ITS TIME TO STAND UP FOR BRITAIN

STOP TALKING THE COUNTRY DOWN !

Of course I’ve no idea whether its deliberate or not, but anyone watching the British Bolshevik Corporation’s Business Live programme this morning could not fail to notice how both presenters repeatedly insisted on talking down the UK’s prospects of success in our negotiations with the EU.

This came after the opening round yesterday and statements from both sides. There was the definite feeling that guests were being encouraged to offer the same views as the presenters.

Sky News’ turn came an hour or so later with Bolton’s opening salvo that with the Queen’s Speech imminent, we still have a minority government. Did he expect things to have changed overnight? More to the point, did he want someone or something to change the situation overnight?

Are these people reporting the news or trying to make it? In particular, the BBC should be reminded yet again that it is a public service broadcaster and is supposed to be impartial in its presentation.

Many of us feel that it long ago crossed the line.

To add to the day’s fun, that rollicking laugh a minute Governor of the Bank of England, gave his Domesday assessment of the economy during Brexit in his usual coma-inducing style.

Do any of these people actually understand that trade between the UK and the EU is a two way street? People seem to have lost sight of the fact that the EU need the same hassle-free arrangements for their trade as we do.

Furthermore, the Conservatives and Labour for whom more than 80% of the people of this land voted recently, are far from poles apart on the need to leave the EU on the best possible terms for the UK. Isn’t it time we all showed some unity at least in talking this country up and by being positive about our future?

THE CONSERVATIVES  –   A DISASTROUS CAMPAIGN 

EXCEPT IN SCOTLAND THANKS TO DAVIDSON’S LEADERSHIP 
BUT THE MUCH RESENTED TIMOTHY AND HILL HAVE GONE

MRS MAY STILL DESERVES SUPPORT despite the election debacle. The luckless Timothy & Hill have gone. Chapter closed. May is still by far streaks ahead with the right qualities to get the optimum deal on Brexit. But she must discard running the show in secret and become a team player. The revelation that she allowed two people to shut out critical input from her own MP’s and Party activists is deeply disturbing . She may be forced out eventually, but Party unity must be the priority right now.

Of course, the current state of crisis in the country might have been avoided if PM Cameron had returned from Brussels last year, with one or two concessions from the EU. Instead, too clever for his own good, he tried to flim-flam the electorate with meaningless mumbo jumbo on what he supposedly achieved for Britain. He paid the price. So have the rest of us it seems.

May’s first big mistake was to have a 7 week campaign which has proven disastrous. Was it Macmillan who said a campaign should never be longer than 3 weeks as it gives your opponents too much time to cause problems? Sounds like common sense to me. I would settle for 4 weeks.

Secondly, no one with any real experience in politics would introduce such a controversial and quite unnecessary manifesto commitment in the Social Care minefield, quickly named by opponents as the Dementia Tax. As if this was not bad enough, two of the English language’s most reviled words -means test- were introduced to determine future Winter Fuel Payments! These words are anathema to most of the grey vote and no better way to alienate them.

Obviously, this sent the electorate’s perception of Mrs May as a caring politician immediately into free fall from which it never recovered.

Also, the quasi-presidential style of campaigning by the PM excluded most of the big beasts of the Tory Party whose experience and input should have been regarded as essential in the hustings.

Public Finances, Investment, and the needs of Business generally were little mentioned. There was a perceived reluctance to commit on future Personal and Corporate Taxation while Labour boasted loudly of their limited tax hikes for the rich. Some detail on the Government’s basic strategy in the Brexit talks would have relieved much public anxiety. Also, where did the Party reach out to the young? It will certainly have to recognise their much vaunted new found power next time round.

DUP support will save the Tories’ bacon for now. However, the combined tiny Commons majority will soon be eroded likely leading to another election by October or next Spring, if May is allowed to soldier on till then. Tory vultures are already circling.

Lessons must be learned or we could be stuck after the next election with the text book Socialist Mr Corbyn and the UK ‘s transformation into a banana republic.

