Archive for November, 2015

QE: A Simple Guide

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Product Details

QE in various forms is now very much part of the economic conversation, especially in connection with a fresh approach to financial issues by the new leadership of the Labour party. Dynamic Quantitative Easing remains under government, not bank, control and targets specific investment projects without borrowing, interest or repayments. It can reboot the economy, boost manufacturing and exports and enable sustained growth of real national wealth shared by all, rather than just asset inflation which is the downside of ordinary QE. If you want to find out more you can enjoy a lucid explanation of the original idea from the link below.

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Corbyn : His Hand Strengthens

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

This blog has been critical of Corbyn being a bit loose in his responses to trap questions about national security. But as the weekend has evolved it is clear that a different kind of leadership from him is developing which the dreary old pros at once dismissed as a shambles, but which is beginning to look both engaging and democratic and in the final stage tough. First he declared to his whole party his own position. Second he asked party members to tell him theirs and 70,000 (wow!) have. Third he told his MPs not to sound off but to go and talk to their constituency parties over the weekend. On Monday both the Shadow cabinet and the national executive are to meet, followed by the parliamentary party in the evening. After all of that and having listened to everyone Corbyn, as Leader, will decide on the party’s official position. If he decides it is No, half his shadow cabinet will resign. He has prepared for that as well, apparently.

This is beginning to look more like leadership of the kind voters will trust.

Unpredictable Politics: Minister Resigns

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Well! We start the day with the Tories on a roll ringing up Labour MP’s and shadow ministers trying to get their bombing votes making the media headlines, then suddenly all is eclipsed by the forced resignation of a Tory minister over a bullying scandal at the heart of the party’s electoral machine. It is a shocking story which ended with the suicide of a young helper.

Dear me. One cannot imagine the agony and trauma of his parents. This blog extends much sympathy.

Corbyn Talks To His Members

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

It is reported that Corbyn has emailed his members asking them to give their views on Cameron’s bombing plans. With his Shadow Cabinet in open revolt and briefing against him, senior government ministers openly ringing Labour MPs, as if they were their own, and a chorus of calls for him to quit, nobody can say convincingly that the Labour leader has not got problems. It is the view of this blog that his position on bombing Syria is the correct one and that no convincing case has been made for extending the UK bombing campaign.

Already Russia, France and the US are bombing 24/7 and it appears to be having very little effect on IS; indeed it has triggered an increase in terrorist activity by its adherents outside the bombed area. Moreover there is quite a bit of intelligence which suggests that most of the IS leadership is now removed to Mosul in Iraq. If this is the case Cameron’s head of the snake is within the range of his bombers anyway. The problem is that they are also in range of the innocent civilians among whom the IS fighters and leaders hide. This is why bombing only works if it is in support of advancing ground forces. Whatever Cameron says about 70,000 fighters, there is no such disciplined and coordinated force in existence. The only reliable military force is the Assad led, Russian armed Syrian army. Cameron does not like them.

The truth is that unless Cameron has taken leave of his senses, he knows the only likely impact of UK bombing in Syria is to raise the risk of a terrorist outrage in the UK. But he is willing to take that risk and mislead everybody about it, because he wants to be in on the Syrian political settlement as a star player. If he does not get his bombing mandate he fears the decisions will be taken by the US, Russia and France. That’s what this is about.

Corbyn knows that. Whether he can persuade enough of his party membership and the wider public to back him will determine the survival of his leadership. The parliamentary Labour party is out to get him for sure.

Browse My Books

Friday, November 27th, 2015

BROWSE MY BOOKS WITH THESE LINKSAn image posted by the author.

Malcolm Blair-Robinson U.S        

Malcolm Blair-Robinson UK

Labour In Meltdown?

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Not quite perhaps, but nearly. The problem is simple. The party members and supporters have chosen, and polls of them indicate they approve of, Jeremy Corbyn, by a democratic margin which is overwhelming. He stands far to the left of what was once called New Labour. The majority of Labour MPs are of the New Labour brand. For some it is their only adult political experience. The shadow cabinet is mostly drawn from their ranks. Prior to the leadership election disaster as they see it, most of them regarded Corbyn as a well meaning crank. Let us pause a moment to look at the political make up of the House of Commons as a whole.

