Thursday, 26 February 2009

Labour Luvvie Sir Fred Continues To Benefit

During the good times when RBS were making billions from taking massive unregulated risks, New Labour was in love with Fred Goodwin and he in turn in love with New Labour. Of course his Knighthood was a reward for services to banking not any association with the Labour Party but as the wool has been pulled over the Government's eyes in relation to the massive pension pot he is being paid by the taxpayer questions really have to be asked about how cosy Sir Fred and New Labour really are.

When Sir Fred was asked to resign he apparently made it clear to Government Ministers that a condition of him agreeing to do so was retention of an overly generous pension pot. Today we hear that Sir Fred is to receive £693,000 per annum for the rest of his life as a reward for failure because the Government were told this was a contractual requirement and did not ask for proof before agreeing to his resignation on this basis.

There is of course the possibility that someone in Government did know that it was not a contractual obligation but a condition of resignation and that they decided this was a price worth paying in order to get Sir Fred out the door and a new more competent broom into RBS. I would not agree with this but if this is the case the Government should say so.

If, instead, the truth is that Government Ministers did not check whether they were obliged to allow Sir Fred to retain his pension pot then the Ministers and their officials are incompetent and they should resign for failing the UK taxpayer so spectacularly. Sir Fred is only 50 and we can expect to be paying him millions and millions of pounds as a reward for taking risks with a well respected institution to the verge of bankruptcy.

Turning one of our largest banks, one of our largest employers and a company that bares the Scotland name with pride into a basket case is simply not something the taxpayer should be rewarding. If we cannot challenge paying Sir Fred his pension in the courts and Sir Fred is not prepared to give up his entitlement to his pension voluntarily then we must legislate to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again - even if it is a contractual obligation.

We all need to tighten our belts and being ripped off by someone when it was avoidable is a national disgrace. Had we simply sacked the man he would have been entitled to £1.5million up front (one years salary) but would not have been able to claim a penny of his pension pot until he hit retirement age - a saving of nearly £8.9million by my calculation.

Labour have failed the taxpayer here and someone must take responsibility and resign. If Sir Fred won't set an example of taking responsibility by giving up his pension pot someone in politics must set an example for him by taking responsibility and resigning. The taxpayer deserves nothing less!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

I am often told by members of the public that politics is a cut throat business lacking in compassion, but just sometimes events allow those representing us to show the human face of both politics and politicians.

The tragic death of Ivan Cameron at just 6 years of age brought the House of Commons together today, at the time normally reserved for Prime Minister Questions, in an atmosphere of grief and respect. To his credit our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, gave a most considered and respectful speech uniting the House of Commons in sending condolences to David and Samantha Cameron on the death of their son.

Elaine and I are awaiting the birth of our first child this July with a sense of excitement very similar to that of waiting for Christmas morning. We cannot imagine how David and Samantha Cameron must be feeling and can only hope that they know our thoughts and prayers, as well as those of millions of other decent people across the country, are with them.

The very human face of politics was on show today and for his part in demonstrating that there are some things that simply pull people together no matter how much they would normally disagree Gordon Brown has my utmost respect.

Friday, 20 February 2009

The Truth About Boom & Bust

Have you ever wanted to see something simple that shows the underlying strength and underlying truth about our economy?

Let me help you!

Our stock market, in particular the FTSE 100, provides a fascinating insight as to how strong our companies are in good time and in bad. From Margaret Thatcher's election as Prime Minister in 1979 through to the end of John Major's premiership in 1997 the FTSE rose consistently - though admittedly with the odd peak and trough as markets reacted to national and international economic circumstances.

Having inherited a golden legacy, New Labour presided over a few more years of growth. There followed a massive correction in the market, between 2000 and 2003, before the FTSE shot back up to levels close to its peak through to 2008. The truth is that the markets knew the underlying strength of our economy was massively overvalued because our economy was based on a mountain of national and personal debt. What has followed over the past year is the product of a decade of borrowing in times of plenty instead of saving up for a rainy day.

So if you ever want to be able to show someone the truth about "Boom & Bust" show them this graph. The difference between good economic management and economic management based on rhetoric and debt is simply the difference between Conservative Government and Labour Government.

Let's hope we get back to some sound economic management before it's too late!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Time to get tough on CRIME!

Our justice system is out of control! Let me tell you why.

1) A man has just been sentenced to two weeks imprisonment for entering a drug dealers home, threatening the drug dealer (who has hooked one of his family members on heroin) and for taking the drug dealers heroin and flushing it down the toilet.

