The Anonymous Widower

Newtonian Politics

Isaac Newton was a great man of many facets. To me though as an Control Engineer, his most important work is his three laws of motion.

The First Law states that every body continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless acted on by an external force.

In real life it is Newton’s version of the old maxim – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Second Law states that the rate of change of mass times velocity in a body is proportional to the force applied.

Basically, in real life this means that the harder you push something the more it moves the way you want it to.

The Third Law states every action on a body has an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton wrote his laws as they applied to mechanical systems, but they also can be applied to people systems in a philosophical way.

If you look at the British economy for the last fifty years, two of the worst times were the Oil Crisis of  1973 and the Banking Crisis of 2008. Massive external forces distorted a British economic system, that was sitting reasonably happily in a state of rest as defined by the First Law. The application of the external force was a superb example of Newton’s Second Law, which caused the economy to move fast in the wrong direction.

In recent years too, the attacks of September 11th, 2001, the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011

In some cases the reaction of politicians the world over to these and other crises only made things worse. If we take September 11th, the United States had the moral high-ground after the atrocities and could have applied sensible policies to make sure that such attacks never happened again. Instead they illustrated Newton’s Third Law brilliantly, by in revenge invading Afghanistan and Iraq, which of course provoked the opposite reaction of Islamic terrorism we now see all over the world. If you poke a hornets nest, you get stung. Or in the case of the September 11th attacks, the rest of the world does.

So how do Newton’s Laws affect British politics and in particular this coming election?

I’ll use two simple examples from London.

The London Fire Brigade has closed ten fire stations in order to save money to help the city recover from the recession of 2008. There have been protests and local objections, but there has not been one story in the past year, of destruction or even death caused by the cuts.

Transport for London over the last couple of years, have swiftly moved totally away from cash-based ticketing to one that relies on contactless cards of one sort or another with the closure of lots of ticket offices. Politicians protested loudly at the announcement but there have not been any stories since about passengers protesting because they couldn’t get home or something similar. In fact the only comment, I’ve had from staff, is one off-duty bus driver, who said he’s convinced attacks on staff have reduced significantly.

I think that Londoners, staff and eventually politicians have realised that although the changes are massive, most have only been affected in a small way, so their reaction to the changes has been proportionately small. Probably the worst affected group are firemen, who’ve been made redundant and I suspect, that London’s booming economy has allowed those who need a new job to get one, as protests have been surprising by their absence.

I think that these two examples illustrate a facet of the British people. We may moan a bit about something we don’t like, but when the new system beds in and it doesn’t effect us too much, we accept it as a sensible policy. On the other hand, if something is manifestly wrong, like the Second Gulf War, we protest until the end.

People may complain about the parties being too similar, but as most politicians are decent reasonable people, who see the bigger picture, the middle way is often chosen by everybody.

In this current election there has been a defining theme, that could determine who is the next Prime Minister.

In the seven-party television debate, Nicola Sturgeon, showed the English a face of Scots, that they don’t like. All of the thoughts from north of the border is worrying the English that any Labour dog, will be wagged by a Scottish Nationalist tail. So will this cause a drop in Labour’s vote in England?

The poll today in The Sunday Times shows that Tory support is hardening. So has Newton’s Third Law taken control?

If Labour is to get the most seats they have got to convince a large number of house-owning working middle-class voters to switch allegiance.

But will these floating votes go for a party that is saying it will use their ISAs and other measures to fund and ease more house building, which will depress the value of their own properties?

Labour policy makers obviously don’t know that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, as many of their policies, as do those of UKIP and the Nationalists, only appeal to a very committed majority. Tony Blair’s strength in the polls, was that he mobilised the non-Labour voters to vote for Nulabor.

David Cameron on the other hand, generally kept out of the squabbles in the seven-party debate, which was a classic stance to give a message compatible with Newton’s First Law.

It is an interesting problem, which will only be solved in the very British way at the ballot box in a few weeks time.


April 5, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Her Majesty’s Daily Telegraph On Peer-To-Peer ISAs

Anybody interested in using an ISA with peer-to-peer lending should read this article in the Telegraph today. It is entitled, How an 8 pc peer-to-peer ISA could work. This is the first two paragraphs.

Peer-to-peer lending could be included in tax-free Isas within 12 months and savers may be able to hold this new type of asset through major fund shops such as Hargreaves Lansdown.

The Telegraph understand the other options under consideration include a new type of Isa account established to hold peer-to-peer lending, or the peer-to-peer platforms offering other types of investment.

The Telegraph has been very detailed in its discussion of this topic and when they publish anything about peer-to-peer lending and ISAs, it’s always worth reading.

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Finance | , | Leave a comment

Peer-To-Peer Lending To Be Allowed in ISAs

The blog on Zopa has just reported that peer-to-peer lending will be allowed in the new ISAs. These new ISAs were announced in the Budget. Here’s part of the blog post.

Fantastic news for savers today as peer-to-peer lending will soon be included in ISAs as announced by George Osborne in the Budget today. The peer-to-peer ISA is an extremely exciting saving option for UK savers – enabling them to grow their money much faster, with reliable and safe returns.

By lending through Zopa with an ISA, UK savers will be able to make at least 2.5 times more interest than the sub 1.6% cash ISAs from banks with the same tax free benefit. Unlike other riskier stocks and shares ISAs, a more reliable and predictable Zopa ISA would allow every saver to become a millionaire under 30 years at the current rate of 5% if they used their full ISA allowance and would double their savings to £2m by saving for a further 11 years. Meaning that by 2044 you could be aZopa millionaire with over £649,000 in interest alone!

So after annoying insurance fat cats earlier, he’s now produced a nasty little surprise for that wunch of bankers, who like to sell underperforming investments, or products that nobody needs or wants.

March 21, 2014 Posted by | Finance | , , , | 1 Comment

RBS Mucks Up ISAs

My trawl for the Royal Bank of UK Taxpayers, has found this story from the Herald.  Here’s the first paragraph.

Some NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) customers have found themselves short-changed in their monthly interest payments in the latest blunder to hit the banks.

It looks like a computer error.

It’s funny, but it seems quite a few of the stories critical of RBS, seem to be in the Herald. Didn’t it uised to be the Glasgow Herald?

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Finance, News | , , | Leave a comment