Tag Archives: UK economy

Bankers’ Fortunes

 the decision of these banks to hand out bonuses as though nothing has changed is unbelievable. The only reason these bankers are still in jobs is because the taxpayer bailed out the system

If you pressed a rifle into the hand of the man in the street and asked him to choose between two targets – an MP or a banker – who do you think would get the bullet? Tricky, eh? It is hard to know which of these two formerly respectable professions has fallen further in public esteem.

Some people might hesitate, like Buridan’s ass, the rifle barrel weaving indecisively between two such luscious hate-objects. Most people would simply call for two bullets.

But then let me ask you a slightly different question. Which of the two species has managed to steer itself most effectively through the crisis? Which type of cockroach has scuttled through the nuclear blast of public disapproval? On the face of it, there is an obvious answer, and it is getting more blatant by the day.

Most of the MPs I know seem to be in a state of nervous collapse. Some of them are on suicide watch. Some of them face the task of sacking their wives and selling the house, or possibly the other way round. Some face penury. Never has Parliament been subjected to such protracted humiliation at the hands of the people.

Then look at the bankers, the bankers whose high-rolling risk-taking triggered the recession that has so exacerbated public rage at MPs. The bankers seem to be waltzing off with a song on their lips and their hands in their pockets – at least, their hands would be in their pockets if they were not stuffed with money. And when I say stuffed, I mean bulging, bursting, ballooning with the biggest bonuses you ever saw.

Continue reading Bankers’ Fortunes

Divorce of Zillionaires in London

As readers will know by now Boris Johnson does not normally do austere articles.   He says today: ” We don’t do sex scandals. We don’t dabble our fingers in the stuff of people’s souls. I would not normally dream of citing a divorce case now unfolding before the courts; and therefore I will keep the details to the minimum before we come to the point at interest.

Let us say that there is a certain glamorous blonde in the throes of parting with her husband. She claims that he is worth £400 million and that under the laws of England she is entitled to half of his assets. He claims that this dosh has all but vanished. As soon as she lost that loving feeling, she found that his cash was gone, gone, gone and could not now be retrieved.”

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MPs’ Expenses

Making you pay for their porn won’t stimulate the economy

In one sense, it is rank hypocrisy that any journalist should bash poor Jacqui Smith for inadvertently claiming her husband’s porn films on expenses. As anyone with any experience of Her Majesty’s Press can testify, the expenses claim is the genre where the reporter is expected to exercise whatever creative gifts he or she may possess. It seems to be a kind of sacred tradition of Fleet Street.

Shortly after arriving in the newsroom of the Times, more than two decades ago, an old and wily reporter invited me and another trainee out to lunch in order, as he put it, to “show us the ropes”. We had a doleful Japanese meal, in almost total silence, and all paid our way. I was wondering what kind of tutorial this was, when the reporter picked up the bill with a flourish. “See this?” he said. “This is a good bill,” he said, and trousered it.

“But who are these people?” I used to ask one distinguished leader-writer, when I read his restaurant claims, consisting of a series of chunky bills for “lunch with contact” or “dinner with contact”. Was there any way they could perhaps be identified, for the sake of verisimilitude? “I am afraid not,” he would sigh. “Security reasons.” Or there was the TV reporter I used to know in Brussels, who contrived to claim for a lawnmower in spite of living in a fourth-floor flat with no garden.

It is a fact of British journalism – the Telegraph excluded – that when you read an account of something of which you happen to have independent knowledge, you will often see how the facts have been slightly sandpapered to improve the story, or how the quotes have been artistically pruned of their vital saving clauses, and it is no surprise that this poetic licence finds its way into the composition of expenses. How many hacks have sat up late at night watching the porn film in the hotel bedroom? How many have then allowed it to appear as “media” or “extras” on their bill, and claimed back the cost? Hmm?

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Sir Fred Goodwin and Harriet Harman – pensions and bonuses row

harman1I never thought that anyone would make me feel the tiniest batsqueak of sympathy for Sir Fred Goodwin. This is the fellow who brought a great bank to its knees. This is the man whose exuberant and uninhibited incompetence has contrived to land the Royal Bank of Scotland with the largest corporate losses ever – a bleed so colossal that the bank is being kept alive only with seemingly constant transfusions of taxpayers’ haemoglobin. Continue reading Sir Fred Goodwin and Harriet Harman – pensions and bonuses row

Christmas chutney and Christmas shopping

OK, folks, it’s Christmas Eve eve, and the question is whether I can get away with it. There they are on the top of the fridge, a great glistening phalanx of glass pots. Inside those pots is a gibbering radioactive brown mulch, and you know what I intend to do with that nameless gunk? Continue reading Christmas chutney and Christmas shopping

Christmas Tree Inflation

Christmas! I said, or words to that effect. I definitely invoked our saviour, and I was as flabbergasted as anyone involved in the Nativity Story itself. I stood stock still like the ass on seeing a child being born in a manger; I gaped like the Wise Men beholding the star in the east; and I quivered like dear old Joseph on being told by his wife that she was about to give birth to someone else’s child, but it was really quite all right, darling, and there was no case for jealousy and it was indeed a great compliment that she had been chosen by the chap in question. Continue reading Christmas Tree Inflation

Gordon Brown’s Economic Gamble

You know what, I have now heard more than enough about how much Gordon Brown is enjoying this recession. Every time you read about the Prime Minister, they tell you that his mood is getting better and better.

Having been known as a gloomy old nail-biting misery-guts, he is now presented to us as a man “in his element”, the life and soul of the party, a smile or a witty aside never off his lips. Continue reading Gordon Brown’s Economic Gamble

Gordon Brown and the sorry state of the pound

Why is the pound at a 12-year low against a basket of other OECD currencies?

Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown have peddled some pretty good bilge in their time, but I don’t think I have ever seen anything so bare-faced and intellectually putrid as their attempt to blame the Tories for the sorry state of the pound. Continue reading Gordon Brown and the sorry state of the pound

Peter Mandelson: make London more competitive, not less

Isn’t it time Gordon Brown stopped the FTSE stampede?

Whoa there. Hold your horses, folks. The rustle of alarm is turning into a scuttle, and the scuttle is turning into a drumming roar of feet in flight. As the economic position gets worse, it is reported that this country is starting to see some notable departures.

Is Peter Mandelson and his business nous our only hope? Continue reading Peter Mandelson: make London more competitive, not less