strength training (and I often do), but as long as you get in 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, you’ll be a lot healthier

Or leadership: Formal programs like Six Sigma and TQM and 5S (remember any of those) can help you improve processes, but the one timeless solution is to ask the people who actually perform the job for their ideas and input. Going to the source never goes out of style. 

Or new leaders: As long as you talk to your people–clearly, honestly, and often–you will quickly leapfrog people with more experience and education.

Or launching a business: Businesses solve problems customers are willing to pay to have solved. If you aren’t solving a real problem, a problem people will be happy to pay to have solved…you won’t have a business, at least not for long.

Or building a business: Once you’ve identified a problem and can solve it, the answer to most of your problems is “sales.” Rarely can a new business save its way to profitability.

Just make sure, when you drill down to find first principles to apply to your professional or personal life, that you keep in mind the fact that first principles, while simple, are almost never conventional wisdom.

While it’s often OK to, as Musk says, “copy other people do with slight variations,” finding a fundamental truth almost always leads to embarking on a new course.

One that will probably seem obvious in retrospect…but will be “new” enough to help you do what most others can’t.

No matter how audacious your goal might be.

Britain’s struggling theatres and more on Ludicrous Lockdown which studies suggest will kill around 200,000 from non covid infection. Our leaders are either morons or have a hidden agenda in association with big money. July 22nd 2020

Andrew Lloyd Webber is testing tech used by the Phantom of the Opera in South Korea to try to save British theatre. But it might be too late

In South East London, Bromley Little Theatre has staged productions for as long as most locals can remember. The 113-seat theatre, which was once a converted Victorian bakery, is known for its vibrancy – but since March, its rows of red auditorium seats and its stage, which once boasted performances of A Christmas Carol and Goodnight Mr Tom, are empty and gathering dust.

“We have postponed our entire programme of productions probably for the remainder of 2020, at least,” says Keith Jeremiah, the chair of trustees at Bromley Little Theatre. “As an amateur company, run entirely by volunteers, we have no staff to furlough or make redundant, but still have outgoings for rent and other fixed costs.”

As pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen, the future of the arts and entertainment industry is still in doubt, as social distancing within some smaller theatres and concert halls is almost impossible — and not financially viable.

At the beginning of lockdown, arts management consultants TRG Arts reported that advance ticket sales at UK theatres fell by 92 per cent while nearly 93 per cent of musicians, artists and creatives within the industry told ITV News that their livelihood is under threat as a result of the pandemic.

By Natasha Bernal

Bigger theatres have been draining their reserves to stay afloat, with the likes of the Old Vic spending £350,000 every month to maintain the playhouse, while regional theatres may likely have to close down for good without Christmas pantomimes.

Last week, a £1.57 billion emergency support package from the government was introduced with an aim to “protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions”. After weeks of lobbying, industry leaders have welcomed the emergency investment to ‘save the arts’. But few believe it is enough.

“What part of the arts is it going to save?” asks Jessica Brough, the founder and director of Fringe of Colour, a grassroots project working to make the Edinburgh Fringe Festival more accessible to young people of colour through free ticket schemes, spotlighting people of colour performers and a new online festival, Fringe of Colour Films. “It’s come way too late as all of these arts organisations and companies have laid off people, some places have shut down and a number of venues and performers may not be able to come back from financial losses incurred by insurance fees suffered when they weren’t able to close their doors at the beginning of lockdown.”

The government has yet to provide detail on what sums are going to be allocated to more established national and regional venues as well as local and amateur-run establishments. All have been grossly impacted by the pandemic. The venues that can reopen need to find a way to do so safely, while adhering to Covid-19 guidelines — and breaking a profit.

So theatre owners such as Andrew Lloyd Webber have looked to South Korea for answers. When theatres around the world closed down, live shows were allowed to go ahead there with audience members wearing masks and staff using PPE. A 15-day quarantine restriction applied to any theatre if a member of the audience or company developed symptoms, and venues set up systems to quickly contact and test all attendees and staff.

The world tour of Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, held in a 1,600 seat theatre, was one of three major productions that ran throughout the pandemic, shuttering its doors for three weeks in April only when members of the cast fell ill. Impressively, the company was able to quickly test its 126-member cast and company, as well as the 8,578 audience members who had attended the production between March 15 and 31.

By Rich McEachran

The lessons learned on tour, such as putting the front row at a 5.2 metre distance to avoid spit flying from actors, could influence measures that Webber plans to test out at London Palladium, one of his West End venues. With almost 2,300 seats, the Palladium has the biggest capacity of the seven London venues in the composer’s LW Theatres group and will is one of the UK’s first testbeds for coronavirus-proofing theatre.

“They have thermal imaging cameras at the stage door and as you come into the theatre. These can identify if people have temperatures extremely quickly,” Webber told BBC Radio 4 last month. “Airlines are also developing this and we’ve also ordered it. We’ve ordered silver ion self-cleaning door handles for our little tests, these are completely effective against pathogens like coronavirus for a long period of time. Everybody going into the theatre is fobbed with the antiviral chemical, which lasts 30 days.”

But can this work in the UK? It’s critical to note that South Korea’s death toll stands at 287, pretty dissimilar to the UK’s count of 44,602, at the time of writing. “The physical measures proposed may serve to reassure potential audience members to overcome the natural reluctance to attend events,” says Jeremiah. “However, their effectiveness in controlling the spread of the virus and allowing full-capacity audiences is far more dependent on rigorous tracing and analysis of infection pathways which will take time to demonstrate.”

The problem is that there’s still a lack of evidence with regards to infection pathways within public spaces; data we may only be able to gather over time as pubs and other establishments slowly re-open.

By Andrew Kersley

In the aviation sector, infrared temperature testing is more advanced, but the European Union Aviation Safety Agency reported that “between one per cent and 20 per cent of passengers would be missed by thermal screening equipment” while one per cent to 25 per cent of passengers could be wrongly flagged as having a temperature — the margin of error is huge. Recent government advice on temperature screening and aviation also outlines that “the current scientific evidence does not support temperature screening as an effective method to screen passengers for coronavirus”.

Thermal imaging cameras are expensive, and can range from a few hundred for handheld devices to tens of thousands for full-blown kiosk-style systems. If they can afford them, installation within a small theatre would be relatively simple, just a matter of rigging up a small camera to a screen. The main issue, freelance theatre lighting and production manager Tim Kelly says, would be the cost of having someone monitor the system (as well as the equipment itself).

Alongside having the staff to run the systems, theatres would have to figure out where and when they record body temperatures because the powerful lights used within productions can heat up auditoriums. “You’d have to consider scanning people on entry rather than during the show because there’s a huge amount of heat that comes off those lights and it would be difficult to get an accurate reading,” Kelly says.

Theatres are running out of time to decide whether they are going to reopen at all this year (or ever again). Even copying other countries – German theatres have removed seats from the theatre floor and scrapped intervals – may make productions unviable in the UK.

Adam Penford, the artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse, told the Guardian that his team had produced 25 different seating plans, none of which made any economic sense. Pantos are in peril this year, as audiences shouting “look behind you” are no longer going to be an option in a post-lockdown environment. For regional theatres that have lost almost all of their income during lockdown, the lack of Christmas pantos would mean permanent closure.

Comment Lockdown doesn’t work , but placates selfish old people- I am 70 next birthday but have no sympathy with these people- who want to live forever and makes BAME feel cared for . Ironically prior to Covid the NHS had the Liverpool pathway of deliberately starving and not resuscitating the ‘bed blocking’ aged -which was the ultimate cause of my 83 year old mother’s death after she caught c difficile in a filthy ward.

Lockdown hides the appalling NHS which has been covered by the most absurd and ridiculous hand clapping and worship.  It has been killing people through incompetence, covert privatisation, falling training standards, including third rate imported doctors and squalor for years.  It has not kept pace with mass immigration – much from areas where they bring health issues and vulnerabilities in with them.  Hate crimes are intended to control debate, but the problems are horrendous and are getting worse.  Robert Cook

Is Tesla Over valued July 18th 2020

When Elon Musk tweeted in May that the share price of Tesla was “too high” at $780 (£622), it caused a brief moment of panicked selling by investors in the electric carmaker. Yet two months later Tesla had overtaken Toyota as the world’s most valuable carmaker in a remarkable rally in which its market value briefly topped $300bn this week.
Tesla has never made an annual profit but the company has a market value equivalent to a third of the combined US, EU and Japanese auto indices – despite an expected share of only 0.8% of the global auto market this year. That disconnect has prompted re-evaluation from some investors and euphoria for others as they try to work out if the carmaker can ever justify the heady valuation.

Tesla, no profit yet, but millions into research. with factories in China, so looks set for big success – Rpbert Cook

Small investors have been quick to jump onboard, with the share dealing service Robinhood saying the number of its accounts holding Tesla shares has doubled since June.

Analysts are often afraid to call a bubble, given the potential for egg on their face, but the share price surge to more than $1,500 (after briefly breaking above $1,700 on Monday) has made even Tesla optimists wary. The company’s valuation is more than 60 times analysts’ average expectations for core earnings in 2020. That multiple implies that Tesla will not only become profitable but that it will become the world’s dominant carmaker. Many do not think it will last.
“It is an irrational bubble,” said Matthias Schmidt, an automotive analyst who covers electric vehicles, “or perhaps more appropriately a massive tidal wave of investors irrationally investing in a brand with little knowledge of the business while shrewd, experienced market investors, perhaps going against all of their rational financial experience, are taking advantage, putting their wet suits on and riding the Tesla wave, boosting the price further.”

Analysts at Evercore ISI, an investment bank, referenced tulips in a note published on Tesla this week – an allusion to the tulip mania that stands among the cautionary tales for investors in any asset that enjoys such explosive price growth.
Yet as the Evercore analysts note, even if Tesla’s valuation appears “dislocated from traditional valuation metrics”, predicting if and when it will move back into line with the fundamental state of the company is a tricky proposition.

It is also potentially expensive. Short sellers have borrowed Tesla shares worth $20bn – the largest equity short ever seen – to sell on in the hope that prices will fall. Those investors hope to buy the shares back after the price has fallen but rapid increases in share prices can mean they are forced to abandon their bets at a painful loss.

Musk did not bother to disguise his glee at short sellers’ discomfort: earlier this month he sold a batch of red satin “short shorts” on Tesla’s website at $69.420 – a price deliberately linked to the “4/20” date on which many people celebrate cannabis consumption. Musk previously used the number in 2018 when he claimed he had agreed a buyout of Tesla at $420 per share.
The touchpaper under the rocketing share price was lit in October, when the company surprised many investors with a quarterly profit and a bullish outlook. Shares suffered in March as the coronavirus pandemic hit but recovered as Musk – drawing a barrage of criticism that he was endangering workers’ health – kept his California factory open.

Tesla delivered more than 90,000 cars to customers in the second quarter of 2020 – beating expectations despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic to production and the huge job losses in many of its main markets. Tesla has also made progress in expanding its Shanghai factory to serve China, the world’s biggest car market.

The share price move has left some analysts scrambling to keep up. The Piper Sandler analyst Alexander Potter this week raised his target price for Tesla from $939 to $2,322, citing faster than expected gains in market share, plus the opportunity of charging subscription fees for fully self-driving software updates – a technology considered to be some years away.

The company has also shown its commitment to constantly innovating and has built up an impressive advantage through its network of proprietary charging points, said Alyssa Altman, a consultant to transport and mobility companies at Publicis Sapient.

However, many automotive analysts remain sceptical. Tesla had an “open goal” in North America and Europe where major carmakers were unprepared to bring electric cars to market, Schmidt said. That has changed in Europe thanks to new carbon dioxide emissions limits. Volkswagen and the Renault/Nissan alliance have both sold more electric cars than Tesla in Europe this year as they race to catch up.

Tesla’s aggressive tactics also leave it more vulnerable than the more conservative incumbents to scandal. A German court gave a shot across Tesla’s bows this week, ruling the company’s description of driver-assistance features as “autopilot” was misleading. Governance concerns – such as watching Musk’s Twitter feed for securities law violations or potential libels – are also a big problem for a company that is so intimately linked with the personality of its billionaire boss.
Then again, separate Piper Sandler analysis suggests that mentions of Tesla on TV news are “fairly strongly” correlated with a higher share price. Controversy can have a payoff, whatever Tesla’s chances of auto industry domination.

Krugman’s Keynesianism Has Made Him Wrong about Much More Than Economic Theory

paul krugman new york times mmt

33 Comments

07/16/2020William L. Anderson

“Let me tell you about Keynesian economists. They are different from you and me. They learn their mathematical models and aggregate terminology early and easily, and it does something to them, makes them proud and self-omniscient where the rest of us are circumspect, in a way that, unless you were born a Keynesian economist, is very difficult to understand.” (With apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Paul Krugman, who apparently knows even the very hearts and inner thoughts of people who disagree with his pronouncements, from Keynesian economic analysis to the current state of American politics, does not like being reminded that he once predicted on the pages of Time Magazine in 1998: “By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.” His full statement included:

The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in “Metcalfe’s law”—which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants—becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.

As the rate of technological change in computing slows, the number of jobs for IT specialists will decelerate, then actually turn down; ten years from now, the phrase information economy will sound silly.

When asked about the quote, he declared:

Well, two things.

First, look at the whole piece. It was a thing for the Times magazine’s one hundredth anniversary, written as if by someone looking back from 2098, so the point was to be fun and provocative, not to engage in careful forecasting; I mean, there are lines in there about St. Petersburg having more skyscrapers than New York, which was not a prediction, just a thought provoker.

But the main point is that I don’t claim any special expertise in technology—I almost never make technological forecasts, and the only reason there was stuff like that in the ’98 piece was because the assignment required that I do that sort of thing.

Lest one confuse Krugman’s mea culpa with Jake Blues’s plea for his jilted fiancée not to shoot him in the sewer tunnel (Jake had the better excuses), I believe that what Krugman wrote is much more significant than what he and his supporters would claim. Krugman claims he was just engaging in thought provocation when, in reality, he was demonstrating that in spite of his Nobel Prize, his MIT degree, and his long record in being on the faculties of elite universities, his actual knowledge of real economics is deficient. Very deficient.

