Posts Tagged ‘Rebekah Brooks’
Having regularly shared Tesco beefburgers during day-long tasks on the allotments, we codgers were eyeing each other with interest this morning. Any signs of neighing? Has one of us eaten the remains of Raisa, the police horse once owned by Rebekah, the flame-haired Morgana Pendragon of the court of King Rupert and his knights of the bugged table? Can one of us claim to have consumed the very spot on which our dear leader once sat? Probably not since the likelihood is that Continental companies regularly bulk up more expensive beef with a dash of horse, and have no need for supplies from Chipping Norton.
Either way it is all a little worrying. Not that horsemeat is necessarily harmful, but if they are doing this without rapid detection what else is finding its way into our daily treats? Anyone for a rat sandwich?
But an issue even more important than the fact that ‘Every little helps” means more than we thought has triggered our volatile spirits today. The Banks are back on the headlines. Not for fiddling the interest rates, or even for persuading us to take out loans which will clearly lead to their sending in their Gestapo disguised as debt-collectors, but for continuing to inflate their already obscene rewards practices.oalition’s new lower rate ofb taxation for the very rich.
Today we learn that Goldman Sachs paid its senior bankers an average of $400,000 (£250,000) in 2012, an increase over 2011 of over 10 per cent. The bank has set aside $13 billion to cover bonuses and perks, and only backed down yesterday on its plan to delay payments until after April 1st to enable staff to benefit from the new lower rate of tax proposed by the Coalition for high earners.
It would be unfair to bang on solely about Goldman Sachs for all of the major banks are continuing to demonstrate a capacity for greed that is breathtaking. Even our dear leader will eventually tire of blaming Grumpy Gordon for the financial mess and concede what everyone else has long realised, the financial collapse was caused by greedy, reckless and incompetent Banks. This has been compounded by their determination to pass on every ounce of suffering to their long-suffering customers.
But here, and around the western world, the bankers have powerful friends in high places. When Gorgeous George Osborne warns that we offend the banks at our peril, he really means his peril. Many a fellow rich-boy lurks within the cosy world of the money-crunchers and big time gamblers, not to mention the sellers of products that most certainly do not do what it says on the tin.
Most ordinary – non Old Etonians – folk are now edging toward the belief that keepng ones hard-earned pennies under the bed is the only safe practice. And most continue to ask what has happened to the countless billions poured into the banker’s outstretched greasy palms in the form of ‘Quantitive Easing’. To close vital public services, emasculate our armed forces, strip hospitals of nurses, crush those living below the poverty line but transfer amounts that make such costs puny by comparison to the very institutions that created the nightmare seems strange to say the least.
Defenders of the city continually demand that we should lay off on criticising the Banks. They continually echo Bob Diamond’s suggestion that it is time to forgive and forget, to bury the politics of envy.
If you are worried about your job security, beset with ever-increasing power and rail bills and about to lose any financial bets you have, that is a big ask. Such setbacks incline us more to demand that government should act for all the people, not just a chosen few.
It should regulate the Banks, not pour money into them so long as they continue to trouser it for themselves!
FAMOUS QUOTES ON MONEY!
“The quickest way to make a million? Marry it”….Zsa Zsa Gabor “If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late”….James Goldsmith “The first rule of business is: do other men for they would do you”….Charles Dickens “A study of economics shows that the best time to buy anything was last year”…..Marty Allen “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable”…..J K Galbraith “Business is the art of extracting money from another man’s pocket without resorting to violence”……Max Amsterdam “There are only two times in a man’s life when he shouldn’t speculate: when he can’t afford it and when he can”….Mark Twain “There is hardly anything in the world that man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper”…..John Ruskin “Gentlemen prefer bonds”…..Andrew Mellon
We may be dreaming of a white Christmas but if today is any indication we are more likely to have a wet one. Free-range hens tend to lay in any place that takes their fancy, and mud seems to be particularly alluring to creatures that want to deposit quickly before resuming their great worm hunt. The result is that some of my fellow codgers are now pressing for the purchase of an egg-washing machine. How we ever saw this as a pleasant pastime is hard to follow on mornings such as this.
But it was interesting to see pictures of the Queen attending her first Cabinet meeting. I confess to fearing for her wellbeing when I saw a shot of Big Eric Pickles greeting her but she survived and even emerged with a set of table-mats. We also saw live pictures of Her Maj arriving at Number 10. We didn’t hear what was said but it probably went along the lines of “Have you come far your Majesty?” with the response “What do you do?”.
