Friday, 6 June 2014


International Monetary Fund chairperson Christine Lagarde is highlighting that something needs to be done about Britain's housing bubble. The IMF are suggesting either a rise in interest rates, more house building, or a combination of both.
It's Friday. It's financial. It's Friday Financial with JULIAN SAYER.

Mortgage misery on the way for millions.

This week I want to give a quick recap on what's been happening since I started writing this blog back in February, both on the subjects I have covered, and geographically around the world.

First domestically. A few weeks ago I covered the problems building up in the housing market, and it looks as though it will become even worse than I had feared. The Bank of England even admits a housing bubble is forming, the bubble is out of control and when it bursts it will cause misery for all involved. This is the concern for millions, and if it does it will so damage the UK and its economy over the rest of this decade. This paragraph was taken from the article below which is well worth a read:

"The independent think tank raised the alarm about the most vulnerable 770,000 households already with mortgages, saying they were “doubly exposed”. Typically, they might have very low equity in their home (less than five per cent), might be self-employed or have an interest-only mortgage, making them less attractive to lenders. Secondly, it would take only a relatively modest rise in rates by 2018 for a third of their income to be eaten up by mortgage repayments."

How is this Governments gamble to ride the housing market to stimulate growth for the UK economy going to end? They will have to be very careful, it's already overheating and they have an extremely difficult balancing act ahead, but these housing bubbles don't tend to end well! As a whole the UK economy is growing, but it lacks of any real strength, which means it is very susceptible to outside shocks, and everywhere you look around the world, business is struggling and central banks are panicking.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Why Putting Hartlepool First are no different. More greedy politicians. More snouts in the trough. Zero integrity.


I was born in Hartlepool fifty eight years ago and have never lived more than five miles away from the magnificent Christ Church which stands proudly in the centre of my home town.

I mention this, not only because I'm a proud Hartlepool bloke, but also to counter a stupid comment from a woman the other day on The Hartlepool Mail website who suggested I should keep my nose out of Hartlepool political affairs because I don't live in the town.

The intensely misguided Stella Leighton (if that's her real name) is technically correct but when I was editor of the Hartlepool Mail I could run from the front door of my current home to my office (within spitting distance of the aforementioned Christ Church in under half an hour. It's five miles. Reckon ten minutes on the bike would sort it now.

My affiliation with Hartlepool (I worked and lived in the town for more than forty years plus my connection and editorship of the local newspaper, combined with a lifetime's interest in politics puts me in a unique position to pass comment on all aspects of Hartlepool life.

As the local council elections are just days away I'm going to stick with politics.

Monday, 19 May 2014


UKIP's David Silvester has been widely condemned for calling the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act “contrary to the gospel”. 

I used to live my life thinking live and let live. That was before we started getting lots of rain and gay people started getting married. Obviously the two things couldn't possibly be connected. Could they?

Well, obviously not. Well not if you're rational and level-headed. But what if you're a UKIP supporter?

Since the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, the nation has been beset by serious storms and floods. One recent one caused the worst flooding for 60 years. The Christmas floods were the worst for 127 years. Is this just global warming or is there something more serious at work?”

David Silvester (suspended UKIP councillor) – who called homosexuality a “spiritual disease”, thinks that God is punishing us for allowing people of the same sex equal rights.   This one also works if you are a religious person who doesn’t want their religion hijacked by extremists.

Sunday, 11 May 2014


James Elgar, 19, now denies being racist and sexist and 'did not recognise' some tweets. What a surprise. Neither is the bigot impressed with northern Britain either.

UKIP have a cunning plan to defeat those people who look at all ten instances of racism that their pig ignorant supporters spout. They think if they keep repeating "we are not racists" enough times the public will believe them. It's not going to work. We all know they're blood racists.

Take this for starters: “How we can possibly be giving £1bn a month, when we’re in this sort of debt, to Bongo Bongo Land is completely beyond me.”  This was sexist and racist Godfrey Bloom, showing that when you can’t even be bothered to do your research, some people will be happy with a reference to some “foreign land” or "bongo bongo land".

