Economy & welfare

Climate change & global poverty


As you are standing as a parliamentary candidate in the present election campaign, I would appreciate hearing what your views are on the following two issues - neither of which is receiving much attention in the present campaigning, yet they have been of concern to constituents here and across the UK:

Cutting the deficit


Our debt interest has increased by one-third in one year to 3% of GDP, and, at the rate that our main parties plan to continue to accumulate debt, will probably be over 5% by 2014. Last time Britain had to go to the IMF for help with its debts, the interest had just crept over 5% of GDP (on a much lower level of debt than planned for 2014). What specific cuts or taxes would you apply to stop Britain from going bust?


Debt, deficit, inflation & interest rates


You propose much more aggressive cuts to public spending, in order to cut the deficit and allow tax-cuts. But our public-sector debt has been much higher than the projected levels in the past without causing big problems. Why are you proposing to cut so aggressively when it is not necessary?


Public Pension Fund Deficits. The fantasy world again.

It's very hard for private pension fund trustees to know where to invest pension fund money in view of the way that governments and central banks borrow from the future in order to keep in power. But the position for public pension funds seems to be very easy to manage.

Public pension funds apparently don't have to make pension fund recovery plans like private funds. As I handed in my nomination papers it was explained to me that this was the case with the local authority, because local authorities can't go into liquidation. Someone will always take them over. I am not sure what happened when Mr Hatton was prominent in Liverpool City Council in the 1980s, but it was very close to insolvency and the Government then was not keen on accepting its deficits.

The Iceland volcano

Having been in the renewables business longer than nearly everyone, we know a bit about the climate-change issue. I am not strongly on either side of the argument, which most people interpret as meaning that I am strongly sceptic, and that interpretation is entirely wrong. I have spent most of my life and risked most of my family wealth in developing systems to replace the use of fossil fuels with renewable natural resources. Very few other people have gone that far, and virtually none has made a successful business out of it.

What I say is that when you see the effects of quite a small volcano on the environment and on business, you have to wonder whether the emissions from Man's rapid use of fossil fuels and of Calcium Carbonate, have anything like as much effect on us as the activity of the sun (whose reduction contributed to this cold winter in Europe and Eastern USA), or eruptions from volcanoes and other irresistible natural occurrences.


Even though I like to go skiing in the Alps occasionally and Greece is great in the Summer (not mid-summer), the place where I really want to be, is here in my home country. I love our quiet hills and rocky coasts, the history and the cynical humour of the people. Even though I could afford to de-camp to Switzerland or the USA, I am not going. But we have a national failing. We all think that its going to be OK really, even when the opposite is staring us right in the face. In the end, we face the facts and pull ourselves together as we did after Dunkirk.

Business grants

So Alistair Darling gave £4bn to small businesses that are in financial difficulty in his budget last week. Sounds good for small businesses, doesn't it? But wait.

1. Whose money is it that he is giving away? Some of it is small business's money, I think, and a lot of the rest comes from the average tax payer. So the Chancellor is taking taxes from the businesses that are doing well and giving it to those that are doing badly, so that in many cases, they can waste the money all over again.

Our pensions time-bomb

Antonia Senior in the Times today reports that every U.K.household owes £47,000 to public sector workers:

'If everyone (else) carries on as if nothing is wrong, and as if there is not a giant pension shaped bomb tick-tocking away at the heart of our financial system, we can delude ourselves its all going to be OK. The Emperor is wearing Prada, and all our demographic nightmares will be solved by wishing hard enough'.

If you look in the pub, the restaurant, the train, everyone is carrying on just the same. They don't believe that there is really a massive financial crisis around the corner. 60% of people believe that we can get out of the government's borrowing hole without making any cuts to front-line services.

A rock and a hard place

From the CBI monthly trends survey:

'Output prices are expected to rise among manufacturers over the next 3 months, despite signs that domestic orders remain muted and that output growth remains modest'.

Either manufacturers are kidding themselves about recovering price increases from their customers, in which case their profits will be worse than expected or have we got Stagflation coming? My company is not obtaining any price increases.

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