Author Archives: Millennium Elephant

Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary: October and November… Worst! Recession! Ever!

This week sees the Government reveal its Pre-Budget Report, usually a review of spending in advance of the budget where the Chancellor says how he’ll be paying for it all though, traditionally, the run-up to a general election is the time for the Chancellor to play Santa, showering presents on favoured voters in key marginals, and with all the indications now pointing to a March General election, chances are we’ll never quite get to Hard Labour facing the BILL.

This year, of course, there is considerably less room for LARGESS. So let’s start with a look at where we’re …

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… September: Party Games

Well, the recession is nearly over just in time for the economy to become the BATTLEFIELD for the forthcoming General Election. So we’ve had the Party Conference season now, and we’ve seen the three large Westminster Parties draw up their battle-lines.

What is INTERESTING is how each of the three has a very different DIAGNOSIS of the cause of the credit crunch, and that very much decides what their POLICIES are going to be.

So, if I might rather dramatically summarise, what the three economic spokespersons had to say (presented in the order that they said it) was:

Mr

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… August: It’ll All Be Over By Christmas?

Before we start, a word about bankers’ bonuses.

With the head of the Financial Services Watchdog, Mr Airhead Turner, placing bankers on a scale between Socially Awkward and Totally Useless, people have been coming up with plans to curb excessive bonuses. Mr Airhead himself floated the idea of a transaction tax or Tobin tax, where you charge the bankers for passing money across the border.

Captain Clegg and the Liberal Democrats don’t think this would work, because the bankers would just pass their money over everyone’s border but ours!

We’d rather see bonuses cut down to size by cutting the BANKS down to size, breaking them up so they are no longer too big to save when it turns out that they are too big to let fail.

For the Conservatories, Master Gideon Oboe said that if banks didn’t stop awarding big bonuses he would have the regulator write them a VERY STERN letter, warning them that he would not sign off on their pay package. And if they persisted in paying out, well, he’d write them ANOTHER very stern letter! That would sort them out.

And Mr Frown, the Prime Monster himself, promised to try very hard to put a STOP to that sort of thing, and then tried very hard to scupper Monsieur Sarcastic and Ms Angular Meercat’s plan to ACTUALLY stop that sort of thing!

I think it is time to put a fresh proposal on the table.

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… July: Is it ALL about the Banks?

You would think from the news that the BANKS were the most important things in the British Economy.

And I’m afraid you would be RIGHT.

The financial sector is far and away the largest contributor to Great Britain’s Gross Domestic Product; our exports of financial services in 2007 amounted to TWENTY-ONE billion pounds, almost a tenth of ALL exports and more than from adding together our other two big sellers (that’s food and drink: £10bn and, embarrassingly, arms sales: £7bn).

Well now we’ve seen the results for the first half of the year for some of the BIGGEST BANKERS on the High Street. …

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary … June: Back to Business as Usual

After last month’s political MELTDOWN over MPs’ Expensives, and the resulting RADIOACTIVE DEBACLE of two British Nasty Party members being elected to represent us in the Euro Parliament, we were promised “a new politics”.

What we GOT was a row about spending cuts that’s SO “old politics” it is practically carbon-dated! Both Conservatories and Hard Labour were reduced to calling each other lying liars while coverage of the Liberal Democrats went from “grudging” to “invisible” faster than Mr Nick Robinson can read out a Conservatory Party Press release on the Ten O’clock News.

Welcome to the Brave New World, folks!

There’s two things going on here.

Firstly, the first, URGENT phase of the recession is PROBABLY OVER. That is a long, LONG way from saying that the RECESSION is over, or even nearly over, but the part where the news can draw exciting, sexy graphs of the economy driving off a cliff is over, and we are into the long, messy, boring tail of rising unemployment, bankruptcies, repossessions and general hardship-induced misery.

The month may have started with news of the final death of the very last remnants of British Leyland, as bankruptcy claimed the van makers LDV (or Leyland Daff Vans), but in spite of this people were actually talking about that most toxic of economic phrases: “green shoots”. This is the financial equivalent of “It’ll all be over by Christmas!” And indeed, several of the commentators have not caught themselves short of saying almost that: the implication that the British economy might be back into growth, if not already then by the fourth quarter this year, has had many thinking that that about wraps it up for the recession.

