Monthly Archives: September 2012

Tory ballot hypocrisy in action

I’ve talked on this blog about the Tories’ constant complaint about low turnouts for strike ballots and their hypocrisy when it comes to low turnouts for local elections. Many councils are elected on turnouts lower than 32% yet no Tory demands that the elections be declared null and void and held again. Here’s Dominic Raabid on last summer’s proposed strike by the PCS union,

 “These reckless and damaging strikes strengthen the case for a voting threshold, so the militant minority can’t hold the hard-working majority to ransom.

“It can’t be right that union bosses can paralyse vital infrastructure and humiliate the nation on a malicious whim, when just 11 per cent of their members support strike action.”

It can’t be right that local councillors (or governments) are elected to office without a mandate.  Priti Patel is another one with her head up her arse,

 “Any ballot in which fewer than half of those eligible to vote do so should be ruled invalid. This strike is yet another irresponsible protest by those who are once again putting their own interests before that of our county.”

Does that include Runnymede Council, Ms Patel? No? I didn’t think so.

Today we have the example of the Tory-controlled council of Runnymede, where yesterday’s local by-elections attracted a mere 23% in one ward and an embarrassing 14% in another.  Not a peep about this from Raab, Burley, Patel and other headbangers then? Quelle surprise.

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A new low in the history of entertainment and I’m not joking

Great piece from The Mambo that examines the curious rise of Chris Moyles as a media star and now, entertainer. Yes, you read that correctly, Moyles is now on tour. As The Mambo points out, Moyles has no identifiable talent to speak of. He’s witless, unpleasant and full of himself. It also says a lot about the people who have bought tickets to his Bournemouth, er, show, which is sold out.

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Ye Olde Cittie of London: a swindler’s paradise

The Cittie of London: paradise on earth if you’re a crook

How many times have we heard right-wing economists, supported by our neoliberal  government, claim that if the financial services sector is subjected to tighter regulation, then those institutions will simply move overseas? Too many to mention. It’s a form of emotional blackmail that our politicians love to use, but it also shows how hopelessly dependent the major parties are on the nothingness of the financial sector for the quarterly GDP figures. The Tories and Lib Dems (and Nu Labour types) will tell us that there is no choice, we must remain yoked to the parasites of the Cittie for our own good. This is because the two parties (and Nu Labour/Progress) are busy swapping saliva with bankers and hedge fund managers, who they believe are more deserving of their attention than the voters. In their eyes, there are none so important or so wise as those who have been awarded the title of “wealth-creator”, even though the “wealth” they create is funnelled overseas into secret accounts.

The New York Times has a story about another trader being wanted in connection with fraud charges.

A former Credit Suisse executive wanted in the U.S. on fraud charges linked to distorting the value of mortgage securities during the financial crisis has been arrested in Britain, authorities said Thursday.

It would seem that the temptation to defraud and embezzle is far too great for some money men to resist and the impression that I get is that Britain is particularly prone to this sort of thing, because light touch regulation makes it easy to swindle banks and deceive others. Yet one is also left with the question, “How many more are there”?

U.S. Federal prosecutors have alleged that Kareem Serageldin conspired with two of his employees to hide the deteriorating condition of the U.S. housing market in 2007 in order to keep the value of bonds based on subprime mortgages artificially high, thereby fattening their bonuses.

He was slated to receive more than $7 million in compensation in 2007 before the company learned about the alleged fraud and withheld $5.2 million of his pay. The fraud, which prosecutors described earlier this year as “a tale of greed run amok,” was blamed as responsible for a portion of the $2.65 billion write-down Credit Suisse announced in March 2008.

But it says an awful lot about the nature of light touch regulation in this country, when it is Wall Street, of all places, that’s leading the investigations into London’s rogue traders. You sort of get the feeling that it’s one of those horrible family secrets that everyone knows about but you.

Deborah Hargreaves writing in The Guardian in August said,

But we all know where light-touch regulation has ended up: about £2tn ($3.13tn) sunk into supporting the banks and the return, for the UK, to the depths of a double-dip recession. So you can’t blame New York regulators for spotting an opportunity of their own. Brussels is doing the same.

Our banks have hardly helped themselves. Barclays admitted manipulating a leading benchmark interest rate for years – first, for its own gain, and then, to convince regulators it was healthier than it looked.HSBC turns out to have been accepting truckloads of dollars from money launderers with no questions asked.

Yet I stopped in my tracks this week when the accusations against Standard Chartered were made. The bank is a byword for respectability. It came through the financial crisis largely unscathed. Its former chairman moved on to the House of Lords, where he currently champions getting more women onto company boards. Its current head only recently said the bank’s business was so boring it was unlikely to come to the attention of regulators.

Even the most august of British financial institutions is now in the spotlight. The entire Cittie is rotten and The Cat wonders which bank is going to be next.

