Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category
Welcome back my friends.
First a bit of music to cheer you all up, and may I extend a big welcome to you all as we begin a New Year in South Tyneside’s first and oldest political blog, I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that it brings some sort of cheer to you. I cannot promise that output from this desk will be any more frequent this year than it was last, a new lifestyle here leaves me a bit less time to write and my passion for photography at South Shields Daily Pictures also competes for my online time. However, with a long drum roll let’s get started with things for 2012.
National and international predictions
Financial and political pressure within the EU continue to build as a realistic solution to the Eurozone crisis fails to materialise, as referendums in Greece and Ireland initially reject further austerity measures relating to the latest bail out plans. Calls to remove these countries from the Eurozone are thwarted as both nations are forced to hold a second vote which confirms their compliance with the Commission’s wishes. Massive unrest on the streets of Athens leads, for the first time, to a pan European peacekeeping force being deployed in Greece to keep its citizens under control.
David Cameron decides that Britain will not contribute any personnel to the new force, and further reduces Britain’s contribution to the IMF, stating that our financial problems require us to keep more of our finances at home. Nick Clegg threatens to pull the Lib-Dems out of the coalition in protest at the Conservatives outright hostility to the new EU plans designed to bring stability to the markets, however because of Labour’s weak position under Ed Miliband a combination of Tory and rebellious Labour MPs win the day in a Confidence debate in the House of Commons, thus tying the Lib-Dems into the coalition. Rebel Labour MPs claim this was the best way to ensure the total demise of Lib- Dem MPs at the next general election whilst buying more time for Labour to reorganise.
In America President Obama wins a second term, although very narrowly, after providing logistical and intelligence support to Israel when they successfully bombed a number of Iranian nuclear facilities the week before President Ahmedinijad was expected to announce the testing of his country’s first nuclear weapon.
In Russia Vladimir Putin is elected to lead the nation again, but there are strong doubts about the integrity of the elections, massive unrest in Russian cities is dealt with firmly and harshly, and following warmer than normal friendly talks with neighbouring states regarding trade agreements and energy supplies, observers begin fearing for the independence of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) as nationalist parties there see a massive rise in popularity after the EU’s enforced austerity measures spark riots.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announces a new treaty with Iran, promising to help them rebuild the facilities destroyed by the Israelis. Increased defence spending in the secretive far eastern state has resulted in a larger American military presence in Australia’s Northern Territory and the permanent patrol of a full battle ready US fleet in international waters close to the Korean peninsular.
China continues to be the world’s leading economy but still shows little appetite for increasing it’s spending on imports, preferring instead to produce good quality copies of foreign article for home consumption, Obama’s pleas for relaxations in China’s trade policies fall on deaf ears.
The case in San Mateo County Court in California involving three South Tyneside councillors and an officer rumbles on seemingly interminably with no prospect of either a firm result and conclusion, or a commencement of proceedings in a British court. The costs of the matter are used as a political weapon during the local government elections in May.
Fifteen South Shields boys and girls attend the X Factor auditions in Newcastle but not a single one makes any progress, meanwhile late in the year Little Mix release an album to mixed reviews which does well in the charts but does not reach No. 1, fans had a liking for the new material but complained that five covers in the album were probably too many. As the year closes Little Mix prepare for their second UK headlining tour. Meanwhile Joe McElderry had released an album firmly in the dance genre after expressing disappointment over the sales of his Christmas Classics collection of cover songs, he also decided to accept the offer of a part in a West End musical and will be appearing in panto at the end of the year at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.
South Tyneside’s jobless figures continue to rise although not at the massive rate that some had feared, local employment prospects are boosted by the announcement from Nissan of their decision to build a further two new models at their massive plant in Washington.
In the local elections in May Labour takes an absolute stranglehold on local politics as virtually all opposition in South Tyneside is wiped off the map. Cllr Geraldine White loses her seat to Labour in Fellgate and Hedworth, Lawrence Nolan fails to hold Harton for the Progressives after the retirement of Jimmy Capstick, the Liberal Democrats disappear as Joe Abbot loses to Labour in Hebburn North, Labour regain Horsely Hill in a close contest as Independent Alliance councillor Gordon Finch loses his seat, in Monkton John Hodgson somehow manages to fend off Labour’s challenge with only a handful of votes to spare, Labour make it three in a row in West Park as Enid Hetherington ends the Progressive Association’s long tenure there, Labour pick up Westoe at the expense of Allen Branley, and further legal challenges ensue after Ahmed Khan narrowly loses the decision against Labour’s John Anglin in the Beacon and Bents ward of South Shields.