Our forefathers fought and died in some “foreign land” to stop these racists taking over.  Don’t disgrace their memory by voting for UKIP.

So what if you are Asian, love or care about someone who is Asian?

Here's a nice bit of hysteria from a leading light in UKIP: “They groom and rape underage white girls, stab and rob innocent old white people, bomb innocent white people” beggars belief I know but this was posted on Facebook by James Elgar, a UKIP candidate.

It's worth noting that Mr. Elgar is banned from Woking football ground at the moment.  Sounds like a riot…

In his defence, his father said he isn't sexist because his best friend is a girl. His dad also told the Daily Mirror, that he isn't racist, because, and I kid you not, “Last night he came home at 10:30 with a curry”. Now, I've got a. Dry fertile creative mind but even I couldn't make that up.

Only a matter of time before they play the "he has a black doctor" card.

Now let's suppose you oppose apartheid. What's that you say? Everybody is against apartheid? Not so.

David Williams Griffiths, a member of the West London Branch of UKIP, said after the death of Nelson Mandela, that some people were ‘intended by nature’ to be slaves and were ‘marked out for subjection’ from birth”.  Remember South African apartheid?  Remember the Nazis in 1933?  Are you seriously going to vote for this?

But as is often the case with these little blogs I've saved the best until last.

So cop this: Paul Wiffen, formerly campaigning for Ilford South and the Former Chairman of the London Region of UKIP said: "You Left-wing scum are all the same, wanting to hand our birthright to Romanian gypsies who beat their wives and children into begging and stealing money they can gamble with. Muslim nutters who want to kill us and put us all under medieval Sharia law, the same Africans who sold their Afro-Caribbean brothers into a slavery that Britain was the first to abolish.”

Hell's teeth and Jesus H Christ on a stick. You don’t have to be one of those Left-Wing scummy types to deplore racism. You just have to be a decent human being. 

Don't vote is my advice. If you must vote then spoil your voting card with a huge X. Please don't vote for these racist Nazis.

And whatever you think, please don't think that voting UKIP is in any way a protest against the main parties.

Doing that is like shitting in your hotel bed to protest about poor service at the hotel bar and then realising you have to sleep in the bed.

More later . . .

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Friday, 9 May 2014


JAMES CAMPBELL reveals his on-line
experiences of Putting Hartlepool First, a group that says it is aiming at a new way of doing politics in Hartlepool. It's good intentions don't appear to be put into practice.

Since around Mid-March I've been occupied mainly with a Hartlepool political group called Putting Hartlepool First (PHF).

I call them a political group because they do seem to be a little confused about what they are themselves despite having been around in some form or other since 2012.

What initially attracted my attention was that they described themselves as a group of independents who're opposed to the way the town is being run but recognise that the way the party political system was used in the town restricted the ability of a true independent from being able to influence change.  They even say that they have no whip to enforce policy or a party line and members are able to vote however their conscience tells them to. I liked this train of thought because one of my core beliefs is that elected representatives acting in the interests of their party often runs contra to the interests of the people they represent.

My first contact with PHF was via their Facebook page and resulted in a series of frustrating debates where posts and questions that challenged the views of PHF were regularly deleted and on some occasions people who had done nothing more than ask a question were blocked from the site too.

The full details of this is here:

My last Facebook interaction with PHF was to post that blog on their page where it was deleted within 8 minutes and I was blocked within 10 minutes.

Thursday, 8 May 2014


ANDY FLEMING details how we need to completely replace our current economic paradigm if we are to have a future on the Earth.

It’s so easy to be negative about the current global economic system. And of course there is every reason. Most readers will be aware that the economies of virtually all major developed nations including China are well, stuffed.

When it comes to a solution however, yesterday’s Labour Party European Election broadcast brought home our dilemma. In its theatre and comedy it was excellent, vividly portraying the economic abyss we have descended into as a nation. Character assassinations of Cameron and Clegg flowed freely, highlighting their promotion of the philosophies of greed, inequity, deceit, self-advancement and privilege.

