Having studied the Treasury Red Book and carefully considering the Chancellor’s presentation of the Budget to the Commons, the word that springs to mind is – bodge. The definition of which is – to repair or adjust in a false or clumsy way, that is not as good as it should be, making it look good for a day or two before it collapses; or simply to put a square peg in a round hole. This perfectly sums up the Budget and Philip Hammond. We became resigned to his predecessor’s style of presentation over substance and lack of attention to detail, which invariably resulted in every one of his budgets unravelling within a short space of time. While acknowledging the fundamental soundness of George Osborne’s strategy to eliminate the annual Budget deficit and then start to reduce the National Debt, there is no doubt that his tactics were questionable and he kept missing his target. He was so consistent in this respect that I did not even comment on his 2016 Budget as it contained a number of ticking time-bombs, the latest of which is set to explode in April with the new rates for Vehicle Excise Duty that undermine the Government’s climate strategy. With Chris Grayling warning motorists to think very carefully before buying a diesel car, and the implication of coming penalties and taxes on them, whatever was Hammond thinking of by pressing ahead with the new VED instead of announcing a review in his first Autumn Statement?
Top of the pile of aggressive progressives is George Soros. What is his connection with Frank Furedi? They are both Huns and promoters of the ‘open society’. George is a billionaire, Frank is not, but there is a link between them. The rule to finding these connections and networks is, “follow the money”. George makes his fortune as a speculator by using his own money to leverage additional funds from investors to play the markets. His main vehicle is the Quantum Fund and he is famous as the man who broke the Bank of England on Black Wednesday in September 1992. He forced John Major and Nigel Lawson to leave the Exchange Rate Mechanism, betting heavily against the £ with his hedge fund by short selling, even though they used £6bn trying to defend it. George’s individual profit was £1bn. George loves ‘open borders’ and in that respect loves the European Union. Prior to this year’s Referendum he predicted disaster if the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. Citing a fall in the value of the £ on the same scale as Harold Wilson’s devaluation in 1967. This was not a prediction, it was a threat, and he had enough financial clout to make it happen without relying on the normal operation of the money market.
There is also the question of honesty and integrity? What is obvious is, that despite the tendency for comparisons, TM is not MT. Theresa’s confidence shines through the post-Brexit gloom. She has made a good start as Prime Minister, and with two well received speeches at annual conference her popularity rating is very high compared with previous PMs. However it may be due to relief that the grown-ups are back in charge, and we have had truly awful PMs going all the way back to and including John Major. The overall position is that it is too early to judge her and only time will tell.
Why should we suspect that she might be a closet Christian Democrat? Well she has emphasised her desire to work for the common good. She has also had friendly meetings with Angela Merkel, with the media coverage showing a genuine empathy and rapport. It would be interesting to know to what extent she influenced the slogan for annual conference – A Country that works for everyone. That was the message for voters, and inside the conference hall there was a similar message for party members – A Party that works for everyone. She and her Cabinet colleagues also collectively and subliminally littered their speeches and interviews with – an economy that works for everyone. Right, we get the message. Now for the criticism.
The knives are out for Mark Carney three years after the Canadian became the new Governor of the Bank of England, having previously held the position of Governor of the Bank of Canada. Although his term of office is for eight years it had been agreed that he will quit after five years  due to family plans. Many critics and commentators are saying that after three years of inaction followed by moves in the wrong direction post-referendum, by the Governor and the Monetary Policy Committee, that the situation is intolerable. It is also rumoured that he may remain in office for the full term up to 2021 but the dismissal of his guardian angel, George Osborne, makes that questionable. There have been calls for his resignation resulting from his interventions in the Referendum debate. The new occupants of numbers 10 & 11 Downing Street could run out of patience, even though the independence enjoyed by the B of E is convenient as it shields them from a degree of criticism.
The dismissal of George Osborne from the positions of First Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot be put down solely to the result of the EU Referendum or his part in the Remain campaign and in Project Fear. His dire warnings of the consequences for the economy if the people voted to leave the EU was like water off a ducks back. His warnings were too precise and stark to be taken seriously. The only people who took notice were the traders and speculators in the markets who reacted adversely when it became obvious that the UK had voted to leave the EU. As usual they panicked, even when there was no immediate practical effect of the vote, as they had placed their bets on a vote to remain and many of them got their fingers burnt. This is especially so in the money markets where the subsequent devaluation of the Pound Sterling was unnecessary and a man-made occurrence. In effect George talked down the UK economy in his efforts to confuse voters and achieve a remain result. He has gained a reputation and in years to come parents will scold their naughty children with the threat that Bogyman George will get them if they don’t behave.
At this time of the year, every January, there are some high-profile events that are worth scrutinising for signs that the movers and shakers are alert to, or even aware of, the great economic and financial crash that is bearing down on the whole world. If they are aware of the danger and alert to the need to take avoiding action, it is understandable that they will not admit it for fear of scaring the horses. The last thing they want is for the horses to bolt causing panic among their populations. Once the wheels start coming of the wagons nobody has any trust in the drivers and confidence evaporates. If they are alert to the danger there would be some signs that they are doing something to avoid the crash. Unfortunately there are no such signs. Read the rest of this entry »
Now, an interlude for something different. This is not about Charles Edward Chipping the Latin teacher, and later Headmaster, of Brookfield Public School from 1870 – recalled from the 1939 film. It is about James Patrick Hagan and his family, the Mr Chips of Louth in Lincolnshire. It is a sad goodbye to a family business and a reflection on what is happening in our rural market towns. Read the rest of this entry »