Sunday, 29 November 2015

A good Kiwi read: Wanaka and more about Pies.

As contentment grows so my world narrows; from the universe to New Zealand. From NZ to Wanaka. Soon it will encompass only the house Diane has loaned us out of kindness to refugees (non huddled masses section). We're happy hiking,unfashionable dressed drinking DB and eating pies. Kiwisation is working and Pomerania turning into an unhappy land far away. Feels good.

We've been walking for exercise. I made heavy work of it slow and stiff pretending to keep stopping to blow my nose which has been constantly running since we came or to photograph the view-which is lovely though like all NZ Beauty it just sits there looking cold and beautiful while I plead desperately for it to inspire me

Walks are another NZ Con. They always minimise driving distances pretending to do in three hours with a stop for pies a distance which takes us six. Walking is worse. Seeing a sign for a lakeside walk to the waterfall we decided to do it. Only other people on the walk were a Chinese couple (Linda asked them where they came from and they said "Auckland") plus a few cyclists hurtling past without bells to warn us to get out of the way. The walk took us an hour and at the end  a native gently explained that there was no waterfall. Just Waterfall Creek and that's another few miles (kilometres they call them) up the hill. We gave up in despair and trudged back. In the rain.

Wanaka itself is a collection of sheds at the end of the lake. Some of the sheds are brightly coloured with restauranteurs, Kiwiana sellers and ice cream makers stood outside their shops waiting for customers who don't come, a crowded Whaka Pai and a thronging pie shop and the bigger sheds stashed away in a little valley out of sight. This includes another big Mitre 10. Why do they need such enormous Mitre 10s in a holiday resort. Do the millionaires spend their weekends doing plumbing and DIY?
What's happened to the number eight fencing wire the all purpose Kiwi tool?

Nothing happens in Wanaka. People sit around reading travel supplements to the local papers  about holidays in Europe, Canada or USA with pictures of Lake Como,Yellowstone and the Rockies. Why bother when you've got Wanaka. Indeed the most dramatic event since the gold rushes was a march for the environment on Sunday. Several hundred people including lots of kids carrying placards bigger than they were  paraded through town while the tourists chomped on their pies and Kiwi breakfasts and ignored them,not realising that the end of the world will include Wanaka

Wanaka will be crammed with folk come the Christmas break when all the cities close down and everyone goes to the beach, the lakes or the hills. That as I've often remarked would be the time to invade NZ and occupy it, so that when the Kiwis come home and back to work they find the cities run by Jihadis, men with beards occupying Parliament and the courts operating Sharia law. I was going to say "that'll surprise them"but on second thoughts  I'm not sure they'd notice.

Linda has caught the Rogenomics bug (undiagnosed when I first came) and is busy thinking of businesses she can introduce to make her a millionaire. The two current ideas are a factory for taking the stones out of olives which will then have an enormous sale now that every magazine newspaper and television programme is about food.I have to explain gently that they can probably do it cheaper in China like everything else.

The second money-spinner is the sale of whole fresh chickens ("chooks"they're called) apparently these days you can only get frozen whole chook or little chook bits in the supermarket so there'll be an insatiable demand for whole fresh chook for Christmas dinner just like when she was a kid. With any look she'll forget the idea or move on to some other insanity like breeding whitebait in home fish tanks. Rogernomics has perverted people. In the old days she'd only have thought of cleaner toilets.

The other occupation has been reading-if only we could do it while walking  but that's probably forbidden  by the NZ hiking  and related trades association. In my time the literary greats were back-blocks books like a River Rules My Life or Crumperature. There's still a lot of that. No Crump but books on life on the Gorge River ( not exciting) or Martindale but no Crump any more probably because the hills are alive with the sound of helicopters looking for animals to kill rather than smelly men killing them on foot.

