Friday, 24 October 2008

Gordon Brown-Trousers Is Amazed

Gordon Brown-Trousers is a class act, isn't he? Today, it was confirmed - as if any confirmation were needed for anyone with any common sense whatsoever - that the British economy contracted by 0.5% in the last quarter. Just in case you missed the news reports, that's the first time in 16 years that the economy has actually shrunk, and it's a bigger contraction than even the most gloomy forecasters predicted.

Naturally, there's no suggestion that things will pick up in the next quarter. Far from it, in fact. All the predictions are that we're in for a very hard landing as the economy falls apart around us, and then a very long climb back to prosperity which may - it's not guaranteed by any means - first start to manifest in spring 2010. Unemployment will be rife, money will be in short supply, credit non-existent.

I predicted recession on this blog months ago, not because I'm an expert economist (anything but!) but because I could see the way the wind was blowing and how ineffectual Gordon Brown-Trousers' government was. The papers have been babbling about it in open panic for weeks, torn between terror and fascination as the banks and stock markets teeter on the brink of disaster. So how is it that Gordon Brown-Trousers, our Prime Minister and former (for 10 years!) Chancellor of the Exchequor, only managed to mention the possibility earlier this week?

And wasn't that sly mention done in a sneaky little way? In the Commons, he said, “Having taken action on the banking system, we must now take action on the global financial recession, which is likely to cause recession in America, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and – because no country can insulate itself from it – Britain too.” Or, in other words, he used one of the oldest tricks in the book to avoid amitting that Britain - the country he's supposed to be running - is in deep shit. No, it's a global problem, see? Look, all these big, important countries (though how France and Italy get into that list is a mystery) are in trouble too, so we're not alone and, most importantly, IT'S NOT MY FAULT is what he's actually saying.

Of course it's his bloody fault. He's been Chancellor since Tony Blair oiled his way into office in 1997, and is reputed to have been a micromanaging control freak to boot. Economic policy was his one and only remit (apart from plotting to overthrow his boss) for an entire decade. Who the hell else should we blame for Britain not having planned ahead for this eventuality? The fact is that GORDON BROWN-TROUSERS did not see this crisis coming. GORDON BROWN-TROUSERS did not act to reduce our exposure to the obviously deteriorating economic climate. And now the shit has hit the fan, coming as a massive surprise to absolutely nobody but GORDON BROWN-TROUSERS, and the rest of us have to pay for his mind boggling incompetence.

But it doesn't stop there. Yesterday, the only British Prime Minister ever to be likened to Mr Bean said, "This is a global financial recession and we're fighting it every way we know how, working with other countries, trying to get the banks moving here in Britain, trying to help people with mortgages, at the same time increasing the winter allowance for pensioners, the tax cut of £120 going to basic rate taxpayers. We're fighting this recession but we need other countries to work with us."

Every way they know how? Current policy is every way they know how? Oh BOY, no wonder we're in the shit, but that's not the point. Note, once again, the emphasis on international problems, and the need for other countries to work with us. We know what that's all about, don't we? When the wheels fall completely off and Gordon Brown-Trousers is sent packing north of the border by the very few people left in England who can afford a pitchfork, he can bleat "It wasn't my fault, all those other countries wouldn't co-operate. They wouldn't do what I told them to do. It's not my fault, it would have worked if they'd done it my way."

In further self-defensive bleatings yesterday, Gordon Brown-Trousers was heard to confess that the ever-deepending economic crisis has his "undivided attention" when he gets up in the morning and when he goes to bed at night. WHAT ABOUT ALL THE HOURS INBETWEEN? Besides, he's a bit bloody late. If the economy, rather than his misplaced schemes to become Prime Minister had had his undivided attention for the past decade, we might be in a slightly better position today.

