What`s the word?

Nora Connolly

Image © Chatham House

What language was he speaking? [Answer] All languages. And none…Umberto Eco – The Name of the Rose

It seems to me, that politicians would get more respect, if their oratory was a little more sincere, especially when spouting egregious policy at conference. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, this week made a crass speech in Manchester. Words used devoid of genuine meaning; `Help`, `Abandon`, `Work`, `Benefits`, `Job`, `Hired`, `Great`, `Future`, `Faith`, `Optimism`, `Nerve`, `Cuts`, `Sacrifice`, `Yes`, `Decline’, ‘Business`, `Country`, `Sound`, `Economic`, `Fair` `Prosperous`, and `Standards`. One could cite the entire speech but these words stand out, the meaning lost in a sea of thinly disguised spite. The audience listening including several Ministers, who like the Chancellor, require no mandate even though this government is implementing profound change and massively altering the social fabric of this country. At least in the 1980s when the Conservatives hammered the poor, they had the good grace to administer it with a Parliamentary majority. And believe it or not, there were elements in the Conservative Party in the 1980s that had some hold on reality; although they spawned this mob and mob is the correct word to use in this context. Read more of this post


The Help to Buy Scam…

Nora Connolly 

Image © IWM

The second part of the government’s mortgage scam, sorry scheme, has been launched. The Help To Buy Scheme aptly illustrates that where there`s a scheme there is usually a schemer. The first phase encouraged homeowners to purchase new builds, around 9,000 properties involved thus far. The second phase is more significant as it makes available £12bn in guarantees to lenders – enough, it believes, to support £130bn of mortgages with the buyer paying a deposit as low as 5%. Ministers have claimed the scheme could guarantee up to 190,000 mortgages a year over three years. The second stage of this proposal includes older properties but excludes the purchasing of a second home and prohibits the buying of property with a view to rent. Participation apparently involves credit checks with “stress testing” factoring in variables such as future adjustments in interest rates. The ultimate “stress test” is of course the loss of a borrower’s job, leading to possible repossession. This potential disaster is addressed up to a point; the government will cover a chunk of the lender`s losses, as 15% of the deposit is provided. Thus socialising the lenders loss and risk while providing no safeguards for the borrower, who face homelessness if they default on the loan. So, it seems where necessary, intervention is possible even when it usurps the great misnomer of our time, the free market (as long as the intervention is designed to protect capital – this great plan sounds familiar). The housing Minister questioned yesterday on the world at one, maladroitly side-stepped the issue of his new found zeal for intervention.   Read more of this post

Love Will Tear the British Union apart…

Nora Connolly 

Image© The Scottish Government

The SNP`s commitment to the principles enshrined in the British post-war settlement appear to be the motivating factor propelling Scotland toward independence. The party which oscillated between the left and the far right during the 1970s is now the party of consensus, promoting a benevolent nationalism whilst campaigning on a progressive social democratic platform. This seems reasonable and persuasive, especially given the SNP propensity to campaign in the poetry of Burns, whilst governing Scotland in the prose of Keynes and Beveridge. Bevan is also close to the SNP leadership’s heart, the Welsh architect of the British NHS. This is then, big tent inclusive nationalism, seemingly devoid of any racial component, anti-English rhetoric or sentiment. After all there is an estimated 400,000 people of English origins living in Scotland with a projected 10% of this cohort supporting the SNP. Of course Scotland is no egalitarian utopia. And while the country may exhibit more social cohesion and solidarity than other parts of the UK, it’s far from perfect and it would be naive to suggest otherwise. If you have ever attended an `Old Firm` game then you will quickly appreciate my point. Read more of this post