Saturday, 24 December 2011

A XMAS HOPE AND A NEW YEAR WARNING

Due to far too much Christmas Spirit and even more festivities and family visits approaching I rely this year on Lefty Lucy from the "Ask a Socialist" website http://freedomroad.org/askasocialist/ for providing me with a Xmas message for the blog.

Merry Christmas one and all, see you in the new year which promises to be truly awful, and for my own plagiarised contribution to proceedings After Lucy's great piece on Xmas below I have left you with an only slightly updated version of that infamous Kinnock Speech to preview with trepidation the year ahead of us

Do you hear what I hear? It’s the socialist messages of Christmas 



On the surface, Christmas appears to be an overblown capitalist orgy. Starting as early as October, we’re told to spend, spend, spend. But I’m here to tell you about the Socialist messages that have been smuggled into the Yuletide season. Yes, Christmas is just a delicious, sugar-sprinkled part of the Communist conspiracy.


Christmas history: A primer

Due to the inevitable cross-pollination that comes with colonialism, most of the modern Christmas traditions have their roots in pagan customs. Like Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival which permitted slaves and servants to dine with their masters. It was topsy-turvy day, when you could flout power dynamics and class codes. The social contract was formally abandoned for one night to allow raucous merrymaking among the underclasses. It was sort of the precursor to office holiday parties where you’re allowed to get drunk on egg nog and make fun of your boss.

Caroling can be traced back to the Mummers rituals of old Europe. Somewhere around Solstice time, villagers would travel from house to house, performing songs, dances, and pantomimes in exchange for food or money. They occupied each dwelling in the neighborhood with their drum circles and chants, in a lighthearted, insistent demand for cake and wassail.

"Profiting King Wenceslas" would not make a very good song.

It seems that the classic aspects of the holiday season were born out of traditions of empowering the poor. Don’t tell Goldman Sachs! Then there’s all the messages of caring, sharing and peace on earth. Not exactly the stuff of imperialist profits.



Scrooge is a reformed Capitalist who promises to share the wealth with human and Muppet alike. 
 
But the greatest purveyor of leftist ideals, the most radical agitator of them all, is Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. If you listen to those Bing Crosby tunes, you’ll learn that Santa, like time, is apparently the great equalizer. He brings glad tidings and gifts to all. According to one song, “he doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, for he loves you just the same.” But I know his heart’s really with the 99%. He wears red from head to toe. He redistributes the wealth, chimney by chimney. He bears a striking resemblance to Karl Marx. And those North Pole elves are probably unionized in a worker collective.

Dreaming of a Red Christmas

Amidst the clanging consumerist bells of Christmas at the mall, there persists a reminder to care for the less fortunate and to extend goodwill to everyone, especially those who are most in need. So as the lefties that we are, let’s take the charitable spirit of the season a step further and think of how we can build a world where nobody needs to depend on individual charity, where not a creature is stirring in the shelters, bunkers, or prisons, because we’ve managed to put an end to war and poverty.

It’s a fantastical dream, but custom allows it this time of year. Let’s dream of a red Christmas. We can be like the holdouts of all the raided Occupy encampments, braving the winter cold because we want social justice and “we won’t go until we get some.”

A new year warning

If David Cameron continues as Prime Minister for another year then, I warn you

I warn you that you will have pain–when healing and relief depend upon payment.

I warn you that you will have ignorance–when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right.

I warn you that you will have poverty–when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay.


I warn you that you will be cold–when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford.

I warn you that you must not expect work–when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies.

I warn you not to go into Northampton's darkened streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light.

I warn you that you will be quiet–when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient.

I warn you that you will have defence of a sort–with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding.

I warn you that you will be home-bound–when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up

I warn you that you will borrow less–when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

If Cameron and Clegg continue in this Con Dem Coalition then–

- I warn you not to be ordinary

- I warn you not to be young

- I warn you not to fall ill

- I warn you not to get old.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

SALE OF THE CENTURY

I have little doubt that 2012 will see a big move forward in the building of the long awaited extension to the Grovesnor Centre, and as a result local politicians will crow their success in rescuing the town centre, others will be quick to welcome a positive sign for future prosperity for our town. But what will actually be built? And who will have really paid the bill? And what will be the long term costs to local tax payers?

I was a member of Northampton Borough Council when it signed its "historic" deal with Legal and General and as leader of the Independent group I was shown the details within the contract, Because of a commercial confidentiality clause I was prohibited from revealing the details, however I can still express an opinion without having to divulge the figures.