What an outrage! The gentleman in question admits to being no angel but if the police and procurator fiscal are unable to get drug dealers off our streets no one should be surprised if members of the community take matters into their own hands.

2) Sex beast John Cronin absconded from a probation hostel earlier this week and is now in the custody of West Midlands Police on suspicion of fraud. This man was sentenced to (and wait to you hear this) Life Imprisonment in 1992 for attacking a woman in her Edinburgh home, only to be released from prison in 1996. LIFE - someone is having a laugh at the expense on the safety of our public.

Since his release Mr. Cronin has been in custody in Sweden, Ireland and England for a string of offences and he remains a danger to the public wherever he goes. It was the Scottish justice system who let us down first when they released Cronin after just 4 years and it is surely time he was incarcerated for LIFE to protect people all over the world.

The PC Brigade will cry foul and point to the human rights of both the drug dealer and John Cronin. I say that as both have chosen to take NO responsibility for their actions they have no right to expect compassion from society given the threat they pose to us all. It's time to get tough on crime and that means stiffer sentences for those that are the causes of crime!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

How Bad Could It Really Be?

When the governments own regulatory watchdog predicts that our economic slump might be worse than feared you know things are going to get really bad.

The Financial Services Authority warned today that Britain's recession could go deeper and last longer than expected, despite the government's fiscal stimulus and multi-billion pound economic rescue plans. Possibly more telling they say, about their own bosses, the impact of measures like reduced interest rates and the government's £12billion VAT cut remained unclear, and advise businesses and consumers to "plan for a greater degree of uncertainty than normal".

If this is the assessment of our own FSA you can only wonder what the OECD, IMF and World Bank are thinking. My greatest fear is that Labour are ignoring any economic forecasts they don't want to admit to favouring a scorched earth policy designed to leave the next government with nothing to work with. The only good news is that I am in doubt the energy, ingenuity and dedication of the British people will see us through to a prosperous future despite the actions of the current government!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A Prime Minister for all of the UK

David Cameron's piece in Scotland on Sunday ( clearly defined how a Conservative Government, led by David, will be different from the Labour administration, led by Gordon Brown, that is failing Scotland so badly.

It is a scandal that in difficult economic times our Prime Minister and First Minister have not met since Spring of last year. This only goes to show that Labour have no idea how to handle a nationalist administration at Holyrood. Their lack of appreciation of the need to be seen to be doing everything they can from London to help Scotland only serves to add to the nationalists media machines claims that Westminster does not understand Scotland and is doing little to help it now times are tough.

What Scotland needs, if devolution is to survive and quash the advance of independence, is a Westminster administration that treats Holyrood with respect and that works with it to benefit Scotland. Regular meetings between Prime Minister and First Minister, as well as communication between their respective cabinets, is essential to foster an atmosphere of trust between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament. This will also prove to the Scottish people that our place as an integral part of the United Kingdom is worth retaining.

David finishes his article by saying, "This commitment to true partnership between our nations sets the Conservatives apart from the other parties in Scotland as much as our commitment to modern, centre-right ideas. We are the only party that can bring about the change Scotland needs."

I could not have put it better myself!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Counting The Cost of Murder!

I think it is simply a scandal that senior police officers are to be asked to account for every single penny they spend during murder investigations. Not that I don't approve of proper auditing of public expenditure and not that I don't think it is possible that our Police could do better.

My outrage comes because during a murder investigation I want the police officers in charge to be concentrating on getting violent, dangerous individuals off our streets and into custody not filling in forms and worrying about whether a penny here or there will be cast up and used against them at a future date.

The Herald covers this issue today as Hunting Murderers on Budget, , but for the general public I don't believe there is a value you can put on solving such serious crime.

It's time our Police became a Force in our society again and to do that we need to back them in good times and in bad and not to become preoccupied with cost. We won't make them a force by placing financial constraints on investigations and we must trust those in charge of our Police to hold themselves accountable for what their force spends.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Interest Rates At 1% Won't Make A Blind Bit Of Difference!

The Bank of England cut their headline interest rate by 0.5% today to 1%. In times gone by, when our economy was managed by cuts in interest rates that were designed to manage the inflationary trend of our economy, this sort of intervention would undoubtedly have done the trick and an almost immediate benefit to our economy would have resulted.

The problem we have today is not that interest rates are in any way the problem. Quite the contrary, and today's cut will only serve to penalise the millions of prudent savers with money deposited in banks and building societies - many of whom rely on interest payments to make ends meet.

Across the UK the problem faced by our economy is not the cost of borrowing - it is the reluctance of banks to lend!

