Thursday, 29 October 2009

The call of duty

Of course, people often ask why I would desert the city only to pursue something that is equally contentious. It appears that the two most loathed types right now are bankers and politicians. Isn’t it a case of, out of the frying pan into the fire?
I always point out however that my circumstances are markedly different to those of your average banker or politician. Let me make it clear: I did not bring my bank to the edge of the abyss one year ago. I left of my own accord and at the time of my choosing, and with a rather big pat on the back. Similarly I did not have any silly ideas in my head about escaping the rat race or pursuing an 'alternative lifestyle' - which as far as I can tell means shacking up with a couple of tarts and coming up with harebrained schemes to make money.
Oh no, I had made my pile for sure, and a pretty pile it was. But I simply decided that it was time to move on, to pastures new and all that. This meant that I could approach the whole political scene with a fresh eye, with an enviable bank balance, and with a genuine desire (for once) to give something back to the ‘community’.
I regularly stress that the reason politicians are so loathed right now is because they appear to be on the make. If it isn't filling their boots, it is gaining status, gaining influence (so that they can fill their boots some time in the future, a la revolving door.)
Well none of that for me. I would never pretend that plasma TVs and pornographic movies could count as expenses ‘incurred in performing ones duties as an MP’. Surely this would be as foolish as claiming that Madame Sadie of Shepherds Market could count as expenses ‘incurred in performing one duties’ etc… (If only!)
But the point is this: Even though I have a moat – and one that is essential for keeping nosey Mirror journalists at bay - I would, as sitting MP, insist on financing its upkeep out of my own pocket! And if only we had more people in the lower chamber with that kind of attitude, then the old place would be ship shape in no time.
That is why I am putting myself through this wretched selection process. And indeed, wretched it is. One day I am being awfully nice to ghastly home counties, four by four driving, little Englanders. The next I am in fits because this leftie Old Etonian, David Cameron, is considering imposing one of these daft all women shortlists on my target seat. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. But let’s face it; the party, the country desperately needs chaps like me.
And that is why I have decided to make the ultimate sacrifice, and find this safe Conservative seat before the next election, come hell or high water... whatever it takes.
I shall indeed let you know how I get on.
By guest blogger Burgoyne

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Alternative Drift...

Panic... After another late night, the ladies are wandering around the flat naked... I receive a call from my estranged wife. She has to be in work early and is bringing the kids round. I’ll have to take them to school.
Few know about Minxy and certainly not about naked Minxy. And I don’t want anyone to see the state of the flat. So I chuck on some clothes and dash out to meet them halfway. The kids and I will take a stroll through the park before registration, I decide.
I feel ragged. I wish that these ‘pep’ pills had arrived. We sit in the park café, sipping hot drinks. I try to sound with-it, but my mind drifts. I’m thinking, that’s the thing about ‘alternative lifestyles’… there are always, always responsibilities.
A woman with a buggy is reading a free-sheet. The headline reminds all those, who don't already know, that this year’s city bonuses are going to be bigger than last year’s. Depressing. I’m burning through my cash pile, whilst my old colleagues back in Moorgate are rebuilding theirs.
I need to set a time limit on my alternative lifestyle and these alternative ventures. There’s too much madness, too much chaos right now. As the kids are stirring their chocolate drinks, I’m staring out of the window thinking, I’ll give it until December, maybe February… Spring?
By guest blogger, Wat Tyler

We will be returning to guest blogger, 'Wat Tyler' and his alternative drift in a few weeks, by which time he will have no doubt received his pep pills and maybe even sorted his life out. Tomorrow his former boss at FTP Bank, whose nom de plume is 'Burgoyne', will take the reins. He will be blogging about what he got up to after he left the square mile, and about his attempts, during his semi-retirement to get into politics and, God-willing, secure a safe Conservative seat before the next general election.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Inside Track

I tried the mobile number that Hamish, my old city pal, had given me. The phone tripped straight onto an ansaphone message. The voice didn't sound much like Theo Paphitis - at least not the one that I had listened to on the box. In fact it was rather more like someone putting on a fake North London Greek accent. Even stranger, the voice, the tone and pitch was faintly recognisable. After trying the number another fifteen times to no avail, I just left a message.
Then an hour later, my phone rang and somebody calling themselves Stelios said in a obviously false London-Greek accent, "Why you calling my phone? Who are the bleedin' hell you think you are leaving that message?"
I responded cautiously, "So you're not Theo, Theo..?"
"Theo? I'm not Theo. I told you, I'm Stelios."
"Okey dokey... Sorry about that," I replied and called off, confused and suspecting that Hamish might have been up to some of his old tricks. Back to square one it seemed. Maybe I should try Marcus - the guy with the inside track on Dragons Den. I know this idea of mine seemed far-fetched, just appearing on the set unannounced, but then isn't that how all these entrepreneurs get what they want? Through nerve, through daring?
In the end I spent the rest of the morning faffing. Lacking motivation after the heavy weekend, I aimlessly browsed the internet - as many, many bored city workers do in this dull and directionless segment of the week.
Something caught my eye: Legal Uppers. It was on a website called "Legally off your face." The drugs claimed to offer a perfect solution to 'those weary Monday morning blues'. However they were produced in a molecular form that meant that they were legal and that you could even give them to your grandmother.
Ever since Minxy had started spending more time at the flat, I required a bit more pep in the mornings to get me going. Maybe this was the answer. I clicked on the buy-now link, gave my credit card details and then just sat idly back in my chair gazing into space. Then I thought, maybe I should try and get hold of Duncan Bannatyne's mobile number instead. I'm sure Uncle Otto says he knows him.
Posted by guest blogger Wat Tyler

Monday, 26 October 2009

Dirty Weekend

The three of us decided to spend a dirty weekend in a seaside town long associated with dirty weekends. We had tried this once before but found ourselves in a bed that would have been a squeeze for two, let alone three. So this time we decided to go for somewhere big, corporate and faceless. This also meant that we would be able to come and go without raising eyebrows... at least we hoped.

