Friday, 30 December 2016

How Government Does What's Right

Is Britain bankrupt? We all know in the back of our minds that the national debt is huge and it's rising inexorably, even if the deficit comes down in tiny increments the debt continues to rise and not slowly. Some propaganda from certain parties tells us 'this is a rich country, we can afford...' whatever it is that party wants money spent on.

Truth is we cling to this idea that we're one of the world's great powers whilst getting deeper in debt, devaluing our currency and with overseas relations and trade facing more challenges than a polar bear without ice.

One of the results is no money for local authorities, who, like the NHS trust car parks, use ever more devious ways to separate people from their hard earned money. An elderly couple on our street needed a ramp for wheelchair access in the last months of their lives. The local authority kindly said they would put one in for EIGHT THOUSAND pounds.

A commercial firm, presumably making an honest profit did the job for one thousand, seven hundred pounds. And you thought government was there to serve the people? Maybe you also thought Europe was the problem, maybe you should think again.

All you can really do is try and take care of yourself until sanity returns.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Mrs May's Real Christmas Message

That nice Mrs May gave us all a Christmas message about coming together and uniting. Who does she think she is? We already have an un-elected head of state and her Christmas message was somewhat more inspiring.

If Mrs May wants us to come together she had better show some leadership, stop representing fifty two percent of the population only, pay some attention to the sixteen million, one hundred thousand plus who are angry at the lies and destruction, the devaluing of the pound at a time of burgeoning national debt, the threat to human and workers rights and the social pariah status of the UK in Europe.

While she's at it she could get rid of the blatantly dishonest Foreign Secretary and the rest of his ilk. Her message actually is cave in and be controlled.

Independent thinkers might want to consider this!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

You Were Cute, But Inappropriate

Wonder Woman, originally a superhero from a comic and later a childrens', (I imagine anyway, it can't have been for adults can it?) TV show, is to be sacked as the UN ambassador for women, but not until Friday. I don't know what she will achieve in these last two days of Aleppo's suffering.

The UN has lost its way, and not recently in my view. It has spread disease through negligence and claimed diplomatic immunity, it has failed utterly to protect the vulnerable in many places and is powerless in creating a peaceful world. It needs to start over with a constitution written for the post Cold War world.

Members of the ridiculously named Security Council are the biggest sellers of arms in the world and the most likely to use them, in person or by proxy. It is not just Wonder Woman who needs to get the sack!

Time for a brave new world if ever there was one.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Says Mrs May, You Can Pay, While Boris Plays

Care homes and the care system generally is in crisis we are told. There's probably quite a lot of truth in that even if it does vary in intensity by region. Don't worry though, Mrs May's government has just given you permission to pay for it to get fixed.

The funding gap can be traced back to Gordon Brown's debt which we cannot really service, let alone pay down. He also attacked pensions, making it much tougher for people who would like to, to pay for their own care. That would be a socialist Chancellor and Prime Minister supporting ordinary folk.

One of the steps the Tories took to try and get the debt under control was to cut funding to local authorities. Maybe they thought that would also see an end to local authority waste. I'm no fan of politicians and local politicians could be the only thing worse than national politicians, but in this case I have a small, make that tiny, degree of sympathy. That's because government mandates things local authorities MUST do, but it doesn't want the bill thank you very much.

There is no money in this country, or any other, besides that which the people create. A country may be rich in natural resources but people have to extract the ore, oil, minerals and make them into something, it may have fertile land, but someone must farm it. Politicians produce NOTHING.

What they are supposed to do is create the conditions in which we can all flourish and produce the wealth we all need. Unfortunately they're not very good at it and they're not very honest. Many of the elderly people needing care will have believed that millions of pounds every week would be coming back from Europe; not that the debt would be hugely harder to service due to the inevitable drop in the value of pound. Or that we would see the return of inflation. Well done Boris.

And so it is that Mrs May has just given councils the power to raise more, from us, in council tax. And if you think you'd like to retire somewhere else and not pay UK council tax, well, that right is about to be stripped away too. You can stay here till you rot and die in penury and they still won't have got rid of the debt, or sorted the care system.

There is a minimum age for voting, there should be a maximum, they can take my vote away at seventy I wouldn't give a fig, people who won't be affected should possibly leave the decisions to those who will be affected. Drive me into unnecessary poverty by seventy and I will be upset.

They should raise the age at which a person can run for Parliament though. Leaving university with a degree in politics might help you understand the system, but you need life experience and better yet business experience and acumen too. Otherwise you'll likely make things worse not better.

Strangely we still have the borrowed money for American made nuclear weapons. Many countries do not indulge; one wonders how their citizens sleep at night, and yet they seem to. Boris and May will stick with the programme because they believe we're one of the 'great powers' and we have a seat on the UN security council. We can convene a meeting! The people of Syria must be thrilled.

Given the uncertainty of the times, you may want to make Christmas pay for itself. Don't click the link if you voted for Brexit I'd like to help the responsible people. Thank You.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Boris Comes To Heel

Isn't it great to have a Secretary Of State For Foreign Affairs, to give him his full grandiose title, who is unfailingly honest, has a strong moral compass and always does what is right - for Boris Johnson.
I refer of course to the fact that Boris has responded, under Mrs May's heel, now there's an image for you, and come to the brave conclusion, especially courageous while he's in Saudi Arabia in person, that so long as the Saudis' buy their weapons from Britain then it must be morally correct to use them on their neighbours. It's ok to ignore human rights, starve women and children, all that good stuff, so long as the money goes towards reducing the UK's enormous debt. Which it isn't, but it is making a modest contribution towards preventing it from growing quite so jolly fast.

Console yourself it's Christmas and support this blog here!

Friday, 9 December 2016

A Toast To Gina Miller

Gina Miller had the courage to take the government to court. No mean thing on its own. She has described herself as the most unpopular woman in the country and has, wisely in the light of the Jo Cox murder, hired bodyguards. Well, Brexit does attract the nutcases to its cause and given the rhetoric I have to believe the Brexit campaign purposely grandstanded to them.

So, Gina Miller, I for one salute you, you are not unpopular with more than sixteen million Remain voters I shouldn't think and you should not be unpopular with Brexit voters who actually understand the constitutional considerations. I wonder how many of those there are.

Brexit itself already hands huge powers back to Westminster, abolishing all those checks and balances Europe created. However, by allowing the cabinet, appointed and controlled by the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 on its own, then the power we would be handing to one person by creating such a precedent would in fact be pretty worrying. To me anyway. Medieval Royal Prerogative be damned.

Mrs May has already shown us what she thinks of the human rights of Yemenis and Shias this week. Even if the Supreme Court upholds the High Court's wise decision the government will rush a bill through and cowardly MPs cowed by the referendum, as false as it was, will see it through. No way back Brexit will probably be held up not at all. A hollow victory then. No, not entirely, in constitutional terms a very important thing indeed.

What could hold up Brexit is which decision the court comes to regarding the devolved rights of Scotland and Northern Ireland in particular. Wales of course inexplicably voted for Brexit, despite the huge funding it gets from Europe, then immediately and fittingly started bleating about not losing a single penny please, to be replaced from the coffers of debt ridden England.

The Supreme Court decision will not be until January, so, in the meantime if you're still thinking about Christmas gifts...

Thursday, 8 December 2016

British Principles? Not in May

Now that we're leaving the EU with its emphasis on decency and human rights our principled Prime Minister is on a whistle stop tour of the Gulf States, united in their disavowal of human rights, so that we can continue, maybe even increase our arms sales. So that countries like Saudi Arabia, which don't even allow women to drive and where kids can be tortured and executed can bomb neighbouring Yemen and starve yet more innocent people.

Britain has abandoned its standards and lost its way. The sight of Mrs May flirting with Arab leaders is about as degrading as it gets. Opportunist and preferring expediency over ethics Mrs May is #notmyprimeminister and certainly not a citizen of the world. Something she is proud of apparently. She would do well NOT to embroil us in the Sunni Shia schism, but that fact seems to have passed her by too.

While the rest of the world turns to retail therapy, why not sell them something other than weapons!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Mrs May, The New Star Of Batman

That nice Mrs May, our opportunist, un-elected Prime Minister might best be compared with The Riddler from Batman. 'Brexit means Brexit' and 'a red, white and blue Brexit', what a load of old twaddle. Grow up woman or leave the stage, you'll get what you're given and you know it.

On a happier note, turn your hobbies to your advantage and forget The Riddler for now!

Friday, 2 December 2016

You Thought 2016 Was Shocking? Now Here's A Thought!

Did Mrs May promise to unite a divided country or did I dream it? For a politician you ignore sixteen million plus people at your peril, even if seventeen million plus want something else they've been lied to about. Bye bye NHS, hello loneliness, the best that I can get. Mrs May hasn't just ignored forty eight per cent of us, in fact she's dismissed us and trampled on our beliefs at every opportunity. That then is the face of unity in Britain.

So, finally some good news; the people of Richmond have said that the sixteen million plus people with some common sense should still have a voice and they've elected a Lib Dem MP in place of silver spoon in mouth Zac Goldsmith. The Tories chose not to divide the Tory tendency by opposing Zac and it gives them the opportunity to claim they didn't run, but truth be told the last thing they wanted was a Lib Dem victory. Well done Sarah Olney.

