Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Party's over

I becoming confused about where necessary restraint stops and the politics of envy begins.

The latest boondoggle from the BBC, after the absurdly overblown coverage of the US Presidential election and the even more bloated coverage of the Beijing Olympic games now seems to be the huge numbers of BBC people "covering"- well at least present at the Glastonbury festival.

Naturally the less well funded- or at least not publicly funded- sections of the media look with green eyes on the well upholstered expense accounts of the national broadcaster. In the face of repeated attacks from Murdoch media outlets, the BBC generally made a case that the money grubbing Philistines from News International "would say that, wouldn't they" and the great and the good who comprise BBC governors would generally look the other way.

However the Daily Telegraph- owned by the Barclay Brothers, who live in tax exile in Sark- may be made of sterner stuff. The poison that the coverage of MPs expenses has unleashed into the British political system may not stop at Parliament. The BBC management clearly does not understand that the culture of excess of the last 10 years has come to a very firm halt, and that green-eyed, jealous coverage of anything deemed to be excessive will become the norm across British life.

I for one would welcome greater restraint in the media, however as far as Parliament is concerned, I fear for the future.

With the effective banning of any extra-Parliamentary income for MPs, we must resign ourselves to our Parliamentarians being of similar calibre to their income peers: senior salespeople, for example.

Trim by all means, but for most MPs, the job was not about money- unlike, say the media. Sure there have been a few who lined their nests, but the price of being an MP- in divorce, ill health and alcoholism has always been high. Now, the unrestrained envy and opprobrium that the Barclay's have unleashed makes being a politician an even less attractive job.

At least the bloated BBC gets to go to Glasto, rather than an all-night sitting on the budget.

I fear that we must now expect pursed lips and tut-tutting to become the standard journalist fare for the near future. Thank goodness I am out of the country: this kind of hypocritical puritanism will be very unpleasant- even if some of it is indeed necessary.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Media Way of Death

Well, I suppose the is a reasonable place to consider the death of the "King of Pop".

Given the astonishing abuse of his body through needless drugs and needless surgery, I guess fifty was not too bad an innings, but as usual the po-faced media will glory in the shroud waving: no cliche will be left unstated as the endless recycling of the story of "someone you've heard of dies unexpectedly, relatively young" now allows them to make more sales.

It is not pretty.

I can not make too many deep statements- I suppose his best song was "Billie Jean", which is not exactly a meditation, even if it is a good record. Was he a pervert? On balance probably yes. Was he a victim? On balance, probably yes to this too. Beyond those two questions, and his music, I wonder how many people would really be able to work out what particular message this particular short-ish life gives us.

That we are all mortal? We should really all know that.

Talent does not insulate us from the pain of living? We knew that already too.

Bad parenting can twist you? A message that I hope his orphaned kids do not have to learn: but the lawyers are already circling.

The problem is that, whatever the media may try to pretend, death is not exceptional.

Perhaps the kindest thing we could do is to show compassion to those who are so close to death- try to treat them with respect and dignity.

The problem is that all of us are indeed so close to death that we can touch it.

We just pretend and try to ignore it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summertime in Tallinn

The sun is high in the sky and unusually for Tallinn it is actually hot. The Baltic sea turns white, to match the sky of the long twilight. The sun barely dips below the horizon at sunset, leaving the sky pink until the dawn. The white nights are when Estonians celebrate the northern summer.

The past few days have shown the medieval city of Tallinn it its finest colours, and though the tourists conspire to block the main streets of the old city, there remain quiet corners where the shadows cool the heat. The cats of the old town doze on the granite cobbles.

The sky is clearest blue with a few clouds dangling on the edge of the horizon.

I spent the St. John's Day holiday away from Tallinn in the deepest Estonian countryside. A friend who got married on Monday invited us to his Talu- farm- and the traditional features of the holiday went ahead. The Bonfire was lit as the twilight gathered and the dawn, Koit, and Dusk, Hammarik, were said to kiss for the only day of the year. As the flames died down, in keeping with tradition, I jumped over the fire for good luck. A sauna, a barbecue and beer comprised the bulk of the evening. It is practically proverbial that it rains on Jaanipaev, but this year the weather remained warm and dry, with only a breeze to disturb the silence.

The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force that came to help the Estonians celebrate the holiday have left- the RAF with a low level and very loud fly past over the Old City before they return to Scotland. The point, I suppose is that the RAF can still get to Tallinn in less than an hour- a point that would not be lost on the Russian Embassy here.