We booked a 'business room' with kingsize bed in a three star - a venue for conferences and dull wedding parties. When we arrived the lobby was teaming with men sporting carnations and suited kids running wild. At least it looked anonymous. Even so, we decided to enter separately. Minxy and I entered first and checked in. As I filled in the forms, I blushed. A greying forty year old with a blond twenty something. Pretty obvious what was going on. It didn't help that Minxy put on an manifestly sullen look, making it appear that she was a reluctant secretary made to spend the weekend with her boss. The guys at reception appeared to be suppressing grins. Or, maybe I imagined it.

Aurora turned up, looking mildly sheepish and dumped her bag. She took one look at the bed and suggested we start there. We piled in, spending the next couple of hours clambering on and off one another. Eventually I became restless, because my mind had turned to something else, another pleasure. The other two wouldn't budge though and berated me for getting agitated. I was fixated on food though.

By ten we finally found somewhere to eat. We spent the next couple of hours picking wearily through our meal and rambling on about politics and popular culture and celebrity. I clearly managed to get their backs up as I banged on about how vacuous it all was. Very few women, even smart ones it appears, reject wholly the celebrity culture thing. These two, perhaps in line with their modern political value system, staunchly defended the connection that commonly exists nowadays between politics, public perceptions and celebrity culture, whilst I repeated how shallow society had become as a result. You would have thought that their awareness, at least, of alternative lifestyles would generate some cynicism towards these aspects of our society. But, no.
By guest blogger Wat Tyler

Saturday, 24 October 2009


The girls didn't half make a racket last night. Lucky I don't have to be up at 7am these days.
The evening started civilly. Although over our lamb chops and a lot of wine we had an annoying argument about ‘all women shortlists’ – a debate that nowadays even the Conservatives are addressing. I joked that the Tories were thinking about introducing all-Etonian shortlists in some areas. It was a lightweight joke, nothing more.
But my New Labour apparatchiks did not find it in the least bit amusing. It apparently just showed my ignorance of the issues… those issues that New Labour had tried so hard to address for some years now – like equality. Also they stressed that they didn’t generally care for my ‘armchair analysis’ of issues close to their hearts - because of course, I have no ‘practical oversight’. I responded that we’d had plenty of debates where I’d pointed out massive inconsistencies in their arguments. Like the one a couple of nights back about the government criticising city bonuses, then doing nothing actually to tackle them. That didn’t go down well either. Maybe they think that someone who once worked in the city simply could not understand the central concerns of government… or policy… or actually putting your money where you mouth is?
Aurora said that she was off to bed, and Minxy, keen to conciliate, followed after and then whispered back, “Come on.”
I followed a few minutes later and then a new riot kicked off…
I popped to the loo, and I heard the music cranked up. Mid-flow I had to rush back to remind them to keep it down. "They're strict in this block. You know that. You don't want me to be booted out, do you?"
Then I got into a heated row with Aurora after she thought that I was showing Minxy too much love and attention. We were entwined for a minute or two too long, I suppose. This threesome thing is not something that you take up lightly. In fact it's an emotional minefield - and I say that as the least emotional of the three of us. No sooner are you finding fulfillment in one corner, than the other corner starts to complain.
Aurora, still lying on the bed, kicked out at me and landed a couple of blows on my chest. As she went for a third, I grabbed her leg, caught her by the ankle and twisted it. She flew off the bed and landed with a bit of a thump. Minxy stepped in and tried to calm us both down. "You tell her to calm down," I said and I wandered off to fix a drink. I came back to find the two of them snogging. I was tempted to say, "It's ok for you, then, isn’t it?" but I thought better of it.
We do, I have to admit, make up quite quickly after these episodes and we accept that when emotions are being strained in this way and the dynamic is fuelled by drink, it’s easy to get steamed up. After some more to-ing and fro-ing... and thrusting... we managed to settle down around 3.30. The girls had to get up early the next day, and I couldn’t get back to sleep after they’d gone. I was bloody exhausted.
By guest blogger Wat Tyler

