30 June 2016

Keep up at the back

Boris stabs himself in the front while Jeremy shoots himself in the foot (again).

What is the world coming to ...


Et tu Brutus ...

First he betrayed his old best friend David; then he betrayed his new best friend Boris.  Our next Prime Minister - probably ...


Smile of the day

From The Times Diary (here):
Overheard on the Commons terrace this week.  Journalist: “What do you think about Roy Hodgson resigning?” Labour MP: “Remind me which department he was shadowing.”


29 June 2016

Quote of the day

From The Guardian (here):
Fricassée de David Cameron was not on the menu – it was quail salad followed by poached veal and with a dessert of strawberries to round things off, since you ask – but if you were the prime minister it surely must have felt like it.
Imagine: you’re sat round a table with 27 other reasonably important people, all of whom think you have done something unbelievably stupid and are now determined that you follow through with something unbelievably enormous, very soon.
Your sole objective, meanwhile, is to do nothing whatsoever for as long as possible, while pretending you know what you want when actually you don’t because it will be your unfortunate successor who decides.
It can’t have been pleasant.
 He'll get no sympathy from me ...  

It's not turning out the way Boris expected


28 June 2016

Quote of the day

From The Guardian (here):
If the Commons statement had been intended to reassure people that everything was going to be OK, it backfired spectacularly. MPs who had been previously certain that someone, somewhere must have a plan only now realised that no one did.
And little prospect of any plan emerging in the near future ...


27 June 2016

Schadenfreude ...

... is the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune.

But it is far from appropriate when considering the misfortunes of the English football team.  Just because they were beaten by Iceland, a country with a total population considerably fewer than the city of Edinburgh, is not a cause for celebration.  Rather, we should sympathise with the affluent but ineffective plodders who - once again - let down their country.  It's not their fault - well, actually it is - but they are only human.

So, no gloating, please.

(I write some awful rubbish at times.  And, if you believe any of the above, ...)



Probably NSFW

You may wonder what was the point ...

From The Guardian (here):

Michael Fuchs, a senior figure in Angela Merkel’s CDU party, told the Today programme this morning that if the UK wanted to retain access to the single market once it left the EU, that would be possible, “but not for free”. According to the BBC, he went on:
You have to see with Norway, with Switzerland, you have to pay a certain fee. And the per capita fee of Norway is exactly the same as what Britain is now paying into the EU. So there won’t be any savings.

Screwed, either way.

Quote of the day (2)

From The Times (here):
Markets hate uncertainty. Or at least so you keep reading. Every time you do, remember that it’s nonsense. Markets trade and thrive on uncertainty. If everyone is certain, no one buys or sells anything. A certain market would be one that didn’t move, ever.
And my loss is your buying opportunity ...


Armageddon postponed

At the time of writing, the FTSE 100 is down by a mere 12 points, less than 0.25%.

I suppose I can now close that window.


Quote of the day

From The Guardian (here):
The Brexiters have won the referendum but seem to have little idea of what to do after victory.
Do they want access to the EU single market or not? We have heard endless claims that the UK, armed with a bigger economy and greater negotiating clout, can secure a better deal than Switzerland, Norway or Canada. But nobody has agreed what this model might be. A degree of vagueness was inevitable, but there is a world of difference between constructive ambiguity and not having any concrete negotiating principles.
But access to the single market implies some acceptance of free movement of labour.  Which is presumably why no-one on the Leave side is prepared to face up to the difficult choices.


26 June 2016

Wee problem for Jeremy

The Guardian reports:

More than half of the Labour shadow cabinet is expected to stand down on Sunday in a major coup against Jeremy Corbyn, triggered by the result of the EU referendum and the leader’s decision to sackHilary Benn.
The decision of Heidi Alexander, the shadow health secretary, to resign on Sunday morning is seen as hugely significant, because unlike Benn she was a more “loyal and pragmatic” member of the Corbyn team, a Labour source said:
She is seen as a moderate, practical and pragmatic voice. Hilary always had a problem with Jeremy. Now that Heidi’s gone, most of the shadow cabinet will step down. He can’t just replace those positions because other front bench ministers won’t step up to the roles.
Loyal members of shadow cabinet told the Guardian they were now writing their resignation letters in a coup that will be impossible for Corbyn to contain.