I have already intimated in public that I believe that the price paid by Legal and General for the Bus station and surrounding land packages was far too cheap, yes this deal was done in the height of the recession, but the over eagerness of the politicians to do a deal at any cost in my mind gifted the land and property to L&G at a price they could not refuse.

Moreover the deal as we now have had revealed, left the cost of moving the Bus Station and the cost of it's replacement together with the cost of paying off the existing tenants at the bus station (Stagecoach) solely with the council, and ultimately you and me, local taxpayers. Why Stagecoach were ever given such a long and rewarding lease in the first place is a complete mystery to me, after all I remember when they sold there own bus station on the Bedford road for housing development and then turned up overnight to park their buses at the councils bus stations as squatters with no rights at all. But now we must pay them £5.5m to move out!

In addition we must also pay an estimated £8m to build an inferior bus interchange on the Fish Market site. The deal between the Council and L&G will also see a change to car parking operations in the area and New Cllrs would be well served in revisiting just what deals have now been struck and how much extra this will also cost the taxpayer in lost revenue in years to come.

If any new Labour Cllrs at the Town Hall want to make a name for themselves I suggest they submit the following questions to the Council:

What is our current surface and multi-storey Car Parking land holding in Northampton Town Centre?

How much of that is included in the sale of Land to Legal and General?

What is the current annual income from those car parks proposed to be transferred to L&G?

What annual income will the Council recieve from these car parks thereafter? and:

Who will make up any difference in revenue?

So overall in my view L&G seem to have done very well out of the council, a knock down price paid for the land, the taxpayer picking up all the costs of moving the bus station, a potential new income from car parking, not to mention the new rents from any new stores attracted into the new build (hopefully not from the existing high street) But I still fear a further twist, what's the betting that what is finally delivered is but shadow of what was originally proposed? A scaled down version of all of those iconic plans so far revealed?

It is my view that the both the last Liberal Democrat and the current Conservative administrations at the Town Hall have both been so blinded by the desire to deliver something, that they will in fact accept anything. It is also my belief that we the taxpayer will in the end pay the most for their weak negotiating skills.

I suggest to both groups that if they want to prove me wrong then we can always examine the deal line by line in an open scrutiny committee so the public can judge for themselves whether we are getting value for money from this whole fiasco.

I have long held the view that in any multi million pound negotiations that if both parties say that they are so much in agreement then in reality only one party is actually doing the thinking and as a consequence only one party will come out on top.

On that score I guess I should congratulate Legal and General on their adeptness and savour-faire and commiserate with the public for having to pick up the bill.

Monday, 12 December 2011

IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID (part three) AROUND THE WORLD

In this 3rd and final part of our plain English guide to state we are all in we look beyond the UK's shores and identify that he banking crisis of 2008 hit not only the UK, Europe and the US, its aftershocks were felt across the globe, China and India's economies for example may still be growing faster than anyone Else's at present but if their continued growth is to be maintained then they need a market for their goods they are producing abroad and if the rest of the world is in recession and no one is buying those goods then that will have its own negative impact. This "world view" of the economic troubles facing citizens around the globe is also accompanied by a series of infographics which I hope assist with the explanations to enlarge on any diagram just click it


But before we can make total sense of what the current crisis is doing to the economies of different countries and how it affects us here in the UK we have to understand where we as a country sit at the table as a player, and also where we are expected to be in future years based on current and historical growth. In the UK this is critical because as you will see from the infographic below the UK economy is due to contract sharply irrespective of any current downturn.  So irrespective of the recession we are already facing an expected drop in our wealth and position as China and India and others take their place at the top of the manufacturing league.





But Britain's real fragility is only really exposed in its totality when you compare the contraction in our own growth and income with a much broader set of countries including those outside of the top ten above. This next chart therefore shows just how close Cameron and Clegg's cuts without growth programme has put us in comparison with those economies like Greece, Ireland and Italy which are presently close to collapse.

 


 Are you worried yet? well you should be as thanks to Cameron's go it alone stance in Europe we are isolated even further and unlike those in the Euro Zone we have no one to bail us out if the market takes a run on the pound.