This seems like good news for Hard Labour, as it allows them to say “ah ha! we Saved the Country from recession! We DO know what we’re doing!” But it also plays well for Mr Balloon, because it puts a stop to Mr Frown’s “no time for a novice” soundbite, and allows his Conservatories to run with their “fresh start” agenda.

But HOLD ON! Both sides are now thinking about the post-recession but we’re NOT OUT OF THE HOLE YET!

The CBI have warned people not to get all premature on these signs of recovery, and do not expect unemployment to peak until well into NEXT year.

Meanwhile, the Office of National Statistics have released figures showing that the recession started EARLIER and decline had been DEEPER than previously believed. Basically, we’ve been in recession for a whole year, and in that time we have lost a TWENTIETH of the British economy.

Obviously now is NOT the time to take our eyes off the economic ball… and yet that is EXACTLY what we have done.

Never mind the boring old economy, someone famous has died and anyway the sun is shining and Wimbledon is on… what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Well, under cover of the MPs’ Expensives scandal, the wunch of bankers in the City have quietly slipped back to their old ways: the catchphrase of the year is “bonuses are back” (like they ever went away, apparently), while the newly appointed boss of the Royal Bank-that-WE-own of Scotland is to be paid a nine-point-six MILLION pound salary. Nice work, as they say, if you can get it.

This is, frankly, the sort of behaviour that leaves people fuming and thinking that maybe we SHOULD have let a major bank FAIL. Cuddly Cthulhu knows what damage THAT would have done to the economy…

…though it does present us with a PARADOX: if we let the banks fall we’d all be bombed back to a Green-Party-economy trying to barter beads for chickens, but by saving the banks we have encouraged them to do MORE OF THE SAME. Doing the right thing seems to have made matters WORSE!

Hilariously, Chancellor Sooty prefigured his annual jolly at the Mansion House with an announcement that banking regulation was “not to blame” for the near-belly-upping of the banking sector.

Well, TECHNICALLY this is TRUE. Just as, for example, if you see a Porsche wrapped around a lamppost at ninety miles an hour it is fault of the driver for speeding and not the police… though it might have helped a BIT if they had pulled him over rather than waving him on by.

But surely you would have to be a TOTAL LUNATIC to suggest that: “everything was fine, we had a week or so of Armageddon but everything’s fine again, now.”

And yet the Government’s approach seems to be one of “we did nothing wrong, so we’ll carry on just the same”; while the bankers’ approach seems to be “we got our conkers pulled out of the fire once, and wahey more money! so we’ll carry on just the same!”

Because it seems to me that we’ve bought the driver a brand new Porsche, and are ignoring the innocent pedestrians left dead on the pavement by his passage towards that lamppost.

Does no one else see anything WRONG with this scenario?

Certainly not the Government. And certainly not the Loyal Opposition.

Because the SECOND thing that is going on is that, in the absence of a GENERAL ELECTION, both sides have decided that they are going to have one anyway.

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… May: Not Just Moral Bankruptcy

General Motors, the World’s biggest car company, responsible for the world’s biggest cars, became the World’s biggest BANKRUPT.

As the economic output of Great Britain fell by a confirmed 1.9% in the first quarter, with the biggest fall in consumer spending since 1980, and while inflation was marginally better at a manageable-if-still-above-the chancellor’s-target-band rate of 2.3%, High Street sales fell back after an unexpected rise in April (possibly down to a late Easter), so the worsening recession continued to hold the attention of the news meeja…

…Oh, who am I kidding! There has only been ONE news story …

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… April: Fools and Swines

In 1909, Mr Lloyd George went to the Cabinet fourteen times in order to hammer out approval for the People’s Budget before he took it to the House of Commons. That is an extraordinary level of co-operation; that is the way the system is supposed to work.

When I and my fellow Lib Dem bloggers went to talk to Mr Chris Huhney-Monster, on the day before the 2009 Budget, he mentioned this because, in more than thirty years of looking at Budgets in one form or another, he cannot think of a single case of the Cabinet being informed more than two days in advance.

