498 thoughts on “The Way We Live Now

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  • DiggerUK

    Considering that Mr. Blair and Mr. Straw stopped the corruption investigation into the ‘Al-Yamamah’ bribery scandal involving BAE, I imagine their packages will be in the region of 17.87 tonnes, not kilos…_

  • Sharp Ears

    That was a brave mole in the Goods Inwards department. Hope they are safe.

    Who are the other a+ 49? I think we should be told.

    PS I hope they choke on the contents, if any were edible.

  • Republicofscotland

    A big fat cheque perhaps? A thank you for your support, as we slaughter Yemeni civilians, or perhaps shares in the Saudi oil company, as a way of saying that British pilots did a very good job training Saudi pilots, the Yemeni body count attests to that.

    Whatever the reason, it appears in the publics eye, in my opinion anyway, that payment for services rendered, in whatever form is the outcome of this gift.

    Unless of course King Salman, was just feeling rather generous, and thought I know I’ll give my 50 Tory friends a nice gift…hmmm?

  • giyane

    Corruption at No 10. May’s guilty secret, gold jewellery. All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    • Tony_0pmoc

      Sharp Ears,

      Look at that photo again in High Definiton on a 55″ wide TV Screen….Theresa May looks like a Cardboard Cut Out (done professionally) but the lighting doesn’t look quite right. She may have been there, but I would need to see considerably more photographic evidence that that. Have you got a link to a video? (I don’t fancy her in the slightest by the way. I didn’t fancy Maggie either, but at least she wasn’t braindead at the start. She just got worse.) I don’t see how Theresa can do it, except that she can’t get any worse can she?

      Oh Dear.

      Tony

      • AS

        “Look at that photo again in High Definiton on a 55″ wide TV Screen….Theresa May looks like a Cardboard Cut Out (done professionally) but the lighting doesn’t look quite right.”

        That’s because you’re looking at it on a HD 55″ TV Screen. Nothing looks natural.

        • Tony_0pmoc

          Check out the eyes, of the people in the front of the photograph. None of them are looking at each other, which normal people would naturally do. Even the bloke in the middle isn’t looking at the camera – he looks like he is stoned out of his head. One of the princes on the left looks reasonably compos mentis, but the security guard on the right, looks like he is trying to hide a cough, whilst probably trying not to throw up.

          I am far from convinced that all these people were there at the same time, though I guess its possible.

          I do not do photoshop analysis, cos

          (A) I never Fake it.
          (B) it sent Chris Spivey Schizophrenic. (or was that MI5 like They managed to turn David Shayler into a fairy?)

          Tony

          • AS

            Tony, I’ve no idea why you’re even doubting this photo when May was reported going to Saudi Arabia and was well documented doing so. Why would anyone bother faking a photo May wanted to be taken?

            Aside from that, your powers of detection seem a bit, well, sub-Sherlock. The group is emerging from a darker interior location into brighter light and (you have to fill in the rest of the probable setting here) the glare of media flashlights. So their gazes are disordered, slightly dazzled, while trying to look composed and cheerful (PR). The guard on the right isn’t vomiting: you obviously haven’t looked closely enough. He’s talking into a handset, which you can see along with a wire, clutched in his hand. I can see that without a 55″ HD TV.

      • Erik Moller

        If in doubt of the photo being real or fake, do not change the focus on this matter.
        The Tory’s got the (full) hands in the jar of killings, murders and huge corruption in those countries they support.

  • Radar O’Reilly

    I remember Christmas in ar-Riyadh, it was a normal working day, illegal to celebrate in the slightest iota. Haram.

    I remember baksheesh in ar-Riyadh, we flew the Minister of Telecommunications regularly to Thailand for ‘essential conferences’. Halal.

    Those were the days, it’s all different now, or vice-versa, apparently.

  • Geoffrey

    Craig,how do you know these gifts were sent to “over 50 Tory MPs” ? Were none sent to MPs of other parties ? Or perhaps other officials involved with providing arms to the Saudi’s ?

  • Paul Barbara

    I hope it wasn’t (gulp) the head of a certain Jeremy Corbyn! Any one seen him since?

  • Sharp Ears

    Troughers at the trough cont’d
    Philip Hammond accepts £2,000 watch from Saudi sheikh, despite ban on donating expensive gifts
    Mr Hammond argues he accepted the gift in his capacity as a constituency MP, meaning the ministerial rule did not apply
    29 November 2015
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/philip-hammond-accepts-watch-worth-nearly-2000-from-saudi-sheikh-despite-ban-on-donating-expensive-a6753661.html
    ____
    ‘Saudi Arabia and the UK: More and more questions as election nears
    #HumanRights
    Opposition party leaders urge the UK Home Office to release its report into foreign funding of terror groups after it was suppressed
    [..]
    Saudi gifts to Conservative ministers

    The delay to the publication of the report comes as parliamentary documents reveal that senior Conservative government ministers have been lavished with gifts and consulting fees by Saudi Arabia since the Yemen war began.

