Tag Archives: oil

Hypocrites challenge Corbyn’s call for evidence in tanker controversy

Blaze: An oil tanker burns in the Gulf of Oman. But was Iran really responsible?

Isn’t it childish that, in this age of climate change and environmental catastrophe caused by fossil fuels, our leaders are squabbling over oil again?

The Conservative government has supported claims by the United States that attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman – on one of the world’s most important tanker routes – were caused by Iran.

Apparently the removal of a mine from one of the tankers by Iranian special forces was portrayed as proof of that country’s guilt by the US government under Donald Trump. He said he guessed one of the mines used to attack the ships did not explode “and it had Iran written all over it”.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, under prime ministerial wannabe Jeremy Hunt, said an investigation by the United Arab Emirates had concluded that the attacks had been caused by a “sophisticated state actor”, and Mr Hunt said he was satisfied that the actor in question was Iran.

Let’s pause for a moment and compare this behaviour with the Tory government’s response to United Nations claims that its policies had caused an increase in poverty here – DWP secretary Amber Rudd, and Theresa May, said it was impossible for such a conclusion to be formed after such a short period collecting evidence; less than two weeks. The report on the tankers has appeared in less than two days, it seems.

So we have an arguable double-standard in the Tory government’s stance.

But that hasn’t stopped ministers from attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, simply for suggesting that a little conclusive evidence should be collected first:

Happily, the response from the public has been to challenge the Tories. Consider, for example, this reponse to Mr Hunt:

Let’s face it – a previous UK government tried to convince us that a war with Iraq was a good idea, based on evidence that was later disproved. That was in alliance with the United States, too.

It is the attack on Mr Corbyn that is most offensive, though:

https://twitter.com/AutisticOu/status/1139940423982616576

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1139805044210110464

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1139885137481650178

That is the fact of this matter.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Cannabis-based medicines to be prescribed in the UK from autumn

Legalised: Cannabis oil.

This is a welcome announcement.

Cannabis oil is said to help with cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, gout, glaucoma, opioid dependence, alcohol abuse, epilepsy, psoriasis, anorexia, asthma, adrenal disease, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia (Mrs Mike will be pleased), rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, multiple sclerosis and other conditions.

I hope someone keeps an eye on trends in the health service, and records the effect of releasing these medicines to the British public.

Doctors in the UK can prescribe cannabis-derived medicine after the government announced a relaxation of laws governing access to the substance.

Thousands of people with drug-resistant conditions will potentially be able to use cannabis-derived medicinal products for treatment after the home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced they should be placed in schedule 2 of the 2001 Misuse of Drugs Regulations, allowing clinicians to prescribe them by the autumn.

Source: Cannabis-based medicines get green light as UK eases rules | Society | The Guardian

Syria: Could ‘slow and steady’ win the war?

Bombs explode in Syria. Effect on the terrorists: None.

Bombs explode in Syria. Effect on the terrorists: None.

Sorry, but This Writer is not wedded to the idea that carpet-bombing – or even precision-bombing – bits of Syrian desert in the hope that it might contain terrorists will make the United Kingdom any safer from attack.

For one thing, our armed forces have been following this strategy in Iraq for a year and have achieved no tangible result and, for another, bombing the desert will do nothing to prevent terrorist attacks on UK soil that are carried out in the name of Daesh (IS if you prefer).

David Cameron says “our pilots can strike the most difficult targets at rapid pace and with extraordinary precision”, and that’s great for them – but in that case, why are they still flying raids over Iraq after a year? In that context, one wonders why he mentions it.

His naming of technology like “the Brimstone precision missile system”, “RAPTOR” which he claims “has no rival”, and “Reaper drones” is reminiscent of a comedy routine by the late, great Bill Hicks – also in reference to the Middle East.

He said: “Those guys were in hog heaven out there, man. They had a big weapons catalogue opened up.

“‘What’s G12 do, Tommy?’

“‘Says here it destroys everything but the fillings in their teeth. Helps us pay for the war effort.’

“‘Well… pull that one up.’

“‘Pull up G12, please.’

“[BOOM!]

“‘Great! What’s G13 do?'”

You take the point? Even the names of these things are sinister. “Brimstone” is another word for sulphur, associated with Hell and all things demonic. A “raptor” is a bird of prey. The “Grim Reaper” is, of course, death personified.

Those names remind This Writer of the “death’s head” emblems on German army uniforms in World War II, and the Mitchell and Webb sketch in which two German officers discuss them: “Do you think perhaps we are the bad guys?”

