Monday, 27 December 2010

Sing Along

Flash Handel 

(it's just too lovely not to put it on Angels too)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Blood Banking

The NHS released this appeal:

'We especially need O negative donors at the moment as we have experienced higher than expected orders for this type of blood in the past week. With Christmas rapidly approaching and the holidays this year falling over a weekend, we would also like to remind anyone due to donate to step forward
now, weather permitting. Maintaining healthy stocks of all blood groups is essential as people will still be in hospital and requiring treatment...   New donors are always welcome too.  Availability of all blood types is constantly monitored to ensure suitable amounts are available for use in hospitals. We already have been appealing for O negative donors but more are needed.'

It is commonplace in Italy for people about to enter hospital for surgery or other treatments to provide blood of their own or of their immediate family earlier; with more commonplace blood groups friends often contribute.  In this way general contributions can then be used for those unexpectedly facing a blood transfusion.   Also there is nothing so good as your own blood when you need it.  Angel's blood is quite rare ("It must be your father," remarked my worried mother when trouble developed over a newborn O positive HG) which is how this kind of blood-banking became familiar.  (I offered to give blood for others too, but anyone who lived in England between 1989 and the late 1990s is refused).

It seems a very useful and sensible measure to have in place.  Most surgery and treatments are planned.


First hunt your boar.  (Preferably get a hunter to do it for you and deliver neatly butchered boar in freezer bags ready to put away, otherwise there is a lot of trotting about in oak woods at first light and very expensive clothes and guns to buy).

INGREDIENTI         Ingredients
(dosi per 4 persone)  For 4 people
  • 600 grammi di spezzatino di cinghiale  600 grammes of  de-boned, cubed boar
  • una carota                                               a carrot
  • un porro                                                  a leek
  • una costa di sedano                                a head of celery
  • 12 prugne secche                                   12 prunes (large)
  • 1 litro di brodo                                        a litre of consumme
  • farina di riso                                            rice flour
  • sale e pepe                                               salt and pepper
PREPARAZIONE                                            PREPARATION
Infarinate i pezzi di cinghiale nella farina di riso e fateli rosolare in un tegame alto in cui avete fatto scaldare 4 cucchiai di olio. 

Flour the meat with the rice flour and brown lightly in a heavy pan with 4 large spoons of olive oil.

Aggiungete il porro, la carota e il sedano tagliati a rondelle, coprite il cinghiale con le verdure e le prugne secche denocciolate.
Add the leek, carrot  celery chopped to cover the boar, then the stoned prunes

Coprite con il brodo caldo continuate la cottura per tre ore con coperchio.
Cover the whole with hot consomme, put on a lid,  and cook till done

Controllate a metà cottura: se risulta troppo asciutto aggiungete brodo caldo. Mentre, se verso la fine risulterà un po' troppo umido, scoperchiate per gli ultimi dieci minuti e alzate la fiamma.
check every now and then adding hot consomme if it starts to dry out or cooking uncovered if too liquid

It's necessary to marinade the meat overnight in a mixture of red wine and vinegar with some chopped onion and juniper berries to take away the taste of wildness.   The marinade should be discarded and the meat dried carefully.


Saturday, 18 December 2010

Take it or Leave It

International investors who pretend to be worried about European sovereign debtors' solvency are politically repellent and economically naive; they should understand that if they wish to invest in Communist China, collapsing imperial America, fascist Brazil, underdeveloped India,  or criminal Russia -  off you go and  with the best of British luck.

Europe, home of Angels, is the most beautiful, richest, most interesting, most culturally worthwhile part of the world.

Prendere o lasciare or, as the saying goes, O mangiare questa minestra o saltare questa finestra. 

Jack Frost Seizes Florence

I'll have to walk, it isn't far,
I'll leave the car at Grassina.

So Rupert  tied his scarf on tight
And set off walking in the night.

The Duomo can be seen from space!
I'll see it soon. Keep up the pace.

The Arno took two hours to reach
While Rupert lost the power of speech.

The phones were down, as was the snow,
But beauty kept him all aglow.