I cannot imagine what gave Zac the idea that he could identify with enough Londoners to become mayor, lets hope this is the end of his political career once and for all. Zac resigned and prompted the by-election, confident that he would be re-elected as an independent, another miscalculation.

Our rabid media want Brexit for reasons best known to themselves, the power of propaganda should never be underestimated, but bear in mind it took a lot less than sixteen million one hundred thousand votes to get Cameron into number 10. If those who want a joined up, cooperative and peaceful world vote Liberal everywhere there's a chance for a common sense, middle ground government at some stage in the next few years. Hell, we'll even welcome Brexit voters who've seen it for what it truly is.

The problem with the referendum, well, one of them, was that a leave vote leaves no way back, a remain vote would have left the media and the Trump, Farage, Murdoch level of intelligentsia braying for another one sooner or later and probably ad infinitum. If I was the leader of just one of the other twenty seven I'd veto everything until the time runs out and let Britain fall off the cliff, that's all it would take.

Brexit voters voted for something intangible, they don't know what they'll get, so by extension they don't really know what they want. They don't even entirely know what they don't want since they all have different opinions on the EU and what they think is wrong with it. Given that particular situation they will be divided, to coin a phrase they will remain divided, as divided as a UKIP leadership contest. 

The best hope for Britain's future is that WE all come together as one behind the Lib Dems and really give British politics and our un-elected Prime Minister a genuine, feel the earth move under their feet SHOCK.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Which Way Do You Want It Mr Carney?

Mark Carney and The Bank Of England are suddenly worried about unsustainable levels of household debt. They're right, too much debt is a problem for families, just as it is for nations, looks like we have a double whammy as they say.

Given the intelligence of the recent referendum, people being silly isn't a big surprise. HOWEVER, with its quantitative easing and continual interest rate cuts the Bank Of England encouraged people to spend, to keep the economy buoyant AND disincentivised saving.

If you now want people to stop borrowing and start saving then raise interest rates, inflation is on its way back anyway. Of course those who have already borrowed too much will scream and shout, but if you do nothing the credit boom will continue. Your choice Mr Carney, for now.

Individuals can be creative about making money though, maybe give it a go!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Mrs May Won't Help So Help Yourself

Independent assessments of yesterdays Autumn statement suggest very strongly that living standards will be squeezed. No doubt about that. One thing the government is right about is that UK productivity needs to improve and what little investment they've made is aimed to help that. It may prove too little too late, but it is actually more sensible than giving it away as welfare.

Mrs May's fine words when she took unelected office were of course baloney. She embraced Brexit because it made political sense in a selfish sense, whatever happens next she made it to the top job, bully for her.

Many of those who voted for Brexit were the worst off and the disillusioned, it is the 30% who are the least well off who will feel the pain most. Unfortunately the sixteen million, one hundred and forty one thousand, two hundred and forty one people who aren't to blame will feel it too. Not only that but their voices are being ignored. A substantial minority if ever there was one.

Labour refuse to admit to the glaring errors of the Blair Brown years and Brexit voters will be loath to blame their error for their suffering, it's human nature, it's always someone else's fault. Productivity is a key, so get creative if you want to help, here is one way you can do something for yourself rather than making sacrifices such as giving up your hobbies.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Whisper It And Shudder

Philip Hammond delivered his autumn statement today, long speculated about it was an admission of failure. He delivered it with gravitas and a degree of humour and as politicians do with the odd lie thrown in, such as calling the continuing freeze on fuel duty increases, a cut in taxation.

Politicians behave like idiots in the house, we saw that again today, and treat us like idiots with much of what they say; the lack of an increase is not a cut and although in their eyes it is, that still doesn't excuse it. Actually it is illuminating about the mindset of those who would govern rather than serve.

Mrs May, not my Prime Minister, has made much about what she calls JAMs, the just about managing, and reducing the taper on 'in work benefits' so you now lose just 63p per extra pound you earn, if 'just' is the right word, rather than 65p, is a move which will doubtless see the JAMs celebrating wildly in the streets.

The rising personal allowance, creeping up annually to above £12,000 ultimately is an excellent idea, one I've long argued for and which I discussed with Nick Clegg a very long time back. After all, who can house themselves, clothe themselves, feed themselves, pay utility bills and have any kind of life or security in modern Britain on less than a thousand pounds a month?

Taxing people before they've earned enough to live, then giving it back in benefits is mad, wasteful and insulting. The rising personal threshold isn't a new announcement and it was a Liberal idea not a Tory idea.

There were announcements about investing in productivity, technology and infrastructure. All to the good, but as a proportion of our gross domestic product still pathetically low. The reasons for that are uncertainty and debt, not necessarily in that order.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell made much of the figures amounting to an admission of failure and gave a moving and eloquent blast of hot air about the JAMs and the health service. The idea that he and Labour, spending incontinents that they are, could save our economy is laughable.

The national debt looks highly likely to rise to two trillion pounds by the end of the decade, whisper it and shudder. It was slightly less than one trillion when the Tories took over from Gordon blow it all Brown, but the die was cast. Such huge debts are a lead weight pulling us down, we need an annual surplus to reduce it not an annual deficit and when will that happen? Labour of course want to increase borrowing, increase the deficit and accelerate the rate at which the debt grows. They call that caring about people.

The Tory target to begin paying it down with a small annual surplus was 2015, then it was put back to 2020, now it's just 'as soon as possible', not good enough. Growth forecasts have been revised downwards, well, I'm no fan of forecasts, but given negotiations, if you can call them that, will start with our neighbours next year reducing growth forecasts to 1.4 and 1.7% does look pretty sensible on the face of it. Millions voted for it, it's only the millions who voted the other way who no longer have a voice.

What have we got to negotiate with? Sure our market is important to a point, but our spending power is greatly reduced and we want access to twenty seven other markets, no, it is they who hold the cards and that will come home to people when, and only when, it's too damn late to change course.

Take note, US and German productivity is 30% better than ours. For all their workers rights and holidays French productivity is 20% better than ours, Italian productivity is 8% better than ours and last time I looked Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari were Italian owned. British owned car companies anyone? Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, MG perhaps, Mini no.

Interest rates are at a record low, helps some hinders others, like the responsible savers and so a new bond has been announced, you can invest a whole £3000, tie it up for three years and get a whopping 2.2%, that, I imagine, will have the savers hanging out the bunting with the Brexiteers, anyone who's trying to save now remember paying 17% on their mortgage?

Better Hammond than McDonnell although a drowning man struggling to survive might do better to let death come and that appears to be the choice.

Spend now for tomorrow it'll be gone!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Of Frying Pans And Fires

Mrs May, not my prime minister, has spoken to the CBI (Confederation Of British Industry) and told them what she thinks they want to hear, no workers on company boards and replacing investment in technology and research when we leave the EU, not that she knows where the money will come from.

Due to the weak pound exports are up and everyone says the scare was all wrong. Mrs May can tell the CBI about her plans for Brexit, although she hasn't really said that much, but what no one, not the media, not the British people seem to have grasped is just how limited her options are. We are the little guy now, twenty seven other countries hold the cards. What they decide about Brexit will be what Brexit is.

Furthermore the knock on effects of the weaker pound take longer to filter through, the cost of raw materials for example and all the food we import. If you voted for chaos, well done, enjoy it, because it will last a while. According to Mrs May change is in the air, she's damn right about that, no mention of frying pans and fires though.

The new Chancellor Mr Hammond has talked about the eye-watering national debt, for once he's right. His autumn statement will be interesting to hear. Already there are petitions demanding no cuts in welfare. The opposition have said they want to spend and spend big to get us back on track. They don't call it spending, they call it investment and they're such experts.

Any investor knows the basic idea is to buy cheap and sell high, shame Gordon Brown didn't get it when he gave away the nation's gold and spent the proceeds, sorry, invested them for the bright future we're enjoying now. Even now politicians take advantage of the fact that so many people do not understand the difference between deficit and debt, sometimes I wonder if they do. The debt cannot rise for ever and ever, there will be a reckoning.

Have fun while you can, make some money and enjoy Christmas!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Not My Foreign Minister, Not My Prime Minister Come To That

In the last few days Britain's most senior 'diplomat' Boris Johnson has offended the Italians, the Germans and the Czechs. The Italians are right they may lose some sales in one market, we lose sales in twenty seven. So just twenty four more nations to offend then Boris. This is what happens when you appoint an opportunist liar to a position of responsibility. Mrs May you do not represent me nor millions of Britons #notmyprimeminister.

At least Christmas is coming.

Monday, 31 October 2016

No Truth, No Justice, Who Cares?

No truth or justice for Orgreave. Miners were beaten with truncheons, excessively and on camera, policemen admit falsifying reports, under orders so to do, but no truth or justice for Orgreave. Innocent men were held and tried, but because they weren't convicted, no truth or justice for Orgreave. So says Amber Rudd, Mrs May's Brexit promoting henchwoman. Well, it helped her career so why do what's right, when as with most politicians you can do what is expedient. Another political disgrace.