There was of course no reference to Labour’s immense culpability in our economic plight. Neither was there one positive economic policy proposal of how the people’s party was going to fix things. Apart, that is, from the usual rhetoric of economically castrating the bankers, with whom until late 2008 they were so intimate.

They offered no practical policies because here’s the thing; there aren’t any. That’s because the whole current global economic paradigm based on greed, central banks, drugs, money laundering, the military industrial complex and war is quite simply not fit for the new millennium. Tinkering around at the edges with an economic system originating in the sixteenth century simply won’t work, and here’s my rational for saying this, based surprisingly not in politics but in science.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


Paul Nuttall, Deputy Leader of UKIP who openly admits he usually can't be bothered to turn up to vote at the European Parliament, whilst defrauding the taxpayer of £80,000 per annum in salary plus mega expenses. They're all in it together, except with UKIP you also get a right wing blend of sexism, racism and homophobia.


OK. So, you've told all your pals that MPs of all parties are money-grabbing, corrupt, greedy, incompetent bastards who are not worth voting for. Congratulations for stating the bleeding obvious.

But then you go and spoil your impressive performance by saying you're thinking of voting UKIP. Hold it there buddy, I need a serious word with you.

When it comes to being corrupt, greedy, incompetent and filling their bank accounts with your hard-earned dosh, UKIP take the biscuit. In fact they take the whole packet of biscuits.

Thinking of voting UKIP to protest about the way our MPs do their job?  Think MPs should work harder.  UKIP MEPs don’t.  In fact, they pride themselves on not bothering to vote at the European Parliament, although they do turn up occasionally to collect the £80,000 we pay each of them and to bang in some quite outrageous expense claims.

Their Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall says of his own voting record, “I’ll hold my hands up. My attendance record is flaky to say the least. But so what? I treat Brussels with the contempt it deserves.” 

Nice. These people are laughing at the tax-payer, taking money to do nothing, and having a jolly old time “playing at politics” with your tax payers’ money and never actually bothering to go to work.

If you think that Nigel Farage is a good honest bloke, down to earth, represents the common man, and is the sort of bloke you could have a drink with, think again. 

I’m sure you could have a drink with him.  If you could afford it.  Not only has Nigel Farage claimed over £2 million in expenses, but he is the son of a millionaire stock-broker. 

Nigel himself, this man of the people, is a millionaire stock-broker himself, (you know, just like the people who gambled away your pension fund).

Good old Nigel who you could have a drink with down the pub, probably wouldn't want to sit next to an oik like you anyway, because you, unlike him, would not have been able to afford to go to the £10k a year top public school that Nigel was educated in.  Meaning that Nigel's childhood education, is probably worth more than the value of your house will be, after these people destroy our economy.

And remember this is the same Mr. Farage who wants to increase your taxes if he gets elected. The same Mr. Farage who employs his wife AND his alleged bit on the side out of our taxes.

If you believe that the AV referendum was a waste of time and tax-payers money. Well done.

Nigel Farage didn’t.  He was all for it, declaring that the current First Past the Post system is “a nightmare for UKIP”.

Maybe you believe that UKIP can do a better job of running the country than the other main parties.

Well, that’s up for debate, it's hard to find anyone who thinks that any of the big three parties have done a good job, but at least they are organised.  UKIP “forgot” to put their party name on the candidates’ ballot paper for the Local and Mayoral elections in London 2012.  These people want to run your country, by the way.

They have incompetence in their DNA. Along with racism, homophobia and a firmly held belief that gay marriage causes flooding.

You may like to have a rethink . . .


Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Sunday, 4 May 2014


Bloom-in Awful. He may look as innocent as Victor Meldrew, but this odious individual is UKIP's Godfrey Bloom. His brand of sexism and xenophobia is so extreme he is even an embarrassment at European Parliament group meetings of his own party. 


Many of UKIP's members are sexist pigs. It all filters down from the top. Honest broker Nigel is said by fellow UKIP top brass to "have an eye for crumpet". Yes, he's married. His wife works for him but never mind eh?

