Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The very long arm of the law

Meet Tzipi Livni, former Israeli foreign minister and currently leader of an opposition party in Israel.

Tzipi Livni: war crimes?

At the weekend Palestinians living in London obtained an arrest warrant, for alleged war crimes during last year's Israel-Gaza conflict, from a London court when they discovered that Livni was planning a visit to England. Livni was tipped off and immediately cancelled her travel plans.

This is somewhat reminiscent of General Pinochet's arrest in London in 1998, on a warrant issued by a Spanish court for crimes allegedly committed in South America. Pinochet was eventually released two years later without having been convicted of any offence.

It is not at all obvious why any English court should consider itself competent to try a crime that did not take place on English soil. Courts have important powers to ensure that fair trials occur. One of the most important of these is the power to compel witnesses to attend court and testify. Clearly witnesses in a foreign land cannot be coerced into attendance.

Additionally there is the issue of legal domain. If a person is tried in an English court for a crime in a foreign land, which law applies - English law or the law of the foreign land? If Livni had been tried in England could she have defended herself using the small-print of Israeli law? Would an English court have to conduct its proceedings in Hebrew?

Clearly this would be a nonsense. English courts are now too big for their boots. At the moment they aren't even managing to keep our home-grown criminals off the streets; they should stop trying to police the world and do the job we pay them for.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Inflation is on the rise

The inflation numbers for November are out. CPI is 1.9%, up from 1.5% in October, and RPI has risen by a massive +1.1% in a single month at 0.3%, up from -0.8% in October.

And the big inflation boost we can expect in a couple of weeks, the raising of VAT from 15% to 17.5% hasn't even happened yet!

The time is approaching when the BoE will have to raise the base rate to choke off inflation, and since we aren't out of recession yet that won't be good for the economy.


Monday, 14 December 2009

Greece in trouble

Last week the ratings agency Fitch downgraded Greek sovereign debt from A- to BBB+ over fears that it will default on its payments. Two most steps and it's junk bond time. The Greek budget deficit is now running at 12% - the rules of EMU allow a maximum of 3%.

Of course most of the Med countries have broken the Euro rules now. Even Germany is slightly over. (Of course the UK is almost as bad as Greece, but we're not in the Euro so don't have to follow their rules.)

As a measure of how the markets regard Greece it costs over $200,000 to insure $10m of their debt, compared to $85,000 for the UK, or $25,000 for Germany. The markets seem to think default is a distinct possibility.

It doesn't help that the Prime Minster, George Papandreou, is a dyed-in-the-wool socialist who cannot countenance Irish-style pay cuts for public workers, or even wage freezes.

There is now a serious inter-generational war going on in Greece. Young people have few prospects of a job, while their parents' generation are in protected and secure employment, funded directly or indirectly by taxes. We have already seen rioting in the streets.

The ECB would like Greece to impose IMF-type austerity measures including mass-public sector pay cuts and redundancies. Usually the IMF would prescribe devaluation of the currency as well, but with Greece in the Euro that's not possible. The pain will all have to be taken on the chin.

So, either the Greek government cracks, cuts spending and is probably booted from office, or, Brussels cracks and starts giving money to Greece to continue living beyond its means (German taxpayers would love that!) or Greece simply leaves the euro, reverts to the drachma, and devalues - thus stoking their economy and reducing their debt.

My money is on some sort of fudged bail-out from Brussels.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pre-budget report, December 2009

So that was the Pre-Budget report! Vince Cable called it a budget for Bingo and Boilers and bad for everything else; George Osborne said the Chancellor was attempting the physically impossible: ring-fencing a black hole.

Yes, bingo tax is down from 22% to 20% - I didn’t even know there was a bingo tax, just shows, this government has taxed everything. And there will be a boiler scrappage scheme to build on the success of cash-for-clunkers . The state pension will rise 2.5%, which could be a real-terms increase; an extra half a million kids will get free school meals, and that’s the end of the nice bits.

The VAT cut and the stamp duty holiday will both be reversed on the 1st of January next year, ie, in three weeks’ time. Everyone earning over £20K will be paying an extra 0.5% on their national insurance from April 2011.

The Chancellor has revised his forecast of the depth of the recession. Back in April he thought the UK economy would shrink 3.5% this year – now he reckons it will be more like 4.75%. Strangely he has only increased his borrowing estimate by £3bn to £178bn, despite the fact we can all add up and see that it’s more likely to be around £200bn. The good news is he only wants to borrow £176bn in 2010 and £140bn in 2011, falling to £96bn in 2013. Back in April he told us those numbers would be £173bn in 2010, £140bn in 2011, £118bn in 2012. So basically: denial all around here.

The truth is of course he won’t be around after May 2010 so he can say anything he likes; it’s not going to happen. At the moment all he is doing is pushing the pain into the future – ie, beyond the election – to preserve as many Labour seats in the House of Commons as possible; hence the few populist measures aimed at Labour voters. He flunked any attempt actually to fix our broken economy.

Perhaps his most popular measure is taxing bankers’ bonuses at 50%. But for banks which are already taxpayer-owned a 100% tax would seem more appropriate. Bob Diamond, CEO of Barclays Capital, £27m bonus this year, was mentioned by name (not by AD though) – it looks like he has been selected as the next whipping boy. I expect Fred “the shred” Goodwin will be relieved his turn is over.

The markets reacted to Alistair Darling’s speech by falling, but not by much, 30 points off the FTSE 100 and sterling lost half a penny against the euro during the course of AD’s presentation.

All in all it was just a holding measure to take us into next year.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

243 sick babies, only 18 from the UK

At the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital neonatal ward for sick babies they have 243 patients – of whom only 18 are from the UK! One of those 18 patients, possibly disgusted at how the NHS was being abused, recently leaked this map on which each patient's mother had placed a red dot to show her country of origin.

People arguing in favour of immigration sometimes trot out the line that the NHS would be crippled without foreign workers; they claim as many as 45% of NHS workers are immigrants. Of course they forget to mention that many of those are cleaners who could easily be replaced by our own native unemployed.

But now we see that in this case at least 45% of staff may be foreign but 93% of patients are foreign.

Each of these 225 foreign babies potentially represents a lifetime of expense to the British taxpayer.

Daily Mail

Monday, 30 November 2009

Johann Hari on Dubai

This piece by Independent columnist Johann Hari is well worth a read...

If I had to summarise it I'd say: Dubai is a financial con-job built on debt and the exploitation of an Asian underclass. It is unsustainable financially and ecologically since when the money runs out so will the desalinated water.

I guess that in the future the Dubai natives will simply move into the abandonned hotels and shopping malls and the desert will reclaim the golf courses and ski slopes.

This poem by Shelly comes to mind...


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away

Friday, 27 November 2009

Dubai situation is worrying

The story so far: Dubai World, the main driver behind the massive construction boom in the emirate of Dubai has found itself unable to repay $61.6bn of debt on time and asked for a 6 month "stand still".

Property in Dubai has crashed 60% since 2007. Construction has stopped and the hi-tech workforce is leaving. There are rumours that credit checks are being performed at the airport and people trying to flee debts are being hauled off to jail. (Hint: It's an easy drive to Abu Dhabi, folks!)

Normally this blog wouldn't give a damn about Dubai. It was built on sand and to sand it will return.

However, bad news, seems like a lot of the debt came from British banks, and worse, not just the bad banks the government already owns, but the good banks we thought were safe. HSBC is in the hole for $17bn or possibly more, Barclays has an undisclosed liability; and not disclosing the liability is the worrying factor.

Looks it might be time for the UK taxpayer to dig deep again.


ET has phoned Bulgaria

Yes, really, scientists at the Space Research Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences are in communication with extra-terrestrials.

Real all about it here.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Right to silence is dead and buried

A 33-year-old London man, whose name has not been made public, has been jailed for 13 months for exercising his Right to Silence. Specificly, when required by the police using their powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, "RIPA" to its friends, to divulge the encryption key required to access his PC he maintained the "no comment" stance he had adopted through-out weeks of interviews. Unfortunately New Labour had taken away his right to silence and he was jailed.

