10 January 2016

The two faces of Dave……...

Dave Cameron, we understand, will launch a new initiative focussed on 'helping' parents to better discipline their children. David Cameron: parents should be taught how to control children | Politics | The Guardian

I'd be rather more impressed if he was focussed on bringing some disciple to his banking sector chums.

31 December 2015

Selective inattention ………...

Oliver Letwin's comments from 1985 are interesting when placed alongside the Financial Conduct Authority's recent announcement. Back in 1985, Oliver was commenting on the behaviour and attitudes of a community of 'have nots' and today he seems to accept that his comments were inappropriate and misplaced. I wonder what would happen if he tested the attitudes and behaviour of that community of 'haves' whose conduct is unlikely to be examined in any depth by the FCA.

1 December 2015

Foreign policy and overseas aid ……….

I have to applaud David Cameron's efforts to address unemployment and industrial investment at home and his dynamic foreign policy in pushing for a bombing campaign in Syria. Our elderly Tornado jets will need all sorts of munitions and maintenance which will improve Britain's export effort. At the same time, the overseas aid budget will benefit from our exporting energy, albeit wrapped up in Brimstone missiles, to these less fortunate countries. Sure, there will be civilian casualties but its worth the stretch especially when there could be the 'Falklands effect' on tory approval ratings.

Bombs away!

28 November 2015

Fratricide by any other name ………..

Jeremy Corbyn seems to me to be a decent man, possibly not the sort of person who can carry the electorate as well as parliament, but a decent man none-the-less. And the way it looks at present, we are about to witness the political execution of this decent man. And in this endeavour, the Parliamentary Labour Party will be joined, on the sidelines, by Cameron, Osborne and the rest of the Tory rabble. And this will be done to the man who gathered more of the popular vote than the other three contenders  put together. And it would seem that the Parliamentary Labour Party will then seek to exclude Corbyn from any future election for Leader.

Welcome to Myanmar.

27 November 2015

Who is out of touch ………..

Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader of the Labour Party by a clear majority of those who qualified to vote and his platform was almost the diametric opposite of the other leadership contenders. (If you can't remember their names, they were: Yvette Cooper; Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall.) On that platform, Corbyn attracted almost 60% of the vote and, quite obviously, more votes than the three other candidates put together but, had it been up to Labour MPs, Corbyn would certainly not be Leader today. And this causes me to wonder exactly who is less in touch with the electorate, Corbyn or Labour MPs? On the basis of the Leadership election, Labour MPs (as represented by Burnham, Cooper and Kendall) would not be the popular choice. Similarly, I wonder what would happen were Cameron, Osborne etc put up against a 'conservative' version of Corbyn?

But it doesn't matter because we are about to be taken into yet another 'foreign adventure' by MPs who, I suspect, don't reflect the views of the wider public and who will vilify Corbyn for his opposition.

21 November 2015

Auditors put money before responsibility ………… surely not!

Earlier today, Radio 4's 'Money Box' programme aired a fascinating piece on the part played in the various banking collapses of 2007/8/9 by the various auditors who signed off banks' accounts. KPMG came in for a lot of stick and the suggestion was that KPMG may have buckled to client pressure in giving accounts a rosier gloss than supported by the facts. Unsurprisingly, an HBoS Director, Paul Moore (one time Head of Risk), tried to raise his concerns and was fired for his trouble.

At the same time that self-style City Regulators are about to report on the financial crash, Moore is also about to publish a book which may be a more accurate description of how the bankers behaved.

But none of this surprises me because exactly the same situation existed in Somerton back in 2008/9 when I lodged an objection to Somerton Council's accounts. Having looked through the Council's recordss, it was obvious to me that Somerton's problems had their roots in decisions made by the Council some years previously. But all of those previous year's accounts had been prepared by the Council's accountant and signed off by the Council's auditors. Importantly, when the auditor was examining the Council's accounts for 2008/9, the auditor refused to consider previous years' accounts as they had been signed off (by the auditor themselves) and were therefore closed. How convenient.

Will the same thing happen with KPMG and their colleagues? Probably.

12 November 2015

The pressure to conform……..

I watched a repeat of 'The Lance Armstrong Story' on BBC4 last evening and I found it probably more depressing this time than I found it the first time around. Armstrong's socio-pathic self-belief was frightening to behold, particularly when he went on Oprah to admit his guilt. He did that with exactly the same determination that he applied to his serial cheating and it left me with the belief that he had no feelings of guilt whatsoever. Admitting guilt, in his eyes, was just one more step down the road to recovering his reputation.

What I also found somewhat frightening was the manner in which he was willing to threaten, damage and destroy people's lives if they presented any sort of threat to him. That in itself made it all the more remarkable that a small number of individuals tried repeatedly to expose his activities at great personal cost. And it made me think about the position of Lord Coe with regard to the 'state sponsored doping programmes' which are now in the news.

In August, just 3 months ago, Lord Coe dismissed the Sunday Times/ARD-WDR article about the IAAF failures regarding drug offences as a 'declaration of war on athletics' and the IAAF sought to dismiss the article and its contents. Today we know that the information was accurate and well researched and has led directly to the exposure of the 'state sponsored doping programme' organised by the Russian Federation and reminiscent of the East German programmes of the 1970s and 1980s.

And my question is, why does Lord Coe attack the whistle-blowers when it is pretty clear that doping programmes are endemic in athletics (and other sports)? I cannot imagine that Lord Coe was unaware of the suspicions and possibly also had better information than the Sunday Times yet he chose to attack those he saw as 'detractors'. Read a pithy commentary on Lord Coe's position here.

But Lord Coe isn't the first 'leader' who seems unwilling to lead as we have seen with regard to Jimmy Savile, delinquent bankers, corrupt politicians (both local, national and international), peadophile priests, the list goes on and on and in every case, those in positions of power choose to protect the edifice of the establishment rather than recognising some common moral compass.

Many years ago, when I was at junior school I watched somewhat helplessly as a friend of mine was beaten up in the school playground. Being something of a weedy child I saw that I would take a beating myself if I tried to intervene so I went to get help from the available 'authority figure', a teacher on playground duty. The teacher in question stepped in and sorted the situation out and then turned on me and told me not to 'tell tales'. To say that this left me hugely confused is an understatement but it seems to sum up the adult world rather neatly. Conform, don't rock the boat and definitely don't expect to be thanked for sticking your head above the parapet. Somerton tried to teach me that and, possibly stupidly, I still reject the lesson.