Home » Agony Uncle » Pssst… wanna know the definition of the word ‘wanker’? What do these idiots know anyway, other than how to count pennies? And idiots who don’t… plus: The Street of Shame.

Pssst… wanna know the definition of the word ‘wanker’? What do these idiots know anyway, other than how to count pennies? And idiots who don’t… plus: The Street of Shame.

Pssst… wanna know the definition of the word ‘wanker’?

Confronted by evidence of a sharp slowdown in the British economy he supposedly manages on behalf of Queen Theresa, as the Brexit shocks finally start to work through, Chancellor Philip Hammond tweeted (!) as follows:

“Choice facing the British ppl: strong & stable Govt w/ T May to lock in econ progress vs J Corbyn’s coalition of chaos-a risk to our economy.”

Who’s he kidding? He doesn’t even realise ‘strong and stable’ – a dreary cliche concocted by expensive Aussie spinmeister ‘Sir’ Lynton Crosby and nonsensically repeated at every opportunity by May et al – as in: “I’ll have the steak, please, and make sure it’s strong and stable” – has already become this week’s joke.

‘Coalition of chaos’ is another infantile slur dreamed up by Crosby. Presumably it hasn’t occurred to him that between 2010 and 2015 it was his own party that was in a coalition, not Labour. And if you don’t think the Tories’ Brexit has caused chaos you must be living in a campervan and drying your socks on a tree.

Tories, eh? Fucking liars, the lot of them.

“Pew, it smells rather strongly of stable…”

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“We will get out there and we will be become incredibly successful because we will be insecure again. And insecurity is fantastic.” – Peter Hargreaves (quoted in Reuter’s report, 11 May, 2016.)

“Brexit leaves industrial firms staring into regulatory void” – Reuter’s report, 26 April 2017.

 

What do these idiots know anyway, other than how to count pennies?

By: Business Correspondent, Sterling Pound ©2017. @longliquidlunch.com

Another billionaire ‘disruptor’, money-man Mr Peter Hargreaves, has hoved over the BogPo’s horizon, thanks to a sidelong reference in a piece by George Monbiot in today’s Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/25/vote-labour-jeremy-corbyn-theresa-may?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=223208&subid=19570602&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

If you have ever wondered why these people do it, seek to use their vast wealth to undermine our institutions, disrupt the liberal-democratic consensus and bend the system to their greedy desire to aggregate to themselves even more obscene wealth, as if the entire goal of existence is to amass as much treasure as you can and then die without it, the following extracts are pretty much self-explanatory:

“Hargreaves financially supported the Leave.EU campaign in 2016, and wrote to 15 million UK householders asking them to support the leave campaign in the European Union membership referendum. … (he) said that the Brexit will lead to insecurity, which will turn out be very effective. … the companies in the FTSE 100 Index may turn out to be very profitable because of the referendum decision.” – Wikipedia

From Wealth Manager magazine (sorry, I’ve lost the reference date. Ed.)

“The number of billionaires living in the UK has exceeded 100 for the first time in history with Peter Hargreaves’ relentless rise up the wealth charts continuing. The Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) founder saw his wealth rise by £867 million in 2013, according to the Sunday Times Super Rich list. This rise is largely thanks to the doubling of HL’s share price in 2013 from £6.81 to £13.54. Shares in the firm closed at £12.09 last week.”

So at least he’s owned up. Brexit was a scheme to manipulate the markets. Let’s just pause and consider.

“Saving money by design”

Like British waistlines, numbers have been expanding rapidly. We now bandy words like ‘billion’ and ‘trillion’ with barely a thought. Were you or I to win a million pounds on the Lotto, we would consider ourselves rich. I doubt I have earned a million pounds in my entire career. But a million pounds is not real wealth. Once you have paid half a million for a four-bedroomed 1950s semi-detached house in the suburbs of Manchester or Birmingham, thrown a party, taken the cruise and bought your kids annuities, a new Jaguar standing on the forecourt, the income you’ll earn from investing the balance will be a few hundred pounds a year at best.