The man is currently in a secure mental health facility. He seems to be a paranoid outsider who encrypted the data on his PC for no better reason than he could - and the more the authorities asked him for the key the worse his mental condition became. There is no evidence he is involved in any crime, he has no previous convictions. Jailing him seems to be a travesty of justice.

The full story is here.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Cumbria flooded with water but not money

In the last week 900 residents of Cockermouth have been flooded out of their homes or businesses. All the bridges are closed due to structural fears and several have been washed away - one with a police officer (Pc Bill Barker) on it at the time.

Gordon Brown flew in, toured the area, and pledged £1 million of government money as a contribution towards the estimated £100 million costs.

In the same time period the government has given £1 million to Sri Lanka for displaced persons camps, £2 million to South Waziristan for food and water, £1.5 million for road safety to the World Bank, £34 million for expectant mothers in Sierra Leone, and so on, amounting to £239 million in the last week alone.

Surely the people of Cumbria should have first call on our national largess at this time.


Friday, 20 November 2009

The many councils of Europe

There's the Council of Europe, the European Council and the Council of the European Union.

One of them has a new President and a new High Representative for Foreign and Security Affairs. Can you guess which one?


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Organised child abuse in the UK

The subject of the sexual abuse of children in the UK by organised networks has reared its ugly head again. This time the children's charity Barnardos has raised the issue.

From the Times...

A secret network of organised child sex traffickers is operating within Britain according to the charity Barnardo’s.

Approximately one in six of the sexually exploited children currently being helped by the organisation say they have been moved between cities and passed around between paedophiles.

Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnardo’s, warned of a “hidden” problem in which vulnerable youngsters, many of whom have run away from home, are shunted around the country to increase their isolation.

“Through our work with children abused through prostitution, it became apparent that some young people were being moved around the UK, or from town to town, by abusing adults who would use the children for the purpose of sexual exploitation,” he said.

The charity said it was currently working with 609 sexually exploited children and young people, 90 of whom appeared to have been trafficked within the UK.

One of the victims of this trade, Imogen, ran away from her care home at the age of 12 with an older man she thought was her boyfriend.

She was groomed by a man who treated her well – giving her a mobile phone and the keys to a flat to use – before he began to abuse her.

“He was much older, he was protective – I felt looked after, wanted, loved even. He gave me everything I wanted,” she said, but soon she was being driven to “parties” around Britain where she was told to have sex with his friends.

“I didn’t have any choice – I felt so guilty. Eventually, he’d take me all over the country: Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, London. He’d take me to hotels, some nights two or three.

“I never saw any money change hands. Some men asked ‘How old is she?’ Some asked ‘Have you got any younger?’ They were really sick.”

The bit they never tell you, which you might just glean from the references to Leeds and Bradford, is that the abusers are usually Asian men following their Prophet's example - Mohammed married a seven year old girl, Aisha, and enjoyed sexual relations with her when she was nine.

The victims are white girls "absconded" from care homes.

No mainstream media organisation is prepared to report the ethnic aspect of this crime. They are muzzled by our draconian "anti-hate" laws.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Yesterday (some of) the voters of Glasgow North-East went to the polls to replace their MP, the former Speaker "Gorbals" Mike, who has gone to another place. Here's how they voted...

Labour won easily, with three times anyone else's number, the SNP are Labour's main rival in Scotland and the BNP and Tories slugged it out for 3rd place - the Cons eventually pipped the BNP at the post.

No-one else was anywhere. It's interesting to note that the two Labour "spin off" parties, Socialist Labour and Solidarity have no traction at all.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Some early thoughts on 2010

See that debt clock on the right-hand-side? Watch it for a minute or two and try to work out when it will reach one trillion pounds.

I reckon Spring next year. Maybe even May 6th, expected date of the next general election. Perhaps before.

A few other treats are in store for us early next year.

  • The money for the car scrappage scheme will run out. (February probably)

  • Quantitative easing will stop. Next year's GDP won't have that £200bn stimulus.

  • VAT will rise from 15% to at least 17.5%, and some leaked documents indicated that the government is thinking of 18.5% or more. (Early hours of Jan 1st. They were going to make it on the stroke of midnight but with all the pubs and restaurants likely to be open at the time they eventually realised this would be a bad idea.)

  • Inflation will rise; if the BoE is doing its job interest rates will rise as well.

  • Gilt yields will rise. Ten year bonds are nudging 4% already.

Put it all together and what have you got? A rather gloomy Q1-Q2, I'd say.

It's day 20 in Somalia

Doesn't time just fly by? Already it's Day 20 of the kidnapping of Paul and Rachel Chandler by Somali pirates. I wonder how they are faring; if they are getting enough food etc.

Meanwhile the media has moved on and isn't reporting the story anymore.

There's one last plaintive message on their yachting blog, dated October 23rd.


On this day of this, at this time, 91 years ago, the French Marshal Foch, allied Commander-in-Chief and the German anti-war politician Matthias Erzberger met in a forest in Picardy, Northern France, and signed the armistice agreement which ended WWI. They were in such a hurry they never noticed that one of the pages of the document was pinned in upside-down.

What they were fighting about no-one can quite remember, but it was the Great War, the war to end all wars; that we all know.

Every year on this day we wear red plastic poppies to remember our “glorious dead” from that and subsequent wars. Some people start wearing them in late October, but frankly that’s just ostentatious. The correct form is: remembrance week only.

This year particularly, remembrance of our war dead is no great effort of recall. Every few days another funeral cortege passes through the Wiltshire market town of Wootton Bassett carrying soldiers fallen in Afghanistan on their last journey from RAF Lyneham to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford where they come into the care of the coroner. The residents of Wootton Bassett have taken to congregating in the High Street to pay their respects as the coffins go by. At first the military authorities tried to downplay this, but now they’ve adapted to the new custom and put on a decent show with crawling black hearses led by a tall man in top hat walking at the head of the procession.

Notable by their absence at these occasions are all the politicians who sent the soldiers to war in the first place. In fact the only party leader to attend has been Nick Griffin, chairman of the BNP, who arrived unannounced, without the massive security team he needed at the BBC, and when asked by journalists for his opinion refused to comment on the grounds that it was neither the time nor the place for politics. In this, he shows a sensitivity and sureness of touch to which none of our actual leaders could ever hope to aspire.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

QE raised to £200bn

Today the MPC has decided to chuck another £25bn on the fire into the economy to keep us warm over the winter. They expect to have spent it by the end of February next year. That will take the total "printed" money to two hundred billion pounds. Or £200,000,000,000.00 if you prefer digits. The money is being used to buy gilts (mainly) ie, British government debt.

Strangely, if you add in the most recent bank bail-out costs, two hundred billion is just about the amount the government needs to borrow this year for its running costs.

Dogs and vomit come to mind.


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Karadzic trial gone wrong already

Former President Karadzic, on trial at the Hague for alleged war crimes, is refusing to leave his cell to attend the court room. You see, he has been served with one million pages of evidence by the prosecution and needs time to read and digest it before the trial can begin.

I railed about the farcical Milosevic prosecution a few posts back and urged they not make the same mistakes again. But they've gone and stepped right back into the same dog turd.

Let's say Karadzic reads at one page a minute, and reads eight hours a day, for five days a week, and works 50 weeks of the year - well, in eight years' time he'll be about ready to walk into that court room.

It's tempting to think the prosecutors are their own worst enemies but let's not forget - they are being paid by the hour!

Lisbon treay ratified

Yesterday the Czech Republic's President Klaus signed the Lisbon Treaty, rather unexpectedly, with no ceremony - he just did it. He warned a few days ago that, "the British must hold an election within the next two weeks if they want to stop this," and we didn't.

The Treaty comes into effect on the first day of the month after full ratification - so it applies from the first of December. On that day we lose 60 vetoes; any residual control over our fishing grounds, and will become Citizens of Europe; although we don't (yet) lose our member state citizenship. (They're not called member countries anymore.)

This puts the Conservatives in a little tizzy. They promised a referendum, but now Lisbon is a done deal a referendum wouldn't change anything. The best they can offer now is a referendum on any future extensions to the treaty and to be mean to Europe in some other way.


