Monthly Archives: August 2012

The houses that Jack can’t build

A week ago today an article appeared on the AdamSmith website, authored by Whig, entitled: “The mirage of affordable housing.“. It is, as they say, with respect I have to take issue with some of that written.

Firstly, “affordable housing”and “social housing” is one and the same thing: everybody in the business knows that and knows what they are talking about, so if the writer thinks he is contributing to the debate by stating that “There is no doubt that this confuses the debate…”, he isn’t; he is wrong, there is no confusion.
There are few houses being built at present because they can’t be sold, neither to private buyers who can’t get mortgages, nor to housing associations who have no government funding.  Moreover, S106 agreements usually require a proportion of dwellings on a site to be for social housing and, importantly, require the social housing to be sold to housing associations before a substantial proportion of the private houses can be occupied.  Consequently, if there is no-one to buy the social housing, there is no point in starting work on site and building private houses which can’t be occupied.
The article states: “Most of the debate over the report actually seemed to concentrate on a proposal to relax local government requirements on developers to build ‘affordable housing’, as this is imposing higher costs on them as they are forced to sell at below market rates.”  Therefore, whoever is taking part in the “debate” doesn’t understand the house-building business.  House-builders know clearly that social houses will be sold for lower prices than private houses; this is taken into account in the price to be paid for land and social housing can therefore be just as profitable as private housing.  Moreover, there are no marketing costs, no uncertainty on timing of sale, no finance costs where housing associations enter into “package deals”, and so when the private market is slow, social housing can enable house-builders to maintain volumes, retain personnel, survive.  The problem is that there is no money for social housing, so a relaxation of local government requirements won’t help because the slack can’t be taken up in the private market.
Finally, it is true that the planning system has had a long term adverse effect on building volumes, but the planning system is not the problem right now. As intimated above banks aren’t lending, plus there is another factor which would appear to have escaped the notice of commentators. Those leaving university, who no doubt would dearly love to get their feet on the property ladder are starting out with thousands of pounds worth of debt already hanging round their necks – just how are they supposed to save the required deposits let alone afford repayment of a mortgage?


Hague and more ‘largesse’

William Hague has ‘decreed’ that because the situation in Syria is growing more acute he has decided to announce an increase in the humanitarian aid that the UK will provide, while also refusing to rule out the supply of arms – ‘at some point’ – to Syrian rebels. He continues that in view of the Security Council’s (United Nations) inability to resolve the problems in that country, it becomes necessary that the United Kingdom should do everything it can to help the people who are suffering. In that ‘pronouncement’ he, rather than play the ‘its for the children’ card instead plays the ‘its for the refugees’ card – and in respect of refugees, Hague maintains that things can only get worse.

A number of points arise

  • If, as a country, we are to become embroiled in another war – and humanitarian aid is usually the first step in that process – should we, the people, not have a voice in that process?
  • If, as a country, we are to provide aid to refugees in a foreign land, ones suffering from the decisions taken by politicans then should we not address the plight of our own ‘refugees’, those suffering from decisions taken by our own politicians where cuts to ‘services’ are concerned?
  • Why are we pouring vast sums of money into organisations like the United Nations – and similar – if they are unable to resolve that for which we pay?

Politicians would have us believe that they are our ‘parents’; that they will look after our ‘interests’; that they will ‘insulate us from the evils of the cruel world in which we live; that we are their ‘family’. In this context I have to revert to a question I have raised previously – if a family finds itself in financial and social straits then does it not ‘contract’ within itself and do all that is necessary to rectify its ‘problems’ and, in so doing, disregard all ‘outside’ factors? Does it not attempt to put its own house in order before attempting to do that for ‘others’? If such a family has any sense it does.

So why the hell are we expending all this money to help others, who if victorious will no doubt then promptly ‘kick us in the teeth’, prior to helping our own ‘kith and kin’ to whom surely we have a duty to help first?

