The Irish Euro referendum

Today the Irish are voting in a referendum on the EU Fiscal Stability Treaty. I’m not voting as I’m currently in the UK, but thought I’d chuck my two cents in.

The purpose of this treaty is to prevent a repeat of recent events by preventing governments from engaging in excessive deficit spending. However while this seems good in principle, the devil is in the detail. For starters, will this pact be obeyed? Consider that a previous such clause existed when the euro was formed and the first country to break it wasn’t Greece, but Germany. Was Germany punished for this? No! So what makes anyone think it will work this time?

Also, there is nothing wrong with deficit spending by a government. It more a matter of making sure that any such spending is only temporary and at a level that can ultimately be paid back. Furthermore Keynesian economic theory says that there are times when a government will inevitably run up a deficit (again the trick is to make sure such deficits are only temporary). The current economic malaise for example, is a classic scenario where governments, far from tightening the purse strings, should be maintaining spending (borrowing to offset falling tax revenue) in order to shore up an economy in crisis. As I’ve pointed out before, a policy of austerity in a time of recession, will make any deficit or sovereign debt problems worse, not better.

So what we need to crack down on is governments, in good economic times, spending like a sailor on shore leave, and make them save for a rainy day. But when that rainy day comes, governments should not be afraid to smash open the piggy bank. Consequently this treaty threatens to tie the hands of EU governments….those that actually obey it anyway! Furthermore this treaty does nothing to address the current problems affecting the euro. It the equivalent of chairing a meeting on tighter board of trade regulations for large ocean going ships on the bridge of the sinking Titanic. This entire treaty is thus, little more than a dangerous distraction.

So all in all, I’d probably vote No on this. Not because, I’m against the EU or Euro, but because I don’t think the arguments behind this treaty stacks up.

However, the problem in Ireland is that the treaty is being portrayed by the media as some sort of an “in or out” referendum on the euro. It is clearly nothing of the sort, already the French president seems to be looking to renegotiate this treaty, I don’t see anyone talking about the French leaving the euro?

Indeed much of the blame for such scaremongering has to be laid at the door of the Irish government, or indeed various voices in the EU who seem intend on bullying the Irish into voting a certain way. While opinion polls suggest they might have their way, such talk will inevitably back fire eventually (possibly in Greece in a few weeks time, where similar rhetoric is being thrown around). Indeed these two points would provide me with yet another reason for not supporting this treaty!

But clearly dangerous game is being played here and its only a matter of time before matters come to a head.

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Eurovisions

Some brits may be confused as too why Ireland has made Jedward as our Eurovision song contest entrant. I mean you’d swear we didn’t want to win or something….ya! exactly! Given that the country is currently broke and we’ve won it three times in a row before, we’re trying to make sure we don’t end up hosting it again. Any Irlande douze pointe will be considered a personal insult to the country. The Spanish have made clear that they don’t want to win either. So whoever wins, don’t be sour winners!

But will Humperdinck ensure that the UK finally wins or will the UK get “the hump” again? Now while he is a good singer, let’s face it, his chances of winning are slim. The UK could put together a super-group of musicians, drawing on Oasis, Coldplay, Beatles, etc. and still struggle to make a mid table placing. The British with its highly successfully and profitable international music industry is sort of looked at as the class swot by the rest of Europe’s musicians. For most bands on the continent the Eurovision is their best shot at the big time. So inevitably Britain’s chances of winning will always be low…thought with everyone broke right now, ye might pull it off.

So in future rather than trying to actually win the thing, the Brit’s should actually do what the rest of Europe does, find you’re worst group of tone deaf weirdoes (Britain’s Got No Talent?) and put them on show, giving the rest of us all a good laugh.

Of course its no laughing matter that its being held in a Azerbaijan, the Beeb did a piece on corruption and suppression of human rights in the country. Also one would question whether Azerbaijan (or Israel for that matter, I mean if they’re in why not Lebanon or Jordan), should really be in a European competition. Clearly we need to throw a few countries out. One idea would be to perform a “human rights check” on all countries. We send someone with a megaphone to the capital of every nation in the eurovision (I nominate Jedward ;D) who stands in the centre of the city square and hurls insults at the premier, president, big boss, emperor. If isn’t shot by snipers within a few minutes, they’ve passed the test and can stay in…if not…well no more Jedward! We’ll have to rely on “My lovely Horse” next time.

