The News In Shorts

How the news would look if everyone stopped waffling and told the truth.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Perils Of An Incomplete Classical Education.

Andrew Mitchell born in Hampstead the son of another Tory MP, Sir David Mitchell, was educated at Rugby school, studied history at Jesus College Cambridge and was an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment. A typical Tory then, born into a privileged world, the beneficiary of an expensive education, arrogant, rude and prone to approaching every problem with an open mouth. A pity then that he doesn't seem to have learned very much during his stellar career. It's never a good idea to badmouth a copper, as any working class kid could have told him, but its even a worse idea to take a newspaper into court on a flimsy charge of libel. He should have known better. That he didn't probably explains his use of the term "pleb" as an insult. His classical education should surely have informed him that in ancient Rome such an insult would have made no sense. During the early phase of its history Roman society was indeed divided between a privileged and wealthy patrician class and an underprivileged and much poorer plebeian class. However, over time many in the patrician class lost much of their wealth and their privileged position while many in the plebeian class gained both wealth and positions of great influence. During the Republic the Tribune of the Plebs, who by law had to be a member of the plebeian class, was the only politician who could enact legislation and could veto any law proposed by a Senate that could only only suggest new laws and not enact them. Marcus Antonius (Mark Anthony) was a plebeian as was Gaius Marius, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great). In fact the policemen that Andrew Mitchell called "f*****g plebs" are in very good company - except, perhaps, when dealing with an ill-educated lout like Andrew Mitchell.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Is George Osborne Out Of His Mind.

There is a very interesting video doing the rounds at the moment and its well worth a look. The video was taken during Prime Minister's Question Time as David Cameron was in full flow. But its is not David Cameron that commands our attention but George Osborne seated next to him. To say that Osborne looks disorientated is putting mildly. In truth he looks as if he's off his face on drugs. Two questions arise from this. First, why is this man in charge of Britain's economy? Second, why isn't this video being played on BBC news?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Even More Private Sector Efficiency

The new owners of Royal Mail have stepped up their propaganda today with fresh warnings that they won't be able to deliver your letters after all. Once again they have blamed competition from other mail carriers who, they suggest, have an unfair advantage over them. Apart from the fact that competition is what capitalism is supposed to be all about, why is is that industries taken out of the public sector are such a disaster? We have an energy industry that is so expensive that many OAP's die in Britain from hyperthermia every winter. We have a property rental sector that is so expensive homelessness is now endemic. We have a water industry that is always short of water in a rain-soaked Britain. We have a segmented railway system that is both expensive and unpleasant to travel on. The threadbare arguments that the privatised sector is somehow more efficient and delivers better value for money is patently and obviously untrue. So what has gone wrong? Capitalism as an economic theory has some very compelling arguments and its antithesis - communism - has been left in its dust since 1990. There can be little doubt that capitalism won the central economic argument during the Cold War hands down. After 1990, however, its been pretty much all down hill. The reason for this is not so difficult to find and it lies not with capitalism as such but with the boneheads who run it. Whereas capitalism was once characterised by competition, risk-taking, innovation and a desire to excel, all this has been replaced with a single characteristic - greed. Greed is not usually associated with great intelligence and tends not towards risk-taking but to outright criminality. The capitalist system was once led by great captains of industry, ruthless and often greedy but also men of vision. Now it is being led by the whinging executive who risks none of his own money and bemoans competition while demanding a new form of socialism that protects him from his own stupidity. He demands ludicrously high pay not because he's so good at what he does but because otherwise he'll run away from home. Capitalism has lost its fire and its vigour because it is now being run by a bunch of bean-counters without any real vision and very little real talent. None of this has been helped by a new breed of politician, as greedy as his business counterpart and with as little vision or talent, eager only to trouser the bribes on offer from so-called lobbyists. The system is corrupt and badly needs an overhaul but there are few involved in running it that have enough working brain cells to realise this.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How The Tories Regard Food Banks.

The number of those forced to go to food banks simply to survive in Cameron's Britain has increased by a staggering 1,500% in the last five years. The Tories first reaction to this shocking fact was to suggest that the demand has increased because the British working class are natural scroungers always on the lookout for something free. This largely fell on deaf ears as most of the electorate recognise spin, or lying as it used to be called, when they see it. Last Wednesday Jeremy Lefroy, the Tory MP for Stafford, inadvertently revealed the latest Tory tactic for combating the unfortunate and inconvenient truth about food banks when he left some very illuminating notes lying around at the Child Poverty Action Group conference. Written on the bottom of his notes was an instruction by his party bosses that read "Don't talk about food banks." So there you have it - when faced with embarrassing facts that cannot be spun out of existence, simply ignore them. This, of course, sits somewhat uncomfortably with Iain Duncan Smith's ludicrous claim that his policies are returning a "sense of dignity" to the poor and Danny Alexander's claim that his party's support for Tory spite has "helped, not hurt the poor." If there's no problem then what is there to ignore? Quite a lot if the United Nations, presently investigating the British government for systematic violations of human rights, is to be believed. The real question however is not how the Tories can ignore the shame of food banks, Red Cross parcels being sent to Britain for the first time since 1945 and the persecution of the sick and infirm but how can we, the electorate, do so? Vindictive policies aimed at the underprivileged are the norm as far as the Tories are concerned, but what excuse do the rest of us, who would still like to think that we are real human beings, have? None is the short answer. No country laying claim to any notion of civilised behaviour should tolerate a political party as vile as the Tories. Are we becoming then more and more like the United States where the electorate vote as if they are all temporarily financially embarrassed millionaires? Britain used to be known for its sense of fair play but is now becoming better known for its greed and selfishness. Perhaps we can all ignore that as well.

