John Glen MP on Barclays Libor Scandal

John Glen MP on Barclays Libor ScandalI cannot let this disappointing Tweet from our local MP John Glen go without comment. He made it on the day of the House of Commons debate about the Barclays / Libor debacle during which there was a pretty unedifying display of the kind of partisan, point scoring, shouting and insults that the public finds so disconcerting about our politicians. It was also the day after the Select Committee comprehensively demonstrated, with their pathetically inadequate questioning of Bob Diamond, that a parliamentary inquiry into the LIBOR scandal would be totally ineffective .

The facts and evidence are clear, deregulation and liberalisation of the City of London and the glorification of the greed is good culture, started with Margaret Thatcher and her neolibertarian colleagues supported by the powerful lobbying strength of the banks.  They were followed by Blair and Brown and New Labour who just as enthusiastically followed the neolibertarian route of light touch regulation (lax regulation) and yielding to the lobbying power of the City Institutions. Meanwhile Osborne and the Tories were cheer-leading for the process, criticising New Labour for not going far enough in ridding the city of  regulation.  Clearly both major parties are up to their necks in blame for where we are to day – the evidence for this is incontrovertible.

In response to John Glen’s Tweet I would suggest that what the public wants is for our politicians to forget their petty party political squabbles and put the interest of the country first.  The level of corruption, greed and clinical delusion in the city threatens the livelihood and well being of everyone of us, not least the poor people who work for the high street banks and other retail sectors of the financial industry and who are blameless*, but like the rest of us are suffering the consequences.    (* except those who helped with the miss selling of PPIs and other dodgy financial products)

Yes the public want action – we want the Vicker’s commission recommendations to be implemented in full (not the watered down Osborn version), with a complete separation between High Street Banks and casino banking (rejected by Osborn) and we don’t want to wait until 2019 (another Osborne sop to the City).

We then want an independent enquiry into the whole financial mess in the vain hope that we can turn our brains on and avoid  this all happening again.

NB: The narrow point that John Glen was making about Ed Balls, based presumably on the Osborn allegation that Balls interfered in the Libor rate at the height of the financial panic (since retracted by Osborn’s office) seems to be a pretty weak criticism.  Ed Ball’s interference would have been in an attempt to save the financial industry in general and Barclays in particular from total collapse.  It is crystal clear that Ball’s and Osborn’s behaviour towards the City would have been the same – any suggestion that Osborn would have regulated the City anymore effectively is risible.

Always Ask a Banker to Put the Lie in Writing (Bloomberg)

Revealed: The £93m City lobby machine

The revolving door between the City and Government:

Here is yet another example of the revolving door between regulator and regulated

Trade Minister Stephen Green and HSBC

One in six peers have paid links to financial services industry

Marcus Agius, Chairman of Barclays Bank, is also Honorary Chairman of BBA which is responsible for the London interbank lending rate.

Marcus Agius, Chairman of Barclays Bank, responsible for fiddling the LIBOR (London interbank lending rate) is also Honorary Chairman of the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the  trade body, which oversees the setting of the LIBOR.  He is also Chairman of the Board of Corporate Governance and Chairman of the committee for brand and Reputation.  (I wonder how much he is paid? Oh silly me, he is also a member of the remuneration committee).

Angela Knight of the BBA gave a very subdued performance when interview by Jon Snow (Channel 4 News – see clip here) I guess we won’t see Marcus being interviewed by Jon Snow anytime soon and I expect the BBA will be trying to keep a low profile and blame it all on the “regulatory authorities” i.e anyone but them.

Belatedly the BBA has called for Government review of Libor powers. But the BBA must have known for years what was going on, everyone else did. It is staggering dishonesty for it to try to blame others for its own failure to act with any degree of honesty or integrity:
ttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9363160/BBA-calls-for-Government-review-of-Libor-powers.html

Here is Marcus Aguis’ Biography from the BBA web site:

Marcus Agius – Honorary Chairman British Bankers’ Association

Marcus joined the Board of Barclays on 1 September 2006 as a non-executive Director and was appointed as Group Chairman from 1 January 2007.

Marcus’ extensive background in banking began at Lazard where he worked from 1972 to 2006, latterly as Chairman of Lazard in London and Deputy Chairman of Lazard LLC. He was Chairman of BAA plc until 2006 and is currently Senior Independent Director of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Chairman of the Trustees of The Royal Botanic Gardens. Marcus is also Chairman of the British Bankers’ Association and a member of the Advisory Council of TheCityUK.

