Finally, a UK Conservative Minister Declares War on Crony Capitalism

Christopher Furlong/Getty

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has declared war on crony capitalism.

He won’t get any credit for this – not while we are (quite justifiably) hating on his dog’s vomit-pool of a government for its despicable failure in implementing Brexit. But he should because what he’s saying is important.

Here is what he told the Policy Exchange think tank:

Economic power has been concentrated in the hands of a few and crony capitalists have rigged the system in their favour and against the rest of us.

Over recent decades, debt has fuelled growth in an unsustainable fashion – indeed growth has been built not just on irresponsible levels of borrowing but an unsustainable approach towards natural resources.

‘Our politics, culture and regulatory models have worked against innovation, indeed have been pushed in that direction by powerful incumbents.

‘Many of our fellow citizens, especially those without the qualifications and connections to work the existing system, have seen less and less value placed on their work and themselves.’

This is revolutionary stuff.

Read the rest on Breitbart.

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

Jamie Oliver’s Lucozade Meddling Has Stolen My Childhood

My favourite drink conjured up a world of space hoppers and Wagon Wheels – before the health killjoys got their hands on it.

Whenever I want to travel back in time to my 1970s childhood, all I need is a glass of Lucozade. One sip of the electric orange nectar and there I am in the magical era of Chopper bikes, space hoppers and clackers (which they banned because they were dangerous, apparently), of the Clangers, Animal Magic and John Craven’s Newsround, of Wagon Wheels, Alphabetti spaghetti and chewy chocolate peanut bars still known in those days by their correct name, Marathon. (See also: Jif, Oil of Ulay, Opal Fruits.)

Bliss was it in that loon-panted dawn to be alive. But to be young was very heaven. Every now and then some awful piece of horror from the outside world would filter briefly into our consciousness — the Jonestown massacre, the Killing Fields, the IRA pub bombings — but not for long. There were all manner of distractions to make the bad things go away: Haliborange, Silly Putty, yo-yos, slime, Dougal and the Blue Cat, David Bowie’s ‘The Laughing Gnome’, The Tomorrow People and yes, maybe best of all, Lucozade.

In those days Lucozade was sold not as an ‘energy drink’ but as a health drink to ‘aid recovery’, as the adverts put it. You bought it in chemists and it came wrapped in crinkly orange cellophane which rustled tantalisingly as you ripped it off and scrunched it into the bin. (Just the one: recycling had, happily, yet to intrude on our lives.)

If your mummy had bought you Lucozade, it meant that you were officially ill. But being ill was great because, apart from getting you off school, it meant you got to drink the most delicious drink in the whole world. There is no point in my trying to describe it: the only thing Lucozade tastes of is Lucozade. I thought it was great then and I still think it’s great now. The last time I had it — before Christmas, when I was feeling listless and not quite right in my skin — it occurred to me as I savoured its sparkling translucent orangeness that it would be this, rather than, say, Château d’Yquem or Cheval Blanc ’47, that I’d probably choose as my final drink before the firing squad.

Little did I know at the time that this would be the last real Lucozade I’d ever taste. That’s because the company that owns the brand — Lucozade Ribena Suntory — has just radically altered the formula, reducing its sugar content by 50 per cent and replacing it with the artificial sweetener aspartame. Announcing the change last year, the company’s COO Peter Harding said: ‘The world has changed, with consumers now wanting healthier drinks and more action from the brands they regularly enjoy.’

Is this actually true, though? Not judging by the comments on Lucozade’s Twitter feed. Diabetics are upset because when they suffer hypoglycaemia, they’ll now need to drink twice as much Lucozade to boost their blood sugar levels. Recreational users are simply upset by the disgusting taste — ‘vile’, ‘staggeringly bad’, ‘horrible’, ‘made me gag’ — which they have variously likened to bleach, bathwater and Lidl own-brand lemonade.

So lots of people who used to drink Lucozade will now stop drinking Lucozade. And to disapproving, authoritarian, health-conscious, killjoy types this will surely be no bad thing. Sugar, after all, as some campaigners put it, is ‘not just a drug but a poison too’. Therefore, the less available we make it, the sooner we can go about tackling the ‘obesity epidemic’ which allegedly is ravaging our society. Right?

Well yes. I can imagine this would represent a powerful argument if you’re a member of the obsessive, bansturbatory campaign group Action on Sugar or hang out in chatrooms on Mumsnet or read the Guardian or you’re one of those Labour councillors in London who recently plotted (unsuccessfully) to try to have smoking made illegal in pub gardens.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

George Osborne’s Gone, Thank God. So Why’s Mark Carney Still Around?