Through muffled streets  to Florence' Dome
And Rupert made it to his home.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Costs of the Appeal Against Assange's Bail

Those who appealed against Assange's bail  (whoever they may be and your guess is as good as mine) have, according to reports in La Repubblica, had costs awarded against them.  The Italian view is that they  were condemned to pay legal expenses because:

'In England those who waste the state's time, pay.'

Couldn't have put it better myself. 

Finely Balanced

The top floor and the first floor are usually closed, asleep behind their shutters, when there are only two of us here.  Christmas means hoovering,  and catching spiders' webs with a curious brush of bristly, well, bristles on the end of an ever-extending telescopic handle (nothing else will do; it wraps the webs around itself and the spiders make off sulkily under the beams). And opening all the windows to air out before switching on the heating.

The external shutters are surprisingly heavy and once they start swinging outwards are balanced to keep going till they meet the wall and can be fixed back.  Two of them tried to pull me out of the window this morning as I had forgotten to let go and they had lost the metal pivots that fit inside the hinges.  The wind plucks and plucks at them until these work free and fall out.  Fortunately the bits of metal hadn't hit anyone in the piazza or the garden.

This is the kind of problem that niggles.  A tiny adjustment that requires a man to balance  high on  windowsills holding a heavy shutter, a hammer, a selection of pivots, and a can of easing oil.  It is snowing lightly, the wind icy and it's a week before Christmas yet after a call there was a young man at the door who had everything mended and had checked out all the surrounding hinges on the more exposed windows within half an hour.   Goodness knows what 'Elf an' Safety would have made of a head for heights, agility, quick hands and a thorough knowledge of a specialised carpenter's trade.  

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Women Politicians Should be like Thatcher and Merkel, Not Like This

'Ashton argues tomorrow that the recent midterm elections in the US have brought a shift in the political landscape in Washington and that Europe should play a supporting role in enabling Barack Obama to pursue his aims. [Eeeek, ed.]
"Pressure to reduce US international engagement may increase ... The US needs help to achieve its global objectives.  [Eeekier, ed.] This means an expectation that we can manage our own neighbourhood. The US will continue to value an EU with the means and mindset to act globally."[Eeekiest, ed.]

Ashton proposes that where European and American interests or policies diverge on certain issues, the EU should repackage its aims to make them more attractive to Washington, for example on climate change or on relations between the EU and Nato. '

Were it ever necessary to illustrate the irrelevance, inappropriateness, incompetence, just plain weirdness of the appointment, by the failing Labour prime minister last year, of the head of the Hertfordshire Health Authority to be the European Union Foreign Secretary,  her policy  paper, trailed in the Guardian, is up there with Picture Post.

Some of us have reservations about the current United States President and about current, and past, United States 'global' policies.

Just Doing Her Job

Gemma Lindfield.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

CPS Opposed Assange's Bail

I draw your attention to Head of Legal's latest post on who is responsible for appealing against Assange's bail.

Unbelievably Silly Content in Wikileaks Cables

'2. (SBU) The Vatican is highly hierarchical [sic] with the Pope ultimately responsible for all important matters. Yet it is also highly decentralized in its decision-making. [the Roman Catholic Church tends to be High, ed.] This structure reflects belief in the principle of "subsidiarity": leaving decisions to those closest to, and best informed on, a particular matter. [there have been complaints over aeons about God being like this. He is, of course, best informed, but He will leave us to make our choices. (And the Pope is  His representative on Earth, even now, even to America, ed.)]'

Monday, 13 December 2010

Stuck Up North

The olives having been picked by  plumbers, accountants, bar-owners, professors;  and last year by the same plus philosophers, linguisticians, advertising executives,  hunters, editors,  seamstresses, lawyers, musicians, why on earth can't people from the north of England pick cherries?

I Spy With My Little Eye

Mr Berlusconi should never be underestimated.  While the commentariat has settled on an interpretation of what is going on, Berlusconi is hearing secret harmonies.  We may think that he seeks to gain immunity for himself and his colleagues and businesses from any judicial threat and that he will then leave his office for the pleasures of private life.

After all, he has stopped the social democratic, socialist, and communist left, indeed he has reduced them to a jelly.  He has removed particularly irksome taxes that were difficult to dodge - in Italy inheritance tax and property taxes are life-enhancingly slim.  He has delegated competently that which had to be administered competently - thank you Mr  Draghi and Mr Tremonti.  He has acted to severely restrict people-trafficking.  He has maintained excellent relations with the Church.

