News Roundup

Election
The election campaign rolls on. The tabloids seem to have worked out that UKIP ain’t going to win enough seats to hold the balance of power alone (as I pointed out before it would take a DUP alliance to help). So the consequences of the last 5 years of them running stories about how that Farage fellow is a lovely chap, is likely to backfire almost as badly as their previous articles along a similar theme in the 30’s.

So they’ve been devoting the last few days to printing stories that swallow the most absurd tosh the Tories come up with, or making “red Ed” out to be some sort of comic book villain under the sway of the evil nasty Nicola and rowdy roddy piper Alex Salmond.

Take for example the latest one from the Tories promising to enact a law that will make it illegal for a chancellor to raise certain taxes. This is a policy, which might sound crowd pleasing, but when analysed rationally it is so silly its difficult to believe anyone would propose it.

The whole point of government is to make sure sufficient revenue is raised by taxes to pay for public services. If the government abdicates its responsibility to raise tax, then inevitably it can’t increase public spending and the inevitable effects of any economic downturn, currency fluctuations, demographic changes, etc. is that the state will either be forced into making significant cuts in public services, or borrowing heavily. The end result is likely to be to reduce the UK to the same position as the US congress, where the Republicans will fight tooth and nail to defend spending in their district, but will immediately pull on their tea bagging hat and t-shirt the minute the President tries to raise taxes or borrow to pay for it. In short this is a policy whose likely outcome is national bankruptcy and a roll back of public services unseen in UK history.

As for the “red Ed” narrative, the most radical thing Ed could do is eat another bacon roll ;D. The whole reason why so many are voting for the likes of the SNP or Welsh Nationalists is because of the fear that he’ll become another Tony Blair, move to the right and a year from now he’ll be authorising torture and wars on behalf of the Americans while humming along to Boney M.

And it is supremely ironic the Tories making a fuss about how “destabilising” it would be to the UK for the SNP to end up in power, ignoring their record in Scotland, when he is almost certainly going to be forced to rely not just on UKIP but also the Ulster DUP, which as the potential to be far more destabilising. Why is it that he’s not coming under any pressure to rule out a DUP or UKIP coalition? Perhaps because that would mean him fecking off to Chipping Norton, as it would make it all but impossible for him to win.

The fact is that if all the party leaders were to stick to their guns and refuse to enter into the coalition arrangements they’ve been ruling out, the likely outcome of this election will either be a minority Tory or Labour government who will struggle to get anything passed, even a budget or a Queen’s speech. Or a Tory government with a wafer thin majority propped up by the DUP and UKIP. Any such governments will be extremely unstable and will likely collapse, something which the fixed term parliament rules the Tories introduced this parliament could well make a perfect recipe for chaos.

In short, its likely that either the party leaders, in particular the lib dem’s and/or labour will have to abandon these promises (should be easy for Nick Clegg, he’s got experience of that!) for the good of the country. Or about a year from now the Queen will be forced to step in, dissolve parliament and declare another election.

Rent Controls
THe one vaguely radical policy that labour has come out with is a plan to bring in rent controls. Naturally the Tories went into full fanatic freak out mode, painting a bleak picture that ignores the fact that many other countries have rent control, New York being a good example, so this isn’t that radical a policy. If anything I’d argue that labour’s policy doesn’t go far enough.

In essence we have an out of control property bubble in the UK. This favours few people, as I outlined in a prior post. Particularly when you consider that bubbles always burst.

And we in Ireland are the proof of that. As a consequence of the Irish property bubble you have many older people who can’t retire as they have the millstone round their neck of a buy-to-let flat they can’t rent out at a rate that will pay the mortgage. Forcing them to work on well past retirement age, pretty much until they drop.

And many of those of the younger generation, who may have bought at the wrong time are similarly crippled with negative equity they can’t shake off. For example, they’ve had to relocate for work purposes (or a growing family) and are stuck trying to rent the old place (again rarely earning enough to pay the mortgage, and that’s assuming they can rent it at all!), as they’ll never be able to sell it without wiping out their finances. All this while renting a new house, because no sane bank would give a mortgage to anyone sitting on so much negative equity. Its like having some sort of ghostly mother in law whom you can’t shake off.

