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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Looks like this will be kicked into the long grass

Joke of the Day is that the IOC will investigate alleged bribes paid to Juan Kickabol, the 30 year president of some obscure part of the world who also happens to be a freeloader also taking backhanders in his role as a member of the IOC.

This all comes from evidence found by an investigative reporter for Panorama.  The existence of payments was known about for years because of the ISL bankruptcy and fraud trials, and the system of procuring TV rights and marketing contracts was well known: bribing sports officials.  If you ever thought the pompous idiots in blazers who run these global sports events looked like nothing more than a bunch of small time crooks you were right.

But the joke is that the IOC will not be investigating the Brazilian FIFA member who appears on the same list of bribe recipients, despite the fact that he is the son-in-law of Joel Havelange, former IOC President, and the part that really made me choke on my cornflakes was the fact that Joel Havelange himself appears on the list, but wasn't mentioned on Panorama because he had nothing to do with FIFA.

You wan't to know why the London Olympics is going to cost tax payers so much when your typical school sports day costs virtually nothing?  I think we know now.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Some sanity in the tax system

Somebody has obviously given George Osborne some sage advice on the taxation of multinationals.

Readers of the left-wing press will be familiar with the story of how the evil mobile telephone operator has defrauded the Exchequer of trillions by refusing to repatriate its foreign earnings to the UK where they would be subject to corporation tax.  Instead it has parked intra group interest receipts and dividends in Luxembourg, from whence it has reinvested the money elsewhere in its business.  The company has argued that this is a legitimate business activity and as Luxembourg is in the EU, UK tax rules concerning tax havens are disapplied by EU rules on non-discrimination and freedom of movement of capital etc.

The reality is that the last government and HMRC were overzealous in their attempts to reach into the affairs of multinational groups and impose UK taxes on profits earned overseas but which remain offshore.  After a number of groups moved their head offices to Switzerland it should have been clear there was a problem, but it has taken a change of government to restore some sanity. For that we must be grateful.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Global Warming Update: Record low November temperatures

Temperatures plummeted to the coldest on record for November in parts of the UK overnight.

Northern Ireland hit a new low of -9.5C (15F) at Lough Fea, Co Tyrone, and in Wales, a record minimum of -18C (0F) was reached at Llysdinam, in Powys.

Heavy snow is still falling in much of Scotland and north-east England, bringing travel disruption, and is set to last until Tuesday.

Forecasters says Siberian winds from Monday will make it feel even colder. Met Office severe weather warnings for heavy snow and widespread ice remain in place for eastern Scotland, and eastern England from the Borders down to the East Midlands.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Those Nigerian scammers obviously read this blog


Deutsche Bank AG
1 Great Winchester Street
EC2N 2DB LONDON
GREAT BRITAIN
Dr. Edward Parker,
Tel: +44 7024062722
fax: +447024062721
Compliments.
 
First of all, let me start by introducing myself. My name is Dr.Edward Parker, Auditor General of Deutsche Bank London. I have an urgent and very confidential business proposition for you. I am the accounting officer of Mr. Ken Lay, Enron founder, who died on July, 5th 2006, at the age of 64 and his friend and partner Mr.Jeffrey Skilling,Ex-Enron CEO who was recently convicted 24 years for his involvement on the collapse of Enron, the energy trading giant in America. It will interest you to know that on Wednesday, 7th February 2001, Mr. Ken Lay deposited a total sum of 20M pounds and on Tuesday, 24th April 2001, Mr. Jeffrey Skilling deposited 17.5M Pounds in our Bank. These funds were deposited into a non-existing company's account which I opened in our bank (DEUTSCHE BANK LONDON) under their instruction, to avoid raising an eyebrow but unfortunately for them and fortunately for me, the two men are gone.
 
You can read more about the story by visiting the websites below:
 
http://www.chron.com/news /specials/enron/
http://www.accountancyage.com /accountancyage/news/2171002 /enron-ceo-sentence-slashed
http://www.economist.com /business/displaystory.cfm ?story_id=8082101
 
So right now, we have the sum of 37.5M Pounds lying in the two accounts without any proof of ownership as it was opened with non-existing companies name and the bank is not aware of the real beneficiaries as the accounts did not bear any name. As their accounting officer and financial adviser in charge of these accounts, I can comfortably present you to the Bank as the real beneficiary of the funds and they have no right to deny the application.
 