The next nettle for us to grasp is how big is the UK's debt when measured against other countries in the world, and what do the credit reference organisations (see below) think about our ability to being able to pay the money back? Just like individuals having a credit reference record, so do countries and the biggest credit reference company to rate countries is a company called Standard and Poor's, ironic really when you consider that our banks seem to have no standards and their actions are making us all poor! Anyhow a reduction in your rating, (ratings go from AAA+ to C-)  just as with any individual makes it more difficult for the country to borrow more money which then pushes up the interest rate that they will have to pay to borrow, which in turn increases the GDP to debt ratio which ends up with Standard and Poor reducing the rating even further, in other words the banks make the debt ridden countries pay more for their borrowing because they say the risk is higher which in turn effects their rating which pushes the interest rate up even further and they go round and round in circles until they can/t afford to borrow from the banks at all, at which time they are in need of a hand out from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) or the European Central Bank. This next graphic is very revealing in not only showing you the ratings but also in understanding who is close the edge and who could be next for the vultures in the City to circle around



As you can see the UK's debt as a % of it GDP (what we earn) is very high at 83% and rising but it is nowhere near some of our other competitors. Ireland and Italy and of course Greece all with 100% + GDP/Debt ratios have all seen runs on their economy recently and have all faced and still may face financial meltdown. All have lost their (A) ratings and have been downgraded to B's and yet Japan which owes a massive 229% of its GDP still hangs on to an A rating (albeit AA-) so why is this?

Well Standards and Poor's take into account a Countries growth projections, and Japan is still seen as a good bet in terms of its manufacturing base, It is also worth noting that the above figures are also based on earlier 2011 forecasts predicting the UK growth figure way above the actual achieved. In reality because the current government are now planning to borrow even more than the last Labour Government planned to borrow if elected, due to increases in welfare payments and a period of flat growth, we now risk the UK's rating also being downgraded.


Standard and Poor's have in fact hinted at a rating downgrading of all countries within the Eurozone, which seems crazy given that there is a vast gulf between the performance of say the Greek and Italian economies when compared with say the German economy, but their excuse is that Germany and others may have to pay more towards any bailout of Greece or Italy and therefore their rating as well as the ratings of more indebted countries also has to be altered.

In other words a butterfly flaps it's wings in Athens and the aftershock is felt all the way over in in Berlin. It is in this context that David Cameron's disastrous walk out at the recent Euro summit last week. simply adds more fuel to the pessimistic forecasters who will now say that without all 27 countries committed to a Euro rescue plan the markets will not be satisfied. the markets then of course say they are not satisfied as they make money out of each and every crisis and the whole merry go round continues. One question of course for David Cameron and the UK is that if we are not going to be there to help back up the Euro in its hour of need then who will come to our aid if there is a run on the pound? also as most of our import and export markets are within the Eurozone then what happens to the British Economy if the Euro goes belly up?

My old comrade Dennis Skinner was right to call Cameron a plonker in the Commons last Wednesday but you have to wonder how foolish the PM must have felt having issued such a ridiculous ultimatum to the other 26 countries. I imagine a David Cameron stood at the door of the meeting room saying "Give me what I want or I will walk" "Au Revoir" and "Aud Weidershen" came the reply "and shut the door as you leave" This followed by "Call me Dave" walking very slowly down the corridor shouting "I mean it, I won't be back" to sounds of cheers coming from behind the now closed door. I imagine he was even asking the airline staff in the departure lounge whether or not anyone had phoned to call him back.


Whatever the truth about those fateful non negotiations, we have now as a country have put the Euro even more at risk, and as a consequence potentially damaged not just the latest Euro rescue plan but also massively weakened our position with our biggest trading partners.

And that's enough bad news for one day and where I will leave it for now, but I do hope this short series has informed and assisted people to get their heads around the core issues surrounding the world recession and also where the UK sits.

I also hope the graphs and infographics have helped, they are all up to date and where possible I have provided the source in order that you can check for yourself the data, but the most frequent comment I hear from people is that they just can't get their heads around the figures and the size of say a billion pounds or how one debt compares with another, so I have saved you my final infographic to give you a comparative view.

The billion pound o gram was produced back in 2009 by the guardian after the banking crisis had first hit in the year before. The deficit between what we earned and spent was £175bn, but how does that compare with say how much we spend a year on trident or the cost of Local Government across the UK well below you have the answer in scale. So now you know that political manipulation by the current government in reducing Local Government spending by a few % here and there is but a drop in the ocean when compared with the cost of bailing out the banks which caused the crisis in the first place. More on the billion pound o gram can be found here http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2009/nov/27/billion-pound-gram-inormation-beautiful#_



Wednesday, 7 December 2011

ITS THE ECONOMY STUPID (part two) THE MICAWBER PRINCIPLE

When I arrived at Kings Bench Prison Mr. Micawber was waiting for me within the gate, and we went up to his room (top story but one), and he cried very much. He solemnly conjured me, I remember, to take warning by his fate; and to observe the other piece of advice he had given, "Copperfield" said Mr. Micawber,

"You will remember, annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and — and in short you are for ever floored. As I am!" 

After which he borrowed a shilling of me for porter, gave me a written order on Mrs. Micawber for the amount, and put away his pocket-handkerchief, and cheered up.

