The Anonymous Widower

Are Politicians Stupid?

This report on the BBC web site, shows how the three major party leaders were photographed with a special World Cup promotion edition of The Sun.

The Sun is noted for various things, but faithful support for politicians isn’t probably one of them.

So why did the npoliticians ever let the photos be published?

Clegg and Cameron’s supporters didn’t seem to mind too much, but Labour Party supporters and especially those from Liverpool, are giving Milliband a hard time.

June 14, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Are The Consumers Controlling The Energy Prices?

This article from Real Business entitled ‘Big 6’ Energy Companies To Lose Dominance in 2019 caught my eye. Here’s the first paragraph.

The UK’s ‘big six’ energy companies are losing customers to their smaller rivals at such a rate that they will control less than 50 per cent of the residential market in 2019, according to

So perhaps savvy comsumers and the Internet are actually in control these days?

I do wonder whether Miliband’s statement that he would freeze energy companies has actually got the Great British Public to think deeply about their energy use and they have seen they can save money by switching to a smaller supplier.

And from my own experience, once you’ve switched once, you realise that it’s not a painful process, so if it doesn’t work out, switching again will not be a problem.

April 23, 2014 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Are Things Getting Better?

There has been a lot of discussion about whether things are getting better, with the government that things are on the up and Milliband saying they’re not. This article gives both views, with David Cameron being quoted in this way.

Most British workers have seen their take-home pay rise in real terms in the past year, the government claims.

It has produced figures showing all except the richest 10% saw their take-home wages rise by at least 2.5% once tax cuts were taken into account.

The article says this about Ed Milliband.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the figures were “dodgy” and ministers were out of touch with people’s lives.

I’m not going to take sides, but as I travel around the country, I see many things.

If I look at my situation, I think it has got marginally better compared to what it was twelve months ago.

I’m getting a slightly higher rate on my savings in Zopa, my energy is slightly cheaper since I moved my energy supplier to Ovo and running my household seems to be cheaper, as I’ve organised myself better. The latter is not down to the economy, but partly due to individuals and companies, launching new products and services.

One thing that hasn’t hit me, is the cost of motoring! Because I don’t!

I’ve just had February’s edition of Modern Railways and as in the last few months, there are quite a few articles about new stations and lines. There’s also been a few examples of new and refurbished trains being built or modified in the UK. But go to places like Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester and the transport infrastructure is much better than it was three or four years ago. Other places like Blackburn have got new stations. And there are quite a few new British-built buses too.

If the experience of the introduction into North London of the Overground, is anything to go by, where people have told me it has allowed them to get to new or better jobs, this new transport infrastructure can only be a good thing.

But if I go to places outside of London, it all seems much better. Surprisingly, there are quite a few bright, new shopping centres.

But then some politicians don’t want to be positive!

January 24, 2014 Posted by | News, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Robert Peston On Milliband’s Plan For The Banks

Now that Milliband has actually spoken it is interesting to see what heavyweight commentators are saying. The speech is reported here on the BBC and it also contains these comments from Robert Peston on what would happen if banks were limited as to market share.

Bankers have said to me this would lead to what they call a perverse outcome, that as they approached the maximum size they would dump customers they deemed low quality or loss-making.

It is unclear whether these customers would be able to bank elsewhere.

I wonder how many banks would want me as a customer, given that all I want is a money transfer company. And I don’t buy any other services from my bank, like insurance.

And I don’t see why I should pay for my banking!


January 17, 2014 Posted by | Finance, News | , , | Leave a comment

Why Milliband’s Bank Plan Won’t Work

Ed Milliband’s plan to cut the Big Banks down to size described here, may be admirable, but it won’t work!

In fact I have a feeling that in a couple of years, it won’t be needed as the Big Banks will be a shadow of their former self.

Take myself, who is increasingly becoming a type of person common in this country.

I only use my bank account for one main purpose and that is to accept and receive money transfers and manage regular payments. They do provide me with a credit card, but it is not one I use daily.