It’s a sobering thought, but if we take military action in Syria at this time, we may be creating a situation in which there are no good guys.

There are alternatives to military action – which of course may be run concurrently with attacks on the terrorists’ heartland. Jeremy Corbyn asked, “What co-ordinated action with other United Nations member states has there been under the terms of the resolution to cut off funding, oil revenues and armed supplies from ISIL into the territory it currently holds?”

David Cameron’s response, that “there was a resolution back in February, and we should continue to support all those measures”, is far from reassuring. This Writer was hoping for much more detail.

It seems that – in this respect – the hard work is being left to the hackers.

Note also that Cameron does not acknowledge the value of these alternatives. He wants us all to believe that the choice is between bombing Syria and “doing nothing” – and that’s misleading.

He was also vague about the positive effect that military action would have. The BBC’s Frank Gardner makes it plainer: “This will not lead to the immediate or even imminent demise of so-called Islamic State. It will simply add to the incremental damage being done over time to this proscribed terrorist group by other air forces already bombing in Syria.”

So we are looking at the possibility of military action that drags on and on, draining our country’s economy, with no conclusion in sight. That would be a poor use of our resources.

Remember Al-Qaeda? Remember how Osama Bin Laden was defeated?

It wasn’t on the battlefield; it was at his home, in a compound in Pakistan. A small US force launched the raid, acting on information picked up by intelligence agents. Some say this information was built up over a period of around 10 years; others say it came to them in a one-off tip. It didn’t come as the result of a bombing raid.

That’s why This Writer still says ‘slow and steady’ will win this war – not retaliatory bombing raids, no matter how accurate the missiles may be. The people firing them need to know what they are aiming at – and that requires information.

If British intelligence services really have foiled seven Daesh-inspired terrorist acts in the UK within the last year alone, then there is nothing wrong with our information-gathering powers.

By all means, let us do everything we can to help our allies in their military efforts, but let us also work to maintain the integrity of our own homeland, and to obtain information on the leaders of the terrorists and their whereabouts. Until we have that, let’s keep our powder dry.

There will be a time for Reapers, RAPTOR and Brimstone, but it isn’t today.

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

SNP credibility crashes further after ‘bleak’ oil and gas performance

Bad figures: In July last year Alex Salmond claimed North Sea oil was worth "£300,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland". He may have been exaggerating - considerably.

Bad figures: In July last year Alex Salmond claimed North Sea oil was worth “£300,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland”. He may have been exaggerating – considerably. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/10198532/Alex-Salmond-North-Sea-oil-worth-300000-for-every-Scot.html)

 

What was Alex Salmond saying about oil revenues, again?

He said that oil would bring in revenues of £6.8billion – £7.9billion in 2016/17 (thanks to the Huffington Post for the figures).

How likely does this seem, now that industry body Oil & Gas UK has reported that falling oil prices and rising costs meant the sector spent and invested £5.3bn more than it earned from sales during 2014?

That’s right – last year North Sea oil lost almost as much as the SNP said it would earn in 2016-17.

Operating costs are rising, investment is falling, the cost per barrel extracted has rocketed to a record high, and the price of oil internationally is at its lowest in years, according to the BBC.

While all this was taking place, Alex Salmond was telling Scottish people they could rely on oil generating £20.2billion in tax revenues in the first three years of an independent Scotland. Now – again according to the HuffPost – it seems unlikely to generate a quarter of that figure.

It is hard to believe that Mr Salmond did not know the facts about oil when he was offering the Scottish people all his rosy talk about future prosperity based on oil revenues.

Yet even today, many supporters of Scottish nationalism are adamant that Labour (above even the proven liars in the Tory and Liberal Democrat parties) misled them.

It’s certainly true that somebody has been lying to Scotland.

Is anybody brave enough to admit who it really was?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
putting the record straight.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Setting the record straight on Sturgeon’s fiscal policy

The Resolution Foundation's predictions for government spending, based on the different parties' declared plans.

The Resolution Foundation’s predictions for government spending, based on the different parties’ declared plans.

Vox Political’s article on Nicola Sturgeon’s London speech provoked a disgruntled response from Jonathan Portes. The NIESR boss sent a message stating that the article’s fiscal arguments were out of whack.

He didn’t ask for this blog to straighten them out, but the information he sent, coupled with some other pieces he suggested – by Professor Simon Wren-Lewis and the Resolution Foundation – make it inevitable that another stab is required. If you support the SNP, you’re still not going to like it.