It is, of course, a global problem. But it's been on the cards for months, if not years. A canny, PRUDENT Chancellor would have taken precautions to ensure that global problems did not become a local disaster. Instead, we're nosdiving into probably the worst economic downturn since the 1930s and Gordon Brown-Trousers' only responses are to introduce ever more governement intervention in free markets. Control of banks, demands for fairnes (?!?!?!) in stockmarket trading, insistence that fuel prices should fall... the list is endless.

Certainly, all of these things are desirable, but if government intervention in a free market - even a market in panic - is the price then it's too high. Like everyone else, I cringed at news of OPEC's plans to increase the price of oil, and thus fuel, although, in truth, Mrs S and I don't need to do nearly as much motoring as we used to these days. But, if Gordon Brown-Trousers trully wants to make life easier and cheaper for recession hit motorists, how about cutting fuel duty? A huge proportion of the price motorists pay at the pump is tax - both VAT and extra fuel duty - and the tooth-sucking one could ease the pain by cutting the tax.

But he won't do that, will he? No, he'd rather interfere, yet again, in the free market and try to force prices down. That won't - and can't - work. It's like pushing down air bubbles under freshly hung wallpaper - the more you try to push it down in one place, the more it pops up in another, leading ultimately to ruined wallpaper that STILL has bubbles under it.

Papering over the cracks and micromanaging the consequences has always been Labour's way, and Gordon Brown-Trousers' way in particular. Now, as he keeps on telling us, the bubbles are international and he just can't control the outcome any more. The price of his economic folly is now due - and we're going to have to foot the bill. Labour, be they old or new, have always been incapable of handling the economy, as history very clearly shows. It was inevitable that, once they gained office, they would utterly destroy the UK and its economy - the only mystery was how it would happen, how soon it would happen and how the hell the rest of us would survive the chaos.

Those who voted for the ever-grinning Tony Blair in 1997 and subsequently are now reaping the rewards of their foolish trust in a party of buffoons, and I can't say that I have much sympathy for their plight. In fact, I'd find it hilarious if only other, honest, decent citizens weren't forced to share it. Thanks a lot, guys.

Billy Seggars.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Gordon Brown-Trousers Writes A Letter

Gordon Brown-Trousers has made a mistake. I know, that's hardly breaking news - his entire career in government has been little more than cock-up after disaster, but this time he's excelled himself.

Most people will have noticed that financial turmoil stalks the land, and the prospect of a viciously deep recession is now rather more than a mere "prospect". And very few of those observant victims of New Labour's abortive attempt at government will have failed to fix the blame for this chaos squarely on our tooth-sucking Prime Minister. After all, he's been Chancellor of the Exchequer since 1997, although, in fairness, he probably spent a fair amount of his time at the Treasury plotting become Prime Minister.

Does that make him any less responsible for the mess he's made? Hell, NO. We all know that he has presided over the total destruction of the British economy, hitting hard working citizens in the wallet time and again to finance his crazy socialist schemes. But so smug, self-centred and arrogant is Gordon Brown-Trousers - the only PM ever to avoid calling an election in case he won it (with a reduced majority) - that he thinks writing a snivelling "trust me" kind of letter to the Daily Telegraph is going to make everyone forget the catastrophe he has brought upon them.

This mind boggling, nauseating attack on reality can be found here, for anyone sad enough to want to read it. IF - and it's a big if - they can get to the end of it without vomiting, or, indeed, at all, they should not fail to read the comments section. Those comments just about sum up national feeling about the Prime Minister in a nutshell - he's incompetent, foolish, arrogant, smug, deceitful, a disgrace, unfit to govern and unworthy of his office etc.

Yes, I know, many of them will have been posted by his political opponents, and so cannot be entirely trusted. But many will have been posted by ordinary men and women, whose lives, careers and futures have been ruined by Gordon Brown-Trousers and his systematic destruction of our once-healthy economy.

I'm not going to vent my own opinions on the way our land has been mismanaged and betrayed by NuLab - I've done that often enough on these posts for the general gist of my opinions to be fairly obvious. But, looking at the Brown-Trousers letter, a few points spring to mind.

