This drama set in Melton Mowbray’s pork pie industry tells the story of the hero’s rise from crust-raiser’s boy to that most trusted of positions – jelly man. Heartily recommended.
Savile wasn’t a man who concealed his creepiness behind a respectable facade. Creepiness was his brand; looking back now, it’s as if he was daring the world to point out that he seemed so much like a sex offender.This is utter bollocks. Savile was a genuinely trusted figure. That is why he was chosen to front advertising campaigns for British Rail (“This is the age of the train”) and road safety (“Clunk click every trip”). The advertising agencies that planned those campaigns knew what they were doing. In their search for the ideal front man, they would have been looking for a face that people trusted, and their audience research would have told them that Savile fitted the bill.
Today’s central financial problem is that the banking system lends mainly for rent extraction opportunities rather than for tangible capital investment and economic growth to raise living standards. To maximize rent, it has lobbied to untax land and natural resources. At issue in today’s tax and financial crisis is thus whether the world is going to have an economy based on progressive industrial democracy or a financialized and polarizing rent-extracting society.and:
We are experiencing the end of a myth, or at least the end of an Orwellian rhetorical patter talk, about what free markets really are. They are not free if they are to pay rent-extractors rather than producers to cover the actual costs of production. Financial markets are not free if fraudsters are not punished for writing fictitious junk mortgages and paying ratings agencies to sell “opinions” that their clients’ predatory finance is sound wealth creation. A free market needs to be regulated from fraud and from rent seeking.In other words, Wall Street (and its equivalents in the City of London and elsewhere) is creating a rentier economy and has become little more than a parasite on the productive economy. And Michael Hudson should know; he’s a Wall Street financial analyst.
I hope you’ve had a very enjoyable Christmas.
Today Nick Clegg will release his New Year message to the media. You can see it here now.
This broadcast is the first full external use of our new Party message script – the product of Ryan Coetzee’s research into what works with our electoral market and also an extensive consultation with many Party stakeholders.
The full message script is below.
If you’re at a post-Christmas, pre-New Year lull over the next couple of days – please take a look at this script – read it, learn it, work out how to use it.
In communications terms, we know that if we as a Party don’t collectively communicate one message clearly, the public end up hearing nothing.
It is therefore absolutely critical that we all focus on this message in the New Year and make it the basis for every communication we make – whether it is in the media, online, in leaflets or when speaking to an internal or external audience.
If we all stick to and get some volume behind this script, by this time next year our voters will know that the Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life. That Labour can’t be trusted with their money, and the Tories can’t be trusted to build a fair society. And also just a few of the things we have achieved in government.
So, if you make one New Year resolution this year, please make it to help us be “On Message, In Volume, Over Time” and communicate from this script at every opportunity.
Director of Communications (LDHQ)
Building a Stronger Economy in a Fairer Society
The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.
That’s why we have:
1. Fixed the mess left by Labour. We have reduced the deficit by a quarter, kept interest rates down and created over a million private sector jobs.
2. Ensured that 24 million people will not pay any income tax on the first £9,440 of earnings, putting £600 back into their pockets from April 2013.
3. Put an extra £2.5 billion into schools targeted at the least well-off pupils, raising standards for everyone.
4. Created a Green Investment Bank that will unlock billions of pounds of private investment in renewable energy and create thousands more jobs in the green economy.
5. Got young people off the dole and into work through apprenticeships, work placement or training with our £1 billion Youth Contract.
6. Delivered the biggest ever cash rise in the state pension.
The Labour Party can’t be trusted to manage the economy. Labour borrowed and borrowed and nearly bankrupted Britain. In power they cared more about bankers, media bosses and union barons than they did about ordinary, working people.
The Conservatives can’t be trusted to build a fair society. Until the Lib Dems got into government, no one could stop the Tories from looking after the super rich who fund their party, while ignoring the needs of normal people who struggle to make ends meet. That’s why we have blocked Tory plans to:
1. Allow bosses to fire staff at will.
2. Let local schools be run for profit.
3. Cut inheritance tax for millionaires.
4. Introduce lower rates of pay for public sector workers outside of the South East.
Now, with your support, we want to keep building a stronger economy in a fairer society. Over the next two years we will:
1. Increase our tax cut for low and middle earners to £700 for 24 million people.
2. Dramatically increase parents’ access to child care so that it’s easier for parents to get back into jobs.
3. Reform the welfare system to get people off benefits and into work.
4. Create tens of thousands of jobs across Britain in the new, green economy.
Let’s never go back to the way things were, because Labour can’t be trusted with your money, and the Tories can’t be trusted to build a fair society.