PRIME MINISTER –   TOUGH WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH

WHAT WE NEED NOW IS TOUGH ACTION

The current spate of indiscriminate killing and maiming of civilians in Great Britain by Islamic terrorists reflects the limited success of the counter strategies put in place by Government.

The ‘Prevent’ policy, designed to counter radicalisation of young Muslims, can no longer adequately fight the evolving and moving target which Islamic terrorism has become. All our villages, towns and cities are now under threat.

Our police, emergency and intelligence services are second to none and are at the cutting edge in the fight against terrorism. This they bravely showed again after last night’s barbaric attack at London Bridge and Borough Market.

They must not be let down by a subservience to political correctness. The PM’s speech this morning, and the comments of Baroness Varsi who spoke for the Muslim Community, are to be commended. UK Muslims are rightly outraged by this latest atrocity committed during the holy month of Ramadan. However, further calls to bring communities together, and the promise to get tough with the extremists, must be backed up by robust new measures. Our anti-terrorist policy must evolve with the ongoing threat. The rules of the game have changed.

Last night saw the 3rd attack in as many  months which needed no great degree of weaponisation or planning to create carnage in our streets. The security services have foiled 5 attacks in the same period. Its been divulged that an astonishing 500 extremists are currently being watched!

We must then add the phenomenal number of 23,000 extremists in the UK who could become a terrorist threat, plus the hundreds, if not thousands, of UK Jihadis returning from the war-torn Middle East where ISIS is crumbling against a massive military onslaught. It is patently obvious that we simply do not have the means or the manpower to counter this extraordinary situation.

The Government must therefore urgently re-consider Internment and Deportation as entirely appropriate and justifiable additional measures in the war on terrorism. In particular, and at all costs, those ISIS fighters now returning to the UK from the Middle East must be detained before they can resume their clandestine activities.

We are fighting a real war and the civil rights of extremists must take a back seat to the safety of the British public.

THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY MANIFESTO 

SOCIAL  ‘NON-CARE’  !!          

AMMUNITION FOR THE OPPOSITION

MAY AND HAMMOND AWARDED FIRST PRIZE FOR POLITICAL NAÏVETÉ 

In an otherwise commendable election manifesto, and leaving the Winter Fuel Allowance aside for the time being, many Conservative Party supporters and others thinking of voting for that party for the first time, particularly the elderly, are extremely disappointed with Mrs May’s complete desertion of the previous Conservative proposals for funding long term care.

Described by the Bow Group, the oldest Conservative think tank and representing all strands of conservative opinion, as the biggest stealth tax in history, the Tory manifesto today advocated an increase in the means-tested threshold above which people are liable for their full care costs to £100,000- .

BUT significantly, and in a sweeping new move, the full value of the family home owned by the person needing care, will be taken into account in future in determining that person’s assets. So on the basis that the average home in Britain is valued at approx £215000 – , care costs could reduce this asset base to the £100000 – threshold in just under 3 years. At least 70% of us will require some form of care in our old age. 75% of over-65’s in the UK own their own homes. Few have substantial cash holdings.

This proposed new policy is not only unfair but in essence against all accepted Conservative Party values, particularly the incentive to accumulate wealth for the family. It means that we will be leaving most of our estate to the Government. Once people realize that most of their estate will pass to the Government, and not their families, the Tories stand to lose much electoral support.

This is a tax on death and each family’s inheritance. It can do nothing for middle and working class families who save all their lives to live in a decent home, the value of which can be passed on to their children. 

As bombaychatterbox has argued before, Theresa May and Philip Hammond’s priority should be the funding of an alternative insurance system which will cover people’s residential and nursing care in their old age. 

This blog has pushed for a ‘Social Care Fund’ which could be covered by a modest increase in taxation and initially funded by the Chancellor selling the taxpayer’s stake in Royal Bank of Scotland. Apparently he’s prepared to sell this disaster now at a loss and its estimated that this would bring in some £20bn. Rather than plough all of it into the NHS as has been argued by some, part could be used to put Social Care on a properly funded basis, with part going towards the funding of a ‘State Mortgage Corporation’. The latter would provide loans for first time buyers with modest means, and also finance developers in the building of low cost homes. The electoral benefits are obvious.