The first comment from Mr Portes is as follows: “1. SNP plan is slower deficit reduction than Lab/LDs, which in turn slower than Cons. All consistent with falling debt/GDP ratio. So all are sustainable.  Haven’t looked at detail, but Simon WL & I both think Lab too cautious – so SNP not obviously crazy.”

Simon Wren-Lewis’s article states:  “In reality what Sturgeon was proposing was still deficit and debt reduction, but just not at the pace currently proposed by Labour.”

And the Resolution Foundation adds: “The SNP would commit to delivering existing 2015-16 plans, as each of the Westminster parties have, before changing course.”

There’s a major point to make here, which all three of the sources above have missed. It’s that the SNP and its adherents have been cursing Labour from High Heaven to Low Hell for committing to Tory austerity policies because Ed Balls promised a Labour government would stick to Coalition spending – note that word, spending – limits for the first year after the general election.

Why have SNP adherents been slating Labour when the SNP has committed itself to the exact same Conservative spending limits, for the exact same period of time? Doesn’t this also make the SNP a party of austerity?

This leads us neatly to a point made by the Resolution Foundation. Ms Sturgeon wants to put a lot of space between SNP plans and those of Labour by claiming that Labour is committed to eliminating the UK’s structural deficit by 2017-18. They say Labour signed up to that when it voted to support the Charter for Budget Responsibility. You may recall there was another big fuss about Labour supporting Tory austerity, being just the same as the Tories, and there being only 17 MPs who oppose austerity (the number who voted against the CBR). Bunkum, according to the Resolution Foundation.

“The ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ is highly elastic: it’s not based on a firm commitment to reach balance in 2017-18,” states the Resolution Foundation article. “Instead it represents a rolling ‘aim’ of planning to reach current balance three years down the road.” The article adds: “Most economists are sceptical about how much difference it (the charter) will make.

“So what if Labour targets a current balance in 2019-20 instead? Based on current OBR assumptions this could be achieved with as little as £7 billion of fiscal consolidation in the four years to 2019-20 (including the cost of extra debt interest).”

Labour has made it clear that it plans to make only £7 billion of cuts. As this coincides exactly with the Resolution Foundation’s figures for a 2019-20 budget balance, logic suggests that this is most likely to be what Ed Balls is planning.

So SNP (and Green) adherents who crowed about Labour austerity being as bad as that of the Tories need to apologise – sharpish.

Now that these points are cleared up, let’s look at the substantive issue. Here’s the Resolution Foundation again: “The first minister’s headline was that she favours £180 billion of extra spending in the next parliament relative to current coalition plans… an increase in ‘departmental spending’ of 0.5 per cent a year in real terms over four years [we’ve established that the first year’s spending would adhere to Coalition-planned spending levels]. Our estimates suggest that raising departmental spending by 0.5 per cent in each of the four years after 2015-16 would indeed yield a cumulative increase in spending of around £180 billion (in 2019-20 prices, £160bn in today’s) compared to existing coalition plans. So that seems to fit.

“Another, more conventional, way of putting this is that in the final year of the next parliament, departmental spending would be around £60 billion higher in the SNP scenario than it would be under the coalition’s outline plans. This means that departmental spending would end up in roughly the same place in 2019-20 (in real terms) as it is now. We’d see £8 billion or so of departmental cuts in 2015-16 broadly cancelled out by a rise of around £7 billion across the following four years. It also means that, all else equal, there would still be a (small) UK-wide current deficit come the 2020 election.”

As you can see from the graph, the scenario that suggests a Labour balance in 2017-18 would imply a big difference with the SNP, particularly in the first half of the next Parliament – but, come 2019-20, “there would still be a £48 billion gap between Labour and the coalition plans; not that far short of the £60 billion gap that would exist between the SNP and the coalition”.

The scenario in which Labour balances its budget by 2019-20 “would in theory be consistent with spending roughly £140 billion more than coalition plans.

“The SNP proposal implies increases in total departmental spending of £1-2 billion per year over four years whereas Labour’s 2019-20 scenario implies cuts of £1-2 billion per year over the same period. This is against total departmental spending of around £350 billion. By 2019-20 this difference adds up to roughly a £14 billion gap between the two parties. Now, that’s a real difference but given the scale of the numbers involved, (and the fact that some of Labour’s consolidation may come from tax increases rather than spending cuts), it’s also a relatively modest one.”

It’s more or less the same amount the Coalition Government borrows every month, in fact.