Smile of the day

Wheels within wheels

Musings in The Sunday Times on the next general election:
If our representative system is to retain its integrity, there will surely have to be a general election, perhaps as soon as the autumn. The new Tory new prime minister, presumably Boris Johnson, will need to go to the country, seeking a mandate for withdrawal.
If the UK wants what it voted for last week, he will win it by a landslide, and the constitutional part of our present crisis, at least, will be solved. But then again, he may not win it, especially if Labour elects a more credible leader than Jeremy Corbyn. It is, after all, the overwhelming desire of 90% of Labour MPs, almost all the trade unions, and a majority of Labour voters, that Britain remains within the EU.
Johnson, of course, may not want to risk an election on a platform of withdrawal, not least because it would almost certainly lead to a split in the Tory party.
Interesting.  Boris would presumably seek a mandate involving some kind of association agreement with the EU (either as part of the EEA or otherwise), even if that meant abandoning opposition to free movement of labour.  As to what position the Labour Party might adopt, I haven't a scooby ...


25 June 2016

Music of the week

Our next prime minister

You may wonder if Boris is up to the job.  But, hey, it's inevitable.  The Guardian reports:
The blunt truth is that nobody else in Conservative politics gets begged for selfies as Johnson did on every walkabout; none has his charisma or his reach. If his name is on a shortlist of two put forward to Tory members, few doubt he would be the runaway winner.
And if MPs conspire to keep him off that list during the preliminary stages of the contest? Well, imagine the consequences for those who have already outraged constituents by voting remain. Imagine the rage, the mass defections to Ukip, were Johnson to be seen to be blocked by yet another elite afraid of ordinary people getting it wrong.
Far from sure that a country led by Boris is one in which I wish to live ...


This is going to get complicated

The implications of Brexit are becoming apparent.  The Guardian reports:
The UK has to negotiate two exit agreements: a divorce treaty to wind down British contributions to the EU budget and settle the status of the 1.2 million Britons living in the EU and 3 million EU citizens in the UK; and an agreement to govern future trade and other ties with its European neighbours.
Tusk has estimated that both agreements could take seven years to settle “without any guarantee of success”. Most Brussels insiders think this sounds optimistic.
At the same time. the UK and Scottish governments need to decide what to do about the vast body of domestic legislation giving effect to EU policies in such areas as the environment, consumer protection, financial regulation, agriculture and fisheries, and so on.  This is likely to be the centrepiece of parliamentary business for years to come.  And none of it will be easy.

24 June 2016


OK, it's not good but the FTSE100 is sticking at 6025 or thereabouts, down 5% on last night's close.  Far from the 15-20% decline predicted by the doom-mongers.



The FTSE 100 has recovered from a low of close to 5800 to well over 6000.  Sterling has recovered from a low of $1.34 to over $1.37.

Meanwhile, Cameron is going without invoking Article 50 to initiate Brexit negotiations with the EU on the grounds that it would be for a new PM to decide.  And, possibly, that new PM - whoever he or she turns out to be - may conclude that he should not invoke Article 50 until he has secured his position by means of a general election.  Which raises the question of whether a new government would feel obliged to pursue Brexit - depending on the manifesto on which it had been elected.

Old Heraclitus had it right when he said all is flux and nothing remains the same.


Only one of the questions ...

From The Guardian (here):
Britain now has to decide what sort of arrangement it wants to have with the EU. Does it want to remain part of the single market even if that means accepting free movement of labour? Or does it want to go for a complete go-it-alone approach, which would give the new government a freer hand on immigration?
Or should we look for an option somewhere between this binary choice.  And we do not know what position the EU will be prepared to accept.

Furthermore, even the Brexiteers seem unsure what they want.


"All is flux; nothing stays the same."

The people have spoken.  What happens now is the question.  And none of our politicians has a clue ...


21 June 2016

Still in the trough

From CityWire's press summary (here):
  • The Guardian: TalkTalk paid its chief executive, Dido Harding, an extra £1.8 million last year when the telecoms company suffered a cyber-attack that cost it £60 million and 101,000 customers.
  • Daily Mail: Dairy Crest boss Mark Allen has seen his pay go up by almost 50% in the past year, despite the firm reporting a 59% fall in profits.
  • Financial Times: SABMiller’s chief executive took a £1.2 million cut in total pay last year but will shortly be in line receive a payout of £55 million — once the London-listed brewing group is taken over by larger rival Anheuser-Busch InBev.


Cluck cluck!

Not sure that likening the electorate to a bunch of chickens is a good idea:

20 June 2016

They think it's all over ...

Well, maybe it is.  Bloomberg reports:
European stock futures surged, Asian equities rallied and the pound strengthened by the most in three months amid signs Britons are warming toward the European Union ahead of a referendum on Thursday. The yen slumped with Treasuries and gold as haven assets fell out of favor.
FTSE 100 futures soared as much as 3.3 percent, while contracts on the Euro Stoxx 50 jumped more than 3 percent and the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose by the most in two months. Sterling jumped after a poll showed the campaign for the U.K. to remain in the EU leading by three percentage points. The euro strengthened with high-yielding currencies, while the yen fell for the first time in seven days.
Me, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

16 June 2016

Sir Philip before the Select Committee

Is it fair to subject a knight of the realm to such a grilling?