Even the first sentence made me suspicious - the author (who I doubt was really Gordon Brown-Trousers) was clearly trying to establish a degree of commonality between themselves and the reader. Who would do that, apart from someone who really didn't have very much in common to start with? Still, there it was - the PM proclaiming the virtues of enterprise and the importance of taking responsibility.

Responsibility? Gordon Brown-Trousers? The man who, as Chancellor, was always nowhere to be seen when the political shit was flying? The man who wouldn't even be seen to sign the hated EU Treaty with all the other, equally scurrilous, European leaders? Yes, the very same. Responsibility my foot!

Then we have the bit about ancestral farming, that still goes on in his family, and the way it's made him appreciate markets. Yet more "common man" bobbins, of course, and nobody is ever going to believe that this foolish man has any love for markets of any kind. You see, the idea of a market - any kind of market - is trade. That means that people buy goods and services from other people. Money changes hands. Traders try to sell as little product as possible for as money as they can get, while buyers try to get as much product as they can for the least amount of money.

If either party has too much power or influence, the other suffers. But that very rarely happens for long, or at all. The dynamic interactions between buyers and sellers, their wants and needs in response to factors beyond the control of either of them combine to ensure that, for the most part, supply and demand settle at point roughly midway between the interests of both sides.

This kind of self regulation happens everywhere, in all free markets, all the time. It is easily influenced, often by rumour and suspicion, gut feelings and hunches, but is very, very difficult to control. The more politicians try to control markets, the more their natural balance is disturbed, leading to greater and more damaging swings. Meddling with them is financial folly on an unimaginable scale, yet that is exactly what Gordon Brown-Trousers proposes.

He wants to introduce the concepts of fairness, responsibility and co-operation to the market place. Aren't they there already, built into the very fabric of a market economy? Apparently, New Labour think not. The touchy-feely, warm-hearted New Labour bullshit is laid on with a trowel, but what it boils down to is yet more government meddling in things that do not concern it.

For example: "We celebrate those who profit from creativity and hard work but not those who make reckless gambles with other people's money. " Ah, right. And how do we tell which is which? Who decides what is reckless and what is merely insightful interpretation of market trends? Simple, I suppose - those who make money are creative, those who don't are reckless.

Or, to put it another way, fear of failure - of being thought of as reckless - will quickly become the prevailing reason for trading, or not trading, as the case may be. Celebrations in aid of creativity and hard work will be few and far between as the really smart operators take refuge in tedious, humdrum, SAFE transactions with no risk and no returns.

As for the financial mess that he can no longer hide under the rug, well, that's ok, it's not his fault. No, it's a global problem, from way beyond our shores. Nothing to be done but work together with other countries, do everthing Gord says, trust him, and all will be well. Crap. Utter CRAP. Yes, there's a global problem. But the UK is far worse affected than anywhere else. The UK is also the country under the Gordon Brown-Trousers oppressive heel. Coincidence? I think not, and neither do the commentors in the Telegraph.

So there we have it. Gordon's brave new world, where the timid thrive, anyone with any idea has already left the country and when we can't hide the problems anymore we blame them on the rest of the world. It's cosy, designed to appeal to world-owes-me-a-living benefit scrounging scum, but it's not cutting much ice with the rest of us. Gordon Brown-Trousers should sack his script-writer, and whoever advised him that exposing himself to such an unquenchable tide of ridicule as he has roused in Telegraph readers was a good idea.

I have my suspicions that they might be one and the same person, the newly resurrected Prince of Darkness. The question is, was it his idea or was he just powerless (or unwilling) to stop the PM from humiliating himself this way? Time will tell, but Tony Blair's remaining cronies must be clapping their hands in glee at the way Brown's unpopularity has been so ably - and legitimately - demonstrated in response to something that he purports to have written himself. BIG mistake.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

In For A Penny, In For A Pounding

I love this story from the Telegraph about a church choir mistress who paid a hospital parking fine in pennies.