Mr Micawber's good advice to David Copperfield is as sound a financial principle as you will ever find, you see economics is not difficult at all, it has always been about ensuring you never spend more than you earn, or if you do them only borrow what you can afford to pay back from within your earnings. And so it was that the last Labour government on a pretty good record of previous prudence found itself logging on to the equivalent of a multi national wonga.com to ensure it could pay its way after spending a fortune bailing out the banks in 2008. Below we take the Micawber principle a step further and align it to the UK economy, the graphs alone make interesting viewing and if you want to look in more detail just click them and they will enlarge, just like the countrys debt!

Like any household, UK PLC has an annual income and an annual expenditure budget, it is only the figures that get bigger, so what does (or did!) the country earn in a year? What does it spend? And where does the money come from and go to? If we look at the years running from 2002 up to the 2008 Banking crisis and we will see that the total income and expenditure of the UK government was pretty much in balance Our income from 2002 (roughly £430bn) to 2007 (£544bn) was rising steadily this of course is mostly made up of tax income together with money from any sales of government property or stock. Our planned expenditure each year was planned on the expected income the same as you and me would set up our direct debits and plans based on our expected monthly pay checks. Sometimes expenditure was slightly ahead of income and sometimes the other way around but it was manageable. The chart left shows income and expenditure per capita (which means per person) in the UK as you can see the amount they earned from each of us was rising year on year and in 2007 we were paying out about £8300 each to the government and recieving about £8,800 back in service, but then in 2008 it all went Pete Tong


In fact the data is remarkable: from 2002 to 2008 the difference between income and expenditure over the whole period was just £6bn – or 0.2% of total income for the six year period. In three years prior to 2002 we even had a surplus and was able to pay back on our debt bill. During that period the total we owed in long term borrowing (the equivalent of the household mortgage or outstanding loans and credit) hardly moved and stayed around the £500bn mark this was the equivalent of just one years income, in other words its like the average couple both working and jointly earning £40,000 a year only owing £40,000 on their mortgage and credit cards, it was manageable.

As a result here was little or no borrowing problem. Nor despite the politicians claims was there excessive spending – it was funded on a "living within your means" Micawber principle. Until 2008 that is when it is not spending that is excessive, but the fact that income falls off a cliff and we spend a fortune on bailing out the banks, and that is where our problems started. Government Income though should not be confused with GDP (Gross Domestic Profit) GDP refers to the total market value of all goods and services produced by a country each year, and is usually about 3 times what the government actually earns. I prefer to stick to the real income but GDP is important in economics as borrowing is always measured by the banks as a % of a country's GDP to see if they can afford to borrow any more, just after the second world war when Britain borrowed to rebuild our borrowing as a % of our GDP was a massive 240% of our GDP (2 and a half times what we all earned) in fact in the early to mid1800's it was even higher (more wars to fund) but from the 1970's onward it was at almost record lows before the crash in 2008 the % was around the 40% mark but now it is rising ever closer to the 100% levels last seen in the early 1960's.


So lets look at the nations debt and borrowing year on year from 2008. In 2008 we owed £525bn in 2009 we borrowed a further £91bn and now owed £612bn in total, in 2010 when the coalition came to power we borrowed a further £143bn and owed £759bn and this year 2011 we are looking to borrow a further £150bn to bring the total to £909bn in fact because the new government has stifled growth and the benefit bill has increased to pay to keep people on the dole the treasury estimate that the debt will rise to £1046bn in 2012 £1164bn in 2013, £1251bn in 2014 and reach a whopping £1314bn in 2015. The Tory/Lib Dem coalition have now accepted that they will have to borrow more than even the last Labour Government had planned to borrow (an extra £40bn) during the same period.

To explode another myth over which government (the last or this one) is spending more in government spending in 2009 was £621bn in 2010 it was £660bn this year 2011 it is planned to be £683bn and next year 2012 we are planning to spend £760bn

IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE WE CANNOT GO ON SPENDING AND BORROWING UNLESS WE ARE EARNING ! AND WITH RECORD NUMBERS ON THE DOLE AND INCOME TAX FALLING THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT ARE MAKING MATTERS WORSE NOT BETTER

Lets look at what we have been spending and plan to spend on the welfare state in order to keep public sector workers on the dole. In 2009 the welfare budget was £94.47bn in election year 2010 it was £106.69bn this year it is £109.48bn and next year 2012 £110bn. That's £16bn a year more than the last government was spending on those who are inactive. In addition every worker we put on the dole reduces the income tax income and shrinks the high street spend. The total income tax received by the treasury has shrunk from £152bn in 2009 to just £140bn now, another £12bn deficit to be paid for, meaning that so far the bill for Cameron and Clegg's cuts programme just on increased Welfare and lost income tax revenue is £28bn a year. Pension payments which are also affected by the lack of donations to the NI budget are up a further £20bn a year pushing the deficit ever higher and growth is non existent and we are paying out more in benefits and borrowing more and more each year to fill the gap left by reduced income tax receipts and higher debt charges.