The Heartless Heartland Institute and Nazi Tourettes

The other week the Right-wing Heartland Institute began putting up posters with a picture of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski (scary that my spellchecker knows the word “Unabomber”) and the text “I still believe in Global Warming, do you?” They promise to follow this up with similar posters featuring Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.

In essence to the Heartland institute belief in global warming => you are a terrorist/ psycho/ commie/ fascist (all at the same time!)

Now for sure, some crazy extremists have taken the environmental message way too far, but that doesn’t mean you get to tar everyone with the same brush. By that same logic I could argue that all American Christians are terrorists, as one or two of them took to blowing up abortion clinic’s or federal buildings. I could argue that all Muslims are wife beaters and terrorists (due to a few of them flying planes into buildings). I could say that all republicans are thieves because a couple of politicians from that party stole public money or that all catholic priests are paedophiles and evangelical preachers are all gay. And of course Brevik (a euro skeptic, global warming denying child killer) means I could sling all sorts of mud around, if I thought like the Heartland institute.

All these posters demonstrate is the narrow, closed minded nature of the right wing and global warming deniers plus their inability to accept new ideas. Anyone who opposes them, surely must have an “agenda” or be somehow satanic or evil (just read any right-wing blog or conservapedia for an example of such paranoia). Go onto a right wing blog and pretty quickly someone there will resort to name calling, claiming you’re “elitist” or an “enviro-nazi”.

As this video from The Daily Show’s Lewis Black shows, American conservatives, notably Glenn Beck, suffer from a condition called “Nazi Tourettes”. Where they’re way out of any debate, when logic fails (or what passes for logic from conservatives!) means they inevitably resort to ad hominem comments and claim that everyone who disagrees with them is “like Hitler” (to quote an example from Glenn Beck “Hitler’s enemy, the jew, Al Gore’s enemy Global Warming”). Better still after they’ve looked up ad hominem in the dictionary, they’ll often accuse you of this in return (for proving that they’re arguments simply don’t stand up to rational scrutiny). And no, before anyone asks I don’t think conservatives are familiar with Godwin’s Law.

Inevitably the Heartland’s tactic’s have backfired, badly! They have been derided by critics. Many leading company’s, such as State Farm, Diageo, GM, and many others have dropped their funding of the Heartland institute, leading to them to pull the plug on the whole silly enterprise.

And of course, quite a few humorists have been having a pop at these posters…such as putting up their own versions, such as with Hitler and a tag line saying “I still think kittens are cute, do you?”

Another Greek Tragedy?

Merkel invited the new French president over today to play a round of what is her and the rest of the EU leadership’s favourite game, kicking the Greek can a little further down the road. There seems to be an unwillingness of many in her administration to accept reality – the European people have rejected this policy of austerity. In elections in Greece and France, as well as local elections in Italy and Germany, anti-austerity candidates have triumphed. Clearly even if the Greeks can be bullied or scared, in the now imminent second election in their country, to vote for pro-austerity parties, it doesn’t really matter as there is no way that the further public sector cuts that the German/IMF want will ever get implemented. It’s simply not a realistic political possibility, in Greece or anywhere else in Europe. Some alternative strategy, as seems to be Hollande plan, must be tried instead, but unfortunately the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

Austernity doesn’t work, it just makes things worse
It is with good reason that the Greeks have rejected austerity – It simply does not work and has in all likelihood made the deficit problem worse, not better, while plunging millions into grinding Dickensian poverty. It, like so many other supply side economic ideas, is fatally flawed. The economies worldwide that went for austerity (Greece, Ireland, Italy and the UK) are all struggling, while those that followed the more traditional Keynesian approach (the US, Iceland) are showing signs of recovery.

The reason for this failure is not really surprising, economists, in particular those who support supply-sided economics, simply don’t understand human nature. Of course this may have something to do with the fact that many of them are psychopaths (studies suggest the many of the top business leaders worldwide are psychopaths). The belief of neo-liberal economists is that if you shrink the government down everyone will be better off and people will be “incentivised” to go off and get jobs or start a business.

Of course in reality if there’s no jobs available, then sacking a load of public sector workers simply depresses the economy. A shrunken public service hurts the very poorest in society. And, as shown by many of the UK’s privatised utilities (such as the water companies or railways), there is no guarantee a private company will run a better service.