There are two coherent parties of government in the lower House, one, the Tories, governs the UK with a small majority and England where they have a big majority. The SNP governs in Scotland. Labour is in confusion because of the Corbyn problem as they see it and although it is the official opposition, it is at some levels dysfunctional. Yet it is also in political terms very successful. It has managed to lead a substantial attack on aspects of economic policy which the government has had to abandon; the tax credit issue and cuts in police funding. The reason for this is that if you abandon party labels and consider only the members, there is a left leaning majority in the commons on social issues. This is because all parts of Labour, the remaining handful of Lib Dems, the SNP and most MPs from the smaller parties lean left. So do a score or more post Thatcher Tories of the last two intakes, who see their first loyalty to their constituents rather than their party.

The political relationships are further complicated by the fact that maybe seventy or more Labour MPs are much closer to the Tories than their own Leader or party membership. In fact there is only a political cigarette paper between them and Cameron and even less than that with Osborne. Between this group and their Leader, with his spectacular popular mandate, there is an unbridgeable chasm. The easy way forward  would be for those to resign from Labour and take the Tory whip. Although this would give the Tory party a big working majority, the Government would still need to take account of its now much larger left wing when hatching plans to hit the poor.

Corbyn would then head a smaller but closer knit Opposition made up of those very few who voted for him and those willing to accept the wishes of their party membership. If he then makes a go of things he will be well placed in 2020 to head for quick gains in the turncoat seats as well as gains across the board. That will mean the Osborne economic plan has not worked out and people are ready for a radical turn left and a change of political weather. Of course if Cameron’s bombs bring peace and tranquillity and Osborne gets his sums and forecasts right, he has a 55% statistical chance of doing so based on his own record thus far, then Corbyn will join Foot in the hated gallery of electoral disasters.

But unless Corbyn right now reads the riot act and instils discipline into a parliamentary party out of control, even if the result is half of them leave, he will be denied even the opportunity for that. For at the end of the day Brits forgive cranks and turncoats (Churchill made crossing the floor of the House a signature manoeuvre) but there is one thing they will not abide. Weak leadership. The thing they love most of all is strong leaders who are willing to stand alone. It is from that small group that all their heroes are drawn.

To Bomb Or Not To Bomb?

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Cameron made his case. Politically it was attractive. Strategically it was very weak. This is the key. Britain and its allies in the West, especially the US, stand at the head of a string of failed military interventions which although produced an apparent initial military victory, caused the failure of everything that came after. Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan are failed states with governments split and in only partial control. The terrorist threat is now many times greater that it was when this project began post 9/11. There is already concerted bombing by America, France and Russia and although there is a rumour that the RAF has a weapons system with unique properties on its Tornado jets, which even the Americans cannot match, this is not a material military factor. The skies above Syria are already congested adding to the hazards of war.

Militarily voting yes to bombing Syria requires the following conditions to be met. First there must be a full agreement for a coordinated military campaign among all the engaged powers, namely Russia, the US, France, Britain, Iran and other members of the US coalition. Second, the various backers in the Gulf secretly funding and arming IS must be told to stop or be threatened with a freeze of their financial assets in the West and an embargo on the sale of their oil. Third, there has to be a clear focus on a single enemy; Islamic State. This fantasy about moderate opposition groups has to stop. Were these so called groups to defeat Assad, they would fall out among themselves and the only certain thing is that IS would occupy Damascus within days. They should be given a choice. Either join and fight IS and IS only or be regarded as an enemy. The reward for them is to be part of the political settlement in Syria.

The political settlement, which must be integral to the military assault, can only happen if the West drops its opposition to Assad going before it is agreed and the Russian hint that he might stay on afterwards. This will presumably lead to properly supervised elections for a new President and Assad should be allowed to stand if he wants to but not if his authorities have anything to do with running the poll. The West has to accept that Assad is the price for containing IS. Without his powerful army on the ground leading the various other forces willing to engage IS, the air campaign is a waste of bombs.