    Figures published on the parliamentary register of financial interests revealed that senior Conservative ministers and MPs collected £99,396 ($128,035) in gifts, travel expenses and consulting fees from the government of Saudi Arabia.

    Former foreign secretary Philip Hammond, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had come under fire for defending a mass execution in Saudi Arabia, accepted a watch from the Saudi ambassador worth £1,950 ($2,517).

    Charlotte Leslie MP, who is the chair of the House of Commons all-party group on Saudi Arabia, received a food basket from the Gulf kingdom with an estimated value of £500 ($644).

    The Saudi Arabian government has also picked up the tab for four expenses-paid junkets taken by Tory lawmakers to visit the kingdom since the Yemen war began.

    At least 18 Conservative MPs have participated in the trips, according to parliamentary documents, with the cost for accommodation, travel and meals for the MPs ranging from £2,888 ($3,724) to £6,722 ($8,668) each.

    Conservative MP Rehman Chishti, one of the participants in a Saudi junket last year, was also paid £2,000 ($2,579) per month as an adviser to the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, a state-backed think tank in Saudi Arabia. The arrangement began in February 2016.

    Yemen war

    Since the last UK election in 2015, the Conservative government has licensed £4.1bn ($5.3bn) worth of arms to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia being its largest customer.

    During the first 12 months of the Saudi-led coalition military campaign in Yemen which began in March 2015, Britain approved £3.3bn ($4.3 bn) worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.’
    http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-UK-election-relation-arms-questions-266190874

  • reel guid

    A Scottish Government study has concluded that hard brexit will cost Scotland £12.7 billion a year. That’s a lot for a country to lose out on when we didn’t vote for it. For Scots, independence is now a moral, an economic and a psychological necessity.

    • Republicofscotland

      Yes reel guid, the Scottish governments does what the British government failed to do.

      The impact of a hard Brexit or no deal will be disastrous for Scotland’s economy, even a soft Brexit will, have a wide impact.

      Looks like Sturgeon is planning an early 2019 referendum, by then we should know just how bad the damage will be.

    • reel guid

      Corbyn wants Scotland to gift him lots of Labour MPs at the cost to Scotland of £12.7 billion a year.

      I think we should instead gift him a good hard boot up the arse.

    • Sharp Ears

      I am well aware of the MPs’ Register of Interests and often quote details from TheyWorkForYou which gives the whole history from the time the trougher was elected. Details of visits to countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia are given on TWFY and who funded them. In other words, chapter and verse is there.

      Let’s look at Hammond.
      A lovely lot of donations including £5,000 from Michael Hintze! (back to Fox/Werrity there 🙂 )https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/180108/hammond_philip.htm

      PS Why does the multimillionaire Hammond need donations anyway or is that a crafty way of funnelling money to the partei for the election?

      Here is his TWFY back to 2000. He’s such a good boy. He declared the watch.

      What connection have the head choppers in SA to Runnymede, where our ‘democracy’ was born?

      •Name of donor: H.E. Sheikh Mubarak Mahfouz bin Mahfouz
      Address of donor: Al Aziziah PO Box 734, Makkah 21955, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
      Amount of donation or nature and value if donation in kind: Gift of a watch (value £1,950) on the occasion of unveiling a statue in Runnymede
      Date received: 1 July 2015
      Date accepted: 1 July 2015
      Donor status: individual
      (Registered 29 July 2015)
      https://www.theyworkforyou.com/regmem/?p=10257

  • reel guid

    Rajoy says Madrid will continue with direct rule if the newly elected Catalan Parliament chooses Puigdemont as Catalonia’s leader. Rajoy referred to Puigdemont as a “fugitive”.

    Don’t be expecting Corbyn or Cable to protest.

    • Loony

      It does not matter what some English non entity has to say – Spain will not waiver and Spain will not break.

      It must be so hard to look at a country that actually cares and then turn your gaze to Scotland- a place about which absolutely no-one cares. Instead of looking to fan the flames of discord in countries that you manifestly do not understand perhaps you should remain closer to home and ask why no-one cares about Scotland.

      • Republicofscotland

        Loony.

        What’s there to understand, the Catalan people want independence, but the fascists Spanish won’t let them, even though they voted for it.

        Yes I think we clearly understand that the fascist Spanish government doesn’t believe in democracy.

    • Habbabkuk

      reel guid

      Mr Puigdemont is wanted on criminal charges brought by the highest judicial authorities of a liberal democracy called Spain and has fled abroad. That would appear to justify the use of the word “fugitive” to describe him.

      • willyrobinson

        There is no longer any euro-arrest warrent to detain Puigdemont, so use of the word ‘fugitive’ in this case is just plain wrong.

        • Habbabkuk

          Willy

          It is perfectly justified to describe Mr Puigdemont as a fugitive – a fugitive from Spanish judicial process. As there is no obligation on the authorities of any EU Member State to issue a EAW in respect of any wanted person, it is not the existence or otherwise of such a warrant which determines whether or not someone is a fugitive.

