Mike Vickers' Blog

September 10, 2019

Johnson – One Nation Conservatives – Oh Really?

Filed under: Boris, Dictatorship, economics, Equality, 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: Boris, Brexit, Britis Empire, economics, Europe, 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.

February 28, 2016

Western Civilisation and why we need to remain part of it

Filed under: economics, Europe, History in the making, Music, Painting, Politics, War — derryvickers @ 9:01 pm

Cameron’s deal with Brussels despite Martin Kettle writing in the Guardian was ‘Much Ado about Nothing’

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/05/david-cameron-eu-deal-brussels-media-reaction

Is the deal anyway legally binding – I don’t know – I’m not a constitutional lawyer. In any case like all laws they can be rescinded. I have no doubt that if the EU Referendum result is for Out then the new Tory incumbent of Number 10 would quickly rescind any such laws; indeed she would be commitment bound to Brexit.

By the real question is why are we in Europe anyway and the same question applies equally why is Scotland in the UK. Despite what one might think from the media, Scotland voted to join England to create the UK by the Act of Union; one could argue that some duress was brought to bear but nevertheless the Union was voted through, through the then Scottish Parliament. There is duress in most unions; but the UK joining Europe was not one of them. The UK applied three times to join the then EEC and succeeded on the third attempt under the Tory PM Edward Heath – no duress here.

Looking back to the end of WW2

‘The European Economic Community (EEC) was created against the backdrop of post World War II Europe, with the aim of never again allowing human rights atrocities such as those committed by Germany.  Three Communities were founded in the 1950s: the Coal and Steel Community, the Atomic Energy Community and the Economic Community, with their own law-making institutions and flag.’

One of the drivers to setting up the EEC was Churchill who was also an instigator of the European Court of Human Rights.

We cannot aim at anything less than the Union of Europe as a whole, and we look forward with confidence to the day when that Union will be achieved.’

OK Churchill was a somewhat left of centre Tory but a Tory no doubt.

And to me both the EU as successor to the EEC along with the European Court are rightful products of us as members of Western Civilisation.

Yes European Wars have been going on for 3 millennia, ever since Athens established the ground work for Western Civilisation, but since the EEC was set up there have, with the exception of the Bosnian wars, been no wars since – a real plus. I am not suggesting that should the UK Brexit we will automatically launch a war with our European neighbours; and I have little doubt that should another war take place in Europe we will go to the aid of one side. But why risk it.

An enduring memory, for me, was when lessons were stopped in my primary school days to listen to the war reporters provide on-line commentaries from the D Day landings. I prefer not to sit and listen to such reporting of this nature in my lifetime.

The EU if far from perfect; it does worry about setting up trivia rather than taking the high road; but whose fault is it that Brussels avoids the high road; certainly the UK objects to anything that smacks of central policy and direction. One of Cameron’s agreements,               that he considered key, was ’ever closer union’ is about trust and understanding, not political integration.

If ever there was a need for direction by the EU it is now with immigrants seeking asylum from the Middle East and Afghanistan, with a well structured fiscal policy rightly or wrongly based on the euro; a far better understand between Europe north and south and a mature and workable foreign policy not only with respect to Russia but with the Far East and with the US.  Why is the US pressing hard to keep the UK in Europe? It is hardly for financial reasons, for all its financial problem the US economy is far larger and stronger than the UK’s or for that matter Europe as a whole.

The UK boasts of its strong financial position with respect to Europe but ‘come the revolution’ that would evaporate; the UK has no fall back on manufacturing compared with the other states of Europe; Germany of course but France and Italy also. But it’s not the economy stupid it’s that the UK is integral to Europe, we play their music, act their plays and appreciate their art; and so does the US. The US is as bound to Europe is as the UK is; after all the US expelled its indigenous peoples and peopled it with Spanish, French, English and Scots. If the UK left Europe the US would lose its interlocutor with Europe and that’s why Obama seems so worried with a UK Out. The Marshall Plan wasn’t wholly altruistic.

Clearly the UK could exist outside the EU just as Scotland could exist outside the UK. The UK would continue to trade with the rest of the world but the UK is a minnow compared with the US and China and increasingly India. But that is not the point, for good or ill and I believe because that’s where I was brought up, for good, we are part of the Western World; a world which largely recognises and abides by Human Rights and whose governments generally act civilly towards its citizens, and I would be loathed to be outside its main stream culturally and morally.

PS I believe in local government, which is missing in Scotland, but I see no contradictions in local government being within the umbrella of a regional council which is within Scottish/ UK Government which in turn is within the umbrella of a Europeans Commission responsible to the European Parliament.

February 26, 2015

David Hume Institute – Politicians & Professionals series

Filed under: DHI SPIF, economics, Education, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 12:17 pm

 

A series of five lectures given by the five Party Leaders in Scotland at this time.

The four I went to were in order Ruth Davidson for the Conservatives, Patrick Harvie for the Greens, Jim Murphy for Labour and Nicola Sturgeon for the SNP.  I missed Willie Rennie for the Lib Dems.

How did their policies for Scotland compare.  Well they had a surprisingly lot of common round.

  1. Murphy and Sturgeon were singing from the same song sheet on education and levelling the playing field; even Davidson considered Scotland needs to be more meritocratic; children from the poorer areas of Glasgow need to have the same opportunities as the rest.
  2. Further Education should be equally prised as Higher Education
  3. Scotland needs to get people back to work: Murphy, the unemployed while Sturgeon the Mums – she advocates Child Care to do so
  4. Murphy and Sturgeon were again singing on a Fairer Scotland.  Harvie brought up employers reneging on conditions in the work place
  5. Both Harvie and Murphy attacked zero hours contracts
  6. All except Sturgeon seemed to agree that Scotland is too centralised and power needs to be distributed. Sturgeon however did mention the Community Empowerment Bill before parliament at this time and she did recognised that for education there is a balance between the centre and the councils – is education ring fenced or not
  7. The oil is a dying commodity but we should be harnessing all that expertise in Aberdeen
  8. Of course there were differences: Davidson is for cutting taxes rather than Scotland going Nordic, Murphy reminded us of the Mansion Tax and 50p in the £ for high earners while Sturgeon said that the Smith Commission would help but not enough of tax raising under Scottish control.
  9. Davidson was the only one to talk about defence but even she didn’t tackle Trident nor was she pressed by the audience
  10. Harvie made the point that people now look at life as a ‘hotel’; you take the room, pay for the service and move on; and I would expect all four politicians would agree with this sentiment in their own different ways.
  11. As Harvie said in respect of the Bedroom Tax there was a high degree of unanimity between Labour and SNP  in Scotland and agreement on the way forward could have been reached a lot earlier if the two parties hadn’t automatically taken up their usual antagonist positions.  It may be time for the Scottish Parliament as a whole to take a more active part in moving Scotland forward without the need for usual party warring.

So what about the performers themselves

  1. Patrick Harvie in my view gave the weakest performance possibly because the Greens politics is all things to all green thinking men.
  2.  Jim Murphy was not consistent in his delivery trying to tackle all Scottish problems as he sees them in the 45 mins allotted – he is of course on an uphill battle in trying to win back Labour voters and may well have been tired.
  3. Nicola Sturgeon gave the most polished speech (and was the only one on time!) and stood up to answer questions, but maybe somewhat complacent – her time will come when she has to put her policies into practice – I noted already a careful keeping of her power dry.
  4. To me Ruth Davidson was the easiest to listen to and faced the audience all the time and her position is somewhat easier as as she recognised the Scottish Tories have a long way to go and she will be considered to have succeeded if she makes any headway in Scotland.
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