There is a powerful argument for the reinstatement of transportation to a remote island for these crooks. Say, North Rona?

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Lib Dems: delusional, dumb and still in power

Nick Clegg: he isn’t sorry at all

The Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton had an air of denial about it. On the platform, there was speech after speech from government ministers praising their supposed achievements in government and telling their members  how well they were doing and how they were “holding the Tories to account”. But this is a party in decline. This is a party that cannot see the writing on the wall because its leadership is so totally blinded by the sudden rush of power that it can’t see the skerries and reefs ahead of it.  What’s worse for the Lib Dems is that Captain Clegg, drunk on power and at the helm, is steering his ship of fools into the rocks and there’s no sign of a mutiny. Indeed, no one in the party wants to take on the role of Fletcher Christian to Clegg’s William Bligh. Even though Twinkletoes Cable is seen as a potential successor, he toes the line, popping up every now and again with a soundbite to rile his Tory partners. Then, as soon as he’s out of his box, he’s back in it again.

The Lib Dems front bench reads like a list of crooks and nobodies. Next to the liar and embezzler, David Laws, Danny Alexander is probably one of the worst. Looking like a rabbit caught in a headlight’s beam, the timorous Alexander can’t make a speech for toffee and resembles a boy whose mother has just told him off for playing with himself in public. Then there’s Home Office Minister, Jeremy Browne with his über-posh accent. Like the rest of them, whenever he is asked a specific question relating to his brief, he falls back on “the last Labour government” as his get-out clause. But it’s much worse than that: he never has any answers, is desperately lacking a clue and comes across as unspeakably dim.

The recently-promoted Jo Swinson is another one of those Lib Dems who’s full of clichés,  soundbites and platitudes. This is from the BBC News website,

Drawing on her own experience of work in a fast-food restaurant and with an “enforced perma-smile” at the Disney Store, Ms Swinson said she knew she was at her “most productive, creative and effective when I have relished going to work”.

Please, show me someone who “relishes” going to a job that they hate; a job that offers no prospects and doesn’t pay enough to cover one’s outgoings and I’ll show you a caring Conservative.

So what about Nick Clegg, the captain of this rotting hulk of a vessel? Well, last week he  claimed to have apologised for his party’s position on tuition fees (among other things) but no one believed him and if his conference speech was anything to go by, we can safely say that anything that comes out of his mouth is going to be insincere. The fact that his ‘apology’ was given the autotune remix treatment and entered  the charts says more about the Lib Dems public relations department than it does the public’s judgement of taste.

Finally, this video with Steve Bell at the Lib Dem conference sums it up beautifully. Bell notes that Clegg’s hair is in “bad condition”. So is his party.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2012/sep/26/lib-dems-steve-bell-conference-video

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Andrew Mitchell, privilege and the “P” word

Thrasher : he’s a bully.

Andrew Mitchell’s outburst at the police guarding Downing Street has rumbled on for the last 4 days. Mitchell denies that he used salty language or, more importantly, the word “pleb”. The police, on the other hand, insist that Mitchell laid into them with verbal assaults. So we have a lying politician on one side and the police, who frequently lie and cover things up, on the other. Who is right?

Mitchell, until the recent cabinet reshuffle, was the International Development Secretary. He is now Chief Whip, a role that often requires arm-twisting, threats and outright bullying to maintain discipline on the government or opposition benches. In other words, he’s suited to the job. Mitchell is a product of Britain’s public schools, having been to Rugby, which, as we are reminded, was the setting for Tom Brown’s School Days and Flashman. As many of us know, the public schools have or had an institutionalized regime of bullying that was known as “fagging”. This culture of bullying is deeply ingrained and is carried forward into adulthood. It percolates through society’s layers. It has become the staple of television comedy.

Thus far only one Tory journalist has come out to defend Mitchell. This is a particularly fawning piece from Matthew d’Ancona.

But – sorry – I don’t buy it. Mitchell has a temper, and has been known to turn a colour that is best described as “Tory pink”. But it is not in him to say such a thing. An old-school Conservative he may be, but the school in question is the One Nation Academy, in which courtesy and decency have always been at the core of the curriculum.

The very same paper also carried this story, which casts aspersions on d’Ancona’s apology and Mitchell’s apparent ‘niceness’.

He had found out that I had written an article which he feared would “damage” the Conservative Party. “You have betrayed the trust of me and the Conservative Party,” he told me.

At first I thought he was joking. I was a 21-year-old student and the story was for a work experience placement at a national newspaper.

The article was my honest opinion about the trip to Rwanda in August 2009. While Mr Mitchell and the Conservatives went there with the best of intentions, the reality once we arrived was different.

The Daily Mail is positively fuming with rage, conscripting the widower of murdered cop, Sharon Beshenivsky, to its side,

‘David Cameron should be responsible for what his ministers say, they are his ministers and they are working with him,’ he told Sky News.