Marcus is Chairman of the Board Corporate Governance and Nominations Committee, a member of the Board HR and Remuneration Committee and Chairman of the Brand and Reputation Committee.

Source for text above: http://www.bba.org.uk/about-us/contacts

Angela Knight interview:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga6FX7fVdMI

BBA LIBOR:
http://www.bbalibor.com/governance

Niall Ferguson BBC Reith Lecture: The Darwinian Economy

Here is a good response to Niall Ferguson’s second Reith Lecture.  It appeared in the BBC Reith lecture comments here and I have posted it below:

At  26th Jun 2012, Alex wrote:

First of all Niall Ferguson does not mention that salaries in the US have not gone up since 1973 and that for the past decades Americans have been dependent on ever cheaper Chinese imports and on the rise of property prices which allowed them to remortgage their houses annually. In fact it is estimated that the remortgaging of their homes pumped in 4 trillion dollars annually into their economy. So when the property crash happened suddenly many of the American’s income were dramatically reduced.

Now take Germany in the nineties and the reunion, and see how Germany coped with this challenge. See how it managed to be an world economic leader with I believe has no deficit, but with a great welfare system. Look at Finland that was in dire straits in 1992 and today also has an excellent welfare system and a AAA credit rating. Sweden is the fastest growing economy in Europe. Now, each one can draw their own conclusions.

Countries usually grow out of debt, although cuts need be made, growth should always be the main objective, and the Tea Party folks never argue about fair pay, it seems they want the boss to get all the money because: “he/she is more developed according to Darwinian law , and therefore deserves so” All these Darwinian hypotheses smack of racism, classism and offer some a feeling of entitlement to be greedy and exploit people’s labour for very little.

Michael Gove – Rupert Murdoch’s Secretary of State for Education

Michael Gove’s only credentials are that he is an ex News International Journalist and unashamed cheerleader for Rupert Murdoch. And yet he is single handedly promoting, without any debate or reference to evidence or rational thought, a stream of barmy ideas apparently based on the simple criteria that if we did it in the 50’s it must be good.

The latest examples are ‘Gove’ levels which seem to be a case of Michael Gove making up his own policy without consulting even his own colleagues and we also have the new Primary National Curriculum where experts were consulted but did not come up with the right answers so again Gove just made it up – and a shocking mess he made he made too – see here.

Here is a full list of links summarising the background to this educational disaster:

Michael Gove’s own experts revolt over ‘punitive’ model for curriculum – Education secretary has been bypassing the panel set up to advise on reforms, claim senior members:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jun/17/michael-gove-national-curriculum?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Gove’s crazy O Level plans:
http://www.mikebakereducation.co.uk/blog/446/goves-crazy-o-level-plans

Michael Gove – Rupert Murdoch’s Secretary of State for Education:
http://followersoftheapocalyp.se/spinning-a-story-gove-klein-becta-cameron-and

Private school chain faces Michael Gove inquiry on whistleblower claims – Multimillion-pound group run by ex-Ofsted chief Chris Woodhead at centre of pension fraud and commercial espionage allegations:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jun/10/woodhead-schools-firm-pensions-probe?CMP=twt_gu

Michael Gove aides destroyed government emails – what are they hiding??:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9120506/Michael-Gove-aides-destroyed-government-emails.html

Letter to Michael Rosen from Pie Corbett re Draft Primary English Curriculum:
http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/letter-to-me-from-pie-corbett-re-draft.html?m=1

Would you want Rupert Murdoch running your kids school??:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/apr/25/rupert-murdoch-michael-gove-free-schools

Michael Gove – cheerleader for Rupert Murdoch:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/may/29/michael-gove-rupert-murdoch

Murdoch had/has at least three men in the cabinet, Cameron, Hunt and Gove:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rupert-murdoch-is-a-great-man-says-michael-gove-7800683.html

The phone hacking scandal messed up this little plan:
http://followersoftheapocalyp.se/spinning-a-story-gove-klein-becta-cameron-and

Michael Gove gets under Leveson’s skin:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18257958

Why do we allow Murdoch, an unelected, non UK citizen who does not pay UK income tax to have any influence on our education system – are we bonkers??
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/26/schools-crusade-gove-murdoch

More information on the influence of Klien, Murdoch and Gove on our education system:
http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/tag/rupert-murdoch/
The next big scandal – Phonics and the involvement of private providers?:
http://www.keystone-education.co.uk/2011/06/matched-funding-for-approved-phonics-schemes-some-thoughts/

Michael Gove, member and adviser to the dodgy Atlantic Bridge group of neo conservatives, neolibertarians,  and tea party wing nuts set up by that nice man Liam Fox: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/oct/15/liam-fox-atlantic-bridge

You couldn’t make it up – Murdoch comments on ignorant vicious abuse and social decay.