It seems that Susan Catcheside, 74, from Longney, Gloucester, had been visiting an 83-year-old friend at Gloucester Royal Hospital, when she copped for a £70 parking fine. Not being over well herself, the good lady apparently didn't notice that the parking space she occupied was reserved for permit holders, and fell victim to the local Gloucester City Council's cash acquirement scheme.

Her appeal against the Council's insatiable demand for cash was unsuccessful, and her only option was to pay up. Even though the Council pledges to only extort a mere £35 if victims pay up within two weeks, Mrs Catcheside was - quite rightly, in my opinion - enraged at the inhuman "Hitler-ite" actions of officials involved in this fiasco.

She determined to make the buggers work for their ill-gotten gains, and paid £35 fine in pennies. Well done, Mrs C! The Telegraph says she extracted 35 bags of pennies from her bank, presumably containing one hundred pennies each, which she took to the Council offices in a sweet jar in a wheelbarrow. Again, an excellent plan, in my opinion, but, in her position, I'd have made sure that some bags contained less than one hundred pennies, while others contained more - the Council would have received exactly the amount they had set out to deprive her of, but they'd have had to bloody well count it all, every penny.

The whole business of fining individuals who park at hospitals - and, come to that, imposing parking fees at hospitals at all - is nothing more than a scam, a means of parting the sick and their worried relatives from their cash at a time when they are most vulnerable. It is disgraceful, inhuman, unacceptable and I very strongly urge all who find themselves on the wrong end of such treatment to use any means at their disposal to make the experience difficult for the officialdom that preys so unjustly upon them.

As for Gloucester City Council, a spokesman said, "If she wants to pay in pennies that's fine. Cash payments are accepted." Yes, I just bet pennies are fine. In fact, right now, I should imagine that just about anything, including a reasonably believable IOU will do nicely. You see, accodring to this article in the Telegraph, they're a bit financially embarassed at the moment, to the tune of around £2 million invested in Icelandic banks. You know, those banks that have recently collapsed? The ones that it might have been just a little bit silly to trust with public money?

True, Gloucester City Council is hardly alone in such finacial stupidity, and its exposure to this kind of massive risk isn't on quite the same scale as that of other councils, but it was still a bloody stupid thing to do with two million quid, and you can see why they'd be out to, metaphorically, mug old ladies in hospital car parks with a view to making up the shortfall. Shame on them.

Billy Seggars.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Seeing The Light

Anyone remember this Reuters press release from March 9th 2007? It said, "BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European homes, offices and streets will have to use energy-efficient lighting by the end of the decade, EU leaders decided on Friday."

The name of the game was efficiency, of course. Being inescapably gripped by the madness of mental enviroism, the meddlesome bods in Brussels just couldn't resist the chance to impose yet more tree-hugging piety on their long suffering citizens. Like biofuel, energy efficient light bulbs were vitally important to the future of ... well, everything, really.

And now look what's happened. Last week, in the "ban the bag" Daily Mail, whose campaign to abolish the plastic bag has imposed mass inconvenience on supermarket shoppers up and down the land, I saw a combination of words that I never expected to see side by side - "harmful biofuels".

But it gets better. Today, most of the papers are featuring this little gem, as reported in the Telegraph: "Energy saving light bulb radiation 'could be harmful'." It turns out that CF bulbs - that's Compact Fluorescent for those of us not well up on enviro-speak - could be kicking out as much UV light (Ultraviolet) as a bright sunny day.

Boffins "don't think" they pose a risk of skin cancer, but then, boffins didn't think the Titanic would sink, either, and were pretty sure biofuel was a good idea before reality and human nature proved their naievety. Apparently, it's not all CF lightbulbs, though. No, it's just the funny shaped ones - you know, the prongs and whorly things that look like electric spaghetti. Those enclosed in an outer globe, that look like real like bulbs, are supposed to be safer.