          • reel guid

            Habbakuk

            The word fugitive, from it’s Latin derivation, simply means ‘one who flees’. It implies neither guilt or innocence. Unless it’s used in a particular way. Rajoy said that Puigdemont couldn’t be the Catalan leader because he is a “fugitive”. Clearly implying criminality. But Puigdemont simply fled – as did other Catalan politicians – to avoid politically motivated trumped up charges issued by the Spanish legal system at the behest of Francoist politicians.

            So yes, Puigdemont is a fugitive. An innocent one. Who has not been disqualified from holding office by the standards of genuine democracy.

      • Republicofscotland

        Habbabkuk.

        “Liberal democracy” you say, which includes beating, shooting and tear gassing women and children. Their henious crime? Voting on self determination, which is legal under international law, and supercedes any EU countries constitutional laws.

        • Habbabkuk

          Afraid not, RoS. The correct way of saying it is the other way round, namely, “voting on self determination is not illegal under international law”. International law being prescriptive, it cannot be argued that what is not illegal under international law supercedes national constitutional law.

          • Republicofscotland

            Habbabkuk.

            If that were the case, then borders would be immutable, they’re not. I’d say international law is probably more political in nature, and indeed international recognition can help a people such as the Catalan’s succeed in self-determining.

            The principle of self-determination is prominently embodied in Article I of the Charter of the United Nations.

            Earlier it was explicitly embraced by US President Woodrow Wilson, by Lenin and others, and became the guiding principle for the reconstruction of Europe following World War I.

            The principle was incorporated into the 1941 Atlantic Charter and the Dumbarton Oaks proposals which evolved into the United Nations Charter. Its inclusion in the UN Charter marks the universal recognition of the principle as fundamental to the maintenance of friendly relations and peace among states.

            It is recognised as a right of all peoples in the first article common to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which both entered into force in 1976.

            In my opinion international law, through economic pressures and intent by other means, can persuade a nation to change its constitutional laws (if need be) to allow a “distinct” people living under that particular (but foreign in nature to them) constitution. To forge ahead to create a new, and most importantly internationally recognised state, for that distinct people, through democratic election.

    • Dungroanin

      Hello, this chap Parrish, speaks a lot of sense ….
      “Nothing has been resolved by recent events in Catalonia. Madrid’s policy towards the region has only been to foment discontent, and bolster the support of those who advocate independence. Once a coalition government has been formed, the next stage in resolving this crisis can only be to force a negotiated resolution to the immediate crisis upon Madrid. Irrespective of the future of the Catalan independence movement, the Spanish Constitution must be reformed to grant Catalans greater cultural and institutional autonomy that are cornerstones of their aspirations for independence.”
      http://gentiumlaw.com/news/catalan-regional-elections-december-2017-primer-foreigners/

  • Habbabkuk

    1/. It is my understanding that Ministers are allowed to accept and keep gifts from foreign govts if they do not exceed a certain value. If they do exceed that value, the Minister is allowed to keep them if they pay their value. It is also my understanding that if the gifts are made to MPs who are not Ministers the MPs are allowed to keep them, provided that they are declared in writing to the House. Could Craig please confirm the above.

    2/. It is likely that Ministers and MPs receive Christmas gifts from various foreign govts and not only from the govt of Saudi Arabia and that this is not new but goes on every year. In other words, this is usual practice. Could Craig please confirm that this is the case.

    Against that background, the objections voiced would appear to arise from the fact that these particular gifts come from the govt of Saudi Arabia, a govt to whom the UK has sold or sells arms, some of which it is claimed are being used by Saudi Arabia for the current fighting in the Yemen. And that, accordingly, those objections would be stilled in the event of any or any combination of the following:

    – the Ministers and MPs concerned should refuse the gifts;

    – arms sales to Saudi Arabia should cease for the duration;

    – arms sales to Saudi Arabia should continue on the condition Saudi Arabia would guarantee that the arms in question would not be used in the Yemen theatre.

    Have I got that right?

    All for the moment, while awaiting other readers’ thoughts.

    • giyane

      Yes. because Saudi Arabia gets WMD without making any sacrifice in terms of retaining the necessary skills and infrastructure to make and operate WMD of its own, and because they are not answerable to any electorate to justify the deployment of weaponry of any sort, they therefore are under the impression that buying WMD is a lifestyle choice like buying expensive presents. They can do what they like. Is the giving of motorbikes to Saudi belles the same as making government accountable to democratic choice?

      Why do USUKIS not tell the non-democracies that no WMD will ever be sold to countries who take no responsibility, and who have no democratic checks and balances moderating government choice?

