Mr Fallon’s Merton Rule Bill – another mighty oak from Sevenoaks?

Each year twenty back bench members of the House of Commons names are drawn from all back benchers names in a ballot. The twenty lucky ones will be given some of Parliament’s time and resources to draw up a bill that might become law. Usually only the top few names in the ballot have a serious chance of seeing their bills enacted, and the remainder simply use the time to publicise things that they want to change.  Continue reading

What birds can teach us about climate change

I must admit that I don’t know a lot about birds but I do know that they can be harbingers of change. I have been looking at the Royal Society Protection of Bird’s website and at the Chaffinch in particular, because it is a pretty yellow gold bird, and when I played the chaffinch song for the web site it sounded familiar and delightful. I see that chaffinch eat seeds and insects, and cover most of England Wales and Scotland. There are either 313,000 breeding pairs (although other sources say 200,000 pairs). Most Chaffinch migrate to Spain for the winter but recently more chaffinch than normal chose to stay in this country. Continue reading

The unknowns of climate change

People who do not believe that climate change caused by human activity is happening (and they are perfectly entitled to their views) point out that there are many unknown factors in the science and theory of climate change. This is bound to be true of any scientific theory that you cannot verify by experimentation. Instead you have to make deductions from facts and circumstances. While you rely on consensus of a majority of scientists any theory is but a theory and lacks the hard proof.

Some theories are proved subsequently; when Copernicus postulated that the heavenly spheres revolved around the sun and not the earth in 1514 it was simply a theory. Within a hundred years the Church opposed Copernicus’s theory and a few years later tried Galileo for heresy for following Copernicus’ ideas. 250 years later Copernicus’ ideas were widely accepted. Continue reading

Coral reefs are dieing

 If you have been lucky enough to snorkel around a coral reef you will know what marvellous places they are. They are homes to about a quarter of all marine life and are an invaluable source of shelter for breeding and spawning fish and crustaceans. Reefs also serve a valuable carbon dioxide absorbing function both directly and indirectly by protecting shorelines thus enabling trees like mangroves to grow. They also absorb a lot of wave energy, particularly important when events like Tsunamis are involved.  Continue reading

How to complain about problems with your gas, electricity, water, telephone, council tax, broadband and similar bills and bank charges

How should you complain about problems with your gas, electricity, telephone service, council tax, broadband and other services?

I rarely complain. Mostly I am too busy and cannot be bothered. If I get upset about some poor service or a billing error or whatever, I try to get it sorted but the laws of negative returns often comes into effect and I leave it alone. Lots of people do the same. As a nation we are not very good about complaining and I think that we are becoming less effective at it because of tactics employed against complainers and as a result we are allowing the near monopolistic services (like those that provide energy or telephones or those that collect the council tax) to provide inadequate service safe behind the huge market shares that they all enjoy.  Continue reading

Gordon Brown calls for global institutions to do his job

Gordon Brown has been arguing the case for reform at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He says we need greater globalisation and new global institutions to cope with global capital movement. He says that the present economic problems of credit stem from “under pricing of risk” which no one spotted due to lack of transparency. As usual he sees a big picture with distorted vision. The credit problems did not happen because of lack of transparency. I cannot believe that any bank bought bonds derived from junk mortgages without having the small print in front of them. It was nothing to do with transparency and everything to do with laziness and inadequate local regulation.   Continue reading

Holding terror suspects without charge is locking up democracy, freedom and justice

On the 28th October 1940 Italy invaded Greece. The invasion inspired my father Nicolas Kyriakides to join the Cyprus Regiment of the British Army in Alexandria; he, along with other Cypriots, was promised that if Cypriots joined the Army after the defeat of the Axis forces Britain would grant Cyrus independence. A higher proportion of Cypriots (compared to their population) fought in the war for Britain than any other Commonwealth or Empire force.   Continue reading

Peter Hain quits

I predicted last week (17th January) that Gordon Brown’s vote of confidence in Peter Hain did not bode well for Hain’s prospects of keeping his job. He has now quit the cabinet to clear his name.

EU renewable energy targets – renewable heat is part of the solution, not the problem, dummy!

The European Union will legally require each country in the Union to meet a certain fixed percentage of its energy by renewables by 2020 if plans announced yesterday are approved, as they are likely to be. In the case of the United Kingdom that fixed percentage is 15%. The United Kingdom has got off very lightly; Germany, which has a much larger uptake of renewables than the UK must produce 18% of its energy by renewables, and Sweden a whopping 49%, presumably because they will burn their forests.  Continue reading

Northern Rock and Iraq – using the same argument to deflect examination

Alistair Darling has got us in a big mess. Somehow, we all have invested over £2,000 each in the Northern Rock Bank, without knowing it. Mr Darling together with Gordon Brown decided to bail out the failed bank with a defective business plan. It was such a shame that the government appointed regulators operating under a government designed structure never noticed the business plan of the Northern Rock was so defective until it was too late.  

Now Mr Darling wants us to concentrate on how he can get the best value for our investment in the Northern Rock, rather than carp on about how we got into the mess in the first place. That argument is identical to Tony Blair’s argument about invading Iraq when he found out for certain that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Never mind the cock up in the past, let us make the best for the future.

That argument doesn’t wash, either about Iraq or about the Northern Rock.  Of course we should make the best of a very bad job – no question about that. However, making the best of a bad job does not prevent us examining why we made such a mess up in the first place. What did Mr Darling and Mr Brown do wrong? Some say they dithered at crucial times; others say they failed to plan for this contingency; others say the bail out should not have extended to investors, shareholders and employees, but be limited to deposit holders.

Perhaps the decision makers never quite had the intellectual capacity to understand the solution. The truth probably lies as a complex combination of all four things. 

Does Mr Darling have the brains to get us out of the mess?  None of the very large banks has shown any sign of wanting to get involved. The people who are now circling the corpse of the Northern Rock – chaps like Richard Branson – are not doing so in order to bail out the taxpayer or the government but in the hope of making a fat profit unwritten by the taxpayer.

For them it would be a one way bet with no downside. In these circumstances I would prefer for the bank to be nationalised, so that the taxpayer had a chance of making some money on the £60 billion it has risked in this venture. 

It is interesting how Alistair Darling can find that the country can afford £60 billion to save a bank with a failed business plan after a weekend’s thought, but cannot after lengthy reports and enquiries find 10% of that sum to save the planet by investing in renewables. Or even 5%. Or even 1%.

Darling has bought for us what we did not want to buy, paid more than he should have paid and is now pretending that we only need to discuss how to palm off the purchase on someone else at a cut price. 

As I write Gordon Brown is in India with business leaders (including Richard Branson) to rustle up some orders for the United Kingdom’s economy. The Prime Minister is helping these business leaders get some good business. I am desperately trying it find out how I can get the Prime Minister to help rustle up some orders for my business. I know that there is one ex Prime Minister around who is up for hire, but Genersys cannot afford his fees.