The ministers lined up in the hall, all with shoes gleaming and ties straightened. Jeremy Hunt seemed almost overcome and bowed so low that he almost headbutted the Monarch as he returned to his usual height. Had he done so even he would surely have perished this time. The commentator told us that the Queen was fascinated by it all, to us her expression suggested rather extreme disinterest. But who knows. We could only reflect that a tour of the Foreign Office with William Hague did seem a modest reward for sixty years on the throne.
However the more significant news seemed to us to be the revelation that the Chippng Norton set is alive and well. On Saturday night the first of its usual series of Christmas parties took place at Merriscourt Farm, the home of Tom Astor, great-grandson of the American heiress Nancy Astor. And, yes, our dear leader was there with his special friend Rebekah. According to eyewitnesses they were deep in conversation for long periods.
Downing Street spin-doctors have confirmed that the old friends met. They at least have learned from the past. But has our dear leader? Many will find the continuing dalliance very strange indeed. Ms Brooks is facing very serious charges and the Prime Minister is widely suspected of being in cahoots with the Murdoch camp during the BSkyB bid.
Now he has re-triggered the speculation. Did he really know nothing of what was going on at the News of the World? Is he still selling his soul to win the approval of the Sun? Is it really appropriate for a Prime Minister to be so closely embroiled with people accused of serious criminal behaviour? We plebs are less than impressed.
If our dear leader continues to behave thus, he may be the next one to receive a gift of table mats!
Sharp frost this morning, too sharp for the chickens to get their beaks in. So it was another session of lugging buckets of hot water around as we codgers set about our avian duties. Funny old world, for weeks we have struggled to cope with flooding, now water is our salvation. At least our U-turn is one forced by nature, the one performed by our dear leader yesterday was undoubtedly steered by a more earthly God. Rupert Murdoch rules, OK!
It is ironic that this morning’s tabloids have not chosen to front page the Leveson report, that role has fallen to their more respectable brethren. Ironic because the so-called quality papers have done little to incur the wrath of any regulator. Leveson was quite clear about this. The tabloids, he declares, ride roughshod with no justifiable public interest. He could have added that they lie, a fact that we need to go back no further than yesterday’s settlement by the Sun to ratify.
When, during the aftermath of the Millie Dowler affair and revelations about his own personal links with Rebekah Brooks et al, our dear leader ordered a public inquiry into the behaviour of the press he insisted that enough is enough and promised to implement its findings. Yesterday he performed his biggest U-turn yet by opposing any suggestion of legal underpinning for a regulatory body to be set up by the press itself.
David Cameron is not a politician of fixed principles, he is a pragmatist always on the look out for vote-winning angles. Clearly he has decided that having Rupert Murdoch, and the other press barons, on side is the best way of ensuring positive press coverage at the next election. The victims, whose lives have been almost destroyed, are not vote winners. Throw in the press hostility that Messrs Clegg and Miliband will ensure by taking a principled stand, and there is almost a guarantee that from this point on our beaming leader will overshadow all but the page three girls.
At least everyone agrees that the present system of self-regulation is an abysmal failure, no great surprise given that it was run by editors of the offending organs. Everyone also agrees with the concept of an independent regulatory body. Cameron is opposed to an underpinning by statute, and to support his stance is parroting the Murdoch cry of freedom of speech. He is an intelligent man and knows perfectly well that Leveson’s proposals give no power to politicians, or anyone else, to interfere with what an editor publishes. The point of self-regulation being underpinned by statute is that it provides credibility and a guarantee that the new body does not allow a gradual return to the old ways. The regulators would be wholly independent of government. The point about a recourse to Ofcom for those who refuse to sign-up is a red herring, for Ofcom read another independent unit.
Leveson’s indictment of the reckless crimes of phone-hacking, computer intrusion, harassment, spying and bullying is chilling to read, just as it was terrifying for the victims. The appalling nature of the intrusions are too numerous for the recidivists to be given just one last chance. There have been many of those in the past, all have failed.