Only the Lib Dems can be trusted to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.
STRONGER ECONOMY. FAIRER SOCIETY.
Rich Beeson [one of Romney’s political directors] ...said that only after the election did he realize what Obama was doing with so much manpower on the ground. Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.
“Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.One-to-one contact with voters? No kidding.
Democrats said they followed the trail blazed in 2004 by the Bush campaign which used an array of databases to “microtarget” voters and a sophisticated field organization to turn them out. Obama won in part by updating the GOP’s innovation.Nevertheless, the basic case for grassroots campaigning remains the same. A shame it was not understood by the Liberal Democrat leadership in the 2010 general election.
As far back as the turn of the century, he singled out one standout aspect of the new web culture – the acceptance, the welcoming of anonymous commenters on websites – as a danger to political discourse and the polity itself. At the time, this objection seemed a bit extreme. But he saw anonymity as a poison seed. The way it didn’t hide, but, in fact, brandished the ugliness of human nature beneath the anonymous screen-name masks. An enabling and foreshadowing of mob rule, not a growth of democracy, but an accretion of tribalism.
It’s taken a while for this prophecy to come true, a while for this mode of communication to replace and degrade political conversation, to drive out any ambiguity. Or departure from the binary. But it slowly is turning us into a nation of hate-filled trolls.Most people have a capacity for cruelty but online anonymity enables them to unleash that cruelty with impunity. Worse, the web enables like-minded cruel people to cohere rapidly, via twitchy social networks, into a cruel mob.
As did many religious rebels before them, they come to bring not peace, but a sword. Change is inevitable; we must abandon the old ways. The cybertheorists, however, are a peculiarly corporatist species of the Leninist class: they agitate for constant revolution but the main beneficiaries will be the giant technology companies before whose virtual image they prostrate themselves.
Cybertheorists’ jargon often betrays an adolescent hatred of the world in which they find themselves. Jay Rosen, a prominent ‘future of news’ cyber-guru, takes care at every opportunity to sneer at publishing institutions by pasting to them the epithet ‘legacy’: ‘legacy newsrooms’, ‘legacy media’. Another favourite cyber-adjective is ‘disruptive’. For most of us, disruption is annoying, but for cyber-swamis the more disruptive of established practices technology becomes, the more exciting it is.One target of Poole’s ire is cyber-thinkers who abuse the notion of the ‘wisdom of crowds’:
Cyber-thinkers have run with the wisdom-of-crowds notion to a place that bears little resemblance to reality as we know it, high-fiving each other among the rubble of reason in a fatuous kind of hi-tech, misanthropic herd-worship. It can now seriously be proposed that there are occasions when “the smartest person in the room is the room”, as the subtitle of the cybertheorist David Weinberger’s book Too Big to Know, published last January, claims. Its weirdly self-undermining idea (perfect for a Ted talk) is that books are outdated and useless ways of organising ‘information’ and that the sum total of information is now so overwhelming that we may as well throw up our hands and concede that ‘the network’ knows better than we do.
If Weinberger’s thesis were correct, then his book would be disposable, because a random cohort of bloggers could be expected to come up with something far superior in a couple of weeks. Weinberger’s book is also cyber-typical for its pseudo-democratic hatred of any kind of expertise, and its cartoonish intellectual history, in the service of pretending that our age is utterly novel. “The internet,” he opines grandly, “enables groups to develop ideas further than any individual could.” So have writing and talking, since time immemorial.The intellectual weakness of cyber-thinkers is encapsulated in a single sentence:
Cybertheorists... daren’t attempt to distinguish information from knowledge, because to do so would require them to perform the kind of intellectual triage that their rhetorical success depends crucially on avoiding.Exposing the cybertheorists as clothing-deficient emperors was long overdue. As Poole explains:
Cybertheorists love to apply the adjective ‘smart’ to one another but, as a group, they are the most prominent anti-intellectual cadre of our day – little Pol Pots of the touchscreen and Twitter.
Tories delight in a spat with Brussels, because upsetting foreigners is second only to killing them in stimulating the pleasure centres of the Conservative Party. Liberals, on the other hand, love Europe. They adore anything continental: the cheeses, the voting systems, anything. Their party’s whole raison d’etre is the vast superiority of French campsites. I refer, obviously, to sleek, modern Liberals, not the old-fashioned radicals who were content with a good cheddar, a thermos and a wet walking holiday, reading a biography of Jo Grimond.
