Thursday, 12 December 2019

Light Relief - While We're Waiting

Here's an hilarious vanity project to make you chuckle on a dank December election day:  Saudi Aramco valued at $2 trillion!

Yeah, right.  The 2019 flotation flopperoo was one of the biggest damp squibs in corporate history.  But MbS needed his face saving; so every sheikh and stooge across the ME has been required to buy a couple of shares at crazy prices on the Riyadh exchange.  And $2tn it is!

2019 - what a year to choose to float a hydrocarbon producer.  When the entire world decided "de-carb" is a Thing, and that joining the 'Adaptation' gravy train is the only game in town.



Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Why do the polls of edge in these days?

Political polling has a lot to answer for.

Starting in what we must now call Year Zero for New UK (2016), they predicted a Remain victory with ease in the Referendum, which was one of the reasons Cameron went for it.

Just the Year before Year -1, they had predicted Ed Milliband would squeak in as Prime Minister.

In 2017 the Tories were due a big majority under May who duly held and election and lost.

There is an outside chance we see this in 2019 too.

But in the last 2 elections Labour has closed the gap at the end of the campaign, according to opinion polls. This time for further back so hopefully too little too late. But why do all the polls gather around a point in unison, especially as often in the past, as above, they have then ALL been wrong.

As competitors in a market, there is no incentive to all have the same results, or else the buyers would reduce the competition in the market to the lowest price offer?

I can't work out why this happens  - any ideas?

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

End Game time for UK electorate - a limp effort it is too

As I have posted before, I really have despaired at the quality of this election.

The Tories have one strategic plan and that has a big hole in it. Get Brexit done they say. But we know they don't really mean it. There is no way Brexit is over and next year could well see a big panic as No Deal rears its head again after we manage to not agree a Free trade Deal in twelve months flat. OK, so I don't really care if we end up on EEA type terms, however given this is their only real policy it is a poor effort that it is not even good or likely deliverable,.

Then we have Labour, where to start, their pure fantasy of massive economic spending and free treats for all is beyond the pale in terms of the damage it would do to the Country. The outrageous weaponising of the NHS has come to a peak just in time for the end of the election - clever in one way, but so tragic in another as again they have no answer to the real problems. We can but hope for a heavy defeat to see the communists ousted from our main opposition party.

Then the Lib Dems - only two policies have cut through. One being to revoke the referendum which has gone down like a cup of cold sick. The second, to deny there is a biological sex difference between men and women, has had a similar effect on anyone who has paid attention. As ever, get woke, go broke. A shame though as a sensible party would have had a real chance at replacing Labour, but there we go they invested their capital in Jo Swinson who had literally not a clue.

So there we are, what will Jo Public do come Thursday. I personally am keen on a big Tory majority to make politics go away for a few years and we can get back to sorting out the economy..but they don't deserve it and if it happens it is purely because the opposition are so weak. I think in th event it will be a very close thing as to whether Johnson gets his Government - a late swing to Labour of a couple of percentage points could send us back to a re-run of the May nightmare!

Monday, 9 December 2019

Today: a Once-in-a-Lifetime Event

A journey I make frequently takes me all the way up the M11, then on via the A14 to the A1(M) northwards.  For several years now this has been heavily disrupted by a substantial road-building project designed  (a) to make the A14 three lanes wide for the whole Cambridge-Brampton stretch;  (b) to by-pass Huntingdon instead of over-passing it (the big flyover section there is badly in need of repair, and is only two lanes wide anyway); and  (c) to eliminate the west-of-Huntingdon dog-leg, where the westbound A14 becomes a route rather than a road, encompassing two ugly junctions and significant delays before it carries on past Brampton to Kettering and points west (map here).

The scale of this upgrade is pretty big, starting at Cambridge with some very large and complex new junctions to allow the M11, A14 and several local A-roads to merge effectively; and ending a little to the west of the Brampton new cross-over of the A1(M), with new river and rail bridges as well as the many new junctions.  On Saturday morning, heading north-and-west, we were forced to detour because, not for the first time, the A14 was entirely closed by these works.  I was resigned to a couple more years of this stuff.


Returning south-and-east this morning, to our amazement the entirely new stretch of road is now open (and a very fine road it is, too).  So what? - you ask.  So, ... it's opened one whole year ahead of schedule!

Not, I think, an everyday occurrence in the annals of UK civil engineering.  A modest celebration is in order.


History Corner:   I cannot quickly find online evidence for this; but the opening of the A14 as a direct trunk-road from the east-coast docks to the Midlands in 1982 was part of the first Thatcher government's meticulous planning for what became the Miners Strike of 1984-85.  Until the completion of this route (and various other preparations) was complete, the long-anticipated strike could not be properly fought.  And so the government climbed down from the first confrontation in 1981-82, awaiting the more propitious conditions of 1984.  Fancy that: a government acting with genuine strategic intent ...

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Different Attitudes in Foreign Lands

Perhaps not as foreign as all that - just the USA and the Netherlands.  It can be refreshing to hear views expressed in ways that you won't encounter in this country very much.

I've lauded Adolph Reed here before; he's a black American professor of political philosophy, and despite his avowed marxism he sees clearly, thinks coherently, writes trenchantly - and extremely well.  (He's self-evidently a nice chap, too.)   In this Current Affairs interview, he opines on the Obama phenomenon and - his customary thesis - the baleful effect of the present-day US politics of race on what he reckons should be the class-oriented struggle for the betterment of people.  A couple of extracts:
and then Barack popped up. Nobody knew anything about him, nobody in the activist world had ever heard of him, had no connection to him, and it was just fascinating watching the liberal and foundational world get kind of wet-pantied over him. And it actually split the left ... in the summer of ’08 after he had all but officially sewn up the nomination, he made an immediate sharp-right turn over the span of four, five days ... Obama seemed to burnish, if not to establish, his bona fides with the black political elite by giving the “tough love” speech, that “we” have to tell our broke people to do better ... why did so many people who should have known better get swept up in the hype? ... what’s happened to the left that even led serious, longtime veteran activists to delude themselves, and to delude themselves as militants. It’s not just that they liked Obama, and supported Obama, but they were sort of like, the Gestapo for Obama during the campaign.
... this is another marker of the decline of the left, ultimately… that a society can be just if 1 percent of the population controls more than 90 percent of the good stuff, provided that 1 percent is like 12 percent black, 14 percent hispanic, half women, and whatever the appropriate percentage is gay ... Is it a model of a just society that most of us want to sign up for? Probably not.
Closer to home: I've been in the Netherlands on business recently, with a Dutch colleague who is of Turkish heritage, and visibly so (whilst having a Dutch name and accent).  When we walked into a meeting with another company, one of the folk we were meeting for the first time cheerily greeted him with: well you're not a native - where are you from?  Nobody froze, or tutted - everyone was getting along just fine.  As we broke up at the end of the day, someone said he was dashing off to the toyshop to prepare for his forthcoming duties as Santa - in Dutch, Sinterklaas - to which one of his colleagues of Indonesian heritage said:  "I'll be Black Pete"; and another, of Chinese antecedents, offered: "I'll be Yellow Pete!

Nobody in the room took amiss at any of this.  But here's the Graun giving a platform for hyper-ventilation on the subject.

As they say: travel and reading broaden the mind.  Until it all gets proscribed, that is.