The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

Archive for the 'UK' Category

03 December
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Libertarianism – Nice Idea But For UKIP A Bit Ivory Tower…

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A confession.

My first political action was helping my dad, a working class Tory, put a poster in our window for the 1950 election. Since then, until 2013 I was often an active party member but always a loyal Tory voter…sometimes while holding my nose (Heath) other times almost ecstatic with enthusiasm (Thatcher)

Admittedly from 2006 I had my doubts about Cameron and developed an interest in UKIP but I only actually joined UKIP in 2013 because of Diane James and Eastleigh. Until then, outside of Farage, many other UKIP figures did appear to me to be oddballs. Diane James was no oddball and, more importantly, she almost won – and that was why I joined. UKIP was obviously appealing to a considerable number of ordinary voters.

But I have never been a libertarian.

After all, who in terms of practical politics could honestly see a “libertarian” government being elected and then proceeding to dismantle the apparatus of the state? Ron Paul won the devotion of a handful of bright young Ayn Rand groupies. He managed to win straw polls yet remained electorally irrelevant. The Tea Party was a genuine grassroots movement with a laser like focus on fiscal probity that fired the 2010 election and began the undermining of the Democrats and their hold on political power that had been handed to them on a plate by the beltway GOP in 2006 and 2008. After 2008 the GOP leadership and their media pundits were all for going with the flow and working with the Democrats. The Tea Party and their biggest fan, Sarah Palin, went for Obama, Pelosi & Co with knives and baseball bats. The beltway pundits rolled their eyes but the voters liked what they heard. Meanwhile Ron Paul stood aloof from the Tea Party and watched as politics passed him by.

Similarly while UKIP was a tiny fringe cult where libertarians could play all day it attracted few votes outside the meaningless Euros. Once it began to be perceived as a populist party resonating with a shift in public mood in 1913 it began winning local council seats and making an impact in parliamentary elections. This was accompanied by a dramatic increase in membership and the expansion of the branch structure which in some areas generated a lively and energetic core of local activists. The result? More local election gains in 2014 and UKIP’s first MPs’

Not all of the pre 2013 kippers have been impressed, particularly the libertarians. Policy shifts on the NHS, taxation and welfare have led to mutterings about “red UKIP” and perhaps one can understand their concerns. But I also feel that some of them are maybe subconsciously uncomfortable with the influx of new members and the prospects of electoral success. They were happier being perceived as the followers of a fringe cult baying helplessly at the moon because it helped to reinforce their own conviction that they were prophets crying in the wilderness, ignored by an ignorant majority who would suffer on the Day of Judgement.

I would guess that the vast majority of the post 2013 UKIP intake are, like me, inclined towards small government. But we also recognise that a modern nation state is a highly complex structure that needs a modicum of direction if only to guard its citizens from the designs of those who wish us harm through criminal activity within or without the realm.

Of course any political movement needs to be grounded with principles – yet it must also seek to gain power to put those principles into practice. There are only three ways of doing this – by taking over an existing party, by creating a separate party and start to win elections or by some sort of coup or insurrection .Either way means getting your hands dirty with political action….and I really can’t see any of our libertarian dream weavers leaving their ivory towers to do that….

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08 November
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Media Hacks Know Frack All About UKIP – So They Make It Up….

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Rod Liddle at the Speccie has gone all Dan Brown and reckons he’s cracked the UKIP code….it’s a London thing…

 I suspect that the real pull of Ukip in England is that the party, and Mr Farage particularly, are seen as a corrective to the vapid, flaccid, spineless, politically correct and wholly London-centric mitherings of what, until May next year, we must call the main three parties.

I do love it when media hacks and TV pundits who know frack all about UKIP and its 40,000+ members pontificate about the motives of its supporters and why it is rising in the polls. Fact is these scribblers and prattlers have long lists of contacts in the lobby and among the bright young things at party HQ (whose parents they know from their own Oxbridge days)…they are all constantly networking, sharing gossip and swapping nannies.