Finally, and this may be the most important point of all, it is essential that part of the political settlement is a new deal, probably an autonomous homeland, for the Sunni minorities in Syria and Iraq. The reason IS, with a few thousand fighters, has been able to rampage across the region is because the Sunnis have at the least stood aside and more often extended the hand of welcome. However much it is pounded and driven from hither to thither, IS will not cease to be a potent threat until it loses the tacit support of Sunnis and that will not happen until they get a fair deal.

None of this is in place yet so the proper vote is NO. The biggest disappointment in Cameron arises from his assertion that British bombing of IS in Syria makes the UK safer. He knows that is not true. In the short term the risk of terrorist attack rises and British civilian dead are a real possibility. Brits have put their lives on the line before in the cause of freedom and paid the price, but it is very wrong to make these misleading assertions to bolster a case full of holes.

Osborne: Is this Real?

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Not really. Too much of the package is based upon forecasts which statistically have only a 55% chance of being right. Would you fly in an aircraft with only a 55% chance of getting there? No. So Osborne, who has missed almost every target in every forecast he has ever set, giving another bravura performance in the Commons sounding more like a prime minister (in waiting) than the Chancellor that he is, wound his backbenchers up to shrieks of delirium with an old fashioned dose of robbing Peter to pay Paul. In their ecstasy the benches behind him could see only Paul and it was wonderful.

Peter will come out of the shadows to haunt them later.

Whas Turkey Right?

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Russia certainly tests everybody’s patience with its constant probing of other people’s air space; we in these islands are familiar with their bombers passing close by. So it may not have come as a big surprise that the Turks acted as they did. However when you look at the incident the Turkish position is well nigh impossible to sustain. This is why Western politicians and NATO have politely supported in public Turkey’s right to protect its airspace, while giving Ankara a roasting behind the scenes.

The Russian plane in no way threatened Turkey. It was engaged in combat against Syrian rebels whom Turkey supports but Russia does not in the muddle of the uncoordinated civil war in Syria mixed into the war on Islamic state. If it ever was in Turkish airspace it was passing across a narrow peninsular which it entered and left so fast that only fractions of minutes were involved. Because it was passing across it was leaving even as it was entering. The best word to describe the Turkish action is reckless. It has done itself much damage.

This is because its overall aim is to join the EU. Many do not want it as they regard Turkey as both troubled and a troublemaker and that view will be reinforced. The chances of Turkey getting into Europe now any time soon are zero. It will continue to try and invoke various articles of its NATO membership as it goes from one scrape to the next, but the best it can hope for from the alliance is tea and sympathy. Beautifully served of course.

Church of England Bewildered?

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

The C of E has produced quite a good little video in which the Lord’s Prayer is recited by a variety of people, mostly ordinary but starting with the Archbishop of Canterbury. This quite clever piece was designed to go out on cinema screens across the country as an ad prior to the big feature, but agencies and cinema chains have refused to handle it. The reason given is that in a multi cultural society of many religious threads and beliefs, to promote one would bring a clamour to promote all, or if not, cause offence to the majority who do not follow this faith.

The authorities of the C of E claim to be bewildered by the decision. That comes as no surprise since it has  been enveloped in a fog of bewilderment about itself for a very long time. Fewer, very many fewer, nowadays believe that its interpretation of faith is either helpful or valid. In a population over over sixty million fewer than one million attend C of E church on Sunday, even occasionally. Once it was one of the four pillars of the nation, but no longer. A very nasty attitude towards women, gays, abortion, divorce and other social developments although gradually accepted by those who believe themselves in touch with God, only after long and acrimonious arguments.

There was a time when the C of E was a broad church which allowed its members to believe in whatever they felt was right; it offered a spiritual home that left the detail to the individual. Now it is prescriptive, doctrinaire and judgemental. Too often its adherents appear on chat shoes quoting contentious passages from the Bible to justify outrageous and unkind injunctions.

So it’s advert is banned from the cinemas. Never mind. In the modern world it will do far better on YouTube.