Friday, 23 October 2009

Question Time

Don't outraged political commentators wonder sometimes whether the next bunch of fascists have actually been identified? Is it possible to identify them? Or do they creep up on you unawares, in a shape that you do not recognise? And then, by the time you see them for what they are, it's too late.
Aurora is banging on about the BNP appearing upon Question Time last night, a programme that I didn't really get a chance to watch, because she and Minxy chattered throughout the entire programme. They weren't even discussing any of the issues. They were simply trying to stop me listening. And whilst I agree that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, I am not sure that this freakish bunch really have what it takes to change the hearts and minds of the majority of British people. Have we really identified the next totalitarian threat?
"We shouldn't give these people a platform." she says, true to form.
"What are you talking about? Everyone has a platform. The streets and the homes and pubs of Britain are platforms. Or are you are you trying to say that there is some special platform offered to people by the revered BBC... you know, an official platform, and one that is only available to those who venerate its very existence? And are you saying that if you do not get onto the special BBC platform then all those people who flirted with your ideas will go off and flirt with someone else's ideas? I don't think so."
"What on earth are you talking about? All I'm saying is that I don't think that we should be giving these people the oxygen of publicity."
"I reckon the best way to discourage these views is to stop treating ordinary people, ordinary voters like idiots. The best way is to get people trusting mainstream politics again. Instead people are appalled by the politicians that they should be trusting. They are disgusted by the corruption and the incompetence and the greed of these people. And when things fall apart in that way, that is when people start flirting with whackos. It's not the oxygen of publicity we have to worry about, it's the decay of trust."
"I don't know how you can sit in front of the box and listen to that man. You already know what his views are."
"I don't know why you can't see that the next threat will come at us like a bolt from the blue. You won't see it coming. It will be something that is far more insidious, far more subtle, far more... undetectable than you imagine. It will be something that spreads its message through the offices of every government department, that could also be influencing other governments elsewhere as well, that wants to control the way in which every person lives, that seeks to modify, re-educate people, manipulate their thinking, that cannot tolerate dissent. You don't see that that's how totalitarianism will re-emerge. And you never know... it could be happening around you right now. You just cannot see it."
"Ok, so enlighten me. Are you actually referring to something specific?"
"Maybe... what?"
"I don't know, for example...Maybe the whole global warming thing, the green agenda, for example. Doesn't that meet the criteria above?"
"Oh dear, now you really are clutching at straws."
"It was just an example."
"Hardly the same thing. Somehow, I don't see people being rounded up," she said. And with that she and then Minxy got up and wandered off towards the bedroom.
By guest blogger Wat Tyler

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Alternative lifestyle

Of course, darling Aurora thinks I’m crazy pursuing this Dragon’s Den idea. What are you actually hoping to achieve? she asks. Apart from maybe pissing a few people off big time? I know you view these ‘Dragons’ as attention-seeking egotists, but they didn’t get where they are by being total dicks. The plan does seem a little half-baked, don’t you think?
Yes, yes, I know that her way of life has rather more direction than mine. She knows exactly what she'll be doing in six months time; she’s part of a team with vision and focus etc. But if she’s really into this alternative lifestyle thing, as she has always claimed to be, how come she spends most of her waking hours living by the same conventions as the rest of the population? How does that work then?
She responds that she has an ‘alternative love-life, alternative sex-life’. And that is actually rather different. It doesn’t mean you have to go the whole nine yards and make everything in your life alternative, surely? And also you still have to feed yourself, don’t you, even if you do live in a teepee… or whatever it is you call your flat? You still have to pay the bills? How alternative is ending up on the scrapheap or on benefits?
Suppose she has a point. If I don’t get my shit together soon, I’m going to end up burning through my cash pile – not that it’s so much a pile any more. Still, right or wrong, it hurts hearing this argument from someone who hails from a conventional political background. Feels like I’m being preached to by an apparatchik.
I tell her that I have a few things up my sleeve when it comes to the Dragon’s Den idea. She smiles sympathetically. I explain that I’ve been in touch with a guy from Uni days who works on the show. He might be prepared to tip me the wink when they’re next filming, and I can slyly show up with my laptop and the web software loaded onto it, grab Peter Jones’ attention. “Peter… a minute of your time, guvnor…”
Aurora doesn’t even attempt to comment but smiles once more, and then turns to check herself in the mirror. Says she’ll catch me later and that Minxy will definitely be coming around tonight as well.
“Any chance of us cooking something other than steaks on that grill tonight darling? They are lovely, but, you know… nice to have a change. Also Minxy says she's off carbs at the moment.”
As I watch Aurora hurry down the corridor, I think, Minxy's always off carbs.
Minxy…that means another heavy one tonight. I'm going to be knackered tomorrow. Another morning written off.
Really better pull my finger out this afternoon then.
By guest blogger Wat Tyler

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

This is an ex-banker.

"Another day, another ruddy headline about soaring bonuses. When I see such articles I want to puke. I jumped ship a year ago, assuming that the party was well and truly over - as a lot of people did. The whole global financial system was fucked and it would be sufficient just to avoid global catastrophe. Who would have dreamt that huge wads of cash would return to the square mile?

When I scarpered, everyone was banging on about changing their ways, adapting to the new world order. All those smug journalists, who’d until recently venerated rampant consumerism and stratospheric property prices were overnight converts to the bohemian love of simple, unconventional living. And I thought I might give the 'alternative lifestyle' a go myself, especially if it let me live a little.

I knocked out a Michael Lewis style book about the last days of banking, a snapshot of impoverished bankers trying to reinvent themselves. Stupid time to do it, though. These impoverished bankers, as it happens, were all busy writing Michael Lewis style books about the last days of banking, and overwhelming publishers and agents with the manuscripts. After the tenth rejection letter I presumed that nobody really wanted to know.

Now, I'm trying to flog this new website idea and it’s the same old grind, day in day out. But what makes it worse is that I get up in the morning and see these bloody headlines about massive bonuses. Do I feel righteous indignation? Of course I do. I never imagined that, had I hung on a bit, I might have managed one last walloping payday. That might have kept my alternative life thing ticking over for a little longer.

Oh well, perhaps I should give the Dragon's Den idea another try. If I could just get through to Evan Davis direct… Not sure it's the done thing, mind you. But then 'who dares...' and all that...