UKIP leadership cadres simply do not move in these circles and, until a couple of years ago, were, at best, politely ignored or, more often, treated with contempt by these hacks. Even today, like their political contacts in the three main parties they cannot bring themselves to contemplate the possibility that the tectonic plates have shifted. Come “real politics” next May they are convinced that UKIP will fade away and once again North London dinner parties will be where it’s all happening. – so why bother to cultivate any UKIP contacts?

Hence the tendency to treat the party in a similar way to those newly discovered tribes from the depths of the Amazonian forest. There are a few photos published in the Daily Mail alongside a report big on hype and short on facts, a brief flurry of media interest that peters out after six days – and then the whole story just..evaporates.

I suppose it was a bit like that in St Petersburg in the last few months of 1916….

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18 September
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Did The Telegraph Drive Andy Murray To Support “Yes”?

I don’t usually have much time for Andy Murray’s views on anything outside tennis but I have to admit that his last minute tweet in favour of Scottish independence did resonate with me.

Huge day for Scotland today! no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. excited to see the outcome. lets do this!

The Telegraph was naturally very sniffy about this – perhaps because the paper’s coverage of the referendum campaign over the last few weeks has been one never ending barrage of negativity against the Yes campaign

I do not deny the right of the DT to have an editorial stance – what I have found disturbing is their refusal to provide much in terms of column inches for supporters of independence. Instead hack after hack has been wheeled out to blather on and on about the evils of Salmond and the SNP. Any organ that aspires to be above the level of a tabloid ought to give some room to both sides of the argument. I don’t expect an even balance but it is clear that, at the very least, a substantial minority of Scots support independence. To demonise them as simpletons being manipulated by a sinister cult leadership which is distracting them from the benefits of this mystic “union” is hardly the stuff of quality “journalism”. There is a case for independence and any organ that has pretensions to intelligent analysis ought to treat it with a certain degree of respect.. Instead the Telegraph’s tone has been shrill, hysterical and as one sided as any series of articles in the Volkischer Beobachter…

Worst of all it is the voice of a particularly patronising element of the Home Counties middle class which still perceives Scotland through the lens of Walter Scott culminating in an endless parade of Burns night dinners where Reigate golfers and their wives pretend to be striding through some heather strewn glen, waxing lyrical about a place very few of them would ever visit.

But for me the clincher was the DT’s attempt to trump Murray’s declaration with a list of those “celebrities” who are campaigning for a No…..

More than 200 famous names, including rockers Sir Paul McCartney, Sting and Mick Jagger; composer Andrew Lloyd Webber; comedian Eddie Izzard; model Stella Tenant; actresses Helena Bonham-Carter and Dame Judi Dench, Simon Cowell, and Stephen Hawking signed a letter urging Scotland to stay in the union.

I rest my case…..

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03 July
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Good Men Shed Blood For Our Freedoms In 1644…In 1973 We Spat On Their Sacrifice…

A brave attempt once more by Daniel Hannan to remind us that, at a time when the monarchies of Europe were successfully suffocating their own nascent representative institutions, the attempts by Charles I and his cohorts to do the same to the English Parliament by invoking the divine right of kings was finally broken in Yorkshire in the summer of 1644. The Battle of Marston Moor did not end the English Civil War between King and Parliament but it fatally weakened the Royalist forces.

As Hannan points out, although there were bumps along the way, the sovereignty of Parliament as the source of authority remained unchallenged for well over three hundred years until 1973.

Parliament remained sovereign until 1 January 1973, when Sections 2 and 3 of the 1972 European Communities Act came into effect, giving EU law primacy over British law

For centuries the idea that our freedom was deeply embedded in our past was part of the warp and weft of the upbringing of each English generation

Some of the men who won the day at Marston Moor would have pointed at Henry VIII’s break with Rome, others at Magna Carta. Yet others would have gone back still further, to the folkright of Anglo-Saxon common law that had constrained kings before 1066.