Now let’s throw a spanner in the SNP’s works. The Resolution Foundation points out: “Fiscal discussions of this type tend to suffer from a severe case of false precision. None of the party leaders knows any better than you or I what will happen to productivity next year, never mind in 2020… Any difference between, say, the Labour and SNP spending plans would be dwarfed by the fiscal implications of even modest boosts (or dips) in productivity. Indeed, even the very large difference between the SNP (or Labour) and the coalition’s plans could be overshadowed by a significant shift in productivity trends. And, to Sturgeon’s credit, her remarks this week emphasised productivity.”

Yes – productivity. Does anybody remember that, prior to the referendum, the SNP wanted Scottish voters to believe that any borrowing that might be necessary in an independent Scotland would be offset by increased productivity? What did Simon Wren-Lewis have to say about that? Oh yes: “Governments that try to borrow today in the hope of a more optimistic future are not behaving very responsibly.”

But that is exactly what Ms Sturgeon was proposing for the whole of the UK; borrowing on the assumption of increased productivity.

Here’s a chance to put another SNP myth to bed, from the same writer. In his article about Ms Sturgeon’s speech, Professor Wren-Lewis states: “Of course this is the same person who, with Alex Salmond, was only six months ago proposing a policy that would have put the people of Scotland in a far worse fiscal position than they currently are, an argument that has been reinforced so dramatically by the falling oil price. You could say that it is a little hypocritical to argue against UK austerity on the one hand, and be prepared to impose much greater austerity on your own people with the other.”

The argument he mentions ran as follows: “Scotland’s fiscal position would be worse as a result of leaving the UK for two main reasons. First, demographic trends are less favourable. Second, revenues from the North Sea are expected to decline. This tells us that under current policies Scotland would be getting an increasingly good deal out of being part of the UK [and therefore independence would be detrimental].”

He added that the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which had independently analysed the SNP figures, had made a mistake on interest rates. The IFS analysis, he wrote, “assumes that Scotland would have to pay the same rate of interest on its debt as the rUK. This has to be wrong. Even under the most favourable assumption of a new Scottish currency, Scotland could easily have to pay around one per cent more to borrow than rUK. In their original analysis the IFS look at the implications of that (p35), and the numbers are large.”

The Resolution Foundation notes that “the flipside of higher spending, all else equal, would be higher debt and higher debt interest payments”.

So the SNP plan, as this blog pointed out, could create an interest-payment problem for the next government that bites into the extra money said to be for services.

Mr Portes made two other minor points, as follows: “2. Your stuff about Lab could spend more if economy does better wrong way round. If economy worse, we need higher deficit. Over time, as income goes up, so does/should spending. But short-term macro should be countercyclical.”

When I wrote the material about Labour spending more in a better-performing economy, I was thinking of the Labour government immediately after World War II. The current Labour Party has mentioned this period in recent speeches and releases, and it seems clear that Messrs Miliband, Balls et al consider their task, if elected in May, to be similar to that faced by Mr Attlee and his party – the reconstruction of the UK after a long period of destruction.

Are we to believe the economy is likely to worsen, in which case more borrowing will be needed? It’s certainly possible that major shocks are on the horizon. This writer is in no position to speculate.

“3. Finally, stuff about credit rating agencies/bond markets/Greece is absurd propaganda. I’ve written on this many times.” He’s right; it wouldn’t have been included it if Yr Obdt Srvt had stopped to think about it, but the article was up against a deadline and this writer was throwing in all the cautionary words he could find.

So let us forget about them. Here are a few more. Simon Wren-Lewis, at the end of his article, notes: “I read a blog post recently that suggested this was an election Labour would be better off losing… A Labour government dependent on SNP support would be abandoned by the SNP at the moment of greatest political advantage to the SNP and disadvantage to Labour. However if we assume that the oil price stays low there is no way a rational SNP would want to go for independence again within the next five years. It might be much more to its long term advantage to appear to be representing Scotland in a responsible way as part of a pact with Labour.”

Is the SNP rational? All the evidence available so far suggests it isn’t.

It put forward arguments that were deceptive about an independent Scotland’s economic future.

Its representatives and followers spread lies about Labour economic policy.

All indications suggest the SNP will try to create the conditions required for Scottish independence at the earliest opportunity, and then leave the rest of the UK hanging.

The original article on Ms Sturgeon’s speech ended by saying the SNP would be hard to trust.

After the findings of this one, it is nigh-on impossible to do so.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
discussing the major implications of the big vote in May.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Do YOU want your national parks messed up by oil and gas prospectors?

