December 2013

Ritchie’s being a bit strange here

He attacks Policy Exchange in the following terms:

The City is described as a force for good.

It is said that mechanisms used to force down wages, reduce worker security, strip tax from the UK and increase the wealth divide such as “private equity, venture capital and investment funds are of particular relevance in today’s context of capital shortage and the need for a more innovation-based economy”.

All in all its a perfect example of a left wing sell out and might suggest exactly why the Labour front bench has risen to almost none of the challenges that their Treasury team should have faced, leaving them trailing in the wake of the Tories with policies that are a pale imitation of what Osborne is proposing.

But it’s Ritchie himself who insists that 25% of all pension savings must be invested in new business operations. Which is exactly the province of that private equity, venture capital and investment funds.

It really is all a bit strange.


The sons of an English expat who left his £389,000 fortune to the British National Party in his will are battling in the High Court to claim the money.

When Northumbria-born Joseph Robson died in Alicante at the age of 81 in March 2010, he bequeathed his entire estate outside Spain – worth £389,000- to the British National Party, leaving his two sons, Jeremy and Simon, with £135 between them.

After their father’s death, Mr Robson’s sons launched a legal challenge to his will, insisting that their father was barred from giving his money to a British political party, because he had not been a registered UK voter in the five years before his death.


”Being an incorrigible rogue”, under the Vagrancy Act 1824, is one of 309 offences to be repealed and removed from the statute book in the year up until May

Now what are we going to prosecute Tim Yeo for?

Isn’t this comforting

The once-powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been executed for treason after being branded “despicable human scum”, according to the state news agency.
“Despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him,” the agency said.

The leader, who presumably actually believes this stuff, is a near teenager with access to a handful of atomic bombs.

Hmm, so, should we launch WorstallCoin?

Been having some chats with a programming type over here. We could get a new digital currency together over a few months of intensive work.

As today’s FT says:

Buying Bitcoins while their price is so bubbly is nothing more than a gamble. Investing in other online currencies, or in companies that can help the Bitcoin economy develop, looks like a sensible use of a venture capitalist’s money.

The problem with the proposition is that if it really only does take a few months of work to launch a new currency then there’s not really all that much value to a new currency, is there?

On the other hand I can think of a few countries where you could target the usage. Those places with capital controls.

Seumas Milne is now arguing that Mandela was indeed a terrorist?


Airbrushed out of the Mandela media story has been the man who launched a three-decade-long armed struggle after non-violent avenues had been closed; who declared in his 1964 speech from the dock that the only social system he was tied to was socialism; who was reported by the ANC-allied South African Communist party this week to have been a member of its central committee at the time of his arrest; and whose main international supporters for 30 years were the Soviet Union and Cuba.

It has barely been mentioned in the past few days, but Mandela supported the ANC’s armed campaign of sabotage, bombings and attacks on police and military targets throughout his time in prison. Veterans of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the ANC’s armed wing, emphasise that the military campaign was always subordinate to the political struggle and that civilians were never targeted (though there were civilian casualties).

But as Ronnie Kasrils, MK’s former intelligence chief, told me on Wednesday, Mandela continued to back it after his release in 1990 when Kasrils was running arms into South Africa to defend ANC supporters against violent attacks. And there’s no doubt that under today’s US and British law, he and other ANC leaders would have been jailed as terrorists for supporting such a campaign.

And he was righteously jailed under S African law at the time on the same charges.

I also think it was right to release him and that his presidency almost certainly did the best for the place that could be done.

But it really is odd seeing Milne arguing that Mandela was a terrorist who should righteously have been jailed.

‘N’ Mary Honeyball c’n fuck off ‘n’ all

“It is clear that there is growing support of framework where the purchasers of sex are criminalised, rather than the people selling sex, not just in Scandinavia, but in France, Northern Ireland and others – while there is a growing disillusionment in places where it has been legalised, such as Germany and Holland,” said the Labour MEP. “We need an EU-wide model, otherwise we risk encouraging sex tourism, which I think no government would want to see. If it is not taken seriously then I think we could find Britain becomes a real target.”

No, there is not growing support for such a framework. You’re lying.

Europe is shifting its approach on prostitution because of the transformation in the industry in recent years, with many more prostitutes now trafficking victims from overseas. A recent European parliamentary report estimated there were about 880,000 people living in slave-like conditions in Europe, of whom 270,000 were victims of sexual exploitation.

There are activists though, wildly lying their way through the evidence.

There simply isn’t any evidence that “sex slavery” is anything other than an appalling and vile and very rare indeed crime.