Death, taxes, immigration, and  cultural homogeneity: that's quite a settlement programme delivered.

Unfortunately he has also delivered a form of criminal governance that is best exemplified in Russia.   You want a result and democratic institutions and practice get in the way?  Legislate to change them, buy the office-holders, kill the problem.   There is another aspect of Russian governance that appeals to him enormously:  the interplay displayed by Putin and Medvedev - now the Prime Minister now the President shuttlecock.  Mr Berlusconi is very close to the Russians and their game, and Italy is very dependent on Russian energy and the riches it can provide to both sides; Italians, too, will accept anyone who keeps their factories and homes and cities going, and leaves their privacy, particularly wealth and possessions privacy, secure and, above all, alone.

Mr Berlusconi may wish to step not down, but up, to the Presidency.  The real question is who is to be helped into place  as Prime Minister leading the absolute majority of the centre right.  Who can command the support of the current Prime Minister, the support of the Northern Leagues, and the support of those calling for a 'technical government' during a time of severe financial crisis?

Something beginning with 'T'?


Berlusconi has carried both Houses in the vote of Confidence, the Lower House by 3 votes: 314 -311.  The Senate was always going to be comfortable but 3 votes  in the Lower House is not enough.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Touched in the Head

The NSPCC is demanding that pupils should not be touched  by their teachers while being taught to play musical instruments.

What are they going to do about this sort of thing then?  Touching fingers is as nothing to the  touching of the emotions and the soul that goes on.   Some keys must be banned, clearly,  And what about composers?  They do it on purpose, you know, touch.  They're worse than the teachers.

Friday, 10 December 2010

University is not a Uni Youth Club

Universities are not schools.  They are not about teaching and students.  They are about learning and research.  When undergraduates are awarded  a degree they have attained a level of intellectual assurance and a level of knowledge that enables them to begin contributing to the university - or not if they prefer to work elsewhere or the university has no place for them.

It was always a false goal to want 50% of the age cohort admitted to a university.  That's what comes of an inability to think straight, of confusing access to resources and training and the better jobs with access to universities.  It would be helpful for schools if the tertiary education sector were more highly differentiated so that schooling itself is not blighted by the demands to be met for university entrance.  It would be helpful for the universities if undergraduate teaching were provided in colleges organised for undergraduate teaching, preferably that could be accessed from the age of 16 - post GCSEs.

Too many vested interests for such a reorganisation and, from the other side, too many entrenched notions of what is privilege.  But the price is the decay of our universities, an enormous waste of public resources on a Rolls-Royce tertiary education sector we can no longer afford, that many are consuming with little enthusiasm, and riots.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Too Much Money Has Been Thrown Away. Now What Should Have Been Funded Must be Paid For

If Angels were Members of Parliament they would vote for higher fees.  Fees should not have been levied in the first place but once the pass had been sold and an undergraduate degree was no longer tax-payer funded it's simply silly not to charge enough to give more funds to already half-starved universities.

To vote against higher fees will not return us to a pre-fees world.  It merely refuses to recognise the arguments of so many Vice-Chancellors that they cannot continue underfunding research and underpaying university teachers and expect to run first class universities.

Perhaps those who have benefitted so much from a university education can now contribute towards scholarships, bursaries and research funding so that universities can be released from constraints on their ability to raise money altogether.   We don't want the worst of both worlds - fees, but at too low a level to make a serious contribution. 

All All In

The lorry came this morning and took the last of the olives to the mill.  The biggest harvest since the early sixties when the land was abandoned by the people who worked  it.  Every hillside is now patched with revived olive groves from here to Florence.  All the woods are trimmed, even open fields are ploughed ready for sowing. 

Vineyards have made  less of a comeback, partly because of the limitations placed by needing licences for them so reinstatement is not so easy:  the licences are auctioned,  and   bought up  by the 'names'  for lots of money; partly because wine-growing is so skilled and labour-intensive that prices haven't pulled all the abandoned, marginal-land vineyards back into production.  Producing for the local co-operative is not attractive because generic wine prices are so low, though buying from the local co-operative is so attractive for just that reason.