Here is an amusingly ironic Tweet from the person who has had such a devastating effect on public life and debate. He has been responsible (with the complicity of most of our leading politicians) for the corruption of our political system from Margaret Thatcher to the present day. His newspapers and TV Channel, Fox News, have  had a significant, probably pivotal, role in undermining public debate and have encouraged, by example, a level of ignorant, vicious,  abuse that has had a serious and negative effect on the quality of government.

This Tweet must go in the “you couldn’t make it up” category. It is quite clear that Murdoch actually believes what he has written which must make him clinically delusional.  (Does Murdoch watch Fox News or read the Sun??)

Jon Snow managed to say all the above and more, with real impact and in just ten words, using a biblical quotation – brilliant.

Murdoch / Jon Snow Tweet

“Only the little people pay tax”

“We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay tax” this is what millionairess Leona Helmsley said when she was caught fiddling her tax in 1989.  Things haven’t changed – this attitude seems to pervade the ranks of those who are paid more than they know how to spend.  The current government, full of inherited wealth, is really keen and enthusiastic about taking fast and ruthless action to root out ‘benefit scroungers’ and ‘feckless lazy council house tenants’. But when it comes to doing something about the much larger amounts lost to tax evasion and the pernicious corrupting effect of tax havens they suddenly become very cautious.   So much for “We are all in this together”  the evidence suggests that in reality they also believe that “Its only the little people who pay tax.”   Take a look at these:

Civil servant tax claims: Danny Alexander orders review (Special deals for high earning civil servants)

There’s one rule for the rich and another for everyone else

Dave-Harnett-to-step-down-from-HMRC Dave Harntettt chief at HMRC walks away with a comfortable pension having done his best to ensure that “only the little people pay taxes”

Update:  Government embarrassed into action:  Student Loans chief  ‘to pay tax at source’ like the rest of us.

The loopholes which destroy HMRC’s claim that Swiss tax deal will see a £4-7bn Treasury windfall

Iain Duncan Smith Urges Bishops To Back Off

We’ve have had a weekend of the Tories shamefully spinning the facts on immigration and benefits, now this:

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) has hit out at bishops trying to block his welfare reforms, accusing them of ignoring the concerns of ordinary people.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, he acknowledged that his plans to limit the total payments any household can receive could face defeat in the House of Lords on Monday.

“The question I’d ask these bishops is, over all these years, why have they sat back and watched people being placed in houses they cannot afford? It’s not a kindness,” he said. The question the Bishops might ask is why did successive governments sit back and watch house prices rise, driven by an out of control, clearly self destructive, free market, to levels where ordinary hard working people could not afford to live in ordinary houses in the same area as their job, family and friends?  Why did successive governments do nothing about providing affordable housing for all those hard working families who cannot make ends meet regardless of how hard they work simply because their wages are too low?

“I would like to see their concerns about ordinary people, who are working hard, paying their tax and commuting long hours, who don’t have as much money as they would otherwise because they’re paying tax for all of this. Where is the bishops’ concern for them?  Well the Bishops might ask why do these poor ordinary hard working people have to pay tax to subsidise owners of buy to let properties because let’s remember that’s were the money goes.  In addition, perhaps the Bishops are concerned that these ordinary people are paying a higher percentage in tax than many of the property developers who benefit from the income from high rents but live abroad for half the year to avoid paying a fair tax.

“I would like to see a more balanced response from the bishops.  Perhaps the Bishops actually want critical analysis based on facts, evidence and rational thought.

“It’s all very well for the bishops to express a political opinion, but I would love them to ask about the poor people on low incomes who are working hard, whose families share rooms, who are doing the right thing.” I think that is exactly what the Bishops are concerned about i.e. families who have lived in the same area / village for generations but who are priced out of their village  by  free market houses prices, grotesquely inflated by second and third home buyers. Then there are people who want to live near their work because they cannot afford to travel far but are priced out of the area  by people whose earnings are so high that they do not have enough to spend their money on.