  • Habbabkuk

    A further point relevant to the present discussion is the following:

    although the thought is displeasing to many, the fact is that

    1/. it is impossible, in most situations (and I think the Yemen civil war is one of them), to control effectively the use a third country makes of the arms it imports;

    2/. a third country (absent, possibly, a UN embargo) will always be able to obtain any but the very most sophisticated arms from one or the other arms exporting countries. A refusal by country X to supply will simply be countered by the willingness of country Z to supply. This is what happens when there are many potential supplier countries. Accordingly, the moral position taken by country X will remain just that and will be without effect, in the real world, on the behaviour of countries Z, Y, A, B and C. All very sad, not an original thought by any means, but nevertheless true, and there are no convincing alternative solutions on the table.

      • Habbabkuk

        We have already had this discussion on here. Yemen has been in a state of civil war – with the occasional not very long break – virtually since gaining independence. The main reason being the union of Aden with the northern tribal territories (a union not brought about by the US, the UK, Israel or any other of the states which are responsible, in the opinion of some, for all of the world’s evils).

        • Republicofscotland

          Habbabkuk.

          Well, I’m under the impression, and I’m sure others will agree that the Yemen conflict is infact a proxy war played out in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

          Throw in that the US has fired missiles into Yemen, in an attempt to aid the Saudi’s. There are facets of a domestic struggle between factions, however outside military interference is prominent.

          Then there’s the Saudi coalition blockades, which has left millions starving and diseases rife, and thousands are dying in the process, and one could make a case that outside interference, have changed the definition of the war.

          • Habbabkuk

            “Well, I’m under the impression, and I’m sure others will agree that the Yemen conflict is infact a proxy war played out in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
            ______________________

            For outside parties to muscle into a civil war, there has to be a civil war in the first place.

            Example : Germany, Italy and the USSR muscled into a civil war that already existed.

            I note that you are not denying my observation that Yemen has been in a state of civil war most of the time almost since independence. That is, since Iran was still under the Shah and had friendly relations with Saudi Arabia.

          • Republicofscotland

            I shouldve added, that the original instability could have and probably was, created by outside agitating forces.

            You know as well as I do, that it’s easy enough to find descenting voices in just about every country. Those voices are backed, funded and aided in stirring up political unrest.

            The Great Satan has bern doing thzt kind of thing in South America for decades. Venezuela being the most prominent one at the moment.

    • giyane

      Yes. A case in point was when ex-President Barzani obtained top pf range weapons for Kurdistan which he then sold to Daesh, which was one of Blair’s agencies in the extraction of Iraqi oil.

  • giyane

    Lord Adonis has said that the government awarded major additional contracts to Carillion after three profit warnings had been issued by the company. Mrs May’s government is right inside this scandal, with interests in all the contracts given to Carillion. It is totally unthinkable that the government could give a bail-out to a company they were propping up in spite of knowing the risks.

    For Adonis revenge will be sweet, because the narrow clique in the Tory party which wants hard brexit at all costs has excluded all colleague and civil service advice, forcing him to quit. IMHO in this scandal it will be proven that what Adonis said is true, the government was propping up Carilliuon by awarding additional contracts. There has already been several bail-outs and ministers knew the risks.

    The nation is waitin g with baited breath to see if Corbyn has the wits to call a vote of no of no confidence in a prime minister who has clearly been exceedingly devious in propping up a company that was bankrupt with major contracts from the centre of government. Forget Saudi trinkets, Carillion has not been getting trinkets from the taxpayer, they have been getting lorry loads of bullion fro government contracts. Jeremy, get on your hi-viz ,site hat and steel toe-caps, there’s work to be done

    Needless to say right wing Labour MPs like my own MP Liam Byrne will stay silent because they would have done exactly the same as the Tories.

      • Loony

        so what? anyone could have shorted Carillion shares.

        As far back as July 11th 2017 Reuters reported that Carillion was “one of the UK’s most heavily shorted stocks” So it is not as though this was some kind of secret.

        The general population worship at the alter of ignorance and delusion – but this is not sufficient to change reality. The reality in this instance is that Carillion was an economic basket case and anyone paying even moderate attention could have worked that out for themselves. Anyone that could be bothered to understand could have made as much money as they wanted.

        • Republicofscotland

          The chairman of Carillion Phil Green, was adviser to both David Cameron and Theresa May, on “corporate responsibility.”

          These people haven’t got a clue what they’re doing, and that includes the Tory government.

          • reel guid

            Yes Ros. The old Tory claim that they were the party that was sound on managing the finances just looks ridiculous now.

          • giyane

            reel guid
            the mantra sound and stable was a slogan covering the absolute opposite. May’s government is neither sound nor stable. It’s rotten to the core and irresponsible. Corbyn is obviously too weak inside his party to act.

    • MJ

      BBC reporting that the government may have to resort to temporary nationalisation of parts of the business. That would put it in breach of EU law. Interesting.

      • Habbabkuk

        “…nationalisation of parts of the business. That would put it in breach of EU law.”
        _______________________

        Not necessarily.

      • Shatnersrug

        That is not EU law. It’s an EU directive that every member can choose to ignore should they wish. It was added by British MEPs and it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. The only reason anyone talks about it is because Farage invented it for Brexit purposes.