It’s a SIGN of just how BROKEN our top-down, centralized, secretive, power-crazed system has become.

This year, however, the Cabinet no doubt learned most of the SALIENT details at the same time as the rest of us: by reading the weekend newspapers.

As we shall see, it has been a month when the MEEJA has been getting BORED of the continuing story of MONEYGEDDON (©Mr Charlie Brooker) and gone looking for new stories to distract us, whether it was the April Fool Riots, or Downing Street’s “In the Loop” antics, or Flying Piggies.

Anyway, before SWINE FLU goes all “Terry Nation’s Survivors” on us, which would REALLY put the kybosh on Global Recovery, hopefully there is time for me to tell you all about what ACTUALLY happened in April. Though, so if you’re feeling a bit SNUFFLY you might want to get your TAMIFLU in before starting to read…

Posted in Humour and Op-eds | 8 Comments

The Elephant Interviews… Mr Chris Huhne, Fighting for Freedom

Hello fluffy friends!

I hope that you have had a Happy Easter break and that you all watched new DOCTOR WHO.

But now, it is time for another interview. Short notice, this time, but if you can be in WESTMINSTER next TUESDAY, 21st April, at 5.15pm then this is your chance to put the questions to the Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Mr Chris Huhne.

We have not spoken to Mr Chris since the LEADERSHIP CONTEST, but since very nearly pipping Mr Clogg at the post, he has been working hard on the important Home Office and Civil Liberties brief.

Mr Huhne recently published …

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… March: Tax and Chocolate

I shall start with the MOST IMPORTANT news: People of Britain, friends, you can relax: despite an alleged “explosion of obesity” (why do the words “It’s wafer thin!” come to mind?) GPs have decided NOT to call for a tax on CHOCOLATE.

In the next few days Great Britain will be hosting the G20 Summit when lots of IMPORTANT world leaders – and Mr Frown, the Prime Monster – will be gathered together to decide what is THE SOLUTION.

So on the one fluffy foot, this diary could be OBSOLETE within 72 hours. But on the OTHER fluffy foot, when did a huge World Summit ever actually SOLVE anything?

But with April containing not just the G-Whizz summit but also Chancellor Sooty’s budget, much of March has seemed to be no more than PROLOGUE.

So, the prologue…

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… February: Launch the Lifeboats

During the financial crisis, Lib Dem blogger Millennium Dome, Elephant, has agreed to give LDV a glimpse of his Credit Crunch Diary. You can read Part One here.

Rescue packages for everyone* this month: from Mr Lord Mandelbrot’s car loan scheme to Bank Bailout II (this time it’s RBS) to the slightly surprising suggestion in the Grauniad that our beloved Prime Monster, Mr Frown, might be taking to his own little dingy dinghy.

But all these rescue packages have the same message: Mr Frown’s PLAN to save the World economy DOESN’T WORK.

With the Hard Labour Government’s opinion poll ratings on the slide … AGAIN, their “recovery” turned out to be just another “Frown Flounce” – a reverberation of the feline post-mortem variety** – and this triggered another bout of Musical Cabinet Chairs, with everyone*** desperate not to be left sitting in the Prime Monster’s seat when the General Election music stops.

Last month people were SCARED. But this month they are starting to get ANGRY.

Because if January saw people waking up and starting to see, though the blur of the post-Christmas hangovers, that the party was over and it was time to gingerly peel open the credit card bill and peek at the damage, then February was when they spotted all those bottles of Cristal on the statement and said: “Just a COTTON-PICKIN’ minute; WE didn’t order THAT!”

That’s why people are now so cross about Ms Jacqui Spliff, the so-called Second-Home Secretary, apparently feathering her nest. And her OTHER nest. In less straitened times people (or at least journalists) might have been more inclined to overlook this sort of story, but now when a lot, and I mean a LOT, of people are facing up to the possibility of losing their ONE AND ONLY home, this looks like it is taking the Michael. (To rub salt in the wound, can anyone have been happy to hear the news that the Government’s scheme to try to help people in danger of repossession has been delayed until April while who knows how many more people are going to lose their homes in the meanwhile?)

