29 September 2011
28 September 2011
In Poland, however, the exploitation of shale gas is well on the way to becoming something of a national mission. Poland's Prime Minister, Donald Tusk (below), has described shale gas as his country's "great chance" to turn Poland from an energy importer to a major exporter within a generation. And the subtext for Warsaw is that shale gas could not only make Poland into an exporter, but also end its age-old energy dependence on Russia.
"I'm shackled to a shadow Chancellor who patronises me while overtly seeking my job either for himself or his ice-pixie missus, and the only saving grace about Ed Balls is that the punters really hate him where they are merely indifferent to me. The rest of my front bench, as Lord Prescott has graciously pointed out, is a bone-idle shadow government of none of the talents.
"Expediency forces me to pick a fight with the union leaders who put me here, the bastards, and God help me if the public sector strikes go ahead. Even as things stand, I no longer have even an obviously soft poll lead over the Tories. And to inherit this radioactive pile of pus, I broke my poor old mum's heart.
"Anyway, conference, here's the deal. I'm not quitting when no one, least of all that crybaby David, could do this frankly impossible job any better. But I stay with this understanding: unless the financial crisis becomes an apocalypse necessitating a government of national unity, my purpose remains the same as William Hague's after he inherited a loathed and discredited party in 1997.
"I am here to prevent a civil war, and ensure that Labour survives for the next leader, or two, or even three, to take us back to power a decade or more from today. Thank you for listening, and please don't embarrass me or yourselves by getting up."
... we are now approaching the endgame. Officials have not sought to knock down the idea that the Greek default will involve a 50 per cent haircut. We will get a deal on bank recapitalisation. And the EFSF will grow. None of these things will happen because the stock market demands them or even because Germany has shifted policy. It is simply the realisation that they are the only options left.
27 September 2011
There isn't one. This is a wish list dreamt up by Tim Geithner, US Treasury secretary, along with possibly the UK and more than likely some emerging nations. In Brussels they say it's "wildly premature" to talk of a multitrillion-euro bailout fund and an "orderly" halving of Greece's €315bn debt within the six-week deadline set by Geithner and George Osborne.
Under pressure from the US and the rest of the international community, eurozone officials are considering a "big bang" plan to dramatically increase the size of the European bailout fund to tame financial markets and bring the sovereign debt crisis under control.
A European Central Bank (ECB) board member threw his weight behind a plan, first mooted by the US Treasury, to increase the size of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) by allowing it to borrow additional funds from the ECB.
The comments, by Lorenzo Bini Smaghi at a conference on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund, were the first hints that a plan to leverage up the EFSF is being considered by the ECB and the eurozone governments which are contributors to the fund.
23 September 2011
22 September 2011
21 September 2011
A consumer watchdog today issued a super-complaint to fair trade officers about the amount holidaymakers are paying for their foreign currency.
Consumer Focus wants the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate what it believes is complex charging and poor information for travellers spending money abroad.
Consumer Focus said charges for using debit or credit cards overseas were unnecessarily complex and confusing.
It added that marketing phrases such as "0% commision" and "competitive exchange rates" were misleading.
It reckons that charges to customers for exchanging money are around £1 billion per year.
17 September 2011
Scottish Labour has to create a culture which is comfortable with exceptional people emerging, leading, taking risks and making decisions. And then beginning to flesh out a vision and bigger picture.
Much more than Labour's internal review on structures and what the leader is called or not called, the party needs to become comfortable with the sort of leadership which is appropriate for the modern age. One which is positive, not negative, delegating, not controlling, focused around an individual, but who is part of a team, and who has a generous, ecumenical account of what Scotland is and what it can become.
14 September 2011
Loose talk costs lives. Broadly, that is how one would sum up the contents of the interview which was given by Angela Merkel to German radio yesterday. Unfortunately, denial remains the most appropriate word for the Chancellor's ongoing approach to the eurozone crisis. The capital markets now put the chances of a Greek sovereign debt default at 98 per cent, yet Ms Merkel yesterday chose not to address that fear.
Instead she rebuked those members of her own government who have had the nerve to talk openly about how to handle a Greek default in recent days. If no one talks about it, she seems to think, it will not happen.
12 September 2011
08 September 2011
But I’d barely unloaded my rucksack and sat down under the umbrella, when without any prompting a vision of loveliness appeared with a pint of the foaming liquid. It cost me 2 euros, but it was the best 2 euros I spent that day. I don’t even know the maiden’s name, but she made an old man quite happy.
To whom could he possibly be referring?
Mr Amess told the Commons: "I don't know whether we have brilliant presenters.
"I would just say that it annoys me when one or two female presenters, I don't know whether they've had too much botox or something, when they are presenting the news and it's a very serious subject, they are smiling, which I find slightly annoying."
He did not say which newsreaders he had in mind.
07 September 2011
National Savings & Investment has pulled its hugely popular inflation-linked savings certificates.
The announcement is the latest blow to savers who have seen their income plummet at a time when most savings accounts fail to offer any real rate of return once inflation and tax are taken into account.
NS&I’s website and call centres stopped taking new sales of Savings Certificates yesterday. Postal applications received today (7 September 2011) will be honoured, but all postal applications received after midnight tonight will be returned to the customer.
But I'm all right, Jack. I'll get my inflation plus for the next five years. To them that hath shall be given, and all that.
05 September 2011
Prime Minister David Cameron, while not wishing to get involved in a public slanging match during the Scottish party’s leadership contest, believes that the abolition plan is a “distraction” from the main fight of countering First Minister Alex Salmond’s plans for a referendum on independence and the breaking up of Britain. David Mundell, the minister of state at the Scotland Office and the only Tory MP north of the border, has also set his face firmly against the move as has the man still idolised by a large section what’s left of Scottish Tory support, Lord (Michael) Forsyth of Drumlean.If Cameron, Mundell and Forsyth are agin, then the bold Murdo must be doing something right. Besides, what have the Scottish Tories got to lose?
04 September 2011
More convenient (if not necessarily more watchable) will be the match between Scotland's group competitors, England and Argentina, at 9.30 on Saturday morning, also on STV.
I suppose the timing puts paid to watching it in the pub.
Anyway, I'll be in my Spanish hideaway, soaking up the rays and re-acquiring a taste for Mahou. But my spirit will be in the land of the long white cloud.
Let's hear it for the no-finite-verbs party. They should have stuck with Bella ...
No name for the new party has been decided, but when he formally launches his leadership campaign in Edinburgh on Monday, Mr Fraser will unveil the slogan: “A new party for a new Scotland.” He said: “If I am elected as leader of the party, I will turn it into a new and stronger party for Scotland.
“A new party. A winning party with new supporters from all walks of life.
“A new belief in devolution. A new approach to policy-making. A new name.“But, most importantly, a new positive message about the benefits of staying in and strengthening our United Kingdom. A new party. A new unionism. A new dawn.”