With a snort of satisfaction I turn to the weather on the BBC and see lower temperatures and even rain forecast in the UK. Meanwhile in the blazing sunshine, I prepare for my trip to Vilnius next week. Exhausted from lack of sleep due to the constant daylight, I remember the cold and dark of winter as though it belongs to a different country.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Real World

I am sure that large numbers of political anoraks are delighted by the unveiling of the new Conservative-led group in the European Parliament...

It is, of course, a total joke.

The Tory allies consist of the most marginal and irrelevant parties in the EU. They could not even get Bulgarians to join them.Their major allies are the PiS- Law and Justice party- in Poland: led by a man who proudly admits to not having a bank account, just before he says he would like to send gay men, like Alan Duncan and Iain Dale to jail, but only because he can't hang them. Even in Poland Jarek Kaczynski is a joke: in Britain he is, and should be, a ridiculous laughing stock.

As for the Czech ODS: their former leader has been photographed showing his shortcomings to some attractive female in Signor Berlusconi's villa. (noticeably even Berlusconi's party find joining up with the Tories too embarrassing). The Czechs too are headed for electoral oblivion, indeed that does seem to be the uniting thread amongst these marginal, excessively right wing, parties which the Tories prefer to the real right wing parties that actually run their countries and, indeed, the European Parliament itself.

The successful right wing parties of Estonia and Poland, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Romania, and France, amongst others, now recognise that British Conservatives have more in common with Jean-Marie Le Pen than with any mainstream Christian Democrat party.

Cameron needs help in Europe: but he will get nothing and deserves nothing.

In fact this contemptible joke would be hilarious, if it were not so serious.

The fact is that the European Union needs a great deal of commitment and hard work to enact the required reforms that most recognise are necessary. This farce makes the Conservatives in Europe more or less the equivalent of Lord Sutch- and about as relevant as a dead person can be.

The Tories are not a serious party- why should anyone else take them seriously?

Cameron, were he to be elected was already on course for a very short honeymoon. After this ludicrous strategic stupidity, his honeymoon may be so short that he never makes to number 10 Downing St. at all.

Carrier Wave

The usual excuse for not blogging: pressure of work, will not apply. The fact is that the weather in Tallinn is so sunny and pleasant that the idea of writing has become something of a chore.

However as I look across the shining waters of the Bay of Tallinn, my eyes are drawn to the low shape of HMS Illustrious, which has come alongside the Tallinn cruise ship quay. The sailors will take part in tonight's unveiling of the Freedom monument by President Ilves. Tomorrow is Victory day- the anniversary of the defeat in 1919 by the Estonians and Latvians of the Baltic German army under General von der Goltz. Tonight, just before midnight, the monument will finally be unveiled, accompanied by a premiere of a new oratorio by Urmas Sisask. The Royal Navy will be present in recognition of the role that it played in the War of Liberation as the most powerful allies of the Estonians in their struggle for freedom against both Bolsheviks and Baltic Germans.

Yet although the pride of the Royal Navy, it is hard not to notice how small Illustrious actually is. Moored next to one of the larger cruise ships, the Aircraft carrier is dwarfed by her neighbour. The fact is that these carriers were built as anti submarine warfare platforms, but from the beginning, they have been asked to take on much wider roles, including flags ships for our force in the gulf and off shore support for Afghanistan. It is quite clear that the much larger vessels of the new Queen Elizabeth class which are due to replace the Invincible class carriers after 2016 are very much overdue.

Yet there is the matter of cost- the combination of replacing the Invincible class carriers and replacing the Vanguard class Nuclear missile submarines is huge, at a time when the defence budget is already stretched by our involvement in so many active military operations and the tight conditions of the economy. It seems very clear that something must give, and given the role of the aircraft carriers in combines operations, it can not be the carriers.

The Conservatives have already suggested that by asking the question of why the British nuclear deterrent must be carried on submarines, the Liberal Democrats are "flaky on defence". Nothing could be further from the truth. The point is that our nuclear deterrent could be delivered in many different ways: by aircraft, land based missiles or by ship based missiles at a fraction of the cost of building new ballistic missile submarines. By reducing the cost of our deterrent, the Liberal Democrats are focusing on the the fact that our conventional armed forces have not been properly funded and seeking to solve it. The scandal of inadequate equipment in both Iraq and Afghanistan has cost lives - and that is unacceptable.