The main gap now is small town stuff like God Boy and End of the Golden Weather and suburbia-lite which no one has written about -and good writing has moved on to Big City life-hence it's  only about Auckland but bloody good stuff  by Charlotte Grimshaw built round contemporary issues politics and people. Probably in an intimate society like NZ where its more difficult to write the truth and the politicians are only semi literate smaller democracy the best way of describing the crude realities of politics  and the true personalities of politics is to fictionalise it.

I have to report quiet contentment creeping over me. Every day in every way I get more Kiwi. Though you won't get me watching rugby.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015



Kai bar for breakfast.Mine is the Full Kiwi. Huge. No wonder people are getting much fatter than I remember them. I need a Pickford's lorry to carry me out but snce they don't have them Linda puts me in the car and we decide to go where we'd vowed not to go:Queenstown.

It's an impressive drive over the Lindis passed though huge brown hills empty of everything. In Yorkshire the mean buggers or farmers would built dry stone walls up the sides and right to the top. Here there's nowt.Not a sheep.Not a hiker.Not as soldier in training.I guess no one's ever bothered to go to the tops. So they just sit there..

It's odd that the Kiwis haven't merchandise their wild South. Sheep would have to replace buffalo but you could have films,songs, legends and books about sheep-not cow- boys,rustlers,bandits,stage coaches and Presbyterean brothels and booze palaces. Shearers would be the heros rather than sheriffs and you'd have to make it all up  but that's what the Americans did with their wild west;the whole thing was an invention made for money.

. All NZ has in place of merchandisable legends  is tall tails about sex with sheep and prairie oysters and books by women about their back country lives like A River Rules My Life ,living on (not in)the Gorge River and,one I'm just reading Snow on the Lindis about  life on the Morvan station round Lindis.All interesting stuff but more  NZ Women;s Weekly than Gene Autry

Magnificent view from the top of the Lindis but like every other magnificent view it is obscured by Japanese tourists doing  selfies. NZ has changed from Britain's overseas farm to Japan's overseas holiday haunt where people pay enormous sums to come and take pictures of themselves. 

And go to Queenstown. It's always been a show place.When I was in Dunedin the better off like Maurice Joel all had cottages they called cribs there. They may have been palaces but I never got invited so I don't know. When I came with Parliamentary select committees pursuing a diminishing supply of facts round the world and able to invent reasons for coming to NZ, at enormous public expense we were always taken to Queenstown, not to find out new and exciting facts but just to see it in the way all parliamentary visitors to the old West Germany had to visit Berlin.

Now you can't see the lake for tourists taking selfies and jet boats racing each other.The local shops have all been replaced by brand selling boutiques, the cribs replaced by expensive hotels,built like the Ziggurat of Ur, the quiet chugging of the  Earnslaw by jet boats,the TAB by two casinos-maybe more, and the streets are filled with adverts offering a hundred ways of killing yourself: in the air, up the hills, in the water and at the end of Hooker's elastic bands.  It could all be merchandised as Dignitas for the athletic .With the added attraction that for a small extra fee on the booking ticket they'll guarantee to ship the body home, securely preserved in glacier ice with aromatic herbs and lightly drizzled with pesto.

Queenstown is paradise for every form of para except plegic:parascending,paragliding, parachuting  but not the Para Rubber company which I remember being mystified by when I arrived in Dunedin.Was I stretching my imagination too far, back then, when I wondered if it sold contraceptives-rubbers as they called them in England? Has it been bankrupted by the advent of the pill?

Queenstown is turning into a crowded hell in paradise Warren Cooperisation has ruined Queenstown and the way the council hands out planning permissions to destroy its natural beauty it will end up like Dubai with tower blocks of luxury flats, another Shard with a view of Coronet Peak from the top flats and the botanical gardens turned into an Indie car racetrack and a canal dug up from Bluff to allow cruise liners to sail down Lake Wakatipu, to feast on gluten free venison at Glenorchy. At the moment the final straw is a huge Mitre 10 at Frankton.Must be the biggest in the world,presumably so millionaires can do a spot of DIY and fit gold taps in their palaces. Bad on you Mitre 10 .You've fucked up again.

