Britain’s economic ‘recovery’ is the second slowest in all of the G7, and performance is still far behind the likes of Canada and the USA.

Look at Britain’s performance from 2010 to early-2013. It practically flatlines for that entire period – the first three years of Austerity.

The economy only started to move upwards when the Government announced the schedule for its “Help-To-Buy” scheme, a scheme that drove up house prices, and made lending with houses as collateral more appealing to banks. So lending started to increase again, which meant that there was more money in circulation once more, and so sales began to improve.

And the Help-To-Buy is a Government spending program – the *antithesis* of an Austerity program.

Austerity doesn’t work. Government investment does. But the Tories will never admit that the only positive economic policy they have implemented is an investment, rather than a cut. (This is not to say it’s a good policy. It isn’t as it only re-stimulated the economy by using still *more* private debt, which is likely to increase long-term hardship for borrowers still further, and that will cause another crash in the not-too-distant future, but at least it has woken things up a bit.)

Politics and Insights

Whilst official figures show that the economic depression has ended, we need to be mindful of what the headlines have not mentioned – much damage has been done by the government’s austerity measures, such as the cuts and closures to our public services, and the wasteful and costly privatisations. The economic downturn may be temporary but it seems that the cuts and the consequences are permanent.
Growing poverty reflects a large-scale economic failure, regardless of the pitifully thin distillation of Tory evidence of “recovery” and “growth” which is mostly localised to a handful of millionaires. Poverty is about the loss of much more than money. Poverty entails indignity and humiliation and exclusion. For a so-called first world democracy to treat its most vulnerable citizens so callously ought to be a source of utter shame. Austerity is an attempt to disguise the fact that the Tories are not “paying down the debt” as claimed:…

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by Martin Odoni

Please note: If you haven’t heard the original version of this very, very famous old joke before, it has been popular in Russia for decades, and there are many variants of it. You can witness an animated version of it on YouTube, and a pre-Mikhail-Gorbachev version is available to read here. This is an adaptation to reflect the ideological stupidities of the various Tory leaders of the last forty years.

Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan-Smith, Michael Howard and David Cameron are all travelling together in a railway carriage through the open countryside. Unexpectedly, the engine shudders and splutters, and the train grinds to a stop. They look at each other in consternation, and immediately start trying to work out how to get the train moving again.

Cameron suggests: "Let’s cajole the directors of the train company with a tax cut, and hope that they respond by fixing the rails." So they award the directors of the train company a tax cut, but the train doesn’t start moving.

Howard answers, “There must be too many passengers on board. Let’s impose a strict quota on the number of foreigners that are allowed to use the British rail network!” So they impose a strict quota on the number of foreigners that are allowed to use the British rail network, but the train doesn’t start moving.

Then Hague puts his head out of the window and shouts, "Let’s promise the driver that we’ll keep the Pound if he gets us to the next station!" So they promise the driver that they’ll keep the Pound if he gets them to the next station, but the train doesn’t start moving.

Major speaks up, suggesting, "Let’s threaten the driver with an increase of VAT on rail fares for all journeys that don’t reach their destination on time." So they threaten the driver with an increase of VAT on rail fares for all journeys that don’t reach their destination on time, but the train doesn’t start moving.

Thatcher then shouts, "Let’s send in the police to beat up the driver repeatedly until he agrees to get the train moving again!" So they send in the police to beat up the driver repeatedly, but still the train doesn’t move.

Heath then says, "Chaps, dear lady, we should extend the period over which the driver is educated in how to control a train by two years." So they extend the period over which the driver is educated in how to control a train by two years. But still, the train doesn’t start moving.

Then Duncan-Smith chimes in. "We don’t have to do any of that to get the train moving! The train is still moving! IT IS!!! It is my earnest belief that this train is still moving……."