At least Christmas is coming!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Nissan And The Noddlers

Two bits of news to celebrate and I would actually prefer to celebrate than be down about things. One, our GDP, that's the gross domestic product of the UK is up, a tiny amount but it's up, especially in relation to post referendum forecasts. The second bit of really good news is that Nissan has announced its intention to build two new models at Sunderland, thus securing the jobs of thousands of workers for some years, both their own workers and others in the supply chain and local economy, so that's great.

Now the caveats. GDP is up because services grew more than expected, unfortunately manufacturing, agriculture and construction are all down, which is serious, especially if you work in one of those sectors rather than banking for example. Another caveat is that the figures are more or less backward looking, that makes them real, but not necessarily a reliable indicator. People are still spending, which you would ordinarily say is a good thing, but the caveat is that personal loans and credit card debt are growing at the fastest rate for thirty years. That's a fragile bubble and nothing to do with a so called metropolitan elite.

Debt's all well and good if you can afford the repayments and are happy to live in the red, personally I think you'd be off your noddle to want to love like that, also it's not so good if your job in manufacturing, agriculture or construction disappears. It's also a problem if historically low interest rates don't last and inflation returns. When I was paying a mortgage, those interest rates briefly peaked at around 17%, 15% lasted quite a while. Add the difference on to your current mortgage and gauge the risk you might be running in an uncertain future.

Even though interest rates are at an historic low, we still see television advertisements for loans at over one thousand percent, which is immoral, dangerous, profiteering from desperation and, much as I don't like to see government dictating prices to businesses, really should be legislated out of existence.

Final caveat on the good news about Nissan is that one has to wonder what Mrs May has promised Nissan, the boss of which company was recently in Downing Street for a private tête-à-tête with her secretiveness herself. Can whatever was promised be delivered if negotiations don't go as one country wants but as twenty seven countries want? Government needs to be even handed and to be seen to be even handed, political meddling always leads to disaster, be it relationships with doctors, education or business. Therefore what Nissan gets, others should get, watch carefully.

I see that the pound has not shot up to previous levels, or even at all, on the back of all this good news, maybe I'm not the only one thinking there's a bigger picture here. For all that well done Nissan.

My gifts for car enthusiasts if you're still spending or looking to Christmas.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Go On Shake Things Up A Bit Richmond

Zac Goldsmith, he of the silver spoon who couldn't connect with Londoners in general has stood down as MP for Richmond prompting a by election where he will stand again as an independent. The Tories won't put anyone up against him to split the vote and let the Liberals in. Labour will run, despite the opposition of some of their own members and MPs; they cannot win Richmond, but might well help rich boy grim get back in.

Goldsmith stood down over the Heathrow expansion decision, a controversy which will run and run. Richmond was heavily in favour of Remain in the recent referendum, Goldsmith was a 'leaver'. The situation is very interesting. The Tory majority at the general election was massive, but look how well the Liberals did in Cameron's former constituency. Maybe a miracle will happen. Dear Richmonders, if you want change and if you believe in Europe then please vote Liberal.

Even Liam Fox is in a bit of a panic after Wallonia blocked Canada's trade deal with the EU. What chance is there of us getting a good deal?

Britain's government is in crisis, but the UN is serving the wider world no better.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Wonder Woman

UN staff, womens' groups, and many others are offended that the United Nations is using a fictional character who is overtly sexy as a female ambassador for the organisation. They're right it's a huge error of judgement AND the UN should have more important matters on its mind because there are far greater issues which need addressing!

Fifteen Minute May

Mrs May can be as clear as she likes about what she wants, doesn't mean she'll get it, it's about the other twenty seven now. If she's right that the others want Britain to play a full part until we leave, why does she think they only gave her fifteen minutes to speak over coffee?

Malcolm Snook - Author and Blogger

If like me you believe the United nations is failing the world, sign the petition.

Lie Down Boris, Lie Down

I have been reminded that liar in chief Boris said he'd lay down in front of the bulldozers if the airport expansion decision is not the one he wants. We can but hope!

Aviation enthusiasts might like this!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Finally I've Taken Action Myself.

I have repeatedly blogged about the failures of the United Nations and so finally I have made the effort to change things by calling on the UK Government to resign from the UN Security Council and to campaign for a new, post cold war UN constitution which has some chance of bringing about a United Nations that works.

Please view and read my petition here and if you'd like to see world peace given a chance please sign the petition.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Mrs May's Treatment Of Boris

The exposé in the newspapers that Boris Johnson wrote an article extolling the virtues of the EU a couple of days before throwing his weight behind the leave campaign has done little to dissuade me from the belief that Boris's involvement as a figurehead in the referendum was for the good of Boris, not for the good of the nation.

Boris's explanation that he wrote the case for and against to focus his own mind is barely plausible and had he done so he might have said so at the time, even used the work as an example of his own deeply thoughtful and careful analysis, instead of. presenting sound bites and fear of Turkey.

I think both Boris and Mrs May were looking out for the main chance, Mrs May appears merely to have been more sophisticated in her playing of the political game. Nominally a remainer, to protect her position as Home Secretary if Cameron won, she nonetheless said as little as possible so she could position herself for the top job if it all ended in tears.

Boris's approach was a little more transparent. Mrs May has been quite clever in some ways, or maybe that should read devious. By making Boris Foreign Secretary she's given him something to lose and kept his loose cannonness close to her and under the microscope, whilst the appointments given to David Davis and Liam Fox leave Boris with much less he can meddle with.

If you're a fan of Machiavelli and feel that hypocrisy is just a stock in trade for politicians then you'll be well pleased with Mrs May and her cabinet, but be prepared for three years or more of turbulence, inflation, currency fluctuations and in the end a weakened UK.

You can support this blog by sharing my pages.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Proud To Be Ashamed

The stupidity around Brexit goes on and on. Mrs May is in danger of making Mrs Thatcher look like a gentlewoman. The home office commissioned a report, not published because the results weren't what the government expected or hoped for, but leaked anyway, and it suggests as few as one percent of international students overstay their visas after their studies have finished.

The government was looking for tens of thousands so they could have a crackdown and look good to xenophobic Brexiteers. Previous estimates, perhaps that should be guesses, peaked at one hundred and ten thousand; fifteen hundred looks to be about the true figure.

The number of overseas students applying to study in the UK has fallen somewhat since the referendum and given the economic problems we face that's a loss of  valuable foreign income, think of it as exports, and a particular loss for our universities. Opinions seem to vary as to how much applications have dropped but it could be as high as sixteen percent year on year.

Instead of helping the government is actually tightening the rules  in order to make it harder for overseas students to bring their money here. Pesky foreigners eh, who needs 'em?

Maybe it's for their own good; since the referendum there has been a forty one percent increase in race hate crime, five thousand five hundred crimes, and that's only those which go reported, we've seen a murder in Essex, and the murder of MP Jo Cox was probably linked to the referendum too.

Hard Brexit or no, Brexit is hard, personally I'm proud to be ashamed of my country right now. I'm not one of the sheep and I didn't vote for chaos. I have no problem with foreigners, only with evil, which can occur anywhere at any time and there's too much of it right here, right now.

If you'd like to support this blog please share my links.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

What's Really Important?

What are the really important issues? My top three would be peace, the state of the planet and justice. Given that, I feel education and science are two of the biggest contributors to achieving peace, protecting the planet and justice, but there is another. I think we need to strive for a good standard of living for all, in all countries. If you have a roof, food, a job, education for your kids why would you pick up a gun and go to war or start on a dangerous and uncertain migration?

Britain has lost the plot of late. The EU helped build a prosperous and more peaceful Europe and we're turning our back on it and cutting off our own noses to spite our face at the same time. Fuel has gone up in price, food is going up in price and already supermarkets  are warring with suppliers again, clothing, cars, travel and much else will go up too. Including raw materials, which will affect British manufacturers currently cashing in on lower prices for their goods abroad. Except Jaguar Land Rover in Europe as animosity to towards British stupidity starts to bite on the continent. In short look forward to something we haven't seen in a while, inflation.

Lets hope it's not on a grand scale.

Better education, more caring for the world and not pure selfish ambition and just maybe this nonsense could have been avoided.

On the subject of justice Doctor Waney Squier is appealing being struck off at the moment for giving evidence, in court in, shaken baby syndrome cases in a way deemed to be misleading. The result of the action against her is that others will no longer testify for the defence, it's a major setback for justice in the UK.

We must be very careful about what we suppress, the scientific case is disputed and more work needs to be done to see who is right. However, we are supposed to have a principle in this country which says a person is innocent until proven guilty. When a baby is taken away from his or her parents it's very sad, but protection is also important, maybe the most important thing.

However, a bereaved mother who is innocent of any wrongdoing being jailed for murder is heaping one tragedy on top of another. This is a subject where science needs to be brought to bear and swiftly. Independent, properly funded scientific work must be done on it.

The next general election in the UK is set to be in May 2020, less than four years. In the meantime Theresa May seems hell bent on riding roughshod over parliament with her 'Hard Brexit'. By 2020 many older vote Leave voters will have left us and the inflation and problems referred to above will have bitten hard. She and her stooges should be more careful, her small climb down yesterday may seem as nothing soon. She may lose MPs and fickle voters.