  • Sharp Ears

    Fears fallout from Carillion collapse will spread to other companies
    Concerns over the wider supply chain after insolvency of construction company with 450 public sector contracts

    ‘Fears’? More like a dead cert.

    Fears fallout from Carillion collapse will spread to other companies
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/15/jobs-carillion-liquidation-construction-hs2?

    It was ‘Move along there. Nothing to worry about’ stuff from Lidington in the HoC this afternoon.

    • Loony

      If, as you postulate, contagion is a “dead cert” then you can make a lot of money by shorting the stocks of the companies that are a “dead cert” to fail. Just imagine how many good causes you could fund through your financial acumen.

      Alternatively contagion may not be a “dead cert.” Carillion described itself as “a leading integrated support services business” This has no obvious meaning in the English language and so some translation is required. The vast bulk of Carillion’s business came via government PFI contracts for such things as schools and hospitals and through its role in HS2.

      The schools and hospitals still exist and someone will be required to manage the contracts associated with these facilities. It is likely that “a leading integrated support services” effectively means that Carillion was employing a range of sub contractors to actually do the work associated with its contracts and merely skimming a fee off the top. To the extent that Carillion was operating as a type of commercial parasite then their demise should be of net benefit for all other parties. Given that Carillion no longer exists then it is likely that the contracts associated with HS2 will be awarded to competitor companies – thus benefiting them.

      Far from contagion being a “dead cert” it is more likely that the wider supply chain will benefit from the demise of Carillion.

      Creative destruction is, after all, the essence of free market capitalism.

      • Habbabkuk

        Loony

        “Creative destruction is, after all, the essence of free market capitalism.”
        __________________

        You are absolutely right – as so often – in what you say about creative destruction. In the view of Acemoglou and Robinson (their work “Why nations fail – the origins of power, prosperity and poverty”, it is an essential feature for the success of inclusive economic institutions and the maintaining of that success over time.

        • Loony

          What you write may or may not be true – it is a subjective opinion and there is no way to verify or validate it.

          What is true and verifiable is that Carillion were carrying GBP 1.5 billion of “Goodwill” on its balance sheet. This has now been written down to zero but no-one has lost GBP 1.5 billion since it never existed in the first place.

          Carillion is a microcosm of the entire economy – an economy that is propped up by money that does not exist. If, on a large scale, people are forced to recognize the magnitude of fictitious money then the entire economy will collapse. Under such a scenario all of the problems that so exercise you will increase exponentially and with extraordinary rapidity.

          It is more than possible that fictitious money has been allowed to accumulate on such a scale as a direct consequence of a refusal to stand up to an endless list of childish demands. Consequently there appears to be complicit agreement that we can collectively live a lie for ever.

          Well we cannot. The economy collapsed in 2008 and it has not recovered. Problems are being papered over with an endless supply of freshly printed money – most of which does not exist. That it does not exist explains the absence of hyper inflation. In order to pretend that it does exist it has been necessary to give some money to the rich – they can be relied upon to sterilize their money by bidding up asset prices. This leads to inequality and anger. People are angry because they refuse to understand what is going on and what the alternative is.

          The economy has not recovered and it will not recover. It will not recover because it cannot recover. Check out things like the Energy Cost of Energy – not many things move in a straight line, but this one does. It is irreversible and there is nothing that can be done about it. You can shout and scream “Racist” and “Fascist” all you like. It will not change facts.

          The only hope is for people to understand the predicament that we are all in and to renounce envy and return to our civilizational roots and to happily and freely “render under Caesar the things that are Caesars”

          I see no sign of the necessary societal maturity to think logically and clearly and so assume that a catastrophic outcome is inevitable.

      • Sharp Ears

        Who is going to pay the existing debt? A manufacturer of Christmas lighting schemes was on the 6pm News. He had provided lighting equipment to the local council on behalf of Carillion. He showed his invoices amounting to £17,500 dating from November which remain unpaid by Carillion. Just one little man. He said he would probably have to pay off a couple of staff.

        • giyane

          Small sub-contractors are forced to sign away their rights of compensation if the main contractor goes bust. In the construction industry we have all had zero-hours contracts for the last 30 years. The entire system is organised to allow the directors at the top to gorge on company profits and those further down the food chain to go to the dogs. On topic, I bet there were backhanders being paid to Tory procurement officials for Carillion to get so many lucrative contracts after they had issued profit warnings. The Tories, and if I remember right the Blairites before them, are/were utterly corrupt.

      • giyane

        Loony

        There are multiple layers of skimmers after the main contractors, so the consequence of one tick falling off will be other ticks getting fat.

      • Stu

        “If, as you postulate, contagion is a “dead cert” then you can make a lot of money by shorting the stocks of the companies that are a “dead cert” to fail. Just imagine how many good causes you could fund through your financial acumen.”

        The companies which are likely to be badly effected by this are small and medium size businesses which are not publicly listed.

