All that is needed for vested interests to prevail over the public interest is that good men don’t understand what the hell is going on.

CDSThe Tories (including my own MP, John Glen) have been brilliantly successful in selling us the lie that the financial crisis was caused by excessive welfare spending by the Labour party. This enabled them to sell the argument, despite all the contrary evidence, that only the Tories can be trusted with the economy. It also allowed them to get away with their phony ‘long term economic plan’ which was in reality nothing more than a doctrinaire political  programme to drastically reduce the role of democratic government and outsource it to international corporations like G4S, Capita, Virgin, Atos, Serco etc.

The reality of course is that the financial crash of 2007/8 and the resulting UK debt mountain were not caused by ‘immigrants’ or ‘welfare scroungers’ or ‘health tourists’ or ‘Polish plumbers’ or the disabled and they weren’t even caused by Labour Party spending on schools and hospitals.

The crisis (which had its foundation in the deregulation of banking and financial services in the 1980s) was caused by greed and incompetence in the banking industry. It culminated in the US where banks had lent colossal sums of money in worthless, sub prime loans and then repackaged those loans and sold them on to the rest of the global finance industry disguised as respectable investments. This was legalised fraud on a massive scale.

This is all common knowledge to those who have been paying attention so why remind ourselves yet again? Well the success of government double speak means that the underlying problems within the national and international banking and financial sectors have not been addressed and it’s looking as if the next financial crisis is just around the corner (see graph at top of page). Only this time we will be far less well placed to face the consequences.

Is Deutsche Bank the next Lehman Brothers? Who knows? Our governments are in hock to big finance. George Osborne is a politician with an ideological agenda, he is is not an economist and has no economics training. The people who caused the last financial crisis are, with only a very few exceptions, still in place, have they learnt their lesson? The regulators are controlled by the regulated and most of the potential reforms have been shelved or watered down.

The only thing we know for sure is that it is ordinary people who will pay the price for the hubris, incompetence and greed of our financial elites.

Addendum: Adair Turner (head UK regulator at the height of the 2008 crisis) told the Today programme that the idea that the public will never again be called on to bail out the banks is not only untrue but, as he put it, a “dangerous” assertion.

“Deutsche Bank Is ‘Absolutely Rock-Solid,’ Cryan Tells Employees”

Banking failure NOT public expenditure created the financial crash and UK Debt mountain:

Conservatives are the party of high UK borrowing and low debt repayment, contrary to media misinformation:

All that is needed for vested interests to prevail over the public interest is that good men don’t understand what the hell is going on.

Update: 26th March 2016.  After engineering the slowest recovery in 150 years George Osborne has suddenly spotted that the economy is going pear-shaped again.  His solution – more austerity. No rationale, no logic, no evidence, just the ‘right thing to do’.   Very reminiscent of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


Britain’s support for Saudi Arabia shames us all and seriously undermines our security.

Yahya Maasar and his family live in the ruins of their neighbours house with no power or water, after their own was destroyed by Saudi bombing. Faj Attan is one of the most heavily bombed areas in Sanaa city despite the danger of regular attacks they have no money to move away from the area.
Yahya Maasar and his family live in the ruins of their neighbours house with no power or water, after their own was destroyed by Saudi bombing. Faj Attan is one of the most heavily bombed areas in Sanaa city despite the danger of regular attacks they have no money to move away from the area.

(Sept 2015)

Saudi Arabia is a brutal, fanatical, fundamentalist religious tyranny where torture and execution are the norm and women are treated as chattel. It is about to behead and crucify a young man for being linked to a dissident group and is currently engaged in an indiscriminate bombing campaign in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is a major funder of terrorism and violence in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabian sources funded Al-Qaida.

All but one of the 9/11 perpetrators were Saudi Arabian.

Saudi  Arabia has directly interfered in our judicial system by insisting, successfully, that an investigation into BAe – Saudi corruption be quashed.

And yet UK governments, both past and present, have supported this regime, selling it military hardware (£1.6bn in 2014) and providing a cloak of respectability.

UK & Saudi Ministers of Justice
Chris Grayling & Saudi Minister of Justice sign deal.