Consequently, my proposal is that I want to seek your consent as for you to stand as the owner of any of these accounts, since it has no trace or beneficiary which makes it easier to transfer to your designated bank account as the beneficiary. The nature of my work as a staff of the Bank will not allow me lay claim on the funds, hence this proposal is to inform you that as long you are ready to cooperate and be truthful to me, I can assure you that the sky will be our limit. All documents and proves to enable you get any of the money will be carefully worked out, I assure you that the business is risk free, as everything will be handled in accordance with the International Monetary Guidelines. I am offering you 40% for your cooperation in achieving this aim. Please, if you are interested in working with me, I will like you to send the information’s below to enable me procure the necessary documents that will backup the transfer to your account!
 
1. YOUR FULL NAMES AND ADDRESS...
2. AGE AND MARITAL STATUS........
3. OCCUPATION....................
4. NATIONALITY...................
5. TELEPHONE AND FAX NUMBERS.....
6. A COPY OF YOUR ID.............
 
 
 
As soon as I receive your acceptance mail by forwarding the above information’s, I will prepare the paper works in your name for onward remittance of the funds into your designated account. Thanks and God bless you, am waiting for the information’s below to enable me work fast,
 
My Regards,
Dr.Edward Parker,
Tel: +447024062722
Fax: +447024062721.

A quick quiz

George Harrison, lead guitarist of the Beatles (1962-1970) & Andy Summers, guitarist of the Police (1977-83; 2007-8).  Which was the elder?

Answers in the comments (you may be suirprised).

Friday, 26 November 2010

A 'bootiful' business

Over the years I have aad the pleasure of working with some great little and not so little companies, and one  of the private companies that impressed me the most was Bernard Matthews.  Just less than 10 years ago I worked with them on a refinancing for most of their factory equipment, having just completed a similar exercise for other larger names in the same industry.  And I have to say that it was one of the more pleasant and professional transactions I ever worked on. 

Although I never met the great man himself, who had largely retired by then, it was clear that he had built a great business from 20 eggs and an incubator, a lot due to his own hard work.


Bernard Matthews, one of the Great British businessmen of the last 50 years, has gone to meet the great Turkey Twizzler in the sky.

Flight of fancy

“We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive, but for those on benefit there is every incentive.”  Lord Flight

In a very predictable response, LibDem and Labour MP's and journalists dubbed Howard Flight's remark as offensive, but when it comes to an objective analysis, it is hard to see what there is to be offended about. He uses the term to mean reproduction of offspring, but while he refers to "breeding" by those on benefits, he applies the same term to the supposedly working "middle classes".

I am sure that at this point lots of people would jump in and remark that breeding is a loaded word with implications for eugenics etc, but that is clearly not the intent.  Likewise the fact that rats "breed" in sewers or the fact that the word is used in similar contexts is only an issue if the febrile imagination of the listener chooses to make that connection.

Lord Flight has nothing to apologise for, unlike the opportunistic whiners who piped up yesterday.

Monstrous Carbuncles'R'Us

I like to think that I have travelled the world a few times over and seen most of what there is to be seen, but until yesterday I had never come face to face withe the centre of our second city. Been underneath it on the train more times than I can remember, and driven past it on the motorwayequally often, but I had never actually gone nose to nose with the Bullring, so to speak. Until yesterday.

And boy is it an ugly place. I like a good piece of urban architechture, but some how Birmingham city centre fails on every level. The area was notorious for riots in the mid-nineteenth century, with notable vandalism of property. It seems this is still commemorated in the architecture of the day. Anyway, breathtakingly hideous and as they say in the Michelin guides: vaut la visite.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Private sector leads recovery

The UK economy expanded by 0.8% in the third quarter.

GDP growth ignoring government spending is stronger than overall growth, and rose by 1%, after a 1.3% in the second quarter. That is equivalent to 4.7% annualised growth. Nominal GDP is now back above its level at the peak in late 2008 allowing for the impact of VAT.

Exodus

As I have said before, bankers will leave Loindon because of the 50% tax rate.