Old mate of mine who's still working in the city says that he knows the mobile number of Theo Paphitis no less. Wonder if it would piss the ‘Dragon’ off, though, if I gave him a tinkle..."
By guest blogger Wat Tyler

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Guest Blogs...

For a few weeks we are going to hand this site over to guest bloggers who are at the centre of the events that we have covered recently. We have assembled people, mainly from the political and banking communities who, we think, can give a more personal take on the major events of 2009, during these last turbulent months before the general election.
The aim is to move beyond this site's generally 'sideways look' at the issues, its swipes against the modern 'betes noires', in order to glean some sense of life at the coalface. We will start tomorrow with an ex City employee who bailed out during the financial meltdown of 2008. He has a rather more objective view of the industry than his former colleagues still working in the square mile, who are now eyeing with glee their prospective year-end bonuses. He will also be giving his take on current affairs, sagas like bonuses and MPs expenses, as he takes a keen interest in politics. We will also follow the trials and tribulations of his daily existence in these difficult times, as he attempts to start up a new business whilst also pursuing an increasingly complex, 'alternative' lifestyle involving two women who derive from a rather different world than his: The 'political classes'.
His blog will kick off later this week.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

News in brief...

Chancellor Alistair Darling has praised the ingenuity of the investment banking community. He was responding to grumbles from some quarters about the size of bonuses that RBS bankers are going to receive this year. It is claimed that these could be as high as 5 Million. But Mr. Darling claimed, "This shows how smart they are. A year after we bailed them out with taxpayers cash, they are getting rich on the proceeds. And we can do nothing about it. You have to hand it to them. They have got us just where they want us."

Elsewhere, a Treasury official has been explaining the 'trickle down' effect. This is the proposition that justifies some people in society earning huge amounts of money, whilst others earn next to nothing. "These high salaries at the top benefit everyone," he said, "The wealth feeds down through the rest of society through taxes, charitable giving and of course the purchase of goods and services that keep the rest of the economy moving. Trickle down is rather like this: I tuck into my massive hog roast, then I feed the rest of you by chucking you morsels and scraps of food from my plate. That way we all get fed."

David Cameron has demonstrated that he will follow Gordon Brown's lead by making pointless additions to the house of Lords. He intends to elevate the property 'guru' Kirstie Allsop to the upper chamber. Mr Cameron denied claims that this was the 'window-dressing' approach to political appointments of the kind pioneered by Gordon Brown in recent years. "When it comes to doing up a house," said Cameron, "Kirstie knows all there is to know. It's just that in this case the house is the House of Lords. The old place needs a lick of paint."

A survey has revealed that ninety per cent of the British public feel sorry for MPs and believe that the press should stop criticising them over expenses. No-one knows precisely how the survey was conducted or whom researchers interviewed, but the market research company involved claimed that it applied the same rigourous standards as Sir Thomas Legg had to his report on MPs expenses that appeared earlier this week.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

An MP writes

An MP's lot is not a happy one. We are way down the popularity stakes. Probably somewhere near bankers, journalists, lawyers, estate agents, bloggers, parking wardens, dustbin snoops, bloggers, mortgage brokers, train operators, other commuters on those trains, tourists, stars of reality TV, BBC executives, and last but not least, microbloggers. All people going about their daily business. All people who are loathed for what they do.

In fact everywhere you look nowadays, you see someone that you hate. Someone that you love to hate, want to hate, need to hate. Let's face it, we need something or somebody to rant about. It allows us momentarily to escape our own pathetic lives, with our vain aspirations, our frustrated ambitions. It allows us to blame for all our misery all those other people who got off their backsides and made something of their lives. And yes, you loved them while their stars shined, but you hate them now that they've shown themselves to be human.

But to some extent it is much, much worse for MPs. We never asked for more than we received, for more than what we felt we'd earned in the execution of our duties. At least not at the time, we didn't. If we claimed for expenses, then we only claimed what the claims office approved. Nothing more, nothing less. And let's face it, people of our calibre could have earned a hell of a lot more by working in the private sector, say in the now much maligned City of London.

The institution of parliament is being battered on all sides. Even a lawyer's injunction appears to outweigh the Bill of Rights that says that MPs have the freedom to ask questions in the House and that those questions can be freely disseminated. Newspapers, ordinary taxpayers are enraged at the activities of the house, and are telling us they are in no uncertain terms. We are indeed under seige.

So, where is all this anger leading, one can only ask? Surely not to a place that will profit this great country of ours with its noble customs, its respected institutions, its hard won freedoms.

I ask you then, from the bottom of my heart: Look kindly upon the MPs when they face the draconian response to the expenses scandal that they now face. No-one, surely, can look upon the Legg report without feeling a modicum of sympathy for our beleagured MPs? No-one can behold the inconsistencies, the inaccuracies, the iniquity of his findings without thinking: This Legg fellow is going just a bit too far. Shouldn't this Legg fellow slow down just a bit? After all, MPs are not that bad.

Because, the way I see it... that was the whole point of this report.... Surely?

Friday, 16 October 2009


Stars and their agents in the US and Europe have reacted angrily to the news that tabloid newspapers regularly bought and published stories that were fictitious. According to the Guardian newspaper today, the team behind the Starsuckers film that opens later this month sold the tabloids bogus medical records about celebrities such as Hugh Grant, Guy Ritchie and Ricky Gervais. None of the newspapers that published the stories made any effort to check the integrity of the information.