My savings are stored in a separate account, which happens to be a peer-to-peer-lender, but could be a Savings Account anywhere. But more of us, are using innovative ways to keep our savings and this will increase.

I never write cheques and only ever go into a bank branch to use a cash machine, if I want to sit down to organise my money after withdrawing it.

I don’t know what percentage of the population are like me, who effectively use the bank as a money transfer company and possibly an overdraft source, whilst waiting for a payment to clear.

But it must be quite a high figure these days!

We don’t need banks at all and it is a market that people will target in an innovative way. Certainly, if a company, can give me a much better computer system for on-line banking, I’d join them like a shot.

But then banks and innovation are two words that rarely go together!

On the whole I suspect this group of customers, are probably pretty sanguine about banking and in most cases wouldn’t want the hassle of moving. I sometimes think about moving from Nationwide, but what I want is a better computer and support system and how do I find out if it’s what I want? With very great difficulty I suspect!

So Milliband’s banker bashing doesn’t impress, as we probably feel that any new bank would be more of the same grey product.

And anyway, I choose my bank, not politicians.

But a better innovative on-line bank, with a proper computer system, programmed in the UK, supported totally by the Internet and a UK call centre, with no branch premises will come.

Done properly, I’d transfer my business to it and I suspect many others would.

The other thing that would shoot Milliband’s fox, is if regulators made it possible to transfer our bank account overnight or at least in a couple of days, keeping the same account number.

One of the troubles about the next election, is that many of the people who vote will be up to their neck in Wonga and other loans and are the sort of people, a decent bank wouldn’t touch.

January 17, 2014 Posted by | Finance, News | , | Leave a comment

Miliband Has Another Crazy Idea!

After his idea of freezing energy prices, which I think, anybody with any knowledge of how the energy markets work, will think is a non-starter, he’s now had another idea, which although on the face of it looks good, will have far reaching negative consequences if it is implemented. It’s all reported here on the BBC and it is well summed up by the first paragraphs.

Firms would not be able to undercut wages by paying agency staff less than permanent staff under a Labour government, Ed Miliband has said.

Writing in the Independent on Sunday, the Labour leader said the party would close a loophole in the law that allowed for differing rates of pay.

Mr Miliband said he wanted to tighten the rules to “stop a race to the bottom with workers coming here from abroad”.

If you take an industry like farming, which relies heavily on bringing in agency workers to harvest fruit and vegetables, the resulting increase in price of the food, would probably mean we’d import more food from places like Kenya. Farmers would probably only grow food that could be harvested totally by machine.

Other industries would probably be similarly affected and their costs would go up, meaning more higher prices for consumers.

One point that he seems to ignore, is what happens in a company if agency workers and permanent staff are paid the same. A company would adjust the workforce to have the best one to meet its needs. So permanent staff might come under other pressures to perform as well as agency staff, be they from the UK or abroad.

It’ll be interesting to see how this argument develops.  I’d love to see a breakdown of where these agency workers are employed by industry and region. I suspect that we’ll find some important public services wouldn’t run without them.

You can’t bring in these sort of policies immediately.  You have to phase them in gradually over a period of time.  It’s like trying to ride a bicycle slowly, by only turning hard left and hard right, instead of by small movements on the handlebars.

My only worry about these unworkable pronouncements from Ed Miliband, is that enough people might believe him and vote for him in 2010. His deputy may be called Balls, but Miliband talks it in spades!

January 5, 2014 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Hollande Shows How To Ru(i)n Football

The top French football clubs, are showing what they think of President Hollande’s high earner tax, by going on strike, as is reported here on the BBC. Here’s the first paragraph.

French President Francois Hollande has rebuffed protests against a 75% tax on high earners, prompting football clubs to press on with a planned “strike”.

Mr Hollande stood firm by his plan to levy the tax on incomes above 1m euros (£850,000; $1.36m) at a meeting with club presidents.

Ed Milliband admitted in this interview to being a lapsed Leeds United supporter and now follows Doncaster, so expect him to raise taxes like Hollande if he gets elected, as it won’t effect any of his teams. It might even raise Doncaster into the Premier League!