It is Labour and the Conservatives, by trying to ram through a new weapons programme without adequate funding, that are threatening our defence capabilities. It is time to be responsible. The two new aircraft carriers are essential.

The proposed replacement for Trident is an expensive luxury.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Iran: a drift into dispair

After the disputed election in Iran, where, despite a huge increase in turnout, the election is said to have brought no change, I can not help noticing one very important thing:

People who win elections by the margin suggested by officials in Iran do not usually need to arrest their opponents.

It therefore looks pretty clear that the populist Ahmadi-Nejad has stolen the election.

The reaction in the clerical state is already violent and could become explosive.

Not good in a state that is already quite close to gaining a nuclear bomb.

It underlines the nature of the regime that Ahmadi-Nejad wants that he shows such contempt for democracy. It will now be a test of the far more pluralist Iranian society as to whether this crime is allowed to go unpunished.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why the Liberal Democrats must resist temptation

Liberal Democrats opose the current voting system because it delivers results which are often quite different from what people are voting for. Even on less than 40% of the vote, governments can be formed which control all of the levers of power. Sometimes, a majority can be formed by a party that actually comes second in the popular vote- as happened in February 1974, when Harold Wilson was able to form a government for Labour despite gaining over 200,000 fewer votes than the Conservatives.

Over the 35 years since then, the power of the executive over the House of Commons has grown dramatically, and the power of local government diminished drastically. Thus the space for effective opposition has been reduced considerably, and the power of the Prime Minister has grown supreme. No longer "Primus inter pares", the patronage and power of the "First Lord of the Treasury" can no longer be challenged even by his supposed peers, the Cabinet Ministers. The spectacle of the latest reshuffle demonstrates just how small a clique is now able to control government- even against the general wishes of Government MPs, never mind the House of Commons as a whole.

That our constitution is now broken has clearly penetrated the minds of even die-hard constitutional conservatives. The Conservative Party has put forward some modest proposals for reform. However many of these, especially "Open Primaries", are mere gimmicks. At best they leave parties open to the kind of Militant tendency entry-ism that nearly destroyed Labour in the 1980s. In any event, the fact is that David Cameron is prepared to deselect some of his own MPs over expenses, despite local support. This, I think, demonstrates that, once selected, any Conservative candidate must demonstrate total loyalty regardless of pluralism, still less constructive opposition.

In the electoral wasteland that now confronts Gordon Brown, the temptation to change the rules for party advantage is clear. After dispatching its potential leadership rivals with Nixonian ruthlessness, the Brown-Mandelson axis is toying with using constitutional changes, and especially electoral reform, as a weapon in order to secure their power.

It is a dangerous as well as a cynical tactic. Naturally Labour will chose a system that is best for Labour and not best for the country. The bombast with which it is creating a "National Council for Democratic Renewal" does not disguise the fact that it is a partisan front organisation. Any genuine attempt to change the constitution of this country must seek to find a consensus across the parties: Brown has no such consensus, and he- as a Prime Minister yet to face an election- has no legitimate mandate for change without it.

The proposals that are emerging from the Brownian focus groups are at best patchy. Most fair minded observers would accept that the House of Lords is something of an anomaly. However other changes, especially the proposed changes to the electoral system, are a matter of great controversy.

The Liberal Democrats have made it quite clear that we favour a single transferable vote in multi member constituencies (STV). This is the electoral system that gives the voters the most choice. They can vote in a way that allows them to choose between candidates of the same party, rather than a simple yes/no to that party, irrespective of the candidate that is the choice under the current system. Likewise STV allows the voters to chose the candidate irrespective of party, while still registering support overall for a given party or even to oppose party members altogether if they so wish. Thus it is quite possible for independents to be elected to Parliament- something that is next to impossible in any kind of list system.

The Alternative Vote (AV) system that is currently mooted is a change, and perhaps a minor improvement on the current system, but it is not a proportional system and can create precisely the same problems as the current system. Even the more proportional AV+, although a better system, is still not as open as STV. AV+, of course, is what was recommended to Tony Blair by the Jenkins Commission- and totally ignored by New Labour until now. However the impact of the expenses crisis shows that there is a general view that the party cliques are too narrow- and yet under AV+ independents find it still harder to be elected.

Labour had the opportunity twelve years ago, when they were a newly minted and popular government, to offer the British people a change to the constitution. They chose not to deliver. Now, as all their other- especially economic- policies have turned to ashes, they turn back to the unfinished constitutional project.

It is too late for Labour.