Labour’s only other failure on a remarkable night was in Cleadon Village and East Boldon, where Conservative Councillor Jeff Milburn retained his seat with a much reduced majority.
Following further shop closures in King Street, South Shields, South Tyneside Council announced an updated plan for a shoppers car parking scheme which gave two hours of free town centre parking, charges would only be applied after two hours and could be refunded if shoppers were spending more than £5 with local “partner” businesses. In a further sign of Labour’s pragmatic approach to working with the coalition government council Leader Iain Malcolm announced his intention of shaving an additional £45m from South Tyneside’s spending as he intended to announce a first ever reduction in council taxes to help local people rebuild their economy by putting money back into their own pockets to spend.
On the sporting scene, South Shields Mariners are in disarray after the sale of Filtrona Park , a late season slide in form saw them narrowly avoid relegation and their future is now in serious doubt as new houses are about to be built on their former ground. Until they find a new home their existence in the Northern League cannot be guaranteed.
In the Premier League Mike Ashley showed no inclination to spend on Newcastle United during the January window, as once again he discussed the possibility of selling the club at the end of the season. The Magpies strong start to the campaign was cancelled out when striker Demba Ba suffered a serious injury, this coupled with the sales of Tiote and Krul meant that Pardew’s men had a late season loss of form which saw them end the campaign in 15th. place.
Rivals Sunderland were boosted by the surprise arrival of a top name striker and a full back which pleased the red and white half of South Shields. Meanwhile Ryan Noble’s emergence as a Premier League threat helped Martin O’Neill cement his status as a “legend” as the team went on a strong run towards the end of the season finishing above the Magpies in 9th. place. Owner Ellis Short announced that further funds would be made available to the Irishman for the summer transfer window, once again Sunderland are considering the possibility of extending the capacity at The Stadium of Light.
It didn’t help that “Dave’s” coalition government and the Opposition sort of joined forces to whip their MPs to vote against giving us a new referendum on our relationship with the EU, after all it is a totally different beast to the one which we last had a say about in 1973. The idea that people could register their ePetitions on the No. 10 website and if they had enough support (over 100000 signatures) they would result in a debate in the House of Commons is essentially a good one, especially as there are, from time to time, issues where it seems our MPs might be slightly out of tune with the public. However, a second petition relating to the price of petrol will apparently NOT be debated because of a lack of time in the Parliamentary calendar! Come on Dave, your government is devaluing the importance of these petitions if you cannot find time to debate them.
I profoundly disagreed too with the whole “solution” to the Eurozone crisis, this managed default of the Greek debts is a signal of much worse to come, we have spent the last two years throwing more debt at the Greeks and the Irish with other economies also being drip fed bail out funding, and let’s not forget how much was borrowed by Gordon Brown to increase the liquidity of British Banks either, I fail to see how you can solve anyone’s debts by piling more debt upon them! But we are led by the (European) nose to help create a 1.2 trillion Euro fund to assist member states who cannot manage to spend around the same amount that they earn in revenue. Surely a result of the Brown/Obama plan to solve the banking crisis,
invest spend your way out of trouble! Italy, Spain and Portugal will be next to feel the pressure of the mountain of Eurobond debts, as once again we see economies that are introducing austerity measures rather late in the day to balance their books. If we ran our household budgets in this way we would soon be looking towards a voluntary bankruptcy! Which brings us to the UK, where we too have come to realise, late in the day, that our national debts and budget deficit needed to be urgently addressed, and despite the efforts of the coalition government to bring public spending under control, those debts continue to rise and public spending continues to be a massive burden, George Osborne tells us that we are not contributing much to the European Stabilising mechanism but with deft sleight of hand we are increasing our contributions to the IMF instead, any wonder that we fail to meet spending targets? The hand of Brussels lies heavily upon the decisions made by our politicians and the whole mess has the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel musing over the future peace of Europe, possibly a rather far fetched view in my opinion, but it shapes the ridiculous writing in some of our newspapers this weekend.
Solution, allow the Eurozone to collapse and let member states reintroduce their own floating currencies, allowing a managed default based upon the exchange rate of the remaining Euro at the time of conversion to the new currency. Tell these member states that the European Central Bank will not be bailing them out in future, perhaps then we might see some fresh starts and some growth slowly emanating from the ashes, this whole sorry affair of the last week has been more about saving the single currency and the European dream of political unity more than it has been about saving the economies of individual member states, and by playing their own small part our coalition government has nailed its flag to the mast as a lukewarm supporter of European integration. I firmly believe that ALL British politicians were wrong, wrong, wrong, not to allow their MPs a free vote during the EU debate, and that sometime in the far future the EU will collapse as a result of its utopian political and economic dreams.