Queenstown isn't NZ. It's hell in the hills,lapidary by the lakeside . Gore has a huge trout at the entrance to the town and Cromwell a dying fruit bowl. Queenstown should have a huge flashing dollar sign

Long drive back. Exhausted. Linda offers to get the TV set which I screwed up on arrival working again For the first time I can watch NZ television.Things have changed since my day. It's in colour!. There's even a parliamentary channel which announces that Parliament isn't meeting.Eagerly I wait for the news which is delivered by a mom and pop team standing up rather than sitting down as TV presenters do in Pomerania. Probably to ensure they stay awake.
I don't..

Kai Whakapai (Yes really)

I'm Rip Van Kiwi Winkle. He woke up to find they'd abolished George III and proclaimed a republic. Not quite the same for this Rip Van now I'm beginning to winkle but they are having as referendum on whether to abolish the flag. They're doing it in a roundabout way by deciding which replacement they like best before deciding whether to get rid of the one they've got. Well the bathwater swirls down the plug hole the wrong way round here.That might explain it.

But more Winklish because every one I want to see is dead and I'm halfway there. The ideas men, John Roberts, Bob Chapman, Erich Geiringer, Bill Oliver, the colleagues like Keith Jackson,Angus Ross, Willy Morrell all shuffled off the coil without waiting for my return.Who'll tell me what to think now?

Fortunately there's no need to think any more. We've got the internet to do that for us. Except we haven't Diane's house isn't wired up and smoke signals from the garden are no use in this wind. So we go to the Lakeside hotel next door, order two cups of tea and use their's. Since we look old, rich (in Linda's case) and clean (in mine) they don't mind. And they don't charge either unlike the next place,the local bar hang  out called Kia Whakapae (translated as the food ship bearing pies) which charges $2 per half hour which is just about long enough to read the guardian Times,Observer and Sunday Timers to find out that nothing is happening in Pomerania but the streets everywhere else are filled with Robocops bearing guns. They'll only be necessary in Britain when George Osborne announces that he's cutting everything Except Robocops

Kai is the local hippy haunt (is that still the name) they look like Jihadi lumberjacks with their straggly beards and in France they'd be shot but here they sit around outside the bar rolling their ciggies and drinking free water. They look weedy.Not like the world's image of a Kiwi as tall,tough and built for the rugby pitch

Since it rains all day (worst spring we've ever had one woman tells us)I go to sleep in the afternoon then we venture out to the New World supermarket.  "Why is there so much gluten free stuff?"  Linda asks an old joker on the way out "cos they're all bloody mad"

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Time like an ever rolling stream

Argument about time not over we go for an early breakfast allowing us to reach the radio station at 9-45 to the Gateway Club house .Which has four clocks giving the time in London Singapore New York and London which solves the problem. We've got up two hours early. To share breakfast with polyglot nationalities,all slim and vigorous and touring Kiwis all fat and slothful. How do they get like that? Can't remember any of these ambling pie mountains when I first came..Kiwis were all slim and tough looking. Not now -They've replaced the fish and chips of yesteryear with Fat Food.Another thing to blame Roger Douglas for.

Kill time by our own  ramble through the ruins of what used to be Christchurch which is now a patchwork of concrete slabs bomb sites and containers Brownlee's work,like God's is never done. Cost of reconstruction has now escalated to $40billion which should be a major Keynesian boost to the economy though there's not a soul of anyone working,anywhere. However the cardboard Cathedral is nice .Inside a woman preaching .Outside a black befrocked clergyman escaping.

At 10-45,exactly on time a man comes to open the radio station,print out the front pages of the papers and tune in to Stephen Nolan rambling on about pensioners being over paid, getting too many perks and generally mollycoddled-preparatory presumably to indicting his two overpaid pensioners Edwina Currie and me. Particularly me of course for gallivanting round the world as an overpaid pensioner..The news is cold snow and sleet in the North while I'm sitting 13 hours ahead of them in beautiful sunshine.