There are so many nuances in his statement on technology that it would take most of the existing bytes in cyberspace to provide a complete commentary. Given that readers of this page do not possess that kind of long-suffering patience (and have better things to do with their lives), I will stick to a few items.

If one were to ask a relatively educated person why the US economy has grown so much, the typical answer most likely would be “technology.” (That word seems to serve the same purpose as “plastics” in The Graduate—single word that is supposed to call up all sorts of symbolism.) Thus, as technology advances, the economy improves and so on.

There isn’t much nuance with such a view, which often incorporates what Austrian economists call “homogeneous capital,” that is, capital that is perfectly interchangeable with labor, raw materials, and other capital. (This accounts for the smooth, convex, and continuous nature of the production function when economists present models of isoquants and isocosts.) But while such assumptions make modeling easier, they do not explain capital very well.

However, the homogeneous capital (and homogeneous every other factor of production) assumption then permits Keynesians to assume that if government takes actions to “shift” the fictitious aggregate demand curve, the economy will produce more goods and employ more people. Just add money (the source is irrelevant) and the economy shifts. Just like that.

If You Increase Spending, the Economy Will Grow

To a Keynesian, this is economics. Like Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams, who hears the voice saying, “If you build it, they will come,” a Keynesian hears a voice saying, “If you increase spending, the economy will grow.” There is no need to break down things any further, since the prevailing assumption is that more spending means more growth, especially since every good Keynesian knows that if we leave markets to operate on their own, people will save money, spending will fall, and the economy will implode into a morass of unemployment and idle resources.

Given Krugman’s Keynesian mindset, it is not difficult to understand why he would absolutely fumble any prediction regarding the economic effects of the internet. While information is important (and Krugman gets that part wrong, too, as he underestimates the role of information in production and exchange), the internet has revolutionized retail, and by revolutionizing retail, it has changed the scope of production possibilities.

Let us begin with retail itself. Envision a spring with potential growth, but the water from the spring is moved through a pipe with a one-inch diameter, which means the flow is limited by the capacity of the pipe. However, if we were to replace that narrow pipe with a pipe with a six-inch diameter, then the owner of the spring could increase production and enjoy more economies of scale. Taking it a step further, the spring owner can invest in capital that will expand the capacities of the spring, all of which means more accessible water for consumers.

Applying that concept to the economy at large, distribution—and that includes retail—plays an important role in production, because the more efficient and economical the distribution of goods, the more can be made available to consumers. The larger the supply of available goods, the more prices of those goods will fall and they will be available to more people.

Enter the internet. While Krugman might be one of the most influential economists in the country (at least via his perch at the New York Times), it is clear that he really understands very little about how the internet affects economic growth, and that should not be surprising given his Keynesian perspectives. For most Keynesians, there is a disconnect between flooding an economy with new spending and how that process actually brings about an increase in output and decrease in unemployment. J.M. Keynes himself argued in The General Theory that government monetary and direct spending activities would force up consumer prices, thus undercutting wages through inflation or, to be more precise, cutting wages en masse. Under Keynesian thinking, employment opportunities do not arise because of expansion of capital, but rather because of a trick played by monetary authorities. However, Keynesians do not explain how such schemes actually contribute to economic growth; we are to take it on faith.

Furthermore, Keynesians also disconnect the relationship between production and consumption, with consumption having little more purpose than to clear the shelves of previously produced goods, thus allowing producers to make more goods to put on the shelves. And so on. Not surprisingly, Keynesians also misunderstand the role of capital, which in their “theology” is useful only insofar as money is spent to create it.

With economists like Krugman unable to present a coherent causal theory as to why their schemes result in economic growth, one should not be surprised that Krugman is unable to explain the internet’s role in the economy. Part of the problem is that Krugman does not understand the relationship between lower costs and economic growth, instead believing that higher costs (and especially higher labor costs) are the engine of expansion. Like Keynes before him, Krugman insisted that inflation—the more the better—was another key to expanding the economy.

In Krugman’s eyes, apparently the internet is mostly a mechanism for advancing social media in which he and his friends can label people they don’t like as “racist” or worse. Yet what is the commercial strength of the internet, and how has it promoted real economic growth?

Austrian economists are best equipped to understand the internet’s impact, because they understand the role of entrepreneurs and capital. While Krugman has said in the past that productivity is key to economic growth, he then seems to believe that the way to achieve that growth is through high income tax rates, expansion of labor unions, and a return to the regulated New Deal cartels in banking and finance. Austrians, on the other hand, realize that the regulated cartels that characterized much of the US economy from the New Deal well into the 1970s were responsible for much of the economic stagnation that plagued the country before the Jimmy Carter administration moved to deregulate transportation, telecommunications, and banking and the Ronald Reagan administration worked with Congress to reduce federal income tax rates. (Before he came to endorse 70-plus percent tax rates, Krugman told a group of economists, including Joseph Salerno and I, that the pre-Reagan rates were “insane.”)

So, if Krugman believes that raising business costs, increasing taxes, expanding the regulatory state, and covering all of it by printing money is the key to economic growth, he hardly is going give the internet any credit for contributing to a growing and productive economy. After all, the internet permits more workplace flexibility, enables retailers to better target their markets, reduces costs for both consumers and producers, and better enables economic exchanges. Economists such as Ludwig von Mises would have understood, and certainly Carl Menger would have realized that the internet better enables the development of the higher-order goods that Menger emphasized as the key to rising standards of living.

In other words, Krugman’s wrong prediction was not just a silly error that resulted from an off-the-cuff remark. No, it perfectly reflected his inability to understand even the basics of economics. Author:

Contact William L. Anderson

William L. Anderson is a professor of economics at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland.

How Rich Are the Rich? If Only You Knew

Got a spare $250 million? If you’re among the 0.1 percent, you probably do.

The Conversation

  • Gil B. Manzon Jr.
Image Appledene Photographics/RJC

Chris Rock cited the free food, drinks and massages at the Virgin upper-class lounge at Heathrow Airport in his comments about inequality..

“If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.”

Actor and comedian Chris Rock made this astute statement during a 2014 interview with New York magazine, referring to the yawning gap between rich and poor. In so doing, he stumbled upon a key challenge in the study of inequality.

What’s the best way to measure it?

Most inequality studies have focused on income – measures of which are widely available. However, being rich is not about a single year of earnings but rather about the accumulation of wealth over time. In the past, quantifying that has been tricky.

The wealthy would probably prefer we stay in the dark about how rich they are, presumably to avoid the aforementioned riots. People like me who study the topic, however, are always looking for more data and better and more accurate ways to measure the rich-poor gap. And while I’m not one to promote violence in the streets, I do believe it’s important for citizens to be fully aware of the levels of disparity in their society.

The most revealing way to do this, in my view, is by looking at wealth inequality.

Measuring the Rich-Poor Gap

There are several ways to measure inequality.

One of the most popular is by income. That’s largely because there’s more data, and it’s a lot easier to measure. But this measure is a snapshot.

Wealth, on the other hand, is an aggregation, affected not only by current income but earnings accumulated in previous years and by previous generations. Only by studying wealth inequality do scholars, policymakers and others get the deepest and broadest measure of the gap between the rich and everyone else.

How much wealth someone has is also a better measure of their quality of life and opportunities. It determines the ability to invest in education, financial assets and the comfort and security of one’s retirement. Wealth also mitigates worries about paycheck variability or unexpected expenses. If you have wealth, the sudden cost of replacing a broken water heater or paying a medical bill doesn’t cause nearly as much stress as if you’re poor.

Most of the gains from the 2018 tax package will accrue to the richest Americans.

American ‘Exceptionalism’

When we do look at the data on wealth inequality in the U.S., it’s stark and dwarfs that of the rest of the developed world.

The conservative Hudson Institute in 2017 reported that the wealthiest 5 percent of American households held 62.5 percent of all assets in the U.S. in 2013, up from 54.1 percent 30 years earlier. As a consequence, the wealth of the other 95 percent declined from 45.9 percent to 37.5 percent.

As a result, the median wealth of upper-income families (earning US$639,400 on average) was nearly seven times that of middle-income households ($96,500) in 2013, the widest gap in at least 30 years.

More notably, inequality scholars Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found that the top 0.01 percent controlled 22 percent of all wealth in 2012, up from just 7 percent in 1979.

If you only looked at data on income inequality, however, you’d see a different picture. In 2013, for example, the top 5 percent of households earned just 30 percent of all U.S. income (compared with possessing nearly 63 percent of all wealth).

While the U.S. is not the only developed country that has seen wealth inequality rise over the past three decades, it is an outlier. The wealthiest 5 percent of households in the U.S. have almost 91 times more wealth than the median American household, the widest gap among 18 of the world’s most developed countries. The next highest is the Netherlands, which has a ratio less than half that.

Lifting All Boats?

The 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was expected to make this problem a whole lot worse.

The main features of the law include doubling the standard deduction for individual taxpayers, a temporary reduction in the top marginal tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, a significant reduction of the number of families subject to the estate tax and slashing the top corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

The main impact, however, is skewed to the wealthy. For example, the bottom 20 percent of households will see a lower tax bill of about $40 on average, compared with $5,420 for those in the top quintile. The richest 0.1 percent, meanwhile, will save $61,920. By 2025, the richest will see their benefit grow to $152,200, while everyone else won’t see much of a change. All the individual cuts are set to expire in 2026.

Wealthier taxpayers will also gain from the other main features of the law. For example, research shows most benefits of lowering business taxes go to the rich, and fewer estates subject to the inheritance tax means more wealth accumulation across generations.

The tax law’s proponents claim that it won’t increase levels of inequality because the money that the rich will save will “trickle down” to other American households and lift their boats too.

Empirical evidence, however, suggests otherwise. Specifically, channeling more money to the rich, via tax cuts, does not improve economic growth, worsens educational opportunities for poorer Americans and even reduces life expectancy, which declined for a second year in a row in 2017.

Let’s Learn the Facts

So is Chris Rock right that Americans just aren’t aware of the levels of disparity in their society?

Surveys suggest he is. Respondents to a 2011 national survey, for example, “dramatically underestimated” levels of wealth inequality in the U.S.

The survey, and other research, also partially affirmed the other half of his quote by showing that by and large Americans do care about wealth inequality and would prefer it to be lower.

Whether existing wealth inequality in the U.S. is socially or morally sustainable – or might lead to the riots envisioned by Chris Rock – is an open question.

Whatever happens, first things first, we need to know and understand just how bad wealth inequality in the U.S. has become. What we then choose to do about it is up to all of us.

Gil B. Manzon Jr. is an Ass

British Airways retires entire 747 fleet after travel downturn  July 17th 2020

Covid Casualty

Videos

Boac Jumbo Jet –
British Pathé
British Pathe – 24 Jul 20172:10:42BOAC 747 JUMBO
JET! LIVE!
BIG JET TVYouTube – 18 Feb 2019Preview3:58BOAC Jumbo Jet
(1972)

British Airways has said it will retire all of its Boeing 747s as it suffers from the sharp travel downturn.

The UK airline is the world’s largest operator of the jumbo jets, with 31 in the fleet.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” a BA spokesman told the BBC.

Airlines across the world have been hit hard by coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

“It is unlikely our magnificent ‘queen of the skies’ will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic,” the spokesman added.

BA, which is owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), said the planes will all be retired with immediate effect. The 747s represent about 10% of BA’s total fleet.

It had planned on retiring the planes in 2024 but has brought forward the date due to the downturn.

According to travel data firm Cirium there are about 500 747s still in service, of which 30 are actively flying passengers. More than 300 fly cargo and the remainder are in storage.

A luxury BA could no longer afford

The Boeing 747 is beautiful, distinctive and has half a century of proud service behind it. But – as a passenger plane at least – it is also quite simply outdated.

A four-engine aircraft, it is far less efficient than modern twin-engine models, such as the Airbus A350, the 787 Dreamliner, or even the older Boeing 777 – all of which are cheaper to run.

Before the Covid-19 crisis, the writing was on the wall. Airlines such as Air France, Delta and United had already retired their fleets.

BA had planned to use them for another few years. But the crisis in the industry means a future in which there will be fewer passengers, fewer planes – and keeping costs down will be crucial.

So now the airline has decided the queen of the skies is a luxury it can no longer afford.

British Airways’ predecessor BOAC first started flying 747s in the early 1970s. BA is currently flying the 747-400 version of the long-range aircraft.

It is currently the world’s biggest operator of 747-400s and first took delivery of them in July 1989. Originally, the upper deck contained a lounge which was known as the “club in the sky”.

The British carrier added it would operate more flights on modern, more fuel-efficient planes such as its new Airbus A350s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

It expects them to help it achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Boeing’s 747 helped democratise global air travel in the 1970s, and marked its 50-year flying anniversary in February 2019.

US-based Boeing signalled the end of the plane’s production a year ago.

A wave of restructuring triggered by the virus outbreak is hitting airlines across the world, along with plane-makers and their suppliers. Thousands of job losses and furloughs have been announced in recent weeks.

Hundreds of BA ground staff face redundancy as the airline slashes costs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Captain Douglas Redrup of BOAC stands with members of his flight crew before taking off on the first scheduled flight.

Boeing’s ‘queen of the skies’

  • The first Boeing 747 flight took place in February 1969
  • It was the first aeroplane dubbed a “jumbo jet”
  • BOAC, British Airways’ predecessor, operated its first 747 flight, flying from London to New York, in 1971
  • At its height, BA had a fleet of 57 747-400s, second only to Japan Airlines (more than 100)
  • The wings of a 747-400 span 213ft and are big enough to accommodate 50 parked cars

What happens to retired planes?

Specialist companies assess whether aircraft should be salvaged or scrapped. Often they are dismantled and their parts sold on for scrap or recycled. Most of the value is in the engines.

Many are also stripped out as they have valuable interiors. In some cases, private individuals and entrepreneurs buy old airliners to convert them into hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Those that are scrapped can end up in giant aircraft graveyards in the desert where they are left to rust.