In 2014 the then justice sectary, Chris Grayling, signed a £5.9m commercial agreement with the Saudis in which we will sell our ‘prison and probation expertise’ to the Saudi prison service. Yes, the same prison service that has already executed more than 150 people this year. One of the victims was ‘guilty’ of ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe.

Our government has refused to back out of this shameful deal. It has even removed all reference to its previous policy of being “opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle”. Yet another example of putting commercial interests above all else?

Now we find out that David Cameron has entered into a secret deal with the Saudis to procure them a place on the UN human rights council.  This is a travesty and can only be described as Cameron putting two fingers up to human rights and the long and honourable record of the UK in developing and promoting human rights around the world.  It’s no surprise that the Tories want to scrap our own Human Rights Act.

(UPDATE (2nd Oct): It seems that our government has also done a secret deal with the Saudi police force – see link below)

How long before Saudi Arabia is another middle eastern failed state collapsing into chaos and embroiling us in yet another humanitarian disaster.

The Tories tell us that security interests necessitate our support for Saudi Arabia. That story appears increasingly implausible.

The government’s previously hard-line stance on migrants and refugees suddenly did a U turn when the public were shocked into action by the photo of the little boy washed up on a beach.  David Cameron then suddenly ‘remembered’ that we were contributing  significant sums of money to help fund refugee camps. This contribution is commendable but it is also shameful that the amount of aid we give is less than the value of our arms sales to Saudi Arabia alone.  Those arms sales are currently laying the seeds for the next refugee crisis.



UK and Saudi Arabia ‘in secret deal’ over human rights council place:

The Human Cost of Saudi Arabia’s Air War in Yemen, in Photos:

George Osborne praised by China for ignoring human rights:

Is Chris Grayling happy to do business with a prison service that flogs, stones and beheads its inmates?

The story of the unfortunate MoJ and Saudi commercial proposal:

Salisbury Amnesty International – What is the Foreign Office’s policy on human rights?

Britain Backtracks on Justice for #Yemen:

UPDATE (2nd Oct): It seems that our government has also done a secret deal with the Saudi police force:

Government role for John Glen MP

johnglendailymailSalisbury MP John Glen has been appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Business Secretary Sajid Javid.   This reminds me of John’s claim back in 2010 when he said: ‘I don’t anticipate any early calls to Government. I’m a white, Christian, married bloke from the Home Counties so I probably don’t fit the description of what the leadership wants at the moment.

I have covered this disingenuous claim of downtrodden white middle class victimhood in detail here: Cameron won’t make me a Minister… I’m a white, Christian, married, bloke from the Home Counties says Tory MP, John Glen.

2015 CabinetWith the arrival of the new Tory government we find only a third of the new Cabinet are women and just two, Sajid Javid and Priti Patel, are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

I wonder what John’s new boss Sajid (son of a bus driver and state school educated) thinks about John’s claim that white, middle class, married Christians from the home counties are so hard done by?




Cameron won’t make me a Minister… I’m a white, Christian, married, bloke from the Home Counties says Tory MP, John Glen: 

Government role for Glen (Salisbury Journal 25th May 2015):

Before entering politics Sajid Javid was a managing director at Deutsche Bank who have just been issued with the largest fine of any bank for rigging international bank offer rates and lying to regulators:

John Glen named as one of the ‘most responsive’ MPs in the country

“CONSERVATIVE election candidate John Glen received a pre-election boost after a survey by a political website found him to be the fourth ‘most responsive’ MP in the country.” Salisbury Journal:

John should indeed be congratulated on his achievement which I can verify from my own experience. However this is little consolation when his replies invariably follow his own party line.

There is more to being an MP than replying to emails.

Salisbury MP, John Glen, has a 100% record of voting with the government. He has never rebelled against his party. The only times he has voted independently was when there was a free vote and he voted against the Equal Marriage Bill and against allowing mitochondrial donation as a treatment to prevent mitochondrial disease.

He voted in favour of the Health and Social Care Bill which, despite the absence of a democratic mandate and despite promises to contrary, is forcing through a £3.5 Billion top down reorganisation of the NHS and its rapid outsourcing to unaccountable international corporations.

He voted for welfare reforms which indiscriminately hit the low paid and vulnerable.