Similarly, “apologies” from obscenely wealthy bankers and the slap-on-the-wrist of a trip to the Select Committee (rather than a trip to the woodshed, which many think warranted) do not cut much mustard. Particularly when within 24 hours the deputy-chief bank regulator (and former head of HBoS) resigns on the grounds that he is “completely innocent” of ignoring and then sacking the man who warned him (when he was head of HBoS) that HBoS was dangerously overexposed in the risky borrowing department. As it turns out, HBoS WAS dangerously overexposed in the risky borrowing department. But that doesn’t, apparently, prove anything.

And only two days after that, the new Super-bank, “Lloyds TSB HBoS Gobble Gobble” announced that they might be heading for the teeniest, tiniest largest second-largest**** loss in British Corporate History, approaching TEN BILLION pounds!

What we are starting to realise is this: big banks are BAD banks – you can’t regulate ’em, you can’t let ’em go bust, you can’t (it would seem) stop ’em paying out bonuses from the taxpayers’ money that you gave them to try and get the credit market going again.

Lloyds Super-bank’s problems come from buying Halifax Bank of Scotland at the very moment it became completely worthless because of all the sub-prime mortgage lending it had exposed itself to.

RBS’s problems come from buying Dutch bank ABM Amrose at the very moment it became completely worthless because of all the sub-prime mortgage lending it had exposed itself to.

And remember, if we DIDN’T pay them their bonuses, this sort of genius-level decision maker might take their skills elsewhere!

We could learn a lot from the rapid defenestration of the JAPANESE Finance Minister who was “completely innocent” of being drunk in charge of a press conference. He put it down to COUGH MIXTURE. I guess he should have read that label more closely:

“Caution: may cause drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery or a major world economy after use.”

Posted in Humour and Op-eds | 1 Comment

The Elephant Interviews… The President

Hello again, fluffy friends!

So a new President has been elected, scoring a stunning victory based on a grass roots campaign and famous badges! Tragically Baroness Ros ISN’T in the White House, but the GOOD NEWS for us is that that means she will be coming to Spring Conference and has made time in her packed diary for a Bloggers’ Interview at 3pm on Saturday 7th March. Yes We Can!

President Ros was elected on a pledge to be a link between the members and the leadership, so this is your opportunity to try that out! Ms Ros also has a strong …

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Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… January: So is it our Winter of Discontent now?

January was a GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS / MORE BAD NEWS kind of a month.

The GOOD news was that no one shot new President Barry O at his inauguration (unless you count the Chief Justice helping him shoot himself in the foot); the BAD news, dominating the first half of the month, was the hand-grenade of heavy-handed retaliation that Israel chose to lob though the window of opportunity presented while the Monkey-in-Chief was still in the Oval Office; the MORE BAD news was the continuing financial apocalypse, now officially a recession. (Like we didn’t know!)

Economic crisis, businesses failing, …

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The Elephant Interviews… Vince Cable: the man who knows

Happy New Year fluffy friends!

As you know, 2009 is going to be a bit of a TRICKY year for the economy. Mr Frown, the Prime Monster, is throwing money at the problem like there is no tomorrow (and who knows, if there’s a General Election, he may be right at least as far as his government is concerned).

Meanwhile, the Conservatory Party under Mr Balloon has drafted one-time Chancellor Mr Ken Clarke, who knows a thing or two about tripling the national debt!

So with that in mind, who better to talk to than Mr Dr Vince Cable, Great Britain’s …

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The Elephant Interviews… at last in Sheffield!

Hello fluffy friends!

Next week, Saturday 1 November, will be the Liberal Democrats’ Yorkshire and Humber Regional Conference, to be held at Sheffield Cathedral Conference Centre, Sheffield Cathedral, Church Street, Sheffield S1 1HA. And I have FINALLY managed to arrange the long-promised, never-forgotten Lib Dem Bloggers Not-in-London Interview with the Leader of the Party, Mr Nick Clegg.

Hooray!

Mr Nick is very kindly going to make time for us in the afternoon for forty-five minutes to an hour between 2pm and 4pm (I shall know more precise details by next week!)

Our interviews tend to be quite informal, as people …

Posted in Blogger Interviews | 2 Comments

The Elephant Interviews… at Conference!

Hello Fluffy Friends!

