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Day: February 7, 2012

The current underlying tension of the Lib Dem Blogosphere *FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT*

In the past few weeks there have been rumblings – and not just from my stomach – as various factions within the Lib Dem blogosphere are starting to emerge. Egos need to be stroked and opinions need to be aired. People are digging their heels in (not a sexist comment) and starting to get snippy (apparently that is a word). Oh yes the Lib Dem blogosphere is not all sweetness and light at the moment. There is no sign of kumbaya around a fire place and no group hugs. So what is causing all the tension?

This I am unsure of but there does seem to be an awful lots of people thinking they are right and that is final going on (but Neil – don’t you always think that you are right – Ed) Well no I don’t. I know I’m wrong rather often. I sprout my worthless opinions willy nilly and then get tutted at. I’m not saying I’m wrong all the time but heck it has been known (all the time – Ed). My editor is such a lovely disembodied voice…

There are well over 200 Lib Dem bloggers out there just on the Lib Dem Blog aggregator. Some more vocal and opinionated than others. That is to be expected. The problem is when people start taking disagreements personally. Just today there seems to have been a bit of a set to with regards to Charlotte Henry’s article Liberal Left – the Labour party in the Lib Dems. Reading it I don’t think she is terribly impressed but hey ho – however her summing up of her piece is shall we say – a tad confrontational:

‘Liberal Left just seems like the desperate last ditch attempts of a group disillusioned activists who are probably in the wrong party. Your Labour membership cards are in the post, comrades.’

Ouch. Bit over the top surely? I know very little about these members and this group but to say that essentially they are in the wrong party is quite a step? The Liberal Democrats – like most political parties – will (and does) have wings. Those that are more left than centre and even those Orange Bookers – which is the biggest buzz word since ‘whasssssssup’ made in into the popular vernacular amongst young people following an advertising campaign in the late 90s.

And do you know what? It is ok to have different opinions within the party. It is ok to have differing opinions all over the place. Whether it be in politics, in the workplace, in the pub, we all have a wide range of different opinions on many things. Why not just engage in some debate and not just dismiss a group and belittle them to such a degree.

My favourite thing about politics is it allows us to have some free speech and engage with people on certain issues. I disagree with a vast vast swathes of Lib Dem bloggers about certain issues. People like Caron Lindsay, Jennie Rigg, Lee Chalmers etc… about whether the party is doing enough to promote women. I believe in equality for all. End. I do not believe in inequality to get to equality. That to me isn’t right but heck we can discuss it and if we still disagree then we disagree. It doesn’t mean I think less of them and I hope it doesn’t mean they think less of me. Zadok Day wrote a piece (with a headline that was always going to rattle a few cages) for Lib Dem Voice today entitled Opinion: Calm Down, Dears!. Many will disagree with him but overall most at least conversed with him and didn’t just call him names or said he wasn’t a liberal.

Blogging – just like politics – is an avenue to air opinions and discuss what is going on around us. Had I been an American no doubt I’d have been all over the debate team like a fat kid on a smartie (one of my former colleagues favourite expressions that). It is meant to tackle the mind and to allow us to see other people’s points of views. If in the end we disagree then we disagree. However to just belittle others because they don’t agree with your point of view is in my opinion just not the way to do it.

Kavya Kaushik wrote this evening We are a Lib Dem Family and it is worth a read. The Lib Dems might not be the most functional of families but like any family it should have respect for all its members whatever their opinions. It is no secret that I don’t get on – and can’t see eye to eye with certain members and their viewpoints but I respect them for having them.

I think what I’m trying to say is that hostile attacks on other factions – or individuals – within the party just doesn’t seem right. Agree/disagree with them whatever but if you don’t have anything nice then don’t say anything at all if you vehemently disagree with them so much. We are all working towards a goal of making this nation a fairer and more open society. Some of us may think the route to get there is a little different but it isn’t how you travel to your destination that is important – it is getting there – and if we all respect one another and engage with one another then the chances of getting there are greatly improved.

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The Argentine War Propaganda Machine rolls on…

So we are coming up to the thirty year anniversary of the Falklands War. Prince Williams is down there for work purposes. The subject is starting to makes noticeable waves in the corridors of power and that is all thanks to the Argentine government. They want the Falklands. They think it is their right to have them. The fact the natives consider themselves British is neither here nor there. They want them (and the big fat oil reserves in the surrounding waters) but tensions are starting to brew.

With the Argentine economy in full-blown crisis the government have decided that they need a diversion to focus the anger on. Over in the UK we have used the bankers and/or the foreigners (great job people of UK – great job) but the Argentines have decided that everything will be all right once they get the islands back so have put on a full court press of the media to whip up some English hatred so they can justify going to war.

The latest way in which the government have done is by renaming the Argentine Football League. The season, which starts on Friday will be known as the Crucero General Belgrano Primera División or if you prefer the English version the Cruiser General Belgrano First Division.