And to be fair to Liberals, all of them have always loved democracy. The left is ambivalent about it. We pay lip-service to it but can’t help suspecting that people might be too stupid to realise the high regard we have for them. And Conservatives, despite belligerently enthusing about western democratic values, have never truly been convinced by this country’s experiment with universal suffrage. Their greatest terror is the mob. That’s probably why they want the troops home from Afghanistan. They don’t want to be left without a squadron of dragoons when the millworkers get restless.
If Lionel Barrymore’s ‘Mr. Potter’ were alive today he’d call himself a ‘job creator’ and condemn George Bailey as a socialist. He’d be financing a fleet of lobbyists to get lower taxes on multi-millionaires like himself, overturn environmental laws, trample on workers’ rights, and shred social safety nets. He’d fight any form of gun control. He’d want the citizens of Pottersville to be economically insecure – living paycheck to paycheck and worried about losing their jobs – so they’d be dependent on his good graces.There is basically the same moral conflict in British politics (only without the gun obsession). Britain’s ‘Mr. Potter’ tendency insists there is no alternative to its selfish values. Let’s prove them wrong.
For the anthropologists, the custom of standing a round represented ritual gift exchange. They drew an analogy with Native American potlatch festivals, where tribes would gather to eat, sing, dance and confer lavish presents – sometimes treasured or essential possessions – on each other. The economists preferred a more hard-nosed explanation. Buying drinks in rounds rather than individually was a means of reducing transaction costs. The number of dealings between the customers and the bar was reduced, and the need for small change diminished.
I proposed an empirical test between the competing hypotheses. Did you feel successful or unsuccessful if you had bought more drinks than had been bought for you? Unfortunately, the result was inconclusive. The anthropologists believed their generosity enhanced their status. The economists sought to maximise the difference between the number of drinks they had consumed and the number they had bought. They computed appropriate strategies for finite games and even for extended evenings of indeterminate length. The lesson is that if you want a good time at a bar, go with an anthropologist rather than an economist.We can also see the limits of economics when we consider the act of starting a family:
The economists who argue that the rationale of the family is found in cost savings have a point. Two together can live more cheaply than two separately, if not as cheaply as one. But anyone who thinks the quest for scale economies is the primary explanation of the human desire for family life is strangely deficient in observational capacity, as well as common sense.
The ‘economics of the family’ is a prime example of an economic imperialism that seeks to account for all behaviour through a distorted concept of rationality, an extreme example of economists’ notorious physics envy. Some models developed in physics demonstrate a combination of simplicity and wide explanatory power so remarkable that it makes no sense to think about the world in any other way.
But such powerful explanations are rarely available in other natural sciences, and almost never in social sciences. Even the visit to the bar is governed by a complex and tacit collection of social conventions. How do you know that you have bought the beer but only rented the glass?The point is not that economics has no value but that, by itself, it can neither fully explain nor provide a rounded understanding of human needs and human behaviour. The specific problem here is economism, the reductionist idea that all social phenomena can be reduced to economic dimensions. This reductionism enables believers in neoclassical economics to argue that the market outstrips or permits ignoring ethical, social, political or cultural values. It is why the orthodox economic ideology of the past three decades has, amongst other things, led to so much social corrosion.
The recipes seemed to be less healthy than the ready meals on several metrics. Per portion they contained significantly more energy, protein, fat and saturated fat and significantly less fibre than the ready meals.Today, TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall replied, arguing that the problem was portion size.
The history of every major galactic civilisation tends to pass through three distinct and recognisable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry, and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterised by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by ‘Where shall we have lunch?’.If Douglas Adams were writing the Hitchhiker’s Guide today, he might well have added a fourth phase, Neurosis, and a corresponding question, “What is the risk?”
Good food, and a healthy diet, is about variety and balance – and I think those of us who cook on television and publish cookbooks should uphold those fundamental pillars of sound nutrition. But that applies across the whole spectrum of our recipes. It doesn’t necessarily mean we should count all the calories in our recipes and strain to reduce fat at every opportunity.
Deliciousness, originality and excitement are what we are striving for. You can achieve that in recipes that are intended to be hearty main courses or comforting supper dishes, and you can achieve it in original salads that are bursting with fresh, crisp, raw vegetables and fruit. The balance comes in offering readers and viewers a tempting cross-section of all these kinds of dishes. What we can’t do is control which recipes our followers choose to cook, and which to ignore. We can only encourage a balanced approach by ensuring there is deliciousness right across the menu.The British should learn to relax and enjoy food (and that means the food rather than the associated lifestyle trappings). And they should focus more on the quality than the quantity of life. There is little point in living to 100 if you’ve made every mealtime a misery. Because if you can never eat without consulting a calorie counter, you know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
...by burning the bank bondholders rather than taking these debts on to the national balance sheet, the Icelandic sovereign is in a far stronger position to repay any future debts.In Ireland, meanwhile:
By being good boys did we retain the confidence of the markets? No we didn’t. We too were locked out of the markets and were bounced into accepting an EU/IMF bailout in November 2010. Far from doing better than the Icelandics, we have ended up with the worst of all possible worlds. We are still stuck with the banks’ legacy debts and, a few carefully choreographed fund raisings by the NTMA notwithstanding, the State remains largely reliant on official lenders to fund its activities.He concludes:
Maybe, instead of being the good boys it’s time we followed the Icelandic example and indulged in some Viking-style plunder and pillage.