        There is also the issue of workers who will not be paid for work done since christmas.

        • Sharp Ears

          Not forgetting the multiple pensioners. We are told by Lidington that the Pension Protection Fund will cover the payments. Oh jolly good! That’s us, the taxpayers, when all is told as it was with another Philip Green, Sir Philip late of BHS.

          • Gulliver

            Technically Sharp Ears the Pension Protection Fund is not directly funded by tax payers with the money coming from a combination of the Pension Protection Levy (paid for by all eligible pension funds), recovery of money from insolvent schemes and their own investments. However anyone in an eligible fund is contributing to it (that would be us) so although not tax payers per se it’s still being buffeted by the likes of you and me in order to help other pension funds when, as looks like the case here and was certainly the case with BHS, the funds were raided by the less than scrupulous.

            It’s also the case that for any fund that has to fall back on it, the pensioners present and future take a hit on what they might otherwise have received so it’s not inconceivable that indirectly, via the benefits system, that tax payers will indeed foot some of the bill.

            It has been pointed out that the Carillion affair is not only an indictment of PFI but is also yet another demonstration that austerity in all its forms is utterly self defeating (assuming the purpose of austerity is to reduce the deficit/debt which is of course highly debatable) in so far as it looks like Carillion were bidding well below a point where a decent margin could be maintained. They simply could not make money and the way they kept going for as long as they did they appear to have screwed most of their smaller sub-contractors into the ground. The money that will be spent correcting the problem in the short, medium and long term will I think completely cancel out any purported savings that were made by getting them to do the work in the first place.

          • Sharp Ears

            Thank you for your erudite and learned reply Gulliver. Much appreciated.

            Kind regards.

          • Loony

            @Gulliver. “…it looks like Carillion were bidding well below a point where a decent margin could be maintained”

            Maybe, but just looking at NHS PFI contracts we find that total CAPEX is around GBP 12.5 billion while the NHS will pay something in excess of GBP 80 billion for the use of PFI assets. It is difficult to see how that does not constitute a “decent margin”

            There is no austerity and there never has been – just another lie told to people desperate to be lied to. It is not possible to understand economic current conditions without an appreciation of the real purpose behind the lie of austerity. It is possible that this particular lie is so powerful that people truly believe it. If they act on this belief, possibly by electing Corbyn, then complete currency destruction will surely follow. If this comes to pass then people will understand what austerity means very rapidly indeed.

          • giyane

            Loony
            ” There is no austerity and there never has been ”
            I think this is true for the 1%. We will probably find that Carillian executive pensions have been fully loaded separately from or at the expense of the pension fund. executives in the Thatcher model are not answerable to anybody except through the obscure workings of company accountancy.

            We can rail at the greed of executives and Mrs May joined in the protest, but nobody can tell executives to run their companies in the interests of customers, so they run them entirely for their own interests. As Dame Margaret Hodge has said, picking up the pieces of discontinued Carillion contracts will cost the public purse heavily. Liddington was lying. In fact it would probably have been cheaper to bail the company out.

            The point is that in the UK, nobody under CEO level has any influence. Very experienced managers are hired to provide due diligence, but not even remotely to carry the experience and advice of the lower workforce or their own knowledge up to the boardroom. We are dealing with corporate dictatorship under the polite slogan of free economics.

            As a result, the daily management of the business has no direction or purpose. There is no flow of information from bottom to top so management becomes engaged in meaningless exercises that become increasingly inefficient. When governments bar all opposition and boardrooms close their ears things like Fukushimo and Grenfell happen.

            Most of the infrastructure of the UK is dangerous and inefficient. Boxes are ticked and critics are sacked. I very much doubt this is the case in Germany or France.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ Loony January 15, 2018 at 22:09
            In which case, back to the Bradbury Pound.
            The UK can make whatever we need, and we can grow most of what we need. There will always be countries willing to trade tea, spices etc. for what we can provide in exchange.
            What is the US, or EU, gonna do, as the Banksters tear their hair out and order our destruction? Invade us? Boycott us? Embargo us? We’ve got a few nukes up our sleeve; we don’t need Trident.
            And of course, Russia and China will be delighted to trade and assist us.

          • Gulliver

            @Loony –

            A quick look through the data that can be found on this page —

            https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/jul/05/pfi-contracts-list

            — indicates Carillion have/had their fingers in a number of PFI flavoured pies as either equity holders or facilities managers and as you say the deals are very lucrative for those involved with the return over capital expenditure on a ratio of approx. 7:1 over the course of the 50 year contract. Kind of makes you wonder just how bad a company needs to be run to screw up such a good deal doesn’t it? Luckily for us Philip Green is no longer advising Government, although he was just one year ago.

            Not according to the OBR – https://mainlymacro.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/the-impact-of-austerity-in-uk.html

        • Pyewacket

          Stu, it’s been mentioned elsewhere that Carillion operated a 120 day lag time for paying their contractors for work undertaken. So counting back four months takes us back to mid September. Another little gem is that mobile workers using company vans may well have to refuel them out of their own pockets as Carillion’s fuel cards have been stopped. So much for the Government telling them to go to work a usual.