So while landlords might whinge and whine, the fact is everyone will be better off with some form of controls on rent. It would almost make me vote labour…then I heard Jimmy Murphy spreading FUD about the SNP :no:.

Tabloid hate speech
Meanwhile the election has seen a rare intervention by the UN. The UN human rights commissioner has become increasingly worried by the tone of the UK tabloids and their “hate speech” towards, migrants, foreigners and even Scots. She’s pointed out how the language used recently by tabloids, such as describing immigrants as “cockroaches”, is eerily similar to the sort of language the nazi’s used or in the lead up to the Rwandan genocide.

US wing nuttery
As I pointed out last week, come 2016, its looking likely to be Hilary Clinton versus some random nut job from the Tea Party. A couple of her Republican rivals have declared, notably the likes of Ted Cruz (A Canadian fence jumper, who wants to crack down on immigration…and presumably doesn’t know what irony is!), Marco Rubio (Cuban exile, known for his anti-science and climate change denial wing-nuttery) and the man who puts the “batshit” in crazy, Rand Paul, famous for suffering from a condition known as “diarrhoea of the mouth”.

Seriously, just put Ran Paul into Google and it usually tries to suggest “nuts”. No doubt he’ll attract many of his father’s “Paulastinans” to his banner. Which is somewhat ironic, given that his daddy was the most corrupt politicians in congress. He only managed to hold onto his seat for so long because of his habit of sticking a rider onto a popular bill, one which he was sure would pass (even thought he’d then vote against it!), giving money to his district. At the same time he was calling for massive cuts in public spending, the public spending in his district quadrupled over a decade!. So again, irony doesn’t seem to be a strong point for the Pauls.

So if Hilary’s lucky, the GOP will pick some wing nut and she’ll have an easy sail to the White House. There’s also a possibly of Jeb Bush running. While slightly less insane, he is the same guy who feels that votes should be counted…until the guy you want to win does. He also has a number of items of very dirty linen in his closet (money laundering, drugs, fraud….usual for a Bush really!). And you thought our politicians were bad!

Game of Thrones
Speaking of corrupt royal dynasties, the Saudi king announced changes to the Royal line of succession this week. This upgraded a number of the younger generation into the line of succession, while relegating a number of the older members out of the line of succession.

While this is good news, a number of those now passed over for kingship were basically hardliners, or nutters…or both! So this does suggest a softer more reform orientated Saudi Arabia in future (who know maybe they’ll let the women drive the car out of the garage for her husband! :))). But it also does bring with it risks. Obviously those now out of favour may not take this slight likely. Others may not want to wait for those in the line ahead of them to pop their clogs.

In short, I’d argue that Game of Thrones is now required viewing for all Saudi princes. In which case I recommend avoiding all weddings, dwarves, pigeon pies, crazy religious groups, dire wolves, icewalls & ice giants, high places and sharp pointy things in general.

Its a Sin
The Pope has muttered various things suggesting anyone calling themselves “Christian” should do what the good book says, appears to increasing sign’s that he’s going to make a action on climate change a major issue. Already the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has issued a report which states “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity“.

And the Vatican’s position has been endorsed by the leader of the US Episcopal church, who described climate denial as “sinful”.

Needless to say this has put the fear of god (if you’ll pardon the pun) into the climate skeptics. After all the last thing the oil companies need right now is to start receiving papal bulls and priests showing up at drill sites waving crucifixes. Several skeptics quickly rushed to Rome to try an seek an audience with the pope. However these plans came a cropper when one of the priests there insisted on blessing them with holy water prior to them entering the Vatican, upon which they promptly exploded :)).

Either way, climate deniers best hope that the climate is warming, cos as far as the church is concerned, they may need to get used to warm places! I’m reminded of that song from the 80’s now.

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