Today that key aspect of our history is largely ignored. To his credit Hannan has vividly brought it back to life with his book “How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters”

The pity is, however, that he still feels that the shame of 1973 can be resolved by negotiation within the confines of the EU – which is why he stays within the Tory party and remains a loyal follower of David Cameron. Until he realises that the permanent surrender of national sovereignty is the very keystone of the EU edifice and its removal would render the whole enterprise worthless Hannan must be regarded as an interesting but essentially unreliable observer.

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11 May
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Left Wing Drone Tries To Hide Her Tweet About Ethnic Minorities Supporting UKIP

Meet Laura Wilkes

Laura Wilkes is Head of Policy and Research at the New Local Government Network. Laura joined NLGN in November 2013 after a number of years at the Local Government Information Unit, where she led policy programmes on Community Budgets, local government finance, economic development and citizen coproduction. Prior to this, Laura worked in local government and is a graduate from the National Graduate Development Programme.

Yeah yeah she’s a classic Think Tank Labour drone so was so astonished at seeing a Pakistani chap leafletting for UKIP that she forgot all protocols and tweeted about it because surely in her little world UKIP IS RAAAAAAAACISTTTTT.

Anyway she soon realised she had committed the cardinal leftist sin of humanising UKIP – so she deleted the tweet.

Unfortunately or her the eagle eyed scourge of all right on middle class liberal/left trolls LittleBlueDr had nailed her…

https://twitter.com/LittleBlueDr/status/465533086785363968

No wonder our ruling class just don’t get UKIP….

 

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21 March
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The Left Says People Are Stupid So Government Should Tell Then How to Spend Their Pension Pot

I have never been a great fan of George Osborne. Like Cameron he is comes from a background of extreme wealth, never really had a proper job and has the charisma of a roll of felt. I also cannot really forgive his omnishambles of a budget in 2012 when he deftly kicked the ball into his own net several times.

But I will give him credit for giving pensioners greater control of their own pension pot

The centrepiece of yesterday’s Budget was a plan to allow people to withdraw their pension pot as a cash lump sum instead of investing in a pension plan, which ministers claim will give people choice to spend their money how they wish.

Laughably an assortment of financial “experts” (you know, the ones who so failed to foresee the 2008 recession) and Labour politicians waxed lyrical about the dangers of allowing people to spend their savings how they want.

The BBC, which spends taxpayers money like a drunken sailor on steroids, naturally joined in the chorus of doom.

These people really do think they know what’s best for you and me – better than we do ourselves. They devote their lives to filching money from our pockets and purses in order to do us good – and their schemes almost always end up in failure. They do not know how to generate money – only how to spend other people’s money

Above all they think we are stupid and need to be told what to do.

Then they wonder why more and more people outside the media/political/cultural elite are turning to a party of outsiders like UKIP…..

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18 March
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That’s Enough Of Benn & Crow – Time To Dump Them Into The Dustbin Of History….

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The sycophantic twaddle being pumped out from all points of the political compass about Bob Crow and “Tony” Benn simply beggars belief. Fact is they were both disciples of  the writings of that old German charlatan Karl Marx – which is why, of course, the former student “revolutionaries at the BBC  went hyper over their deaths.

I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of all the weeping and wailing.  It really is time for it to stop and for them both to be consigned to the dustbin of history where they both belong….

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03 March
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New Motto Of The Daily Telegraph – “Keep It In The Family”

With the sacking last month of editor Tony Gallagher the transformation of the once staid Daily Telegraph is now complete. Almost all the experienced (and expensive) hacks have gone, most of the “reporting” is being done by inexpensive and inexperienced novices, there is a lot of filler masquerading as  “comment” by a mixture of spotty youths and weird eccentrics and, of course, plenty of “lifestyle”

Which brings me to Jenna Zoe.

Earlier this year the DT began pushing this

Light Bites & Tasty Treats

Don’t miss 30 natural recipes from Jenna Zoe, including nutritious breakfasts, delicious party snacks, cookies and bakes. Free inside The Telegraph Saturday, January 18 and Sunday, January 

A few days before we had been told that Jenna Zoe was “The Complete Woman” in one of those vomit inducing puff pieces the broadsheets love so well. The idea is to give we ordinary folk a voyeuristic glimpse into the life of the beautiful people who are the movers and shakers of style.