With everyone (businesses and individuals) scared that they are next, they put off all major spending decisions, start hoarding cash, which pushes down tax receipts, which worsens the deficit and creates a dangerous debt spiral. I mean who in their right mind would set up a business in the middle of the worse recession in living memory? Further, you’d need to arrange a line of credit from a bank, which any unemployed Greek civil servant will currently find impossible. A cafe owner in Athens who guesses that maybe 10-20% of his customers are public sector workers is not, under the present climate, going to hire a builder to do up or expand his shop, nor is he going to hire new staff. In fact, fearing that revenue will fall in future, he’s going to put off any such spending decisions, maybe even get rid of a few staff members, and more than likely move his money into a foreign bank.

Capital flight
Indeed this last point is significant, there has been a considerable and quiet capital flight out of countries like Greece and other troubled eurozone countries. Anecdotally I’ve heard from many Greeks and Irish who’ve been moving their savings abroad where they can. Naturally this leaves Greek (and other) EU banks in a precarious position.

Alternatives
So clearly, other tactics have to be tried to solve the current crisis. Options, which I’ve discussed in prior post include, stimulating growth by increasing government spending, raising tax revenue by taxing the wealthy or alternatively a carbon tax. If such measures prove insufficient we could look at the ECB simply buying European debt, a moderate level of Quantitative Easing (read print more money), the issuing of Euro bonds or as a last resort devaluation of the euro. Of course many of these options have been ruled out due to the sensitivities of German taxpayers. Unfortunately those German taxpayers need to wake up and smell the coffee! They are in the same boat as the Greeks and will go down with the ship if the eurozone implodes. Now while, as a saver, I’m not exactly happy with the idea of some of these options (I described in a prior post). But its important to get this crisis solved. Given the choice between two scenarios (collapse of the euro and a deep recession with the spiv’s profiting from it all or savers loosing a tiny portion of their savings) I know which of these two I’d prefer to see happening, so I guess we’ll have to just take one for the team.

Indeed its worth remembering that it was the German’s who were the first country to break the previous set of Eurozone rules on deficits back in the 2000’s, and they got away without any punishment…yet now they seem to want to drag Greece over the hot coals….anyone know the German for “Hypocrite”.

But I worry given events in Greece it might be too late. There seems to be an assumption, one reinforced by statements from Berlin and the IMF that if the Greeks reject the austerity measures or default on their debts that they have to leave the Euro. This is a very dangerous myth that needs to be debunked and ruled out as a possibility.

Mythbusters
Firstly for Greece to leave the Euro, it would have to leave the EU. That would take months or years of negotiating. And what if they refuse to leave? How will the rest of the EU force them out? While the effects on Greece will be bad, anyone with savings or investments left in the country will see them wiped out, the effects on the rest of the EU of a likely messy Greek exit will be catastrophic.

It will be the euro’s “Lehman Brothers Moment”. After this, everyone will be looking out for who is next….likely Ireland, Portugal or Spain. What little co-operation exists between EU nations will evaporate, as many nations will adopt an everyman for himself view (as the banks did post-Lehman brothers). International lenders will go running for cover, citizens will withdraw their savings, making it impossible for some EU countries, even stable ones without debt problems (such as Germany, France and Belgium) to raise credit. A messy collapse of the euro is thus very likely after a Greek exit….and the bulk of the bill for this collapse will probably arrive in Berlin and London!

As I’ve pointed out before, a messy Euro implosion would essentially wipe out many trillions of euros from various banks across the world, with German and British banks taking the worst of the hit. Once you start forcing countries out of the euro it’s no longer just a matter of a Sovereign debt crisis, but a national debt crisis.

The bulk of any nation’s debt‘s are held, not by the government (public debt), but by the people (i.e. our credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc.). The public debts of Ireland and Spain for example were (per capita) much lower than that of the UK prior to this debt crisis, with them now slightly higher, but still lower than those of Germany or France. But the private debts held by Irish and Spanish citizens, is much higher, about 1000% of GDP for Ireland, about 1.2 trillion euros worth of it. If Ireland were, like Greece forced out of the euro, then one has to question how any of this trillion euro’s will get ever repayed. Further, the obvious solution to the problem would be for the Irish government to solve its public debt problems by simply printing so much money as to make its debts (and thus these private debts) effectively worthless, or drastically devalue the newly introduced Punt in the opening weeks of its introduction to achieve the same effect. This would leave banks, mostly British banks I might add, looking at many tens of billions (actually as I’ve pointed out before it would be about £104 billionand that’s just the impact from Ireland!) worth of losses. This is easily enough to trigger the collapse of a few UK banks, or a second round of bank bailouts.

