rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I went on a march today protesting at the "bedroom tax". I nearly didn't go, feeling that little good will come of the protest and feeling somewhat ignorant of the "bedroom tax" itself. (That's my fault; a lot has been written about it; but it does make for somewhat boring reading...)

The main reason I went on the march was because it strikes me as very wrong to demonise the poorest in society. The welfare budget accounts for a relatively small part of government spending (if you exclude pensions, which are more or less fixed), but recipients of benefits - by no means the "out of work scroungers" much of the media paints them - depend on it.

Society should be protecting those at the bottom of the pile, not making life harder for them by cutting what help they get.

So I went on the short march through Edinburgh, from St Andrew's Square down to the Scottish Parliament in the shadow of Arthur's Seat.

It was a very good natured march; even the police seemed surprisingly friendly. (Perhaps they were on overtime...!) There was a rather good choir who sang protest songs much of the way, making a welcome change from the usual call-and-response demo chanting (though there was that too; particularly inane).

I was struck by two, somewhat contradictory, thoughts.

Firstly, a lot - an awful lot - of people on the march seemed to have concatenated welfare cuts in general and the "bedroom tax" specifically with the forthcoming referendum on independence. There were a great many banners supporting independence. It felt like the "Yes" campaign had hijacked the march for its own purposes. This didn't feel right. Independence is no guarantee of social justice; indeed, an independent Scotland might have to make greater cuts than are already being planned.

The second thought was - where the hell were the Labour party? I am not a Labour supporter, but if they are meant to represent the opposition within the British parliament (as well as Holyrood), shouldn't they have been adding their voice to those of the very many "ordinary" people who turned out, as well the many unions that seemed to be represented and the many parties of the left - there were banners from the Socialist Workers Party, the Scottish Socialist Party - and the Communist Party! Even "Anonymous" were out. (Allegedly.)

Nothing from Labour at all.

Anyhow, I took some photos...

DSC_3146

DSC_3126 DSC_3128

DSC_3143 DSC_3142

DSC_3156 DSC_3159

DSC_3166 DSC_3167

DSC_3188 DSC_3180

DSC_3199

DSC_3213 DSC_3236

rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
We're in a recession.

I'd never have noticed if they hadn't told me.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
We're in a recession.

I'd never have noticed if they hadn't told me.
rhythmaning: (whisky)
And whilst I'm linking to the BBC, I love this trailer for the City Season on BBC2.



It features this dragon.
DSC_0294

And here is a bit of a rant: the trailer is for BBC2's new "City Season". There is nothing searchable on the Beeb's website that has trailer or anything about the City Season. If you search "city season" in the BBC website, you get hundreds of results for Man City, Birmingham City, Holby City, River City. They don't have a page for their City Season. So whilst I know one programme in it - well, one programme doesn't a season make. It is like they haven't thought about using their website properly. I mean really - I was trying to find out what they have on, and I can't!
rhythmaning: (whisky)
And whilst I'm linking to the BBC, I love this trailer for the City Season on BBC2.



It features this dragon.
DSC_0294

And here is a bit of a rant: the trailer is for BBC2's new "City Season". There is nothing searchable on the Beeb's website that has trailer or anything about the City Season. If you search "city season" in the BBC website, you get hundreds of results for Man City, Birmingham City, Holby City, River City. They don't have a page for their City Season. So whilst I know one programme in it - well, one programme doesn't a season make. It is like they haven't thought about using their website properly. I mean really - I was trying to find out what they have on, and I can't!
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
The BBC is reporting that Sir Peter Burt and Sir George Mathewson are trying to put together an alternative to the Lloyds TSB takeover of HBOS.

This is interesting. Burt oversaw that merger of Bank of Scotland with Halifax, which could be seen to have lead BoS into its current situation. Mathewson oversaw the (up until last year) successful acquisative strategy that built RBS from a small regional bank operating in the UK to the fifth largest bank in the world (by market cap c. 2004).

They were both highly successful, but both were behinds their organisations' expansion that brought them to where they are today: essentially bankrupt and reliant on Government money to survive.

I am not certain I would trust them with HBOS, myself.

Interestingly, Mathewson is one of the SNP Scottish Government's team business advisers. The collapse of RBS and HBOS, and their survival using UK Government support, puts the lie to the SNP's claim to be able to succeed as an independent, small economy.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
The BBC is reporting that Sir Peter Burt and Sir George Mathewson are trying to put together an alternative to the Lloyds TSB takeover of HBOS.

This is interesting. Burt oversaw that merger of Bank of Scotland with Halifax, which could be seen to have lead BoS into its current situation. Mathewson oversaw the (up until last year) successful acquisative strategy that built RBS from a small regional bank operating in the UK to the fifth largest bank in the world (by market cap c. 2004).

They were both highly successful, but both were behinds their organisations' expansion that brought them to where they are today: essentially bankrupt and reliant on Government money to survive.

I am not certain I would trust them with HBOS, myself.

Interestingly, Mathewson is one of the SNP Scottish Government's team business advisers. The collapse of RBS and HBOS, and their survival using UK Government support, puts the lie to the SNP's claim to be able to succeed as an independent, small economy.