A girl band singer who was falsely reported to have undergone breast augmentation said: "I think it's disgusting. They have no right to poke their noses into my breasts. The only person who has the right to handle my breasts is my agent. That's what an agent's for: controlling what the papers say about my boobs. They should be ashamed of themselves, printing stuff like that."

A television presenter who had previously claimed her weight loss was down to a popular diet plan, went ballistic when one tabloid claimed that she had actually had a gastric band fitted. "They ruined everything," she said. "I could have lost the contract to flog the diet plan on TV, because no-one would have believed it worked. The fact that I did actually have a gastric band was information that my agent alone was entitled to release. And the whole point about news management is timing. He would only release that kind of information after my contract had ended and when my book about my 'weight loss woes' came out."

A Hollywood actor who had apparently 'embarked on a two day bender involving drink, drugs and whores', claimed: "It's crazy. My agent would only punt that kind of story if he wanted to spice up my public profile. But in my latest film, I play a timid bank manager who's more of a slippers and cocoa type. Maybe if get a part in the next Tarantino's movie, an item like that would do wonders."

His agent said, "If anyone's going to sell cockamamie stories to the press, I'll be the one who does it. What's the point of bogus news, unless it's to publicise my client's latest movie?"

Thursday, 15 October 2009

In defence of bankers

This blogsite likes to give the 'other guy' the chance to defend himself. In the 'court of public opinion', everyone is allowed a say. Yesterday, a beleaguered lawyer asked us to see his point of view in relation to the Guardian/Trafigura injunction. And it has to be said that his argument struck a chord with many. Today it appears that the backlash against bankers is growing after it was revealed that bonuses this year are going to be substantial. It is only right therefore to allow a senior investment banker to defend himself on this site. Again he has asked for his name and employer's name to be withheld.

"Once upon a time it seems like we were the good guys. The sun shone out of our proverbial butts. You people in 'Main Street' truly admired us, wanted to be among our number. You worshipped the Italian silk suits, the Porsches, the penthouse flats, the jet-setting lifestyles. Even when that comedian Oliver Stone created the heartless Gordon Gecko, with his 'greed is good' ethic, you lapped it up. You loved it, admit it.

Well, I can tell you, I worked hard to get where I am. I have two degrees, one from MIT and one from your beloved Oxford University. From my first day on the trading floor I was working all the hours God sent me. Up at half five in the morning, at work by seven, not home till nine or ten at night. And the in-between bit was a jungle, that's for sure. A screaming, frantic hell-hole of a jungle. This was the rat race ten times worse than any of you guys have ever seen it, I can tell you.

So we guys are generating the wealth in your City of London that pays most of your taxes, that allows London to become the second greatest city in the world. And suddenly you discover that this wealth is also having a knock-on effect on your property prices, making you richer as well. And you're thinking, let's not have just one house but two houses or three or five or ten. You can get rich that way. You too can drive Porsches, and wear the designer suits. And before you know it, bang! You guys living your sleepy suburban lives become millionaires. You feel that you have become one of us. You are actually one of us, discovering for yourselves that, hey, actually greed isn't all that bad.

And then it all falls apart. The credit crunch arrives. There is crisis, there is meltdown, there is ruin, the fear of a second Great Depression. And the government has to step in, has to prop up the financial system with your taxes, boo hoo! Why boo hoo? Because its also propping up that property bubble, that consumer bubble, that lifestyle bubble that you had come to know and love. It is propping the whole infrastructure of exchange that supported those bubbles.

So we guys, whom you so kindly propped up back then, are now starting to generate wealth again. We are generating the wealth that your Gordon Brown needs to get this country recapitalised. We are generating the money that is going to pay you guys, the taxpayers, back. And do you know why that is? It is because, yes, we have returned to our old ways. But this time it's different. We are not carting around the toxic waste they call credit derivatives, or CDOs. So you guys don't need to worry anymore. We are trading only safe stuff, making real, tangible profits.

But, and this is the big but. Your Gordon Brown must realise, probably does realise that incentivisation must continue if we are to achieve the profits that we are achieving. We still need the stimulus, the nourishment, the drug, if you like, that feeds our enthusiasm to make, make, make. So he, Gordon, must know, and this is what you should also know: That if we guys in the banks are going to pay back you guys, the taxpayer, and pay you back quick, what we need is quick results, quick profits, and most important, quick incentives. We need our bonuses, quick!

So bonuses are not just back, but they need to be back. Bonuses, incentives, the wealth they generate, they are the way that we can get this country back on its feet again. And maybe, just maybe, you will all one day be able to share in that wealth again, and make your fortunes, and just possibly have the chance to live like investment bankers, just as you've always wanted. Because, let's face it: We can all do shadenfreude from time to time. We can all hate the other guy who 'caused' the crisis, but in the end he is really just a scapegoat, your whipping boy. But when things turn round, when things pick up, when the wealth returns, you guys will all long to be stars once more. You guys will want to get rich.

And maybe then, those sad and sorry events of 2008 will seem a distant memory. Yes, a bad memory perhaps, but one that you, that we, that your politicians, that everyone around will have learnt from, so that when the next crisis comes along, as of course it will, we'll all be much, much wiser, and, most important of all, we'll know how to handle things better.

So remember, when you hear people ask you whether greed is good, or greed is bad, just think: Greed is the only thing that will get us out of this mess. And if you don't get that, then guys like me will simply up sticks and take our business to Switzerland."