And obviously if you think the exit of Greece or Ireland from the EU sounds scary, inevitably such a calamity could knock over the much larger Spanish or Italian domino. The consequences of that? the savings and pension plans of all Europeans (whether you’re in the euro or not) get pretty much wiped out. Most German banks and pension funds will go to the wall, indeed the survival of the Bundesbank is even at stake. As the Beeb point out here, the bill to the Bundesbank of a eurozone collapse could be as much as 644 billion euros….and that’s just accounting for public debts, private debts could greatly increase this figure! This is more than enough in losses, if it happened in a sufficiently short a time period, to bankrupt Germany, or force her into the self imposition of the very same “debt spiral” that Germany has forced on Greece (what goes around comes around!).

So there are lots of good reasons to keep Greece, come what may, in the euro and treat the Greek patient within the hospital…as opposed to the neo-liberal plan, which amounts to dragging the Greek patient outside to die on the kerbside. A managed default of Greek debt is better handled within the EU, not outside it. Indeed, least we forget such a plan has already been implemented in Greece and the sky did not fall on our heads (contrary to what the neo-liberal critics claimed). Clearly this is the way forward. The only obvious reason for anyone to call for Greece to leave the Euro is out of some sadistic desire for revenge.

Class warfare?
Of course socialists would argue that the whole reason why conservatives such as Merkel, or the IMF leadership or Osborne favour austerity is actually because they don’t really care about the deficits at all. They’re agenda is to essentially conduct class warfare against the working and middle classes by removing state benefits that the wealthy rarely need, while putting lots of juicy state assets up for sale, thus increasing the power of the wealthy. As I’ve mentioned before with the UK, the socialists might have a point here, as one cannot conceive of any other logical reason for backing austerity, other than fanatical stupidity.

Mythbusters part Deux
What’s that I here you say? Greeks work only two hours a day and retire when they are thirty? There are a number of vicious rumours running around about Greece, often put out by UK or German tabloids and they simply do not add up to rational scrutiny. The Beeb have been fact-checking a number of them (as they point out here the average Greek works longer hours than the average German) and the only one that comes close to being true, is the in-efficiency of the Greek railway system…course we in Britain are hardly in a position to snear on that point…and the beeb analysis is slightly flawed on that point as it neglects to consider the costs of maintaining the road network.

Putting the “unity” back in the EU
Its clear that something has to give. In the 4 weeks we have to the next Greek election, again with this Irish referendum due soon also, it gives a last chance to try something new. Clearly if François Hollande plans on changing things he’ll have to act fast. My advice to him is to state very clearly that a Greek exit from the euro, regardless of what happens in Athens, even if the Greeks tear up the IMF treaty, is simply off the table. He could (and should) bluntly tell the Germans that France will veto any such attempt to force or pressure Greece into leaving. Or he could make clear that France will no longer finance any bailout fund that relies on a policy of austerity (forcing Germany to go it alone, greatly increasing their exposure in the event of a eurozone collapse). That would I suspect force new ideas onto the agenda, but like I’ve said before when discussing such options, the window of opportunity to implement them is rapidly closing.

Either way, we are all in this together, even if you’re a brit! So a little bit of pan-European cooperation is what this situation needs. After all, that’s was the whole point of the EU to begin with!

…And the US elections get up and running

Meanwhile, back at the ranch! With all the republican contenders (bar one, more on that later) pulled out, it seems there’s nothing left but for Mitt Romney but to enjoy a victory lap in the primaries. Already Obama’s reckon’s the primary’s are over, and has already launched his re-election bid.

I reckon this will be a campaign fought on two issues. Firstly tax, the bulk of US billionaires pay a lower share of their income as many hardworking Americans. The richest person in the US, Warren Buffett, very famously pointed out last year that his secretary pays more in tax than he does. Clearly this has to change. Also in order for the US to solve its deficit crisis, spending cuts alone cannot solve matters. New taxes need to be introduced to redress the balance between what most Americans expect Uncle Sam to pay for, and what the nation’s current regime of low taxes, generates in income.