Like Osborne, Carney abused the prestige of his office quite abominably during the EU referendum.

Did you see that odd photo of George Osborne looking shifty, queuing up in the Vietnamese jungle for the chance to fire an M60 machine gun? I found it interesting for a number of reasons.

One, obviously, is that it’s probably the first time in five years Osborne hasn’t been pictured wearing a hard hat and goggles. Another is what it tells us about his earnings prospects on the US speaker tour circuit: those guns can fire up to 650 rounds a minute — so at the local tourist rate of £1 a bullet that’s quite an expensive cheap thrill.

Mainly, though, what struck me about that snap was just how quickly fortune’s wheel can turn. Only two months ago, Osborne was the UK’s second most powerful politician, in charge of the world’s fifth largest economy. Today he’s just another middle-class, middle-aged tourist, with kids in tow, living out his midlife-crisis Rambo fantasy.

I wish I could feel sorrier for him than I do. But I’m afraid I found him as disappointing a chancellor as David Cameron was a disappointing prime minister. Some years ago, I used to chat to him in our kids’ school playground. ‘Just you wait till we get into power, then you’ll see how Conservative we really are,’ he once promised when I complained about the wet, centrist, anti-free-market direction his party was taking in opposition. He never delivered on it, though, did he?

His darkest hour, most of us will probably agree, was during the EU referendum when he masterminded the confected and mendacious Project Fear, promising all manner of made-up disasters if Britain voted the ‘wrong’ way. But even before that, he was showing some pretty worrying tendencies: his kowtowing to the Chinese; his closeness to Russian oligarchs and sinister Machiavels like Lord Mandelson; and, most dangerous of all, his addiction to micromanaging and neo-Keynesianism, whose damaging effects we may yet be ruing for many years hence.

Whatever had happened to the zealous young Thatcherite I used to know in the playground? Probably the same thing that happens to a lot of senior politicians: seduced by high-level shindigs at Davos, Brussels and wherever Bilderberg is holding its roadshow this year, they become convinced that the people best placed to run the world are a Brioni–suited cabal of enlightened corporatists, globalist technocrats and Goldman Sachs-trained central bankers like his Canadian import Mark Carney. It’s like the Bullingdon for grown ups, and naturally George wanted to be with them on the superyacht.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

 

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

David Cameron’s Dodgy Honours List: A Fitting Epitaph for a Rubbish Regime

The most obvious is that Cameron must live in a parallel universe where his six years as Prime Minister were a great success, culminating in a brilliant coup whereby he persuaded the majority of British people to vote Remain in the EU Referendum.

That, certainly, would explain his otherwise incomprehensible decision to make his former Chancellor George Osborne a Companion of Honour.

Traditionally, the Companion of Honour is given to men and women of rare distinction. Previous recipients include statesmen like Winston Churchill, authors such as Vita Sackville West, John Buchan and EM Forster, Proms founder Sir Henry Wood and Laurence Binyon (the poet whose For The Fallen is quoted every Remembrance Sunday). Current holders include Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynne, conductor Sir Neville Marriner, whispery-voiced, gorilla-hugging Malthusian Sir David Attenborough and Sir Ian McKellen, the gay bearded wizard whose timely intervention at the battle of Helms Deep saved several kingdoms from being overwhelmed by the forces of darkness.

But apart from his novelty Christian name Gideon and the fact that one day he will inherit his father’s baronetcy and be entitled to call himself Sir, what exactly is George Osborne’s distinction?

Only being one of the biggest spivs ever to disgrace the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Osborne had many flaws: he was a sinister, slippery, Mandelson-style Machiavel, much more interested in finessing the political process and building his power networks than he was doing the right thing; economically he was a notorious meddler, addicted to micromanaging and sleight of hand; he was far too easily impressed by the rich and powerful, be they Russian oligarchs or senior Chinese party officials; and he was much much too much of a Davos-style globalist, more than happy to see the little people kept in check by central bankers and the rest of the Bilderberg elite.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

If the BBC Stops Publishing Online Recipes It Won’t Kill Anyone

Fortunately, the faded Eighties pop star and left wing activist Billy Bragg has been offering his views on social media. It’s a disaster, apparently. Yet another devilish plot by the sinister forces of the free market.

And it’s not just Billy Bragg who thinks this way. Mx Jack Monroe agrees with him – and Mx Jack Monroe (the artist formerly known as Ms Jack Monroe), as you must surely know, is probably Britain’s leading transgender, anti-poverty food campaigner, famed for her legendary kale pesto recipe and her brief unlikely stint as the face of Sainsbury’s.