Cheer up and think about Christmas eh!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

All Talk And No Action Britain

Andrew Mitchell called a debate in the UK Parliament on Syria yesterday. It's to be hoped that his motives were pure and they probably were, although what good he thought it would achieve I cannot imagine. Maybe he thought it would show solidarity with the victims; if so, the near empty chamber failed to achieve even that.

Clown Boris, our not so esteemed, from where I sit, Foreign Secretary called for the Stop The War Alliance to demonstrate outside the Russian Embassy. Thousands, possibly millions marched against the Iraq war and that was to send a message to our own government, a lot of good that did. A few protestors outside an embassy in London is sure to deflect Putin then. Boris is indeed a clown in my view of the world.

We spend billions on nuclear submarines and American missiles, which if rumours are correct we don't even have the firing codes for. Mind you anyone who would throw nukes around would be bonkers. What we actually need here are wind farms, power stations and tidal power, airports (I think next week may be revealing), better trains, better roads and more houses. IF you believe in the great god of never ending growth anyway.

 Airlines are now allowed to double the passenger flights to and from China, with no limit at all on cargo flights, where they will all take off and land is a mystery, although a decision appears at long last to finally be imminent, if the protestors don't force another stand off, review, or whatever. The UK is a small place, any increased airport capacity anywhere would help the economy, if they really believe in a northern powerhouse they should do something up here AND down south since the capacity issue will surely come up again before long if they only match the immediate need.

I think Trump may win in the USA, from what I see his America first and to hell with the rest of the world message seems to be resonating, at least with those selected for interviews by the UK media anyway. People I've listened to seem to think that each American generation should automatically be better off than the last. They should look around. American cities did not live through what London, Southampton, Coventry, Dresden, Berlin, Rouen etc went through in world war two, but missiles have a far longer range and far more deadly consequences today.

The foreign policy and the attitude of America to the rest of the world is of a level of importance which cannot really be overstated. Sadly Britain is swamped in selfishness and paranoia, racism and a mood to roll the dice too. I'm not saying we're any better and America has yet to speak, maybe Trump won't win. The opinion polls don't favour Trump right now, but we didn't expect the stupidity of Brexit here either.

As regards Syria, the US is distracted by the election, understandably, neither Britain nor America wants military conflict with Russia and frankly neither Britain, nor America nor anyone other than Russia really knows what it does want, only what it doesn't want and that really isn't helpful.

We've created chaos in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and effectively in Syria too, Egypt doesn't look too healthy at times either. My heart bleeds when I see a child pulled from the wreckage of Aleppo crying for her daddy. What to do about it isn't so simple.

In fact the situation is so difficult that most MPs didn't bother to attend the debate. The United Nations Special Envoy to Syria has offered to escort the rebels out of Syria in person, if Putin and Assad will let them go. He's a brave man. Whatever agreements or guarantees Assad and Putin were to give I wouldn't trust them once nine hundred rebels were out in the open, I very much doubt they would miss the opportunity to strike just because of the life of one UN official.

Not to sit on the fence I think the UK should scrap Trident and sort out the economy. We can influence countries we trade with; as bankrupts we won't be trading with anyone, just giving away the family jewels as we did with our latest power generation project.

Next I would pull the RAF and every military person we have in the Middle East out, you cannot be part of the solution when you're part of the problem and for too long we've been wasting lives and money with no idea what we actually want at the end of it. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

I would resign our seat at the UN Security Council, it's utterly meaningless in the face of Russian vetoes and I'd campaign for a new more relevant UN constitution. Something framed to work in the world we find ourselves in, not the cold war period world. The UN failed in Bosnia, is failing in Syria, brought cholera to Haiti and then claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid paying compensation. Disgusting. I could list more failures but that's enough, it needs to start over. Whether we in Britain still have any influence in the world is a big question, we've certainly done everything we could to reduce it recently.

Not in order of priority, but next I would try to do more for Syrian refugees, especially the children. Britain is an enigma, we raise millions once a year for Children In Need, but not on our doorstep eh. Idiocy. I'm not talking about economic migrants I'm talking about those innocents in most need.

As regards economic migrants, we should try to help those countries which are becoming depopulated, but which are not actually at war. If people have a roof, food, a job, education and hope for their children's future the migrant crisis would be much reduced. Our ability to help is also dependent on the economy and the pound is on the way to being worth less than the Euro or the US dollar which is not a great help.

We should stop arms sales, especially to regimes like Saudi Arabia, Boris criticised Putin and Assad's atrocities in the house yesterday, yet what is he doing to prevent atrocities carried out with British weapons? Hypocrite. You go and stand in the rain outside the Russian Embassy in a clown suit Boris.

Finally I would like to see us reconsider our membership of NATO, especially if Trump becomes US President. NATO does not oblige us to follow on America's coat tails on every and any military adventure the US may undertake, but if Trump were to provoke an attack on America we would be obliged to get involved.

Mrs May might think that to be a citizen of the world is to be a citizen of nowhere, but tribalism is the problem and platitudes  like "we're leaving the EU but we're not turning our back on Europe" convince no one. The world is a small place these days, Europe has a voice. Europe matters.

Andrew Mitchell was correct when he said that Russia is treating the UN much as Mussolini and Hitler treated the League Of Nations in the nineteen thirties. To avoid a repeat of that disaster we need to address the failing UN and quickly. Even if clown Boris does lose his seat at the top table.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

It's Only A Thousand Million

A few MPs are getting jumpy, they'd like to know the government's actual plan for so called Brexit. Mrs May and her three stooges won't tell them. The idea that we might all find out via press conferences held by Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel once negotiations begin would be quite comical if it weren't so sad.

Those same MPs would like a vote on the terms of leaving, maybe on the negotiating position ahead of that too, Mrs May and her elite clowns have ruled that out. The referendum it seems gives them carte blanche to do whatever they like, well, that's their interpretation anyway. Cameron's stupidity will echo down generations of Britons, starting with the young who voted remain. Mrs May's duplicity may yet rival, match or even exceed that odium.

No one who voted leave actually knew what the hell they were voting for. We're already seeing fuel rise in price as the pound falls, next it will be food and clothing; fortunately only non essential luxury items then, so that will only hurt the forty eight percent of us whom the chauffeur driven, un-elected prime Minister with a nice address in town calls a 'metropolitan elite'. It won't hurt leave voters from poorer communities or run down seaside towns so that's ok.

Leaked documents from the Treasury suggest that a 'hard Brexit' as advocated by the once weakly remain supporting Mrs May could cost sixty six billion pounds per year in lost tax revenue. Of course it's only a Treasury prediction, but indulge me.

Leave promised a saving of three hundred and fifty million pounds per week and one billion is a thousand millions. Multiply three hundred and fifty million by fifty two weeks and you get eighteen thousand two hundred millions or eighteen point two billions per year. However, roughly one hundred and seventy million of the three hundred and fifty came back to us for infrastructure projects, farming subsidies, university research etc so actually the saving isn't eighteen point two billion it's nine point three six billion.

If you subtract nine point three six billion from sixty six billion you're left with a loss of  fifty six point six four billion per annum in round figures which is a loss of one point zero nine billion per week. Ahh lets round it down it's a thousand millions every week lost rather than three hundred and fifty millions gained. Lovely.

Go Mrs May! No really go now.

In case you may need to make some more money!

Monday, 10 October 2016

From A British Perspective

Another presidential political debate in the USA and mixed reactions from commentators and viewers. The BBC spoke to a small number of Americans who watched the debate and they gave me the feeling they thought Donald Trump had done pretty well. My fear is that America is not yet ready to have a woman as president and that there's an appetite for change, any change.

Perhaps it was an appetite for change that led to the unexpected Brexit vote which so divided Britain. The old cliche about frying pans and fires comes to mind however. Trump effectively blamed Mrs Clinton for all the failures of American government over many years. I hope people will look at her voting record. Clinton has not had presidential powers to date, nor a presidential veto. How she voted as a senator will say something about her beliefs and intentions. In the debate she appeared to me to be the more rational and measured, despite the personal animosity which was palpable.

It seems to me, as an outsider looking in, that the republicans went to great lengths to ensure Obama achieved as little as possible, voting in opposition even on issues where they had previously been in agreement, just to prevent the record showing a black president had achieved good things. Mrs Clinton cannot be blamed for that.

Trump was right about one thing, America is divided, just as Britain too is divided and that's why I fear he may win. I don't believe he's honest and I don't believe he respects women, I do believe he uses every loophole to avoid tax and brags about it. I do believe he would look after his own in that regard if he wins and fail to support the middle classes, which in the USA, as here in Britain, make up the engine of the economy.

From a British perspective I think it's a great shame we didn't embrace Europe. We could have had some influence there and Europe could have some influence in the world. If Trump becomes US President, aggressive and impulsive as he is, I hope we will have the sense to distance ourselves. Which is sad, because I really am very fond of the US and my American friends.

Malcolm Snook, author, blogger and photographer.

Another Politician Who can't Tell Right From Wrong

It is reported that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said IF Saudi Arabia DELIBERATELY targetted civilians then arms sales will be REVIEWED (reviewed means not necessarily stopped just to spell it out).