It's not going to be my generation that brings back the vineyards everywhere, as the olives have come back, but the next. Once the co-ops really get themselves organised like the other international wine producers have then Chianti will knock spots off lots of wines currently occupying the shops.  At the moment the Australian winemakers are working with the big name Chianti producers of expensive wines but their expertise, and the organisation and marketing expertise, is trickling down to the co-ops;  then the countryside will take the final step to looking as it should.

It is the fashion to denounce the EU's agricultural funding but in providing a proper career structure, formal training and qualification, with a pension at the end,  and  a means to furnish the people who work the land with access to the land while compensating its former owners, the policy has come good in the end.  It has been a motor for redistribution and increased equality of access to resources,  the preservation of a range of skills, and all that denounced funding is now enabling the meeting of a fast-growing demand for produce untainted by doubtful mass-farming methods.  Not in the UK unfortunately; there the money just went to the large landowners and, to a lesser extent, the medium ones.  But here it wasn't used like that, it went to  owners, farmers and land workers who are very small indeed.  And it has saved the day which has now come;  and the countryside, as well as yielding a less measurable but equally valuable social cohesion and identity of interest across time, and class, and place.

The mill offered to buy all the oil, as I mentioned, but it's selling quite briskly to people in the village - they say it tastes as oil did when they were small -  so I'll take delivery secure that Leo will be right when he warns that after their big effort this year the trees will rest next, and produce far less in 2011.  He knows the trees one by one, he prunes them, he ploughs them, he adjusts the natural fertilisers they're given now and then.  So we'll still have something to sell when the realisation dawns that there's going to be an oil shortage and high prices next year.  Insider information always helps with pricing and stocking.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Boycotting (sigh)

Mastercard, Visa and now Amazon.  Oh dear the walls are closing in around me.  I'll have to go down to the bank at the bottom of the hill and get out piles and piles of money; more sadly, I'll have to go to Feltrinelli and buy all my new books in the flesh (so to speak); and I'd only just settled down in front of the fire for the winter with my new Kindle.

Books for Christmas are back on the present list.  Worse, I'll have to think of another present for one of the small HGs.  Travelling about a lot it would have been ideal to have been able to summon up any book during a boring journey.  But no, Amazon have to blot their copybook and creep to American authoritarians.

They don't want to offer service to Wikileaks?  Angels don't want to offer custom to them.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

C'mon Australia. Why Are You Letting a Ten Pound Pom Speak For You?

Australian Prime minister Julia Gillard left Barry (she's Welsh, South Welsh at that)  as a Ten Pound Pom.  Gillard  names Nye Bevan as one of her greatest political inspirations. The other may well be Judas Iscariot but she's too cowardly to say so. She says her start in life greatly influenced her leftist sensibilities and willingness to fight her corner.

Contrast and compare the Australian-born human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, QC,  (a native Sydneysider) who will represent Mr Assange. He will be joined by an extradition specialist from his Doughty Street Chambers in London. A full hearing of the extradition case must be heard within 28 days.

The Australian national hero (except it seems for the Australian Labor party) is wanted for questioning by Swedish prosecutors for sexual assault.  Seeing as one of his accusers is CIA and the other jealous we should be unsurprised that he denies the allegations.  (Oh go and look in the Daily Mail for what the poor bloke is supposed to have done). 

In an opinion piece published in The Australian today, Mr Assange argues for freedom of speech and criticises the Gillard government for its ''disgraceful pandering'' ('pandering' - now there's a lovely word) to threats against him from the US.
 He and his lawyers plan to fight the extradition because of growing fears the case will allow for a handover to US authorities where a death sentence has been demanded.

The Australian  federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland was consulted last week about the case.  Let us hope that real Australians, including, if we can,  their Prime Minister will return to their proper and usual stance versus 'the authorities'.