So that settles it then. If Billy and Ms Jack are against it, then it must be a good thing. Not because they’re nasty or evil, but just because they are classic examples of Nanny State Britain: the kind of well-meaning fools who sincerely believe that the only way to create a better society is for yet more handouts from the public sector elite.

To listen to campaigners’ bleatings you would think the only place anywhere on earth you can find a decent recipe is on the BBC Food website.

And they’re right, up to a point.

We’ve most of us tried BBC recipes at one point or another – delicious cake from Mary Berry, yummy curries from Jamie Oliver, decadent creamy dishes from the lovely Nigella – and they’re tried and tested and they work.

But so they ruddy well ought to work: it’s not as though we haven’t paid for it all, to the tune of millions of pounds a year, via our compulsory licence fee.

The idea that the BBC is providing some incredible free social service for which we all ought to grateful for is a nonsense.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

Brexit: Mark Carney can **** right off back to Canada

George Osborne has decided to stake his political future on Britain voting to remain a member of the European Union.

So naturally, his Dobby the Maple Leaf House Elf over at the Bank of England felt obliged to serve his master yesterday by declaring – entirely independently, of course, and without prejudice – that if Britain were to vote for Brexit then the sky will fall in, Ringwraiths will stalk the land, men will say openly that Christ and His saints slept and, worst of all, property prices will fall by approximately 318 per cent.

Because maple leaf Dobby is speaking with the authority of his position of Governor of the Bank of England, a lot of people will go: “Well he must know what he’s talking about. He’s Governor of the Bank of England, innit?”

You could make the same specious argument about Goldman Sachs, Christine Lagarde, Jean-Claude Juncker, President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron, the Confederation of British Industry, the European Commission…

Like Carney, they’re all for the European Union because they’re all part of the Establishment elite in whose interests it is run. As Martin Durkin argues cogently in the must-see Brexit the Movie – watch it here – that’s what the forthcoming EU referendum is really about: the battle between a remote, anti-democratic elite and us the people.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

Only Embittered Lefties Give a Damn about Panama

But I’m afraid I find myself caring as much as I do about the news that martial arts movie star Jackie Chan has holdings in offshore companies including one called Jumbo Jaz investment. Or that Simon Cowell, various sports stars and someone from FIFA also use such vehicles to stash some of their loot.

Which is about as much as I care about, I don’t know, the Lithuanian shoe polish industry, maybe. No, I exaggerate. Not that much.

As for the revelations that these secretive, tax avoidance schemes are also favoured by associates of Vladimir Putin, deposed Iraqi ministers from the Saddam era, Chinese nomenklatura, bank robbers, and lots and lots of Nigerians, well, colour me surprised.

Couldn’t the International Consortium of International Journalists, which grabbed this alleged super-scoop, have saved itself and us an awful lot of bother and just run the headline: “Official: Bears Shit In Woods. Now we LIST the species that do so”?

So some bloke we’d never heard of from Iceland has resigned. Like we care.

What we should care about very much though, I think, is the way that this story is being a manipulated to a particular end by politicians and the left-leaning media.

(A left-wing media which, incidentally, is quite massively hypocritical on this issue. Not only are numerous leftie bigwigs assiduous tax avoiders, but so is the Guardian newspaper, as I discuss here with my friend Toby Young, who has a hilarious anecdote to relate)

Look at Bernie Sanders. There’s talk – hideous, terrifying talk – that Panama may be just the thing he needs to propel him into the White House. Not only is Hillary personally compromised. (Again). But it plays, perfectly, to that notion Socialists like Sanders are obsessed with these days: that there’s a corrupt, uncontrollable elite who can only brought to account by a good old fashioned dose of the kind of hard-left politics which worked so well for Cuba, Albania and the USSR.

Look at Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader hasn’t got this big in his trousers about a front page news story, I imagine, since Margaret Thatcher died.

At last, Corbyn has found a foreign policy mission worth really fighting for. No, not the nuclear deterrent – which he wants to scrap. Not ISIS, whose terrorists he thinks shouldn’t be shot under any circumstances on British streets and who at least one of his party comrades thinks should best be won over by friendly cups of tea.

No, instead Corbyn has seized this opportunity to declare war on the British Virgin Islands and any other British overseas territories and crown dependencies which earn their bulk of their living as tax havens.

Yeah! That’ll show them! That’s what Britain really needs in a prospective leader: someone who’s not afraid peevishly to ruin the livelihoods of people in far off places while making not a smidgen of a difference to the lives of anyone in Britain.

