Skip to main content

Conference and Conference Calls

Alas I am not able to get to Birmingham for the Liberal Democrat conference this year. I suspect that the party will rally round, but I notice the venom of the Mail and the Telegraph is already rising- the slightest thing that they consider likely to make the Lib Dems unpopular, from set decoration to tattoos is highlighted, while the body of good policy making and good speakers will- of course- be ignored. The vituperation coming from the right wing press is almost an affirmation: it underlines the new power that the party now has. Nevertheless, there are many things that, if they are not addressed at this conference, will need to be addressed soon. Tavish Scott's comments on Nick Clegg, while reflective of a certain personal bitterness are not completely wide of the mark. The leadership can, and will, get away without much criticism at this conference, but it does not mean that such criticism is unmerited. 


While Tim Farron made a good speech, there are many points that he made that I- for one- profoundly disagree with. I do not, and never have, accept the left/right labeling of Liberalism. In my view we must do more to convey the clarity of our ideology, because by accepting the paradigm of left/right without also explaining our anti authoritarianism, then the hostile press can continue to portray the party as merely a chameleon- not matter that we are far more wedded to our ideology than our political rivals are to theirs. I also believe that the political tactics behind supporting a 50% income tax rate may become a similar problem to the failures over tuition fees. I would far rather support a land tax than a higher rate income tax, and if it becomes- as it may- a choice between them, then this could end up as "a humiliating climb down". That aside, I expect my many friends in the conference hall will enjoy themselves.


Yet beyond the conference hall, the storm in the financial markets is on the brink of becoming a hurricane. 


The conference call this morning of the Greek government with the Eurozone main leaders is being marketed as a critical point. In fact the point of no return is already upon us. The failure of leadership in Germany is palpable, and the electorate are minded to punish the governing coalition: the meltdown of the FDP in Berlin is a horrible warning. The fact is that the political leadership in Europe still does not have an answer to the crisis.


This could be the week where the crisis provides its own answers- and they may not be ones that politicians can control. The market capitulation seems to be a matter of a few trading days away.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie. 

The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship. 

The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and the j…

Breaking the Brexit logjam

The fundamental problem of Brexit has not been that the UK voted to leave the European Union. The problem has been the fact that the vote was hijacked by ignorant, grandstanding fools who interpreted the vote as a will to sever all and every link between the UK and the European Union. That was then and is now a catastrophic policy. To default to WTO rules, when any member of the WTO could stop that policy was a recipe for the UK to be held hostage by any state with an act to grind against us. A crash out from the EU, without any structure to cope, was an act of recklessness that should disqualify anyone advocating it from any position of power whatsoever. That is now the most likely option because the Conservative leadership, abetted by the cowardly extremism of Corbyn, neither understood the scale of the crisis, now had any vision of how to tackle it.

Theresa May is a weak and hapless Prime Minster, and her problems started when she failed to realize that there was a compromise that w…

The rumbling financial markets

Security specialists use a variety of ways to address the risks that they face: and these risk assessments are made in the certain knowledge that the actors in the system hold only incomplete information. Although much mocked at the time, Donald Rumsfeld’s categorization of “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”, is now generally recognized as a succinct summery of his strategic quandaries.
By contrast, actors in the financial markets have a more sanguine assessment of the risks they deal with: they divide them into two kinds of risk: quantifiable and unquantifiable. Unquantifiable risk is not generally considered, since there is usually no financial profit that can be made except from pure supposition. Therefore for the purposes of the financial markets, any given event is priced relative to its level of probability, that is to say its quantifiable risk. 
Depending on the market, higher levels of risk generally carry higher prices, lower levels generally lower prices. Clearly such an…