British Politics’s Blog

The ravings of an individual, UK voter frustrated with our politicians

Posts Tagged ‘politics and current affairs

John Prescott thinks Labour can win a fourth term

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Though it may come as no particular surprise to anyone, John Prescott is as deluded as his mate “Gordon”. At the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, Prescott could be heard shouting, “The election is 18 months away. We should proudly defend our record, we don’t do enough of that“. He then added that Gordon Brown is, “a man of capabilities, a man who can be trusted and a man who can deal with the problems“. He then went on to claim that Labour could win a fourth term. I have got news for you Mr Prescott, there is not a cat in hells chance that Labour will win another term in office. I would bet my house on it, but I doubt that will be worth much in 18 months!

You can’t knock the man for party loyalty, but this is at the expense of reality, because few people are listening and even fewer, other than hardcore Labour supporters, believe that Gordon Brown has a record to be proud of.

Yesterday’s man, John Prescott believes that if you shout loud enough people will listen, but they don’t, when he says something, people are just turned off. In government, John Prescott’s primary role was as a marriage guidance counsellor to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and what a price the tax payer has had to pay for those sessions. In spite of the fact that John Prescott spent £billions of tax payers money, can anyone demonstrate one tangible benefit achieved by his involvement, in transport, the regions and the environment?

Whenever I hear John Prescott, I have a vision of the archetypal schoolyard bully boy, not a serious politician. I think Gordon Brown has enough problems, without John Prescott reminding people of Gordon Brown’s legacy, after all, that is why we are in the mess we are.

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Gordon Brown criticises companies for off-balance sheet activities

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What a hypocrite Gordon Brown is, this man lauded for his so called economic competence. In an in interview with Sky News, Gordon Brown criticises companies for running “large off-balance activities”. He then goes on to say, “We cannot excuse the irresponsibility that took place in a number of institutions. And, you guessed it, he did this with a straight face and no sense of irony.

So, this is the same man, that to be certain that he did not break his own golden rules, ensured that the cost of the Private Finance Initiative’s (PFI’s), were not included on the government’s own books. These are calculated to cost the tax payer some £172bn between now and 2032. This is the same man that forked out £110bn of tax payers money in loans and guarantees for Northern Rock, once again, ensuring that it was not included on the government’s balance sheet.

Then there is a further £1.7bn that the government must pay for Metronet’s debts, this figure is also excluded from the governments balance sheet. There is also a further, estimated £790bn in government pension deficits, this is another liability that is excluded from the government;s balance sheet. Now I accept that this may be ‘legal’ but it is morally wrong and serves only to deceive us all into a false sense of security. Some would argue that the game that these large companies and institutions alluded to in Gordon Brown’s interview did nothing more than he has.

Now, Gordon Brown has says that “It’s got to be cleaned up and its got to be cleaned up quickly.” I would hope, that when he is considering these words, he will consider his own actions, because their are many in this country that would consider his own actions as “irresponsible” and “inexcusable”. Enough said!

 

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Federal Reserve Bank step in to help insurance firm AIG

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The world must welcome the news that the Federal Reserve Bank has stepped in to offer AIG, the American insurance giant with a bridging loan of $85bn. Although many pundits urged the fed not to intervene, there were just as many that were in support of such a move. The reality is, the Fed had little choice, given the ramifications of a failure of AIG could not be measured, but would have undoubtedly been far more significant than the failure of Lehman Brothers.

“It’s not just the failure of one company,” said Julie Grandstaff, vice president and managing director of StanCorp Investment Advisers. “It’s the ripple effect of the disappearance of counterparties” that was spurring urgent efforts to bolster AIG.

AIG’s difficulties have been exacerbated by a fall in its share price of some 60% and a downgrade of its financial standing by three levels to A- by Standard & Poor, making it more difficult and expensive to raise funds. Too many downgrades could trigger events requiring AIG to post billions in collateral to its credit default swap counter-parties. These ‘swaps’ are essentially insurance coverage to protect investors against defaulting bonds or debt. These products, often linked to the US real estate market, are at the heart of the current banking crisis and have led to massive write-downs of assets around the world.

AIG’s problems actually started earlier in the year after their auditors, Price Waterhouse claimed that AIG had material weakness in its internal controls over financial reporting and oversight. This type of qualification for any business is quite serious, but for the business such as AIG, it was bound to lead to some fall out, indeed, its shares fell some 10% on a single day in February following this news.

With one trillion dollars in assets and tentacles in many markets the failure of AIG would have affected many, many more companies, given it is not just an insurer, but a major player in the Credit Default Swap market. In the end the Fed could not stand by and do nothing.

