Yes Ritchie, you have

I have often argued about the absurdity if the UK underinvesting in HM Revenue & Customs at cost to us all in terms of lost public services and in the distortions created in the economy as a result of the unfair competition that is created by the failure to collect races from cheating businesses.

One of the reasons more people don’t do this is that more people aren’t paid by the taxman’s union to make this argument.

Well, of course

Women who say they were sexually abused by paedophile DJ Jimmy Savile will receive compensation but less than they had hoped after a judge ordered that lawyers must be paid first.

The Court of Appeal today sanctioned a compensation scheme set up for victims of the television star.

However, three appeal judges said many legal bills would have to be paid out of Savile’s estate – which is thought to be worth around £3 million.

Who didn’t think that the lawyers were going to get paid first?

And who is willing to bet that there will be anything left at all after the lawyers have had their share?

The possible

Life on Mars.

In the past few months, conclusive evidence has been found that Mars once had water on its surface, but one greater question remains: Was there, or is there still, life on Mars as well?

Scientists may be on the brink of answering that question with an equally conclusive ‘yes’, as convincing evidence has been detected by Nasa’s Curiosity rover.

An instrument on the rover identified spikes of methane that scientists believe may have come from bacteria-like organisms on the surface – and it could be the first alien life ever detected.

So now for the impossible, eh? Let’s search for intelligent life in Westminster.

This is looking pretty prescient as the ruble falls another 26%

Early this morning I said that:

And that’s the point here about the ruble. That rise in interest rates to 17% should work. Should stabilise the currency, aid it to regain some of its lost value against the dollar. But, and here’s the catch, only if everyone believes that the government’s going to stick with it. 17% interest rates really aren’t going to be good for that Russian economy. In fact interest rates that high are going to strangle many a business. If the markets believe that the central bank is going to allow that to happen in order to defend the ruble then it will indeed defend the ruble. But if they think, as they did in the UK’s experience, that the pain won’t be undertaken then the ruble will continue to fall: and perhaps faster than it has been.

It’s way to early to be able to tell which way this is going to go. But it does remain true that the outcome is in doubt.

At the moment the ruble is down another 26%…..

Err, Polly, it wasn’t the Tories that were into eugenics

Some themes deep in the heart of Toryism just never go away. Up they pop, over and over. Control the lower orders, stop them breeding, check their spending, castigate their lifestyles. Poking, sneering, moralising and despising is hardwired within Tory DNA.

That idea of stopping “them” breeding is called eugenics. And it was really rather the Fabians and the like who were into it here in Britain. You know, your lot, not the Tories.

A note for Lost Nurse

Re the privatisation of fire services and G4S.

You’ve rather missed the little provocation here. Which is that the world’s leading private provider of fire services (and ambulances actually) is a Danish company called Falck. Provides 65% of fire services in that country and smaller percentages in many more. They’ve been doing this for nearly a century now.

The model does, obviously, work. And the reason that I talked about G4S (and not Serco or Capita) is because Falck was, for a number of years, owned by what became G4S.

So, we know that the model can work and also that one of the UK outsourcing companies at least at one time had the expertise to be able to make it work.

Thus making all of the “it can’t possibly work because of G4S” conniption fits rather amusing.

The miracle of aviation, brought to you by tax!

Because, for a start, without tax there would be no aircraft to fly.

Or airports to fly to.

Or safety systems to ensure people will take the risk of flying.

Or people with enough income to afford to fly.

Or, come to that, international stability that has been the bedrock of the expansion of international travel.

But all of that is ignored by these airlines who think that is anyone else’s business but there’s.

Except it’s not. Our duty is to make it our business.

And we could.

We could require that pilots and crew are employed by airlines, for example, or refuse them the right to land.

We could insist too that aircraft were owned in locations where there was accountability for that ownership – because that is key to the good governance that should be at the heart of safe travel.

And we could require that airlines be taxed on a unitary basis – i.e. from where they take off and land.

And that would just start the process.

What?

Ritchie the financial prognosticator

The US Fed has overseen what has been, in effect, the biggest quantitative easing programme the world has ever seen. But that has now ended. And it says US bond interest rates, which are still near enough zero for all practical purposes must rise. Not just by a bit, either. They are apparently forecasting 1.5% by the end of 2015, 2.75% by the end of 2016 and 3.75% by the end of 2017.

Oh dear. His linked source, at the FT, says that this is about the Federal Funds rate, not US bond interest rates.

Would sorta help if one committed to telling us all about this vital market actually knew the difference.

Ritchie thinks Hamilton should not be sports personality of the year

Because he’s a tax exile.

But it was still profoundly disappointing to find Lewis Hamilton won. Apart from the obvious question about whether Formula 1 is a sport and the questions that need to be asked about so many of its financial arrangements the simple fact is that I thought that this was an event focussed on UK sporting achievements and Hamilton is a tax exile.

He then says:

McIlroy would have been better

McIlroy lives in Florida…..

And given the schedule, 19 races around he world, week of practice before each one, further testing at various tracks around the world. It’s not obvious that a Formula 1 driver who was nominally resident in the UK would actually be tax resident….

You’d hope so really

Surgeons prefer Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’ to Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ as they wield the knife, a study has found, as eight in 10 say music in the operating theatre helps them concentrate.

As we might also hope that “Hell’s Bells” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” are not on the playlist while “Live is Life”* might be.

*There has to be some sodding use for that song, doesn’t there?

Well, if you think right wing means conservative, then people are correct

Voters see Ukip as more left wing than the Conservative Party in a shock poll finding that will fuel concerns among Ed Miliband’s allies that Nigel Farage is “parking his tanks on Labour’s lawn”.

A poll for The Independent on Sunday exposes what Labour strategists have been fearing for months – that voters do not regard Ukip as a party of the far right, but as one closer to the centre ground than the Tories. As such it could win Labour votes in the North.


One thing that
Ukip isn’t is conservative, it’s a radical party. We are, after all, trying to overturn the established European order: this is not something that is conservative (please note the distinction between conservative and Conservative). And if you think that being right wing is being conservative, as many Brits do, then thi9s is all entirely consistent.

Seriously bizarre argument

Enoch Powell would never have joined the UK Independence Party because it is threatening to deny voters a say over Britain’s place in Europe, his former archivist has claimed.

Enoch didn’t in fact join so the first part of that is fine. But the party that campaigns for the voters to have a say, the party which has managed to keep the idea of the voters having a say on the agenda (the major achievement of the party’s existence in fact) is therefore threatening to deny the voters a say?

Idiot twaddle there methinks.

Amanda Marcotte’s still not too hot on the logic, is she?

Myth #1: Rape is a “he said/she said” situation. You hear the phrase “he said/she said” a lot, which falsely suggests that the odds are even that either party is lying when a woman says she was raped. But that’s simply not true. Most reputable research shows that the vast majority of women who report rape are telling the truth.

He said, she said, does not refer particularly to whether people are lying about a rape. Either way. It’s a comment about the fact that it’s something that can be difficult to prove either way. For there’s often only the two witnesses, the activity itself, sex, is both extremely common and entirely legal and whether it’s rape or not turns purely on the issue of consent. To which we’ve only got what he said, she said, as a guide.