Theresa May is undoubtedly the best person to take this country into the Brexit negotiations and the difficult period afterwards, whatever the outcome. A great pity she and her Chancellor have not seen the electoral dangers in what really amounts to a no doubt unintended, but thoughtless,  attack on the needs of the individual.

Mrs May you must reverse this death tax now !!   It can only benefit the Conservatives’ political opponents. Let us return to the previously accepted Dilnot formula as the basis for the urgent development of policy on social care. Otherwise risk losing a large part of the grey vote!

PRESIDENT – ELECT MACRON

DONE AND DUSTED ?

No, just the easy bit. Emmanuel Macron may have won the French Presidency but his victory celebrations are likely to be short-lived.

The 3rd round of the French elections will be held on the 11 and 18 June to elect the 577 members of ‘the 15th National Assembly of the French Fifth Republic’.

Arguably, these elections will be the most important in modern French political history.

On the face of it, Macron’s win has been convincing. However, only around 25% of his electoral support is estimated to have come from committed En Marche supporters with the rest going to him from voters who supported various other first round candidates and who were determined to keep Marine Le Pen of the extremist Front National out of the Elysee Palace.

As an independent, and unless his movement wins a significant number of seats in parliament, Macron will find it an uphill struggle or near impossible to legislate his proposed reforms. Youth unemployment of 25% and some 60% of income being derived from the public sector, are only two of the major economic problems with which he will have to contend.

With his election, badly needed restructuring in the Labour market, the problem of immigration, lack of investment , and the general French hostility to globalisation, do not disappear. He has also promised radical reforms to the pension system which will bring fierce worker opposition, and a 60bn Euros cut in public spending.

France could very quickly return to the days of unstable government, despite the peculiarly French practice of ‘cohabitation’ which may come to exist between Macron and the French Parliament. Macron has threatened to overcome parliamentary opposition by ruling by decree. However, the danger for him in going this route is to send the people into the streets, something he will obviously seek to avoid at all costs.

Essential to his plans for serious structural reform to the EU together with his ideas for deeper French integration within that entity, is Macron’s repeated criticism of German trade surpluses. The latter will win him no favours in Berlin. Let’s see how long he and Merkel remain in the mutual admiration club.

Indeed, we do live in interesting times.
 

ELECTION 2017

EU DIRTY TRICKS – WE COULD WALK AWAY!!

True to form, the British Bolshevik Corporation has enthusiastically embraced with almost unbridled glee, the fake news coming out of Brussels on what was allegedly said at the PM’s dinner last week at Downing Street for Mr Juncker, the President of the European Commission .

However, all credit to Mrs May who has chosen to react in a calm and dignified manner to the BBC’s almost hysterical news reports, and their attempt to influence minds during this vital campaign. Whatever happened to fair and objective reporting??

Fake or real news, Mrs May can be trusted to stick to her guns by entering the discussions on Brexit with the power brokers of the EU in a cordial but determined effort to get a comprehensive free trade agreement with Europe, as much in their interests as well as ours, and to guarantee the future of both EU and British citizens living and working in each other’s countries.

It will quickly become apparent whether the strategy to be adopted by the EU negotiators at the Brexit talks is to be constructive and whether they are honestly looking for an outcome fair to all. Anything less will strengthen the hand of those of us who firmly believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for Britain. 

In the past week there has been a perceived shift by the principle EU power brokers to a more aggressive hard ball position. Should the other 27 EU nations prove to be deliberately obstructive and obtuse in the talks, little time should be wasted in giving them verbal notice that we intend to walk away unless they change their tune.

In the meantime, current polls in Scotland put the Unionist parties on track to regain some 13/14 seats from the dominant SNP, the Conservatives taking 10/11. This really would be one in the eye for Mrs Sturgeon who could then no longer claim she has a mandate to hold a 2nd Independence referendum. Bombaychatterbox might be really sorry to see one SNP member at Westminster lose his seat, as he doesn’t know anyone else who can frequently speak rubbish on TV for a full 5 minutes without taking a single breath! Except some others in the same party, that is.