Monday, 2 November 2009

It's day 11 for the Chandlers

It's Day 11 for Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British yachting couple taken from their boat, the Lynn Rival, by Somali pirates as they sailed from the Seychelles to Tanzania. Initially they were forced to sail towards the Somali coast while the pirates ransacked the vessel for items of value, and made continual demands of money from Paul and Rachel.

Then the yacht was abandoned at sea as the pirates presumably had no patience with its slow progress and transferred Paul and Rachel by speedboat to a container ship they had hijacked some time ago. While on the container ship they spoke to relatives and ITN News via satellite phone. The pirates demanded a US$7,000,000 ransom. Then the couple were taken ashore to the coastal town of Haradheere.

The problem the pirates have with the Chandlers, and they don't usually take small boats, is that all their wealth was tied up in their yacht, which was abandoned at sea and has since been recovered by the Royal Navy. There's no rich oil company to pay the ransom; they probably don't have kidnap insurance, and the British government does not (officially) ransom its citizens, or even talk to terrorists.

The pirates now have so many hostages, the crews from ships they have taken, that the advisability any military rescue attempt, even if completely successful, must be counter-balanced against reprisals on other hostages.

Apparently the COBRA committee has been considering the matter.

I'm guessing they will try to wear down the pirates, let negotiations drag on, reduce expectations, and eventually get the Chandlers "bundled" with the ransom of another vessel and its crew so they aren't seen to be paying for the release of citizens - even if they do put some money in the pot.

The UK government routinely plays down the significance of hostages. They encourage relatives to keep a low profile. This serves two purposes: it takes media pressure off the government, and it bores the kidnappers to the point they may take a negligible sum to hand over the hostages. There is considerable evidence that even when they discover where hostages are being held they prefer simply to do nothing. (Some sources indicate that the intelligence services knew Terry Waite's location for most of his 1,763 days of captivity.)

So the Chandlers had better settle in for the long haul.

Sharia4UK march

Well, I expect you're wondering what happened on the Sharia4UK march in London on Saturday last, where the plan was for hundreds, if not thousands, of muslims to meet in Parliament Square at 1PM and then thunder down Whitehall picking up more supporters en route before arriving at Trafalgar Square for speeches. The way they made it sound Sharia would be de facto law by nightfall.

What actually happened is this: the day before they claimed to have received some email and text threats and so moved the whole shebang to an "undisclosed location". The location was so secret that in fact nobody turned up. Nothing happened.

Some English Defence League protesters did turn out; about 30 of them. They wandered down Whitehall from Trafalgar Sq, stopping off for a few minutes to pay their respects to the "Glorious Dead" at the Cenotaph. With no muslims to attack it was a very tame affair - heavily policed though.

The most significant event in Westminster that afternoon was a drive-by of about 500 motorcyclists protesting at Westminster Council's attempt to impose parking charges on bikes and tighten up the rules on parking on the pavement and such liberties. They were peaceful but noisy and doubtless very annoying for the motorists they held up for a five minutes or so.

We must conclude that Sharia in the UK is not imminent.

Friday, 30 October 2009

America out of recession

The US economy is growing at 3.4% a year, according to last quarter's numbers. So now the USA, Japan, France and Germany are all out of recession, while the UK is still on the down slope - having reported a -0.4% GDP "growth" (ie, shrinkage) over the same time period: July to September.

Spain is also falling at much the same rate as the UK.

With global growth comes global rising interest rates; I think I may have mentioned that in a recent post.

However, the American growth may not be sustained. It has been based on stimulating car demand with the "cash for clunkers" subsidy, and another taxpayer handout to buy a house. It remains to be seen if the economy can sustain itself without government help.


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Environment and energy crisis cancelled

From a conference in Argentina at the beginning of the month we have...

Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, said proven natural gas reserves around the world have risen to 1.2 trillion barrels of oil equivalent, enough for 60 years' supply – and rising fast.

Meanwhile on the global warming side...

According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.

The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.

But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.

So looks like we've got loads of fuel and we're not heating the planet. Plus, the UK has vast shale beds we can exploit to extract the methane which can be liquefied for transport, or compressed to put in your car.

I still think we should go nuclear though.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Norway raises interest rate

Norway has become the first European country to raise its base rate (to 1.5%, from 1.25%) since the start of the credit crunch and consequent near-global recession.

Eagle-eyed Norwegian central bankers think to have detected the first signs of inflation.

As I mentioned at the time, Australia raised its rate a couple of weeks ago.

Although these are very early days, rising international rates will force the UK to raise its rates whether we have inflation in our economy or not. Money chases rates and pushes up the value of a currency. If sterling gets left behind its value will fall, making imports more expensive and exports cheaper - both these effects are inflationary, the more expensive imports especially so. The "benign" international economic environment of recent years is coming to an end. However Norway is - economically - a small nation so the effect on us is minor at the moment; an increase in the ECB or Fed rates would be much more significant.

It should be noted that although the UK base rate is 0.5%, the yield on a ten-year gilt (ie, the interest payable to those who are underwriting our national debt) is 3.7% - considerably higher than base - and rising quite dramatically over the last couple of months. This sets the bar for retail loans.


Monday, 26 October 2009

Fed reverse repo failure?

Rumours are that the Federal Reserve Bank attempted to reverse its quantitative easing programme last week, or rather attempted to test the mechanism, and failed. This only a rumour mind you.

Supposedly they attempted to sell $100bn worth of assets (TARP assets? Presumably not) under a repo agreement, ie agreeing to repurchase them later for more, so no risk to the buyers - the "for more" bit giving the buyers some interest - and the bond buyers sat on their hands and refused to bite.

Had the operation worked it would have withdrawn $100bn of liquidity from the US markets for the period of the repo agreement. (The Fed aren't so bold as to attempt to outright sell the assets; probably wise, that could trigger a price collapse.)

Back to the drawing board, guys!

Karadzic on trial

The trial has started of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for alleged war crimes during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war when he was president of (part of) Bosnia.

Radovan Karadzic

Since the matter is Sub Judice we will leave that to one side and talk about the trial, in the same court, of one Slobodan Milošević. His trial started at the Hague in February 2002 and the prosecution took two years to present their case, calling almost 300 witnesses and presenting 5,000 items of evidence. Several million pages of written material were put before the court.

Milosevic though-out refused to appoint counsel; he had lawyers but represented himself in court. After he started his own defence he started to get ill with heart problems. There is some suggestion his gaolers were poising him, others think he was poisoning himself so as to get out for medical treatment. He started missing court days and the court imposed limits on his court time to hurry him along. By the beginning of 2006 he was asking to be transferred to a specialist heart unit in Moscow - the court declined this request on the reasonable grounds he might not return - and in March 2006, after five years of custody, never having been convicted of a crime, he died of a heart attack.

Over a hundred million dollars was spent on the trial, Milosevic was incarcerated for five years, and yet died an innocent man. Credible medical opinion has it that he could have been successfully treated for his heart condition.

So the whole thing was a complete fiasco, as you would expect if you give a bunch of lawyers unlimited time and unlimited money. They inevitably wanted to string out the gravy train forever.

Since the maximum penalty Milosevic faced was life in prison, the prosecutors should have picked out their strongest couple of murders, enough to justify the maximum sentence, and used them to nail him. In the UK a murder trial can be done and dusted in two weeks' court time.

The fault, though, lies at the political level; lawyers cannot be expected to control their appetites.

There are lessons here for the Karadzic trial.


Friday, 23 October 2009

Nick Griffin on Question Time

So yesterday evening, Nick Griffin, chairman of the BNP, entered the belly of the beast and appeared on BBC1’s Question Time. Also on the panel with him were Jack Straw, the Justice Minister, Baroness Warsi, a Tory who failed to get elected as an MP and so became a “lady”, Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman and failed leadership contender, and Bonnie Greer, a black American playwright who seemed to think the Romans arrived in Britain hot on the heels of a retreating ice cap at the end of the last ice age and that we’re all descended from Neanderthals. (Perhaps she was just talking about herself; personally I’m Cro-Magnon.)

This blog hoped, even expected, that the BBC, having been forced by considerations of fairness to invite Griffin onto the programme, would play it with a straight bat and let the politicians slug it out while David Dimbleby acted as impartial chairman of the debate. This blog even expected that there would be some BNP supporters in the audience, just like all the other political parties were represented in the audience.