Next disagreement is with Iain Malcolm, the Leader of South Tyneside Council who wrote in the Guardian during the week that councils were taking the flak for the government’s spending cuts. Was this a paid for article Iain? Anyway, pretty good at playing politics, perhaps the first stage in an election strategy for next May blaming the evil wicked Tories and Lib Dems for wreaking misery on us all but good old Labour in South Tyneside has managed to produce a budget which will not increase your council tax for e second year in succession! Can you see it coming? It may have been better and more honest of him to admit that Labour frittered away £ billions when in office, and saddled us with larger debts than we accrued through fighting the Second World War, perhaps he should have done a Liam Byrne and admitted that the cupboard was bear at the end of Gordon Brown’s tenure. He said:
The government’s cuts are brutal and ideological. Our task isn’t just to protect residents from the worst effects – it is to make them fully appreciate whose hand is on the axe.
Brutal? Idealogical? What then would Alistair Darling’s cuts have been described as if Labour had won the last election? There is no doubt that you could hardly have passed a cigarette paper between Labour and the Tories public spending pronouncements at the time, £2 bn difference within a national debt amounting to £1.2 tn is minuscule. That is where I find my disagreement with the Leader of the Council, a fair lack of honesty and a total lack of clarity over who put us all in the financial mess that we are in, he was quite happy to accept the cash that Gordon Brown’s government kept producing, quite happy to keep increasing council taxes year after year when even Brown’s largesse was deemed as insufficient. He knows, I know, and we know, that the party had to come to an end.
Because it doesn’t have to be like this. Local government has been a force for good in Britain. We will work to defend our communities by examining new and innovative models of service delivery – through trusts and co-operatives, asset transfers to the voluntary sector, strategic partnerships with the private sector or more joint working between councils.
Ah, now here are the clever little secret caveats, we WILL do it the way the coalition wants, because we DO want to make sure that there will be no increase in council taxes again! Look, yes, I know and understand that it is tough going, with very difficult spending decisions to make, but I also know that we knew this latest tranche of cuts was coming, it was NOT a complete shock,we knew twelve months ago that the “front loading” was only the first phase, this is probably the press release was made by Martin Swales rather than a Labour politician. Please take time to look again at the Gazette article, because therein lies another disagreement, some fool writing in the comments section reckons we somehow managed in the past without a Chief Executive, beats me how this sort of stuff gets into some minds. No council could be administered without a manager at the top, it matters not what he/she is titled, Chief Officer, Chief Executive, Director, or Town Clerk, we have always had a one!
Finally car parking in South Shields, perhaps one of my hobby horses, I wrote at the time of the introduction of the first “pay and display” areas in Beach Road, South Shields that it would not necessarily kill off the town centre, but also warned that it was the thin end of the wedge and that Town Hall bosses would soon extend the pay and display schemes to other areas, and I was right. I published a picture showing Beach Road populated with parked cars using the new meters, more recent evidence suggests they are not quite so popular now, for instance I can never remember seeing Beach Road so empty opposite the Town Hall, yet places such as Derby Street, Claypath Lane, and back Westoe Road are totally choked! There are even decent amounts of spaces in the town centre car parks since the charging scheme was amended, 1p per minute for just one hour is simply not giving the average shopper sufficient time, the 1p per minute charge should extend to the first two hours as a good compromise. If we can go somewhere toward attracting these motorists back to the areas where they want and need to park, then we won’t be creating as many problems for local residents who see their streets choked by other motorists, then we won’t have the thorny and expensive problems of resident permit areas!
“Big society” parking operators? OK I can go along with that, but more and more “pay and display schemes” at the wrong prices and in the wrong places is now something that seems to be creating additional problems in areas where we don’t need them.
OK, end of rant, I now have a pumpkin to carve, if I can manage to get Iain Malcolm’s face on it I’ll post a picture, I seem to remember that George Elsom looked pretty ghoulish a few years ago :-)
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…whilst failing to control UK PSBN?