Snouts in the trough: Martin Rowson's Guardian cartoon goes straight to the heart of the matter - GREED.

Snouts in the trough: Martin Rowson’s Guardian cartoon goes straight to the heart of the matter – fat cats and pigs fouling up the landscape in the name of GREED.

Britain’s treasured national parks could be spoiled by oil and gas companies using them as drilling sites, if our treacherous Coalition government has its way.

People are already angry because the Coalition intends to open up about half the country – presumably those parts not owned or inhabited by members of the Coalition – for fracking by oil and gas companies. The plan is to allow drilling even if it takes place under citizens’ houses.

With less than a year until a general election that they know they are likely to lose, it seems that David Cameron’s Conservatives are determined to strip the whole country to the bone in the name of naked greed.

Perhaps they consider this to be poetic justice after we stopped them selling off publicly-owned parks and common land, back in the early days of the current Parliament; the logic seems to be, “If we can’t sell them, we’ll ruin them so nobody can enjoy them anyway”.

The plan is being handled by business minister Matthew Hancock – who specialises in energy, it seems. What does Ed Davey do, then? Hancock came to the attention of this blog yesterday when it was revealed that he had complained to the UK Statistics Authority about figures that Labour leader Ed Miliband didn’t use in a speech on jobs.

That can only bode ill for his plan to speed up the process of licensing companies to drill, so they can start within six months of making an application. He’ll cut corners and he’ll make even more bad decisions.

He’ll ruin our national parks. These are our designated areas of natural beauty, intended to be there for us to enjoy in perpetuity. Once the drills go in, there will be no way to restore them.

Fracking is an especially destructive form of oil and gas drilling that uses pressurised water to break up rock to get to oil supplies. Ground water can be contaminated by the gases and toxic chemicals used in the fracking process, and it is understood that waste from the fracking process is commonly mishandled.

Not only will our areas of outstanding natural beauty become ugly industrial pits but our health will be put at risk, while the big oil companies take the profits.

The Coalition is defending its decision by saying that people living in or around national parks will be protected by tougher rules for fracking. Hancock was interviewed about this on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week, and it should be no surprise whatsoever that he made a complete twit of himself. He claimed that there was broad support for fracking (in the name of “better energy security”) so the presenter asked him to name a village in the UK that supported fracking. He could not; instead, he changed the subject.

At the same time, the Coalition has removed the ability for millions of homeowners to stop companies from drilling directly under their properties.

The Coalition is touting the potential temporary benefits of a new oil or gas discovery. But is the potential permanent loss of our natural beauty really worth it?

Of course not – and you can tell the government to remove national parks from the list of areas open to fracking operations, simply by signing this petition.

An outright ban would protect our national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty in Britain.

Send your message to the government: The oil and gas companies can frack off and mess up their own backyard.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Buy Vox Political books!
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Vox Political needs your help!
This independent blog’s only funding comes from readers’ contributions.
Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Why the Tory-led debt crisis has worsened

Never mind the playing field sell-offs for a moment; they’re only a small part of the economic mess over which the UK’s Conservative-led government is presiding.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that in July the government borrowed £3.4 billion more than on the same month last year. Net borrowing was £557 million (according to The Guardian), but the government made a surplus this time last year, and the figures were a serious disappointment for economic analysts, who had been predicting another surplus of about £2.5 billion.

So far this year, public sector net borrowing – excluding banking interventions and a one-off boost from a transfer (some say theft) of Royal Mail pension assets to the Treasury – was £47.2 billion, up from £35.6 billion during the same period in 2011.

The Office for National Statistics said net debt was 65.7 per cent of GDP. The BBC said this amounted to £1.032 billion, but I think £1.032 trillion is nearer the mark.

The Treasury says disappointing Corporation Tax receipts are to blame, especially after the closure of the Elgin oil platform.

Some analysts say the government may now overshoot its target for reduced borrowing this year, of £120 billion, possibly by more than £35 billion (excluding the Royal Mail effect)

I say that the Coalition government’s economic mismanagement has reached new heights.

We know what’s happening: This government has left open tax loopholes – such as exempting profits earned in overseas subsidiaries from taxation – that have allowed corporations to sit on hundreds of billions of pounds in retained profits.

It abolished the bankers’ bonus tax, so the financiers who caused the mess are not only still paying themselves average salaries of £350,000, but also enjoying billions in bonuses.

It has abolished the 50p top tax rate – creating a tax break for the rich. Executive pay has risen by more than eight per cent this year.