Unfortunately this blog was disappointed. There were few BNP supporters in the audience, if any, and they were certainly not called upon to speak. This blogger applied to go in the audience but was turned down (after some debate amongst the production team it seems, going by the number of phones calls and the lateness of the hour at which they finally decided the answer was, “no”.) The audience was massively “ethnic” – unlike normal Question Times – white faces were few and far between.

And David Dimbleby did not act as neutral chairman; he actually attempted to choreograph the other panellists’ attacks on Nick Griffin, telling them to take turns attacking him rather than all wading in at the same time.

The programme started badly for Nick, and then got worse. As he came in the studio and was introduced the audience hissed; a vulgar reception that likely would not have happened with a regular audience.

All the questions asked to the panel were effectively aimed at Nick; and all the questions were implicitly hostile. Never did a BNP supporter get to ask a question or make a point. Never did David Dimbleby say, “Now I’d like to hear from BNP supporters in the audience,” as he would for any other political party.

Each of the other panellists had a script in front of them and spent most of the programme reading out accusations to Nick Griffin and then not letting him answer them. Even David Dimbleby had brought along his own bill of charges. Griffin, manfully but mistakenly I think, tried to answer the accusations. Frankly he should have realised he was a long way behind enemy lines and was never going to get a fair hearing; he should have concentrated on communicating the BNP’s policy to the viewers at home. However, he was probably somewhat constrained by the fact that the last time he was totally candid on the subject of Islam he was filmed by an undercover BBC crew and spent the next two years at Leeds Crown Court trying (and succeeding) in keeping himself out of jail.

He should also have reassured the many ethnics who effectively asked him to where they would be deported if the BNP had its way. NG never told them categorically that since they were British citizens they would not be deported anywhere; they are welcome to live in this country forever – provided they are law-abiding and acquired their citizenship lawfully. The tabloid scare-mongering that the BNP wants “all blacks out” seems reluctant to die. Likewise NG should have stated categorically that the BNP is not Nazi, fascist, racist or socialist. Many members of the public don’t realise this, and the LibLabCon triumvirate have a vested interest in keeping the myth alive.

Nick Griffin needs some basic media training. He needs to be told to sit up straight, to keep his hands away from his face when speaking and not to appease other panellists or members of the audience and that it doesn’t matter if everyone in the room hates him - they are only a couple of hundred individuals – the real audience is the million-plus people watching from their sitting rooms, and they are not hand-picked “ethnics” but in the main the native peoples of these islands who are seriously concerned about immigration, Islamification, the EU, and the economic incompetence of the present government.

Ironically there was much better programme on BBC1 straight after QT - This Week, chaired by Andrew Neil, featuring the cosy couple Diane Abbot and Michael Portillo, with guest Alan Davis – aka Jonathan Creek or the guy who always loses on QI.

Diane Abbot was worried that Nick Griffin’s performance on Question Time would have won him the sympathy vote from the northern working classes. She also said the Labour Party had taken its working class vote for granted because they have nowhere else to go – and it turns out they did have somewhere else to go – the BNP.

Alan Davis, showing a lot more perspicacity than he does on QI, reckoned that the only real way to defeat the BNP was to address the issues which concern BNP supporters rather than just attacking the leader. This, of course, is completely true but it’s close to inconceivable that any of the LibLabCon would actually take that to heart.

This morning’s papers are full of reviews claiming Nick Griffin has been shown up; is a broken man; was soundly trounced. And yet – the online opinion polls at the very same papers are showing growing support, and of course, the BNP website has collapsed under the load of the interest generated - again.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

BNP vs the Generals

Four former soldiers have obliquely criticised the BNP for using military imagery in their publicity.

General Sir Mike Jackson and General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former heads of the Army, Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, former Chief of the Defence Staff, and Major-General Patrick Cordingley, commander of the Desert Rats in the Gulf War, have all put their names to a letter to a new political operation called Nothing British

The letter says:

We, the undersigned, are increasingly concerned that the reputation of Britain’s Armed Services is being tarnished by political extremists who are attempting to appropriate it for their own dubious ends.

We deplore this trend for two reasons.

First, the values of these extremists - many of whom are essentially racist - are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military such as tolerance and fairness. Commonwealth soldiers, who comprise about 10% of the Services, represent an invaluable contribution to the success of Britain’s military, both in history and the current day. Many have won the highest awards.

Second, the reputation of our Armed Forces was won over centuries of service in some of the most difficult areas of the world. Political extremists should claim no right to share in this proud heritage.

We call on all those who seek to hi-jack the good name of Britain’s military for their own advantage to cease and desist.

General The Lord Guthrie GCB, LVO, OBE, DL
General Sir Mike Jackson GCB, CBE, DSO, DL
General Sir Richard Dannatt GBC, CBE, MC
Major-General Patrick Cordingley DSO

Now, it is true that the BNP uses imagery from the World Wars, the Falklands, etc, in its publicity material. And why not? The public needs to be shown the sacrifices their ancestors made, the lives lost, to give the current British peoples the safety and comfort they now enjoy; they need to be shown that their current lifestyle was hard-won and should not lightly be discarded; nor allowed to be sold to the highest bidder by traitorous politicians.

The above named august generals have made one big arrogant assumption: that they, the top brass with scrambled egg on their shoulders have the right to control British military imagery. Generals did not make the great sacrifices to get us where we are today - the other ranks and private soldiers did that, as they have always done through-out the centuries of British history.

A Russian officer at Crimea noted that the British army was composed of, "Lions led by donkeys." The above named generals should reflect on which side of that equation they lie.

Nothing British can be shown, with the least amount of research, to be a Conservative Party-aligned organisation of very recent vintage. It seems to have been established specifically to oppose the BNP. Welcome to the club! This is both encouraging and stupid.

Encouraging because it means they're feeling some pain. They are starting to fear the BNP, as well they should. Stupid because the BNP mainly takes votes from former Labour supporters. Up to a point, the better the BNP does, the better the Tories will do at the polls.

It seems clear that the retired generals (and note, no-one from the air force or navy) have nailed their colours to a new mast and are confident of preferment under the expected Conservative government.

Nothing British
Stolen Valour campaign
Times article
BNP's analysis

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

True UK public debt

The Centre for Policy Studies, usually referred to as a "right-wing think-tank" has done some sums on the UK government's debt - adding back in all the things the government likes to leave out, such as the pension liabilities, Network Rail's debt, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) debt, etc.

The debt clock beside this post says (as I write this) the debt is £836 billion...

The CPS says...

So the real debt is 2.2 trillion pounds. Yikes! And note they based their figures on a headline debt of £805 billion, because they wrote the report a few days ago.

Also they missed out a big one - nuclear decommissioning. Add £73 billion for that.

On the plus side, we might, just might, be able to claw back some of the banking bail out money by selling the state-owned banks as going concerns at some point in the fuure.

The report is here.

Friday, 16 October 2009

BNP vs CEHR, no score draw--so far

As you know the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) is taking legal action in the London County Court against the BNP to force the party to open its membership to ethnic minorities. Since the party was founded to represent the natives of these islands this doesn't come naturally.

However the BNP has now promised to look at changing the party's constitution to bring it into line with what the CEHR considers lawful. On the basis of this promise the judge has adjourned the case until the 28th January next year. There was a price however for stopping the case - the party had to promise to take on no new members until its constitution is changed and approved by the judge. An Emergency General Meeting will be held next month to consider this.

This membership freeze of course explains why the party has recently been bombarding its supporter base with offers of discounted life membership, said offers being accompanied by such a sternly worded warning that they were very time-limited that all recipients could hardly fail to see the writing on the wall. The party has been trying to draw in all potential members before the gates had to be shut. Now they are shut; they may not re-open until next year.

There is a downside to this. Next week the BNP chairman, Nick Griffin, is scheduled to appear on BBC1's Question Time, which is more mainstream publicity than the party has ever had. This could have swelled the membership quite substantially. Now applications will have to be put on ice until the party is allowed to re-open its doors.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Islamification of Trafalgar Square

Islam for the UK, a hard-line muslim organisation, who seem convinced that the blanket imposition of Sharia Law is imminent in the UK are planning a march on the 31st of October.