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Twitter versus the Injunction - A Lawyer's 'Take'

"It is indeed a sorry state of affairs when the due process of law is confounded, not by government, but by the forces of populism and the shallow and capricious phenomenon that we call the internet. That the users of a social networking site like 'Twitter' defeated an established legal firm seeking to protect the reputation of its esteemed client, is indeed troubling.

It is apparent to many not just in my own profession, but in the business community and in certain areas of government that the 'world wide web' is behaving like the 'wild west': It has become barbarous. Long established laws, principles and ethics are being casually disregarded. Procedure, convention, practice in the orderly, responsible dissemination of information are being trampled underfoot by gossip, speculation and chatter. The execution of appropriate legal undertakings are being undermined by frivolous and unbalanced opinion.

When an established law firm went to court this week to obtain an injunction it followed due legal process. It did so to protect its respected client from the kind of tittle tattle that is rife on the internet and that can destroy the reputation of a company as well as the livelihoods of its employees. That an august institution as the Law can easily be undermined should give us pause for thought. Who will defend you or me when our reputations have been thus maligned?

Do we really want an internet that is wild and capricious, that has no rules nor boundaries? What if, say, we lived in a world where anyone, yes anyone, had access to the law, whatever their intent, whatever their status, and despite their inability to 'put their money where their mouth is'? Well then Law would become a mockery, a free-for-all where any man could take issue with any other - however nefarious, or shallow, or ill-informed his intent might be. The courts would be overrun and would no longer have the capacity to defend those who generate wealth, those who keep our society ticking along - those who make society what it is.

Surely we do not want all men and women to have free and unbridled access to the internet any more than we would want them to have free and unbridled access to the law? For that, we surely understand, must lead to the breakdown of everything that this society stands for, the trampling under foot of everything that is dear to us."
(Lawyers name and firm withheld)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Off the record, On message.

The following excerpts come from a private conversation between a leading journalist and a very senior politician. Subjects discussed range from the ongoing expenses scandal to the freedom of information act. In accordance with current suppression of information requirements, we can only publish the excerpts on the understanding the politician is not named. In order to comply, he has the pseudonym, Mr. Bean.

Interviewer: Mr. Bean. People are asking why so many in your own cabinet were guilty of making some of the most outlandish claims. Is this what you expected of the party that you joined some thirty years ago?

Mr. Bean: What you have to realise, Nick, is that times change. Over the decades we have had to adapt our principles to suit the changing economic climate. It is easy for the shadow cabinet to claim less on expenses, but that is precisely because they have more wealth in the first place

Interviewer: But surely the reason why people joined your party in the first place was simply to realise those very principles, not to acquire wealth? That was always part of the deal, wasn't it?

Mr. Bean: Yes, but the point I'm making, Nick, is that this party has moved with the times. We now live in a world where wealth is no longer considered a dirty word, even amongst the ranks of the liberal-left. Nowadays it is acceptable to receive the same financial rewards for the same - or even better - capabilities. We live in a meritocracy.

Interviewer: Which leads me on to the other point that I wanted to question you about: If you could justify the expenses claims thus, when they were originally made, why did you and other senior politicians try for so long to suppress the information from the public?

Mr. Bean: Well, we cannot have a political agenda that is set by people who are outside of politics and who do not understand the nuances of government. And of course I am referring here to the media.

Interviewer: But you use the media to lay out your own political agenda, surely?

Mr. Bean: Indeed we do, but it is our job to set the political agenda in the first place, not theirs.

Interviewer: But isn't that why we have the freedom of information act? So that the media can uncover aspects of the political agenda of which they are not fully cognisant.

Mr. Bean: No that is not what the freedom of information act was designed to do. It was designed to be used responsibly. And the media has not used it responsibly. It has simply used it to their own ends. This is precisely why the Mother of Parliaments is in turmoil right now. And that cannot be a good thing for our democracy.

Interviewer: At least it has made you politicians do something about these outlandish claims.

Mr. Bean: But it was not handled in a responsible way. We simply cannot have complex political issues aired in public like this. It would be like a free for all. And that is precisely my point, Nick.

Interviewer: Yes, Mr. Bean.

Mr. Bean: But now, if you'll excuse me I have to go and announce another policy initiative on YouTube - on how we are going to deal with this very expenses crisis.

Interviewer: Goodbye and thank you, Mr. Bean.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Three Men in a Boat

Gordon, David and Nick rowed upstream towards Westminster after their long summer break. They had all been feeling a little seedy back in July and had agreed that a rowing holiday was the solution to their 'bad medical conditions'. But now as they returned to the Houses of Parliament on the first day of the new political term, they reflected on the key issues of the past year.

"We need to restore trust in our politicians," sighed David, "And trust in the political system as a whole." David was refering to the expenses scandal that had broken in the early summer. A recent poll had revealed that politicians were now the group of professionals least likely to tell the truth. "We all mentioned that we had to restore faith in the political system. But I can't actually remember whether we had any concrete plans to make it happen. It's been such a long summer break."

"Oh yes, I agree," replied Gordon. "Indeed it seems like an age since that occurred. But funnily enough, I was actually thinking that we need to restore trust in our business men, our banks, our economy in general. The electorate lost trust in those things an even longer time ago." Gordon was refering to the near catastrophic meltdown of the banking system that had occured a year earlier and that was only averted by government intervention. "At the time," he went on, "We all criticised the greedy bonus culture. And when the taxpayers ended up bailing out the banks, we all said 'no more massive bonuses'. But now, many of those bailed-out banks intend to pay their employees huge bonuses again, even though they are only still in business thanks to the hard pressed taxpayer."

