Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"The plot thickens over pensions fiasco"

Apologies for the plagiarism - I have borrowed the title of a Telegraph leader today to head up this post on the growing scandal of Brown's raid on pensions.

As mentioned before, yours truly was someone who nearly a year ago began needling the Press on how they had allowed Brown to get away with his annual extraction of an eye-watering £5billion a year from the nation's pension pot.

Someone yesterday mentioned another murky area, namely the way in which awards had been made for 3G mobile phone contracts. I mentally composed a submission, but held back because the Telly had failed to post 2 previous comments ( see yesterday's post).

So it's just belatedly been sent as a comment, hopefully to appear under the Telegraph leader:

Here it is: "Someone reminded us yesterday about Brown's way of awarding 3G mobile phone bandwidth - by auction to the highest bidder, and how this had hit the value of his Vodafone shares (UK's fourth largest company, and a major component therefore of investments linked to the FTSE index).Brown extracted some £20 billion by way of upfront payments, and at the time everyone said how smart he had been, compared with the French who had used the more conventional "beauty parade" for awarding those contracts.The big question in people's minds at the time was what Brown would do with all that dosh, so when he announced that it was to repay part of the National Debt, we all thought, how responsible, how prudent. But if the UK had been paying, say, 5% to service that debt, then it means Brown has had an extra £1 billion pounds staying in his coffers each year that would previously have gone out. Does anyone know how that billion is being spent ? No, I didn't think so.

(Expect a PS later today about the knock-on effects of that auction on Vodafone and the other mobile phone companies re their spat with the EU over roaming charges - their way of trying to recoup some of that admission fee to the brave new world 3G.)"

Update Tuesday 11:20 Just had an email from Sarah. She thinks it was that T word which prevented two of my posts to the Telly failing to appear yesterday. Like T = rival newspaper ....

If that's the case, then the Telly's moderators need to learn that cross-referencing is too important on the internet for it to be blocked in this fashion . Are you reading me, Shane Richmond, Ceri Radford ?

(and Richard of Orléans continues to claim - with his toxic blend of speculation and malevolence - that I'm desperate to guest-blog for the Telly !)

Update 13:00 have just submitted a second comment to the same "leader" thread (though past experience suggest I may have left it too late in the day - comments received much after midday tend not to appear at all !)

"Brown's pension grab fooled not just the public, but the press as well, including big name financial commentators. And it was the first of many such stealth taxes.

Tax Freedom Day, we are told, comes on June 1st this year. Might I suggest that every time the Chancellor, or his successor, delivers a Budget speech, that he be required to state what effect his new measures will have on Tax Freedom Day.

Better still would be for David Cameron to drop his absurd obsession with our individual carbon footprints, and rename his Party the April 1st Party. It would set as its prime aim the moving of Tax Freedom Day forward to that date. Anything later makes us, the electorate, look like the April Fool. Why should any Government take, or need, more than 25% of our earnings ?"

Comments welcomed: emails to sciencebod01@aol.com

Update 16:45 Both of these submissions in response to the Telly's leader have now gone up. Oh me of little faith !

Update 20:45 The Telegraph, unusually, is still accepting late submissions, in response to Brown and Blair appearing before the cameras today. See "Brown unrepentant over pensions raid" So off went this one, which if published will be my third contribution to a lively (if unforgiving) thread:

"Everything we have heard today is what I believe is called post-hoc rationalisation. Well before the '97 General Election, Gordon Brown had created his working party whose job was to devise means of creating a political war chest. It was to be bursting at the seams with eye-watering sums of money - billions, not millions - for the purposes of social engineering and electoral advantage in winning second and third terms at the polls.

Only later did his acolytes - Ed Balls et al - provide those plausible-sounding reasons why this would be in the long term interests of uk plc- at least as measured by the headline GDP figure.

If Brown had been motivated by a true concern for business, as distinct from political advantage, he could have been candid about what he was trying to achieve. Instead, we had stealth, evasiveness and spin.

Today's explanations simply do not ring true. He's now running scared, as well he might."

Update Wed 4th April

My eldest son arrived last night for a few days, so I shall be keeping a lowish profile, although I could not resist goading one "Sipu" to reveal exactly what he/she objected to on David Llewellyn's post on Marc Quinn's statue of Alison Lapper in Trafalgar Square. I suspect Sipu has some non-PC thoughts on the subject of disability and/or nudity, in which case I'd say, let's air them. Isn't that what blogs are for ?

It being the season for guest blogging, I asked Jane this morning if she'd like to take the next slot. She's agreed to do so, and will talking about the work she does on behalf of the Antiboulenc society. It's sometimes described as the artistic and cultural society of Antibes, but that does not really do justice to the range of activities that it embraces. Expect Jane's post on Friday, or le weekend at the latest.

Well, I was partly right about the Telly's Comments facility on their leaders. They continue to invite comments, when in fact the thread is closed. So the third one (above) did not appear. Resourceful chap that I am, I changed a word or two, sharpened it somewhat, and sent it to Jeff Randall's article instead. It has just appeared.

Thanks for the email Louise. In fact the two comments of mine referred to earlier never did appear, probably for the reason (backed by Sarah) that they contained the unmentionable T word. So the prize is Sarah's for the taking. Reminder: third prize - a pair of hippo socks; second prize: one hippo sock; first prize: no hippo socks. Well done, Sarah. Your prize is not winging its way to you as I write.

Afterthought: I reminded my son last night about the occasion when he and his two siblings goaded their mum and dad to go on one of the rides at Alton Towers, years ago when he was still in his teens. The aftermath is described on Simon Coulter's Disneyworld post.....

Update: Wed 13:40 Richard of Orléans now seems to be in political freefall, judging by his anti-immigrant comments on his Sologne blog ( I decline to provide a link). OK, so it's white immigrants who are the subject of his continuing invective, his fellow Brits in fact, and there will be some who continue to view his comments as tongue in cheek. Some tongue, some cheek, as Churchill didn't say. Today he looks to Le Pen for a crackdown on what he sees as an invasion of his adopted homeland, adopting the language and posture of the BNP. And what if Le Pen decides not to sink to R of O's level of baiting and demonisation ? Whither R of O politically?

Comments welcome, email to sciencebod01@aol.com.