With Liberal Democrat peers expected to vote against the plan in the Lords, Mr Duncan Smith acknowledged the result could come down to the independent “crossbenchers”, including the bishops.  Let’s hope the Lib Dems demonstrate some critical and independent thinking – it seems to be more than can be expected from their colleagues in the House of Commons.

“My sense is that unless I can persuade them that they’re in the wrong place on this one, which they are, then they might be tempted to vote against it. It’s down to the crossbenchers,” he saidI think it is pretty obvious that whatever way the Bishops vote they will not be persuaded by such a flawed set of arguments as those given by Ian Duncan Smith. I suspect the Bishops are more adept at critical thinking than IDS assumes. Finally, I think IDS overlooked the possibility that the Bishops might exhibit a little Christian humanity.

Text above in black taken from: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/22/iain-duncan-smith-urges-bishops-to-back_n_1221715.html?ref=uk (accessed 22nd Jan 2012)

Text above in red italics is my own.

Post script: My knowledge of the Bible may be a little rusty and please correct me if I am wrong but unless you are an Old Testament fundamentalist, the teachings of Jesus Christ and the new testament would seem to make it mandatory that Bishops involve themselves in politics, the welfare of their parishioners and fairness and justice in society.  Who else should lead the way in over turning the tables of the money changers??

Further, given Iain Duncan Smith’s history regarding tax payer funded expenses it might be worthwhile asking him to cap his own tax payer funded benefits at the same rate he is setting for the Housing Benefits Cap.

Here are some quotes from Edinburgh Eye:

Iain Duncan Smith believes that after one year off, cancer patients should be able to get back to work, and that those “with a certain level of income” should know that state support will not be “open-ended”.

In 2009, Betsy Duncan Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer. During that year Iain Duncan Smith took those six months off work to care for his wife. In 2009/10, the same year in which Iain Duncan Smith took six months out of Parliament, he received an MP’s salary of £64,766. While IDS thinks that people in their sad situation – partner with cancer, other partner able to do some work from home but not able to go to their main place of work – should not receive “open-ended” support, he doesn’t seem to have grasped that to most of them, a guaranteed income of £64,766 would look pretty damned open-ended, compared to what they do get.

Just £64,766 a year would by itself put IDS in the top 10% of the population (discounting his wife’s personal wealth as that’s not a matter of public record, though her estimated wealth puts her in the top 1%).

But though £64,766 is nearly two and a half times the £26,000 that Iain Duncan Smith says ought to be the absolute limit that a family can receive from the state, it’s not all IDS gets. In 2008/09, he claimed £98,077 in expenses.  So in total, in one year, IDS claimed from the state (i.e from all those hardworking tax payers) well over six times what he says a family ought to get.  (IDS is a multimillionaire and has the benefit of his wife’s inherited wealth – hence they have a two million pound home in Buckinghamshire)

Please go to: Edinburgh Eye for more on this story.

The Hidden Housing Crisis – an impending disaster

It looks like people are finally paying attention to the government’s Health & Social Care Bill – let’s hope it’s not too late.

According to independent and objective comparisons, the NHS is one of the most successful health care systems on the planet. This is despite political interference and persistent underfunding for most of its existence.  Just think how much more successful the NHS would have been if it had been consistently funded at the same level as comparable countries and had politician’s efforts simply gone into further improvements in care and eliminating the undoubted problems that exist.

The government’s Health and Social Care Bill is hugely complex, making it very difficult for ordinary people to understand the consequences. However, finally, it is becoming clear that the proposals:

  • remove the Duty of the Secretary of State to secure and provide comprehensive health care
  • will result in a top down, hugely expensive and complex reorganisation of the NHS that was not in any party election manifesto
  • are already having a negative influence on service provision and waiting times
  • do not address any of the real issues, particularly how we cope with an ageing population
  • are designed to privatise the provision of services and encourage the profitable parts of the service to be taken over by international health care companies who will make decisions that prioritise their shareholder’s interests and will channel huge sums of tax payers’ money into their profits and CEO bonuses.  (Many of these companies already have a disastrous track record)
  • will lead to a US style health care system led by and for the benefit of insurance and private health care companies

If you doubt any of the above, please do your own research.  But beware of what is clearly double speak and spin from the Health Minister and from organisations that stand to benefit handsomely from the proposals.  We desperately need decisions based on facts, evidence and rational debate. If we care about the NHS we need to pay attention and get involved – it will soon be too late and there will be no going back.