- What you put on your body is important, so I pick organic products. I go to Content Beauty & Wellbeing in Marylebone, London, where the owner, Imelda Burke, is like an encyclopedia on the topic.

- I use Live Native skin products, which are raw and vegan. I love Oskia day moisturiser, and use coconut oil as a body cream and make-up remover. For nails,Zoya is great.

The reality is that it’s an advertising vehicle pretending to be an interview. Presumably it is hoped that we shall all be so entranced by Jenna that we will rush out and buy the stuff that makes her life so glamorous.

Normally I ignore such unsubtle garbage  – but I my curiosity was aroused by this pimping of someone who was obviously hip and cool but totally obscure…..was she a culinary Susan Boyle suddenly exploding from  nowhere by virtue of her own talent?

Alas, the truth is more mundane. Her real name, according to Lord Gnome, is Jenna Zoe Barclay and she is the daughter of DT supremo Aidan Barclay.

As they might say at Tesco “every little helps”……

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20 February
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The Big Cheeses At The Telegraph Seem To Be Whistling In The Dark About UKIP – So Why Won’t They Read Their Own Paper?

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I must admit that when I heard that the Daily Telegraph was going to post a regular blog called UkipWatch by two political scientists, Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin, my heart did sink. Academics are often characterised (not always unfairly) as left wing and the Telegraph has a history of being sniffy about UKIP.

I have been pleasantly surprised. Every piece so far published has been exceptionally fair. Ford and Goodman don’t do a whitewash but they have treated the party and its members and supporters with respect and not as a fringe group of nutcases and loons.

If only more of their DT colleagues were as fair-minded. Two, Tim Stanley and Damian Thompson, never reluctant to throw cutting barbs at their selected targets, have both scribbled quite heavily laboured so-called “jokes” about UKIP and appeared very indignant and hurt when people responded in kind – proving, I suppose, that they can dish it out but can’t take it hurled back at them.

A callow youth called Will Heaven (look at his picture) claimed that UKIP was imploding, a theme picked up by Benedict Brogan who, with several others, saw the Wythenshawe by election result (“UKIP fails to beat Labour”)as a justification for Will Heaven’s view that Cameron’s masterly handling of the floods had gone down well with the public and undermined Nigel Farage – unfortunately polling appears to indicate that the Cameron Flood Mastery image remains just that, an insubstantial image only in the eyes of Westminster’s political hacks desperate for 900 words to fill a column.

Ford and Goodman also shot the Heaven/Brogan Wythenshawe fox with some actual facts (as distinct from wishful thinking)

If anything, what is striking about the result is that Ukip saw a five-fold increase in their level of support despite these harsher local conditions. Think about it for a second. Despite a three week campaign. Despite a well-oiled and ruthlessly efficient Labour machine. Despite Farage’s allegations of local intimidation and “nasty tactics” by Labour and the BNP. Despite never having had any local active presence in the seat. Despite a striking turnout figure of 28%, reflecting by-election apathy and the storms, which may well have further suppressed the Ukip vote further. Despite all of this, Ukip still rocked in to this Labour area, took almost 18 per cent of the vote, moved from fifth to second place and added more than 14 points to their share of the vote in 2010. It is not a spectacular success in the same tradition of other campaigns that we have witnessed over the past two years, but make no mistake – this is still a solid advance. In fact, this was Ukip’s fourth best by-election result in their entire history.

But never fear. Another Telegraph big cheese, Iain Martin (“one of Britain’s wisest and most learned political commentators”) backs the Will Heaven line

Ukip looks as though it has hit a ceiling in terms of attracting support. Its attempts to eat into the Labour vote are, so far, misfiring. The party was also running third in a recent poll on the Euro elections, and the Tory claim that a vote for Farage is a vote for Miliband and a Europhile Labour government looks increasingly potent.