  • Loony

    @Giyane – I do not know about executive pensions but I do know that in 2016 they changed the rules to protect their bonuses – by removing corporate failure as a reason to forfeit bonuses. This article explains

    http://www.constructionenquirer.com/2017/09/13/carillion-bosses-had-bonuses-protected/

    Sure the UK is effectively looting its own population, but then what is the alternative? Germany does not need to behave like the UK since it is able to loot the populations of Southern Europe. In a way mugging yourself is more honorable than mugging your neighbor.

    It is important to remember that a lot of people think that objecting to the German defenestration of Southern Europe is racist. Very little hope remains.

    • giyane

      Loony

      Oh , I’m right about something then. Not through any knowledge of financial institutions but because if you work for a company for longer than a few hours, you get to taste the whole atmosphere of the company and the way it deals with people. The worst company ever by a long chalk is Jaguar Landrover. Their health and safety contractors use police shoulder cameras to incriminate you from the first second, I was pretty shocked last week by Heartlands Hospital Birmingham where the manager started the interview with ” We hate you and you hate us” which he repeated without offering an explanation. They required me to do 8 hours of online training modules in my own time before starting work on Monday. So I didn’t go . Stuff ’em

      Extremely aggressive time-keeping is a sure sign of management crookedness. First impressions tell you everything. Like the salafi mosque in Birmingham where you are standing on the line in exactly the correct position but the imam singles you out to move a millimetre forward to satisfy their right of dominance over the congregation. I will never enter its doors again.

  • Clark

    Loony posted the following, presumably in reply to something which broke moderation rules, because it was on the comment feed but not on the actual page. I can’t see anything wrong with it and it looks informative so I’m reposting it below.

    Loony
    15 January 2018, 22:50

    What you write may or may not be true – it is a subjective opinion and there is no way to verify or validate it. What is true and verifiable is that Carillion were carrying GBP 1.5 billion of “Goodwill” on its balance sheet. This has now been written down to zero but no-one has lost GBP 1.5 billion since it never existed in the first place.

    Carillion is a microcosm of the entire economy – an economy that is propped up by money that does not exist. If, on a large scale, people are forced to recognize the magnitude of fictitious money then the entire economy will collapse. Under such a scenario all of the problems that so exercise you will increase exponentially and with extraordinary rapidity.

    It is more than possible that fictitious money has been allowed to accumulate on such a scale as a direct consequence of a refusal to stand up to an endless list of childish demands. Consequently there appears to be complicit agreement that we can collectively live a lie for ever. Well we cannot. The economy collapsed in 2008 and it has not recovered. Problems are being papered over with an endless supply of freshly printed money – most of which does not exist. That it does not exist explains the absence of hyper inflation. In order to pretend that it does exist it has been necessary to give some money to the rich – they can be relied upon to sterilize their money by bidding up asset prices. This leads to inequality and anger. People are angry because they refuse to understand what is going on and what the alternative is.

    The economy has not recovered and it will not recover. It will not recover because it cannot recover. Check out things like the Energy Cost of Energy – not many things move in a straight line, but this one does. It is irreversible and there is nothing that can be done about it. You can shout and scream “Racist” and “Fascist” all you like. It will not change facts. The only hope is for people to understand the predicament that we are all in and to renounce envy and return to our civilizational roots and to happily and freely “render under Caesar the things that are Caesars” I see no sign of the necessary societal maturity to think logically and clearly and so assume that a catastrophic outcome is inevitable.

  • Clark

    Loony, you say that “the economy has not recovered and it will not recover. It will not recover because it cannot recover”. Is this a problem with money, or with resources? There seems to be plenty of everything. There are more people being supported by the global resources than ever before. An increasing proportion of them have higher standards of living than ever before. The population is alarmingly high and still rising, but the rate of increase apparently decreases with prosperity, and has been decreasing globally for some years. Could you outline the problem as you see it please?

    • giyane

      Clark
      individual households survive through credit card debt and the country survives by offloading everything onto future generations. bankrupt people who end up as homeless and unborn people both find it hard to complain.

    • Loony

      There is no problem with money since that can be (and is being) created in infinite amounts. Care is needed as to who is allocated freshly printed money, since if you give it to the wrong people (the general population) then you create hyperinflation. So it is given to elites to drive up asset prices and create a “wealth effect” This leads to manifest unfairness and creates tensions – some of which are being played out in full public view.

      The problem is with energy. Everything is linked to energy, specifically to oil (and prior to that coal). Growth in global population levels over the last 200 years or so correlates very strongly with aggregate energy consumption. Material well being – ranging from increases in life expectancy through to foreign holidays exhibits a similarly strong correlation to aggregate energy consumption.

