Mike Vickers' Blog

June 15, 2020

johnson: World Beating

Filed under: Coronavirus, economics, Johnson — derryvickers @ 7:21 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/15/the-guardian-view-of-boris-johnsons-crisis-blunder-after-blunder
“The prime minister is right in a sense that he presides over a “world-beating” performance: with 64,000 excess deaths, that is one excess death for every 1,000 people, the UK has recorded the largest global spike in deaths compared with the average yearly death toll; and the country will suffer the deepest depression of any developed economy.”
Guardian Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/15/the-guardian-view-of-boris-johnsons-crisis-blunder-after-blunder

September 23, 2019

One Law for the Banks and One for Thomas Cook’s

Filed under: Bankruptcy, Corporates, economics, Johnson — derryvickers @ 3:14 pm

Warning that state intervention risked creating a “moral hazard” in future cases of companies on the brink, the prime minister hinted at possible government action against directors of travel firms who oversaw bankruptcies.

All very true: but opposite for the Bank Crash where the Government rescued them at a much greater cost to the State and the Country.
But were those directors ever sanctioned?

September 10, 2019

Johnson – One Nation Conservatives – Oh Really?

Filed under: Dictatorship, economics, Equality, Johnson, Workers Rights — derryvickers @ 1:15 pm

Disraeli understood to establish One Nation Conservatives as:

‘Disraeli adopted one-nation conservatism for both ethical and electoral reasons. Before he became leader of the Conservative Party, the Reform Act 1867 had enfranchised the male working-class. As a result, Disraeli argued that the party needed to pursue social reforms if it were to have electoral success. He felt that one-nationism would both improve the conditions of the poor and portray the Liberal Party as selfish individualists.

While in government, Disraeli presided over a series of social reforms which supported his one-nation politics and aimed to create a benevolent hierarchy. He appointed a Royal Commission to assess the state of law between employers and employees. As a result, Richard Cross was moved to pass the Employers and Workmen Act of 1875. This act made both sides of industry equal before the law and the breach of contract became a civil offence, rather than criminal. Cross also passed the Conspiracy, and Protection of Property Act in the same year which enshrined the worker’s right to strike by ensuring that acts carried out by a workers’ group could not be indicted as conspiracy.’

Brexit: Boris Johnson rejects claim he is making Conservative party extreme – live news
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/sep/10/anger-abounds-after-parliament-suspended-in-night-of-high-drama-politics-live#img-1

Not much similarity to me

August 30, 2019

Greta Thunberg – On her way

Filed under: economics, Greta Thunberg, USA — derryvickers @ 7:48 am

I like the poster

Greta surrounded by plastic rubbish

From

https://www.theguardian.com/global/commentisfree/2019/aug/29/us-greta-thunberg-climate?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0Jlc3RPZkd1YXJkaWFuT3BpbmlvblVTLTE5MDgyOQ%3D%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=BestOfGuardianOpinionUS&CMP=opinionus_email

Let’s hope that someone in the US spends time to listen

July 24, 2019

Boris Johnson – Prime MInister – What Shall We Do

Filed under: Brexit, Britis Empire, economics, Europe, Johnson, Trump — derryvickers @ 6:33 am

The Prime Minister

with apologies to Roger McGough

I wanna be the Prime Minister
I wanna be the Prime Minister
Can I be the Prime Minister?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I’m the Prime Minister
I’m the Prime Minister

OK what shall we do?

March 8, 2019

This Day – 8 March 2019

Filed under: Brexit, economics, Europe, Ireland, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 9:07 pm

I have just watched a programme  on BBC 4 on Hadrian’s Wall and its ultimate Failure to protect England at the End of Empire.

The Roman Empire imploded and England with it, for 750 years.

Is there an analogy here on 8 March 2019 to England imploding on itself following Brexit?

From the Guardian Website.  Very little to celebrate.

 

 

February 25, 2019

Towards Local Decisions

Filed under: economics, Music, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 5:16 pm

In a previous blog I reported on going to hear the Scottish Ensemble playing music with a political context.

Yet again the question has been raised as to whether music tuition should be free in Scottish Schools. The musical flash mob yesterday before the Midlothian Council Offices changed the councillors’ decision to keep free music tuition in the curriculum. Applause all round: Democracy triumphs.

True, but someone else suffers. Budgets are limited from many causes and it is unhelpful in my view to point fingers. One can only hope that Brexit will not make money scarcer still in this country. West Lothian I believe has come to as sensible compromise on music tuition with annual fees for those who want to learn to play for those whose parents can and free for those who can’t; but even here I understand that the number of pupils wanting to continue to play has gone down this year. And I wonder can the West Lothian Council hold its compromise. Will what’s happened in Midlothian affect West Lothian’s decision?