Jemima Khan Saves Women's Face

So far we have Miss A, Miss W,  Gemma Linfield,  Marianne Ny,  Sarah Palin, and the Prime Minister of Australia.  All  Hunts - and I don't normally speak with a Florentine accent.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas Conversion

The Eight O'Clock News  reports that some shops at Christmas are accepting old Lira.  Surprising amounts of cash are appearing from under mattresses, out of old overcoat pockets, from nefarious and long-hidden plastic bags, and from little old ladies'  crocodile handbags scented with ancient perfumes.

Interested I looked up the conversion exchange rate: L 1,936 and a bit to the euro: L 2,288 and  similar bit to the Pound.  It all looks very ordinary to me in terms of current (very current) purchasing power.  What's all this fuss about euro debt crisis and Italian vulnerability then?  No-one's objecting to those rates this evening.

The Mint Does Print a Good-looking Banknote

In the rush to get a ticket for Florence at Pisa airport I grabbed a £20 note from my bag and pushed it through the screen.

"Very pretty, lovely printing job," the clerk said admiringly, "Only here we use real money."

I found a 20 euro note and handed it through.  He was right though.  £20 notes are very pretty. 

Eurobonds would not be a Safety Net but a Trampoline for Fiscal Profligacy

The European Union budget as a percentage of European GDP is 1.25% and  cannot fall into deficit; were it to fall into deficit a tax is levied on member-states proportionate to their national GDP, to cover it.  Were there a larger budget and, indeed, a deficit to fund, then eurobonds could make sense.

As it is eurobonds might be issued, say by the European Investment Bank, to fund, say European infrastructure or to lend funds to the PIGS so that they might retire their own high-interest, sovereign debt.   But to be European they would have to be covered by a collective and several guarantee from all member-states or, at the very least,  those belonging to the eurozone. The eurobond would have to yield a higher interest rate than that of the Bunds, because of guarantors such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain  And even if the EIB borrowed directly, its interest may still have to be higher once it was known that it was just a vehicle for borrowing by the PIGS. What then, is the  incentive for Germany and other countries who pay lower interest rates on their sovereign debt to raise funds at a higher interest rate than they need?

These proposals have been around for such a long time - it feels like decades, they were being touted by people like Stuart Holland (remember him?  the  Labour future once who could not persuade Jacques Delors in, oh, 1992?  to take up the notion).  I wonder if he is on the eurobonds stump once more.  It seems Labour politicians are never dead but merely sleeping until their turn shall come again.

And what are Tremonti and Junckers thinking of in today's FT?  A system of internal compensations that would reduce the gain for the high interest payers, would not be automatic and would, therefore, be subject to endless negotiations?   What would Germany want in return?  

Anyway the real problem is that access to more funds on cheaper terms would encourage spending and therefore aggravate the size of overall sovereign debt.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

No Global Financial Management - Ever

The vast, truly vast quantities of hot money running round the world are creating instabilities in zone after zone.  At the moment it's Europe's turn.  No-one argues seriously that the ECB's capacity and authority to control and direct the fortunes of the euro is insufficient, although many disagree bitterly on the policies that are being pursued.  The same is true for the Fed and the dollar (and its hangers-on), for the Chinese and the remnimbi, for Russia and the rouble;  even the Bank of England and sterling's management are efficient and appropriate (now).

What is not lacking is any further international body to 'oversee', 'regulate', 'manage' or otherwise interfere with relations between these blocs.  The IMF and the World Bank contain enough  political concessions by bloc powers needed to provide any international missing  links.  Nor would any one of these entities be willing to cede an iota of their political control over their bailiwicks; and don't think of Ireland, or Greece - those countries melded their economic and financial affairs into the ECB when they joined the eurozone, no matter what they said    to their national electorates at the time (or is pretended still) .

The United States looks as if it is setting a political course to make Obama a one-term president ; with him will go the last redoubt of of the globalised financial overseers control dream.  Until then we can expect to see the excess international liquidity in search of high return causing various local problems for which current institutions both national and international are wholly competent to deal.   

And  we can all continue to have fun arguing about the various political stances the dealing-with should embody.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

NEVER Pay Tax Unless You Must

Determining how much tax we must pay is as clear as mud to me, as it is to most people, even those labouring under pay as you earn systems.  Which is why the sensible person has an accountant do their tax return.  Then what is due gets paid and what was not gets paid back - which repayment often covers the cost of the accountant.