They will start outside parliament, then visit the Prime Minister at Downing Street (in practice, of course, they won't actually get into Downing Street - there are big black gates to stop that sort of thing) and then on to Trafalgar Square, picking up supporters from the general public along the way.

In preparation for this they have redesigned the Square to make it Sharia-compliant. First, that statue of Nelson must go - statues are idolatry. Here's the new one...

The column remains but Nelson has been replaced with a clock programmed to sound out the call to prayer five times a day. Above the clock you can see the black flag of Islam.

The bronze lions guarding Nelson will be melted down. They are also heretical. The bronze will be used to make artillery pieces, because Islam for the UK are expecting an attack by France. (This is slightly bizarre, France is much further down the road to Islam than us - they will be Islamic first.)

However the changes are not all bad. They also plan to put out pots of gold coins so that the poor may help themselves. The pots will be replenished as required; although they don't expect that to be very often since under Sharia everyones needs will be taken care of anyway, so there won't be any poor.

My suggestion would be to put out the pots now and not wait for full Sharia as that could take a while.

Islam4UK - March

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

September's inflation numbers are out

CPI was 1.1% on the year, down from 1.6 last month.

RPI was -1.4%, down from -1.3 last month.

The significance is limited. The numbers are still being flattered by the halving of world oil prices eight months ago. Oil has since gone back up and is now around $72 per barrel. The reduced VAT rate is holding inflation down.

The temporary VAT reduction will be reversed at the end of the year and by February the oil price drop will have fallen off the back-end of the year-on-year statistics.

Meanwhile sterling is continuing to fall against the euro and other world currencies and this will make imported goods more expensive. Inflation is set to return to the UK economy.


Blanchflower shows his true colours

Meet Professor Blanchflower, one of the architects of our current economic situation...

Prof Blanchflower: Seagull economist

Blanchflower was a member the BoE's MPC for three years between 2007 and 2009. As such he helped set the UK's base interest rate. He has joint British-American nationality and is a full time resident of the USA where he teaches at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.

During his time on the MPC he pioneered "seagull" economics which is the practice of flying in for the monthly meeting, making a loud squawking sound, crapping on everyone and then flying out again. Later he improved on this by not turning up at all - just participating by telephone.

Blanchflower persistently voted for lower interest rates at a time when public and private debt levels were soaring in the UK. He wanted to pour petrol on the fire to put it out. He was often out of line with the other MPC members.

MPC-watchers were baffled by his position, but today all becomes clear. The MPC was aiming to keep inflation under 2 percent, but in a Guardian article Professor Blanchflower has now announced he thinks the target should be five percent. He thinks a nice dose of inflation would wipe out people's debt and one can't help but wonder if, during his tenure on the MPC, he wasn't actually trying to get inflation up while the others were trying to get it down.

Of course, he's right. Inflation does wipe out debt. Well, WAGE-inflation wipes out debt, price inflation by itself doesn't. Traditionally the two inflations go hand in hand: wages go up, prices go up, debt is in relative terms reduced.

On the downside savers lose their savings; pensioners on fixed incomes are reduced to penury; people with no debt effectively subsidise the indebted.

Inflation is just government theft; a tax in all but name.

Inflation typically transfers wealth from the poor who don't own inflation-proof assets (houses, gold, foreign currency) to the rich who do - and who probably purchased those assets using debt.

And in our current economic predicament it's worth bearing in mind that WAGE-inflation and PRICE-inflation may not be as linked as old-school economists think. These days a lot of wages are set on the international markets; jobs move abroad if workers get too expensive. If the government relaxes the fight against inflation we could easily get price inflation without wage inflation.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Iceland is in hot water

Here in the UK we don’t generally appreciate how much hardball our government is playing with Iceland. Not since the “cod wars” of the 1970s when the Royal Navy was used to force access for British fishing boats into Iceland’s 200 mile territorial limit have relations been so bad. The Icelanders deeply resent us for the actions of our government – and yet most British citizens are oblivious to the situation.

Let us remind ourselves of some recent history. In the Autumn of last year Iceland’s three largest banks, Glitnir, Kaupthing and Landsbanki collapsed, seemingly as a result of some of their major shareholders deciding the game was up and emptying the vaults by making large loans to themselves. The Icelandic government took control of the banks and pledged to underwrite their liabilities, a sum of about 40 billion euros, this being nearly five times Iceland’s GDP. If government hadn’t done this Iceland would have been reduced to anarchy.

The Icelandic currency, the krona (ISK) fell by thirty-five percent; the stock market fell by ninety percent and was shut for two days.

In the UK hundreds of thousands of savers with “Icesave”, a brand name of Landsbanki, who had been attracted by several years of higher-than-normal interest rates, were unable to access their money. The website was down. To stop panic spreading into the rest of the British banking system the chancellor, Alistair Darling, said the British government would give individual savers all their money back. (Institutional savers such as local authorities, police forces and fire departments were left high and dry and are still out of pocket.) To recoup some of the money to do this he froze the remaining Landsbanki assets using anti-terrorist legislation, in a move which may not have been legal – but nobody in the UK is complaining.

Meanwhile in Iceland the government bailed out its own citizens 100% using funds that strictly speaking should have gone to British savers.

The current situation is that Iceland is in a deep recession, possibly its GDP will fall ten percent this year and inflation may reach 75%. Draconian foreign currency restrictions have been imposed. Citizens cannot hold foreign currency at all and must surrender any foreign cash that comes into their possession. All foreign currency is earmarked for food, medicine or oil.

Several foreign countries are chasing Iceland to pay its debts – 50bn euros in total, which Iceland simply cannot afford. And the UK government wants 5.5% interest until Iceland pays up, despite the UK base rate being 0.5% at the moment.

The British government is putting pressure on the IMF to put pressure on Iceland to start paying. The IMF’s leverage comes from the fact that it is supporting Iceland’s currency which is vital to Iceland because most big debts in Iceland, eg people’s mortgages, are denominated in other currencies, mainly the euro, and if the krona falls their repayments will become unaffordable. If the IMF withdrew its currency support just about every Icelandic citizen could suffer personal bankruptcy, either due to direct costs or knock-on effects.

The British government is also blocking Iceland’s application to join the European Union. (That said, the Icelanders no-longer have a majority in favour of joining the EU.)

The Icelandic government is trying to negotiate payment terms for its debt. It has offered to pay the UK 4% of all GDP growth until its debt is repaid (and 2% to the Netherlands, another big creditor nation due to Landsbanki having been very active there.) Linking debt repayment to GDP growth is quite a smart move for Iceland as it would give foreign governments a strong incentive not to impose economic sanctions while at the same time postponing the pain for Icelandic citizens. The British government, however, does not accept these terms. It wants repayment to start immediately.

Meanwhile Icelanders are voting with their feet. Each Icelandic taxpayer has a notional debt of a quarter of a million euros, which implies a lifetime, or even many generations, of debt servicing. The obvious solution for any Icelander, especially a young one with no krona-denominated assets such as a house, is to leave the country and seek their fortune elsewhere. Emigration is endemic – there is a real risk of Iceland becoming depopulated – leaving behind only non-tax-paying old retired people.

Meanwhile, over in Latvia the situation is worse.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Double standards at the BBC

When Strictly Come Dancing contender Laila Rouass emerged from her fake tanning session her professional partner Anton Du Beke (originally, Anthony Beke) exclaimed, "You look like a Paki!"

Laila & "Anton"

Rouass is half-Indian/half-Morrocan so presumably looks a little "like a Paki" at the best of times. About 15 people heard this remark and before long the BBC thought police had dived in. The case was somewhat reminiscent of Carol Thatcher, who said a black tennis player's hair looked like, "a golliwog's".

The outcome however was very different.

Anton Du Beke apologised and that was the end of the matter as far as the BBC was concerned. Carol Thatcher apologised and was fired.

Why the different standards? One suspects that Carol was being punished for the sins of her mother.

Daily Mirror

Irish vote to adopt Lisbon treaty

As expected then, the Irish have voted by 67% to 33% to adopt the Lisbon treaty. It seems those who changed their vote think the EU will somehow help them with their crashing property market and their 12% unemployment.