Why Britain Is Still In Debt.

If, as George Osborne and David Cameron claim, the British economy is now recovering and if, as they also claim, the deficit is falling then why is Britain's national debt continuing to mount? In 2008 the national debt stood at £530 billion but is now standing at £1.7 trillion. Why? Well to begin with the deficit is the difference between what Britain produces and what Britain spends. So, even if the deficit is falling, the national debt can continue to grow - spending more than you make even if you reduce that spending will still put you further into debt. Yet if we are making more, as the so-called "recovery" takes hold, and spending less, especially on social services, why is the national debt three times what it was in 2008 and still climbing? The answer is in two parts. First the much-vaunted "recovery" is nothing of the kind with much of it based upon a rise in property values which feed into the GDP figures. These rises are mere illusion and are based on nothing more substantial than what people believe property is worth. It's not as if houses in this country have suddenly become more productive or increased their efficiency - they remain simply bricks and mortar. Osborne and Cameron have also used an economic sleight of hand to bolster their claims to a "recovery" by fiddling the figures and including estimates on the value of the black economy - such things as prostitution, drug dealing and money laundering. Yet the suffering caused by cuts to spending on social services - unemployment and sickness benefits and the the so-called "Extra Bedroom Subsidy" - have been very real and so too, you would think, would be the effect on the national debt. So, where has all the money "saved" gone? Much of it has gone into subsidising business through working tax credits as wages continue to fall. In other words we, the taxpayers, have been paying ourselves so that the rich and greedy don't have to. A great deal of it has gone on "quantative easing" - the new socialism for bankers which rewards them for being rich and greedy and also for being utterly stupid. Much of it has gone in the form of tax breaks for the rich and greedy so they will come to Britain and be as rich and greedy as they like. In other words a great deal of Britain's GDP has been transferred from the poor to the rich by circuitous and devious routes and we taxpayers, too poor to actually give the rich loads of ready cash, have effectively been forced to borrow the money in order to give it to them. To add insult to injury the people we've been forced to borrow the money from are the very bankers who got us into this mess in the first place. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Britain is still up to its neck in debt, why you and I have been forced to foot the bill and also how the Tories have turned socialism on its head.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Tories Fail In Bid To Protect Their Crminal Banking Mates

David Cameron and George Osborne are in glum mood tonight after failing in their attempt to protect the outrageous bonus culture in the banking industry from controls imposed by the EU. Both have been heard to mutter darkly about "the brightest and best banking executives leaving the country". Our reporter immediately repaired to Heathrow airport where he battled his way through the crowds of banking executives heading out of the country in order to interview some of them. "I for one cannot remain in a country where honest crooks can't do what they like," one banking executive told our man. "I'm off to Russia where men of my caliber and lack of morals are still welcome. I pity the poor City of London which will now have to put up with honest bankers determined to work within the rules. Its a tragedy." Another banking executive with his weeping family in tow added; "This is the last straw as far as I'm concerned, I'm getting out before Labour get in and tax my £50 million ex-council house in the East End. What the British people have failed to understand is that I represent the very pinnacle of evolution within the business world with high degrees of dishonesty, greed and smug self-satisfaction - all the things that are demanded in banking. Before you know it British banking will be filled with second-rate Captain Mainwarings working in the interests of their customers instead of keeping British banking where it belongs - at the forefront of organised crime." Meanwhile Tory cabinet members are reported to be in a state of utter despair; "How will we support ourselves after we've been thrown out of power?" one distraught minister asked our reporter. "Without a nice juicy banking directorship to fall back on most of us will be reduced to living off a measly £300 a day in the House of Lords until the Labour party turn it into an elected chamber. Then where will we be? Some of us will have to get real jobs and face the shame of having to work in trade. Oh the ignominy of it all, oh the inhumanity."

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Private Enterprise - The Excuses.