The central reality here is that today’s politicians are no more trustworthy than the tabloids. Our dear leader was quick to claim vindication of his relationship with Rebekah Brooks and the rest of the Murdoch circle. The report provides no such thing. Leveson concludes that no precise deals were struck but makes the point that intimate contact with such as Rupert Murdoch is to be damned since their sheer power is enough to ensure favours and back-scratching.
In fairness to our dear leader, he faced a difficult choice. To stand up for the victims would have won him short-term popularity, but long-term hostility from such as the Sun. That would have cost him the one advantage he holds over Ed Miliband. So he decided to go with the barons. It is a dangerous gamble. Around 70 Conservative MPs are said to be willing to vote alongside Labour and, surprise surprise, the Lib Dems. That may well lead to defeat in the Commons. He has made clear that such a vote would not be binding, but finally alienating Clegg’s normally obedient army could bring the coalition down.
There is one more danger. Leveson steered carefully clear of anything that could be said to be contempt of court, he therefore tiptoed around the serious crimes that will shortly bring the prime minister’s closefriends Brooks and Coulson to court. The fall out from that may prove far worse than anything Leveson has ventured to say.
The press do much fine work. The most recent example is the publicity given to the appalling treatment of Sgt Nightingale, support which has led to his release. MP’s expenses are another example of the media acting in the public intetrest. But Leveson’s proposal would in no way enable the establishment to block such stories.
We believe that the Leveson proposal is absolutely right. In opposing it David Cameron is betraying every victim, and is leaving the door open for more of the same once the novelty of a regulator not back by the law wears off.
He should hang his noble head in shame. Then again, if our dear leader senses that the public mood is totally against him he just could do yet another U-turn and claim that we misunderstood what he had said.
One of the largest runs on the allotments carries the label ‘Retired’. It is not a reference to the status of us codgers, but refers to hens that no longer lay. It has always been our policy to reward our old chickens for years of contributions in the form of eggs. The veterans receive the same food as their younger counterparts, with the exception of layer pellets. They have roomier coops which are disinfected daily. It is, according to Albert, a better version of the care given to many of the nation’s elderly. He regularly visits an elderly relative experiencing the dubious privilege of state-care and, on his return, often comments that he wouldn’t keep a hen in such conditions!
Even allowing for my pal’s tendency to exaggerate, there is little doubt that he is right in principle. Elderly and infirm people have paid their dues to society, in return they are obliged to dispose of their savings and to live in uncaring establishments. As we know from various investigations some of them are worse than uncaring. It sounds dramatic but many a resident takes the view that such a fate is worse than death!
Knowing this, we welcomed the investigation launched by the government into the British social care system. It apppointed Stephen Dorrell, the former health secretary in John Major’s government and now chair of the Commons Health Committee, to lead the task force. Mr Dorrell is an influential voice in elderly care and at the time sounded an excellent choice. Sadly the penchant of politicians for self-destruction knows no bounds.
Today the Daily Telegraph, which has been at the forefront of investigations into MP’s expenses, has revealed that Mr Dorrell made a large profit from a controversial deal which had not previously been publicly declared. He arranged for his friends Linton and Denise Connel to buy his flat near the Commons so that he could rent it back from them after a crackdown in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal. He had bought the flat in 2007, after which time he claimed mortgage interest. He sold the flat for £350,000, a profit of £70,000, and now rents a property from the Connels for £1,400 per month which he claims as expenses. By selling the flat when he did Mr Dorrell was not obliged to pay back any profit since the new expenses rules had yet to kick-in.
It is said that 51 MPs have been allowed to keep their rental details secret so, in a sense, Mr Dorrell is the unlucky one. But there is more to this than a grubby deal at the taxpayer’s expense. Mr and Mrs Connell are not merely friends, they are both directors of St Cloud Care, which runs a string of homes in Worcestershire providing care for 300 elderly people. No surprise that other MPs have suggested Mr Dorrell step down from his position as committee chairman which, to quote John Mann for one, is “highly untenable”.
Sadly this is not just another example of the tendency of politicians to self-destruct. It is a blow to all those desperately hoping for progress on the subject dearest to their hearts. Disgusting is the only word that comes to mind.
But politicians were not the only ones practising self-destruction yesterday. The Church of England was hard at it too. After a tortuous debate the General Synod tore up plans to ordain women as bishops despite overwheming support in parishes. Now we are told that parliament may remove exemption from the Equalities Act to enable would-be women bishops to take legal action.