Maxwell House July 16th 2020

Ghislaine Maxwell is secretly married — and refusing to reveal her husband’s name, prosecutors said this week at the accused madam’s bail hearing.

The bombshell detail was divulged Tuesday as Manhattan prosecutors accused her of purposely hiding the extent of her wealth.

“In addition to failing to describe in any way the absence of proposed co-signers of a bond, the defendant also makes no mention whatsoever about the financial circumstances or assets of her spouse whose identity she declined to provide to Pretrial Services,” Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe told Manhattan federal Judge Alison Nathan during a video conference.

Moe added, “There’s no information about who will be co-signing this bond or their assets, and no details whatsoever.”

Maxwell’s lawyers asked for her to be sprung on a $5 million bond.

Prosecutors convinced the judge that Maxwell poses an “extreme” flight risk if let out on bail, claiming she used a fake identity to purchase her sprawling New Hampshire hideout, lied about her overall wealth and spent the last year in hiding from authorities.Enlarge Image

‘It’s just very peculiar times’ July 16th 2020
Three of America’s six biggest banks released second-quarter earnings yesterday. The others report today and tomorrow. Based on the first batch of results, there’s trouble ahead.
Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo set aside $28 billion for loan-loss provisions, on top of $19 billion earlier this year. That pummeled second-quarter profits, which were collectively down more than 80 percent versus the same time last year. There could be some “kitchen sinking” — that is, dumping all the bad news into one quarter so future periods look better by comparison. Even so, there was little to be hopeful about.
It could get worse before it gets better. Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan said that unprecedented economic stimulus measures had delayed the effects he’d expect in a “normal recession,” like falling incomes, savings and property prices. “It’s just very peculiar times,” he told analysts on a conference call. If the economy picks up before stimulus programs expire, the banks’ loss provisions could be excessive. But that’s not what executives seemed to suggest:
• “May and June will prove to be the easy bumps in terms of this recovery. And now we’re really hitting the moment of truth, I think, in the months ahead.” — Jennifer Piepszak, JPMorgan’s C.F.O.
• “Our view of the length and severity of the economic downturn has deteriorated considerably from the assumptions used last quarter.” — Charlie Scharf, Wells Fargo’s C.E.O.
• “I don’t think anybody should leave any bank earnings call this quarter simply feeling like the worst is absolutely behind us and it’s a rosy path ahead.” — Mike Corbat, Citigroup’s C.E.O.
It’s not all bad. Trading and underwriting revenue surged, helping JPMorgan and Citi offset the gloom elsewhere. Retail-focused Wells Fargo wasn’t as lucky, recording its first quarterly loss in more than a decade. That could be particularly promising for Goldman Sachs, which reports today, and Morgan Stanley, which is up tomorrow. But ominously, lenders increased loss provisions for business loans more in percentage terms than they did for consumer debt, suggesting that they expect more corporate bankruptcies. (The Fed governor Lael Brainard warned as much yesterday).
Fun fact: Who needs cash when you’re stuck at home? Wells Fargo said that A.T.M. transactions were down 28 percent from a year ago, but the average withdrawal per visit was higher.
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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in Connecticut and Michael J. de la Merced and Jason Karaian in London.
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  Mark Lennihan/Associated Press
Apple wins big over back taxes
A European court sided with the iPhone maker today, potentially saving it a $15 billion tax bill. The court ruled that the E.U. competition authority failed to show that Ireland had unfairly given Apple low taxes.
It’s a big loss for Margrethe Vestager, the E.U. competition chief. She has regularly targeted such arrangements, angering tech executives like Tim Cook of Apple, who derided the campaign as “total political crap.” (Even so, the bill would have amounted to a bit more than the tech giant earns in a quarter.)
The same court overturned a similar demand involving Starbucks last year. The directorate Ms. Vestager runs “did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage,” the court ruled. Expect Ms. Vestager to appeal the decision.
Harvard’s campus
Harvard’s campus  Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Trump’s U-turn on student visas
After opposition from universities, Silicon Valley and 20 states, President Trump backed off a hard-line immigration proposal.
The White House abandoned a policy that would have stripped international students of their visas if they did not attend some classes in person. “If they’re not going to be a student or they’re going to be 100 percent online, then they don’t have a basis to be here,” Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of homeland security, said this month.
The rules could have led to a huge loss in international students, a valuable source of income for schools and skilled workers for American businesses, particularly tech companies. The Times notes that the one million foreign students who enroll at U.S. schools each year contribute $41 billion to the economy and support more than 458,000 jobs.
Universities sued to challenge the policy, led by Harvard and M.I.T., which argued that it was an effort to force schools to reopen. The pressure grew when tech giants like Facebook and Google joined in. Then, 15 Republican lawmakers urged the White House to reverse course.
But damage has been done, The Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell argues. Other immigration hurdles — including delays in visa processing and travel bans — will most likely contribute to a huge drop in international student enrollment this fall. (How steep? Between 63 percent and 98 percent, according to a new analysis.)

3,000 British Rolls-Royce staff apply for voluntary redundancy with two-thirds set to go by the end of August as engineering giant reports £3billion hit July 11th 2020

Not to worry about the cars, Thatcher gave that part of the company to BMW who made a fortune from Jewish and dissident white slave labour during World War Two. Image Appledene Photographics/RJC

Over 3,000 British workers have applied for voluntary redundancy at Rolls-Royce, with two-thirds set to leave the company by the end of August.
In a bid to cut costs, the embattled engine maker is cutting 9,000 jobs globally, including around 8,000 in its civil aerospace arm amid a significant drop in demand triggered by the pandemic.
Across its business, Rolls-Royce is axing 17 per cent of its workforce and hopes to save around £1.3billion a year before tax. 

The real problem is what lockdown lunacy has done to the airline industry.
Image Appldene
Photographics/RJC

Rolls-Royce said it had burned through £3billion in its first half as the hours flown by its engines halved due to Covid 19.
The British company, which makes engines for the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350, said it expected to see an improvement in the second half, resulting in free cash outflow for the full year of about £4billion. 
The group said it had saved around £300million since announcing its mass cost cutting drive in April, and remained on track to save around £1billion this year. 

The company gets a hefty chunk of its revenue from the regular servicing of aircraft with its engines but, with flying hours in civil aviation down by around 75 per cent in the second quarter of the year, demand collapsed. 
Chief executive Warren East said the company was operating in ‘exceptional times.’

He added: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has created a historic shock in civil aviation which will take several years to recover.
‘We started this year with positive momentum and strong liquidity and acted swiftly to conserve cash and cut costs to protect Rolls-Royce during the pandemic.

‘We are taking steps to resize our Civil Aerospace business to adapt to lower medium-term demand from customers and help secure our future.
‘This means we have had to take the very difficult decision to lose people who have helped us become the company we are and who have been proud to work for Rolls-Royce.

‘It is my first priority to treat everyone – whether they are leaving or staying – with dignity and respect. We will take the lessons of how we have dealt with this unprecedented challenge with us and position ourselves to emerge as an even stronger company in the future.’
Shares in Rolls-Royce fell sharply in early morning trading and are currently down 6.46 per cent or 18.6p to 269.2p. 

John Lewis closes eight stores with expected loss of 1,300 jobs July 11th 2020

Rising rents, low wages, reduced footfall has been killing shoppong centres for years. John lewis trading as Knight & Lee in Southsea Portsmouth, closed over one year ago. More stores will surely follow thanks to ludicrous lockdown and the threat of a second spike.

Image Appledne Photographics/Portsmouth 2020.

John Lewis is permanently closing eight of its 50 stores, including major outlets in Birmingham and Watford, with the likely loss of 1,300 jobs.

All four of the group’s smaller At Home stores, in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, are to close as well as two outlets in travel hubs at Heathrow and St Pancras station in London.
John Lewis said the eight shops were already “financially challenged” before the coronavirus crisis and the pandemic had accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online. “Before the virus struck, 40% of John Lewis sales were online. This could now be closer to 60% to 70% of total sales this year and next,” the company said in a statement.

The job losses come after the announcement of nearly 9,000 high street job cuts last week, after a swathe of redundancies at retailers ranging from Harrods to Topshop owner Arcadia group and SSP, the company behind hundreds of railway and airport eateries. A further 2,000 are at risk at Poundstretcher which has warned it could close half its estate if landlords do not agree to rent cuts.

Sharon White, the chairman of the department stores’ parent group – the John Lewis Partnership, which is owned by its staff who are known as partners – said: “Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and partners.

“However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the partnership – and continue to meet the needs of our customers and wherever they want to shop. Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many partners as possible within our business.
“There are many reasons to be optimistic about the Partnership’s future. Waitrose and John Lewis are two of the UK’s most loved and trusted brands and we have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic by responding to the new needs of customers. We will soon announce the output of our strategic review which will ensure our brands stay relevant for future generations of customers.”

On Thursday, John Lewis also confirmed that nine shops closed because of the coronavirus lockdown would reopen on 30 July. They are: Aberdeen, Ashford, Brent Cross, Chichester, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Sheffield and White City Westfield. Leicester will also reopen when the local lockdown for the city is lifted, taking the total number of reopened John Lewis shops to 42.

Chancellor urged to act more decisively to stem UK jobless surge July 8th 2020

Rishi Sunak has been warned he will need to act far more decisively to prevent mass unemployment this autumn after unveiling a £30bn mini budget designed to tempt nervous consumers out their Covid-19 hibernation.

The chancellor announced a short-term cut in VAT for hospitality and tourism and an August “eat out to help out” discount scheme as the government sought to send out a message to the public that it was safe to leave their homes and enjoy themselves.
Stressing that the country faced hardship ahead, he announced measures to revive the housing market with a nine-month stamp duty holiday – raising the threshold in England and Northern Ireland to £500,000 – as well as creating subsidised jobs for young people and providing targeted support for the sectors hit hardest by the lockdown.

Sunak was applauded by Conservative MPs in the Commons as he offered a £10-a-head discount eating out at restaurants and cut VAT from 20% to 5% for hospitality and tourism – including accommodation and meals.
Related: Summer statement 2020: the chancellor’s key points at a glance

But economic experts, trade unions and Labour questioned whether his “plan for jobs” had done enough to tackle the looming crisis and criticised the decision to phase out the furlough scheme in October.
Sunak said extending the wage support programme, which is covering the pay of 9.4 million furloughed workers, would provide people with false hope. Instead of providing continued state financing of 80% of wages up to a monthly maximum of £2,500, he told firms they would receive a £1,000 bonus for every furloughed worker taken on until next January.

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union, said: “Redundancy notices are already flying around like confetti, so today was the day we needed the chancellor to put a stop to this with policies as bold and as necessary as the jobs retention scheme.
“This statement failed that test. With no modification to the JRS, that dreaded October cliff edge for businesses and workers has now been set in stone. Our fear is the summer jobs loss tsunami we have been pleading with the government to avoid will now surely only gather pace.”

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a Paris-based thinktank, warned on Tuesday that the number of unemployed people in Britain could increase to almost 15% of the working population, from 3.9%, if the country experiences a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Garry Young, a deputy director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, said: “The new measures look to be badly timed and could precipitate a rapid increase in unemployment.

“The incentives offered to employers look too small to be effective. Many employers have been topping up the pay of furloughed workers and are expected to bear more of the cost of the scheme from next month. They will be reluctant to do this now they know that the scheme won’t be extended.”
The Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank said the money earmarked in Sunak’s summer statement brought the total government support to £190bn since the start of the crisis. Borrowing in the 2020-21 financial year was likely to exceed £300bn – comfortably the highest as a share of income since the second world war.

Sunak told MPs that further steps would be needed in his autumn budget: “We haven’t done everything we have so far just to step back now and say, ‘job done’. In truth, the job has only just begun.”
Business leaders were also underwhelmed by the package. Jonathan Geldart, the director general of the Institute of Directors, a leading employers’ group, said: “The chancellor pulled a few rabbits out of his hat today, but many directors will feel like he missed a trick. We fully understand the Treasury’s desire to focus on the young, and particularly badly affected sectors, but coronavirus has crippled many parts of the economy.”

Sunak told MPs he believed in “the nobility of work”, and “the inspiring power of opportunity”, but even some Conservatives were sceptical about whether the “retention bonus” would be enough to prevent layoffs.
Ryan Shorthouse, a director of the liberal conservative thinktank Bright Blue, said: “It seems unlikely that a £1,000 payment to employers for retaining each furloughed employee will be a strong enough incentive to keep people on the payroll.”

The Treasury’s package of cuts in VAT and stamp duty together with a job creation scheme for young workers was broadly in line with the measures announced by the last Labour chancellor, Alastair Darling, at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. Sunak made clear to MPs that the cost to the economy from Covid-19 had been much greater, with a 25% drop in output in March and April wiping out the growth of the previous 18 years.
Under the “eat out to help out” scheme, consumers will be able to get 50% off their bill up to a maximum of £10 a head once a week from Mondays to Wednesdays in August and applies to restaurants, cafes and pubs that sign up. Sunak said it was an inducement to help safeguard 1.8m jobs by getting “customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs”.

But the shadow chancellor, Annaliese Dodds, said the creation of an effective coronavirus test, trace and isolate system would have been far better in reassuring the public it was safe to emerge from lockdown.
“Despite all its talk, the government has failed to create a fully functioning ‘test, track and isolate’ system. This has damaged public confidence and in turn harmed consumer demand,” she said.

The chancellor was also criticised for his blasé approach to the risks of contracting coronavirus, as he encouraged the public to return to pubs and restaurants with an eating out discount.
Sunak was filmed serving customers in a London branch of food chain Wagamama, without wearing a face covering, and insisted in his speech: “We would not have lifted the restrictions if we did not think we could do so safely.”

Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The chancellor has, entirely understandably, prioritised support for the hospitality industry given how hard it has been hit. However, as the experience in other countries, most notably some US states and Israel, shows, there is a need for great caution.
“The risks are far greater indoors so, where possible, I would encourage people to eat al fresco, taking advantage of the summer weather. Personally, I would be very cautious about mixing with people without face coverings indoors until the level of circulating virus is much lower.”