The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children. They have made a clear moral choice: that the comfort and emotional reassurance they take from the possession of guns, placed in the balance even against the routine murder of innocent children, is of supreme value.Meanwhile, America’s gun culture continues to leave the rest of the world puzzled. These 20 astounding gun ads can only add to our puzzlement.
Everyone has got food on the table and can have the heating on when it’s cold, so I do not know why people make such a fuss about some things like why the green has been cut. We have not got people dying of hunger there.Cllr Brattle’s resignation has created a second vacancy on the parish council. Today is the deadline if you’d like to apply for either of the seats.
In Michigan, the Republican-controlled legislature succeeded in passing a new ‘right-to-work’ law, which weakens unions’ ability to negotiate and has serious negative implications for all workers in the state. They had no public meetings, no debate, no time for review, and most offensively had Republican staffers sit in seats in the gallery to block interested citizens from even being in the room to hear about it.Representative Brandon Dillon (Democrat) decided to speak out against this abuse of power. And this is what he said:
CAMRA supports a genuine ban on the sale of alcohol at below cost. This would take into account the cost of brewing and retailing beer. This would result in supermarkets being unable to sell beer below an average cost price of around 80p a pint. CAMRA does not support proposals for a minimum price unrelated to the costs of producing and selling beer.
An 80p per pint floor price would have no effect on real ale or pubs. Pubs, unlike supermarkets, need to make a profit on the beer that they sell and so would be unaffected by any action against below cost alcohol sales.Blanket policies are disproportionate and treat the civilised majority of drinkers like children. CAMRA’s alternative would be much more focused on the real problem.
So, robot and technology power is reducing the natural employment rate. But rather than our subsidising those who have lost jobs to technology, so as to spread that manna wealth that’s literally dropped onto the surface of the earth at no-one’s physical disadvantage, companies are using monopoly power to extort rents on the capital that is creating all that free wealth.
That’s why inequality is rising.
As technology proceeds in a patent-obsessed world, the fruits of innovation flow to the owners of the capital and invention, forming a whole new rentier class. The financial assets/debts that back the innovation technology, meanwhile, get disproportionally valuable as their purchasing power gets completely out of whack with the output they radically accelerate.In other words, a rentier class of patent owners is hoarding ideas and extorting extravagant rents. Consequently wealth is concentrating instead of spreading outwards. Which is why those people who have been moved involuntarily into a ‘leisure-oriented society’ are finding they do not have the income to go with it. Perhaps that is why, as George Osborne alleges, they keep the curtains closed.
Don’t fixate on technology. Movements are not internet memes, and one viral YouTube video does not make a movement. What we are trying to do in all these movements is build and consolidate power around important issues.Heimans noted that recent responses to the subject of online campaigning have tended to polarise into two types, hyperventilation or sighing. The hyperventilators tend to make bold claims such “Twitter is changing the world, it made the Arab Spring happen”, while the sceptics dismiss online tools as less effective than real world, offline activism:
The funny thing about both of these extremes is neither of them tend to know very much about tools on offer.This bears out what I learnt from master campaigner Des Wilson many years ago. Any activity deserving of the name ‘campaign’ should be (in Des’s words) “A planned, organised and sustained drive to persuade someone to do or give you what you want.” The internet and social media haven’t changed this; they can be highly effective campaign tools but they are still just tools in the box.
If the civil rights movement were as unsuccessful as the environmental movement has been, Rosa Parks’ granddaughter would still be sitting in the back of a segregated bus.
She might be secure in the knowledge that a global consensus had formed against racial discrimination, but she would still be sitting there.
Like the civil rights movement, environmentalism has changed the way we think. It has engendered a new respect for the natural world, an understanding of the delicate balance of life in our biosphere and mass engagement on the most important issue of all, climate change.
Yet it has failed in a profound way.
As a movement ushering in solutions to halt or slow climate change, it has been catastrophically ineffective.
Worst of all, it appears it’s now too late for environmentalists to win the fight.