Not immediately because there would be up front costs, but over time as expatriate tours of duty come to an end and businesses reorganise, the powers that be will see London as an expensive place to put businesses because of the high cost of grossing up expatriates compared to other jurisdictions, so expect businesses to move over time and their London operations to downsize.

Like J.P.Morgan, who until recently, planned to build a 1.9 million square foot building in Docklands to house their 17,000 staff who are currently spread across several offices in London.

They still plan to move to Docklands, but have halved their office space requirements to the 1 million suare feet offered by the former Lehmans building. And if you think that soundslike they can pack people in tighter that is only 60 square feet per employee. If you think that 7.5x7.5 feet per employee sounds enough, remember that that doesn't take account of the space needed for corridors, meeting rooms, filing cabinets, computers and the rest.

Sounds like that 17,000 London headcount is not going to last either.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Lack of imagination from the FT


"US has no good options over North Korean clash 

The news that North Korea has launched an artillery barrage against a South Korean island shows that last weeks move to put its nuclear capability back on the world agenda was part of a deliberate strategy to escalate tension in the region."

Not so, sell the worldwide video/pay-per-view rights to HBO and go for it.

Royal Wedding on a Bank Holiday

Wow, fantastic, great if you are a pen-pusher, bureaucrat or diversity outreach worker because you get paid the same for doing less courtesy of your employer or the tax payer, but too bad if you happen to be an entrepreneur, trader, plumber, consultant, lawyer, accountant, GP or anybody else paid according to the number of billable hours they put in.  They can sit at home and pay for the privilege thmeselves, and to the unemployed and retired it doesn't make a blind bit of difference.

OK, I can understand why the Royal Family would like the wedding on a Bank Holiday for maximum PR exposure, but why not choose one of the many other Bank Holidays available next spring.  There are plenty of them.

If the cap fits wear it

The number of "skilled" migrants from outside the EU will be capped at 43,000, 13% lower than 2009's figure and the highest figure recommended by the independent migration advisory committee last week, but staff transferred by their companies to the UK from another country will be exempt from the cap if their salary is over £40,000.  The Labour Party first argued that this would be ineffective and then claimed that it would make British industry uncompetitive, so what is really going on here?

First of all, most migrant workers who come to the UK come from within the EU, so these rules don't apply.  Then we have all of the high paid expats in the City.  The rules hardly apply to most of them because they are transferred in by their companies and earn more than £40,000 a year (most earn more than that a month when housing and other costs are taken into account).  So that leaves us with requirements for NHS staff, of which there are still a lot, not just from the subcontinent, but quite a few from the Middle East, particularly where we have bombed their countries flat, and then there is IT.

The £40,000 cap is interesting for IT staff, because there are many Indian IT workers who are transferred into the country by outsourcing companies such as Wipro to work here for up to 52 weeks a year.  These workers are relatively cheap, not because they are prepared to work for less money than other programmers, but because of extraordinary concessions by HMRC as encouraged uinder the last government.  First of all anybody coming to work in the UK for less than 52 weeks is exempt from National Insurance, although this is a completely different basis than taxation, which aoppluies to all workers based here even temporarily, and secondly there are the extraordiary concessions given by HMRC who are prepared to treat a large part of the worker's remuneration as non taxable remuneration of living expenses.

Now we all know about per diems and other expenses that the civil service gives to its employees when they work aeay from home and many firms do the same, but the outsourcing companies are taking the mickey.  generally the transferred in IT worker is paid a salary barely above the minimum wage, but with upto £2,000 a month in living expenses, which are paid free of tax.  If this wasn't enough, until now, the UK Borders Agency was willing to treat these expenses as part of the salary paid to the employee when considering whether to admit the employee under the previous, lower salary floor.

It will be interesting to see whether this continues under the new regime, or whether the government has wised up.  Of course one of the biggest direct losers would be government departments who had driven most of this outsourcing work having been told by the consulting firms that it could be farmed out at lower cost to offshore companies.  It is a shame that they didn't figure out that the only reaosn it would be ceaper was because another arm of government would be collecting less tax.

Further update:

The devil is in the detail. It turns out that firms are also being allowed to bring one of their staff in to work for the UK for a year if the job is an ICT one and the salary is over £24,000, which sounds like they still get to put the NI + expenses scam.

