Tag Archives: Dr Éoin Clarke

The Spam Spiv

David Cameron has appointed Grant Shapps co-chairman of the Conservative Party in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

The Tories have an image problem, you could say. George Osborne was booed tonight by 80,000 people at the Paralympic Games. The Conservatives are widely perceived as the party of arrogant posh boys who don’t know the price of a hot pasty or a pint of milk, headed by men who went to Eton and were members of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford, the government for millionaires by millionaires, the party of tax cuts for the rich and high unemployment, workfare, and lowered wages for everyone else, the coalition of broken promises and NHS privatisation. Indeed, they have an image problem.

The Chairman of the Conservative party is a Cabinet Minister when the Tories are in government, and runs the “party machine”: oversees Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

Grant Shapps is the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield and was Minister of State for Housing & Local Government. Until Monday’s reshuffle. At about one this morning Huffington Post

has learned from senior government sources that Sayeeda Warsi has lost her job as Tory co-chairman and is replaced by Grant Shapps.

We have also been told that Sayeeda Warsi has been offered another seat at the Cabinet table. The role on offer at the time of writing is rumoured to be as a junior Foreign Office minister with a seat at the Cabinet table, a position she has not yet accepted.

Sayeeda Warsi is “not one of us“. She argued last Friday:

“If you look at the demographics, at where we need to be at the next election, we need more people in the North voting for us, more of what they call here ‘blue collar’ workers and I call the white working class. We need more people from urban areas voting for us, more people who are not white and more women.”

But if the Tory party were to believe they need to listen to a woman, who is moreover not white and who comes from a working class, immigrant background, how they have to change to appeal to voters – this would turn the whole ethos of the Tory party upside down.

No, what David Cameron and George Osborne are apt to think they need isn’t some kind of radical policy change: they need a campaign to change their image. They need a marketing man. Grant Shapps has an alternate career: he’s “Michael Green“.

On The Daily Income website, Grant Shapps looks like this:

Michael Green on http://www.thedailyincome.com/michael-green
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Filed under Corruption, Elections, Politics

Cameron gets Twittered in Newcastle

On Wednesday 15th February, David Cameron visited the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. He intended to speak about the dangers of binge drinking. The Northern Echo reports how

he highlighted the cost of alcohol to the NHS after meeting doctors, nurses, paramedics and police officers.

Mr Cameron toured the hospital, which has a police officer on duty two nights a week to handle drunken incidents, with matron Angela McNab and paramedic Paul Fell.

If David Cameron has a knack, it’s for suiting his speeches to fit his audience. If this occasionally makes him look a bit like Mr Wobbly, well, it means his immediate audience is usually happy and he gets the all-important visuals as background for his Prime Ministerial self.

NHS staff, however, are unusually and uniformly unhappy with David Cameron Continue reading

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Helicopter Money and Stephen Hester

Bear Stearns was founded in 1923, but although Paula Daly’s Mouse to Minx sells vintage fashion of that era, quite probably when the 85-year-old bank went under on 6th March 2008, Paula Daly didn’t notice – between running her own small business and being a successful self-employed communications and marketing consultant, she says “Life was exhausting, and not without its stresses, but good.”

But in the US the collapse of Bear Stearns is seen as the beginning of the financial crisis of 2008, while in the UK, we date it from the collapse of Northern Rock, three weeks earlier. Both Northern Rock and Bear Stearns had become heavily involved in the sub-prime mortgages: Northern Rock’s business plan was to borrow heavily, extend mortgages based on the loans, and then re-sell these mortgages on international capital markets. This is known as “securitisation”.

Who got the idea for this risky business? In the UK, John Ritblat, former British Land chairman (described as “a charming old rogue, a bit of an old-fashioned spiv” by someone who likes him)

takes much of the credit for the revolution in property financing that has occurred over the past two decades. The industry used to be financed with fixed-rate borrowings secured on the property portfolio, but he pioneered techniques like securitisation of assets which, he believes, has transformed the industry into one financed by long-term, unsecured, borrowings. (The Observer, Sunday 16 July 2006)

Ritblat retired just over a year before August 2007, when Northern Rock first began to feel the chill. A self-confessed workaholic, he evidently knew the right time to retire from the “securitisation” business he pioneered – with an estimated net worth of £100m.

Once the fifth-largest investment bank in the United States, Bear Stearns collapsed in March 2008 under the weight of toxic hedge fund accounts backed heavily by subprime mortgages. The company was quickly sold to J.P. MorganChase (another financial giant and OpenSecrets.org Heavy Hitter) but the bank’s spectacular fall — and the federal government’s failure to stop it — is now seen as the first wave of the epic financial meltdown that created the global recession of 2008 and 2009. (Open Secrets)

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