Friday, June 19, 2009

A lame duckhouse government

We've all had a jolly good laugh and enormously enjoyed watching pompous MPs squirming in the glare of the most excruciating publicity, but if you lot were told that your employer expected you to claim £50k PA as part of your "compensation package" (we love that Americanism) and that there were virtually no rules - which one of you would not do it?

We thought so.

The righteous sanctimony is starting to smell just a little stale by now. By all means slaughter Broon for presiding over the latest censorship fiasco and he complete mishandling of the entire situation from the outset a very revealing episode that shows just how completely hopeless the Auld Fraud truly is when events move outside his legendary "control zone" - but we really need to get on and sort out the economy before we wake up and find that China has bought us all in a fire sale.

So - General Election, please! How about the press - who now pretty much universally have got the plot - campaign for massive public displays of dissatisfaction until the Auld Fraud is carried bodily from No 10. All that is needed is to guarantee a year's salary to all the many outgoing MPs - appalling though it may seem, that's absolutely and entirely what this has now come down to.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

After the apocalypse? We're already here!

We've all seen those cinematic visions of "after the apocalypse" where the machines have taken over and a few humans remain to scramble amongst the ruins?

Well, you might not have noticed, but it's happened. Possibly not quite as obvious and stark as in the Terminator's imagery, but happened it has: the faceless robots now in charge are the behemoth organisations that have been allowed to emerge through steady acquisition and consolidation in the name of "efficiency" over the past 20 years: massive national and supranational government agencies, collaborating cosily with the cartels of global companies entrenched in major and increasingly monopoly supply roles.

The most obvious proof that these commercial cartel members are unhealthy is that governments simply could not allow them to go bust - even after they had got their numbers disastrously wrong to the detriment of the entire planet.

It is a specific characteristic of these behemoths that that they only want to deal with each other. This has been the globalisation of the old adage that "no one ever got fired for choosing IBM". The implication being that the risk of failure of the product/service chosen would not fall on the decision maker, whereas had the product/service been chosen from a smaller "no-name" supplier, then the superiors of the decision maker would haul them over the coals when any blame storm erupts. It's a pernicious but effective tactic, and means that the behemoths can only ever grow, regardless of their fitness for task and competence.

So if you are not part of this cosy "system", then you are one of the remainder, scrambling around the ruins of the once-diverse economy for crumbs that fall from the tables of fat cats gorging on their unfairly protected cartel businesses - or waiting eagerly to catch the slops that spill over the lips of the many government troughs.

Despite the controversy over his appointment as Business Tsar, [include current honour here] Alan Sugar has a refreshingly old-fashioned view of the world, that includes a desire to wind the clock back 20 years (see the YouTube interviews) to a world where common sense prevailed before "the rise of mechanoids" rather more than it does now in Broon's Blighted Britain.

One acid test will arise his core passion for apprenticeship. The idea that any self-employed tradesman should take on a school leaver as an apprentice is now almost certainly going to be smothered by the enormous hassle and paperwork that 12 years of Labour's interminable process that means it's very unlikely to happen. Only one of the monster mechanoids that can afford to devote an entire department to HR will be able to find the time and resources to push the paper around to satisfy the rules.

As unemployment climbs, this has to change - and quickly.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Broadband Britain Myth

There is still far too much evidence of ignorance amongst politicians on the matter of broadband, IT and telecoms in general. Blair's admission that he didn't know how to switch on a laptop was considered acceptably jokey at the time. No one is laughing now when our leaders profess such woeful ignorance of the fundamentals for survival in the 21st century.

BT has defended its ancient investment in copper (and aluminium) network to the death and manipulated the government for nigh on 30 years. For various internal political issues, it utterly fudged the obvious opportunity to switch to fibre when we lead the world in the technology in the 80s and 90s.

Despite loudly protesting its innocence, BT has served its own monopoly interests all the way - having delivered a mostly sub-standard service (with institutional attitude) for years. Despite "de-regulation" it carefully waited and then kicked the stool out from under the eager but naive Mercury, which set down a marker to all UK telecom competition that BT was the 600lb gorilla not to be messed with. Don't bother about investing, because we'll spoil your day.

A few cherry picked services emerged to provide point to point services to obvious points of mass connectivity, but aside from an occasional noble disaster - like Ionica's failed microwave home service that failed when the leaves came out - no one has bothered to even try to take on BT in the shires.

But better than "adequate" bandwidth is a fundamental national infrastructure issue - the Queen's Superhighway, if you like.

Copper DSL is a crap shoot with its generally unpredictable performance, compounded by various analogue uncertainties - dependant on exchange routes with a maximum of about 6km before the signal fades out. Fibre is 100% predictable all the way, and could be used from far fewer core exchanges, spaced at 50km - so thousands of exchanges could be shut/redeveloped/sold.

Although the shambles that is Virgin arose form a completely botched cable TV industry, it is the only "in the ground" alternative to BT's copper hegemony. The chances are that Virgin will get the chance to fill in the bits BT has abandoned. Everyone hates BT throughout the entire IT and telecoms industry for its continual abuses of market dominance, it's relentless devious tactics and calamitous lack of vision.

Moreover, once we become a nation dependent on connectivity, then we need to seriously consider how we get not just one but two diverse "fail over" services into each premises. Any business reliant on connectivity knows full well just how disastrous even a minor outage can be - and the same will increasingly apply to consumer installations as government owned banks and post offices progressively shut their doors and tell their customers to use online alternatives.