The programme rattles along for its one hour rag bag with Edwina allowed to say anything she wants at Edwina length while anything I say is immediately interrupted and talked over by insane questions about whether I deserve my free bus pass and am I screwing students by taking money from them.Explain that it isn't a zero-sum game but can't be heard over Nolan's interruptions of my brilliant analysis..

Our minder seems to quite like the programme-ruder,he thinks,than anything local. He suggests a route to Wanaka where we're going for a rest  and recuperation but like all New Zealanders asked for travel times he minimises it. They either think their country is smaller than it is or they drive Ferraris because  any of our journeys always takes two hours longer than Kiwis tell us it will take. David Lange was the same with his fast night drives from Auckland to Wellington (or was it vice-versa?) which Hamilton couldn't have done in the time Lange claimed.

The main national artery from North to South has been made as boring as possible so that the delights at the end look better and bigger. It should be measured in distances between dairies where you can stop for milk shakes and pies in the way Poms do at service stations..Miles and miles of fuck-all hidden behind huge hedges It only becomes interesting after the turn off to the lakes where the route becomes beautfiul but in the cold distant way of NZ country which is more hostile than the British coun tryside probably because in Britain there are all sorts of walks churches and rights of way but here it's all owned by someone who doesn't want you on it.

Even worse there are neither dairies nor toilets.In fact the one place we stopped had a huge sign saying "No Restroom" and another proclaiming toilets 14 miles back the way we'd just come.Probably done to make you drive faster. I makes me want to stand by the road and pee for England as that other great Yorkshire man did when he took possession in the Pre-Pie and Pom years.Now they've probably got concealed pee-cameras and helicopter patrols to stop that and arrest peeing-poms.Makes me wonder  what the Japanese tourists do because in the only toilets we do find there's a notice instructing people to put used toilet paper down the toilet rather than in the waste bin but judging from the accumulation of damp toilet paper in the waste bin the tourists haven't  understood.. What's the Japanese for damp toilet paper?

In  the old says the fields were occupied only by sheep (plus occasional posters inviting people to vote National)) Now there are all sorts of exotic animals;llamas (wondering if they can escape back to South America) deer, cows heifers calves and vast irrigation sprayers moving like H.G.Wells's Martians slowly across the fields. The only roadside buildings are galleries,craft centers,art shops,rustic furniture builders and museums of agricultural implements. All closed.None offering rest rooms.Not a dairy in sight.What the hell are those cows doing all day?

All told its a beautiful but boring seven hour run to Wanaka where we arrive buggered. Will the super market be open to get some food. I say it won't-after all in Britain they close at 4-00 on Sundays and this is religious NZ. Wrong they've converted from Sabbaterianism to $atarianism

Ca y est.Wonderful Wanaka where nothing ever happens but cold beauty reigns.We manage to find Diane's house where the key is buried in the garden and our suitcases are too heavy to carry upstairs But we can just manage to get in up and eat and then to bed.Buggered.. Vaut le visite as the Guide Michelin might say of places much easier to get to. 

Saturday, 21 November 2015

La vie en Christchurch: have they lost the Webb Ellis trophy already?

How bright everything is. Not necessarily the people. I've never seen Jim Flynn's analysis of Kiwi IQ.They're probably brighter but slower because less challenged and more easy going. But the light. So bright compared to the land of mists mellow fruitfulness and  VW pollution. It struck me the first time I stayed in a motel in ChCh. Unremitting brightness. "This is Kodachrome country thought I,rather sadly because you couldn't get Kodachrome then because of import restrictions-so how the hell did they produce all those books of NZ in Colour?

Too bright for me to be allowed out according to Linda because as soon as I sit out to bask in it I'm snatched back in and told that the pills I'm taking (I'm being kept alive by the British chemical industry to guarantee their profits) will turn me red. I thought they'd said green but never bothered because there wasn't enough sunlight in UK to produce puce or even pink.
So I can only go out wearing a hat and dark glasses and possibly a hijab though we don't have one with us not wanting to be viewed as Jehadis .