Update:
I have just come across this example of skilled non-EU labour. Sadly I don't think he would qualify for the minimum salary exemption:

Monday, 22 November 2010

Cui Bono?

As it happens, I am not too fussed about the £7billion we are lending to Ireland. They are a small country and a dependent neighbour with whom we have many links and friendships.

But if there is a cause for celebration it is that the next time the sanctimonious U2 frontman comes calling to berate us about how little we do to help poorer countries, we can point out that while we put up a ten figure sum to help out his home country, he routes his royalties through the Netherlands to the Dutch Antilles because he finds the 5% cost of doing so preferable to the meagre 12.5% corporate tax rate he would have paid if he left them in Ireland.

Opportunity knocks

So Ed Balls says that the Labour government of which he was a member the balance between civil liberties and security wrong. So the 24/48/72 days detention was just a political stunt to wrong foot the Conservatives rather than a serious bit of government.

And a few days earlier Ed Miliband said the Iraq was wrong, but that didn't stop him being a member of the government that was responsible for 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

And then Harriet Harman applauded Ed Miliband for saying so, although at the time, she had voted for the war, although she had seen no evidence of WMD

So when it comes to voting for these shysters in 4 years times, just remember that Labour are a bunch of hypocritical opportunists who will say anything to get back into power.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Living in a parallel universe

Alan Johnson has been on the radio quite a lot in the last few hours, probably to knife his boss, but he manages to get a few words in to enlighten u with his view of the economy.  He does his job well, and his job is to get across the Labour spin, not that he understands a word he is saying because if he did, he would know what he was saying was guff.

First he comes out with the tired old Labour line that the budget deficit is due to the bank failures in 2008.  Not so the one time cash that the government put into the banks was of the order of £60 billion, whereas the recurring budget deficit is over £150 billion a year for the last 2 and the next 5 years. The other support through guarantees is a non-cash item, largely synthetic in that it tidies up the banks' capital ratios without ever being likely to trouble the government, and doesn't show up in the deficit numbers.

No the real reason there is a deficit is that under Labour government spending rose 100% from £350 billion to £700 billion, while receipts from taxation rose only 51% from £350 billion to £530 billion, while the private sector portion of GDP has only risen 23% from £525 billion to £650 billion. First we had more tax on the private sector (remember stealth taxes) which pretty much killed off investment and then we had the Gordon Brown GDP fetish whereby the Balls and Brown thought that if they could keep pushing up the headline GDP figure by borrowing and spending the media and thus the populace would be fooled into thinking everything was fine and dandy.

If the banks were at fault, the government and FSA were equally culpable not for a lack of regulation, but for a lack of supervision. You can have all the rules you like, but usually banking risks can be handled by common sense. Banks have an obligation to be prudent but they only see their own hand in the poker game whereas the bank supervisor sees them all.  The quid pro quo of the banks consenting to be supervised (and of politicians seeking to be elected) is that those with the bank supervisory powers are supposed to take their role seriously, and not turn the whole exercise into class war/banker bashing to protect their skins while abdicating their responsibility to the tax payers.

The reality was that the UK economy (and other economies) resembled one of those cartoon characters that had run off a cliff.  For a moment they run in mid air before plummeting.  The British electorate got wise to what was happening and are clinging to a rope trying to haul themselves back.  The Irish on the other hand have hit the bottom of the ravine.

But to compound the unreality we also heard Mr Johnson tell the Conservatives that they should learn from the lesson of Ireland, that cutting Government expenditure would lead to economic collapse.  For the umpteenth time, the UK government is not spending less year on year like the Irish government, but is actually increasing spending approximately in line with inflation.  All that is being cut are the Labour spending plans which were a continuation of the same fantasy economics of the last 13 years.

If the Conservative government have anything to learn from Ireland it is the same lesson that they can learn from Labour, that a government cannot sustain a large deficit indefinitely and the shyster economists of the Labour Party deserve to be kept out of power for a long time.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Who said crime doesn't pay?

I see that "philanthropist" who bankrolled Michael Brown so that the Lib Dems could hang onto the £2.5 million "donation" that funded half of their 2005 election campaign funds has been rewarded with a free trip to the House of Lords.

