Gail Sheridan

Oh dear Gail:

The wife of Tommy Sheridan has been charged with lying under oath during the socialist politician\’s high-profile libel trial against the News of the World.

Gail Sheridan, 44, whose testimony formed a central part of her husband\’s case during a 23-day trial in 2006, was charged with perjury after six hours\’ questioning by detectives. Her father, Gus Healy, 71, who also testified at the trial, was also charged.

The move comes two months after officers charged Mr Sheridan with perjury.


Within the past 10 days three more of Mr Sheridan\’s colleagues – including a former MSP – have also been charged. Rosemary Byrne, 59, who lost her seat in the Scottish Parliament last year, Graeme McIver, 39, and Jock Penman, 58, were charged with perjury after voluntarily reporting to police for questioning.

All three testified on Mr Sheridan\’s behalf and are now members of his newly formed Solidarity party.


In a statement today, the party repeated its claim that Mr Sheridan and his colleagues were the victims of a "political witch-hunt". A spokesman said: "The only crime that Tommy Sheridan is guilty of is the crime of speaking truth to power."

I think the wheels are coming off that argument, don\’t you think so too?

Neil, Neil

I was going to write something scathing about Neil Clark\’s latest little foray into matters economic:

and, last but not least, bringing back that unfairly maligned 1970s body- the Prices Commission.

But I find myself beaten to it by a comment on the piece:

"Sorry, the Prices Commission? Seriously? You want price-fixing back? What kind of economic illiterate are you?"

Neil Clark\’s credentials as an economic visionary are discussed in depth at:


Quite Sir Simon

I might quibble over where precisely the dividing line ought to be but this makes perfect sense:

Government must render unto Caesar the things that clearly are Caesar\’s: local monopoly public services run by dedicated civil servants under political direction. It can then render unto the gods of the free market those services suitable for competitive tendering, audited efficiency and risk transfer. It is grimly ironic that one service that should unequivocally be in the free market is retail banking.

Comment at CiF

Peter Tatchell:

"free trade need to be subordinated to sustainable policies for the survival of humanity."

This is something I really don\’t understand about you Greens (ie, the political party, not environmentalists in general). What is it that you\’ve got against trade? By the division of labour and the subsequent trading of the production, for any given level of resource use we get a higher standard of living. Or, for any given standard of living, we use fewer resources.
Since you\’re all concerned about the use of resources, I really don\’t get the antipathy to trade. Why do you oppose the very thing which gives what you want, lower resource use?

Sexism at the BBC

There\’s an element of truth to the complaints:

Stephanie Flanders, the Newsnight presenter, has become the latest high-profile journalist to criticise the lack of women over 50 on television.

The Oxford and Harvard graduate, who is to replace Evan Davis as the BBC\’s economics editor, said it was wrong that female news presenters were dropped as soon as they hit a certain age.

I\’ve no doubt that women are treated differently as they age from the men they work alongside. However, I\’m also pretty certain that these same women are treated differently from the men they work alongside when young too. Whether this should be true or not a glance at your screen will show you that the women who are chosen to present are so chosen because of the way they look. We don\’t see incredibly bright and talented munts on our screens.

To complain that once the looks go one is disposed of, when it\’s the looks that got you there in the first place, just doesn\’t work, sorry.

If Only…

An MP was stoned by a gang of youths

Despite the fact that the MP was doing exactly the right thing etc, there\’s a part of all of us that cheers at those with such a robust view of the correct way to treat politicians.

Will No One Rid Me of This Professor?

Julian Le Grand is at it again:

Supermarkets should be banned from selling alcohol to combat Britain\’s binge-drinking culture, says a health adviser to the Government.

Yes, really.

Professor Julian le Grand, the chairman of Health England, said customers should be made to make a conscious decision to buy drink by going into a different shop instead of being "lured" into buying alcohol during their weekly grocery shop.

He said alcohol had become "like adult candy", with customers seduced into buying cut-price drink on their way around the supermarket in the same way that sweets used to be placed near tills.