So, just Poland and the Czech Republic to go. Poland is expected to sign within the next few days - the Czech parliament has voted and passed the treaty but it has to be okayed by their constitutional court. It remains to be seen how much of an obstacle that will be.

Then it's a done deal.

Let us remind ourselves of some of the provisions of the Lisbon treaty:

  • Legal "personality" for the EU. It can make its own treaties; declare war; sue you for libel if you critise it.

  • Changes the name of members from "countries" to "states". Guess where this is leading?

  • Can force member states to change their domestic law against their will. Expect a holocaust-denial law real soon now.

  • Gives the EU total control over our fishing grounds.

  • Forces every member to provide every other member with unlimited military assistance.

  • There's an escalator clause which allows new clauses to be added without re-ratification. In this sense it's the "last" treaty. In the future new provisions can be quietly implemented without drama, just a vote in the European council.

  • They can change the voting rules on the fly. Something which requires unanimity today could become qualified majority voting tomorrow.

  • There's a two year lock-in. This could be considered a good thing since previous EU treaties didn't have get out clauses at all. But the lock-in is very onerous. The departing member immediately loses all voting rights but is still bound by all EU rules for the next two years.

So it's a major assault on democracy and self-determination. Even a Europhile should be opposed to it.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Minor fomality in Ireland

Today the Irish are voting to adopt the Lisbon Treaty - the renamed EU constitution. (It's not being called the constitution anymore because we were promised a referendum on the constitution; no, it's just a treaty.)

The Irish have to vote today because last time they voted they got it wrong and voted no. Not a single word, dot or comma has been changed in the text since they voted in June last year. None-the-less this blog expects a yes vote.

The Irish have been cowed by the recession, theirs is even worse than ours, and they have lost any backbone they once had.

Of course, they may prove me wrong - we should know sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Body cavity bombs

Well, it had to happen, didn't it? Al Qaeda have mastered the art of remotely detonating a bomb located in a terrorist's rectum. Said terrorist managed to pass magnetometer tests to get close to his intended target Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, head of Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism operations. The Prince was only slightly hurt but the room they were in was trashed.

Abdullah Asieri: Explosive terrorist

The implications for air travel are immediately obvious. Anyone who has a metal replacement joint, eg a new hip, can tell you that they aren't generally detected at airports. The flesh around the metal masks it quite effectively, although hand wands can sense it. At the very least a procedural change will be required. At high altitude even a small explosion breaching the aircraft's skin could be enough to crash the vehicle.

It seems that Abdullah Asieri shown above was body-packing about a pound of C4 and the electronics necessary for remote detonation. A more intensive security screening, perhaps involving sniffer dogs, would have detected him.

But there are worse possibilities. With the assistance of medical personnel, and it seems Al Qaeda have such people in their ranks, it would be possible to introduce several pints of a liquid explosive into a plastic bag in a human colon via the anus.

This is what 16 ounces of nitroglycerine did to an aircraft fuselage in a controlled detonation...

16oz liquid bomb

Using a timed chemical detonator the liquid explosive would be practically undetectable.

Probably the only reason Al Qaeda have not yet done this is, ironically, it would cause too few casualties - only the occupants of the aircraft would be killed, and probably out at sea where there would be little prospect of addition damage on the ground.

Perhaps they are waiting until they can bring down several trans-atlantic aircraft at the same time.

This strikes me as being one of those situations where there will be a major attack and then the authorities will say they knew it was a possibility but the public would never have accepted the intrusive nature of the precautions that would have been necessary to prevent it.

I wonder how long colonoscopy will add to your check-in time.

CBS report
BBC video

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Sick silver-lining

To-date 790 British service personnel have been seriously injured in Afghanistan while working as part of ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force.) That's 790 fit young men (and occasionally women) who have lost a limb or two but came back alive. (There have been 219 fatalities.)

So we should be doing well in the London para-Olympics in 2012!

Link: BBC
Link: Wikipedia casualty count

Sun puts final nail in Labour's coffin

Having carefully studied the Mori opinion poll out yesterday (see previous post) the Sun newspaper (prop: Rupert Murdoch, readership: 10 million) has decided they don't want to be on the losing side of the next general election (expected May 6th, 2010) and so, in best rat tradition, have jumped off the sinking ship.

But don't make the mistake of thinking this changes their position at all. If you have actually read a copy of the Sun anytime in the last five years you will have seen that it was actually virulently anti-Labour. Top brass at News International may have called the paper Labour-supporting but the message never reached the newsroom - it's been knocking copy for years now.

So nothing really has changed. All that happened is the Sun execs who used to be chummy with Gordon Brown waited until the Leader's speech at the party conference and at what should have been his finest hour - slid a metaphorical knife in his back.

And let's face it - he deserved it.

Link: Sun

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Labour in 3rd place

Labour have fallen to third place in UK politics - during their national conference.

That's a bit embarrassing, to say the least. Conferences are supposed to boost ratings, and now they are behind the Lib Dems - albeit by just one percentage point.

Mori seem to have ignored the nationalist parties such as UKIP and the BNP, not even offering them as options on the survey. It would be interesting to know what their support is running at now - I can't see it being less than at the Euro elections earlier in the year.

Link: Mori

Friday, 25 September 2009

Petition the Prime Minister to sack Baroness Scotland

Amazingly Number 10 have just allowed a petition to sack the Attorney General to be put up on their website. Sign here...

I know for a fact that a few people have tried putting up a petition in the last couple of days and it has been disallowed. Now suddenly it's allowed. Either the PM being away in America for the G20 has left some out-of-his-depth junior in charge, or the dodgy Baroness no longer has support at the top.

The Attorney General now counts as low hanging fruit.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Sterling is feeling poorly

Or, rather, if you're holding sterling you're poorer. Today it has dropped below 1.10 euros. It has been lower in the past, down as low as one euro five cents, and recovered. But there's no obvious reason why it should recover this time.

Stephen Hesford: an honourable man?

Just so you don't think I'm always critical and negative, meet Stephen Hesford, Labour MP for the Wirrel, and until yesterday a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS).

Stephen Hesford: resigned

Hesford resigned because he no longer wanted to be associated with disgraced Attorney General, Baroness Scotland.

A PSS is a minister's little helper in parliament. They don't get paid; they aren't members of the government. Hesford's connection with Baroness Scotland was rather tenuous - he wasn't her PPS, he worked for the Solicitor General who is the Attorney General's deputy in the government's Law Offices.

The only real point of taking a job as a PPS is to get your face out there. You get to rub shoulders with members of the government and just occasionally you may deputise for your minister - if none of the ranks of more junior ministers want the job on the day. The only point of being a PPS is to get seen and promoted to something more significant.

So one cheer for Hesford. He has given up the prospect of a glittering government career, which in fact in this government of the living dead he never had. On the plus side by resigning he has got his face on national TV - and I for one, had never previously heard of him. Clearly a man who can spot an opportunity.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Who is employing illegal immgrants

Further to Baroness Scotland's £5,000 fine for employing an illegal immigrant I though it would be illuminating to see who else is employing illegals.

Here is the UK Border Agency's list of offending employers in London and the South East for June: Link

Can you spot who the offending classes are? Hint: the word "Tandoori" appears 23 times.

The Americans are starting to think about quantitative tightening

Just think about it mind you. The New York Fed has done some preliminary work on setting up Reverse Repurchase Agreements where they "sell" some of the trillion dollar plus worth of assets they've acquired under TARP and other deals - for cash. "Sell" rather than sell because it's only for a fixed period and then the deal reverses. The effect is to take cash out of the economy for the period in question. The aim being to nail any inflation before it even starts.

So, Bank of England, where are you in all this?

Link: Bloomberg

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Baroness Scotland "fined" £5,000

So she's just been "fined" £5,000. I say "fined" because it's not a real fine from a criminal court, because that would take a trial and she could argue not guilty due to being deceived by the illegal immigrant in question. Nope, it's a New Labour fine, one of those you're-guilty-because-we-say-you-are fines where your legal rights don't apply.