A first day of catching up with life .That requires us to go to Riccarton Mall. All human life is there and all New Zealand by the look of it.  What did all these people do on a Saturday morning when the shops were shut as they were all week end when I were a lad.. Stood there meditating on the Mallisation of NZ life (Fleurs du Mal-or is it maul?)

Crazy thing is NZ's great invention-the verandah over pavements (something they could do with in ever raining Manchester) lies neglected.The poor shuffle along it looking in the shops. The rest fight for parking places,messily mauling in the melee at the Mall

Meanwhile Linda tries to get her mobile phone re-simmed for NZ (they can't do it)in which process she's interrupted by a tall Khaki dressed Kiwi buying a mobile to brain damage his five year old kid who tells her the price in pounds and when she thanks him sarcastically tells her that she's a bitch and needs to be a lot more charming  is she  has come to live here. Extraordinary. She's upset and l'esprit de l'escalier chimes in too late for her to ask him if he works for  Welcome to NZ.? Stupid rudeness of a kind one would never have expected in such a nice country. Mull it over for hours afterwards. Can't be inverted colonial cringe can it? Or just dyspepsia?

Then to McDonalds-slowest service in the world and no hash browns my staple food since I read about processed meat and bowel cancer-and out to the airport where we're told phones are cheaper. Not true. Everywhere at the airport is more parked up than Riccarton Mall. Have all these people fled the country fearing another earthquake? Why bother when On Street parking is free?

Evening to Bronwyn Hayward's house for dinner and to get my instructions for the lectures.12 of one and a half to two hours twice a week.For eternity probably. They'll find it difficult to stop me raving on to an empty room for years while parties oif students are shown round "this is what MPs were like before we had them doctored for PR" Lovely evening but unable to agree what time I should present myself at broadcasting for my broadcast to UK tomorrow. UK is 13 hours behind (and probably 13 years too in terms of the good life). Should I present at nine am for a ten o'clock start or eleven a.m Unable to sleep worrying about it

Then back to motel to make the phone work and prepare to meet staff from the U ofC. And ask some of them if they'll accommodate some of our suitcases (because if they fit into the economy car we can't) .while we go to Wanaka. Hope they will because otherwise I'll have to leave Linda in ChCh and go by myself to give the suitcases a scenic tour. Baclk at the motel the All Black flag is at half mast. For Joshua Lomu? Or have they lost the Webb Ellis cup  in misdirected luggage coming back from London?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Journey to New Zealand

The hardest part of getting to my People's paradise  is getting to Manchester. Six thirty departure to find the M62, the North's Hadrian's Wall, traffic jammed to hell (Lancashire) People must have to go to work in Manchester by 5am to arrive on time. It's awful, slow crawl, long stops, angry feeling of impotence  as departure time approaches. Which we miss (the time two hours before) not the departure. In the terminal I shoulder my super new carry on rucksack to have it  fly open and everything-including my precious lecture manuscript which now weights two tons fly all over the coffee bar. It's really too heavy to carry but I soldier and shoulder on.

Air travel is a combination of two purgatories. On the plane where it's difficult to sleep even in our business class beds, and  the long march through the shopping malls to get to yet another departure gate. The Americans, who once shoved transit passengers into a grim brown lounges now march them through brand paradise of shops, airline lounges (we go to the wrong one) and duty free booze dealers to extort our money. It's a combination of exercise gym (because the gates are kept miles apart) and super shopping of over priced impulse buys.

"I remember you" says the air NZ hostess "Keep quiet it shows your age" but NZers dress for travel as if they were going on a camping holiday in Wanaka. It's not a concours d'elegance though first class (which we're not allowed to see and may have been abolished) may be more up--market. No NZ papers, no Metro, no North and South not even a NZ Woman's Weekly of happy memory (does it still exist?) Just glossies like Vogue and even a new Kiwi-glossy which I've never heard of. No inflight mag either. Has the muse gone silent? No bottles and lotions of NZ smells and sheep grease chained down in the toilet In fact the only traces of NZ are the flying-helmeted figure who peers at you peeing on the wall of the toilet and the information video presented by hip-hop All Blacks which is incomprehensible. What's the country we're coming to coming to?