The idea of paying what is not due is ridiculous. We are required to obey the law not make charitable donations to government-determined or Opposition to government-determined, objectives.  And it is hardly surprising that some of us choose to live in pleasanter places than England was showing itself to be in Oxford Street this afternoon.

If quite a lot of Mrs Green's employees find themselves out of work in the very near future it will be only to be expected. 

Politics is not Love or War

The Election Court has been upheld in its decision that  barred Mr Woolas,  formerly MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, from the Commons for three years and declared the election in May void, after finding that he used “illegal practices” to win the seat.  
In the High Court Lord Justice Thomas said: “The statements made were not of a trivial nature; they were a serious personal attack on a candidate by saying he condoned violence by extremists and refused to condemn those who advocated violence.” Campaign statements amounted to attacks on the “personal character or conduct” of  his Liberal Democrat opponent, in breach of the Representation of the People Act.  Unfortunately those 'illegal practices' were not put in place or operated by Mr Woolas alone.

We can assume that a party has issued clear advice to its candidates on how an electoral campaign is to be conducted - and how it is not.  Were the Labour activists in Oldham east and Saddleworth who wrote and distributed this illegal material, and who engaged in its conception, ill-disciplined or ignorant?  In either case it is not just Mr Woolas who stands condemned.  Worryingly the behaviour of some members of the Labour party both in the PLP and the constituency party, and even the party at large, seem to believe that the rule of law should not apply to them. 

How to do it

President Dmitry Medvedev called the Wikileakage  a display of cynical speculations whose publication  “can be harmful to foreign political relations because. ... They show how the cynicism of  such assessments and speculations weigh on the policies of some countries, and here I mean the United States. ...But I do not see anything critically important.  ... Moreover  speculations and assessments can differ. ... If some of the assessments made by  the Russian Foreign Ministry,  or the Russian security services had  leaked in the mass media, particularly of our U.S. partners, they wouldn't  have been very pleased either,” Medvedev added.

“But do we need this? Diplomacy is a discreet matter , as is  banking, which should be conducted  on similar   principles,” the Russian president underlined. 

The Russian president  made the statement after  bi-lateral state consultations with the Italian Prime Minister at a  meeting in Krasnaya Polyana, the mountain resort outside Sochi.  

Considering what they were discussing, first in their tete-a-tete meeting -  the Russia-NATO summit results, the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan, the upcoming Russia-EU summit in Brussels, and G20 issues, and the fact that  “The parties may also discuss Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear program,”  - and then in the broader format including the ministers of Foreign affairs,  Defence, Industry,  Energy, and  Communications - will be  'working on a number of documents including: an executive intergovernmental protocol  on a visa-free regime with the European Union;   a number of commercial agreements are  to be signed at the consultations, including Russia’s Vnesheconombank to sign an agreement with Italian partners on cooperation in funding small and medium-sized businesses; and a framework agreement  to be signed between the two countries’ postal services. - it's unsurprising Wikileaks is regarded merely as an irritation and an example of how  inappropriate was the US way of conducting its diplomatic relations.
A presidential aide remarked. “This will be the seventh round of extended consultations. We consider interstate consultations as one of the basic elements of bilateral trade and economic and research and technological cooperation.”  And not vulnerable to internet publication either.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Pope's Mind Changed by Wikileaks Charges

The charges against the Wikileaker Assange look more American every time they are written about.  (h/t Leiter  again).  No wonder the Pope's changed the Church's ruling.   Every Catholic in Sweden would have been on a charge.

Hatfield and the North

Reading A View from the Foothills Chris Mullin comes over as a very decent man.  I'm only a third of the way through (it's 600pp and clearly I should have started earlier) yet the thought that there are many countries inside the United Kingdom over and above Scotland, Wales etc. ... arises and persists.

If Scotland can be devolved as it is now, and further after the Scotland Bill comes in,  the North must be a candidate for devolved government.  Not north of Watford Gap, but the de-industrialised north, the historically and culturally identified north; the North that is not just geographically distant from Greater London and the Home Counties, but the North with its wholly different  ideological mindset.  The decent Labour mindset displayed by Mr Mullin.