I guess David Cameron is taking the right approach in trying to dissuade other nations from continuing to “live on tick” and to get a grip on their own structural deficits, we have gone through one of the most irresponsible economic phases in the modern post war history of the world, there are so many with their heads buried in the sand refusing to see or hear the warnings that eventually when the chickens come home to roost there will be no more corn. One cannot expect nations to borrow excessively without any means of being able to repay the debts, only the most manic households run their family budget on this basis, but after Gordon Brown and Barack Obama badgered the rest of the free world to “invest” in their economies and borrow to bail out the banks following the financial collapse of 2008 it follows that the strain on financial systems will eventually cause a very severe and painful recession as the cash runs out. Hence the need for a false solution known as quantitative easing, to you and I this more easily understood as turning on the presses and printing more money, a historical cause of inflationary pressures leading to increasing interest rates! The writing is already on the wall in respect of the UK economy although the Bank of England is extremely reluctant to allow base rates to rise in fear of depressing the fragile economy even further.
The greatest worry that I have over David Cameron’s fine words in the “new world” is that his coalition government is not making sufficient headway in its own efforts to tackle the budget deficit left by Labour’s wholly incompetent handling of our money, the latest figures for the UK’s Public Sector Net Borrowing requirements showed a record £15.9bn borrowing for last month, an increase of£1.9bn over July signalling a likely inability to meet the full year target set by the Office for Budget Responsibility. Those who warned that austerity measures were going too far too fast were too hasty to judge, and the reality is that the UK’s public spending and national debt are still far from being under any strict control, the coalition government’s problems are massively compounded by the crisis in the Eurozone propelling further injections of our cash into foreign banks to prop up states that (a) followed Gordon Brown’s advice to spend their way out of recession, and (b) did far too little far too late when they realised that no growth equated to no cash. On top of this it has been revealed that the build up of (off balance sheet) debt accruing to the “investment portfolio” of PFI schemes rolled out by Labour in their last term grows with inflation and is likely to have crippling effects on public bodies such as the NHS and Local Authorities as they face up to thirty years of heavy mortgage payments to private companies as well as being tied in to massively expensive maintenance agreements, much as new schools and hospitals are welcomed the method of paying for them is a scary business. South Tyneside will not be immune from this either and I predict that the future costs of our new schools and clinics will lead to even tougher decisions having to be made on expenditure for other services in a painful reality check (if only John Major’s government had not had this bright idea of mortgaging our children eh?).
A reality check is needed from Cameron and Clegg too, it is right to get the Obamas and the profligate spenders of this world to mend their ways, especially if we want China to lead the world into growth, but the PM can only safely harangue them if he is comfortable with the financial stability within his own country first, and for now I don’t think that the coalition has really got to grips sufficiently with the debts left by the disastrous Mr. Brown. Furthermore, spending cuts and austerity measures do only half of the job, the other half requires a complete change of direction, and it was “change” which Cameron campaigned on during the last election, to produce a radical and credible growth policy which involves reform of the taxation system. So far there have been very few signs that George Osborne wants to stimulate the economy with an effective plan that shifts the emphasis from public to private sector investment, the 50p tax rate needs to be abolished despite the howls of protest that will ensue, the Lib-Dem plan to take the low paid out of the taxation system needs to be enacted quickly, National Insurance contributions from start ups need to be reduced, and most importantly we need to re-adjust our relationship with the EU and throw off the shackles of its financial and political strictures we need to get back to having a great trading market with Europe as it was originally envisaged. Osborne needs to be reminded that lower taxes have always resulted in higher tax revenues, and if coupled with lower public spending this will encourage consumers to have more confidence in their own budget planning and spending power and their decisions will help foster a return to controlled growth in the economy.
In short Cameron’s warnings may be right, but he must put his own house in order first before lecturing the world, his government will stand or fall on this one single issue.
……so do Labour of course.
Here is an old video illustrating in nice simple easy terms what a budget deficit looks like and what the scale of the problem of budget cuts is for President Obama’s US administration. Why should we be interested in South Shields you ask? Because the Labour Party want to scare you with lies about evil Tory cuts to schools, the NHS, pensioners bus passes, winter heating allowances, etc. etc. etc. This is all despite the fact that if Labour is returned to power Alistair Darling has already indicated that Labour’s cuts will be more severe and run deeper than those executed by Maggie Thatcher.
The Conservatives want to get going on reducing the budget deficit and the borrowing problem straight away, Labour reckon we can wait a bit, the size of the cuts talked about so far by the Conservatives are only £7bn more than those talked about by Labour, but at the end of the day our problem is very much the same as Obama’s, we just have a smaller table.
Found at Iain Dale’s Diary
Here’s a cut that could be made without hurting anyone much, next time you see South Shields MP David Miliband tell him to STOP wasting our money!