Over the past five years Mr  Paul Strasburger and his wife Evelyn have made donations to the Liberal Democrats of more than £765,000."I am a donor and I have got a peerage," Mr Strasburger told the Bath Chronicle today. "If people think those things are linked that is up to them. They may or may not be right, I don't know."

Amongst the financial support that Mrl Strasburger gave to the Lib Dems was the offer to stand bail for Michael Brown, the convicted fraudster, fugitive, and notorious major donor to the Liberal Democrats before the 2005 election.  What has never been clear is whether Mr Strasburger knew Mr Brown before he stood bail (I presume not), and we know that when Mr Brown absconded Mr Strasburger forfeited his bail money.

He is now repaid in the only commodity that the Lib Dems have to offer: ermine (rhymes with vermin).

Lord Young was right

My local Somerfield wasn't particularly good, but I patronised it from time to time for the odd packet of biscuits or last minute ingredients for supper. And then it got taken over by the Co-op, and there wasn't a great deal of difference, except that the prices went up, but I signed up for my Co-op membership card, so I get their monthly junk mail telling me what I can buy.

So now I know that at £12 for the "delicate and aromatic" Janisson Brut, you too can be a Champagne Socialist.

Truly, you never had it so good.

We are going to have such fun

Looking at Government spending

It took me 2 minutes to find this:

Department of Health
Department of Health 20/05/2010 Consultancy/Professional Advice COMMISSIONING MCKINSEY AND CO INC UK 11064 £6,121,750


That's more than the NHS pay their Chief Executive over 25 years.

Oh my God, it's so big

One of the smaller pleasures of banking is reading the fraud reports  In fact as small pleasures go it it comes second only to the aviation incident reports, which sometimes read like an installment of the Keystone Cops, particularly when they involve helicopters and logging (load of logs drops out of harness, harness bounces up and wraps itself round the rotor blades, surprisingly frequent).

Anyway the fraud reports, which are crculated amongst banks list the dodgy characters who walk in with all sorts of weird and wonderful instruments which they try to use as collateral for borrowing real money - fake diamonds, Bolivian bearer bonds, US Treasury bills from the 1920's whose face value exceeded the entire US National Debt of the day, letters of credit signed by Napoleon III etc, you get the picture.  The reports usually end with the words: "Business declined".

But until yesterday I had never heard of anything as daring or foolhardy as this *3 trillion* dollar attempted fraud.

10/10 for ambition, but 0/10 for common sense.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

I received an e-mail

Fifa-strasse 20,
8044 Z├╝rich, Switzerland
Dear Friend,
I got your contact today,with report you are reliable and trustworthy.
Am the member of the contract award committee and for FIFA World Cup 2018 which as you will be aware is due to be award later this month.
Due to unforeseen and most fortuitous circumstance which I am not able to at present divulge, I need your assistance to bank (USD10.5M) and subsequent investment it on properties in your country urgently. It go without saying that is matter is to be held secret between us and I know from accounts of others that you are a person of super integrity and I am sure will not divulge.

You will be required to.
(1) Assist in the banking safely of the said funds
(2) Advise on lucrative areas for investment
(3) Assist in purchase of properties.
If you can render your assistance in this regard, 20% of the total investment sum will be for you as your commission. It will be done under a legitimate process so that we will not breach any international or local  laws governing the same. Making it a 100% risk free. For the security reasons i will advise you to email me use my private email: [xxxxx]@hotmail.com
I wait in anticipation of your reply and co-operation.
Best Regard,
[Name redacted to protect the guilty].
Private Box: [xxxxx]@hotmail.com

2 problems solved for the price of 1

As I have noted before, it is amazing how problems can often be solved when they are combined. It is just a question of thinking laterally and putting the two together:
  1. Ireland wants a bail out.
  2. Britain wants somewhere to put its nuclear waste.
Genius.

Doing more for less?

"‘Doing more for less’ has become the mantra by which the public sector deals with the substantial financial challenges facing our economy and society. For too long local government has been perceived as part of the problem, not the solution.
In the past year, the LGA Group has been turning that image around."