In the North  embracing state provision/high government expenditure/high tax ideology makes sense.  People there were thrust-up against the forces of globalisation, the export of work, the effects of wage competition so abruptly and forcefully that communities and generations'-long lifestyles collapsed.  It was not just unkind and gratuitously rude to deliver a benefits culture, it was grossly inefficient.

London (and the South, its hinterland) is now an international metropolis; there, those who need the tempering of the winds of market capitalism can be sheltered by the Big Society.  Those who do not like or accept market capitalism, who cleave to a more dirigiste version of social and economic justice  and protection, can realise their Jerusalem among those dark satanic mills.

It is urgent that Westminster becomes a federal parliament, and that the 'one size fits all' model of governance that creates so much bitterness between us is reconsidered.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

David G. Blanchflower

I thought a Wikileaks level set of remarks on this man should be made widely available to us.  After all, we can all find someone who knows something that can be reported back on.  So here we go.

"An undistinguished economist.  His claim to fame is work on profit-sharing (in collaboration with others) on which he was particularly keen as part of his 'labor' and doubtless Labour agenda.  In this work he was  "over-enthusiastic about it at a time when enthusiasm was what profit-sharing attracted.  He may have done work on monetary policy that justifies his former position as a member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee but he is not known for it.  Probably I would have heard if he had been.  He seems to have associations with United States and German institutions of a kind that might signal government agency connections.  He's good enough for a professorial chair - I suppose - depending on who else might be competing.

A  Buiter he is not  by any measure."

This is what is going on with Wikileaks.  This why none of the information has a qualification higher than 'confidential'.  What these communications are is a betrayal of social trust - information elicited over a glass of wine given either in ignorance of circumstance and interlocutor's intention, or given in spite.

Chinese Whispers

Louis Susman's command of English rather than American needs to be considered.  The nuanced speech used by the Governor of the Bank of England would have had to be transmitted verbatim for the conclusions being drawn by some Labour-supporting public figures to be valid.  And even if  verbatim accounts were cabled just how good would  the  understanding in Clinton's office - or her own for that matter - have been?

 Was there even  a focused discussion of the Prime Minister and Chancellor in waiting's  grasp of the country's economic difficulties?  I  doubt it.  It's  likely that   general talk has been filleted and  elaborated  to provide a response  to  American enquiries.  After all, actually speaking is required behaviour at social and even formal gatherings;  but Mr King  will not have   proffered any more than the most anodyne remarks, and assents to suggestions  from his host, of that we may be quite certain.

Just Our Cup of Tea

All parties are coalitions.  The   coalition currently governing the United Kingdom is  only slightly unusual because some of its constituent parts are organised formally into different parties -   and   that too  occurred sufficiently frequently in the last century to be  catered for in our governing practices.   These formal coalitions  tend to occur in times of great political stress, and we should have been much less  surprised when  the  regime run by Brown generated  fracture along such socioeconomic stress lines, and huge political bitterness  rather than co-operation between the various sectors of society;  add in  that regime's truly remarkable ignorance of the effects of socialist policies, even   'by stealth and renamed' socialist and redistributive policies, and a 'coalition government in time of need' response was duly delivered by a democratically mature electorate.

It would have been no use delivering a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition.  In that case the Liberal Democrats'  left-of-centre  dominant strain  would have been  readily absorbed by a left-of-centre  dominated coalition  and the disaster being produced by  interference with market capitalism  and gross levels of  government expenditures would have been further embedded into the state itself (and with all that  brings for individual liberties and freedom).

A right of centre coalition with  the Liberal Democrats pulling to the left  was a considerable coup by the electorate.  As the infiltrating left, the descendents of the Gang of Four, howl and wail their way back  towards the Labour party they so  disgracefully tried to derail  from its trades unions and the disadvantaged track,  we are able to see the real  Liberals, reduced in number but  strengthened in commitment, containing the undeniably nastier parts of the Conservative  diaspora.

 It is a misinterpretation  of  current politics to see this containment (and the departure of Labour-supporting Democrats) as  a breakdown in the Coalition government and/or the end of the Liberal party.  What we have is a   sophisticated and dynamic politicoeconomic response to a government  and a debased party that  was a terrible threat to our democracy and our standards of living.