He voted in favour of the current debt fuelled boom in London house prices – yet another bubble that will burst without solving our catastrophic lack of affordable homes.

He was in favour of the appointment of tobacco lobbyist Lynton Crosby as Tory campaign manager and has done nothing to tone down his party’s vindictive and divisive rhetoric or the accompanying output of misinformation and made up statistics.

He voted to down grade commitments to ‘eradicate fuel poverty’.

He also voted in favour of the lobbying bill, which will do nothing to prevent big companies and wealthy individuals from influencing government but will stifle criticism from grass roots organizations and charities.

In short, the evidence suggests that Mr Glen has put his party before his constituents.

MPs are in parliament to hold governments to account on behalf of their constituents.  If they put party loyalty and ideology ahead of the welfare of ordinary citizens I suggest they should be paid from their party funds not the taxes of hard working families who are striving to cope with an unnecessary and deliberately prolonged period of austerity for which they were not to blame.

Other votes by John Glen:

Tues 7th Jan 2014: Voted against a motion to improve compensation to sufferers of Asbestosis and extend a levy on the insurance industry to pay for research into the deadly disease and its causes. (Bid to increase compensation for asbestos victims fails in Commons: Northern Echo 8th Jan 2014.   (Dr Sarah Wollaston supported this motion as did a few other rebel Tories)

Wed 8th Jan 2014: Voted against a proposal to give local councils greater powers to restrict the proliferation of betting shops containing Fixed Odd Betting terminals (FOBT)s.


Tory MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP demonstrates how to hold her own government to account when they get things wrong:  Daily Telegraph 08 Jan 2014.

See also:  BMJ investigation reveals the “cosy relationship” between the alcohol industry and the British government

Here is another example of how MPs should be doing their job.  If only we had more MPs in all parties that were prepared to put reason and evidence before party dogma or self interest:   “Plain packaging and minimum unit pricing for alcohol killed off – The only winners, big tobacco, big alcohol and big undertakers“. (Dr Sarah Wollaston, July 2013)


John Glen MP would like to scrap the modern descendant of the Magna Carta

The very point of human rights law is that it stops those in power doing as they will. And that is why those in power hate human rights law.

With the commencement of Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta celebrations it’s worth remembering that our own MP, John Glen, would like to scrap the modern descendant of the Magna Carta – the Human Rights Act.  (“I look forward to the Home Secretary’s proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act” John Glen MP: Salisbury Journal, 10th July 2013)

On Thursday 12th March John’s colleague Dominic Grieve is giving a lecture on the Magna Carta and Human Rights today – I hope John will be attending.

2015 Magna Carta Lectures: Magna Carta and Human Rights Today by Dominic Grieve MP (Thursday 12th March 2015 Time: 19.00 – 20:00 Salisbury Cathedral):

If John can’t make it here’s a short video – it’s only 14 minutes long:

Unfortunately Dominic, the last remaining, rational, reality based, cabinet minister in the current government was recently sacked, presumably because he was the last rational, reality based …. etc.

“I look forward to the Home Secretary’s proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act” John Glen MP: View from the Commons Salisbury Journal, 10th July 2013

Dick Bellringer and Peter Curbishley’s response to John Glen’s comments: Salisbury Journal, Letters, 17th Jull 2013 

John Glen’s response to Dick Bellringer: Salisbury Journal letters 24th July 2013

Human Rights Act myths (Here are some of the most common false accusations against the Act):

Short Cuts, Francis FitzGibbon London Review of Books  23rd Oct 2014 

Is Chris Grayling happy to do business with a prison service that flogs, stones and beheads its inmates?:


The very point of human rights law is that it stops those in power doing as they will. And that is why those in power hate human rights law.



A response to John Glen’s Salisbury Journal article about Food Banks

Letter to Postbag
Salisbury Journal

I was shocked, but not surprised, to read John Glen (“View from the Commons” 11thDec) repeat yet again his mantra that the food bank debate had become too politicised. John is a member of a government that has sought to politicise poverty and welfare via a tirade of divisive misinformation, smear and innuendo all aimed at demonising anyone in receipt of benefits. Under cover of this PR campaign the government has implemented an indiscriminate programme of cuts that have disproportionately affected the poor and vulnerable.