So going by the rules of the Micawber principle that we are earning less than we are spending of course there is a need to cut expenditure, but should we be reducing our income at the same time by working less? The only way to close the gap is to increase not decrease our income and encourage growth. Why are we sacking public workers who earn little and provide vital services when it pays us to keep them working and spending? Why pay out to a household £30,000 a year in unemployment and housing benefit when you can put the same household to work doing something useful for the same money and increase the income tax income of the country and encourage spending in the economy? as the chart above shows we are as a country spend ever more on keeping people inactive and as a result can not afford the extra cost of education and healthcare without more income tax coming in and less welfare payments having to be paid out.


As well as these short briefings being delivered in plain English I also believe the truth is always better served in small bite size chunks, and thats enough figures for one day so here ends part two of our short series. In part 3 we look at how other countries are faring during the world economic crisis, but as you can see from this chart on the left it's not a pretty picture, for anyone and we will also look what the euro has to do with us and whether or not Britain thanks to David Cameron's weak negotiation skills can really stand alone during what is a deepening worldwide recession.

Monday, 5 December 2011

"IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID"

Why are we never really told in language that we can all understand what is really happening with the worlds economy?

Is it simply a case of treating us like mushrooms, constantly left in the dark and fed on manure in the hope that we will not ask too many awkward questions?

Recently I have been asked by a number of people (usually over a drink) to explain to them what is really happening to us all, and so I decided to commit it to print for others to take in and question, I would appreciate it your views.

THE STATE OF THE UK ECONOMY IN PLAIN ENGLISH (PART 1)

Background:

First of all to understand the mess we are all in now, and how bad things really are, we need to understand how we got into the mess, and also who was responsible for us getting us in the mess in the first place. Basically during the 1990's, and into the early 2000's Banks across the Western world particularly in the USA but also in part in Britain started to relax the rules on lending money to house buyers who were encouraged to take out bigger and bigger loans. In more responsible times people looking to buy homes were usually advised to borrow no more than three and a half times their total single/joint annual income, but all of a sudden banks were giving mortgages out like confetti, in the USA few checks were taken on whether or not people were able to afford to pay back the loans and even benefit (Welfare) claimants were being given mortgages despite their income being far lower than the repayments!

The Banks then sold that debt (they would package 100's of mortgage loans into one bigger debt) onto bigger financial institutions to try to reduce the risk to their own bank. And then the bubble burst as the financial institutions who now were left holding the risk suddenly found out that the people living in the homes couldn't afford to pay back the mortgages and as a result repossessions rocketed. As a consequence some of the Banks and the super banks went bust and no one had any money to lend out to anyone. This of course had a massive impact on other businesses who now couldn't borrow from the banks to either expand or even cover short term cash flow problems, so the economy started to slow down, people were laid off, who then couldn't pay the mortgage and the whole cycle went around and around. Meanwhile the value of peoples properties were also falling meaning people owed far more than they could ever sell their homes for, but even if they could afford to sell them potential purchasers also couldn't anymore get a loan from the banks. During the boom banks would lend couples 100% of the cost of the house and even more on top in some cases, but now the banks wanted deposits and restricted total loans down to 70% to 90%. First time buyers couldn't even afford the deposits and the housing market stalled.

The crazy thing here though thing is that the big financial institutions were so tied into the world economy, that they knew that they could take such risks with other peoples money and homes in the faith that the governments will come to the rescue with billions and billions of pounds in order to avoid financial meltdown within the stock markets. These people are still flying around in their private jets  and driving Bentley's whilst many who now live on the edge through in some cases bad decisions but others through  necessity whilst the banks continue their casino style gambling on the worlds banking roulette table. Traders even glout on the TV as to how wonderful the reccesion is and how every new collapse brings them more opportunities to make money.

The Labour Government:

Despite both the Tory and Lib Dem parties repeating over and over again like a mantra since the election in 2010 that it is all the Labour Party's fault, The Labour Government at the time  were not responsible for the meltdown, the reasons for that are outlined above however they cannot in any way be seen as just innocent bystanders in this mess.

They failed to implement any guidance to or legislation on banks restricting the amount of lending to avoid bad debts. They also let the finance institutions act exactly how they wanted without any meaningful intervention. The former Chancellor, Gordon Brown and to be Prime Minister at the time took his eye off of the ball and stood aside as the sub prime mortgage debts were being resold as good business.