Pending the release of the Conservative election manifesto, Mrs May has committed to not raising taxes as a general principle of Tory policy, and that in particular there will be no increase in VAT. Excellent news, but instead, why doesn’t the Government  consider an actual reduction in VAT?

Such a step would provide a stimulus to the UK economy in the run up to Brexit, resulting in higher consumer demand and extra jobs. A reduction from 20% to 10% in housing renovation and repair, for example, could provide a £7Bn stimulus to the wider UK economy in the short to medium term.

The pressing issue of Social Care, and how to pay for it, is also under scrutiny by the Government. Valuable work on this critical topic has been done by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and others. Much of the research has been based on the release of equity in peoples’ homes to pay for long term care. However, it is reckoned that some 30% of the population will need this at some point in their lives. Not all of these people will own their own homes.

Is it too much to expect the much vaunted insurance and financial sectors in the City to find a social conscience? Its not asking much of them. Why don’t they come up with an alternative care insurance plan which Government could implement in the medium term? Of course, insurance cover would need to be arranged on the basis of the individual paying say, 70% costs by way of regular premiums going into a scheme from an early age, and the Government doing its part in say, providing 30%. If it happens in other countries, why cant we find the means here?                                                                       

Bombaychatterbox has argued previously that the Chancellor should now sell off the public stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland. The sale of this disaster according to some estimates, would bring in some £20Bn. Rather than see all the proceeds being sunk into the NHS, part could be used to initially fund such a care insurance scheme, with the rest going towards establishing a “State Mortgage Lending Corporation’.

The advantage with the latter is that the funds raised would remain in the lending sector and could be utilised by first time borrowers and others to secure housing loans on softer terms than they could from a High Street lender. Developers could also be considered for loans on preferred terms to build social housing.

No doubt the ruling Conservatives will prioritise in their manifesto what they see as electorally attractive. However, I for one will be most disappointed if they do not address, and preferably ban, the disgrace of zero-hour contracts. No 21st century worker should be subjected to this form of employer domination, and from what we hear, sometimes intimidation.

THE SILK KING =

THE ENDURING MYSTERY 

This Easter Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the mysterious disappearance of the great Jim Thompson (James Harrison Wilson Thompson – born 21 March 1906) who was the name behind the Thai silk industry in the 1950’s and 60’s.

The event has gone almost unnoticed except by those who have always been fascinated by the abrupt manner of his vanishing without trace on 26 March 1967 from the Cameron Highlands, a hill station which is in Pahang, the biggest state on the Malay Peninsula. 

Thompson, the son of a prominent Delaware family, Princeton graduate and architectural student at the University of Pennsylvania, wartime operative in the OSS, which was the forerunner of the CIA, disappeared while going for a walk alone after lunch. He was last sighted at around 4pm when he briefly visited the Lutheran mission bungalow, but after that he vanished completely without trace, despite an extensive search.

The case immediately generated almost unprecedented intense worldwide media publicity and speculation. Most press reports maintained that he’d either been kidnapped or murdered, perhaps due to his wartime connections, had been eliminated by powerful business rivals, or had voluntarily gone elsewhere in Asia in a high powered attempt to help negotiate the end of the then raging Vietnam conflict.

Many years later, some bones were discovered at the hill resort, but no effort was made to link them to Thompson as they were found at a site far from where he was thought to have been on that fateful day.

Residing in Pahang and based a little further south of the Cameron Highlands until 1966, I’ve always been inclined to support many of my Malay and Chinese friends who took the view that Thompson had strayed too far off the road and had in fact been taken by a tiger. Indeed, there were unconfirmed reports at the time of the presence of such a beast in the area. Besides, tiger sightings in the state were not uncommon in those days and many of us knew the possible locations.

The mystery took on a further macabre dimension when Jim Thompson’s sister was brutally murdered in Chester County, PA, just a few months after his disappearance; this murder remains unsolved. However, investigators could find no provable link with her brother.

Despite predation, maybe one day whatever remains of Thompson will be found in the jungle proving that he simply could not find the way back to his bungalow after wandering off the beaten track?