November 1, 2013 Posted by | News, Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ed Milliband and the Daily Mail

We all have skeletons in our families.  Mine is my uncle, who was one for the ladies and was always in trouble. During the Second World War, he actually had a bigamous marriage, from which there were children.

My father’s political leanings were very much Tory, but to the left of the party. He would probably have views like Kenneth Clarke today. But my father was a passionate anti-fascist, probably because of his partly Jewish ancestry. He was also one of the most non-racist men I have met of his generation. I can’t remember too well, but I don’t think he liked dictators and as he had names for them all in his Cockney poetry.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a man of my age, who said that his father was a died in the wool communist, who never condemned Stalin till the day he died.  He joked about it, but I suspect that was because he was rather embarrassed by his father supporting Stalin.  Alexei Sayle joked about his parents hard-line communism on The One Show last night.

I would suspect that the Milliband brothers, are in some ways embarrassed by some of the views of their father.  Most of us have a similar view about our own father, although, I don’t think I ever heard mine, pontificate on anything controversial in a way, that we would find politically incorrect.  Some of my mother’s views were not so acceptable?

All politicians live in glass houses, with everything they do, don’t do or have done under the greatest scrutiny. And all of their ancestors come under close scrutiny.

Just as the political views of Denis Thatcher,  Alfred Roberts, Tony Booth and other related to previous Prime Ministers, have been important to the Press and the scandal-loving British public, Ralph Milliband‘s political views would come under scrutiny from a paper like the Mail, the Express or the Sun. Especially, as some on the left have hard left views very unacceptable to those in the Labour Party, who want to bring it into the twenty-first century.

So in my view the Milliband brothers should have clean about the more unacceptable views of their father years ago, and perhaps joked about it in a more sympathetic medium, as Alexei Sayle and others have done. I don’t have this problem with my father, but anyway, I’m not a politician and my father wasn’t either, so it’s not important.

Now that the Daily Mail has attacked Ed Milliband for his father’s views, the story is out in the open. The Mail’s behaviour since has been unacceptable, but Ed Milliband’s keeping it going is in many ways making it worse. I haven’t seen any comments from his brother.  But then David’s in the United States, where communist connections bring a different reaction.

After all, everybody in the country now knows the full story of Ralph Milliband and it will play a large part in the next General Election. Those to the right will play the Reds under the bed card and those on the hard left will play their Class War one.

In my view though, Ed Milliband has shown a lack of judgement in how he handled his father’s views. Compare it with the way Tony Blair handled those of his father.

Today there is this report on the BBC entitled Ed Miliband urges Daily Mail owner to examine ‘culture’.

It’s not the culture of the Press that needs examining, it’s the culture of the country, where most people seem to value celebrity tittle-tattle well above real issues. Just look at the sales of celebrity magazines!

Ed Milliband is now on BBC Breakfast going on about it again.

Does he not know, when it is time to stop fanning the flames of an out-of-control fire?

October 4, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Labour Promises To Turn The Lights Out

Ed Milliban’s promise yesterday on energy prices is the sort of vote-grabbing bribe. that is typical of third-rate politicians. Judging by the response from the energy companies, If Red Ed gets power we’ll all be in for a hard time. It’s all here on the BBC. Even Britain’s worst Prime Minister of recent years; Gordon Brown, wouldn’t have issued such a cheap promise.

I think that this pledge could have serious effects.

Suppose you were in charge of planning at a large energy company.  Would you be prepared to invest in an expensive new power station in the UK, until after the election of 2015?, I suspect that other countries with more certain energy policies and prices, would be a better place for the investment!

So the lights might go out, even if Labour doesn’t win the election!

I’ve just listened to the start of the phone-in on Radio 5.

They’ve started appealing for anyone in favour of Red Ed’s idea.

September 25, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Two Faces Of Ed Milliband

Ed Milliband has just stated on BBC Television, that whatever we do in Syria must be totally legal.

So where was he, when Blair decided to go into Iraq as Bush’s poodle? Answers on a properly creosoted fence please!

August 27, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments