EU Brickwall

EU Brickwall“Still banging on about Europe” a phrase often directed at Tory backbenchers from UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. Anyone would have thought that Europe was positively boring. Of course I can’t wait to hear more myself. We need to be IN yet have the benefits of being OUT. The Conservative party should release a single, call it The Hokey Cokey, a Christmas number one for sure.

So where does Ed Miliband stand? At the moment he’s swimming against a political undercurrent of being less popular than Nick Clegg (LibDem Deputy PM). The school playground equivalent of “you smell like poo”. If only David Miliband won, okay I hear you, stop banging on about what could have been. Surely Ed can’t be that bad? He says the right things but it’s “judge an MP by his suit” or “book by its cover” what will decide whether and at the moment, it’s awkward and he’s awkward.

Back to the European Union. Nigel Farage, Mr UKIP has often scarmongered, with success, the risk of overwhelming numbers of EU immigrants. It’s true that in 2014 there’s a chance but history expresses a low probability. However the majority of Brits hear the UKIP leader and give the party momentum and therefore presents David Cameron with the need to pursue uncompromising EU reform, much to the annoyance of Angela Merkel. Will the Tory leader be able to win over the majority of European Leaders? He’s got about as much chance of singing in Eurovision and winning.

Transient

WhatIf it’s not Ebola or other diseases, it’s war. Is that what will we remember of 2014? You could say the odds are stacked against us. Yet as Clive James shares his new found poetry in his “bonus” years he remembers something previously took for granted: The simplistic beauty of life and how we should celebrate and respect it.

I remember the Australian television broadcaster most for his entertaining glimpses into other cultures such as, Japanese Endurance  and Swedish risqué TV ads. Today he blows gracefully to Leukaemia, yet his voice remains distinctive and calm as ever.

Japanese Maple a poem by Clive James.

A Referendum for Scottish Independence

South Bound Pound

On the 18th September 2014 Scotland votes for Independence. There has been a Yes campaign and a No campaign. A yes vote will detach Scotland from the UK. The major UK political parties have all warned that they will be no currency union with Scotland. This means that Scotland could start its independence without a currency.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/17/scottish-independence-polling-votes-results-to-watch

Screaming Media

Screaming Media

Is social media showing an increase of heart wrenching tragedies or has our world always been this cruel?

When I look at the world through the eyes of others facilitated by today’s social media revolution, it isn’t long before I view sincere life stories, some of joy but more than there should be of human suffering, human suffering at the hand of others blocking the most basic right to life.

Today [2014] any spectator could be forgiven for thinking they were reading about events that belong to the dark ages. Horror stories of genocide, life threatening diseases, mass slaughter, child fatalities and numerous stories of dignity discarded. If the world ever needed a superhero, the time is now.

Even the many countries that should stand together to defend humanity are paralysed by bad choices of a too recent past. Yet the act of doing nothing cultivates the opportunity for those with the will to destroy. In 2013 British Prime Minister, David Cameron was compelled to act to reduce the suffering that smouldered in a complicated and bloody Syrian civil war. Without the support of Russia or China, no coalition could be built to stop the obscene loss of life. Even Parliament, still under the shadow of the Blair and Bush Iraq war said “No”! The Syrian pyres continued. Now we read about commercial airliners with 200 souls being shot out of the sky and ethic cleansing sweeping across Iraq.

To me, someone living in the West, this is what the news of today is. For the unfortunate lives that become bad news, their basic right to life hangs by a hopeless thread whilst I browse on wondering who will save them. We are sad for their loss and grateful for the peace we have. Has the life for others always been this bad or has something changed? An action causing a reaction? Pessimism tells me that that this evil has always taken place somewhere in this world.  What’s different  is a chance to be heard, where voices were quiet are now amplified through modern technology. Can those who listen help?

No single country should have the moral weight of being the world’s policeman. If the world is to eradicate these threats countries need to join, push their differences aside, and find a common ground but will this ever happen? It’s fanciful that such a time should ever exist whilst money and religion have such a powerful grip on our transient race but could a global technology demand a global economy where countries can find the interest to make a difference?