And instead of calling this bearded Trotskyite Islamist-suck-up on his pettifogging vindictiveness, Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne are busy meekly agreeing with the tenor of his argument: that international tax avoidance really is the most terrible thing and that more needs to be done to stamp it out.

Well they’ve got no choice, have they? Both are very rich men who’ve spent their entire political careers assiduously pretending not to be rich in order not to stoke the resentment of the proles.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

Osborne’s Fizzy Drinks Tax: An Unconservative Assault on Free Markets and Consumer Choice

sugar
JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
UK Chancellor George Osborne has used his latest budget to declare war on free markets and consumer choice – in the guise of protecting vulnerable souls from the deadly threat of fizzy drinks.

CdrLTYgW8AAAkcD

Note the weasel justification that this will “encourage companies to reformulate by reducing the amount of added sugar in the drinks they sell.”

But as Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs points out the fizzy drinks industry already made this move years ago, without any sledgehammer fiscal nudging from headline-grabbing politicians.

Osborne says he hopes the makers of fizzy drinks will reformulate their products. They have already done so. They are called things like Diet Coke, Pepsi Max, Coke Zero and Coke Life.

If people don’t want to drink weird tasting drinks made with vile stuff like saccharine it is certainly not for want of product availability. Indeed, when I go round to people’s houses and they mix me a gin and tonic I all too frequently find myself going “bleeuch” and then having to chuck the noisome concoction down the sink because what they have given me is “Slimline” tonic made with some filthy chemical rather than proper tonic made with nice, wholesome sugar.

Snowdon has done a lot of research into the issue of taxes on sugary drinks and found them to be utterly pointless, except as a crude revenue raising tool.

 

Read the rest at Breitbart.

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

Red Pill, Blue Pill

Resolving the economic crisis

The other day m’learned colleague Ambrose Evans Pritchard wrote a piece in praise of money-printing. What the world needs is more Quantitative Easing, he argued, though this time deployed in “nuclear force.”

I have no doubt that this would bring about a full recovery very fast if conducted with enough panache, but is it possible to marshal political consent for such revolutionary action?

The Tea Party Congress, like Europe’s bourgeousie, would rather wallow in liquidation, Puritan cleansing, and mass default than tolerate the possibility of a solution.

I couldn’t disagree more violently with this analysis. Nor, happily could most of you. The most popular comment response – approved by over 300 readers –  countered:

In reality, economics is not the fiscal rocket-science you make it sound. Capitalism itself is based on good old-fashioned honesty. The money at the heart of it must be both an honest store-of-value and an efficient medium of exchange. It ceases to be so when the inherent deceits of fractional reserve banking allow trillions of false credit to be pumped into the system, thus forcing up prices (booms) which inevitably lead to over-valued commodities (busts).

What happens next is that the banks, having privatised their gains in the good times, simply socialise their losses onto the tax-payer. It’s a crime. Simple as that really.

Reading these words – and seeing how many “likes” they got – did my heart good. “So I’m not alone, after all,” I thought to myself. “There are others out there who’ve taken the red pill too.”

The red pill – for those who haven’t seen The Matrix – is the one which shows you the world as it really is rather than cosy, fantasy confection of the popular imagination. The red pill is not for the fainthearted because it involves confronting painful, ugly reality rather than living the dream.

Let me give you an example of what taking the red pill entails. It’s a report from last year by the Boston Consulting Group showing that the amount of household, corporate and government debt which needs to be eliminated stands at $21 trillion. The cost of dealing with this “debt overhang” will entail the loss (ie confiscation by the government) of one third of the wealth of the asset-owning classes. Some time in the next few months, weeks or years, we’re all going to be taking a 30 per cent hair cut.

Here’s another fascinating report, this time about where gold is headed. Conservatively it estimates its target price at $2,300 an ounce.

Whenever I mention such things, I’m always amused by the rage it generates in some quarters from “experts” who passionately believe that gold is overvalued, that it’s a bubble that is about to burst. Well fine. If that’s what you think, don’t go and buy gold bullion. No one’s forcing you to – and what I say makes no difference either way to the market price: you can’t ramp gold like you can share prices. I just happen to think you’re making a big mistake which you could easily avoid were you to acquaint yourself with the most basic principles of Austrian economics.

What you need to understand is that the value of gold is not about to go up. What’s going to happen is that paper money is going to become increasingly worthless – meaning you’ll need that many more worthless paper notes to buy the same amount of gold. This is what Quantitative Easing does. And the reason you’re holding gold is not as some kind of crazy speculative investment which might just make you rich, rich, rich! You’re doing it for the much less exciting and more depressing reason that all your savings are about to be inflated away and gold is just a way of stopping you growing any more poor.