That should be enough to put you off them for life. If it isn't, here's a few more:

Women who do not clean behind their fridges are “sluts”.  An hilarious quip from Godfrey Bloom.  He says he was just joking.  Oh, how we laughed…

Women are “”nowhere near as good as men” at chess, bridge and poker.  Stewart Wheeler the UKIP party treasurer said that.   Two points here.  The first is, what on earth has that got to do with running a country? The second is, tell that to Victoria Coren, this country's best and most successful tournament poker player, and the first player, (not woman, but player of any gender), to win the European Poker Tour twice.

Then there's the UKIP candidate being investigated after his Twitter feed was found to contain apparently racist and sexist remarks.

James Elgar's account also included references to hijacked planes, rape by "Asian boys" and "foreigners and weirdos".

One of his tweets said: "There is [sic] no women in the CBB final? That's because they are all in the kitchen where they belong..."

So, if you are female and considering voting UKIP, I'd really like some of the drugs you're on.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Friday, 2 May 2014


A young couple look in horror through an estate agent's window at the ridiculous cost of buying or renting a home in Britain today.

It's Friday. It's financial. It's Friday Financial with JULIAN SAYER.

Millions are working themselves into the ground just to pay the the rent

IN EVERY facet of society the working population are finding it harder and harder to get on in life. I have looked at employment, pensions, tax, and inflation, and everything is going against a hard working person. This week I want to look at how difficult it is to get on the housing ladder, and who is benefiting from this artificial market.

Since Margaret Thatcher sold off the council houses and promised everybody should have the chance to own their own house, the UK has fallen in love with home ownership. We have seen over the years just how important the housing sector is to the economy. A booming housing market often means a booming economy. The solicitors, Estate Agents, removal  men, DIY stores, carpet shops to name but a few all benefit enormously when house sales are high. It's been an important part of this Government’s economic policy to try to help get the housing market moving again after the financial meltdown back in 2007.

After the 2007 financial crisis, lending changed overnight. The leveraged institutions simply could not get hold of funds in order to lend for mortgages. Employment became harder and salaries reduced and house prices fell. Demand dried up and they simply stopped building houses.

The wealthy were eager to buy every asset that the Quantitative Easing driven, low interest rate environment demanded. Housing is back in demand. With demographics, immigration and a reduction in supply, there is a huge shortage of houses.

The Government even realised there is a problem;

The problem is that with supply failing to keep up with demand, rents are rising faster than incomes in some parts of the country, meaning that a higher proportion of people's wages are spent just keeping a roof over their heads.

Thursday, 1 May 2014


Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP enjoying his customary pint and cigarette. This clever marketing ploy as a 'man of the people' disguises the unpleasant truth about this far right party of racists, homophobes and sexists.
Public schooled, ex-banker has conned the public through the bottom of a pint glass.


WINSTON CHURCHILL famously said: "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Never a truer word and it seems that old Winston must have been talking to the same sort of people that I converse with on Facebook and Twitter as well as the real word.

Without wanting to sound superior (obviously I am) most people's knowledge of politics and the democratic process (which is a total sham) could be written on the back of an envelope with a six-inch emulsion brush. They'll be able to tell you every X Factor winner since 1936 but ask who is foreign secretary or leader of the opposition and they'd be knackered.

Is it any wonder then that a party of racists, homophobes, sexists and general oddballs have managed to convince a huge proportion of the electorate that they are the voice of reason?

No matter which way they try to spin it, UKIP is a party for people who aren't very bright. It has to be. Anybody with an IQ into double figures would quickly realise that UKIP is nothing more than BNP Lite; a party for people who are happy to trot out the line "I'm not racist, I've got a black doctor"

But it would be stupid to say that all UKIP voters are closet racists. Of course they're not. Just most of them. But I want to focus on the others. The ones whose only excuses are that they are stupid, suffering from cognitive dissonance or they're desperate for change. It's the last one that I think explains the UKIP phenomenon.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014


A Northern Rail Class 156 Sprinter, calls at Castleton Moor on the Esk Valley Railway with a Whitby to Middlesbrough service. This line was saved quite arbitrarily from the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, and yet for 20 years since privatisation has seen only a couple of trains per day in each direction. Unforgivably, none of these services are suitable for commuting to either of the line's termini. This railway awaits an imaginative and innovative operator who will maximise its undoubted potential at the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.
In last week's post Privatisation Profiteers Ride the Rails (at your expense), ANDY FLEMING examined the Tories'
half baked, inefficient, horrendously expensive and disastrous privatisation experiment with our railways. 