Prof le Grand said: "I am in favour of separate alcohol outlets. Certain states in the United States and certain provinces in Canada have separate stores. I would probably ban supermarkets from selling alcohol altogether."

We\’re all such children that we just don\’t know what it is that we\’re buying. What? You mean wine contains alcohol? Beer too? My word, I never knew that!

He also said there should be a "dramatic rise" in prices.

Yup, it\’s all too cheap for you grubby proles. How dare you do what you enjoy rather than what I tell you you should.

Charging For Visas

The basic principle here seems sound enough:

Foreigners coming to Britain are to face a new "immigrant tax" under Government plans to try to make them help pay for the schools and hospitals they use, ministers are to announce.

Why not charge people who want to come here? However:

Sources indicate that the additional levy could be set at 10 per cent of the visa fee – an additional £20 for the usual £200 visa granted to those wishing to stay in Britain longer than six months.

That\’s not actually what they\’re doing. The amount is so inconsequential, almost certain to be swallowed up in the costs of administrating the scheme, that it\’s simply a political gesture, look, see, we\’re doing something about all these appalling foreigners. Dog whistle stuff.

Oh Dear

Good grief, are students nowadays really like this?

On Saturday I stood at Warwick University\’s union bar. I had been speaking at a rather excellent student conference and the organisers had invited me to join the students for the evening. Large numbers of the 400 students present were standing without anything to drink, unable to afford the highly-taxed lagers that were on sale. As a result, students stood in straight lines listening quietly to the live band. No one was smoking, which of course would have been illegal.

George Today

Hmm, I seem to be making long comments at CiF today. Sort of taking it to the moonbats rather than just preaching to the converted here perhaps.

"I can accept that a unit of measurement that allows us to compare the human costs of different spending decisions is a useful tool."

Good, because that\’s the only way it can be done. NICE looks at the cost of drugs by valuing QUALY (quality of life adjusted years) and says that if the use of a treatment gives a year of good quality life for less than £50 k or so then the NHS will pay for it. If it costs more than that then they won\’t (although there are exceptions) as Polly told us recently.
The rail system says that spending upon safety matters should go ahead is one life per year is saved per £1.4 million spent. More than that and we don\’t spend on the safety.
Local councils (I think this is true at least, these numbers are from memory) change road layouts if the cost is less than £100,000 per life saved per year.

There are, as you continually point out George, limited resources in the world (your mistake is in thinking they are fixed over time: they are not, but at any moment they are) and thus decisions must be made about what use to apply them to.
Claiming that human life is invalauable is all very noble but it\’s extremely childish. Should we spend a £ billion to cure one person of cancer (that is, in fact, the sort of sum we do spend in certain pollution reducing regulations)? Or would that £ billion be better spent eradicating malaria in a few countries? Which contributes more to human welfare?
You might argue that we should spend £2 billion: but pretty soon we do come up against the constraint of everything we have and thus need to make decisions and prioritise.
And yes, just as we have to do this with the NHS, with safety spending upon roads, upon railways, we have to do this with climate change.

It isn\’t, you should note, about profits: it\’s about the social benefit of emitting carbon as against the social cost of emitting carbon (or methane, NOX etc). This is exactly the sort of calculation we have to make if we are to even conceptually arrive at a rational decision. What is the cost of a Bangladeshi farmer losing his fields to floods in 2080? What is the cost of Bangladesh either developing to American living standards (as one of the models underlying the IPCC report assumes) or not doing so (as another model does)? What is the cost to us in lowered living standards of reducing carbon emissions?

Now what you can do is argue about the values placed upon all of these things: that\’s how we get the differences that we do in the social cost of carbon. Nordhaus seems to think, in one paper at least, that it\’s $2.50 a tonne CO2-e. Stern came out with $85 per tonne. If you want to say that human life is more valuable than Stern does, fine, argue for a higher social cost of emissions. That\’s a valid and logical thing to do (even if most will disagree with you, there\’s nothing conceptually wrong with the logic).