It seems to me that there has to be much more open discussion about priorities on spending in Linlithgow and the Community Council has a central role here supported by its Ward Councillors and the Community Development Trust should be involved. Music, Buses, Recycling, you name it, its there.

But of course, Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge is not an island; we are part of West Lothian as a whole and any such discussion on priorities needs to encompass the whole Authority. West Lothian Council will say that they involved the whole community in the last Budget Round; but I sat through the Council Meeting where the budget and cuts were discussed and seemly random dictates were instructed to council officers: cuts or no cuts to music teaching, how many recycling centres should go; which village halls should seek cash through the Community Empowerment Bill; only this week the Link Linlithgow budget is to be reduced. I believe we must do better. and Community Councils are central here.

I have no ready solution, but our communities must be much more closely integrated into the budgeting process so, at least, they understand that money is ‘limited’, and they understand why their preferred groups has less funds from the central pot than last year.

But back to our concert; you may like Gabriela Montero, a Venezuelan talking about her piece ‘Babel’ and how her country is being ripped apart by political strife and how she considers that music is essential to continued humanity in her country Venezuela. Thank heavens we in Scotland ar not in this political turmoil . Having played her new piece supported strongly by the strings of the Scottish Ensemble, at the applause, she pulled a Venezuelan flag out and this brought the house down.

OK I’m sticking up for continued good music in Scotland and Montero’s will underpin why, there are many other deserving groups, Linlithgow Link is one such and I believe that our Community Council need to take a much more active part along with the Linlithgow Community Development Trust in working towards a better understand of where the balance in priorities should be in our Town.

If you want to hear more of Gabriela Montero rationale for her Babel please go to:

https://scottishensemble.co.uk/magazine/venezuelan-pianist-gabriela-montero-discusses-her-new-piece-babel/

February 23, 2019

James MacMillan and Colin Currie – made in Scotland

Filed under: Cumnoch Tryst, economics, Education, Music, St Petersburg, World Class — derryvickers @ 7:32 am

Last night, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) performed a 60th Birthday concert for James MacMillan: MacMillan conducting two of his pieces Veni, Veni, Emmanuel and Seven Last Words from the Cross.

There was also a short introductory piece by Part. The Seven Last Words from the Cross (1992) was a choral piece and was well done, the SCO Choir gave their best, but I’m not a fan of Choral Works.

But the Veni, Veni, Emmanuel was something out of this world. Colin Currie was stupendous on percussion. Playing everything from snare drums, foot drum, xylophone, vibraphone, dancing everywhere. Excellent backing from the SCO. MacMillan used every possible woodwind instrument and even the strings to provide a deep sound.

What MacMillan has done is to completely integrate modern / jazz with percussion into the classical symphony repertoire.

But in another way, in his Cumnock Tryst, he has brought classical music to the people of Scotland. He established his tryst in Cumnock, an old mining town in Ayrshire, some five years ago and brought a new life to it. OK, just four days a year in the Autumn but the local musicians practice the whole year for the event: He involves the whole town. Last year, the theme was the First World War and to me the centre piece was ‘All the hills and vales alone’ (https://www.thecumnocktryst.com/all-the-hills-and-vales-along) using a forgotten poem by a forgotten Scottish poet Charles Hamilton Sorley. MacMillan brought in singers such as Ian Bostridge, but the choir was local, and the orchestra was the Dalmellington Brass Band backed by the Scottish Ensemble. He was taking the piece on to London where they would use the London Symphony Orchestra.

If we want, in West Lothian, to see what Modern Classical Music can do for our Core Development Towns then we could persuade MacMillan and Currie to give Veni, Veni, Emmanuel in Livingston with the orchestra being one of its many brass bands: he has the skills to transpose the music to brass band as demonstrated with ‘All the hills and vales alone’. Sorry, I may sound pejorative but I’m not. One has only to think of perhaps the greatest symphony of all, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 played first (almost) to a packed audience in bombed out and besieged Leningrad in 1942.

Free Music Tuition for Schools is a ‘hot potato’ in Scotland , butget’s are short and tuition fees are an easy target.  West Lothian has come to a reasonable compromise with the those that can pay do pay and those that can’t go free.  But people get a kick out of music, and Veni, Veni, Emmanuel is just one that could bring the whole community together, rather than ‘Them and Us’.  The Concert last night at the Queens Hall was filled with the ‘Usual Suspects’ but there were at least 20 children near the back.