The trouble seems to be that the things consume much less power (isn't that the idea?) and so don't get as hot as an ordinary incandescent bulb, leading people to bring them nearer to their person when used in reading lamps and desk lights. I can't imagine many people wanting to sit with a light right in front of them unless they have to, no matter how cool it may be, and the unwritten truth of the matter is that people have to - the quality of light these things put out is slightly worse than an ailing glowworm.

Consequently, people are sitting within 30 cms of these CF lights, and are turning red in the face as a result. Not, I hasten to add, as a result of embarassment at being found with one of those ugly, pointless things in their posession, but because they've been getting a tan from it. And that's not good, as this Jan 2007 headline from the Daily Mail shows: "Sunbed skin cancer danger has trebled." The article went on to say "The risk of developing skin cancer from using sunbeds has trebled in just a decade, experts have warned." Ergo, tanning = bad, no matter how it's achieved.

But that's ok, because similar experts today say, "We do not believe that these [CF] lights pose any significant risk in terms of skin cancer. This is precautionary advice and people should not be thinking of removing these energy saving light bulbs from their homes. We are advising people to avoid using the open light bulbs for prolonged close work until the problem is sorted out and to use encapsulated bulbs instead. In other situations, where people are not very likely to be very close to the bulbs for any length of time, all types of compact fluorescent light bulbs are safe to use."

Precautionary, eh? Oh, good, I'm glad about that. Of course, if there wasn't ANY risk, there'd be no need for precautions, would there? I'd suggest some slightly different precautions, myself.

1) Visit nearest shop still so non-PC as to be stocking incandescent bulbs - not all large retailers are massively influenced by hype, and there are still some around.
2) Buy all available incandescent bulbs - you'll be amazed at how cheap they are, compared to CF bulbs.
3) Return home, rip out all CF bulbs and replace with incandescent, remembering to wait until daylight or have a suitable source of light to hand while doing so - you will need to turn the lights off for this!
4) Pull out of Europe with speed, making it quite clear that the EU's head is so far up its collective legislative backside that it couldn't tell the difference between CF lights and incandescent bulbs at 3 cms, let alone 30.

Clear? Good. It's just a precaution, you understand, against the chance that the EU is advised, governed and run by utter morons, but why take the risk? After all, it took 27 of them to change a light bulb - how many will it take to change it back?

Now all we need to do is worry about those rising leccy bills, but I'm working on that...

Billy Seggars.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Raising The Dead - Peter Mandelson Returns

The return to government of the disgraced (twice) Peter Mandelson has produced some of the most sustained and vitriolic newspaper comments that I have seen for quite some time. Today, the Sun refers to him as Lord Stench, and the Daily Mail - fairly vibrating with righteous ire - ran the headline "Arise Lord Sleaze".

Of course, they both refer to the need to shoe-horn Mandy into the House of Lords so he can wiggle his way back in to Gordon Brown-Trousers' cabinet. That's hardly surprising, is it? Nobody in their right mind would vote for him, so the chances of the Prince of Darkness getting his old job back through the conventional, democratic method of being elected as an MP in a by election are effectively zero.

Still, nobody elected Gordon Brown-Trousers as Prime Minister, either, did they, so I don't suppose he'll be too worried about the undemocratic imposition of Mandy upon an already struggling nation. The plan seems to be to quash all the Labour in-fighting by recruiting Blair's henchman, suggesting that the former PM wants everyone, including the Blairite survivors, to unite behind the PM.

That's quite a tall order, and although calls for the PM's head are noticabley diminished this week, I doubt it can all be attributed to Many - the deepening fincial crisis has probably had a sobering effect on the more rebellious Labour MPs, as they begin to realise that they now have even less hope of finding a job when the lose their seats at the next election.

Whatever the tactical reasons for digging up the political corpse of Peter Mandelson's career, it's done nothing to improve Gordon Brown-Trousers' populatity. Everyone knows that they've been mortal enemies for years, and recalling him now looks far more like an act of total desperation than statesmanship. People also remember that Mandy stepped down in disgrace, not once but TWICE.