Let’s remember, to be a ‘billionaire’ you have to be earning at least a hundred million a year and still have assets valued at 900 million or more. A million is a thousand thousand. A billion is a thousand thousand thousand…. Pounds, dollars? How does anyone get to be a billionaire, let alone a multi-billionaire like Peter Hargreaves? It would take you or me a thousand Lotto wins, a thousand lifetimes.

It requires total dedication to Mammon, that’s for sure. No time for love and laughter.

Mr Hargreaves knows that ‘insecurity’ – presumably of the kind that nearly kicked-off a nuclear war last week – is good for capitalism.

He is by all accounts in person a modest man who, apart from the odd non-executive directorship, lives quietly in retirement on his farm in the West Country, growing his own vegetables and never betting “more than £5” at the races – despite owning several racehorses. He founded his investment company, Hargreaves Lansdown, in 1981, from his bedroom. It still affords him a living.

What therefore could this trained accountant, said to be worth £2.4 billion, possibly gain from amassing more and more totally unneeded wealth? Given that it’s not going to get him into Heaven?

He would either have to be a sociopath, a Scrooge cackling madly atop a huge pile of gold, or he genuinely believes that forcing the Stock Market to more and more perilous heights is a Good Thing for the British economy; grossly overvaluing the nation’s industrial assets, enriching himself and his friends at the expense of gouging the sick, the poor and disabled, the cheated schoolkids, thwarted Millennials, companies sitting on an unused cash pile of £700 billion and counting; money denied to the socially useful departments of the State and to the ones who actually do the work – you and me.

There could be no other reason for wanting to drag Britain out of the European Union and possibly bring down the entire edifice of peaceful postwar co-operation, gradually increasing prosperity and civil society in Europe, could there?

Ironically, it is said, Mr Hargreaves actually ‘lost’ £400 million as a result of his carefully planned campaign going pear-shaped. He won the Leave vote, but his prediction of boom times in the City failed to materialise; while official figures are now showing an economy beginning to slide southward; city jobs leaving; Britain’s shared global influence waning.

Altogether now…

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And idiots who don’t…

Nick Ramsay, chairman of the assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, said the report was the latest example of poor handling of Welsh Government funding for the private sector.

“I am particularly concerned that the auditor-general has identified a lack of Welsh Government oversight of payments made by the project to related companies, and also the use of taxpayers’ money to purchase a Buckinghamshire-based engineering company that later went into administration,” he said.

Circuit of Wales (however! Ed.) said the report represents a “clean bill of health” for the plans and project and shows that its directors “have been completely exonerated of the false claims made over the misuse of public funds”. – BBC News Wales, 27 April.

Once again millions of pounds of Welsh taxpayers’ money have been ploughed willy-nilly into a gobsmacking vanity project that any hard-headed commercial manager would have dismissed as pie-in-the-sky from the get-go. The report bears it out, but the directors are ‘exonerated’. Of course they are, bless them.

In this case, Circuit of Wales (you might alter the name to ‘circuit-and-see’) is, or hopefully was, a £400 million speculative wheeze to build a motor-cycle racing circuit and theme park dedicated to outdated vulgarities on what has been described as ‘undeveloped moorland’ – in other words, in the spiritually uplifting, quiet and peaceful environment of the upland habitat that makes Wales so scenically special for visitors and the resident wildlife.

Just the place in fact for screaming engines, squealing tyres, clouds of ethanol-laced petrol smoke, the fatty stench of burgers, incomprehensible announcements bellowing over a tannoy raised to volume 11, a litter of styrofoam fast-food trays and plastic beer mugs; queues for the car park and the overflowing toilets.

The BogPo’s own experience of managing projects is on a smaller scale, admittedly, but your Uncle B. was once hired to set up a £1.5 million publicly funded project in Wales that turned out to be another scam, and can safely say that if anyone came to me proposing to blow £400 million on a 100% guaranteed risk-free business opportunity to create ‘six thousand jobs’ and attract three quarters of a million visitors a year to an oil-soaked motor-bike racetrack in the middle of fucking nowhere, I would have booted them out of my office and told them to go and earn a living.

