No Booze we are British

It seems moves to introduce a minimum price for alcohol in the UK have run into trouble. Last week doctors’ leaders said a price of 50p per unit was needed to have any impact on people’s health.  David Cameron is championing the plans but others in the government are not so keen.

Comment: Latest reports involving 28 focus groups feel the measure will hit moderate drinkers and will do little to reduce binge-drinking. In-fact, some like the free-market think-tank the Adam Smith Institute believe any reduction in binge-drinking is based on ‘false assumptions and wild speculation’.

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Savile was a predatory

Jimmy Savile kind, caring, sensitive person who gave his time and money to good causes or according to the Met a ‘predatory sex offender’?

They say “At this stage it is quite clear from what women are telling us that Savile was a predatory sex offender,” So far, eight criminal allegations have been formally made, including two rape allegations as well as six indecent assault allegations.

But what can we make of this story? Why has it taken so long for anyone to raise questions about the life of Jimmy?

I don’t doubt Jimmy Saville touched up underage girls, had sex with others. In-fact I’d bet many celebrities in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s touched up young girls and had sex with them. Certainly rock bands in the 70’s, mashed out on LSD, did not care about the age of their groupies who were invited backstage. So should 2012 society judge past misdemeanours? Seems if it is becoming a national pass-time with politicians and governments all getting in on the act.

I can only think of one reason why someone would want to drag up accusations of a dead man – money! A compensation society and that’s  worrying about modern society. That quick shag in a pub toilet and 20 years later the police may be knocking at someones door. If I was a celebrity in a past decade I’d be worried.

Comment:  The row over Andrew Mitchell, the chief whip continues with The Police Federation and Labour calling for an inquiry into the incident.

David Cameron stated he “has full confidence in Andrew Mitchell and said he had taken the “correct action” in apologising for his outburst at police”.

What can we make of the situation? Most people think the whole situation is rather ‘funny’ over one word ‘pleb’. Hardly the most offensive word in the English dictionary!

It would seem The Police Federation after the wave of sentiment after two police officers murdered last week sees an opportunity to do a little political bashing with the story being leaked to the Sun newspaper, surely by The Police Federation. Yet I would suggest a story is hardly in the public interest.

You can sort of forgive the Sun newspaper for the political stirring but what is most concerning is obsession with such a minor story. These people run our country and police force; surely they have much more pressing concerns than the word ‘pleb’? An inquiry will do little but I’d suggest with people in charge our country is in deep serious shit!

Summer Holidays Over

Summer Holidays nearly over and MP’s returning to Westminster after the recess. Chancellor George Osborne has spent his summer hols deciding how to stimulate growth in a flat-lining economy. With Plan A consigned to the dustbin Mr Osborne today announced £50bn of private sector building.

Labour should be jumping for joy as the Coalition have decided what they have been saying the past year is in-fact correct;  the way out of recession is to borrow.

The coalition in 2010 cut 50% of the Affordable Housing budget but with 2011 completions and 2012 start on sites lower that any year Labour was in power the coalition have decided to inject 10bn in the hope the country will build itself out of recession.

It however, remains to be seen if any projects get off the ground as strict rules of apply and all have to start within the year. To do this the coalition will reform planning laws just 6 months after reforming them.   So only if they can reform the expensive appeals process will this make any difference. Yet there goes another Coalition policy as out of the window goes localism!

So two and a half years of saying no policy change.  The Chancellor finally admits plan A is a failure and his gamble has lost. So his solution is a 180 degree turn around and a gamble that this time it will work. Two and a half years wasted  and just two and half to go before the next general election?

Bets please?

Chancellor to win or lose

Space needed?

I thought I’d enjoy the Olympic Opening Ceremony with a friend and a beer down the local pub only to have to evening ruined by a bunch of children who did not have a sense of the occasion.

Ok, there was a birthday party in the next room. I have no problem with that but at 11:45pm children in a public house with little control by their parents? I don’t blame the children but the adult as once public houses use to be for adults! Maybe it’s commercial pressures and the need to make money why the world has changed?

It reminded me of the tragic incident in the US where James Holmes shot and killed a young girl at the premiere of the Batman movie. Some will be quick to blame a violent movie. I’m sure there are commercial pressures on the censors by the film studios to make sure as many people can see a film as possible. The Dark Knight Rises was given a PG-13 in the US and a 12A in the UK meaning anyone over 12 could watch the film. The US censors say the film features “intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language”.

However, it’s easy to blame the film makers, the studios and the censors as once violent films were given an R-rating. I’ve seen many films some rated 12A or 15 were they have been inherently violent while others rated 18 because of a few swear words and a pair of boobs on show. I would suggest to the censors violence is more than natural than sex!

Sure making money is part to blame as Holmes shot 6,000 rounds of ammunition into the crowd. Patrons believed it was part of the film but tragically Veronica Moser-Sullivan lay dead as her desperate mother tried to shield her. Yet, Veronica was not the only young person there that night as a couple took along their baby and four year old. Maybe the cinema should have done more to stop young children at such a late showing.  However, you have to ask why is someone so desperate to see a film that they take along young children at midnight when they should be in bed?  Really all I can say is ‘fucked up priorities’. What was so special that a child should be allowed to stay up, watch a violent film that surely when it is an adult time?