Nick seemed absorbed in the fish that darted around the boat. "Goldfish," he said.

"Sorry?" said the other two.

"I was thinking that people appear to have the memories of goldfish. You know, about three seconds. And isn't that what Conservatives and Labour have always traded upon when in power? That people will soon lose interest. As long as the papers don't keep banging on about it you don't need to worry. And even if they do, all you have to do is make the right noises and announce new policy initiatives. And then people will eventually lose interest again and go back to watching 'Strictly Come Dancing' or 'X-Factor'. It works every time."

"He's right you know," said David. "A week is a long time in politics."

"And a few months," responded Gordon, "Is a much longer time in political awareness."

The three men all grinned at one another. They tied up the boat at Westminster and wandered into the Houses of Parliament, patting one another on the back.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Nobel politics prize

The Nobel committee has been justifying its bold decision to award the 2009 peace prize to Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There was a lot of scepticism about giving the prize to a man who has long harboured nuclear ambitions and who has done more than any former Iranian leader to further the country's nuclear capabilities. But the committee claims that its decision was based on sound reasoning.

First, this is the inaugural award ceremony for the new chair of committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, and it is thought that he wanted to 'kick off with a bang'. Clearly it was not that inspired, at his first ceremony, to award the prize to someone with a track record - as the committee did with former laureates Jimmy Carter and IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei. Much better to be bold and enterprising, even controversial. Now the world knows, the man on everyones lips is Thorbjorn Jagland.

Second, the committee was aware of its duty to tell the world what to do and how to go about doing it. "When you are awarding the most prestigious prize that the world has ever known, it is always wise to do so in a way that encourages the others, as it were. We quite literally have world statesmen banging on our door every day, on their hands and knees, begging to be awarded the prize. But we know that we, on the committee, are the custodians of world peace. We know that we can change the world if we want to. This prize is precious. And we must hand it to someone who will value it, cherish it, be affected by it. Receiving the prize should be a life changing event. And now that we have awarded it to President Ahmadinejad, we will be able to shape Iranian foreign policy for years to come. And that is of course a good thing. You see, to a great extent our job is about perception and the shaping of perception."

In a separate development there are plans to award a posthumous peace prize to Genghis Khan, who did so much to influence world history. "By our actions we hope that his fame, fortune and power will henceforth only be associated with the good, more peaceful aspects of his life and that people will stop commemorating the less salubrious side that included widescale slaughter and destruction. And just to reiterate, our job is about perception and the shaping of perception."

Warlords, take note.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The state of the state

In a series of bold and radical initiatives, a Conservative government will allow ordinary citizens to set up and run the kind of local services that they have always expected the state to provide for them. Gone will be the days where parents spend endless evenings in autumn queuing outside the best state schools in the borough or crowding into the pews at the local church, desperate for a place at the 'faith school'.

Every parent in the land will now spend their evenings negotiating with the private firms who will help them run their own schools and arguing with other parents about educational policy. Under Conservative plans all schools will be allowed to opt out of state control and be run independently by sponsors such as parent groups. Private companies will be allowed to charge a 'management fee' for running these schools.

Whilst the aims are laudable in terms of offering greater control over their childrens' education and less dependency upon the state, it is hard to see them helping the lot of these already hard pressed parents. Most do indeed expect the state to be answerable to them (as opposed to the other way round) but they simply want what government has promised them all along, as it grabs their taxes: Better schools. Do they really want DIY instead?

The Conservatives are currently faced with the dilemma of reducing the role of the state whilst holding on to the sacred cows that the state established in the first place. They intend to guarantee the NHS and Sure Start, the 50p income tax rate and the minimum wage. The approach to education is well-intentioned but then... Ah! If only every school could be like Eton.

Many would agree that 'statism' and big government have become an issue over recent years, even that the state has become far too intrusive. But quite how one handles the issue is really the question. If they fail to comprehend the ramifications of their new political 'cross-dressing' then - to borrow from PJ O' Rourke - the Conservatives will end up the party that says that the state doesn't work and then get elected and prove it.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Bullingdon conference update

A member of the Conservative party has been arrested after he stole a 150 pound bottle of champagne from the Midland Hotel in Manchester. Police detained him overnight and released him the following morning without charge.

In his defence he claimed that his behaviour was in keeping with the spirit of the 'Bullingdon Club' to which the party leader, David Cameron, the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne and Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson all belonged in the 1980s. In fact had police not interrupted him when they did, he had fully intended to swing on chandeliers, trash hotel rooms and debag other party members.

Elsewhere, the Bullingdon is overshadowing Conservative plans in Europe. It has been alleged that members of the ultra-nationalist Fatherland and Freedom party are having second thoughts about aligning themselves with the Conservatives after they learnt about the former antics of its high command.

Their leader Roberts Zile who has been a Tory guest in Manchester this week was appalled when confronted with the details of some of its episodes. The worst amongst these was the night when Bullingdon members smashed almost all the glass of the lights and 468 windows in Peckwater Quad of Christ Church, along with the blinds and doors of the building.

As Zile walked away from gathering journalists he muttered under his breath: "They sound like a bunch of Waffen-SS thugs to me."

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Hurray for the public sector

A group of public sector workers have breathed a collective sigh of relief over the fact that they will escape Conservative, and most likely Labour plans for a pay freeze. Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne had suggested at the Conservative party conference that when it came to a public sector pay freeze, "We're all in this together." However it looks as though one group of public employees is likely to escape the freeze.

