Friday, 27 February 2009

Who is Running our Banks?

Well .... it's supposed to be UK Financial Investments.

Who are the members of UK Financial Investments?
How are they elected?
To whom are they accountable?
What is their remit?

The fact is that the New Labour government knows and cares nothing about public ownership. The nationalisation (note the choice of language) of some banks is a temporary fix, with no real direction, until the banks can be handed back to the private sector at a knock-down price.

It's all part of getting back to 'business as usual' as soon as decently possible.

How different it could and should be.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Fred's Pension

Sir Fred Goodwin ('Fred the Shred'), former chair of RBoS, has retired at 50 with a pension of £650,000 per year, for life.

I'll write that again: a pension of £650,000 per year, for life.

The Prime Minister has publicly asked Fred to give some of it back, please.

I'm sure Fred will oblige.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Too Little, Too Late

Northern Rock's new mortgage funds, and more sensible lending policy, are too little, too late.

The basic problem seems to be New Labour's inability to grasp the opportunities opened up by the partial public ownership of some of the banks. New Labour doesn't know how to handle public ownership. It's an alien concept to Gordon Brown and his ministers. The notion of public ownership was ditched long ago by New Labour, sometime around 1991, I would guess.

Full public ownership of the banks is required, run on properly accountable lines, not just for as short a time as possible before handing them back at a knock-down price to the privateers so they can resume business as usual.

Public ownership doesn't mean 'micro-management' of the banking businesses by ministers. That's a scare tactic. It does mean transparency, effective monitoring and regulation, public accountability. It means banks doing a proper job for the country. No bonuses.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Running With the Hare, Hunting With the Hounds

Ruth Lea used to be a fairly regular panellist on David Dimbleby's Question Time. She would usually put the employers' view, often in a no-nonsense, hard nosed, right wing way.

Then last week she materialised on Newsnight. Paxman was conducting a 'Factory Floor' programme from Birmingham on the economic and banking crisis. There was a crowd of workers, and others, with Ruth Lea sitting there in the front row, as large as life. I decided to record the show for reference.

Ruth Lea made a couple of contributions. The screen caption said that she was from Arbuthnot Banking Group. I imagined she might be a bit contrite and apologetic, saying she was 'sorry' on behalf of bankers, the way bankers do.

Not a bit of it. With no sense of irony, she attacked the government for not making sure the banks released credit funds for small businesses. Well, of course they should. I began to wonder whether Arbuthnot Banking Group might make a start on this, and show how it's done. And Ruth Lea might explain this to the audience.

Not a chance.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Banksters

The four top ex-executives from RBS and HBOS looked like cornered rats when they made their appearance before the Commons Finance Committee yesterday. One of the MPs asked if they had taken any legal advice about criminal negligence. 'No' was the reply.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Tactical Retreat

O & H Properties Limited have pulled their Marston Vale Eco - Town out of the NuLab scheme. It is of course just a cunning ploy, a tactical retreat. They'll be back, next time trying to pick their way through the local planning route.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Biogas Could Heat Homes

A new report by National Grid, which runs Britain's gas pipelines, says green biogas piped directly to heat homes is more efficient than using the gas to generate electricity.

The biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion using microbes, or by superheating the waste. Both processs are less polluting than incineration.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Labour on the Ropes

When the banking and financial crisis began to take off last Autumn, for a while the Prime Minister seemed to have a new spring in his step, a safe pair of hands, the person most suited to handle the crisis.

As the months have passed, and the crisis has grown ever deeper and more intractable, Gordon Brown has increasingly begun to look and sound like a defeated man. It has become more and more difficult for him to pass all the blame on to 'global problems'.

In an interview with Gordon Brown today, Jon Sopel asked him twice 'where were you when the banks were pushing 120% mortgages, and credit card debt was ballooning?'
Mr Brown didn't have an effective answer. It's looking increasingly terminal for this Labour Government.