Of course the Liberal Democrats- like Conservatives and other parties- want to see the completion of the reform of the House of Lords. However if Labour choose to ram through a change to the electoral system- even to AV+- we should oppose it. If a change is going to come, then let that be to the best electoral system, and a changed ratified by an all party constitutional commission and approved, if deemed necessary, by referendum.

David Cameron has indicated that he opposes a change to the voting system- I suspect that he may come to change his mind: after all many Labour politicians who used to oppose electoral reform now support it. Even if he does not, the point is that such significant changes to the constitution must not, indeed can not, take place on the basis of sectional party advantage- and that is what the Brown-Mandelson axis is trying to do.

Despite the temptation of our own sectional party interest probably being boosted by adopting AV+, the Liberal Democrats must resist that temptation. A half baked reform is worse than no reform at all. We must take our case to the wider country- which is only now beginning to see how "safe seats" and embedded party interest has corrupted MPs and destroyed the power of the House of Commons to the benefit of the office of Prime Minister.

If we are to be true to our principles and our country we must tell Gordon Brown that he has no mandate for reform, and that the only way that he can get one is to go to the country. During that election the Liberal Democrats can put forward their more thought-out and integrated programme for reform against the gimmickry of the Conservatives and the self interest of Labour.

We should not be afraid of a contest upon the ground that Liberals and Liberal Democrats have made their own for decades.

Eating (Bob) Crow

Bob Crow- as I mentioned last week- has indeed taken it upon himself to lead yet another strike on the London Underground. Sure enough, this morning Londoners are struggling to get to work.

The damage is estimated to cast the UK economy about £100 million.

It is a typical two fingers from the unrepentant Communist leader of the RMT Union.

His brazen attempt to blackmail more money for his bully boys is as outrageous as it is contemptible. He and his followers must be resisted. The greed and irresponsibility is typical of a man prepared to support a system that murdered millions.

Still it is good to see that his organisation -No2EU- came twelfth at the European elections, and I suspect that many of those who voted for him thought they were voting for UKIP.

Although it is causing me no little inconvenience during my stay in London, frankly London Transport (or whatever PR-led name that organisation now possesses) should tell Crow to stuff it and sit out whatever is the worst that this Scargillite rabble-rouser can do.

I expect his eventual fate would not be so different from his mentor: impotent irrelevance.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The fall of Labour: A Strange New Ocean

As expected the results of the local elections which came out on Friday and the European elections which were published last night have proven to be at least as bad as the worst projections for the Labour Party. After coming third behind the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in the local elections, their position was even worse in the European elections. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats having made progress in the local elections could only hold their own in the European elections. Yet for the Conservatives the picture is not one of unalloyed joy either. Apart from the result in Wales which is an undoubted triumph for the Tories, the progress that they have demonstrated, even despite the fall of Labour, may still prove to be insufficient to gain a stable majority at the next general election. Meanwhile the spectacle of two neo-Nazis being elected certainly made me feel quite nauseous, and I suspect that the Conservatives will feel the same.

So what do the two results prove?

Well, on those numbers the Liberal Democrats would hold their own and probably even make some gains at the next general election. It also, sadly, shows that the SNP will do well in Scotland- with a real risk that Scotland leaves the UK. The Conservatives will, at the very least, make solid progress across the country.

Yet the most remarkable feature is still that fall of Labour. Although it is unlikely that the European result of 16% would be duplicated at a general election, with a much higher turnout, the fact is that Labour, in terms of the vote percentage, is on course for a result at least as bad as their 1983 disaster. Their only positive is the fact that the electoral system is currently skewed in their favour, so they are unlikely to fall much below 250 seats- although if tactical voting against them were strong enough, that could still happen.

With Liberal Democrats still around the 60-70 level, and the SNP at -say- 12 seats, and even the prospect of one or two Green MPs, the task for the Conservatives of forming a majority government looks extremely difficult.

Of course even on their own side, there is a general recognition that Labour has run out of road and they should now leave office as quickly as possible (Labour politicians would call this "a period of reflection and recovery"). However Gordon Brown continues to hang on like grim death- and for Labour there are good tactical reasons why he should. In the Labour world, the current situation is probably the nadir of their fortunes, and they can hope- however mistakenly- for a recovery in the economy to help them. Even if one accepts that Labour will inevitably lose in May 2010, they can at least then go for a complete new broom, whereas a leader chosen now could only ever hope to be a caretaker.