Seems to me that implies that if it was just an error of judgement that's fine by him then. It's simply not good enough, arms sales to such a regime should never even have started. A funeral was bombed and as people went to rescue survivors it was hit again. That's on the back of trying to starve Yemen's civilians to death, using British and American missiles.

Some Brexit voters (I'm not one obviously), have told me they want Britain to be great again. Well, first our politicians had better grow some balls and secondly learn right from wrong, that might make us a little bit great.

Malcolm Snook author and blogger.

Friday, 7 October 2016

A Citizen Of Where?

I really am starting to think Theresa May has lost the plot entirely; she implies that if you voted remain you're part of an elite that is sneering at the working class. Forty eight percent of the population cannot by any stretch of the imagination be an elite and personally I'm sneering at no one. I am worried about the state of Britain and where it's going though.

Mrs May knows that the second most indebted country in the world, that's us, has an economic crisis on its hands; whilst it's easy to blame everything on Brexit it has to be a part of the reason she approved fracking. If you don't think there is an economic crisis the pound fell yet again exacerbating still further our debt which is more than half the size of the USA's debt, the only country to owe more than us, but with a population many times the size of ours and quite a lot more industry not just 'services'.

The NHS in Harrogate wants to cut back non urgent operations for patients who are over weight or who smoke. Does anyone think they'd be so high handed if they had a surplus in the budget? If Brexit causes the economy to slump, and we haven't even got started yet, then there are going to be many more very tough decisions to be made. Forget about our EU contributions, we could lose billions if we mishandle this and no plan is visible yet, not really any stated aims even, just rhetoric and the excuse of not giving a running commentary.

In order to prosper we need more airport capacity among other things, it's not just about going on holiday, it's business, cargo and inward tourism too. The decision has been put off for years. Infrastructure spending brings a number of benefits, such as employment and airport capacity sends a signal abroad too. However, what will happen next is interesting.

We once built our own power stations and dare I say it nuclear reactors, now we're getting France and China to do it because we don't have the money. In the long term who will pay? The British consumer will pay. Where will the profits end up? France and China. If we cannot pay for our power stations can we then afford pay for new airport capacity? Time will tell, but if we invite other countries to do that for us they'll want a return on investment and if the power generation deal is anything to go by a substantial one at that.

What really brings home the weakness of  Mrs May's thinking is her revealing statement that if you're a citizen of the world you're a citizen of nowhere. What utter tosh. Human beings have been fighting one another since before recorded history, tribalism and nationalism have played a big part in that, the concept of them and us.

I'm proud to be a citizen of the world. I'm proud to have travelled as far and as wide as I have. I'm glad I tried to get to know and understand people in other countries with different cultures, it's enriching and it's an aid to understanding. Isolationism is a mistake. Mrs May might well preach about Britain going out into the world and making its own way and making new trade deals here there and everywhere, but she'd better learn something about the world or she'll fall flat on her face.

Don't worry the taxpayer will foot the bill for her trips abroad even if the pound is only worth fifty cents. You can just be a citizen of Britain and stay home.

Malcolm Snook writer, blogger and campaigner

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Nice Words Even As She Slips The Knife In

Theresa May has made what is arguably her first major speech since becoming our un-elected Prime Minister. The rhetoric was professional even impressive, small on detail and hows, but that's often the case in political speeches. Make a rousing speech, especially to your own acolytes, then who needs detail? Rhetorical question.

Lets look at it then. Mrs May appears to be positioning herself as representing the angry and those who feel disenfranchised and not listened to. I could tell her a thing or two about not being listened to! Clearly she's trying to reach out to the fifty two percent who voted for so called Brexit. Many of those people clearly are angry, particularly about immigration and feel they're suffering. I could relocate them to many places on this earth where they'd suffer a great deal more than in Britain, but that's another matter.

It seems to me that Mrs May feels she knows why people voted for Brexit and is telling them she can fix it. Mrs Thatcher thought she understood everything too. An older, lady acquaintance of mine told me the other day that she voted for Brexit because Mr Obama told her not to and she didn't like a foreigner sticking his oar in. Simple as that. People vote for multifarious reasons. Obama's intervention may have been counter productive, but that doesn't mean he was wrong.

The country is divided, fifty two to forty eight at the last count, excluding don't knows and those with a moral case for a vote but no actual vote. Divide and rule is an age old concept, but in a modern democracy its value may be overrated. A healthy majority of support might be more beneficial. Alienate the forty eight percenters and it's not a huge electoral majority, take the age profile into account and as the fifty two percenters die off it doesn't look like a safe long term policy either.

May appears to be pitching to both the UKIP voters AND Labour voters, right and left, at one and the same time. She also claims her party now occupies the centre ground. Nonsense, the Tories have lurched to the right chasing the UKIP vote whilst using rhetoric about workers and making capitalism fairer to try and appeal to Labour voters. Although I doubt they'll be very successful with the latter.

Mrs May is correct that the country is angry, but we're not unified in our anger, we're not all angry about the same things. We've had thirty years or more of media lies about the EU, I mean straight bananas, give me a break. Thirty years of lies has its effect though and that makes me angry.

Some people don't like rubbing shoulders with Poles; there was a time when black people were felt to be the problem, then Asians, now many descendants of black and Asian people are on the anti immigration bandwagon too. They didn't like it when it was them and the less thoughtful and less reasonable ethnic white Brits seem to have become even more racist since the referendum, and THEY don't distinguish, so being Asian or black and anti immigration could be seen as an error of judgement.

I wonder how many of these people who claim to be suffering in this awful country actually want to pick tomatoes. We'll see when Amber Rudd makes tomato growers try to get British workers first before they can look abroad. That'll be fun.

Many Brexit voters, we're told, don't or haven't voted in regular elections, will they do so now? Mrs May might be preaching to a fickle audience, one without party affiliations, or any deep abiding interest.

The media and some politicians are talking about remain voters as being a metropolitan elite. Some may be, but an elite, by its very nature is a small group, NOT forty eight percent of the population. Hillary Clinton has recognised the importance of the middle classes and made a direct appeal to them. I wonder if Mrs May shares the same insight. On current performance the answer is probably not.

We, the middle classes are the motor of this economy. The official Remain Campaign overestimated the importance of the old adage 'it's the economy stupid' and undervalued the undercurrent of fears about foreigners and sovereignty and they lost, but when the cuts really bite the economy will suddenly become important again. I've said it before and I'll go on saying it, the economy pays for everything we hold dear.

It's a tragedy that the Leave Campaign told so many lies, like the one about Turkey which has no medium term prospect of joining the EU even if the Turkish people wanted it, which they don't and which clown Boris with his family there knows all too well.

We had the best of both worlds, EU membership with our precious UK pound preserved. Soon the pound will be worth less than either a US dollar, or a euro if the fall isn't stemmed, unheard of, how proud we'll all be then. My older lady acquaintance who voted leave purely because of Mr Obama asked me if I thought Britain would ever be great again.

Hankering after the past is no way to move forwards, the world turns, we must deal with it.

Mrs May says she wants to create a prosperous nation and a fairer nation, noble goals, I look forward to seeing the plan. It needs a plan and it needs to take account of the forty eight percent who voted remain as well as the nearly dead. Personally I'm not part of some mysterious elite. I'm middle income, middle class, middle England and many of those around me who voted remain fit that description, middle class and the engine in the boat.

Mrs May looks set fair to make us the disenfranchised and the angry. She might set out to appeal to the unemployed (they won't win an election) and those who are currently angry about we know not what, but she might find them about as stable as UKIP, who had a new leader for less than three weeks and just tried to murder another contender!

At one and the same time Mrs May is claiming the middle ground in words, even as she plunges the dagger into the middle class. How she deals with airport expansion will be interesting, her government has just overturned a county council decision against fracking. She knows her government will have to do many things to keep this boat afloat economically, even if it means pumping gas into the bilges.

Getting large companies to pay their tax is all to the good, going after people like Cur Philip Green, sorry forgot how to spell Sir for a moment there, is all good and right, but a mere detail in the big picture. Mrs May will be happy to have distanced herself from Cameron, the author of this madness and to have stamped her vision on us. Personally I'm not too happy about getting stamped on. Lets hope she's less stupid than she is determined. Doesn't look too hopeful from where I'm sitting.

Malcolm Snook Author, photographer and campaigner.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

It's Not About Them And Us

A recent report tells us that younger generations have less wealth at thirty years or so of age than those born earlier. In fact what it actually says is that those born in the eighties have roughly half the wealth, as adults, of those born in the seventies or earlier. Much of the report focuses on rising house prices, from which those born earlier are deemed to have benefitted.

Having been born in the nineteen fifties I've noticed a few other changes. I think we can assume the Institute Of Fiscal Studies got its sums right and that the younger generations are accumulating less wealth, but there's much supposition and controversy in the media as to WHY. Just recently I qualified for my old gits Railcard and for the first time in my life I went first class on a train. I was surrounded by students.

