Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Petroloo Crisis

For what my opinion's worth, Francis Maude's advice to stock up on petrol in anticipation of a tanker drivers' strike was a deliberate attempt to stampede the public into a panic. If that was the case, the all too many British citizens whose principal characters traits are venality, malleability and gullibility fell for it hook, line and sinker. For many years, this has been a country in which trust in public institutions has been declining, a feature of all societies on the slide. Maude's behaviour shows that the lack of trust is well justified, his desire to pick a fight with a trade union, any trade union, over matters which sit firmly outwith the sphere of government betraying the true character of Tory Big Beasts such as himself - belligerent beastliness which will not stop being beastly until every impediment to the self-perceived right of business to do what it wants, when it wants, where it wants, to whom it wants, how it wants to do it has been removed. For what my opinion's worth, he is not fit to be employed as a contract cleaner earning minimum wage to empty the bins in the House of Commons while wearing a blue pinny, let alone be a member of Her Majesty's Government.

However, the constitutional implications of this matter go further than the unfulfilled aggression of Tory ultra non-entities like Maude. It is reported that the army is being or will be co-opted into delivering fuel in the event of any strike ever taking place. If that is the case, if that is the plan, then the citizen is entitled to ask why soldiers are presumably being ordered to help subsidise the private sector by helping to keep fuel delivery companies in business. If business cannot stay in business by managing its industrial relations without the support of the armed forces, then it would seem to undermine any philosophical case that the efficiency of the fuel delivery sector is best maximised in private hands, and the whole sector should be brought into public ownership immediately and without compensation. It is not as if the character of this dispute is identical to that of a firefighters' strike; firefighting is an essential public service, and one could see why soldiers could be lawfully co-opted to help keep the service running without the impression being given that they are being ordered to act as breakers of what would appear to be perfectly lawful proposed strike action, which is precisely the impression I receive from reports that they're being trained to drive fuel tanks.

Where would it end? Would they be given orders to plough through picket lines, or even open fire on those attempting to prevent them crossing picket lines? Such scenarios are sadly not unthinkable in modern Britain. I see nothing in David Cameron, George Osborne, Francis Maude or any other prominent Tory that stops me from thinking that they would not hesitate to sanction any such action if the perceived 'need' required it.
Given this impression, one would hope that any soldier who refused to participate in such strike-breaking on grounds of conscience would not be subject to court-martial. I wouldn't count on it. This isn't Peterloo. It's Petroloo instead.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Gay Marriage

Not planning to contract one myself, it was interesting to see that Lynne Featherstone has been reported as saying, jokingly, apparently, that opponents of gay marriage should not feel under pressure to enter them, or something smart like that.

The advent of civil partnerships secured the ability of gay couples to inherit each others' property. The failure of the law to recognise this basic human deceny was a weeping sore on our public life, and Thank God it's been removed.

However, the coming of gay marriage will at last enable what I suspect will be only a very hard core of zealots to insist that their spouses' parents refer to them as their sons- and daughter-s in law, and on being addressed as 'Unlce' or 'Aunty' by the children of their spouses' siblings. Contrary to popular belief, civil partnerships do not invest homosexual relationships with the quality of family life. Gay marriage would.

This is not a re-definition of marriage, but a complete re-definition of what a family is. The one consolation that its opponents can draw from this farrago is that it's going to fail. Oh, it will get on the statute books, for surem, but the take-up rate will probably be low. Her smart mouth betrays Lynne Featherstone as being full of pride, and that pride comes before a fall is one of the universe's constants.


On The Loan Of A Horse By The Metropolitan Police To Rebekah Brooks

Saved from the knackers's yard, it was sent to the hackers' yard instead.

Twenty years for them all, that's what I say. Tom Watson was right, News International is a crime gang. Of greater interest to me than the number of corrupt police officers its employees had contact with is the number of police officers they corrupted.


Friday, March 09, 2012

The Final Days

As a greater gentleman than me notes that 'liquidation is inevitable', and the fantasies of that event coming to pass become more ornate, even rococo - perhaps some puckish group of opposing supporters will begin to chant 'Your team's gone bankrupt, you've got to go home' - it's instructive to reflect on the lessons the rest of us with no interest in the doings of Rangers Football Club can draw from the events of the past few weeks.