The other major theme will be the issue of national security. Of course, for once the Republicans, normally on safe ground here, but now they have a bit of a problem. Obama will no doubt point out, that while Bush bombed 2 countries (pissing off most of the world and spending what remaining post-cold war political capital the US had left) he failed, despite 7 years of trying, in finding Bin Laden. Obama not only succeeded where Bush failed (although I’d have preferred to see Bin Laden captured and put on trial). But Obama ended those 2 very wars, Bush started and repaired links with the wider world.

Again, I’d prefer to see Obama win, but it will be a tough fight. Inevitably, the Republicans will try, as they always do, bait and switch, with talk about gay marriage or gun control, or try and paint Obama as a tax and spend socialist. No doubt the extremists on Fox will be going on 24/7 about death panels, birth certs and FEMA death camps….not that Murdoch ever takes sides in an election!

Ron Paul, the not-so liberty loving libertarian
There is of course one group of refuseniks in the Republican party, Ron Paul and his fanatical supporters. Despite not wining a single state, and not having a snowball’s chance of winning and an official delegate count of just 80, he and his supporters are still convinced he can win. Google “Ron Paul can still win” and you’ll find many recent articles from his supporters which shows that they still haven’t got the message.

In part this is reinforced by Ron Paul’s so-called “delegate strategy” where his supporters have been taking advantage of the local party rules, to increase their tally. For example, they can have one of them elected to go to the RNC in Tampa to represent a district, where in theory they could vote Ron Paul, even if the state voted for Romney. Of course, I would point out that this is hardly terribly democratic. Now I may not see eye to eye with Republicans, but even I respect their right to vote (an ultimately pick who gets to loose to Obama ;D ). It is ironic indeed that the cult of Ron Paul, talk in such high minded terms about “liberty”, yet they seem engaged on a forlorn strategy to deprive others of their “liberty”. Not since the day’s of the communist party in Russia have I seen such behaviour!

As I’ve pointed out before, his policies simply don’t add up to rational scrutiny. As the situation in Europe has shown, harsh austerity, will generally just increase the deficit, not reduce it. Also, as the situation in Europe shows, such austerity is rarely popular.

European Elections and Austerity blues

Two crucial votes in the EU have just been held. The French presidential election has Socialist François Hollande elected on a mandate that includes cutting back on austerity, raising taxes and a reduction in France’s nuclear capacity. While his margin of victory, 51.7% wasn’t as comfortable as polls predicted, it had the silver lying that suggests that many of those who voted for Marine Le Pen in the first round ignored her advice, and voted in the second round, thus denying the far right an important victory.

Meanwhile in Greece, the party’s that oversaw the European bailout lost significant ground against the anti-austernity parties. Looking at the poll numbers, there is an outside chance that the pro-bailout parties might be able to form an alliance, but it will be a weak government, with constant infighting. Of course, if the anti-bailout side form a government, then its probable it equally won’t be stable for long, however it will be stable long enough to give Merkel and the IMF the two fingered salute. Also, waiting in the long grasses, is the up coming Irish referendum on the EU bailout treaty, which could result in a vote against austerity.

Either way, the results show that the European public are rejecting this policy of deficit reduction purely via austerity measures. Clearly a different strategy needs to be tried. These harsh austerity measures have merely succeeded in making the deficit worse, not better. However, whether the time remains to try such measures and rescue the Euro is questionable. Already the markets are starting to panic, and as I pointed out before, such a panic has a habit of taking on a life of its own.

Murdoch? Fit and Proper?

I was so busy this week I never got to blog about what was probably the most eagerly awaited select committee report in years. While it wasn’t quite as damming as I thought it would be even so, it got the message across – the Murdoch’s have been manipulating both the media and politicians and thus circumvented democracy. Back in the days of Athens and the first democracy, they always feared the consequences of one individual gaining too much power and influence. Such an individual would typically be blackballed by his peers and banished from the city. Such seems to be the plan for the Murdoch’s, as many seem intent on tar and feathering them and running them out of town.

Of course, the bulk of the media coverage focused on but one line of report. This line, endorsed by the lib dems and labour, but not the Tory’s, questioned whether the Murdoch’s were fit and proper people to run a major international company. Clearly this was a nod to Ofcom and its investigation of the Murdoch’s.