A recent poll showed that the vast majority of people believe in God, but only a small minority believe in the established church. No great surprise for in recent times it seems to have become inward, rather than outward, looking. So many of us search for an understanding of the meaning of life and the reason for suffering, but we no longer look hopefully in the direction of the church. It is no longer gathering people in but is driving them out to search elsewhere, no easy task in an increasingly materialistic society.
And as if those two great demonstrations of self-destruction were not enough, yesterday brought us news that two of our dear leader’s greatest pals are to face very serious charges. Rebekah Brooks was charged over an alleged conspiracy to make illegal payments to a public official, while working as editor of the Sun. Andy Coulson is alleged to have authorised, along with the News of the World’s former royal reporter, Clive Goodman, the payment of money to get hold of confidential information about the royal family. The timetable will probably take some time and a general elction may well be looming when this becomes daily headline news. Meantime Mr Cameron has to respond to recommendations from Lord Leveson!
In many ways the plight of the prime minister is the ultimate example of the less than noble art of self-destruction but, like Mr Dorrell and the church, he will certainly look back at his actions and rue the day!
It was cold enough to freeze the whatnots on a brass monkey this morning when we released the hens. The steam from the chicken’s hot bran, and the squawking furore around the troughs, reminded us that the delights of winter await us on the allotments. But the blue skies were a welcome relief from the usual dark weeping ones.
We were cheered by the news that, according to the polls, Barack Obama has edged ahead in the key American states. It may well be that as old codgers, and British ones to boot, we are misreading the issues in the Presidential election but, to a man, we cannot shake off the suspicion that Mitt Romney might be a dangerous leader of the world’s major power. It is no surprise that Putin has welcomed his ‘honesty’ in declaring Russia to still be enemy number one. The Russian leader is rapidly pulling his country back to an autocratic isolationist position, and he needs an external ‘bogey man’. Our worry is that Romney means it! Hopefully the polls are right and we will never find out.
At least neither candidate appears to be immersed in the amount of sleaze surrounding our own dear leader. It is hard not to sympathise with anyone who has to do daily battle with Nick Clegg, the Tory right and Ed Balls, but David Cameron does appear to move in social circles hardly appropriate for a prime minister. Yesterday further soppy text messages exchanged with Rebekah Brooks emerged, this morning it has become clear that he may be sitting on a large cache of emails and texts, having passed to the Leveson Inquiry only those that actually mentioned the BSkyB bid.
According to the former Labour Europe minister, Chris Bryant, a ‘mole’ has revealed that many of them are “salacious”. Bryant makes the point that Adam Smith, former special adviser, was forced to publish every one of his emails to News Corporation and ended up resigning. It is all beginning to look decidedly bleak for our dear leader, as we plebs begin to wonder who pulls his strings. Mind you, Bryant is playing a dangerous game for should he succeed in toppling ‘Dave’ his party will find facing mad but popular Boris a tougher call.
But it is probably not the latest news of the goings-on within the Chipping Norton set that has most caught the public eye this cold November morning. If our group of codgers is any guide many people will have viewed with some horror the large ads inserted in most of the dailies by the Fire Brigades Union. It reminds us of the many occasions when the Fire Service has rescued people from fires, car accidents and floods and warns that the cuts being imposed on the service will mean that from now on we may not be so lucky.
According to the ad, the cuts to the fire service over the past two years have been as savage as any in the public service. And now the government proposes to cut another 6000 firefighters. Throw in the fact that many sub-stations are being closed and you have a scary picture. Fewer firemen will have longer distances to travel when the alarm sounds. Fire service or funeral service – the public is asked to choose. The stark reality, claims the script, is that these cuts will kill people.
The ads feature our dear leader out for a stroll, not with Rebekah, but equally gorgeous George Osborne, the man who refuses to contemplate any brake on tax avoidance which costs his balance sheet a zillion times the cost of a relatively small number of firemen.
Of course we must bear in mind that the campaign is being waged by the Union. But it seems highly unlikely that it would be making such appalling claims in so public a way if they were untrue. We certainly know that the closure of ambulance stations has cost lives, this sounds even more deadly.
In fairness it is equally unlikely that anyone intends to put the public at severe risk, but this government has a poor track record in planning, no names no Richard Bransons. At the very least it must respond to something that will have worried many a cornflake-eater this morning!