I’m holding quite a bit of gold at the moment by way of various investments. But believe me, I’d much rather live in a world where the economy was in the kind of shape where it made more sense to buy shares instead.

Besides your response to Ambrose’s piece, the other thing that has given me tremendous hope on Telegraph blogs in the last few weeks has been the arrival of the brilliant Thomas Pascoe – whom I hereby recruit, if he’ll let me, as my wingman. (Hannan’s probably Guy Gibson; I think I’m more like one of those suicidal Polish fighter aces.) As he showed in his piece the other day on the manipulation of the gold price, Pascoe, too has taken the red pill. He too, recognises, just how potentially dire things might get before this global economic crisis is resolved.

Quite how bad things get in the next few weeks and years really depends on how quickly the red pill faction manages to win the political and economic arguments. At the moment, the blue pill faction holds sway everywhere from Ben Bernanke’s Fed to Osborne’s Treasury to the entire crumbling mechanism of the EU. Given most people’s reluctance to deal with reality, I wouldn’t bank on a remotely happy outcome. Especially not in a world so barmy that men like Joseph Stiglitz are actually given the Nobel prize for economics…

Oh, and you can hear me talk more about this over on my podcast for Bogpaper.com. Take the red pill. T-a-a-k-e the RED PILL. It’s the only way any of us are going to get out of this one alive.

Related posts:

  1. Vote Blue, Go Green, Ruin Britain
  2. Dizzee Rascal speaks up for the City. Probably.
  3. The case against Dr Phil ‘Climategate’ Jones
  4. Greenpeace goes postal

 

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations

George Osborne and the Budget of Meh

Osborne is not stupid…

From George Osborne’s Budget speech:

Renewable energy will play a crucial part in Britain’s energy mix – but I will always be alert to the costs we are asking families and businesses to bear.

Environmentally sustainable has to be fiscally sustainable too.

The Carbon Reduction Commitment was established by the previous Government.

It is cumbersome, bureaucratic and imposes unnecessary cost on business.

So we will seek major savings in the administrative cost of the Commitment for business.

If those cannot be found, I will bring forward proposals this autumn to replace the revenues with an alternative environmental tax.

Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single source of our electricity in the coming years.

And so my RHF the Energy Secretary will set out our new gas generation strategy in the autumn to secure investment.

I also want to that ensure we extract the greatest possible amount of oil and gas from our reserves in the North Sea.

We are today introducing a major package of tax changes to achieve this.

We will end the uncertainty over decommissioning tax relief that has hung over the industry for years by entering into a contractual approach.

We are also introducing new allowances including a £3 billion new field allowance for large and deep fields to open up West of Shetland, the last area of the basin left to be developed.

A huge boost for investment in the North Sea.

If this is the best Gideon can do it’s no wonder the markets have responded with a yawn of supreme indifference. This isn’t a Budget for growth. It isn’t a Budget for the squeezed middle. It’s a Budget of meh.

Osborne is not stupid. (At least not totally so). He knows damned well that renewables are a hopeless waste of space and money. He also knows as the second bit intimates that Britain’s abundant shale gas supplies are by far our best hope for a secure, clean, cheap energy future.

Unfortunately, he faces at least two major problems. One of them is the Guardian/green/Lib-Dem/BBC nexus, which is being given carte blanche to continue with its mendacious, junk-science claims that “fracking” and shale gas production represent some kind of major environmental threat. Last night’s lamentably misleading coverage of the issue last night on BBC Newsnight was a case in point. Nick Grealy, explains here why it was so bad.

The other problem is that though in private Osborne can sound as red-meat a conservative as Maggie Thatcher in her prime he entirely lacks her cojones.

It really, really, really isn’t difficult explaining why renewables are a disaster area and why shale gas and nuclear are our only hope of keeping the lights on and the economy alive. If Osborne needs a few tips may I recommend an excellent book. No, not Watermelons though obviously I highly recommend that one too. I mean Power Politics by Michael J Economides and Peter C Glover. A good starting point might be the section headed Ten Fracking Things Everyone Should Know. And then maybe The Myth of Viable, Industrial-Scale Renewable Energy.

Related posts:

  1. ‘Budget for growth’? Wot budget for growth?
  2. George Osborne’s New Eco-Bullingdon Club
  3. Just what is it that greens like George Monbiot find so offensive about prosperity, abundance, happiness?
  4. We need to talk about wind farms…

 

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to James
Did you like this?
Tip James with Bitcoin
Powered by BitMate Author Donations