Oct 262014


You’ve got to love… no, sorry despise, our politicians. Easy mistake to make, they do it all the time.

They say a country gets the politicians it deserves. Well, all I can say is we must have been a bad bunch of budgies recently if this current crop is anything to go by.

It takes something special in this era of anni horribilis, omni-shambles and good old fashioned incompetence to get yourself noticed amid the general bastardry and nefarious mendacity that passes for parliamentary politics in this day and age.

Some are called to gittery and others have it thrust upon them. Still more are just so obnoxiously offensive that they would be culled in any other walk of life.

Cue Iain Duncan Smith… Continue reading »

Oct 262014

Len McCluskey

Len McCluskey General Secretary of UNITE
I’ve never met Len McCluskey before, but I spot him immediately, gawping and giggling at a cartoon drawing of himself hung on the wall of the Gay Hussar, a Soho restaurant he’s chosen for our lunch.

“I look like Roy Hattersley.”

He’s smiling but I don’t think he’s that pleased, and it’s undeniable, there are similarities.

This place is a regular haunt for hacks and politicians. He saw Michael Portillo here – he says there was a time when he was “Thatcher’s golden boy,” but he’s become a “softer person”.

He’s also an unlikely fan of Downton Abbey: “It’s a bit sanitised but, you do reflect this paternalistic approach to society … a paternalism which was part of, I suppose, trying to share the wealth.” Continue reading »

Oct 262014

Eliminating avoidance by multinationals is vital for the good of society

A Facebook logo
Facebook has paid no UK corporation tax for the second year in a row. 

Michael Sandel, the internationally acclaimed American philosopher, gave a lecture in London last Thursday, based on his bestseller, What Money Can’t Buy. He warned that “incentivising”, a verb that only came into use around the millennium, has transformed us from having a market economy to being a market society. If a monetary reward is attached to losing weight, or stopping smoking, or providing a diagnosis of dementia, does it matter? He argued that it does, because once everything has a price tag it undermines the impulse to do something for moral or ethical reasons. Continue reading »

Oct 262014

Chris Leslie calls on Osborne to explain how long government has known about commission surcharge

George Osborne
George Osborne was asked by shadow minister Chris Leslie when he knew about the EU bill. 

Labour has called on George Osborne to explain what he knew and when, about Europe’s demand for Britain to pay an extra €2.1bn (£1.7bn).

David Cameron responded furiously to the bill from the EU on Friday, complaining that he had been ambushed at a summit of fellow leaders.

Warning that the move risked pushing the UK closer to exiting the EU, the prime minister insisted the money would not be paid by the 1 December deadline.

But the European commission has dismissed the objections, saying the contribution revisions were calculated by independent statisticians using a standard formula agreed by all member states. That process varies the fees charged depending on economic performance.

Britain has by far the biggest extra demand, while other countries such as the Netherlands, Italy and even crisis-hit Greece also face paying more. However, France and Germany have had their contributions reduced. Continue reading »

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