At long last bleary wet dawn over miserable Mangere "Isn't it wonderful to be back?" asks the chief steward. I mumble some reply about it's been a long time Then realise he's not talking to me but to the woman in front.

And its untrue. The automatic passport readers don't work.They chew up the entry cards forcing us into another long queue at the "Can we help you?" desk. Which can't. "Aw ... technology!" is the answer to our queries. Auckland International (they all are, even Queenstown) isn't an airport so much as a collection of tin sheds on a swamp so having collected our four big suitcases we trundle them down the walkway wondering why NZ hasn't exploited the opportunity to sell things with shops, Pie stalls, and rest tents offering shelter tea and biscuits on the 12 minute open air walk-only to find we've got someone else's suitcase. Could be a drug smuggler or contain the dismembered body of a security agent or guns and weapons for the South Island Interfada, but not my suit newly purchased from M&S or my shirts and clean underpants. Go back or press on and hope? Air NZ can handle it. Press on. They can't.  Being staffed entirely by gentle geriatrics who ask "Can I help you?" then take a long time explaining why they can't. And don't. Linda has to go back fight her way through the Do Not Enter under pain of Death signs and then swop the bags. Which takes an hour while the departure time for our Christchurch plane slips away. Only just make it in time for another viewing of the safety video by Rip Torn (who he?) and the Belligerent All Blacks. Awful but better than last time's which was presented by Hobbits. Perhaps they're less popular now the huge bird hanging from the roof of Wellington airport has crashed down. No more Tolkien bird droppings now

Then tired, smelly (Linda sniffs)and psychologically broken we arrive in  Christchurch with hundreds of Japanese tourists led in flocks by persons with flags.When I first arrived NZ was all white (even the All Blacks) Now it's very mixed race. But the journey south by crowded crammed plane is much less enjoyable than travel by train and inter-island ferry. That was like the wild west with open platforms between carriages and pie stops at Taumaranui, to be met at Dunedin railway station buy the entire staff of the History department. 

Rejoice ! We've reached Christchurch a vast collection of suburbs without a city. Most NZ Cities are because the suburbs have grown too big for the pawky centre built earlier but Christchurch is worse because the City Centre was destroyed in the earthquake. Indeed it looks as though business has migrated into the houses. So many signs advertising modest suburban houses for language teaching, hairdressing beauty treatment, mortuaries or taxidermy that they must have managed to do without a centre. None of the houses seem to contain a restaurant so we cruise round for two hours to eventually find one. Japanese eating with chop sticks-always difficult with rice. But boy did I need it.Very New NZ. 2 months old and delicious.  We could have been in Notting Hill not central Christchurch.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Leaving Britain

"My country, how I leave my country"mnAs Pitt said on dying though Disraeli was told by a House of Commons waiter that it was "I think I could eat one of Bellamy's veal pies" But as I'm off to New Zealand for a couple of months here's a few departing thoughts.

Jeremy Try looking like a leader not a dishevelled  pensioner and think before you speak. Don't say we mustn't shoot terrorists say "Of course security services will have shoot to in incidents such as those in Paris but in general its better to catch people alive and get information from them"  Don't say we shouldn't vaporise Jehadi John say "of course  we'd like to put Jehadi John on trial for his monstrous crimes but since that's not possible a drone killing is the only way of stopping him"

They'll misquote you whenever they can but don't give them the raw material to do that

Labour: Stop sulking and criticising the leader. Listen to what the rank and file want and oppose the Government like hell instead of bickering with each other..Jeremy is our leader and he's there for the duration until he decides to go.