Having given the Bank of England almost total independence he had no room to manoeuvre even if he wanted to, that coupled with a desire to keep his new job meant the country just drifted into more borrowing and less action.

The government also had left social housing projects solely within the private sector which would never fill the demand of such housing. A boost in public sector house building at the time in my mind might just have saved the day, but the lack of supply fuelled house price inflation to ridiculous levels.

Joe Public:

The other player in this sorry affair was the public at large who had become obsessive about house ownership, home improvement, buying things we didn't need and whacking everything on the plastic, as a result personal debt spiralled.

The feel good factor from the pre 1998 prosperity made a lot of people completely forget the self restraint of managing their debts sensibly. A must have, will have it now society, not even embarrassed by taking on extra debt they cannot afford. Now we are all paying the price. Housing costs had also rocketed and now took up more and more of the monthly salary as a % of income. We were all trapped in the credit card debt zone and unprotected against the ill wind that was blowing.

In part two (to follow very soon) we take a look at the Country's income and expenditure over recent years and try to make sense of the economy from a  Mr Micawber (Charles Dickens) point of view

 "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

in order to get our head around just what the country is earning, what we are spending and how we close the gap.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

CONGRATULATIONS ALL ROUND

Wow..... first of all apologies for the delay in postings recently, I have working on a number of drafts but not  getting them finished, but I thought I would just post quickly to say well done to all of those who withdrew their labour today legitimately in a valid dispute with the government over pension rights and payments. How the government has got the neck to use the recession for their own warped political vendettas is beyond me. The whole deal sucks full stop, people pay in their money have an agreement and expect to be paid out on its fruition plain and simple, any attempt by the government to suggest anything other than the truth is unforgivable and the truth is equally plain and simple, they are asking public workers to pay 3% more in pension contributions in order to even work longer than agreed before they can then draw less pension  than they are currently entitled to! Its the equivalent in reverse of me going to my bank and saying "I know I agreed and signed to pay my mortgage over 25 years but I have had a rethink and now want to pay 3% less a month and reduce the number of years I pay it for and I expect you to give me a bit more on top" I wonder what my bank manager would say? As for Cameron's "Damp Squib" jibe, methinks that one may come back to haunt him.

Secondly my congratulations to Aidy Boothroyd for officially stepping into the hot seat at Sixfield's today, part of my recent downbeat mood has been due to the utter tripe being served up by the Cobblers this season by players who should be ashamed at the level of their under performance. Gary Johnson's time at the helm was a miserable period for all of us including him I guess but in the last few weeks the discipline of the players has been sadly lacking, they are not training at anything near full pelt and are far to laid back in their approach to both games and their professional responsibilities, I wish Aidy every success at the club and hope the players can prove themselves worthy once again of wearing the shirt.

And last but very much not least, congratulations to Cllr David Palethorpe for having the courage to up and leave the local Tory Party, I was surprised as I am sure many were by his Damascan like conversion over to the local Labour Party, but with Tory Councils at both the County and Town Hall's doing the bidding of a Tory government in an blatant attempt to destroy Local Government then the opposition needs as many hands as it can muster. I remember saying to an ex Labour colleague a few weeks back after the dramatic change of leadership that the Labour Group needed to put a motion down on a Unitary authority for Northampton at the next Council meeting to reveal the real tensions within the Conservative group and I wouldn't be surprised if this was not one of the reasons that David has taken his decision. Expect bitter times ahead between NBC and NCC as the cuts bite and the blame is levied.

I mentioned above that I have a few posts in draft so before I go here is a trailer, first of all I will be publishing a "Plain English" guide to explain the state we are in, and the economic difficulties we are now facing thanks to the failure of the banks, the current government and Gordon Brown's failed plan to hang onto power at any cost. I will also be updating you on the County Councils continued incompetence to deal with their unenforceable residents parking schemes and their attempts to drive local residents into bankruptcy rather than admit they are in the wrong.  BTW their appeal against my tribunal successes was dismissed as predicted because it was out of time and wasn't a proper appeal, the decisions were upheld and here I am three months later still waiting for them to write to me to inform me that the fixed penalty notices have been cancelled!

Also guess who has been reported to the Standards Board yet again? You guessed it, yours truly, it's the seventh complaint against me in 4 years! none of which have come to any where near a hearing. I am sorry I can't tell you what I have done this time to warrant such a allegation, as the letter as usual doesn't tell me what I am accused of, nor does it tell me who has made the complaint, but it does then go on to warn me not to discuss what they haven't told me with the complainant who they haven't named! Don't you just love the County Council! All this at a time that the government have scrapped the Standards Board for England and left Councils to decide themselves on how to punish wrongdoers! Maybe they will find me guilty this time and ban me from the Council for a month? but would I notice? Probably not, as they hardly ever meet and theirs more democracy on show in Cairo than their is at County Hall.