But to insist that no price can be put upon human life is insane. We do it all the time, we have to do it all the time, for, sadly, we do indeed have limited resources at any one time.



To Neil Boorman:

And when the time came to pass that water out the other end, there were plenty of public toilets to choose from. Today, I must buy a bottle of water for £1 and, later on, plead with the manager of a coffee shop or pub to let me use the toilet.

Seems the prostate problems have kicked in rather younger than is usual.

Polly Today


US sub-prime debt has topped $100bn

I know Polly doesn\’t do finance but really….here it is in full context:

The UK is still at the top of the G7 developed countries for growth, and employment is still rising, with interest rates low and falling. Meanwhile world oil prices have tripled, US sub-prime debt has topped $100bn, and in Germany not one bank but three have had to be taken over by state banks after hitting the rocks.

Wht she means is that the acknowledged losses, the ones that banks have owned up to, are $100 billion. And even that figure is wrong (too low). Sub-Prime is well over a $ trillion. Sigh.

So Labour needs to attract deeper loyalty, better reasons why people should support it –

Anyone got any good ideas? I\’m completely out I\’m afraid.

More Long Hours Culture

Professorial twit over at CiF:

Ever got home on a Friday night and felt so knackered after a week\’s work that all you wanted to do was stay in bed for the whole weekend? Or that, with the freedom of the weekend, almost anything was possible but that by early Sunday afternoon, the weekend is over, as thoughts turn to Monday? What about feeling all of the above, week-in, week-out?

Or ever felt that, in order to get ready to go on holiday, you had to work harder to clear your desk of work? Or that going away on holiday had an even heavier price to pay – coming back to all the work that built up for you when you were away? Or that to avoid this, you took work away with you?

All these are just some examples of the way that workers experience the daily grind of work under capitalism, where the most significant part of their waking hours is spent at work.

My response in the comments:

There\’s only one problem with this article. It doesn\’t define "work" properly.
There are two forms of work. That which is done for wages, outside the home. And that done inside the home for no wages. Both are work. (Try telling any random feminist that it is not work to run a home.)
What has been happening over recent decades (for a century or more in fact) is that paid working hours for men have been declining, paid working hours for women rising. But unpaid working hours for men have also been falling and unpaid working hours for women falling faster. Both of these falls are largely to do with technology, washing machines, freezers, cars that need less maintenance etc. The net effect has been that leisure hours (ie, total hours not spent working) have been rising for both men and women.

Now if we try to do a cross-country comparison of working hours we need to take account of both the paid working hours and the unpaid in the home. For example, one study I\’ve seen shows that American women do more paid working hours than German. But Germans do more unpaid working hours in the home than American. The net effect is that German women work half an hour longer than Americans per week.
(I think I\’m remembering the results of that paper correctly.)

If you don\’t define work properly then you\’ll not be able to say anything interesting about the problem: as in the article above. Why doesn\’t the Professor come back when he\’s got some cross country comparisons of total working hours and then we\’ll talk about it?

Wonder what the responses to that will be like?

Let\’s Nationalise Pharma Research

So says Dean Baker. Yup, great idea. Best response so far:


Have the politicians hire contractors to do the research. 20 billion is a vast amount of money. What percent of the contractors will be relatives of or major contributors to politicians. The government has a wonderful track record in dealing with contractors. This is an ideal task for Halliburton.

The Long Hours Culture

The survey found the sectors with the most severe long-hours culture were transport, where 52% of managers averaged at least two hours of unpaid overtime a day, and IT, at 45%. Long hours were least prevalent in central and local government, where only 27% of managers reported working two hours or more overtime.

That\’s a real surprise, isn\’t it?

What it does show is that those in the public sector are actually doing less work than those in the private: so they should be paid less.


Seven of Michael Martin\’s predecessors as Speakers of the House met a grisly end, courtesy of an executioner. We live in different times,….

Sadly so: but could we not just hang them all?