To me, this is a statement of the bleedingly obvious. I mean no shit sherlock! Is the head of this committee Captain Obvious? As I’ve pointed out before, there are two possibilities either a) Murdoch knew exactly what was going on, in which case he should be in prison or b) he was sufficiently inept, stupid and incompetent to not know what was going on in his own company. I mean are we to believe that him, his son, and “Sideshow” Brooks were walking past employees each morning listening in to people’s hacked phones, reading hacked emails while counting out the bribe money to police and none of them noticed anything odd?

Again, there is an issue here of “command responsibility”. Top executives are expected to maintain control of their companies. This is how they justify millions a year in salary. If they loose control of an organisation, to the degree we are are let to believe occurred in News Corp, then all the Murdoch’s were being paid millions to drink tea and biscuits. Either way, the conclusion is they none of these are fit and proper people to be running a major news organisation.

Of course the one question that remains is why did the Tory’s make such a big deal about voting against the report because of this one line? My only conclusion is because they fear the consequences of what will happen next. They and their conservative allies in the US have benefited most from the Murdoch propaganda machine. Without the Murdoch’s or other media moguls, such as the Barclay Brothers, I doubt that Tory’s would be in power and winning the next election with a hostile press is going to be very challenging. Also one has to consider the level to which the Tory’s were in cahoots with the Murdoch’s. The issue over Jeremy Hunt a few weeks ago was a shot across the Tory’s bow. I reckon, its when not if Hunt resigns and once he goes the next domino to fall will be David Cameron. So you can understand the Tory fear here.

But either way, the Murdoch’s need to be dealt with. Hopefully, even if Ofcom doesn’t step up to the plate, the other shareholders of News Corp will now see the writing on the wall and launch a palace coup against the Murdoch’s forcing them out of the company. They will naturally be terrified of this crisis cross the pond to Fox News in America, indeed its almost certain in my opinion that what happened in the UK cannot have been an isolated incident.

Election Update – Operation Liberal Shield

In the end I didn’t get to vote. Was working late, constantly thinking all day that there was something I was forgetting, until I went past a polling station on my way home (I’d left the polling card at home!) and suddenly remembered there was an election on! Oh, well!

Election results seem to indicate that the Tory’s plan code named Operation Liberal Shield, has worked well, but not as well as the Tory’s wished. The lib dems took a good deal of the flak, although they didn’t quite get wiped out as I expected. A fall of 8% against a 9% drop to the Tory’s isn’t that bad. But hopefully this will still serve to give them the kick needed to grow a spine and start acting like a coalition partner, rather than the Tory’s poodle. They really don’t want to go into the next election looking like that, as inevitably they’ll be knocked out of the box. A poll discused here suggests a worst case scenario of just 7 lib dem MP’s.

Of course, inevitably, the Tory’s took some kind of hit. Leading to many of them too argue that they’d lost due to a lack of conservative policy. i.e. that they lost because they conceded too much to the Tory’s rather than because people decided they didn’t want a load of penny pinching toff’s conducting class warfare. Well, like the doctors in the Middle Ages, if a patient administered bleeding got worse, then they’d proscribe more bleeding. If he died, it wasn’t the bleeding that killed him, but that we didn’t bleed him enough!

Labour did better than I expected, so it looks like Ed Miliband might survive a little longer. However, “Red” Ken lost to “Bullingdon” Boriswhat were Londoners thinking? I mean one term of Boris, well it was a good joke, tho it did sort of start to wear thin after the first 4….months! Now he’ll be the face of the UK during the Olympics. And if he becomes electable, what next? PM Boris?…what have you unleashed on us?

Calm down dear’s, its just a commercial!

One story this week was an advert broadcast on Argentinean TV this week showing a Argie athlete (Fernando Zylberberg) training for the Olympics by running thro the streets of Port Stanley, working out on a war memorial, etc. There was controversy attached to the tag line “To compete on English soil we train on Argentine soil” leading to much criticism from various sources, even the IOC (who generally don’t like people bringing politics and military disputes into the Olympic’s, they’ve thrown athletes out before for such carry on).

My response to brit’s is, in the word’s of Micheal Whiner calm down dear’s its just a commercial! If Miss de Kirchner and her supporters wants to go have a fantasy ego trip, then let the baby have its bottle. She’s merely trying to yank you’re chain, and the Tory’s are falling for it.