Conference is coming and with it lots more opportunities for BLOGGING!

Do not think that it is all standing around at the Blogger of the Year awards, sipping champagne and throwing sticky buns at the other nonimees, oh no! There are lots MORE exciting things to do.

And to add to all the fun, thanks to the efforts of Ms Helen Duffett we are able to bring you more opportunities for BLOGGERS INTERVIEWS.

On Saturday 13th, at 4pm, we will be meeting with Mr Lembit Opik. Mr Lembit is Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing, so he’s just the person …

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The Elephant Interviews: Bloggers 4 Henley

Dear Friends,

Despite Mr Boris still keeping us all wondering whether he will be keeping his promise to step down, Liberal Democrats are FLOCKING to the constituency of Henley, Thame and South Oxfordshire to support Mr Stephen Kearney.

I am sure that you will all understand that Mr Stephen has a VERY busy schedule, but he has very kindly found a time when he can SQUEEZE in an interview with a small number of bloggers! It is this Sunday, 8th of June, at 10am, and we shall be in the campaign headquarters in Thame.

I am SORRY that that means a VERY …

Posted in Blogger Interviews and Parliamentary by-elections | Tagged | 2 Comments

Your Chance to Get Involved in The Elephant Interviews… 100 Days of Mr Clogg!

Hello Fluffy Friends!

I hope that everyone who went had a SUPER TIME at Spring Conference and that everyone who couldn’t make it enjoyed the total coverage here on Liberal Democrat Voice!

But now, straight back to work: very soon it will be the 100 day anniversary of new Liberal Party Leader, Mr Nick Clogg. So here is your OPEN INVITATION to join the panel for another bloggers’ interview!

All you need to do is promise to write about it. You can use your own diary or write up what is said for Lib Dem Voice. It couldn’t be easier.

I have already promised …

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The Elephant Interviews… Ed Davey

Hello fluffy friends,

I must start with a big fluffy THANK YOU to the MPs of the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet who have responded with great generosity and openness to being asked for an interview by a soft toy and ordinary party member.

We had a jolly good interview with Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Mr Ed Davey last week. Not only was he generous with his time but he even bought the drinks to go with our doughnuts!

He had a lot to say about that infamous walkout from the House of Commons – that it wasn’t at all planned and that …

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Your chance to Get Involved: interview Ed Davey, the Lib Dems’ Shadow Foreign Secretary

Dear friends,

Mr Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, has bravely and generously agreed to offer us bloggers some of his time for an interview to cover the wide range of Liberal Democrat Foreign Policy!

This is a particularly busy and exciting time for the foreign affairs team, with the European Reform Treaty that is passing through the House of Commons causing a lot of interest, but also the elections in America and Pakistan, the Olympics in China, the situation in Darfur and the ongoing battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I know that lots of you will be interested, and so, in …

Posted in Blogger Interviews | Tagged | 8 Comments

The Elephant Interviews…

Hello, fluffy friends.

So… who wants to interview the Leader of the Liberal Democrats with me?

Such a lot has happened since last I wrote to you.

Sir Mr the Merciless has taken the LONG WALK; Mr Frown has shot himself in BOTH FEET; and Mr Balloon is still RUBBISH.

The Liberal Democrats will soon have a NEW Party Leader, either Mr Chris or Mr Nick, and you may have already read that I (OK, and some other people) went along to INTERVIEW both of them. I think that the interviews went RATHER WELL, and certainly showed both candidates at their …

Posted in Blogger Interviews | 33 Comments

OPINION: An Elephant’s Voice

Millennium Elephant, a 2006 finalist in Lib Dem Blogger of the Year, has written exclusively for Lib Dem Voice on the state of politics today.

Hello! That nice Mr Lord Deputy Lord Mayor Lord Stephen has asked me to write a special diary for his august organ. This is a PUN… because it is AUGUST!

I think that I should begin by explaining, for any readers who have not already read my famous Fluffy Diary. My name is Millennium Dome and I live in the East End of London. Obviously, I am a white elephant. I am seven years old because I am the same age as the Millennium !

Mr Lord Deputy Stephen has asked me to explain to him about POLITICS, and I can understand why he is confused! It is VERY complicated!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments
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