When I go out to eat, which is rare and special occasions only I'm surrounded by young people for whom it seems to be a regular and frequent exercise. I'm not just assuming this, I talk to young people too. In addition someone I know well who works for a Housing Association has had to turn away applicants for the help to buy scheme, because they could save for a deposit but chose to run two cars, have multiple foreign holidays, eat out twice a week etc. They could afford to save for a deposit but chose not to.

My parents considered the only acceptable debt to be a mortgage, anything else was irresponsible. Like many of my generation I did not go to university, so no government grant for me thank you, I went to work. I had a job in the nineteen seventies where I earned eleven pounds a week and tried to live on ten and put one pound in the Building Society each week. by the end of the week I was eating left overs from a transport cafe up the road.

I'm not suggesting it was like that for everyone, or that people should expect to live like that today, but living within ones means was a cultural ethic. When I got promoted I got on the housing ladder and slept on the floor until I could afford a bed. I didn't buy a bed, or carpets for that matter on credit. I did not eat out other than a Cornish pasty at a local pub, which was jolly cheap and had meat, veg and pastry; that was a balanced diet.

I'm very sorry that students have to pay tuition fees, I've said before that the government should invest in education and in the future in preference to nuclear missiles. The motive was to enable more people to go to university, but not everyone suits university and we need more apprentices and trades, that's part of the reason people come into this country which has so upset the apple cart and led to people like May and Johnson seizing power. Tuition fees also encourages the pay later mentality, which leads to less wealth later.

I cannot remember the last time I changed my mobile phone, or bought a computer or a tablet. I'm still running Windows XP, many younger people upgrade all the time. Student loans and a culture of credit have taught people that debt is OK, and crikey hasn't the government embraced that concept too, Britain is the second most indebted country on the planet. The Chancellor has just abandoned any thought of wiping out the deficit by 2020 too. Let alone the debt.

I consider my financial situation to be OK, because I'm not in debt and can get by and have some fun from time to time. I have assets, but I lived through fifteen percent mortgage interest rates and now can get bugger all interest on my savings. Different generation, different circumstances.

The Institute Of Fiscal Studies is doubtless right about the actual wealth and assets of younger people compared with us at the same age, BUT I don't think they've grasped, or even tried to grasp the effects of credit and the must have it now society.

They haven't recognised the differences in how people live and how they spend on a social life, travel and the latest technology in a way we never did. I did ten test jumps on a very dubious parachute in the seventies, for twenty pounds a time to buy my first ever stereo system. It's all very well saying tech didn't exist then but music, tv, cars and motorcycles and all sorts of luxury goods did, we just didn't see them as a right, but as something to be earned.

Many companies used to have defined benefit pension schemes in the old days and we're all supposed, in my generation, to have benefitted whilst younger people have less beneficial and more expensive defined contribution schemes. In fact we didn't all work for big companies offering such schemes, many of us paid into our own private pension schemes and saw them substantially ruined by Gordon Brown.

In common with younger people even my generation has seen the state pension put back to a later date and it's not particularly generous, you wouldn't want to have to live on it! We all need to recognise that there are challenges and opportunities, different generations face different challenges and opportunities and its not a them and us thing. Although I do apologise that many older people voted the younger generation out of Europe against their will, I wasn't one of them I have to say.

The Labour party is moving left, the Tories right although Theresa May had the cheek to say today that the Tories occupy the centre ground. They don't, only the Liberals can lay some claim to that, what's left of them. If you want to get on, work, save and invest. Don't vote Labour they'd destroy what's left of the economy, campaign for the single market, don't give up and think about joining the Liberals and try to create a party of common sense.

Good luck, you're the future.

You could also try this!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Fools Paradise

India is making about two and a half million cars a year, many for export with companies like Renault and Nissan in the vanguard. India has overtaken South Korea to become the fifth largest car producing nation globally. In the UK Jaguar Land Rover, Indian owned naturally, but still a large supplier of jobs to UK workers has reported that people in Europe suddenly don't want to buy British cars, surprise, surprise.

Theresa May has come out as a hard Brexiteer and Philip Hammond can deal with the economic problems. Yes, the falling, maybe that should be fallen pound has helped our exports and tourism generally in the short term, but the effects of Europe turning its back on us and the effects of much more expensive raw materials take longer to filter through. Or did Brexiteers think we still had coal mines, or that maybe we had our own iron ore, even if we do have the stumbling remains of a steel industry.

Imported food will go up too and can you see the Brits giving up their Mercedes and BMWs, Volkswagens and Audis? I can't, no Jaguar has lost its kudos abroad but German cars won't lose theirs here, or anywhere else, people will just pay more for them in the UK. Small, economical and attractive cars like the Fiat 500 will go up in price too, so it's not just the rich who are affected. Fuel costs will rise too by the way; petrol, diesel and the electricity the French and Chinese will be generating for us because we cannot afford to build for ourselves.

Meanwhile Amber Rudd is grandstanding to the Brexit voters by coming down on overseas workers from non EU countries and foreign students too. Yes, it will be great if we can train and retain more British doctors, but it's not as simple as that. Mr Hunt has seriously harmed the relationship between British doctors and the government so that some at least are looking to Canada and Australia as destinations once qualified. On account of this there is talk of making it a requirement that doctors stay here for four years after qualification, how much better would it be if they actually wanted to stay for life?

Grandstanding to the fifty two percent, many of whom will be dying off soon and some of whom may see the damage when it's too late is a short term unintelligent response to the problems we face. Fact is the Tories are split, the country is split and when Hammond talks about a roller coaster ride for the economy he's not kidding; business hates uncertainty and flourishes in periods of stability, well you won't be seeing that for a while.

As a result the Tory promise of a surplus by 2020 has been lost in the wash, but it wasn't an actual surplus anyway, it was just a surplus for the year. Deficit and surplus are politicians' weasel words, if more comes in through taxation than goes out in spending that's a surplus, but we've been in DEBT for years. We're the second most indebted country on the planet, if there was a small surplus in 2020, which their won't be, it would make a tiny, tiny dent in the debt. A real surplus would be when we're debt free and in the black.

Another little snippet from the Tory conference is the idea from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon that we opt out of parts of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is nothing to do with the EU by the way. He wants to do it to protect British soldiers from prosecution. Don't become a soldier I'd suggest, don't become a tool of the politicians. Be that as it may, what signal does such a move send when we criticise other regimes for abusing human rights. Oops, I forgot, we sell them arms so that's OK then.

Neither the divided Tories nor divided Labour have any answer and we were too stupid to vote for Europe and we're too stupid to vote Liberal too. Lets hope the Americans don't prove to be stupid this November or we can all kiss our tails goodbye!

Malcolm Snook

Thursday, 29 September 2016

On Tough Guys

Dutch investigators have in my view proved that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian supplied Buk Missile. There seems to be strong evidence of a missile carrier returning to Russia minus one of its four missile payload as well.

Russia has denied involvement and Buk say it was an obsolete missile, not part of Russia's arsenal anymore. Conspiracy theories and misinformation have been pouring out of Russia since the attack and that has been renewed in intensity since the report.

'Security' Council member Russia has taken the Crimea away from Ukraine and been involved in further conflict in Eastern Ukraine, has shot down a civilian airliner, is actively supporting Assad in the killing of his own civilians in Syria and has been proven to cheat at sport too.

Although the latter pales into insignificance alongside the rest, it is a symptom of what you get when you elect so called tough guys. The Russian people are receiving very different media reports than everyone else of course, the world is against us, we didn't do it, it's all a conspiracy.

It might be argued that Kim Jong-un is a tough guy too, ignoring world opinion and sanctions and testing his weapons of mass destruction regardless of the economic well being, health and education of his own people. It's a difficult dilemma, Hitler and Stalin were tough guys as well and people will say, quite rightly, that we needed tough guys like Churchill and Roosevelt to be strong for us in that era, but for all their strength those gentlemen came from a very different mould.

Shimon Perez has just passed away, he was a joint Nobel Peace Prize winner along with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin (who he will be buried next to) as a result of the Oslo Peace Accord they negotiated. Perez and Rabin were strong men, but not in the final analysis bullies and that I think is the essential difference, it's not the tough looking bully that we need to lead us, but men of strength and principle. Rabin of course paid the ultimate price.

Shimon Perez lost an election he was expected to win to one Benjamin Netanyahu, he lost to tough guy Netanyahu by a mere one percent, Netanyahu promised to get tough with the Palestinians and he did. Is anything better today or have more people died needlessly?

Beware of tough guys, rhetoric was a major tool of Roman commanders and then as now rhetoric can be used to stir up dissatisfaction, war and destruction, only now we're not using swords, slings and catapults.

Did I mention the UN is constitutionally flawed and needs to be recreated from scratch?

Today Avaaz asked me to sign a petition to ask America to enforce a no fly zone over Aleppo. To shoot down Russian jets if necessary. To do so would be to risk escalation, to do nothing is worse they said. I haven't signed. Not because my heart doesn't go out to the people of Aleppo, it truly does, they're being bombed by two tough guys, but because I have always said that throwing ordnance around with no strategy is worse I cannot sign.