Of course Baroness Scotland is making much mileage of it being a "civil" fine, claming as it's not criminal she doesn't have to resign. It's really just a fee to get the press off her back. And I expect the £170,000 expenses claim cushions the blow nicely. Hey, maybe she can actually claim the fine on her expenses - let's not forget Said Malik, former "Justice" minister, who claimed his £65 court summons fee for non-payment of council tax.

Personally, what I'd like to have seen, for Baroness Scotland, is a proper criminal trial, followed by deportation on conviction. Cancel the fine, not having her claim £170,000 housing would be all the compensation I'd want.

Link: BBC

Monday, 21 September 2009

Black baronesses beggar belief

Just to remind ourselves, this is Baroness Uddin whom I blogged about here. A Bangladeshi immigrant, she has distinguished herself by claiming an allowance of £83,000 for an out-of-London main residence which the Times cannot find. She does have flat in Kent, until recently unfurnished.

And here another outing for Baroness Scotland, so soon after her last appearance in this blog directly below. Her claim to fame today is the same as Uddin's above: claiming residence expenses as though she lived out of London, despite having a £2m London home. The Times has her £170,000 deep into the taxpayers' pocket.

Both of them are "baronesses" out of sheer political correctness. New Labour wanted them in government but they are unelectable, so they were parachuted into the House of Lords.

The sooner they are both our of our lives and out of this country - the better.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Baroness Scotland in hot water

Meet Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General for England and Wales (but not Scotland.)

She's an immigrant from Dominica and actually has no connection with Scotland at all - "Scotland" is just her family name. Her job as Attorney General makes her chief legal advisor to the "Crown", ie, to the UK Government.

Well, turns out she's being employing another immigrant, this one illegal and from Tongo, as a maid at her London home. Oops! Still, she claims she checked the illegal immigrant's documents when she hired her - it was the "over-staying student visa" trick.

Couple of problems here: one, a student visa doesn't let you take gainful employment anyway, and two, New Labour has bastardised the criminal justice system so much that they actually removed the mens rea defence by creating a "civil offense". So Baroness Scotland could be facing a £10,000 fine in a civil court even if she genuinely didn't know the maid was illegal.

Time to get beamed up, Baroness!

The government borrowed £16.1bn in August

If you annualise that you get £193.2bn which is way ahead of Alistair Darling’s budget forecast that the public sector would borrow £175bn this year. However, due to lower borrowing earlier in the year, the financial-year-to-date borrowing is £65.3bn, which annualised comes out at £156.7bn – which is under budget. It is actually possible AD will meet his £175bn borrowing forecast.

However a former Treasury adviser has accused the government of hiding the full extent of public debt by using controversial accounting rules to take £32.5bn off the books.

An astonishing 87 per cent of private finance initiative deals – under which the taxpayer pays private firms to build and run hospitals, roads or school premises – have not been properly accounted for on the government’s books, the research reveals.

In a controversial move, the government is using a new, internationally recognised and much fairer IFRS set of accounting rules in its internal forecasts – but still using the old system when publishing the national accounts and calculating national debt figures released to the public.

The existence of this two-tier system was slammed last night by the report’s author, professor David Heald of the University of Aberdeen, who until July was a member of the Financial Reporting Advisory Board (FRAB), which advises the government on its accounting procedures.

The external accounts are produced according to the Eurostat system of accounting, required as a measure of collating figures released to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). But Heald attacked these rules as “incredibly lax”, adding: “The government is hiding behind weak accounting rules and pretending the debt is not as high as it genuinely is.”

Philip Hammond, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, also hit out at the government, saying: “Only a day after we discovered the Prime Minister misled the country about his plans for spending cuts, we find out the government is trying to hide £32bn of debt off the balance sheet. Labour is taking the public for fools.” (Link )

It seems we’re now at an economic turning point in the UK. If the economy improves from here on the government’s forecasts will be accurate but if the figures keep getting worse it will be apparent to everyone that they’ve completely lost control – at which point expect a stock market and sterling crisis.

(In fact speaking of sterling – it needs watching. The last few days have seen it looking rather unhealthy.)

Link: BBC

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Inflation numbers are out

Link: Gov stats

The inflation numbers for last month (Aug 09) are:

CPI: +1.6% (was +1.8% in July)
RPI: -1.3% (was -1.4% in July)

If you strip mortgage interest payments out of the RPI it suddenly goes up to +1.4% (was +1.2% in July.) So we still have the effects of the 0.5% base rate helping keep inflation down.

CPI is being depressed by the moment by gas and electricity price hikes which happened 13 months ago and so have dropped out of the back end of the calculation. The prices are still high of course - but the BoE isn't counting them anymore.

The VAT cut, due to end at the end of the year, is also keeping the numbers down.

My take: inflation is still a greater risk than deflation.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

This vid needs a wider audience

Please stand to attention while watching this video...

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The great BNP membership issue

OK, the story so far... At the Euro elections the BNP received approx one million votes and got two MEPs elected. This spooked the government enough to try to get the party shut down, so they unleashed the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) onto the party like a pack of rabid gerbils.

The CEHR is a quango led by a former journalist called Trevor Philips, for some reason known as "droop lips" in the black community. It has a budget of £70m a year and seems inclined to use most of it to beat up the BNP.

CEHR Chairman: Our Trev

In June the CEHR wrote to the BNP claiming to have received complaints that 1) the white-only membership rule was unlawful, 2) since employees of the party must be members, its recruitment policy was also unlawful, and 3) that BNP elected members were only serving white constituents. (CEHR's Letter)

In August the CEHR applied for an injunction against the BNP in the London County Court and on the 2nd September the first hearing took place. The BNP's lawyer asked for more time because he had only just been briefed and the court granted a seven week adjournment but awarded costs so far against the BNP because they should have appointed a lawyer sooner.

That's the current state of play. The CEHR are represented by a top barrister, and the BNP is trying to raise cash to stay in the game.

However, in this game the deck is stacked. The government has a new Equality Act before parliament whose ostensible purpose is to roll up all preceding legislation into a single Act. The real purpose, of course, is to add in a few more titbits like positive discrimination and the abolition of the BNP, at least in its present form.

So the CEHR knows it will win; if not under the present law then under a new law, largely unwritten so far. (Although, the Equality Bill is supposedly so bloated now that it may actually be impossible to get it passed before this government dies in May 2010.)

Let's turn to the substance of the CEHR's complaints.

The easiest to dismiss is number 3 - that BNP elected members do not attempt to represent ethnic minorities in their constituencies. This is based on a quote from BNP Chairman Nick Griffin to the effect that ethnics will continue to "go to" the Labour party.

Nick Griffin: BNP Chairman

This hinges on what is meant by "go to". The CEHR seems to think it means the BNP wants ethnics to take their problems to Labour politicians, whereas it seems clear from the context the Nick Griffin was simply saying he expected ethnic minorities to continue voting Labour like they mainly do. The BNP has always been clear that its politicians will represent and work for all constituents, not just white ones.

Moving back up the list of complaints we have number 2 - employment discrimination. Now I don't know if employees of the BNP even have to be members; asking for a membership number doesn't mean you won't get a job if you write NONE in the box. The BNP is painfully aware that some people are simply not allowed to join the party. If someone in a profession where BNP membership is forbidden wanted to put in a few paid hours at the BNP on a part time basis I cannot imagine the Party declining their services simply because they weren't a member. (Although most such people would be unpaid volunteers so this is a bit of a non-issue.)

However, precedent has already been set, not least by the Labour party in government, that "political jobs" may be restricted to party members. Think Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair's spokesman, he was technically a civil servant, paid for by the taxpayers, and yet his position was not advertised generally and party allegiance was a requirement. Political jobs are de facto, if not de jure exempt from some aspects of employment law. The major parties would be greatly inconvenienced if this changed.

So that leaves number 1 - the big issue - white-only membership. This issue stems from the fact that the BNP wears two hats. Its first hat is nationalism. It is the Party which advocates nationalism, the ideology, just as other parties advocate socialism or unfettered, globalised capitalism. This hat isn't a problem. A brown or black person could be a nationalist just as much as a white person. Colour or race doesn't determine ideological outlook.

The second hat the BNP wears is more problematic; it's the party which supports rights for the indigenous peoples of the British Isles - who happen all to be white.