BBC Gaza

July 22, 2014


I left a comment on this blogpost, debunking several of his arguments, but I have a suspicion the guy who wrote the article (entirely on the basis of what the Daily Mail tells him, for Pete’s sake!) might not clear my comment for publishing. So I thought I’d better re-blog his post, with my comment included in the intro, to prevent any ‘ideological censorship’ ( I think that’s a polite way of putting it) on his part.
ANDREW MOUNTFORD SAYS, “Across the globe, there are about 1m sq km more sea ice than 35 years ago”

This is actually not true, but even if it were, you are guilty of a schoolchild error that borders on embarrassing; you are using two-dimensional maths to calculate a three-dimensional proportion. It is not area-covered that determines the amount of ice, it is the *volume* of the ice i.e. its thickness and density, that are most important. Another factor is how much water is permanently frozen, rather than melts during the summer and re-freezes during the winter.

Thickness of ice in the Arctic has decreased by over 40% in the period you are stipulating, while the average age of ice found in these formations has reduced from millennia to just years.

As for the Antarctic, the Daily Mail is always reluctant to acknowledge that some of the increases in ice there are in fact predicted by the very climate models you are trying to debunk. Your mistake there is on a number of levels, but the biggest is in assuming that ‘Global Warming’ means the whole world getting uniformly hotter at all times, when it actually means that the net amount of heat being stored up in the atmosphere around the planet as an average is increasing.

The problem with your over-simplistic interpretation of that is that the upper atmosphere is *above* where all the extra carbon dioxide is blocking most of the heat. Therefore the upper atmosphere remains far cooler than near ground level. It stands to reason. Increased CO2 reflects more infra-red heat* back towards the surface of the planet, therefore much of the extra heat being trapped simply can’t climb up into the stratosphere before being intercepted.

With the Earth getting warmer, more water in the rivers and seas turns to steam, and where does the steam go? Up of course. So it will still reach the stratosphere, where it starts to cool down, and will often even freeze.

Now Antarctica is different from the Arctic Ocean in a very obvious way. IT’S MADE OF LAND, NOT OF WATER. And a lot of that land is quite high up; there are literally scores of mountains on the continent, and hundreds and hundreds of tall hills. A lot of the water that has turned to steam further north travels on air-streams to the south, where it eventually falls as snow over Antarctica. And because so much of Antarctica is high up, way above sea level, much of the new snow never lands far enough down to be inside the parts of the atmosphere with the higher CO2 concentration i.e. near sea level. So it remains as snow and/or ice.

With the increased amount of water vapour caused by Global Warming, the amount of snow and ice at high altitudes is likely to increase accordingly, as there is more water in the atmosphere to become frozen and get ‘dumped’ in high-up places.

It’s actually quite simple to understand if you just take the time to study it, but instead, you choose to study the Daily Mail.

Now, I know from reading your petulant remarks on the Vox Political blog that you will either delete this rebuttal, or make a squealing, non-factual objection to it without ever explaining why I’m wrong. But I’m going to give you a hint that you should take on board; –

Never look to a newspaper for scientific fact. Least of all the Daily Mail, but frankly, not *any* newspaper. Accredited scientific journals are the only repository for accurate information coming from the scientific sector.

As for politics driving climate mania, has it really never crossed your mind that politics might be what’s driving climate denialism? For instance, the exceptionally powerful oil industry has a vested interest in keeping people overusing cars and electricity because it keeps their sales of high-carbon fossil fuels steadily rising? Therefore, isn’t it just possible that the oil industry would want to discredit science that finds against fossil fuel overuse, and get allies in the media and politics to try and muddy the waters accordingly?

* Please note that solar rays are not infra-red heat. They travel on a much shorter wavelength than infra-red, a very high frequency that the carbon-dioxide particles in the atmosphere cannot block or reflect. Only when solar radiation makes physical contact with particles that can intercept it (usually solids or liquids) does it convert into infra-red radiation – this is why we feel warm when the sun touches our skin, because the solar rays are turning into heat as they make contact with us.


