Archive for March, 2015

Election: Europe Takes Centre Stage

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Labour has chosen to come out positively in favour of continuing membership of the EU. This is a very good thing for the country (it may not be for Labour) because we hear a very one sided argument for leaving, laced with a snake oil cure for everything if we go it alone.

It is not as simple as that. The quit movement have no coherent plan for what comes after. The notion we are going to sign a trading agreement is entirely self defeating (like Alex Salmond’s currency union) because in order to get it, the UK would have to sign up to all the pernickety EU rules, over which it could exercise no control at all. If we stay in but negotiate a better deal, we will then have to recover from all the uncertainty that the threat of leaving has created for UK business and investment.

If the quitters had a bold plan for a free trade area with the US, or a currency union with the dollar, or to lead the reconstruction of the infrastructure of Putin’s Russia or some other big idea, we would be able to judge whether we thought it a runner or plain barmy. But to have no plan except to move out and see what kind of shelter we can find afterwards is plain stupid.


Monday, March 30th, 2015

An idea to stimulate economic growth without further government Product Detailsborrowing. Written in plain English and very easy to follow, this is the only really fresh approach out there to the intractable problems of the UK economy, and it is just beginning to be noticed in important places. Buy! 

Kindle or Paperback  UK        US                

Election: The Campaign Begins

Monday, March 30th, 2015

To talk about the beginning of something which has been going on for months already is rather confusing. In actual fact so far only those who are engaged in politics or commentate on them have really been taking much notice. Parliament is dissolved today and this means that there are no longer any MPs. Government continues and ministers remain in office because they are the Queen’s ministers and not parliament’s. They will remain in office until a new government is formed after the election and that may not be right away. With so many parties in contention and with a first past the post electoral system it is literally beyond guessing even for the pollsters. An example of the potential for forecasting error is that the two main opinion polls out yesterday produced mirror opposite results. One gave a four point lead to the Tories another the same lead to Labour.

Nevertheless we can expect more public engagement now that the argument shifts from Westminster to the constituencies where most MPs will be fighting to hold onto their seats. They no longer have access to all the goodies of the Palace of Westminster; the are now civilians out on their own in thrall to their local party organisations and they are much more focused on doorstep issues than grand plans and big pictures. In this multi party election, opinion may not begin to form into a trend until about three weeks before polling day and real election fever will be late arriving; probably in the last week. Given that the parties are neck and neck, both the big two will hope to break free into a convincing lead. That may or may not happen.

So far this blog notes that after the first ‘once removed’ style debate, Milliband probably gained more personally than Cameron and that both parties are annoying voters by being opaque about the numbers. Billions are flying around but the public wants to know which billions and where are they going. So far there is little hard evidence to answer their concerns. There is a growing suspicion that actually nobody knows. Quoting forecasts is one thing, but with the British, whose unpredictable climate makes them forecast savvy, it is not the forecast they are voting for, but the true financial weather for the coming days of their lives.

Hitler’s First Lady

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

This Nazi era drama now has an interesting new cover image. It shows Hitler in his car with Karl Kaufmann, Gauleiter of Hamburg, seated at the back of the car on the left. He was the heroine’s first husband. Read this compelling novel in paperback or Kindle.

UK             US

NHS 24/7

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Cameron is right to say the NHS should be accessible twenty four/seven. But it won’t be unless it has the money and once again the Tories are re-cycling cash already committed to other parts of their manifesto.

This blog has previously posted that hospitals should run on three shifts of eight hours and never close or go into slumber mode. Healthcare is not a daylight activity like farming. One of the main reasons for waiting lists is that the NHS tries to operate business hours for all routine functions, shifting ever more demand into the emergency corridor.

So Cameron has the right idea in the broad sense but no means of paying for it. This blog has previously argued for a complete re-think of the way the NHS is funded. The present system does not work because it provides a finite budget to provide an infinite service. The more patients needing treatment, the more strapped for cash it becomes. It should work the other way; the more patients and procedures, the more money. But to achieve that would require taxation and funding reform that appears beyond the intellectual capacity of the PR smoothies dominating Westminster.