Big Phil set the tone by rolling his eyelids at the committee while sitting down and his performance became progressively more unstable the longer the session dragged on. First in line was Conservative Richard Fuller, who he believed was looking at him in a funny way. “Stop staring at me like that,” he demanded. Then he had a pop at another Tory, Jeremy Quin, for playing with his glasses in an annoying way. The committee clerk was ticked off for whispering and Labour’s Karen Buck, aka “That Lady”, was called out for being a mind-reader in a former life. Most bizarrely of all, the reporter from the Sunday Times was all but accused of bringing about the collapse of BHS by investigating the deal.
“I’m not here to blame anyone because that’s not my style,” he insisted. “But there are some other people I could mention who are to blame.” Quite.
“Can we get back to talking about some of the details?” asked co-chair Frank Field. “I’m afraid I don’t understand the question,” said an apparently bemused Big Phil. Field tried again. “Can we get back to talking about the some of the details?”
“That’s not the right question to be asking me,” insisted Big Phil second time round. This became a familiar pattern; almost every question was either too difficult or not the right one. It’s fair to say that Big Phil has concentration issues as well as trust issues.

You looking at me, pal ...

Splendid rant in The Guardian:
Ours is a broken economic system, rigged in favour of a tiny wealthy elite whose fortunes more than doubled even as the wages of millions fell. It is an elite riddled with contempt for democracy, and will be damned if anybody wishes publicly to scrutinise its affairs. It is happy to treat the state as a cash cow but reluctant to pay taxes to contribute to its upkeep. It drips with machismo and arrogance, believing that rules exist for the little people. It is more interested in short-term profit than long-term innovation and investment, putting the bank balances of a few ahead of the interests either of workers or society as a whole. It has no interest in accepting responsibility for problems it has caused, and will shamelessly redirect blame anywhere else. And if this system were to take human form, it would surely be Sir Philip Green.
Who would disagree ...


09 June 2016

Hooks, crooks and comic singers

These are not very nice people.  The Guardian reports:
Dominic Chappell, the former owner of BHS, had his “fingers in the till” of the failed retailer and “threatened to kill” its chief executive after he was confronted about taking money out of the business, according to explosive allegations made to MPs.
Other allegations from the hearing into the collapse of BHS, which has put 11,000 jobs at risk, included:
  • Chappell claiming that retail tycoon Sir Philip Green, who sold the business to him, was to blame for its collapse. 
  • that Green went “insane” when he found out that BHS was in talks with Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct about a rescue deal, so he blocked it and forced BHS into administration.
  • Chappell’s consortium, Retail Acquisitions, collected at least £17m from BHS despite owning it for just 13 months.
  • the consortium put none of its own funds into BHS, instead the £15m it injected into BHS came from a £5m loan from a property company and £10m from Green.
Chappell later claimed allegations by Topp of a death threat were “a nonsense”. After the hearing, he told the Guardian: “What I said to him was ‘when I get back to the office I will fucking sort you out’.” Chappell said he meant he was going to fire Topp but let it go because of the “gravity of what was going on”.


08 June 2016

Quote of the day

From The New Statesman (here):
It is the season of bed-wetting. For those who follow politics closely – we anxious few – every new poll, whether from the UK or the US, is arriving freighted with apocalyptic significance.
It’s true that the stakes are high. In five months’ time, we could be standing among the smoking ruins of liberal democracy. The Trump coat of arms will be emblazoned on the dome of the Capitol. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will be making tinny jokes about bulldogs as Vladimir Putin moves tanks to the Finnish border.
On the other hand, the post-war order may be looking remarkably intact, Britain having voted emphatically to Remain, a liberal Atlanticist with unexciting ideas installed in the Oval Office, and the England football team having returned home from France after three matches of unbearable mediocrity.


Smile of the day


04 June 2016

Music of the week

Basically, it is Romeo and Juliet, compressed into less than three minutes:


01 June 2016

He doesn't like hotdogs ...

Nor is it my favourite.  The Guardian reports:
To my mind, the hotdog is the bastard cousin of the burger. The meat-to-bread ratio tips too far towards the bun, and they’re made with frankfurters, the most disgusting food known to man. Does anyone enjoy their flaccid smoothness, laced with gristle and offputtingly pink? Eating a frankfurter is like licking Cristiano Ronaldo. It mystifies me that Frankfurt – birthplace of Goethe, financial powerhouse, site of two botanical gardens – would want eternal association with mechanically recovered meat paste. It’s not champagne, is it?
Maybe it's the mustard?