The richest thousand people in Britain own 25 per cent of its wealth – £1.5 trillion.

At the same time, benefits have been slashed, leading to mass suicides and health-related deaths.

VAT has been increased, helping to stall the economy.

Inflation has risen.

Income tax and National Insurance have increased in real terms.

University tuition fees have been tripled, meaning students face years – perhaps decades – of work to pay off the loans they have to take out, simply to get an education.

Public sector pay has been frozen.

Tax avoidance is only seen as a problem if it’s done by a satirical comedian with a talent for humiliating the Coalition government.

And then there’s that massive Royal Mail pensions raid.

And we see that the government is borrowing more, due to a fall in corporation tax payments.

We know why it’s happening: The government wants to cut public services down to (if David Cameron has his way) nothing apart from the judiciary and security services. Everything else is to be sold off to private corporations in order to fleece the general public of whatever they have left – wages, benefits, savings.

Some people are saying that the Tory economic policy has failed. They say George Osborne, as Chancellor, set out an economic goal and a method for achieving it – only to find that his methods have made the problem far worse. They say that his stubbornness in pressing on, even after being told his plan is a disaster, makes him the very definition of a failure.

Silly, silly people.

They forget how much the Conservatives love the private sector and hate public services. Their instinct is to ensure that large corporations (the kind that are happy to give funds to the Tories) have as much opportunity to make as much money as possible. They don’t want to balance the nation’s account books; that would mean taxing the rich and the corporations – in essence, biting the hands that feed them.

As long as the UK is in the red, they’ll have a perfect excuse to do as much damage to public services – and the vast majority of the population that relies on them – as they possibly can.

Let’s go back to the playing fields now. The decision to spite the legacy of the Olympic games by selling off 31 of these fields – 10 more than the Department for Education had previously admitted – was a gift on a day when the economy was shown to be utterly unfit while in Tory hands. They provide so many opportunities for clever wordplay, don’t they?

For example, I could say that, instead of levelling the playing field (in terms of the deficit and national borrowing) the Tories have made it steeper – possibly to match the slope at sold-off Woodhouse Middle School in Staffordshire.

But it would be more accurate to say that these Conservative Party hooligans have got onto the pitch – and spoiled it for everyone else.

A ‘versus’ from the Mrs Thatcher songbook

Are we really going to let the Tories use the Falkland Islands to make fools of us again?

I was around when the first conflict with Argentina took place in 1982 (though fortunately too young to have taken part). Then-Defence Secretary John Nott had withdrawn the Royal Navy ship HMS Endurance – Britain’s only naval presence – from the South Atlantic in a cost-cutting 1981 review.

Many people, including Royal Navy Captain Nicholas Barker, believed that this sent a signal to the Argentinian military junta that the UK was unwilling – and would soon be unable – to defend the Falklands, and sure enough, an invasion took place.

Some commentators have voiced a belief that the Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, lied to the House of Commons because she had known the Argentinians would invade and could have prevented it – that she effectively engineered a war in order to boost her party’s popularity. It is certainly true that her government was boosted by the victory, and this helped carry it back into power in the 1983 general election.

Look at the situation now. Dr Liam Fox, prior to his ignominious resignation, launched a defence review in which he reduced the British Navy to insignificance. Am I right in suggesting we have no aircraft carriers now, so our ability to fight sea-based wars is seriously compromised?

It is in this atmosphere that Argentina has begun agitating about the Falklands again. Is anybody surprised? As before, they think they’re onto a winner.

And so does David Cameron, I reckon. Let’s not forget, he is only Prime Minister because the Liberal Democrat Party threw in its lot with his Tories after he failed to win a majority in the 2010 general election. He may think a victory on the battlefield could spur his party to victory in the next election, just as it did for Mrs (now Baroness) Thatcher.

I have a few problems with that. Also, the 1982 conflict killed 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders (along with 649 Argentinians). Others were seriously injured, most notably including Simon Weston, who has been on TV news programmes recently, discussing the current situation. It would be grossly irresponsible to cynically engineer a war that would cause the deaths of British servicemen and women, in order to gain electoral popularity.

Let’s not forget what all the posturing is really about, either: Oil. The waters around the Falklands are rich oilfields but the UK cannot exploit the resource because it is too far away from us. Argentina wants sovereignty over the Falklands so that it can profit from the oil. Many believe that a deal should have been struck for mutual benefit. This is a matter of greed.

Vox Political is funded entirely by donations and book sales.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book,
Strong Words and Hard Times
in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook