Friday, February 13, 2015

Ukraine, Banking and a Pink Bus

I try to write a blog every week.  Usually I cover a single, topical subject but regular readers will know that I sometimes stray off of topic.  For regular readers I say thank you.  For me this is a way to scream at the world for the idiocies that we see around us.

This has been a strange week for news. 

We have Labour’s Pink Bus for women, the Ukraine cease-fire  and the HSBC Switzerland story.  I will try and bring these into a single narrative, please bear with me.

Running throughout the week, we have had the spectacle of the USA and the UK sitting on the sidelines, while Germany and their favourite European poodle-nation, France, negotiating with Russia and a ‘dragged to the table’ Ukraine in an effort to get a ceasefire in place.  The ceasefire would be between the Ukraine government and the separatist rebels.  You will note that these separatist rebels were not involved in these talks.  Don’t worry though, they were ably represented by Russia.  If nothing else, these talks and Russia’s seeming ability to make commitments on behalf of the rebels, lays bare the fact that these separatists are in fact fully dependent upon the Russians.  It is Russian arms and Russian artillery fired by Russian soldiers  that has made advances and forced the Ukraine government to the table.  That and the appeasers in the German dominated European Union. 

In case you have forgotten, Ukraine is, in large part, in its current state because they were led up the path by the EU.  They were sweet-talked, by the EU, into rejecting an agreement that would have pushed them towards Russia and then, when Russia flexed its muscles, the EU ran away.  They, and the US and UK then embarked upon imposing sanctions against Russia and certain Russians.  Commentators regularly tell us that these sanctions are really biting.  Coupled with the collapse in the price of oil and with it the Rouble, the Russian economy is suffering (unfortunately that then means its people as well!).

So, we have a situation where Russia has made a land grab (Crimea) and has been fomenting and arming secessionist activity in Eastern Ukraine, while at the same time, the essentially feeble sanctions are finally starting to affect Russia and what is the EU reaction?  Go to the negotiating table and concede territory and legitimacy to both the rebels and Russia’s land grab, cut the throats of the Ukrainians  and then congratulate themselves on a war averted!

And what of the USA?  Good old President Obama was in Washington and given the snowfalls hitting that part of America, he was unable to attend to other presidential  duties, such as golf, and managed to make some comment on the Ukraine.  His comments, strangely, had the potential to be helpful.  He was making noises about providing the Ukraine with a re-supply of arms.  Reverting to type though, nothing came of these fine words.  Maybe it is because America is broke and cannot afford to ‘fight the good fight’ or maybe it’s because it’s President Obama – make your own mind up!

And David Cameron?  He was in the difficult position of being in electioneering mode and having to fend-off accusations that the UK was becoming irrelevant on the world stage because the UK wasn’t at these talks.  Possibly, Cameron could see where this whole shabby exercise would end and the idea of being a party to the sell-out of Ukraine, was too much for him to stomach or possibly he was focused on home-front issues.

Home-front issues, for Cameron are now all about the General Election to be held in May. 
He received a boost from Harriet Harman, Labour’s equality obsessed, deputy leader (so obsessed that rumours abound that she planned to change her name to Harriet Harperson!).  I have to use the word 'harpy' to describe her because all other thoughts and words might breach this blog’s no offensive language rule.

Anyway, this harpy has hit on the wheeze of having a pink bus which will travel around the UK, visiting marginal seats and then opening discussions with women because she claims that Labour speaks to women’s needs and wants to listen to women and their problems.  In spite of all, I repeat, all polling data suggesting that men and women rate the economy, NHS, immigration and education as high priority issues for them and their families, Harriet is expecting to be chatting aboard the, immediately and appropriately named 'Barbie Bus’, about domestic abuse as the number one issue affecting women. 

Of course domestic abuse is awful but does Labour really believe that this is the key problem facing women today?   All women?

One of the first, all-women, conversations that took place was gate-crashed by, horror of horrors, a man.  He was politely indignant that his genital arrangements caused him to be not worthy of voicing an opinion or to be listened to. 

Not sure I understand this approach by Labour.  Will women flock to the Barbie Bus and abandon the key issues that they have previously told pollsters that influence them and talk about an issue which, at the end of the day, politicians can do little about – domestic abuse.  I mean that does anyone think that more laws, from Westminster, will solve this particular problem?  Yes it is awful but of national importance?  I am reminded of President Obama's and John Kerry's claim that the number one danger facing the USA is 'climate change'.  Not Al Qaeda, not Islamic State, not illegal immigrants, not Ebola, not a jobs-absent recovery - no, climate change!  And now this fool is posting selfies all over the internet!  Boy, when Americans go for tokenism and ignore Dr Marting Luther King's comments about judging people on their character and not the colour of their skin, you go all out!

How then will this sexism play with Labour’s male voters?  Will they feel excluded and desert in droves?  Will they head to UKIP or to the Conservatives?  Or will they maybe just stay at home?  We will see.

They say in politics that you need to be lucky,  Labour got lucky and managed to get the Barbie Bus behind themselves with the breaking of the HSBC story.  This bank has a branch office in Switzerland  and – cue shock! cue horror!  Some British people had accounts there.  Labour played a good game on this one, aided as always by the ignorant and biased BBC and other media.  Labour seem to contend that any Brit  with an account in Switzerland  only has one for nefarious purposes – as in, tax evasion.  It produces no proof that this is so, it just throws the mud and some sticks.  Millions in taxes are being dodged they claim.  Even if that were true, the amounts that are being spoken of, are but a drop in the ocean relative to the spending of the current government leave alone of any future Labour government (is there something smaller than a drop in the ocean?)

Labours problem with HSBC is that while they can bang on about it, they need to be careful.  Already there are rumblings and stones being uncovered about the careful inheritance tax planning carried out by the Miliband family, following the death of the father of Ed and David.  This communist died and left the family with property that would cause the boys tax problems - as in lots of it to pay.  So they arranged for something called a deed of variation, which, if I understand correctly, allowed their now dead father to change the will and gift them parts of the property such that taxes were much reduced.  All perfectly legal but as said before, hypocrisy is rankest at the higher levels of government!

I will be absent from the UK for much of the election campaign - but of course will be voting - so my comments and this blog will be filtered through time, distance and a biased media.  Caveat emptor!

Have a good week!

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