David Miliband starts nationwide tour this week
Click picture for story
Sorry to disappoint that this article has little to do with South Shields real star turn Joe McElderry who kicked off his X Factor tour in Liverpool last night, Joe has spent the last week in rehearsals but the South Shields MP and Foreign Secretary has spent years rehearsing for what he expects to be his star role since being parachuted into the South Shields seat from Tony Blair’s Policy Unit. Miliband has already missed two golden opportunities to depose Gordon Brown as Leader of the Labour Party so he may see the post election period as a “last chance saloon” as MPs prepare for a period of introspection, infighting, and self analysis over the wasted NuLabour years, he is already calling for NuLabour to “change” in mirror to Barack Obama’s campaign slogan and according to Labour Party insiders he is likely to “turn up to the opening of an envelope” if it is to his political benefit. Miliband is to tour the UK taking in speaking engagements with question sessions on a wide range of issues, including but not limited to foreign affairs, as others in the party prepare to raise finances to back a leadership bid for Brown’s protege Ed “blinky” Balls.
Events Dear Boy reckons this story ought to be treated with caution, because it comes from The Mail (fair point) but he does suggest that David Miliband will be a key figure to keep an eye on in the post election phase if we end up with a hung Parliament. Mike Smithson at Political Betting thinks that Miliband’s manoeuvres could be aimed at slapping down the ambitions of his younger brother Ed, and that the smart money for a post election Labour Leader could be moving towards Balls.
As South Shields favourite son (McElderry) prepares to take the world by storm, it’s MP is probably preparing for a storm and trying to navigate a course that will bring him safely home to port, it’s all about the X Factor and how many Xs stack up in his favour – watch this space.
It’s just another symptom of a bankrupt government.
What is it with all of the political hand wringing today?
Government ministers and opposition spokesmen and women all seem to be crying crocodile tears over the fact that we cannot get good value for our pounds in Pakistan. Well we can squarely lay the blame for the demise of our national currency at the door of Gordon Brown who has ruined our economy after thirteen years of unfettered spending and borrowing, and we can sneer at the apparent disjointed messages given by Brown and Baroness Kinnock respectively. Glenda bemoans the fact that Foreign Office budgets are under tight restraint, while Gordon says that:
the “crucible of terrorism” on the Afghan-Pakistan border remained the “number one security threat to the West”
Which is all rather odd considering that the Americans regard the UK as posing the worst Al Qaeda led threat in the western world. Perhaps we’d be better off spending what little money we have left on supporting our own Muslim communities in battling the radicalising of their religion, thus preventing large numbers of Britons heading off to Yemen or Somalia (for that is where the top intelligence people believe the most dangerous training camps have emerged recently).
With al-Qaeda’s leadership under intense pressure from Nato and Pakistani security forces, there are reports that scores of British activists are now travelling to Yemen and Somalia to attend al-Qaeda training camps and receive instructions for carrying out terror attacks against Western targets.
“The level of al-Qaeda activity in Britain is becoming a major source of concern,” said a senior State Department official. “The organisation’s ability to use Britain as a base to plot terror attacks constitutes a serious threat to the security of Britain and other Western countries.”
Unfortunately, we saddled ourselves with Tony Blair in 1997 who decided, for reasons still being investigated by Chilcott, to take us into a couple of wars riding along as George Bush’s partner. Blair, without realising, made Britain a target for Islamic fundamentalists by his actions and even threatens the security of the vast majority of decent average moderate British Muslims as they are psychologically profiled and generally demonised by other sections of society. After another of his Acts of Parliament strengthened the “no win no fee conditional arrangements” we find we cannot even freely talk about terror and it’s consequences in this country, freedom of speech has been seriously curtailed under Labour, and in another consequence of T.W.A.T. (The War Against Terror) we find our police forces spending their time fighting against photographers instead of misguided Islamic radicals.
All these damaging consequences arising from the so called War Against Terror are symptoms of a government bankrupt financially, strategically, and morally, they no longer command authority, are totally muddle headed, and have long passed their sell by date.
Problem is our next government is unlikely to change much in the way that we formulate our foreign policies and hang on to the shirt tails of the USA, President Obama has had a year in The White House, a year that he promised would bring “change”, there has been precious little of it, he promised he would end the war in Afghanistan, yet he has decided to do that by sending even more American troops there, and he promised to bring the troops home from Iraq within 16 months, time is fast running out on that one too. He promised to close Guantanamo Bay, yet it is still operating as his deadline looms.
Perhaps, just perhaps, with a more independent foreign policy and with a Prime Minister able to stand up to an American President, we may be able to divert more of our resources internally and not have to worry so much about the threats from abroad. Perhaps, just perhaps, with British involvement in Afghanistan brought to an end, our security at home may be much improved.
We must live in hope.