If you can't be part of the solution at least stop being part of the problem. I detest Assad but we brought down a tough guy in Iraq and another in Libya, didn't make things better. It actually brought about more death and destruction and a migrant crisis un-paralleled since World War Two. We need a strategy to deal with tough guy bullies, but creating a vacuum isn't it. Lets hope that nations which appear to have matured never make the mistake of electing their ilk.

I do think we should be dropping medicines, food and blankets to civilians in Syria and I do think western leaders should be looking for a  way to end the cycle of violence, if possible without more violence, since as we all know violence generally begets more violence until one side is exhausted, defeated and destroyed. It's all in the history books but we never learn.

I published a plan for promoting peace in my book Of Land, Sea And Sky but have not found financial backing, the idea is out there if anyone wants to give it a try.

Malcolm Snook Author And Blogger

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

No Knock Out Blow But Plenty To See Through.

The Clinton Trump debate has been a hot topic of late. One hundred million Americans watched it and goodness knows how many more around the world, because who leads America matters to us all. I watched it through twice on catch up tv. I must lay my cards on the table up front and say that a Trump presidency would worry me significantly and that while I would rather have found myself in Bernie's camp I am now in Hillary's as the lesser of two evils.

It's a shame that for most of my life, when I've voted in the UK it's been for the lesser of two or three evils, maybe that's the case all over the world. I've heard people at rallies raving about this candidate or that candidate, are they star struck I wonder, is it this modern passion for celebrity, or do they really believe this person can make everything all right in their eyes?

Of course I've maintained recently that things aren't so bad in the west anyway; in most of America,  the UK and western Europe, people have homes, jobs, education, food and clothing, transport and most importantly they're not at war, not war as in world war, or as in Syria at the moment. I've heard enthusiastic Brexit voters say things like, "well, something had to be done". As if life in the UK in the 21st century was hell!

Of course there are problems, things can always be better, that's in the nature of things, but the more we have the more we want and that's human nature too. Wanting more has been the prime motivation for economic migration since Roman times, but depopulating areas of the world and causing tensions in others is not the answer. The Roman Empire you may recall didn't survive it. Which is why we not only have to show humanity to each other, but between nations too. It's why we in the developed world have to help people abroad too.

I think Clinton comes somewhat closer to this understanding than Trump. It used to be the case in the UK and I believe in America too that the economy was the single most important election issue. In many ways it should be, because it pays for all the things we hold dear, education, health, infrastructure, defence, policing and even dare I say it foreign aid which reduces the stress fractures in the world if used wisely.

It seems there's a new trend in politics though, maybe not so very new, but recent anyhow. In the recent UK referendum for example we saw both sides use fear. The remainers used fear of economic hardship in the event of leaving the European Union, the leavers used fear of immigrants, fear of Turkey, they majored on fear, BUT and this is an essential difference, they accused the remainers of using fear and claimed that they had positivity on their side.

They patently did not, since they offered no plan, strategy or insight into what they wanted to achieve, only what they didn't want. Trump talks about making American great again in the same way the European nay sayers told people to reclaim their country. Sounds good and positive but show us the substance.

Unfortunately Trump isn't the messiah and hasn't put forward a credible plan to make things better. Just to muddy my own waters he says the odd thing that makes sense, like encouraging Iran and China to influence North Korea, but overall his policies and character leave much to be desired.

I'd agree that the Obama presidency has been a disappointment in many ways, however the American people did not give Obama the power needed in the house and senate to make widespread changes. I'd agree that the American national debt and annual deficit is a problem, but trust me, in relation to population size it's far, far worse here in the UK.

For all his philandering Mr Clinton didn't make a bad fist of the economy, largely by letting businessmen do what they do and by not meddling constantly. Trump is clearly advocating policies to benefit himself and his golfing buddies, while Mrs Clinton is absolutely right that trickle down didn't work AND that it's the middle classes which are the powerhouse of the economy. Lose sight of that and you stand to lose a heck of a lot.

Then there's Trump's, frankly ridiculous stance on the rest of the world. The people he wants to make new trade deals with are not unaware that he has failed to pay people who've done good work for him at home, just because he's bigger than them and knows how to use lawyers to abuse the laws of the land. With morals like that he can stand in front of millions and claim it's good business.

He is, in my opinion, a criminal effectively, even if he stays on the right side of a legal line and settles with 'no admission of guilt' it's still an abuse of people and a misuse of the legal system, just as he's taken advantage of bankruptcy laws too and claims that that likewise is good business.

Other nations will not be walked over so easily as small businessmen facing years of legal costs if they don't simply cave in to bullying. Clinton is right to point out that America, huge as it is, represents five percent of the world population and you have to trade with the rest of us.

Trump talks about making Japan and Germany pay for America to defend them, what planet is he on? I'll tell you something about modern day Japan, because I have had Japanese clients, and what I can say about them is that they are honourable people to do business with. People who not only pay their bills but do so on time. There's a world of difference between them and Mr Trump.

The notion that the Japanese would pay America to defend them and rely on a man like him to honour his commitments is beyond laughable. Trump has said he will build up America's military, if he thinks he's going to do that with German and Japanese funding he's in fantasy land.

If he wants Germany and Japan to substantially rearm he's going the right way about it. Clinton is correct that the NATO pledge that an attack on one is an attack on all and we join together in defence has only been used once and then for America's benefit. Just look at the hash George W made of it, no strategy whatsoever, chaos and destruction and he took America's allies along with him.

Trump now talks about surrounding countries and smashing ISIS, does he want America's allies to waste more lives and more millions on destructive, deadly adventures with no end game? Another attack with no plan for the peace, if you can call it that, afterwards. ISIS is the new monster for now, smash ISIS with no strategy and another will grow in its place.

Trump himself has complained, with obvious hypocrisy, about the trillions of dollars already spent on military adventures abroad and is now seemingly, somehow insinuating it's been done to protect Europe, Japan et al and that we should chip in. I hope Britain and Europe, Japan and everyone else would have the sense to walk away if he wants to ramp things up again to no clear purpose.

In the event of a Trump presidency I would like to see Britain pull out of NATO and join a European defence force, or even stand alone; it was alliances which embroiled us in World War One and it was the resulting Treaty Of Versailles which largely brought about the horrors of Nazism which we then had no option but to fight.

America once demonstrated real wisdom. At the end of World War One Woodrow Wilson urged the allies not to be too punitive in regard to Germany for the sake of the future. The allies, regarding America as Johnny come latelys in the conflict ignored Mr Wilson's wisdom. At the end of World War Two America participated in the Berlin airlift, the de-nazification programmes and helped rebuild Germany. That was wisdom.

Don't lose your good sense now America. Hillary at least understands the importance of the middle classes to the economy, she understands there's a need for diplomacy and she's paid her taxes as far as we can see.

Whereas you can be sure that businessman Trump has used every weasel device possible to get out of paying his share towards America's soldiers, American schools, American infrastructure such as the airports he moans about, in the same way as he's used weasel devices to avoid paying small business. The Japanese, the Germans, the British don't have a moral imperative to pay towards America's defence, future, education, infrastructure etc. Mr Trump does and he can afford to.

There seems to be a populist wave of discontent on both sides of the Atlantic, don't fall for it, it's being manufactured by politicians to manipulate people, make them scared then pretend to have the solution.

No-one scored a knock out blow in the debate and change is often appealing. Foreigners like me have no right to tell you what to do and that's not my intention, but how you decide will affect the rest of the world AND your relationships with the rest of us. Including your friends.

Malcolm Snook Writer and Blogger

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Birth Lottery And The Animals.

I have rather mixed feelings about monarchy. I mean I don't have a problem with inherited wealth as such. If people work hard and want to pass the proceeds of their industry, or their business itself on to their kids then good on them. To a great extent birth is a lottery, you could be born in a wealthy developed country with a host of educational and  employment options, you could be born in a poor underdeveloped country. You could be born into war, or into peace, you could be born an elephant, a rhino, or a giraffe that gets shot by an American child.

Being born heir to the throne of a country may be the biggest lottery win of all, although the world is not necessarily as kind to monarchs as it once was. Monarchy has been with us for a long time; ancient Sumeria, Egypt, Persia and many more. For all their Republics the Greeks and Romans had monarchy too. The position of Roman Emperor was for a period more akin to a meritocracy despite the best efforts of some dynasties to establish acceptance of an hereditary system which worked for periods too, Julian, Flavian etc.

By the Middle Ages in Europe, being the first born 'legitimate' son of a king pretty much guaranteed men would follow you and so long as daddy had the good sense to stay alive until you reached maturity you were probably on to a good thing. The French revolution changed much and led to the devastating wars with Napoleon as he went in search of an Empire, which is ironic because what the royalty of Europe who opposed him wanted was to avoid republicanism, whilst Napoleon probably wanted to establish his own line just like any other king.

What fools we all are. In Syria there is a 'President', a gentle looking man in a suit who treats the country as his own personal fiefdom, kills his own people in droves and behaves more like a medieval monarch than any of the few remaining royal households in Europe. Here in the UK the queen or king is titular head of state, they don't have, like most of their 'subjects', to worry about a roof over their heads, food in their tummies, education, employment, well, anything much really, but their power is limited, very limited actually.