The kid gloves with which it seems to have been treated by its administrators, the tax authorities and politicians seems to indicate that Rangers Football Club is indeed what its supporters have proclaimed it to be for many years - the most important institution in Scotland. Either that, or they recognise that we have finally descended into being a 'panem et circenses' economy and that the bankruptcy of just one top flight Scottish football club could cause the whole house of cards to come down. Football, the cause of so much aggravation and stupefaction in Scotland for so long, is now what we do; and it must be preserved at all costs, even when those costs include the loss to the public purse of tax revenues. Preserving football is more important than ensuring equality of treatment before the law, and ensuring that the public purse receives its due.

I hope they go down and that they take the whole structure down with them. The last day on which a football is kicked in Scotland is the day it will truly be free.

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Some More Thoughts On The Administration Of Rangers Football Club

I don't feel so good - being unable to stop themselves from shouting 'Fuck Off!', and, bizarrely, 'Toilet Duck!' has that effect on some people - so my apologies if I seem a bit crapulous. Hopefully we can keep it within the bounds allowed by the law of Scotland.

Random thoughts - there is a delicious irony in the idea that all the jelly bellied flag flappers waving Union flags at Ibrox and proclaiming their undying love of Her Majesty have, since May 2011 at least, only been able to do so through the auspices of a limited company which has been systematically bilking Her Majesty's Government of its lawful revenues. Do they not feel some sense of either shame or embarrassment at this state of affairs?

If Joe's Builders Ltd. refused to pay its PAYE and VAT, it would be put into liquidation, without fear and favour. There would be no chance for it to re-enter the commercial sphere under another name, its directors  would be disqualified, if not actually imprisoned, and no camel-coated wide boys in square-toed slip-on shoes would be able to appear from the wordwork, like the good lice they are, to seize the assets and start again. Rangers Football Club has not paid its PAYE and VAT, but has thus far avoided this fate, as have the people responsible for these blatantly uncivil acts. The ordinary citizen and taxpayer with no interest in its doings is entitled to ask why this is the case, just as they are entitled to ask why politicians from all parts of  the spectrum seem to be arguing that it is a community asset which has to be preserved. Is it because they understand that the wider Scottish economy is so weak that it could not sustain the loss of a business which provides employment for so little as 250 people? Or is there another reason, that they understand that this company might, perhaps, who knows, provide a safety valve for the expression of the encultarated hatred which many Scots feel for other Scots on account of comparative differences in religious beliefs and ethnic origins? That Rangers' existence has stopped Jocky and Doddy from conducting their own wee urban safari? If the latter is the case, then the Scottish public deserves nothing less than a full and frank admission of that fact from its politicians, because those of us with no interest in Rangers are entitled to know where we stand. When the next election comes around, it won't just be the Rangers vote that will remember what they have said and done at this moment.

The self-image of the people who used to run Rangers seems to be based on their belief in their competence as businesspeople. Craig Whyte took them for mugs, putting another nail in the coffin of the myth of the Scotch moneyman's hypercompetence. He might as well have put dunces' hats and donkeys' ears on the lot of them.

In the next few years, children in some parts of Lanarkshire will be admonished by their mothers that if they don't behave, Craig Whyte will come and get them.

I have sort of been advised that the means by which Whyte, the secured creditor, can have priority over HMRC, historically a preferred creditor, is provided  by the Enterprise Act 2002. If that is the case, and the Labour Party enacted a law which gave the banks a greater chance of making a recovery than the state, then the moment that that law received Royal Assent should be classed as the point at which power in this country passed from the people to the banks, as at that point the right of banks to recover debt owing to them was deemed to be of greater importance to the good conduct of public policy than the collection of revenue necessary for the provision of public services. My understanding of the Act might be wrong, but if it's right then Labour should never be elected again.

By the same token, it would be a good one to throw in the face of the Tories - after all, if we have a deficit that has to be cut then how much revenue has the public purse lost since 2002 which it would previously have received but which the Enterprise Act has decreed should pass to the banks instead? Will they either reform or repeal the Enterprise Act? You know and I know that the answer to both questions is No, because they don't know how to.

It's good to see rules on financial fair play being brought into football, yet also unfortunate that they are coming in too late. The burning desire of everyone associated with Rangers Football Club always to be first seems to be a classic example of what I once called 'the cannibalistic entropy of Anglo-Saxon capitalism', which in Rangers case has come all too true - they were so desperate to succed that they ate themselves in the process. However, once can only wonder how UEFA feels about having paid out monies to Rangers Football Club now that it is known that it was only able to enter UEFA competitions by way of the subsidy provided by its reckless borrowing policies? Or that UEFA was placed in a position of subsidising Rangers at the expense of clubs which were run very much more responsibly? Would that not be a fraud upon UEFA worthy of some sanction?