If the economic ‘resources of our nation are ‘limited’ – as politicians take delight in reminding us when imposing cuts – then should not we, who provide said economic resources, say how and on what said economic resources should be spent?

Who the hell does Hague think he is – some ‘tinpot’ elected dictator? Oh, wait……………





Thou protesteth to the wrong captain, Mr. Binley

There’s a great deal of chatter over the anticipated Cabinet re-shuffle writes Brian Binley, Conservative MP for Northampton South – and promptly adds yet more chatter.

He complains that the LibDem minority has run ragged over the government in a manner not remotely justified by the level of their electoral support. But have not his party run ragged over the country in a manner not remotely justified by the level of their electoral support?

He accuses the Prime Minister, on ‘Europe’, of having set himself against the instincts of his party, yet when one looks at voting records it would seem that the majority of his party are content with the direction Cameron is taking, either through conviction or a desire to retain their place on the rung they occupy on the political ladder. Binley presents himself as a ‘eurosceptic, – someone against membership of the EU – yet this is a man who voted to support the establishment of the EU’s External Action Service.

He also pleads that David Cameron should show a modicum of respect for his wider party who are, after all, the link with the country at large, while asking for a change in direction. How can MPs be a link to the country at large when MPs are, in general, but careerists with one aim which is to climb the greasy political pole; and as such have no real interest in those they are meant to serve? Binley may well believe that Cameron, as captain of the SS United Kingdom, has deviated from his course, however he seems to forget that the SS United Kingdom is but part of a flotilla under the direction of the admirals on the bridge of the flagship, the SS EU.

Richard North, EUReferendum, has been writing, most adnirably, for some days now about the shenanagins involving the likes of Merkel, Hollande, Monti and Draghi, among others. It is worth adding the most recent outpourings of one Jose Manuel Barroso:

“It is true that sometimes decision-making in our democratic system takes time. But do not misjudge us: the negotiations are about the arrangements, not about the final outcome……….That is why we must complete the unfinished business of economic and monetary union……….The Commission’s upcoming proposals are part of a broader package leading to economic, fiscal, and political union that will redefine the boundaries of European integration.

Methinks the ‘captain’ to whom Binley appeals does not have sufficient gold braid on his cap to do squat diddley where changing the direction of travel of the SS United Kingdom is concerned.

The British media – aka ‘journalism’ – is not alone!

It is heartening to note that it is not just in the United Kingdom that journalists use the words ‘democracy’, ‘democratic’ and ‘democratize’ without any understanding of what the base word ‘democracy’ means. As an example of this, witness the article that appeared, via Presseurop, in Dilema Veche authored by Cristian Ghinea.

“Defending European democracy” – Other than Switzerland, what country in Europe actually fulfills the basic requirement of democracy? Since when can an institution, which has not the slightest ‘nod’ to democracy within its ‘make-up’, defend such a core value? If the author of the article, nor the countries in Europe, do not recognize what democracy is, how in heavens name can it be compromised? The author of the article maintains that, in Russia, democracy has “been and gone”. Since when, even today, has Russia had any form of true democracy?

And the FoyBoy wishes to continue “the basic standards of conventional journalism”?


Information needs to be ‘mediated’ in the name of free speech – What!?

The Boy from Foy has entered the debate about internet censorship and free speech querying whether there is a need to make the internet: “subject to any form of regulation in an era when, a click away, there is access to information that respects no national boundaries nor the laws of any national parliament or the basic standards of conventional journalism”, while also stating that there is a need to: “come to grips with the fact that the internet is giving public access to uncorroborated, undigested and unmediated news, all in the name of free speech.”

It is now obviously out in the open that the political class believe that before we, the people, can formulate our own opinions about matters, the basis on which those opinions can be ‘formed’ need ‘formulating’ and ‘mediating’ – ie the facts need ‘doctoring’ to suit the aims of the political class.