However such hopes could prove to be a disastrous miscalculation, on a par with Mr. Brown's decision to avoid an election in the first autumn of his Premiership. The recovery will be slow in coming, when it comes at all. Between then and now unemployment will spike dramatically, to the serious detriment of government finances- cuts are need now, and the longer they are delayed, the more savage they will have to be. The large number of foreigners who have staffed the City, and fixed our plumbing are already leaving the UK, and our competitiveness is falling as a result. The election of the BNP is not exactly a welcome mat to these many talented, skilled and necessary people. In the economy, things are not likely to improve in a way that will benefit Labour over the next eleven months. Indeed if the high-risk gamble of quantitative easing fails, then the UK would be faced with both rising unemployment and rising inflation at the same time, and any incoming government will have a real crisis on their hands.

Britain needs a new direction, yet there remains scepticism that the Conservatives can truly deliver. Mr. Cameron has not yet made the breakthrough that he needs to, and although doubtless, the Tories will redouble their efforts, the scale of the problem is that they may fall short, no matter what, simply because the system is so skewed against them.

The Liberal Democrats' results are more solid than they appear. Although the loss of Somerset and Devon county councils was clearly bad news, it was off-set by much more solid results in their target Parliamentary constituencies. On these numbers, the Conservatives will not gain Cheltenham and probably not Taunton either. Meanwhile the polls have been stronger for the party of late- a clear positive trend. So it now seems quite likely that the Lib Dems can even top their result of 2005. As the likelihood of a hung Parliament becomes a more settled thing, there will be greater attention given to the Party over the next few months- a situation that historically boosts their support.

The Conservatives will need to start providing answers to the charges that they are lightweights- and I expect that much closer to the election we ought to see some policy meat that finally tells us what the Tories actually want to do in office. If not, then the charges of political cowardice will be accurate.

As for Labour, they face an existential crisis. Politically exhausted, they can only offer incompetent managerialism and the devious tactics of Mandelson- whose fingerprints are all over the so far successful attempt to head off revolt in the party- and indeed Brown himself. They deserve total annihilation, yet the electoral biases are such that even if they are decisively behind the Conservatives in the percentage of the votes, they can still thwart a Conservative majority.

Yet in the end, the fact is that Labour has been destroyed in large parts of the country, and is even even losing its grip on its heartlands in Scotland and Wales. Once removed from office, the wizardry of Blair's "New Labour" project will finally destroy the Socialist party that it used as its platform. Expediency and opportunism were poor stars to steer by, and the Labour party will hit the rocks once the rudder of government power has slipped from their grasp.

"The strange death of Labour England" may be the doctoral thesis of 2016. The question for the Liberal Democrats will be how to prosper in the more pluralist, more multi-party system that emerges from the eclipse of the party of massed labour.

Still, at least the Liberal Democrats understand such politics. In the end the failure of David Cameron to grasp the thorn of electoral reform may show that the Conservatives too may also struggle in this strange new political ocean.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"To lose one cabinet minister may be considered a misfortune, to lose two, looks like carelessness"

The pantomime of the Brown Premiership continues in its satisfyingly grim way. After the resignations, before they were pushed of Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears, we now hear rumours of a further resignation, after the polls have closed at 10 PM this evening.

Clearly some attempt at an organised putsch against Gordon Brown looks like it is underway. Frankly I wish I cared.

I well remember attending an evening dinner several years ago in honour of a Lithuanian minister that was being hosted by a then Conservative junior minister. The entire topic of his speech was nothing to do with the issue at hand, and certainly nothing to do with Lithuania. All this MP could discuss was the ramifications of the leadership contest that John Major had just provoked in order to face down his critics. The unrelenting internal navel gazing convinced me that the Conservative Party had completely lost the plot and needed to be replaced as soon as possible.

I imagine that even if no plot appears or even if a plot actually succeeds, that the current similar Labour navel gazing has already rendered them unfit for office- whoever is the leader

A kicking for Labour is clearly brewing amongst the electorate, and I suspect that UKIP will do very well. Indeed the UKIP result could actually be a very nasty shock for David Cameron.

The issue of Europe is going to become substantially more important, and the "Better Off Out" crowd will now have a big stick to beat Mr. Cameron with. This, as a pro European, is not a great development. Those of us in all political parties who support membership of the European Union will need to work together in order to make the case. The Better Off Out crew are well funded and relentless. However their position is simply wrong. There is a clear political and economic case to be made for staying inside the EU, but I fear that after discovering the scale of the UKIP revolt, Mr. Cameron may lose any cojones for the fight.