If ever there was a topic that needed a Tsar to crack heads, this is it. Lord Carter has other fish to fry as he attempts squaring the numerous circles of new media and broadcasting, but let's pray he has the bottle to insist this subject is raised up the agenda and taken away from BT's deathly embrace. For once, TMP will (generously) not immediately assume that his willingness to sit in the Lords as a Labour peer disqualifies him from getting any credit for knowing what he is doing.

After all, the exception proves he rule.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Minority Party: 5%

The most significant (and obvious?) thing to emerge from the EU elections is that the Labour Party's awkward coalition of minorities has come apart at the seams in a big way. Just 5% of the electorate voted Labour - one in twenty - and now the Auld Fraud Broon is busy telling us that having torn up the manifesto of the last general election, and avoided an awkward election on his assumption of the role of PM, he's going to reform the nation. Without any sort of mandate; indeed in the face of coming 3rd in the most recent test of national opinion.

We appear to arrived at the moment when if HM decided it was time exercise her power and dissolve parliament, it's unlikely that many would complain.

Labour has long be a fundamental contradiction in that it appeals to best and worst instincts: the lofty altruism of social justice and fair shares for all, and that rather darker contract with its "grass roots" supporters that amounts to selling its soul to the lowest common denominator by promises of soaking the rich to pay for an endless public employment gravy train.

And such a perfect opportunity missed to hold a cost-effective referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Although we suspect that idea is now irrelevant, since the question of the Tories' referendum will be a rather more fundamental return to the original Treaty of Rome and reprise of the free markets - without the increasingly unloved and irrelevant social engineering agenda. After all, that's what we actually voted for in the first place.

Whatever, we continue to live in interesting times.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

We do not need PR

There is once again a familiar call for the introduction of proportion representation as the way to fix British Politics. Oh no it won't...

Everywhere it applies, PR means professional politicians doing cosy deals amongst themselves in order to stay nose down at the trough.

By all means let's reform the FPTP system so that we get genuinely elected Prime Ministers - and key manifesto promises on matters such as referendums and tax rates can only be abandoned - after holding a referendum.

Maybe we should have a PM elected by a simple majority of the UK vote - without anything contrived like electoral colleges to fudge around the possibility that the "wrong" person might get selected by sheer populism, as far as the "establishment" was concerned. Let's trust the people to make the decisions for once - the politicians' gentlepersons club has properly cocked it up when left to its own devices for too long.

PR means that the ruling clique will be able to pick/choose elements of an amorphous fudge of policy, and never be held properly accountable - ever again!

PR is not any sort of solution, it will only compound the worst aspects of "professional" politics.

Friday, June 05, 2009

It's now S'real: Official

News that Sir Alan Sugar is being rewarded for his stalwart support of Gordon Brown - through thin and thinner - rounds off a surreal period in British Politics with a moment of pantomime. This would appear to be the political equivalent of calling the faithful sub off the bench in the last minute of extra time in the cup final so as to get a reward for their long and loyal service.

Let's pause a reflect:

"No more boom and bust"
"Best placed to deal with the downturn"
"A weak currency is a sign of a weak government"
"British jobs for British workers"

The Damian Green affair, the toxic McBride affair. The pathetic response to the expenses scandal. The grinning loon on YouTube.

What more does anyone need by way of proof that Gordon has been an unmitigated disaster as (unelected) PM..? Why is there even the slightest delay in getting the Auld Fraud perched on his bike, and taking the High Road home?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

TMP's advice to voters

And you thought the amateur dramatics at Westminster were bad? The EU is farce performed by professional con artists and fraudsters on so many levels, that it's difficult to know where to start on the subject of reform.

Many people that take the trouble to understand the issues don't see any point, benefit or reason for closer political union; most of us clearly don't want to be told what to do by Brussels when the parliament is elected and operated as a self-serving Ruritanian farce.

Notwithstanding, we quite enjoy not having to juggle Johnny foreigner's colourful but confusing cash when travelling; we like the idea of common trading areas. And thanks to plastic cards and ATMs that really doesn't seem to matter much more anyway. Plus the intervention of the internet now means that a "common global market" is pretty much inevitable.

We used to actively seek something a bit different when travelling abroad - so why try and turn all Europe into one amorphous Centre Parcs or Holiday Inn?

Most other attempts at practical/cultural unification are farcical anyway (phone sockets, mains plugs, rip-off energy suppliers - and even their windows open inwards!)

The inescapable reality is that there is no rational or worthwhile reason left for the EU to exist, other than to perpetuate the jobs for the boys and girls that it has created. Technology has obviated virtually all the originally stated purposes; so in reality, the EU exists now purely for the benefit of global companies and their manipulative lobbyists (that darn Bilderberg Group at it again?) plus, of course, gravy train politicians.

Many Brits appear to be increasingly united on their suspicion of European politics and politicians, so why don't we just tell Brussels to shove all those aspects of the EU that we (the people) don't want where the sun shineth not..? It's just too bad if that means the number of fat sinecures for retired and failed British politicians is reduced.

It's no bad thing that UKIP has managed to blot its own sleaze copybook quite so clumsily - since although there is a temptation to protest vote, on balance it's probably better to stick with the most likely next UK government party, and make your feelings known to your MP at every opportunity.