Or so says the last Annual Report of the Local Government Association, a lobbying group working on behalf of local councils to lobby government with an annual budget of £35 million paid for by your taxes. Yes that's right, you are paying for one bit of government paid to lobby another bit of government.

But, more for less? Apparently not because the chief executive has just awarded himself a £70,000 pay rise, so that he now trousers £302,840 a year.

Hang on, that's more than the Chief Executive of the NHS who is responsible for a £100 billion budget. Perhaps that was what they meant by "more for less".

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Unemployment down, but it is better than that

Unemployment, that is to say those registered as unemployed reduced by 9,000 last month, although the number actually receiving job seekers allowances actually went down by slightly less (5,300) showing that people on benefits are more likely to hang on to them than those people who are out of work but living off their own resources.

But that only tells half the story because overall employment in the UK economy increased by 167,000 in the three months to September, compared with the previous quarter, reaching 29.19 million.  What is actually happening is that over 150,000 people who had actually given up bothering to register as unemployed got back into work in the 3 months immediately following the Conservative election victory.

Why is this happening?  Take a look at this story from a few days ago

LONDON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The British government supports a plan by BP to broaden its exploration licenses in the regional waters of the North Sea, the company said.
British supermajor BP announced it won seven offshore exploration blocks in the North Sea during the latest licensing round from the British government.
BP has been offloading foreign assets to pay for the damages incurred from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer.
BP in its latest financial report said its $39.9 billion tab for the Gulf of Mexico spill "represented its current best estimate of those costs that can be reliably measured at this time."
Trevor Garlick, the company's regional president, said strong investments in the North Sea, however, were a boon to BP's continued success.
"These license awards are a significant success for BP and a further boost to the long-term future of our North Sea business," he said in a statement.
Garlick added that projects in the North Sea are part of a strong investment strategy in the region.
The awards were from the British Department of Energy and Climate Change.

British Petroleum didn't invest a penny in the North Sea while the Labour windfall taxers and profit ring-fencers were in power, but now they look as though they have gone for a while, BP are back to extract oil deposits that were there all along. The UK can count on £6 billion of productive investment that wouldn't have happened under Labour.

You could not make it up

The BBC is carrying reports from whingers who want the Royal Family to pay for the cost of their own wedding, or in other words, the BBC news editors are voicing their own opinions by reporting the view of proxies.

Let's get this straight:  the BBC who sent more staff to the Beijing Olympics than the UK sent athletes, who sent 17 staff to cover 33 miners coming out of a mine in Chile, who send more staff to cover major diplomatic meetings that the country sends delegates, is telling the Royal Family to go easy on the public purse.

Facts:

The Royal Family costs the tax payer £36 million a year (but in return the country gets to enjoy the benefits of the Crown Estates which generate far more than £36 million a year for the Exchequer).  For that we get an independent head of state, a figurehead for the armed forces and a substantial stream of tourist revenue.

The BBC costs license payers £3,600 million a year.  For that we get glitzy ballroom dancing on Saturday night, innumerable house/life swap/antique/cooking/chat shows, ubiquitous unfunny comedians in lieu of scriptwriters and darts and snooker as a poor substitute for sport.

At least a Royal Wedding would give us something different on TV.

I have managed to contain my joy and excitement

But sadly things aren't looking too good for the young couple when it comes to picking a date:

The French Open             23 May 2011 to 05 June 2011     Roland Garros
Chelsea Flower Show        24 May 2011 to 28 May 2011    Royal Hospital, Chelsea
Epsom Derby 2011         03 June 2011 to 04 June 2011     Epsom Downs Racecourse
England v Sri Lanka Test Match     03 June 2011 to 07 June 2011     Lord's
Queen's                 06 June 2011 to 12 June 2011     Queen's Club
Royal Ascot             14 June 2011 to 18 June 2011     Ascot Racecourse
Wimbledon             20 June 2011 to 03 July 2011     All England Lawn Tennis Club
Henley Regatta             29 June 2011 to 02 July 2011     Henley
British Grand Prix        08 July 2011 to 10 July 2011     Silverstone
The Open Golf Championships     14 July 2011 to 17 July 2011     Royal St George's Golf Club

It seems I may well be corporately entertained on the day, and my attention will be elsewhere.  I am of course open to offers.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

How did I miss this?


PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of Britain's largest accountancy firms, has launched an investigation after male staff at one of its branches in Ireland were found circulating emails where they rated the attractiveness of their female colleagues.

But just for the record, reading from left to right, top row first: 6, 7, 8, 9, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 8, 6, 7.

The ideal Christmas present for anyone

  • who wants to make phone calls
  • on the move
  • whose name is John.
  • err.. that's it

That Irish bail out which they say isn't going to happen

How much are you on the hook for, dear tax payer?

Well there is the EU bail out fund to which the U K isa 13% contrbutor.  Chances are thy will tap that for £70 billion, so that's £9.1 billion right of the top, courtesy of Mr Alastair Darling who signed us up for that just before he got booted out of office.

Then there is the small matter of the government shareholding (84% as it happens) in RBS who say they have Irish bad debts of £4.3 billion, so I put £3.6 billion of that down to you dear reader, but of course, there may be more to come.

And then we have another £4billion of ‘impaired loans’ in Ireland over at Lloyds, so you can chalk up another £1.6 billion to the tax payer their through their 41% stake..

So I make that a tidy sum.  It may not seem much these days (5 years revenue at al-Beeb, or 2 months cash flow at the NHS), but some of us can remember the time when £16,000,000,000.00 was serious wonga.

BBC waste of money special

Man to wed woman next year (we wish the happy couple all the best).

 BBC News 24 (most-watched news channel, delivering breaking news and analysis all day, every day or so they claim).switches to non-stop coverage and ... launches a helicopter to circle over Buckingham Palace

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Why Formula 1 is so overrated

I used to enjoy Formula 1 racing, but that was years ago when there was some racing. These days it depends almost entirely on which car gets to qualify first, which is not so much a question of driving skuill as engineering, and we can have a drivers' champion who is nothing more than a boy racer in a fast machine who has to start at the front of the grid to win because he doesn't know how to overtake at this level.  For all the glitz and glamour I have no idea why any serious company would waste money sponsoring a cross between a high-tech procession and a tyre change race.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Well it's somewhere to put the flowers

What would you rather have: a vase or a Bugatti Veyron? OK, not everyone is into cars, so what if I say: a vase or a villa in the South of France?  Fair enough, some people don't go for houses abroad, so let's say a fully furnished apartment in Knightsbridge, just around the corner from Harvey Knicks, or a vase?

You still want the vase?  It's just a vase, nice design with a bit of history but its less than 300 years old, so in the whole scheme of things it is really no big shakes.  Nice craftsmanship but hardly the originality of a Van Gogh or a Monet.

You still want the vase? OK, you've got an honest looking face and I like you so here's what I'll do.  You can have the Bugatti, I'll throw in the villa and and the flat in Knightsbridge and I'll tell you what:  you can have a 200 seater passenger jet aeroplane, I would say that little lot would set you back a cool £53 million or thereabouts (including commission), so which would you prefer?

You still want the vase? Well, I suppose its less than a Cristiano Ronaldo.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Not above the law

Some good news from the courts where the judge has ruled that MPs who cheat on their expenses are no different than any other fraudster or false accounter and should be tried in the plain vanilla bog standard criminal court. The BBC report is here.

Perhaps they will begin to see that they are not above the law, and the same principles apply to the Woolas case.  The High Court judges who declared his election void are not trying to limit his freedom to speak out.  In fact they were quite happy to let Mr Woolas say what he liked, true or untrue, hurtful or kind.  They didn't actually serve any punishment on him for that.

What they did do was to apply a law that had been enacted by Parliament that said that when a candidate lied about an opponent their election should be declared void.  The courts have acted as parliament decreed and the Labour MPs who are crying foul should realise that just like the MPs who will be tried in the usual criminal courts for falsifying their expenses, they are not above the law.

Monday, 8 November 2010

I am not a lawyer, but

.. it seems I know more about the law than those who make it.  It seems the High Court agree with my post below that judicial review is not the correct venue for an appeal against a decision of the High Court and the correct procedure is to go to the Court of Appeal. Any lawyers reading might care to confirm/deny that.

That doesn't stop Woolas and his hack lawyer protesting that it is, but on the one one hand there is a High Court judge telling Woolas to go away, and on the other we have one of those Labour MP's divorced from reality who thinks he can spin his way out of any situation who thinks he knows better or can persuade the rest of the world that he does.