The nation. No use rioting or striking but each section should mobilise its resistance by telling government loud and clear that austerity won't work, That means the NHS saying we need at least two billion now or people will die. The police saying we can't do this that and t'other without more money,Local government warning that social services will suffer throwing more costs on the NHS. Say it loud,  say it clear, say it together

The tide is turning as it becomes clear that austerity not only isn't working but can't work.The "recovery" is petering out.House prices can't go on rising forever .When they stop the bubble will burst and all the funny money that's come in will begin to leave, The scale of our deficit means that confidence  will collapse .The pound will fall heavily sooner or later.Then interest rates will go up Then an over-borrowed nation of debtors is screwed
Hold the fort till I get back!

DEPARTURE TIME makes it time to start a new blog


Keats meant Provence. I mean a far better place: NEW ZEALAND. My Kiwi Blog begins here



We humble Labour voters can forgive many of Labour's regular screw ups ; idealists are always a bit naive. But the screw up on the EU is dangerous and damaging.

The Euro-fools in our ranks are proclaiming a vacuous enthusiasm for a project which has been damaging to Britain because we entered on unfavourable terms snd totally unrepresentative of the attitude of the British people most of whom find the relationship unsatisfactory and want it changed in different ways. Even the CBI doesn't dare say its members favour Europe but rather that they prefer to stay in a "reformed" EU which of course we haven't got. Labour isn't even saying that. We're proclaiming the virtues of  Europe as it is warts, CFP, CAP, and Euro and all

This is plain silly and weakens Cameron's already pathetic negociating position Why don't we dare to say how we want it improved ? Or are we also enthusiastic about its high food prices, the rape of our fish stocks, the gaping trade deficit the growing cost of membership and the fact that the Euro has turned the Eurozone into the low growth high unemployment blackspot of the world?

We're also ignoring the fact that membership of the EU will pose problems for an incoming Labour government if it ever comes in. A country whose balance of payments deficit is now 6% of GDP cant afford a budget contribution already eleven billion pounds plus all the costs of the CAP and related projects which will put the cost of belonging over twenty billion across the exchanges

Nor can we ignore the fact that any attempt to rebuild and boost Britain's manufacturing industry,have an industrial policy,or support failing or new industries will be ruled out  by EU bans on aid to industry,or that its difficult to expand social provision education and housing if we cant control population inflows or that we can't boost demand by higher wages if mass immigration from Eastern £urope holds wages down and pushes social security costs up.

All this is so naive it's insane but the really pathetic part of our vacuous enthusiasm for a club that's messy and falling apart and damaging to us is the failure to understand some basic points;-.

First that they need us more than we need them because of the big trade deficit so the fear of them taking measures against us is wrong. Secondly all the grants that flow from Europe are are own money back with their costs taken out. W e are net contributors. 

Thirdly to bang on about the "benefits"we get from Europe in terms of workers and union protection etc give nothing that we can't do better for ourselves  .Fourthly fat cats are for Europe but ordinary people lost the power to control their own democracy and make their own decisions through their own government. Democracy is sovereignty

It's time Labour listened to the people not the fat cats, Euro-pensioners and vested interests. Most of all it's time that Labour stopped being naive.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The outing of Osborne

Sorry George but I have to break it to you that your day is done,your leadership chances are evaporating and you're increasingly being seen as what you are:,a prejudiced pillock rather than the modern Machiavelli you aspired to be

Couldn't have happened to a nicer chap but you brought it on yourself by the obstinate pursuit of idealogical policies which won't work:rolling back the state when only the state can defeat recession, cutting spending when it needs to be boosted,easing regulation when it needs t be tightened and putting all the sacrifices on the  poor to slash demand not the rich who caused the problem 

You've been helped by the Bank of England printing money and keeping interest rates flat  but even sop you've lost the country 15% of GDP growth we should have had, failed to reach your debt and deficit reduction targets  and hit those who most deserve help; the poor, the women,the north,the vulnerable

Even your efforts to distract attention from that appalling record have failed.The messy devolution proposals which are really an attempt to devolve blame for the coming social service cuts at the price of messing up local government, the HST whose cost will be enormous is an unneccessary sink hole for money,the agreement to build Hinkley Point is ruinous and the march of the makers is turning into a fighting rearguard action.