In the last post in this series he examines why Britain's rail network now the most fragmented and expensive in Western Europe to both passenger and tax payer alike, has become a cash cow to train operating companies who reap the profits, while you and I pay the losses.

Following the botched privatisation of British Rail in 1994, hopes were high that a change to a New Labour government in 1997 would see re-nationalisation of this strategic national asset in a country crying out for an affordable, reliable, safe and fully integrated environmentally-friendly public transport system.

But of course we didn’t see any such change. The key was in the word ‘New’. What we received was just a continuation of Major’s full-baked policies in railways and elsewhere, just different cronies enacting them. Sure there was the odd left winger full of bluster who was ready to drop all of their principals, in order to give the impression that there may be a little socialisation of the economy but of course it was a mirage. As would become clear following Tony Blair and George Bush’s illegal Iraq War of 2003, the petroleum industry was still pulling the strings despite the environmental rhetoric and run-ins with hard working truck drivers.

This phoney environmentalism was however a deceitful and duplicitous way of launching a full scale assault on the motorist with crippling petrol taxes, while simultaneously John Prescott was announcing an investment in railways so grand that the Victorians would have been jealous. It was of course all lies. Most of the £30 billion funding for the network announced in early 1999 wasn’t new money at all, just recycled promises from the last days of Major’s corrupt and sleazy administration. New Labour were of course masters of lies, dishonesty and deceit (these grotesque human traits were of course spun as ‘spin’ to the gullible).

It was brought home to me one night when BBC Look North carried a visit by Tony Blair to a primary school in Ferryhill, part of his Sedgefield constituency. One little girl asked the Prime Minister a fantastic question that deserved a fully honest answer.

“Please can you re-open Ferryhill station as there are a lot of people here who can’t afford cars”, she said.

His answer would be the reason why I wouldn’t vote Labour ever again,

“I’d love to be in a position to do it, but it would be just far too expensive”.

It was clear where this charlatan’s loyalties lay and they certainly weren’t with his constituents’ needs in a civilised society for even a basic public transport system. And he certainly couldn’t care less about the environment.

Sunday, 27 April 2014


It's Sunday. But it's financial. So it's Friday Financial with JULIAN SAYER.

Why and how inflation and falling wages hasn't bothered the wealthy.

This week I want to look at inflation and the cost of living crisis. There was a lot of fanfare last week with the announcement that wage increases have finally passed the rate of inflation. The full details of the announcement can be found here;

On the surface it sounds great, the bedrock of a recovery is in place and good times are just around the corner. But, if you look into what has happened over the last forty years and the consequences over the coming years, then a different picture emerges.

These figures include all the high ranking salaried jobs mainly in the banking and financial sector that we the tax payer so happily saved back in 2008. These salaries have and are rising faster than any other. These million pounds salaries and their huge bonuses will adversely affect this data, boosting the percentage higher and disproportionately. Our Government does little to cap them as it encourages the City to make more and more money. Just look at the figures involved, who else gets million pounds salaries and two hundred per cent bonuses?

Wages for the average person have stagnated and inflation has eroded the spending power that this reduced income can buy. For example average earnings adjusted for inflation have dropped 7.2 per cent since 2010 – leaving millions more than £2,000 a year worse off. This is where the economy has been hurt.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Rail privatisation was implemented in a way that made no economic sense whatsoever, but satisfied the Tory dogma of state equals bad; private equals good.

ANDY FLEMING looked at how our once great national railway system that was the envy of the world, was butchered by politicians obsessed with imposing free market disciplines on a strategic national monopoly. In this post he takes a look at the Tories' half baked, inefficient, horrendously expensive and disastrous privatisation experiment with our railways.