Comment As this report shows, there are still pampered idiots in the elite media, who think opening the pubs is a bad thing and that lockdown was a reasonable reposne to COVID19. There will not be worldwide vaccine for a virus that is basically a bio engineered cold.

The fall out from any further manifestation of Corona and lockdown will add to the unfolding horror we already have. But it is the Third World issue of pandering to the corrupt hideously overpopulated and whingeing old Third World and its dictators, fired up with BLM moralisng has to come first for the posturing hypocritical self styled trouble making liberal elite. Politicians, bankers and media folk can work from home, public sectors do little work and still get paid. Truck drivers like me, delivering to the hospitality and events sectors, do not. To the elite, including the police, we are scum but must go on paying our council taxes to look after shambolic public sector folk like the ridiculously hyped up and failing NHS and corrupt petty police who love lockdown, as the little Hitlers they play so well. Robert Cook

How Many of Britain’s wealthy families owe their position and power to slavery. Royalty was certainly a major beneficiary, but it’s always the poor who get the blame.

What would the world have been like without the slave component to its economics ?

Now St Albans Cathedral Diocese has decided Jesus was a black man, so why has God the father been so apparently hard on fellow blacks ? Why did powerful blacks spend centuries capturing ‘fellow’ blacks, imprisoning them then selling them to white slavers like Sir Francis Drake and Captain Hawkins ? These blacks got very rich on it. Blacks still kill blacks just as whites kill whites. Humans are animals. Religion is politics, not truth. Jesus’s murder was political. The Christian Church was a political invention of the Roman Empire, Protestantism and Islam were the result of political schisms and power mania.

Religion is not about truth. It’s followers are not supposed to look for evidence, just follow the church and State’s dictators, blindly. The church is all about power, money and greed because humans are animlas. That is fundamental to the truth of economics and the Covid19 con. Discuss. Comment July 4th 2020

Capturing African Slaves

A Journey in Chains
Slave compound on the Gulf of Guinea, 1746 Capture
Most Africans began their journey into slavery at the hands of other Africans. While Europeans owned and operated the slave ships, the work of kidnapping new victims was generally left to West Africans. Bands of slavers would roam the African countryside, preying on villagers who let their guard down. Olaudah Equiano was abducted when he was 8 years old.

One day, when all our people were gone out to their works as usual, and only I and my dear sister were left to mind the house, two men and a woman got over our walls and in a moment seized us both, and, without giving us time to cry out, or make resistance, they stopped our mouths, and ran off with us into the nearest wood. Here they tied our hands, and continued to carry us as far as they could, till night came on, when we reached a small house where the robbers halted for refreshment, and spent the night. We were then unbound, but were unable to take any food; and, being quite overpowered by fatigue and grief, our only relief was some sleep. It sometimes took several months to transport captives to the coast, and they often were sold and resold to several new owners along the way.

Once they reached the coast, some captives were taken to slave forts or compounds, where they waited for a slave vessel to arrive. Many of these fortresses still stand on the coasts of Africa, at places like Ilmina and Goree Island, as ruined monuments to the cruel economy of years past. Once a ship was ready, the Africans were handed over to their new captors, Europeans and Americans, who would take them on their journey to the Americas.

The Middle Passage
For the captive Africans aboard a slave ship, the voyage to the New World was a passage of nearly unimaginable horror. For most captives, the separation from their villages and families was still fresh, and now they were thrust into a hostile and alien world, at the mercy of people who were like none they had ever seen before.

Upon boarding, they were stripped of their belongings, branded, chained, and sent below decks, where they would be forced to remain for most of the months-long journey. The slave deck itself was a living nightmare. To the slave traders, these human beings were cargo, and slave ships were especially designed to transport as many captives as possible, with little regard for either their health or their humanity.

Slave decks were often only a few feet high, and the African captives were shackled together lying down, side by side, head to foot, or even closer. Deaths from suffocation, malnutrition, and disease were routine on the slave deck, as were arbitrary torture and murder by the crew. The closeness, the filth, and the fear delivered many into madness, and suicide attempts were common. Other ships could smell slavers from far away, and Portuguese sailors called them tumbeiros, or floating tombs.

Remarks on the slave-trade Olaudah Equiano described his journey. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us….This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. Those who were not killed by conditions on board were often permanently disabled by beatings or disease.

Many slave captains threw sick or injured Africans overboard so that their losses would be covered by insurance. Though they were shackled, sickened, and outnumbered, captive Africans frequently fought back against their tormentors. On more than 300 voyages, the captives on the slave deck attempted to overthrow the crew, and in several cases they triumphed. In 1839, the victorious Africans on the slave ship Amistad even succeeded in sailing the ship into port and, eventually returned home in freedom. For more information on rebellions and insurrections on board slave ships, see African American Odyssey: Liberation Strategies, Flights to Freedom, and The Amistad Mutiny.
Introduction | Beginnings | A Journey in Chains | Africans in America | Resistance and Abolition | Emancipation and Reconstruction | Moving North, Heading West | An Artistic Rebirth | A Social Revolution | New Beginnings | view basic version
How did a small group of press ganged impverished badly fed white sailors capture so many black African slaves and get them packed tightly on the slave ships ? Answer is there were – and still are – plenty of nasty black Africans who captured and stored them for the white men, they had prisons where these hapless black men and women were stored until the white men came paying for them and helping to ship them out.

The absurd myth that blacks never hurt blacks is still extant, in spite of gang wars and ongoing tribal warfare and blacks exploiting blacks in modern Africa, where Mugabee was a prime example.

So called black academics and white liberals don’t want you to know this. Talk of a new honest approach to black and colonial history is just more scapegoating the so called privieged white male. Meanwhile there is a new more subtle form of slavery going on behind the smokescreen generated by self righteous ignorant virtue signallers and men like George Soros.

Ironic how improved means of education is used to deepen and make ignorance more dangerous – withever nastier and omniprescent methods of policing. It is all about money with elite control by divide and rule. Covid 19 hysteria, panic and lockdown has been a great help to this worldwide Anglo U.S led insidious process. Robert Cook

Capture and Captives

“The Slave Hunt”
“The Slave Hunt” depicts soldiers from Sokoto raiding a village to capture slaves. [Harper’s Weekly (Sept. 12, 1857), p. 581]
“Gang of Captives Met at Mbame’s on Their Way to Tette”
“Gang of Captives Met at Mbame’s on Their Way to Tette”, 1861. [Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (Dec. 1865–May 1866), vol. 32, p. 719]
<i>Slaves: Shewing the Method of Chaining Them</i>
Slaves: Shewing the Method of Chaining Them portrays two men chained to one another aboard the slave ship Favourite in 1805.
<i>Chaine d'esclaves venant de l'intérieure</i>
Coffle of slaves coming from the interior, Senegambia, 1814.

For three and a half centuries, European slavers carried African captives across the Atlantic in slave ships originating from ports belonging to all major European maritime powers—Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Britain, France, and Brandenburg-Prussia. Traders from the emerging powers in the Americas also joined in the trade when possible and profitable.

European and American slavers exchanged goods for people with African traders along enormous stretches of West and Central Africa, even to Madagascar and southeastern Africa. But most Africans boarded slave ships in six distinct regions of the African coast: Upper Guinea, the Gold Coast, Bight of Benin, Bight of Biafra, West-Central Africa, and southeastern Africa. During the course of the transatlantic slave trade, nearly half of all African captives were taken from West-Central Africa (Congo and Angola today).

The Bight of Benin (Togo, Benin, and Nigeria today) and the Bight of Biafra (covering approximately today’s Nigeria, Cameroon, and Gabon) accounted for a further 28 percent of embarkations on slave ships. These points of departure from Africa do not necessarily indicate the home regions of African victims, since vast networks of slave routes frequently funneled people to the coast from villages deep in the interior.

As a result, those loaded onto European and American slave ships had already endured a number of passages of prolonged hardship long before their sale on the coast. After initial capture, African slavers might pass them through different African societies, through alien lands and cultures, for weeks, months, or years before confronting the most confusing of sights: European men, the Atlantic Ocean, and the slave ships. Though some were marched just a few miles to the coast, others had been forcibly marched hundreds of miles. It was a journey that took its toll on the African men, women, and children bound together by ropes, chains, or wooden yokes.

Different forms of servitude had long been a feature of many African societies, and Africa had long-established slaving systems and slave routes, such as those across the Sahara Desert and along the Nile. These systems differed markedly from the transatlantic slave trade and racialized slavery that Europeans later developed to maximize plantation production in their colonies.

There were various forms of indigenous African slavery, ranging from kinship arrangements to chattel slavery. Africans fell into slavery because of extreme poverty (as with children given away or sold by hungry families, for example), pawn slavery (which might be temporary), or violence, including warfare, slave raids, and kidnapping. Enslaved individuals could then be sold on to other communities in need of labor. There were child slaves and large holdings of enslaved people—upward of one thousand in number—by slave traders on the edge of the Sahara. There was, however, no single form of African slavery.

The coming of European sailors and traders, however, transformed the nature and direction of indigenous African slavery. At first, the growing European demand for Africans on the coast prompted a relatively small trade in humanity. Early European maritime traders acquired African slaves alongside other trade goods. They were purchased at various points on the coast from Arab and African traders, who, in turn, had acquired captives through interior African upheavals, including warfare and the dissolution of major African empires and kingdoms (notably Ghana, Mali, and Songhai). The earliest Africans acquired by Europeans were used for labor and domestic service in Spain and Portugal and later in the Atlantic islands of Madeira, the Canary Islands, and São Tomé. The European settlement of the Americas, and especially the invention of New World sugar plantations, transformed that trickle into a transatlantic flood.

Though some African societies resisted the European demand for slave labor, many coastal societies benefitted from trading with European ships. Europeans provided a host of tempting goods—textiles, ironware, exotic drinks, and firearms—all in exchange for African captives. Without African middlemen—local traders who had access to internal supplies of captured African peoples—Europeans could never have hoped to acquire more than small batches of Africans. Equally, without the commercial attractions of goods imported by the Europeans, African traders would have had little reason to secure ever more victims from their internal African suppliers.

Underlying the commercial exchange of goods for people on the coast were unequal power relations between European and African traders and resulting warfare and violence among various African leaders who provided most of the captives sold to Europeans. Europeans formed alliances with such leaders, providing them with the weapons and means to attack rival African communities, in return for captives. African slavers such as the Asante and Dahomey emerged as powerful states and kingdoms in the eighteenth century, controlling and dominating interior slave trade routes in their respective territories. Widespread turbulence and upheaval resulted from the European demand for slaves, and the transatlantic slave trade stimulated an increase in slavery within Africa itself.

Constant and unpredictable violent attacks and kidnapping clearly had a profound and damaging impact on those African populations that were victimized by the slave trade. Many African communities tried to defend themselves from slave traders and raiders by arming or even trading slaves themselves. Others retreated to more defensible geographical regions, such as lakes or escarpments, to escape attacks and capture. As a result, some African communities experienced stagnation because of dislocation. Elsewhere, states collapsed under the pressure of violent slave trading and extreme population loss.

How many people were taken from Africa?

How many Africans were taken from Africa through enslavement? There are no complete records and estimates vary from a few millions to 100,000,000 people. Most historians today think that, according to the shipping records available, between 9 and 11 million people were taken out of Africa by European slave traders and landed alive on the other side of the Atlantic. One researcher gives the higher, very detailed figure of 11,863,000. This detail from a picture of a Bristol slave ship, the Blandford, shows enslaved Africans being loaded onto a boat. Careful records were kept of all trade voyages, and from these records people can today work out fairly accurate figures for all types of trade. From how many barrels of wine were imported to Britain from France, to how many enslaved Africans were carried in British ships.

Many numbers were not recorded. Untold numbers of enslaved people died without ever reaching the Americas. They died at the hands of the African traders who took them from their homes in ‘slave raids’ in Africa. They also died on the forced march from their homes to the coast. People died awaiting sale in buildings, called slave forts, on the coast. Many died on board the ships that took them across the Atlantic Ocean, from Africa to the Americas. There are virtually no records for these aspects of the slave trade. It is possible that as many people died in Africa as were taken out of the country (estimated at between 9 and 11 million).

The lowest number for the total loss through the transatlantic slave trade could be about 20 million people. Higher figures have been suggested, but to date there is no conclusive evidence to support such estimates.

British ships carried about 2.8 million slaves altogether. Bristol traders were probably responsible for shipping over half a million enslaved Africans, about one-fifth of the total. This number seems comparatively small compared to Liverpool’s later record of 1.5 million. Between 1698 and 1807, the slave trade was open to all traders and merchants who wanted to take part. Before that it was restricted to one group of merchants in London, the Royal African Company. Bristol’s role in the early years of the trade, after 1698, established important trading connections which stimulated the growth of Britain’s trade in slaves.

There are few records for slave deaths at the West African coast. One record does refer to these deaths. The business papers of James Rogers, one of the biggest slave traders in the city, are preserved in the Public Record Office.

Coronavirus: Data points to ‘vastly improved’ picture for UK economy June 23rd 2020

New purchasing managers’ index data from the UK’s manufacturing sector suggests that the country’s economy stabilised in June, even as a further decline in the services sector raised the prospect of an extended recovery.
The composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reading from IHS Markit’s closely watched survey came in at 47.6 in June, up from 30.0 in May and just 13.8 in April.

PMIs are an indicator of private sector activity and are given on a scale of 1 to 100. Because anything below 50 signals a decline, the figure indicates that the UK economy contracted once again in June, even if the pace was slower than that seen in previous months.

“June’s PMI data add to signs that the economy looks likely return to growth in the third quarter, especially given the further planned easing of the lockdown from 4th July,” said Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at IHS Markit.

“June saw a record rise in the PMI for a second successive month, confirming that the economy is moving closer to stabilising after the worst of the immediate economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic was felt back in April.”