Well, Foxtrot Oscar FoyBoy – and take with you those who think likewise!

There’s nothing like a bit of adverse publicity……..

As Louise Mensch quits her constituency, even true-blue voters say the by-election will be a Tory bloodbath, writes Judith Woods in today’s Daily Telegraph – the piece being headlined: “Will Corby give David Cameron a kicking”. From the article:

“Standing in their midst, bearing a Ukip rosette and an air of middle-class bewilderment, is Barbara Fairweather, 67. She has come up from Bicester for the day to lend a hand with campaigning, but can’t seem to find the party’s nerve centre, which is supposed to be somewhere near the chip shop.

“I’ve been very Eurosceptical since Maastricht,” she says firmly. “I think the European Union is bad for Britain – and Louise Mensch was bad for Corby.”

And what about the Ukip candidate, what are his or her credentials?

“Oh,” she says, startled. “I don’t know who it is yet – but I could call the office and find out.” It seems oddly fitting that when she rings, there’s no reply.”

It is fair to say that in her piece we are not told the day and time that Judith Woods made her visit, whether at that time the Ukip candidate had been announced, whether the ‘Ukip nerve centre’ had in fact been opened, nor whether a certain amount of ‘journalistic licence’ had been taken with the quotations used. It is not my intention to mock Ukip (although the temptation is very great) but assuming the visit was in the last few days then there is something drastically awry with the party’s administration and those within it. The last I heard Barbara Fairweather was the Oxfordshire County co-ordinator, in which case if the visit by Woods was within the last few days, then Fairweather not knowing their party candidate nor the address of their party nerve centre beggars belief while also demonstrating an ‘amateurishness’ with – and for – which Ukip appears to becoming renowned.

Digressing slightly, one comment Judith Woods makes in her article resonated with me, as it will no doubt with readers:

“Mensch’s colourful personality and articulacy impressed the policy wonks, but ordinary voters were left stone cold. Those that caught a glimpse of her talking drugs on Question Time with John Lydon, or being curiously stiff on Have I Got News For You, could see she was a creature of the party, not the people – although as it has transpired, she was a creature of and for herself.” (Emphasis mine)

Are not the majority of MPs creatures of their party, not the people – and ultimately are not MPs creatures of and for themselves? That phrase of Woods, which I have emphasised, yet again illustrates all that is wrong with the systems of democracy and politics under which we live – and that criticism cannot be made often enough, nor loud enough.

Now, about this third runway……….

A great deal of words is being expended by our political class on whether or not there is any intention- and we need not cloud the debate with the input of the word “resolve” – to create a third runway at Heathrow, the cost of which I know not; and as a matter of interest,has any computation of the cost for this ever been produced?

In the meantime our ‘government’, one that the people did not actually elect, has decided that 0.7% of our national income should be donated to foreign countries in aid.  In 2011 the government ringfenced and raised DFID’s budget by 34.2 per cent, to £11.5bn over the next four years. That outruns Britain’s current record spend of 0.56 per cent GDP on overseas aid and will see it rise to 0.7 per cent of GDP in 2013. The Home Office budget meanwhile, which pays for policing and counter-terrorism, has been cut by 25 per cent over the same period, and is set to fall from £10.1bn in the current financial year to £8.3bn in 2014/15. (source Channel 4) At the same time Tim Yeo is set to enact a Deben(ture) – as in “an acknowledgement of indebtedness” – to agree to the oversight, by someone who was at one time his “Boss”, of the expense of even more money in order to pursue a policy conceived in a moment of madness.

As we, the people, are those who are providing all this ‘wonga’, should we not have a voice about all this expenditure and whether we agree to it?

Just asking…………….. (again!)


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And look where bold new ideas has got us

Douglas Carswell posts on the fact that we are in a ‘double-dip’ recession and suggests that this is caused by chronic malinvestment, which in turn misallocated resources and distorted prices. He is also of the opinion that what is required is bold, new ideas to deal with it.

Have we not had sufficient bold, new ideas, ones with which we seem to get regaled from all political parties come every general election? Have we not had enough of being used as guinea pigs for whatever new idea that politicians come up with to solve our ills, be they economic or social?

Douglas Carswell would seem to believe that the idea that political parties, in their manifestos can ask us for a blank cheque whereby they then expect us to provide the money to fund these newly discovered ideas. Is it not time that, as the Harrogate Agenda suggests, political parties forming a government adopted the idea of “Referism” and presented us with an ‘estimate’ of what money they will require for the coming year and in so doing show us exactly how and where that money will be spent – with the proviso that if we did not agree then they would have to go away and redo their sums?

This is a politician who co-authored a book called “The Plan”, a plan that was suposed to devolve power to the people in order that the people should have more ‘voice’ in matters that affect them. This is a politician who published articles in a series of papers under the heading of “Direct Democracy” – although the principles of that system were conveniently ignored in order to leave the political class, of which he is a member, still in control.

Has the time not come whereby we have had enough of politicians who preach change but are secretly, behind the scenes, working to maintain the status quo? Has the time not come for a revolution by the people whereby a system of democracy, that is – to use a phrase so beloved of politicians – not fit for purpose and one that is subject to the corrupting influence of money, is changed?

Just asking………………..



Misinformation ‘Telegraphed’

Not yet online is a short article by Nick Collins on the subject of tiny fibres that pose an ‘Asbestos’ risk.

“Minute fibres used in everyday items including tennis rackets could be as bad for the lungs as asbestos, researchers have found.

About 1,000 times narrower than a human hair, some of them have a similar shape to asbestos fibres, which can cause lung cancer.

Edinburgh University researchers studied the possible effects of nanofibres by inject them into the lungs of mice. Longer types, measuring more than five thousandths of a millimetre, could become stuck in the lung and cause inflammation, the study showed.

The researchers, led by Prof. Ken Donaldson, point out that mouse lungs are differen from human lungs. But they hope that the study, published in the Toxicology Sciences journal, will help guide the design of future fibres.

Nanofibres are used in a wide range of products, from rackets to aeroplane wings.” (Emphasis mine)

Of course, being a journalist, it is inconcievable that Nick Collins would think to do research on this subject. Had he – and had he read “Scared to Death” by Christopher Booker and Richard North – he might not have’ cut ‘n pasted’ that which he had been given and would have quickly learnt the difference between white, blue and brown asbestos and the properties of each (pp 275/276).

Also one has to ask if the lungs of mice are different to those of a human then until these nanofibres are injected into a human lung we won’t know whether the effect is the same, will we?


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News from Switzerland

With a similarity akin to HS2 problem in this country, a referendum is being held in the canton of Neuchâtel over a budgeted 830 million francs to be spent to provide a new, faster rail link between Neuchâtel and watch-making centre La Chaux-de-Fonds which would cut the journey time in half. Supporters say the costs are manageable, with the federal government and Swiss Federal Railways, the state-owned rail company, picking up 349 million francs of the tab. The remainder would be divided between the canton (60 percent) and participating municipalities (40 percent).

In another referendum, to be held on 23rd September, a vote will be taken for a national ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars, restaurants, hospitals and workplaces. There are those who maintain that that imposing such a national rule on smoking would be contrary to the country’s spirit of federalism that grants cantons powers to make their own laws in such areas, while others have raised concerns about the impact such a national law would have on the restaurant and hotel industry.

In respect of smoking it is worthy of note that some Zurich bars are flouting the smoking ban and that last year Switzerland saw restaurant and bar revenues fall by approximately 2 billion francs ($2.2 billion) – the losses were partially blamed on the introduction of the smoking ban. Now where have we heard that before?

It would seem that even in Switzerland there exists zealots that wish to impose their view on society as a whole. The only difference is that it will be the people, not politicians, who will decide.


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