      Global oil production peaked in around 2008 (I cannot remember the exact date). This has been masked by the growth of non conventional oil, often described as “other liquids” US fracking and Canadian tar sands being the most well known examples.Even new discoveries of conventional oil are much more expensive to access than previously – think of the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster. This came about because BP were operating at the very edge of technological capability – and this is expensive with or without the associated disaster.

      Because money can be and is being manipulated it is best to look at the cost of energy on an Energy Cost of Energy (ECOE) basis i.e. how much energy does it take to access energy. There was a time when oil could be accessed at an ECOE ratio of around 100:1. On a global average we are now at around 20:1 with some developments coming in as low as 8:1 (some renewable schemes are at less than 1:1 i.e. they destroy energy), but this is an area that has been heavily politicized and so rational analysis is obscured by the screeching of ideologues.

      Most of the “cheap” oil was and is in Saudi Arabia. No-one knows what is going on in Saudi since all relevant metrics are state secrets. The closest comparator that we have available is the Cantarell field in Mexico. This field started producing in 1979 and reached a peak production of 2.1 million barrels/day in 2004. By 2013 production had declined to 440,000 barrels/day. This missing production has all been replaced with much more expensive to access oil on an ECOE basis.

      The more energy needed to access energy then the less energy is available for other things, these other things being economic growth and human well being. As the global economy has been designed as a form of perpetual growth scheme it is not hard to understand the consequences of any failure to grow.

      • Clark

        Loony, thank you for your reply. I am familiar with these problems, and consider them very serious; my thanks to occasional commenter Vronsky for linking the following years ago:

        https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/10/sustainable-means-bunkty-to-me/
        https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/10/the-energy-trap/

        The term I’ve encountered is EREI – Energy Return on Energy Invested; ECOE seems equivalent.

        The energy problem looks surmountable; there is plenty of energy available from renewable sources. The ECOE of renewables seems about 10:1 rather than 100:1, but with suitable preparation that looks workable. I gain encouragement by comparing the growth curves of nuclear power’s 65 year history with the much more recent rise of renewables. However, nearly all such energy ends up as electricity.

        The greater problem seems to be energy in the form of liquid fuel, specifically. We don’t seem to have an adequate technological replacement for this, for use as motive and portable power. Of course liquid fuel could be synthesized, but that would be a huge investment in infrastructure, which doesn’t seem to be happening.

        This also seems to be the motivation behind the constant ‘Western’ interference, manipulation and warfare in the Middle East.

        I’d appreciate your comments while I go out to cut firewood. The ECOE of this activity is better than people think. It is pleasurable, contemplative and gives me exercise for which others seem to need a lot of gymnasium resources.

        • Loony

          No doubt it is good to have hope, but I find myself unable to share your hope.

          Cutting firewood does indeed carry all of the benefits that you outline – but these benefits are at the level of the individual. If this activity is scaled up then any benefits that may occur to the individual are massively outweighed by the costs to wider society.

          Take Africa as an example. Africa is experiencing deforestation at twice the rate of the global average. Nigeria destroyed 81% of its old growth forests in just 15 years, and has lost more than half of its primary forests in the past 5 years. This kind of stuff is typical across all of sub Saharan Africa. The principal causes are wood being required by local inhabitants for energy, land being cleared for food production and to a much lesser extent illegal logging to satisfy Western demand for exotic furniture.

          None of this is good – but what is the alternative when the population of Africa has increased from 477 million in 1980 to 1.2 billion today. The future looks even worse as the population of Africa is expected to double to 2.4 billion by 2050.

          Europe is in the early phases of a massive refugee/migrant crisis. The proximate trigger for this crisis is Anglo-American foreign policy, but the real long term driver is the African population explosion. In Nigeria the average oil consumption per 1,000 people is 1.64 /bbl/day. In Germany the comparable figure is 30.69 bbl/day. So if you start moving large numbers of people from a low energy intensive society to a high energy intensive society then energy consequences follow. These consequences are being incurred at precisely the same time as the decline in the ECOE (or ERoEI) is making itself felt on the living standards of the indigenous European populations.

          Look around you and ask yourself whether most people are going to engage in lengthy research to understand global energy dynamics and then passively accept their fate or whether they are going to blame immigrants.

        • Clark

          Oh I’ve never imagined that cutting firewood was a solution to such problems. It was just what I was about to do at the time, vaguely on-topic, and I wanted to mention that it is not as laborious as most people imagine.

          I’m not particularly hopeful, either. I think the energy and liquid fuel problems are within the range of technological solutions, but I’m far from optimistic that they will be solved before it is too late.

          Yes, people will blame, and the ‘news’ media is doing little to inform them of the real problems. They will blame immigrants, and they will blame politicians who are much like themselves. I’ll continue to cut wood, because it gives me a comforting sense of aloofness, though I know it to be illusory.

          Us humans are up against our own nature. We are selfish and delude ourselves with rationalisations. We believe what we want to believe rather than face facts.

          At least the energy problem is being addressed – too late, admittedly. What can be done to stimulate progress on the portable power problem?

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