Book Browse

Thursday, March 26th, 2015


Malcolm Blair-Robinson U.S        

 Malcolm Blair-Robinson U.K.

A Shocking Abuse of Parliament

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

It is reported that the Chancellor, George Osborne, refused to rule out, when questioned at his appearance at the Treasury Select committee, an increase in VAT if the Tories were elected to form the next government, because it had been agreed that Cameron would make the announcement at PMQs in order to wrong foot Milliband.

Ignoring any party loyalties and taking account of the realities of a close fought election campaign, this is an outrage. To refuse to answer a question and to give a reply the ambiguities of which are designed to mislead is the same as a lie. Indeed it is worse because it is a deliberate programme set up to mislead and then gain advantage, rather than an attempt to avoid embarrassment by disclosing the truth. It is a truly appalling example to set to others who come before these important parliamentary committees which are perhaps the most powerful engines of scrutiny in our somewhat limited democracy. Bankers and journalists cannot be expected to set a higher bar for their own veracity than holders of Offices of State.

It is no wonder that politics is falling into disrepute. This childish episode demonstrates that even the most exalted political figures are, beneath the slick veneer, disreputable.

HS2 : Build It

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

One of the greatest problems with England is its nostalgia for what has passed and its reluctance to acknowledge that the future is coming. It is possible to make an accountant’s case for HS2 and it is possible to make an equally good accountant’s case against it. There are environmental arguments which hold water both for and against.

HS2 is more than money. It is a vision. A vision of a modern forward looking Britain building high speed communications and a modern infrastructure to provide economic stimulus in the now and a more certain future in a competitive world for generations to come. Yes, you can mess about lengthening platforms and adding carriages to trains, but this is no more of a solution than putting bigger propellers on piston engined planes in the belief that will enable them to compete with jets. A dedicated high speed line without all the junctions and switches is as different a journey experience as chalk from cheese as everyone who goes by rail to France or rides the high speed commuter line in Kent can testify.

It is timely to remind the House of Lords committee which fails to see the case, that it is precisely this approach which has led to a decline in our industrial capacity and the fashioning of an economy founded on house price inflation, shopping and service jobs, delivering the lowest productivity per capita of any of the advanced nations. We have been completely left out of making lap tops, tablets, smart phones, TVs and almost all consumer electronics; a truly sorry outcome for the cradle of the industrial revolution. And as we all know the thing that gave that legs was the railway. In the modern age the railways have become the most environmentally friendly people carrier and without the very best the British people will be riding backwards. A bit like the House of Lords.

Tor Raven Value Books

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Gripping Reads at affordable prices.

Hess Enigma: A Novel   Power Corruption and Lies  The Hastings OptionWhilloe's First CaseSatan's Disciple


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Alex Salmond: Threat to Block Cameron.

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Alex Salmond has said that the SNP will block a Tory minority government if it holds the balance of power at Westminster in May. Several things have to happen first. Mr. Salmond has himself to be elected, the Scot nats have to meet the expectation of their winning between 40 and 50 seats (many academics and commentators believe 30 is nearer the mark) and Labour has to lose to the Tories in England. If all that fell into place and Cameron, although the leader of the largest party, could not get enough support from whatever collection of minor parties manage to win seats, including the Lib Dems, to get his Queen’s speech through, then yes it would work Salmond’s way. If Labour went along with the plan, which at present they say they will not. They could abstain in a Queen’s speech vote, intending to bring down the government at the height of its unpopularity in the midst of its next episode of slash and burn.

This is what happens when you have a voting system that allows not only lots of parties in, but lots of MPs on minority votes. If the Tories had not campaigned against AV they would under the transferrable vote almost certainly achieve a majority on their own. So it is all their own fault. Thus for them to complain today that Salmond’s threat is somehow defying the democratic will of the people is to talk complete and utter piffle.