Instead, the Welsh Assembly Government, mordantly known as WAG, handed them £7 million of your money and mine, no questions asked, just to think about it, basically – with a promise of more that has now thankfully been withdrawn.

The really successful con-men of this world know that the secret is to flatter the mark with the promise of rewards so huge, kickbacks so pleasing, artists’ impressions so alluring, they cannot but hand over their wallet, their shirt and trousers too. And if the initial proposal looks like failing, you don’t row back – no, you make the proposal even BIGGER!

“As well as a motorbike circuit, the proposals now include mountain bike trails, a BMX park, concert facilities and indoor skiing.”

Also underwater discus-throwing, women’s bog-snorkelling, wheelchair golf and courses in accountancy for dummies.

The ask is that if Wales puts up half – £200 million – the rest will come from ‘private sources’. Circuit of Wales however has itself apparently put nothing in, having no assets, no security, no liability whatsoever, the project being what’s known as a ‘blank-paper’ proposal; i.e. made of nothing, just like the Universe. Even that did not ring alarm bells; not even when £35,000 of the money was alleged to have ended up being ploughed via some other circuitous route into a domestic garden makeover for Circuit of Wales’ CEO, Mr Michael Carrick.

Brickbats and bureaucrats

Welsh funding agencies have a simply appalling record over the years of handing out public money irresponsibly to anyone who comes along, without having the slightest idea of what the project is, what it involves, what its chances of succeeding are, who is behind it and where the money is going… oops, has gone.

The bureaucrats who infest these quangos, created only to find imaginative ways of blowing the €1.6 billion cheque posted to Wales in the early noughties by the EU in ‘Objective One’ funding designed to bring on economic basket-case areas, are without doubt among the most inexperienced, poorly qualified, dimly-illuminated, gullible and second-rate managers to be found anywhere outside London and the Garden Bridge project.

According to a Lib-Dem party newsletter, my own local authority has been scammed by a very large and well-known multinational accountancy firm; being persuaded to hand over £1.6 million to buy what was described in a TV documentary last year as a generic ‘report’ they sell to all who ask, giving what appear to be the same suggestions as to how the council can save money…. It is honestly enough to make grown men cry, how stupid and unwary these bureaucrats are when confronted with real professionals skilled at separating gullible provincials from their purses.

Working in the funded sector myself fifteen years ago, as a project manager I encountered several examples of ambitious and obviously undeliverable £multi-million projects proposed by individuals who, my bullshit detector instantly assured me, were nothing but opportunistic con-men. Yet the Development Agency was always happy to provide ‘matched funding’ so poorly overseen that invoices were not checked and public money lost.

(For locals in the know, I mention only Gelli Aur, the Dragon studio and The Pop Factory.)

All it took in those days to separate a bureaucrat from reality was the expansive promise of improbable numbers of new ‘jobs’ or ‘qualifications’ everyone knew would never be delivered, or would at best be only temporary; for, in a way, this is a tragedy of simple people driven to desperation by earnest hopefulness.

The coal and steel industries that powered the economy are dead and gone, or at their last gasp. Whole communities have been blighted, among the poorest in the land. Regeneration funding has focussed almost entirely on the capital and its grandiose dockland developments. Between the far south and far north of Wales is a vast expanse of upland wilderness dotted with hardscrabble sheep farms, hidden villages and a few small towns linked by winding, impassable lanes, rural communities reeking of decay and abandonment.

Living almost in the exact centre of that economic void, I myself was able to find no fulltime work for almost two years, ending up in a low-paid menial job with many unpaid senior management responsibilities piled on. There is, to put it bluntly, fuck-all work available (to the unconnected); fuck-all money. No growth, no inward investment – put off by distance, Ruritanian infrastructure, shoddy old housing and the limitations and extra costs of having to operate bilingually.