Whilst I hope that one day GLOBAL will include protecting humanity,  I find some solace that the people who were once silent are now heard thanks to social media and the crowds that make them.

 

Remembering Gaza http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/gaza-strip-lies-damned-lies-palestinian-civilian-death-toll-question-1460675

Are Families Being Ripped Off?

Family Misfortunes

And here we are, British Summertime. Clocks forward, more sunlight, less moonlight, more colour and what a glorious day 30th March 2014 was. Let’s book a holiday.

Who would have thought that all it would take to forgive a long, miserable, wet winter is one sunny warm day. I waste no time and immediately begin fantasizing about a modest retreat, a stone’s throw from one of the many beautiful sandy beaches England has to offer. For the first time I’m forced to take our family summer break at the same time as everyone else.

Motivated by the weather I grab my iPad and pigeon peck my way to Google Maps. This would be one of my most rewarding missions of the year and could only be achieved with a full satellite view of the South West of England.

At a click and a tap I was in Cornwall. Here I found the slightly yellow grey outline that promised golden sandy coasts with clean blue sea. Hovering high above the country I typed “Holiday Rental” and soon my panoramic view was filled dots of all sizes. Holiday houses everywhere, unlimited choice, this was going to be easy peezy.

My Google flight had begun to cause vertigo so I dropped attitude and zoomed into the detail of a village or two. Soon I found promising cottages with sea views and teasing sea “glimpses”.

The search. With my focus on Cornwall I began to find lots of ideal locations, much availability but something was amiss! Whenever I selected the week I wanted prices shot up. Not by a hundred pounds but by hundreds of pounds. I couldn’t understand it. The same property was £400.00 one week and then £800.00 during the school break! As soon as the kids went back to school the prices returned to normal.

Looking across Cornwall I could see that some were better than others but most searches resulted in rocketing prices when people had less choice. Hardly fairness at work. So I waved goodbye to ‘Conwall’. Even If I could afford the accommodation, I found it difficult to part with my money when I felt “they” were taking advantage of so many families. Lucky for me I found something much better. Wales!

For many years we had holidayed in Devon but had decided we needed somewhere new. The escalating cost of a Cornish holiday had put me on a new course to Pembrokeshire, Wales. I had heard many good stories but had always overlooked it. So glad I didn’t this time because what I found was honest Welsh value. No escalating rip off rates, no greedy proprietors and lots of choice.

So if you need a good value holiday during the school break do your bank balance a favour and go to Wales. I don’t advertise but I do share fare deals. If you see something on a website you like and the cost exceeds your budget ask for a discount. I did and I was able to save £80 just because I asked.

 

Further reading:

Where, When and HOW MUCH?
Where Pre May 23/24 Post May 23/24 Extra Charge
Cornwall, Sennen 699 1199 500
Devon, Bigbury on Sea 605 1273 668
Cornwall, Gorran Haven 440 926 414
West Wales 270 390 120
Wales, Pembrokeshire 468 556 112
 What does the UK government say:

What someone tried to do:
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/46455

The Wet South West

Flood Plights

 

Weathermen report the wettest weather in the UK since records began. This put most of Somerset under water with a flood of MPs and MEPs desperate to be filmed doing their bit in rubber boots. Apart from Owen Paterson (climate change sceptic and environment minster) who managed to keep his dry. Meanwhile Chris Smith, in charge of the Environment Agency, dodged many pointed fingers followed by the pursuit of COBR, aka “Cabinet Office briefing room A” led by Eric Pickles, Communities Minister.

To dredge or not to dredge was high on the agenda with many experts sharing opinions on more long term solutions such as Bridgewater Bay. Unfortunately the only immediate action was the supply of boats. The army were called in to help but failed to remember their Wellingtons.

Cartoons also conflates; DC’s attempts tp woo Angela Merkel for a better deal with Europe, Alex Salmond’s quest for independance and Owen Paterson’s disastrous management of the badger cull.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/flooding/10655005/The-flooding-of-the-Somerset-Levels-was-deliberately-engineered.html

The cost of floods

Milibanks: Does Size Matter?