Williamson warned, however, that the longer-term recovery prospects remained “highly uncertain,” noting that some of the recent PMI gains were as a result of short-term bounces due to businesses returning to work.
Weak demand was reflected by a decline in backlogs of orders and a continued fall in new orders in the month.

“Uncertainty over recovery prospects and job prospects also mean demand for many goods, especially non-essential big- ticket items, is likely to remain weak for many months, with Brexit uncertainty also continuing to cast a shadow over the economy,” he said.

The way the NHS manages A&E problems is not fit for purpose Posted Here May 1st 2020

Nigel Edwards comments on how large amounts of activity across A&Es – conference calls, emails, phones calls – to check progress and request detailed information may be causing problems.

Blog post

Published: 06/02/2015

In researching the recent problems in accident and emergency performance, I was struck by the way the NHS is managing the situation: there appears to be a large amount of activity across the system – conference calls, emails, phones calls – to check progress and request detailed information.

Is this adding value or causing problems? What were those involved hoping to achieve? And why is this type of activity thought to be an important part of the response? 

To find out more, we spoke to a small sample of senior trust staff including chief executives, as well as commissioners, NHS England and the Trust Development Authority. We also had an informal conversation with Monitor.

I think our conclusions will not surprise many in the NHS but they ought to, because by any objective external view they speak of a significant organisational pathology.

It is possible that the sample was distorted and we may have overinterpreted the conclusions, so the following themes are presented tentatively.

Confusion from complexity

Unsurprisingly, the tripartite system of TDA, NHS England and Monitor makes for complexity, inefficiency and indecisiveness. There seems to be significant duplication of effort.

The three system management bodies are starting to recognise that they need to think about system solutions, but their remit is only for their own part of the system; it is hard for them to share risks.

Time wasting

A very significant amount of frontline management time is expended on collecting information, responding to requests, linking with other bodies, understanding multiple perspectives and coaxing collaboration between organisations.

We heard, for example, that site managers who should be spending their first hours at work checking on the hospital were frequently diverted by the need to gather information and to participate in conference calls.

Paradoxically, the point at which things become most fraught – for example, when a hospital runs out of beds – is exactly the point when the demand for information, actions and progress chasing becomes most intrusive.

Time that should be spent dealing with problems is diverted to reporting on the actions being taken and providing reassurance that previous action plans have been executed.

Information gathering, not action

A perplexing feature is that conference calls largely consist of collecting information and demanding action that would have been taken anyway.

We found those people conducting the calls – from commissioning support units or clinical commissioning groups, the TDA or NHS England – did not generally offer solutions to unblock other parts of the system.

In most hierarchical systems it might be expected that those higher up might have more expertise or experience to offer or, at least, powers that could deal with issues beyond the reach of an individual hospital. This does not seem to be the case in the NHS; instead, those running these calls often had limited operational experience.

Unclear purpose

Do those responsible for this system believe that, without it, hospitals would relax and not respond to performance problems? Perhaps they think they are not sufficiently motivated.

It is not clear what the theory is that underpins this approach. But in our conversations there was a suggestion that the regulators did not have much confidence in the field’s capacity to sort out problems, though when pressed, they did recognise that they could not bring much practical help.

This low trust attitude had certainly communicated itself to the chief operating officer and chief executives we spoke to. This may not be new: strategic health authorities and regions before them have tended to take this view as well.

Ritual and false assurance

It seems that much of this is a ritual designed to provide assurance and to do what is sometimes called “blame engineering”.

The assurance may be false, but in obtaining, it the system manager receives a “get out of jail card” because they can point to the undertakings they have been given.

The ritual gives comfort to people who are fielding demands for action and assurance from above but, in fact, have no real control over the situation and, even if they did, might not have the expertise to use it.

The people we spoke to were clear: they are providing assurance upwards and felt insecure if they could not show they knew what was happening and had been chasing progress.

Insufficient focus on improvement

The absence of a conversation about improvement and a shortage of some of the skills required to improve the system – particularly in the flow of patients between organisations – is a significant issue.

One is left with the feeling that a lot of effort is being wasted in ways that have very little to do with improving patient care, but are a lot about containing anxiety, providing the illusion of control and keeping the centre happy.

The hierarchy in the NHS seems to be too upward facing and the risk is that, in addition to wasting time and effort, it creates a culture of fear that, in spite of efforts to contain and neutralise it, is transmitted to frontline staff.

This could easily result in bullying, arbitrary interventions, frequent moves of patients (with risks in terms of increased morbidity and mortality), and other potentially very serious effects on patients and staff.

Pressurising people to improve when they do not have the time or skills – or where the problem is not under their control – creates huge frustration.

Good news and bad

If the reports we have been given are correct, there is reason to be very concerned about the potential impact of this approach. In a blog for the BMJ, David Oliver comments on how a culture of non-value adding, checking and progress chasing has infiltrated some hospitals as well.

It is not all bad news. Monitor was seen by some foundation trusts as more sophisticated, more useful in their analyses, and more willing to allow space for the front line to sort things out. But the corollary is that if that’s not successful, it defaults – too quickly, some say – to failure management.

The TDA also has some expertise to provide advice on improvement, while some chief executives have managed to work with their CCGs to minimise this Brownian motion locally.

What is key is developing high quality relationships, having experienced local leaders used to working with each other, and recognising that the challenges are system-wide and need system solutions.

What’s the alternative?

The current approach does not seem to be fit for purpose. So the next question is: would removing it make things better or worse?

The alternative is a richer set of indicators to measure system performance, with the onus put on local systems to sort out the problem, and an expectation that all calls from commissioners or regulators should be aimed at solving problems, not asking for updates.

Perhaps a trial of different approaches might be worth considering.

There are more fundamental questions raised here about the culture of management more generally, and we will be exploring the issues as part of our research programme this year.

A version of this blog first appeared in the HSJ. 

Suggested citation

Edwards N (2015) ‘The way the NHS manages A&E problems is not fit for purpose’. Nuffield Trust comment, 6 March 2015. https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/news-item/the-way-the-nhs-manages-a-e-problems-is-not-fit-for-purpose

British Airways Redundancies April 30th 2020

BA has announved 12, 000 redundancies, including 25 % of its very highly paid pilots. Meanwhile. Lufthansa has announced that passengers must now wear face masks on board their craft.

A BA 737 approaches Heathrow. One such craft arrives or takes off every 3 minutes. There has been on going speculation and cut price offers to expand this crazy industry, along with greedy globalisation. Such is the greed and insanity, there has been planning approval for a third runway. Image Appledene Photographics/KC

Coronavirus: Carluccio’s collapses putting 2,000 jobs at risk Posted April 30th 2020

By Robert Plummer Business reporter, BBC News

Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s has gone into administration, blaming “challenging trading conditions” exacerbated by the coronavirus.

Administrator FRP is “urgently looking at options” for the future of the firm.

These include mothballing the business using government support, as well as trying to sell all or parts of it.

Most of the company’s 2,000 employees will be paid through the government’s job retention scheme while these options are explored.

This allows for staff to be paid up to 80% of their salary.

The restaurant chain’s collapse came minutes after rent-to-own firm BrightHouse – the biggest rent-to-own operator in the UK – also collapsed.

Collectively, the two firms employ 4,500 people.

Carluccio’s had already warned it was facing permanent branch closures due to the coronavirus.

Before the outbreak it was hit by the crunch in the casual dining sector and recently urged the state to step in.

Geoff Rowley, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: “We are operating in unprecedented times and the issues currently facing the hospitality sector following the onset of Covid-19 are well documented.

“In the absence of being able to continue to trade Carluccio’s, in the short term, we are urgently focused on the options available to preserve the future of the business and protect its employees.”

Mr Rowley said FRP looked forward to working with HMRC to access the support it provided for companies in administration and their employees.

He added: “As this fast-moving situation progresses, we will remain in regular communication with all employees and key stakeholders, and will provide a further update in due course.”


Denise (name changed) has been working for Carluccio’s for the past four years and was employed at its branch in the Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham when it first emerged that the chain was in trouble.

“We weren’t told anything,” she said. “We found out via BBC News.”

Denise said Carluccio’s staff had been assured that their March salary would be paid as normal, but when they got their payslips, they found that they had received only 50% of what they were owed.

“That’s holiday pay, sick pay, they’ve deducted 50% of everything,” she told the BBC. “I can’t pay my rent this month. I don’t have children, but other people who have are having to make decisions about whether to pay rent, heating bills or food bills.”

She said that officials from the Unite union were contacting Carluccio’s on their behalf, seeking clarification about when the other half of the money would be paid.

“We’ve received legal advice and we’ve been told that what they’ve done is illegal,” she said, adding that the deductions brought their pay to below the minimum wage.


Image caption Antonio Carluccio founded the chain in 1999

John Colley, associate dean at Warwick Business School, told the BBC that firms in the sector were likely to follow Carluccio’s into administration.

“They over expanded, as did many other restaurant chains,” he said.

Price wars and increases in the minimum wage had put restaurants under severe pressure, he added.

“I think the fact that Carluccio’s was so quick to go into administration says that this was not due to coronavirus,” said Prof Colley.

“All the issues were there anyway and this is just the last straw.”

Existing problems

Restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic have recently forced all cafes and restaurants to close.

Carluccio’s has faced some difficult times in recent years, closing a third of its restaurants in 2018 as part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) rescue plan.

Like many in the casual dining sector, it has felt the brunt of a fall in consumer spending, combined with higher business rates, and increases in the National Living Wage.

Prezzo and Byron also used CVAs to close restaurants while Jamie’s Italian went into administration last year.

The chain was founded more than 20 years ago by celebrity chef and restaurateur Antonio Carluccio, who died aged 80 in 2017.

Chained to Globalization Posted December 20th 2019

Why It’s Too Late to Decouple

By Henry Farrell and Abraham L. Newman January/February 2020 

Manchester City’s new football stadium- built for a fraction of the Government backed Wembley project which was organised by incompetents. The 2017 League winners have spent nearly a billion pounds on players over the last ten years. The club is owned by Abu Dabi Oil billionaires. Ticket prices are extortionate in a multi cultural city with high unemployment and people of bad escapist habits and consequent poor health. RJC 2019

In 1999, the columnist Thomas Friedman pronounced the Cold War geopolitical system dead. The world, he wrote, had “gone from a system built around walls to a system increasingly built around networks.” As businesses chased efficiency and profits, maneuvering among great powers was falling away. An era of harmony was at hand, in which states’ main worries would be how to manage market forces rather than one another.

Friedman was right that a globalized world had arrived but wrong about what that world would look like. Instead of liberating governments and businesses, globalization entangled them. As digital networks, financial flows, and supply chains stretched across the globe, states—especially the United States—started treating them as webs in which to trap one another. Today, the U.S. National Security Agency lurks at the heart of the Internet, listening in on all kinds of communications. The U.S. Department of the Treasury uses the international financial system to punish rogue states and errant financial institutions. In service of its trade war with China, Washington has tied down massive firms and entire national economies by targeting vulnerable points in global supply chains. Other countries are in on the game, too: Japan has used its control over key industrial chemicals to hold South Korea’s electronics industry for ransom, and Beijing might eventually be able to infiltrate the world’s 5G communications system through its access to the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Globalization, in short, has proved to be not a force for liberation but a new source of vulnerability, competition, and control; networks have proved to be less paths to freedom than new sets of chains. Governments and societies, however, have come to understand this reality far too late to reverse it. In the past few years, Beijing and Washington have been just the most visible examples of governments recognizing how many dangers come with interdependence and frantically trying to do something about it. But the economies of countries such as China and the United States are too deeply entwined to be separated—or “decoupled”—without causing chaos. States have little or no ability to become economically self-reliant. Hawks in Beijing and Washington may talk about a new Cold War, but there is today no way to split the world into competing blocs. Countries will remain entangled with one another, despite the dangers that their ties produce—bringing a new era of what might be called “chained globalization.” Under chained globalization, states will be bound together by interdependence that will tempt them to strangle their competitors through economic coercion and espionage, even as they try to fight off their rivals’ attempts to do the same. 

States today have little or no ability to become economically self-reliant.

In some ways, chained globalization makes the Cold War seem simple. The economies of the Western and Soviet camps shared few points of contact and thus offered few opportunities for economic coercion (and policymakers on both sides came to understand the existential danger of nuclear weapons and developed strategies for limiting it). The situation today is far messier. The world’s powers are enmeshed in financial, trade, and information networks that they do not fully understand, raising the risk of blunders that could set off dangerous conflicts. 

Accepting and understanding the reality of chained globalization must be the first step toward limiting those risks. Policymakers cannot cling to fantasies of either decoupled isolation or benign integration. Like it or not, the United States is bound to its competitors. Since it cannot break those bonds, it must learn to master them. 

BOTTLENECKS AND BLOCKAGES

For decades, commentators understood globalization as a natural extension of market freedoms. To the extent that international economic networks would lead to disagreements, the thinking ran, those squabbles would lie largely between the groups that benefited from open markets and those that opposed them. But that line of thinking missed the fact that globalization itself would also allow for a new kind of conflict. As the world’s economic and information networks expanded, many of them coalesced around single points of control, and some states learned to wield those hubs as weapons against their competitors. 

Among the first networks to undergo such a transformation was the system underpinning international financial transactions. In the 1970s, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network made it easier to route transactions through banks around the world, and the dollar clearing system allowed those banks to reconcile torrents of payments denominated in U.S. dollars. Once both banks and individuals had accepted this new messaging system, international exchanges became even more dependent on a single currency—the U.S. dollar—granting Washington additional leverage over the global financial system. International supply chains were next. In the 1980s and 1990s, electronics manufacturers began to outsource production to specialized firms such as Foxconn, creating supply chains with tens or even hundreds of suppliers. Then, in the first decade of this century, cloud computing began to centralize key functions of the Internet in systems maintained by a few large firms, such as Amazon and Microsoft. In each case, money, goods, and information passed through essential economic hubs. A few privileged powers ruled over those hubs, gaining the chance to exclude others or to spy on them.

For decades, commentators understood globalization as a natural extension of market freedoms.