Indeed the biggest of all the Telegraph cheeses, Peter Oborne, sees this as all part of a Tory Cunning Plan

playing an expert game of expectations management, playing down its own chances and setting unfeasible targets for Ukip. This clever wheeze worked well at Wythenshawe, meaning that Ukip’s strong showing looked like a minor disaster for Farage, while everybody overlooked the dreadful Tory performance. They are now trying to repeat this in the forthcoming European elections. With their political strategists at last firing on all cylinders, the signs are that the Tories might even get away with it.

Losing votes and coming third is a strategy?

Ford and Goodman, however, dashed a bucketful of cold water over the frenzied musings of Martin and Oborne

But then things are never quite as simple as they often appear in Westminster.

It may well be true that Farage and Co could improve their expectation management, as George Eaton has argued. The easy thing would have been to avoid making any prediction about the European elections and then look surprised at a first place finish, but Farage never follows the easy path. Yet there are good reasons why we should not read into current polls or the result of one by-election where – to be frank – Ukip did well to poll over 17 per cent and push the Conservatives into third.

 

They make several key points.

 

  • In the 2004 & 2009 Euro elections UKIP benefited from late surges in the polls.

 

  • Today UKIP is starting from a higher polling base than before – over several months a steady 12%

 

  • The party now has stronger local roots – hundreds of elected councillors and a flourishing branch level membership

 

  • UKIP now has a regular and substantial presence in the news cycle

 

What’s the Telegraph up to? Is it acting as a conduit for Tory HQ? Who knows? But it’s beginning to strike me that the paper and its mates at Central Office are whistling in the dark in the face of UKIP’s growth.

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14 February
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Govt Wants To Know Why Auditors Cleared Dodgy UK Bank – So They Send In The Clowns…

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Great news…

Britain’s accounting watchdog has launched a formal investigation into KPMG’s work as the auditor of the Co-op Bank ahead of the emergence of a £1.5bn capital shortfall at the lending arm of the country’s largest mutual society.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said it would look at the way the Co-op Bank’s accounts were prepared, audited and approved in the years leading up to the discovery of a the capital black hole that threatened to put the lender out of business.

 And it’s not just the FRC…

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are undertaking their own investigations that could lead to formal action being taken against current and former senior managers and directors of the Co-op Bank.

Were there dodgy deals between beancounters and clients? We don’t know but at least with the FRC and FCA on the case if there was a lack of due diligence we should find out because an FRC/FCA investigation will be relentless….

What’s that? The boss at the FRC is Sir Win Bischoff, a former big cheese at Citigroup?

The City veteran is a contentious choice because he presided over astronomical ‘golden goodbyes’ to failed bankers during his two years on the Citi board. 

This included an eyewatering £40million payment for failure to former Citi chief Chuck Prince when he was forced out in 2007, despite steering the bank headlong into the toxic debt mire. 

Bischoff succeeded Prince on a temporary basis, then moved into the chairman’s job just months before Citi was bailed out by US taxpayers. 

 Surely this is not a case of the higher the title the weaker the talent pool?

Most people were underwhelmed when Sir Win Bischoff, former Citi chairman, was appointed as chairman of the Lloyds Banking Group to replace Sir Victor Blank. Bischoff never seemed to get to grips with Citi’s problems and gave the impression of hobbling along behind the bus rather than sitting upright at the steering wheel

After Citigroup Bischoff became chairman at Lloyds and was involved with the controversial sale of 600 Co-op Bank branches known as Project Verde.

Hmmmm

Still John Grifiths  Jones  at the FCA should be a safe pair of hands….shouldn’t he?

Questions have been raised about Mr Griffith-Jones because until last year he was chairman of KPMG, which is the Co-op Bank’s auditor. Last week, the Co-op Group launched an investigation into the bank’s £1.5bn capital shortfall including a review of “the role of the independent auditors”.

Tony Shearer, former chief executive of Singer & Friedlander, said Mr Griffith-Jones was “conflicted” as chairman of the banking regulator due to KPMG’s involvement with banks. The firm was also auditor of HBOS, Bradford & Bingley, and Kaupthing, all of which failed. Similar questions were raised in April about KPMG’s HBOS audit, by Mr Shearer and others.

 Are these really the men who should be investigating the KPMG/Co-op Bank affair?

 

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