Once the financial markets settle down, there is a good case for looking at how such major companies became engaged in such a risky strategy and who benefited, in what appears to smack of short-termism. There may even be a case to answered by the directors of some of the companies that have been affected, either way, there is certainly a case for more regulation and given American tax payers are expected to take up the risk, it is only right that they should seek assurances in terms of the way these types of companies trade in the future.

The Alistair Darling confession, honest summary or cynical ploy?

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Having listened to this government claim all the credit for the good times and then blame everyone else when something goes awry, it is a bit of a shock when a senior cabinet minister appears to come clean and tell the truth. It is also reasonable for the electorate to consider carefully whether this is a new honest and open approach to politics or simply a cynical ploy to garner favour with a disappointed and rightly disgruntled country. There may be a clue in the fact that Alistair Darling also elects to refer to the next election and the need for the party to re-gain its zeal if they want a fourth term. So is he watching the economy or is he concentrating on saving his parliamentary seat and securing New Labour’s fourth election triump?

Now come on Alistair, if the economy is in such a mess, surely your party has to accept its share of responsibility, after all, your boss has been claiming all of the credit for the past 10 years of growth, which he has conveniently been forgotten as the legacy that was passed on to him by the previous conservative government. Your first priority must be to get us out of the mess that you and your party of government sauntered into. You and your party have been in denial for too long.

What saddens me, is whilst it would appear that Alistair Darling is actually quite an honest sincere sort of chap, who doesn’t want to kid the public anymore, experience suggests that this is more likely to be a cynical approach to the whole debacle. If he tells us what we must expect, then he can’t be accused of hiding the truth from us all, if he paints a particularly bleak picture and it turns out not as bad as he predicted, then he can claim the credit for saving the day. Or, perhaps, if he tells us what pressure he and his government are under, we will all feel sorry for them and provide them with a sympathy vote.

What may have been a genuine heartfelt interview with the Guardian newspaper (also described as a “gaffe”) has, however, been undermined by the fact that he has since come out and insisted that the problems we are facing as “worldwide problems”, which by implication means it cannot his fault, his predecessors or the governments. This is ludicrous in the extreme. Yes there is a general downturn, but we are suffering more than most. Why? Because his predecessor spent the last decade spending an increasing amount of money, through borrowing, stealth taxes and higher general taxes as a consequence of more employment and higher company profits. But honestly, what do we have to show for it, not much?

France and Germany were more prudent. Gordon Brown used to delight in comparing our growth figures with theirs, true, France and Germany did take longer to recover from a downturn. But unlike us, they put a little away for a rainy day, we haven’t. So the government can only “help” us through higher taxes, higher borrowings or, most likely, a combination of the two. However, they won’t help the majority, no; they will help traditional Labour supporters, by offering grants, tax credits, hand-outs and so on, which the rest of us will have to pay for. I don’t know about this government having to find its zeal, maybe someone has confused this description and what they actually meant was the government had to regain its ability to steal from the majority, to support the ‘minority’, or a more accurate description may be the core labour voters rather than the minority.

As an act of contrition for the damage they have caused, this government should step aside and let the electorate decide who they trust to take this country forward. Let us take the responsibility. If the Labour party gain their fourth turn, then so be it, if not, then they will have to accept that we have all had enough of false promises and the abdication of responsibility that has been the Labour party mantra for anything negative.

The Labour party cannot expect to get away with taking the credit through the so called good times and then blaming everyone else when things start to go wrong. Winning the next election has nothing to do with “zeal”. Alistair, your party of government has an unelected prime minister, you lied to the electorate about a referendum on the EU constitution, you have consistently increased our taxes through dishonest stealth taxes rather than a more honest increase in the standard rates, you have squandered the billions of pounds raised through the increase in national insurance contributions, you have plundered peoples pension funds, whilst retained a ‘gold-plated’ pension plan for yourselves, you have taxed us for every single ‘benefit in kind’ whilst ignoring such rules for members of parliament, you have placed this country in jeopardy by failing to plan ahead in terms of energy independence….

I could go on, but what would be the point? Alistair, don’t just be honest about the current economic state of the country, take an objective look back at your party’s so called “achievements”, consider the promises you made and whether you ever really delivered on them, the money you have spent and whether you received value for money for the taxes and, of course, New Labour’s values and whether you remained true to them. You don’t have to look far to see that your government is finished, you should do the honourable thing and call an early election, so that someone can be given a mandate from the people of this country to clear up your mess.

 

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