The United States saw those opportunities before most other countries did, thanks to the fact that so many networks lay within its reach. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Treasury Department has used the world’s reliance on the U.S. dollar to turn the global financial system into a machinery of control, freezing out rogue actors such as al Qaeda and North Korea and using the threat of sanctions to terrify banks into advancing its goals. The National Security Agency has transformed the Internet into an apparatus of global surveillance by tapping into the networks of telecommunications providers such as AT&T and Verizon and running clandestine programs that can identify communications chokepoints and exploit them against both adversaries and allies. 

Until recently, other states struggled to keep up. China, a latecomer to the globalized economy, could respond to perceived slights only by locking transgressors out of its valuable domestic market. And although the European Union played a significant role in global economic networks, it lacked the kind of centralized institutions, such as the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, that Washington had been able to convert into instruments of power. 

Driven by both fear and opportunism, however, China is now insulating itself from networked attacks and building networks of its own to turn against its rivals. Take Huawei, which seeks to build the world’s 5G communications network with the tacit support of Beijing. If Huawei comes to dominate global 5G, the Chinese government could exploit its access to the firm to tap into communications around the world, using its new powers over the network against its rivals. Or to put it another way: China could do to the United States what the United States has already been doing to China. 

That explains why Washington has worked so hard to frustrate Huawei’s ambitions. The Trump administration has barred Huawei from U.S. markets, lobbied U.S. allies to shun the company’s 5G infrastructure, and forbidden U.S. companies from selling to Huawei the sophisticated semiconductors that it cannot easily acquire elsewhere. The Chinese government has responded to those moves by threatening to blacklist U.S. firms such as FedEx and companies based in countries allied with Washington, such as the British bank HSBC. Even if the Trump administration eases up on Huawei as part of a trade deal with Beijing, a bipartisan coalition in Congress will likely try to undermine those concessions.

Europe has also been drawn into a fight over networks, in part as a result of the United States’ campaign against Iran. Ever since 2018, when the United States pulled out of the international agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear activities, it has used its control of the dollar clearing system to limit Iran’s access to global financial resources and has threatened to sanction European firms that do business with Iran. 

Building phones at a Chinese-owned industrial park in Mukono, Uganda, November 2019 Xinhua News Agency / eyevine / Redux

European governments worry that such measures are a prelude to a wider campaign of U.S. coercion. After all, the economic cost that isolating Iran imposes on European countries pales in comparison to the damage that would follow if the United States used similar tactics to force them to decouple from Russia, by, for example, making it harder for them to obtain Russian natural gas and other raw materials. Some European policymakers are thinking about how to play defense. One option would be to turn the United States’ economic ties with Europe against it by withdrawing U.S. companies’ rights to operate in the EU if they comply with U.S. sanctions that harm EU members. 

Smaller powers are also joining the fray. Japan, incensed by rulings from South Korean courts that have criticized Japanese companies for their use of forced labor during World War II, threatened in July to strangle the South Korean technology industry by restricting Japanese exports of the specialized chemicals on which major South Korean firms, such as Samsung, rely. South Korea responded by threatening to stop exporting the heating oil that Japanese homes and businesses count on each winter. The dispute has highlighted the power states can wield when they target a crucial link in transnational supply chains.

CHAIN REACTIONS

In this landscape, blunders could set off escalatory spirals, and mutual suspicion could engender hostility. By targeting a firm with an unexpectedly crucial role in a broader industrial network, for instance, a government could mistakenly generate widespread economic damage—and trigger retaliation from other states in turn. As global networks grow thanks to developments such as the so-called Internet of Things, such dangers will grow, as well. 

Accordingly, it is not surprising that countries want to free themselves from chained globalization by smashing its links. U.S. commentators speak of a great decoupling from the Chinese economy, only vaguely understanding what such a rupture might involve. China, for its part, is pouring resources into an indigenous semiconductor industry that would protect it from U.S. threats. South Korea has sought to build up its own chemical sector in order to lessen its dependence on Japan. Russia, meanwhile, has embarked on a quixotic project to create what it calls a “sovereign Internet”: one that could prevent perceived foreign meddling and let Moscow monitor the communications of its own citizens.

Washington should break down the traditional barriers between economic and security concerns.

In a few areas, some degree of insulation might be possible. When it comes to defense procurement, for example, countries can increase their autonomy by rerouting parts of their supply chains to minimize the risks of spying and sabotage. The United States has already made changes to limit the ability of China to compromise its military technology; among other things, it has identified companies with connections to the People’s Liberation Army and cut them out of its military’s supply chains. Other countries will surely follow suit. 

Is this the secret to becoming a stock market millionaire? Posted October 31st 2019

Nick O’Connor


Dear Reader,
  Something strange is happening in Britain…   And it’s making some people extremely rich.   According to data from the government, at least 810,000 people here in Britain have become millionaires since 2014.   How can you put yourself next in line to join them?   That’s what I set out to investigate.   What I found might surprise you.   But it could also lead to some of the most extraordinary profits of your life…   Click here to see why.   Best,   Nick O’Connor Publisher, Southbank Investment Research  

Brown the Famous Iron Chancellor has gone Rusty. October 16th 2019

When New Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, the man accused of war crimes by taking the U.K into Iraq and all the cover ups, famously described Gordon Brown as his Iron Chancellor- ‘with a great clunking fist’. Well rust is brown- so is sh-t. The inevitable decay has revealed the truth of Brown’s Private Finance Initiative con trick. Idiot Blair didn’t care. he liked strutting the world stage, setting light to a fire in the oil rich Middle East with his buddy George Bush Jnr.

Taxpayers are shelling out billions of pounds in wasteful payments under controversial private finance initiative contracts that have locked hospitals, schools and police forces in the iron grip of contractors, it can be revealed.

One hospital trust has paid more than £5,500 for a new sink, and a school has been charged more than £25,000 for three parasols, according to figures obtained by JPI Media Investigations, while a police force paid £884 for a chair.

Extra costs and rocketing inflation are set to add nearly £5bn to the overall price tag of PFI schemes, according to figures obtained from hundreds of public bodies.

Penny Mordaunt, the former Defence Secretary, is among those who have warned that PFI schemes have “crippled hospital finances” as it can be revealed hospital bosses in her Portsmouth North constituency will pay out an extra £700m for a hospital expansion scheme signed under the Labour government in 2005.

It can also be revealed that: An NHS maternity unit built and run by a private company was closed after just 16 years but is still costing the taxpayer millions of pounds. A police force in the South East is trying to think up new uses for a mothballed custody suite it is still paying for. The cost of a hospital wing in Sheffield has shot up by £6m despite it having to close for nearly a year because of fire safety concerns.

a screenshot of a cell phone

© Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Ever Escalating Costs

With some PFI schemes set to continue into the 2040s, trade union leaders and public sector campaigners have called for urgent action.’Ever-escalating costs’

a city street with cars parked on the side of a building

© Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said the “ever-escalating costs” of PFI are a “national scandal”.

She said: “The money that has poured into the pockets of profit-hungry financial institutions and private companies could have been much better spent directly on public service projects and infrastructure. PFIs are a rip-roaring example of out-of-control ‘bandit capitalism’.”

Sajid Javid et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie

© Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Many of the deals struck with the private sector in the late 1990s and early 2000s to replace crumbling buildings were pegged to the retail price index (RPI), the now-discredited high measure of inflation still used to calculate rail fare hikes and student loan interest payments.

This has risen faster than many councils, police forces or NHS trusts had planned for, lumbering them with ever-bigger payments at a time when they have seen their own budgets squeezed.

Authorities trapped in contracts

The Private Finance Initiative sees private companies build and run key infrastructure, leasing it to the public sector through deals usually lasting 25 to 30 years. The agreements often include services such as maintenance and cleaning, but critics say this can leave public bodies paying high prices for basic changes to their buildings, and eye-watering costs for basic maintenance jobs.

In Leeds, almost all of the streetlights are to be replaced just seven years after work finished on previous upgrades. The city’s lighting underwent a multi-million pound conversion project between 2006 and 2012, under a PFI deal. The 25-year deal for the maintenance and replacement of street lights runs to 2031 and is set to cost a total of £326m.

Now the council is paying an extra £22m to convert nearly all its lanterns to more eco-friendly LED bulbs. However, the city council said converting 92,000 street lights to LEDs will save around £3.4m a year.

The £5,300 sink

A sink installed in an NHS hospital wing has also added more than £5,300 to the cost of a private finance deal that has ballooned by £6m despite the wing being closed for nearly a year over fire safety concerns.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the projected costs of the Northern General Hospital’s Sir Robert Hadfield wing in Sheffield, which was built under PFI in 2007, have increased by a staggering £6m since the deal was agreed.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said the rise was predominantly due to new works it has specifically asked to be carried out, in addition to pre-existing contract obligations.

Fire officers ordered the hospital to shut the wing, which replaced the old Vickers medical wards that were built in 1878, in December last year until remedial work could be carried out on its walls. Work started only eight months later in August and is expected to take “some months”.

‘A complete rip-off’

Council leaders in the early 2000s had little choice but to sign PFI contracts if they wanted to secure investment for their areas, according to one former chief.

However, a national campaign group says the public has every right to point the finger of blame at those who signed off on the PFI deals in the early 2000s. Joel Benjamin, co-founder of The People Versus PFI, said: “Somewhere along the line the consultants that provided advice on these deals, suggesting they represented value for money, need to be held up to the spotlight – and to some extent, the councillors and commissioners that signed off on PFI deals also need to be held to account.”

Megan Waugh, a researcher at the University of Leeds who is studying PFI, said: “These ‘extra charges’ are incredibly common and a complete rip-off.

“Public authorities trapped in PFI contracts are forced to use the PFI contractor who can and do charge over the odds for basic maintenance and repairs such as £24,000 to adapt a disabled toilet.”

£700 million for hospital expansion after costs spiral

Alterations to buildings or services have also seen authorities hit with unforeseen costs.

Taxpayers are set to fork out an extra £700m for a hospital expansion after costs for a critical redevelopment project spiralled.

Packed with 1,200 beds and 28 operating theatres, Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital is one of the largest in the UK and its emergency department is one of the busiest in the country. But a £1bn deal struck to upgrade it almost 14 years ago will end up costing more than £1.7bn.

The £256m Queen Alexandra rebuild was completed in 2009 after being funded as part of a 32-year PFI deal in 2005. But after some £400m in repayments had been made, the scheme had to be renegotiated in the wake of the collapse of contractors Carillion last year.

The new deal is set to cost a further £1.3bn.

Portsmouth Hospital, an expansion of which is costing more than £700 million (Photo: JPI Media)

‘Financial scam.’

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “PFI has never been fit for purpose. It was a financial scam to move spending off the government’s balance sheets. This is money that could and should be spent on patient care but instead is going into the financial firms who came up with this clever wheeze.

“That’s £700m that could have gone into caring for the people of Portsmouth but instead it has been wasted on this financial scam.”

Roger Batterbury, chairman of Portsmouth Healthwatch which scrutinises the hospital, has vowed to lobby for the Health Secretary Matt Hancock to take action. He added: “We will make raising this with the Health Secretary our number one priority. We will shout loudly for Portsmouth so patient care is put first.”

Mark Cubbon, chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, insisted the contract helped the hospital maintain its vast estate to a “high standard”.

Defending the arrangement, Mr Cubbon added: “I am absolutely determined to ensure we get the very best value for money from the ongoing PFI contract and that the quality of the service provided is the best it can be for our patients, staff and the taxpayer.”

Annual costs of PFI deals hits £10bn

The contracts were first introduced by John Major’s Conservative government in the 1990s, but were significantly expanded under Tony Blair’s Labour. The annual cost of PFI deals has this year hit £10bn – equivalent to a tax of more than £150 on every person in the UK.

The Government’s oversight of PFI was heavily criticised by MPs and trade unions after the spectacular collapse of outsourcer Carillion, which the National Audit Office estimates is set to cost taxpayers £150m.

The shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said a new Labour government will end PFI and bring financing schemes “in house”. Labour said the cost of schools and hospitals has “ballooned” under PFI.

Sajid Javid talks with John McDonnell (Photo: Getty)

In setting out his post-Brexit investment plans at the Conservative conference last month, the Chancellor Sajid Javid said he would “bring in an infrastructure revolution” and invest an extra £13.4bn into public services.

His predecessor Philip Hammond abolished the PFI model in the wake of the Carillion collapse.

The Treasury said it was supporting health authorities to manage the costs of old PFI deals. A spokeswoman said: “As announced in last year’s Budget, we will no longer be using PFI and PF2 funding for new government projects.”

The history of Private Finance Initiatives Posted October 16th 2019

Johnston Publishing

1992: The Private Finance Initiative is launched by John Major’s Conservative Government to finance new public sector buildings. The then Chancellor Norman Lamont said in the autumn statement: “Obviously, the interests of the taxpayer have to be protected, but I also want to ensure that sensible investment decisions are taken whenever the opportunity arises.”

1995: Britain’s first PFI project, Scotland’s Skye Bridge, opens. Within a decade, a public outcry over its high toll charges forces the Scottish Executive to buy the bridge from its private owners at a cost of £27m.

1997: Two months after New Labour sweeps into power, the Health Secretary Alan Milburn announces it is “PFI or bust” for the funding of infrastructure. Use of the model soars through the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown years. Two years later, Mr Milburn said there had been an “upsurge in confidence… that PFI can deliver the goods”.

1999: Alan Milburn says: “Since we came to office in May 1997, this Government has revitalised PFI so that today we can rightly say that it is a key tool in helping provide effective and good value public services.” Richard Smith, the editor of the British Medical Journal, denounces PFI it as “PFI: Perfidious Financial Idiocy” in an editorial revealing that repayments will be exorbitant.

2007: The value of PFI deals peaks, with private companies investing £8.6bn in public infrastructure.