After one year of Royal Mail privatisation it was revealed today that profits are down 6.5%. So, what could possibly have gone wrong? According to the boss Moya Greene its all due to competition from other mail carriers and this threatens the company's ability to deliver across the entire country. Unfortunately Royal Mail was only privatised because the new private owners promised to maintain a country-wide service while their competitors were operating in much the same way a year ago. So what has really gone wrong? Surely it couldn't be down to profits being siphoned off to pay greedy executives and shareholders? Perish the thought. What appears to be happening is the usual special pleading with the newly privatised business hoping for taxpayers money to maintain a service that it swore it could maintain from profits alone. What they are hinting at is for the extension of the new socialism that the banks enjoy - taxpayers money being given to the wealthy to save them from the consequences of their own ineptitude. The railways have been recipients of a similar "helping hand" from the taxpayer ever since they were privatised, but despite this they continue to operate a ramshackle service while charging the highest prices in Europe. This reporter's own local railway service is a case in point. They have recently introduced what they call "The Falling Leaf Timetable". This, the title of the timetable would seem to suggest, is the railway company's answer to that scourge of all rail operators - the dreaded fallen leaf. Essentially the new timetable means that certain trains no longer stop at all the stations along the route despite the fact that they still have to go through them. So how does this help exactly? It also begs the question as to why the service is just as bad during the summer? Unexpected sunshine? Essentially all of this simply illustrates the problem that many private companies suffer from - the over-paid, bone idle and inept executive who's only real talent is getting something for nothing.

Discovering The Real World.

Those who pretend to run our country and our economy have been talking about their amazement at discovering the real world this week. Mark Carney, the head of the Bank of England, started it all by coming to the incredible conclusion that it might be a good idea if criminal bankers are punished instead of rewarded. "It suddenly occurred to me that bankers are just like ordinary criminals," Mr.Carney told our reporter, "and, like ordinary criminals, will stop being criminals if they are punished for their crimes instead of being handed billions of pounds of taxpayers money to support their film star lifestyles. A radical thought, I know, but perhaps worth considering." Such is the power of radical thought that David Cameron paused for a moment in his headlong rush to punish poor people for the crimes of wealthy bankers and thought about the impact of the world economy on the domestic economy. "There are red lights flashing on the dashboard of the world economy," he warned Parliament. "Although the last Labour government claimed that the recent recession was caused by the banking sector committing collective suicide I had no idea that economic conditions in the rest of the world could really have an impact here in Britain. Of course it was still all Labour's fault, but I've now realised that my own complete and utter economic failure can be blamed on some one else. Phew, what a relief! Luckily for me the answer to another recession caused by a mindless programme of austerity is yet more mindless austerity." Meanwhile, from the world of entertainment, Myleene Klass has been talking about her sudden realisation that being taxed out of your home might be a bad thing. "I've heard about poor people moaning that they have been forced out of their homes by the bedroom tax but, until now, I thought it was just a bunch of benefit scroungers whinging. The mansion tax, however, has made me realise that rich people like me might have to pay taxes as well and force us out of our humble £2 million hovels. This is outrageous since rich people are far more important than poor scum." Still, as the police have found out this week, looking at the real world is not always a good thing especially when it comes to counting recorded crime. As a police spokesman told our reporter; "The problem with counting all crime is that it puts the crime rate up and brings into question our effectiveness as a police force. In order to combat the rising tide of crime while enhancing our reputation it has become increasingly necessary to ignore most of it."

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Life Of Crime.

In 2008 it was finally revealed that the banking industry was being run by a bunch of criminals. Across the world banks had been lying and cheating their customers and deliberately inflating the global property market to a point where they managed to crash the whole world economy. They had deliberately lent money to people they knew would never be able to pay back the loans and then passed on these bad debts to other financial institutions hoping that they at least would avoid the consequences of their criminal behaviour when the inevitable market crash occurred. Unfortunately it turned out that all the banks had been involved in this cynical game of pass the parcel and that none of them were immune to the consequences. It was without doubt the largest and most widespread Ponzi scheme scam in economic history. Since then no banker has been prosecuted while the banks themselves have been the grateful recipients of billions of pounds in "quantitative easing." Far from being punished for their crimes bankers have been rewarded and have continued to stuff their pockets with bonuses stolen from the taxpayer. To protect the over-inflated property market and assure that the rich don't lose a penny of their "investments" the Bank of England has resolutely refused to raise interest rates, punishing savers and denying the country much needed investment in our floundering economy. Instead the Coalition government has squeezed the incomes of ordinary people and denied the unemployed, disabled and sick the benefits they need simply to survive. It is us, the ordinary people of Britain, who have been forced to pay the huge debt created by a privileged and criminal elite who have continued to plunder the economy for their own selfish ends. This they call a prudent economic policy, this is what they call "fair", this is what they call being "fiscally responsible." Of course it is nothing more than business as usual, a return to a discredited economic system designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Unable the hide this truth from anyone with a single working brain cell and the ability to add 2 and 2 together, the Tories and their pals in the right-wing dominated press have mounted a desperate and transparent campaign to discredit Ed Miliband. The right-wing press have asked their right-wing readers if Ed Miliband will make a good Prime Minister. Of course their answer is a resounding "no" which the press is now offering as proof that Ed Miliband is not trusted by pretty much the entire country. Why aren't they asking their readers if bankers should be arrested and thrown into prison? Why aren't they asking for the £375 billion in "quantative easing" to be returned to its rightful owners - the taxpayer? Why aren't they asking why the special pleading of criminal bankers is being heeded while the cries of the sick, disabled, unemployed and dispossessed are ignored? Because they, like the Tory party, are not part of the solution but simply a part of the problem.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Smoke And Mirrors Tory Style.