Essential reading for anyone who cares about the NHS: http://bit.ly/z8X7Ge

Here is a set of short video clip from Dr Hamish Meldrum  (Chair of the BMA at the Save our NHS rally): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpC9Ug-rLcI&feature=related

David Owen on the NHS Bill (at the Save our NHS Rally): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx0sJtCtXJw&feature=related

“it will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it. A short speech by  Clive Peedell, co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association – someone with faith and prepared to fight.

Time to pull the plug on this unloved health bill – Deliberately or not, the NHS is being set up for failure:http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/01/health-bill-nhs-private-care

An interesting article: Will the health bill increase private activity in the NHS?:http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2012/jan/19/health-bill-private-patients

The Health Service is being privatised! I don’t remember voting for that, was there a referendum?

Cost of NHS reorganisation and the rise in Waiting Lists: http://www.dropthebill.net/news Why isn’t this in the news????

“The health bill will create ‘genuine opportunities’ for the private sector to take over large chunks of the NHS”, the health minister in charge of steering the reform bill through the House of Lords claimed.  Former banker Lord Howe told an audience of private sector providers that though the NHS ‘will not give up their patients easily’, there were opportunities for those wishing to ‘enter the fray’.  ‘The Pulse’, Jan 2012

Bad science concerning NHS competition is being used to support the controversial Health and Social Care Bill

“370,000 migrants on the dole”

“370,000 migrants on the dole”

This is a Daily Telegraph headline for an article based on this DWP report .  However if you bother to read the report you will see that the headline massively distorts the contents of the report and either of the following headlines might have been more appropriate.

“DWP Report shows a staggeringly LOW rate of benefit fraud by ‘foreign nationals’”

“Immigrants claim far less in Benefits than UK Nationals”

Here (“370,000 migrants on the dole. Really?“) is an alternative interpretation of the report which seems to be based on the actual data.  (Please let me know if there are any flaws in this interpretation.)

Chris Graying and Damian Green have already written an article in the Telegraph in which they pursue their previously exposed habit of distorting facts and figures to create a narrative that is totally unsupported by the evidence.  Their dishonesty beggars belief and these are two government ministers.  As I write this, many others will be writing similar follow up articles for the right wing press in which they will endeavour to smear and vilify all “immigrants”  as work shy benefit scroungers – all of this based on no evidence whatsoever.

Instead of directing their venom at immigrants, whose only crime is that they had the initiative and gumption to get off their back sides and try to make  a better life for themselves in another country (just like many Brits have done in the past), the ‘Alf Garnetts’ of the tabloids should be directing their criticism where it belongs, at successive British governments both Labour and Tory who have failed to develop a coherent immigration policy.  If immigration has been haphazard, poorly planned, and ill prepared, it is the politicians that should be blamed, perhaps that’s why they are so busy trying to deflect the blame.

Both immigration and welfare need reforming but this must be based on open public debate based on facts and evidence not made up stories and propaganda  from the tabloid press and government ministers with little acquaintance with honest debate.

Here is another must read article if you want a more balanced view of the issues. It comes from two members of the Labour party who must share the blame for New Labour’s disastrous inability to take the lead in getting to grips with immigration policy, however their contribution in this article is infinitely more useful than that of Grayling and Green) :

Chris Bryant and Stephen Timms: Grayling and Green are using dodgy statistics

Here is another rebuttal this time from OpenDemocracy – well worth reading.

And another:  A shameful spinning of the facts on immigration – In fact, the Government statistics debunk the myth of ‘benefits tourism

I would be interested in the comments of anyone who can give evidence that undermines any of the above.

The Health Service is being privatised! I don’t remember voting for that, was there a referendum?

Government ministers have such close ties with the private health care industry in Britain, America and Europe that it verges on legalised corruption.  The previous Labour government started the process of allowing private health care providers a central role in planning the privatisation of health care. Now the current Conservative Government has enthusiastically escalated the rate at which the NHS is being privatised.  What is happening now will soon be irreversible. It was not in the Labour, Lib Dem or  Conservative Party manifestos  – there is no democratic mandate and yet it is happening now, they are not waiting for the current Health & Social Care Bill to be passed.  Here is some of the evidence:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrb3rJoLu9g&feature=youtube_gdata_player

http://www.powerbase.info/index.php/Health_Portal

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n18/james-meek/its-already-happened

http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/allysonpollock

http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/article-the-plot-against-the-nhs-opendemocrac

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/colin-leys/plot-against-nhs