Time to go but probably for you time to change This Prime Minister just lets ministers get on with it  however badly they're doing it so you're probably safe even if you don't reealise the damage you're doing and have done to our country.

Whither Labour? A Blastfurnaceman's view...

Labour'd in  mess-not as big a mess as the pundits say but still not a cage of happy budgies. The mess isn't so much the problem of the sulkies  constantly complaining about Corbyn and capturing committee chairmanships. It's the wavering policy line.

John MacDonnell who's pretty good on most issues, and certainly well advised, first accepts Osborne's barmy balanced budget law (like legislating to say the earth is flat)then rejects it. The SNP oppose  May's surveillance state,(Theresa knows when you're watching porn). Burnham grovels before it. Corbyn knows a Labour government will be stymied by the EU but then rushes to support it. Harman pushes the party to support moderate austerity.Then it's left to the Lords to reject it

No wonder the electorate and I are beginning to wonder what Labour stands for. Apparently that's anything the government wants but not much of what was promised.

Let's be clear. When party members voted for Jeremy they were voting against austerity, against cuts ,against war and for the welfare state not the surveillance state.It's now up to the Parliamentary party to make that work rather than ditching it or sulking and giving the government the opportunity to do whatever nasties it wants

That means the new leadership having the courage of its convictions and the party trying to make the new left wing approach work rather than cowering from the predictable media barrage and desperately trying to look respectable and as Thatcherite as the next man.

It should work. Austerity is a failed and fading god. Concern about equality and fairness is growing and people want a clear alternative They need the opposition to oppose policies they feel are wrong but they need reassurance to tell them why .

But if it doesn't work then Labour always has the option of Corbyn choosing to stand down on age grounds paving the way for the prince across the water, Miliband D. because by then  everyone, left or right will see the need for a leader of stature who looks convincing and won't have to face the barrage of hostility and distortion Jeremy has. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

George Osborne Growth Blocker


George Osborne has always been better at singing his own praises than he is at economic management tells us ( a thousand times and at excessive volume)that Britain is recovering thanks to his "long term economic plan"

Balls. The plan was to roll back the state to let the private sector grow. In fact cutting back the state damages growth and Osbore himself has become the greatest barrier to improvement. Let me explain why

1)    He's dedicated to slashing borrowing. Recovery demands that the state spends more than it's income to boost growth. That gap can only be funded by borrowing

2) Cuts in public spending hit those who need it most hardest Yet recovery requires giving more to those sections who  are more likely to spend it and boost demand than the rich to whom Osbore is transferring . Growing inequality reduces demand which comes from the people

3) Austerity boosts asset prices not earnings where recovery requires it to be the other way round. Rising house prices mean more  investment goes into mortgages rather than business so builders build only expensive housing . The best stimulus would be  building public housing for rent for those who cant afford to buy. Osbore refuses to do that On the contrary he's selling off housing stock and crippling building by housing associations and councils

4) Rebuilding a viable industrial base so Britain can pay its way in the world requires a degree of insulation and a competitive exchange rate. Osbore is the enemy of both with the result that we are dependant on pulling in funny money selling assets and building up a growing overseas debt leaving the UK very exposed to confidence collapse.

 5) Success requires public and private sectors to work together for the common purpose. Cameron believes only in lop-sided growth by a private sector which can't make it on  its own

6) Productive exporting industry needs  cheaper utilities but privatisation has increased the costs of  water, power, tele-communications so the privatised utilities can increase profits while local government reform has increased council tax on business

Unless Cameron has the good sense to transfer him to a department where he can do less harm (say the Foreign Office) Osbore will persevere obstinately down the wrong road stopping full recovery,ruining Britain''s prospects damaging the social fabric and, the only hopeful factor,ending  his own prospects of becoming leader . The Tories may be the stupid party but even they can recognise a mess when it begins to damage their electoral prospects as tis attempt to build a neo-liberal paradise surely will.