Despite the taxpayer owning many of our banks it appears our government are unable to get them to relax lending criteria so that businesses can borrow to invest in our future.

Why? Simply because it is government policy that tells banks to pay us back as quick as they can and to reduce their exposure to bad debt as they do so.

So what are banks actually doing instead of lending to viable businesses? They are foreclosing on businesses in trouble and in homeowners struggling to keep up payments in compliance with government instructions.

In conclusion, today's interest rates cut will damage those who have done the right thing by saving and do very little to help those who need to borrow, because none of our lending institutions will take any risk. So despite hundreds of millions of pounds spent on bailing out our banks cuts in interest rates are simply not doing anything to help our economy recover.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Defending the Indefensible.

The one thing a sales career in the private sector teaches you is that you should never try to defend the indefensible!

At Prime Ministers Questions today, Gordon Brown set about defending his much heralded statement, "British Jobs for British Workers", without any hint of apology. Apparently it was only meant to refer to training British workers for jobs, not about actually ensuring there are jobs for them to fulfill at the end of their training. That wasn't what anyone thought this statement to Labour's Party Conference meant and it certainly wasn't what the way Labour's spin machine pitched it at the time.

I am becoming increasingly frustrated that Prime Ministers Questions does not actual include any Prime Minister Answers, unless this is to a placed question from Labour benches.

David Cameron was perfectly correct today to accuse Gordon Brown of two faced hypocrisy - lecturing international summits on the evils of protectionism while using slogans back home such as "British jobs for British workers", which simply pander to domestic protectionist fears.

The only real answer now is surely a General Election so that Britain can find some answers of its own that work for us, both at home and abroad.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Lib Dems Bought Off In Return For More Public Debt

That the Scottish Parliament Budget will go through with majority support tomorrow is a very good thing for Scotland.

The additional £1.8billion that will be released into the Scottish economy over the coming 12 months will be a vital shot in the arm for an economy in a dreadful condition after more than a decade of Labour mismanagement.

The interesting thing about the decision of the Lib Dems to vote for the budget tomorrow is that their support is being gained in return for one single penny of better public spending. They are simply being bought by a commitment from the SNP to lobby for Scotland to have greater borrowing powers under devolution.

With every one of us already set to owe more than £17,000 as our share of public sector debt the answer to Scotland's ills is surely not more public borrowing/debt. If we want to see public sector infrastructure projects start, to boost an economy in recession, the best way to deliver this is to seek private sector investment not to increase the national debt.

The problem for us all is that while the Lib Dems at Westminster have people like Vince Cable talking a lot of sense they are left at Holyrood with Tavish Scott saying a lot that makes no sense. If ever the Lib Dems in Scotland wanted to prove they are rapidly becoming an electoral irrelevance and a danger to the Scottish public their actions throughout the 2009 budget process is surely a good example of them being rebels without any cause.

White Stuff That Halts Everything!

A little bit of snow and the world, at least as far as the eye can see, seems to come to a halt.

Speaking to a friend in Canada today he laughed his head off at the thought of 8 centimetres of snow being anything other than good to look at. As he put it, they regularly have 6 feet of snow fall in a day and are able to get to their work the next day, to take part in leisure activities and to do so in relative warmth and safety.

As ever the reason is we are ill-prepared for anything other than a standard day and we really do need to take a good long hard look at ourselves and the preparedness of our local government to handle snow. If that means Council's investing in better snow clearing equipment and individuals ensuring they have snow chains for car tyres so they can move about safely (instead of skidding about as we watched so many cars do today on Seres Road) then that is what we all have to agree to.

I believe it is the CIA who have six P's as their motto - Plenty Practise Prevents Pretty Poor Performance. The trouble is that we, in the UK, so rarely prepared properly for anything!

Monday, 2 February 2009

When Government Goes Too Far!

I see that the Government's leading green advisor believes it is the role of government to decide the maximum number of children couple should be allow to have.

What a load of complete and utter nonsense!

It should never be for the State to interfere in this way. What next, a cap on the number of showers you are allowed to take in a week on the grounds of water consumption? A requirement to inform the Government when you intend to use your car so they can decide whether to deny you authority in case of poor air quality? An automatic cut off for your gas and electricity if you exceed a maximum amount of energy consumption level set by a Government Mandarin?

Government must learn to trust its people to make good decisions for themselves. This includes allowing them to decide if they can cope with a large family, both emotionally and economically. At the ripe old age of 37 my wife and I are expecting our first child so I am not sure we will get round to having more than two children. One thing that is for sure is that it won't be the government who decides where we stop!