 

August 23, 2018

I despair of the UK’s current government

Filed under: Brexit, economics, Left Politics, Politics — derryvickers @ 4:31 pm

In an article in today’s Guadian I find

So why would they [Fox and co]want a no-deal? A group of hard-right Brexit economists has proposed the unilateral abolition of UK tariffs, which they openly admit would see the loss of our manufacturing base. They think this would be a good thing, and propel us into a new, service-based economy. That is why Fox and Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are not concerned about crashing out on to WTO rules – they believe it would enable them to turn Britain into a deregulated free-market economy like Singapore.”

Read the full article:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/23/labour-tories-no-deal-brexit-brexiters-cliff-edge-vote?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Opinion+UK+connected&utm_term=284123&subid=29298&CMP=ema_opinionconnectuk

As I recall West Germany built its current enviable finance position by re-building its manufacturing after WW2

As I further recall the UK built its world standing position in the 19th century partly because of it Empire but the Empire provided it a preferential position to export its manufacturing.

October 30, 2016

The Big Bang 30 years ago: The unintended consequences of deregulation and its role on broken Capitalism

Filed under: Corporates, economics, Politics — derryvickers @ 10:38 pm

A Seminar  at the David Hume Institute on 27 October 2016
Given by Philip Auger and support from Hamish Buchan and Sir Tim Nobel with Owen Kelly in the Chair.

Some of the points that Philip Auger made that got to me were:

  1. The Labour Government of 1974-5 saw the Stock Exchange as a closed shop but it remained until 1983 – 86 Tory Government to do much about it and on 27th October 1986 they kick off the Big Bang
  2. The trading floor disappeared along with Jobbers and Brokers and their tasks were largely replaced by on-line technology. And with them a network of trust and confidentiality. TN later illustrated this when a large Organisation indicated a desire to sell its shares but before they had a chance to do so the market was forewarned and the share price had already fallen.
  3. During the next ten years UK indigenous firms failed and were quickly swallowed up by big US Firms who moved in and brought in the US ways of doing business.
  4. The City flourished and during the Blair years the City could do no wrong.
    1. The City’s advantages were: The Greenwich Time Zone, the UK Legal System and the UK speaks English.
  5. But what suffered during these years was the fact that the Stock Exchange was no longer small, there had been trust and shares were for life and as stated above dealings were confidential. The Stock Exchange had been a ‘cottage industry – now no more.   Technology allowed share trading to become transactional – the personal touch just disappeared.
  6. A major consequence was that trading became just for profit and the more trading the better the profit. The Stock Exchange became a ‘casino’ with the Devil take the hindmost. Greed set in
  7. And Greed spread to the Companies whose shares were traded: not just the CEOs but Greed permeated downwards.
  8. And as the South East is permeated by the Finance Business so Greed has spread to all. PA considered the same is true in Edinburgh. A couple of speakers mentioned John Kay’s book ‘Other People’s Money’.
  9. The Finance industry has grown to such an extent that there is now more Sales Men than Clients!
  10. To Questions the Panel answered
    1. PA believes the City will get a special deal on passporting following UK leaving the EU
    2. But Finance will inevitably move towards Europe – it has already started to happen.
    3. Edinburgh is already getting smaller with the loss of two major banks
    4. Nevertheless PA considered that the City will carve out a new role for itself; but it is essential that there is no race to the bottom
    5. PA had worked with David Davis and he believed the Davis would be a shrewd negotiator for the UK; he was also sympathetic towards Theresa May.
    6. Have the Banks learned anything from the Crash? Well not much. Some form of bonus mechanism is essential in a Capitalist World but this should be based on Customer Satisfaction rather than forced selling at the counter. The key will be ‘The Reputation of the House’.
    7. PA considered that Banks must get back to service and living with modest profits between 5 – 8%.
    8. HB related to the Stewart Ivory scheme for providing education on Finance to sixth forms but this can only go so far as it is not yet an examinable subject and the scheme can only provide 100 mins per school.
    9. As to the Stock Exchange – its role as an all embracing centre for trading is declining; large business can trade amongst themselves; but TM considered that medium sized start-ups do need a source of capital and the Exchange can provide the mechanism. The Stock Exchange also provides an index of market value.
    10. PA wondered whether the merge between the London Stock Exchange and Deutsch Bank will still go ahead?
    11. More generally Companies should consider broadening their raison d’etre and be willing to expand their boards to include staff and customers and I would add union reps as Germany. The 2006 Companies Act goes some way but he expects a Green Paper soon. But he noted that the CBI is not in favour of expanding Board membership in this way.
  11. PA summed up as ‘the Big Bang led to ‘greed, growth and gambling’

It was a good evening but I came away without a clear understanding as to ‘Broken Capitalism’ and what is the future. Capitalism can’t just be broken because of ‘Greed’ and, as is oft repeated, Capitalism is much better than Communism.

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