You can always detect a political zealot. They are just like religious zealots and fundamentalists. The very last thing any of them can be bothered to do is learn any facts about the particular area they rant about. And I don't mind, I'm all for freedom of speech, just so long as they don't wreck our industries and economy or blow up aeroplanes. But that's just what's been happening to the British economy over the last four or five decades.

It has of course been an agenda dominated by right wing libertarian politics that has espoused an age old doctrine first propounded by Adam Smith and his "hidden hand" in his tome The Wealth of Nations. Like a hydra that keeps having its tentacles amputated, its philosophies of deregulation, "rolling back the state", and the wholesale privatisation of strategic state natural monopolistic industries just keep growing back.

The same old tired policies practiced right up to 1945 keep getting trotted out in every new generation of right wing politicians. They regard them as panaceas to every conceivable societal ill. It took an 'Old Labour' government led by Clement Attlee to civilise Britain, to legislate against children being sent up chimneys or down mines or becoming illiterate adults. Centuries of Adam Smith's free markets had failed to provide even a meagre standard of living for the majority of the population. The whole ideology was and still is just an excuse for individual greed masquerading as a political and economic ideology.

In just a few a few short years following VE day thanks to collective state intervention, Britain gained a socialised health care and education system, a Welfare State, socialised housing and the nationalisation of decrepit and rundown yet vital and strategic monopolistic industries including steel, coal and the railways. Such is the nature of global capitalism however, that even in the fifties a civilised society meant a society in which wage, safety and environmental protection costs were higher. Corporations and international capital always on the lookout for a workforce and a nation to exploit started to relocate their sweat shops run with slave labour to places such as Hong Kong and Japan.

It wasn’t long before the worsening balance of payments and trade deficits were being blamed on workforce laziness, unionisation, wages, infact everything under the sun as long as that didn’t include archaic British management practices or an early sixties Macmillan government led by a bunch of politicians like Profumo who epitomised the word sleaze.

Nationalised industries bore brunt of much of the blame and especially Britain’s railways. Nationalised in 1948 out of desperation resulting from decades of private company neglect, the “Big Four” railway companies (London Midland Scottish, Great Western Railway, London and North Eastern Railway and Southern Railways) became united and nationalised as British Railways.

It's April,1964 and even before Beeching swung his infamous axe, secondary but still important routes were being axed. Here is 34085 '501 Squadron' having to take a new route following the closure of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway near Sway.
At the time, the railways were faced with special problems. Before the Second World War both goods and passenger traffic was being lost due to the private motor car and lorry, both of which offered flexibility, no intermodal changes during a journey, and freedom in days long before traffic congestion. Prestigious expresses and high speed steam trains with romantic names were instigated such as the Coronation Scot, the Pines Express and the Flying Scotsman were instigated to lure passengers back thanks to their luxurious accommodation and futuristic looking motive power.

By 1945, after six long years of war and starved of funds, Britain’s railways were literally falling to bits. There had been a handful of things that ensured Britain had not been invaded by Nazi Germany, and most people will be able to name the well-known ones: the RAF in the Battle of Britain, the USA’s hand being forced at Pearl Harbour, and the carnage inflicted on the Soviet forces and people in defending Stalingrad. Well also add our railways and railwaymen. Because without them the mass movement of goods and people for D-Day, the evacuation or for the war effort generally would not have been possible.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Polly Toynbee joins protesters inside the Conduit Street branch of Starbucks (Image courtesy of The Observer)

We've already got it. we just need to use it properly

WITH the World Cup due to start in Brazil shortly, it's very appropriate that coffee has been in the news recently.

Firstly we had the news that Cafe Nero had been following the long practiced tradition of multi-national coffee chains and had been avoiding tax. Next up we had Starbucks - the company that led the way in tax dodging - announcing that it was moving its European headquarters to the UK. They cheerfully added that this would mean they would be paying more tax.

Well, that's jolly good of them. See, in the past they've not been able to see the benefits of coughing up tax. Oddly enough they've been unable to see that things like hospitals and schools and other nice stuff is paid for from tax receipts. So, it's nice that they've at last seen the error of their ways and will now be tipping vast sums of money into treasury coffers.