Milibanks

Ed Miliband wants to reduce the size of the banks to improve services to those who use them. I think he’s talking about me and you.  Sounds like a good idea when you think back to economic crash of 2008 and the phenomena of “too big to fall” (TBTF).

Large banks making vast amounts of money, taking huge risk and not paying any attention to their lack of reserve.  When they go down they take the economy with them and this is why governments have no choice but to pay the economic ransom. I’m not sure if this is included in the reasoning but this is my take.

Would a group of smaller, mili-banks work?

Ever heard of Creative Destruction? For the long term good make a change at the cost of others. Build a system that lets the banks fail without significant impact. With the threat of collapse, smaller banks might become more risk adverse. In America they have banks of all sizes but it didn’t help them! Could this be due to the TBTF banks underpinning the smaller banks and could the rate of globalisation eventually return the system to similar underpinning?  Difficult to think about.

What about the smaller bank with an anti-big bank cap and independent scrutiny, and I’m not taking about the big audit organisations that everyone seems to accept. If the policy is to be adopted a mechanism to prevent TBTF sounds prudent but will it cope with the developments in technology? At this point I realise I’m asking too many questions and failing to provide answers but heh, I draw pictures.

The Tory part of the UK’s government may argue that The Bank of England (BoE) has been given more responsibility to prevent the issues raised by the Labour party. Who knows for sure? By the way, BoE guvnor, Mark Carney did have concerns with Miliband’s speech and everyone saw a dip in the share price. It’s a safe bet that any threat of change would send ripples through the markets. Improving competition, service, whilst reducing economic risk seems wise at a glance.

One thing that troubles me is what happens to us when the small bank that fails! Will our savings and investments go with it?  The risk of failure will still be present, it’s the likelihood that will be affected but who carries the risk now? Note to self: Buy shares in the insurance industry but sell some cartoons first.

Other news is that Ed Balls wants to return to the 50p tax band for high earners to help with the deficit.  Back in 2011 the Tories were prevented from dropping this to 40p by the Liberal Democrats. I’m surprised that Nick Clegg hasn’t jump on this news but then he’s been busy holding the dirty linen from a sexless sex scandal with a member who has the weight to bring a right downer to the party.

So what is Liberal Democrat and State Secretary, Vince Cable unhappy with? George Osborne’s recovery is too fast and it’s the wrong type. He’s not alone, Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls also thinks the same but that’s to be expected from someone in opposition, not from someone in government.  Then again it’s not news that Liberal Democrats and Tories don’t agree. Mr Cable in his wisdom believes the country’s pace of recovery should be more tortoise than hare and he’s probably right.  Better keep an eye on the flood levels they might burst the banks.

Ed Miliband banking reform

Creative Destruction

Vince Cable in the News

Forever Working People

 

Forever Working People

During these austere times, UK pensioners, rich or poor will keep benefits such as bus passes, heating allowance and TV licenses. In addition, a commitment has been made to keep the Triple Lock system that uses inflation, salary and cost of living to ensure no pensioner goes without. Sounds good.

Unfortunately to secure these deals for all, the next generation will be a lot older when they retire and further benefits will need to be cut elsewhere. The Tory part of coalition government say that this is part of the Long Term Plan to recover the economy. However the more discerning spectator believes it’s a move to attract the largest demographic of the vote, also known as the pensioner. At time of writing, the majority of UK voters are 65+ years old.

Hardly surprising the younger are disengaged with politics when the subject doesn’t even make the national curriculum.

Whilst government seek popular policy, the UK suffers the wettest weather for a decade and the Environment Secretary, Owen “Pitter Patter” Paterson faces the flood defense debate. It’s here where we discover Mr Owen’s appetite for building projects over the need to provide a robust dry infrastructure and green environment. The same attitude supports deforestation with a recent press release of “offsetting” ancient woodland to make way for more building. Now there’s one MP who should consider early retirement.

 

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/101/How-Britain-Voted-Since-October-1974.aspx?view=wide