EDIT 23-7-2014:

Just thought I should now add that, having visited Mr Mountford’s blog again last night, I found that my comment had indeed been deleted. Not just “still in the queue for publication”, I mean deleted outright. Mr Mountford shows all the hallmarks of a man with an agenda, and who will censor anyone who has better information than he can offer in his attempts to forward that agenda.

This is of course quite ironic for a supporter of a political party i.e. the UK Independence Party, which keeps publicly raging against being supposedly ‘shouted down’ by what it calls ‘the liberal media’ (usually left undefined).

Jez Pen

Adult chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica), Port Lockroy, Antarctica, Southern Ocean, Polar RegionsClick here for original story

UN computer predictions subject of ridicule: not got it right for 18 years
Across the globe, there are about 1m sq km more sea ice than 35 years ago
Authorities are now guessing global temperatures based on nearby weather stations
PUBLISHED: 22:01, 5 July 2014 | UPDATED: 00:54, 6 July 2014

For years, computer simulations have predicted that sea ice should be disappearing from the Poles.
Now, with the news that Antarctic sea-ice levels have hit new highs, comes yet another mishap to tarnish the credibility of climate science. Climatologists base their doom-laden predictions of the Earth’s climate on computer simulations. But these have long been the subject of ridicule because of their stunning failure to predict the pause in warming – nearly 18 years long on some measures – since the turn of the last century.

It’s the…

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Do NOT let the Government fool you. The D.R.I.P. Bill most certainly *will* grant authorities new and excessive surveillance powers, once that flatly contradict human rights’ laws, including European Union laws.

Paul Bernal's Blog

I’m one of the signatories to the letter below – not just a few, but many very serious legal academics, some of the most distinguished in the field.

Tuesday 15th July 2014

To all Members of Parliament,

Re: An open letter from UK internet law academic experts

On Thursday 10 July the Coalition Government (with support from the Opposition) published draft emergency legislation, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”). The Bill was posited as doing no more than extending the data retention powers already in force under the EU Data Retention Directive, which was recently ruled incompatible with European human rights law by the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the joined cases brought by Digital Rights Ireland (C-293/12) and Seitlinger and Others (C-594/12) handed down on 8 April 2014.

In introducing the Bill to Parliament, the Home Secretary framed…

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by Martin Odoni

It’s an old exasperated joke every generation tells a hundred times about politics, I know, but it is genuinely scary how little the current British Government appears to know. This is especially true of its Ministers in their departmental fields e.g. George Osborne knowing almost nothing about economics, and apparently being unable to perform basic multiplication. But it gets even scarier when you recognise that David Cameron is what these days passes for a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, after all, is the man or woman who appoints the Ministers who will serve in the Cabinet. You would therefore hope, at the very least, that whoever is the incumbent at 10 Downing Street would have some grasp of what are Ministries and Departments, and what are not. (NB: There are all-too-many other reasons to be scared by the idea of Cameron being Prime Minister of course, but we’ll let that slide for now.)

This week, Cameron has supposedly shown himself to be a Prime Minister of action by instigating a ‘major’ – according to the BBC at least – reshuffle of the Cabinet. And in attempting to defend one of the changes he has made, he has firmly demonstrated that, no, he does not know what are the Ministries and the Departments and what are not. I’m serious. He doesn’t.

The ex-Minister we must focus on here is Michael Gove. I do not wish to dwell too long on his truly shambolic tour-of-duty as Secretary Of State For Education – I suspect my use of the word ‘shambolic’ will be sufficient to let readers know my opinions on that subject. But in the reshuffle, Gove was, thankfully, removed at last from the Department for Education, and appointed the Chief Whip, taking over at 9 Downing Street from the sacked Sir George Young. When hearing murmurs in the media that this constituted a demotion for Gove, David Cameron publicly retorted that it was no such thing, and that Gove had a major role in the months leading up to the next General Election promoting the Conservative Party in the media.