And we seem to have a sensible policeman as well:

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Armitt, the national police lead on prostitution in England and Wales, who takes a pragmatic approach to prostitution in Liverpool, recording any violence against prostitutes as hate crimes, said the introduction of the Nordic model would be hard to police. “I personally think it would be very unhelpful. Instead of street prostitutes operating in quiet areas of the city they might have to operate in dark, unsafe areas,” he said. “Also, it might be enforceable at a street level but as far as escorts are concerned it would be virtually unenforceable. If there is sex happening between consenting adults, I am not sure why the police would want to get involved.”

So, can anyone point me to a copy of that EU parliament report? I’d love to see how they’ve cocked up (cooked up) those numbers.

As I’ve been saying for some time now

Bureaucracy is one of the reasons for slow growth:

Britain’s £16bn plans for its first nuclear plant in a generation could be delayed or derailed by an EU investigation into possible illegal state support, which is likely to be launched within days.

European Commission officials are expected to publish a strongly-worded list of potential breaches of state aid laws in the funding arrangements for the Hinkley Point project, in an initial decision as early as Wednesday.

Under a deal struck by the Government with French energy giant EDF in October, UK energy bill-payers would be committed to paying billions of pounds in subsidies for the plant in Somerset for 35 years.

The EC could reject or approve the deal outright but is expected instead to launch an investigation that could take until summer 2015, derailing EDF’s plans to take a final investment decision in July 2014.

Now, whether it is state aid or not is a matter for the rules. Which is fine: I’m not arguing that there should be no rules on such things. But what in buggery is going to make it take 18 months to work it out? Somewhere in Brussels there is a little book, within which is the definition of state aid. We need one person to read the book and then read the deal and then decide whether the deal is legal or not.

This should take even a bureaucrat perhaps one long weekend. So what the fuck are they going to be doing for the other 545 days? Polishing their knobs or their expense accounts?

Hang the lot of them say I….

And he’s a prof at the Alma Mater too

One of the world’s leading economists will today admit he was wrong to back the creation of the euro – and call for it to be dismantled.

Sir Christopher Pissarides, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2010, was once a passionate believer in the benefits of the single currency.

But in an extraordinary change of heart, today he will warn the euro is creating a ‘lost generation’ of unemployed youngsters and is ‘dividing Europe’.

The Cypriot-British economist will call for action to ‘restore the euro’s credibility in international markets’ and to ‘restore the trust that Europe’s nations once had in each other’.

And restoring that credibility means:

He will say that unless there is a dramatic change of policy the euro should be broken up.

‘The euro should either be dismantled in an orderly way or the leading members should do the necessary as fast as possible to make it growth and employment-friendly,’ he will say.

It was a complete cocknob of an idea in the first place of course. And it’s also now an obviously failed experiment.

Get rid of it.

No tax relief for charity because it stops charities doing politics!

Isn’t this a surprise from Ritchie?

More importantly, tax relief has been used to constrain charitable activity, particularly when a charity wishes to not just relieve poverty but to ask why the poor suffer the injustices society heaps upon them both here and around the world. That moves a charity into that dangerous arena of ‘politics’ that is denied to those who wish to receive tax relief. But is that simply a mechanism for enforcing control on a part of society that should be asking the important questions about the changes needed that would eliminate so many of the problems that charities exist to tackle? And as such is tax relief in practice acting as a powerful tool for maintaining the status quo that the biggest absolute givers (by amount, if not by proportion of either income or wealth) would rather not challenge?

Man who has written highly political reports for charities, man who is paid by a charity to do highly political work, insists that the tax relief that these charities enjoy should stop because it prevents them from funding highly political work and activists.

Whatever happened to know thyself?

It’s an interesting defence

Mr Dahdaleh, an acquaintance of Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson, had admitted making payments to Alba managers. But he had pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges on the grounds the payments were “custom and practice” in Bahraini culture and had been approved by a royal family member.

And it’s one I’ve used myself (although not in a criminal trial, but in talking Inland Revenue through some accounts and not in Bahrain either) because there are parts of the world that do operate in that manner.

You have to wave the wedge around to get anywhere.

This is the talk of the nation over here

Many world leaders have said they wouldn’t miss Nelson Mandela’s funeral for anything, but Czech Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok isn’t among them.

Rusnok’s conversation with Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek in parliament on Friday was broadcast by the Czech public television news channel and quickly went viral.

When Picek reminded him that President Milos Zeman might be unable to fly because of a knee injury, Rusnok reacted with a vulgar term and then, addressing his companion by the Czech equivalent of ‘dude’, said: ‘I’m dreading that I will have to go.’

According to the local translator that vulgar term was “fuck”.

And it’s not so much a knee injury as booze.