If that wasn't bad enough, we now have the half-pint Mr Speaker telling us that Woolas' seat won't be contested until after the case has gone to judicial review.  Perhaps we can understand Woolas' strategy now, because that judicial review is never going to happen, so by protesting that the case should go to judicial review, Woolas gets to hang onto his seat indefinitely.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Pulling the Woolas over viewers eyes:

The BBC covered the Woolas  court case by saying the former minister vowed to fight the judgement of the High Court by seeking a judicial review.  Fair enough, but one can't help thinking that if they were reporting a Conservative MP they would have given more prominence to the fact that the former minister was found guilty by two High Court judges of lying in his election material and was banned from sitting in Parliament for three years.

If the BBC had less of a numpty writing up the case they would have pointed out that judicial review is for the review of administrative matters and legislation.  The proper venue for appealling against a High Court decision is the Court of Appeal.  Thank goodness these people aren't running the country any more.

Monday, 1 November 2010

A little quiz

Whose manifesto said "Our goal is to make responsibility the cornerstone of our welfare state. Housing
Benefit will be reformed to ensure that we do not subsidise people to live in the private sector on rents that other ordinary working families could not afford."?

 Answer here (see page 2:3).

The Sun sheds some light

I am not an avid reader of the Sun, but I admire its writers who can put a cross a message boldly and clearly
THE BBC should hang its head in shame.
At a time of grave economic peril, it is this public sector broadcaster's duty to tell the impartial truth.

Instead it has chosen, disgracefully, to take sides.

As The Sun reveals today, it is ready to bend the facts in a relentless propaganda war against the Government. It falsely portrays shiftless, workshy scroungers like James Van-Cliff as hapless victims of cruel coalition cuts.

The art school dropout is allowed to claim on the flagship News at Ten that he is being thrown on the streets by new housing benefit rules.

Nowhere is he asked why he refuses to work and has chosen to live off the backs of taxpayers.

This is not just an abject failure in the first rules of journalism. Nor is it the only example.

The Beeb is today the pompous voice of defeated socialism.

Labour lumbered us with terrifying levels of debt. Yet Newsnight relentlessly blames "nasty" Tories for trying to bring it under control.

Radio 4's Today programme gives Government critics like hysterical Polly Toynbee endless airtime while constantly interrupting ministers.

Its news programmes rip into any plan to make Whitehall's big spenders more efficient while rarely saying why savings are needed.

We are sitting on a powder keg of national debt, yet the BBC treats the crisis as if it were the coalition's fault, not Labour's.

It broadcasts ludicrous warnings about cardboard cities, mass evacuations and Nazi-style extermination of poor families as if they were fact.

Yet it scarcely mentions that Labour was planning almost exactly the same VAT hikes and draconian cuts to housing and incapacity benefit.

Nor does it mention the legion of Labour ex-ministers who have denounced mealy-mouthed Red Ed Miliband for failing to say so.

Labour is playing politics. That's their job.

The BBC is generously run on public money. It has a charter promising editorial independence.

That must not become a licence for malicious and unscrupulous propaganda.

Britain as a basket case

Yet more evidence of the truly dire mess that the country was left in by the Labour Party comes in the form of graduate employment figures for 2009 graduates, the last gradation year under the old government.  Much heralded in the news is the 1% increase to 8.9% of those reporting themselves as unemployed, but more illuminating ar the other figures, 59.2% in full-time employment (down from 61.4%), 15.4% in further study/training (up 15.4%), 8% working and studying (down 0.1%) and 8.4% "Other" (down 0..1%).

So what does that tell us? 83% of graduates are either working or studying, although a fair number of those "working" will actually be doing unpaid internships, but an amazing 17% have nothing to do when they get up in the morning.  Even more worryingly, only 5% of graduates have gone into business or financial services. So don't be surprised if we slip further behind in the next 20 years.

And before anybody tells me that all the unemployed graduates are feckless layabouts, get in touch with me.  I can put you in touch with numerous Oxbridge graduates, 1sts and 2:1's, hard working and sensible, whose talents are going to waste in post-Brown Britain.