This putative major role may or may not prove to be genuine – although media promotions are somewhat unusual work for a Whip, whose usual role is to lurk in the background and, if anything, try to bury any scandals that might reach the press, rather than putting on a show for them. But either way, it seems bizarre that Cameron would argue that it is not a demotion, for one simple reason: The Chief Whip is not actually a member of the Cabinet.

It’s true. The Chief Whip cannot be a member of the Cabinet, because the Whips’ Office is not a Government Department. And nor should it be for it has no role in governing the country itself, and therefore no administrative or policy function. It is in fact purely a Parliamentary resource lent to whoever the governing Party is, and therefore is an ‘on-loan’ part of the Party machine. The function of the Whips is strictly political, not Governmental, and they principally act as the Cabinet’s ‘heavies’ – this is to say, they make sure that the Party’s backbenchers in Parliament vote in support of Cabinet legislation – usually done by means of threatening to withdraw the backbencher’s Party funding, or even, if such material is available, blackmailing them with embarrassing details about the backbencher’s private life or business dealings that could be leaked to the media.

Bullying the backbenchers is the height of the Chief Whip’s authority; it does not extend to giving instruction to Cabinet Ministers, over whom the Chief Whip has no command at all.

It is only because, by convention, the Chief Whip is also often given the sinecure of Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury – a meaningless and duty-less title that has no formal link to the Treasury itself (the key word is ‘Parliamentary’ instead) – that he or she is allowed to attend Cabinet meetings at all. Therefore, for any Minister in a reshuffle to find himself or herself transferred to the role of Chief Whip, they have been demoted, beyond doubt. Even getting transferred to the role of a Sports Minister would be less of a humiliation. (The Chief Whip even gets paid about 35% less.)

Now let us be clear, Gove deserves no better. As has been noted here and elsewhere many times before, he is a foolish, blinkered ideologue, and his frequent petulance and impatience betray how laughably feeble his diplomatic skills are. Indeed, and in fairness to Cameron, that is one of the reasons why the demotion has happened – because of Gove’s silly public arguments with fellow Ministers, his inability to form productive relations with the Education sector, and his almost disturbing temperamental outbursts in debates with other MPs and the media.

I agree with Cameron’s decision therefore, and his reasons for making it. But that appears to be a matter of pure chance. Cameron is not aware of what he is appointing someone to before making the appointment, even though it is a part of his Government. That is more than a little disturbing, as it suggests that after four years in office, he still has a very sketchy understanding of the machinery he is trying to operate. Seeing how hell-bent his Government seems to be on knowing everything about everyone else’s lives, this lack of awareness of itself is bewildering.

I suppose it’s a harmless enough mistake on this occasion, but even so, you do have to ask, if he hasn’t learned what’s what after all this time, when will he? And can we be sure that all such ignorant mistakes he makes in the future will be so harmless?

REBLOGGED: With David Cameron’s risible attempt at making the Cabinet more appealing today by reshuffling it, I decided it was high time to add in some more of those Ministerial appointments who really put the ‘moron’ in ‘oxymoron’.

TheCritique Archives

by Martin Odoni

(Before I get any more complaints from Tory supporters with the usual persecution-complex, yes, I confirm this is satire. Sheesh…)

PLEASE NOTE: In response to the July 2014 reshuffle, there is an update at the foot of the page.

David CameronDavid Cameron – a Prime Minister who can’t lead.

George OsborneGeorge Osborne – a Chancellor of the Exchequer who can’t count.

Michael Gove AKA PobMichael Gove – an Education Secretary who’s semi-literate.

Ignorant Drunken ShitIain Duncan-Smith – a Work and Pensions Secretary who’s unemployable.

William HagueWilliam Hague – a Foreign Secretary who can’t read a map.

Owen PatersonOwen Paterson – an Environment Secretary whose big policy is killing large numbers of animals.

Philip HammondPhilip Hammond – a Defence Secretary who sulks when Parliament won’t allow him to attack.

Theresa MayTheresa May – a Home Secretary who always seems to be completely out-to-lunch.

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