Speak soon, I have missed you

Tony

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

EXCLUSIVE: THAT RESIGNATION LETTER IN FULL

For some it seems the fun has only just begun on what is becoming an increasingly split Conservative group on Northampton Borough Council.

It has been just days since the new leader David Mackintosh posed for the Chron's photographer with certain members of his group, but with many of his colleagues even more noticeable by their absence.

But now the boot it seems is already on the other foot and certain Tory Cllrs unhappy about the outcome of last weeks coup d'etat have now started their own rearguard action.

It looks as if last weeks disaffected are this weeks leaders who are having to look over their shoulders at last weeks leaders being this weeks new disaffected? Where will it all end?

The leaking of David Palethorpe's resignation letter (published below) is I am informed just the start of a campaign to expose the real workings of the group, Much more ammunition to come I am told.

Anyway enjoy and I would be grateful to anyone who can answer the following questions:

1. If four of the six plotters are named then who were the other two?

2. Has Northampton North Conservative Association really been decimated? and if so is their recovery still faltering as suggested?

3. Who are the significant number of Cllrs routed in the past who wouldn't support Cllr Palethorpe at the EGM?

4. How if the group is split in two as it seems, will simply changing the people driving the bus stop the wheels coming off?

5. Is being a Tory Cllr simply about the money it can bring you in?

6. And just who owns that quoted comment " another fat pay cheque for 4 years"

I would welcome comments from all sources!

(Click on pictures to zoom in)

NB Since first posting this blog at 6pm this evening several people have contacted me all claiming to know who the source is. They will have to keep on guessing. One rumour I am happy to scotch however is any suggestion that the letter came from Cllr Palethorpe himself.  He I understand simply delivered it to his group Chairman, others must take responsibility thereafter for it's wider circulation. Indeed, I received it myself from two different sources!

Friday, 28 October 2011

HALLOWEEN HORRORS

TWITTER YE NOT

David Palethorpe's "twittered" resignation as Leader of Northampton Borough Council was a shock, after all it is only six months since his crowning after the Tories election win. But those of us who were in the know as to to the way the votes stacked up in the Tory Group at the time for deputy leader knew very well that trouble may well be ahead.

It seems the group has splits plural rather than a split singular and its difficult to ascertain just who is in whose camp? Whats is also troubling is that any new leader will now have three ex leaders breathing down their neck telling them just where they are going wrong. As to some of David's reasons for leaving as expressed on his blog i.e. too many of his group not up for a fight with their County Colleagues over at County Hall and his fear that Jim Harker's crew are arrogant and plotting a takeover of NBC?

Well some of us did see this coming and it is one fight in which I will be happy to stand in David Palethorpe's corner, and any NBC Tory Councillor who thinks differently should give up their Borough seat now and show us all their true colours. The very thought of any NBC Councillors holding a view that Northampton would be better served by a unitary County rather than a Unitary Northampton authority should be enough for them to consider their position

CORONATION OR CONTEST?

Meanwhile tonight's big leadership battle will take part between it seems just two candidates? Cllrs David Mackintosh and Chris Malpas! I wonder if they asked the rest of their group before deciding to declare nominations closed and inform the press of the final big brother vote being a two horse race?

There will certainly be egg on someones face if another candidate comes out of left field and takes the crown. The Mack will start as odds on favourite of course simply because whilst Chris Malpas is a thoroughly nice geezer none of his group will see him as a serious leadership contender.

Its a bit like having a stalking horse with no one waiting in the wings for the second round of voting? So Mack it will be? If so the other fear I have is that David Mackintosh whilst very able has been built up far beyond any sensible level as the new messiah and leader either of NBC or NCC for some time both by his supporters and the local press. But will he be able to make the jump from contender to champion?