Just in...

Oct. 12th, 2008 06:06 pm
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
BBC radio news has just announced that Fred Goodwin will resign from RBS tomorrow.

I have no idea whether this is good news or not.

Just in...

Oct. 12th, 2008 06:06 pm
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
BBC radio news has just announced that Fred Goodwin will resign from RBS tomorrow.

I have no idea whether this is good news or not.
rhythmaning: (cat)
I was listening to Sanjeev Bhaskar on Desert Island Discs, and he chose Monty Python signing "Look On the Bright Side of Life", which made me smile.

And then I read in yesterday's Guardian that whilst in the last year the value of my shares in MegaBank have lost over 80% of their value (and, in the last week, lost more than half of their value!), and the UK stockmarket lost 41%, the Iraqi stockmarket is up 40% in the last month. Indeed, the chart in the Grauniad shows only the Iraqi stockmarket increasing in value.

And this too made me smile!

Incidentally, the upmarket version of Desert Island Discs, Private Passions, is on just now, featuring Nick Clegg.
rhythmaning: (cat)
I was listening to Sanjeev Bhaskar on Desert Island Discs, and he chose Monty Python signing "Look On the Bright Side of Life", which made me smile.

And then I read in yesterday's Guardian that whilst in the last year the value of my shares in MegaBank have lost over 80% of their value (and, in the last week, lost more than half of their value!), and the UK stockmarket lost 41%, the Iraqi stockmarket is up 40% in the last month. Indeed, the chart in the Grauniad shows only the Iraqi stockmarket increasing in value.

And this too made me smile!

Incidentally, the upmarket version of Desert Island Discs, Private Passions, is on just now, featuring Nick Clegg.
rhythmaning: (cat)
I still hold shares in MegaBank (soon to be renamed MicroBank, to be swiftly followed by NationalisedBank), where I used to work: they are shares from bonus and sharesave schemes. A year ago, I think my shares were worth £20,000; today they are worth about £4,000.

I would expect to be really pissed off about this, but I'm not, not really.

This could be because I have a natural resilience - there isn't much I can do to get £16,000 back after all (other than wait another, say, 20 years). Or it might be that I understand that the stockmarket can go down (and down and down) as well as, occasionally, up.

Or it might be that I have the stockmarket to thank for a gallon of laughs at the expense of Mike Ashley and the ongoing saga at Newcastle United, and this more than makes up for the downside.

Although in that case, you'd expect that the woeful season at Spurs would have offset the laughs gained at the expense of Newcastle, wouldn't you?
rhythmaning: (cat)
I still hold shares in MegaBank (soon to be renamed MicroBank, to be swiftly followed by NationalisedBank), where I used to work: they are shares from bonus and sharesave schemes. A year ago, I think my shares were worth £20,000; today they are worth about £4,000.

I would expect to be really pissed off about this, but I'm not, not really.

This could be because I have a natural resilience - there isn't much I can do to get £16,000 back after all (other than wait another, say, 20 years). Or it might be that I understand that the stockmarket can go down (and down and down) as well as, occasionally, up.

Or it might be that I have the stockmarket to thank for a gallon of laughs at the expense of Mike Ashley and the ongoing saga at Newcastle United, and this more than makes up for the downside.

Although in that case, you'd expect that the woeful season at Spurs would have offset the laughs gained at the expense of Newcastle, wouldn't you?
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
Just heard this on BBC radio news...

Not sure what to make of it, but the US markets are down 4%. So that'll be my pension fund down again tomorrow!
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
Just heard this on BBC radio news...

Not sure what to make of it, but the US markets are down 4%. So that'll be my pension fund down again tomorrow!
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
There has been a lot of talk over the past few months about the need (or otherwise) of the UK government to charge the energy companies – electricity, gas and oil – with a windfall tax.

Labour MPs, unions and even 70% of the public support such a tax (sorry – I can’t find the reference).

I really don’t understand this at all.

The argument goes that a windfall tax is needed because the energy companies are making excess profits: that is, they are profiting from unfair market practices – they either represent an oligolopoly or, locally, a monopoly.

The electricity and gas companies – privatised in the 1980s and 1990s – are regulated by the Office of Gas and Electricity markets – Ofgem. If any energy companies are abusing their market position, they should be subject to sanction by Ofgem, the Office of Fair Trading - “making markets work well for consumers” (I mean, jeez! It’s their bloody job!) or the Competition Commission.

That’s right – there are three different regulatory bodies who have the power to investigate market abuse by energy companies.

If MPs or the unions believe the energy companies are profiting from excess prices because the energy retail or wholesale markets aren’t working properly, they have lots of ways of prompting an investigation – which would result in large fines.

As it is, these companies are making large profits at the moment. (I have no idea if these are excessive or not.) As a result, they pay a large amount of money in corporation tax – this is a good thing: it pays for hospitals and schools and lots of other things we need money for in society.

This is a very different argument to saying that energy prices are high, and many people may need help to pay their bills this coming winter. This is something MPs and unions can do something about. Indeed, looking after their constituents is what they should be about. But they don’t need to bash businesses whilst they are about it.

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