Yep they are renaming the football league after a Argentine naval vessel that was sunk in the Falklands conflict. Certainly nothing in that. I doubt they even knew about the link. I bet it was a complete accident. Next you’ll be telling me the Argentine government own the TV rights and will be showing the league on free-to-air television to maximise the exposure of the newly re branded top division of football in the country *leans in to listen to something his editor has brought to his attention* Oh I see. Scratch that previous sentence. The Argentine government does actually own the rights and plans to broadcast them free-to-air. My mistake.

So yes there we have it. The Argentine government aren’t trying to whip up the country into demanding a war with the UK over the Falklands Islands. Oh no. That would be crazy.

For the piece in The Guardian please follow this link and with a hat-tip to Sean Breslin who pointed this story out to me.

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Sunny Handal wrote ‘Why we need more banker bashing’ – Simple answer. We don’t.

Whilst perusing The Guardian earlier I came across an article entitled Why we need more banker bashing and knew that I’d get annoyed if I read it. So I read it. I got annoyed. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy I really am.

So anyway the link is there for all to see but the long and short of it is this. Banking reform has been pretty weak and shouldn’t we have more say in how these private companies work? We’ll look at banking reform first and the Vickers Report and recommendations are to be carried out with one or two measures watered down. This includes the proposal that the biggest UK banks should have enough capital plus loans that could be converted into cash to cope with losses equal to one fifth of the size of their total balance sheet.

The reason this is not being carried out is for some firms this would be unfair due to their trading outside the UK economy being dwarfed by that inside. For example HSBC is a global giant with it’s revenue inside the UK being but a small part of its global balance sheet.

Late last year I sat down with a very senior banker for an interview where we explored all the issues regarding banking in the UK and around the Globe. The banks have clearly had to change and evolve over the past five years and all of them have far more liquidity now than they did then. The issues of the past were that they didn’t have cash to hand in a crisis. Now they do. Most (if not all) banks are now in a better financial situation today than they were when the banking crisis hit but the credit ratings do not meet up with this as they take into account the public perception and not just the facts.

As fr whether we (you and me and/or the governments of the world) should have more say in how they are run well that’s an interesting question. Did we need more say in them when they were bringing in vast sums of money into the economy or it is only when they screw up do we need to step in? I know not all companies and industries are made equal but do the government need to step into any struggling industry and tell them how to run it? Are the government more or less qualified to know how to run the banking industry than those – you know – in the banking industry?

I doubt that somehow. The Vickers Report will change banking and will put strains on the whole sector in the name of safeguarding taxpayers money. This will be seen by us – the taxpayer – as a good thing and by the banking sector as a very bad thing. However they will plough forward. They will make less money and bring in less money to the economy but should in theory be a safer investment. We’ll see how that goes.

In his summing up Sunny Handal writes the following. ‘Public anger has grown because it is starting to dawn on middle England that while the rest of us are paying for the crisis, the people who caused the crash want to go back to 2007’. This I have to disagree with. The reason public anger has turned on bankers in because the government and the media have decided that they are the scapegoats for this and deserve to be punished. The Daily Mail and other groups blame the foreigners too and they have been the other scapegoated party. The British way is to always find someone to blame for everything and then blame them totally. The banking crisis was a mixture of issues of which the bankers must take some of the blame but not all of it and by repeatedly bashing them all we are doing is undermining them and hindering our chances at recovery.

Here are a few comments from the piece which sum everything up for me as to how the British public have been hoodwinked and deceived by the media and the politicians (looking at you Ed Miliband) to believing that the Bankers are the sole reason we are in these tough times:

It has become obvious in recent years that the bankers are utterly and unapologetically evil.

Britain needs bankers as much as I need a malignant Tumour

Nice article Sunny. Nailed the bastards. And now for the apologists.

What can you do? What can you say? People really think this. Luckily a comment a few down made me think that there are some in this world who actually know enough to form their own opinions:

Haven’t we got bored of this scapegoat already? Sunny’s argument’s about no changes to banks are plain wrong – they are now over-regulated with contradictory rules being brought in by different regimes – and his analysis ignores reality (not least of which how much the government of the 2000s encouraged the build-up of property-based debt).

Whoever you are ‘chaz1’ I like you and no – it wasn’t me.

The bankers and their industry were part of the problem however they are also a huge part of the solution. Just bashing them non-stop won’t change that. If all the bankers got up and left London for foreign shores overnight the economy would nose-dive into a thoroughly deep and prolonged recession. That is just how it is but of course that doesn’t fit in with the rhetoric that the media and Labour are driving. Labour have to take some responsibility for letting the banks go unregulated throughout the boom times but they have washed their hands of this. They say it is all the bankers fault and until we thrash them to within an inch of their lives then not enough has been done.

It is a shame we all need scapegoats and can’t just bo honest with each other and fix the mess without the bad blood. Sadly that would be all too easy and straightforward. It makes me sad that people will use this for political gain – just like everything else…

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