So why the change in attitude from Starbucks? Have they suddenly developed a guilt complex or taken on a new philanthropic approach? Have they hell. Since the outcry a couple of years ago over their tax avoidance, they've been losing customers. This is nothing other than soft soap PR. Rest assured they'll still be doing their utmost to deprive the Treasury of as much as they can.

Walk down any High Street and you'll still see idiots paying through the nose for Starbucks coffee despite all the publicity and boycotts in 2012. Quite frankly I despair. Our town centres are awash with coffee shops - both multiples and independents - so why the hell would anyone choose to give Starbucks their hard earned cash? In fact why would anyone choose to NOT use an independent?

Sunday, 20 April 2014


It's April 14, 1976, and Metro Radio's James Whale presents the station's late night phone-in programme, Night Owls. Metro Radio was one of the first nineteen commercial radio stations to gain an IBA licence following the demise of the North Sea pirate station in the late sixties. It's on air date was July 15, 1974.
ANDY FLEMING analyses how over the past thirty years freedom of speech, innovation, personality, choice and
imagination have been sacrificed within Commercial Radio, in favour of maximising company shareholder value and franchise revenue streams for the government. And politicians are once again the culprits! Our airwaves have been sold to the highest bidder without a thought for local public service or quality content.

Do you have a long memory? Do you remember how after her General Election victory in May, 1979, Margaret Thatcher 'transformed' the economic landscape of Britain with her 'resolute approach'? It was a defining moment in the social, political and economic history of our country. Because until that date all previous governments whether Conservative or Labour subscribed to the so-called social democratic consensus. In other words the British economy would not be comprehensively exposed to the vagaries of the free market, and neither at the same time would it be a full blown command economy as per the Eastern Bloc with all the limitations in terms of individual freedom such collectivisation would entail. Capitalism was to be the economic system rather than socialism, but the worst excesses of the free market would be excluded by a collectively provided welfare state.
So the UK was dragged into the modern world with a National Health Service, a free education system for all, benefits for the elderly, disabled and those unfortunate enough to be unemployed, a properly integrated public transport system and of course, 'homes for those returning heroes' from fighting Nazi Germany. Britain was going to be a more pleasant, fairer society where opportunities were going to be accessible to everyone without the exploitation and poverty of the inter war years. The Gold Standard was dropped and this new social democratic consensus was to be underpinned with Keynesian economics. The government would regulate capitalism by stimulating the economy in a recession with capital projects and would restrict the money supply when the economy overheated in one capitalism's cyclical booms. That was the theory at least, and until the late sixties and an ever increasing balance of payments deficit the mixed economy model seemed to be a practical compromise.

Regulation seemed to work, whether it was in employment, unemployment, housing, transport, and telecommunications or as especially applicable here, the media. However with the devaluation of sterling crisis in 1967 and then a major world oil price shock in October 1973 as a direct result of an Arab-Israeli war western economies had been hit by an economic tsunami. And it was one from which Keynesianism was not to recover sparking as it did political and industrial strife including three day weeks and Winters of Discontent. With another oil shock in 1979 as a result of the Iranian revolution, the last government of the old social democratic order and the last true Labour government led by Jim Callaghan was swept away by a new Conservative Party in government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Her government was totally different to those of the preceding four decades, espousing as it did, a return to 'monetarism' to reduce inflation (restricting the money supply) as propounded by her economic guru Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek before him.

Thatcher's policies were socially brutal and divisive. Whole state industries were to be privatised and closed if not profitable irrespective of the country's strategic needs, or if the result led to mass unemployment. Inflation was to be reduced at all costs as was taxation; but just income tax and mainly the rates for top earners. VAT was doubled, and from the outset there was a re-distribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. Benefits were slashed in an effort to cut state spending and regulations across business, including in the media were cut to maximise profits. State 'red tape' to protect the consumer was apparently strangling private enterprise. Infact, Thatcher's whole philosophy could be summed up succinctly as state equals bad; private equals good. Period. But what would the effect of these gargantuan economic changes be on the media, and radio in particular?