The food bank charities and churches do a tremendous job coping with the growing level of food poverty but let’s not confuse that with the motivation of politicians who actually think that food banks are a good thing and would prefer it if government could be absolved from responsibility for the welfare of its citizens.

The issue of food banks and food poverty is intensely political and for some it is a way of diverting attention away from their plans for reducing democratically accountable government to an irreducible minimum.

According to George Osborne we have only suffered 40% of his cuts; a further 60% are planned. If he gets anywhere near achieving this target it will not just be the poor and vulnerable that will be relying on food banks. Many who currently have secure, reasonably paid jobs will find themselves working on zero hour or part time contracts or doing their current job but employed by Serco or G4S for reduced salary and poorer conditions of service.

The government’s austerity plans for the next parliament are unprecedented. It is time for John Glen to come clean and tell us what will be cut and what the consequences will be, apart of course from a massive further increase in the need for food banks.

Finally, what about balancing the books and getting the deficit down?  It is worth pointing out that, while our deficit needs reducing, there is no body of evidence suggesting that we need to reduce it as far or as fast as George Osborne plans, unless of course his plans are ideologically motivated rather than financially necessary.

Colin Lawson


John Glen is clearly seeking to avoid discussing his own government’s responsibility for the increasing need for food banks.   However his attempt to do this and his claim that he wanted to keep politics out of the debate, managed to cause quite a response in the Salisbury Journal. Here is a link to an article about that response: Readers backlash over John Glen’s Feeding Britain report (First published Salisbury Journal web site, Tuesday 16 December 2014 in News )

Here is a link to the offending letters in the Salisbury Journal: MP’s own government has caused the foodbank need_need/


John Glen MP and Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs)

Today, our Salisbury MP John Glen, used valuable parliamentary time to deliver a planted question to puff up David Cameron during PMQs. He did this by cherry picking data to invent a fictional alternative universe in which “we are on a clear path for improving living standards for all”. So here is an attempt to look at the broader picture:

  • Real earnings fell by 1.6% over the past year. That continues the longest drop, of seven consecutive years, since records began in Victorian times.
  • The poorest suffer the highest inflation and so have been the worst affected
  • In April 2014 the bottom 10% of full-time employees earned less than £288 per week.
  • 236,000 jobs – 0.9% of employee jobs – were paid less than the national minimum wage in April 2014.
  • Business investment as a share of national income and productivity is still declining – there has been no re-balancing of the economy
  • The majority of the new jobs are not permanent.
  • The number of people in enforced part-time work has doubled to 1.3 million.
  • There has been an explosion in artificial self-employment.
  • David Cameron’s PMQs reply included a comment on exclusivity in zero hours contracts but there was clearly no intention to restrict the explosion in the number or impact of zero hours contracts.
  • Our debt fueled housing market is overvalued and running out of steam and only benefited better off house buyers and buy for rent landlords.
  • After four years in office, the budget deficit and national debt are growing, in fact the structural deficit is now the largest in the EU – this is a core failure of Osborne’s economic strategy
  • Cuts in real pay and growing low-wage employment have meant lower tax receipts and greater demand for benefits hence the rising deficit. Almost all the pain of benefit cuts for the most vulnerable has come to nothing, causing a lot of hardship for little gain as far as cutting the deficit is concerned.
  • David Cameron’s “red lights are flashing” is clearly an attempt to preemptively blame the world economy for the certainty that his government will fail to meet its fiscal targets for 2014-15
  • Finally, the financial crisis was not caused by the cost of the welfare state or by disabled people, or by EU benefits tourism, or by immigrants or by health tourism or Polish plumbers. The crisis wasn’t even caused by the Labour party. The crisis was caused by banks mainly in the US but also the UK who sold mortgages to people who could not afford them. They then repackaged the dodgy mortgages, disguised them, and sold them onto other banks throughout the world. They did this on an industrial scale. This was dishonest and motivated by the ‘greed is good’ ethos. When they were found out the banks started to collapse – Lehman Brothers in the US and Northern Rock here in UK.  To prevent a whole scale financial disaster the tax payer had to fork out billions of pounds to save the rest of the banks.
  • It is deplorable that the Tories will go to any length to blame anyone other than the banks for the financial crisis but it is shameful that the main thrust of their rhetoric and spin has been to try and shift the blame and the consequences on to those least able to defend themselves.