2008: Use of PFI falls in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

2011: After the Coalition government comes to power, two parliamentary committees heavily criticise PFI. The Public Accounts Committee suspects companies are making excessive profits from the schemes, with chair Margaret Hodge MP warning that “tax revenue is being lost through the use of off-shore arrangements by PFI investors”. She said: “While PFI has delivered many new public buildings and services that might not otherwise have been built, it is far from clear that it has provided value for money. At present, PFI looks like a better deal for the private sector than for the taxpayer.” In the same year, the Treasury Committee also finds the full cost of a hospital built under PFI is set to be 70 per cent higher than a publicly funded one.

2012: The Chancellor George Osborne relaunches the PFI model as PF2, run in a similar way but with more details of the deals to be made public. He said: “Since we can all see now that the public sector was sharing the risk, we will now ensure we also share in the reward.”

2018: Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland – a PFI investor – calls the model a “fraud on the people”. The National Audit Office publishes a key report finding little evidence of PFI’s benefits. The Chancellor Philip Hammond abolishes PFI but old schemes remain in place.

Toxic PFI legacy is pushing schools towards financial ruin Posted October 16th 2019

John Dickens 6 Fri 4th Dec 2015, 6.00

Cash-strapped schools are being pushed into financial ruin by soaring debts owed to the private firms that funded their buildings, Schools Week can exclusively reveal.

Takeovers of underperforming schools have also stalled due to the hefty costs associated with the contracts.

Annual repayments in some schools with private finance initiative (PFI) contracts have soared by £125,000, forcing staffing cuts to balance their books. In others, costs are escalating at a rate of around £30,000 each year – the salary of an average teacher.

Schools in Stoke-on-Trent are locked into 25-year contracts to pay off a consortium of private companies who funded new buildings and refurbishments in 2000 as part of a £153 million deal with Stoke council.

One of the schools, Birches Head Academy (pictured above), is paying more than £380,000 a year on PFI costs – up by more than £125,000 in just four years.

Roisin Maguire, the academy’s consultant headteacher, said: “When schools are having to make people redundant to pay huge PFI contracts, then something is wrong.”

Roisin Maguire

Roisin Maguire

She described the contract as “unsustainable” as the costs were based on the school being funded for a full quota of pupils. At present only 60 per cent of places are filled at the school.

St Joseph’s College, where Ms Maguire is headteacher, is considering sponsoring Birches Head to get it back on track but she said the governors “don’t want to take on a financial liability”.

Elsewhere in the city, Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) is the preferred sponsor to take over two schools said to be struggling financially, Sandon College and Packmoor Primary.

But the takeover has been delayed as the trust investigates the PFI costs lumped with the schools. The yearly rise in PFI costs at Sandon – which is in special measures – is believed to be the equivalent of funding one maths teacher.

A large chunk of the cost increase faced by the school is to make up for an estimated shortfall in funds after it was reported the council could run out of money to pay for the contract – six years before the deal was due to ends.

Professor Toby Salt, OAT chief executive, has written to schools minister Lord Nash this week to raise his concerns.

Toby Salt

Toby Salt

But the problem isn’t confined to Stoke.

Using public records, Schools Week uncovered 128 academies paying almost £70 million in the 2013-14 financial year on PFI costs, which is an average of more than £500,000 per school.

The figures suggest the cost of contracts at some schools rocketed by nearly £200,000 in just 12 months – the equivalent of three senior leaders’ wages.

Total amounts paid to private firms under the deals will be even higher as costs for local authority schools are not centrally available and were not included in the analysis.

In Stoke’s case, the PFI scheme was set up by the local authority and private firm Balfour Beatty. It is now run by a dedicated PFI company called Transform Schools.

The Financial Times reported that Balfour sold its stake in four school PFI projects – including Stoke – to infrastructure investment company Innisfree in 2013. The paper said that Balfour made a gain of nearly £24.4 million on its equity in the projects.

Ms Maguire said the PFI repayments were forcing Stoke schools to cut costs: “Something is going to have to give. It’s coming to a head.”

Two school leaders we spoke to described the PFI contracts as “toxic”. Another couldn’t publicly speak about his school’s contract because he said it had a gagging clause.

One academy chain head, with PFI contracts averaging £400,000 across its schools, said: “It’s a bit like every time you want to drive somewhere you have to take a taxi with the meter running – that’s the reality.”

According to annual accounts, the Cabot Learning Federation paid £888,000 in PFI facilities management costs alone last year for two schools.

One of its schools, Bristol Brunel Academy – built under the Building Schools for the Future programme in 2007 – paid £561,000 for maintenance in 2013/14.

Steve Taylor, chief executive of Cabot, told Schools Week the state-of-the-art school provided real advantages for pupils.

Antony Power

Antony Power

But if the current above-inflation contract increases continued, it would be “considerably less affordable”.

Antony Power, a partner and head of education at law firm Michelmores, said academies faced being driven into deficits unless they took greater control of their PFI costs.

“Unless things change, the problems are likely to get worse as time goes on. At the moment inflation is low; when it rises, the PFI costs will rise more steeply, probably faster than school budgets.”

Stoke council said it was in talks with Birches Head to review its costs. A spokesperson also said it had met with Ormiston officials to warn that converting did not relieve schools from the contract. If they did, it would place “huge financial burdens on the remaining schools in the PFI contract and the council”.

Pfi-cartoon

How PFI works

Private finance initiatives involve the private sector financing, building and operating public infrastructure, such as schools.

The private firms are repaid through leases spanning 25 or 30 years which, in the case of schools, are signed by local authorities.

It was used to build and repair secondary schools under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, which nearly 100 local authorities had signed up to by 2009.

The scheme was the brainchild of the Conservatives, but later became popular under the Labour government towards the end of the 1990s as its “buy now, pay later” structure provided new infrastructure without needing money up front.

But problems emerged over the price of repaying the contracts – which, in some cases, have spiralled to seven times the original investment.

An investigation by the Independent on Sunday newspaper this year found the UK owes more than £222 billion from PFI deals – more than £3,400 per person. It rose by £5 billion last year alone.

Schools Week found many schools are now facing financial problems as they cut costs to meet squeezed budgets.

Local authorities mostly pay for the PFI buildings contract but schools are locked into facilities management repayments, which can include cleaning, caretaking and catering, over the contract span and which come directly from their own budgets.

For instance, in two Bristol schools taken over by the Cabot Learning Federation, the local authority continues to pay the costs of the building, part of Bristol’s Building Schools for the Future programme.

However, the trust has taken on the facilities management contract for the academies. It has agreed to repay a percentage of the overall facilities bill based on the funding that would have been available to the local authority if it had stayed a maintained school.

Former education secretary Michael Gove scrapped the BSF scheme in 2010 because of “massive overspends”.

The government’s new building programme will deliver 46 schools under a new scheme called PF2. Chancellor George Osborne has said this will be more transparent and better value for money.

The Unwinnable Trade War Everyone Loses in the U.S.-Chinese Clash—but Especially Americans

By Weijian ShanNovember/December 2019

U.S China Trade War Posted October 16th 2019

In late June, the leaders of China and the United States announced at the G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, that they had reached a détente in their trade war. U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that the two sides had set negotiations “back on track.” He put on hold new tariffs on Chinese goods and lifted restrictions preventing U.S. companies from selling to Huawei, the blacklisted Chinese telecommunications giant. Markets rallied, and media reports hailed the move as a “cease-fire.”

That supposed cease-fire was a false dawn, one of many that have marked the on-again, off-again diplomacy between Beijing and Washington. All wasn’t quiet on the trade front; the guns never stopped blazing. In September, after a summer of heated rhetoric, the Trump administration increased tariffs on another $125 billion worth of Chinese imports. China responded by issuing tariffs on an additional $75 billion worth of U.S. goods.

The United States might institute further tariffs in December, bringing the total value of Chinese goods subject to punitive tariffs to over half a trillion dollars, covering almost all Chinese imports. China’s retaliation is expected to cover 69 percent of its imports from the United States.

If all the threatened hikes are put in place, the average tariff rate on U.S. imports of Chinese goods will be about 24 percent, up from about three percent two years ago, and that on Chinese imports of U.S. goods will be at nearly 26 percent, compared with China’s average tariff rate of 6.7 percent for all other countries.

The parties to this trade war may yet step back from the abyss. There have been over a dozen rounds of high-level negotiations without any real prospect of a settlement.

Trump thinks that tariffs will convince China to cave in and change its allegedly unfair trade practices. China may be willing to budge on some issues, such as buying more U.S. goods, opening its market further to U.S. companies, and improving intellectual property protection,

Latest Red Rumour: They’ll Nuke Moon Posted September 16th 2019

Boaz Shoshan



As the US’s fresh batch of hypersonic weapons approaches the flight-testing phase…

As a nuclear-powered missile test in Russia goes horribly awry…

And as an Australian MP compares his country’s obliviousness to the threat of China as the French were to the rise of Nazi Germany…

We sit back and wonder just how wild this Cold War needs to get before mainstream investors realise it’s going on…

Dangerous

In 1958, the US developed a plan to detonate a thermonuclear device on the moon: Project A119.

The top-secret project was developed after the Soviets launched Sputnik, to boost the US’s street cred after it’d lost the race to space. In a game of one-upmanship, the US would show the Soviets who was boss by lighting up the moon above Moscow.

Interestingly, nobody actually knows why the project was cancelled. Vince Houghton, the historian that brought the project to light, doesn’t believe it was to preserve the moon’s beauty:

The mission was scrapped seemingly out of a worry that the best- laid PR plans of the Air Force would be thwarted when the public saw this as an abhorrent defacement of the moon’s beauty instead of a demonstration of American scientific prowess. Maybe we realized landing a man on the moon was possible, and more impressive?

… Are you convinced the US Air Force, at the height of the Cold War, in the wake of the shocking launch of Sputnik and the fear left in its wake, scrapped A119 because it might muss up the moon a little bit?

Neither am I.

Included in the planning was, believe it or not, a young Carl Sagan, who would go on to break the rules and put his involvement in the project on his CV. Sagan would go on to happily take credit for writing such papers as Radiological Contamination of the Moon by Nuclear Weapons Detonations and Possible Contribution of Lunar Weapons Detonations to the Solution of Some Problems in Planetary Astronomy when applying for a scholarship at the University of California in 1959 (as great excuses go, “solving some problems in planetary astronomy” has to be up there).

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The fact that such an idea was kicked around for eight months by the US military establishment is indicative of the time. This was a period of all-out competition between the two powers; a period totally opposite to the global order we’ve experienced since the Berlin Wall fell… but one to which we are rapidly returning to as the US recognises China as a great power competitor.

Project A119 was spurred on in part because the US thought the Soviets would nuke the moon too. But of course, back then American investors had zero capital in Chinese markets. Nor did the Soviet Union have a currency that was pegged to the USD, as China effectively has today.

Imagine how the stock, bond and FX markets would react today if this headline made it to print. Swap out “Russians” for “Chinese Communist Party”:

This was printed on Friday 1 November 1957 in the Pittsburgh Press. 7 November was supposedly the date at which the Soviets would nuke the moon to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

This rumour was completely unfounded, though incidentally the Soviets would develop such a plan soon afterwards. They cancelled their programme as they were afraid the missile wouldn’t launch correctly, and fall back to earth, nuking either themselves or a foreign country. The Soviets concluded in a gloriously understated fashion, that this would create “a highly undesirable international incident”.

Such schemes appear ludicrous now, but I strongly suspect the great power competition of the Second Cold War will produce some equally mad and dangerous ideas. But this time around, Western investors will feel the impact of them in their portfolios – passive investors especially.

By the end of this year, MSCI (which creates indices or stocks and other assets) will have quadrupled the weighting of mainland Chinese stocks in its global indices (a significant increase happens just this month, with another boost in November). Investment managers which offer passive products – like Blackrock or Vanguard offering low-cost ETFs – use those MSCI indices as a guide to where that money should be invested.

The greater inclusion of China in the indices will direct billions of dollars from pension funds and passive investors into Chinese companies… right as Cold War II ramps up, and geopolitical risk returns to markets in ways we haven’t seen in decades.

The inclusion of China in such benchmarks has made MSCI a geopolitical actor. I anticipate it shan’t be long before the US administration begins to target such inclusions (and starve China of dollars), just as the US has begun to crack down on Chinese investment in the US.

Not all fund managers are oblivious to what’s going on of course. I spoke to an investment manager recently on the subject, who describes the gradual disintegration of US/China relations similarly – as a “New World Disorder”. He views the deterioration of post-Berlin Wall order as a “Black Swan Factory” (I wish I’d thought of that line), which he’s been developing some strategies to defend against, and profit from.

While Nick Hubble and I have outlined a few ways to play the Second Cold War in Zero Hour Alert, my colleague James Allen has identified another, playing on Russia’s role in all this. He’ll be publishing his research on the matter shortly – keep an eye out.

Enforced property sales September 8th 2019

Nick O’Connor


Dear Reader,   Do you own any property other than your main home?   If so, how does the idea of selling it, enforced, for far below the market value sound to you?   I’m guessing the answer is unappealing, to say the least.   Well, it’s just one of the many ways your wealth is being sized up.   Here’s what Britain’s potential shadow chancellor says:   “You’d want to establish what is a reasonable price, you can establish that and then that becomes the right to buy.”“You [the government] set the criteria.”“I don’t think it’s complicated.”   In a sense, he’s right.   It’s not complicated. It’s socialism.   And it doesn’t stop at your property.   If you want to know where else your wealth could be harvested should an election be triggered this year…   Click here now to read Nickolai Hubble’s analysis.   Best,  

  Nick O’Connor Publisher, Southbank Investment Research

What led to Hitler?  Posted September 1st 2019

Nickolai Hubble 

Nickolai Hubble 


Force people to live under extreme conditions, and they’ll be more open to extreme solutions.    In the 1930s depression, people’s savings were wiped out overnight, through no fault of their own.   They couldn’t afford to warm their houses or feed themselves.   So people marched for jobs. And then, when it became plain no jobs were coming, they started marching for food.   They were desperate… and starving…   And soon, they became bitter and angry.   If you know your history, you know where they turned:   Towards Hitler… towards Mussolini…   And eventually, towards war.   Did you know that the current economic crisis in Europe has actually been more damaging than the great depression of the 1930s?   You won’t see that reported in the media.   People are growing angry… and desperate…   Mirroring the past.   Click here to find out what I think will happen next.