Like my pub incident there are times and domains where children and adults together should not stray. Both incidents the real blame lays with the selfish acts of the parents that put their own wants and needs above their child. Surely no film is worth a life just to wait for a few hours for another showing? It may seem a harsh reality but you can never know what is around the corner in this world and parents need to act with more responsibility.

Of course there is the gun culture in the US and since the well known Columbine High School massacre of 1999 and the US public lack of enthusiasm for gun control there will always be incidents like this. It’s never going to change and US citizens should understand this and that’s why society should reaffirm the space between adults and children.

Last Gasp of the Political Cherry

Comment: As Greece teeters close to the edge of been thrown out of the Euro they now have just 6 weeks to find a solution to the terms of their bailout or enact even more tough austerity measures.

With almost all ballots counted, New Democracy has 29.7% of the vote (129 seats), Syriza 26.9% (71) and Pasok 12.3% (33).

There are 300 seats in parliament and Greece has a rule that gives the leading party 50 extra seats. However, only 40% of voters backed parties that broadly support the bailout deal with the EU and the IMF. Greeks may want to stay in the Euro but honestly this new current government may only bring a little breathing time

A cut of 15,000 state sector jobs this year – aiming for 150,000 by 2015

  • Cut minimum wage by 22%, to about 600 euros a month
  • Pension cut worth 300m euros this year
  • Spending cuts of more than 3bn euros this year
  • Liberalise labour laws to make hiring and firing easier
  • Boost tax collection
  • Carry out privatisations worth 15bn euros by 2015
  • Open up more professions to competition, eg in health, tourism and real estate

It is unlikely that Greece will be able to do any of these… cutting public sector jobs increases unemployment (which is already high), liberalising labour laws makes little sense as it does little to increase jobs. Pension cuts mean pensioners don’t spend and the unemployed do not pay taxes. In reality is there is no demand for goods therefore any need for supply.Greece will only change when this basic fact is addressed. Unfortunately political powers in Greece, Germany and the rest of the Euro Countries have no will to do this. The Greek government should instead be spending on infrastructure projects that increase employment while reforming the tax system. More employment means larger tax returns.

Germany’s insistence on austerity may mean the social breakdown of Greek society as the 60% show their rejection. Greece’s only hope of staying in the Euro will be political and monetary union within the Euro currency countries. This is something that looks far away.

I fear for the future of Greece – they are of the brink of complete social breakdown and the latest elections were the last gasp of the polictical cherry. The Greek people failed, they failed to see that a currency that is sucking the last life out of their country. The elections will mean Greece will have years of austerity, pain and no reward at the end. The end ‘by the way’ will see them leave the Euro.  It is  inevitable after the sticky plaster has failed

It’s time for a policy rethink

Comment: The UK government issued another round of bank lending in the hope that this money is filtered out to small business in cheap loans. The Coalition’s Programme for Government set out that deficit reduction, and continuing to ensure economic recovery, is the most urgent issue facing Britain.  The government’s response was to cut spending, increase VAT, and to increase the pension age. But has the government fundamentally got their sums wrong and is it time to rethink policy?

The new money the Bank will now offer cheap loans to banks on the basis that they increase lending. This will make it easier and cheaper for banks to borrow at least £5bn every month to cover any shortfalls in cash.

New money may provide short-term bank liquidity but at long-term expense. Currently private pension schemes are in deficit. According to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) deficits have reach 312bn with only 929 of the 6,432 schemes currently in surplus.

Many private pensions buy government gilts but with the influx of printed money yields have fallen by 0.55 percentage point and overall 1.73 percent by May 2012. The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) continued to blame the Bank of England’s policy of quantitative easing for much of the recent ballooning of deficits.

The policy has been explicitly aimed at driving up the price of government bonds, which in turn depresses the returns they provide to investors, such as pension funds.

When it comes to retirement it seems many people will be disappointed with their payout. The government feels rising the retirement age will decrease its outlay on ageing population. Yet it will be false economy and only store up problems for future generations. As older people cannot retire until 67, 68 or 69, and will not be able to access a generous private pension they will hog jobs that younger people could fill. Those first years after school or university are important to mould young people into the work ethic. Two or three years of doing nothing they will be a lost generation relying on government handouts.

There are radical things the government could do to raise more capital but would be very unpopular. Extend VAT on newspapers (VAT is already charged on a newspapers internet business), VAT on children clothes, and abolish child benefit. They could also let some banks fail or as I would put it consolidation. At the same time they need to set a national price for fuel to keep consumer bills stable.

A UK GDP growth rate around 0.8 per cent this year I feel is still an optimistic outlook which I believe will be lower, a lot lower if the Euro collapses although we could still be a few years off a full collapse. However, it is coming!