My view? "He is not the Messiah he is just a very naughty boy"

JUST THE TICKET

Still no sign of a letter or email from NCC following my victory over Residents Parking back in August. see http://tonyclarkeindependent.blogspot.com/2011/09/traffic-wardens-become-lawbreakers.html but much merriment over them digging themselves into an ever deeper hole. You will remember the tribunal saying that the ruling was "final and binding on both parties" well it seems that the legislation does allow an appeal under exceptional circumstances within 14 days of written receipt of the ruling the tribunal state that
"The grounds for review are narrow. A party might consider making an application for review if, for example, they believe that:
  • the Adjudicator made a mistake about the law; or
  • new evidence has come to light, the existence of which could not have been anticipated at the time of the original decision"
 So on the 29th of September (exactly 14 days after receipt) they wrote to the tribunal stating that
"NCC is not seeking a review"
Well that's that then surely? not quite you see they wrote again to the tribunal on the 17th October this time asking if their letter of the 29th of September when they said they were not seeking a review could now be considered and "submitted as a review application"

I have now discovered that despite initially dishing out tickets to people illegally after they knew the scheme was not enforceable (15th September) that they have now ceased to enforce the areas (from the 27th September) So can anyone ticketed in between get their money back with an apology? And if they are now not enforcing the residents parking schemes then why are they still selling permits to residents on the pretence that they are? I will keep you updated as to progress and eventually I guess at some point the Council might even make contact with me?

BLOGTASTIC

Regular readers of my missives may be interested to know that as the world's population reaches the 7 Billion mark the number of all time individual readers* of this blog is fast approaching the 30,000 mark * = (separate isp computer log ins since May 2009)

Not surprisingly 21,000 of those readers are UK based but we have had a healthy readership of 2806 from the USA, 567 from France and 553 from Germany. Amongst the "others" for some unknown reason we have had 287 separate log ins from tiny Luxembourg and a regular readership of 69 from Iran.

As to stories I always try to keep the blogs a mix of the local and national but the number one read blog of all time was a fairly recent one (numbers have risen as the readership broadens)

"WHATS A GREEK URN IN BLACK SWANS"June 2011   http://tonyclarkeindependent.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-many-black-swans-does-greek-urn.html

Local and London based readers pushed "CLYDE LOAKES DIRECT NO WIN NO FEE" from March 2009 into second place http://tonyclarkeindependent.blogspot.com/2009/03/clyde-loakes-direct-no-fee-no-win-100.html and

"MORE TOPICAL SHORTS" from November 2010 takes the bronze medal http://tonyclarkeindependent.blogspot.com/2010/11/more-topical-shorts.html

I look forward to the next 30,000 new visitors!

Monday, 10 October 2011

IF IT SMELLS LIKE RACISM - AND LOOKS LIKE RACISM - THEN ITS PROBABLY JUST ANOTHER HOME SECRETARY'S SPEECH

Einstein once said that the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources, and the blogasphere has it's fair share of copied, repeated and rehashed stories, this in itself in part is one of them, but how far should you go?

Shouldn't the creative writer at least attempt to reshape a story? or add their own twist to the tale?

And how far should a Minister of State stoop to copy someone else's work in order to get a cheap laugh at conference? and does it matter that the person you are copying from is often thought of as a sandwich short of a fascists picnic?

Well back in July, during a national speaking tour promoting his then new book Fighting Bull,  UKIP's ex leader  Nigel Farage was at the Eastleigh Railway Institute spinning a line regarding an immigrant whom he claimed was a convicted killer who had used the Human Rights Act to avoid deportation by claiming ownership of a cat.

He said a court had decided that the man:
“..Should not be deported because … (and I really am not making this up)… because he had a pet cat!”
And so it came to be that last week at the Tory Party conference Theresa May matched Farage almost word for word, including the pregnant pause when she told the blue rinse faithful about a convicted immigrant who she said:
“.. Cannot be deported because – (and I am not making this up) – because he had a pet cat!”
Of course both were wrong, both were manipulated half truths made up to shock the masses into thinking that Britain's judiciary was a soft touch and the Human Rights Act a left wing plot to bring down Blighty. BBC's Question Time last Thursday asked whether her comments were "Childish and Stupid" following widely spread criticism from Ken Clarke on Theresa's speech. I wanted to shout at the scream "NO they were not "Childish and Stupid" they were simply "Racist and Disingenuous"

The Times reviewed Farages book "Fighting Bull"  and let me plagiarise Camilla Longs view of the ex UKIP leader manner and his oratory/written brilliance when she said he was "Somewhere between Alan B’Stard and a frog" and that he was "pretty odious: a shifty saloon-bar lizard" and that the book has "moments of unparalleled pomposity"

I just think that it is rather apt that the Sunday Times once also told us that Farage is also known in political circle for his rather severe and problematic halitosis.

And now it seems that the same foul smelling garbage is being espoused from the Home Secretary's mouth too!

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Thank you for visiting "tonyclarkegreenparty" The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are made by me personally in my own capacity as free citizen and not as representative of any outside body or council that I may serve on or be employed by. However if anyone is offended by any of these comments or feels that they should be corrected then please contact me in the first instance at tony.clarke@email.com and I will do my best to consider your comments and correct any errors.

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