Anyone can make a mistake, and should be allowed a second chance. But two mistakes, both equally sleazy-looking, by one of the most influential figures in the government of the day are just not acceptable. To reward the perpetrator with a peerage and drag him back into government, on a generous salary together with other perks, smaks of rewarding sleaze and scraping the very bottom of a dirty barrel.

It's difficult to imagine anyone less likely to make a return to mainstream politics, or less welcome to do so, and the expressions on the faces of various TV reporters when his return was announced last week were a sight to behold. Even these erudite individuals were almost struck dumb by the sheer improbability of the story they were forced to report, and their staggered disbelief was, I am sure, echoed in living rooms up and down the land.

Only an arrogant, out of touch Prime Minister with no regard for the British population, or a PM at the absolute end of his tether, with no other options, would dream of making such an overwhelmingly unpopular appointment. Clearly, all of the above applied and the result is that we are now saddled, yet again, with Peter Mandelson in the cabinet.

I doubt he'll be there very long, though, and it will be interesting to see whether his departure comes through resignation (AGAIN), New Labour's landslide loss at the next election or the PM sacking him when he realises that he's after his job. But even when the odious man has been evicted, yet again, from the cabinet, he'll still be Lord M, entitled to hand around in the Lords doing nothing very much and getting paid to turn up. Nice work if you can get it.

Billy Seggars.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Crazy Cameron, Man With A Plan?

I have to confess that I didn't catch all of Crazy Cameron's big speech yesterday. The thought of spending over an hour watching his forehead waggling was just too much, so I chickened out and caught the highlights and media reports later.

I gather he made a big thing of Gordon Brown-Trousers' "not the time for a novice" jibe, as well he should have done. It was a typically foolish thing for the PM to say, leaving him wide open to the obvious response that the only experience Brown-Trousers has is of how to screw things up. We can live without the dubious benefits of that kind of experience, and, in contrast, Cameron's crew look positively appealing, novices or not.

Cameron seems to have taken aim at the things that really, really annoy Joe Public, too. Political correctness has run riot in recent years, and Cameron promised to control the Human Rights culture, reign in Health and Safety Madness and generally introduce some badly needed common sense into the proceedings. So far, so good, and he didn't look too bad on the economic front either, being careful not promise things that clearly can't be done - for the moment, at any rate.

Doing well, ticking all the right boxes, looking like a PM-in-waiting and yet, and yet... well, it's Crazy Cameron saying these things, isn't it? Let us not forget that until Gordon Brown-Trousers shot himself so effectively in the foot, Cameron was hated by his own party, and it was touch and go whether he would survive long after last year's conference.

He cycles to work and he's got a windmill nailed on his house. Yesterday's speech was rewritten to avoid too many swipes at the Prime Minister that would have made him look less serious and statesman-like in a time of economic crisis - scoring points by being seen not to score points, in other words. A few days ago he was offering to slap taxes on junk food to "encourage" people to eat healthy meals, and claiming to have taken up jogging and quit smoking.

You can see the pattern, can't you? And this is why I'm not convinced by this sudden commitment to common sense from a bloke who hasn't shown much interest in it before. He, or more likely someone in his party who actually reads the papers, has realised that the vast majority of people are totally fed up with political correctness, and he's seized upon it as yet another "niche" bandwagon to leap on.

For all his comforting words, Crazy Cameron lacks substance. Does it matter? Perhaps not, for the moment. Anyone will be a more welcome PM than Gordon Brown-Trousers, any party more popular than New Labour, and, let's face it, nobody could do the country more damage than Blair and Brown already have.

In other circumstances, Cameron would be a long way from being my first choice. But this isn't an ideal world and, depressingly, he's about the best of a very bad lot. Let him in, let him have a go, let's see what he can do. He might surprise us by being better than we expect. And if he doesn't, there's always William Hauge, waiting in the wings...

Billy Seggars.