In autumn 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis, the Government took what ended up being a 70% stake in RBS. As market commentators claimed at the time, RBS was nationalised in all but name. Overnight a large number of 'big swinging dicks' became 'big public swinging dicks'. Apart from the fact that they now sounded rather like people who exposed themselves in public, it also meant that they were effectively public sector employees.

The implications of this were horrendous, not least because many of them thought that they would have to do things like join a union and fraternise with civil servants, council officials and social workers.

It then dawned on them that this government, and future governments might also consider themselves entitled to treat these 'big dicks' as subject to the same guidelines on pay as public employees - with all that that would then imply for pay restraint.

But they can rest easy. Chancellor Darling and Shadow Chancellor Osborne have no plans to restrict the pay of these particular public sector employees, even less actually to get involved in the pay negotiations themselves. We must remember, banks like RBS might well be nationalised in all but name but when it comes to pay that name makes a big swinging difference.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Happy days are here again...

Good news on the housing front: Halifax Building Society has recorded a 1.6% increase in house prices for September and says that they have now risen in five monthly periods since the beginning of 2009. There are now serious hopes of a return to the bubble that sadly ended in 2008.

House prices have risen overall by 1.7% during 2009, reducing the previous 10% year on year fall to a mere 7.4%. Over recent months, Nationwide figures have been even more optimistic than those of the Halifax, suggesting that further rises are feasible and increasing hopes that the 'bubble is back'.

A building society spokesman said: If Gordon Brown can pressure the Bank of England to keep interest rates at an all time low and ignore the inflationary effects of future prices rises as he did last time round, then there is a good chance that we can return to the heady days of 2007, when it was Champagne and bonuses all round and everyone sailed majestically towards the glorious abyss of 2008.

The government has duly confirmed that since there is a General Election next year it would make perfect sense for people to focus on positive issues such as economic recovery and their own asset wealth. "When people realise once again that they can ignore ballooning credit card debt because it is dwarfed by recent house price rises, they will know that they are on to a good thing with Labour."

Monday, 5 October 2009

Emin, great!

The government is currently considering a whole new raft of legislation that it hopes will irritate 'conceptual artist' Tracey Emin. The plan by the Treasury to raise the top rate of tax to 50% has been tremendously popular because it has led to the artist threatening to quit Britain. Some are now wondering whether the government should go further and create a new round of legislation that will effectively 'seal the deal'.

Emin, whose masterpieces include an un-made bed complete with dirty knickers, and a tent with the names of her lovers stitched into it, is considered in some quarters to have been grossly overpaid for what she has contributed to culture. Some have therefore advised her to keep schtum and not remind everyone that her efforts have made her a millionaire. Others have simply cheered at the prospect of her leaving Britain, just as they did when Andrew Lloyd Webber threatened to leave in 1997.

But Emin maintains that she is so disgusted that her bountiful earnings are to be taxed at 50% that she has considered moving to Provence where many former artists have lived and worked. And indeed it is mind blowing to think what Emin might be able to do with a sunflower, in the light of her previous efforts with inanimate objects.

Emin said that the government has failed to grasp the importance of the creative industries, especially of her brand of conceptual art. "At least in France they understand artists, and have traditionally helped them out."

However when the French government was questioned on the issue of Emin coming to France, a spokesman for the French Treasury replied that they were now considering a whole raft of emergency legislation that would ensure that the artist remained firmly on this side of the channel.

Friday, 2 October 2009


Eastenders star Boris Johnson has shown how versatile he is by turning up at county hall dressed as the Mayor of London. The actor, commonly referred to as 'The Bullingdon Buffoon' arrived with the Mayor's trademark cat, claiming to searching for the 'Pantomime King Newt' otherwise known as 'Mr. Livingstone'.

It had been thought that Johnson, who has a reputation for bawdy, boisterous behaviour would not touch serious roles like politicians or officials. But years of being typecasts in soaps such as Eastenders has left him feeling that his career is going nowhere. Hence the deal with the BBC whereby he was allowed to play the part of Mayor, Dick Whittington.

It is alleged that Boris was also encouraged to take on this role by his fellow old Etonian thesp, Daffy Dave Cameron who is currently lining himself up for the part of 'Prime Minister' in the upcoming 'General Election'. As with Johnson, some have similarly doubted Cameron's suitability for such a serious role. But the incumbent, Gordon Brown has failed to dazzle during his term and it is thought that his contract will not be renewed next year.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Exclusive - Cameron conference speech leaked!

Dear Mr. Murdoch, Sir.
I would like to say how grateful I am that you have decided to support the Conservative Party. I have always been a big admirer of yours and have always enjoyed reading your really excellent papers, especially the one where the women show their protuberances.
I promise you that I will not let you down. I will do all of those of things that those fibbers and cheats in the Labour Party said that they would do but did not do. I will follow whatever you say on Europe and I assure you that I will not pass any laws that upset business people like yourself.
I will not behave like a toffee-nosed, arrogant public school boy but will understand the needs and aspirations of the common folk and help them to watch your television channels even more regularly than they already do.
I will listen to all your representatives on earth such as the journalists that you employ. And I will help the poor people in the BBC and ITV who wish that you could own their companies so that they could work for your good self. And I hope that if and whenever this happens, that they can start making really good programmes like the ones that you see nowadays on Sky TV
I will allow you to clean up those last bastions of restrictive practices in the media... In actual fact, I will quite simply let you... 'clean up'.
I will always remain your humble servant.
Yours very, very faithfully,