What they do have is influence. There are still plenty of royalists, even in places like America and Australia. The Royals are however limited as to which areas they dare to exert influence in, because there will always be some ambitious politician wanting to become a 'president' who will accuse them of abusing their role and move to end the monarchy if the door is open so much as a chink. Which brings me on to Willie Wales, son of the Prince of Wales and next in line after his father to take the throne.

Willie is currently campaigning to end the trade in endangered species and their body parts, ivory, Rhino horn and so on. It's a campaign I endorse wholeheartedly but it represents something of a moral maze too. The winner of the birth lottery is effectively telling poor people in underdeveloped countries not to use what they see as their natural resources. A man with the best education available is telling a park ranger not to accept a bribe which might educate his kids.

These things do not detract from the essential rightness of the message. We don't need ivory to make beautiful art and we don't need keratin from Rhinos as medicine, it's fingernail clippings essentially. However, market forces come into play; while the wealthy are prepared to pay ridiculous sums for ivory and the superstitious will credit nail clippings with magical properties we humans go on destroying the natural world around us.

Willie Wales is right to protest and it's one of the few areas where he can do so without attracting a barrage of criticism. I'd like to see him protest the failed constitution of the UN, but even if he were so inclined he dare not.

I hope this current campaign not mere posturing, look what a good caring guy the future king is, a way to protect the monarchy. I hope he's putting his money where his mouth is too and then monitoring the effect of his efforts. I hope he's helping the people who are tempted to take bribes or poach, so they don't feel motivated to try and get a little more of what he has, by destroying the animals around them.

I hope that as well as bending the ears of other world leaders he's being creative too. Perhaps we should flood markets with fake Rhino horn, if people don't know whether they're buying the real thing or not perhaps they'll stop altogether.

I still don't know quite where I stand on monarchy, which is rare for me, but I do know where I stand on poaching and endangered species and I know we should help as well as preach. That said, good luck with the campaign Willie Wales. Good luck, you'll need it.

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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Stop Meddling Before It's Too Late

I watched Jeremy Corbyn's acceptance speech, now that he's unsurprisingly won the Labour Party leadership, again and arguably with a stronger mandate. He says some good things about peace, inclusive education and the NHS, but there are more problems with what he doesn't say.

Britain has the second highest debt in the world, after the USA, Jeremy does not refer to that, only to the sixth largest economy, because that suits his argument. He, like his predecessor Gordon Brown who got us into this unsustainable and growing debt, seems to think there's money for everything. There isn't, the UK's debt is rather more than half the size of the USA's debt, but their population is around 319 million and ours is a little over 64 million, they're almost five times the size we are.

Jeremy also talks about redistribution of wealth and although he pays lip service to British talent and entrepreneurship don't expect him to reward or encourage it. Labour would again wreck the economy, probably for good and all this time and it's the economy which pays for education, health and everything else we hold dear. I don't like the right wing branch of the Tories any more than he does and I don't want them meddling in health or education either.

It's time politicians allowed doctors to doctor, nurses to nurse, teachers to teach and entrepreneurs to build businesses. I still wonder how the Liberals would do. As things stand it seems to be one extreme or the other.

Malcolm Snook Author And Blogger

Friday, 23 September 2016

Don't Waste Our Money Discovering The Obvious And Inescapable

Something I passed over recently, with all the goings on in Syria and the stupid referendum at home etc., was the Keith Vaz scandal. I had intended to leave it alone after a while. I don't actually give a damn about a person's sexuality and my views on the standards set by UK politicians, most but not all anyway, are well documented.

However I do give a damn about hypocrisy, conflict of interest and dishonesty in public life. I found the thought of Keith Vaz being Chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee interrogating others and pontificating on prostitution and drugs pretty repulsive. I hope it was a joke but someone in the media suggested we needed a person with experience of these things looking into them!

That's as maybe, but we need to know that the person who says Poppers are ok uses them himself and that a person advising government on matters relating to prostitution is a customer! Prostitution has been around a long time, the original business they say. It won't go away and there may be a good case for legalising it and looking after young people who want to be prostitutes, and/or who are driven to it in desperation. Just as there may be a case for taking drugs out of the hands of criminals too.

However there are two things which drove me to blog about Keith Vaz today, some time after the scandal broke. One is that the Parliamentary Commissioner For Standards is investigating the man, which is all to the good in principle. He's no longer on the Home Affairs Committee I believe, certainly he's not Chairman anymore and I would expect his political career to be effectively over; if he's not deselected by Labour, or rejected by the voters then it's time for all decent people to leave the country.

What moved me however was something I read in 'i', the stump of the once great Independent newspaper and still a place with more intelligent writing, more plain facts and a place which is certainly less propagandist than the odious Daily Mail, Express, Sun, Times et al.

The moving article was written by a lady whose husband had 'come out' as gay. She explained how her marriage was no longer a good thing gone bad, but how she now realised it had always been flawed and false, how every memory had to be re-evaluated in the light of this new information. In her case she suffered from the added hurt that her husband will be applauded by many for his bravery in coming out while she is left to her grief and utterly unwarranted humiliation.

Mrs Vaz doesn't have to cope with applause for her husband, but all the other considerations apply, with this new information she will have to re-evaluate all that has gone before. A man who can lie to that extent to the person closest to him is unfit for any public office, end of. I hope the so called Commons Sleaze Watchdog comes to the same conclusion swiftly and without wasting too much taxpayers' money to come to the obvious and inescapable conclusion.

Malcolm Snook Author

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Pressurised To React

The new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point is to go ahead. I know it's not today's news, but I've prioritised my condemnation of the UN and events in Syria. Of course there's a link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, something which caused so much angst over Iran. I propose another link, an economic one as it pertains to the UK.

I blame Gordon Brown for much of our own inability to do anything without selling off the family jewels, to follow on from our gold which he more or less gave away. In the past we built our own power stations and the profits stayed in this country. Would we not do that now if there was anything left in the coffers? If we scrapped Trident we could build our own power stations and the profits could stay here. Nuclear weapons don't earn a return and in the event of a nuclear war Armageddon would be the end of us whether we joined in the stupidity or not.

Hinkley Point will produce the most expensive power in the history of power generation (if it works), two thirds of the investment comes from France, how that relationship will blossom or wither when Article 50 is triggered who knows. The remaining third comes from China, a country with an outstanding human rights record and far more akin to us in outlook than anyone in France, Germany, Spain, Italy....

There are more reasons to be concerned, many more in fact. Hinkley Point relies on new and unproven technology which has yet to produce a single unit of electricity anywhere in the world. Pressurised reactors are in the pipeline in both France and Finland, both are years behind schedule AND billions of pounds over budget, something that's never happened to any project approved by our politicians of course.

Bradwell in Essex and Sizewell in Suffolk are next in line. It is estimated that Hinkley Point alone will cost consumers an extra thirty billion pounds in energy bills in coming years, that's without it going over budget and without taking Bradwell and Sizewell into account. The problem is that our politicians don't understand the need for strategy, or leadership come to that. They had no strategy for Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, they have no strategy for airport expansion and they have no strategy for the power we need in the modern world.

As individuals we can have a strategy and I'd recommend solar panels on the roof as a start, and lots of 'em, not just because other countries will be pulling the strings but because it will get out of hand, guaranteed. As for the government I'd like to see more interest in renewables, what about research into tide power, we're an island with a huge tidal range, pilot scheme anyone? In the meantime short term investment in any technology known to deliver, proven, as clean as possible and where costs can be calculated accurately, I'd like us to forget Trident, invest and reap the benefit of infrastructure investment for ourselves.

Did I mention we should leave the Security Council!

Malcolm Snook Writer

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Looking For Balance

It's long seemed to me that the main problem the 'incomers' had with native Americans was simply their being there. They stood in the way of so called progress, or in more blunt terms money and profit, so make agreements, break them, whatever it takes to 'win'. A new moral dilemma is now become apparent.

Now it's the turn of another species, standing in the way of money and profit. Horses and Burros, the latter a term which seems to be largely American and which refers to a donkey, mule or an ass depending on your point of view. Horses, donkey's, mules and so on have served mankind for millennia, in war and in peace, largely before the advent of the internal combustion engine, but they continue to give many people great pleasure from simply riding, to admiring, to racing, showjumping, dressage, ceremonial.....

It's easy to forget these were and in some cases still are wild animals, how inconvenient is that. There are believed to be fewer than fifty thousand wild horses left in the USA but more than forty five thousand have been rounded up and put in government facilities to make way for more vast cattle farms.

Unfortunately those facilities cost millions of dollars to run so lets just kill the horses eh! A politicians answer if ever there was one, do what's expedient, the hell with what's right. What kind of a world do we want to leave behind? Who cares so long as we're rich now.

If you're American you have a say in this. If you think it's morally ok then don't sign the various petitions, national and by state, objecting to the further destruction of wild animals, habitat and history. If you do object here's a link to just one of the petitions, you will find others.

I know election fever is upon you and that nice Mr Trump would probably just slaughter the horses, take the money and call it business, but please, the Americans I know personally are thoroughly decent people, so go on spare a thought for the horses and your own future and the joy horses might bring to your kids. Get them away from computer games for a few hours.

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