As an aside: some people wonder - why on Earth do whites need their rights supported? Surely they already have all the representation they need. Well, consider, we natives are probably already a minority in our own capital city and demographic trends indicate we will be a minority in the entire country within most of our lifetimes. Also note that some of our largest growing minorities are noticeably less tolerant of outsiders than we have been of them. You only have to look at how blacks are treating whites in South Africa - 3,000 white farmers killed, endemic black-on-white crime - or how Christians are treated in Muslim countries, to see that us becoming a minority in our own lands will be problematic, to put it mildly.

As the BNP's second purpose is to support and represent the natives, naturally membership is restricted to natives, hence to whites. The BNP certainly does not take the view that whites are superior to other races, nor does the BNP hate blacks or browns. It's simply that the Party's job is to represent people who happen to be white.

The BNP can point to a lot of organisations which are race or religion based. However they are not political parties, and they generally do allow all-comers, at least in the small print. The National Black Police Officers' Association recently changed (or possibly, clarified) their rules to allow white police officers to join. The usual refrain is that this is an association ABOUT a certain ethnic group but not RESTRICTED TO that group, ie, if a white police officer were particularly interested in minority issues he could join the NBPOA.

So the BNP cannot use other organisations as precedents for race-restricted membership. Any minority group that has a formal restriction will be removing it as we speak.

Ironically, one of the more fundamental Human Rights which the CEHR should be exercised about is Freedom of Association, which is both freedom to include and exclude with whom you associate.

But this is an argument the BNP is not going to win. If they win in court then the law will be changed and the CEHR will be back for another bite at the cherry.

One wonders what the CEHR expects to gain when it wins its court case. The most obvious "victory" would be to bankrupt the Party though legal fees and thereby stop it operating (or at least put it on an equal footing with the Labour party which has been bankrupt for years.)

I hope and expect that the BNP will know when to fold; and to realise that it's better to live to fight another day than to die for the principle - at least in this case. The CEHR may be hoping to run up massive bills and then actually pursue members of the BNP for payment.

A second tier "victory" for the CEHR would be to win the court case to establish the principle of open membership and then other organisations could dilute the BNP by having a large cohort of ethnic minorities join and wreck the Party from the inside. This seems an unlikely strategy. It would be expensive and difficult to organise enough people to join to out vote the existing 12,500 (and growing) membership. The anti-BNP political organisations, eg the UAF, are not mass membership organisations. They simply don't have the foot-soldiers to carry out that kind of operation. If they did, they would already have done it using eligible members; they are a small number of very active people, not a solid mass of concerned individuals like the BNP. These days even the large political parties such as the Conservatives or Labour are hollowed-out organisations with no real grass-roots. They consist of a lot of full-time chiefs and some part-time Indians who'll turn out once every four or five years for elections.

So the CEHR is probably expecting to follow its court "victory" with a series of financially punitive enforcement actions: fines for failing to have enough ethnic minorities in the membership; fines for failing to tick the right politically correct boxes and jump through the right hoops; death by a thousand cuts.

The very least the anti-BNP forces can be hoping for is that the Party's top personnel and funds will be tied up in legal action in the run up to the next general election.

So, although it is right for the BNP to defend its position to a certain extent, it would not be right to risk the existence of the Party on this one court case. It's not like this is a fair fight - as I've already said, the deck is stacked.

And one has to wonder - how bad would it be if membership were opened to all British citizens?

The main problem, I think, would not be hoards of blacks or browns joining. It would be disaffected whites leaving. Quite a lot of members are more hardline than the BNP's current leadership - wrongly in my view - success at the ballot box requires not frightening the Great British Public with extremism or overt unfairness. The BNP used to have a "blacks out" stance which required all non-white immigrants to leave. This was not a recipe for electoral success and has rightly been dropped. The current "permanent guests" policy is an easier "sell" to the voter.

However BNP members for whom "blacks out" was non-negotiable have already left, and are either not affiliated to a party at the moment, or have joined a further right party such as the British Peoples' Party. It should be noted though that these "disgusted of Tonbridge Wells" types generally still vote BNP; even the BPP advocates voting BNP unless they have their own candidate in the election.

I suspect the Party could open its doors to all comers without much problem. Few ethnics would join and of those that did many would be more fanatically devoted to the cause than the current white members. Note that white BNP members are alarmed and concerned about Muslim fundamentalism while Hindus and Sikhs hate with an abiding passion (largely a legacy of the partition of India.) Meanwhile the existing white members would see the larger picture and tolerate the imposition.

And there would be an upside. It would be a stick to beat the media with. Currently the BNP is held back by a lack of reportage, or biased reporting aimed at discrediting the Party. The tabloids love to print a story about shaven-headed, tattooed, sig-heiling BNP members running amok. The fact that this is always complete fiction doesn't deter them. And the BBC simply ignores the BNP as much as it can decently get away with. The BNP's policies and position on the great issues of the day are not reported and as a result most voters do not realise there is actually a genuine choice - not just three flavours of the same choice. Without the excuse of the party being "racist" the media would have to normalise their reporting. The Nazi image needs to be quashed before the BNP can be truly successful at the polls.

So open membership could actually be turned to the BNP's advantage in several ways. It's not the end - but that doesn't mean I'm suggesting giving up without a fight.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Islamification in action: Churchyard bulldozed to make way for mosque

The BNP website has a pictorial article which illustrates Islamification in action.

I've taken the liberty of reproducing some of the pictures here.

This is St John's Church in the parish of Longsight, Manchester.

This is the attached graveyard, where parishioners have been buried since 1845.

This is what happened to the graveyard after the church was converted into a mosque.

Here are the cherished tombstones, no more than rubble.

And lastly we see the "church" once again open for business with its front door adorned with a foreign script and badly spelt English.

And the story is complete. A small part of our heritage, our historical record, the graves of our ancestors, is wiped out as though it was never there.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The Fed must cough

A lot of people have been trying to get the US Federal Reserve Bank to spill the beans on what they did with the trillion dollars plus that they've handed out to various institutions since the start of the credit crunch in Autumn 2007.

Senator Ron Paul (Rep, Texas) is pushing a Bill requiring a full audit of the Fed: how much? To which companies? For what collateral? There have also been freedom of information requests (FOI) to the Fed, which it has stone-walled.

The Fed's position is basically that the public couldn't take the bad news; there would be mass flight from institutions which have been helped and this would trigger a(nother) banking melt-down.

Unfortunately for the Fed:

Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve must for the first time identify the companies in its emergency lending programs after losing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Manhattan Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled against the central bank yesterday, rejecting the argument that loan records aren’t covered by the law because their disclosure would harm borrowers’ competitive positions.

So, finally we get to follow the money.

Link: Bloomberg

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Terrorist for oil - is it right?

So here's the question: was Gordon Brown right to do a deal and send Al Megrahi home to die after serving a 14-day per life taken sentence for mass murder in return for $15bn worth of oil?

The Americans think not. But then it was mainly Americans who died on flight Pan Am 103. And these are the same Americans who funded the IRA and gave stinger missiles to the Taliban in Afghanistan, then called the Mujahideen - with the expectation they would use them on Soviet helicopter gunships, and then, embarassingly, had to send a top CIA lady over to buy them back at $1,000,000 a pop before they could carry out their own post-911 invasion.

I'm inclined to discount the US government preaching from the moral high ground - as you might be able to tell. However the feelngs of American families should not be discounted.

And I wonder to what extent we should factor into our considerations the serious doubt now raised regarding Al Megrahi's conviction. It's pretty obvious he dropped his appeal on a promise of repatriation - his lawyer as good as said so to the Judge. His appeal may well have succeeded, which would have been embarassing all round. Remember his co-accused, Fhimah, was acquited at Camp Zeist.

There's a body of opinion which holds that flight 103 was actually downed by Syrian intelligence officers at the behest of Iran in retaliation for the shooting down of Iran Air flight 655, killing all 290 persons on-board, by the American guided missile destroyer USS Vincennes on the 3rd July 1988. (Pan Am 103 was bombed on the 21st of December 1988.)

Given that Magrahi is very ill and possibly innocent anyway I'm inclined to the view that it was right to do the deal.