The story goes like this. The Tories have known for months that they would be landed with a big surcharge from the EU. This is how the EU works. When your economy is doing well you pay a surcharge, when its not you get a rebate. Since both David Cameron and George Osborne have been boasting almost non-stop about their non-existent "recovery", even going so far as to include the estimated activity of the prostitution and drug dealing "industries", the surcharge was inevitable. The Treasury would even have have been able to calculate the size of the surcharge based on their own fictitious figures. But the EU has never been popular with the Tories and, with UKIP breathing down their necks, is even less popular at the moment. So how to turn this farce to their advantage? Feign surprise and then state firmly that Britain will not pay the £1.7 billion demanded by the December 1st. Simples! Cue George Osborne who borrows David Cameron's shiny suit of armour (sadly they only have the one between them in these times of austerity) and sallies off to tilt at the windmills in Brussels. After ten hours of talks in which St.George agrees to pay the full amount in two installments, he eventually emerges to announce a complete victory over Johnnie Foreigner. Having quickly changed out of his shiny suit of armour and into an evening suit with a fez on his head he then calls a press conference and does his impression of Tommy Cooper. And, since accountancy tricks and economic sleights of hand have served their cause so well in the past, why not claim that you've halved the bill by announcing that this will be negated by any future rebates? ("Just like that!"). The only problem is that any child with an abacus can see that this is utter rubbish and amounts to nothing more than a cynical exercise in deception and propaganda. The Tories have nothing but contempt for the ordinary people of Britain so it should come as no surprise that they are quite prepared to insult our intelligence but even the usually right-wing press in this country are having trouble swallowing this one.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

How The Tories Plan To Win The Next General Election.

The Tories are busy girding their loins as they prepare to trounce all comers at the next general election and are proudly boasting about their achievements. So what are those achievements? First and foremost is the miracle economic recovery that they have engineered over the last four-and-a-half years. The strength of this "recovery", they would have us believe, is unparalleled in modern British history. So good in fact that wages have fallen faster than at anytime in the last 100 years. So good that the gap between rich and poor has widened to an extent not seen for 150 years. So good that the national debt is now higher than at anytime in recorded history. Second is their stewardship of the NHS which, you may remember, was safe in their hands. Following a top-down re-organisation which they swore would never happen, they have managed to waste billions of pounds in a cack-handed attempt to privatize the service without anyone noticing. Having sacked as many "superfluous" nurses as they could they are now feverishly recruiting replacements in Spain and Italy to prevent a complete meltdown in the NHS. Meanwhile A&E departments across the country are buckling under the strain as patients, unable to see their GP because they are too busy making money, flock to them as their only way to access even basic healthcare. Third we can all admire the Tory overhaul of the benefits system which, as IDS promised us, is "on time, on budget and ready to roll out across the country. Well sort of. Actually its not ready and is so badly behind schedule that it will probably never be rolled out while the cost is now being counted in the billions with much of the money being spent on an IT system that everyone except IDS knew would never work. Still at least he's delivered on his promise to give the poor and disabled a sense of dignity as their benefits have been cut and their homes taken off them because of the bedroom tax. Fourth we have David Cameron's triumph over the EU which, despite his use of Britain's "veto", is still doing exactly what it wants and ignoring Britain completely. But at least he's managed to bring the immigration figures down to exactly the same level that they have always been. The truth is that their only "achievement" has been to save the greedy and selfish from the consequences of their own actions and reward the criminal bankers and financiers who, despite the Tory claim that it was the last Labour government, actually crashed the world economy in 2008. What we have witnessed is nothing less than a Tory masterclass in deceit, scapegoating and self-justification with nearly five years completely wasted by a government determined to to retain an utterly discredited economic system that serves no one's interests but their own. Everything that the electorate needs to know about the Tories was expressed this week when it was announced that the Royal Navy will no longer be involved in rescuing illegal immigrants adrift in the Mediterranean. Leaving these people to drown, the Tories assure us, will "save lives" in exactly the same way that making rich people richer helps the poor and taxing rich people less increases revenues. Yeah, right!