Howzat, America? September 1st 2019

Boaz Shoshan




I only found out how the scoring worked in cricket about a month ago.

Cricket isn’t taught much in Scotland for reasons which may have something to do with the weather. I think the only time I was ever taught anything about it in school was in a gym class when I was nine, and that was purely because a South African teacher was visiting.

Suffice to say, rugby was more my thing, and the Ashes and Cricket World Cup routinely passed me by. But Kit Winder, research analyst and resident cricket nut (one of several in this office), thought it was time to give me a crash course over beers after work one Friday.

Now I’ve finally been introduced to “the game of empire”. And what a great game it is, with all the nuances and tactics you could ever hope for as an observer. Not to mention terms like “Yorker”, “full toss”, and the suggestively visceral bodyline” (a ruthless cricketing strategy invented by a Scotsman, funnily enough).

You’re probably wondering (quite rightly) where today’s letter is going. Kit made a parallel between cricket and investing in this letter a while back when I was away (Two types of cuts – 19 July). But in light of recent events, I’d like to make a more overt comparison.

The dollar’s dismissal

Jerome Powell of the Federal Reserve (left) and Mark Carney of the Bank of England (right) at Jackson Hole Though the pound fell from grace as the world’s reserve currency many decades ago, the City of London remains the world’s favourite financial cricket ground, where every major bank on the planet goes to play. And while those banks can play a lot dirtier in the City than in their home countries, with far fewer rules and regulations… they still fall under the Bank of England’s domain.

In this way, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, is in some respects an umpire of the entire global financial system.

When a cricket umpire raises his index finger to a batsman, it’s time for him to leave the field. The opposing team may have outfoxed him, or maybe he made an error. Whatever the case, it’s time for him to withdraw: he has been dismissed.

Last week at Jackson Hole, Mark Carney called upon the world to dismiss the US dollar. A bold move, almost perfectly reflected in the image above, taken there as he addressed Jerome Powell, the man batting for the US and the USD at the Federal Reserve.

“In the new world order, a reliance on keeping one’s house in order is no longer sufficient. The neighbourhood too must change,” Carney declared in his speech. Umpire indeed.

Creating a “Synthetic Hegemonic Currency”

Carney’s speech, imaginatively titled “The Growing Challenges for Monetary Policy in the current International Monetary and Financial System”, calls upon the financial policymakers elite to not only drastically reduce their use of the dollar, but to replace it with a global digital currency, which he likens to Facebook’s new Libra project.

His case against the US dollar is relatively simple, in that the US’s currency is much larger than the US’s economy, and as a result, problems in the US which should be small on a global scale, end up having massive global impact, especially in emerging markets, where it is much easier to borrow in dollars.

Source: Bank of England John Connally, US Treasury secretary during the Nixon era (trivia: he was also in the car with JFK when he was assassinated), famously declared that the USD was “our currency, but your problem” to his foreign counterparts at a G10 meeting after the US went off the gold standard.

News

Boris Johnson: Central Banker of the Year 2019

Boaz Shoshan Posted August 29th 2019




There’s nothing quite like a nice suspension of Parliament to weaken a currency.

If you’ve been trading the pound, I hope you made the right call this morning.

The strength of the pound relative to the dollar from late last night until 11am today, in ten-minute candles. While £1 was worth $1.2280 around midnight, by 8.30am it was around $1.2155. May seem small, but the currency market is the largest in the world, and large moves in mature currencies require significant volume. Chart courtesy of FXStreet. Boris Johnson really has been doing his bit to create inflation in this country.

Central bankers should take note – Lord knows they’ve been trying their damnedest to bring it about in the developed world, but to no avail.

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For over a decade they unceasingly strive devalue the currencies, and inflate away the debt burdens which hang heavy on their nations. But their successes are limited. The only thing that seems to have meaningfully inflated in line with their efforts is the net worth of bond investors… the price of property downtown… and the number of Rolls-Royces purring through Mayfair.

But the currencies of developed nations on a trade-weighted basis (TWI) have not got any cheaper.

(TWI = the value of a currency when measured against the currencies of the other nations they trade with most often. The higher the trade weighted index, the stronger the currency.)

The almighty dollar has never been stronger…

Though the crushingly indebted Italy cries out for a weaker euro, the FX market is not nearly so kind.

And though the masters of the yen in the Bank of Japan have been playing this game of devaluation, they continue to fail.

But lo, Boris Johnson, taking macroprudential matters into his own hands, continues to deliver sterling results. Literally.

Bear witness to Britannia, the international exception:

We’ve discussed some of the more imaginative ways in which a central banker may try to devalue their currency in a pinch. Mark Carney strutting around the City with a naked sword in his belt (as is his right as a Freeman of the City of London) and not explaining it to anybody was one such approach.

But Boris Johnson has proved that while central banks are tasked with generating inflation, in reality this is a politician’s game and we can comfortably rely on the government to unceasingly deliver it, whether we like it or not.

It’s no surprise considering the above that the price of gold in pounds is once again hitting new all-time highs.

A 1 troy ounce gold Britannia, which for so long cost a grand, will now set you back over £1,300. Britannia, former ruler of the waves, has since become a leader of British investment performance in retirement.

If you’ve never dabbled in gold before, there’s no time like the present to learn.

While central bankers may fail to meet their mandate, politicians stand ever willing to step into the breach. Which is why I hereby nominate Boris Johnson as Central Banker of the Year 2019.

God Save the Queen.

All the best,

Boaz Shoshan
Editor, Capital & Conflict

A Look into Nestle’s Controversial Water Bottling Business in Canada Posted August 29th 2019

The company’s Canadian subsidiary is currently in dispute with an Ontario town that was experiencing a drought.

by Vanmala SubramaniamSep 30 2016, 3:39pmShareTweet


Photo via Flickr user Wilson Hui

With about 0.5 percent of the world’s population, Canada has a disproportionate share of global water supply with seven percent of the globe’s renewable water and roughly half of the world’s lakes. Groundwater is just one of the many water sources in Canada, but the lack of federal and provincial regulation with regards to groundwater extraction has made it very easy for big companies like Nestle to swoop in and monopolize groundwater resources.

In fact, Nestle Waters Canada—a subsidiary of the multi-billion dollar Swiss company Nestle Group actually has a pretty long history of extracting clean groundwater from all across Canada, specifically British Columbia. Nestle Waters has two plants in Canada—one in Hope, BC, the other in Aberfoyle, near the city of Guelph, Ontario. There have been ongoing water disputes between the community and Nestle in both those regions.

Kawkawa Lake, District of Hope, BC

Nestle and the residents of the District of Hope have been at loggerheads over water supply from the Kawkawa Lake since 2000, when Nestle opened a water-bottling facility in Hope, using water from only one source, the Kawkawa Lake. Nestle vehemently defends its operations, stating that they withdraw less than 1 percent of the available groundwater in the Kawkawa Lake aquifer. But the issue arises when a drought hits and the residents of Hope are forced to restrict water use, while Nestle is allowed to continue the same pace of production.

Nestle bottles approximately 265 million litres of water from BC. Up until the beginning of this year, Nestle paid absolutely nothing for water it took from Kawkawa Lake. It was only in 2016 after much pressure primarily from the residents of Hope, that the province instituted regulations requiring any company extracting clean drinking water to pay $2.25 per million litres of water. According to activist group The Council of Canadians, the $2.25 rate is low compared to other provinces. In Ontario, for instance, companies have to pay up to $15 to extract a million litres of clean drinking water. In 2011, as a gesture of appreciation of sorts, Nestle donated $45,000 to the District of Hope for the construction of a playground.

The BC government takes a different stance on the issue of payment. They say charging a fee for water could have the potential of raising legal questions over who owns that water. In addition, they claim that Nestle is hardly affected by a small fee for water, but many smaller bottling companies would be priced out of the market. Until the Water Sustainability Act was instituted in 2016, BC’s only water regulation related to ensuring groundwater extraction techniques were environmentally safe. Clean groundwater is up for bids in most of BC, with corporations like Nestle often having the upper hand because of their scale of production, and ability to ensure that extraction methods do not hurt the environment. Now however, the provincial government has the authority to step in with mandatory restrictions in the case of a drought.

Hillsburgh, Ontario

In 2005, the former CEO of Nestle, Peter Brabeck was quoted as saying that water should not be considered a human right and be instead treated as a “foodstuff commodity.” That video was leaked and went viral in 2013—the same year that Nestle was in the middle of another dispute with the town of Hillsburgh, Ontario, near Guelph. Nestle withdraws as much as 1.1 million litres of water daily from a well in Hillsburgh, which has suffered three major droughts since 2007.

2013 was one of the driest years in Hillsburgh, yet Nestle continued to extract the same amount of water from that one well. Public pressure caused the province to intervene, and when it renewed Nestle’s contract on the Hillsburgh Well, it made it mandatory for Nestle to reduce the amount of groundwater it extracts during times of drought. The story didn’t end there, unfortunately. Nestle aggressively appealed the new permit’s restrictions and a few months later, the Ontario’s Environment Ministry agreed to remove the restrictions.

Wellington, Ontario

Just a couple of days ago, Nestle outbid the Township of Centre Wellington, Ontario, for it’s only new source of clean drinking water—a local well. The Township sits entirely on what is called glacial moraine, an unconsolidated accumulation of soil and rock that once used to be a glacier. This unique geological formation makes it particularly difficult for residents of the town to have access to a safe supply of drinking water. In fact, there is only one new source of clean drinking water in Centre Wellington—the local well that Nestle now owns.

The same activist group that was involved in getting Nestle to pay for water in BC put out a petition last week calling for the boycott of Nestle, which actually already owns a large bottling plant in nearby Aberfoyle, Ontario. According to the petition, Nestle pays less than $15 a day for clean groundwater from this particular well, and “ships it out of the community in hundreds of millions of single use plastic bottles for sale all over North America—at an astronomical markup.”

However, according to Andreanne Simard, Nestle’s Natural Resource Manager at its plant near Guelph, the Township of Centre Wellington is “lucky to have a company that monitors and manages a resource like water so well.”

“We’re very particular that there is no adverse, negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem.”

Simard claims that in August this year, at the height of the drought in Centre Wellington, Nestle voluntarily reduced their water extraction by 20 percent. “One thing we have in common with the community is our shared passion for water,” Simard said.

But the declaration from the Council of Canadians is asking for more than just a boycott of Nestle because of its activities in the Township of Central Wellington, it’s calling for Nestle to “stop profiting from water altogether.”

“Wasting our limited groundwater on frivolous and consumptive uses such as bottled water is madness,” it said.

However, Ontario’s government has come to the defence of Nestle. Treasury Board President Liz Sandals, who reps Guelph, says the public often has the wrong facts about the company.

“There’s no doubt that there is a lot of concern, but my point to you is that many of the things that people will express a concern about actually turn out to be based on misinformation,” she said, according to the Canadian Press.

Follow Vanmala Subramaniam on Twitter.

Growing Mussolini  

Nick Hubble   August 26th 2019


Force people to live under extreme conditions, and they’ll be more open to extreme solutions.   In the 1930s depression, people’s savings were wiped out overnight, through no fault of their own.   They couldn’t afford to warm their houses or feed themselves.  

So people marched for jobs. And then, when it became plain no jobs were coming, they started marching for food.    They were desperate… and starving…   And soon, they became bitter and angry.   If you know your history, you know where they turned:   Towards Hitler… towards Mussolini…    And eventually, towards war.  

Did you know that the current economic crisis in Europe has actually been more damaging than the great depression of the 1930s?   You won’t see that reported in the media.   People are growing angry… and desperate…   Mirroring the past.   Click here to find out what I think will happen next.   Best wishes,  

The Governement does not want more police to deal with knife crime, they want them to control the masses. Back in the Seventies one of my Economic History tutors, Steve Cherry, at UEA talked about a book called ‘Low Intensity Operations in Peace Time Britain.’ Look it up. Robert Cook.
A beggar sits in a doorway in london;s West End theatre land, where wealthy people watch and chatter about plays that are never about anything other than their smug moralising world where they want more police to keep them safe and comfortable so they can go on getting promoted and chattering. image and Copy Robert Cook 2015

​     Nick Hubble Capital & Conflict

Nick Hubble


Dear Reader,   Are you sick of it yet? Everyone won’t stop talking about Brexit.   I do… sometimes. But it never leads anywhere. It’s always a waste of time, in the end.   I spend most of my time thinking about something else instead.   Something I consider to be the most important turn of events for British investors. Something completely under the radar.   If you have money in the financial system, you need to know about this.   It’s an obscure secret hidden in Europe’s monetary system.  

Think of it as a ticking timebomb.   It could explode soon, and when it does it’ll make Brexit look like a sideshow. To be honest, it could be big enough to put Brexit on hold altogether.   You need to know when things go “bang”.   Because, I believe, the blast is likely to impact Britain in a big way.   It could impact you, your family and your savings.  

That’s why I chose to write a book about THIS secret and not about Brexit.   People were telling me to write a book about Brexit. It would sell more.   Sales are important for a writer.   But telling the truth is more important for a writer with a conscience.   Don’t get me wrong… Brexit is important… but this secret is way more important for British investors.   I can guarantee you this: The secret is not something you will want to hear…   … yet it is something you MUST hear if you want a chance at protecting everything you’ve worked so hard to build.   Before we get to that, let me show you what some fellow investors who read the book are saying:

“Very informative on how the system works, and how it will fail.” – Malcom Campbell   “Read it! Deny what he says if you can. Ignore it at your peril.” – David Gahan   “It is essential that you know what is coming in Europe.” – Jim Whitelaw   “The book dares to expose what the mainstream commentators avoid and fear to admit.” – Mark Mellor   I won’t go on – though I could…   You can grab your copy of my book below.   I believe you already know that you need to do so…   >> Get your copy here <<   Best wishes,  

  Nick Hubble Editor, Southbank Investment Research