‘Ministers shouldn’t be going round foul-mouthing police officers, especially under the current circumstances.’

Nicholas Watt in The Guardian is a little kinder,

Mitchell, 56, does, however, have two character flaws. These explain why he ran into difficulty at the Downing Street security gates last Wednesday evening and why he is taking time to remove the cloud above him.

While Mitchell can be immensely charming, he has a short temper, as the armed police officers found out when they declined to open the security gates to allow him to leave on his bike. He can also fix opponents with a withering look and has been known to make the odd caustic remark.

Mitchell’s qualities – charm, brains and a mischievous sense of humour – have served him well in his 20 years in parliament. But his flaws, including an ability to make enemies, mean there is no shortage of Tory MPs lapping up every moment of his battle with the police.

Watt also tells us that Mitchell’s nickname at Rugby was “Thrasher”. Charming.

But it isn’t the swear words that have people in a rage, it’s the word “pleb”, which is the diminutive of the word “plebeian” (the word is also used to describe a freshman at the various US military colleges).This word was used to describe the middle and lower orders of Roman society; the ordinary folk. The patricians,  were the other group who sat in the Senate and ran the state and were there by dint of their circumstances of birth. These days it is only ever used in disparaging terms. Therefore the use of this word by a former public schoolboy and ex-banker to someone in the Metropolitan Police, should be seen for what it is: an insult and a reminder of the Great British class divide.

But what about the police? We know that they have a habit of concealing things and making things up and the list of their misdeeds is as long as your arm. We also know that the government wants to take on the police over pensions. Their man in London City Hall, Stephen  Greenhalgh, has a reputation as a mad slasher from his time at Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Greenhalgh has already mooted the idea of closing police stations and moving some of them to the back of WH Smith to join what’s left of Britain’s post offices (I’m being sarcastic by the way). Many functions that were once carried out by the police, including forensics, are being outsourced to companies like Serco.

The Cat isn’t normally inclined to side with the police. However given Mitchell’s form, it is reasonable to conclude that he abused his position as a member of the government. The Telegraph has details of the police log, which you can see here.  According to this Guardian/ICM snap poll, the police are more popular than the government, which is quite an accomplishment given Hillsborough, Ian Tomlinson, Leveson…

Who’d have thunk it, eh?

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Right-wing clichés (Part 2): It’s cruel to tax the rich

The libertarian right is fond of telling us that it’s cruel to tax the rich. Well, no it isn’t. If you earn more, you pay more tax. That’s just the way it is. It’s been that way since I started working 30 odd years ago and it hasn’t really changed. Of course, if you happen to be rich or a ‘wealth creator’ as this government describes those with large piles of cash, then you should be permitted to do all in your power to avoid paying tax.

This tweet from Alain de Botton sums it up beautifully,

Civic duty. If only. Those two words are noticeably absent from the Right’s vocabulary. Instead, what we hear is how the rich are somehow being ‘oppressed’ by those in low to average income brackets. It’s a Randian absurdity to be sure. The idea of responsibility is one that the British Right tend to insist from those at the bottom, but the richest in our society also need to take responsibility on a civic level. But they don’t; they don’t think they have to. The rich may use the road network, for example, but none of them want to pay for its upkeep.

In order to claim that they’re being fair, many on the Right propose the notion of the flat tax. This method of taxation means that each person will pay the same amount of tax regardless of their income or, presumably, the lack of it. The fatal flaw of the flat tax notion was best illustrated, albeit unwittingly, by Nicholas Ridley, chief architect of Britain’s industrial demise and principal designer of the Poll Tax, who once asked the question, “Why should a duke pay more than a dustman”? “Because he fucking can”, we replied. Logic? Not from this bunch.

There is nothing cruel about expecting those with vast incomes to pay more in tax. If you live in a nation-state (and to be honest, I wish I didn’t), then you must expect to pay something towards to upkeep of the country’s infrastructure. If, on the other hand, you don’t want to live in a nation-state and prefer to live in a place where there are no pubic services or infrastructure, then you can always go and live there. No one’s stopping you. If you’re that wealthy, then you can even pay for a private army to protect you. You can buy your own island if you so desire. But while you’re in this country, you’re going to have to accept the fact that you have to pay tax. Those of us at the bottom of the income ladder aren’t here to prop you up.

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This excellent blog from Occupied Palestine has this wonderful cartoon that sums up the double standards and hypocrisy of our self-styled defenders of ‘free speech’.

Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

Deux Poids Deux Mesures.de l’Occident sur le dessin des Juifs & des Musulmans


Cartoonist E-mail: carlos.latuff 9at) gmail.com
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  • Mass Incitement 1939 Nazism & Anti-Semitism – vs – 2012 Zionism & Islamophobia | The new “Jud Süss Attempt” on the “Innocence of Muslims this time” ~ by @occpal


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