Similarly, the Argentinians need to how this make you look to neutrals. I mean I’ve met Argentinian’s before. they seemed like nice sensible intelligent people… until you mention the word “Falklands” and they start screaming “THE MALVINAS!!” and generally start acting like a complete foaming at the mouth loon. (interesting point, my spell checker refuses to accept the word “Malvinas”…MI6 at work no doubt!)

As I discussed before, there is a need for a bit of rational pragmatism from both sides here.

Garth Williams – who donnit!

For sometime, I’ve been keeping an idea on this story of the late GCHQ agent Garth Williams, who was found dead in his flat in a hold-all bag (the news announced on a busy news day as I seem to remember). Now call me a conspiracy theorist, but it seems pretty obvious to me what happened to him….

Firstly, all this time wasting about whether he got into the bag himself. I don’t know about you, but the urge to crawl into a hold all and padlock myself inside, leaving the keys on the outside has never really struck me! Its pretty obvious that he was put in there unconscious or dead. They very fact the inquiry has wasted so much time answering such a bleeding obvious question is more a matter of them, and the police, trying to find a way to cover the matter up and get out of having to reach the obvious conclusion – that he was murdered!

Because obviously if he was murdered, then this raises the question of who did the murdering and that raises some uncomfortable possibilities. A back alley criminal? Would not go to such elaborate measures to contain the body, he’d kill him and leave him where he fell, or if he had the motivation to hide the body, send it to the bottom of the Thames with a pair of concrete shoes.

What about a foreign intelligence agency? As he worked in intelligence, it is a plausible scenario. But again, they’ve have either covered their tracks immaculately (again, sent him to the bottom of the Thames) or simply not be arsed! After all, they’ve diplomatic immunity! (remember the Umbrella murder on Waterloo bridge, or the Litvinenko poisoning). The only people who have the motive to go to such lengths to ensure the recovery of the body are either the CIA or Garth’s employers. As in both these cases a missing employee would be a pain in the neck, they’d have to go looking for him (which would cost lots of money and chew up resources), pay him (as they couldn’t prove he was really dead) and generally have to take an earful from Parliament select committee looking for an update on “progress”. Ultimately, in the absence of a body there would have to be some sort of inquest or inquiry about the matter.

Now let us consider how his employers, GCHQ and MI6 reacted to his disappearance. Despite missing a crucial meeting the day he vanished, they waited a good week before contacting plod…..Seriously! Do MI6 agents, with access to state secrets regularly disappear for a week and nobody thinks it odd?

We once had a woman disappear for a while at work (she turned up okay, just forgot to tell someone she was going away for a few days). Now we all assumed she’d just gone home for Chinese new year, as she usually did. But as she had forgotten to tell anyone, sure enough, after a day or two, the cops were called. While they agreed it was likely a false alarm, but they still treated it as a missing persons investigation until they found her. And the only sensitive data she had access too were student marks and the code to the photocopier! Quite simply, I find it baffling that GCHQ would take this long to call in the cops, and that the cops would be so laid back about the investigation.

So in short, I’m going to skip the question of who dunnit (pretty obvious really) and ask why? Was he a double agent with a foreign intelligence agency? Did he get some dirt on the Murdoch’s or Cameron? Was he in cahoots with the Wikileaks guys? As they say in the X-files the truth is out there…..but nobody cares!

Update: 04/05/2012 – Of course since then the report has been released by the Coroner who somehow manages to conclude that his death was “unlawful” but not murder ?!?
:??:

In part this seems to be due to a lack of forensics evidence….which to me indicates that someone who knew what they were doing swept the house clean beforehand…are were to believe that he swept the house clear of finger prints, then locked himself in the bag?…after turning the heating on in mid-summer!

They find a load of women’s clothes in the flat and plod immediately decide he must be a cross dresser…my first thought was that he probably had a girlfriend living in the flat…who needless to say might know something, why didn’t they immediately start looking for her? … was it because they already knew she was on her way back to Russia/at the bottom of the channel?…

Indeed the coroner spoke of the fact that these cross dressing and other lurid stories circulated in the media indicated that “some third party is attempting to undermine the investigation”…ya, they’re called MI6!

There are so many unanswered questions here. Inevitably, the conspiracy theory brigade will have a enough material here to keep them busy for years!