“Austerity means punishing the poor for the mistakes and greed of the rich”


Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2014 Provisional Results (Office for National Statistics):

Poor lose, and rich gain from direct tax and benefit changes since May 2010 – without cutting the deficit: (London School of Economics 16th Nov 2014)

Working for Poverty: The scale of the problem of low pay and working poverty in the UK (The interim report from the Living Wage Commission):

What is happening to spending on social security? (Institute for Fiscal Studies, Nov 2014):

Austerity has clearly failed. So why don’t they ditch it? Falling incomes are fuelling the deficit and costing votes. But Cameron is looking after other interests. (Guardian 19th Nov 20914):

Five reasons to sell sterling (Enonomist Nov 2014):

It has become clear that a vote for the Tories is not a vote for an EU referendum but a vote to leave the EU

The Tories were warned that it was a mistake to try and out-ukip UKIP or try to appease their own right wing by following a UKIP agenda – they ignored that advice and are now suffering the consequences.  (Ironically the resulting Tory message seems to have been:  “Ukip is right, don’t vote for them”).

David Cameron has demonstrated that he is incapable of renegotiating any reforms to the EU. His jingoistic, inflammatory, confrontational approach to the EU means that even our friends will not support us. He manages to get himself into situations that are obviously untenable.  Instead of joining forces with mainstream reality based European parties he has aligned us with ultra right wing parties that are inimical to “British values”.  There is little chance he will be able to deliver any “reforms” and so, in his own words, he will be recommending an exit from the EU.

Tearing up our Human Rights Act:  In addition, the Tory plan for tearing up our Human Rights Act (the modern descendant of the Magna Carta) is incompatible with our membership of the EU and so again the result will be a UK exit from the EU.

With the recent removal of the moderating influence of the only remaining members of the Cabinet with any semblance of rationality, the Tories are now under the control of the far right wing of their party with its scary mix of little Englanders and political fundamentalists. They are people who are clearly capable of putting their prejudices, ideologies or just plain ignorance well ahead of the interests and welfare of the British people.  Under these circumstances we must assume that a vote for the Tories will be a vote for an EU exit.

Further, whether or not the Tories win the next election, there is a real possibility that Cameron will be replaced by someone who is recklessly right wing and anti EU. The Tories might even be in coalition with UKIP.

The conclusion must be that, there is a real risk that either by default, error or deliberate action, the Tories will engineer an inevitable EU exit for the UK.  A referendum could be superfluous.

Under the circumstances we need an urgent debate on the consequences of a UK exit from the EU. In fact we need a full EU debate before the election because a vote for the Tories could easily be a vote to leave the EU.


Here in Salisbury our own MP, John Glen, is on record  (Salisbury Journal 17th Oct 2014) as saying that he will wait until he sees what concessions we can get before deciding whether to vote to leave the EU.  But I suggest that this is untenable.  There is now a real possibility (given their track record) that a Tory government will be unable to negotiate any concessions at all.  It is therefore incumbent on John Glen to tell us a number of things:

  • How will he vote if there are no concessions from the EU
  • What are the make or break concessions that he requires if he is to vote to stay in the EU.
  • What does he think will be the consequences of a UK withdrawal from the EU.

These questions need to be answered before the general election so that his constituents can make an informed decision.

To Leave the EU would be one of the riskiest things we have ever done with potentially catastrophic consequences for ordinary people – these questions cannot be side stepped.

NB: John also used his article to try and blame the Labour Party for giving away all our rights to the EU but, as he knows, the right to freedom of movement for workers dates back to before the Treaty of Rome 1957 and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave her approval when she signed up to the 1986 Single European Act.

“Spain’s young unemployed take temporary refuge in Britain, helping to man its economy, and elderly Britons get to retire on Spain’s beaches – this is free movement – you can’t have one without the other.  Who is going to tell the millions of Brits throughout Europe that they must ‘go home’ “.  Hugh Brady

“On every count, despite its frustrations, of which there are many, despite the reforms we need, which are many, we are far better off in the European Union than outside.” John Major, Nov 2014

Question: Eurosceptics worry about lost national sovereignty by being in the EU but are enthusiastic about blindly joining international trade agreements like TTIP which give up our sovereignty to unelected corporate lawyers and are even more enthusiastic to sell off all our utilities and infrastructure to international corporations and foreign governments. Is this reasoned?  Is it rational??  More on TTIP here. More on the sale of UK to the rest of the world here.


UPDATE:(26th Nov):  In a recent speech in London to the Eurosceptic Business for Britain group, Owen Paterson (potential future Tory leader) argued in favour of a manifesto commitment to invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty immediately after the next election. This would give formal notice of Britain’s intention to quit the EU and would instigate a UK exit from the EU irrespective of the results of a 2017 referendum.  More evidence that a vote for the Tories is not a vote for a referendum but a vote to leave the EU.

UPDATE (7th Nov 2014): The latest debacle over the EU surcharge is just another example of how Cameron’s jingoistic, inflammatory, blustering and confrontational approach just gets himself into a position from which he eventually climbs down, harming even further the UK’s negotiating position: “UK to pay £1.7bn EU bill in full despite Osborne’s claim to have halved it”

UK media accept Osborne’s spin. Rest of world gets truth “U.K. Fails to Win Budget Payment Cut as EU Defies Cameron:


Germany exposes Tory anti Euro mythology by going through the normal channels without the need for any confrontation or inflammatory rhetoric: “EU migrants can be refused benefits” – ECJ:

Is immigration a reason for Britain to leave the EU? By John Springford  (CER Oct 20132):


David Cameron’s timetable for reform in Europe ‘impossible’ – EU experts cast doubt over prime minister’s ability to secure changes to European law before referendum on membership:

Cameron to leave EU


Looks like Tories just might be about to self distruct

After four years the chickens are coming home to roost.  The Tories went into the last election trying to convince everyone that they were a reformed party – a party for the environment, a caring, compassionate conservatism.  They failed to convince the electorate, did not get a majority and did not win the election. (They have not won a general election for more than 20 years). However, with the support of the Lib Dems, the Tories ditched their manifesto promises and implemented a set of catastrophic policies that are doing lasting damage to our country.   Most of those policies were not in their manifesto, are not based on evidence or reasoned debate, have no electoral mandate and are based on simple minded, delusional, right wing ideology supported by a media prepared to disseminate lies and propaganda .   Those policies are now falling apart and we see the nasty party for what it is.

In particular, Lynton Crosby’s influence was always going to be poisonous and the articles below give a flavour of the effect of his influence.

David Cameron clearly stands for nothing apart from winning the next election- he has no vision and no morals – a PR man and nothing else.

Reality always trumps ideology and you can’t fool all the people all the time, so things were bound to start going wrong but with Lynton Crosby in the background the fall out might be quite spectacular.


UPDATE 28th August:  The Tories’ attempt to out ukip UKIP was always going to fail:

Net migration to UK soars to 243,000:

Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP:




Snubbed ministers to ‘rough up’ PM:

David Cameron will LOSE election blasts Ken Clarke after Tory spin doctors ‘attempted to silence him’:

No 10 lied to BBC to keep me off-air, says Ken Clarke:

And also see: You won’t hear the Chancellor boasting about the biggest drop in living standards since the war:

Chasing the Ukip vote could kill the Conservative Party, claims Tory moderniser, Lord (Daniel) Finkelstein:



When Lynton Crosby was first appointed, our local MP, John Glen, tweeted the message below.  I wonder if John is regretting his enthusiasm yet.

John Glen Lynton Crosby










Is John Glen MP still enthusiastic about Lynton Crosby?:


John Glen MP: It’s time to take party politics out of the food bank debate

John Glen, MP for Salisbury, has received some favourable comments for his call to take party politics out of the food bank debate (See Guardian article here and his own Conservative Home article here.  But this damascene conversion to the virtues of evidence based, rational, non partisan debate is pretty galling given his own party’s track record. 

Continue reading “John Glen MP: It’s time to take party politics out of the food bank debate”