Young people still leave, or start-up short-lived hairdressing businesses, for which they win pitiable ‘entrepreneurship’ awards. The economy is agriculture, seasonal tourism in poor-quality facilities, care homes, charity shops, macJobs in supermarkets. We have at last got a few Mbps of Broadband, things are slowly improving, we have a new Tesco… .

Small wonder that, into this atmosphere of gloom and decay come greedy business folk with fake Rolexes, selling their snake-oil, scenting ‘regeneration funding’ with no questions asked – no paper trail, no comebacks, and an administration eager to cover up its egregious errors in case of putting off more genuine investors, who are so few and far between. Eager not to reveal its shortcomings, its petty corruption.

When the first tranche is spent, as in the case of Circuit-and-see, the principle is invariably that of throwing ‘good money after bad’, rather than sensible loss-cutting. You can always come back for more, knowing there’s no-one counting the pennies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-39706499

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Britain now stands at number 40 in the league table of press freedom around the world.

The Street of Shame

We’re coerced from birth into believing Britain is a ‘free’ country, and once outside the evils of European domination we shall be even ‘freer’. Britons “never, never, never shall be slaves”, in the words of old Rule Britannia! (although we bought and sold a few in our time).

I imagine the vast majority of people will never know this, perhaps if they did they wouldn’t even care, but according to the annual report by the pressure-group Reporters Without Borders, Britain now stands at number 40 in the league table of press freedom around the world.

Fortieth, out of 180 countries. Britain? It’s absolutely shameful.

But dammit, we invented freedom of the press!

No, we didn’t. The C18th sedition laws made us the least free country in the world for exchanging information at the time when newspapers as we know them were first coming into being; especially when they were critical of the establishment, which could legally get you hanged. Government has always had an instinct for suppression, for secrecy.

Then camed Murdoch.

The freedoms our press gained to lie and cheat and hack people’s phones and publish dumpster-garbage about celebrities and horoscopes and randy vicars and Arctic killer-blasts and vegetable cancer-cures and vegetables that cause cancer and phoney ‘opinion’ polls and the evils of the Common Market, feral migrants, footballers, ‘our heroes’, treacherous judges, devil dogs, benefit scroungers, Madeleine McCann and Muslims – oh, yes, sexually incontinent politicians too and their fiddled expenses – were dearly bought.

Tony Blair’s Freedom of Information Act made it easier for the press and broadcasters, as well as pressure groups, to hold government to account. Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Act by contrast, passed almost without notice in January by a crapulous, disorientated and Brexit-obsessed Parliament, has created a different kind of surveillance society that puts the East German Stasi in the shade and has knocked us down ten places on a list that ought surely to reflect the civilized virtues that make our world.

Instead we are entering a new era of barbarism.

“RSF said the act was a possible “death sentence” for investigative journalism in Britain, owing to its lack of protections for whistleblowers, journalists and their sources, and that it set a damaging precedent for other countries to follow.” – The Guardian

But even that is not enough for The Law Commission, that demands draconian penalties for journalists merely handling sensitive information, with no ‘public interest’ defence, such as the Panama Papers that exposed the dodgy dealings of so many secretive offshore investors – such as the late tax-dodging father of former Prime Minister, David Cameron. The wealthy must be protected.

Top of the press-freedom list, as of so many other indicators of civilized life, is Norway. North Korea has knocked Eritrea off the bottom spot as Eritrea apparently allowed a handful of journalists into the country last year while North Korea was still executing people for listening to South Korean radio broadcasts.

Down also at No. 43 is the USA, where President Trump has labelled the press ‘enemies of the people’ and his advisor, Mr Bannon, told the Washington Post and the New York Times to ‘shut up’ and think more carefully before criticising the President; and where Mr Bannon’s foreskin, the college vampire Steven Miller, was issuing dire warnings in the media that ‘the President’s powers are not to be questioned’. The tragedy is, they aren’t being.

I expect this will cost ‘the land of the free’ a few more points in next year’s list.

For sure, we’re in good company. But as long as the BogPo stands for freedom, truth and beauty, Britain yet stands with us.

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