With Labour now so self obsessed it seems that they poised to flirt with total collapse. It will be up to the Liberal Democrats to make the case for constructive engagement with the rest of the European Union.

As the voters deliver their verdict, our chastened politicians will need to be listening carefully - and I think there could be several surprises when the votes are finally counted on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Double Dip recession

The economic news has seen brighter of late- the dramatic interventions by the central banks are said to have brought a return to stability in the banking system. It is true that the financial system no longer seems to be evaporating before our very eyes. However the impact on the real economy of the wrenching shock to the banks is only now becoming plain.

In fact, international banking system, through a combination of renegotiation and tight liquidity, is seeking to recapitalise itself as rapidly as possible- and several money centre banks such as Barclays and Goldman Sachs are repaying their emergency loans very quickly. The result is that despite the very loose liquidity offered by the central banks, the actual interest rates paid by corporates to the banks has actually increased substantially- and credit is still in very thin supply. The increase in the cost of money and the dramatic slowdown in demand is putting industrial production in a vice across the world. Yet it is only now that we are beginning to see the real effect of the slowdown on unemployment. Naturally unemployment is a lagging indicator, but the scale of what happened in the credit markets is not yet fully reflected in the labour markets. It is only a matter of time before we see a sustained and substantial increase in long term unemployment.

The bankruptcy of General Motors is a reflection of the process of corporate restructuring that now has to take place. GM at least is finally beginning to tackle its long term and deep seated structural problems, but many other corporations remain in denial. The knock-on effect of GM's fall will itself be substantial, and there are many other sectors- notably airlines- with similar troubles to the auto manufacturers and whose fate will be the same. Although the initial credit crisis is indeed passing, that merely means that we are moving into a deep, grinding and long term recession as the excess and inefficient capacity that was not tackled during the boom years must now be tackled after the bust.

The same applies to countries. Despite the urgency of the crisis, the government of Latvia has struggled to adjust their budget in order to cope with the results of the credit crash. Without strong action, it is becoming increasingly likely that they will face further pressure. Indeed as it becomes clear that the Swedish banks have not written off enough of their Baltic assets, the Swedish Krona has also faced pressure. Latvia is now struggling to avoid a devaluation and indeed we could see that happen very quickly after the European elections are over. Despite the very different situations in Estonia and Lithuania, it also seems possible that a Latvian devaluation would trigger a general realignment of the Baltic currencies. However, this is despite the huge amount of pain that the three economies have already taken in order to retain the credibility of their currency systems. After a recession that looks set to be around 10% this year, to be forced to take on a 20% devaluation, for example, would be a body blow to the local economies, albeit that such a move in Latvia would be now greeted with resignation rather than regret.

Nor would the rest of Europe be immune from the crash. The interventions that Angela Merkel is making concerning the monetary policy of the European Central Bank underlines the deep concern that many in Berlin have about the current loose policy. The fragility of the system is now very delicate and a Latvian crisis could have some dramatic effects upon the untested ECB systems.

The spiking of the oil market-to $69/bbl also underlines the highly uncertain and volatile state of the global energy market- another risk to global stability.

The risks in the financial markets remain substantial and the erratic liquidity and increasing expensive financing costs have not yet seen their full impact emerge. We are very far from being out of the woods yet. Despite the rally in the equity markets over the past few months, the sustainability of many business models remains in doubt.

As far as the equity markets are concerned, it could very easily be a W-shaped performance curve, rather than the V-shape that many optimists think is happening now.

I do not think we are out of the woods yet and the political, never mind the economic consequences of a double dip could end up being highly explosive.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bob Crow- Red Menace

I see that my trip to London is set to be disrupted by "industrial action", namely a strike by the RMT Union on the London Underground.

Relevant Information: the General Secretary of the RMT Union, Bob Crow , is an unrepentant Communist.

The only difference between Soviet Socialism and National Socialism is the death toll: Stalin alone killed more people than Hitler, and that is before we even get to Pol Pot, Castro, Hoxha, Tito, Ceausescu and the rest. Mind you Mao is probably the genocidal maniac to end all genocidal maniacs: a reasonable educated guess would be 100,000,000 dead.

In case you were wondering, I truly loath, detest and despise Communists.

Bob Crow seized control of his Union in the approved Marxist manner, the difference is that the Kremlin no longer subsidises British Unions like they did in the 1970s. A pity that Bob Crow doesn't realise that the show is over and dinosaurs like him should get off the stage.